A couple of Batiuk’s pet themes inform today’s strip. There’s the setup and punchline: an admirer shares with his hero how hero’s advice inspired and influenced his life; to which said hero responds with disbelief that someone was dumb enough to actually take that advice to heart. It wasn’t funny when he used it last summer and it hasn’t gotten funnier since. But hey, recycled gags are to be expected in a comic strip spanning nearly a half-century. Let us save our groans for the way Batiuk retcons Darin’s—and his own—career.
Except for a brief cameo in 2009, we didn’t catch up with Darin until he showed up at the Taj Moore Hal with Jess in April 2011, unemployed and
homeless “staying with some friends.” He spent the next three years as a manager slash mobile app developer at Montoni’s, before getting sucked up in the Starbuck Jones Hollywood vortex. Before all that, we’re told he was a “talented MBA.” So we either missed this whole New York chapter of Darin’s career, or he’s just blowing smoke up Phil’s ass. But we can think of another young man from Ohio who “went to New York to make [his] stand”…and was shown the door by DC and Marvel. If only he’d followed Phil Holt’s advice!
Since Batiuk went dialogue free in today’s strip (the better to further pad out this dreary story arc), I’ll be only slightly less lazy than he and just contribute a few lines of my own.
“Consarn it, here’s my joy buzzer! Wanted to use it on that actor feller!”
“Hope to God the cyanide table hidden inside will still do the job after all these years…”
“A crummy commercial? Son of a bitch!”
(I only hope fan favorite HeyItsDave hasn’t already Photoshopped this gag!)
Here’s today’s real strip
April 10, 2016 at 10:49 pm
Wow, Tom Batiuk has absolutely no idea how the real world works. This is far more amazing and unbelievable than any Starbuck Jones adventure.
It’s times like these, gentle reader, when Batiuk’s “quarter inch from reality” stretches into light years, where it’s fun to imagine that the author is actually setting up a nuanced and compelling plot, instead of the usual flimsily constructed, implausible farce. Yesterday Mason was talking the producers into putting Cliff Anger in the picture and paying his (New York City!) rent for a year. Today Mason’s continues to overstep his authority, assigning Pete to write Anger into the script “as soon as we get back to Hollywood.”
What if Mason doesn’t have enough clout to recast and rewrite Starbuck Jones on the fly (c’mon, a guy whose signature role to date was in something called Dino Deer)? Perhaps Jarr’s come as unmoored from reality as the comic strip in which he’s a character, and he just thinks he’s pulling all these strings. I don’t have any better understanding of bipolar disorder than does Tom Batiuk, who labeled Mason as such merely to set up a cheap gag, but maybe he’s having one of what you call your manic episodes. In his head, anyway.
Remember to vote for your favorite guest author in our 6th Anniversary Contest! Winner will be announced tonight.
These Hollywood producers really have the cash to throw around, don’t they? Presumably it’s on their dime that Mason and company have been able to fly to Ohio, then on to New York, on their quest to track down this forgotten actor. And today, on the recommendation of their leading man, they’re prepared to pay a year’s rent on Cliff’s New York city apartment, ostensibly in addition to a fat paycheck that will set him up for life. So thrilled is Cliffy with this turn of events that he’s unfazed when Mason offhandedly insults his current surroundings.
It speaks to the drawn out pacing of this comic strip that today’s strip could seamlessly follow last week’s, completely doing away with Cindy’s fire escape escapade. I’m not an avid Mary Worth reader but I imagine the same thing must happen over there a lot.
A cursory search of Grandpa Google for the phrase “grandpa google” reveals that nobody except Pete and Tom Batiuk actually call Google that, so into the Batiuktionary it goes. A good gag would have had cranky old Cliff reply to Pete “Who are you callin’ Grandpa?” But clearly this is one internet savvy old man. He’s used the web to move enough SJ collectibles to create a trail that has led these strangers hundreds of miles to find him. What little inventory he has left fits in an old suitcase: a raygun, rocketship, some action figures (and were “action figures” even a thing back in the days of serials? Boys didn’t play with dolls until G.I. Joe), along with a rather intriguing “coloring book” whose cover will probably serve as next Sunday’s entire strip.
Set-up: The story arc moves closer to a conclusion as Cindy’s tactic straight from the “Fletch School of Journalism” pays off – what with the fearless invasion of privacy and all. Cindy, Mason, and Pete go face to face with the elusive Cliff ‘H’ Anger and a classic ‘Who are you? (Journalist-turned blogger) Who am I? (Unemployed star of stage and screen) Whats with the haircut? (Mark Davis’s hair stylist did it!) exchange that plays out with predictable Certified Grade A TB-word play.
Punchline: Meat jokes? Really?
Don’t encourage him, Mason – the dopey manchild to your left could have input on the script (assuming he doesn’t get the same Hollywood treatment as Les) and if you start to buy into his wordplay, this Starbuck Jones reboot will feature typical awkward zingers such as : “Done enough for you?” and “Take the Xaxian to the hold – don’t forget to grill!” This straight to laserdisc video will move plenty of units…but I digress…
An unsophisticated plebe such as myself can’t do the calculus needed to estimate Cliff H Anger’s age..but I’ll set out variables for the SoSF faithful : 1) The serial was produced during the height of the cold war. 2) Cliff H. Anger was likely in his…20’s? 3) The current FW timeline is…today? Ten years ago? 4) If Cindy is Funky’s age…how old is Mason? 5) Should Cliff H. Anger really be living alone at his advanced age and why is he younger looking than Harry Dinkle? 6) Wait…what was the question?
In any event, we’re bound to see this play out in classic Westview custom: Cliff H. Anger will be offered a cameo role – giving him faint hope that he won’t have to sell memorabilia nobody wanted in the first place. Now…keep in mind this role is being offered by the lead who, as far as we can tell, is neither the producer nor the casting director. Cliff H. Anger will fly all the way out to Hollywood only to be told by some suit that there’s no place for him in the film…and he’ll travel back to New York City even deeper in debt. Cute.