Scott Kurtz Has Rebooted "PvP" (And it's, uh...Interesting)

UPDATE: In an earlier version of this story we accidentally posted a guest strip as an example of Kurtz "latest comic."  Kurtz politely informed me of my mistake and I have (hopefully) swapped it out with correct artwork!

A few days ago on Twitter, comic strip author Scott Kurtz announced something that I honestly never thought I would see: After 22 years he was rebooting his famous comic strip "PvP!"

The news, to put it bluntly, shocked me.  Not the least of which is because several years ago Kurtz (as well as other webcomic authors) were so perplexed by fellow artist Tim Buckley's decision to reboot "Ctrl+Alt+Del" that they made an entire podcast on the subject (which ended up being a very fascinating look into the work process of all these creators, their feelings about long running strips, and being chained by their own creations).  What was also brought up during that podcast is how Kurtz has always managed to evolve "PvP" over the years.  This is mainly because as a creator who was going to be writing this strip for most of his adult life, Kurtz didn't want to get to a point where people were coming to a comic strip and reading the same jokes they were ten years ago (this is why the panda rarely attacks Brent anymore).  It's an assessment I agree with.  Webcomics don't have the luxury of going stale.  They aren't in newspapers and most people have to go out of their way to read them.  There's no such thing as job security on the internet.  If the strips become boring, traffic lightens up, and then mortgages can't be paid.

Therefor, it makes sense that webcomics have an "adapt or die" mentality, and it's one that Scott Kurtz has done a much better job at executing than most (poor "Real Life Comics" constantly seems stuck in limbo these days).  Through the years characters have come and gone.  The artwork has changed.  Old reoccurring gags are retired while new ones are brought in.  Francis actually grew up and got married.  Some of the changes worked.  Some didn't.  In many cases Kurtz knocked it out of the park and in other cases he struck out.  One thing has always been consistent though: It's never been boring (and its usually very funny).  Right now the world has been turned upside down by COVID-19.  I get that.  It's being stuck indoors most of the day that brought me back to blogging about comics (something I hadn't really done in ten years).  Considering I wrote about "PvP" extensively when I was doing this so many years ago, it seems bizarrely appropriate that a reboot shows up a week or so after I pick this back up!

So, what do I think about it?'s interesting, that's for sure.  I've read this strip a good dozen times at this point, and every time I read it I'm amazed at how familiar it feels while still feeling like something new.  I guess I'll discuss the artwork first since it's the most obvious change yet.  To understand where I'm coming from, this is what "PvP" looked like when I first started reading it:

Here's what "PvP" looked like before Kurtz decided he wanted to reboot the series.

Comparing those two strips to the one above, I've come to the conclusion that Kurtz is bringing the artwork somewhere down the middle: A little more cartoony like before, but retaining some of the more detailed human characteristics of the modern strips.  It's a great compromise and I immediately loved it!  Granted, we haven't seen any of the classic characters yet, so it's hard to know exactly how this will look for them, but based on this one strip I believe I will like the new designs very much.  While we're on the subject of characters, it is a bold move to introduce (what appears to be) a brand new character for the reboot of "PvP."  You would expect the reboot to feature a character like Francis or Marcy (maybe Cole Richards), but having a new character is a good way to hook a new audience who might not be familiar with the old cast of characters.  Course, that brings us to one of the biggest questions I have: Is this a true reboot, or just a stylistic reboot?

Because even though Kurtz made it clear on his Twitter that he was rebooting "PvP" because he just couldn't work on the strip "as is" during the COVID-19 crisis, the strip itself clearly states "Welcome to 'PVP' 3.0," suggesting that it hasn't been rebooted so much as it has been tweaked again.  I'm not going to lie and say that I hope this is ultimately what it is.  There is a LOT of history in "PvP!"  Characters have grown up, started dated, gotten married, had kids, moved to Seattle, gone from publishing a print magazine to publishing an online website...honestly, it's kind of crazy to think about all the things that happened (and unlike 20 years of "Dilbert," the changes actually matter)!  It would be a real...shame, let's say, if all of that were to simply go away.  It would be disappointing if all of that history didn't get a proper send off before heading into this new rebooted story line.  Or, maybe we need not worry about any of that.  Maybe the term "upgrade" will be a more appropriate term than "reboot," and that the history will remain while a new style is explored?

Heck, for all I know, maybe this "reboot" is just an excuse for Kurtz to get out of writing about his characters stuck at home worrying about COVID-19 (a topic that is stressful enough as it is without having to deal with it in your personal work).  This first strip doesn't tell us much about what this reboot ultimately means or is.  I hope it's just a change in direction without throwing away the history of the strip, but at this moment no one really knows except Kurtz.  What I do know is that I like the art, the strip itself is funny, and the possibilities are exciting!  So while I may be on the fence for what this ultimately means for the strip going forward, life has once again been injected into "PvP," and I'm very excited to see what happens going forward!

Your Comic Book Guy - Kevin

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