Holt and Catch Fire

A Photoshopped image of Gorillaz member "2-D" standing next to Mindy.

Something about Mindy’s weird mug in today’s strip reminded me of 2-D from Gorillaz.

So much for “we…and I emphasize the we“, huh? The mercurial Phil Holt is content to just sit back and let Flash lay out the Subterranean universe for the rest of the team. Pete immediately sees a crossover opportunity involving an existing Atomik property. Ruby is at her desk, clearly craning her neck to get a better look at Phil Holt’s ass (“Flash” Freeman having left his ass in his other pants). Mindy looks on, saying nothing (and, ok, spoiler: she won’t be given anything to say all week). In the middle of all this, Chester thinks “Did we order a pizza?” as he is startled to see Wally enter stage left…oh, wait, that’s not Wally, it’s Darin, wearing his nerd glasses.


Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

47 responses to “Holt and Catch Fire

  1. Epicus Doomus

    Check out Chester with the reverse comma eyes. You don’t see reverse comma eyes all that often. The dumb mid-week single panel, the comic book babbling, annoying characters everyone hates…nothing noteworthy there, however, as we see that all the time.

    “The Scorch”…I wonder if his twin sons are named “Scald” and “Singe”? Gee, I wonder what The Scorch does…sigh. Back in the 1980s there was a British hard rock/metal band called Cloven Hoof and they actually did the exact same gimmick that asshole Flash is yammering about. There was Air, Water, Fire and Earth. I assume Earth was the bass player, as no one else would want to be Earth. Anyhow, they sucked and their gimmick was really stupid, so today’s strip is merely history repeating itself.

    • The Duck of Death

      Charles Schulz used reverse-comma eyes fairly frequently for Snoopy. Seeing them in FW is incongruous and only invites very unfavorable comparisons with ‘Peanuts.’ If I were Batiuk, I’d avoid using any visual tics associated with superior artists. But then, if Batiuk had self-awareness, he would’ve laid down his pen at the end of Act I, and I wouldn’t have the pleasure of snarking in such fine company. So it’s not all bad.

      • You want “unfavorable comparisons with ‘Peanuts'”? Check out this strip from 2010:

        • There was a strip a couple of years earlier than that, when Les and Summer were “watching” A Charlie Brown Christmas by quoting the dialog back and forth. I agree with the above–someone who has no writing ability should not quote from those who do.

        • Banana Jr. 6000

          God, this pisses me off so much.

          For starters, that’s not even what happens in The Great Pumpkin. Linus thinks the Great Pumpkin passed him by because he wasn’t sincere enough, or because he revealed his wavering faith by saying “if” instead of “when.” And that’s not how Linus reacted, either. He realized his mistake, but he didn’t lose his faith. He re-girded his loins, so to speak.

          Which is problem #2 with this depiction. We like the Peanuts kids because they’re determined. They don’t give up easy. And they help each other through dark times, like when ol’ crabby Lucy brings her dumb little brother in from the cold pumpkin patch. Funky Winkerbean practically makes a virtue out of giving up. Precious Holy St. Lisa died because she gave up. Not once did anyone even suggest she should try something different, like Not Dying. Nor did the story ever show us why giving up on life because of a clerical error was the right thing to do. But it holds her up as some kind of standard that we all should admire.

          The Great Pumpkin story was never about happiness, anyway. It was about belief. It has been interpreted a lot of ways, but what Harry says doesn’t even fit into this appropriated context. Tom Batiuk doesn’t even understand what he’s ripping off. And it’s a story we all know!

          And what was the point of Harry’s remark? To tell us all how special Luigi’s Pizza of Akron, Ohio is! The shilling never ends.

          It’s also very thoughtful of Tom Batiuk not to include any nod to Peanuts whatsoever. There’s no “TM” or “used with permission” or “in memory of Sparky.” But he sure printed that “copyright Batom Inc.” in a large font, didn’t he? Because no one is allowed to use HIS characters. He’ll sue you for that. By the way, did Batiuk even do a Schulz tribute after he died, like almost every other comic strip did? I don’t remember one, and can’t find one online.

          Tom Batiuk is constantly sticking other people’s characters into his own crappy works, to give them credibility they haven’t earned. And to trick people into looking at them when there’s no reason to do so.

