Wednesday, September 24, 2008

One Note Brent

Today's strip (ugh... Sexcraft... ewww) illustrates something I've said before and still continues to bother me:

There isn't enough emotional variance in the PVP characters. Part of what makes things feel dramatic is the swing of emotions that occur when characters react to certain stimuli. This sets off mirror neurons in the readers which is what helps us feel like part of the action.

Brent goes from confused to disappointed in panels 1-3 (I'll leave the final panel out of this because it's The Big Reveal). Both of those are on the negative side of the emotion chart, so Brent (and thus we) are left pretty much where we were when we started.

It would make for a better ride if Brent had telegraphed his desire for sexy-time in the first panel, all hopeful and anticipatory. This lets us share in his eventual let down, but in the strip he's already feeling let down, so we don't really have far to go.

I'm not saying he needs to be all Heff-ed up in a smoking jacket and such, but a smile sometimes is nice.

50 comments:

jlivingston said...

I read your blog from time to time. I think most of your critiques are off the mark. Like the monitor being too light (come on, really? I know you said it was a really minor point, but the less important parts of an illustration are supposed to be light or vague. I think it was well done.)

This critique struck me, however. It's a very, very good point. A smile on Brett's face, and a slight alteration of his question ("Hey, are you coming to bed?"), would have made a big difference in this strip.

Nevertheless, PVP definitely does not make me sad. :)

Ian said...

Hmm, I'd like to disagree with one of your comments. What's left unsaid is often funnier than what IS said (Penny Arcade employs this to great effect) and so I would say that showing the anticipation\buildup might actually hinder the joke rather than help.

I do agree that the joke was awkward and could have been pulled off in a more suave manner (I'm not sure how though)but overall I really enjoyed this comic and think it was a great way to bring back Skull.

Ian said...

Reading Jlivingston's post I'm more inclined to agree. I initially thought you were talking about showing the buildup\anticipation some other way

paulsouthworth said...

What's on the monitor is an incidental background detail and there's no reason in the world why we'd need to see more detail than is provided.

It's just enough to indicate that she's playing a computer game, and that's all we need to know.

Fake Scott McCloud said...

For the record -- I didn't mention problems with the art. That was the other post.

paulsouthworth said...

Oh.

That guy.

Cheerfully withdrawn!

fgrd said...

I felt this strip was fitting.

http://mitchclem.com/mystupidlife/graphics/strips/20080924.gif

Esoteric Scribe said...

In my defense, the monitor thing wasn't a big deal for me. I almost didn't mention it, but it was something that I wouldn't have minded seeing more detail on.

paulsouthworth said...

Just say you needed to pad out your post with superfluous fluff.

It's okay, we understand!

Esoteric Scribe said...

Is that the royal we?

Brett Schiller (Sage) said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jeff said...

I removed PVP off my Firefox toolbar because of this strip.

Skull being gone was a big deal. And to get him back it consisted of his cat going to Magic Land, having a mini fight and then, "Okay Skull can go back."

Then today, ding! He's back. What a waste of a good story line. Bad taste Mr. Kurtz. This was a chance to do something epic. Instead it just meandered along and putterd out in the end.

Good bye PVP, hello PVPMMS.

Brett Schiller (Sage) said...

Yep very good art and the joke/reunion was very good. I guess its either 1)Francis 2)Marci 3 back to Brent or 4) Scratch that will be his "friend" to keep him in the PVP world.

I agree with the face that in the first panel it just sounds like hes asking if shes coming to get to sleep not SLEEP ;). If the 2nd was changed to more of a "that game spends more time with my wife then i do" or a "suggestive eyebrow"TM was placed in the first it would have been smoother

Also who knew Brent and Jade had a fish (or at least a filled fish bowl)

kurtz said...

jeff: "Goodbye PvP, hello a blog dedicated to reading the strip I just swore off of."

Jeff said...

kurtz: Nice witty come back, to bad you weren't that brilliant with Insult the Comic Dog...

Julia said...

