Webcomic Spotlight showcases some of today’s best comics that are predominantly, or entirely, published on the internet.
One of my main priorities with this blog, and the future projects for this site, is to focus on comics and web series that aren’t mainstream. I keep my focus this way for a number of reasons, but the number one reason is based on exposure. Comics like XKCD, Penny Arcade, and comics at that level have a huge reach, whereas comics with a smaller readership, most likely, haven’t found their full audience yet. So, one of the things I very intentionally set out to do through this blog is talk about, and promote, those comics and books. They’re valuable to the creators and readers alike, and they’re just as wonderful as any other piece of work out there. With all of that said however, this week I’m going to highlight a comic that I feel fits into the mainstream realm. Also, since this is my 50th blog post, I wanted to talk about something a little more personal today as well. So, without further delay, allow me to introduce to you PvP, by Scott Kurtz. A webcomic that’s been one of the most influential and inspiring comics I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading.
If you’re unfamiliar with PvP, allow me to provide a small bit of history. PvP (Player vs Player) was created back in the middle of 1998, and at that time was exclusively found online. It centered around a group of people working at a fictional video game magazine, one of which being a blue troll named Skull who may or may not have irritable bowel syndrome. Running daily, five days a week, it’s one of the earliest and longest running comics found on the internet today. And, on a personal level, I’m not sure there’s another comic that’s ever had a greater, personal impact on me.
I’ve mentioned a few times on this blog that PvP really opened my eyes to a multitude of new ideas. It single-handedly broke down some rather stupid preconceived notions I had about comics in general. My first experience of PvP, as these things sometimes happen, came as an accident. I wasn’t searching for it, but instead randomly found it online one afternoon when I was sick at home. In fact, I still remember being awestruck that I found a comic online. More specifically though, was that PvP was very different than the comics I would often read in the newspapers. Instead being somewhat generalized, or even political, this comic was talking about a subject near and dear to my heart: video games.
As an only child in a neighborhood without any kids my age, Nintendo was my best friend. As I write that I’m literally laughing at just how unhealthy, and absolutely true, that sentence is. Mario Bros, Zelda, Metroid, and Punch Out (back then it was called Mike Tyson’s Punch Out), were such major parts of my childhood. In fact, the only other thing that captured my attention more than video games were comics (seriously, no wonder I see a therapist haha). I was either reading them, drawing them, or playing video games…that’s it. Now, fast-forward a bunch of years, back to that day when I’m home sick from work, browsing the internet (trying not to die from a cold), and what’s this I stumble across? A comic about video games…on the internet? What was happening? I still remember sitting there mesmerized by the fact that comics were online. Yet, not only were they online, but someone made a comic about video games.
From that point onward PvP became a daily obsession of mine. I fell in love with the characters and humor found within. Scott’s willingness to engage his readers, and his openness about the garbage that took place in his life, personalized PvP for me far more than anything a printed page had ever done. Yet, as if this connection to a digital comic wasn’t enough, what came next for me was probably the most impactful moment a comic has ever had on my life.
One afternoon, while browsing my local comic store, my eye caught something that took my brain far longer to process than it should’ve. On my way to pick up the only “indie” book I considered worth reading at at hat time–Spawn–I passed right by a printed version of PvP. Seriously folks, I looked right at it, had the thought of, “Huh, that looks exactly like the webcomic I read,” then went along to get Spawn. In a somewhat comedic moment, I paused, allowing my brain the time it needed to register what was happening, then promptly darted back to where I saw it. I stood for a moment, dumbfounded, as I stared at this comic. It was the webcomic I read, but this wasn’t the web. What the heck was this comic doing here? Why is this thing that existed online suddenly on a shelf at my store? I snatched the issue up, looked over the cover, which was great, glanced at the publisher “Dork Storm,” and paused once more.
It’s important to note how much I loved this comic. In this moment, I was a man (well, young man) of two minds. This was a webcomic not a print comic. Print comics are for huge companies with a stable of artists and writers, and huge budgets that print thousands upon thousands of copies. How could PvP, a comic created by a single individual be in my hands? It was in this moment that my naive and ignorant view of what a “comic book” was supposed to be, and my very real love for this webcomic went to war. In my mind, there weren’t “good” print comics outside of Marvel and DC. Therefore, and again please forgive my ignorance, anything not produced my Marvel and DC was garbage. Yet, here was PvP, something I knew to be great. It was a comic that I loved dearly…and it wasn’t published by Marvel or DC.
My world was shattered…and I am so very thankful it was. Without that moment I would’ve deprived myself of hundreds of amazing comics, comic-strips, webcomics, and graphic novels. Scott Kurtz, through his creation of PvP, absolutely changed my comic life for the better. I’ve been a loyal fan of PvP since 1999, and if I ever get the chance to meet Scott, I’m going to shake his hand (hug him if possible) and thank him for what he and his work did for me. For this writer, PvP is far more than a webcomic, it’s far more than a comic-strip that was printed by Dork Storm (and later Image Comics). It’s a comic about a group of wonderfully written characters, working at a video game publishing house that used to be a video game magazine, with a troll who farts not nearly enough, and it absolutely touched my life in one of the most positive ways a comic can.
Thank you Scott Kurtz for your work, your willingness to reach out to your readers, and for PvP.