Ah, so many reasons to keep from posting for such a long, long time. Reasons that I’m sure you, the webcomic enthusiast/creator could care less about. So on with the insanity!
The webcomic, “The Pet Professional“, has been around for a little more than a year now, garnering a good deal of support early on from friend-in-high-place Scott Kurtz and a one-shot (literally) comic strip format that’s as easy to digest as it is to forget. A few months ago, Jason Salsbury, the aforementioned creator of PetPro, announced that his artist, Matt Kaufenberg, was moving onto other things and so the call went out for a new artist.
In the span of this search, yours truly submitted a test strip and, though I was denied the position, I harbor no ill will towards Salsbury. Throughout this test drive period, I’m not certain how many different submissions Jason took; it could have been five, it may have been closer to five-hundred. Whatever the number, a new Matt was chosen to take up the art reins on PetPro, someone the forums quickly affectionatly referred to as, “New Matt”. (It should be noted that I don’t use his whole name not out of spite, but because Salsbury’s grievous error in excluding his full name from ANY of the site leaves me without a reference point for such information.)
As soon as the first new strip was posted, New Matt’s drastic change in style and form caused outcry from the PetPro faithful, bringing those who had never bothered to join the forums before to enlist and fight the good fight against this artistic injustice. In this artist’s view, the new style WAS quite different and though he lacked the sequential chops to put together a coherent story, the guy’s pin-up work is VERY good. (Again, no link to the artist’s site as I can’t find it anywhere.) And as time went on, week after week, the work progressed to a state where a story could FINALLY be followed and a joke or point could be made.
For the next couple of months, a story was elaborated on, making little sense and showing little to no flow from strip to strip. This flow was so bad that Jason pulled the plug and started from scratch in a controversial decision that polarized the readers even more. So the strip went back to its previous, one-shot format and started its journey back to the top of the webcomic mountain.
And then, just when things were starting to gel, Jason noted that New Matt must ALSO vacate the artist’s seat, leaving PetPro without an artist for the second time in as many months. What are the reasons for New Matt’s departure? The details are known to the creators and they alone will tell when they choose.
I write about this because, while I first felt that Jason came out of nowhere and rose to greatness based solely on his affiliation with Kurtz, he quickly proved, along with Kaufenberg’s sharp, crisp line work, that PetPro was a force to be reckoned with. What say you? Has the style gone so far from the original, distinctive look that its much too late to save the strip? Or is the premise of the strip good enough that it can survive a revolving door of artistic talent?