With Fans Like This, Who Needs Haters?

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?


It’s all winners on The Price Is Right today!

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.

Again: why?

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.



Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

36 responses to “With Fans Like This, Who Needs Haters?

  1. J.J. O'Malley

    Next week, Phil regales Kitch with his stories about how he once said to Walt Kelly “We have met the enemy and he is us!,” how “Sparky Schulz stole his idea for a dog sleeping on top of his doghouse, and how he gave a neighbor boy named Billy Waterson a stuffed tiger to play with.

    Seriously, this is just sad and petty.

  2. KMD

    Most of TB’s recent work is annoying and idiotic but, generally, harmless. This is a shameful attack on the character of a dead man. At the very least TB owes Mr. Foster’s family an apology. I have lost a lot of respect for TB as a storyteller over the years but generally not as a man today.We owe the dead more than we owe the living.

  3. I’m a winner? I sure don’t FEEL like a winner.

    So after getting the bum’s rush, Philled Hole stands awkwardly in the office until Hal Foster fishes his crappy drawing from the garbage can? Why? Why should we believe that he actually witnessed this?

    But, given that Kitsch Swoon believed the Excalibur bullshit Philled slung at her earlier this week, I guess we should assume that she’ll believe this nonsense as well. So she’s a dolt and Philled is a whiny, lying sack of crap. Duly noted. Can we move on, please?

  4. William Thompson

    What if Kitsch Swoon launches a crusade to right this ancient wrong? This arc could drag out until Hal Foster’s estate slaps Batiuk with a restraining order.

  5. ComicBookHarriet

    Yeah. That isn’t the sort of grossly illegal and stupid thing that no one would do to simply meet a deadline.

    Also, for his work to be used, it would have had to fit in with whatever the current PV storyline was. That would make sense for a strip done as INVITED audition, not an unsolicited sample.

    Like BJ6K said, there would be a couple ways to do this right. Like if Mr. Foster fishes the art out of the bin just to give it a closer look, because it shows some promise. The sample is then used and printed with Phil’s permission, and he’s now wistful about not having gotten the full time job, but treasures the one Prince Valliant strip he got published, and the fact that Mr. Foster thought it deserved a second look.

    That’s a human emotion we can understand, getting 15 seconds of your lifelong dream, or making a tiny mark on the history of something you respect.

    There’s usually a germ of something workable at the center of the what ever the current plot is. Batiuk just wraps it up in so much poorly thought out bullshit.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      But the story never tells us any of this. We have no idea why Phil is so invested in Prince Valiant, or the meta-story of why the real people who worked on the strip are being treated with so much contempt.

  6. billytheskink

    Is the last panel supposed to be a punch line? It’s Phil admitting that it took him a month to do what the job required him to do in a week, something we all remarked on with appropriate disdain days ago. And it slags Foster even further to say that he was so lazy he used work that was not only fished out of the trash but also work that was done by someone who is openly (if inadvertently) admitting they aren’t remotely qualified to take on his role.

  7. Epicus Doomus

    Ponder this: he says that Hal Foster “found a way” to use his sample page in his strip. So was plucking it out of the trash the “way”, or is there more to the story? I think we all know the answer to that question.

    So yeah, implying that this Hal Foster guy was a sketchy intellectual property thief seems a little harsh and out of character for ol’ BatYam, thus this must be one he takes especially personally. And it’d definitely be in character if he had some sort of passionate obsession with the circumstances surrounding the “Prince Valiant” comic strip, because of course he would. And we’re all familiar with his litany of gripes regarding “the business”, so there’s that, too.

    If he wants to tell the story of “Prince Valiant” so badly, why not just have a character like Phil or Flash say “hey, did you ever hear the story about ol’ Hal Foster and Prince Valiant?”. Then just tell the story. I hate how he crams these various passion projects into the convoluted lives of his dumb characters like this. All of this nonsense with Kitch Swoon and Phil’s studio is completely unnecessary. Just tell the stupid goddamned story.

    • Tom from Finland

      You make a good point. Could it be that Tom thinks that the wrong person was selected to continue Hal’s work and maybe, in Tom’s opinion, for “nonartistic” reasons and Tom is eternally bitter for that.
      “Forgetting” the name of the person that was actually selected for the job and questioning Hal Foster’s artistic integrity would point to that conclusion.

      • William Thompson

        That would fit with Batiuk’s overblown hatred of the old Batman TV show. Maybe he thinks overreaction proves that he’s an esthete, or something equally pretentious.

  8. Gerard Plourde

    I never expected a Funky Winkerbean strip to accuse a dead famous cartoonist of plagiarism. While it’s probably true that Hal Foster’s estate can’t sue for defamation, I think it’s possible that if TomBa’s use of an actual Prince Valiant strip was unauthorized, the use might be actionable on copyright infringement grounds.

