Thursday, December 11, 2008

Falling Behind

So I've been pretty quiet over the last week and if anyone's really missed my commentary, apologies. Real life has been kicking my ass all over the place. I've still had enough time to watch you guys discuss things though, and to see Kurtz drudge up his usual complaints about this place.

To play catch up, here are some rapid fire thoughts on the last few strips.

Original Content: This just feels like Kurtz had a day of "I don't have a joke prepared, so I'll make fun of my critics." As filler strips go, it's pretty blah.

Time to light the lights: It's a cute little reference and the muppet style just cements it. God knows my friends and I have killed time applying even dorkier discussion to other shows of the 80s. I'm not entirely sold on Rolf being the muppet Jesus though. But I'm more of a Gonzo man, myself.

Christmas Time is here: Maybe I'm being a grinch, but I hope Scratch tries to mathmatics Santa away this year. Also, the line "not quite, my head elf" just reads poorly to me.


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

from his twitter post it looks like the PA guys helped to plan a Kringus epic this year. Scott seems to streamline the good things he does when he's with them so I have hope (and no scott Im not saying they're the ONLY reason this maybe good. If a director was working with SPielberg or Tarantino I'd say the same thing.)

Didnt want to have you be insulted by that.

Esoteric Scribe said...


I hate to disappoint, but I'm not FSM.

Rdy said...

Re: Muppets. I didn't really follow the 'makes-you-think' logic of the strip either. All of Dr. Teeth and The Electric Mayhem could be considered good at their chosen calling. Even Statler and Waldorf achieved their goals every week. So 'one exception... apart from' and the whole thing collapses.

Brett Schiller (Sage) said...

Today's strip
It was a first strip in an arc so nothing too funny is expected of it but hopefully this christmas arc is good. ARt was great, good background and detail, plus seeing Scratch's eye and mouth in the tree is ridiculous in a funny way

Brett Schiller (Sage) said...

@ ES
Oops, sorry about that good to hear from you and I hope you too have mostly a busy problem then a serious problem

I had to delete that post or people might think i'm fallable or something!

Sorry again ES :)

birdman said...


That and the fact that perpetual failure has been a common trope in comedy for as long as comedy has existed. Hell, even Aristotle noted that comical characters tend to be "average to below average."

TheOriginalJes said...

@ ES

Nice idea, but Santa Clause is human. Also Saint Nicholas was a real person; so, at best, all that would do is make him really, Really old, or kill him.

Not a kid-friendly (or christian sentiment. Unless your die-hard religious. Then, rejoice in the Indiana Jones: TLC-style "Santa turns to dust" renewal of the season of giving.

The elves on the other hand...wait a second. If the elves go, then wouldn't Skull, as a fellow mythical, have to...
...didn't we *just* finish campaigning to get Skull back? That's a TERRible idea! What were you thi...!!

Ok, okay...[breathe]
Kringus!! I love Kringus. How will science and technology to up against "Big Red" this year? Will they take it to the cyber-streets in some sort of North Pole post-apocalyptic MMORPG?

I'm all excited now!

aaaantoine said...

In "Original Content", I like the throwback to the old style artwork. Also, for those not interested in looking it up:

1. That's not an actual panel from April '99.
2. You don't want to look through 10 comic strips? That's just lazy.

John said...

RE: 12/12 comic

"Jungle Force Five"? Really?

Is he getting the power rangers or something?

TheOriginalJes said...

@ John

"Fox Force Five"- Pulp Fiction

A Nonny Mouse said...

I don't really like pulling out the "someone else did it!" line, but I can't help holding this new story against the Santa vs. Bun Bun plot that Sluggy Freelance was running for many years. There's no such thing as a truly original idea, but it's weird how Scratch often seems to reflect other work so strongly.

jessica said...

Heh... and it's 'Jingle', not 'Jungle', significantly less strange under the circumstances.

I wonder if it'll be, like... Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph, aaaaand I can't think of any more Christmas characters. Jesus? Scrooge?

John said...


Thanks. At least the reference makes sense to me now. I've actually never seen Pulp Fiction (blasphemy I know).

