Tag Archives: Darin’s blue shirt

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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Flap Goes the Yap

Link to today’s strip.

Well, the perspective shifts in today’s strip seem noteworthy as an example of terrible artwork, as Dullard’s desk seems to scoot across space so he can…uh, weakly comment on dull things. I’m surprised the force of his motion didn’t knock Flash and Ruby, happily reminiscing, into the next building. That would have tied up their stories nearly, and they wouldn’t have to stand there smiling at each other.

–Wait–

Oh God. I think I foresee what’s in the wings.

Flash and Ruby are going to get married.

Tell me I’m wrong.

Please, tell me I’m wrong.

For the love of God, Montresor, please tell me I’m wrong!

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Through a Glass, Dorkly

Link to today’s strip.

Gosh, Mr. Batiuk, that sure is a swell observation about Superman’s glasses, but don’t you think it might be too clever? I mean, it’s so deep and true and sure to leave an impact on the world at large. Here, you’re wasting it in the funny pages, which, aside from the notable exception of your own work, is chodder for dum-dums who can’t handle innovation! Maybe you should write a book — “Superman’s Story – The Other Lens” — and send it to those clodhoppers at the Pulitzer Committee! And write on the inside cover, “Here’s some genius–let’s see if you can recognize it!”

I believe Dullard’s “clever” observation has probably been in circulation since, oh, I dunno, probably as long as Superman himself. I’m sure there have been a number of theories about why it works when it shouldn’t. I recall one of the more, uh, fanciful ideas was that Superman is actually using a low-level form of his “super hypnotism” power. Against the entire world. At all times. That sounds like something Batiuk would write, so maybe DC should have snapped him up when they had the chance.

It does remind me of the 1978 Superman film, where Christopher Reeve’s acting style could make you believe that he was two entirely different people. That was an excellent performance, which I don’t think has been bettered in the role of Superman in the years since.

I think that’s the only way I can use the word “excellent” in a post about Funky Winkerbean,

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People Who Are Unalert and Afraid

Link to today’s strip.

I hate to sound like a broken record, but Jessica comes across as emotionally unstable, and Dullard comes across as a clueless clod. The fact that she’s ready to fly off the handle without knowing what’s actually going on, and then immediately turn lovey-dovey would be worrisome to a normal person.

But of course, Dullard isn’t normal. He thought he could hide his glasses from his wife, apparently forever; and he thought sharing his medical condition with his wife (again) was something one simply does not do.

Now, in the hands of a nominally clever writer, this could work, with a lot of details nudged here and there. You could get some good comic mileage out of this kind of a relationship. “Seinfeld,” “Friends” and dozens of other shows managed to make neurotic relationships amusing.

Of course, we are not in the hands of a nominally clever writer. What occurs to me is that this week’s “story” would have worked better with Pete and Mindy as the leads. Pete is already obsessed with his loser nature, and since they’re not married it might be a genuine worry for him that Mindy would say “Ugh! Glasses? No thanks!” Maybe. None of these characters are developed enough so we can reasonably guess what kind of reactions they would have. This week offers proof of this.

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People Like You (Dullard) and You (Jessica)

Link to today’s strip.

So Dullard was afraid that Jessica would think he was a nerd, because he was wearing glasses.

And then what? Divorce him? “Your honor, this man wears glasses. No wife wants a man who wears glasses.”

Seriously? I mean, sure there was a time when wearing glasses was considered “uncool” and perhaps a bit of a stigma…among school children, on television sitcoms. In the 1960‘s (at the latest). And I’m betting on each of those sitcoms the resolution was that it was “okay” to wear glasses.

Today, I’m not sure I know anyone who doesn’t wear glasses. It’s not a trait that really stands out anymore.

In a better comic strip, this could be the start of a “bit” that could be hilarious, as over the coming days Dullard tries increasingly bizarre ways to hide his glasses from Jessica. Because what else could his plan be?

Let me restate this: Dullard didn’t want Jessica to know he needs glasses. Since they are a married couple, and not casual acquaintances, this would be a very difficult achievement. “What are those?” “These? Nothing! Funky asked me to keep his glasses, just in case.” Later: “While we’re driving in the car, can you tell me when you see the signs for the exit for HorribleDemise Lane?” “Uh, I’ve got a better idea! Why don’t we ask Skyler, to test his reading ability?” “Oh, that’s such an awesome idea from a father! My father was murdered by the way.”

Skyler: “M-U-R-D-E-R-E-D. Murdered. Shot to death while on the air.”

This scenario, though, would require the creativity of 1950’s sitcom writer, which Batiuk can’t give, can’t even buy, and just doesn’t get.

Skyler: “A-E-O-N space F-L-U-X. Something unfathomably better than this horrible existence could ever be.”

(Sorry, I love that intro and wish I could do something half as cool.)

It’s another example of Tom Batiuk deciding that the first thing he thinks of would make a good story. “What if…Dullard had to wear glasses?” Well, what if? That’s just boring. “What if he wanted to hide this from Jessica?” What? That doesn’t make any sense! And it’s still boring!

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