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.


Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

68 responses to “Gasp! It’s Phil Holt!

  1. Those of you who guessed “Phil Holt,” please report to the prize window to collect your prize. The current prize is coffee grounds, orange peels and a selection of old newspapers. They are stained together in a timeless theme in the style known as ‘Batiukian’ or ‘Who Cares.’ Please do not discard your prizes in the Port-O-Poties as it increased the fees.

    Those of you who guessed a son, or daughter…well, better luck next time. You should remember the first rule of Funky Winkerbean: if it is interesting, even slightly, it will not be featured. Only the laziest, least effort developments will move forward. And thank you for your attention.

    (I just watched Snowpiercer, so you should imagine the above said by Tilda Swinton.)

  2. Gerard Plourde

    While I thought this was a possibility, it does raise the question – how does he explain away Phil’s ghostly appearance at the auction? He can create some lame scenario to cover the faked death and the gift of the artwork to Darin but having Ghost Phil and Ghost Lisa attending the auction is going to need some ‘splainin’ (apologies to Ricky Ricardo/Desi Arnaz), which I expect TomBa will completely ignore.

    • Mr. A

      I couldn’t get past the ghost. That’s why I wanted to believe it wasn’t Phil, even though all the other evidence was pointing in that direction.

    • billytheskink

      I guess there’s hope for ghost Lisa, then.

      • J.J. O'Malley

        “Ghost Lisa”? Oh, billy, you poor deluded skink. There never was a ghost Lisa, because Lisa obviously never died! She reshuffled those test results and X-rays to make it look like the doctors missed her cancer returning. She was, in fact, hale and hearty and simply desperate for a way out of Westview and marriage to Les. She clearly faked her own death (a young would-be actress named Marianne Winters impersonated her), a coffin filled with bricks was put into the ground, and the real Lisa ran off to New York City, where she works as a high-priced attorney for a certain real estate magnate-turned-politician and enjoys her daily lunch breaks sitting at the Central Park bench Les had dedicated to her, sipping her overpriced coffee and laughing at the good joke she played on all those Ohio yokels. Oh, and those ghost images we’ve seen of her over the years? Holographic images played from a projector onto dry ice clouds (okay, Velma Dinkley figured that one out, but the rest is me).

        Oh, and by the way, this “plot twist” is one that M. Night Shyamalan would turn down.

        • gleeb

          She was cremated.

          • billytheskink

            That’s true… or is it?!

            Ghost Lisa actually met Ghost Phil, and now that Ghost Phil is apparently real Phil again… well, you know.

            That or TB was so unhappy with Rick Burchett’s brief tenure drawing the strip (Phil Holt’s death occurred during this time) that he’s going Disney-Star Wars – taking the whole time out of canon and then adding back in the elements he liked.

    • ComicBookHarriet

      The week of the comic covers auction was my first week guest blogging. At the time I pondered the almost pagan nature of the afterlife in Funky Winkerbean, where the dead are ghosts, wandering the earth and tied to who they knew and what they did in life.

      UNLESS Batiuk goes on to explain that Phil Holt was literally in a coma at the time, having a prolonged near-death experience, then we have to reevaluate every ghostly appearance. They no longer reflect a metaphysical reality, but instead the imaginings of the still living characters in a universe with no real afterlife.

      Darin or maybe Summer imagined what Lisa and Phil would say at the auction. Darin imagined Phil’s shock and disgust when Lisa said she never read comics.

      Lillian imagined the ghosts of her sister and her boyfriend finally together after death.

      And Les constantly imagines a ghost Lisa, shouting encouragement and watching him make out with his new wife.

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        Batiuk can try to explain away Phil Holt’s ghostly visage however he wants, but he can’t solve this problem: Phil Holt’s estate was passed on to his inheritors. This absolutely does not happen unless everyone involved is sure that you’re very, very dead. Probate is a paperwork nightmare even in simple cases. To say nothing of why Holt would quickly add someone to his will, and then fake his death.

        • William Thompson

          Batiuk’s explanation: “Fooled ya! Fooled alla ya! Neener-neener-neener!”

