Tag Archives: Phil Holt

Head and Hearts

Banana Jr. 6000
July 29, 2022 at 5:02 am
Who the hell would go to this exhibition? Both these men now live in this town, and have spent a lifetime putting out the comic book equivalent of shovelware.

Maybe people are coming out just to gawk at Flash “Fairfield’s” towering head. It’s the most interesting detail in today’s strip. Not a hell of a lot else to comment about here.

What is “show-offy” of even writerly about Pete’s comment? That paragraph that Darin has to lean in closely and squint to read is a little flowery (“its special magic”) but otherwise inoffensive and succinct. How is “From the hearts of Phil and Flash” an improvement?

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Fair Flashfield

The day of the big gallery opening has come at last. On the walls of the Dibbs Gallery are famous Phil’s Batom covers: Charlie & Chuck, the Cockroach, Starbuck Jones, and, of course, the Amazing Mr. Sponge. If they look familiar, it’s because these are the artworks which Phil Holt inexplicably bequeathed to Boy Lisa, who decided they should be auctioned off  to benefit Lisa’s Legacy, and which were bought, every last one, by Hagglemore, who happens to be Phil and Flash’s employer. There! I’ve explained how Phil’s sold-off covers are still available for this gallery show.

Now: can anyone explain how, after Batiuk has spent 8 years establishing his canon, Flash Freeman’s is now Flash Fairfield?

Comic Book Harriet commented the other day about Batiuk “[giving] Flash and Phil the same backstory as Darin and Pete.” Maybe by bestowing on him an alternate last name, Batiuk’s just giving Flash one more thing in common with Pete Roberts Reynolds.

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Future Schlock

“Hey Siri. Look up ‘futurians’ on Wikipedia.” I’m still tuckered out from researching Charlton Comics, a franchise which a surprising number of you were familiar with. Wikipedia has not one but three “futurians” articles. Let’s leave aside the New Zealand sci-fi punk band by that name. TB’s musical tastes are certainly varied, but I doubt that’s who he’s cribbing here.

Continue reading

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Flash ♥ Phil

Well if today’s panel 3 ain’t just the purest distillation of Tom Batiuk’s raison d’être over the last couple decades of Funky Winkerbean…Which is why I used that quote in the header of this page. Anyway, “that place” that Batty is trying to get back to doesn’t exist, and it really never did. Continue reading

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With the Markers and the Colored Balloons

Girls are either natural-born comic book colorists or complete screw-ups.

Like most people who will read today’s strip, I never heard of Charlton Comics, so once again, off to Aunt Wikipedia I go to glean some knowledge about yet another one of Batty’s obscure cultural touchstones. Though young Phil dismisses them as “crummy,” Charlton’s history is rather more colorful that the one TB dreamed up for Batom Comics. Continue reading

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Making Book

Chuck Ayers’ name is misspelled here. Discuss.

Kudos to the our newest bullpen addition BananaJr6000 for a stellar debut. Is it too late to hold him over for another week? Because I was hoping that by the time it was my turn in the barrel, this Phil + Flash + Kitch arc would be concluded, and I would get to write about something, anything else besides Batty’s imaginary comix universe. Continue reading

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The Saga Of The Stinging Sword

Link to today’s strip.

It’s hard to believe I once thought this bitter, hateful story would be “a love letter to something Tom Batiuk likes.”

This story had almost nothing to do with Prince Valiant, except for trashing its real-life artists. Three of the four from that era were slighted in some way. Hal Foster was depicted as unscrupulously plagiarizing someone else’s art; Gray Morrow’s name was gotten wrong; and John Cullen Murphy was conspicuously omitted. And since “King Features Syndicate” was proudly displayed on the office walls, Tom Batiuk even implicates his own employer in this fictional misdeed. And couldn’t even bothered to explain why. Continue reading

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With Fans Like This, Who Needs Haters?

There will be an insinuation that Phil Dolt’s work was somehow ripped off and he never received credit… it’s one more tragic example of how Big Comic Book crushes the little creators!

William Thompson (over a week ago)

Whatever reason Batiuk presents at this point in the story to explain WHY [Phil] didn’t get the job will probably be as ridiculous as the Crankshaft arc when… the illiterate Cranky[‘s] name wasn’t on the line-up card, and no manager or coach noticed the difference.

J.J. O’Malley

So Hal Foster is going to garbage-pick Phil’s garbage-worthy cover and rip off the eternally aggrieved Phil?

Sourbelly

It’s all winners on The Price Is Right today!

As was widely predicted, Hal Foster printed Phil’s submission in Prince Valiant, without Phil’s consent, after fishing it out of the trash. I’m honestly shocked at this.

Again: why? Continue reading

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Plot Twist: Phil Holt Was Never The Main Character Of This Story

The story completely undermines itself.

It doesn’t look like Phil Holt had much of a “try out” for Prince Valiant. It looks like he made an unsolicited submission to a large publisher, which was promptly thrown in the trash. By the receptionist. Ouch.

