Tuesday, September 30, 2008


I have to disagree with my colleague on the Skull issue -- I thought the strip was funny.

Now is the perfect time to evolve Skull a bit; he's been gone a while, had new experiences, and apparently learned at least one new thing about himself. From our perspective it's an unexpected one, and that's what's supposed to make it funny.

I'm hoping this is a long-term thing -- making him less naive and a little (just a little) sarcastic would do wonders for him, I think. A perpetual naif has got to be hard to write for -- he's a one note.

Putting myself in SK's shoes I can imagine an interesting conversation with himself:

I want to change Skull up a bit, and now that he's just come back, it's a good time to do it. But what if the fans hate it?

Aha! Here's what I do -- I try it out. If it doesn't work, I start making him darker, and grimmer, until it's obvious that something is terribly wrong, and we have to go on an adventure to find a way to exorcise the whatever-it-is that's taken him over. Perfect!

Then he would go have tea and cookies with Paul Southworth, but that's just in my head.

All that having been said, I do wonder what's up with Skull's mouth in panel 2. It looks like Phillipe's mouth.

Another nitpick -- Jade's expression in panel three seems out of tune with what she's saying. She looks shocked, but Skull hasn't said anything shocking yet.

Working with kids


This isn't Skull. This is a copycat sent back to placate Scratch. This is the only explanation I can think of for what we're seeing here.

I know canonically speaking, Skull was shown to be something of a standard monster back in the middle ages. And every now and again he's shown glimpses of his "true self", though largely it's been played for laughs when it happens.

This comes off as a huge leap out of character for the big blue gorilla.

Art nitpick: What's up with his upper lip in panel 2?

Monday, September 29, 2008

Familiar smells

Oh something stinks alright, but it's not just the months old gritty kitty.

They were afraid of making things worse for Skull? Was there some indication that he was going to be punished? E.Z. never once attempted to blame Skull for Brent's actions. The gang didn't even know where Skull was going (aside from a nebulous "to the land of magic", perhaps) or what he'd be doing. What did they think would happen to Skull if they tried to intervene? 

"We didn't know anything about your situation, so we figured doing anything at all might make it worse." is what Cole seems to be saying here.

I think the problem is we keep hearing that Skull was missed, but have never seen evidence within the strip. (Aside from once during Brent's honeymoon). 

I call shenanigans. Possibly even shenanigoats.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Quiet, please!

Today's strip. 

The popyeye arms are back! Especially panel 4, where it looks like that left arm looks like a water balloon. Other then that, the art looks good. 

I can't be the only one confused by Scratch's expression in the last panel. I think it's supposed to be a smile, but it looks more like a confused "bwa?" look.

Good Intentions

I think Quiet Please! is decent strip, it's totally in-character for both of them.

However, the look on Scratch's face in the last panel totally escapes me. I have no idea what that face says -- is it supposed to be a smug "heh!" to the audience? If he's supposed to be breaking the fourth wall, he's not quite making it; he looks a bit cross-eyed instead.

I would have expected some sort of internal celebration on his part, but a little wink to the audience isn't a bad idea either. But perhaps a literal wink could have worked better.

It's been a while since I've done this, but I dusted off the old Photoshop and modified the last panel to attempt to show something that might have worked better:

I'm no Scott Kurtz, but it gets the idea across.

(I forgot I wanted to mention exactly what I did... Obvious: Scratch is now winking and giving a thumbs up. [an update to the update: he's also smiling more clearly.] Perhaps not obvious: I re-positioned his pupil so it is accurately pointed toward the audience.)

Thursday, September 25, 2008


I have nothing negative to say about today's strip. The art is great and the writing is spot on. Even though I haven't especially enjoyed the current arc, I'll remove my hat and bow my head for today.

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.


Today's comic title is a bit...unfortunate, I think. It would work if that were the punchline, but it isn't so I'd rather have seen another title.

But I'm actually diggin' the strip. It doesn't feel claustrophobic, the art is nice and I love Skull's little hand wringing gesture. I have naught but two nitpicks and they're so miniscule they might as well be fighting spiders with sewing needles.

#1: The monitor on the computer is too light and we can't really see any details, except perhaps an aggro meter. 

#2: Brent's eyebrows in panel three don't seem to match his implied frustration. They almost make him look bewildered. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Putting the cat out

Today's strip isn't bad. I like the art, especially in panel 2 with the hissing snake-dread. Just a few nits to pick.

