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…
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)
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.