There will be an insinuation that Phil Dolt’s work was somehow ripped off and he never received credit… it’s one more tragic example of how Big Comic Book crushes the little creators!William Thompson (over a week ago)
Whatever reason Batiuk presents at this point in the story to explain WHY [Phil] didn’t get the job will probably be as ridiculous as the Crankshaft arc when… the illiterate Cranky[‘s] name wasn’t on the line-up card, and no manager or coach noticed the difference.J.J. O’Malley
So Hal Foster is going to garbage-pick Phil’s garbage-worthy cover and rip off the eternally aggrieved Phil?Sourbelly
As was widely predicted, Hal Foster printed Phil’s submission in Prince Valiant, without Phil’s consent, after fishing it out of the trash. I’m honestly shocked at this.
In reality, Hal Foster gave three different artists a tryout, and their artwork appeared in Prince Valiant. Phil even name-dropped them. How could Foster have been behind on his deadline schedule when he already had extra artists on staff, who were already producing Prince Valiant strips?
And why couldn’t Phil have been another one of these? It would have achieved the same ending: Phil gets his art into Prince Valiant, but he doesn’t get the job permanently. It matches reality, makes Phil much less of a liar, and doesn’t demean anybody. But demeaning its characters is a long-running theme in Funky Winkerbean.
Hal Foster was a real person, though. He has now been depicted as digging through trash, being unable to meet deadlines, and appropriating others artists’ work without permission. That’s not very flattering.
If I seem overly sensitive to this, it’s because my undergraduate degree was in journalism. Libel was something we had to be aware of at all times. Creators of fiction have been sued over characters who too closely resembled real people. This story implicates Hal Foster in a misdeed, and none of the common defenses (truth, fair use, satire, protected speech, making the fictional character different from the real person) would be applicable. Batiuk’s off the hook, though, because dead people generally cannot be defamed. Ohio state law explicitly says this.
It’s the hypocrisy of it that I can’t stand. If Funky Winkerbean is going to turn real human beings into dishonest villains, then Funky Winkerbean needs to shut its piehole about “protecting Lisa.”
This comic strip spent months following Les Moore around Hollywood, expecting readers to be invested in his quest to defend the honor of a deceased fictional character. Which wasn’t even being threatened 99% of the time. But it has no problem impugning real deceased people? Real people Tom Batiuk says he admired?
And how did Phil manage to draw a work sample that was exactly what Prince Valiant needed for a forthcoming strip? The Cullen Murphy interview I linked yesterday explained how Prince Valiant had a lot of effort and planning put into it, by multiple writers and artists. This plot development requires Prince Valiant to be as lazy and sloppy as Funky Winkerbean is.
Even in the fictional version of the story, there’s no reason to impugn Foster. Phil could have recognized his own artwork in the paper, but he wouldn’t know why it was there. But he’s claiming to know Foster’s publishing schedule and motivation. In the same breath, he admits he doesn’t know what happened, by saying Foster “found a way” to re-use the strip.