2003: John Byrne Steps In for Batiuk

Hey, TFH here. Um, if a missing U.S. soldier “turned up” after one year, d’you think the Army might notify his family, rather than let them find out while watching the news?

28 responses to “2003: John Byrne Steps In for Batiuk

  1. gleeb

    You know, if John can’t even afford a crappy over-the-pizza-joint style apartment of his own, then his shop is just a place to store part of his comic book collection while he leeches off his mommy. So, his mother is actually right. His eventually-successful plan to cuckold a prisoner of war has turned out as materially beneficial for him though, seeing as Lefty has health insurance and a steady income.

    Anyway, if you went to the trouble of naming your son Jonathan and he went around calling himself “John”, wouldn’t it put you off? I’m completely with Drunk Mom Howard on this one. Her son is an awful person.

  2. John

    Seriously? The best defense she can come up with for dating John is “He’s a loser in real life! Fantasy is the only place he can pretend his life doesn’t suck! So I pity him!”

    Wow. Way to belittle actual compassion, fantasy fans, and victims of emotional abuse ALL IN ONE SHOT.

    Tom was on FIRE in this arc! 😀

  3. John

    Also, he was ready to propose after ONE DATE?!?

    Oh, wow. No wonder Becky is so cold and distant towards her husband these days. The guy is SPOOKY.

  4. I’m glad I was able to collect these all on one page to let everyone immerse themselves in the sheer suckage! One of the thoughts that came to mind: if Wally’s been MIA (not presumed dead) for one year, where does she get off dating? Way to keep the home fires burning, Becks. Also, didn’t realize it at the time but on 9/11/2011, TB re-ran that strip with Wally looking out the plane window at where the Twin Towers stood. Lastly (for now), Wally’s breathless retelling of his Afghanistan exploits reminds me of the tall tales told by Doonesbury’s Jeff Redfern, aka Sorkh Razil, “the Red Rascal”.

  5. bad wolf

    Yeah, thanks for the find, TFH. I always thought the Byrne-drawn strips must have been an improvement, and so they are. Becky’s empty sleeve isn’t fetishistically rendered! DSH looks like a nerd, not a pedo!

    Maybe he missed his opportunity to go full-time strip artist instead of watching his comic book output wind down? Anyway, I thought before the model sheets for Act III looked more like Byrne’s style. Hmm…

  6. I could almost ignore the horrible writing because the art is so much better when Batominc isn’t drawing it. And the story, such as it is, is noticeably less horrible than what we’re currently suffering. Going back 10 years really brings the decline of FW into stark relief. But there will be no relief in Westview this year; that’s for sure.

  7. I think I may be the only one who doesn’t like the art. I’m not a “komix” fan (except for the underground kind!) but I know Byrne is a well-known artist. But I hate the cracked mouths and hatchet faces. I’m not familiar with JB’s work so I don’t know if it’s because he’s trying to draw in Batiuk’s style.

  8. John

    It’s definitely him trying to ape Tom’s style. Byrne’s own style is basically classic super hero illustration, considered quite the hot stuff back in the day. He’s one of the reasons a comic called “X-Men” became a breakaway hit that entered the broader pop culture.

    His work’s deteriorated in the past 16 years or so, but it still looks better and more refined than most of this.

  9. billytheskink

    I think it is more likely that the leader of the bandits chose his name because he was friends and fellow Star Trek fans with the Westview School computer.

  10. bad wolf

    Come to think of it, since i didn’t follow the strip back then i hadn’t realized how thoroughly Batiuk had gone to the well already with Wally’s first disappearance. Who the hell would have the same character disappear in combat only to return twice? Sheesh.

  11. Merry Pookster

    I was noty following FW in 2003…..a little “pre-occupied” having been recalled from Reserve back to Active duty.
    But viewing these strips makes TB’s fall from grace even more pronounced.
    The guy was…and is simply a Hack…..no more /no less…as a matter of fact… no less more

  12. I’m confused about the storyline here. I was thinking Wally came home to find Becky had married DSH John. But either way, blech, Act II was even more raging emo than Act III.

