PvP (webcomic)

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

PvP is a gaming webcomic started in 1998 by cartoonist Scott Kurtz. It takes place around the office of a small magazine production company that produces the gaming magazine "PvP", focusing mostly on the office antics of a straightlaced boss, his snobby best friend, their bratty sixteen year old intern, a naive, careless troll, and two frat boys. Over time, the cast gained a female counterpart to the intern, a love interest for the snob in the form of a feminist gamer, and some other characters. It originally started as a pastiche Affectionate Parody of video games and geek culture in general, moving away from that towards just being a slice of life comedy about its characters and an Affectionate Parody of every 80s sitcom ever made.

The strip had a Time Skip in May 2020.

It went on hiatus in February 2022, while Scott Kurtz concentrated on paying work, until a new strip was posted in September 2022.

Not to be confused with the term Player Versus Player. Or the common abbreviation for Porn Without Plot, for that matter.

Tropes used in PvP (webcomic) include:
  • Action Santa - Whenever Kringus shows up
  • All Trolls Are Different
  • Ambulance Cut - Common gag for a while, with the last panel of a strip being an ambulance arriving. A later variation on this was Cole and Brent gleefully blasting away in the General Lee from The Dukes of Hazzard.
  • Artifact Title - When was the last time the magazine itself meant anything?
    • Lampshaded in a guest strip, where the characters find themselves looking at the magazine for the first time.
  • Art Evolution - compare the first strip with this more recent one, or again this one.
  • Art Shift - Kurtz did a Lolbat arc in the style of noir comics from The Thirties.
  • Atomic F-Bomb - In the Watchmen spoof.
  • Author Avatar - Scratch is actually Kurtz's cat. As of Sept 16th, 2008, he can talk, has cool goggles, and a ray gun.
    • Also, there is a dog in the strip, which was, and originally appeared as, Kurtz's dog. He later became Cole's. When the dog died in real life, the comic dog continued to appear.
    • And Kurtz himself used to appear to speak directly to the readers. He hasn't done this in a while, probably because he keeps a blog now.
      • While we're on the topic, Kurtz writes in his father's actual comments from time to time, and Reggie is based on a real friend of Kurtz.
    • Nowadays, Kurtz frequently uses Skull to reflect himself, but in a much less indirect manner. (His birthday reflected Scott's, etc.)
    • Lolbat villain the Mad Hater seems to resemble a younger Kurtz in appearance, but in personality seems based on those parts of the fanbase who dislike the Lolbat interludes.
  • Betty, Veronica and Archie Switcheroo: Parodied during an convention arc. Francis accompanies Marcie to a convention to cover it for the magazine. An older cosplayer named Neko flirts with him. Marcie as the Betty naturally gets jealous, while Francis due to being a Hormone-Addled Teenager doesn't know how to respond. The thing is that Neko is just flirting. Marcie eventually loses her temper and summons gamer powers to attack her. Francis is horrified, but Neko retaliates by turning into a mecha. Security has to break them up and kicks all the teens out. Marcie apologizes to Francis afterward because she was the instigator and ruined their assignment.
  • Bi the Way: Miranda, apparently. Or maybe she's not, and just likes attention. Or is just messing with her sisters.
  • Blind Without'Em - In a somewhat unusual example, Brent, because he wears sunglasses so often that his eyes can't handle the sunlight.
  • Brick Joke: In this PvP strip we get a punchline that looks like a throwaway line. Then, eight years later...
  • The Butler Did It - Not murder-related, but Butler is the LOLBAT.
  • But We Used a Condom - Jade's pregnancy scare
  • Came Back Wrong: One of the party during the "Mines of Madness" D&D arc. He thinks it's awesome.
  • Captain Ersatz - Scratch Fury and the "Cabbage Scratch Kid" do a subverted riff on Calvin and Hobbes. The subversion is that the cat is real and the boy is a doll. Hungry Cat might be a riff on Moe and/or Susie Derkins.
