The sunday funnies are mildly amusing pap for people who read those same gags during the Truman administration. (If you’re Snuffy Smith, go back to the Wilson administration.) In other words: the Sunday funnies are no longer funny. With more people getting their news online, comic strips in newspaper syndication face greater irrelevancy. Extinction looms. Fortunately, the Internet also poses an alternative to save comics from themselves.
Dallas resident and cartoonist Scott Kurtz leads the rescue. He’s among the first to have a full-time career in web-based comics. As of next month, Kurtz celebrates nine years working on his daily strip PvP (www.pvponline.com), which has grown to more than 200,000 readers. Last year, Kurtz was honored with the Eisner Award in the “Best Digital Comic” category. The Eisners are the Oscars of the comic book industry.
PvP covers the mishaps of a video game magazine and its employees. It’s smart, relevant, and most important, funny. It features quirky pop- culture references, strained male-female relationships, office politics, and a much-loved ongoing panda attack gag. PvP is free, but the site attracts enough visitors to have banner advertisements account for roughly a third of its total profit. As readership has grown, Kurtz has created a PvP-related merchandise line of t-shirts, plushes, and posters. PvP also has a book deal with Image Comics.
This year, Kurtz’s success has allowed him to move beyond the strip. He launched PvP: The Animated Series. It began as a partnership with Blind Ferret Entertainment in Montreal. Once again, entirely web-based, these five- to six-minute episodes air each month. Subscribers pay $25 for year-long access, with a DVD release for each season. “We’ve hired great voice actors and are working with some very creative animators and audio guys. It’s just a dream project,” Kurtz says.