Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
PvP, also known as Player Vs. Player, is among the most popular webcomics currently online. In recent years Image Comics has also began publishing various print comic book collections of the strip. Previously, Dork Storm Press printed 6 issues of original content as well as a trade paperback of online strips.
It is drawn by Texan cartoonist Scott Kurtz and chronicles the adventures of a fictional video game magazine company and its employees. A popular but often controversial figure in the field of online comics, Kurtz is usually willing to share his opinions about comics and gaming culture in his blog, which is hosted on the same website as his comic strips.
The humor tends to be focused around technology jokes, relationship humor, in-jokes about "nerd culture," and mocking of the generation gaps between the different characters. Kurtz occasionally comes under fire for his satire - in one subplot, Skull the Troll creates an alternative comic , Graphamaximo . This series became a point of contention among many comic book artists and authors, who took offense to the implication that alternative comics were somehow inferior to more mainstream works. Graphamaximo has become, in these circles, an adjective for less-than-professional comic book efforts.
The first online strip was posted on Monday, May 4 1998 . Kurtz updates the strip every day, and it should be noted that this strip has never missed an update since January 3rd, 2000. At the 2004 San Diego Comicon, Kurtz announced that he would offer to newspapers the entire PvP series to reprint for free . Kurtz said he made this offer because of his dissatisfaction with the terms offered to cartoonists by syndicates.
The main characters are:
- Cole Richards  - the boss. A committed family man, he has a rather loose grasp of new technology and is often nostalgic for 1980s pop culture.
- Brent Sienna  - a surly columnist, caffiene addict and Apple Computer fanatic. His apathetic attitude towards everything frustrates his co-workers. In a long-running gag, he is occasionally, inexplicably, and suddenly, attacked by a giant panda (example).
- Jade Fontaine  - A columnist, and Brent's off-and-on girlfriend. Sarcastic and independent, but also a bit of a sex kitten.
- Francis Ottoman aka 'The Ottomancer'  - the youngest member of the staff. Easily excitable, and always eager to be on the cutting edge of fads and technology.
- Skull  - a lovable troll whose existence among the human cast is never fully explained. Nervous and childlike. Has an occasional girlfriend named Sonya. Originally from another web cartoon about Ultima Online by the same author, called "Samwise".
Other recurring characters are:
- Donna Richards  - Cole's wife. Seldom seen in the more recent strips.
- Miranda Fontaine - Jade's younger sister. She aims to seduce most of the men on the PvP staff just to irritate Jade, not necessarily because she wants the male attention.
- Sonya Powers  - Skull's girlfriend. She does not appear to mind that he apparently has no gender.
- Scratch Fury: Destroyer of Worlds  - Skull's cat. Skull accidentally zapped him with his "genius machine", granting him superhuman intelligence. Scratch is bent on global domination, but his evil plans for attaining it are often foiled by his feline foibles and proclivities .
- Kirby  - Cole's pet basset hound. Scratch Fury, feeling that he needed an archenemy of his own stature, used Skull's "genius machine" to grant him ten times the intelligence of a normal basset hound. Unfortunately, "ten times as smart as a basset hound" is still pretty stupid, but at least now he can talk.
- Robbie and Jase  - two fat drop-outs who sit in the break room and play video games. Old friends of Cole's, they are kept employed mostly out of pity, and are only occasionally seen.
- Marcy Weisnewsky  - another intern. Francis's long time FPS opponent and "romantic" interest, if she can be called that.
- Max Powers  - archenemy and rival publisher of Cole. Here is an interesting analysis of this character.
- Gwen Dawson  - acquaintance of Sonya's and a radio producer. Gwen had a crush on Jade and kissed her once at party. Brent had a crush on Gwen before he knew she was gay.
- Kurtz's Dad  - Although not a part of the offical PvP Universe, and therefore not normally seen with the other characters, Kurtz's dad, a German immigrant, makes an occasional appearance in the comic to share his takes on profanity, modern American culture, or whatever else happens to strike his fancy. Kurtz apparently bases this character on his own father, and has even gone so far as to use actual comments by his dad as the script for the strips in which he appears.
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