This is typical, though. Most big media companies have a stated policy of “we do not accept unsolicited submissions,” and return them to the submitter with a letter to that effect. This so people can’t claim the publisher stole some half-baked idea they submitted, and try to sue them for damages.

But who’s that in the background? A man who is very specifically drawn; has a monogrammed art satchel; a pair of initials no real person who worked on Prince Valiant had; and looks like he’s waiting for an interview.

It’s Batton Thomas.

As further evidence, I submit this photo from the Funky Winkerbean blog:

That’s Tom Batiuk on the left. I don’t know who the other man is, because I don’t know the context of this photo. It’s too young to be Hal Foster, who was born in 1892, and looked like this in 1962.

Today’s strip makes it clear that Phil Holt tried to nag his way into a tryout, when Batton Thomas had a genuine tryout lined up. Which raises the obvious question: why is this story about Phil Holt and not Batton Thomas??!! Just from today’s strip, we know that Thomas has a better “I tried out for Prince Valiant” story.

This makes Phil look like a liar. In fact, this strip raises a lot of questions:

  • Two days ago, Phil said he has memory problems. Are we supposed to infer that his recollection of events is false?
  • Phil said he was “up against” Wally Wood and Gray Morrow, but he didn’t even have an appointment to show his work when Batton Thomas did.
  • Sunday’s strip was Phil telling an obviously fake story. Is he doing it again?
  • Does Kitch know everything Phil says is baloney, and is just humoring him for some reason?
  • Does today’s strip mean Tom Batiuk himself auditioned for Prince Valiant? Batiuk has never spoken of this.
  • Why would Batiuk give this storyline to his Jack Kirby clone instead of his self-insert character?
  • What does it say about the cast of Funky Winkerbean that it has multiple characters who could have plausibly auditioned to draw Prince Valiant in 1970?
  • What’s even real in this world?

The Funkyverse tries to use Expy Coexistence. Characters are analogues of real people, but mention real people, places, and events. This is done very inconsistently, though. Some characters are real people (Hal Foster, Conan O’Brien); some are ersatz versions of real people (Phil Holt, Flash Freeman, Batton Thomas); some are purely fictional (Ruby Lith, Pete); some are unclear because they’re real names that are spelled wrong (Gary Morrow, Joe Schuster); and some are fantastic entities that can’t exist in a realistic world (Holtron, Lord of the Late). Some fictional characters are real people in this world (Dick Tracy); some fictional comic worlds are still fictional in this one (Prince Valiant, Batman); and this world has its own in-universe fictional properties (Starbuck Jones, the entire Atomik Komix oeuvre).

There are a lot of other inconsistencies that need to be cleared up, too. Like how the time skips are supposed to work.

Funky Winkerbean needs a Universe Bible. I know Tom Batiuk can do this, because he wrote one for Batom Comics. And it’s actually decent. It’s concise, has a clear idea what it wants to convey, and isn’t trying to bludgeon you with a dictionary. Compare that group of blog posts with this group and you’ll see the difference.

This will also be a Cartooning Suggestion:

Write a Funkyverse Bible. And then obey it.

This would solve a lot of the problems that arise from Tom Batiuk constantly reinventing characters and the strip’s history to fit short-term story needs.

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Batting .500

Ugggggggggggggggggggggggggh.

It’s Day 10 of the arc, and this is the fifth strip that could have been omitted entirely. It does not advance the story, reveal any new information, or serve any other purpose.

When I was in high school, I was in a theater production of Rebel Without A Cause. There’s a scene where a character dies because his car goes off a cliff. We accomplished this by playing a sound effects audio clip on the PA system, and telling the actors to improvise some dialog to fill the time. They never got it right. It was either “He’s getting close to the edge! He’s going to go over the edge! Oh no, he’s at the edge! He’s really close to the edge now!” Or they just said random things, and were somehow surprised when the crash sound happened.

Funky Winkerbean reminds me of that. It has no idea what pacing it needs, or what direction it wants to go. It’s just slow, slow, slow, slow, slow, slow, slow, ohmygodIneedtowrapthisuphurryhurryhurryhurry. It’s either burying you under an avalanche of pointless exposition because it’s got all week, or skipping important story points to get finished because the week’s almost over. It’s like watching the first hour of a long. tedious movie, and then random bits of the rest of it.

I blame Tom Batiuk’s insistence on week-long story arcs. I think it’s one of the less-talked about reasons why Funky Winkerbean is as bad as it is. Batiuk seems far more interested in making his arcs exactly six days long than he is in making them any good. I would put an end to that, with the second of my Comics Suggestions:

Story arcs must start on a day other than Monday, or end on a day other than Saturday and Sunday.

No more week-long arcs. Stories will be the number of days they need to be, rather than filling an arbitrary length for no good reason. Hopefully, this will encourage the culling of unproductive strips (which this arc has a lot of), and let stories happen more naturally.

This also replaces the “three-week rule” Batiuk frequently mentions. There’s nothing wrong with long story arcs, if they are otherwise compelling. This is dreadful at any length.

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