Subterranean Holt-sick Blues

Happy Labor Day! and a tip of the SoSF hardhat to the estimable Epicus Doomus for seeing us through the latest installment of Les’ Story. Epicus usually throws himself on the grenade of having to post on a holiday weekend, but I have seen fit to give him the holiday off for a change. You’re welcome.

Though he’s really not dead after all, Phil Holt has arrived in that Old Comics Creator Heaven known as Atomik Komix. He’s even greeted by Saint Mopey Pete himself. Phil and Flash have leeft behind their earthy grievances (to the point where they are now living together), and, thanks to Chester’s beneficence, have reunited to “write to life” the Subterranean, the project that led to the team’s breakup years ago. This development easily pushes the median age of the Atomik Komix staff  well north of sixty.

Many of us have wondered why Phil felt it necessary to fake his own death in order to “work without being bothered.” He was already toiling in obscurity when Darin spotted him doing caricatures at a kiddie party. If Phil wanted Darin to have those original Batom covers (which Darin immediately decided to liquidate), it didn’t have to be via his last will and testament. What I think was behind it was this: Phil knew that his “death” would cause Flash to be wracked with guilt over losing the opportunity to reconcile. Now that he’s turned up alive, Phil gets to bask in Flash Freeman’s beaming bonhomie.


Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

32 responses to “Subterranean Holt-sick Blues

  1. Banana Jr. 6000

    “We’re here to work on The Subterranean! Even though we’ve already published an issue, and neither of us works for this company. But let’s not get hung up on details.”

    • Mr. A

      Does anyone work for this company? Since all the Atomik Komix titles are creator-owned (as Chester announced at Comic-Con), doesn’t that mean that Pete and Darin and Mindy and Ruby are technically self-employed? Or how does that work?

      • Anonymoous Sparrow

        The pump don’t work, Mr. A, ’cause the vandals took the handles.

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        It’s amazing that we don’t know this, considering how much time this comic strip spends on publishing minutiae. Is it like a hair salon, where you rent out your own stall, or what? And Chester just prints whatever they feel like making? It’s no wonder Tom Batiuk failed to get a comic book job if this is how he thinks the business works, or should work.

      • J.J. O'Malley

        Based on my understanding of how the indie comics companies of the ’80s and ’90s (Eclipse, First, Pacific, and maybe Image) operated, Chester can publish titles whose rights he’s purchased over the years, and has hired Mopey, Durwin, Min-Dull, and the Geriatric League of America to do just that. When it comes to series or characters the “Zoo Crew” came up with on their own, it would be a special contract that lets Atomik publish books, but allows the artistes to retain creative rights. Once that contract is up, they could theoretically shop “Rip Tide, Scuba Cop” to Marvel or DC.

        On a related note, one of Alan Moore’s (many) gripes against DC is that he and “Watchmen” co-creator Dave Gibbons would have the rights to those characters revert to them once DC stopped publishing them; DC countered this, of course, by keeping the original mini-series continuously in print, while also developing prequel (“Before Watchmen”) and sequel (“Doomsday Clock”) spin-offs.

        • Mr. A

          Thanks for the insight. My understanding is that all the titles Chester is currently publishing are creator-owned. He certainly made it sound that way at Comic-Con, and Ruby specifically noted that Chester gave her the rights to Miss American, which he had purchased previously. Maybe he has a few other IPs on a shelf somewhere, but if so, he doesn’t seem to be doing anything with them

  2. Epicus Doomus

    Why, just a few months ago Phil DESPISED Flash and loudly disrupted his CCCBHOF ceremony. But those decades of animosity are in the past now, as Phil and Flash (henceforth Phlash) are living together, presumably in some sort of “Three’s Company”-type arrangement where they have to pretend they have real jobs in order to placate their nosy landlord, who thinks they’re gay.

    Thanks TFH! On one hand I’m really grateful that Les is finally gone, but on the other hand, comic books again. Look how he’s totally ruined Phil already. It’s just like what he did with Cliff Anger. Phil was a curmudgeonly, bitter old coot who never got over being wronged by the business, then he was redeemed in one stupid panel, and now he’s a passive grinning moron who threw away forty years of his career on something he got over in two seconds. And like Cliff, Phil has reunited with his life partner. It’s uncanny.

  3. William Thompson

    So how much longer before Phool and Phlush are at one another’s throats? Preferably in a style reminiscent of Dracula.

  4. Sourbelly

    Subterranean: In other words, a fresh take on Hell: Phil Holt is a death-faking asswipe. Mopey Pete is a pair of eyebags filled with failure fluid, and Flatch Floppyhead is…whatever. Can someone PLEASE tell me why I should care about this?

  5. The Duck of Death

    Sadly, the basal cell carcinoma growing on Flash’s left cheek is a cancer that will be unnoticed by the Atomik Komix staff until the cancer has grown to a cancerous carcinoma of Stage IV cancer, which is cancer that cancerous cancer cancer.

    R.I.P. Flash.

  6. J.J. O'Malley

    So, six strips of septuagenarian shenanigans and a Sunday sideways Subterranean salute? Aww, shoot!

