Patterns of Force

Link to today’s strip.

Pathetic. That’s the first thing I thought of when I saw this strip. I’ve just got to remain relevant, but this pandemic messed up all my plans! Well, I’m sure I can shoehorn in something, right at the end, and remain one of the cool kids, one of the strips that resonate with today’s youth! Because otherwise, how can I grab those sweet, sweet awards?

I know a lot of people were taking the comics page to task for not adapting to the pandemic. I wasn’t one of those people; the comics page is not reality and it is not required to do anything other than entertain. But today’s strip is really galling. Batiuk is trying to have it both ways, by acknowledging the pandemic, and yet not having it interfere with his year-long planning.

Because which of the stories last year could he possibly have pulled in order to address the situation? Well, how about all of them?

Without cheating by clicking on the “Act III” button in the banner, I can’t think of anything significant that happened in 2020. And I bet that’s because nothing did. I’m not talking about “events” because “events” happen all the time. I’m talking about things that make a difference in the strip. Actual changes, the things he touts over and over as his accomplishments.

Again, not cheating by clicking, I doubt anything of significance occurred. (You can beat me up in the comments.) Batiuk isn’t having it both ways, he’s throwing it away both ways.

This is the sort of strip that makes me think Tom Batiuk should have retired a long, long time ago. That Sunday strip where child Summer turned into teenage Summer, and inaugurated Act III, should have been the end. Because this, as mentioned above, is pathetic.

And…that’s it from me. Tune in tomorrow when your host will be the always erudite, always entertaining Epicus Doomus.

As long as I’m plugging some of my favorite animators, here’s Graham Annable, aka Grickle. This one always makes me laugh. It’s a little over a minute long.

This next one is a bit more ambitious, and I’d advise you not to watch it late at night. Three minutes long, and scarier than Stephen King.

See you in the funny papers!

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If We Make It, We Can All Sit Back And Laugh

–but I fear, tomorrow, I’ll be crying.

Link to today’s strip.

Well, we all knew the horrors were upon us when Harry Dinkle showed up.

So instead of contemplating the Unnamable, how about something that should go right into Tom Batiuk’s “women are unappreciated” shtick?

In honor (honor, not horror) of Harriet Dinkle, I give you Sally Cruikshank’s “Face Like a Frog,” a five minute slice of absolute brilliance, with a score (and song) by Danny Elfman. Hey, he wrote for Batman movies!

Ms. Cruikshank, in my opinion, is one of the greatest animators ever–male or female. Her work is entirely based on talent, rather than demanding appreciation because of her sex. And there’s more creativity and imagination (and humor) here than exists in all of Batiukland. Enjoy!

And to answer the obvious question, yes, that is the late, great Dick Miller as the voice of the main character.

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So, a Needle Pulling Thread

Link to today’s strip.

I think Batiuk uses “So…” as a way of saying “It has been established in the previous strip, and agreed upon that…” He’s trying to bring his readers up to speed on what’s going on. The fact that nothing is usually going on (other than endless talk) doesn’t seem to be a factor. I know it bothers a lot of folks; it doesn’t really affect me either way.

It reminds me of the old intro narration on Lost In Space to set the scene for the episode: “Last week, as you recall, Will, Dr. Smith and The Robot…” etc. (You just have to add “unaware,” “incredible,” and “alien” and there you go.)

As for the content of today’s strip, I ask, “What content?” One could cut out every strip this week except Wednesday and Thursday, and you’d have the complete story.

You could cut out all of them and improve the comics page greatly. Especially since this seems to be little more than an ad for a real-world event that just happens to highlight one of his characters. Which begs the question…I wonder who reached out to who?

Another question: now that Batiuk has tied himself to this “salute to band directors,” and, in his eyes, gained a whole new slew of new readers…how long do you think it will be before he pivots to “Lisa’s Story”?

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Nixon Looks Worried

Link to today’s strip.

You know, it was a huge revelation to both Dinkle and Harriet that you could just set up a web fund and people would give you money for no reason (and no effort on your part). Even better if you had a cat, and Dinkle certainly has access to Bingo (the cat from the church, in case any of you have memories like Tom Batiuk).

But no, those old candy-selling gags are money in the bank so they’ve got to be trotted out again.

I’m sitting here wishing for a different set of characters, and realizing that no matter who’s in the cast, it’s all going to be terrible. They’re all like whatever it is in the bowl in front of Harriet–something you don’t want to look at too closely.

By the way, the Firesign Theatre had an album some years ago called Boom Dot Bust. One of the characters was mayor William Cudlip P’nisnose. I think we’re seeing his wife in today’s strip. Or, Nixon in a wig.

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Non-Doubting Thomas

Link to today’s strip.

Well, we’re back to being “selected” so I guess consistent writing is a much harder job than it appears to be. And of course Dinkle was selected. Many things like this are entirely too predictable in this strip; the only surprise is how dull, horrible and irritating it can get.

Of course, both Harry and Harriet are dressed the same way they were yesterday, and standing in the same places, so my inference is that this is taking place mere minutes after yesterday’s strip. But Dinkle’s over-description in panel one makes it seem like days have transpired, and he has to remind Harriet which organization is going to shower him with acclaim. So, either he signs up for dozens of events daily, or Harriet is remarkably stupid, even for a female in this strip. That’s saying something.

Of course, she married Dinkle, so she can’t be that bright.

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The Gorge Rises

Link to today’s strip.

Okay, so yesterday Dinkle said he might be “selected” to be one of 300. Today, I guess all you have to do is claim a spot? Might want to work on your “consistency” there, Batiuk. And while you’re at it, do something about “continuity.”