Madeline referring to Brent by his full name sounds odd though. And I wasn't aware Brent was actually short for something. Hmm. Brent's a funny name when you say it out loud. Brent. Brent. Scuba. 

Panel 4: No iris? I'm not sure if this is a goof or intentional, now that it's just mythological creatures in the room.

Skull's "Ohmigod" line seems a little out of character. Mostly because I attribute that word to the mid nineties california girl. Nice cameo by Ethan though. If anyone needs help growing up, it's that guy.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Even cooler heads

This is the best looking strip in a long time. Seriously, it looks great. So nothing to complain about there.

However, this feels like a deus ex coming on. I doubt it'll be that easy to get Skull back and if it is, well...that'll just be disappointing. This does feel a little anticlimatic, but maybe there's another twist tomorrow.

E.Z. is back in his E.Z. body. I guess they just keep a bunch of those statues around the office for just such an occasion. I hope we get an explanation of the relationship between E.Z. and Gorgon Lady though.

Not much else to say here.

The Time Has Come

I think the time has come.

Not to shut the hell up, sorry folks, but to clamp down on anonymous commenters. If we can't have the creator of the comic we're discussing show up and offer to take questions, and not have it devolve into a dozens-style rant war, well, that's not something to be proud of.

Starting today, commenters will need to authenticate themselves before commenting. Before anyone spouts off the obvious "but anyone can sign up with any name!" Yes, it's true, but forcing commenters to log in will increase the number of people that use the same handle consistently (meaning we can see who is making what comments over time), and reduce the number of drive-by flamings, both for and against PVP and PVPMMS.

This won't affect the people who already log in, and I apologize to the sometimes thoughtful Anonymouses who comment, but there it is. Some will say "but the problem is actually some of the people who aren't anonymous!" To which I say, requiring authentication will slow down the pace of commenting, and lessen the heat, and maybe all of us will be able to take a step back and breathe before jumping into an already disgruntled thread.

Friday, September 19, 2008

No rough-housing

Today's strip plods the story along. 

So...they sent another chimera and Scratch beat that one up instead of zapping it/making it vanish with science?

"I am the keeper of all magics....I'm more powerful than science." Seriously, who is this guy? You would thing someone so given to dramatics would toss his name in there somewhere.

And now Shecky's back. And he brought his girlfriend to help. Or she found out about the key and is coming to claim it. Is she the boss lady of the office? I guess we'll have to wait till monday to find out.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Oh Come On Now

Ok -- I call shenanigans on today's strip (Carry the one.). WTF.

Not only has it been done before, in HHGTTG and Bloom County (found it), and not only did he repeat the "didn't carry the [foo]" gag, he's done it twice this week.

This seems unprofessional. Maintaining a buffer would prevent cruft like this from happening when he's sick.

Carry the one

This seems familiar, but I can't quite place it....

Oh yeah, we got this joke last week. And it was clever then, but now it just feels forced.

The only way to make this better is if someone were to produce a math equation explaining how an upright walking, talking cat is a scientific impossibility. 

At least the chimera looks cool. But our background has disappeared again and now it looks like there's a spotlight on Chimera and Scratch. 

Since there isn't much to say about today's strip, allow me to comment on Kurtz's blog post about farting: .....really, Mr. Kurtz? Maybe I'm just a high society yankee from the godless north, but up here our gas passing isn't something we tend to be proud of.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Scheduling Conflicts

Alright, so Kudos to Kurtz for not falling into what a few of us assumed would be the oh-so-predictable "Skull as security" bit in today's strip.

Prior to the goblin (Orc? Perhaps even a Moblin?) walking into the fray, I don't quite get the use of dust and stars. Is Scratch shooting different things in the office and the unnamed spirit is just jumping around? Are they physically fighting?

The punchline however, actually works and I thought it was pretty clever. I'm even willing to suspend disbelief on the beheading itself for this. I like to think that off-screen, Scratch disintegrated the poor guys body and kicked his head out of the office. Which would actually be pretty cool to see.

My only other complaint is that the head bounces past the secretary in panel four and is clearly still in motion and headed further down, but the last panel has it resting right next to her. It gives the unfortunate apperance that the head hit panel four and slid down against it.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Cooler heads

Um....yeah. Scratch got fooled and now our unaamed spirit guy is calling security on him. Oh noes, how will he get out of this one?