          • Banana Jr. 6000

            Yeah, Batiuk’s probably running the bases as we speak. How silly of us to think a cliched standard storytelling convention means what it’s universally known to mean. The writing in Funky Winkerbean is so bad that you can’t even believe what it tells you.

  3. Mela

    Sigh, should have figured. Phil has gone Stefano DiMera on us. Although Stefano came back from the dead so many times on Days of Our Lives that even the characters stopped believing he was gone for good every time he died.

    • none

      My mother’s soap was All My Children. I can’t recall recurring deaths very much in that show, but it did most everything else. Despite the times where there was a complete detachment from reality that the show had with its stories and dialogue, it won Emmys and enjoyed a long legacy, particularly for breaching subject matter before it became more normalized in society.

      At the time that this post is written, someone has a tweet up with a few FW Sunday strips from the 80s. They have Dinkle. Act I Dinkle does what Act I Dinkle does, which includes a grown man secretly taking pictures of a high school girl, and there’s people on twitter now who hit the like button and a few who even respond to say that the strips then were good, even if they don’t know that Funky and Dinkle are two different people. Such details don’t really matter to most people, and that’s how it coasts, year after year.

      Was Phil really dead before? It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter if he explains why he’s here now or if he ever really died. It doesn’t matter when he writes a blog post to talk about Phil’s character on a blog post that he’ll write to sell the compilation book which enough people will buy. It just doesn’t matter. Any of it. With enough time, he’s reached the point where he can do literally anything he wants with the strip and enough people will still happily read it and buy his products.

      It just doesn’t matter. None of it.

    • William Thompson

      Barnabas Collins did “back from the dead” first and better.

      • Anonymous Sparrow

        But it was different on “Dark Shadows.” As Barnabas said of the woman who made him a vampire, Angelique Bouchard, “I said I killed her. I never said she was dead.”

  4. Epicus Doomus

    He used to bring back his dead characters in ghost form, but apparently he’s just dispensed with those silly technicalities here in 2021. I predict the fiftieth anniversary strip (March 27, 2022 if you’re keeping score) will feature Batton Thomas staring into a snow globe. “It was all just a dream, see?”.

    This does a raise a few questions, one of which is: how did Phil survive undetected for the last four years? Isn’t faking one’s death considered fraud? Will Lisa’s Legacy have to give the donated art auction money back? Or will everyone just wryly smirk? I think we all know the answer to that one.

    • Gerard Plourde

      Epicus Doomus,

      “I predict the fiftieth anniversary strip (March 27, 2022 if you’re keeping score) will feature Batton Thomas staring into a snow globe. ‘It was all just a dream, see?’”.

      It wouldn’t surprise me in the least. He’s ripped off so much else, so why not St. Elsewhere?

      • Epicus Doomus

        Or maybe he could do a “Sopranos” cut to black as Les, Funky and Cayla pop pepperoni slices into their mouths while Summer attempts to parallel park the Batiukmobile.

        Although I’d prefer a Henry Blake ending, where a plane carrying the entire cast gets shot down over the Sea Of Japan and spins in with no survivors.

      • ComicBookHarriet

        If it’s going to end with a snow globe, I’d much rather it end like Krampus. The cast trapped forever in a tiny pocket universe, held in the hands of a twisted supernatural creature who will torment them for the rest of time.

    • Charles

      This does a raise a few questions, one of which is: how did Phil survive undetected for the last four years?

      And why did he decide to blow the lid off it NOW?

      Of course, this is missing the point. Phil “faked” his death because Batiuk decided he wanted him alive for this. There’s no other reason for it. Batiuk wanted him alive, so here he is. It doesn’t matter what happened before. And it also doesn’t matter how utterly worthless it makes his timelines, continuity or established canon.

      Kind of casts a less flattering light on Les’s perpetual grief over Lisa, huh?

  5. erdmann

    Words fail me, so…

  6. William Thompson

    “And I got my wish, too!” Phil Holt taunts. “Ever since I died, I’ve wanted to see you dead and in Hell! With me! And the same for every moron who admires you! Well, you’re all dead and in Hell, Freeman! You, too, Rubella! And you, Nameless Smirking MC! And those assclowns from Aromik Komix! In fact everyone from Westview is dead, except Les Moore! He works here!”

