Tag Archives: Darin’s blue shirt

Memento of a Murder

Link to today’s strip

Is it just me, or does it seem a little weird that Jessica is apparently only now thinking that she wants a souvenir of the John Darling show? I feel like she would’ve maybe thought of this sometime before, just because she lost her dad at such a young age. Or that it maybe would have occurred to her in the dozens or hundreds of hours she spent creating the documentary about him. I mean, she had to have watched some footage of him when she made that, I would think. But it took stumbling across random reruns of the show to make her think about wanting a piece of the set or his chair or something.

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Tears of a Darling

Link to today’s strip

I guess Jessica and her mom just both simultaneously discovered John Darling was being aired again, without either one of them mentioning it to the other (except for Jessica, right now). As much as I hate Batiuk’s writing when he’s putting his characters through melodrama and misery, I think he’s even worse when he’s going for “touching”/”poignant”. It’s been years since Jessica’s mom was shown in this strip, so just cutting to her silently tearing up is cheap and not really earned, in my opinion. And honestly I feel like the average newspaper reader has no clue about the background here.
I feel like we’re going to be seeing the phrase “‘John Darling’ show” a ton during this arc. After reading “Jessica’s father, John Darling, who was murdered” so many times, I really wonder why the John Darling strips have to have such repetitive dialogue.

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He’s a well murdered man about town.

Have you been paying attention to Crankshaft this month?

If not, then today is not going to make a lick of sense.

Currently in Crankshaft, Cranky’s grandson Max and his common-law wife Hannah, have gone back to working for Channel 1. Channel 1 subsequently suffered an implausible ransomware attack and is having to air reruns of The John Darling Show. Did you know that Darin’s wife, Jessica, is the daughter of her father, John Darling, who was murdered? Les Moore wrote a book about it. Continue reading

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Together Again For The First Time At Last

Link to today’s strip

And there’s Atomik Komix’ lead art forger Darin, looking like a cat who’s just heard someone open a tin of Fancy Feast. But Phil Holt’s reaction is much more interesting.

“Slumming again?” Phil, you only joined Atomik Komix ten months ago. How often does this woman visit that you can say that? It can’t be that many times, because she buys comic book art, and Tom Batiuk didn’t obsessively catalog every step of the transaction process. The contract signing alone would take a week.

Kitch’s playful response suggests that she knows Phil, too. But how? From 2017 to 2020, Phil was pretending to be dead. Before that, he was doing caricatures for kiddie birthday parties. He was also shown to have a home somewhere that clearly wasn’t Ohio. Flash Freeman, Phil Holt’s closest companion as far as we know, hadn’t seen him since he stomped off with The Subterranean in the 1950s, and spoke of Phil rather negatively

But Kitch seems to know how toothless Phil’s “grumpy” act really is. And she’s right. There are at least five old people in the Funkyverse who are much worse than Phil. Harry Dinkle, Ed Crankshaft, Lillian McKenzie, Mort Winkerbean, Melinda Budd.

To make another movie comparison: this is the “you two know each other” scene. A new character enters the movie; an existing character greets them in overly familiar way; and someone says “you two know each other?” One of them says “yes, we were in the Army together,“ and exposition is achieved. This interaction appears to be setting that up. But it probably isn’t.

Tom Batiuk is just filling the word balloons with whatever meaningless drivel he thinks will let him get on to the comic books, which is the only thing he wants to talk about. But he’s inadvertently implying that Kitch and Phil have a history, and that this is going to be relevant to the story. 98% of the time in Funky Winkerbean, it’s not.

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Oh! I have slipped from the fetid bowels of the earth…

Link to today’s strip.

Okay. I know that most of you have had a stab at trying to parse out the logic here, but I really want to get my own corkboard and string out and see if I can make a clearer picture. So let us follow the sequence of events.

1.) A few years ago Phil Holt was living alone in obscurity in California. He drew caricatures for the birthday parties of rich brats. He considered his old comics work junk despite the fact he hung pictures of it on the walls of his apartment. And wasn’t working on comics anymore despite the fact he had a drawing board and supplies out in a prominent place so must have been working on something (Fine art? Advertising?).

