Thursday, July 31, 2008

What the?

Why the hell is the dotted line the Family Troll - Part Four as straight as an arrow? It goes through solid objects, which a FC dotted line never does.

I'm fairly certain the joke is supposed to be "they'll never think to come this way, but, ha ha, they've left a thick dotted line behind them!"

Even if it's not, this is a big old FAIL. The whole point of the Family Circus dotted line strips is that the lines meander as the children meander, all over the neighborhood, into houses, shops, trees, etc. The whole point of the FC dotted line joke is that children are hard to keep up with because they will go for whatever attracts their eye.

This seems to be pure laziness. If you're going to do an homage or a parody, don't neglect to include the most iconic aspect of the thing you are referencing.

Other than that, I'm enjoying the Foxtrot element.

Update: I realized after I posted this, and the first commenter pointed out: the whole joke might be that the line is straight, and the FC kids wouldn't be able to find them because it is straight. Fair enough, I retract my opinion that it's big FAIL.

However, I think there's potential for a much better joke there, a clearer one. A decoy dotted line leading away from Skull and whatshisname would have been cleverer, implying that the dotted lines, which don't really exist in the world of the comic (but only to the reader), are actually real.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Going Somewhere?

I think (I hope) I know what's going on.

SK might be giving us a series of Skull-in-other-comics vignettes -- first there was Skull in C&H, now Skull in Family Circus.

This, I can get behind. As good or bad as they are (the C&H ones were good, the recent FC ones are bad), once we're through them all (what's next -- Skull in Mary Worth? that would be awesome) they'll look a lot better in hindsight.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Nits and Picks

I like the Family Circus take offs (Family Troll - Part One), if only because they are of obviously limited scope and they break us away from last week's god-awful filler material.

I have two nits to pick, one with each comic. One is worth reading, the other not; I'll let you decide which is which.

Comic 1: In the Family Circus, dialog not not cross the comic/caption wall. If it does, the caption is commentary on the dialog in the comic, eg, the parents commenting on the children without involvement with the children. The Family Circus formula does not support A then B conversation across the wall.

Yes, I just made all that crap up, but I think it's true, and this is not an exception that proves the rule.

Bzzzt. See the comments for links to multiple Family Circuses that prove me wrong.

Comic 2: Perhaps this is a small piece of social commentary hidden inside a Simpsons joke disguised as a parody of a comic strip, but the strip is incomplete without being able to see Skull's reaction.

What's the joke? That the kid has seen the Simpsons and mispronounces homosexuals? That the kid is a homophobe (or has homophobic parents)? Perhaps both?

Seeing as having homosexual parents is nothing to be concerned about, I would expect a "Whoa! Kid! WTF!" look on Skull's face. Of course this is part of my world-view; perhaps it is not part of Scott's. In which case I would still expect to see Skull's face, and it would register a beatific "Ain't I teaching him well!" expression -- but I do not think this is the case.

But, since we can't see his face, we have NO IDEA what the intention of the joke is, which, in my mind, is a cowardly thing to do, and should have prevented the strip from being published.

Update: Commenters are right: There is an additional interpretation, and that is that both strips are commentary on the Christian nature of Family Circus. Fair enough, but Skull's reaction is still critical to the success of that panel.

Friday, July 25, 2008

First of all, in case you have been living in a cave, I'd like to recommend you check out Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog. Well worth the price.

Second, I know we've been wishing for more gag strips to get us away from the heavy stories that drag on and on, but I just don't think anybody can win lately. After two crap-tacular one-offs, today's Scratch strip (which, I admit, isn't half bad on the heart-strings-tugging front) is hopefully the intro to the Return of Skull story. It would be happening sooner than I would have expected, but, please, I am losing faith. PVP is no longer making me sad because I no longer expect anything good.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

I hope this is going somewhere

I Hate Lamp may as well have been called I Hate Jokes. There's no funny here -- at the most there's an "Oh nose!"

If this is a one-shot strip it seems like a terrible, terrible strip.

However, it may be a terrible strip with a purpose (a hidden cache of X-Men comics valuable enough to send Francis to college?), so I will wait and see. (I am not reading ahead.)

(UPDATE: It was not going anywhere.)

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

To the WABAC machine, Sherman!

Thanks to a PVP reader more astute than the rest of us, I have gone back and dug this up:

I smell a retcon in the works.

Three Things

Attempting to be snark-free today:

1. Awkwaaarrrd was awkward, and not because we all dislike the story so much. The corner where they meet splits both panels two and three in half and makes the strip a bit of a muddle. They kind of get confused for gutters, but I'm not sure how I would fix it. Actually, maybe shading the wall would help -- my crappy attempt to demonstrate follows:

Panel three is tough anyway. How do you make it clear that a panda is pretending to look at his non-existent watch? You do what SK did, I guess, but I would have placed the arm a bit lower so as to see all of the panda's mouth. It kind of looks like he's wiping his mouth, which is what I initially thought he was doing. You know, after the coffee splashed and all.

2. Unaccepted doesn't make much sense as a title for the strip, and I'm confused as to why Cole is acting all father figure-y.