    • Gerard Plourde

      Brilliant, but I have one quibble. Les Moore doesn’t work in Hell – he runs the place.

      • William Thompson

        Impossible! He’s much too lazy to do anything but whine and brag. Lisa is the true Great Satan. Recording all those tapes proves that she’s an endless fount of sadistic micromanagement.

  7. Hitorque

    Phil Holt?! I’m done, I give up…

  8. Banana Jr. 6000

    “Phil Holt deserves to be in the Comic-Con Hall of Fame as well?” Freeman, you’ve got some damn nerve wishing into the sky for this to happen, because you know damn well how you got in. You want Holt in there, just find Pete and have him take care of it.

    In fact, this would be a very dramatic time for Flash to blow the lid off the entire fraud, Lisa Simpson style. But it’s clear that neither he nor Ruby is having the tiniest ethical dilemma about this. They got their award, and they’re not going to risk it by rocking the boat.

    Speaking of Pete, where is he, and the rest of the Atomik Komix morons? They came to San Diego for the sole purpose of honoring their friends’ Hall of Fame induction, and they can’t even be bothered to attend the panel discussion?

    But in typical Batiukian two-wrongs-make-a-right storytelling, it makes a little sense that Pete chose not to be present at the scene of the crime he arranged. Like Michael Corleone conspicuously going to the baby christening at the end of the first Godfather movie while all his enemies are being killed. But this comic strip isn’t nearly that self-aware. We’ll probably learn next week that Pete was in line getting Tony Isabella’s autograph.

    What will Flash and Ruby say to them when they meet up later? “Sorry we couldn’t make the panel, what did we miss?” “Phil Holt rose from the dead.” “Oh, is that all.” (smirks, eye-rolling)

    • Charles

      Thing about Flash’s candidacy, if we are to think that it’s legitimate, is the question of why he was overlooked this long. I can understand Ruby not being honored, because a lot of her career was no doubt minimized by prevailing attitudes, but Flash does not have any such excuse. The Hall of Fame knew about him, and they decided not to honor him. It wasn’t an omission. It was a deliberate act.

      And if they had forgotten him, well, that would just be more reason to show why he doesn’t belong in the Hall of *FAME*.

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        Flash’s involvement in this story makes no sense at any point. It made no sense for Mindy to advocate for him. It made so sense for him not to have been honored already. His backstory with Phil Holt made no sense. His passive reaction to the nonsensical heckling, and random shift into praising the Phil Holt, made no sense.

        But Batiuk does what he always does: started with his desired ending, wrote backwards to the beginning, and skipped any difficult parts. Flash’s story was so incongruous that a lot of us guessed that he was going to marry off Flash and Ruby. Turns out the real reason was a lot stupider.

  9. Epicus Doomus

    So apparently we’re to believe that Phil Holt faked his own death in the hope that Flash would be inducted into the CCCBHOF and he could then reappear, disrupt the ceremony and continue their imbecilic feud. And apparently the local authorities, the county medical examiner AND the local probate court were all in on the scheme, too. All so he could take credit for a f*cking comic book. And people wonder why I’ve been bagging on FW so relentlessly for the last eleven years.

  10. Rusty Shackleford

    Agh, I’m so bored. Make it stop…please.

  11. be ware of eve hill

    If anyone is interested, the strip where Phil Holt was first mentioned as deceased was back on 10/19/2017. Darin opened a package from an attorney consisting of the infamous Batom comic book covers, and a letter from an attorney stating Phil had died.

    The 10/16/2017 strip featured an unknown man and woman (the attorney’s office?) stating they had “found their man’ (Darin). Presumably to send him Phil’s package o’death.

    How could Phil have faked his death for almost four years? Where was he? Stranded on a deserted island? In a monastery in Tibet? Was the attorney complicit? Phil faked his death just for this ‘gotcha’ moment?
    🙄 Puh-leeze!

