News For November 28, 2006

PvP The SeriesA recurring comment that popped up in discussions about the announcement of the new animated PvP series was whether or not Scott Kurtz was being hypocritical for embracing almost in total a project and business plan that he had criticized previously when rival videogame webcomic creator Tim Buckley had launched Ctrl-Alt-Del: The Animated Series.

I expected Buckley to post some kind of comment but blogger Gilead Pellaeon beat him to it:

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.

Is Kurtz being hypocritical? Arguably yeah. Should anyone care? Probably not so much. People can change their minds, people can be inconsistent over time. Would it be better to acknowledge a change in opinion or if possible explain the differences between this PvP project and the CAD project that inspired so much criticism? Probably, but it's understandable why talking about CAD wouldn't be the first thing on Kurtz's mind yesterday.



Xaviar Xerexes

Wandering webcomic ronin. Created Comixpedia (2002-2005) and ComixTalk (2006-2012; 2016-?). Made a lot of unfinished comics and novels.


  1. The sun shining into my window was bright this morning. Not just bright, but it seemed extra bright and it woke me up from my slumber. I felt that I should blog my indignation about this situation, but I realized that this is just how the sun works and I was powerless to do anything about it.

    So I rolled over and went back to bed.

  2. Comic to animation its a logical step (for me web its still a medium)

    Like when Windsor McCay did film about his little nemo strip
    or thousands of mangas like Naruto, Dragon ball etc, ranma 1/2 got anime who are almost a carbon copy of their print versions
    and still you can read Kazuki Takahashi in every Yugioh product and keep copyrights

    I dont think someone would tell Rumiko T.
    -Ok we want to sell a new toy lets inuyasha have a super robot scuba diving armor.

    Anyway Im glad that webcomics are making those steps Im looking forward for more.

    Ps(Im glad that in this era I can post and participate in a place with famous webcomickers that I admire sorry for the fanboy outbreak)

  3. So, really the intent of my post was to call Scott Kurtz on mocking Tim Buckley's animation project, then turning around and doing his own animation project with the same studio and declaring it some bold new thing. The hypocritical part in my mind was that Kurtz never said: "Gee, I was wrong, this is a good idea, and I think we can do better than Buckley did because we have more experience and resources."

    Adam Gregory from Flowfield Unity responded to my original post by saying: "You hardly expect someone to launch a new product with the slogan 'it's been done before – and this is almost the same'", and I guess that makes a lot of sense, but to me the whole thing came off like Tim Buckley was really being slighted, where he actually deserved at least some praise for putting his ass on the line and being the first one to pioneer this idea. If PvP The Series is going to be better than CAD The Animated Series, its because they learned a bunch of lessons from making CAD The Animated Series.

    From what I understand from reading a few of Buckley's posts in his forums, the main reason that there was such a dropoff in the quality of CAD The Animated Series (and there certainly was a noticable dropoff after the first few episodes) was that the animation staff couldn't keep up with the deadlines and had to cut corners all over the place. Now Blind Ferret has their own in-house animation staff. So that was a lesson learned right there.

    All I'm saying is give credit where credit is due. I'm looking forward to the PvP Series as much as the next guy, but all this posturing just bothers me.

  4. Gilead,

    Couple things here:

    First of all, I read and really liked your post. I'm actually really excited that this series is getting all this attention and that we have polarized discourse about it. It means people are passionate about the subject and that's never bad.

    I'm very eager and anxious to get the word out, and help Blind Ferret repair what I feel is a damaged reputation. My personal opinion is that the CAD series suffered from some creative lack of vision and execution. I'm sure opinions vary on who is responsible . Obviously, the fact that I'm willing to partner with Blind Ferret speaks for itself.

    That being said, I am happy to be 2nd to the game, on this one. I was very skeptical of the business model up until I saw the first dailies of my own series. And it's no secret how I feel about Tim's work. And on top of that, my day job is being a satirist. I get paid to make fun of everything and everyone (including myself).

    Of course I mocked the CAD series.

    And now, you're right, I am saying "I stand corrected. Maybe this can work. I think we could make this work. You've convinced me." And when the series comes out, if you see in PvP The Series, what I mocked about CAD the series, then you should hit me with both barrells. But that's not going to happen.

    90% of my audience has no idea about BFE, CAD, CAD the series or my opinions of Tim Buckley. They read the strip, skip the blog usually, occasionally click and ad and buy a tee shirt. Then they move on. So yeah, I'm not leading my announcement with this stuff. My audience doesn't care. Only us web-drama-addicts do.

    So here you go…credit where credit is due, and posted where the people who give a shit can see it.

    – Blind Ferret pioneered this idea and they're the only one's putting their asses on the line. They front all the costs and if it doesn't pay off, they're the ones with the burdon of debt. It's their game, they just invited me to it. If this thing fails, all I'm out is some pride and time. They lose a lot more.

    -We have ALL, including Tim, learned a lot from the CAD series. Of course we're all going to benefit from that.

    – If it makes you feel any better, it's now MY turn to put my neck and rep on the line and everyone else's turn to make blamimations that mock my attempts and failures.

    -If my excitement and geniune enthusiasm in promoting this, comes off as posturing, I am very sorry. That is not what I'm trying to do at all. I'm sincerely going bonkers from the excitement I'm experiencing on this project.

