Fair Flashfield

The day of the big gallery opening has come at last. On the walls of the Dibbs Gallery are famous Phil’s Batom covers: Charlie & Chuck, the Cockroach, Starbuck Jones, and, of course, the Amazing Mr. Sponge. If they look familiar, it’s because these are the artworks which Phil Holt inexplicably bequeathed to Boy Lisa, who decided they should be auctioned off  to benefit Lisa’s Legacy, and which were bought, every last one, by Hagglemore, who happens to be Phil and Flash’s employer. There! I’ve explained how Phil’s sold-off covers are still available for this gallery show.

Now: can anyone explain how, after Batiuk has spent 8 years establishing his canon, Flash Freeman’s is now Flash Fairfield?

Comic Book Harriet commented the other day about Batiuk “[giving] Flash and Phil the same backstory as Darin and Pete.” Maybe by bestowing on him an alternate last name, Batiuk’s just giving Flash one more thing in common with Pete Roberts Reynolds.



Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

34 responses to “Fair Flashfield

  1. Epicus Doomus

    It’s like he only knows one story and just keeps re-telling it. “Flash Fairfield”…LOL, get the f*ck out of here, Tom. Is this deliberate or did he just forget that Flash already had a last name? And yeah, this is the second time he’s changed a comic book writer’s last name, which makes it almost uncomfortably bizarre, as who else would do it even once?

  2. William Thompson

    Maybe the real name change should be to make this the Dabs Gallery, because somebody was obviously smoking some wacky weed here.

  3. The name change is so that Flash can take his place in the pantheon, alongside Pete Reynold/Roberts/Radish/Rubbish.

  4. billytheskink

    Something about writing comic books makes you get a name change in this strip, it seems. That or… are Les and Funky sure Mary Sue Sweatwater‘s name didn’t actually change to that?

  5. J.J. O'Malley

    I’m sitting in a room loaded with comic book reprints, with comic book action figures on the shelves, and with the original art for two comic book covers on the walls, and yet until this moment I was never sick of comic books. Thank you, Tom Banacek.

  6. Hitorque

    Flash Fairfield?

    Batiuk is just fucking with us now….

    • Rusty Shackleford

      Nah, I attribute this to mere stupidity and carelessness.

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        As sloppy as Batiuk is, this error is way too conspicuous for that. How did he forget the name of his main comic book artist character, when comic book art is the only thing the strip is about anymore? Flash and Phil are practically the main characters at this point. Batiuk wrote a complete backstory about them, which he also ignored in other ways.

        • be ware of eve hill

          The theories for the “Fairfield” boo boo abound!

          Oddly, the naming error occurred within the artwork rather than an error inside a word balloon.

          First, Chuck’s last name was misspelled a few days ago in the signature. Now, Flash’s last name has been subtlety changed. Is Chuck messing with Batty on purpose? Is he checking to see if Batty is paying attention?

          If the error was Batty’s, why would Chuck let it slide?
          Batty: Chuck, I messed up Flash’s last name. Why didn’t you tell me?
          Chuck: Hey, Tom, I just perform the work I’m paid to do. The name you gave me was “Fairfield.” You’re responsible for editing your own work.

          Alternative answer:
          Chuck: Ha! You don’t think I actually read this crap, do you?

          If the error was Batty’s, why would his alleged editor, Tea Berry-Blue, let it slide?

          Batty: I messed up Flash’s last name. Why didn’t you tell me?
          Tea Berry-Blue: Sweetie, you’re a comic strip legend. Who am I to correct you? You’re responsible for editing your own work. My job is to make sure the syndicate has a strip to put out. Mission accomplished. Keep up the good work. Too-da-loo. My social media accounts await.

          Alternative answer:
          Tea Berry-Blue: Ha! You don’t think I actually read this crap, do you?

          If the error was Batty’s, why would King Features Syndicate let it slide?

          King Features Syndicate: Your call is very important to us. Please hold.

  7. erdmann

    Why didn’t Kitch just contact Chester (who has been absent from the entire story) to arrange a showing of the covers HE owns? Why was any of the nonsense depicted in the strip during the past three weeks necessary? Gah. Some days this comic makes my brain hurt.