Actually, I'm willing to bet imaginary internet money that security turns out to be Skull. Having been unsuccessful with his new children, the company took pity on him and gave him a job as their resident rent a cop.

Scratch's wince/grimace/oh $hit moment in the last panel is nice, but would work so much better without the ridiculous goggles.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Count of Two

Looks like E.Z. is an intangible and can only inhabit inanimate objects. Or something.

Alright, so underneath all his bluster and violence, Scratch really misses Skull. He's a cat and Skull is his. I understand that, but I still feel like the rest of the cast should be involved in this story.

Writing nitpick: "I am Scratch Fury: destroyer of worlds!". I realize he's announcing a title but I think it should be a comma instead of a colon.

Art nitpick: Panel 3, the secretary's eyes should be looking at whichever direction the office is in. The "I'm not paying attention to my bosses problem but I really am" look.

On the count of what now?

A commenter mentioned it recently, and it bears repeating: The titles for the strips aren't helping things.

Today's title is "count of two."

How does that not absolutely give away the entire joke? (Hint: There's no way in which it doesn't give away the entire joke.) If the strip is a gag strip (and it is), you're wasting the reader's time by ruining the joke ahead of time.

(The other thing that ruined the joke for me was when Scratch started with "three." I saw the "three", saw the "pzzap!" and thought Scratch had jumped the gun on purpose. That's obviously incorrect, but I had to back up to figure it out.)

I wish I knew what the motivation for the third panel is. Why are we looking at the secretary? Is she responding to the "pzzap" sound? And if she is, why is she looking down? If she's not, why does she have such a surprised look on her face?

One last note: It doesn't seem that the proofreading advice SK asked for is helping at the moment. [Update: Fixed now.]

Friday, September 12, 2008

Magic, Inc

*Yawn* is pretty much all I have to say about today's strip

Well, that and the fact that it doesn't make sense that our Ersatz Zeus is still inhabiting Robbie's statue for some reason.

And the shadowing of the two fingers in the last panel is unnecessary and just odd.

While it's nice to have an actual story-arc again, I think Kurtz might be out of practice on the pacing of these things. I feel like there's a whole lot of potential that was left on the cutting room floor and we got some executively meddled version of what should have been an entertaining story.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Keymaster

I wish I had more to say about today's strip, but instead I'm just making a rolling hand gesture, silently urging this story to get a move on. 

Again, I'd like to see the camera pulled back a bit. It looks like they've gone outside to an alleyway behind the bar so Shecky can give him the key in secret, but that isn't something that the reader should need to pause and think about. It should be obvious and it took me a second to process the brickwork in the background.

Maybe it's just me, but does anyone else think the key shape is different in panels 2 and 3? The head looks more elongated when Shecky's holding it and there's an extra tooth when Scratch holds it.

So now Scratch has a key to Arcadia (or whatever you want to call the land of mystic creatures). This should be interesting. Hell, this should be something Shecky gives to the rest of the cast so they can get their friend back like Cole promised they would.

I can only assume tomorrow's strip will be an over the shoulder shot of Scratch looking through a door into magic land. Maybe if we're lucky, he'll stay there.
Just so you know, Mr. Kurtz is now playing us like violins, and there's no way to prove otherwise.

Even if I revealed my identity (which no one would care about anyway) there's no way to prove that I'm Fake Scott McCloud, and that Fake Scott McCloud is not Scott Kurtz, and that I'm not just some buddy of SK's who's pretending to be Fake Scott McCloud.

That was true before, but now that SK is messing with us, it would be even harder to convince people. It's a master stoke, and if I cared I would be devastated. As it is, it's just really funny.

Fortunately, even if you do think I'm Kurtz, it takes nothing away from the site, or from the people who actually enjoy commenting about PVP. Our discussions here will continue regardless. In fact, I would venture to guess that a lot of those people would think better of SK for creating a space where people could slag him all day if they wanted, instead of just shutting them down like he sometimes does on his official forum.

Unfortunately for SK, it also means that SK will be pestered until the end of his days to admit that he is me. Which he can't, because he has no way to prove he is me, just as I can't prove that I'm not him.

Which I'm not. :D

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Candle in the dark

Ok, several things to nitpick here today so let's get started.

The raygun: Looks pretty terrible with that mini-cymbal for a muzzle. I don't know how it fit into Scratch's holster earlier.

