Over at PvP, Kurtz has been working on a story about Jade. (He’ll also be a guest of honor at next year’s San Diego Comicon – good deal, no? Back to the story, though.)
His stated goal with the current storyline is that he wants to “move Jade from a reactionary role into more of a protagonist.” So the arc is about developing Jade as a character, and more than that, about changing the very way she interacts with the rest of the strip.
It’s a neat idea, and it is always good to see strips that are already solid, already established, and have no need for change… to still go ahead and try to change anyway. To keep evolving, not out of need, but out of a desire for self-improvement. So that’s good, and Jade is definitely a good character to do it with.
But that isn’t what has really caught my attention in the most recent strips. It’s the new character – Samantha. She was brought into the strip pretty much for the sole reason of letting this storyline come about, and helping to further Jade’s characters (in ways we have not yet entirely seen)… but Kurtz managed, in the process, to add another interesting figure to the cast.
She easily seems to fit in with the crew, to play along and improvise with all the normal wacky interactions. I don’t know if we’ll see much of her when the storyline is over – she’ll probably pop in and out much like Gwen and some others, becoming supporting cast, not a regular.
But still – she was brought into the strip as a plot device. Period. Scenery, catalyst, nothing more. And yet, instead, she already actually is a character, one distinct – in several ways – from the rest of the cast and crew.
One of the biggest criticisms against PvP, back in the day, was that it was too formulaic. It was designed to be marketable, to be easy to produce, not to tell a story. Now, putting aside whether or not that was true – or even whether or not it mattered – I think you’d have trouble saying the same today.