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Making up for last week a bit. Web Comics: PvP Online & Something Positive

June 16, 2008

I am sincerely sorry for the weird week. I tried to make the posts but what with all the family stuff I missed the ball on it. My apologies. Today I’ll try to make up for that by doing a double review. We’ll be taking a look at PvP Online and Something Positive. Wednesday I’ll be reviewing Sin Fest and Friday we’ll be looking at the grandaddy of web comics, Penny Arcade. 

Background: PvP Online was started by Scott Kurtz of Dallas, Texas in 1998. Since then the comic has changed style, format, story, and the website has been updated and upgraded several times. Kurtz has morphed the comic from seven days a week, to five plus a colored Sunday, to five again. The art has changed dramatically from day 1 to the present day story line. It really is a progressive comic, artistically. Kurtz himself has gotten steadily more and more famous within the comic world as well. He has been a runner up and a winner of the prestigous Will Eisner award. His was for the recently created Best Digital Comic. PvP is not limited to the web though. Kurtz has published single issues and trades of his online work through Image and continues to do so. He also wrote a book with Kristofer Straub entitled, How to Make Web Comics. Kurtz can usually be found at various comic cons in Dallas and is a big support of Zeus Comics. He is also annually at Comic Con in San Diego. He is a very accessible creator. Kurtz runs a podcast with Straub to talk about web comics and comics in general. It is generally updated once weekly. One of the cooler things that Kurtz has done with his comic was teaming with Blind Ferret Entertainment of Canada. With Blind Ferret Kurtz created an animated series of his comic called PvP: The Series. You have to subscribe to see it but if you like the comic, I think that it’s worth it. He currently writes a side-comic called Ding! about World of Warcraft.

Currently, Kurtz updates the comic Monday through Friday. He recently finished a huge plot line where two of his main characters got married, two more “matured” (you’ll have to follow the series to really get that one), and one disappears. 

The Comic: Like Megatokyo, PvP started as a comic that primarily focused on gaming. He mostly makes jokes about video games but he does focus on Dungeons and Dragons from time to time. As the comic as gone on he has lessened the focus on gaming and created compelling characters and plots for his readers to follow. Unlike Megatokyo though PvP’s plot lines are simple to follow and even with cliff-hangers. His work week update schedule makes it easy to understand and he manages to provide enough to leave the reader satisfied. Of course, not all his updates are focused on plot and he still produces stand-alones that tell pretty funny jokes. 

As I mentioned above, PvP has changed its looked significantly since 1998. Kurtz has truly progressed his art, stylistically, and professionally. He used to do his comics by hand and photoshop the lines on them but now he uses a wacom tablet. To really see how far his skill has come check out some of his more recent posts, including the wedding and a pretty epic battle between Santa Claus and the infamous Scratch the Cat this last Christmas. 

Despite the evolution of his comic or perhaps because of it, the comic has improved immensely but Kurtz has not lost the feel of his characters or of the original comic. In fact, I would argue that he has only intensified it. 

My recommendation: I’ve been following this comic since about 2001 and I have really enjoyed reading it. Of the web comics that I’ll be recommending, this is in my top two. I truly recommend that you check it out. If you like any of the other comics that I’ve recommended so far than I believe that you’ll enjoy this one as well. This will be one of the few 5s that I give out for web comics. The only drawback to new readers is that you’ll have to dig through the archives to catch up but hey, even the oldies are good so you definitely should. 

♣ ♣ ♣ ♣ ♣

Up now is Something Positive.

Background: Something Positive is serial heavy comic by Randy Milholland. He is based out of Boston, Massachusetts. Milhollland has been creating the comic since 2001. He generally updates daily. However, he tends to get sick quite a bit and he does go conventions around the North east so his update can be sporadic. Unlike most of the web comics that I’ve reviewed, Milholland does not have a collection of his comics and, I don’t know if there is one in the works or if it’s even been planned. However, he does update three different comics that you can check out on the Something Positive website. He does one comic that features a younger version of one of the side characters from Something Positive. He also does a super hero spoof comic that is pretty good as well. The first one I mentioned doesn’t get updated very much anymore but he does update the spoof comic pretty regularly. 

The Comic: Something Positive follows about five different main characters with a rotating cast that are “regular” but are not featured enough to really be apart of the main cast. While the comic is a serial, it features very small plot lines but it also has quite a few stand alones. Each comic adds to the over-arching plot lines. The comic follows the five main’s lives and flows between the dramatic and the comedic regularly. 

Milholland’s art has improved quite a bit since he began. He has smoothed out his drawings and made them less cartoonish. His characters and backgrounds have become more realistic. The story lines of his comic have split in the past year. Two of his main character have moved to Fort Worth, Texas where Milholland is originally from and the rest are still located in Boston. It makes for sudden shifts in the story which are a little confusing, especially, considering the fact that he gives little warning as to where the next one is going to go. 

One of the biggest problems with Something Positive is that he introduces characters that he creates plots with that, honestly, end with those characters just disappearing eventually. He’s done several times with characters that the five mains were deeply involved with. Kim and Jhim are just two examples of this. 

My recommendation: Sorry for the rather crap review of this one. I tried to put effort in to this one but it’s such a weird convoluted comic that it’s hard for me to put it down correctly. Milholland does create some compelling characters with rich back stories but some of it gets lost in the appearance and disappearance of various characters. I’m giving this one a two but if you like out and out cyncism and irony than you should enjoy Something Positive.

♣ ♣ ♣ ♣ ♣


I’ll be adding the hot links later on. I have some business to take care of first so expect hot links by about 1030 or 1100 tonight. Okay, it’s up.



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