    How many times will someone just show up on your doorstep with a studio full of talent, willing to front the cash to bring your work to life?

  5. [quote=GileadPellaeon]

    So, really the intent of my post was to call Scott Kurtz on mocking Tim Buckley's animation project, then turning around and doing his own animation project with the same studio and declaring it some bold new thing. The hypocritical part in my mind was that Kurtz never said: "Gee, I was wrong, this is a good idea, and I think we can do better than Buckley did because we have more experience and resources."[/quote]

    Gil, while I think it is a good thing that your post sparked discussion, the problem is that it sparked the hypocricy discussion and not the more interesting one.

    I'm adapting what I'm about to say a bit from a post I made on the starslip forums:

    Labeling it hypocricy is all about the "gotcha!" aspect. It doesn't have anything to do with the question of whether or not making the series is a good idea, whether or not the business model is a sound one, etc. It's all about, "Did so-and-so say one thing and do the opposite?" And that is totally unimportant. Because it isn't a legitimate criticism of the thing itself.

    So, the hypocricy thing is just a distraction from some actually interesting issues. Here's how I see the interesting issues: There are some similarities between the PVP series and the CAD series, the pay-for-play model, the production studio, the fact that it is a webcomic pursuing animation, etc.

    And some people expressed worries about the CAD series that seem like they'd apply to this move. Specifically Kurtz and Straub. But I don't care about whether they are being consistent with their past selves. There are two possibilities, (1) despite the similarities, the two projects are different enough that the criticisms of the one don't apply to the other, or (2) Kurtz and Straub no longer think the old criticisms are good. Or some combination of the two. If it's (1), the question that's interesting (and useful for any other creators who want to think about a similar move) is to see what those relevant differences are, so as to better understand what it is that makes the model good/bad. If it's (2), then the worries that they expressed before are overridden or undercut by some consideration, and its good to know what that consideration is.

    Given what's been said, there is at least some of (1) going on, in that BFE is taking a different approach to the actual animation of the project.

    In the end, no one should really care that much about whether someone said something and then later didn't seem to follow it, in and of itself. But, to some extent, people should care that someone who seemed to think there were a lot of problems with model X is implementing a model that seems like X, because that is an indication that either the model is importantly different, or that there are issues that outweigh/diminish the problems for models like X. And those are the issues that will be useful to discuss and figure out, because they are way more relevant to the question of whether or not another comic should be thinking about pursuing such a deal.

    That's why I think its a mistake to get bogged down for even a second in the "was it hypocricy" debate.

  6. Scott,

    What are the major things you think we've learned from the CAD series? Is it mostly the stuff that you've already commented on, like the importance of the in-house animators and your retaining creative control, or are there other things too?
  7. A couple things I guess:

    -Ryan and Randy wanted to hire in-house, I assume, because you save money ultimately and because these guys have a full time job now of working on OUR projects. We're not just one of 100 jobs they have. And Ryan can interview and hand pick people that he thinks will work well with us. We don't just get who we get.

    – Collaboration is key. This is HUGE. You have to let Ryan direct and suggest. You have to let the animators put in their own nuances and contribute. When you do that, and you foster a truly collaborative spirit, everyone feels like it's their baby and we get awesome results. In the preview minute we've shown, that bit with Francis and the gum was all them. We just had Francis staring at Brent to annoy him. And that came off horrible. But our lead animator knew enough to suggest that and it worked brilliantly. Bringing on Kris was my 1st decision. I knew that having a group of writers would yield results greater than if I just wrote it myself. So having Kris and I as a team keeps me from falling into familiar traps. Because Kris catches me before I walk into them. Also, he's fucking brilliant.

    – The animation has to be different from the comic strip. You can't keep the same pacing, writing style or continuity of the comic strip. It doesn't translate. You have to come up with a whole new cadance for it. And that is why I need other people there writing and producing with me. Because I'm entrenched in the pacing I use for the strip and I need people here to catch me. If all I'm going to do is animate what people have already seen, I'm squandering the potential of this series.

    -Listen to all feedback, filter, and take what works. I want this to be for the fans. I also want to market this outside and make NEW fans. So I can't take all the feedback I get and just run with it. I need to filter it, pick out the gems and implement that. I think having a "If you don't like it, cancel your subscription" attitude is counter-productive. The fans want to support you and they will show you how they want to do that. We had someone suggest that we set it up so you could by a subscription for a friend as a gift. Done! We had that implemented the next day and that will help sales.

    uh…what else? Oh.

    -Market outside your existing fanbase. I think that's a lesson learned as well.

    Hope this is proving interesting for you guys. I could talk all day about it because I love talking shop. If I'm being boring let me know and I'll shut up.

  8. Ok, I'm satisfied. Your motivations make total sense, and I look forward to seeing where PvP the Series goes. I will of course be subscribing.

    Hurrah for everyone!

  9. Wikipedia ranting is boring. This is interesting – I'd be happy to read about the process on the animated PVP as it continues.

    And I have to agree 100% with you on Kris. That was a great idea to bring him on to the project.


    Xaviar Xerexes

    Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Gnaw.

  10. the behind the scenes/shop talk stuff is way more interesting than the drama. Keep it coming.

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