Does kurtz = scott?

kurtz said...

weird. yeah. It's me. It's like Blogger decided to give me a different screen name or something.

kurtz said...

jeff,

The point of being on screen with Triumph is NOT to try to out-insult him. He's the star of that clip, not me. I just let him do his thing and got on NATIONAL TELEVISION.

There were layer of clever there that you're not even seeing.

Jeff said...

All right, I'll give you that one Kurtz.

Now that I have your attention, why don't you actually give a rebuttal to the points I've made.

Makes it look like you can't handle what I'm saying, because you realize that you did in fact drop the ball.

I'm waiting to be buried by your layer of clever.

paulsouthworth said...

Scott, you clearly can't handle what Jeff is dishing out. It's too intense for you. It's blowing your mind.

Why don't you sit down for a minute and catch your breath before you quit comics forever.

R.W.McGee said...

Just for the hell of it, I held my hand in front of the middle two panels of the strip, and just read panel 1 and 4...and I laughed hysterically. Sometimes you have to make your own fun.


As far as the 'official' version, it basically served it's purpose. The 'significant other interested in video games more than sex' meme isn't quite as stale as some others, but it has a fairly well worn tread.

Still it got us where we were going; Skull is back. I am curious to see Brent's reaction.

Julia said...

RW, it's like an xkcd strip!

Brett Schiller (Sage) said...

Id like to agree that Jeff is being annoying because how can you swear off the strip that you talk about on this site. Also, he seems a little more willing to pick a fight (like some other people on here) so I side with Paul and Scott/Kurtz on this on (hangs head in shame).

Brett Schiller (Sage) said...

Also, if you notice the rest of the people on with Insult didn't get a lot of interplay with him. (now it is a comic-con and the social skills are still in the crysalis stage for most of the people despite being adults but still) The point of the scene was him to insult them, not their "witty" retorts. Thankfully for Scott he was not the one wedgied

Jeff said...

Brett:

If you read the exchange, I didn't "pick a fight". I made my case, and it was "kurtz" that decided to bring it down for a moment (as he does tend to do).

Admittedly I got caught up in that for a moment, but now I seriously want to hear Scott's rebuttal on my points.

I have read PVP for years. I was a fan at one point. But recently I've just been let down more and more each day. So I've come to this site to voice my complaint.

Unfortunately I don't think I'll get any real discussion on any of this.

Rdy said...

"I am curious to see Brent's reaction."

I'm guessing it won't be utter shame in essentially forgetting about him but it should be.

Jeff said...

rdy
"'I am curious to see Brent's reaction.'

I'm guessing it won't be utter shame in essentially forgetting about him but it should be."

/claps

Brett Schiller (Sage) said...

Well he heard your opinion that , if he doesnt want to answer them. Demanding a response and then putting on the "sarcasm hat" does nothing for the discourse you are loknig for.

Im just saying the asshat has been passed around from me to scott to Paul on frequent occasions it just rests on your head right now.

Jeff said...

Brett:

You were quick to label me as attacking Kurtz, but are now doing it yourself.

Perhaps you'd like to tell me why the story line as presented is strong and inspired. And that my arguments are off base.

TheOriginalJes said...

I just thought of something that I find interesting.

Wouldn't it be cool/intriguing if Brent, having officially grown up and spent some time without Skull, could no longer perceive him as a troll?

Since Madeline said that the others at PVP still need him, wouldn't it make sense do it that way to prevent Brent from forming a re-attachment? And now the others would have to try to convince Brent that Skull IS a troll?

I'd welcome any thoughts...

Jeff said...

I think that's a great way to take it. Could have some really funny strips where Brent thinks that Skull is another panda.

The Peanut Gallery said...

Who raids BT these days anyways with the expansion coming out so soon? Srsly...

kurtz said...

Jeff, the only point you made was that you felt the resolution wasn't "epic" enough and was a real "waste."

How exactly am I supposed to rebut that? Should I come back with "yes, it was epic?"

I don't feel like I dropped the ball. Today's strip isn't the last strip in this arc, there's still more to come, but again. I'm not sure what I'm supposed to be rebutting.

Reader said...

kurtz said: How exactly am I supposed to rebut that? Should I come back with "yes, it was epic?"

How about why you felt it didn't need to be epic?

