The Webcomicker

Who watches the watchmen?

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

I KNEW IT. Well, ok, I can't really back that up. But still.

Intrigue! From PvP.

I've discovered a rule of life. And I think it's a hard and fast rule (it certainly is in my life). And that rule is as follows: "The less you have to do, the less you will do."

When my life is full with schoolwork, my various jobs, and my extracirricular activities, somehow I find time to make everything fit in, and still write on this blog and produce Birdsworth and MiSTEam comics. But over this past summer, I've had pretty much nothing but time on my hands. In fact, in this past week I've had roughly zero committments. And I've managed to drop the ball on a lot of things. The blog and Birdsworth have been sporadic. MiSTEam has disappeared. My thesis work has languished.

Well, the new school semester has started, and it's time for change, dangit. And I'm getting my life back on track, starting right now. I know I've said it before and then disappeared (last week is a testament to that), but this time instead of making empty promises, I'm simply going to say that GileadPellaeon is back at work. I'm punching in the timecard for my life. I can't promise smooth sailing from here on out, but I can promise that I'm not going to be phoning it in anymore.

But enough about me. Let's talk PvP. PvP is one of those strips that lives in what I call a "static dynamic" world, which actually requires a great deal more willing suspension of disbelief from its readers than a purely "gag-a-day, characters never change" or "realistic, evolving storyline" strip. In many ways it is reminiscent of The Simpsons in its storytelling structure, with various things about the world changing over time, such as Apu getting married or Maude Flanders dying, or the obvious changes in pop culture references, and yet through it all Maggie remains a baby, Bart and Lisa stay in the second and fourth grades, and the whole town of Springfield stays in a somewhat static equilibrium. In PvP we've seen characters get together and break up. We've seen Max take over PvP magazine. Characters have had cathartic moments and matured. But through it all, Francis has remained the sixteen year old computer nerd. Brent has remained the younger-middle-aged hipster. It's obvious that time flows in a different way in the world of PvP.

But this strip represents a fundamental change in PvP. In fact, it's pretty much the most fundamental change since Brent and Jade broke up a few years back. This strip is not just Brent trying to "out-romance" Francis. This is Brent taking advantage of a fortuitous situation to do something he's been planning for a long time. Anyone remember this strip? Also notice this strip. Brent didn't just get this engagement ring. He'd been keeping it in his desk drawer at the office. He's been waiting for the right time to ask. In fact, he wasn't even planning on asking her on this date. Notice how he had to make Skull go back for it? If the proposal had been planned, surely Brent would have brought the ring with him rather than having to rely on the bumbling Skull. So that makes it pretty clear that this isn't just some "let's show up Francis" stunt.

But here's the thing that makes it so great, and the reason why Scott Kurtz is winning Eisners while the rest of us are just making "dick and fart jokes", as it has been so eloquently phrased: This little proposal has been built up to for almost a year now.

Did anyone else notice how Brent has slowly been changing over the past year or two? First he gives up coffee, and in spite of a few hilarious mishaps, when he finally does decide to reintroduce coffee to his diet it's tempered with, er, responsibility. Brent's the one who is willing to go to Max Powers to save PvP magazine. And he seems to be pretty well ok with it. And of course, let's not forget the storyline where Brent thinks Jade is pregnant. He has a pretty stunning dream about the whole idea of fatherhood, which culminates in his realization that he's really not averse to the idea, then ends with the reveal that he's seriously thinking of marrying Jade. There's more progression too, but you get the idea.

Scott Kurtz has been laying this out for quite some time, and yet he still managed to sneak it by us by putting the proposal into what was supposed to be a classic "blow up in your face" scenario involving a hidden bet and both sides playing against each other. And I've got to say, that's pretty impressive.

We'll probably have a few strips after this one with some confusion as to whether this a genuine proposal or just an attempt to win the bet, but the fact of the matter is that the proposal is now on the table, and whether or not Jade chooses to accept it, PvP will be changed forever. In Simpsons terms, this is roughly on par with Marge and Homer getting a divorce (a real one, not like the ones they've solved in the span of a single episode), and that's pretty impressive.

So keep up the good work Scott. Go win some more Eisners.


At 12:53 PM, Blogger Mr Myth said...

I definitely think this is a great storyline, and the subtle changes Kurtz has been making to Brent have been nicely done.

That said, I am not sure if this is quite as earth-shattering as you say.

I think there is the possibility of things going back to normal - Brent could realize that proposing out of a sense of one-upmanship is a mistake, and they could end up talking the matter over and agreeing that now isn't a good time, but that things could go back to how they were.

I don't think that is the likely scenario, mind you, or even near the top of the list - but I do think it a plausible one.

And even if they do end up marrying - yes, it will change things, but not on the level of Marge and Homer getting a divorce. This is the natural conclusion of an already existing element of the strip - and while different than simply dating, it is similar enough that it won't drasticly alter the entirety of the strip.

When they broke up, that changed things. When cast members left the magazine, that left an impact. Some of those changes were since resolved and status quo restored, but I think they had a bigger effect at the time.

This is big and bold, certainly, but I don't think it is even as cataclysmic as Robbie's new fortune, which has more than left its mark.

At 1:21 PM, Anonymous Abby L said...

I don't agree that it wasn't done out of a sense of one-upmanship either. It's just as likely that he realized that he'd ticked Jade off and that he was losing in the competition and therefore had to up the ante, so he sent Skull for the ring.

I for one will be disappointed if Jade says yes, especially knowing that she knows they're competing.

At 3:02 PM, Blogger Gilead Pellaeon said...

Actually, Mr Myth is right in that Brent and Jade getting married is more of a "next logical conclusion" sort of situation than "earth shattering".

And I don't know... PROPOSING seems like an awfully permanent sort of action just to win a bet. I think it's more of a "kill two birds with one stone" mentality.

At 1:57 PM, Blogger Mr Myth said...

Yeah, I don't disagree - I mean, the fact that he already has the ring means that there is more to it than that. The problem is (as I realize the latest strip shows), it's now tied in with the bet for good or for ill.


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