Tag Archives: Batom Comics

‘It is not good that the man should be alone.’

Link to Today’s Post.

I thought Phil said he needed someone to ‘write it to life’, but apparently he already has dialogue written for this story. So he’s not really looking for a writer but an editor.

And whooo boy, that is some old timey sexism there. It’s so bad that all the background men have disappeared. Mindy looks grumpy! Which is nice to see, because she’s done nothing else but smile blandly for an entire month.

Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt though. Maybe Phil meant that line as a really weird homage to the Rankin-Bass Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer special.

But, darling, you’re a reindeer?

I can think of plenty of contexts where that line would still be acceptable. Maybe the speaker is an anviliciously sexist villain or otherwise flawed character that needs to be punished and educated. I mean, comics today seem to be nothing but virtue signaling and navel gazing. The twelve people that still read modern superhero stuff would love to see puff-pieces on The Mary Sue about how brave Phil Holt is for burning his past self in effigy. The Subterranean is obviously a monstrous stand-in for the basement dwelling creatures, fueled by misogyny, destroying comics by complaining online about ‘the feminist agenda’.

To be sure, the old Marvel comics Kirby and Lee created back in the day were laughably sexist. But you know who was writing the dialogue? Stan Lee. So why is the Stan Lee stand in correcting Kirby?

Still not as cringe as the Fan4stic movie.

And you know who Jack Kirby created? Big Barda, the wife of Mr. Miracle. A character where literally the gimmick is she is stronger, more prone to violence, and more physically imposing than her husband. Apparently the interplay between them was inspired by his relationship with his wife, Roz.

Maybe if Phil Holt wasn’t a cantankerous hermit with only a single friend he would be better at writing women. It’s funny how that works, knowing other people helps you understand other people. And understanding other people helps you understand yourself. Cutting yourself off from engaging with other perspectives, even ones you fundamentally disagree with, can take you to some pretty strange places.

I said yesterday that I thought Phil Holt was too antisocial and reclusive to be pure Jack Kirby cariacature. If I wanted to give Batiuk credit, I would say that he intentionally infused his Kirby Clone with a bit of essence of Steve Ditko. (Like 90’s Superboy having a bit of Lex Luthor DNA in him, gahIamsuchanerdgah.)

Ditko was the artist and co-creator of, among others, Spider Man, Dr. Strange, The Question, and The Creeper. Like Jack Kirby he had a falling out with Stan Lee over author credits and creative direction, and left Marvel to freelance for Charlton and DC. But unlike Jack Kirby, Ditko was an intensely private man, who didn’t give interviews, or go to conventions, or converse with fans.

This is one of only three or four confirmed pictures of Ditko. THINK.

Some of you more comics savy may be thinking, “Oooh, The Question! That’s who Alan Moore based Rorschach on!” And you would be mostly right, except that The Question was really a watered down version of another character that Ditko created. While Ditko made his living doing freelance work, he also created superhero comics with smaller indie publishers. Like Mr. A.

I mean, I like objective reality as much as the next philosophical conservative, but this is taking it a little far.
Angel was a delinquent who stabbed the lady being carried btw. He just fell off a building and died. Yay!

Yup. Ditko was a Randian Objectivist that would make Andrew Ryan blush. His principles, combined with his anxious and shy nature, made it easy for him to alienate everyone around him. In many cases it seemed he wanted to. He never married. He broke off friendships. He surrounded himself with the few he thought he could trust not to betray or challenge his ideals. To quote Flash Freeman, “He spent most of his time at war with the world and everyone in it.”

I read two informative articles, and watched one fascinating documentary about this weird, weird, strangely admirable and slightly pitiable guy.

This Vulture article was the most negative, but also the most psychologically insightful. Vulture writers are a bunch of liberal pantywaist hippies who hear the word ‘objectivist’ and rear back like Dracula at a Crucifix, (sorry, channeling the spirit of poor Steve for a moment) but lots of good facts there.

This article was a little more even-handed, very focused on his work output, and covered the characters he continued to create for Marvel and DC into the 90’s.

And finally, this charming BBC4 documentary was probably the most sympathetic to Steve Ditko. Several comics creators, including Alan Moore, weigh in on his art, philosophy, and legacy.

12 Comments

Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

Hail to the King, Baby.

Link to Today’s Strip.