Brett Schiller (Sage) said...

I never said it was strong and inspired.

I do believe that the Scratch exploration for Skull was a little drawn out for such a quick resolution with some notes ihtting and not. The last two with Skull punch lines have been very good, first with the dig at ethan and Skull's frustration at that was funny. And todays was a good sudden intro of Skull back into Brent's world, as sudden as he was taken away.

Listen Ive had my frustrations with an arc (paintball!) and with Kurtz and his community, I was banned from the forums after all (and I don't think he was even sick about it like he said he was!). But you claimed that you were giving up PVP and just coming here, which is diametrically opposed and he called you on it. He is a blogger on here as much as you and me and doesn't HAVE to answer anything just because you ask it.

Then you say "Makes it look like you can't handle what I'm saying, because you realize that you did in fact drop the ball.

I'm waiting to be buried by your layer of clever."

Come on the level of snark in that drips and you aren't looking for a discussion you are looking for ANSWERS! like a crusader its just stupid.

Jeff said...

Kurtz:

I'll give my two biggest complaints

1. Everyone forgot about Skull and went on about their lives, despite vowing to get him back.

This displays a real lack of love for their big blue friend. "Eh, he was an okay guy. To bad we lost our temp."

2. Scratch spent a day in Magic Land, demanded Skull back. Got into a little scuffle and then, "Okay he can go back."

Way to easy. You've setup that these beings are very powerful and they're just going to roll over for some cat?

Scott, you do a great job of setting up wonderful stories. I just wish the follow through was there with it.

kurtz said...

1) Nobody forgot about Skull. Brent and Jade talked about him quite a bit. Clearly Scratch was pining away after him. But maybe the adults in the strip just decided to move on. That's life, after all. People come in and out of your life. I think Brent and Cole deciding to "get skull back" and invade magic land would have been a little out of character for them. Not so for Scratch. In fact, I think Scratch was the perfect character to go after Skull. To me, in my head and my heart, that fit.

2)Scratch clearly threatened the entire reality of magic land. Whether you think it was a stupid concept or not, Scratch could basically "prove" most of magic land out of existence. That seems like more than enough leverage to me to get one Troll reassigned to a family. Clearly Mads saw that it would do less damage to return Skull than to have Scratch continue to wage war on magic land. At least that was my thinking.

So many of you insist that I should follow through more with storylines and then if I do you complain that they drag on too long. I try to hit all the emotional high points and move on. There's no need for me to drag stuff out for a gazillion strips so we can touch on every single possible point.

98% of my readership fills in those gaps just fine. I'm not sure what the mental block is of some people who post here. It's like you have no imaginations.

Brett Schiller (Sage) said...

Hey i have a figment doll in my room I have plenty of imagination

. .. Oops shouldn't have revealed that

Brett Schiller (Sage) said...

Plus it doesn't matter anyway we'll be trading goats for currency in a week. thank god I stocked up

kurtz said...

explaining writing choices post-strip is like explaining to people where you get your ideas. There's no right way to address it. That's the story I wrote. If it falls short, hopefully I'll get better. The work will speak for itself.

But honestly, I can handle you guys asking the "right" questions better than the stupid ones. I don't so much mind asking "why didn't brent do anything to get skull back." That at least is an interesting thread to examine.

But so much of this site is "Skull's back! How did he get to their apartment? did he take a bus? Why didn't Scott show him taking the bus?" Buh. Who cares?

John said...

Scott;

I agree with your last post about the trivial vs. useful questions to be asked. People who are wondering "how did Skull get to the apartment?" and criticizing you for that are really fishing for complaints.

That said, this arc (and thus the whole build up since the wedding) feels disapointing. Actually, it feels like an '80s cartoon, where at the end of the episode or whatever everything has to be back to "normal." (Quick aside: I'm not saying Skull shouldn't have EVER come back, I just feel it's too quick). And the Scratch things was a really irritating dues ex machina problem.

Additionally, what if Skull doesn't WANT to go back? I mean, he was never shown to be trying to get back to PVP. Certainly, he didn't have the easiest time adjusting to his new kids, but that didn't mean that he wanted to go back to PVP.

