A clever Scorpions “Tainted Love” reference.

Link to today’s strip.

Pete, stop. The fish that clean other fish by eating algae out of gill slits are less pathetic and parasitical. By spouting out constant, enthusiastic, purposeless praise you’ve basically become the annoying junior sidekick that you said you despise.

So, the year was 2015. I was trying on used pants in the cluttered dressing room of a Goodwill, when my phone lit up. It was a friend of mine sending me a text.

Did u c the news?

Wat?

Harrison Ford crashed his plane.

My heart immediately froze then sank. I sat down on on the bench, pants around my ankles, and frantically typed back.

Srsly?

Yeah, sounds like he’s ok tho.

And then, I could breathe again.

Understand, I don’t think Harrison Ford is a especially admirable person. I mean, he seems decent enough. He’s a Hollywood movie star. I imagine he’s a little egotistical, an ounce more hedonistic and self-serving than I generally like to see, but just a normal guy otherwise. A man I have never met, and will likely never meet, and if I ever did meet him it would just be a cool story for me, and a completely forgettable moment for him.

When he dies, (given our ages, odds are that it’ll be before me,) it really won’t affect my life. He’s not my dad, my grandpa, my friend, or even that one crazy old guy who used to come into the gas station to buy Mr Pibb and lottery tickets and always had a sassy word.

But when he dies, I’ll still be sad. Not devastated, but sad.

Because somewhere in a box of old school things, there’s a fifth grade note book where I drew hearts around a sticker of Han Solo and wrote, “My favorite actor, Harrisen Ford.” And beneath it, in the same box, is the 1998 People magazine when he was ‘Sexiest Man Alive’. I took that thing to school to keep in my desk. A very weirded out Mr. Dunlap asked me if I knew that Harrison Ford was older than he was. I didn’t care.

Harrison Ford was my first crush that wasn’t 2-D cell shaded, and no matter how much my adult brain understands that he isn’t really a part of my life, the lovesick girl in my heart still remembers. You can think of that as good, bad, or neutral; it is still a fact. His existence impacted mine. It’s the reason we mourn famous people. I don’t think it was unhealthy when I had a moment’s pause and pang of sadness at the passing of Christopher Lee, Johnny Cash, Carrie Fisher, or Hank Aaron. It’s natural to be sad when someone who played a part in your own life experiences passes away. When the world loses a little piece of itself that helped to shape it, it’s okay for all of us to notice.

So say Alan Rickman springs up from the audience of Ellen one day, explaining he really just needed some time away from Potterheads lusting over Snape. Or Terry Pratchett shows up at Dragoncon to accost Neil Gaiman, shouting that he knew he would ruin the legacy of Good Omens and just had to see for himself how he would do it. Or Robin Williams heckles Jerry Seinfeld off the stage and does an impromptu set of impressions of how everyone reacted to his pseudocide.

I wouldn’t be overjoyed they’re still alive.

I would be enraged.

They’d be alive, sure. But they’d be dead to me. The person I hoped they were torn away to reveal a callous, selfish monster who was content, even happy, to cause grief in the millions of people who thought of them fondly. Someone so narcissistic as to be oblivious to everyone elses’ feelings, and to come sauntering back into the spotlight expecting to resume their career and fame.

And if I learned that I, somehow, was the instigator of this decision in the famous person; the catalyst sparking all that grief, and now anger.

Well, if I never did anything else in my life, that would probably be the worst thing I’d ever caused.

Apparently, as long as you aren’t lying to or defrauding the government, or intending to defraud others, or committing some other crime in the process thereof, faking your death to others isn’t illegal.

But that doesn’t mean it’s victimless.

(BTW: Thanks to everyone who enjoyed yesterday’s metaphysical musings. It made digging through all the Les/Lisa ghost porn worth it. )

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The Death of Sense.

Link to Today’s Strip.

Comic Book Harriet, back in action. Ready to dig through the comic muck of this Inedible Pulp to, hopefully, stab at the heart of this horrifying nonsense.

First of all, I want to thank Spaceman Spiff for easing us through the shock and awe of the first ‘back from the dead’ soap opera moment I think we’ve had since Wally Winkerbean came home.

