Tears of a Darling

Link to today’s strip

I guess Jessica and her mom just both simultaneously discovered John Darling was being aired again, without either one of them mentioning it to the other (except for Jessica, right now). As much as I hate Batiuk’s writing when he’s putting his characters through melodrama and misery, I think he’s even worse when he’s going for “touching”/”poignant”. It’s been years since Jessica’s mom was shown in this strip, so just cutting to her silently tearing up is cheap and not really earned, in my opinion. And honestly I feel like the average newspaper reader has no clue about the background here.
I feel like we’re going to be seeing the phrase “‘John Darling’ show” a ton during this arc. After reading “Jessica’s father, John Darling, who was murdered” so many times, I really wonder why the John Darling strips have to have such repetitive dialogue.


Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

29 responses to “Tears of a Darling

  1. Banana Jr. 6000

    You’ve heard of Garfield minus Garfield? This is Lisa’s Story Minus Lisa.

  2. “Cheap and not really earned.”

    -Funky Winkerbean, the Latter Years

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      And gotten to in the fastest, laziest way possible. Just put in the tape of the dead person and cue the waterworks.

  3. William Thompson

    Is Batiuk going to retcon John Darling’s murder? Will we have to start calling him “Her father who was abducted by Crazy Harry with the time helmet” or “John Darling who hid in Montoni’s basement after Plantman murdered the Darling-clone produced by Kablichnik in the Westview High sciencey classroom” or “John Darling from the Bizarro-Westview dimension?”

    • ComicTrek

      Oh please, no! Not another John Darling related retcon! I’m still not over that horrible “Barbie” stuff!

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        Wait until you see today’s Crankshaft. A perfectly healthy Ed Crankshaft tells Mason and Cindy that the strip club has been closed for about a year because it “didn’t take off.” But it still has all the Valentine signs on it. I guess the strip club could have kept the name Valentine, since it’s not inappropriate. But there’s no evidence anything else ever existed in the location.

        • Dood

          That first panel: You can tell by the way Crank uses his walk he’s a real asshole, no time to talk …

        • Banana Jr. 6000

          A Comics Curmudgeon poster raised another good point: Mason and Cindy didn’t even know each other until 2015. So they can’t exist as a married couple in ten-years-ago Centerville.

          • Andrew

            At this point Tom might’ve just given up on the time difference between the two strips, or at least keeping Crankshaft consistent with FW. Aside from their current story and the John Darling reruns we’re seeing here being set up by “current” events within Crankshaft’s pages, both strips treated the COVID pandemic as happening around the exact same time, and within Crankshaft, Jeff just straight up has a rock from Phantom Empire’s location filming that FW explicably shows him being given when he’s an older man. It’s arguably a parallel universe now, he just doesn’t care anymore since it’s mainly his more “””comedic””” comic compared to his “””””flagship””””” primary series.

        • The Duck of Death

          It’s interesting that the owners of the Valentine would rather let the theater sit empty, rotting, than run the All-Phantom Empire, All-the-Time programming that Max & Hannah had. Even though I’m sure Phantom Empire is out of copyright and free.

          My headcanon: The Valentine Strip Club couldn’t survive because Crankshaft, their best customer, kept tipping the girls with used, stanky sweatsocks filled with pennies. It was too much even for the most desperate, down-on-their-luck strippers (certainly the only kind who would work in Centerville, of all one-horse burgs).

        • ComicTrek

          What. The. Heck…..

          I guess Bedside Manor works wonders!

        • Charles

          I love how they decided to get out of their car despite the fact that it’s obvious just from driving by the place they can’t see a movie there. (Did they pay for parking?) And who’s the guy just casually wandering by that they could ask about the theater? The 95 year-old Crankshaft, just out by himself wandering around with absolutely no reason for being there.

          When I said the Funkyverse has about 200 people total and they all know each other, I think I was overestimating.

