Yesterday I mentioned the insane tonal shift with this story, and that insane tonal shift continues unabated today, as yet another character handles the unwanted, unloved handgun used to murder John Darling. Then, out of nowhere, in an almost Lynchian twist, Mitchell is replaced in panel two with some sort of hideously disfigured man (mouth cancer would be my educated guess) with incredibly disturbing hairs all over his crotch. He returns in panel three, though, handing Jessica a broken coffee mug with a malevolent, hateful sneer on his face.
Nothing I could say would be anywhere near as funny as merely recapping the story itself is. This one’s a real humdinger, even by BatYam standards. No one would have Les a vial of the cesium used in Lisa’s radiation treatments, no one would have Linda a hunk of Bull’s femur, but apparently it’s OK to clown on Jessica’s dad’s death, which aptly demonstrates how BatYarn still hasn’t gotten over THAT whole thing either. Some comic strip deaths are just funnier than others, I suppose.
Link To This One
To recap: Mitchell found the actual gun used to kill Jessica’s father (John Darling) “in with some memorabilia” he bought, like it was an old Reggie Jackson baseball card and not the actual handgun used in the John Darling murder. I repeat: he acquired the gun, unknowingly, after some guy just happened to include it in a collection of other junk Mitchell was buying. Not being especially interested in the handgun used to kill John Darling (his hero), Mitchell casually tossed in an unsecured drawer, where he promptly forgot all about it until the murder victim’s daughter’s husband happened to find it while snooping around in the murder victim’s old desk after dropping by uninvited. And now they’re passing the gun around, apparently as confused by these developments as I am. If nothing else, this is some absolutely APPALLING gun safety being practiced here, by everyone involved.
I’ve seen some nutty shit over the course of Act III (and let’s be honest, Act III at its most whacked-out has NOTHING on Act II, where this kind of shit happened every week), but man alive, this one is just so very wrong on so many different levels. The whole gun thing is unbelievable enough on its own, but then he throws that “autopsy photos” thought bubble in there, and the whole thing just veers off into previously uncharted waters. There’s just such a wildly divergent tone to this mess, it’s all over the place to the point of being practically abstract. Just a few short days ago, Jessica was innocently trying to hunt down a piece of her late father’s TV legacy, and now she’s holding the gun used to kill him as the guy who gave it to her muses over autopsy pictures. How did this story ever come to this? What was he going for here? Did he even know?
Link To Today’s Abomination
Nope, this is NOT a parody strip. Once again, BatYam takes one of his demented little stories in a direction no one could have predicted. If you had told me last week that Boy Lisa would be handling the very gun used to murder John (Jessica’s father) Darling, I would have said “LOL yeah, sure, like the talking chimp could ever fire a gun”.
Whoops, got my FW handgun-centric story arcs all crossed up there. But anyway, yeah, Mitchell owns the ACTUAL MURDER WEAPON, which he keeps in a drawer in John Darling’s old TV desk. And, while rummaging around in that desk without asking for permission first, Boy Lisa (of all people) finds the gun and gets all queasy, which is to be expected, given his lineage and all. By God, man. This is twisted beyond belief, even by BatYam’s lofty standards. Every time you think you’ve seen it all with this guy, he just digs down deeper and blows your freaking mind.
And as much as we like to goof on the artwork and all, that look on Boy Lisa’s face in panel three is PERFECT. I made the EXACT SAME FACE when I first read this one. THAT is some flawless comic strip art right there.
Link To Today’s Strip
“Hey!”…that’s some mighty fine foreshadowing there, Pulitzer (nominee) Boy. As always, the master craftsman builds the suspense one panel at a time, very, very slowly, over the course of many days and weeks and sometimes even months. I sometimes think it would have been pretty cool if he’d have just made the entirety of Act III into one ultra-mega prestige arc, which he’d wrap up with a Saturday panel three word balloon full of wry expository dialog at some undetermined future date.
“A physical memento”…as opposed to what, a mental memento? A metaphysical memento? An ethereal memento? And again, if Mitchell is going to be so standoffish, why did he bother with letting them in to begin with? Is this a Midwestern thing, where you’re obliged to invite strangers into your home even if you’re all hostile toward them? We don’t really do that out here, back east.