          God, what a nasty, talentless ripoff artist.

    • J.J. O'Malley

      Hey, Earth Wind & Fire did just fine for themselves musically without Water.

  2. Whenever the strip pivots to comic books, I feel the same way I did when I walked into a room and found the cat had left me a present.

    Just kind of tired and weary and not really mad, because the cat couldn’t help herself. I think Batiuk is at the same state: he just can’t help himself. By God, he’s going to have Stan Lee and Jack Kirby working on Batiuk’s terrible and pathetic ideas, because he’s the boss of this strip and he says so!

  3. William Thompson

    Mopey Pete: “And they will be commanded by the mysterious Quint Essens and his quick-witted aide Al K. Myst!”
    Dullard: “Not so fast! We’ve never written a quick-witted character before!”

  4. billytheskink

    I was trying to think of a snarky comment but to be honest, if I was asked to make Captain Planet as terrible as possible then these people are exactly who I would hire.

    • none

      And it’s completely absent of Heart, so he accidentally stumbled into some honestly for once here.

      Oh, I’m here and commenting. It needs to be asked by everyone who is laying eyes on this strip this week: Who gives a shit? Who, exactly, are the people who have any kind of emotional investment into these characters that make them believe that this week’s strips are something deemed worth reading? Anyone besides The Lord? Anyone?

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        And assuming anyone did give a shit about this, who would be impressed by it? The “elemental powers” bit is one of the most common ones out there. Even parodies of it are beaten to death by now. These people act like they just invented faster-than-light travel. Especially Phil Holt. I love his proud, defiant look, as if he’s silently saying “Yeah. We thought of that.”

  5. erdmann

    “Hold the phone… No, I mean literally, hold this phone up to your ear and listen. It’s the Disney legal department wanting to remind you of a little Marvel property they own called the Fantastic Four…”

  6. J.J. O'Malley

    Hoookay, time to flex my comic book nerd muscles. The idea of an “earth/wind/fire/water” elemental super-team is one that’s been around since the Silver Age, when the Man of Steel fought “The Element Enemies” in 1966’s Superman No. 190. The SuperFriends went up against a foursome known as the Elementals in a 1978 issue of their comic. John Byrne had the Fantastic Four battle a similar quartet in 1981’s F.F. No. 232, the first issue of his longtime stint as writer/artist. And, finally, there was Bill Willingham’s ’80s/’90s hero team The Elementals (Fathom, Monolith, Morningstar, and Vortex – guess what their powers were?), who were around for 12 years and were published by Comico, while Willingham owned the property rights before selling them off (sound familiar?). Maybe Darwin remembers them, and that’s why he’s saying “Hold the phone”?

    Leave it to Battyuk to come up with one of the most UNoriginal ways to handle this storyline.

    • Not to mention “Spider-Man: Far From Home” which was in theaters not long ago, and featured a quartet of elemental creatures….

      • William Thompson

        How many of these superhero movies have there been lately? I keep seeing ads for them and I do my best to ignore them. It’s like a real-life version of the Atomik Komix cast wanking about all their brilliant creations.

        • Mr. A

          The Marvel Cinematic Universe has released 25 films in the past 14 years, plus the various TV series. They’ve had two movies out already this year, with two more on the schedule for late fall/early winter. DC has put out 16 movies over the same period, though they weren’t all set in the same shared universe like the Marvel movies were.

          For a brief glance at the finances: Avengers: Endgame (2019) was the fifth-highest-grossing movie of all time after adjusting for inflation. The only films to top it are Gone with the Wind, Avatar, Titanic, and the original Star Wars.

          • Mr. A

            P.S. I forgot about the Sony Spider-Man movies and the Fox X-Men movies, which use Marvel characters but are not part of the MCU.

    • Anonymous Sparrow

      Superb flexing, Mr. O’Malley!

      The original Fantastic Four members are elementals in a way: Mr. Fantastic is water, the Invisible Girl (now Woman) is air, the Thing is earth and the Human Torch is fire.