"I was thinking along the lines of... for you" is a line reserved for someone with actual authority over a kid's life, which a boss is not. The line would have been better as something like "I thought you were thinking about the community college in town..." Actually, the strip would have been better without Cole, as a conversation between peers.

And without the awkwardly-phrased ten-year-old pop culture reference in the punchline. (A little snark -- sorry.) I don't mind pop culture, I do mind awkward phrasing; it just reads as lazy. You can get the same joke, and a better cadence, with "Maybe you could get hired as a janitor, then 'Good Will Hunting' your way into the program."

(My specific critiques: "janitor" both flows nicer and more specifically references GWH; we don't need to know that it's an undergraduate program.)

3. When you wake up after 4 hours of pseudo-sleep, make sure your leg isn't still asleep otherwise when you try to stand you might get an rapid involuntary close-up view of the floor. Which hurts.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Rape is Hilarious (or: someone owes me 20 bucks)

Ok -- the title of this post is a bit inflammatory, as I don't actually imagine that a female panda succeeded in raping Brent (To the victor...). But -- the punchline doesn't work at all if that's not the implication. I actually think the punchline was a decent bit of writing, even though I think the strip itself (and the entire storyline) is worth less than a little.

In any case, I am going to hope that this is the end of the panda saga, and we can return to something... what? I don't even know what to hope for.

It's a sad day when you're hoping for filler material.

I have decided not to pre-read the banked strips even though I see they are already being discussed in the comments. I can only take so much in one day.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Oh my aching back

I have cash money that says that the girl panda is about to find Brent-chun* the most attractive thing evar. (Wax off) Someone please take me up on it, 'cause SK might change the story line if he knew it was going to cost me money.

As a side note, and trying to get in the panda spirit, I think we should all chip in and buy SK this book. I've spotted 2 other apostrophe use errors since he let one slip into a recent strip (the other errors weren't in a strip).

* "chun" is apparently Texan for "I'd rather make stuff up than put some effort in." (Ugh -- sorry. That was a cheap shot; lately they've been too easy to resist. While I work on my own personal demons, I hope everyone can see through my horseshit -- PVP is some high quality shit, yo! At least I know Kurtz isn't reading this. (oh snap!))

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Attack of the Linguists!

This didn't bother me until the headband and the bonsai tree showed up in today's strip (A Challenger has appeared!):

  1. PVP's Panda Whisperer, if his traditional headband and bansai tree are any indication, is Japanese. (Mr. Miyagi is also Japanese.)

  2. After checking around, "Panda-chun" doesn't seem to mean anything. I'd guess that either it's made up, or it's supposed to be the Japanese "chan", which is a term of endearment. (I studied Japanese, and I checked with native Chinese and Japanese speakers, but I suppose we could be missing something. It's also the western spelling of common Korean last name.) "Panda-chan" could make sense, in that it's a real word (even though it doesn't mean "one who channels the spirit of", or anything like it) but, again, only in Japanese.

  3. Pandas are Chinese.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Dork Tower

I am not John Kovalic fan -- it's not that he Makes Me Sad™, it's just that I don't care for his stuff. I kind of grew up reading his stuff and I never liked it.

That having been said, this week seems to be worth reading, as it seems to be about topics near and dear to our hearts.

» Dork Tower

A Quick Break

I would be remiss if I did not make sure everyone knows that Roast Beef and Molly got married over in Achewood this week.

The wedding strip itself is not very newcomer-friendly (at least half the panels require some serious Achewood knowledge to fully understand), but it's exactly right for the characters and the strip.

The whole arc has been amazing, and I will not be making any comparisons to the recent PVP wedding.

I hate this SO MUCH

You want to know why I haven't been writing much about the latest story line? Because I HATE IT. I can't be objective about it. I can't even process the words to try and be objective about it.

So here is some crap that I can't claim to be worth reading. much less writing, but maybe if I get it out it will help.

I appreciate the Miyagi knock-off; I have a soft-spot for the original Karate Kid. But every single joke in this story has been recycled crap.

  • The hi-larious formality of the WWF agent with his "It's a snub. Repeat. It's a snub." (Ha! It's like he's from the CIA! Heeeey -- he even dresses like he's from the CIA!)

  • "Panda crack." Just to check on the freshness of this particular joke, let's go to the Google: "like crack for *" -- on the first page of results we have crack for babies, hippies, ears, geeks, kids and knitters. If the knitters are hip to a joke, I think we can safely say it has been around the block.

  • "Panda porn." Oh my... pandas watch porn? Who knew? Oh wait -- everybody. The panda is only the most documented endangered species on the planet; we know they have famously low libidos, and we know they watch "porn". We've known since Fox News covered it in 2007, or when CNN covered it in 2006, or when BoingBoing talked about it in 2004!

  • "The Panda Whisperer." Can jokes start jumping back from the other side of the shark? Maybe they can!

  • "HA! Oh my god. You do dress like a panda." This is just plain ridiculous. Pandas don't wear clothes. (A little grammar joke there to break up the tension. Did it work?)

