Tag Archives: quarter inch pinch

Tears of a Darling

Link to today’s strip

I guess Jessica and her mom just both simultaneously discovered John Darling was being aired again, without either one of them mentioning it to the other (except for Jessica, right now). As much as I hate Batiuk’s writing when he’s putting his characters through melodrama and misery, I think he’s even worse when he’s going for “touching”/”poignant”. It’s been years since Jessica’s mom was shown in this strip, so just cutting to her silently tearing up is cheap and not really earned, in my opinion. And honestly I feel like the average newspaper reader has no clue about the background here.
I feel like we’re going to be seeing the phrase “‘John Darling’ show” a ton during this arc. After reading “Jessica’s father, John Darling, who was murdered” so many times, I really wonder why the John Darling strips have to have such repetitive dialogue.

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So You Can Take that Cookie

William Thompson
August 4, 2022 at 11:12 pm
I’m morbidly curious as to how Funky can get even more childish…

Even more embarrassing than childish: Funky’s coming off as an thrifty old pensioner. One could  expect Ed Crankshaft or Funky’s dad Mort to make such a chintzy request. But we know Funky to be a man of sufficient means to buy all the stale cookies he wants. I suspect that Batiuk is channeling a line from his hero Woody Allen: “Boy, the food at this place is really terrible.” “Yeah, I know; and such small portions.”

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Funky “Dice” Winkerbean

Charles
August 1, 2022 at 5:07 am
[T]his week will have very little to nothing to do with estate planning as Batiuk spends an entire week with Funky just making an ass of himself…[a]nd each day this man leading the seminar will start anew not remembering how Funky was a complete gratuitous asshole just minutes earlier…

The “Muppet profile.” How can one have a mustache but no upper lip?

Having just been called untrustworthy to his face, Seminar Guy takes a deep breath, forces a smile, and launches into his presentation. Which, though there’s a projector in the room, seems to consist not of a slick PowerPoint, but of stick figures named “Jack and Jill.” Little wonder that the infantile Funky has trouble taking this seriously.

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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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I’m Aware Of His Work

Link to today’s strip

Today’s strip is a lesson in how Tom Batiuk’s sloppy writing is undone by his sloppy writing.

Phil’s remark feels like a passive-aggressive insult. The name Phil can’t think of is John Cullen Murphy, the artist who took over Prince Valiant when Hal Foster retired in the early 1970s. He remembers the names of brief fill-ins Wally Wood and Gray Morrow, but not the man who drew the strip for the next 30 years. These were all real-life people who worked on the real-life Prince Valiant comic strip.

When you’re making a list of something and intentionally leave off the most prominent example, it looks like you’re trying to make a point. You’re saying “The New England Patriots’ last few quarterbacks were Mac Jones, Cam Newton, Drew Bledsoe, and some guy whose initials were T.B.” It looks like you’re trying to downplay the person for some reason.

But the joke fails because… he got one of the names wrong! It was G-R-A-Y Morrow, not G-A-R-Y Morrow.

When the joke is “I forget the important one,” you have to remember the unimportant ones. Forgetting them too makes the intent unclear. This is why “beady eyed nitpicking” matters. I’m not being a spelling pedant here. I’m pointing out a problem with the execution of the joke that makes it fail. And because we’re supposed to believe comic strip characters are speaking aloud, it’s not a trivial error. If it was incorrectly spelled G-R-E-Y, it would be less bad, because it’s said the same.

The intent is unclear for another reason: What did John Cullen Murphy do to deserve being snubbed like this? This story doesn’t involve Murphy at all. Batiuk’s never mentioned him on his blog either. Murphy could still be introduced, but bringing real (and deceased) people into the story would get into some thorny areas. Is he going to be the villain?

I do like Phil’s description of “your mind playing charades with you” when you get older. I recently turned 50, and I can relate to this feeling.

The other day I was trying to remember the name of a college hangout from decades ago. I said “it was something like ‘Thirsty Turtle.'” I remembered later it was Purple Porpoise. I couldn’t remember the name, but I remembered Adjective Marine Animal, and also that it was alliterative. That helped my brain find the right answer. I figure this is just how your brain works when you get older. Your mind can’t make the direct connections it used to, and you have to take roundabout paths to find pieces of information.

The real problem is that Phil Holt has never been depicted as having memory loss. He needs it for today’s joke, so suddenly he’s always had it, and has a mechanism for coping with it. Tune in tomorrow, when Phil remembers the precise details of things that happened 50 years ago.

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( ••) ( ••)>⌐■-■ (⌐■_■)

But seriously… be sure to read today’s strip before David Caruso‘s lawyer does.

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Flash Memory

April 22, 2018

Don’t you remember, Tom…? The comic book column that Flash wrote was called “Bullpen Boasts.” Like “Bullpen Bulletins,” which was what Stan Lee called the page that he created in Marvel Comics. I suppose the title could have changed over time, the way “Bullpen Bulletins” would become “Stan’s Soapbox” (hat tip Uncle Wikipedia).

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Time to Play Besides

Your genial host weighed in yesterday about snarkers who suggest that Tom Batiuk, who will turn 75 in two weeks, is experiencing cognitive decline. They point to the countless inconsistencies in character, plot, and overall quality of his two franchise strips. My take is that Batty works for a syndicate that’s happy just to have a fifty year old comic title to offer its paying customers, while providing minimal if any editorial oversight.

I give you today’s strip as evidence that TB has still got it, whatever “it” in his case means. Pete chimes in with the same remark he uttered three weeks ago, and naturally we hate-readers and everyone else is supposed to exclaim “got the reference!” Meanwhile, Pete really needs a new joke.

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Thanks for Making Us All March in the Rain

Thanks to BillytheSkink for guiding us through “Wild Mort’s Love Life, Chapter XVIII”. I’m sure I’ve said it before, but seeing Dinkle in a strip on a Monday is the worst thing to me, since you know you’re getting (at least) another week of him. At least with Les there’s more to make fun of, and something might actually happen. With Dinkle all you get now is “isn’t Dinkle awesome?”, basically. And know you have the horror of Mort and Lillian popping up at any moment.
One of the weirdest things with how Dinkle is written is how he’s simultaneously portrayed as a maniac and borderline-fascist band director that everyone hated but also a beloved figured who improved the lives of everyone he touched. It seems like the majority of the actual band directing we see him do involves making people walk in hurricanes and risk their lives, so I’m not really sure why there’s a box of envelopes that’s stacked so high there’s no way anyone could have carried it. (Speaking of carrying, I’m very confused about how exactly Becky was handling that box, based on the arrangement in the first panel).
Oh, and Becky was one of Dinkle’s students and then became a band director. That’s the punchline for today’s strip.

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Sitting Bleh

So… um… uh… OK, I had a point to make about today’s strip, but I keep getting distracted by Skyler’s unnervingly tiny hands. In the first panel they look like Lyman from Garfield‘s mustache and the one in the second panel looks like Donald Trump in profile. Look, I get it, hands are hard to draw. I draw hands especially poorly, to be honest, but I really try not to make them creepy and distracting.

OK… OK, now I remember where I was going on today’s strip. Skyler might want to get his senses checked. In addition appearing clearly baffled by who this “Santa Claus” character is, Crazy surely reeks of the timelessly off-putting combination of musty newsprint and salad dressing. And yet… Skyler happily agrees to play ventriloquist dummy. Well, at least that third panel image has me thinking about something other than Skyler’s hands.

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