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Monday, October 24, 2005


The expected, from PvP.

I guess I'm not really surprised. If there's one thing that Scott Kurtz has taught us over the years, it's that he's not really interested in making major changes to the premise of his strip. Sure, we do see the occasional mixing up of things, such as Cole firing Robbie and Jace, or Max taking over control of PvP magazine, but they don't really have a big effect on the premise of the story as a whole. By the time Robbie and Jace got fired we barely ever saw them in comics anyways, and has anyone noticed even one change in the way the PvP magazine is being run since Max took over? I haven't. But introducing a baby to the story would be a radical change. It would move both Jade and Brent into a completely new phase of their lives, probably resulting in them getting married. It would change the dynamics of the relationships around the office. In short, it would fundamentally change the premise of the strip, and Scott Kurtz is not in a terrible hurry to do that.

But I'm still a little disappointed. On a selfish level, I want to see Jade and Brent get married. I want to see what it would be like for them to have a kid. I think it would be interesting. But on a more academic level, I honestly think a change at this point in the life of a strip would be a good thing. You've got a solid readership who'll stick by you 'till the end, and a change in premise could draw in new people. And while introducing a new baby is a cliched device (I think just about every family based sitcom in existence has done it), it is one of the safer ways to introduce a change. If you have one of the main characters leave, you're going to alienate some of your fans who may have particularily enjoyed that character. If you just randomly introduce a new character, there's a good chance it won't be accepted by the fans (the famous episode of the Simpsons in which Poochie is added to the Itchy and Scratchy dynamic is a perfect parody of this situation). But if you have two of the main characters get together and produce a new character (if you get my drift), then it feels like that character is a natural part of the world of the strip and is easily accepted by the audience. It makes changes the dynamics of the strip without destroying them.

Scott Kurtz chooses not to change the premise of his strip, and that's his prerogative. In fact, it's not necessarily a bad thing. Many of the greatest comic strips of all time have used static premises and unchanging worlds (Calvin and Hobbes, Garfield, Dilbert, the list goes on...). But the difference between those strips and PvP is that Scott Kurtz is always teasing us with potential changes, dangling them in front of our noses like carrots and then pulling them away at the last second and saying "Nah, I think I'll keep things pretty much the same." And that's just mean.

I think I'll get a big bowl of ice cream and go pout for a little while.


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