Tag Archives: Batomesque plot twists

Plot Twist: Phil Holt Was Never The Main Character Of This Story

The story completely undermines itself.

It doesn’t look like Phil Holt had much of a “try out” for Prince Valiant. It looks like he made an unsolicited submission to a large publisher, which was promptly thrown in the trash. By the receptionist. Ouch.

This is typical, though. Most big media companies have a stated policy of “we do not accept unsolicited submissions,” and return them to the submitter with a letter to that effect. This so people can’t claim the publisher stole some half-baked idea they submitted, and try to sue them for damages.

But who’s that in the background? A man who is very specifically drawn; has a monogrammed art satchel; a pair of initials no real person who worked on Prince Valiant had; and looks like he’s waiting for an interview.

It’s Batton Thomas.

As further evidence, I submit this photo from the Funky Winkerbean blog:

That’s Tom Batiuk on the left. I don’t know who the other man is, because I don’t know the context of this photo. It’s too young to be Hal Foster, who was born in 1892, and looked like this in 1962.

Today’s strip makes it clear that Phil Holt tried to nag his way into a tryout, when Batton Thomas had a genuine tryout lined up. Which raises the obvious question: why is this story about Phil Holt and not Batton Thomas??!! Just from today’s strip, we know that Thomas has a better “I tried out for Prince Valiant” story.

This makes Phil look like a liar. In fact, this strip raises a lot of questions:

  • Two days ago, Phil said he has memory problems. Are we supposed to infer that his recollection of events is false?
  • Phil said he was “up against” Wally Wood and Gray Morrow, but he didn’t even have an appointment to show his work when Batton Thomas did.
  • Sunday’s strip was Phil telling an obviously fake story. Is he doing it again?
  • Does Kitch know everything Phil says is baloney, and is just humoring him for some reason?
  • Does today’s strip mean Tom Batiuk himself auditioned for Prince Valiant? Batiuk has never spoken of this.
  • Why would Batiuk give this storyline to his Jack Kirby clone instead of his self-insert character?
  • What does it say about the cast of Funky Winkerbean that it has multiple characters who could have plausibly auditioned to draw Prince Valiant in 1970?
  • What’s even real in this world?

The Funkyverse tries to use Expy Coexistence. Characters are analogues of real people, but mention real people, places, and events. This is done very inconsistently, though. Some characters are real people (Hal Foster, Conan O’Brien); some are ersatz versions of real people (Phil Holt, Flash Freeman, Batton Thomas); some are purely fictional (Ruby Lith, Pete); some are unclear because they’re real names that are spelled wrong (Gary Morrow, Joe Schuster); and some are fantastic entities that can’t exist in a realistic world (Holtron, Lord of the Late). Some fictional characters are real people in this world (Dick Tracy); some fictional comic worlds are still fictional in this one (Prince Valiant, Batman); and this world has its own in-universe fictional properties (Starbuck Jones, the entire Atomik Komix oeuvre).

There are a lot of other inconsistencies that need to be cleared up, too. Like how the time skips are supposed to work.

Funky Winkerbean needs a Universe Bible. I know Tom Batiuk can do this, because he wrote one for Batom Comics. And it’s actually decent. It’s concise, has a clear idea what it wants to convey, and isn’t trying to bludgeon you with a dictionary. Compare that group of blog posts with this group and you’ll see the difference.

This will also be a Cartooning Suggestion:

Write a Funkyverse Bible. And then obey it.

This would solve a lot of the problems that arise from Tom Batiuk constantly reinventing characters and the strip’s history to fit short-term story needs.

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Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

Please Re-Leese Me

Link To The Next One

Marianne Winters, the sexy young Hollywood starlet with the small-town morals and a heart of gold, was stricken with breast cancer. But, because she just happened to be starring in a movie about a young woman (with small-town morals and a heart of gold) who was stricken with breast cancer, she understood the importance of early detection and successfully detected the breast cancer she’d been stricken with. What luck!

And, even more fortunately for Marianne, hundreds of thousands of people got sick and died from a horrible virus that pretty much shut the entire country, including Hollywood, down. And even MORE fortunately, a gigantic wildfire roared through the Hollywood area, leaving untold destruction and billions of dollars worth of damage in its wake, thus enabling Marianne to set aside the time to seek the very best medical attention for herself.

So it all really worked out well for her and, even more importantly, it all worked out for the deeply-conflicted Delicate Genius too. Because you see, Les was very deeply conflicted about sharing his innermost pain (that he painstakingly documented in a best-selling book then talked about non-stop for over a decade) with the world, at least until he discovered that his personal courage, fortitude and tremendous artistic gifts were responsible for literally saving Marianne’s life. So like with Marianne, the pandemic and the conflagration, the whole wife dying of cancer and sending him into a twenty-four-year-long cycle of depression and misery thing all worked out great for him in the end. Heartwarming, ain’t it?

BatYam could probably save all kinds of time if he just nailed Les and that f*cking book of his to a big cross, then had the various other characters pass by and genuflect before him, but there probably wouldn’t be as many opportunities for dumb puns and stupid wordplay that way. The fact that he spent years on this story only to have it end up here just boggles the mind. We all should have seen it coming, too, but once again Batty somehow managed to surprise and bore us all at the same time, which is quite a trick when you think about it.

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Filed under Son of Stuck Funky