Friday, April 25, 2008

A Mouth Full of Tacts

So, not unexpectedly, Brent mans up in the most mature manner possible (A Real Mouthful). This isn't bad, I guess, it's just predictable.

I appreciated Scott's comment, and can appreciate where he's coming from, but I don't buy the idea that you have to break new ground to tell a satisfying story.

Let's take a look at the whole mother thing. (Those 300 words want out.) "How could I let you marry a man I've never met" is perhaps the least interesting motivation that I can think of for Jade's mom. It makes the character only one thing: Selfish. One dimension does not a rich story make.

An alternative: Jade's mother is single and rich, but estranged from her daughters and incredibly lonely. Without telling Jade, she cancels all the existing wedding plans, and makes alternative arrangements: An outrageously extravagant trip or cruise to an exotic locale, for the entire wedding party, with the ceremony taking place on the same island on which Castaway was filmed. (I've been there, actually. Not a bad choice.) A month of wedding and travel with her daughters and their friends -- What could be more perfect!

Unfortunately, she neglects to take into account her daughters and their friends. She also neglects Brent, almost pushing him out of the picture entirely in her need to be close to her daughter in this most important time for family.

After an initial moment of "Oh my god so cool!" Jade and Brent realize that, because of the length of the trip and the suddenness of it all, many of their friends wouldn't be able to make it, and they can't live with that. A wedding isn't about the glamour of the ceremony, it's about the people around them.

After some hemming and hawing, they have to break through the alpha-Mom facade to tell her they just can't do it. This gives us the perfect opportunity to use the "I'm sorry" moment I dislike so much in a way that provides tension, and moves the story forward:

It's a perfect opportunity for Brent. Both Jade and her mom (and the readers) are set up to expect "Sorry, but that's the way it is." Some folks might even expect Brent to rub it in her face a bit. But. Brent ends up offering an olive branch to Jade's mom because it's just as important that she be there as everyone else.

Tears all around. Enter Robbie.


evan said...

Hey guys. I know I've said that I didn't really want to weigh in yet, because i wanted to be able to view the story as a complete arc that I felt I understood before critiquing it, and I think I am at that point now.

Yes, it is an overdone and cliched story. Yes, Robbi and Jase are a sort of built in Deus Ex Machina. Yes, every strip has had a twist last panel. Yes, TFSM's proposed story arc is a bit more original and maybe a bit better (hard to tell without making him actually write out the strips and see how it goes.) But... meh.

The arc is fine. It's not fabulous, but it gets the job done. Scott basically said that is what he's going for here. Maybe that's not good enough, and if this were a strip that was just starting out I would probably agree. But this is PvP. It is so established that any detour from the regular is noteworthy. Scott is not the greatest author, and he underestimates the difficulty o writing compelling drama.

And so this is what we get. Which is fine. It does the job. Not spectacularly, but serviceably.

One thing though, on twist last panel endings... I would wager that most of the strips on PvP... or any gag type webcomic, are based on the last panel twist format. That's a lame thing to have been criticizing.

R.W.McGee said...

I posted most of my thoughts on the last thread, but I think there are two things I would like to see.

1) An un-expected side of Jade's mother. The arrogant and condescending caricature is a lot more effective if it is a facade, maybe hiding the pain of her own failed marriage, or maybe just as a defense mechanism when meeting her future son in law.

2) involve Cole with the mother. He's suffering through some issues of his own, and he is not only a friend of Brent's, but in a way a father figure in his capacity as 'the boss' They could bond, they could fight, he could introduce her to his arch-nemesis. Zing!

Anyway, I see potential in this arc, I'm just looking for some strange new character interactions. I mean, think about Francis and Jade's mom! There are lots of different ways this could go down.

Sage said...

FSM I think you're idea would be about on par with what Scott wrote, nothing better nothing worse.

I think Scott wanted to make her selfish, because he stated he wanted Brent to play off the bitchy character in a more mature way. Most of things Jade's mom said were intentionally confusing and or mean. I genuinly didn't like her through these arcs, which is the reaction the author wanted. I get why he wanted to make her a one-dimensional selfish person, because thats the definition of a bitch.

Was it on the predictable side, yes, were some all too often cliches there, yes. At least Brent's reaction gave us something surprising, mature, and somewhat satisfying (as the characters put aside there dislike for the greater good). It'll be in how he uses this character later to see if she drops into the "overdone cliche'" character.

Also, where was the island Castaway was filmed? (in the Pacific im assuming) Also, and more importantly, did Wilson make it back to the island? :)

Caren W. said...

I'm interested to know what Scott thinks of your alternative story.

Anonymous said...

A mouth full of farts.

faz said...

A stultifying tour de force!

Anonymous said...

Did Scott seriously say "I've tried to give everyone a wedding story, with some ups and downs, without getting too cliched."?! Without getting too clichéd? Are you kidding me? There's a cliché *vortex* in the very centre of this arc - it's Jade's Mother. And boy, does it suck!

Scott said...

I hate to always come back to this but if it sucks so much, why do you guys consistently return to it? I mean, if it's so unbearably bad, trite, overdone and cliche then what does that say about you that you continue to support it.

I think that FSM should stick to critique and not worry about writing webcomics.

Anonymous said...

Maybe he who shares my non-identity simply meant that the cliche sucks. PVP is presumably not going to turn into the Jade's Mother Show, so there's no reason to stop returning purely on her account.

Tacky melodrama is tacky melodrama whether it happens the way it happened or it happens the way FSM rewrote it. The important thing is that it is proably finished with for the time being. The character is introduced, the wedding is going ahead.