Let me see if I’ve got this straight, Phil. You faked your own death so you could work without being bothered, and in the literal years since you’ve managed to draw and layout a single issue? Seriously? GRRM works faster than you! I swear to Galactus, if there isn’t Berserk levels of detail to every single panel of this book…

Jack Kirby would be ashamed! You know, the guy you’re supposed to be based on? Jack Kirby was a legend for his output and work ethic. He could complete multiple pages a DAY. The man was a machine. If Jack Kirby faked his death to work on a project for four years, the final output would rival Henry Darger.

But how close are you really to Jack Kirby? I took the time this week to watch a few documentaries, read a few articles and interviews. Let’s see how close Phil Holt stacks up to The King. The glorious co-creator of Captain America, The Fantastic Four, The Hulk, Mr. Miracle, The New Gods and so many more.

First of all, the physical resemblance is as close an approximation as the art style allows, especially in the earliest appearances. The poofy, swept back hair, the cigar, the squarish head and round face, all look like a caricature of Kirby. Even more, they look close to how Kirby depicted himself in comic form. The strip even goes out of it’s way to show that Phil is shorter, just like Kirby who was 5’6″.

The only difference is the glasses, and even then, the glasses seem to serve the function of giving him the boxed off square brow and deep set eyes he had naturally.

But does Phil resemble Jack in personality?

Not really. Phil is prickly, he snips and snaps at everyone. He might have depths of generosity, and hidden warmth, but twice he is described as someone whose resting state was antagonistic.

The Jack Kirby described by others, and I saw in interviews was not this person. Yeah, he was a pugnacious guy, who could hold a wicked grudge against people who he thought slighted him. He even lashed out at people he was frustrated with by creating comic villains to RESEMBLE those people.

Funky Flashman (Stan Lee) and Houseroy (Roy Thomas) from Mister Miracle #6, 1972

But to anyone else, he was warm and welcoming. He had a wide circle of friends. People liked working with him. The documentary I watched talked about how random people would show up at his house and he would let them in, show them his studio, and his wife would feed them sandwiches.

Did you know he had a wife? And kids too! People he was financially supporting. Relationships that drove him to look for work and and fight for contracts that paid him his fair share of the profits he was creating, and get rights to royalties that would allow him to continue to provide for his family in the future.

And Jack Kirby never disavowed comics. Sure, in the 80’s he moved on to animation for Hanna-Barbara, but he created comics intermittently through the 80’s and early 90’s. He continued attending conventions and meeting with fans right up until the year he died. He was proud of his work, and went through a legal slugfest with Marvel trying to get his artwork back.

I might think it was petty to draw a sniveling caricature of poor Roy Thomas, and print it in the pages of DC; but I’ll give Jack Kirby this, he didn’t stomp out of an entire industry in a huff and never work again. Jack Kirby worked hard his entire life. He fought hard for his credit, and switched comics companies multiple times, because he wanted that hard work to be recognized. Not just for himself, but for his wife and kids.

Is Phil Holt meant to be Jack Kirby? Probably. But he’s a Jack Kirby that existed in a world where he had nothing to fight for but his own ego.

This was my favorite of the documentaries I watched. It’s probably more hagiography than strict history, but peeling back the veneer of eulogy you can still see that the truth of the man beneath. If you’ve got the time, and the inclination, I’d recommend.

DID YOU KNOW? Despite being drawn 24 times, Mindy has only been allowed to speak twice this entire month?

59 Comments

Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

Oh! I have slipped from the fetid bowels of the earth…

Link to today’s strip.

Okay. I know that most of you have had a stab at trying to parse out the logic here, but I really want to get my own corkboard and string out and see if I can make a clearer picture. So let us follow the sequence of events.

1.) A few years ago Phil Holt was living alone in obscurity in California. He drew caricatures for the birthday parties of rich brats. He considered his old comics work junk despite the fact he hung pictures of it on the walls of his apartment. And wasn’t working on comics anymore despite the fact he had a drawing board and supplies out in a prominent place so must have been working on something (Fine art? Advertising?).

I love having junk on my walls! In my bathroom I have a movie poster for Jupiter Ascending!

2.) This single conversation with Darrin (who never brings Pete by to meet him btw,) sparks in Phil a desire to create comics again. He affirms that he will ‘be there for Darrin’.

Meeting your stupid friends won’t be a problem if you think I’m too dead to meet them.