    This is beyond ridiculous. My son wrote a better story for a talent show play in sixth grade.

    • be ware of eve hill

      Phil Holt gave those covers to Darin as a part of his will. From one artist to another. Because he thought Darin would appreciate them. I’m sure Phil thought Darin would treasure those covers and keep them forever. Instead, almost immediately, Darin decides to auction off the covers because they’re worth thousands of dollars. In our universe, this is known as a dìck move. In the Batiukverse, it is known as Tuesday.

      I have to wonder if Batiuk has done this with other cartoonists. I can imagine Batiuk at a convention trading his artwork with another cartoonist.

      Five minutes later:
      Batiuk: I have a signed Bill Watterson original. How much money will somebody give me for it?

      Can this possibly be why Bill Watterson was so dead set against merchandising Calvin and Hobbes?

      I was never able to buy a stuffed Hobbes. Thanks a heap, Batty 😭

      • Hitorque

        Oh and don’t forget that Phil Holt ver. 1.0 “died” bitter and broke, not knowing even how much his old artwork was worth…

        And there was no “shared brotherhood amongst comics artists” between him and Darren or any of that bullshit since the extent of Darrin’s “art experience” was random scribbles in study hall and sketching the storyboards for a movie…

  12. billytheskink

    I guess TB thought it would have been a little on the nose if Phil had dressed up as Darth Plagueis The Wise…

    Remember when Ruby was explicitly, in-universe, under recognized and overshadowed by men? Well deja vu…

    • Epicus Doomus

      Ruby??? Oh, yeah…the girl! Seriously though, good point. Once again Ruby is forgotten, relegated to the background behind the boys, yet again. A recurring theme, as they say.

  13. Charles

    Is this a new low? I think it’s a new low, you guys.

    At least in so far as the plot is concerned. Celebrating a pioneering woman artist by having men portray her art was pretty bad, but that wasn’t an issue of plotting. This is him just throwing in the towel and deciding that he’s no longer interested in maintaining any sort of continuity or holding himself to any sort of standard whatsoever.

    I’ll bet he doesn’t even bother to explain, because it would be too complicated and absurd to do so. He’ll just mention Phil’s death as little as possible, and, for as little sense as it would make, not have anyone mention it.

    And I’m certain that a large point of this, if not the main point of this, is Batiuk feeling that he deserves some sort of recognition for his career. Flash and Phil are going to receive the long-overdue praise, honor and recognition that has eluded Batiuk himself. And the ridiculous thing is that the only thing he could barely hang his hat on, his realism (what other comic strip has someone die of cancer? Who else has a suicide? Who else addressed alcoholism?) is completely obliterated by this nonsense.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Today’s strip should be grounds for the cancellation of Funky Winkerbean. You can’t call yourself “a reality-based comic strip that depicts contemporary issues in a thought-provoking and sensitive manner” and bring people back from the dead with no explanation. And for what? A pointless, rambling, internally inconsistent, massively self-serving arc about the 1954 comic books bullpen. Which is also a thinly veiled kowtow to a real-life Hall of Fame, in hopes that Tom Batiuk himself can be elected. It’s atrocious.

      But the sad truth is… he’s done it before. He gave Mort Winkerbean dementia, and it just went away. He gave Harry Dinkle deafness, and it just went away. Dead Lisa drives so many plots that she might as well be alive. Her endless video tapes were unusually prescient. In the “averted plane crash” arc, she told Les things he couldn’t possibly have known himself. The first “quarantine” plot was about Lisa. Characters are emotionally invested in her as if she were a real person. And we’re supposed to take all this seriously.

      It also undermines the tragic pathos Batiuk tries so hard to create. If characters can just rise from the dead, why should anyone care if they die?

    • newagepalimpsest

      This isn’t even a character whose dramatic return from the dead even really matters in the world of the strip. He’s a minor character who was vaguely connected to an even more minor character.

      If he’d blown his realism card on Lisa and Bull returning from the dead, at least they could do a storyline where Bull demands to know why Lisa got a cult and he didn’t.