Brett Schiller (Sage) said...

2pm EST and no strip
Thought Id say that for the record :)

Brett Schiller (Sage) said...

3pm est, no comic

Brett Schiller (Sage) said...

at 4:36pm EST a strip!
good incorporation of the original x-men in his jingle force 5 with good detail, my favorite art is Professor X(-mas).

Also, good to see he admitted it was late (sorry I was banned for saying there were time when he was constantly late, its a sore point, what cani do :) )

Brett Schiller (Sage) said...

Btw interesting post by Kurtz on the whole buffer thing interesting and honest:

algeya said...

somehow the jingle force five kinda
meke me remember the KND(kids from next door) x-mas special episode,
But kurtz version is cooler because there isnt a wolverine parody in it

R.W.McGee said...

Soooo, I plan on still coming back here to read and what not, because this is a cool community, but I am done with the PvP critique.

Kurtz having the stones to take a shot at Bill Watterson is just the last straw for me. Any comments I made from here on out would be based more on my dislike for how he presents himself, and would have nothing to do with his comic.

I guess the last praise I can give him is that he must be pretty good at what he does to retain such a large fan base while being such a gigantic jerk.

Merry Christmas PVPMMS! (And happy anniversary, when we get there)

The Duck said...

What did kurtz say/do about Watterson? I missed something.

R.W.McGee said...

"I know we’ve all gotten the email reminding us that Bill Watterson never missed a day of Calvin and Hobbes. That’s probably true, but Bill Waterson also repeated the same fourteen gags on a monthly basis and had a whole company running the non-creative side of his business. I don’t think it’s about that."


Brett Schiller (Sage) said...

@ duck, look at the link i provided

hehe so RW you a Calvin and Hobbs fan? :)

I know its almost an impressive thing where he tries to explain something, and something we were wondering about (buffers), in a thoughtful manner to explain his side and then out of the blue *wham!* negative comment about someone that didn't need to be put there.

If you are explaining something don't bring someone else into it.

Imagine examples of this through history: "Fours score and seven years ago and Robert E Lee is a jackass!"

Can anyone explain to me why Bill Waterson got that treatment yet he loves Jim Davies and Garfield has even less jokes? I love garfield myself but its: I hate mondays, I hate Nermal, kicking Odie, I love Lasagna, Jon is a loser with women, John is a loser, him talkig to the mouse, talking to the teddy bear, and him talking to the mean dog. Anything else that brilliant?

Brett Schiller (Sage) said...

@ RW
Well i hope you do continue to post here man I do enjoy the conversation, or the accusations (hehe im not going to let that go RW :) )

Reis said...

You know, for all we hold Watterson up on a pedestal, Kurtz isn't all wrong. He DID have a lot of running gags and themes he repeated over, and over, and over, and over again. Calvin getting pounced when he comes home from school. Calvin making fun of dinner. Calvin driving Mrs. Wormwood crazy. Calvin's alter egos. Calvin's dad messing with Calvin's mind. Calvin's propensity for grotesque snow art. Discussions of mortality/the afterlife/etc on ill-fated sled/wagon rides. Lunchroom antics. Calvin inventing things out of cardboard. His antics in the bath. His various get-rich-quick ideas. Etc.

Now don't get me wrong - I'm as much of a fan of Watterson as anyone. His dialog was truly inspired, his art was fantastic, and I hold that it will be a long time before we see another person rise to his level.

But he's not above criticism. Kurtz is right. He did have a lot of running jokes. And yeah, that probably did help sometimes, to have comfortable places to start from. To use the British saying, it's a fair cop. I don't think it diminishes what he achieved to see that.

aaaantoine said...

Really, how many different angles can one take before he runs out? Amidst his running gags, Watterson still kept the situation fresh with different ideas.

Also, I like PvP, but despite all his great work, Scott has yet to top this.

R.W.McGee said...

Watterson had themes which he would play variations on. Yeah, there were a lot of wagon rides, and Calvin got attacked coming home from school et al. But they were never the SAME, Watterson had something different to say every time he used them.

