You know what gang? It’s a lovely summer’s evening as I write this. The missus and I are sitting by the pond watching the koi swim over the lights. I am enjoying the peace, quiet, and sanity of my backyard and came into the house just long enough to put up a placeholder for you, dear readers, to snark away at today’s strip.
Tag Archives: Phil Holt
August 10, 2017 at 11:52 am
this is very depressing even by the standards of this strip – I’m half way convinced that Boy Lisa is going to take Mr. Holt home once he sees the conditions that he’s living under.
They arrive at Phil’s humble abode, a small studio apartment which is mostly taken up with an enormous old drawing board. There has got to be a crooked lampshade somewhere in this room. Darin’s attention is drawn to the picture frames that cover the walls and which are all…empty. Something isn’t right here. He decides to stay calm and just play along, humoring the crazy old man until he and his son can get back to the car.
Whatever else new artist Rick Burchett brings to this strip, he knows how to draw a realistic, modern looking car. And he can draw the occupants seated comfortably inside, not pressed up against the windshield. Good job!
While the artwork’s (marginally) improved, the writing hasn’t changed. Phil Holt is such a comics legend that he’s instantly recognizable; quite a feat for anyone not named Stan Lee. Yet he bitterly dismisses his life’s work as “just junk.” “Now there was this young fella back in the day, walked in off the street…’Tom’ something, ‘Tom…Batty-yuck’. From Ohio. Showed me his portfolio. Great stuff, much better then my work. Told ‘im thanks but no thanks! Shit, he’d have had my job!”
Of course it’s up to Darin, the high school newspaper comics legend, to cheer up Mr. Holt, and it seems to work. Hopefully he’ll omit the part about the Comic-Con attendee who called Phil’s namesake “an old-fashioned piece of junk.”
Looks like the party’s over, and Darin’s spent the better part of his time pestering “Mr. Holt” rather that getting to know the other parents. There’s the purple mom in the background…she spotted Jess-less Darin at the party and swooped in to chat him up, only to be left standing there once Darin spied his idol. Now she looks on from a distance, arms akimbo, before resignedly gathering the drab blue and slate gray party balloons. Meanwhile, as if having ol’ Phil reduced to working children’s parties wasn’t pathetic enough, Batiuk has him bumming a ride home.
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!
Starbuck Jones…was the brainchild of Batom Comic’s first official writer Flash Freeman…Freeman had reached out to Phil Holt, an artist he had worked with from time to time on his various freelance jobs. Part illustrator, part cartoonist, Phil was the perfect artist for the job. His clean exciting style set the tone for the series right out of the gate.
“Batom Comics – The Untold History Chapter 3” at the official FW blog
So there’s the backstory, for those of you who understandably can’t be arsed to follow the 11-part (and counting) history of Batiuk’s cloud cuckoo land comics empire. I shall use the rest of my time to share some observations about Rick Burchett’s artwork. Where Batiuk often would eschew busy backgrounds in favor of a crosshatched, encroaching black void, RB likes to cram in lots of detail, and today’s strip is a case in point. The kid sitting for a caricature resembles bratty Angelica from Rugrats, but Phil depicts her, as he probably depicts everyone he draws, as a flying superhero. In the background, a kid inexplicably goes sailing ass-over-teakettle through the air.
As Chyron HR pointed out in the comments yesterday, Phil Holt bears a resemblance to legendary comics artist Jack Kirby, born one hundred years ago this month. According to Batom’s “history,” Phil drew the first SJ comic in 1954; he’d be in his mid-eighties by now, which makes his having to work kids’ parties a little depressing. But in a universe where a nonagenarian actor is feted at Comic Con and a WWII vet still drives a schoolbus, I suppose this is totally plausible.