Warning: Contains minor spoilers.
(Player vs. Player) is one of the longest running webcomic
s around, having debuted on May 4, 1998. Moreover, unlike most webcomics, PvP runs seven days a week, meaning it has more sheer content than just about any other online comic
. While it's not as well-drawn or (in my completely subjective opinion) as funny as, say, Penny Arcade
, it certainly holds it own. You can read it at pvponline.com
is nominally a gaming
comic, which pretty well explains its setting; most of the action takes place in the offices of PvP Magazine
, a publication devoted to video game
s. Over the years, Kurtz has been focusing less and less on gaming (earning complaints from some readers, who he occasionally mocks in the strip), so at this point the magazine company pretty much exists for the sole purpose of having jokes about slacking off
and business meeting lead-ins.
Continuity is a strange beast in PvP
. While the characters acknowledge the passage of time, they don't seem to age - Francis, for instance, has been 16 for about six years now. Most things in the comic affect future events, but not all of them; for instance, one of the running gag
s of the strip is that, upon someone saying the word "panda
", a giant carnivorous version of one comes out of nowhere and mauls Brent (one of the main characters) to death. Obviously this doesn't have any continuity with the rest of the strip, because the next day he'll be fine. Furthermore, the characters will sometimes "break the fourth wall
" - which Kurtz apparently believes means that they get Matrix
-like powers - and manifest lightsaber
s or adamantium
claws or some other pop-culture reference, which almost always results in someone's head getting lopped off. Probably the best comparison one could make is that continuity in PvP
is similar to continuity in The Simpsons
Now then, here's some character info:
These are characters which appear in the majority of strips:
is the editor-in-chief
of PvP Magazine. Despite his middle-aged
appearance, Cole is a man is his early or mid-30s. He's an island of stability in an ocean of chaos. Or something. Cole is often perplexed by modern video games, which is rather unfortunate considering that his livelihood
is intimately entangled with them. His main hobbies are complaining about his wife, playing 80's video games on emulator
s, and complaining about his wife.
is the "Creative Director" for PvP Magazine (whatever the hell that means), mostly because he and Cole have been friends since grade school
. Besides being a complete cynic and a pompous ass, Brent partakes of the greatest vice of all: being a Mac
user. Never at a loss for a sarcastic remark, Brent has been known in the past to mock everything from RPG
players to alternative comics to furries
. Nonetheless, he's somehow managed to get involved in a long-term relationship
, the magazine's lead writer. Jade prefers MMORPGs
, but she can frag
with the best of them, given the opportunity. She also spends a lot of time trying to extinguish the dogma that most gamers are men, to the degree that one sometimes wonders if she plays video games because she enjoys them, or just to prove a point.
Francis Ray Ottoman
is a computer geek
of the highest order, and provides tech support
and game reviews for the magazine. He's also one of the most unscrupulous teenagers you'll ever meet; to wit, he got his job in the first place solely as a means of getting free games. Francis can frequently be seen insulting Mac users (like Brent) and console
gamers, when he's not coming up with some nutty money-making scheme.
is a Troll
. Literally. Despite being hundreds of years old, he often acts like a young child - certainly, he often seems as intelligent as one. Despite the expectations one would have of a troll, Skull is quite innocent and lovable - which also makes him a target of Brent and Francis' pranks.
Robbie and Jase
are employed by virtue of sympathy. They were buddies of Cole and Brent's (well, Cole's) in college
, and he simply can't bear to get rid of them, even though they've done precisely one bit of work during the magazine's entire run. They exist mostly as an outlet for fart
jokes, which could explain why Kurtz seems to be phasing them out.
These characters, while appearing relatively infrequently, are still somewhat important to the strip:
is Cole's wife, infamous for her Death Glare. She really does love her husband, but wishes he would spend less time on the computer
and more with her and their children, Dylan
Marcy "Devilfish" Wisniewsky
is Francis's arch gaming-nemesis
and "sorta-girlfriend". She mostly appears in story arc
s revolving around him, but since Cole has hired her on as a receptionist
, that has changed to some degree.
and Cole have been enemies since their college days, so you can imagine how the latter felt when Max started up his own gaming magazine in the office right next to PvP Magazine
. Max is a stereotypical business type: Slick and insincere with a fake smile that never goes away. He usually appears at the worst possible time.
is nothing like her brother; she's kind, considerate and caring (if not too bright). She seems to be smitten with Skull, and is completely unaware of the fact that he's not human
is PvP's token gay
character, introduced to the group via Sonya. To Kurtz's credit, she possesses none of the stereotypes typically attributed to lesbian
s. (The cynical part of me, however, gets the feeling that Kurtz didn't originally intend for Gwen to be gay; it may have just been a convenient way to finish a story arc.)
Scratch Fury, Destroyer of Worlds
is Skull's pet cat, made super-intelligent by a machine intended to affect his owner the same way. (As you may have guessed, he was named by Francis.) Scratch's few adventures thus far have all involved him plotting to take over the world, but then being distracted by something a normal cat would be interested in. Basically, he's both Pinky AND the Brain
. As of yet, Skull is the only one who's aware of his super-intelligence, but has been unable to get anyone to believe him.
In addition, Image Comics
publishes a bimonthly comic by Kurtz with the same title. I can't really say much about that, since I've never read it, but I felt it at least deserved a footnote