Dancing with the Devil

Skull's favorite movie is clearly The Little Mermaid.Ok – I’ll admit I was rather dubious when the latest PvP storyline seemed to be an arbitrary strike against those who weren’t entirely happy with Skull’s voice in the upcoming PvP animated shorts. Grinding the point into the ground… well, it seemed to be doing the very thing that Kris Straub spoke out against not long ago.

Kurtz wants to use a high-pitched voice for Skull. That’s how he views the character, it’s his property and his show, so no problem – that’s his call to make. Of course, he shouldn’t be angry at fans for giving their honest opinions on the topic – they are entirely able to feel however they want about it, and certainly free to not spend the relatively insane price of purchase if they don’t want to. Regardless of which side you are on, it’s not worth continuing to beat the topic to death – which is what I was afraid Kurtz was doing in this sequence.

But while the first strip or two seemed along those lines, I was pleased to realize that wasn’t entirely the case. Kurtz has taken the topic and run with it, with some very funny results. But more than that, I realized what was actually going on.

See, one of the worries about this just being a grudge-fest on Kurtz’s part is that it would be meaningless to the majority of readers. If they didn’t watch the animated PvP teaser – or if they did so, but didn’t pay any attention to the discussions that sprung up regarding it – some of the strips just would have neither point nor punchline.

But what Kurtz is doing is establishing Skull’s voice within the story. Readers generally have to invent within their own minds how each character sounds. Given that this is a character that clearly engenders all manner of different possible voices… Kurtz is putting his view of the character clearly in the story.

This way readers who have read through this arc won’t be as startled if they go on to watch the tv series. More than that, it allows Kurtz to flesh out details of the world that normally he can’t convey on paper.

So I’m ok with that. I’m hoping the storyline doesn’t feel the need to make any more low blows at those who originally imagined Skull’s voice different than Kurtz did, because attacking a loyal fanbase over such an irrelevant detail is… well, let’s just say that Kurtz has spoken out against other webcomic creators who have acted like that, and here is his chance to prove he is better than them.

In other news, given that I realize that I’ve had a lot of posts on the same strips of late, I’m making an on-the-spot, Third-Tuesday-Afternoon-of-January Resolution to spend the next few weeks focusing on new comics, or ones that have fallen by the wayside. So if Kurtz does descend into rampant villainry, or if the current Sluggy storyline proves to be as inane as it looks to be, you won’t hear about it from me!

One response

  1. Although I’m a little removed from the particulars of the controversy over Skull’s voice, I don’t really have an issue with cartoonists being inspired by drama with their audiences and syndicates, at least in theory. If I remember correctly, even Bill Watterson drew a few cartoons which were inspired by his fight with the syndicates.

    However, it does require a deft touch. I believe it works best when a creator is trying to laugh at the weird situation by using it as a jumping-off point, but it is hard to avoid using your characters as a soapbox or turning the people you’re frustrated with into annoying strawmen.

    Like you said, Kurtz seems to be running with the theme more than using the comics to lecture “disloyal” fans, so I don’t really have a problem with the storyline as it’s been unfolding.

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