Banana Jr. 6000
December 4, 2020 at 12:36 pm
…The joke is so mild and so botched, and the reaction is so ridiculously oversold, that the strip should be funny for how misguided it is.
Does anyone else think that Darin in the last panel looks like he was drawn by MAD’s Maddest Artist, Don Martin?
Tom Batiuk has frequently expressed, in his work and in interviews, that even though we call them “comics,” they don’t necessarily have to be “funny.” “I don’t see why a comic strip can’t carry the weight of substantial ideas,” he once said. But even a storyteller like Batiuk must cleanse the palate with the occasional standalone gag, or even a week’s worth of them. Everything about Pete’s “holiday joke” is lame, and the smugness with which he delivers it is just off the charts. Of course, the response is a hearty HA! HA! HA! from all but one of the Atomik staff. At first, it looked to me as if Chester was the one admonishing Pete to “stick to writing drama,” which would make sense as he’s Pete’s boss. Naturally, as his fiancé, Mindy must come to Pete’s defense. But nobody knows better that his real soulmate, Darin, that flighty, distractible Pete needs help with focus. And anyway, his jokes suck.
Something that does not suck is the way Beckoning Chasm goes to work on Funky Winkerbean with a pair of pliers and a blowtorch, and his authoring stint begins with Monday’s comic. Stay safe and well and happy, people. –TFH
Here’s that “Rip Tide, Scuba Cop” cover that nobody asked for. Back in June, Batiuk shared Craig Rousseau’s preliminary sketches for this cover on the FW blog back in June. The draftsmanship is fine (certainly better better than Batiuk and Ayers recent output), even if the composition’s a little…busy. In this way, it has more in common with the action-packed Silver Age covers of Batiuk’s beloved Flash than with the edgier, minimalist modern day covers that he likes to feature (without attribution) on the blog.
No doubt that this one had its genesis when comics fanboi Batiuk seized on the “Scuba-side” pun. After that, it was just a matter of squeezing out a few more jokey names based on bodies of water to round out the “squad.” Then it was just a matter of finding a comic book artist with some free time on his hands.
All that was left was to contribute the “humerous bon mot” (that’s how Batiuk spells it) featuring Mindy and Pete, to give this strip some tenuous tie to an FW plotline. Mindy’s not just some dumb gurl who lucked into a colorist job at Atomik Komix. She’s the brains behind Pete. Her insistence on going to the beach, instead of hiking to Bronson Canyon, inspired Pete to create a new Atomik title (and potentially saved them from dying in a fire).
Link to today’s strip
Is there any character in this strip as thick-skulled as Mindy? She’s been standing outside the Bedbug Hotel with Pete long enough for Masone to drive from the Channel Island Harbor Marina (The nearest marina north along the coast from Malibu) to, judging by the view, the Hollywood foothills.
I know Comics Curmudgeon has been going nuts trying to parse out the geography of this arc, but here’s my take on it:
So, of course, given this map, it was entirely reasonable for Mindy and Pete to stand and wait for the minimum of two hours it would take Masone’s Starbuckmobile to drive BACK THROUGH THE FIRE to pick them up after dropping off Marianne and Les.
Only for Mindy to then remind her friends that her dad was hiking in Griffith Park.
Pete is smiling in relief in panel one, and suddenly worried in panel two. So unless he has the attention span of a goldfish, Mindy is only bringing this up now. And she seems at a complete loss as to what to do next. So she’s going to let her fiancee and his pal decide if and how they should alert emergency personnel. Or is she expecting them to go charging through the brushfire themselves?
Truly, dumb as a box of sponges. Because a box of rocks at least has some weight.
Today’s strip was not available for preview. It will no doubt be very disappointing.
Today’s strip also wasn’t available for preview. Based on Batiuk’s track record with Crankshaft, I’m assuming we’re in for a solid week of airplane urination “humor”.
Today’s strip wasn’t available for preview. My guess is it’ll be a single panel of Jeff holding out his decoder ring for a kneeling Pete to kiss, while Mindy swoons in the background.
Today’s strip was also not available for preview. I’m expecting it to be a single panel of every character in the strip burning in the golf club flames, while Les stands safe to the side mocking them for not remembering to stop, drop and roll. And then Monday the strip will start all over again in Act II without any kind of explanation.
As silly and lame as this story has been, I do like the second panel, where Pete’s girlfriend (fiancee?) is genuinely worried he’s not going to ask her to attend the red carpet premiere with him. Because of course she’s concerned he’d ask Darrin instead of her. I still think at least part of the reason she exists in this strip is because Batiuk finally realized how weird it looked having Pete and Darrin take trips together to buy dollies, and Darrin spending all of his time with Pete when his wife was staying in California for some unknown reason.
I do not understand Pete’s expression in the last panel. Is it smugness, like “I’m a heck of a guy, inviting my girlfriend on a trip for two someone else is paying for”? Or is he just closing his eyes and imagining fighting Zeton warriors?
Oh yay, just what any story needs, Manic Pete. Of course it was just a matter of time before Pete, and then Darrin, and inevitable Harry and John are out in Hollywood involved in all this for some reason. How many imaginary movie titles do you think Batiuk has? I picture a sheet of paper in his studio with a “Batom Cinematic Universe” breakdown of 20+ titles, involving the Inedible Pulp, Rip Tide, Wayback Wendy, and heck, he’d probably have Lisa’s Story tie into it too. It still just baffles my mind how much time has been spent on Starbuck Jones, and how we’ve seen basically nothing of it beyond a few titles and covers Batiuk got someone else to draw.
I do love how weary Les looks in the first panel. Poor guy. Look at all he’s been through. Getting a vanity cameo in the movie he’s being paid no doubt way too much money to option. And now he’s having to drink wine on a couch with the hot blonde girl from school he still has the hots for. Why can’t anything ever go his way?