      Crystal, who worked with the team (filling is for Sue Richards when she was on maternity leave), was a one-woman elemental. Indeed, she joins the team officially in a story called “Enter — the Exquisite Elemental!” (*Fantastic Four* #81, 1968)

      In honor of the late Charlie Watts, I rewrite the Rolling Stones’s “As Tears Go By”:

      “Doing things someone else already did/and did better/I sit and wait for the Pulitzer Committee to honor me as a true go-getter…”

    • Charles

      And to make it dumber, they’d be brought together simply because they match up with the four classic elements, rather than any story justification. It’d be literally as dumb as “hey, you’re earth-based and I’m fire-based! We should find water-based and air-based superheroes to finish our set!” It’d be arbitrary, with no natural connection between the characters whatsoever. Kind of like every single one of Batiuk’s romantic pairings, come to think of it.

      Besides, why would The Subterranean hang out with the Scorch and the two other dopes these geezers are no doubt going to create? If he’s some underground creature comprised of the rocks from the earth’s crust, wouldn’t air and water be his enemies? Have they never heard of erosion? How would they even have come across one another in the first place?

      Instead, Batiuk should populate The Subterranean Four with four troglodytic superheroes! There’s The Subterranean! Then there’s The White Velvet Worm! And let’s not forget The Olm Salamander (I know that’s redundant, but if it’s just The Olm, no one knows what the hell it is)! And to finish out the Four we have The Phantom Cave Snail!

      Couldn’t be any worse, really.

      I also like the artwork on the wall behind Darin. It just says “PU” and the font is too large to accommodate the names of any of the Atomik characters we already seen.

      PU, indeed.

  7. be ware of eve hill

    Wow! Phil Holt’s personality has completely changed. When the SDCC story arc started he could have bitten Flash’s kneecaps off. Now the guy is smiling in every panel. Kind of a creepy perma-grin. He’d have to have plastic surgery to remove that smile.

    Also, Phil hasn’t said anything yet, deferring to Flash. Is he unable to speak?

    The personality change? The ever-present grin? Is he aware of what’s going on? Is he stoned? Better living through pharmaceuticals? Phil looks all kinds of mellow.

    • Charles

      Also, Phil hasn’t said anything yet, deferring to Flash.

      It is pretty amazing considering that it’s his creation, and he’s invited Flash to help him with it. Reading Flash’s lines the last two days suggest that he’s really horning in on Phil’s thing. The insistence that they’re working on it together reads very differently when it’s Phil saying it versus Flash saying it. At this rate, by the end of the week The Subterranean will belong to Flash, and Phil will just be some vestigial appendage.

      Kind of like Ruby.

  8. ComicBookHarriet

    Are we sure that Frankie is Durren’s bio dad? He’s looking more and more like Flash Freeman every week.

  9. Hitorque

    Did I miss something?? Freeman and Holt don’t even work for this shitty amateur hour operation, and in the weeks that passed they almost certainly sold this comic property to one of the major publishers for zillions of dollars… WHAT THE FUCK ARE THEY EVEN DOING IN THAT OFFICE BESIDES GIVING AWAY THEIR IDEAS?? WHY DON’T THEY FOCUS ON GETTING THE FIRST COUPLE OF ISSUES OUT BEFORE EXPANDING THEIR CANON UNIVERSE??

    And forgive me for saying, but should the Sub-whatever really be some multi-year project with an expanded universe? I don’t know comics, but I’d have thought this comic would have at most been like a 12-16 issue run? What’s the point of doing this if one or both of the creators croak before it’s finished?

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Atomik Komix really only makes sense if they’re a mockbuster company. They’re like that Brazilian animation studio that makes cheap CGI knock-off movies with titles like “Infant Supervisor 2”, starring one of the other Baldwins.

      Everything AK does is derivative, unimaginative, and completely disinterested in story. Every discussion these idiots have boils down to “how can we rip off THIS franchise?” Their sloppiness and laziness also fits in. And their endless parade of #1 editions and crossovers overhypes itself, like they’re trying to create collectible versions of things. Which would work about as well as it did for baseball card manufacturers in the 1990s.

      • Rusty Shackleford

        So it’s a perfect representation of what a comic book company run by Batty would be like.

        • Banana Jr. 6000

          Yeah, it really is. And it would fail so fast it would be a hilarious case study for college business classes.

      • Mr. A

        Well said. If Funky Winkerbean was set in a universe where Marvel and DC didn’t exist, or weren’t popular, it would make sense for Atomik to publish characters like Miss American (Captain America/Wonder Woman knock-off) or The Scorch (Human Torch knock-off) or The Subterranean (Hulk/Thing knock-off). Instead, Batiuk has created a world where there is somehow room in the public consciousness for both name-brand and store-brand superheroes.