Link To Today’s Installment
Give it up for spacemanspiff85 and everyone else who hosted since my last turn! 2022 has been a hundred miles of bad road to hoe, or whatever they say out there on the fertile Ohioian plains. I genuinely enjoyed learning all about various local Cleveland area TV hosts of the 1900s, as that was on my personal bucket list. It’s a lengthy list. Now on to today’s piece of crap.
Hey, that’s no way to talk about Tony. Yesterday, it appeared that perhaps BatYam was humanizing Mitchell a little bit, making him a little more sympathetic and relatable and such. But it didn’t take, as Mitchell is a full-on dick again today, snarling in psychotic collector’s rage over some idiotic John Darling (Jessica’s father) trinket he saw on Montoni’s wall. The look on his face there in panel two is WAY out of proportion to the dialog, but Batty does that a lot lately.
One thing he NEVER fails at, though, is ensuring that his little stories never make a lick of sense, right down to the tiniest, most insignificant details. For example: two weeks (!) ago, Flash and Chester were talking about Mitchell in hushed weirdo tones, like he was some sort of mythical recluse. Yet he frequents Montoni’s, too. How can both be true? I mean, Boy Lisa used to work at Montoni’s, in the breakfast pizza app development department. Surely he remembers the overweight comic book weirdo, and…oh. That’s right. Never mind.
Re: The “Crankshaft” Mason Jarre crossover thing. I tried, but I just can’t. Reading “Crankshaft” just cuts against my grain, and I can’t bring myself to do it. Feel free to discuss it freely, if you must. Trying to juggle THREE Batiuk strips is just way, way too much to ask of anyone.
So today we have a single panel Sunday strip that really doesn’t add anything new that wasn’t in yesterday’s second panel. I guess all the John Darling megafans are swooning over seeing the set again, or something (it still boggles my mind that Batiuk could think there’s really an audience for this). I am very curious as how to how Mitchell obtained his memorabilia. He’s repeatedly said that he’s basically the only one interested in any of these things, but he’s still kind of acting like what he has are rare, highly desirable artifacts. I have a feeling he probably found this in the dumpster behind Channel One. And two chairs, a nightstand/filing cabinet and a backdrop doesn’t strike me as super impressive.
Thanks for having me these two weeks! The always great Epicus Doomus takes over tomorrow.
After reading the first panel, I was kind of expecting the second panel to show that Mitchell had John Darling’s preserved corpse on display. Or that it turns out John wasn’t actually dead, and that Mitchell was keeping him trapped in his house and was forcing him to act out a new show every day. Honestly, given the way Batiuk’s writing is so bad and how he’s inexplicably spent so much time on JD related stories the past few years it wouldn’t shock me at all if he decided to bring the actual character back.
I’m not sure which of Mitchell’s two facial expressions is worse, but I really don’t like either one of them.
Hey, there’s the hat and coat that was brought up in the comments yesterday! Today’s strip is just kind of sad. I read an article last year about how nostalgia can actually be very beneficial, since it can comfort and make people feel better. But being stuck in the past like Mitchell here (or just about everyone else in this strip, really), is definitely not good. It’s not really funny material for a comic strip, either.
I really do feel that the vast majority of people reading this would have no clue at all what it’s about. If you didn’t know that this Barnaby was actually a real character from Cleveland TV, you would be totally lost. And even knowing that he is a real character doesn’t really add a ton to the strip.
Link to today’s strip
I’m curious to know how much trouble Mitchell had to go through to get this memorabilia. If nobody remembers them anymore, then there really couldn’t have been much of a demand for the stuff. I did some quick Googling, and I think all of these are actual real Cleveland TV personalities. I’m very interested in local history and tend to be pretty nostalgic, but I do kind of wonder how old Mitchell is supposed to be, and if he’d really remember this from his own childhood. I do again wonder why Batiuk had to portray him as a schlubby paranoid jerk, since he’s apparently appreciating old timey stuff, which is absolutely something Batiuk thinks is good.
Oh hey, Mitchell Knox is unpleasant, who could have seen that coming. And he’s also overweight and bald, just like every other “bad collector” character Batiuk has had in this strip. I still really don’t get how or why Batiuk thinks some collectors are good and some are bad, but he clearly does.
It’s funny that Jessica just says “we were told” without any more details, and Mitchell doesn’t care at all about who told these strangers what he owns and where to find him, which is what my concern would be if I were him.