Take a gander at today’s strip. Truly fowl, it swan of the worst yet. Remarkably, it manages to come across more dated than the similarly-themed 43 year-old strip seen below:
Dinkle can’t write despite making an honest(ly awful) effort, Les couldn’t-can’t-won’t write unless it is about someone who died a decade prior, the late Livinia wouldn’t write… I’m starting to see a pattern here.
Claude Barlow’s “tectonic scale” could probably be applied to today’s strip, and this week in general, which feels like it has been going on for eons.
What really throws me in these Dinkle-Barlow strips is that they come across simply as vehicles to deliver TB’s puns. That concept struggles when Dinkle is a character who otherwise isn’t at all disposed to being a mirthful pun-maker. It struggles further when Barlow, as an unseen character, seems to slide from being an unwitting pun set up to an unwitting pun-maker to a “humorously” terrible composer just to suit Dinkle’s TB’s mood. I get that the Barlow shtick was supposed to add to Dinkle’s over-the-top nature, and that kid of worked back in Acts I and II when he was an over-the-top character. Now, though, he’s a character that used to be over-the-top, like a guy who still wants his nickname to be “Animal” even though the only time he really got crazy was at a couple of parties in college. Now, this is just listless and out of whatever character Dinkle has remaining.
Today’s strip features a pun so tremendously corny that Dinkle had to pause for a second while typing it up to… uh, take notes on it? Maybe he had to write it down because it was so bad it crashed his WordPerfect AND broke the “oy” tag on Comics I Don’t Understand.
Oh, and here’s a remarkably prescient strip of Dinkle doing his Clade Barlow shtick way back in 1981, shortly before Ronald Reagan’s inauguration.
In today’s strip we see the rare Montoni’s customer in its natural habitat. It was believed by many that these rare creatures had become extinct in the early 2010s. They are still sighted occasionally, as we see today, but such appearances are increasingly uncommon. In fact, Montoni’s customers are seen less often these days than Barney Google, Annie Warbucks, and Irma the diner waitress from Garfield.
It is easy to see why the Montoni’s customer is on the verge of extinction, their natural habitat is an extremely hostile environment. Nearly-inedible food, abysmal service, regular appearances by coffee-gulping comic store employees and that guy with the goatee, and now frequent power outages. Those few Montoni’s customers who remain are sullen and churlish, ultimately accepting of their fate of eating a loaf Sunbeam drizzled with store-brand olive oil in lieu of what they ordered but not entirely resigned to it.
Caveat lector, let the reader beware, is what Nick the Geek’s sign should say. I’m never shocked when Batominc fails to deliver on a narrative promise, so please imagine the next sentence in Truman Capote’s voice: Nick the Geek doesn’t look like a geek; he looks like a member of the Hell’s Angels.†
I know, I know, that makes me a beady-eyed nitpicker. After all, what’s more important—narrative continuity, or a weak pun?
†See? My superannuated references are to guys who died only 3 decades ago.