On History: PvP

By | Tuesday, April 18, 2017 Leave a Comment
Yesterday, I was talking about how things are speeding up and business models need to be changed/updated with more frequency now. And that it's increasingly difficult for individuals trying to make a go of things because their expertise is in making comics, not keeping up with technological changes and business distrupters and the like.

Of course, it's not impossible. And as I sat there thinking about webcomic creators who have weathered at least a few substantial shifts (which would include pretty much anyone working today who had started, say, five years ago) I thought to take a moment to look up just how long some of the "old guard" webcomikers have been at it. I started (and stopped) with Scott Kurtz. I started with him because he has been around a while, and has been a vocal advocate for webcomics for many years. I stopped because he started PvP in 1998 -- just shy of two decades ago.

It's easy to see Kurtz's style of illustration and humor evolve over time. What's not as evident is his changing business models. PvP actually started under a gaming website before Kurtz took the comic out on its own within its first year. It was published in print by Dork Storm Press for a year beginning in 2001, and was picked up by Image in 2003 (allegedly after seeing a piece in Wizard Magazine that included/referenced the strip I'm running with this post). Kurtz offered the strip up for free to newspapers in 2004. There was an animated cartoon version that began in 2007. He launched a spin-off strip called Table Titans in 2013, roughly at the same time he hired Dylan Meconis as a writer and Steve Hamaker as a colorist.

The update schedule has changed, the number/types/placements of ads has changed, the types and production of items for sale has changed... I haven't tracked all of the changes super closely, but I daresay every aspect of the comic/site/business has been completely overhauled at least twice since it first launched.

I'm pretty sure Kurtz will be the first to tell you that he had no idea what he was doing when he started. Just looking at everything he's done and all the approaches he's taken, one gets the sense that he spent a lot of time just throwing stuff at the wall to see what stuck. Which is fine when you're in your 20s and haven't exactly become reliant on webcomics as your primary (sole?) means of income, but it doesn't take much imagination to see why you'd be less inclined to just throw everything at the wall when you're in your 40s and have being a webcomiker has been your career for well over a decade.

I don't have a real point other than to give a tip of the hat to Kurtz. Not only has he stuck with PvP for nearly two decades, outlasting many traditional publishers in that time, but he's been pretty damn successful at it to boot!
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