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News For November 28, 2006

PvP The SeriesA recurring comment that popped up in discussions about the announcement of the new animated PvP series was whether or not Scott Kurtz was being hypocritical for embracing almost in total a project and business plan that he had criticized previously when rival videogame webcomic creator Tim Buckley had launched Ctrl-Alt-Del: The Animated Series.

I expected Buckley to post some kind of comment but blogger Gilead Pellaeon beat him to it:

Ok. Not to rag on Scott Kurtz or anything, but someone's got to say it. We've seen lots of announcement posts, some discussion, and a somewhat tangential piece by Eric Burns on voice acting, and people have been dancing around the topic, so I'm just going to come right out and say it:

Scott Kurtz is a hypocritical man and he's ripping Tim Buckley off.

It's a gross oversimplification of actual events, completely one-sided, and a half-truth at best, but someone had to say it.

Is Kurtz being hypocritical? Arguably yeah. Should anyone care? Probably not so much. People can change their minds, people can be inconsistent over time. Would it be better to acknowledge a change in opinion or if possible explain the differences between this PvP project and the CAD project that inspired so much criticism? Probably, but it's understandable why talking about CAD wouldn't be the first thing on Kurtz's mind yesterday.


Gilead,Couple things

Scott Kurtz's picture


Couple things here:

First of all, I read and really liked your post. I'm actually really excited that this series is getting all this attention and that we have polarized discourse about it. It means people are passionate about the subject and that's never bad.

I'm very eager and anxious to get the word out, and help Blind Ferret repair what I feel is a damaged reputation. My personal opinion is that the CAD series suffered from some creative lack of vision and execution. I'm sure opinions vary on who is responsible . Obviously, the fact that I'm willing to partner with Blind Ferret speaks for itself.

That being said, I am happy to be 2nd to the game, on this one. I was very skeptical of the business model up until I saw the first dailies of my own series. And it's no secret how I feel about Tim's work. And on top of that, my day job is being a satirist. I get paid to make fun of everything and everyone (including myself).

Of course I mocked the CAD series.

And now, you're right, I am saying "I stand corrected. Maybe this can work. I think we could make this work. You've convinced me." And when the series comes out, if you see in PvP The Series, what I mocked about CAD the series, then you should hit me with both barrells. But that's not going to happen.

90% of my audience has no idea about BFE, CAD, CAD the series or my opinions of Tim Buckley. They read the strip, skip the blog usually, occasionally click and ad and buy a tee shirt. Then they move on. So yeah, I'm not leading my announcement with this stuff. My audience doesn't care. Only us web-drama-addicts do.

So here you where credit is due, and posted where the people who give a shit can see it.

- Blind Ferret pioneered this idea and they're the only one's putting their asses on the line. They front all the costs and if it doesn't pay off, they're the ones with the burdon of debt. It's their game, they just invited me to it. If this thing fails, all I'm out is some pride and time. They lose a lot more.

-We have ALL, including Tim, learned a lot from the CAD series. Of course we're all going to benefit from that.

- If it makes you feel any better, it's now MY turn to put my neck and rep on the line and everyone else's turn to make blamimations that mock my attempts and failures.

-If my excitement and geniune enthusiasm in promoting this, comes off as posturing, I am very sorry. That is not what I'm trying to do at all. I'm sincerely going bonkers from the excitement I'm experiencing on this project.

How many times will someone just show up on your doorstep with a studio full of talent, willing to front the cash to bring your work to life?


Ok, I'm satisfied. Your motivations make total sense, and I look forward to seeing where PvP the Series goes. I will of course be subscribing.

Hurrah for everyone!

Scott,What are the major

posiduck's picture


What are the major things you think we've learned from the CAD series? Is it mostly the stuff that you've already commented on, like the importance of the in-house animators and your retaining creative control, or are there other things too?


Lewis Powell
(pictured above: a 'wax intellectual')

A couple things I

Scott Kurtz's picture

A couple things I guess:

-Ryan and Randy wanted to hire in-house, I assume, because you save money ultimately and because these guys have a full time job now of working on OUR projects. We're not just one of 100 jobs they have. And Ryan can interview and hand pick people that he thinks will work well with us. We don't just get who we get.

