Link To Today’s Strip
Dinkle’s back. We’ve had to suffer through an inordinate about of Dinkle this winter. From piano lessons to turkey shenanigans to OMEA. It almost seems like Batiuk is intentionally giving us a break from Lisa’s Cancer Movie Extravaganza. Is he trying to reset our sensitivity to the storyline? Like letting a prisoner stew in the hole for a few weeks before bringing them back out for another round of enhanced interrogation.
Had a moment of confusion on my first read. Who the heck is Mrs. Howard? You mean One-Armed-Becky? The wife of Dead-Skunk-Head? I’m so far removed from thinking of either of them having surnames. I can barely remember DSH is named John.
I don’t think that this is a Dinkle strip that’s going to get cut out and pasted on many doors. The joke is anemic, but tolerable enough. Shrewd old teacher is down with substitute pranks. But this must either be a Freshman band class, or Dinkle hasn’t substituted for three years straight, otherwise the kids should be wise to his wisdom.
The real thing holding this strip back is the atrocious art in panels one and three. What is that hand in panel one? I could draw a better hand left handed. All the poor kids have horrible receding hairlines. I half expect that panel two was changed to black outline after the fact. After Ayers drunkenly turned in a scribbly panel of twenty mangled high school students as seen through a cracked funhouse mirror.
Again-this didn’t come up in the previous documentary about Cliff Anger? The fact that he literally lived with a monkey? This is honestly the most interesting thing about him. And was this before or after he took off on the tramp steamer? Did the monkey live with him in his crappy little apartment? Did Zanzibar testify before Congress on his behalf? Is the fact that Cliff lived with a convicted murderer’s pet monkey maybe contribute to his being branded a communist, or living as a bachelor for sixty years?
Also, how in the world was there “no way of telling when Butter would be back, if ever”? Does Cliff/Batiuk not know that people are sentenced to jail for specific lengths of time, and not like “whenever Williams/Wilson Bellows Inkpot feels like letting you out”, or whatever is supposed to be going on here? It says a lot that Batiuk can botch a storyline with an actress being murdered and a monkey so incredibly badly.
And is it me, or does Cliff look disturbingly like Frankie in the last panel? I’m sure it’s just supposed to be a “cool” expression but it always comes off way more creepy to me.
Honestly, I kinda dig the newspaper montage in the throwaway panel of today’s strip… such famous banners as the Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Herald (known as the Herald-Express in the 40s), San Francisco Call (known as the Call-Bulletin in the 40s), and… uh, the Oxnard Daily Courier (known as the Press-Courier in the 40s). The “His Famous Smile Is Gone” headline is actually a pretty upper-middle shelf bit of stupidly maudlin 1940s newspapering. What I like ends there, though…
WILSON BELLOWS INKPOT?! Are you kidding me, Batiuk?! “Butter Brickle” was too silly a name, had to be changed to the essentially nonexistent surname “Brinkel”… but some William Randolph Hearst-Snidely Whiplash mash-up robber barron (oh, there’s a 1940s trope, not an 1890s one… no sir!) named “Bellows” AND “Inkpot” is kosher?
Why, that’s almost as asinine as Jessica, who was in the same high school class as her husband Durwood (born in 1986) comparing yellow newspaper journalism with modern online sensationalism as if she didn’t grow up with supermarket tabloids and Les Moore writing a book about her vapid TV host father’s murder. Almost…
Today’s strip really does the “trial of the century” justice, all but finishing it up in two panels…
Really, though, “trial of the century” ain’t saying all that much. If the Batiukverse is anything like our own, this would be the one of dozens of “trials of the century”, even during its own 1940s-ish time period.
So is this what is complete of Cindy’s documentary so far? Is this a documentary that was already made about Brinkel, thus doing half of Cindy’s job for her? Did Jess just sleep through this whole week of strips and is just now waking up? Will we ever really find out? Do we really care? Does TB care?
(No, Yes, Probably, Not Likely, No, Absolutely Not)
Ooooooooooooooo! Rumors! Swirling rumors! Each one far too interesting to be true or even explored in Funky Winkerbean. Enjoy them now, because today’s strip is probably the last time they will ever be mentioned.
It really is too bad too… the most interesting aspect of celebrity mystery deaths are the wacky conspiracy theories obsessively promoted by space cadets with more imagination than TB has ever had. They can be disgusting, demeaning, profiteering, and otherwise awful, but interesting they really so often are. Otherwise, this Brinkel story is just terribly sad… which I guess, to be fair, is TB’s wheelhouse. It’s a really boring wheelhouse.
In true Batiukverse fashion, the police are having to hold people back from attempting to join Valerie Pond in the back of that ambulance.
TB is a master of “tell, don’t show”, a story-telling characteristic that seems like it might be a nearly serviceable way to set up a murder-mystery, as ill-suited as it is for comic strips. In today’s strip, however, he is employing the unusual technique of “show and tell explicitly in an unengaging way”. As I said yesterday, subtlety is dead in the Batiukverse. Now we’re just playing out the week(s) to find out if these filmstrip-bordered panels are Cindy’s in-production documentary, a documentary that Cindy and Jessica are watching, or a procrastinating fever dream that even Pete and Durwood would “stand in line” for.
I must admit, though, I do like Hagar The Horrible there in panel 3 and his Petri dish stemware. Looks like it holds nearly one whole ounce!
Panel 1 in today’s strip is brought to you by the Department of Redundancy Department.
A remarkable number of partygoers, including Brinkel himself, apparently failed to understand the “masque” part of masquerade… and how embarrassing, two other heavyset guys showed up not only dressed as the same character, but in the exact same costume as Brinkel. Brinkel and two other schlubs dressing as Pagliacci, the clown in an opera about a comic actor who murders an actress, to a masquerade ball costume party where a comic actor allegedly murders an actress was rumored to be more than a coincidence because subtlety’s funeral was last week and TB was a pallbearer.
Hello, I’m billytheskink and you’re not. Be thankful for that, too, as I’m doing two weeks time writing blog posts about Funky Winkerbean and the endless Butter Brinkel Battle (and you’re not).
Back to the… are we watching the documentary in today’s strip? Is that what these filmstrip borders mean?
The very late Valerie Pond was about to leave the studio that employed Brinkel when she met her untimely death. Is this factoid a red herring or a critical bit of evidence in this pointlessly re-opening case?
All good questions… with answers that I do not actually care about one bit. What I do want answered, though, is how you check guests against an invite list at a masquerade ball.
So we began and ended the week with a fat joke. Yep, this is how Emmy winning content gets made, folks….
Along with the flagrant retconning, jaw-dropping anachronisms, and slapdash draughtsmanship, the very sequencing of this week’s strips annoyed me so effin’ much that I’ve gone and rearranged them in logical order on their own page: sonofstuckfunky.com/the-butter-brinkel-story-corrected-for-continuity.
As Monday is the first of a new month (jeeze, it’s already July?) , your genial hosts here at SoSF don’t have the so-called luxury of being able to peep next week’s strips in advance. And Sunday’s strips are never available ahead of time, so don’t bother checking in around here until midnight Eastern (hopefully you’ve got better things to do on a Saturday night…I haven’t…) And heads up: stepping to the plate on Monday is none other than billytheskink! Billy has perhaps the broadest knowledge of Act I and Act II, and the ability to resurrect vintage strips, and shows a better grasp of continuity in the Funkivers than Thomas Martin Batiuk himself, and is handy with haiku. I salute him, along with @epicusdoomus, who manages the bullpen, and every guest author, past and present, over nine years of this blog, and most of all, you, the reader.