And while yes, the "adults" got on with their lives, so did the "kids," Marcy and Francis. Who the hell knows what Skull's girlfriend Sonya thought about it, she was never shown. So do any of them CARE that Skull comes back? I mean Brent probably does, but other than that? If Skull had been left gone for 6 months to a year, you could have shown that they all tried to move on, but couldn't, or it was really hard and sad, thus the emotional high when the eventual returned happened would be greater.

And yes, I think that Brent & Cole COULD invade Magic Land. They invaded the ape people, and the alternate dimension, so it's not without precedent. But damn, I'm happy they didn't. Real happy.

The Trouble said...

@Kurtz - I don't really think you need to or should have to defend every decision you make about the comic to us here. By the time we see it it's already been published and it's basically to late to change anything. At the risk of sounding cliche, you can't please everyone.

Skulls journey from Magic Land (is that the official name now? :) to Brent's bedroom door wasn't shown because there wasn't anything to show.

However, the post we're all commenting on was, I think, 100% constructive criticism. Agree with it or disagree with it, it came from a place of intentions.

The Trouble said...

good intentions, is what I meant.

TheOriginalJes said...

Scott said -

"2)Scratch clearly threatened the entire reality of magic land. Whether you think it was a stupid concept or not, Scratch could basically "prove" most of magic land out of existence. That seems like more than enough leverage to me..."

(Smacking palm to forehead) The Original Jes says...

So THAT's the point behind re-using that gag. Tres subtle, Scott.

In that case, may I suggest (for future events) that you not let the hero's "big gun" show too soon.

(Oh, damn...I just thought of this one. If Scratch had pulled out a blackboard from nowhere and instructed the chimera in it's non-existence...like the Cuervo commercial...)

Scott said...

-"So many of you insist that I should follow through more with storylines and then if I do you complain that they drag on too long."-

TheOriginalJes says...

No, not that their too long. The climax just doesn't live up to the suspense. Maybe a different cadence might help. It's something for your inner-circle to consider (or snicker over, or whatever...I mean you've spent nearly a week here, now. You can't deny we mean something to you.


You love us, don't you, Scott)

Sorry. That's what happens to my brain after 7 pm.

Scott said...

-"But honestly, I can handle you guys asking the "right" questions better than the stupid ones."-

TheOriginalJes says...

Hey, watch it, pal. Some of your answers have been pretty stupid, too.

Scott said...

-"But so much of this site is "Skull's back! How did he get to their apartment? did he take a bus? Why didn't Scott show him taking the bus?" Buh. Who cares?"-

And -Jes says...

And that's exactly the kind of stuff that makes our sans-artiste discussions fun for us. Exploring our own possibilities and understandings. Even alternate events that you don't choose to explore.

That's our right as fans. But, if it makes it easier...everyone's invited to my house to discuss it over coffee and cheesecake. (Just not on Fridays at 10 p.m.) This way, you won't be struck out of context by someone's glib-ness.

We may even post a pod-cast. ;D

(Hey, the asshat really IS one size fits all. Ha.)

Brett Schiller (Sage) said...

I agree Jes, plus my head is big is has to be one-size

Julia said...

Jes, can we do it this Saturday? I can be there by 5!

jessica said...

Oh man... I don't post here too often, and maybe this isn't really the purpose of this 'forum', but I like it more than the comic forums themselves...

I gotta say it, I LOVE today's strip! Oy. I see a lot of nuance here. Skull CAN'T go back to his technical 'home' amongst the magical creatures. 'least that's what I got from it.

Brett Schiller (Sage) said...

Good reunion strip :)

Ethan said...

I think it's pretty funny that anyone with any real criticism or praise is outshouted by the more... enthusiastic detractors/fans.

Anyway, I liked the strip. Not a fan of the whole by any means, but it's parts like this that keep me reading.

Jai said...

The problem with the "climax" of Scratch's invasion of Candy Land is that it consisted of a woman entering the scene and saying, "Harrumph! Men!" to make the problem go away.

I'm pretty sure we all realize how old and busted that cliché is, too. I daresay I've heard it mocked on a few Webcomics Weekly episodes, for that matter.

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