  • Cerebus Syndrome - The strip toys with this to some extent. It never goes full-over into drama, but for most of its run now it's alternated between Gag Per Day format, Dramedy, and downright serious drama. Some people felt the strip fell full into Cerebus Syndrome during the Brent/Jade wedding arc, which happened to overlap with a surprisingly serious turn for Skull, Cole's marriage falling apart, and a story about Robbie and Jase falling out. Of course, the strip quickly went back to comedic arcs after a few months, just as it always had done before.
  • Cheated Angle - Before Brent revealed his face (well, again), he would always be drawn so that you could never see his eyes behind his sunglasses. Now, when seen from the side, you can clearly see his eyes.
    • Also Jase's eyes were always covered by his hat until he started dating Robbie's gardener and temporarily stopped wearing it. He got his hat back but now his eyes are clearly visible (and he's lost a lot of weight).
  • Collectible Cloney Babies: We see some collectible trends that come and sweep the cast:
    • Brett treats the new iPhone as this, wanting to be the first person in the area to get one. To accomplish this goal, he gets a job at the local Apple store in the hopes that employees get first dibs. It goes horribly wrong when he tries to quit at the premiere to get the first spot in line, and he ends up hospitalized.
  • Colorful Theme Naming - Brent Sienna is a pun off of burnt sienna. Note that he's also pretty dry...
    • And his wife is named "Jade".
    • In Max Powers' office, Brent's counterpart is named "Hunter Greene".
  • Commedia Dell Arte Troupe - Some sequences, such as the "Bulldog and Cooch" strips using Cole, Brent and Max Powers playing different characters.
  • Deadpan Snarker - Brent and Jade
    • Also, Francis, but not fulltime.
  • Deal with the Devil - One soul for a cup of coffee. Then again 1) Brent didn't really think the barista was the Devil, and 2) it was a really good cup of coffee. The Devil(?), rather than taking Brent to Hell as is the usual way these deals turn out, uses his ownership of Brent's soul to make him his errand boy.
    • Also, he's not really the devil. He's a computer security expert, and he's using the terror and humiliation he's engendering by pretending to be the devil to soften up Brent and Cole to the notion of hiring him to redo their security.
  • Deconstruction: Ladies and Gentlemen, Gordy and the Prarie Dogs "Hula Hoops!".
  • Did Not Do the Research: The brewing company arc. In real life making beer on that scale is a months-long process that requires careful monitoring at every stage of the game; Robbie should have had ample warning at how his beer was going to turn out way before brewing was finished.
  • The Ditz: Skull.
  • Every Episode Ending: Every "Bulldog and Cooch" segment ends with their vehicle or house boat blowing up.
  • Everything's Worse with Bears: the Running Gag where Brent gets mauled by a panda
    • Subverted in one comic where a fan letter points out that pandas are actually raccoons. I can't vouch for the validity of that statement, but the comic ends with Brent being mauled by a raccoon.
      • In this case, Science marched onward. While biologists used to be divided on whether the Giant Panda was more closely related to raccoons or to bears, genetic testing has rather firmly placed them in the Ursidae family. They are, in fact, bears.
    • Brent and the Panda recently made peace with each other not long after the PVP offices were officially designated the Panda's natural habitat. They became Fire-Forged Friends after some crazy activist tried to kidnap the panda.
    • And now everything's back to the panda apparently hating Brent, since he brews the best coffee in Seattle and won't sell it to Brent, the coffee fanatic.
  • Expressive Mask: Scratch Fury as Kringus.
  • External Combustion: The "Bulldog and Cooch" strips.
  • The Faceless - Jase's girlfriend, Bonnie
  • Fantastic Racism: Skull occasionally expresses some disdain over the usual portrayal of trolls.
    • And apparently dark elves are bastards.
    • Skull has actually gone so far as to go on strike and protest against the unfair treatment of fantasy creatures.
    • Skull and his dwarven (as in an actual fantasy dwarf) girlfriend Valerie have their first real fight as a couple after Valerie just assumed that Skull would try to eat her pet goat.
  • Forgotten Anniversary: The author admitted when Brent and Jade's anniversary came that he'd forgotten it...so he followed up with a strip with both of them forgetting it.

Brent "Wait. So which one of us is in trouble here?"

