Scott Kurtz makes comic shops his new 'PVP' Arena

[PVP]Gamers all over the planet already know Scott Kurtz' "PvP", the daily online comic strip poking fun at computer gaming. Now Kurtz is reaching out to a new audience -- comic book fans -- via a "PvP" series published by Dork Storm Press.

"'PvP' is a result of a cartoonist being raised on Atari, Dungeons and Dragons, Superman and Star Wars," Kurtz told the Comic Wire on Wednesday. "The strip is about the senior staff of a computer game magazine and their daily antics. At its heart, it's really about relationships between people of our generation and upbringing. It's about adults who never really grew up completely. Just like most of the people I know.

"PvP" is already a hit by the standards of Web comics, as it's a daily stop for thousands of readers. But Kurtz still felt he needed to make the leap to print.

"The initial idea was financial. All the money I was earning from 'PvP' was coming from one source: a dotcom company. I wasn't in control of that money, I didn't feel in control of my fate. The comic book, if it because even remotely successful, would give me that control. So the initial idea was a means to get a different revenue stream coming in for the strip.

"After starting the process it became more and more obvious how great an idea this was, money aside. It would get 'PvP' out to new readers, a whole new audience. A new industry. It was the next logical step.

"'PvP' was a Web only comic since 1998. So it took almost four years to get to the point where I felt it was ready to make it in print on its own."

The daily Web "PvP" follows a pretty standard format of a 2 x 2 grid driven by the needs of the Web. In comics, however, Kurtz has the freedom to play around with formats.

"Each issue has at least 10 pages that depart from the comic strip format. There is an original story with a different pace than what you see on the site everyday. I do also reprint strips from the site in the back of each comic.

"At first, I wasn't sure how I was going to accomplish the structure change. I've spent four years having these characters speak in four panel increments. Now they have this open mic and all the time in the world and I was really afraid I was going to choke. In issue #1 the original story was only 8 pages. The best primer to introduce new readers to 'PvP' are those first strips so I wanted to get to them as quickly as possible.

"Issue #2 [on sale in May] is really the first time I push the whole format. The gang are playing a superhero RPG and I have them running around in costume, using super-powers and being very dynamic. The comic strip has a very static feel and so I'm trying very hard to make the comic book stories kinetic.

"In issue three, it's 'PvP' manga style and issue four is a parody of 'The Matrix.' So these characters really want to jump around and do kung fu and fly and just be really go nuts."

Of course, while there is a large intersection between gamers and comic fans, they're not one and the same audience. Kurtz isn't worried about finding an audience.

"I used to think that 'PvP' was really targeted and niched. I was worried that the strips wouldn't be funny to people who didn't play computer games. But I get e-mail almost every day that say 'I don't play games, but I love PvP.' People love the interaction between the characters and how their relationships develop. I always try to make sure that you still get the joke if you don't know the details of the industry.

"Plus, at this point, I have great outlets for gags that don't make sense unless you know about computer games. I save those for Gamespy.com and PC Gamer [Magazine]."

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