Kevin, Wee Hardly Knew Ye

Nobody has the words to make sense of what happened in Connecticut Friday, except to say God bless those left behind, and open up Your arms to receive those innocents. Hug your kids, your parents, or anyone who needs it. Spare a thought for those whose lives are never going to be the same. Here’s my stupid fucking little blog post.

“Since Kevin left“? Batiuk has done it again: the least interesting characters get weeks-long story arcs about nothing, while the more intriguing, lesser-explored characters are either written out or inexplicably vanish. Anyway, John, even when Kevin was working there, you were “short handed”! (Oops, better refrain from midget little people jokes, lest I be summoned to issue a lengthy, rambling apology on the House floor!)

December 14, 2012 at 8:45 am
Harry’s grateful puppydog reaction to being offered a job fit only for a not-too-bright high school kid would be the unintentionally funniest thing Batiuk’s written in years if it wasn’t so pathetic and scary.

Batiuk has spent the last three weeks trying to make us feel sorry for Crazy Harry…I must say, today he finally accomplishes that, by depicting not just Harry’s eagerness to accept John’s “job” offer, but his willingness to “work” for free.


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28 responses to “Kevin, Wee Hardly Knew Ye

  1. Jason

    It’s going to be interesting when Harry starts comparing what he was paid for these books and what they’re going to be sold for…

  2. Jason

    Oops, I hit “post comment” without realizing that I used the phrase “interesting” to describe something in this story arc. I should be punished.

  3. Smirks 'R Us

    echo your eloquent thoughts TFH. God bless those little souls and all our brethren in Connecticut. We share this earth and need to stop this madness.

  4. John

    John: “I can always use a little extra help around the holidays. You know what popular stocking stuffers four-dollar twenty-three page floppies used mainly as loss leaders to remind the public that certain 70-year old characters still exist in between movies are!”

    Harry: “Ha! I don’t know that at all! A’cause MY comics are all in longboxes! I’m no rocket surgeon, but I knows my comical books!”

    John: “Oh, you’re going to fit right in here. Especially after Kevin left. Under mysterious circumstances. With no forwarding address. In the middle of the night. His bedroom covered with what may or may not have been the world’s largest collection of erotic Tony Cox/Peter Dinklage slash fic-”

    Harry: “I’ll TAKE it!”

    John: “The slash fiction? My, my, my. Harry. I had no idea. Perhaps we share an even deeper ki-”

    Harry: “I meant the job offer. This IS a job offer, right? I don’t want to be bamboozled! For some reason, the woman who lives in my house seems to think I are GULLIBLE!”

    John: “Oh, it’s an offer, alright…”


    Seriously, could John, look any creepier, any more fraught with terrible ulterior motives than he does in that first panel?!? 

  5. BeckoningChasm

    I too find myself stunned by events in the real world. And I damn myself by wondering how TB will tastelessly reference it in this strip (eg, Super-storm Sandy in a battle-of-the-bands arc).

    I remember back during the Les in Kilimanjaro arc saying that I liked Crazy Harry because he had things he genuinely enjoyed in his life, and I’ve said it a few times since. Tom Batiuk has beaten that liking out of me, and I now regard Crazy Harry with the same jaundiced eye as the rest of the cast. Thanks Tom.

    I still think my ending to this arc was a lot better, but then, most of the things I imagine for this strip are better than what actually transpires. It’s kind of like watching someone light a big firecracker; you watch the fuse burn, anticipating some nice fireworks, and in the end it just sputters out with a moist farting noise and nothing happens. And the person with the match bows and graciously awaits your thanks.

  6. Rusty

    I work about ten miles from the Sandy Hook school and lived down the road from it 20 years ago. I’m looking for every distraction I can find to not think about today, as it is truly horrifying.

    So here I am, wondering why TB would write out a seldom seen character based on a real-life person IIRC. Plus, there’s a holiday rush at the Comix Corner. Sure, why not.

  7. Merry Pookster

    I read the funny pages as an escape from the real world….And FW is nothing but totally different from any real life issues. That’s your claim TB…writing about real world issues? Living in your mom’s old house attic doesn’t give you any concept of the real world apparently.
    Crazy was about the only likable character you had… now he’s a plain idiot, thoughtless, self-centered, me me me typical Westviewian.
    Good Job.

  8. George in Indiana

    What drug did Crazy take to make him so excited about this job offer? Or is TB making a social commentary on people out of work who are desparate for any job?

