I don’t know why Phil’s bringing up that anecdote about Picasso moving rather than cleaning his studio. Apparently he moved to Ohio less than a year ago, and his new home has become this cluttered in that little time.
One of Tom Batiuk’s favorite tropes is on display today: elderly men acting like teenaged boys. Phil Holt is ancient, and he’s also an analog to one of Batiuk’s real-life comic book heroes. And this is how he gets portrayed? Like a 15-year-old who’s had a girl show up at his house unexpectedly? But of course, she thinks it’s cute and endearing. Ugh.
This doesn’t feel right for either character. Phil seems more like a neat freak to me. Like he stores all his pencils in the box they came in. Kitch runs a highfalutin’ art gallery. She might be used to the eccentricities of artists, but she wouldn’t find them charming. This is a great example of how all 300 characters in Funky Winkerbean are all the same person, differentiated only by gender.
Seriously, though: why does Phil Holt have a raccoon’s ass on his shelf?
That’s not a cat or dog. Phil doesn’t seem like a pet owner anyway, and he’s certainly not Ace Ventura. It’s the kind of detail that doesn’t belong in a quarter-inch-from-reality strip. If you want to make Phil messy (and ignore all the problems with that I already mentioned), then he should be messy in ways that make sense for his snippy personality. A random raccoon is the kind of detail you see in Animal House, to show how bonkers the frat party was. Or in Bloom County.
Well, now Phil’s just being a jerk. We saw last year that his studio is in a home near some palm trees, somewhere drivable from San Diego Comic-Con. Is that going to be Thursday’s joke? Does Kitch have to get into the car before she learns it’s a cross-country road trip? What does any of this have to do with Kitch’s initial goal of returning to the source of Dibbs Gallery’s Roy Lichtenstein prints? That was only two days ago.
Today’s strip reminds me of the infamous “Me Too on speed dial” strip, where Chester Hagglemore made Ruby Lith get into his car and go to his home for undisclosed reasons. (Spoiler: it was about comic books.) Now Kitch, a woman, has initiated a car trip to a man’s house. (Spoiler: it’ll be about comic books.)
It could have been interesting to re-create that situation, with the genders reversed, as an exploration of sexual double standards. But Funky Winkerbean isn’t nearly that ambitious. For which I am thankful, considering how badly it botched a simple “Me Too” reference. But they could have done this:
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.
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.
“Done something about” what, exactly? Smoldering futuristic cities? And how does Atmos hovering in the air help the situation in any way? Why didn’t he act BEFORE his planet was consumed by climate damage? Why doesn’t he ask Oceanaire to splash some water on it? What the hell do the other The Elementals do, anyway? They’ve been working on this for months and THIS is what they came up with?
That’s right, BatYam, it’s the readers who are wrong. This attitude sure explains an awful lot. “Crappy serialized stories that plod along for weeks on end and never go anywhere are what comic strip authors choose to publish!”…yep, they sure do. It’s one of American popular culture’s most enduring and vexing conundrums.