Hope you all enjoyed yesterday’s respite from the boringly toxic (or rather, toxically boring) Melinda-Holly relationship, because we’re back for (checks calendar) WEEK 3?! of it in today’s strip. Things between these two are so bad that Holly will ignore good advice that is widely known by nearly every adult who has ever engaged in athletic behavior just to spite her nagging mother.
This strip has everything! Needless exposition! Falling leaves! Absolutely nothing likable! References that would have been topical 3 decades ago! References to death! And more word and thought bubbles than you can shake a baton at!
Comic Book Harriet, back in action. Ready to dig through the comic muck of this Inedible Pulp to, hopefully, stab at the heart of this horrifying nonsense.
First of all, I want to thank Spaceman Spiff for easing us through the shock and awe of the first ‘back from the dead’ soap opera moment I think we’ve had since Wally Winkerbean came home.
While some of you have been frustrated and angry at just how baffling the decision to retcon Phil Holt’s death is, I’ve actually been relishing the absolute stupidity of this arc. Unlike Batiuk’s biffing of Bull’s Suicide, the morally dubious resolution of the Adeela ICE arc, or the callous insensitivity of the LA Fires, the crazy on display here has no offensive real-world victims unless you find it libelous to Jack Kirby, Stan Lee, or Joe Simon.
And today, I finally get the answer to the most pressing question raised by Phil Holt’s ‘resurrection’: did he fake his death, or have a near death experience? Hanging on this question, was the interpretation of this strip from three years ago.
With the retcon, and the knowledge that Phil was completely fine at the time, there is only one explanation for these ghosts. Darin was imagining Phil and Lisa’s spirits having this conversation as they looked on approvingly at the auction. It was a fantasy that he concocted for his own gratification.
Furthermore, this suggests that every time we see ‘ghosts’ in strip it’s just the daydreaming of a living character, comforting themselves with a lie, roleplaying a no longer possible conversation, or expressing an internal anxiety, sometimes all at the same time.
Like when Lillian was visited by ‘Lucy’ coming back from the grave to lead her on a guilt purging journey of taking an undelivered letter to a demolished building, where Lucy and her old boyfriend Eugene could finally spiritually be together (even though Eugene was still alive at the time.)
Les of course is the worst offender of this. Lisa constantly pops up around him, encouraging him, praising him, agreeing with him, and smiling while watching him make out with his hot new wife.
But even Les seems to realize that this is just him projecting what he imagines Lisa would say. And that Lisa only lives on inside his mind as a fractured reflection of his memory. She sleeps forever, in the oblivion of death.
If I could ask Batiuk a personal question, I would ask if he believes in an afterlife. Because I don’t think he really does. I think he wishes there was something after death, but has been convinced that the only immortality we actually get is the lingering echoes we leave in the hearts and minds of others.
And, in time, those people will pass away, and so then passes even memory. Life has meaning, but only temporarily.
And so all metaphysical experience is really just human consciousness and awareness fractured and reflected back on itself. When we try to conceive of or reach out to God, or dead loved ones, or eternity, the only thing that can reach back is a part of yourself.
Dead St. Lisa was only a part of imagination. She’s no more or less real than that heatstroke robot Funky imagined when running, or Jeff’s Inner Child avatar, or Les’ depression cat.
But, then again, apparently the depression cat is real and crazy old film producers can see it.
And Dead Lisa did call into an airport and talk to customer service, then Les, then called in a phony bomb threat…
Haiku post for today's strip
Where nothing happens
"Who spent most of his
Time at war with the world and
Ev'rything in it"?
We talking about
Phil Holt or that Ed Crankshaft?
Both? Makes me shudder
C'mon now, Durwood
Phil did not know a dang thing
About your mother
C'mon too, Mindy
Who here cares one iota
About your granddad?
Pete here wins the strip
Only offense is a smirk
Default win's a win
If there was a contest to use the most words possible to say “Flash and Phil didn’t like each other”, today’s strip would definitely be a contender. Same for a most exposition crammed into a single panel contest, with panel 1 making a game effort. The only place such contests could possibly exist is, of course, the Batiukverse… so please forgive me if similar contests appear in this strip a year from now.
All that exposition in the first panel and Flash doesn’t realize the hall of fame awards given out at Comic-Con honor the deceased on the regular? Seems like having Comic-Con remotely would work well in Flash’s hypothetical honoring a live Phil Holt scenario, but since Flash doesn’t even know that dead people regularly get honored at this and other hall of fame ceremonies then it stands to reason that he wouldn’t know that Comic-Con and other events are held remotely. And by “Flash” in the previous sentence, I mean TB.
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.
Can you believe it?
'Twas eleven years ago
That this site began
Let us all wish a
Haiku all around!
It is how I celebrate things
I'm fun at parties
Now to Today's strip
Will DC send to TB
A cease and desist?
Young Batton enthralled
By Flash's famous power
Doing magic tricks?
Instead of the Flash
Batton imagines himself
In an audience
Batton's take away
From this famous Flash issue
Explains TB well
If Batton likes this
Doug Henning must be mind-blowing
Much less Copperfield
Thank you commenters
For the last eleven years
And what is to come
No, she passed away while playing racquetball, you clod. This one is rather grim and depressing, even by FW standards. They just refuse to let that poor old dead organist rest. Oh well, at least her death resulted in a humorous anecdote for everyone else, so her hundred and twenty years on this planet were well worth it. Maybe next week the pastor will die during a funeral service, with hilarious consequences of course.
I get this reference, because G and C are music notes, right? Sigh. It’s not Batiuk’s worst gag ever, but still, the old lady dying sort of takes the edge off, for lack of a better term. In a FW context it’s nothing but to an outsider I suppose it’d seem rather dark, which is probably one reason why hardly anyone reads it.
Organ, organ, organ…it’s like he’s making sausage here or something. “Our current organist wants to stop playing the organ and the previous organist died.”
“Shhh! You’ll scare off the organist and we’ll still need someone to play the organ as our new organist!”
“So, Mr. Dinkle, will you take over as our organist and play organ music on the organ?”
The way he just consistently beats selected words or phrases into the ground just drives me nuts. It’s really hacky too, it reads like dialog a child would write just to pad the word count on a homework assignment. I’m sure my fellow SoSF contributors would agree, there are times when you just can’t believe you’re typing “band mattress” or “Xaxian” or “Lisa’s Story” again. By the end of this week I’ll be able to type “organist” in a millisecond, which will never, ever come in handy again.
We can only hope today’s strip is the awful coda to this awful story arc about these awful people.
This is why you turned down Buck’s advances, Linda? Not because he was being incredibly creepy and distasteful? Not because you are still mourning your husband who committed suicide not even 6 months ago and don’t feel like jumping into any relationship? Not because you know absolutely nothing about him beyond his high school football career? Not because the only thing you two demonstratively have in common is your late husband?
I agree with Linda on one thing, though. I can’t go through this again, either.
Today’s strip takes a pre-dick-tably maudlin turn. Like we didn’t all know “Les tries to sullenly undermine this dumb movie thing” was going to be the gist of this story arc.
Even if I wasn’t short on time to write this, I’m wouldn’t archive dive to prove that Lisa did or did not say what Les is claiming at some point in time… because I can quickly and easily point to a time when she pretty much said the exact opposite.