  9. sourbelly

    Yeah, after today’s atrocity in Connecticut, it’s hard to snark on some crummy comic strip. But…. Notice that not only does Dead Skunk Head say “short”, but also “little.” Lawsuit!!!

    Best I can do today. Shit. I know all of our thoughts are with the families of the little ones who never came home. What a horrible sentence to type. I’ll just stop now.

  10. Epicus Doomus

    The happiest person in town today is Becky, who at long last has someone below her on Westview’s status scale. She may be married to a comic book store owner, but Harry’s wife is married to a guy who WORKS FOR a comic book store owner. Sure, to you and I the difference is negligible, but in Westview you take whatever you can get. So congrats to her.

    A week ago Harry was agonizing over how much of his beloved collection he was going to part with in order to make enough scratch to stay afloat. Today, however, he doesn’t seem to care about money at all, what with the excitement of getting hired to sort his own books at a barely-solvent comic book shop and all. Which, in his defense, is pretty much every Westview male’s dream job, but still, a little continuity from week to week might be nice. If the goal here was to elicit sympathy for ol’ Harry, he failed miserably, as he came across as more annoying for these three weeks than anything else.

  11. Jimmy

    TFH, that is one of the most beautiful, chrystalizing statements I have read about anything.

  12. Helskor

    Jason, having to read FW every day is punishment enough.

    The real life Kevin probably told Batiuk a long time ago that he had no interest in appearing in the strip just so Batiuk could add the challenges little people face to his list of Pulitzer-Worthy Very Important Issues.

  13. Beanie Wanker

    Kevin followed that yellow brick road back to Oz.

    The idea that a comic book “store” in a hole in the wall above a pizza joint needs “some extra help around the holidays” is oddly funny. Yeah, I can see people fighting for parking spaces outside Moroni’s.

  14. Why does DSH need help anyway? I’ve seen about four customers there in the years I’ve been reading this strip, and I think I’ve only seen one (Harry) buy something. Not to mention the fact that Harry rejected a job working for “UPX” which almost certainly would have paid more than working at Komix Korner, not to mention given him more hours.

    The said thing is today’s CRANKSHAFT is even worse. Making Crankshaft a mall Santa is like putting Jerry Sandusky in charge of a boys’ charity.

  15. billytheskink

    I can’t come up with anything eloquent to say about the tragedy in Connecticut, nor anything funny to say about today’s strip.

    I pray for those directly affected by the tragedy and parents everywhere who have try and explain what happened to their children.
    I wish I could say I was surprised that TB unintentionally put Kevin and ‘short-handed’ in the same sentence. It’s actually surprising he’s never dropped that phrase intentionally with Lefty, what with all the drawing her pinned-up sleve.

  16. Señor Tortilla

    DSH John: “No, of course it doesn’t pay, you old fool!”

    While what happened in Connecticut was truly horrible, I don’t think Batiuk’s being tasteless today. In fact, the fact is I never knew who Kevin was: I thought he was some kid (no older than 19) that worked around the comic book shop. So the fat guy with the mustache looks a bit creepy. In fact, if he hadn’t of put on weight, I would say he’s just a kid wearing a stick-on handlebar mustache.

  17. I remember back in the days following 9/11, one of the late-night hosts (Leno or Letterman, I think it was probably the former) spent his first show back discussing his job telling jokes and interviewing celebrities. In light of recent events, wasn’t it kind of pointless? He then talked about the people who had dedicated their time and effort to helping rescue workers, giving them water and warm chocolate chip cookies. His job, he concluded, was like those people giving out cookies: a gesture that was insignificant in the grand scheme of things, but which would hopefully give a small bit of comfort to someone who needed it. I have spent a lot of the past 24 hours grieving and praying and holding my (thankfully still too young to understand) kids a lot more than usual, and I need something to take a little of the weight off my mind. TFH and everyone here are some of the cookies in my life, and I thank you for it.

    (And now back to our regularly scheduled snark…)

    “Don’t you want to hear about pay or benefits or any of the other things you were worried about when you lost your last job? Or, you know, talk it over with your wife or something?”
    “Don’t have to! It has to do with comic books, so it must be wonderful!”

  18. Señor Tortilla

    I really still think that Westview is a very small town with very few active downtown businesses besides Montoni’s and Komix Korner. There’s been no indication otherwise. A few summers ago, Holly took Funky to a movie theater. That’s not to say she took Funky to a nearby, larger city.

