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Who watches the watchmen?

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

That seems about right.

Stunned. From PvP

Today's PvP is the perfect example of why the strip has remained so consistently popular over the years. For those of you that missed it, the setup for today's strip came yesterday, when Brent overheard Jade talking on the phone, stressed out that she might be pregnant (I can't imagine WHO she's talking to, but that's not really important). That strip was pretty typical of Scott Kurtz' work, launching into a new storyline extremely quickly, without a lot of setup. If this had been, say, For Better of Worse, we probably would have gotten a series of strips in which the girl in question begins seeing signs that she might be pregnant, maybe some hints at it from outside observers, and then it would have built up to the strip with the guy hearing the girl talking on the phone, and it would be a really dramatic moment. But that's not Scott Kurtz operates. His pacing is more along the lines of the neighborhood gossip: "Hey, guess what? Jade might be pregnant!"

But I digress. The point of this post is to highlight today's strip, not yesterday's. The thing I love about this strip is how well it imitates reality. What would you do if you happened to overhear your girlfriend theorizing that she might be pregnant? A more soap opera-esque strip might have Brent run into the room with a "How could this happen?!?" attitude. An off-the-wall humor strip might have him yelling out the cliched "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!" while the camera pans out. But in PvP Brent does pretty much what most real guys would do in this situation: he stands completely stunned, unable to take any action at all. There's so many thoughts running through his head, so much information to process about a potentially life-changing event that he can't free himself from his own thoughts, fears, and confusion to even respond to Cole. He doesn't even move a muscle the entire strip.

And then, on top of that Scott Kurtz is able to add a layer of humor. And it's really funny humor too. Cole, being the generally self-centered individual that he is (like pretty much everyone in the PvP office except Skull, and occasionally Jade), completely fails to notice that something is up with Brent, as evidenced by his complete lack of response to anything Cole says. He just makes a few casual quips, assumes Brent is in agreement with him, and leaves. And Brent, for his part, completely ignores him. You laugh at Cole completely failing to grasp the situation and you laugh just at the overall visual effect of Brent standing motionless, especially with the first and last panels implying that he's been standing that way and will continue to stand that way, for quite some time.

Having characters that act the way people act in real life is always more interesting and more full than having them act out the extreme limits of human behavior. It may not be as "laugh out loud" funny or as gut-wrenchingly heartfelt, but it has a richness to it. I mentioned this richness when I was reviewing Tweep, and PvP also has it as well. And that's why it's so popular.

I just hope Scott Kurtz actually finishes this storyline. We've had far too many dangling storylines in PvP lately (like what heck happened with Max and Miranda? Surely there's SOMETHING more to be explored there!)


At 12:43 PM, Anonymous Michael M said...

Wow, I hadn't actually read the strip until I saw your post, but this is quite an interesting development. Not a particularly surprising one, since Jade and Brent have been sleeping together for what, 6 years now, but an interesting one nonetheless. As you point out, Scott Kurtz has a way of conjuring up real life situations and really bringing out the humor in them. PvP has been and will continue to be one of my very favorites for some time.

And I just thought I'd point out that in the prior strip, Jade is talking to Gwen. That was actually my first guess before going and reading the strip. And again, Kurtz is mimicking reality. If Jade had been talking with her sister it probably would have been in person behind a closed door, and most likely at home rather than the office (do they live together? I don't actually know...) So Gwen, being Jade's best friend, was a logical choice.

Any theories on where this plotline is going? I feel like a newlywed Brent and Jade would seem strange after I've gotten used to them as a dating couple, but perhaps it would be a vehicle for new developments and intrigue in the strip. As it stands right now there are: 1 married couple (Cole & Donna), 1 dating couple (Brent & Jade), and 2 semi-couples (Francis & Marcy, Skull & Sonya). If Jade and Brent get married, it will throw the balance off, but on the other hand, perhaps this is a chance for Francis and Marcy to start moving up into the "going steady" range. If I recall correctly, Francis and Marcy have held hands, but did Francis ever actually finagle a kiss out of Marcy? If not, then perhaps this is his opportunity to grasp the coveted "dating couple" spot. Cole has been the only married character for a long time and his marriage has presented a contrast to Brent's dating life on several occasions. If they do end up married, there will be a whole new sea of opportunities for Kurtz to contrast an established marriage with a brand new one. Could be interesting...



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