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.
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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.
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.
Hey, everyone. SpacemanSpiff85 giving it a shot today. All week I was afraid I’d get a full panel of antique Starbuck Jones memorabilia drawn by whoever Batiuk last cornered at a con, so I’m glad I actually have something to write about today.
So…Mason just sat on the window sill like that? And not just while he was watching Cindy on the balcony, but even after she went inside Anger’s apartment and talked to him, which probably took a little while? He didn’t wonder if maybe he should be concerned for her well being? While he had Funky still on the phone? And Pete just stood there awkwardly in the hallway, probably daydreaming about how the old Batom writers used to break into people’s apartments through fire escapes, back in yesteryear? As dumb and typically Batiukian as all this is, it is kind of great seeing Mason’s sad little expression as his fiancée’s ex-husband basically says he still finds Cindy attractive. And who doesn’t Funky have the hots for? Not Holly, as far as I can tell, but his fitness instructor, ex-wife, and his son’s fiancée clearly do it for him.
And the multi-cellular organism bit is another dumb bit of what Batiuk thinks qualifies as wordplay. Single celled organisms don’t find her charming? Plants and mold and lichen do? I kind of wonder if Batiuk originally had something along the lines of “Who wouldn’t?” or “Him, too?” but thought that was too creepy and unfunny even for him. Or maybe he just thinks “multicelled organism” is impressive science talk, like “anti-matter brownie” or “time pool”.
And finally: is she a hag or a seductress charming her way into stranger’s apartments with her beauty, Batiuk? I’m sure in a week’s time she’ll be moaning over how she’s far too worn and decrepit to be the Vera Moon to Mason’s Starbuck.