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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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Arty Party

Maddest of mad props to billytheskink for the last two weeks’ posting. Billy’s broad knowledge of FW canon is matched only by his skill with haiku.

Today we see Marianne Winters and Mason chatting on set…’scuse me…what? Oh! Sorry: it’s some other blue-black bobbed babe chatting up Darin at a kid’s party. “Jessica tells me you’re an artist.” There’s no need for Darin’s “self-defectating” response: she’s not impressed to meet a hotshot Hollywood storyboard ace, but rather, dismayed at having wasted money on a caricaturist when she could’ve pressed her party guest into service for free. This insult goes right over distracted Darin’s head: he’s regarding the sketch artist at work, and pondering things like “Why does his face look so weirdly specific? Why is a professional artist working with a yellow #2 school pencil? Why would a professional artist draw a professional artist working with a yellow #2 school pencil?”

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Credit Where It’s Dull

Epicus Doomus
June 1, 2017 at 11:27 am
…[S]houldn’t “Ms. Lopez” be “Mrs. Bushka”? Did Bull die off-camera or something?

Here’s another unanswered question: is Jim being witty or does he just not know what a credit union is? Another question, and this one’s for any teachers out there: are you required to pack up and schlep home all your belongings at the end of every school year? Linda’s got but one box but it looks to be loaded with books; Jim’s got two boxes but still manages to get a hand free to push open the automatic door. Burchett gets to introduce another new character: that janitor who vowed to one day kick the ass of the guy whoever the hell peed in his closet 40 years ago.

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School’s Out Completely

Batiuk’s spent the last few weeks burning off a lot of one-shot gags. You’ve gotta admit, though, that even when they fall flat, you’ll take a half-dozen joke strips over say, a week of Funky exploring an abandoned houseToday’s comic continues in the gag-a-day vein, but Burchett continues to add welcome and pleasing visual details. Especially in that first panel: Cayla is positively coquettish, smiling to herself as she casually lets slip to Nate that hubby Les is going to be…preoccupied. And she’s totally getting through to Nate, too. Cut to a nice shot of the talking school building featuring non-hand lettering on the WHS message board, some nice shade from some leaves, and of course there be bricks.

That slow jam playing we could hear in the background abruptly switches to Yakety Sax! Here comes Les, haulin’ ass, knocking hapless students aside with his valise in his frenzy to get the hell away from there. Unless Les and his wife drive separate cars to work, poor Cayla’s going to need a ride home…

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Don’t Try and Con ‘er

170601I don’t know about you, but man, RB’s art is still giving me the heebie jeebies. Today it’s that second panel, where Linda is looking right at us with her beady eyes, beady eyebrows, and weird bottom teeth. Her shoulders and elbows are all weird, undulating contours…don’t her arms appear bony? And there’s a ominous, diagonal black shadow behind her: why? And when did she start wearing her ID badge so prominently? Detective Lopez of the Westview PD.

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