3.) Despite the fact that no one except Darrin has recognized him in years, Phil Holt is worried about being ‘bothered’ while working out his new inspiration. Phil Holt has a friend/acquaintance/stalker named Mickey. Phil apparently has no one else in his life to confide in. This fat old man with a badly named comic shop somehow knows a fancy lawyer in a high rise office who also loves Phil Holt so much that he’s only too happy to help everyone else on Earth (except, presumably the government,) think he’s dead. Phil Holt thinks this will help him achieve the solitude he needs to work?

Ye Old Comic Shoppe? Does it only carry trade paperbacks of Prince Valiant?

NOTE: Mickey, who attended the con and then panel with Phil, phased out of existence the second Phil pulled off his mask. Where is he? Why doesn’t he get to go to the fun and fancy restaurant of reminiscing over retroactively recreated history?

4.) Phil decides to use the lawyer to gift a bunch of original art to Darrin. Art he had ALREADY decided to leave him in his will, and updated the will accordingly. It is worded vaguely enough that I can’t tell if this is the sole mechanism by which he faked his death, or just a nice thing he decided to do to ‘be there for Darrin’ despite planning on disappearing. The fanboy lawyer, who knows that Phil Holt is still alive, still somehow has trouble locating Darin.

Looks like the kind of guy who would know ‘Mickey’ well.

NOTE: The auction of the comic covers was advertised, and Phil never moved from the SoCal area it was held in. So he knew that Darrin immediately cashed in the art. He’s shown no ill will toward Darrin so far, so I can only assume he approves of the charity donation.

5.) So, for the last few years, after faking his death quitting, his job as a caricature artist, and giving away valuable possessions, Phil has moved from a tiny apartment in the greater L.A. area to a house in San Diego that couldn’t cost less than 500K?

The talking house really makes me miss classic Mark Trail.

NOTE: I’m assuming they’re still in San Diego. Unless the ROAD TRIP Pete was so excited about was all of them driving 150 miles to LA after having supper, after a long day at a convention? Ruby is in in the same clothes they wore to the panel. But Pete and Darin politely changed shirt color before dinner. And Mindy hacked off her sleeves again.

Pete has changed into his FANCY flannel for this.

6.) All so he can spend LITERAL YEARS working on a comic character he already worked on once before, and had entire folders of preproduction material prepared. And could have been working on constantly in the 40 plus years since he stomped out of Batom. I estimate he should have a Watchmen length graphic novel all penciled up and ready to go by now. Which means he never intended for his faked death to be permanent? I guess? Or he was creating for the sake of creation? Or he was going to release under a pseudonym?

Unless the folder is full of stills from stag films.

Conclusion: I’m lost. It’s nonsense all the way down. But as I said on Monday, this is the kind of stupid and crazy I joined on for. If Funky Winkerbean was nothing but badly handled social issues, I think I would probably get burned out on the outrage and leave.

But THIS? An elderly man imagining that even more elderly men are still alive so that he can live out his fantasy of all the Silver Age Marvel greats that bickered over credit kissing and making up? I don’t know if I’ve enjoyed an arc this much since Zanzibar. Actually even Zanzibar had the unfortunate implications of being based on a real life murder.

This is *chef’s kiss* peak outsider auteur Neil Breen crazy.

67 Comments

Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

A clever Scorpions “Tainted Love” reference.

Link to today’s strip.

Pete, stop. The fish that clean other fish by eating algae out of gill slits are less pathetic and parasitical. By spouting out constant, enthusiastic, purposeless praise you’ve basically become the annoying junior sidekick that you said you despise.

So, the year was 2015. I was trying on used pants in the cluttered dressing room of a Goodwill, when my phone lit up. It was a friend of mine sending me a text.

Did u c the news?

Wat?

Harrison Ford crashed his plane.

My heart immediately froze then sank. I sat down on on the bench, pants around my ankles, and frantically typed back.

Srsly?

Yeah, sounds like he’s ok tho.

And then, I could breathe again.

Understand, I don’t think Harrison Ford is a especially admirable person. I mean, he seems decent enough. He’s a Hollywood movie star. I imagine he’s a little egotistical, an ounce more hedonistic and self-serving than I generally like to see, but just a normal guy otherwise. A man I have never met, and will likely never meet, and if I ever did meet him it would just be a cool story for me, and a completely forgettable moment for him.

When he dies, (given our ages, odds are that it’ll be before me,) it really won’t affect my life. He’s not my dad, my grandpa, my friend, or even that one crazy old guy who used to come into the gas station to buy Mr Pibb and lottery tickets and always had a sassy word.