Anonymous said...

Hmm. This time around, I'm not really buying the starting point for TSFM's critique, i.e., that Jade's mother has an uninteresting reason for calling off the wedding. Sure, she SAYS it's just because she hasn't met Brent, but given everything else that she says it seems clear that there's a lot more deep-rooted bitterness and mistrust behind that.

We may see a lot of characters like that in various media, but that doesn't mean that they're unrealistic or uninteresting. Might it be interesting to have some more exploration of Jade's mom's character, what makes her tick and where the bitchery comes from? Sure. Does that need to be explored right now for the wedding storyline to work? Not really.

And frankly, given the way these things tend to go on television (etc.), if the wedding goes through at all it'll be defying some clichés.

Jai said...

I can't recommend feeding the anonymice, Mr. Kurtz.

@ Evan (On twist last panel endings): Yes, those are a huge staple of comic strips. Gag comic strips, usually. Not so much in dramatic story arcs, except for soap operas ("Ai yi yi, Maria! Your step-sister's evil doppelganger that's come back from the grave to clone our baby is a man!"). Now, I never said I had a problem with the recent rash of them . . . and, mostly, I don't. But I think it's a downward trend, since they're either entirely unfunny (Being wholly dramatic in nature) or uninteresting (Personal view, since I am not enamoured with the wedding drama that's going on) or not-actually-unpredictable-at-all (I.e., you can see the last panel's twist joke coming from a mile . . . uh, a panel away. Uh. You can see the joke plainly by reading the third panel, I guess is what I'm saying. Usually, this lands the twist into "entirely unfunny" territory, but even an old joke is better than no joke).

I still don't have a problem with the story, I just have absolutely no praises to sing about it. It works. That's not a compliment, but it works and at the end of the arc we get the "Brent & Jade get hitched" fanservice. Not as interesting as the end of the paint ball arc, sure, but fanservice very rarely is ever "interesting". And while we're comparing, obviously the wedding story is much BETTER than the paintball one, although Mr. Kurtz is undoubtedly sick to death by now of hearing about the paintball arc.

I think TFSM's alternate storyline would also be serviceable, but until I see the real one end it's hard to say which I prefer.

Anonymous said...

Your story arc is even more boring. Maybe that's the reason you don't have your own comic and have to live feeding off someone elses work.

vaultkeeper said...

FSM, I gotta say your story idea is about as cliche as Kurtz's, I think it's identical to a special wedding episode of Saved by the Bell(which was an exuse to send the cast to Hawaii).

That being said I would have actually enjoyed seeing it over the current arch. At least with your idea the characters are heading to new "sets," unlike the mansion.

Mr. Kurtz, you've basically admitted to pandering to your lowest common denominator of a fan. I hope after this arch you will break new ground with things because really your excuse can't last forever.

I come back to your strip because I have fond memories of "the old days" and am hoping I'll find the entertainment I once did.

vaultkeeper said...

Oh, and for those that think every form of storytelling has turned cliche I'd like to point you to

Pretty much every strip there is innovative in its art and storytelling.

It can be done.

Jai said...

Heh, yeah, there's only a couple of Transmission X comics that I don't absolutely adore. They've got good stuff going on over there, I just wish that ALL of them were able to update more often.

Anonymous said...

ok, so the best way i can think of to explain my problem with the wedding storyline is to make it a larger explanation.

to me, pvp isnt ridiculous enough.
a comic strip or a half hour animated show is a series of 'shaggy dog' jokes.
Whether its the simpsons, calvin and hobbes 2 week stretches, or pogo strips, each increment strip sets forth a shaggy dog exaggeration and builds on the previous. i remember the simpsons history because its built on so many laughlines, but each plotpoint is a joke

pvp drawn in a humorous way, the character designs are rounded and simplified enough to be silly, but they dont act very silly anymore.

every turn of this wedding storyline has been milquetoast. the established characters who have been around for years have the excuse that they are fully developed, and therefore write themselves into corners at times. (and i get that limitation)

but the mom? where is her ridiculousness? what does she object to in brent, aside from that hes not rich? (i did laugh at the 'express your self' line though) her concerns were all too real of a characters,

and when we go to robby and butler
(the uncle scrooge/ mr burns/ Ray smuckles character) the plot point is not about him trying to do anything outlandish with the wedding, but just that he is giving it as a gift to his friends. What does the exageratedly rich friend ever exist for but to pump some jokes into the story?

scott, you have all the plotpoints and character motivations in place for a good rollicking tale, but you seem afraid to make your baby as comedic as possible. and after ten years i understand that. but either snap out of it and make with the funny, or go fully fledged rex morgan MD, because this almost funny almost a joke crap is killing me.

Anonymous said...

maybe jase will show up.
and his girlfriend.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the link, anonymous. That use of the term "shaggy dog" went way over my little head.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe I just read all this. Is this seriously how y'all spend your time? Just read the damn comic and enjoy it, or don't and go to the next one.

Anonymous said...

Oh, anonymous, when will you learn that there is nothing long with spending a few minutes day refining your perspective while showing off how smart you think you are?

Jai said...

Maturation was great! The dialogue is - dare I say it - scintillating, and the characters look animated ("Animated" as in, "lively").

Haha, I think those last five anonymice cover the complete spectrum of anonymous comments, missing only the "And now, here's a fat joke!" hue. All the way from "Real person" to "I can't believe people are spending huge chunks of wasted time on this" to "Ambiguously snide"!

Anonymous said...

A mouth full of Saturation.

Craig said...

If it was so predictable, then how'd you miss it in your prognostication post, Kreskin?

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