      • Hitorque

        Yeah, it’s incredible how Jerome Bushka just fell down the memory hole (along with all sports-related storylines in general, because if there’s one thing small-town Ohioans don’t care about, it’s football)…

        It’s funny because Westview High School named the football field after Bull when he retired, but that means nothing since we literally have not seen the football field since that day and we know nothing about the team or even who the hell Bull’s successor is!

        And this was a prime opportunity for Batiuk to actually bring in a woman to coach the team, which would have been right up his alley and a gold mine of potential storylines…

  14. Smirks ‘R Us

    This piece of sh*t is just the worst.

  15. Rotter

    My money is on this guy being a Phil Holt cosplayer. I can totally believe that the Funkyverse is a place where someone who spent his whole life being angry, bitter, and resentful because this tacky, grubby, commercial world refuses to honor and reward True Creative Genius is thought of as some kind of cultural hero. At the Funkyverse’s Comic-Con, Les Moore cosplayers are as easy to spot as Deadpools or Harley Quinns.

    • ComicBookHarriet

      At least Zanzibar the Talking Murder Chimp, (Blessed Be His Name,) had the guts to threaten people with actual weapons, instead of just heckling them.

      Both Phil and Zanzibar enjoyed a good cigar.

    • Hitorque

      I’ve never been to ComiCon, but it seems like there’s all of 25-30 people in there which seems like a really sparse attendance for a panel?

      • J.J. O'Malley

        I’m a veteran of just under two SDCCs, and considering most of the popular panels for the last 20 years have been promos for TV shows and movies (some of which had nothing to do with comics), this turnout is better than I would have expected for a pair of late Golden Age/early Silver Age talents that no one–for some strange reason–seems to have remembered. One would think the creator of Miss American and “co-creator” of Starbuck Jones, subject of a recent hit film, would garner some fanboy interest, but of course what happens in Battyuk’s reality rarely matches this world. I endured long lines for autographs from Joe Simon (Captain America’s co-creator), Arnold Drake (original Doom Patrol writer), Jim Steranko (’60s Nick Fury artist) and others, but here any weirdo in a Darth Vader helmet can waltz in. And where IS the Atomik staff?

  16. Jimmy

    How does Batiuk tolerate the stench from crawling so far up his own ass?

  17. The Duck of Death

    The same eldritch warping of the time-space continuum that allowed Phil Holt to come back from the dead has also teleported Funky to a seat just to Phil’s left.

    As usual, he has nothing to contribute except an entirely unwarranted smirk.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      That’s the vest-wearing slug man who gave Phil his Comic-Con badge to get in. It’s amazing how few faces this strip can actually depict, but can still clearly convey that none of the Atomic Komix crew is attendance.

      • The Duck of Death

        I did assume that, but since there are only about 5 male and 3 female faces Ayers draws, this new character was bound to be a clone of someone already existing. In this case it was Funky.

  18. The Duck of Death

    Imagine, for a moment, that you were watching an awards ceremony for a veteran Marvel artist. Imagine that artist said, “I wish Stan Lee could have been here today.” Imagine that a man in the audience ripped off his mask, stood up, and said, “You got your wish!,” and it was clearly Stan Lee in the flesh.

    Now imagine your reaction. Would you gawk in confusion and horror, trying to figure out what the hell is going on? Would you quickly run through the possibilities in your mind? Perhaps Lee faked his death? Or someone’s wearing incredibly convincing Lee make-up and this is a promo, in shockingly bad taste, for an upcoming Marvel movie? Maybe someone slipped LSD into the coffee and you’re hallucinating? Or perhaps you’re only imagining you read all those Stan Lee obituaries? Are you losing your mind?

    Naw. You’d probably just take it in stride and cry delightedly, “This is the best cameo ever!”