  8. Andrew

    Why are we at a gallery opening, I thought this story was about the lady wanting to buy new prints to sell at the store?

  9. be ware of eve hill

    Phil Holt: No, you stupid @#*%! Get your $#@& together! I said Flash was a “EUNUCH.” #@$& you, Flash!

    Can I start calling him Phil HUNT?

    • be ware of eve hill

      My mom’s favorite network newscaster was Lester Holt but she always referred to him as Lester Hunt. I must have corrected her a dozen times.

    • William Thompson

      I’m waiting for his sex-change surgery, when we get to call him Phyllis Steen.

  10. One wonders why Ayers or no one at the syndicate pointed this out. I suppose it’s because no one cares.

    If questioned, Batiuk would no doubt say that his real name is Fairfield, he used Freeman as a pseudonym because it sounded more exciting.

    But that’s stupid. The public name is the one everyone knows and would respond to. “False Fairfield? Never heard of him. Let’s go to the Monet exhibit instead.”

    It would be like titling a biography, “Stanley Martin Leiber, A Life.” Or “The Art of Jacob Kurtzberg.” “The Films of Archie Leach,” “The Music of Robert Zimmerman,” etc etc.

    More sad evidence of Batiuk’s decline.

    • erdmann

      This whole story arc has been evidence of that. Besides getting Flash Freeman’s name wrong, he screwed up Gray Morrow’s name, needlessly dumped on Hal Foster’s reputation and seemed to forget several points of his own continuity.

      And speaking of getting things wrong, I only just noticed the “Amazing Mr. Sponge” cover is credited to “Frenz & Buscema after Kane.” The cover of “Batman” #156 (June 1963) was the work of Sheldon Moldoff and Charles Paris, not Bob Kane, although from everything I’ve ever heard about him, Kane would’ve happily taken the credit. No disrespect to Ron Frenz and Sal Buscema, though. Quality artists, both of them.

    • Y. Knott

      Well, “Ayres” can’t even seem to get his OWN name right … but yeah, no one at the syndicate is bothering to read this crap either.

      Further proof that there is no easier paycheque to collect on the face of the earth than that of being a King Features comic strip “editor”. You could be clinically dead and do the job.

    • Anonymous Sparrow

      See the case of Marvel’s Hulk, who began as Bruce Banner…and then became Robert Bruce Banner, when caption boxes in *Fantastic Four* #25 kept calling his alter ego “Bob Banner.”

      Not that you can always do that. In *Sgt. Fury* #11, we had a story called “The Crackdown of Captain Flint.” The precursor to the “Mighty Marvel Checklist” promised “The Crackdown of Captain Storm.” When called on that, Marvel didn’t say that his real name was Captain Flint Storm.

      Fiorello La Guardia was a great mayor because when he made a mistake, he could admit that it was a beaut.

      (La Guardia read the comics over the radio during a 1945 newspaper delivery strike. I’m going to try to imagine what he would have made of *Funky Winkerbean.* Something similar Desi Arnaz reading “Jabberwocky” on “Saturday Night Live,” most likely.)

      • Anonymous Sparrow


        The final sentence should read

        “Something similar to Desi Arnaz reading ‘Jabberwocky’ on ‘Saturday Night Live,’ most likely.”

  11. Banana Jr. 6000

    I have so many questions.

    How the hell did Flash’s comic book art get into the gallery without Flash knowing about it? This comic strip has spent weeks giving these people ownership of their own art. And a gallery showing would have to be promoted in advance. This would be like setting up a surprise birthday party.

    Are these the “Roy Lichtenstein prints” Kitch initially set out to get? Does Tom Batiuk think “Roy Lichtenstein prints” is just “comic book art on a wall in a gallery” with no regard to who made it? Does he not know Lichtenstein wasn’t a comic book publisher, but an artist working in that style?

    Who the hell would go to this exhibition? Both these men now live in this town, and have spent a lifetime putting out the comic book equivalent of shovelware. This stuff would about as rare and interesting as junk mail.

