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…
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…
Everyone else can bring the funny in the comments. I’m going to be talking Srs Bidness.
I wanted to take Saturday to comment on the often noticed elephant in the room: Darrin replacing Ann Fairgood with Dead St. Lisa as ‘Mom’. Because we all know Jess in today’s strip is referring to the Dead St. Lisa looming in the background and not poor Ann Fairgood.
First things first, I don’t think it’s entirely unheard of for adopted people who reconnected in a positive way with birth-parents to go on to call them ‘Mom’ or ‘Dad’, even while they also still call their adoptive parents ‘Mom’ and ‘Dad’. I know Darrin only knew Lisa as his birth-mother for a few weeks or months, but perhaps the ticking clock intensified their re-connection relationship, like some kind of summer camp ending in death. I can buy that they loved each other, and as mother and son. And I don’t think Batiuk really intended to indicate that he loved the Fairgoods less because of it.
So the problem really isn’t that Darrin calls Lisa ‘Mom.’ The problem is that the elder Fairgoods have disappeared into the very background of Funkyverse over the last couple years, while Darrin, Ghost Lisa, and Les have remained center stage. The last mention of the Fairgoods was all the way back in March, when Darrin calls Les up telling him that he’s coming out to visit, “mom and dad.” But we don’t get to see that visit. Instead we get to see Darrin visit his bio-mom’s husband and reminisce about his dead bio-mom, all to set up for the Lisa Trilogy Boxset Special Extended Edition product placement.
Mr. Fred Fairgood had his stroke in January of 2013, and at the time I thought they were setting up for a copy of a FOOB storyline. Anyone remember when Grandpa Jim had a stroke? It was handled with pathos and humor, and his long, incomplete, recovery was shown in detail, and affected the rest of the strip. And when I am comparing a strip negatively to late-run For Better Or For Worse, you know it done messed up.
Batiuk failed to follow through. A close perusal of the archives here and on Comics Curmudgeon sees the Fairgoods taking a very active part in the investigation of Scumbag Bio-Dad in 2013, and being there for some Baby Skyler stuff, and that’s about it. He petered out involving the Fairgoods in anything by 2014. And you know what else happened around 2014? Holly Winkerbean’s Starbuck Jones Collecting Mania.
Now the strip more or less revolves around six or seven characters. Les, Bull, Funky, Dead St. Lisa, Darrin, Pete, Masone, Cindy, and Mutha Fukkin Starbuck Jones. Darrin is important because Starbuck Jones, and Lisa is important because Lisa’s Legacy is Batiuk’s Legacy, and his cash cow. And for Tom pointing out the biological connection between the two characters is easy and obvious. Probably compulsive at this point too. Lisa consumes all.
And it’s why Frankie the evil Bio-Dad showed up, twice, once even in reference to Starbuck Jones. And, most importantly, why he had to be evil in the first place. Making Lisa’s pregnancy the result of date-rape not only allows her to maintain her moral purity, (making Darrin an emotionally ‘virgin’ birth,) but makes it almost obligatory that Darrin and everyone else reject Frankie. There is no simpler way to negate his fatherhood. As a bonus it gives Batty an easy total monster in a strip rather devoid of them. But above all it tosses Frankie out of the equation, keeping the Darrin and Lisa and Breast Cancer connection strong.
If Batty simply wanted Lisa to live on in her children, then he would involve Summer more. But the last few years even Summer has been very intermittent, because she has nothing to do with Starbuck Jones and is stuck in college, which Batiuk couldn’t care less about. He likes Darrin. Darrin is a bland, generally happy, everyman who could hypothetically do anything Tom Batiuk would want story-wise, comicsfanboy-wise. There’s a reason we call him Boy Lisa after all.
You all can dissect this reveal at your leisure. The Cookie Monster bought all the cookies at the Sesame Street Bake Sale and we’re supposed to be surprised. I have no other comment on it.
Mostly I have questions for any artists we have out there.
When do you think was the last time Jess ate? Darrin’s huge sausage fingers are about to crush her rail thin spine.
Darrin’s nose has gotten flatter and flatter as the auction has progressed, almost as if the underlying bone was eroding away. Is the artist trying to indicate he has syphilis?
How long was that auction? Darrin has some pretty serious bags under his eyes.
Are Ghost Lisa and Ghost Phil gonna ghost bang or what?
What is that weird black thing in the bottom right corner of the second panel? Is it a speaker? Is it a top hat? Is it a weird failed perspective shot of the seat of the chair he’s just leapt up from? Whatever it is, why does it appear to be joining Maniac Grabby Hands Dr. Phil in shouting at the ceiling?
Why is Chester’s shadow red, when the floor is beige? Did the colorist think it was a red carpet that The Chiseler rolls out behind him wherever he goes like in Guardians of the Galaxy 2? Or is it a pool of blood from the victims he viciously clawed to death to keep them from bidding up the covers? And if that’s the case, why doesn’t he have gore all over his hands? Censorship?
