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?