Sometimes he would even use the themes to play on our expectations; such as the time Hobbes launched himself out the front door at Calvin, only to find that Calvin had created a scarecrow version of himself to fool his tiger.

Watterson was a master of the art form, he managed to be both funny and weave in complicated philosophical messages, and he was extremely creative...both in premise, and in the myriad places that he would explore with Calvin's imagination.

(Yes, Sage, I am a fan ;) )

@Sage, I will absolutely hang around, I like PVPMMS above and beyond the concentration on Kurtz and his work that is, admittedly, the focus.

I just don't think I could honestly critique Kurtz anymore. (Of course, I'm sure Scott might say I never could...not being a peer and all =P)

kurtz said...

I think that Watterson did repeat the same jokes over and over. It was about the same 10-15 jokes.

Of course, the artwork in those strips made up for it. He was an incredible INCREDIBLE artist.

That didn't change me getting bored with the writing.

Why is it okay for you guys to have an honest opinion about someone else's work but I'm not?

Well, if R.W. never posts again, that'll make me happy anyway, so WIN!

R.W.McGee said...

You have never, in a single strip, ever approached the craftsmanship in writing that Watterson could pack into a single ride on a red wagon.

It's amusing you would pick on writing, since your biggest weakness is that you have no ability to create a plot.

You place characters in situations, mix in a little bit of conflict, and then move on when you get bored or end up in a corner. You have no understanding of your own characters, which is why some (such as Cole and Brent) are unrecognizable on a week to week basis.

Mostly Brent, Cole, and Francis, and perhaps to some extent Skull are merely an extension of yourself with certain aspects played up: Sarcasm, douchebaggery, nerdery, and innocence respectively. Miranda and Jade serve as manifestations of your unrealized desires.

You might think that it is a contradiction to indicate that your characters are an extension of yourself, and to say that you don't understand them...but it actually is a common occurrence. It damages your objectivity about a character's growth. When they are placed in a situation they act the way YOU would react, instead of the way their character's previous actions would indicate.

Thematically you range all over the place as well, sometimes your crew is working at a magazine...but this is more of a convenience then a driving aspect of the strip. If they all worked in a library I doubt it would affect any of your 'plots' for the last three or so years.

Often you drop a plot thread or a character in the middle of nowhere, and NEVER pick it back up.

Say, where is Reggie, anyway?

Now, you can excuse all of this. Call your comic freeform...or say that you've been using the same formula for 10 years (untrue actually) or whatever.

In the end, you managed to tap into the webcomic industry back when gamers were really starting to flock to Penny-Arcade and Megatokyo et al. and you jumped in on the ground floor. (Hey, remember how PvP used to be EXCLUSIVELY about gaming...and a gaming magazine...and NAMED PVP???)

Since then you've parlayed your large fan-base into a devoted following willing to accept increasingly mediocre product, while stream-lining your merchandising helps you improve your profits.

If you think me not posting anymore is a win, fair enough. But seven or so years ago I enthusiastically enjoyed PvP, and since then you've poisoned your own brand to the extent that I'm willing to take the time to write this post.

At this rate in 10 more years you'll be selling a LOT less merchandise...and then you might find it a lot less of a win.

Alright, venting felt sort of good I guess.

rdy said...

To downplay the worth of buffers, it appears it was necessary to belittle other artists for maintaining them (they do it to for bragging rights or that they can do it because their work is so repetitive).

Seems like a bit of low road way to justify a decision but there you go.

Brett Schiller (Sage) said...

@ RW
I believe he is still in the field from the paintball game, at least that is where I last saw him (the whiteboard had a good rib on that)

@ rdy
That was my main complaint about that whole thing. Scott, whether right or wrong, was offering his honest opinion and aknowledging his shortcomings in buffers and saying it may not be THE most important thing. Hey, its his opinion, he works on it, and well he's human. He offered an insight to something and explained something to an audience.

Then what happens he throw watterson under a bus, even though not he was elated to any part of the conversation, someone who THEMSELVES didn't offer critcism to them but was mentioned as an example of being on time. Im sure Bill Watterson knows PVP in passing and has no care in the world about PVP's problem as he is rolling on $100 bills right now but was swipped at because someone mentioned him as a pillar of timeliness.