  9. Andrew

    The fact that the art house lady’s response to this story of alleged art thievery is a “trademark” Funky smirk of “ah geeze, well that’s life! *canned laughter*” seems like it says a lot about this strip’s 1/8th of an inch away from reality. People get screwed, drivers that cause an accident drive off never to be seen again, a millionaire buys up all the vintage comics for himself every time there’s a sale, and people drop a bad pun every other strip, and that’s just the wacky norm of this comic strip and you supposedly can’t help but chuckle at the way things turn out.

    Also people could teleport in the 70s but we only mention it in nostaligc flashback sequences.

  10. William Thompson

    Does Phil Dolt have any credible evidence that he drew the strip in question? So far all we have is his spoken word, which is worth its weight in gold. (It would be a laugh riot if it turns out the strip was a repeat, originally published several years earlier, and Dolt unconsciously duplicated it.)

  11. be ware of eve hill

    Uh-huh, sure Phil. Anything you say. 🙄

    Hey, Kitch. From now on, I suggest you disbelieve half of what Phil tells you…
    and then throw out the other half.

  12. Y. Knott

    Contemptible. Utterly contemptible.

    Sure, Funky Winkerbean is usually meritless, but “contempt” would normally be the wrong emotion to feel when faced with an example of the strip. Pity? Yes, perhaps for the artist inexplicably forced to illustrate the terrible ‘writing’ — sure, I can see that. Disdain for the finished product? Fine, that seems appropriate. And yes, we can hold the syndicate in a certain amount of contempt for allowing the long-dead zombified corpse of a third-tier strip to continue shambling through the comic pages unchecked. But contempt for Batiuk and his creation? I dunno. I mostly just feel sorry for the guy … a guy who is clearly way past his prime, but apparently desperate to hang on to whatever extremely faint echoes of the tiny murmurs of almost pitifully minor (and long-ended) quasi-acclaim were still there to be heard.

    But today? No. Not pity, not disdain — contempt. Today’s installment of Funky Winkerbean is an absolutely needless swipe at a real human being, using a fictional context to besmirch the artistic and creative integrity of someone who is unable to respond. AND WITH ABSOLUTELY NO PROOF HE EVER DID ANYTHING EVEN REMOTELY LIKE WHAT HE’S BEING ACCUSED OF.

    If Tom Batiuk is still at Comic-Con, and anyone reading this around is there to ask him a question? Please ask him if he has any inkling of the concept of “shame”.

    • Green Luthor

      “If it were in my power to forgive you for your reckless cruelty I would do so. I like to think that I am a gentle man, but your forgiveness will have to come from someone other than me. Let us not assassinate Hal Foster further, Batiuk. You have done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?”

      • J.J. O'Malley

        I get the reference! It’s from the Charlie McCarthy hearings, right?

        • Y. Knott

          A McCarthy who was a blockhead, at any rate!

          • Anonymous Sparrow

            A point of order from the old funky felt tip to Joseph Welch, who played the judge in “Anatomy of a Murder” and who, unlike a certain Ed, hated to garden.

  13. Jeff M

    This is just disgusting. Disgusting. I’d like to see the ghost of Hal Foster light a “match to flame” on your ass, pal, as in, engulfing your buttocks in a raging inferno (and I don’t mean the kind one’s ass gets after eating at Montoni’s.)

  14. ian'sdrunkenbeard

    Thank you to the Funkster who recommended “The Greasers of Hazzick Flats”. There are over 3,000 strips dating back to 2010. I started at the beginning and devoured every one. I love the artist’s style, which sometimes reminds me of something a very talented sixth grader would draw. The characters are all very distinct (unlike some professional comics) and family resemblances are strong. There are times when it becomes a Chick tract, and other times that are quite sleazy. What a crazy trip, with so many characters to loathe!

    • Looks like an interesting comic, but the cartoonist needs to hire an inker…I can hardly read the damn thing.

      • ian'sdrunkenbeard

        The strip looks like the artist uses a #2 pencil. Even the frames (panels?) are hand drawn, which adds to its charm. There were a few that were drawn in ink (probably a Bic), and a few that were colored in (probably with Venus pencils), but they just weren’t the same.
        I always open the link in a new tab and it can be magnified further to appreciate the shading.