        • the manwich horror

          Well, since the Flash is apparently a real person in the Winkerverse, who even knows what DC and Marvel are actually publishing,

  10. Mr. A

    Let me make my prediction for what the rest of the week will bring. Darin will complain that he hates the concept of crossovers, in the same way that Pete protested against the idea of kid sidekicks when Chester and Mindy invented Charger Chimp. But he will come around by the end of the week, because Batiuk thinks crossovers are cool, and his characters are not allowed to hate the things he likes (unless they are evil).

  11. Nana Mascara

    Hoooo boy! Sounds like this idea is… STUPID.

  12. William Thompson

    When he was a boy, and couldn’t find a rerun of “The Underground Empire” on TV, did Batiuk watch those old biographical movies about famous writers? “The Life of Emile Zola,” “The Adventures of Mark Twain,” “Jack London”? The kind of movie where you don’t get many details about their fictional stories, but you see all the things that happened when they weren’t writing? Because this strip has the same feel as those movies, It’s as if Batiuk thinks that telling us about the characters’ lives will make us want to look at their endless creations.

    • Anonymous Sparrow

      While Murania is underground, the empire is actually “Phantom.”

      A late 1970s TV series called “Cliffhangers” had a segment called “The Secret Empire.”

      • William Thompson

        “Phantom Empire,” thanks. When I was a boy and watched every sci-fi/horror movie that turned up on TV, that was one of the very few films I couldn’t watch for more than a minute. The dumbness! It burned! (I would have changed the channel after less than a minute, but remote controls weren’t around then.)

  13. Gerard Plourde

    “So it’s a perfect representation of what a comic book company run by Batty would be like.”

    All of the current storylines appear to be wish-fulfillment on some form or other, but the Atomik Comix arcs most of all.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      It’s not just Tom Batiuk’s fantasy of what he wants to do, but how he demands it be done. He dreams of sitting around all day in his tired-ass bullpen, making up new characters and screwing around all day, just like Atomik Komix does. If Batiuk really did get hired by Marvel or DC and had to do the work they do every day, and answer to the people they have to answer to, he’d be disgusted.

      No one is allowed to work remotely, not even during COVID. Not even when their latest hire is a 90-year-old with a house in southern California. And that person is modeled after an industry heavyweight who would demand concessions, not give them. To say nothing of the obscene compensation Stan Lee or Jack Kirby would command, and the other companies that would want to sign them. In Tom Batiuk’s juvenile dream world, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby can’t drop everything they’re doing and move to Akron fast enough.

      And as I often point out, this company has no managers, no editors, no supervisors, no sales, no logistics, no human resources, no receptionist, nothing. Not even a profit motive. Just “creative” people, and one rich guy who pays for everything because he just loves comic books so much. From all his money he earned stealing comic books.

      It’s like a 9-year-old writes this stuff. The endless comic book wanking is bad enough, but it must always be rammed into this narrow-minded, self-serving fantasy. It’s worse than 9 Chickweed Lane in that regard.

      • William Thompson

        Batiuk’s idea is that “This is how it should be for the true creative geniuses of the industry. No demands on them, no meaningful deadlines, and a boss who feels nothing but mindless enthusiasm for whatever they do. Plus industry awards! And nobody on the staff has any serious conflicts with a co-worker, because geniuses always agree with one another!”

  14. batgirl

    I am eagerly awaiting the Phil Holt blowup that his rageface on the masthead is promising.

  15. be ware of eve hill

    Minduh’s appearance today is somewhat chimp-like. If she’s given anything to say this week, I’d imagine it to be something in the form of hoots, pants and grunts.

    Minduh want a banana?

  16. Sourbelly

    These strips would be an ideal vehicle for Batdick if he had great ideas for comic books but didn’t feel like actually creating them. But his ideas are forced and shitty. Why does he even bother with this tripe? Surely he can’t find it rewarding in any way, right?

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Today’s Funkyblog entry, about an unremarkable crossover, says “The twelve-year-old in me was, of course, thrilled.” That’s the title of an Act III Funky Winkerbean collection if ever I heard one.