    Look up Hearne, Texas on Google Maps–it’s exactly what I imagine Westview to be like: a bombed-out downtown, a few fast food restaurants, continually declining population, a high school but no Wal-Mart (they used to have one, but it closed).

  19. bad wolf

    Man, Kevin left? There’s another thing that we could have watched instead of this three weeks of filler. Maybe that’s Batiuk’s strategy: we watch the most boring characters each day talk about the interesting things that happen to the interesting characters.

    If Crazy had gotten anything close to the severance package that a real postal worker would have gotten, we could have watch an arc of Crazy trying to re-open the second-hand bookstore he favored last year on his own. Except that would have been, how you say, potentially interesting.

  20. I agree with bad wolf. Any potentially interesting characters or interesting situations are written out.

    *Summer and Keisha at college.

    *Cory in the Army (and a year before then Cory’s was in one-off gags.

    *Susan quitting and leaving Westview. (There’s the unemployment story Batiuk should’ve written!)

    *Khan opening a new business.

    *Whatever Cindy is doing now, which has to be infinitely more interesting that the FW gang whining.

  21. Let’s lay out the facts, shall we? Harry just got laid off after 30+ years at the USPS, but seems to have no pension. Instead, he’s selling his precious, precious comics, and is willing to work for no pay at the comics shop. We’ve rarely seen him deliver the mail; instead, he drank a lot of free coffee at Montoni’s.

    I deduce from all this that Harry was an impostor wearing a stolen USPS uniform and occasionally delivering pilfered parcels. Maybe the USPS finally got a restraining order or threatened him with prosecution.

  22. Epicus Doomus

    This one is a lot like the Boy Lisa, MBA arc a few years ago. It could have potentially been an…uh, “interesting” story about the economy, unemployment and etc. But instead it was just another excuse to cram a little-seen character into an existing scenario involving pizza. Instead of pizza this time, it’s comic books. It’s almost as if he comes up with these stories, then can’t figure out or motivate himself to come up with anything novel or creative, so he falls back on his two standard tropes.

    “Extra help for the holidays”….yeah, I heard the Black Friday mob lining up outside the Korner got a little unruly, so the police made Cody and Owen go home.

  23. John

    As far as the real life events go, I’ve been sobbing all morning.

    My prayers are with all those touched by this unspeakable crime.

    I’m going to be embracing my own dear ones a little bit tighter. May a loving Heavenly parent do the same.

  24. …but no Wal-Mart (they used to have one, but it closed).

    ’tis a hurtin’ town indeed that can’t sustain a Wal-Mart.

  25. Jimmy

    Maybe DSH John is a plant by the USPS, which has in its severance that if Harry gets another job, they’re off the hook on their end. Of course, Harry didn’t think he needed to have the shop steward look over the paperwork since nothing could possibly go wrong with this arrangement.

  26. Señor Tortilla

    ’tis a hurtin’ town indeed that can’t sustain a Wal-Mart.

    It closed due to employee shoplifting. Although largely sensationalized, this was the town on which the film American Violet was based.

    But enough on that…

    So with Kevin being a person of short stature, I guess that’s just one of the Magical Tokens that Batiuk has pulled out. Didn’t an actual transgender person appear in Act II at least once?

  27. billytheskink

    Did not expect to see Hearne, Texas referenced on this blog. Probably not a bad parallel to Westview, though Hearne is much further from a major metropolitan area than I imagine Wetsview is.

    I actually drive through Hearne fairly often, and they’ve done a good job in recent years leveraging their position as one of the few towns on the route that state highway 6 does not bypass. Nothing major, but a new Holiday Inn and a new mega truck stop gas station are big positives for town its size.
    Hearne’s smaller northern neighbor Calvert has not fared so well… Neither have similar towns like Rockdale.

  28. Señor Tortilla

    The only reason I suggest such a thing is that in Batiuk’s world, everyone has a job at either Montoni’s, the Korner, or the high school, and no reference to other functioning businesses. The little distinction between a normal neighborhood (the Taj-Moore Hall) and the neighborhoods that the Fairgoods drove through in their little Soviet made car.

    Like Hearne, Westview probably has a few perks we’re not seeing, as for Rockdale, the Alcoa plant only closed a few years ago–Hearne has been on the downward slide for decades.