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Monday, November 27, 2006

Hmmmmmmm....

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.

12 Comments:

At 7:50 AM, Blogger Mr Myth said...

Yeah, I agree.

Now, I wasn't a fan of the Ctrl-Alt-Del animated shorts. I thought the cost - specifically having the buy the whole year at once - to be a bit off-putting given, well... the dubious quality.

Based on the PvP sample short, I'm feeling similar sentiments.

But more than that, Kurtz's entire approach is driving me off. He clearly is worried about the comparison, and going out of his way to be defensive about it. He is constantly emphasizing how professional it will be (and, conversely, implying how professional the previous work by Blind Ferret wasn't.) Gabe, over at PA, out and out says as much.

Which, hey, I'm not saying they are necessarily wrong - but starting your project with a smear campaign about the competition just doesn't sit well with me.

It's a shame, because I would really like to see animated versions of webcomics. I mean, I remember watching the Garfield tv show when I was young. That was sheer genius - and it was based on Garfield.

There is definite potential for animated webcomics... though I definitely agree the biggest hurdle will be translating their humor into a different medium successfully. It isn't going to be easy, and that's why the rivalry here frustrates me.

It's going to take time to really get things off the ground, and put together a polished product. I think they are going to have enough troubles with the current price tag versus quality of the show.

They should be working together to try and get things rolling. Cross promotion, comparing notes on what works and what doesn't - those could go a long way towards actually producing a genuine animated show, rather than just a comic strip with some movement involved.

Even just ignoring each other would be better than this. Infighting is only going to lessen the already small audience interested, and that won't serve to benefit anyone at all.

 
At 8:33 AM, Anonymous Adam York gregory said...

Kurtz is just hyping his latest project, that's all. He might be making bold and frankly amitious claims, but who doesn't?

You hardly expect someone to launch a new product with the slogan 'it's been done before - and this is almost the same'

Fortunately, there are enough people knocking about that don't know about CAD's animated foray for this blatant advertising promo to work.

Still, turning something into an animation, no matter what the source material, is hardly anything new is it? I prefer comics, and webcomics because they are not voiced by some mediocre talent that used to be the voice of one of the Ninja Turtles.

 
At 8:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"They should be working together to try and get things rolling. Cross promotion, comparing notes on what works and what doesn't - those could go a long way towards actually producing a genuine animated show, rather than just a comic strip with some movement involved."

Bingo. You hit the nail on the head, mr myth. This type of attitude needs to be the attitude of ALL webcartoonists if the medium is to grow beyond its regular audience.

 
At 12:27 PM, Blogger Kneefers said...

Thank you for writing this, Gil. I thought some of the same things when I looked around the PvP: The Series sections of the website.
::Hmm... this looks *just* like CAD:Premium, only... in red?::

I dunno if I have the space to say this, because I won't be subscribing to any of them (I like free stuff; that's most of the appeal of webcomics, to me), but let me try anyway.

Personally, I have nothing against this. I *like* PvP. It's a funny, solid strip. (I *do* have something against PA, because it's *NOT FUNNY, DANGIT*, but that's outside the scope of this discussion.)

*My* problem is how everyone in the webcomic community treats CAD like it doesn't deserve to exist. It's ridiculous.

 
At 12:36 PM, Blogger Melonpool said...

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?

Hey, don't knock puppets. ;)

 
At 2:41 PM, Blogger Gilead Pellaeon said...

Hey, don't knock puppets. ;)

Touche, my friend. I do follow the Melonpool Quickcasts every week, and they have had some great moments (I like the scripted stuff better than the interviews).

By the way, I noticed that Melonpool is back in comic form! I need to announce that one, as some people may have missed it.

 
At 3:30 PM, Blogger Melonpool said...

You may have noticed that the Melonpool Quickcasts have been a little more sporadic of late. We're going to be doing pretty much scripted stuff from here-on-out, and as such, a little more prep time goes into each one.

There still may be more interviews, but only if they're truly interesting or funny.

 
At 10:47 AM, Anonymous Philippe Gaboury said...

Nice post there!

I agree that Scott seems to be taking credit for a milestone which really isn't his. But then again, what's the milestone? What's so new? We've had animation shorts on the web for quite a while now thanks to flash.

I find that this isn't news at all and I mostly take offense that it's been reposted on other sites as news again. It's just like reports on reality TV in the news bulletin. Hogwash and a waste of my time.

That said, kudos for calling the move to animation earlier Gilead. You'll always be my favorite visionary...

You are the one with the lion right?

Also, holy frigging crap! Melonpool is back?!?
Gotta go!

 
At 1:00 PM, Anonymous sohmer said...

Shouldn't the credit just be ours then? ;)

 
At 1:51 PM, Anonymous Pester said...

That's a good question, sohmer. Of webcomics I read, Least I Could Do (which I just started two weeks ago) seems to be the most immediate one, going from moment to moment instead of of having panel-break pauses, so when are we gonna see a Least I Could Do animated short? :)

I didn't pay for either one of the animations, but I read both comics and I'm inclined to route for CAD if this thing gets any nastier. I think that Ctrl-alt-del is funnier, better drawn, and more heart-warming (when it chooses to be) then PvP is (again when it chooses to be). Tim Buckley has pretty much been a nice guy in webcomics, whereas Kurtz has occasionally been known as a trouble maker. (He even made the list on the subject!) However, I think that nothing will probably come of this. Kurtz might be slightly rude, but Buckley isn't the type to get into a tizzy about it, so the whole thing will blow over and be forgotten.

 
At 1:56 PM, Blogger B Williams said...

"Tim Buckley has pretty much been a nice guy in webcomics, whereas Kurtz has occasionally been known as a trouble maker. (He even made the list on the subject!) However, I think that nothing will probably come of this. Kurtz might be slightly rude, but Buckley isn't the type to get into a tizzy about it, so the whole thing will blow over and be forgotten."


......WHAT? This post is a joke, right? Since when has ANYONE ever honestly be able to consider Buckley a nice guy? And what the hell - Tim *isn't* the type of guy to get into a tizzy about something??? This is the man that went apeshit over a fanmade tribute video, the man who bans people from his forum for talking even remotely badly about him or his comic, and this is the guy who obsessively vandalizes his own wikipedia entry to remove anything negative but then goes off and does something as childish as editing the PvP entry to just say "PvP sucks."

You've got to be fucking kidding me. Tim Buckley is EASILY the biggest douchebag in the webcomic world, if not the biggest douchebag in the world as a whole.

 
At 5:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Personally, I have nothing against this. I *like* PvP. It's a funny, solid strip. (I *do* have something against PA, because it's *NOT FUNNY, DANGIT*, but that's outside the scope of this discussion.)"

You like PvP more then Penny-Arcade? Weird.

 

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