  19. Tomorrow will be back to Funky speaking at the AA meeting.

  20. newagepalimpsest


    Phil, you dropped your cigar on the floor. Please pick it up before someone steps on it and grinds it into the carpet. Thank you…

  21. Professor Fate

    Lame. Utterly lame. So lame that it can’t walk. A level of lame that is a new low for the strip. At least the talking killer chimp had some novelty value. This, this is just, oddly enough, the kind of cheap ass pull plot element that Atmoix Comix in its mission statement says it would not do – something to the effect of dead characters stay dead.
    And of course with the reveal of it being – gasp – Phil Holt – the reader’s willing suspension of disbelief comes crashing down like a condemned Hotel demolished by explosives.
    All sorts of questions come to mind and fast – when we met Holt he was destitute and doing drawings for kids parties. Then upon his reported death he gave Boy Lisa his original covers. So what was he doing for money all this time? Selling off other original art work? Wouldn’t folks notice the sudden influx of more original art by Holt and wonder where it was coming from?
    And one has to guess that the guy who got Phil the Darth Vader mask was in on the deception. And he has gone from being destitute to being able to fly to San Diego and smoke his regular brand of cigars. And one wonders just what the hell was the plan or the reason for him to fake his death? And if Flash wasn’t going to be honored would he have just remained ‘dead’? (and oh yes the IRS among others doesn’t much care for people faking their deaths so there is that)
    Aside from all those questions the ham handed plotting has added to the general lameness of this arc.

  22. Gerard Plourde

    Let me start by saying I don’t expect any explanation as creative as this, but here goes –

    One way out of this mess is to have it disclosed that Phil was kidnapped by he Muratanians who created a diversionary mudslide and held prisoner until the Great Fire of Los Angeles at which time he escaped while the Queen was talking to Jff and Young Jff. Upon going to his old apartment, he discovers that the fire destroyed the building and further discovers that he was declared dead and his body unrecoverable in the 2017 mudslide.

    This of course still wouldn’t explain his spectral appearance with Ghost Lisa at the auction.

  23. Hitorque

    1. I don’t give a flying fuck anymore — If Darrin doesn’t immediately stand up on Monday and proclaim Dark Helmet is an imposter because he knows the real Phil Holt is dead, I’m done with this storyline.

    2. I guess it’s technically not too late for Phil Holt to have a twin brother or something, right?

    3. So what the fuck was Dark Helmet’s plan if Flash Freeman had never come to ComiCon?

    4. Doesn’t this asshole know that if he just talked to SDCC organizers, he probably could have just been part of the panel and saved himself all this time and trouble…?

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      If Darrin doesn’t immediately stand up on Monday and proclaim Dark Helmet is an imposter because he knows the real Phil Holt is dead

      Well, Darrin would have to be at the event first. Not that Batiuk couldn’t just put him there after he was conspicuously absent all week.

  24. I think the TVA (Loki) forgot to prune a timeline.

  25. Perfect Tommy

    When he first appeared, I thought the big lug with Phil was the owner of the comic shoppe that sold him the Vader mask. But I guess he’s more of a henchman/hired help now. That, or the most awesome after-the-sale customer service ever.

  26. gleeb

    I admit, I’m surprised. I didn’t think even Batiuk would do this.
    Look, who is this comic for? People who A) Care enough about Phil Holt and Flash Freeman, but also B) don’t remember Phil died 5 years ago AND C) read the comic in some medium where they won’t be reminded of that. That’s like, what 6 people, max. And two of them are guys who just BS Batiuk about reading the strip when they run into him at the grocery store.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      This is a really good point. Anyone who is invested in these fifth-tier characters at all would be confused and annoyed right now.

  27. Sourbelly


    How is this a cameo? A cameo is a short appearance. But it’s not like Phil Holt is suddenly going to disappear (I assume…). He’s going to hang around and yell at Flatch for a few more strips.

    Why did Phil bother buying and wearing a Darth Vader helmet, only to rip it off and proclaim his identity to the whole crowd?

    Why should I care? As many others have pointed out upthread, this event kills the suspension of disbelief. Things happen and unhappen for no apparent reason. The Venn diagram depicting the author and the intended audience is a single circle.

  28. Jeff M

    I found Mark Evanier’s deadpan reaction (via his website) to being included in this “storyline” to be hilarious in its blatant lack of expressed opinion: “As many of you are informing me this A.M., I seem to be a character in today’s Funky Winkerbean comic strip. What a surprising thing to wake up to.”