But when he dies, I’ll still be sad. Not devastated, but sad.

Because somewhere in a box of old school things, there’s a fifth grade note book where I drew hearts around a sticker of Han Solo and wrote, “My favorite actor, Harrisen Ford.” And beneath it, in the same box, is the 1998 People magazine when he was ‘Sexiest Man Alive’. I took that thing to school to keep in my desk. A very weirded out Mr. Dunlap asked me if I knew that Harrison Ford was older than he was. I didn’t care.

Harrison Ford was my first crush that wasn’t 2-D cell shaded, and no matter how much my adult brain understands that he isn’t really a part of my life, the lovesick girl in my heart still remembers. You can think of that as good, bad, or neutral; it is still a fact. His existence impacted mine. It’s the reason we mourn famous people. I don’t think it was unhealthy when I had a moment’s pause and pang of sadness at the passing of Christopher Lee, Johnny Cash, Carrie Fisher, or Hank Aaron. It’s natural to be sad when someone who played a part in your own life experiences passes away. When the world loses a little piece of itself that helped to shape it, it’s okay for all of us to notice.

So say Alan Rickman springs up from the audience of Ellen one day, explaining he really just needed some time away from Potterheads lusting over Snape. Or Terry Pratchett shows up at Dragoncon to accost Neil Gaiman, shouting that he knew he would ruin the legacy of Good Omens and just had to see for himself how he would do it. Or Robin Williams heckles Jerry Seinfeld off the stage and does an impromptu set of impressions of how everyone reacted to his pseudocide.

I wouldn’t be overjoyed they’re still alive.

I would be enraged.

They’d be alive, sure. But they’d be dead to me. The person I hoped they were torn away to reveal a callous, selfish monster who was content, even happy, to cause grief in the millions of people who thought of them fondly. Someone so narcissistic as to be oblivious to everyone elses’ feelings, and to come sauntering back into the spotlight expecting to resume their career and fame.

And if I learned that I, somehow, was the instigator of this decision in the famous person; the catalyst sparking all that grief, and now anger.

Well, if I never did anything else in my life, that would probably be the worst thing I’d ever caused.

Apparently, as long as you aren’t lying to or defrauding the government, or intending to defraud others, or committing some other crime in the process thereof, faking your death to others isn’t illegal.

But that doesn’t mean it’s victimless.

(BTW: Thanks to everyone who enjoyed yesterday’s metaphysical musings. It made digging through all the Les/Lisa ghost porn worth it. )

53 Comments

Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

The Death of Sense.

Link to Today’s Strip.

Comic Book Harriet, back in action. Ready to dig through the comic muck of this Inedible Pulp to, hopefully, stab at the heart of this horrifying nonsense.

First of all, I want to thank Spaceman Spiff for easing us through the shock and awe of the first ‘back from the dead’ soap opera moment I think we’ve had since Wally Winkerbean came home.

While some of you have been frustrated and angry at just how baffling the decision to retcon Phil Holt’s death is, I’ve actually been relishing the absolute stupidity of this arc. Unlike Batiuk’s biffing of Bull’s Suicide, the morally dubious resolution of the Adeela ICE arc, or the callous insensitivity of the LA Fires, the crazy on display here has no offensive real-world victims unless you find it libelous to Jack Kirby, Stan Lee, or Joe Simon.

And today, I finally get the answer to the most pressing question raised by Phil Holt’s ‘resurrection’: did he fake his death, or have a near death experience? Hanging on this question, was the interpretation of this strip from three years ago.

Spoiler Alert: Phil Holt wasn’t already dead.

With the retcon, and the knowledge that Phil was completely fine at the time, there is only one explanation for these ghosts. Darin was imagining Phil and Lisa’s spirits having this conversation as they looked on approvingly at the auction. It was a fantasy that he concocted for his own gratification.

Furthermore, this suggests that every time we see ‘ghosts’ in strip it’s just the daydreaming of a living character, comforting themselves with a lie, roleplaying a no longer possible conversation, or expressing an internal anxiety, sometimes all at the same time.

Like when Lillian was visited by ‘Lucy’ coming back from the grave to lead her on a guilt purging journey of taking an undelivered letter to a demolished building, where Lucy and her old boyfriend Eugene could finally spiritually be together (even though Eugene was still alive at the time.)

Les of course is the worst offender of this. Lisa constantly pops up around him, encouraging him, praising him, agreeing with him, and smiling while watching him make out with his hot new wife.