  15. Tom from Finland

    Here is my interpretation of the storyline:
    The sword in the table strip establishes that Phil is a liar and Kitch is gullible.
    July 20 strip establishes that Phil is also either a master procrastinator or slow.
    So, Phil really had a “try out” for the Prince valiant. He wasn’t able to finish anything in a month and finally decided to just trace through an old Prince Valiant strip (that’s how his sample strip looks like).
    When he submitted that, the secretary decided to save him from embarrassment and threw his “art” to trashcan, but Mr. Foster noticed it there. His next line would have been: “You mean Phil Dolt submitted this crap? Oh my God.”
    Now Phil is trying to convince Kitch, that it was Hal who stole his art not the other way around.
    Tomorrows dialogue:
    Kitch: “But isn’t the publication date before you submitted your “art”?”
    Phil: “Sssh… Don’t bother your female brain with that. It’s just due to how the comics publishing works”

    (Note to Tom: You can quote me when you are sued for libel by Hal’s estate)

  16. bad wolf

    I’m wondering how self-aware TB is in this, because this is exactly what we say he does on the sideways Sunday Strips. Is he leading to an explanation of why using borrowed artwork to pad out your schedule is the right thing to do, or is he completely unaware of how this sounds? A “tip of the funky felt-tip” isn’t much better than a straight-out swipe.

    • Rusty Shackleford

      Good point. Batty sure has a lot of gripes. Too bad he cannot put them aside and focus on writing a quality strip.

      I seem to recall Watterson talking about how the artwork in PV motivated and inspired him to create better art and that he wanted to convey that in Calvin and Hobbes. His collections contain no long winded diatribes but instead featured extra artwork. I get the feeling that Batty doesn’t think he needs or can learn from anyone else.

  17. robertodobbs

    Phil has a disturbing guinea pig/rat/rodent face in the last panel.

  18. Green Luthor

    Wait, wait, wait. This tangent started when WhatsHerName found Dead Phil’s sample page in his files. So… how did he GET that page? Are we to believe that, after Hal Foster dug his page out of the trash and then stole it for publication, he then GAVE IT BACK? Gave back something that proved his own perfidy? Willingly handed Dead Phil what would be Exhibit A in his subsequent lawsuit, rather than burn it so no proof of wrongdoing would exist?

    When Crazy Harry time travelled to 1980, there were posters here theorizing that the blatant anachronisms (a comic from 1962 on the spinner rack, a video game from 1981) were intentional hints from Batiuk that it was all a dream. Of course, while that would have made perfect sense, it was apparently too clever to actually be what Batiuk ended up doing. I’m getting the same feeling about the theories that this is all Dead Phil making up this story: it makes perfect sense, and fixes the massive logic problems (and flagrant defamation); therefore, it could never be what’s actually going to happen.

    • Smirks 'R Us

      BatHack (engaging Green Luthor in conversation): What you say makes perfect sense, but here’s where the story gets good. See, Hal felt guilty for stealing Dolt’s work and when Phil died he showed up to the wake and slipped the page in the casket, whispering “this will be just between you and me, Phil old boy”. Then, Phil comes back to life but not before exchanging a knowing glance with Ghost Lisa. How? I won’t bore you with the details but it sure happened.

      Fast forward several years and Kitsch comes over for Roy Lichten-somebody prints and…yadda, yadda, yadda…smirk.

  19. Hitorque

    Everything today is dumb and I’ll have nothing to do with it, thank you….

  20. batgirl

    Not that it makes anything more plausible, but perhaps Batton Thomas’s presence means that he’s supposed to be the witness, rather than Phil standing around long enough to see Foster arrive and find the artwork?
    Also, what happened to the portfolio or envelope the page would have been in? Also also, what was in the narration boxes? Wouldn’t it have been lorem ipsum for a sample art piece, and thus wouldn’t have been much help to someone who wrote long and rather involved stories?

  21. Jeff M.

    If someone has posted this in the last few days, I apologize, but if not, the 2022 Comic-Con souvenir book is online (link below.) I found it genuinely sad. First, because the articles are, in order, “Charles Schulz Centenary!” “Stan Lee Centenary!” “William M. Gaines Centenary!” “60 Years of Spiderman”! Something about “Swamp Thing”! And then…our Funky.

    Even sadder is the piece itself, which….it’s all just stuff pulled from the official website. (I don’t mean that as a slight on the author; I don’t know the circumstances behind its writing.) But still… I know I posted angrily above, but… take a look and see what you think. https://comic-con.b-cdn.net/CCI22_SouvenirBook_Web.pdf

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Batiuk wrote every word of that himself. Just he like he wrote every word of every other Funky Winkerbean puff piece. Blah blah Putlizer nomination blah blah Phantom Empire blah blah comic books blah blah Dinkle. And things nobody else would say like “Among his strategies has been a Funky Winkerbean website.” Wow, in 2022?

  22. Hannibal’s Lectern

    To bring this “story” to its proper conclusion, Hal Foster will receive a Major Award for the strip drawn by Phil O’Dendron.