I love having junk on my walls! In my bathroom I have a movie poster for Jupiter Ascending!

2.) This single conversation with Darrin (who never brings Pete by to meet him btw,) sparks in Phil a desire to create comics again. He affirms that he will ‘be there for Darrin’.

Meeting your stupid friends won’t be a problem if you think I’m too dead to meet them.

3.) Despite the fact that no one except Darrin has recognized him in years, Phil Holt is worried about being ‘bothered’ while working out his new inspiration. Phil Holt has a friend/acquaintance/stalker named Mickey. Phil apparently has no one else in his life to confide in. This fat old man with a badly named comic shop somehow knows a fancy lawyer in a high rise office who also loves Phil Holt so much that he’s only too happy to help everyone else on Earth (except, presumably the government,) think he’s dead. Phil Holt thinks this will help him achieve the solitude he needs to work?

Ye Old Comic Shoppe? Does it only carry trade paperbacks of Prince Valiant?

NOTE: Mickey, who attended the con and then panel with Phil, phased out of existence the second Phil pulled off his mask. Where is he? Why doesn’t he get to go to the fun and fancy restaurant of reminiscing over retroactively recreated history?

4.) Phil decides to use the lawyer to gift a bunch of original art to Darrin. Art he had ALREADY decided to leave him in his will, and updated the will accordingly. It is worded vaguely enough that I can’t tell if this is the sole mechanism by which he faked his death, or just a nice thing he decided to do to ‘be there for Darrin’ despite planning on disappearing. The fanboy lawyer, who knows that Phil Holt is still alive, still somehow has trouble locating Darin.

Looks like the kind of guy who would know ‘Mickey’ well.

NOTE: The auction of the comic covers was advertised, and Phil never moved from the SoCal area it was held in. So he knew that Darrin immediately cashed in the art. He’s shown no ill will toward Darrin so far, so I can only assume he approves of the charity donation.

5.) So, for the last few years, after faking his death quitting, his job as a caricature artist, and giving away valuable possessions, Phil has moved from a tiny apartment in the greater L.A. area to a house in San Diego that couldn’t cost less than 500K?

The talking house really makes me miss classic Mark Trail.

NOTE: I’m assuming they’re still in San Diego. Unless the ROAD TRIP Pete was so excited about was all of them driving 150 miles to LA after having supper, after a long day at a convention? Ruby is in in the same clothes they wore to the panel. But Pete and Darin politely changed shirt color before dinner. And Mindy hacked off her sleeves again.

Pete has changed into his FANCY flannel for this.

6.) All so he can spend LITERAL YEARS working on a comic character he already worked on once before, and had entire folders of preproduction material prepared. And could have been working on constantly in the 40 plus years since he stomped out of Batom. I estimate he should have a Watchmen length graphic novel all penciled up and ready to go by now. Which means he never intended for his faked death to be permanent? I guess? Or he was creating for the sake of creation? Or he was going to release under a pseudonym?

Unless the folder is full of stills from stag films.

Conclusion: I’m lost. It’s nonsense all the way down. But as I said on Monday, this is the kind of stupid and crazy I joined on for. If Funky Winkerbean was nothing but badly handled social issues, I think I would probably get burned out on the outrage and leave.

But THIS? An elderly man imagining that even more elderly men are still alive so that he can live out his fantasy of all the Silver Age Marvel greats that bickered over credit kissing and making up? I don’t know if I’ve enjoyed an arc this much since Zanzibar. Actually even Zanzibar had the unfortunate implications of being based on a real life murder.

This is *chef’s kiss* peak outsider auteur Neil Breen crazy.

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The Mindy Projection

Mindy may be front-and-center in today’s strip, but we all know she isn’t the real star. The real star is…

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Induction Junction, What’s Your Unction?

Could Ruby and Flash be any less excited than they are in today’s strip, the big reveal of their hall of fame induction? I actually think they could, in theory… if they had to read this comic strip.

