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Shadowy Agenda

Link to Today’s Strip.

Someone decided to rip of Frank Miller in exactly one panel today.

Actually the art on looks pretty good, bravo to the colorist for the gradient shades on Chester’s bald head. And you can actually tell that it is supposed to be a Hulk poster in the background. Much better than the weeklies. If you look at Saturday we have a brown Green Arrow, and a nearly black Spider Man. I know that there is a black Spider Man now, but I don’t think he’s gone for a suit the same shade as his skin.

In one entire week of strips, we’ve learned exactly HALF of why Chester is here. I’m guessing that at the end of next week we will finally learn why he wants to contact Mopey Pete.

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Sadderday

Link to today’s comic.

Now we’ve devolved to a single panel, setting up a joke that could have been between any two Batiuk cardboard cutout mouthpieces. Both Crazy’s animosity and Chester’s condescension have been tossed aside to make a ‘topical’ reference.

According to BingeClock, it would take 2 days and 15 hours to watch all of Game of Thrones released so far. So is this running for a month of Saturdays? How do they decide where to start? I’m guessing they fast forward through any sex or gratuitous violence, thus getting the series down to 20 hours plus potty breaks and pizza runs downstairs. And who is attending this? Where are they sitting and watching? Spending 24 hours upstairs from Montoni’s, crouched on folding chairs in the dark, huddled around a flickering 1994 Trinitron TV, with Bernie, Bernie’s black friends, DSH and Crazy, eating cold pizza and drinking flat Mt Dollarstore, sounds like a recipe for Red Wedding levels of horror.

Also. This is a comic book store. Obviously they should have been watching The Walking Dead.

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The Defender: Rebirth

Link to today’s strip

Like many a random female comic character of the 80’s and 90’s, I am pulling on the discarded mantle of a now-gone vigilante to assume his identity for political justice! So watch in amazement as slip on my Mask of Internet Anonimity and take of the Cloak of The Devil’s Advocate. I ascend the rickety soapbox and become…. THE DEFENDER!

I went on an hours long Funky binge today, reading the entire Holly collects Starbucks series again. Because I was completely ready to lambaste this strip, and accuse Batiuk of all kinds of fussy comic book hang-ups. But I suddenly had an epiphany, like a lighting strike! (Into photo-developing chemicals!) And suddenly I could see. We are reading the meaning of Chester the Chiseler wrong.

The rich, obsessive, fanatical, Chester is prancing around like a grade A WWE heel, begging for our boos. And we’ve been booing. But we’ve also been accusing Batty of throwing a temper tantrum and making Chester a strawman of people who are ‘Bad Collectors’ who ‘love comics wrong.’

We’ve been wrong. Chester isn’t bad because Tom Batiuk thinks there is only one way to love comics right. Chester is bad because CHESTER thinks there is only one way to love comics right.

I’ve got more than a couple long boxes hiding in my apartment. I know firsthand how weird comics collectors can be, and Tom knows it too. There’s a mix of comic nerds and non-nerds in the Funkyverse, and Batiuk has made jokes on both sides of the ‘aisle’ so-to-speak without making anyone ‘the bad guy.’ Sweet pleasant little old ladies wandered into Komix Korner on Black Friday and didn’t think it was a real store. And Holly was teased for not knowing what ‘Slabbed’ means.

Most of Chester the Chiselers traits have been displayed by sympathetic characters previously. So those aren’t WHY Chester is ‘bad.’

Mason is rich; he’s not pilloried. Crazy Harry was flat out ‘Crazy’ about his collection he had to sell, and had grouped every book with awful acronyms. He also apparently was willing to spend college savings levels of money to complete his collection of Tarzan. Chullo boy swore on a ‘slabbed copy of Amazing Fantasy;’ so nothing against comic books being sealed away to preserve them. Pete had a hoard so big he had a street sale before moving. Darin bought a life-size Cosmic Treadmill. DSH John gave Holly bargaining advice before she went to buy a comic from Nick the Geek. Holly went absolutely CRAZY CUTTHROAT during an E-bay sale.

But Chester is a SNOB. Chester judges other nerds by what they like, and how they like it. Chester talks down facets of nerdom he thinks beneath him. Chester thinks that his collection makes him awesome and powerful. That it gives him authority to dictate comics dogma. That pointing out nerdy flaws at other nerds makes him THE ONLY TRUE NERD KING.  He is a terrible person, who just happens to love comic books. If he didn’t love comics, he would still be a jerk. It’s his interactions with other people, not his interactions with comic books, that make him a villain.