    Also…”Hey! It’s Phil and Flash!” “Of course that’s who it is, you droopy-eyed little Sad Sack (whose exploits I once drew for Marvy Comics)! Why are you telling us!? We’re old, not senile!”

  7. Hitorque

    1. I liked Phil better when he was just a ghost talking to Ghost Lisa…

    2. Why are they visiting Atomikkk Komixxx instead of going back to Freeman’s place and working on their own project?

    3. I noticed Atomikkk Komixxx doesn’t even have a front desk or receptionist or main telephone and any weirdo off the street can just waltz in freely and do whatever…

    4. Is it common for one 90-year-old dude to move three time zones away to live with another 90-year-old dude just to put together a comic book? Couldn’t they have done all this shit over the phone and just FedEx proofs to each other?

    5. I love that Pete Rattabastardo slavishly worships these legendary fossils of the industry and it still never occurs to him to address them as MISTER Freeman and MISTER Holt…

    6. Now all we need is Batton Thomas to stumble through the door and along with Ruby they can form “geriatric comic artist Voltron” or something… Chester Hagglemore can form the head and Pete can be Voltron’s sex organ…

    • Chyron HR

      “Is it common for one 90-year-old dude to move three time zones away to live with another 90-year-old dude just to put together a comic book? ”

      Harold, they’re gay.

      • Hitorque

        I did speculate back during ComiCon whether this 60-year-old feud between them was ultimately some sort of quarrel between closeted lovers… After all, they ARE just the 1950s edition of Pete+Darren…

    • erdmann

      3. That’s how Atomik gained two-thirds of its staff.
      4. Real comic creators have mailed or FedEx’d scripts and art for decades, which TB surely must know. Of course, many have probably switched to sending in work digitally by now. No doubt this was done because TB needs them together from dramatic tension or something. Again, his claims of realism take a beating.
      6. Ewww. Talk about being filled with “failure fluid…”

    • Anonymous Sparrow

      But a front desk or receptionist wouldn’t have let Kitsch Swoon in!

  8. Smirks’R Us

    Well Flash, we, and I want to emphasize we, the snarkers of SOSF, will hate every word and all of the “artwork” that you and Grumpy create. But hey, at least you’re not Less and Cayla.

  9. gleeb

    It is really creepy how Flash Freeman is dragging a corpse around like that. Because Phil Holt is dead.

    • William Thompson

      The dragging-around makes sense. Funky Winkerbean is the comic-strip equivalent of the elephants’ graveyard. Characters come here to die–several times, if possible.

    • Anonymous Sparrow

      Thank you for reminding me of “People Who Live in Brass Hearses,” an EC horror story about Lionel Byrd, who also drags along a corpse, but for different reasons (it’s his dead Siamese twin). Perhaps he and Flash Freeman can swap opinions on toilet water?

  10. Perfect Tommy

    Phil Holt and Flash Freeman? What are YOU doing here?

  11. be ware of eve hill

    The further adventures of Flash and Phil. Yay! (said no one ever)

    What’s the over/under for the number of times “Subterranean” will be mentioned by name this week? 50? 100?

    Another appearance of Mopey Pete without his iconic traveling green shirt. Was the split amicable? What did the shirt receive in the divorce? What’s next? Dead Skunkhead without his Batman shirt? Say it ain’t so, Joe!

    • William Thompson

      And how many times will we see a long-winded description of “The Subterranean, the underground-dwelling superhero character that Fool-Flush created”? And what will his sidekicks be? Richter (the scaly lizard-man)? Sam Andreas (“it’s not my fault!” says the loveable goofball)?

      • Anonymous Sparrow

        In one of their self-deprecating ads for an Alfred E. Neuman poster, MAD used a “Sam Andreas Fault” joke.

        “What, Me Worry? I snark *Funky Winkerbean*!”

  12. erdmann

    Phil: What do you mean “we,” paleface?”
    Flash: I just mean we’re working together as a team. Partners. Co-creat—
    Phil: Co-creators my kiester! You created NOTHING! I did it all! You’re just the dialogue monkey!
    Phil: Now I remember why I hate you.

  13. spacemanspiff85

    So I was super confused because I was positive Flash and Ruby had gotten married, so it seemed super odd that Phil was just crashing with a married couple without Ruby even being mentioned. Then I remembered I was confusing another pair of legends in their industry/washed up has-beens, Cliff Anger and his wife.
    How many people are going to come out of the woodwork and take the spotlight from the actual established characters? I’m looking forward to the 100 year old Tony Montoni, Sr., who invented pizza but had it stolen from him by FDR, to show up and take Funky’s job.

    • Mr. A

      Oh sweet dead Lisa, I just had a thought. What if Phil falls in love with Ruby? Or to top that, what if there’s a love triangle betwixt Phil, Ruby, and Flash?

      …actually, that might be worth reading. Or it would be if someone else was writing it.

    • Epicus Doomus

      Yes, Phil’s story and Cliff’s story are almost exactly the same, aside from the Phil faking his own death part. They’re both over ninety, they both lived in self-imposed exile for fifty years and they both resurfaced at the drop of a hat and ended up with their soul mates.