    And now Flash forgets what his last name is? Or changes it again?

    What the hell happened in Westview? The longer this comic strip goes on, the more I think it’s some kind of Eldritch Location. It’s like a nuclear accident, a doomsday cult, a comic book factory leaking toxic ink into the water supply, and the Lovecraftian god of tedium all crashed into each other. Westview is like a whole town full of Rain Man. Just replace Judge Wapner with comic books, and remove anyone functional enough to point out how strange this all is.

    • I find the first thing baffling as well. How is it that someone gets a gallery showing, and only finds out about it the day it opens? Wouldn’t you want to coordinate with him, find out what he’d like showcased, see if he has any hidden treasures that would make the show interesting, etc?

      No. This is Funky Winkerbean, where everything is slapdash and last minute, but is nonetheless awesome. In other words, stupid beyond belief.

      And as for Ayers not pointing anything out, I have this mental image of him being told, “You’re being paid to draw, not to write. Go back to drawing if you want to keep being paid.”

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        Funky WInkerbean doesn’t do “interesting.” Look at the exhibit itself. It’s nothing but comic book covers. Comic book covers everybody in this town would have seen a dozen times already. How much autism do these people have?

        I don’t mean to keep beating the autism drum, but I just don’t have any other explanation for what Funky WInkerbean has become.

        • William Thompson

          Check out senile dementia, like Alzheimer’s. With my parents the mistakes and memory lapses kept getting bigger, and their mental horizons kept getting more limited.

          • Y. Knott

            I’ve argued this as well, although not everyone agrees with my conclusions. However, I think we all can agree that the product we see being churned out every day invites — hell, practically demands — questions about the state of Batiuk’s ongoing mental and/or emotional health.

    • Maxine of Arc

      You think, given his absolute disregard for how movies are made, how disasters are fought, and how comic books are published, he’s suddenly going to decide to exhibit some verisimilitude when it comes to art galleries?

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        I suppose that is naive of me. I guess I’m still expecting him to show some interest in the one topic he talks about more than everything else in the world combined. He created an entire fictional world around his comic book publishing fantasies, and he can’t even be bothered to adhere to it. It has the same narrative sloppiness as everything else Batiuk does.

  12. Smirks’R Us

    pretty sure Phil Dolt meant something different when he called Flash “a unit”.

  13. batgirl

    I know that “bringing up continuity for this strip” might as well replace “banging your head against a wall” as a metaphor, but … I thought Flash F— was the writer/editor and Phil H— was the artist. These covers are supposedly Phil’s originals (that he somehow retained, though that wasn’t at all usual) and Flash’s contribution would have only been in direction to Phil.

    This is a complete turnaround for someone famous for his possessiveness about artistic control. One trip down Nostalgia Lane and he’s positively leaking goodwill and generosity.

    It also seems like a weirdly backhanded message to TB’s various artists on how they should regard their relationship to him.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      And last week he was all “oh, Prince Valiant totally used my art without permission” and happy as a clam about it.

      Nothing matters in this universe, but nothing is irrelevant either. Any character detail or plot point, no matter how large or small, can be retconned or become relevant to the narrative at any time.

  14. Gerard Plourde

    To build on what’s been said by commenters already. It’s astounding that the train wreck which comprises the last two weeks’ submission (it lacks any semblance of being a story) was previewed over a year ago. TomBa’s blog entry about the Palm Restaurant in New York (which showed up as backgound in exactly one strip) was posted June 22, 2021.

    If cognitive decline isn’t the reason for this mess, I can only guess that TomBa has realized that King Features has no quality control (read functioning editors) and money to burn.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      And the Palm Restaurant only appeared once, in a dream sequence. I thought for sure the story would spend a month there, so Les or Atomik Komix could sign a new publishing contract. I guess it’s good that we avoided Lisa’s Story 3, but is this any better?

  15. Eldon of Galt

    To: TFHACKETT. I admire how you made the effort to alter all the facial expressions in today’s doctored strip. Great work.