But, oh well. It's just too bad there hasn't been any other panda-related events from which fresh material could have been pulled.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


I will explain myself.

My problem with the two punch-out panels is not that they're too similar. It's not that they're too cliche. It's not that they look bad (they both look great as a matter of fact).

My problem is that, visually, IT'S THE SAME JOKE.

I don't care what you do, or who you work for, if you're just re-hashing old ideas, you're failing.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Uppercut! Uppercut! Waiting for the... WAAAITAMINUTE...

I like the pandas, but the fisticuffs are a little familiar.

That is all for now. Sorry.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

3 Things

1. I'd love to know -- is the agent really handshake dissing Brent in yesterday's strip? If he is... That's an awesome thing that just got added to my vocabulary. I had never thought about putting a name to it before.

On the other hand, it makes very little sense in the context of the strip. If Brent is offering his hand, it would only be in order to hasten the agent's departure by hurrying along the "well, thanks for coming" phase of the conversation, which isn't reflected in his dialogue. I guess I can see it, but it's a stretch, and obviously wasn't my first thought.

2. Has PVP jumped the shark? Possibly. I would argue that Brent has mos def jumped the shark and every other fish in the pool. We know him too well. We have watched him grow and mature the last few months, through the wedding, through learning to deal with the parents, through saying goodbye to Skull.

But this kind of growth is hardly conducive to freeing Kurtz to make any new and novel uses of Brent (unless a baby is on the way), or even to using him in the same old ways. New Brent™ is now a straight man, a Dean Martin, or at least more Dean Martin than he used to be. But: Brent has no Jerry Lewis. Brent used to be the Jerry Lewis, so now we're a straight man heavy.

It's time for other characters to step up, fill the wacky shoes.

3. The gray background in the fourth last panel of today's strip is the most interesting part of it -- and that's a problem.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008


... as if you couldn't tell.

The last week of strips has been completely uninspiring to me. I'm not sure what it is -- we've been in Heavy Story-land for quite a while, and I have no way to express how much I don't care about Brent and Jade returning from Niagara Falls or the new panda coming to town (Pandora's Box - Part One).

My last couple of posts have been as uninspiring as they have been uninspired (as has been noted with frequency in the comments), and it's because I thought posting something was better than nothing. I'm not sure where I fall on that particular issue at the moment, but lately the strips have been SO uninspiring that I haven't even had the strength to put up an Open Thread post.

And then I realized. PVP is making me sad again.

Lately, after an initial burst of creativity upon acquiring the Cintiq, the art has become flatter and flatter, to the extent that in today's third panel Brent and the WWF agent seem to be occupying the same space (my actual first thought: why is Brent caressing him?). This is a disappointing departure from the week of Skull strips (the last one especially), which, in retrospect, may have been simply an homage to C&H, and not an indicator of art to come.

I think part of my returned disenchantment also comes from the fact that I'm bone tired of Brent. I grant that Brent is a very important character, but when was the last time Brent was not the center of attention, or at least right next to it?

This is off the top of my head, but the top of your head is where you remember things, and things not in the top of your head obviously haven't made much of an impression:

  • Divorce story? Brent as shoulder-to-cry-on.

  • Paintball story? Brent's nipple disaster.

  • Introducing the Parents? Runup to the Wedding? The Wedding itself? Brent as maturing adult.

  • Wedding/Skull Leaves story? Brent leaves childish things behind.

  • Wedding/Virginity Lost story? Brent as disapproving father figure.

  • Skull Takes on a New Client Story? Had to be introduced by two strips of Brent.

  • Scratch Fury Freaks Out story? Waiting for Brent to return. No Brent to speak of. But no real point either.

I recognize other non-Brent-related things have happened, but they seem to have been the exception. PVP is becoming less of an ensemble piece and more Everybody Loves Brent.

And now, here we are, introducing what is sure to be the ultimate Brent As Panda-phobe story. How many jokes are there to be made about someone being afraid of pandas? I guess we're going to find out.

Either that or we're getting a lot of Hott Panda on Panda Action.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Open Thread: It's a Trap!

Again, not much to say. Aside from Scratch looking weird (the anonymous commenter can suck it -- he looks weird, I don't have to say why; tomorrow is a holiday and I am lazy), the art is cool, but the joke falls flat.

Observation: Brent in 3/4 doesn't look nearly as weird (suck it!) as Cole.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Open Thread: Let’s talk about sex.

Not much to say about today's strip, it's fine. I like the way Brent is drawn in the last panel.

BTW: Have you seen the new comic in the right column? Menage a 3 is a new thrice-weekly comic that shows some promise. Newly added to my bookmarks.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Is Cole a Muppet?

I liked today's strip (Welcome Back) -- It's a refreshing dose of gaming humor.

I've decided to stop feeling bad about nitpicking -- some commenters are down on it, and I was questioning what I would and wouldn't let myself write about. But fuck that noise. If something bugs me, I'm saying it:

Cole's mouth in the first panel is just weird. That reverse 3/4 view rarely works out for him.

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