Scott Kurtz - PvP
PvP is without a doubt one of the most popular comics on the web. It has been making nerdy gaming types like me laugh since 1998, that also makes it one of the web’s longest running strips. It’s creator Scott Kurtz has wanted to be a Cartoonist for as long as he can remember and just over a year ago he quit his day-job and began pursuing cartooning full-time. PvP now generates over 4 million pageviews per month and has even generated a spinoff print comic. I interviewed Scott by email earlier this month.
How did you get started drawing comics?
I've been drawing comics since I was in the fourth grade. It's always been a dream to be able to draw a comic strip every day and it's finally come true.
You've been doing PVP full-time for over a year now, what's changed since you quite your day job? Any regrets?
No regrets at all. It's been a great year. We did really well last year. PvP went from being a web-only property to being a bi-monthly comic book and in two major magazines. My only regret would be if I had never taken the chance.
What is your involvement with mpog.com, stomped.com and gamespy.com? How did you get involved with them? How has it helped your comic and your career? Are you involved in any other online projects that we should know about?
MPOG.COM was the first website to ever post PvP comics. Stomped.com is run by some good friends of mine that I met at a CPL event last year. The stomped guys are really great, down to earth people. In addition to running the site, they have this great LAN center in Minneapolis. Currently, they are providing webhosting for PvP as well. Gamespy.com is currently running exclusive comics from me three days a week. Ding! (an Everquest comic), Planet Couch and an exclusive PvP Strip. Everyone at Gamespy are great fans of PvP and they have taken very very good care of myself.
On your site you mention Chris Jackson of IN2IT, what's your relation to him? How did you meet?
He's my life partner. No seriously, we're very old friends who met in college. We were both drawing cartoons for our university newspaper and have been good friends ever since.
Your site features a flash animation that you collaborated on with Chris Turner, have you ever considered doing a periodical animation? Instead of colour Sundays have animated Sundays!
I don't think I would ever replace my color sundays with animated sundays, but there are plans to do more animations. Chris Turner is very talented and he's currently waiting for some source art from me to get started on our next collaborations. Once I get back from E3, I'm going to get started on that.
Here's a sticky subject that I'm sure you're tired of discussing, your recent rants about the state of web-comic funding. For those who don't know you've written a series of three rants entitled "Could Success Soon Kill Your Webcomic?" about the recent downward spiral of the banner-ad and how this loss of revenue will filter out the lower quality comics that can't make their bandwidth payments. Ever since the first rant there has been tremendous (and mainly negative) feedback from the web-comics community (the gents over at Penny-Arcade being especially harsh). My question to you is why have these rants become such a phenomenon in the web-comics community and why has the feedback been so negative?
Because it's a sensitive subject and because it hits that community very close to home. But it's a real concern. It's not a matter of whether you consider your online comics to be an expression of art or a budding business. Either way, the more eyeballs hitting the site, the more it's going to cost you. It's nothing personal, it's just the facts.
It seems the ad-revenue crash has had very little effect on PVP, while other sites have been scrambling to install Amazon Honour System donation boxes it's been business as usual at PVP. What's your secret?
Oh, it has had a very large effect on PvP. I'm not making the same money from ad revenue that I was six months ago. I've worked very hard to find alternate sources of revenue. The business of PvP is entertaining people and that's why people read the comic, not to hear about my struggles. People should be coming to PvP to forget their problems, not to hear about mine.
Every day, I try to come up with a new opportunity to earn a living from drawing cartoons (and PvP). So far, I've been successful enough to pay the bills. Things are looking good for the future as well.
You've recently started doing a series of comic books for Dork Storm Press, what are some of the differences between working on the web and publishing in traditional print media? Which do you enjoy more?
You have to really take your time with print. If you make a mistake for work you're going to post on the web, you can quickly alter it or make corrections. Once something is in print, it's in print.
Drawing the comic book has been very challanging. It's hard to switch gears from four panel gags to a longer story format. Issue #2 was a big achievement for me. It's the longest PvP story I've ever written.
I enjoy both equally.
How do you spend your free time online and off?
Been playing a lot of Tribes 2 lately, but I don't spend too much time playing computer games. Offline is spent with friends and family.
What do you see yourself doing in the future?
Who knows? It's going to involve cartooning for sure!