- Collaboration is key. This is HUGE. You have to let Ryan direct and suggest. You have to let the animators put in their own nuances and contribute. When you do that, and you foster a truly collaborative spirit, everyone feels like it's their baby and we get awesome results. In the preview minute we've shown, that bit with Francis and the gum was all them. We just had Francis staring at Brent to annoy him. And that came off horrible. But our lead animator knew enough to suggest that and it worked brilliantly. Bringing on Kris was my 1st decision. I knew that having a group of writers would yield results greater than if I just wrote it myself. So having Kris and I as a team keeps me from falling into familiar traps. Because Kris catches me before I walk into them. Also, he's fucking brilliant.

- The animation has to be different from the comic strip. You can't keep the same pacing, writing style or continuity of the comic strip. It doesn't translate. You have to come up with a whole new cadance for it. And that is why I need other people there writing and producing with me. Because I'm entrenched in the pacing I use for the strip and I need people here to catch me. If all I'm going to do is animate what people have already seen, I'm squandering the potential of this series.

-Listen to all feedback, filter, and take what works. I want this to be for the fans. I also want to market this outside and make NEW fans. So I can't take all the feedback I get and just run with it. I need to filter it, pick out the gems and implement that. I think having a "If you don't like it, cancel your subscription" attitude is counter-productive. The fans want to support you and they will show you how they want to do that. We had someone suggest that we set it up so you could by a subscription for a friend as a gift. Done! We had that implemented the next day and that will help sales.

uh...what else? Oh.

-Market outside your existing fanbase. I think that's a lesson learned as well.

Hope this is proving interesting for you guys. I could talk all day about it because I love talking shop. If I'm being boring let me know and I'll shut up.


Xaviar Xerexes's picture

Wikipedia ranting is boring. This is interesting - I'd be happy to read about the process on the animated PVP as it continues.

And I have to agree 100% with you on Kris. That was a great idea to bring him on to the project.


Xaviar Xerexes

Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Gnaw.

I run this place! Tip the piano player on the way out.

I'm with Xavier

posiduck's picture

the behind the scenes/shop talk stuff is way more interesting than the drama. Keep it coming.


Lewis Powell
(pictured above: a 'wax intellectual')

At least I generated some discussion.

So, really the intent of my post was to call Scott Kurtz on mocking Tim Buckley's animation project, then turning around and doing his own animation project with the same studio and declaring it some bold new thing. The hypocritical part in my mind was that Kurtz never said: "Gee, I was wrong, this is a good idea, and I think we can do better than Buckley did because we have more experience and resources."

Adam Gregory from Flowfield Unity responded to my original post by saying: "You hardly expect someone to launch a new product with the slogan 'it's been done before - and this is almost the same'", and I guess that makes a lot of sense, but to me the whole thing came off like Tim Buckley was really being slighted, where he actually deserved at least some praise for putting his ass on the line and being the first one to pioneer this idea. If PvP The Series is going to be better than CAD The Animated Series, its because they learned a bunch of lessons from making CAD The Animated Series.

From what I understand from reading a few of Buckley's posts in his forums, the main reason that there was such a dropoff in the quality of CAD The Animated Series (and there certainly was a noticable dropoff after the first few episodes) was that the animation staff couldn't keep up with the deadlines and had to cut corners all over the place. Now Blind Ferret has their own in-house animation staff. So that was a lesson learned right there.

All I'm saying is give credit where credit is due. I'm looking forward to the PvP Series as much as the next guy, but all this posturing just bothers me.

Hypocricy is a red herring

posiduck's picture


So, really the intent of my post was to call Scott Kurtz on mocking Tim Buckley's animation project, then turning around and doing his own animation project with the same studio and declaring it some bold new thing. The hypocritical part in my mind was that Kurtz never said: "Gee, I was wrong, this is a good idea, and I think we can do better than Buckley did because we have more experience and resources."[/quote]

Gil, while I think it is a good thing that your post sparked discussion, the problem is that it sparked the hypocricy discussion and not the more interesting one.

