Thursday, September 16, 2010

Book-A-Day 2010 # 225 (9/16) -- PvP, Vol. 6: Silent But Deadly by Scott Kurtz

One of the surest signs of the bad health of the traditional newspaper strip is that one of the very best strips of that idiom currently running -- Scott Kurtz's PvP -- is not now and has never run in newspapers. Even the strips collected in this book -- from 2006, before the economic crash, when newspapers were still swimming in money from years of consolidation and increasing advertising -- all appeared originally online.

PvP has all of the hallmarks of a successful newspaper series: a long run in the same format; a generally stable cast, growing slightly over the years but with the core cast staying limited and instantly identifiable; recurring gags and plotlines; and a crisp, precise modern style. (It also has more swearing than most newspapers would accept, true, but that's a minor point.) It's even aimed at a specific demographic -- broadly, young males, and more specifically gamers -- in the way that newspaper syndicates like; not to mention the fact that this particular demographic is one they'd kill to have reading their papers.

So PvP instead appears online, for free, every weekday. This book collects all of the strips that appeared during 2006, as good a year as any for PvP. (Kurtz's art had gotten really crisp and precise a few years before that, and this is right in the middle of a bunch of long-running plotlines, including Brent and Jade's courtship.)

At this point, it would be traditional to start listing some of the better strips and storylines in this book, but...I've just spent most of the past half-hour poking through the PvP archives (reading backwards and forwards from the strips here), so I don't have the time, and all of them are still available online, starting here.

If you haven't read PvP before, don't start there -- drop back to, say, 2002 or so, and start working forward. On the other hand, if you're on the Internet, I have a hard time believing that you've never read PvP. Either way, it's addictive the way a good gag-a-day strip is, and has continuity that you'll want to follow. This book is a good way to have a chunk of it available for offline reading, and to give Scott Kurtz some direct income for his work (if that's how you feel about it), but the essential way to read PvP, like any webccomic, is to just keep hitting that "forward" button until you realize six hours have passed and you're late for whatever it was you were supposed to do.
Book-A-Day 2010: The Epic Index

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