Les Do Lunch

SoSFDavid O here for the next two weeks, takin’ the reins! It looks like we’re back in Hollywood for more insights into the makings of a TV movie about cancer in Today’s strip.

“Grab a bite to eat”?! People in California “Do lunch”. Trust me, I know, I live there and it annoys the heck out of my Midwestern family to the point of me consciously trying not to say it but it’s impossible.

I can’t imagine what Mason could possibly have to talk to Les about other than: “I just thought I should spend time with a world-class putz as yourself before I attempted to play one.”

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Secretary of Covers

Link to today’s strip. (Vertically oriented version)

So at long last (and we do mean long) the Starbuck Jones project has been completed…we hope and pray, anyway.

Since Sunday’s strip was not available for preview, I’m assuming that we’re looking at a Starbuck Jones cover that has artwork far better than Funky Winkerbean has enjoyed since…well, the last strip not drawn by Tom Batiuk.  I’m also assuming that Mr. Batiuk has junked up the cover with word balloons and his own uninteresting characters.

What little we could see of the cover last week showed Starbuck, gun at the ready, leaping through space while clutching a blonde, large-chested woman.  Her gloved hand dragged over her forehead could either mean, “I’m getting the vapors!” or “Why do we always have to visit your friends?!”  Either way, like the women of Funky Winkerbean, it appears that the women of Starbuck Jones are either clueless or hindrances.

And finally the saga (of collecting comics*) has drawn to a close (it is fervently hoped).  Well, she still has to present the collection to Cory, who won’t appreciate it (having been shot dead the week before), but that shouldn’t take more than a Sunday strip.

And now, what have we learned?   Well, I’ve learned that Tom Batiuk can take a subject which engages his interest and turn it into something utterly boring and uninvolving.  Apparently his passion for comic books simply cannot be translated onto the page.

It would have been interesting to see Holly actively engaged in the search, to the point where she had to develop skills and strategies.  Since she started to read the stories, and apparently enjoyed them, perhaps she could adopt some of Starbuck’s tactics to use in her quest.  She could learn how to negotiate, how to evaluate a product, when to cut a deal, and so on.

But she didn’t.  She didn’t do any of those things.  With the exception of the issue bought off eBay, Holly was simply handed the damned things.  She showed no growth as a character; like all Funky Winkerbean females, she remained utterly useless and unaccountably stupid.  Most of the “heavy lifting” was done by Dead Comic Dick John, who could have steered her toward becoming a savvy collector, but instead just pointed her in a direction and said, “There’s a comic book you want, over that way.”  Even the information he gave her about comic books was just trivia (when it wasn’t factually wrong, that is).

And now the project is done, and I’m left wondering what the point of it all is (other than filling newspaper space, I mean).  In interviews, Tom Batiuk always comes across as enthusiastic and excited about his upcoming arcs, and then, when those arcs actually see the cold light of reality, they’re just…lazy and stupid and poorly thought out.

It makes me wonder if there are two Tom Batiuks out there.  There’s the friendly, engaged guy who does the interviews and personal appearances, and then there’s Tim Batiuk, who writes and draws the actual strip, based on his brother’s boastful claims.  (That actually sounds like an interesting story, doesn’t it?  Someone should do a comic strip based on that premise.  I’d read it, at least until one of the brothers got cancer.)

Ah well, such points to ponder shall have to wait, as the door is at last unlocked, and the warm sunlight filters into my dank, brick-walled cell.  Yes, folks, it’s freedom time again!  Please join me in welcoming back the fabulous DavidO, who will be locked in a tiny room serve as your host for the next two weeks!

*I have a feeling that the Starbuck Jones stories themselves could be quite interesting–the story elements hinted at are certainly there, after all.  As long as someone else writes and draws them, they could be worth reading.  Amazing, isn’t it?

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That Obscure Object of Desire

Link to today’s strip.

You thought I was kidding yesterday.  Well, take a look at that maniacal expression fixed to Holly’s face.  That’s the face of someone in the grip of an obsession.  I can just see it now, she thinks, I can start the quest all over again–only with ashcan comics!  Then I can start again, on all the foreign editions!  And after that–

Once again, Holly gets what she wants with no (apparent to her) cost or effort.  What a lesson for us all.  “If you want something in life, just be a pathetic loser, and people will give it to you!”

