Tag Archives: Batton Thomas

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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Cities On Flame With Batton, Holt

Link To Sunday

“Done something about” what, exactly? Smoldering futuristic cities? And how does Atmos hovering in the air help the situation in any way? Why didn’t he act BEFORE his planet was consumed by climate damage? Why doesn’t he ask Oceanaire to splash some water on it? What the hell do the other The Elementals do, anyway? They’ve been working on this for months and THIS is what they came up with?

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No Country For Old Comic Book Men

Link To Today’s Strip

That’s right, BatYam, it’s the readers who are wrong. This attitude sure explains an awful lot. “Crappy serialized stories that plod along for weeks on end and never go anywhere are what comic strip authors choose to publish!”…yep, they sure do. It’s one of American popular culture’s most enduring and vexing conundrums.

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Hot Button Issue

Link to Today’s Annoying Vertical Strip

“Rapping Around”??? Oh…I get it. “Rapping” meant something else in those days. Way to date yourself there, Batton. Sigh. Obviously the gag here is how Batton was tackling these timely, topical issues way, way back in the 1970s, when everyone started giving a hoot and not polluting. And Batton is all wistful about it as he realizes that his “art” made no difference whatsoever. And it’s all very hilarious, in that patented unfunny way of his. I’d like to throw the whole lot of them in that river, preferably with cinder blocks chained to their ankles.

Why is this an annoying vertical strip? Panel one, the fake strip, panel two, word balloon one, panel three, word balloon two. How hard was that? Something about that pseudo-Funky font really irks me, too. “Rapping Around” my ass.

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The Trilogy Of Tedium

Link To This One

It’s called a “tetralogy”, you nimrods. Or a “quadrilogy”, if you prefer. It took me all of three seconds to learn this. But BatYam felt he really needed to drive Flash Freeman’s general imbecility home, again, so here we are. It would appear that once again he’s done the impossible and discovered something even more tedious than that “Elemental Force” arc from a few months back, and that “something” is watching Flash and Phil talking to Batton about it. That BatHam, always pushing his artistic boundaries.

That “Elementals” arc was absolute hell to get through and I really hope we’re not revisiting that fiasco again, because I am totally out of sub-atomic particle puns. It really is remarkable how quickly Flash Freeman became one of my most despised FW characters, as he wasn’t even in the strip until a few years ago. And it was better that way. Marginally, yes, but nevertheless.

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Shooty Now For The Future

Link To Today’s

Keen observation there, Boy Lisa. Insight like that must be why they keep him around, in spite of his overwhelming blandness. Not that it would have helped or anything, but it’d have been way more in character if Chester had said something like “find out what next’s year’s hottest titles will be so I can buy all the first editions” or something that was, you know, related to comic books in some way. Because he’s Chester Hagglemore, the man whose entire life revolves around comic books.

But instead he just had him say the most generic thing possible in that situation, rendering the strip (and the Chester character) totally pointless, instead of just mostly pointless. This is a really, really bad premise, even by FW’s lowly standards. Usually the premises are semi-believable and it’s the execution where they all go hopelessly awry, but this one is just complete dog shit. He couldn’t think of any other way to work some “Flash” gags into the strip? “I know! I’ll have Batton Thomas inexplicably use the Flash treadmill at Atomik Komix”…I mean that’s really out there, man. Half the strip takes place in a comic book store and a comic book factory, and this was the best he could do?

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Speed Freaks

Link To This One

I have to assume that this gag would make sense to big “Flash” fans, but what good does that do me? Based on what I know thus far, Batton’s gym closed during the pandemic, so he wandered over to Atomik Komix HQ, where, as fate would have it, they had a treadmill he could use. And no one at AK seems to mind or finds this peculiar in any way. On the contrary, they actually seem fine with it, engaging in wry banter with Batton as opposed to saying something like “what the f*ck are you doing?” or something like that.

And if his gym closed due to the pandemic, is it wise for him to be wheezing all over a bunch of people (three of them elderly, no less) he doesn’t even really know? And what about the potential liability issues here? If Batton snaps a tibia or dies on that thing, the cops and lawyers will definitely be asking questions about AK’s incredibly lax security, and those questions won’t be wry.