Chester sees John’s wall of questionable loli manga, and back issues of Sonic Adventures…and he is not impressed.

Disagree? Please let me know! I wanna hear your analysis!

Tomorrow we return to your regularly scheduled snarky nitpicking. Defender out!

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0.5 POOR (PR)

Today’s Strip

Batuik, you can’t have it both ways. Chester Hagglemore already came to Westview for the FunkyDick crossover comics auction. And DSH John pointed him out to Dick Tracy there by sight.  Then he screamed down John’s fifty dollar bid with fifty thousand. Your reputation can’t proceed you to someplace you’ve already been to someone you’ve already met.

Also, while paying absolutely whatever it takes could be annoying to a person in a comic book bidding war with Mr. Chiseler, it’s pretty great for anyone SELLING them. His rep as a comic collector would be acidsniffingamazeballs for vendors in the komix biz. John and Harry should be slipping around the shop with a red pen, surreptitiously marking up prices. A rich nutter guy willing to outbid anyone anything anywhere anytime really shouldn’t be called Hagglemore.

Lets call him Chester Seemore instead. Since he apparently climbed a completely pitch black stairwell with no trouble at all. Seriously John, Harry…do you even WANT customers?

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Taking Holt

Looks like the party’s over, and Darin’s spent the better part of his time pestering “Mr. Holt” rather that getting to know the other parents. There’s the purple mom in the background…she spotted Jess-less Darin at the party and swooped in to chat him up, only to be left standing there once Darin spied his idol. Now she looks on from a distance, arms akimbo, before resignedly gathering the drab blue and slate gray party balloons. Meanwhile, as if having ol’ Phil reduced to working children’s parties wasn’t pathetic enough, Batiuk has him bumming a ride home.

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Holt Meets Dolt

A couple of Batiuk’s pet themes inform today’s strip. There’s the setup and punchline: an admirer shares with his hero how hero’s advice inspired and influenced his life; to which said hero responds with disbelief that someone was dumb enough to actually take that advice to heart. It wasn’t funny when he used it last summer and it hasn’t gotten funnier since. But hey, recycled gags are to be expected in a comic strip spanning nearly a half-century. Let us save our groans for the way Batiuk retcons Darin’s—and his own—career.

Except for a brief cameo in 2009, we didn’t catch up with Darin until he showed up at the Taj Moore Hal with Jess in April 2011, unemployed and homelessstaying with some friends.” He spent the next three years as a manager slash mobile app developer at Montoni’s, before getting sucked up in the Starbuck Jones Hollywood vortex. Before all that, we’re told he was a “talented MBA.” So we either missed this whole New York chapter of Darin’s career, or he’s just blowing smoke up Phil’s ass. But we can think of another young man from Ohio who “went to New York to make [his] stand”…and was shown the door by DC and Marvel. If only he’d followed Phil Holt’s advice!

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Same Old Used to Be

Starbuck Jones…was the brainchild of Batom Comic’s first official writer Flash Freeman…Freeman had reached out to Phil Holt, an artist he had worked with from time to time on his various freelance jobs. Part illustrator, part cartoonist, Phil was the perfect artist for the job. His clean exciting style set the tone for the series right out of the gate.

Batom Comics – The Untold History Chapter 3” at the official FW blog

So there’s the backstory, for those of you who understandably can’t be arsed to follow the 11-part (and counting) history of Batiuk’s cloud cuckoo land comics empire. I shall use the rest of my time to share some observations about Rick Burchett’s artwork. Where Batiuk often would eschew busy backgrounds in favor of a crosshatched, encroaching black void, RB likes to cram in lots of detail, and today’s strip is a case in point. The kid sitting for a caricature resembles bratty Angelica from Rugrats, but Phil depicts her, as he probably depicts everyone he draws, as a flying superhero. In the background, a kid inexplicably goes sailing ass-over-teakettle through the air.

As Chyron HR pointed out in the comments yesterday, Phil Holt bears a resemblance to legendary comics artist Jack Kirby, born one hundred years ago this month. According to Batom’s “history,” Phil drew the first SJ comic in 1954; he’d be in his mid-eighties by now, which makes his having to work kids’ parties a little depressing. But in a universe where a nonagenarian actor is feted at Comic Con and a WWII vet still drives a schoolbus, I suppose this is totally plausible.

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