  4. Epicus Doomus

    As Spiff pointed out above, you need a near encyclopedic knowledge of Funkyverse history to even know what the hell is happening here, the very same folks he consistently drives away with his nonsensical retcons and total disdain for continuity. So basically, this strip is for him, and no one else. And, as usual, it’s already plodding along at the regular glacial pace, so we don’t even have a real premise here yet. And that is not a good sign, at all.

  5. Y. Knott

    Let’s get to the important questions. Will endlessly rerunning a low-rated, 40-year-old local talk show serve to goose sales of Les’ book “Fallen Star”, about the murder of John Darling who was murdered? WILL LES GET TO GO ON ANOTHER BOOK TOUR?

    • Hannibal’s Lectern

      If it gets Less out of Ahia for a couple weeks, everyone will agree it was worth it.

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        This will mean one week of Cayla and Les buying a new shirt; one week of Les moaning about how awful it is about having to go on another book tour that will stroke his ego and throw money at him; and a week of Less’ phony humility as a throng of admirers asks him for autographs. And 20% of it all will be about Lisa somehow.

  6. J.J. O'Malley

    “I wonder if my Mom knows they’re running these”? Oh, gee, Jessica Darling Fair-Headed Stepchild (whose father, the murdered TV host John Darling, was murdered), maybe you could consider FRACKIN’ CALLING the woman and making sure she knows! I’m sure texting, IMing, or e-mailing is out of the question; perhaps a tersely-worded telegram would do.

    Yeah, it’s gonna be annoying constantly reading Jessica say her deceased dad’s full name instead of just “my Dad’s shows,” but Batiuk has to make sure everyone knows they’re favorite TV news program-themed comic strip–that isn’t “Tank McNamara”–is being remembered.

    • William Thompson

      Messica won’t call her mother. She’ll drive to her home and knock on the door, because that’s the Westview way of communicating.

  7. billytheskink

    It wasn’t that long ago that Jan Murdoch Darling was depicted as still working at Channel 1.

    But even if she has since left the station, she still ought to know about as soon as anyone that the station is re-running Darling. For one thing, she surely still has friends at the station that would tell her the station is airing the old programs. For another, any station manager who is not a complete ghoul would have called to inform her, if not clear the whole stunt with her, given that, y’know, her husband was MURDERED before her eyes on the show’s set.

    • Epicus Doomus

      I had to look this one up. November 2017, and you were hosting at the time. It’s amazing how sometimes I just have no recollection of an arc at all. Then I look at the actual strips, and it’s obvious why that is.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      I don’t think these are tears of joy. Being confronted with old video clips of your murdered ex-spouse in the place they were murdered (and involving the person who murdered them) could open up some old wounds.

      Of course this possibility doesn’t even enter Mr. Storyteller’s head. He’s so eager to get to the cheap pathos he doesn’t bother clarifying what these tears mean. When all you have is a hammer, everything in the world is a nail.

    • I cringe every time I come across one of those Rick Burchett-drawn strips. I have a similar reaction whenever I see strips from the John Byrne era. Both of those guys have solid comix credentials outside of their work with Batiuk; it’s beyond me why their work is not only off model, it’s…ugly. I wonder if they were required to “dumb down” their drawing chops so as to not outshine Batiuk’s draughtsmanship?

  8. ComicTrek

    Okay, so…she didn’t tell her mom first thing that there’s a John Darling marathon going on? Secondly, Jan Murdoch-Darling does not look like that. At least she didn’t the last time we saw her. Cheap indeed.

    • Rusty Shackleford

      If only there were an easy way to communicate today. Now she has to get up, get dressed, go to her car, drive across town, knock on the door and tell her mom.

      That’s an easy two weeks worth of strips.

  9. Perfect Tommy

    I’m not going to lie. For a second I thought the widow Darling was a ghostly apparition. It would be very on-brand.

  10. The Duck of Death

    Just noting here that today we see a rare concurrence: Not just John Darling in FW, but John Darling doing a One-Inch Pinch.