Brett Schiller (Sage) said...

One of my favorite Cosby show moment's was when one of Dr. Huxtable's daughters came home with a surprise engagement (happened twice btw between engagement and marriages) who was a janitor. She was complaining about that they were treating him bad because of his job. Dr. Huxtable then asked the gentleman his favorite meal, steak potatoes, greens, etc, and said that no matter how good the meal if you serve it on a garbage can lid its going to be unappatizing. Thats what Scott's ultimate problem is, he needs to stop his opinion one paragraph earlier because his main impulse is to go "i have problems, but see THIS guy has problems too so im not so bad"

Its like me providing a thoughful opinion (rare as it is) and then going, well it doesn't matter Scott's fat (which he isnt he looks good).

Kind of takes away from my opinions once i say that huh?

Brett Schiller (Sage) said...

oh and 3 days to PVPMMS 1 year anniversay.

kurtz said...

R.W, you are full of horseshit.

You want all those things to be true about me, but they are not. I never once claimed to be anywhere NEAR the talent level of Watterson. Never. Comparing us is pointless. There is no comparison. I will never EVER reach any level close to Watterson.

When it comes to working ahead, I think it's tougher when you're not writing for a paper audience. You can get away with less more often. You can repeat themes easier. The audience is less fickle.

Bill also wasn't running the business end of things at the same time he was trying to stretch creatively. That's what I was saying. I stand by it.

You can claim you hate PvP all you want. You can claim that it means nothing and you just come in here because you appreciate a hearty critique session. It's all bullshit. You have a chip on your shoulder about ME and you come here to display it.

So fucking own up to it. Seriously.

You use circular logic. You show bias. You claim that I should learn to present better but you can present however you want. It's all a bunch of self serving shit.

In 10 years, maybe no one will care about PvP anymore. More people care about it now than they did 10 years ago. Maybe in 2018 I'll be struggling. I'm trying to prepare for that.

But in the MEANTIME, I'm going to write the stories that interest me. I'm going to tell them the way I want. I'm going to use humor that makes myself laugh first.

Glad you were able to vent. I know how hard it can be to have to read PvP. It must be a real monkey on your back.

A Nonny Mouse said...

Wow, that "frankincense tingling" line is terrible.

I kind of like it.

R.W.McGee said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
R.W.McGee said...

the monkey is off my back now. And if I had previously had a chip on my shoulder about you, wouldn't I INCREASE my posting here not stop because I thought I couldn't keep my thoughts pertinent to the work?

Did I have a chip on my shoulder to own up to when I started posting here? No, I don't think so. I ended up here because YOU linked to this site.

Do I have one now? Yes, absolutely. I own up to it completely. I cannot and won't presume to judge you as a human being...I've never even met you. You could be a great guy in person, you certainly sound like one in podcasts...but I can see the way you treat your fans and peers and I just don't like it.

What the fuck do you care though, I'm a small drop in the ocean of the internet.

Dedos said...

As an X-Nerd from the days of yore, I heartily approve of Jingle Force Five.

Reader said...


While your point about having more obstacles than Watterson did at his peak may be apt, what's getting some of our panties in a bunch is the fact that you felt the need to bring him into it at all.

You could've easily made the same point without being negative about someone else. Hell, even if you'd replaced "Watterson" with "other cartoonists" you would've been fine.

But for someone, who's admitted to having a hard time taking negative criticism, to hurling the same kind of negative critique at a master of the craft just for the hell of it... well, it comes across as pretty mean spirited.

I'm sure you won't agree with this. I'm sure you'll retain your opinion that we're all hypocrits and you did nothing wrong. That's fine. Doesn't take away from the fact that what you did was poor form though.

Brett Schiller (Sage) said...

Because if you yell at the small drops i guess he thinks it won't rain? :)

Btw is Kurtz the real Kurtz or is Scott?

and does it matter anyway because FSM is Kurtz :)

Brett Schiller (Sage) said...

@ reader
Oh and we're all jealous of him either though I am a physical therapist and have no want to do anything with webcomics myself.

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