Brent: You know, this is the first time I've actually seen our magazine.

    • Lampshaded again here:

Marcie: Don't you have work to do?
Francis: Probably. My job description has never been very clear.

  • Porn Stash: Robbie entire second floor of his mansion is one.

Francis: My God Robbie, How did you amass this much porn?!
Robbie: I own a couple of adult entertainment companies. They send me one of everything.

"LEVEL UP! You gain: +3 Years Maturity!....Community College Courses!

  • Shout-Out: There's one to Adventure Time here.
  • Sitcom Arch Nemesis: Max Powers.
    • In Real Life, Gabe and Tycho from Penny Arcade, their good-natured cruelty to each other popping up in a strip every once in a while. Scott's foreword to one of their print collections ended with "Fuck them, and fuck you for buying this book and not PVP," and Gabe and Tycho refer to Scott as "Steve Kuntz" on the regular. Now that Scott is living in Seattle and working in the Penny Arcade offices, one only assumes that the hijinks will continue.
      • Also, the old WoW guilds (Panda Attack for PVP, the Knights of Arcadia for Penny Arcade) were pretty much an online, massively-multiplayer extension of the real-life relationship between the two. B^Uckley tried to get in on it with his own guild, but when Kurtz, Krahulik, and Holkins would have none of it, he ended things on a predictable note (i.e. massive hostility for all).
  • Skyward Scream[context?]
  • So My Dad Can Watch: Word of God says that Scott keeps it clean-ish for the sake of his father.
  • Straight Man: Cole
  • Sunglasses at Night: Brent - he wore them under his bandages when he was blinded, and when he took them off, he was Blind Without'Em.
  • Superhero: Kurtz's earlier character Captain Amazing made an early appearance and earned a spinoff. More recently, we've seen Jingle Force Five (a Christmas-themed parody of the original X-Men lineup) and The Lolbat, a combination of Batman and the internet lolcat phenomena whose Rogues Gallery is made up of Grammar Nazis
    • Captain Amazing also has a sidekick named ReTweet, who he did not want at first, but has since reluctantly accepted as his sidekick, and has also obtained two allies, the Double Rainbow.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: After the Time Skip, Francis offers one:

Francis: S.C.R.A.T.C.H. is our Smart Content Routing Algorithm Technology Compression Hub, which is a real thing and not just a bunch of words I forced to fit into an acronym.

  • Take That: Kurtz inserts plenty of these, aimed at a wide range of targets.
  • Thanks for the Mammary: Francis honks Jade's boob when he thinks that he's in the future and therefore his actions have no consequences (It Makes Sense in Context). This leads to Jade leaving PvP to start her her own magazine.
    • Part of the reason she returns to PvP is because one of her (female) coworkers in the new magazine does the exact same thing.
  • Time Skip: Katie goes from "preschooler" to "starting work" in May 2020. Francis has also aged up - as of late-May 2020, we haven't yet seen anyone else.
  • Tribute to Fido: Kirby, Cole's basset hound, is named after (and modeled on) Scott Kurtz's own basset hound Kirby.
  • Two Gamers on a Couch: Robbie and Jase were very nearly a parody of this as a B side story. At one point they got locked in their playing room for a month and didn't even notice.
    • Also later the couch broke and they had a funeral pyre for it.

Robbie "Okay everyone stand back. This thing absorbed decades worth of farts and it's going to go up like a roman candle."

  • Versus Title
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Done twice in a row. Max breaks into Cole's office and figures out PvP is going under and Cole calls him out on it and promptly fires him... But then Brent, after finding out Max is indeed right and that Cole had been ignoring Max, gives Cole an epic slap to the face.
  • Younger Than They Look: Cole, Brent, Robbie and Jase were college roommates, which suggests they're around the same age. Cole states in one early strip that he's about to turn 30. He looks a solid 15 years older than Brent.
  • Your Mom: Expertly delivered by Francis.
  • Zany Scheme: Referred to as "Wacky Adventure". On one occasion Cole actually vetoed a perfectly good plan to discover the identity of Jade's online romance on the grounds that it wasn't interestingly wacky enough.