Despite Ruby’s wry response to being honored before she and Flash go the way of Phil Holt, the real life Eisner Awards Hall Of Fame is more than willing to honor comics icons who are no longer with us. Four of the six 2021 inductees announced thus far are no longer living, including legendary American political party mascot creator (and 180 year old) Thomas Nast and Swiss proto-comic strip pioneer Rodolphe Töpffer (who passed away when Thomas Nast was 5 years old).

One inductee who is still living is Lily Renée, who turned 100 back in May and is most likely one of TB’s biggest inspirations for the Ruby Lith character (big kudos to our own ComicBookHarriet for making and elaborating on this connection). Given that TB is known to work about a year in advance of the publishing date, the Ruby Lith-Lily Renée connection makes this story arc remarkably prescient… or it would if TB had not revealed his eerie precognitive powers several times before in both Funky Winkerbean and Crankshaft. At least this time he used his powers to predict something good.

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All The News That’s Fit To Sit

“Really good news” for Ruby and Flash in today’s strip! We learned the “really good news” yesterday, of course, and Ruby and Flash will have to wait to learn it until… well, hopefully sometime this week. Please let them learn it sometime this week!

“What is the point of this strip?” is a question that could be asked about Funky Winkerbean almost daily, yes, and it is a question that is never going to lead to any satisfying answers… but let’s pontificate anyway on today’s long panel of pointlessness. Is there really any reason at all to not have Durwood, Mindy, and Mopey Pete tell Ruby and Flash in this strip that they will be honored at Comic-Con in a month? Not revealing the news to them today does absolutely nothing. There is no suspense for the reader because we all learned the news yesterday. There is no suspense or anticipation for the characters because they have barely expressed the need or even want to be recognized for their work. Ruby and Flash have been glorified props in nearly every strip they have appeared in, existing almost solely to help Atomik Komix’s hard-shirking employees shirk even harder. Why wouldn’t Comic-Con and the Eisner Awards reach out to Ruby and Flash directly instead of relaying the news to Pete? Why wouldn’t these three wait for the Eisner folks to inform Ruby and Flash even if they got the news first? Why would Ruby offer her sad-sack take on the state of the comics industry as a response to the question “guess what?” posed by a coworker? Shouldn’t everyone who works at Atomik Komix be well aware of the sales of both their titles and the titles of their competitors? And what is Flash even doing here? He doesn’t work for Atomik Komix. Please tell me he’s not going to become a fixture, the Dinkle to Pete’s Lefty…

All this is doing is padding out the week worse than I padded out the preceding paragraph by asking hopeless and rhetorical questions. Oh, silly me, the point of this strip was in front of me the whole time!

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#abitlame

Hey, no Batton Thomas for Mr. Theskink in today’s strip! Nope, just comic people younger than Batton talking about comic people even older than Batton. That’s… better? I’ll let you all tell me.

There is, of course, an actual Hall Of Fame class inducted at the San Diego Comic-Con every year, which is part of the Eisner Awards. Not sure why TB didn’t drop the Eisner name in there before “Hall Of Fame”, but I guess that isn’t critically germane to the plot… that age-old story of a trio of 5th rate comic book company employees getting an e-mail about the acceptance of their nomination of people far more talented than them for the Eisner Awards Hall Of Fame.

Check out that list of real life Hall Of Famers, though. That’s impressive company. Even the A and B names on the first page of inductees alone is a who’s who of comic legends (I did notice the conspicuous absence of a certain B name). It says a lot about how TB wants Ruby and Flash to viewed in the Batiukverse… we’re talking Les-level here. Wowzers!

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Pete’s Green Thumb

Link to today’s strip.

Oh, yeah, Pete you really got played! She wrapped you around her little finger, Pete, and twisted you into agreeing to do something you were reluctant to do! And she did this using her feminine wiles of…asking nicely.

Good grief.

I’m sure this is another one where Tom Batiuk thought up the witty remark in panel three and thought, “That’s too good to waste” and so into the trash compactor, I mean, comic strip it goes.

The artwork, never a strong point with this strip, is especially bad today. In addition to the coloring gaff which gives this post its title, look at Dullard’s face in panel two. He looks like Mr. Potato Head, if he was a large banana instead of a potato.

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