I'm adapting what I'm about to say a bit from a post I made on the starslip forums:

Labeling it hypocricy is all about the "gotcha!" aspect. It doesn't have anything to do with the question of whether or not making the series is a good idea, whether or not the business model is a sound one, etc. It's all about, "Did so-and-so say one thing and do the opposite?" And that is totally unimportant. Because it isn't a legitimate criticism of the thing itself.

So, the hypocricy thing is just a distraction from some actually interesting issues. Here's how I see the interesting issues: There are some similarities between the PVP series and the CAD series, the pay-for-play model, the production studio, the fact that it is a webcomic pursuing animation, etc.

And some people expressed worries about the CAD series that seem like they'd apply to this move. Specifically Kurtz and Straub. But I don't care about whether they are being consistent with their past selves. There are two possibilities, (1) despite the similarities, the two projects are different enough that the criticisms of the one don't apply to the other, or (2) Kurtz and Straub no longer think the old criticisms are good. Or some combination of the two. If it's (1), the question that's interesting (and useful for any other creators who want to think about a similar move) is to see what those relevant differences are, so as to better understand what it is that makes the model good/bad. If it's (2), then the worries that they expressed before are overridden or undercut by some consideration, and its good to know what that consideration is.

Given what's been said, there is at least some of (1) going on, in that BFE is taking a different approach to the actual animation of the project.

In the end, no one should really care that much about whether someone said something and then later didn't seem to follow it, in and of itself. But, to some extent, people should care that someone who seemed to think there were a lot of problems with model X is implementing a model that seems like X, because that is an indication that either the model is importantly different, or that there are issues that outweigh/diminish the problems for models like X. And those are the issues that will be useful to discuss and figure out, because they are way more relevant to the question of whether or not another comic should be thinking about pursuing such a deal.

That's why I think its a mistake to get bogged down for even a second in the "was it hypocricy" debate.


Lewis Powell
(pictured above: a 'wax intellectual')

Comic to animation its a

algeya's picture

Comic to animation its a logical step (for me web its still a medium)

Like when Windsor McCay did film about his little nemo strip
or thousands of mangas like Naruto, Dragon ball etc, ranma 1/2 got anime who are almost a carbon copy of their print versions
and still you can read Kazuki Takahashi in every Yugioh product and keep copyrights

I dont think someone would tell Rumiko T.
-Ok we want to sell a new toy lets inuyasha have a super robot scuba diving armor.

Anyway Im glad that webcomics are making those steps Im looking forward for more.

Ps(Im glad that in this era I can post and participate in a place with famous webcomickers that I admire sorry for the fanboy outbreak)


The William G's picture

The sun shining into my window was bright this morning. Not just bright, but it seemed extra bright and it woke me up from my slumber. I felt that I should blog my indignation about this situation, but I realized that this is just how the sun works and I was powerless to do anything about it.

So I rolled over and went back to bed.

Crow don't taste so bad, Scott.

Sean C's picture

Honestly, who can't say they've never done anything "hypocritical"? I thought the preview looked good - don't know if I'll register for the toons just yet, but more power to ya for doing this, Scott. I always thought PvP would work well animated.

Don't hesitate to procrastinate.

Don't hesitate to procrastinate. My brand new comic:

Hey guys,So, this whole

Scott Kurtz's picture

Hey guys,

So, this whole subject only seems to matter to the people within the webcomics community. I've been interviewed now by 3 people outside of webcomics and nobody is even aware or mentions it. I think that's why It's been so easy for me to just shrug off.

The answer to your question I guess is as follows: I still hate the CAD animations. And you can ask Ryan, I did not want to work with him at first.

I saw BFE and CAD as synonymous. I thought that any PvP series done through them would be handled poorly by outsourcing the animation to another company that just considers it another annoying paying gig. I told him to go screw himself at least 3 times.

But Ryan kept calling back and he kept insisting that he could prove to me that a PVP series could be what I wanted it to be. And the more we talked and the more he showed me the more he brought me around on the idea.

The stuff he was showing me was not shit. The process was collaborative. The animators were talented. And everytime I would ask "Why didn't you do this with CAD" the answer was "Tim wanted to do it another way."

