Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Damn Fools - PVP Comics

"If at first you don't succeed, try again. Then quit. No use being a damn fool about it."
- W. C. Fields

An annoying trend exists in nerd culture, and comics culture specifically, where we cannot let anything go. Comics that we claim suck get our $2.99 every month, we complain about TV shows yet tune in every week, and go to the sequels of the movies that we didn't even like to begin with.

Are we so shut out from the broader pop-culture that we cannot let go of things that are specifically for us? Like so many Garfield window-toys we cling, bleaching in the sun, orange and gaudy, not to be moved. Or is it that we are a culture that nurtures complaints - geeks as a people are of the internet, a place designed specifically to allow anonymous, endless criticism*.

ardless of why, I'm as guilty as the rest, so I am going to excise my demons here.

Today is the day I begin the process
of moving on.

ay is the last time I go to PVP Comics.

I started reading PVP around 1999/2000, a year into highschool, back when the comic strip was about gaming. It was punchy, the art was good, and most importantly the strips were funny.

Eventually, though, the funny decided it didn't need to show up to work every day. Gags turned into running gags, running gags turned into memes, and memes got tired. The strip became more sit-comish, with some gags ripped straight from shows like Newsradio, with the more hackneyed plots that style demands. At one point Scott Kurtz, the creator of PVP, even introduced a talking cat that wanted to take over the world.

If there's two rich comedy veins currently unmined by cartoonists, they're cats and adorable megalomaniacs.

But something kept me reading. For every Scratch the cat and Shecky the Troll I wanted to throttle, I still really enjoyed the core cast. Brent, Cole, Skull, Jade... these are characters who I've been reading about daily for nine years now, and Kurtz has done an amazing job of keeping most of his older characters three-dimensional, consistent, and interesting.

Another plus for the series is how Kurtz has evolved as an artist over the years. Comparing Kurtz's early work to what he's drawing today is a bit like comparing the light from a match to that of the sun. It ranges from solid cartooning to some really beautiful line work. If Kurtz continues to work on his artistic range, maybe some day he could be as diverse as late-era Bill Waterson.

But those can't save the fact that the strip just isn't funny any longer. I click through each tired story line, excited for the next to begin but as soon as it does I find myself waiting for it to be over. The stories are boring, there are no good gags to be had.

And every strip is so steeped in Kurtz's love for pop-culture that it becomes distracting. It's impossible for there to just be a doctor in the strip, the doctor has to be Hugh Laurie from House, and a panel must be spent referncing that. It's gotten to the point that I can only respond to all of Kurtz's winking with eye-rolls.

So today I take a step into a scarier world, a world without Skull the Troll and with one less thing that annoys me taking up my time.

Today I quit reading PVP. Tomorrow perhaps I'll stop buying back-issues.

Baby steps, Casey, baby steps...


*And pornography distribution.

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