And finally, please please please, for the love of Dead St. Lisa, can someone Photoshop some Pokéballs into Chester the Chiseler’s hands?
Lisa’s Legacy Fund must really be running on empty if Jess is about to burst into tears over… (checking the actual auction prices,) seven hundred dollars. Though I suppose since there’s a couple days left, the Busty Beauties ‘Jupiter Moon’ cover by Neal Adams could go for more.
Oh Lisa, that look she’s giving Darrin isn’t exactly a doting mother. I’ve seen people give that look to their pets when they start hacking up something inedible on the rug. We know why Jess and Darrin are sitting in the back now, because they planned on shouting vapid observations at each other the entire auction.
Poor Phil. He can hardly keep his jaw from dropping to the floor like Jacob Marley’s ghost in ‘A Christmas Carol.’ All those hours and hours of scribbling out caricatures with increasingly arthritic hands for snot nosed Hollywood brats to cover the rent on a one room studio in LA, his entire penurious old age that could have been spent in comfort and accolades, all of it will haunt his ghost for eternity. His purgatory has just become Hell.
His only recourse is to pop over to Rex Morgan MD, where he can haunt Horrible Hank, who not only had a successful career after comic books that included marriage and children, but later DID get discovered again, DIDN’T immediately die, and now gets to cruise around comic conventions soaking up admiration and sweet sweet commission money. Haunt him Phil Holt, terrify him with your misshapen jowls and droopy uneven eyes! You’ve earned it.
Masone and Cindy sure care a lot about this auction; seeing as they couldn’t be bothered to get up off their beach chairs and drive a couple blocks down the street to go bid in person. How much time do they spend on the beach anyway? They’re always there! Did Masone lose their house after he blew the paychecks from his two movies on private jet rides to Westview, and now they’re living in a tent on Venice Beach?
And who wears sunglasses AND baseball caps while sunbathing?
Nice to see Cindy is enjoying her book though, “A Single Shade of Grey.” It’s what passes for kinky in Funkyverse.
All Hail! Here is the beloved Holy Ghost of Dead St. Lisa! Once again haunting a charity function in her honor. But this time she has company. Their horrible dialogue in the first two panels is supernaturally banal. The only interesting thing about what they’re saying is that the lines seem all out of order. SEEM.
Until you consider what we’ve seen of Funkyverse’s afterlife. Masky McDeath comes and reaps you, sure; separating spirit from body. But the multiple ghost appearances, by multiple characters, in the strip suggest a soul remains on Earth. Drifting through the physical world, fully conscious of what is going on around it, and tied to objects and family it was close to in life: Dance hall railings, benches, comic covers, bio-sons. It only makes sense that the spirits beyond would introduce themselves to each other by explaining what in the physical world is their current tether. What goes on in the real world has the power to please or distress them. Like ancient pagan ancestor worship, the memory offerings of their progeny please their departed souls.
Which is why it is HILARIOUS when Phil learns that the precious comic covers he kept framed on his dinky apartment wall all those years, and then willed to someone he thought would treasure them and his memory forever after his death, were instantly liquidated to enrich the memorial of a woman who didn’t give two shits about stupid disposable funny pages. Silly man, you thought you had a LEGACY? The Death Cult of St. Lisa devours all offerings!!!!
I want it to go on forever too, or at least until Les Moore finally collapses in dehydrated agony, his body cramping so severely that it eventually implodes into a small green globule that gets washed into the nearest storm drain during the next good autumn soaking. Because that would be great. Barring that, blah, this is downright creepy. I mean who wrote this one, his nine year old niece?
LOL Ghost Lisa. What’s her deal anyway? Is she somehow contractually bound to only appear at Les sanctioned events or is she free to move about as she pleases? She seriously wants to spend all eternity following Les and his new living wife as they jog around that crummy park? What a bore, although it does deviate from the typical Westviewian’s eternal dream, that being eating pizza in a structure made entirely of comic books, of course.
In fact it sounds more like hell to me, but then again I’ve always despised Les Moore and all he stands for thus I’m slightly biased. I liked Ghost Lisa more back when she was detecting structural problems in passenger jets and things like that, you know, really USING her ghostly powers. Now she’s another bland idiot whose only interesting characteristic is being dead. In fact if she wasn’t transparent (indicating ghostliness) she’d be indistinguishable from the rest of these dullards. Who’d even notice anyway?
I thought he wasn’t going to be in the annual cancer fun run? Can’t anything EVER be clear with this comic strip? What a nauseating display, just repellent. Unimaginative and stupid too. “Great”…”amazing”…it’s a charity fun run people, not a pizza app or breakfast pizza or a comic book. “Adequate”…”sufficient”…”serves its purpose”…THOSE are more apt ways to describe it. The fun run, I mean, not the strip itself, which is a totally ghastly piece of crap.