Tom Batiuk is a 14 year old. Because he clearly seems to think smoking and drinking makes you a badass, which I’m pretty sure that stopped being a thing in high school. A literal 14 year old boy writing this strip would explain why it’s so fixated on comics and has such a creepy portrayal of the female characters. Also, teaching an animal to smoke and drink isn’t awesome, it’s abuse.
Oh, and Cliff absolutely has the hots for Zanzibar in the last panel. Note the leer and the fact that his right hand is clearly under the table.
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.
Link to today’s strip
Thanks for having me back. I’m always nervous that I’m going to get stuck with weeks of Dinkle typing in silence when it’s my turn here, so I guess this is better.
I’ve got two issues with today’s strip. I would really, really like to know why Hammett thought Brinkle was covering up for someone else. It’s basically the core of this whole lame “mystery”. Somehow a jury found enough evidence to convict him, but Hammett found evidence that he didn’t do it? Gosh, that sounds almost interesting.
It’s also very funny to me how this never came up once in the documentary Cindy already did on Cliff. It’s like if you did a documentary on some random old football player, and then a year later he just casually mentioned how he had proof that O.J. Simpson was guilty and never mentioned it before.
Today’s strip gets a “time travel” tag and a “retcon” tag, because both of those things appear to be happening!
This is lifted wholesale from the Fatty Arbuckle case, by the way. Dashiell Hammett actually was a Pinkerton man in the late 1910s and early 1920s and he did claim to be a part of the Pinkerton team hired by Arbuckle’s defense attorneys, though some historians doubt his involvement was significant if it even happened at all.
How this squares with the timeline of silent film star 1940s icon Butter Brickle Brinkel’s trial is unclear… but all timelines in the Batiukverse are about as clear as an oil spill.
Cindy, master interviewer that she is, finally asks Cliff a question in today’s strip, but not before hitting a dead end with her traditional method of making a statement and hoping Cliff spits out something interesting in reaction.
Not that actually asking a question yielded anything all that interesting either, but at least the story moves on to something that isn’t a ridiculously obvious red herring. It is understandable that Butter Brinkel’s innocence remains in question when the only guy who could prove it is a fictional detective. I suppose Cliff means Humphrey Bogart told him Brinkel was framed… or perhaps it was his good friend, Sam Spade creator Dashiell Hammett.
Cliff exhibits his trademark blasé in today’s strip, though I remain quite unsure how that demeanor lends itself to gripping documentary film.
Did Cindy not tell Cliff what he was going to be filmed for before he sat down? I mean, sure, he’s old but he’s not senile, right? In any event, poor Cliff does look emaciated. His looming death is probably the reason that Cindy is frantically asking Jessica if she is filming.
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…