    Also, that little exchange about “the look” shows that Batuik has never heard two girls talk before. Yeah, we’re terrible people who pry into each other’s love lives, but that’s a pretty bold statement to make… Especially to a girl whose lover is long presumed dead.

  13. Flummoxicated

    Batom Inc. needed someone else to draw his crap strip because he had…foot surgery?? Seriously?

  14. Charles

    I think I may be the only one who doesn’t like the art.

    I agree with you insofar as the style isn’t particularly attractive, with the sharp angles and hatchet faces. But one thing that really stands out for me is how alive these panels are. Things are happening in them and they’re drawn in a way that’s far more dynamic than what Batiuk usually does. There’s more to shooting a movie than pointing a camera at the actors and leaving it there, after all.

    I knew about Wally’s initial capture, but I had forgotten how stupid it was. If you’re going to ransom somebody, don’t you, I don’t know, actually LET SOMEONE KNOW YOU’RE HOLDING THE PERSON? So we’re to believe that Wally was captured and held for over a year, but Khan still hadn’t gotten around to ransoming him yet? How much food and water did they waste keeping this putz alive?

    It’s got to be a Batiuk thing, because THE EXACT SAME THING later happens to Wally in Iraq. He gets captured and his captors, who aren’t exactly a group who can support a POW population, once again neglect to do anything with him beyond letting him sit around and mope. Apparently they had nothing better to do.

  15. Charles

    Oh, and even though Wally’s release on both occasions merited a story on a major news network, his arrival home was completely unheralded. Nobody bothered. Nobody even gave a thought to the possibility of doing something to honor him.

  16. Merry Pookster

    Inkwell: Wally was captured twice. Held the first time for 1 year and the second time for 10 years.

  17. Well, he’s real lucky, isn’t he?

  18. Señor Tortilla

    As confusing as Act II was (especially after Cerebus Syndrome set in), you can see that the writing at least makes more sense. I saw this in the Funky Alcoholism storyline. Is it good writing? No, not really. But it at least makes sense and goes chronologically together. Act II (especially earlier Act II) has most of the characters still resembling their Act I counterparts. By Act III, the characters that are left are an unlikeable parodies of who they once were. Becky, Funky, Crazy, and Les all had this happen to them. Funky Winkerbean never had great artwork, but Act II seemed more “living” than Act III did (and no, I’m not talking about this one, which was drawn by someone else). Indeed, I think FW has a terminal case of Creator Breakdown.

  19. Jeffcoat Wayne

    I just love how the lopping off of the gay ponytail is treated with such high significance. Not only did he lose that, but he had to buy a sportcoat and sell his comic rack spinny thing — all for nothing, or so he thought at the time. Moral: Women are evil beings who want to change men from who they really are. Viva le Winkerbean!

  20. O.B. Dan

    Holy crap…

  21. John

    Also, I notice that apparently, nobody in Westview celebrates anything anywhere BUT in Montoni’s.

  22. bad wolf

    The bit with John’s birthday definitely has the modern Batiuk you-can’t-win style. Wow. “Know what’s depressing? Your mother forgetting your birthday. Know what’s even more depressing? Your mother drunkenly remembering your birthday.” Always with the old double-whammy, or as Batiuk puts it, “the other shoe.”

  23. Epicus Doomus

    Good Lord, it’s easy to forget just how incredibly drawn-out those zany Act II arcs could be. I vaguely remember the ridiculous “Wally comes marching home again” arc but in all honesty I kind of skimmed it, as I didn’t really know (or care) who Wally actually was. Act II was like that, he added SO many new characters that it became hard to keep up with who was who, much less with what was what. No wonder Act III is “slower” and “quieter”: these Act II strips are exhausting.

  24. Andrew

    Lackluster as it may be, that panel of John’s mom drunk at a table with her party setup left untouched hit me right in the gut there.

    I guess no matter the execution, the idea of being miserable & alone at night when you were expecting company gets me feeling horrible.

  25. BeckoningChasm

    You know, I think if I was going to arrange to meet someone I had never met before, I might just hint at my appearance so that the someone in question would be able to recognize me. You know, things like “I’ve only got one arm” or “I only wear comic book shirts.” Just something so I wouldn’t be sitting there waiting, wondering which of the many strangers around me might be looking for me.

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