Promotional logo for the PvP Animated Series, from PvP.
Ok. Not to rag on Scott Kurtz or anything, but someone's got to say it. We've seen lots of announcement posts, some discussion, and a somewhat tangential piece by Eric Burns on voice acting, and people have been dancing around the topic, so I'm just going to come right out and say it:
Scott Kurtz is a hypocritical man and he's ripping Tim Buckley off.
It's a gross oversimplification of actual events, completely one-sided, and a half-truth at best, but someone had to say it.
When Ctrl-Alt-Del: The Animated Series came out, the general response from the webcomic illuminati was a general "who cares?" I personally figured it was a pretty monumental step forward and predicted that other webcomics would soon follow suit, but no one else seemed to really think it was that big of a deal. In fact, I couldn't even find a decent review of the animated series after it came out, so I had to write one myself. And while the quality of the show wasn't spectacular, I felt it deserved much more than the "ho-hum" it got from the "enlightened" webcomic community.
Now, about a year later, we've got Scott Kurtz announcing that he's coming out with an animated series. Produced by the same production house, no less (Blind Ferret Entertainment). And sporting an eerily similar subscription pricing model. Kurtz makes it abundantly clear that it was Blind Ferret which approached him, and practically hounded him into making the series, but still... Do you think he wasn't suffering at least some animation-envy watching Tim Buckley's characters slickly walking around and interacting while he was playing with finger puppets?
But you know, I can excuse all that. Seriously, who cares? I mean, don't you think Tim Buckley was hugely envious of Penny Arcade when he first started (and probably still is, to a certain extent. I mean, who's not envious of those guys? They're living the dream)? The "I want in on this action" spirit is probably the driving force behind the existence of webcomics, and has spawned most of its greatest works. There's nothing at all wrong with that.
Here's what Scott Kurtz is doing wrong: He's touting PvP: The Series as some spectacular new thing, when Tim Buckley already did it a year ago. I mean, in Kurtz' own words: "Spread the word and help us make this a milestone in webcomics." It's a milestone that's already been past. If anything, the milestone that Kurtz is setting here is legitimizing that Ctrl-Alt-Del The Animated Series was a success, because another successful webcomics artist is following suit. And Kurtz doesn't even mention CAD in his announcement post (although he does address the issue in the comments, it's only because someone else brought it up). The closest he comes is when he mentions that this time Blind Ferret is using in-house animation instead of outsourcing, so it's going to be better then before. Yep, the closest he comes to mentioning CAD is with a subtle jab at the quality. That's class right there.
When I watched the preview for PvP: The Series, do you know what I saw? I saw Ctrl+Alt+Del: The Animated Series. The same style of animation. The same level of voice acting. The same pacing on the jokes. The same awkward "we're used to writing stuff with panel breaks" disjointedness. Kurtz claims the animation is going to be a whole lot better because it's in-house this time, but quite frankly, I thought the quality of animation in CAD: The Animated Series was darned good; far from being the low point (which was the poor writing). And he talks about the great voice actors, but CAD had great, professional voice actors as well, and in my opinion, at least from what I've seen so far, I think Tim Buckley did a better job matching his characters with voice actors than Kurtz has done.
So what am I saying? PvP: The Series sucks? No. I don't have enough information for that. I'm going to have to subscribe to it and see how things pan out. I had to subscribe to Ctrl+Alt+Del: The Animated Series to see how it was, and it was a show with very high production values and sub-par writing. I fear that PvP: The Series may have similar problems, but it's too early on at this point to tell.
What I am saying is that Scott Kurtz needs to give credit where credit is due, and not pretend to be the trailblazer that he isn't. That's all. Besides that, I wish him the best of luck and I look forward to seeing where this leads. It should be interesting.