Sunday, August 14, 2011

Webcomics: The Trenches

This isn't going to be a review, more of a news thing. It would be impossible to review a webcomic, for one, that's only got two strips out.

So recently Scott Kurtz, creator of PVP, started a new webcomic with Jerry and Mike, the guys behind Penny Arcade. It's called The Trenches, and it's about Issac, a video game tester, and his coworkers as they endure the hell that is video game testing.

There are several reasons I'm excited about the strip. Firstly, the dumb reason that I'm writing a character who is a video game tester, so it's interesting for me to see a comic strip about that subject matter.

Secondly, PVP is one of my all time favorite strips. It's a series that has significantly improved both art-wise and story-wise, and is often genuinely touching and funny. I prefer it over Penny Arcade, if only for the reason that I am simply not the target audience for Penny Arcade, and only every now and then do I get the jokes and video game references. PVP is a video game strip too, but it's also a character-driven one, so even I can "get it".

Another cool thing they're doing with the strip is that with every new strip comes a true story from a video game tester. Its really neat to see real people's experiences with the gaming industry, rather than just a fictional one.

However, like I said, only two strips have been released so far, and Issac hasn't even been hired yet.  I really like that it starts with Issac getting the job, rather than dropping us in the middle of the story. It gives the strip a more complete feeling, like there will be a beginning, a middle, and an ending of the story. And there really isn't enough strips out there with linear storytelling, so it's great to see the strips carry the story, rather than force a punchline in every third or fourth panel.

That being said, there are some things about the strip that I don't have a good first impression of. The main cast, from what I can gather from promotional images, appears to be extremely similar to the cast for PVP. We've got the Brent character, a sarcastic, snobby looking douche, the Jade, who is yet another single female character in a male dominated strip, and the Francis, the youngest member, who's the typical whiny rude teenager. It's just not a very unique looking cast, and it's going to take some big surprises from these characters or excellent writing to distract me from the "haven't I seen these guys before?" feeling.

Despite that,  I think it'll be worth your time to at least check it out at The Trenches. A comic strip can be read in a matter of seconds, and if you catch it now, you can see it before it gets really long, which is the problem I usually run into with strips.I just hope these guys can balance two different strips, otherwise their respective (and huge) fanbase will be disappointed.

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