Panel 3: What Shecky's saying isn't especially dramatic, so the silhouettes are unnecessary and feel out of place in the middle of the strip. 

Panel 4: Giant forearms of doom! 

Panel 6: I guess it is a magical bar. Would be nice if we could actually see some background characters (or a background for that matter) that drove that point home.

Panel 8: The goggles, they do nothing! (for me). 

I actually chuckled at the giant poofing out of existence. I think if Kurtz erased the barrier between the last two panels and got rid of Scratch's "kick in the nuts" line, we'd actually have a decent punchline. 

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

One for the road

Much like Michael Bay, Scott Kurtz seems to have some trouble with the concept of a 'wide shot' here. It feels like the camera is in the character's face and it bugs me.

Holiday plans? Was Shecky planning on hanging around the bar until thanksgiving? Granted, he probably means vacation when he says holiday, much like the Brits are given to saying. (to the best of my knowledge anyway. If any Brits are reading this and this saying is out of date, my apologies.)

That ray gun thing is either very short or it's *deep* in Shecky's nostril. 's'all I'm saying.

Not much to say about the art here..the lack of any kind of background is starting to grate on me though. And since the ray gun up his nose thing clearly surprised Shecky enough to both knock his hat off and make him drop his drink, I think it deserve some kind of sound effect. "Poink", maybe.

Monday, September 8, 2008


I liked today's strip, despite my strong inclination to hate it because of the re-appearance of Shecky. The punch, while perhaps unwarranted, is a strong way to introduce the relationship that will hopefully continue throughout the story -- that is to say, Shecky is about the be Scratch's bitch for a while.

I can live with that. (I dread, however, that they will come to some agreement and it will be Nick Nolte and Eddie Murphy all over again.)

As for nits, there are some to be picked:

I could have done without Shecky's "Get it?" in the second panel. All it does is drag out the "fragment of overheard joke" trope from the first panel.

I'd also love to have seen a different approach to the last panel. There are a lot of extraneous lines that are confusing the issue -- we could have done without the texture lines on Scratch's belt/holster, and we don't really need more than one well-placed star-and-line around Shecky's head. We certainly didn't need what I'm guessing is the remnants of Shecky's bar stool in the lower right corner.

I disagree with others on the issue of context -- It think it's safe to assume that Scratch knows of Schecky, even if they've never been in-strip together before. The sucker punch is quite in character, I don't feel bad for Shecky at all -- seeing as I hate his guts.

Punch O' Clock

Oh boy...Shecky. Well, I guess he's necessary for this plot. Let's hope his visit is a short one.

So, Shecky is sort of a hobbit sized Troll, probably a little taller then Scratch. Presuming that whatever bar he's at is normal sized, shouldn't Scratch have trouble tapping him on the shoulder? Either there should be an arm extending from the bottom of panel three to tap "up", or there should be a speech bubble coming from below, with Scratch getting Shecky's attention.

How does Scratch know Shecky's full name anyway? Have these two even met before? How the hell did Scratch track Shecky down? And what's the barman's reaction to a midget Troll getting decked by an upright walking, talking cat with goggles and a ray gun?

Edit: I'm mostly being facetious with that last sentence.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Boy oh boy

I've been too busy to find words recently, so big thanks to Esoteric Scribe for getting the party started on the latest strips. He will be played by Justin Long in PVPMMS: The Movie. I will be played by Wil Wheaton. Paul Southworth will be played by himself.

I'm so late to the party these days that all I can do is agree with commenters. It may seem like a redundant exercise, but, after wondering that myself, I've decided it's worth it to make sure they opinions make it to the front page.

1. New storyline. Yaaaaaaaaay*.

2. I thought the same thing about Scratch's eyes in panels 2 and 6 -- It took a second look to make sure they were actually different. It would have helped if they weren't in such close proximity.

3. I don't really know how much more work it is to double the length of the strip, but this one felt like it needed another row of panels. The transition from 3 to 4 doesn't work for me at all.

4. Scratch's crotch needs some color.

* this is sarcasm.

