Baby I’m a Star(buck)

June 8, 2016 at 1:05 am
Mason shooting for Les Moore levels of schmuck-ery here…He provides Cliff with no schedule or itinerary and then makes him get into full costume on set, Cliff surely assuming he would be shooting his scenes for the film. Nope, Mason springs the news of an immediate photo shoot at some restaurant with zero relevance to anything on a wholly unsuspecting Cliff and then shoves him through a dingy Cleveland alleyway into a decades-old limousine.

…which would have been undignified enough if all this was just to surprise ol’ Cliff with an Ovaltine toast. But today Cliff is pressed into service autographing pictures or posters or some crap, and he approaches this task with the same disdain for his admirers that book-signing Les Moore has for his. No doubt book-signing Tom Batiuk at some point encountered one of his own fans who, overcome with excitement in the presence of greatness, forgot his own name.

Cliff: “Some things haven’t changed in fifty years, have they?” So now this 1950’s style Starbuck Jones serial film dates back to 1966. Help me out here, boomers: maybe Saturday matinees were still a thing in the midwest, but here in Jersey, we were getting our superhero kicks watching Batman. On TV.


Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

20 responses to “Baby I’m a Star(buck)

  1. Epicus Doomus

    Fifty years? Uh no, BanTom, no way that’s possible. Sixty, minimum, seventy if we’re still pretending the time skip happened. Funny how everyone’s all star struck by the guy everyone forgot for six decades, I guess it comes and goes, eh Tom?

    Check out the official FW blog for some hysterical chatter about FW’s “maturation”…especially hilarious in light of this “return to childhood” arc he’s running right now. And he’s still taking bows for “Lisa’s Story” too.

  2. I think the point of this strip, when asking someone involved in “kid’s stuff” for an autograph, it’s usually a parent making the request on behalf of a child. (My dad once got me an autograph from Rod Serling this way–Mr. Serling wrote “[Name Redacted], you were missed!”

    And I do recall that the old “Flash Gordon” serial chapters were on Saturday morning TV when I was rather small. Also, some colleges have film societies that show classic films, and during one year, they showed the Flash Gordon stuff before the main features when they were science fiction or horror.

    So while it’s far-fetched, it’s not completely impossible. Just very unlikely.

    None of which makes this strip, or the characters in it, likeable or interesting in any way.

  3. I wouldn’t about how long it was between the STARBUCK JONES serial and the present. TB will retcon it soon enough.

  4. @dougputhoff – Did you know there was a “Starbuck Jones” animated series made during the seventies? And they had Olan Soule do the voice? I didn’t know that either, but I bet that’s next for Tom Batiuk.

  5. Mystery solved re: those weirdly specific anono-characters who turned out to greet Cliff Anger: “a tribute by Tom Batiuk to the many comic artists who worked on the Starbuck Jones faux comic book covers,” including Paul Galacy, Neal Adams, and Russ Heath.

  6. Gerard Plourde

    @ beckoningchasm

    You’re right that “Flash Gordon” and “Buck Rogers” serials did make appearances in the ’60’s. One of our weekday afternoon kids’ programs did that, but it was a purely local. The pinch comes in because Batty insists that Starbuck Jones was a creation of Batom in the ’50’s which spawned a movie serial that is simultaneously famous and obscure with a decoder ring tie-in. His inconsistent timeline asks too much of his readers.

  7. Random fan just stands there smiling while the Starbucks loudly express their contempt for him. He must be a Westview native and used to this assholery.

  8. billytheskink

    Pondering Cliff’s sudden ability to shrink in panel 3, I very nearly missed the fact this event features a washed-up film serial star who hasn’t worked in decades signing autographs while an allegedly popular current major motion picture star stands behind him not signing autographs or even being noticed by the insanely dedicated fans of the franchise he is now headlining.

    Is this a thing that has ever happened in real life?

  9. Epicus Doomus

    I can overlook the nonsensical timeline, but it can’t be a forgotten obscurity AND the foundation of many a childhood memory, it was either popular or it wasn’t. He does this all the time with this SJ crap and it annoys me every time too.

    So of those old SJ movies actually had a cult following for all those years, it makes Anger’s story even more depressing than it already was. Comic-cons, eBay, comic book store appearances…no, that’s not the depressing part, that’s what he missed out on while he sat there haplessly doing nothing for sixty years. It has to be hitting him around now, that sudden realization that he could have been fleecing these comic book dorks for decades if he’d only been paying attention while he was sequestered way out there in, uh, New York City for all those decades.

    The even more depressing scenario is that the old SJ films just suddenly became popular thanks to all the commotion about the new one, which not only puts Cliff in a position where he’s toast as soon as this stupid movie nosedives at the box office, but also will leave him forlornly wondering where it all went wrong AGAIN, just like before. Back in that crappy apartment, lampshade all askew, this time knowing for certain that it’s truly all over.