While some of you have been frustrated and angry at just how baffling the decision to retcon Phil Holt’s death is, I’ve actually been relishing the absolute stupidity of this arc. Unlike Batiuk’s biffing of Bull’s Suicide, the morally dubious resolution of the Adeela ICE arc, or the callous insensitivity of the LA Fires, the crazy on display here has no offensive real-world victims unless you find it libelous to Jack Kirby, Stan Lee, or Joe Simon.

And today, I finally get the answer to the most pressing question raised by Phil Holt’s ‘resurrection’: did he fake his death, or have a near death experience? Hanging on this question, was the interpretation of this strip from three years ago.

Spoiler Alert: Phil Holt wasn’t already dead.

With the retcon, and the knowledge that Phil was completely fine at the time, there is only one explanation for these ghosts. Darin was imagining Phil and Lisa’s spirits having this conversation as they looked on approvingly at the auction. It was a fantasy that he concocted for his own gratification.

Furthermore, this suggests that every time we see ‘ghosts’ in strip it’s just the daydreaming of a living character, comforting themselves with a lie, roleplaying a no longer possible conversation, or expressing an internal anxiety, sometimes all at the same time.

Like when Lillian was visited by ‘Lucy’ coming back from the grave to lead her on a guilt purging journey of taking an undelivered letter to a demolished building, where Lucy and her old boyfriend Eugene could finally spiritually be together (even though Eugene was still alive at the time.)

Les of course is the worst offender of this. Lisa constantly pops up around him, encouraging him, praising him, agreeing with him, and smiling while watching him make out with his hot new wife.

But even Les seems to realize that this is just him projecting what he imagines Lisa would say. And that Lisa only lives on inside his mind as a fractured reflection of his memory. She sleeps forever, in the oblivion of death.

If I could ask Batiuk a personal question, I would ask if he believes in an afterlife. Because I don’t think he really does. I think he wishes there was something after death, but has been convinced that the only immortality we actually get is the lingering echoes we leave in the hearts and minds of others.

And, in time, those people will pass away, and so then passes even memory. Life has meaning, but only temporarily.

And so all metaphysical experience is really just human consciousness and awareness fractured and reflected back on itself. When we try to conceive of or reach out to God, or dead loved ones, or eternity, the only thing that can reach back is a part of yourself.

Dead St. Lisa was only a part of imagination. She’s no more or less real than that heatstroke robot Funky imagined when running, or Jeff’s Inner Child avatar, or Les’ depression cat.

But, then again, apparently the depression cat is real and crazy old film producers can see it.

And Dead Lisa did call into an airport and talk to customer service, then Les, then called in a phony bomb threat…

The only evidence of life after death in Funky Winkerbean.

Strap in folks! It’s gonna be a fun week!

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Those Were The Days

So why was there such animosity between these two? They’re agreeing they had fun and their time together was the best time of their lives, so why was Phil so bitter when he came back from the dead? Batiuk’s writing always seems like it’s at the rough draft idea, where he just comes up with a premise (former coworkers are reunited, conflict ensues) and just leaves it there without developing it all. Was it all because Flash took credit for Phil’s ideas? It would have been nice to have shown that, once, rather than to have Flash praising Phil before he even knew he was alive again.
Is it me or do the dimensions of that table seem off? Looking at the second panel and the last panel, I don’t see how everyone can be in both panels. Unless Darin is climbing into Ruby’s lap, which wouldn’t surprise me, and would explain why Jessica never travels with him.

Well, I’m glad I didn’t get another two weeks of Dinkle, at least.  ComicBookHarriet takes over tomorrow!

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Tears of a Clown

What is it with Batiuk and comic fans? Clearly what this guy is saying is supposed to be inspiring and insightful, but he’s been portrayed two days straight as pure nerd stereotype. He apparently can’t stand up straight and doesn’t own a comb (or probably shampoo). Batiuk has done this multiple times, where he tries to act like comics are the highest form of human culture, but then craps all over their fans and collectors.  I mean what this guy is saying is moving Flash and Phil to tears, I don’t know why he had to be portrayed as a background character from The Big Bang Theory comic shop scenes.
Oh, and if they “had something to say”, what exactly was it? I am doing to know.
I’m also sick of everyone in this strip only referring to comics as “books”, rather than “comics” or “comic books”.