That's all he can stands...or, yet another aborted arc

*sigh* Looks like we're jumping to a new storyline

Prior to  Tuesday's comic (We're all worried about Andy), Brent seemed like the type of nerd who didn't want to admit it in public, but was still comfortable about it around his friends. I guess Kurtz is trying to say that Brent is in denial about being a nerd, but then why would be be running a game? In my mind, here's how this could have been a full length arc:

Monday: Jade is angry at the boys for being nerdy with her while she's working. 
Tuesday: Brent declares himself as a non-nerd with some fringe interests.
Wednesday: Francis goads Brent into running a tabletop game of his own, somehow.
Thursday: The game, part 1.
Friday: Nerd Fight!

Monday: The game, part 2.
Tuesday: The game, part 3. 
Wednesday: Wrap-up, Brent admits he had fun after all.
Thursday: Brent waxing nostalgia, thoughts turn to skull. Which leads us right up to...
Friday: Today's strip.

There, a two week storyline that leads into what can easily be another two week (maybe more) storyline. But enough what could have been'ing, let's talk about today's strip.

Plotwise, there isn't much to say here. Scratch has apparently been glued to that window waiting for Skull to come back and now Kirby's words have kicked him into action? Eh, alright. I wonder if we're going to get a where in the world is Skull montage, with Scratch looking for his "papa". I mean, it's not like he has any idea where Skull actually is, right?

Artwise, the first two panels have Scratch shifting left or right but I didn't even notice until I read someone's comment in FSM's last post. Ditto Kirby's squashed snout in panel three. 

I'm glad we got a double sized strip today though, because the first four alone would've made for a terrible comic. Also, if anyone is curious, Scratch's last line is a quote from Tombstone. Or so google tells me.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

My beard itches.

As a former D&D player (in junior high -- was never very good) and as an old-school Magic the Gathering player (well, I started playing during the Fallen Empires expansion. I guess you could call that the Silver Age of Magic), I like where this is going. I also hope we get a few more strips in this story.

I do agree with a commenter that it seems counter-intuitive that Francis is the purist here. I'm not saying it's bad, it just seems like an odd choice.

I see what people are saying about Francis' hair -- and it didn't bother me until someone mentioned it. It seems to be moving out of bedhead territory into something new and wonderful.

I miss Francis' old hair (the up-swept version).

Nerrrdddd fiiiggghhht

Hmm, no Brent today. Hopefully we'll see him tomorrow, since he's running the game. (Something that still kind of confuses me, but again, waiting to see where that goes.)

That said, I actually liked today's strip. "You're a tool!" made me chuckle. I wonder if this will be a storyline about 4th ed D&D and the edition gap between gamers.  One can hope, it's been awhile since we've had an arc that involved something nerdy.

Nerd fact of the day: My understanding is that power cards were pretty common in 2nd ed, mostly for spellcasters. And speaking from experience, whenever my friends and I were playing, anyone with a spellcaster usually had a notebook or something for their spells. It was just practical. 

Nitpick 1: Without "3x5", Cole's dialogue flows a bit better in the first panel. I don't think it's necessary to specify the size of the index card.

Nitpick 2 : 4th panel, there should be a comma between roleplaying and you. "We're still roleplaying, you dork." 

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


This is all pretty hilarious.

Here is the sequence of events, as best I can tell:

1. I have not been posting much.

2. Scott K. went to PAX.

Both of us were quiet at the same time.

3. Scott wrote a tweet, which appeared to have been intended to be a Direct Message, meaning only one person was supposed to have seen it. In this tweet he joked that he was "FSM."

This was enough to get the ball rolling.

4. I followed up with my own tweet, "shit shit shit," pretending to be Kurtz, making a joke of it.

This sent some people over the edge, and they haven't recovered.

Sorry Scott - I think some people are mad at you, when they are actually mad at me.


It's just jokes people. I don't know why SK twittered that, I'm sure he was just making a joke he thought would be private.

I am not Scott Kurtz. I am not Scott McCloud.

I am Batman.

(PS: There is no PVP Makes Me Sad movie in the works.)

Hello, tubes! (again!)

Hey all,

So FSM has just handed over one of the reins to me and given me blogging rights. If all goes according to plan, I'll be throwing my critiques up M-F, in a mirror schedule of PvP.

Here are my thoughts on today's comic 'Hide and Seek':

- I like the art shift between what's taking place in game and the cast sitting around the table.

- I wish this was in color (even just the first three panels).

- I *hope* Kurtz is doing a storyline about Brent and his nerdiness and tommorow's comic doesn't suddenly jump to a new topic entirely. I have some other comments, but I'll withold them for now to see where this is going.

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