Ha! I slay me.

Anyway, in today’s strip, the dialogue could have said that the 257 “have already been chosen,” which would put it right back into the “might be selected” camp and add a bit of an edge to panel three’s situation. Will Harry be selected or won’t he? Of course he will, that’s a foregone conclusion, but at least Batiuk could try to have a bit of suspense, something that will keep a reader interested. Cos it sure ain’t the characters or dialogue that’s gonna do it.

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Mr. Batiuk, Tear Down This Wall

Link to today’s strip.

Before we dive in, I just want to say that commentor Rusty Shackleford is absolutely not responsible for bringing back Dinkle. Because if he had that power, a kind of Doomsday Weapon, I’m certain he would never use it.

I think today’s entry has to be the most wall-o-text ever. I mean, look at that crap. “Possibly be selected to”? Why not just…”to”? If you want to drop a hint that maybe, just maybe this one time Dinkle won’t get everything handed to him, why not “to possibly march,” split infinitive and all? I can’t see a reason for the grotesque block presented here.

Except for the reason mentioned last week, and my own pet theory: the balloons are drawn and finished long before there’s dialogue to go in them. And they’ve got to be filled. Because the author has Important Things To Say, and (like here) Important Appeals to Make to Those Who Issue Rewards.

And as long as I’m making suggestions, Mr. Batiuk, here’s another one: drop Dinkle. No one likes him. In fact, people like Crankshaft more than they like Dinkle. Dinkle was a fine Act One character, back when you were trying to make something good. He’s no longer a character people want.

I go back and forth as to whether Dinkle is worse than Les. On the one hand, Les has a small sense of humility. It gives him a tiny sense of self-awareness. But he has these things only so he can gorge on his massive need to whine how life isn’t fair to him, and no one praises him for his suffering.

On the other hand, Dinkle is equally loathsome, without even the tiniest bit of humility. He waltzes in to every situation, takes his rewards, and gives out the most punchable hatchet-faces imaginable. Any time he’s surprised by events, they are always in his favor (why, it’s even easier to make money nowadays!).

I guess I hate them alternatively. Heaven help us if they ever have an arc together. (“Say, have you ever thought of making Lisa’s Story into a musical? Who could we get to write the music?”)

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Pity Me, I Read You

Link to today’s strip.

And I’m pretty sure this is another witticism that occurred to Tom Batiuk, and he thought, Yep, there’s one for the strip. I think I’ll make it a Sunday one.

I suppose it’s kind of funny, though if someone said that to me I’d probably smile in a kind of “It’s not worth arguing over” way. It also seems like it would be spoken by someone who would insist on knowing that you found it hilarious, by repeating it and going “Huh? Huh? Pretty good, eh?”

The art is okay, and the consistency with Harry’s hands is nice, but why did we have to have Lillian and her “friend” shoved into this? Yuck. Please leave the Crankshafters in the Crankshaft Universe.

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Pete’s Green Thumb

Link to today’s strip.

Oh, yeah, Pete you really got played! She wrapped you around her little finger, Pete, and twisted you into agreeing to do something you were reluctant to do! And she did this using her feminine wiles of…asking nicely.

Good grief.

I’m sure this is another one where Tom Batiuk thought up the witty remark in panel three and thought, “That’s too good to waste” and so into the trash compactor, I mean, comic strip it goes.

The artwork, never a strong point with this strip, is especially bad today. In addition to the coloring gaff which gives this post its title, look at Dullard’s face in panel two. He looks like Mr. Potato Head, if he was a large banana instead of a potato.

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Big Sack of Something, All Right

Link to today’s strip.

Pete was a guest at Comic Con? When was that? Because my failing memory tells me that the Starbuck Jones panel was the actors, the director, and…Holtron. Along with a moronic Conan O’Brien, who was probably persuaded not to bring a lawsuit because “he’s just doing it so you’ll give him some free publicity. Calm down, Conan.”

I’m not saying he couldn’t have been a guest, rather than an attendee like everyone else, but I’d think that would be memorable. Even for this remarkably unmemorable comic strip. What would he talk about at his panel? How to get ideas from other people’s random conversations? That seems to be his special talent, after all. And I guess there was a time he wrote for Superman comics. BillytheSkink, please let us know what fantastical adventures the Man of Steel suffered under Pete’s hands.

But anyway, what does Mindy think Pete can do? Does Comic Con give out awards? That’s certainly a Batiukian goal. I don’t know myself but I kind of doubt Comic Con does this.

Or maybe he could set up a panel for them? “Old comic book creators who never got any attention.” One that would be attended by ancient fans who would gush, “You did what superheroes do–you saved me.” He’d better arrange to have barf bags provided.

A panel that will end with the two of them announcing their engagement. I’m almost willing to put money on it. My reasoning is this:

Mindy just spent a week listening to Ruby tell about how she felt harassed and unappreciated. It would be a natural thing for Mindy to suggest to Pete that something be done for Ruby. Instead, she chose to highlight both of them, saying that both were unappreciated. But it seems to me that Flash Freeman has definitely been given lots of recognition in this strip–examples escape me, but in the comic book industry here he’s regarded as a legend. So why would she include both in her plan, unless there’s something that happens when couples get together?

I probably have put more thought into this than I should have, but there’s so little to work with…

Note: Banana Jr 6000 made a similar observation–“Why does Mindy care about Flash?”– in yesterday’s comments. I’d already written the above, but I want to acknowledge the synchronicity.

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