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Let Mr. Sponge Be Your Guide

Yay. We’re now at the part of the arc where one fictional character is telling other fictional characters how great they are, without giving any hint of a reason for why they feel that way. I’m sure I’ve probably said this at least ten times, and I know many other people on here have said it, but it really does amaze me how Batiuk has shown basically nothing of these comics, despite Funky Winkerbean itself basically revolving around them at this point.
I really do not know what the point of this is. So two minor characters produced comics, decades ago, that one person apparently centered his entire life around? How? “When the Amazing Mr. Sponge used his super sucking powers to vanquish Mr. Tea, that inspired me to become a janitor?” I like comics more than probably 99% of the population, and at times have found inspirational material in them. But saying they’re your “north star guiding you through life” is just pathetic, especially when you realize these are cheesy Silver Age comics.
Oh, and notice the speaker is addressing “you two”. I wonder if Ruby is still standing off to the side, or if she’s wandered back to the airport by this point.

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Ownly the Lonely

It’s possible I’m forgetting this, but I thought Atomik Komix published things like Amazing Mr. Sponge? Didn’t Chester buy the rights to the old Batom titles and is making new comics of them? So therefore they’re not creator owned at all? It’s possible I’m confusing this, but I thought that’s how it was.
I like that apparently Ruby literally had to give up her seat to Phil. She’s being honored for her career achievements, but a random guy shows up and steals her thunder and her chair. This is extremely on-brand for Batiuk.

Oh, and Phil hated his career, and producing comics is misery.  What else is new.

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XYZ, Phil

Okay, so today’s strip really does make me wonder about something. I’ve kind of wondered for a while if Batiuk had passed on the actual writing of this strip to someone else, and crap like today really, really makes me think he has. Because I don’t really see how someone can write “guy comes back from the dead and then his coworker tells him his pants aren’t zipped up in front of a crowd” and think that’s “called writing”, unless they’re either eight or a Kent State English major who isn’t getting paid enough by Batiuk (probably because he’s paying them in surplus copies of Lisa’s Story).

Because really, the quality of this strip has taken a huge nosedive over the past few years.  With Act II and even well into Act III, it felt like Batiuk was trying and the strip was at least coherent.  Compare today’s strip to one of Batiuk’s rambling essays about cheesy sixties Flash comics, and you can definitely tell where his heart and effort are.

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I Wish This Was All in Batiuk’s Imagination

I’m sure asking someone if you’re currently dreaming or your very life is somehow an imaginary story in front of a crowd and on camera will do wonders for Flash’s reputation.
This is just so dumb on so many levels. Batiuk can’t resist making everything into some kind of comic book reference or “joke”. Phil has apparently literally come back from the dead and is reunited with his former coworker/friend, and this is what Batiuk does with that moment? Instead of going with something genuinely emotional, or maybe explaining how he’s not dead anymore, he decides to criticize other people’s comic book writing? This is just sad.
At this point, why not just have Lisa randomly show back up alive next Monday?

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Return of the Phil

This doesn’t quite seem to be how normal people would react to someone randomly returning from the dead. (I know it’s a waste of time expecting people to act normal in this strip, but still). I absolutely believe that if someone in the Batiukverse did spontaneously, inexplicably return from the dead, the first thing they would do would be seek out the nearest comic convention and ruin an event honoring someone else.
Boy, is Les going to be pissed with Lisa shows up and ruins the Lisa’s Legacy Run this year.

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Gasp! It’s Phil Holt!

Surprise! It’s Phil Holt. Which I have to imagine most people probably guessed weeks ago. I am really loving the wild disconnect in this arc. Everything Flash has said is super nice and praising Phil, and yet Phil is acting like he’s caught Flash in something and is about to prove he’s a fraud.
I wonder if Batiuk will ever reach a point where he thinks his strip has enough old comic professionals. He killed Phil off, brought Flash in, and just brought Phil back again, for no reason. And he apparently just worked on the same things as Flash, which makes at least one of them totally redundant.

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