    And as TFH pointed out, Cliff is cracking way too wry way too soon here. You’d figure the guy might be overwhelmed, grateful, humble, a little shell-shocked even. But not wry and sarcastic at his first appearance in sixty years. It’s true, this is almost exact how the (shudder) Les book signings would go, with the star-struck fans always saying something dumb followed by one of Les’ snide retorts. Oh if you missed that one consider yourself fortunate, it was like nine weeks long too.

  10. Batiuk doesn’t like thinking through the broader implications of all of this because he doesn’t afford himself the time. He wants to zoom through this like he’s the Captain of the USS Makeshitup. Also, he’s too busy remembering that Ed Crankshaft is an idiot.

  11. Also, I like the banner. Very tasteful in the light of recent events.

  12. Saturnino

    “Saturday matinees were still a thing in the midwest, but here in Jersey, we were getting our superhero kicks watching Batman. On TV”

    I sort of remember a few in the early 60’s at the Rivoli in Rutherford and the Montauk and Capitol in Passaic (before the Montauk went porn), but by that time most of the serials were on TV (Tobor, the 8th Man, etc.)

    Of course, none of the theaters in Passaic exist any more, and the Rivoli is now part of the failing Williams Center.

  13. 1. Exactly what the fuck would Mason know about signing autographs? He can walk around Westview and not get recognized, he can walk around Manhattan and not get recognized, and he can go anywhere he wants to in L.A. and not get recognized… Now here he is as the new Starbuck Jones, the biggest budget summer sci-fi popcorn flick since forever; he’s in FULL COSTUME and STILL nobody wants his autograph…

    2. “Who should I make it out to? Ebay? That’s a popular name with the kids these days!

    3. Don’t you want to at least finish shooting the movie first before organizing a bunch of shameless attention-whoring publicity stunts? (Or if you must do the publicity stunts, can you at least leave that in the hands of experienced marketing professionals from the studio instead of Pete Rattabastardo?)


    It should be pointed out that much ballyhooed Marianne Winters STILL has not shown up. I’m leaning to the side that we will never see her in these strips.

  15. I remember Channel 19, and independent station in Cincinnati, playing FLASH GORDON serial after their Saturday night monster movie in 1973. A few years later (soon after “Star Wars” came out), it played the whole serial in its entirety.

  16. Professor Fate

    I remember in the 80’s PBS in New York would play Flash Gordon Serials – usually the entire 12-14 episodes back to back – which did allow one to see how badly they cheated so the hero could escape from certain death – like jumping out of the ship before it blew up when that shot wasn’t in the previous episode -also you noticed the rather slap dash scripting; there was one moment where they were planning to enter Ming’s castle by a secret Tunnel -‘Again?” asked Flash as about two episodes ago they had done the very same thing / “No no, assured the other character – ‘this is another tunnel ” which brought up the image of Ming the Merciless’ fortress honeycombed with secret tunnels that Ming knew nothing about.
    Come to think of this could explain the Author’s writing style – he seeks to emulate the serials of his youth – including the awful parts.

  17. @$$$WESTVIEW ONCOLOGIST$$$: Yeah, where the hell is the world famous Miss Winters, and why isn’t she at this shindig? Instead of some 80-year-old with a bit role in the movie, I’d have thought a Hollywood starlet showing up in her form-fitting, skintight costume would have tripled the turnout and caused a collective nerdgasm from Philadelphia to St. Paul…

    Doesn’t Batiuk have to at least show her to us once? I mean, he only spent three weeks introducing her to us through Cindy’s petty/insane/bitchy jealousy…

  18. Gerard Plourde

    @ hitorque –

    I’m surprised at you. Allow a “girl” into the super secret clubhouse of “Starbuck Jones”? Even if she’s an actress playing the obligatory eye-candy for adolescents? Only moms carrying cookies and milk are permitted and only for the express limited purpose of delivering the aforementioned cookies and milk.

  19. ComicBookHarriet


    I was at a Botcon where the guy who designs toys got rousing applause, Peter Cullen, voice of Optimus Prime, got a freaking standing ovation, and Michael Bay got a polite golf clap.
    Maybe all these guys hate everything they’ve seen and heard of the reboot so far, and so are snubbing Mason.

    At similar conventions, voice actors who really have only had a trickle of work since then are gushed all over by fans that might have been 15 years too young to catch the series when it originally aired. A guy who voiced a Dinobot, and then went into like, insurance sales, was moved to tears by the fanlove.

    Maybe Ovaltine is some kind of very common Spacemanite in-joke. Like Faygo and Jugglaos.

    Not to say any of this has been written /well/. For instance, PLEASE tell us what Cliff did to make a living after bombing out of Hollywood.