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Karmic Dread Mill

Link To The Strip

Special thanks to TFH, and everyone else really, but especially him! Lucky me, I’m back just in time for the unholy alliance of Batton Thomas and Atomik Komix, perhaps the second or third most sickening development of 2022 so far. Les getting that Oscar is gonna be tough to top.

So this Batton guy just “started coming there”? He just showed up at random local businesses looking for gym equipment he could use? Did someone invite him? How did he even know about the treadmill? This was the only way a guy with fifty years of writing experience was able to work a character based on himself into the story? Why not just use “magic” next time? Would it really be that much more ridiculous?

Batton is in the strip all the time now, yet Batty is still explaining who he is, which means that either a) he thinks his readers are forgetful dullards or b) he has no confidence in the character and probably shouldn’t be using him at all. I’m kind of surprised that Batton doesn’t already work at AK, as everyone else even loosely associated with the comic book business (turns and glares at Mindy) does. He could write and illustrate “Apathy Man”, whose superpower is that everyone forgets interacting with him immediately. He could use that ability to solve crimes or save the planet or something, or he could just half-ass it and milk it for fifty years. Either or.

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Who was that masked shmuck?

Today’s strip is so dense, every single panel has so many things going on…

My last day of the shift and I wind up with Batton Thomas, again (it could be Jff, actually, but nah)?! I know I am no longer the only one who runs into him, as he’s inexplicably turned into a semi-regular, but I still draw his appearances all too often. What a terrible coincidence.

Worse, though, is that it is like these characters know that they just followed a week of Les and are trying to match his insufferableness. They can’t, of course, but what an effort! Hope next week finds us somewhere else, though I can never be too optimistic that a change of scenery will improve things in this strip. The good news is that we’ll have the legendary Comic Book Harriett taking us through it… and through the 50th birthday (!!!) of this comic strip.

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The 2021 Funky Awards Week! Day 6

The wistful way John and Batton are looking at each other today, you’d think these two were carrying on some kind of illicit love affair. And in a way, they are. Talking about comic book memories is the ultimate form of intimacy two Funkyverse males can achieve. I wonder how Crazy Harry feels about John cheating on him like that.

Yesterday, we examined the few wisps of hay we found in the 2021 needlestack. Today a more onerous chore: to find out which of the innumerable rusty, tainted, twisted barbs hurt the most when it got under our skin.

The following are your nominees for The Worst Funky Winkerbean Strip of 2021.

1.) War of the Word Zeppelins

2.) Post Pandemic Doom Posting

3.) ‘Disappointed a Lot of Fans’

4.) Feeling Blue

5.) Randy Old Man

6.) Gross Randy Old Man

7.) Just Gross

And the winner for The Worst Funky Winkerbean Strip of 2021 is…

GROSS RANDY OLD MAN

Though other strips certainly made a strong case, only one strip this year had seasoned Son of Stuck Funky commenters saying things like:

The tonal shifts in this comic are several parsecs in length.

beckoningchasm

Looking at this offering is like playing “How many impending accidents and lawsuits can you count?”

William Thompson

The fact that I’m concerned about Lillian, who is utterly despicable, is kind of impressive.

RudimentaryLathe?

I don’t want to overreact, but I can’t help thinking this is just plain evil. 

Sourbelly

Can we nominate Batiuk for the Golden Crackpipe award? He can only be high if he thinks this was a good idea.

be ware of eve hill

 But never have I seen such a tone-deaf display as where today’s strip is leading this storyline.

J.J. O’Malley

I find it hard to believe that TomBa is this clueless but I also find it hard to believe that he could be so offensive intentionally.

Gerard Plourde

I can feel my sense of humor evaporating the moment my eyes fall on the strip.

The Duck of Death

Jesus, this is bad.

Rusty Shackleford

That’s it for the awards to hand out! Join us tomorrow for closing remarks as we wrap up the first ever Funky Winkerbean Awards, and I wrap up my shift.

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