Today’s strip concludes (we hope and pray and hope and wish) this latest visit from the Ghost of Distress Past. Her Royal Wryness. The VHSaint herself.
Special thanks go out to Summer for being a prop with no impact on the story whatsoever, she has already collected her prize of appearing in a full 3 panel strip this week (panels will not necessarily be consecutive).
Special thanks also go out to Les for having such an insatiable ego and such milquetoast friends and family that he will continue to receive the unearned praise he has been given for decades now.
And extra special thanks go out to Crazy Harry, who demanded nothing but 18 panels of our precious time in return for his brilliant idea of pretending Isaac Asimov invented the concept of recording video using already obsolete technology.
On the subject of 18 panels (well, 16, thanks to a couple of 2 panel strips), this new Lisa tapes origin story actually takes up more column inches than the entire original origin story AND depiction of the recording of the tapes! That took just 16panels in fourstrips. For all its faults, Act II got to the point…
It doesn’t look like Phil Holt had much of a “try out” for Prince Valiant. It looks like he made an unsolicited submission to a large publisher, which was promptly thrown in the trash. By the receptionist. Ouch.
This is typical, though. Most big media companies have a stated policy of “we do not accept unsolicited submissions,” and return them to the submitter with a letter to that effect. This so people can’t claim the publisher stole some half-baked idea they submitted, and try to sue them for damages.
But who’s that in the background? A man who is very specifically drawn; has a monogrammed art satchel; a pair of initials no real person who worked on Prince Valiant had; and looks like he’s waiting for an interview.
It’s Batton Thomas.
As further evidence, I submit this photo from the Funky Winkerbean blog:
That’s Tom Batiuk on the left. I don’t know who the other man is, because I don’t know the context of this photo. It’s too young to be Hal Foster, who was born in 1892, and looked like this in 1962.
Today’s strip makes it clear that Phil Holt tried to nag his way into a tryout, when Batton Thomas had a genuine tryout lined up. Which raises the obvious question: why is this story about Phil Holt and not Batton Thomas??!! Just from today’s strip, we know that Thomas has a better “I tried out for Prince Valiant” story.
This makes Phil look like a liar. In fact, this strip raises a lot of questions:
Two days ago, Phil said he has memory problems. Are we supposed to infer that his recollection of events is false?
Phil said he was “up against” Wally Wood and Gray Morrow, but he didn’t even have an appointment to show his work when Batton Thomas did.
Sunday’s strip was Phil telling an obviously fake story. Is he doing it again?
Does Kitch know everything Phil says is baloney, and is just humoring him for some reason?
Does today’s strip mean Tom Batiuk himself auditioned for Prince Valiant? Batiuk has never spoken of this.
Why would Batiuk give this storyline to his Jack Kirby clone instead of his self-insert character?
What does it say about the cast of Funky Winkerbean that it has multiple characters who could have plausibly auditioned to draw Prince Valiant in 1970?
What’s even real in this world?
The Funkyverse tries to use Expy Coexistence. Characters are analogues of real people, but mention real people, places, and events. This is done very inconsistently, though. Some characters are real people (Hal Foster, Conan O’Brien); some are ersatz versions of real people (Phil Holt, Flash Freeman, Batton Thomas); some are purely fictional (Ruby Lith, Pete); some are unclear because they’re real names that are spelled wrong (Gary Morrow, Joe Schuster); and some are fantastic entities that can’t exist in a realistic world (Holtron, Lord of the Late). Some fictional characters are real people in this world (Dick Tracy); some fictional comic worlds are still fictional in this one (Prince Valiant, Batman); and this world has its own in-universe fictional properties (Starbuck Jones, the entire Atomik Komix oeuvre).
There are a lot of other inconsistencies that need to be cleared up, too. Like how the time skips are supposed to work.
Funky Winkerbean needs a Universe Bible. I know Tom Batiuk can do this, because he wrote one for Batom Comics. And it’s actually decent. It’s concise, has a clear idea what it wants to convey, and isn’t trying to bludgeon you with a dictionary. Compare that group of blog posts with this group and you’ll see the difference.
This will also be a Cartooning Suggestion:
This would solve a lot of the problems that arise from Tom Batiuk constantly reinventing characters and the strip’s history to fit short-term story needs.
But we’re not in reality (we’re 1/4″ away from it), so what we are left with is a false modesty competition between Marianne and Les that offers nothing we did not already know yesterday. It’s a good example of Les showing his true colors though… If Les really and truly felt guilty about taking the Oscar that Marianne is stupidly and inexplicably giving up, then he wouldn’t wait until she flew across 70% of the country to tell her. I’ll bet he also excuses himself to go to the restroom just before the check comes at a restaurant and then returns to sheepishly offer to pay the bill just as his dining companion is handing their credit card to the waiter. Cue Ben Schwartz saying the thing…
“Door jamb”??? That’s not a “door jamb”. Sigh. What can you even say about such a stupid and blatant piece of time-killing tripe like this? Maybe BatTrudge has a secret fantasy about an extremely wealthy FW fan who got rich after selling his paperback FW collection and now lives in a FW-themed mansion full of FW-related trinkets, like the soda machine from King Features main office or the label from the bottle of prescription cough syrup Batom slammed before he dreamed up this steaming pile of hogwash. It’s about as plausible as this stupid premise is. I’d be willing to wager that this strip represents the very first time the words “door jamb” have ever been used in a comic strip, unless Crankshaft or Mary Worth had some home remodeling done recently.
Whenever he does one of these idiotic vertical strips I always picture the guy trying to fit it into that day’s comics page, banging his head on his desk and shaking his fist skyward while screaming “BAAATIIIIUK!!!!!”. That’s two of them in just a few weeks, which is two too many IMO. If you really need to kill all this time perhaps a (ahem) “re-assessment” of your “writing” abilities needs to happen (fat chance).
“Holy door jamb”…sigh again. It’s not even a joke. Pete whispers to Boy Lisa…”this guy has Batom in the belfry”…yes it’s a terrible, terrible pun but still 1000% better than…this. Coming tomorrow: Pete gets to use the same urinal Phil Holt used back in the day and Boy Lisa helps himself to a few rolls of official Batom Inc. toilet paper that Chester swiped when he was looting the Batom offices. This segues neatly into a three week long discussion about how the old timey hand-cranked pencil sharpeners were just SO MUCH BETTER than these modern electric ones they force us to use nowadays.