But even Les seems to realize that this is just him projecting what he imagines Lisa would say. And that Lisa only lives on inside his mind as a fractured reflection of his memory. She sleeps forever, in the oblivion of death.

If I could ask Batiuk a personal question, I would ask if he believes in an afterlife. Because I don’t think he really does. I think he wishes there was something after death, but has been convinced that the only immortality we actually get is the lingering echoes we leave in the hearts and minds of others.

And, in time, those people will pass away, and so then passes even memory. Life has meaning, but only temporarily.

And so all metaphysical experience is really just human consciousness and awareness fractured and reflected back on itself. When we try to conceive of or reach out to God, or dead loved ones, or eternity, the only thing that can reach back is a part of yourself.

Dead St. Lisa was only a part of imagination. She’s no more or less real than that heatstroke robot Funky imagined when running, or Jeff’s Inner Child avatar, or Les’ depression cat.

But, then again, apparently the depression cat is real and crazy old film producers can see it.

And Dead Lisa did call into an airport and talk to customer service, then Les, then called in a phony bomb threat…

The only evidence of life after death in Funky Winkerbean.

Strap in folks! It’s gonna be a fun week!

68 Comments

Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

Ownly the Lonely

It’s possible I’m forgetting this, but I thought Atomik Komix published things like Amazing Mr. Sponge? Didn’t Chester buy the rights to the old Batom titles and is making new comics of them? So therefore they’re not creator owned at all? It’s possible I’m confusing this, but I thought that’s how it was.
I like that apparently Ruby literally had to give up her seat to Phil. She’s being honored for her career achievements, but a random guy shows up and steals her thunder and her chair. This is extremely on-brand for Batiuk.

Oh, and Phil hated his career, and producing comics is misery.  What else is new.

71 Comments

Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

Gasp! It’s Phil Holt!

Surprise! It’s Phil Holt. Which I have to imagine most people probably guessed weeks ago. I am really loving the wild disconnect in this arc. Everything Flash has said is super nice and praising Phil, and yet Phil is acting like he’s caught Flash in something and is about to prove he’s a fraud.
I wonder if Batiuk will ever reach a point where he thinks his strip has enough old comic professionals. He killed Phil off, brought Flash in, and just brought Phil back again, for no reason. And he apparently just worked on the same things as Flash, which makes at least one of them totally redundant.

68 Comments

Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

Landing at Bore-mandy

Blah blah blah today’s strip… blah blah blah Phil Holt… blah blah blah comic books… blah blah blah The Subterranean… blah blah blah yackity smackity…

Meanwhile… *stupid cloud bubble panel border that TB inexplicably thinks should indicate an in-strip shift from one place to another*

Everyone’s 5th favorite Stooge, “Curly-Joe” DeRita, and Darth Vader himself are hanging out at Ye Olde Comic Shoppe. What’s that all about? Spacemanspiff85 is going to be our guide as we find out (provided we do in the next two weeks). Thoughts and prayers, man, thoughts and prayers.

40 Comments

Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

We don’t need no stinkin’ badges!

Three panels, three places, and no answers in today’s strip.

So Phil Holt created The Subterranean, demanded ownership of the property, didn’t get it, left in a Les-level huff… and then hated Flash for the rest of his life? Was it Flash that denied Phil ownership of The Subterranean? Should I submit this to CIDU? We’ve gone from classic TB “tell don’t show” to “tell, but not really”.

One assumes then that Phil took The Subterranean to Marvel, where the concept was reworked into Subterranea. The butterfly effect of this decision ultimately resulted in the greatest Spider-Man story in recorded history, so let us all be grateful for that.

47 Comments

Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

Rag-snore-rok

Hey, we’re finally getting around to the reason behind Flash and Phil’s falling out in today’s strip and it’s… less than fascinating to say the least. Durwood, who asked Flash to elaborate on their split to kick this week off, appears to already know the answer to his own question anyways. So was the primary reason Durwood brought Phil up to Flash so he (and, by extension, TB) could humblebrag about selling Phil’s old comic book covers for the St. Lisa charity? I think that is a reasonable assumption.

I don’t know what to make of the fact that Flash is smiling as Durwood brings up the straw that broke the Holt-Freeman partnership camel’s back, so I won’t make anything of it much like how nothing has been made from this story arc’s rancid ingredients.

48 Comments

Filed under Son of Stuck Funky