So what the fuck was I supposed to do. Pass up the opportunity because someone might pull out something I said on the net last year and throw it in my face?

If webcomics makes me eat crow, fuck it. I'll eat the fucking crow. Am I supposed to tell Kris, "Sorry dude. This is our chance to basically do the self-publishing version of animation, but I can't because I'll look like a hypocrite."

Hope I explained myself decently there.

I enjoy answering questions,

Ryan Sohmer's picture

I enjoy answering questions, no worries ;)

When we first launched CAD, and premiered high-res versions of the trailer, we has 5 servers setup to act as a media serving farm and yet we still got bitch slapped with a bandwitdh bill at the end of that first month. When you're talking a 3-8 meg file downloaded several hundred thousand times, it adds up quickly.

Yes, youtube video quality isn't anything to write home about (though I did find a way to do a better render than most other animations out there), it does save a huge chunk of money that we'd rather spend on production.


It'd be nice if the actual

Scarybug's picture

It'd be nice if the actual subscription animations were available as straight swfs, but you're using after-effects too, right?


Nerdcore: The Core Wars

___ Nerdcore: The Core Wars

Yeah, everything gets laid

Ryan Sohmer's picture

Yeah, everything gets laid out again in Premiere to set the tracks properly and do the final editing. It makes more sense in the long run.

Aye, the only thing on PvP

Ryan Sohmer's picture

Aye, the only thing on PvP that's been shown so far is a 320x240 video on Youtube, which is not known for their great video quality. When we show off the real thing, even the uninitiated will notice a huge difference.

Why Use YouTube Then?

Xaviar Xerexes's picture

Why use YouTube if it's showing the clip at such a poorer quality than it should be at? Is it a cost/bandwidth issue?

Not trying to be snarky at all - just that usually when you sell something you want to put the product forward in the best light possible...


Xaviar Xerexes

Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Gnaw.

I run this place! Tip the piano player on the way out.

Look at them closely, DJ,

Ryan Sohmer's picture

Look at them closely, DJ, and you'll see the differences. We've gone a much more traditional style with PvP, as without using any motion tweens at all, and it shows.

Yeah, I'll have to reserve

djcoffman's picture

Yeah, I'll have to reserve my full bloated opinion until I see a full episode of both. I don't think there's enough there to really gauge it. You guys working on it, I'm sure can see and know the differences, but I don't know if it's ALL that different to the viewers or the final product in the viewers hands. If that makes sense.

"Hypocritical" is one of

Joey Manley's picture

"Hypocritical" is one of those words that gets thrown around so much it doesn't have any meaning anymore -- at least not in the context of webcomics drama.

Intelligent people change their minds sometimes. It's part of the definition of being intelligent -- you learn new stuff, you incorporate that into what you believe, you change your mind.

In this case, dude changed his mind.

I say more power to him, and I'm looking forward to the funnies.


Exactly - No Need For Drama Here

Xaviar Xerexes's picture

Maybe I should have been more direct but my not-so-hidden motive in linking to Gilead's comment this morning was to point out that even if Scott is being a bit hypocritical here - so what? People, especially people who write what they think on well-read websites, are not going to be perfectly consistent over time.




Xaviar Xerexes

Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Gnaw.

I run this place! Tip the piano player on the way out.

But, that was the first

djcoffman's picture

But, that was the first minue of the show, right? I mean, I don't care how it was being made, it still looks and feels about the same from what I'm seeing.

Seriously though, good luck with it, I'm sure it'll make a killing with the rabid fanbase involved.

djcoffman wrote:

Ryan Sohmer's picture

[quote=djcoffman]Both quality levels of the animation look about the same to me[/quote]

In terms of animation alone, PvP is of a much higher quality. Trust me. ;)

It would be some sort of

djcoffman's picture

It would be some sort of weird, parallel universe type thing if now CAD came out with some sort of simple flash animation mocking Scott Kurtz's deal.

And, was there anything really ever WRONG with CAD's animation quality? It didn't seem THAT bad to me. The real thing is here, it was CAD and Scott Kurtz despises anything CAD related, so he went after it.

Both "quality" levels of the animation look about the same to me.