As for Dickhead John, panel two is what you get when you insist on getting your hair cut at that comic-themed barber shop that’s tilted like a Batman villain’s lair from the old TV show.  Poor drawing at its best.

And I bet panel three is what you get from John when someone is actually dying from a heart attack.  C’mon, you old faker, you’re taking way too much attention away from me.

These people should all be buried in lava.

Sorry about being kind of half with-it this week, folks.  There’s only so many things you can write about vanilla ice cream.

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Ash Friday

Link to today’s strip.

I have no idea how accurate any of this is; it would seem to me that a pencil version of a comic would be so early in the process that copyrighting it would be rather premature.  Supposedly, Jack Kirby would pencil marvelously (no pun intended) detailed landscapes in Thor and Vince Colleta would just cover them in black because he didn’t feel like inking all those details (source: Ronin Ro’s book on Lee and Kirby, Tales to Astonish).

Ordinarily, I’d defer to Tom Batiuk’s knowledge of the comic book process, but since he stumbled rather badly recently, he’s no longer my “go to” guy on this.

But this, all this, is missing the larger point.

Yesterday, Holly finally got the last issue she needed to complete Cory’s collection.   And there was much rejoicing.  Finally, this damned thing is OVER.

Today…well, she’s still looking through the comic boxes.  She has no real reason to do so….

You know what that means, right?  This isn’t over. 

No, now that she’s completed the Starbuck Jones run…now she has to find the “ashcan” versions, because of course Cory would have a great interest in obscure means to control copyright.  And of course she’ll also have to search for all the Giant Size Starbuck Jones, the digest-size reprint books, the crossover titles (Starbuck Jones meets The Kool Aid Man, Starbuck Jones versus Toyman), and on and on and on.

Listen, and understand. That Starbuck Jones quest is out there. It can’t be bargained with. It can’t be reasoned with. It doesn’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead.

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Break A Leg

Link to today’s strip.

Ron Jeremy’s Tony [Isabella]‘s overacting ought to tip off anyone that the fix was in, but Holly, being Holly, remains oblivious.  Dickhead John smirks from the back, having made fools of two of his friends.  What a special day for him!

The question here is this–

Will Holly actually pay that quarter, or will she insist on getting the issue for free, because Cory Winkerbean?

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Workin’ on My Dick Moves

Link to today’s strip.

Wow.  Just wow.

Just when you think a character can’t possibly be more of a dick, he descends into a full-blown scumbag.

Maybe I’m overreacting to this, but John knows Holly wanted that issue.  She spent the money to go across country to Comic Con, and hunted for that issue.  Got really upset when she couldn’t get that issue.  Even went back to an empty hall, hoping to find that issue.

She had no other purpose at Comic Con.  I’m sure they probably showed the teaser trailer for the upcoming Starbuck Jones movie, and instead she rode around in a little cart.

And now John wants to have a little fun for himself, at Holly’s expense.   How long had he had that issue with him?  A couple of days, I’m guessing.  I guess he was really just enjoying all her worry and anxiety, as well as a totally unnecessary trip to Tony [Isabella]‘s house.   Or maybe he wanted revenge for having to do all that pedaling.

I’m sure Tom Batiuk and his various pseudonyms would say, “Oh, come on, it’s just a harmless bit of fun,” but I disagree.  It seems to be much deeper, and much darker, than that.

You think you really dislike these characters, then they do something to make you realize you’ve barely scratched the surface.

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You Left Out The “B”

Link to today’s strip.

See, it’s like John said “Garage Con” and I’m like ha ha ha more like “Garbage Con,” amirite?  So I titled this “You Left Out the B” because that’s like a totally witty thing to do which all the kids are into nowadays, not like old times when they had some respect!  Oh good heavens, just kill me now.

At least they’ve left Crazy Harry to die somewhere by the road, or he’d have come up with a third terrible comic-themed name for a place.

This whole comic book arc has been dead boring, more boring than any other story I can think of from this strip.  Having a third straight week is like being told, “Hey, where are you going?  You’re still in prison for another week!”  Even the John Darling Who Was Murdered story at least had some folks who straight out hated him, which is what every non-ninny felt was what he deserved.  And that hate at least gave rise to some semi-humorous insults and rude behavior.

The problem here is that comic books, for Tom Batiuk, are sacred objects and thus are not to be treated with disrespect–you know, like using actual jokes near them.

I have a better title than both “Fortress of Storage” and “Bookcave” put together:  “The Hill of Dung.”

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