Holy Fail

Another universe“? “Secret password“? “A journey of biblical proportions“? For fuck’s sake, we’re talking about comic books! Dead Skunk Head John’s (and Tom Batiuk’s) favoritest things in the world! And rather than directly answer Holly’s question (said answer being “Oh, hells yes”), John climbs into his Comic Book Guy pulpit and starts spewing his jibba jabba. The punchline fails because John clearly is speaking English. Panel 3 would be funnier without dialogue: just Holly standing there with a blank expression. Wait: that would fail too, though, since Holly’s expression is always blank…

I mean no disrespect to real-world comic book aficionados; I know that there are some of you reading this blog. But the majority of folks don’t know or care about comic books. Question for comics fans: Batiuk’s writing this with you in mind…do you find any of it amusing?


Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

18 responses to “Holy Fail

  1. Say, did you know that people who have a specific passion often use a peculiar vocabulary to describe that passion, and people who don’t have that passion don’t understand what they’re talking about? I’m sure this is a clever insight no humorist has ever, ever made before!

  2. Epicus Doomus


    Look at John, desperately trying to impress the only “outsider” that’s ventured into his “shop” in years with his ultra-geeky comic book collector lingo. Amazing how Holly becomes a more sympathetic character every time he speaks.

  3. Merry Pookster

    “I dunno Holly… this issue #1 if held in a safe since 1982 would be worth enough to pull two failing businesses out of the abyss.”

    People with specific passions do speak in a unique manner…but comic book collectors all use a common scale….not something Batdyck pulled out of his Dead skunk hole:
    Near Mint
    Very Fine
    Very Good

  4. Sgt. Saunders

    Actually, it would be relatively cheap to try to get those comic books. The actual acquisition could cost millions of dollars and thousands of lives. Sufficiently hyperbolic, there Dead Skunk Onna Head Man?

  5. Howard and Nester

    So it’s been day 3 and we still have not seen a comic book more than a 1/4th of the way in the panel in this supposed comic store.

    You know what? I don’t think that this is a comic book store. I think that this is an adult novelties’ store and what comic books are in the shop are Tijuana Bibles and XXX-rated Japanese comics. That would be more in character and would also explain Alex and Owen’s creepy gradual gravitation to each other.


    Owen looks so sad in Panel 2. He must be reading the results of Alex’s pregnancy test.

  7. Jeffcoat Wayne

    “Will this cost me a lot of money, or will you accept my generous offer of your weight in Tang and egg salad?”

  8. Rusty

    What happened to Cody? How does Owen abandon his BFF to spend time with this aging Goth?

    TB attempts to establish his bona fides with the comic book fanboys, but apparently fails, as he can’t use the established standards for quality and instead just invents his own, “clever” substitutes.

  9. I thought slabbed referred to coins, in which case, graded falls under that category too. In other words, graded *means* slabbed. In a tamper-resistant holder with a grade on it.

  10. John

    Holly: “Wait a minute…I thought price depended more on rarity just as much as physical condition of the comic itself? ‘Starbuck Jones’ back issues are as common as dirt in Westview. I only came to you because I’m apparently too incompetent to use the library -or- the internet.”

    John: “EVIL TECHNOLOGY! …*….library? Do we even have one of those?”


    Tom claims to love comics, but upon reading recent years of references to them, I think he likes them mostly as an example of old-fashioned things he feels the world doesn’t appreciate properly, that he alone understands. This despite his depiction of fans and professionals being fraught with contempt and loathing, his recounting of comics history and culture being woefully inaccurate at best, and his grasp on the current state of the industry and fandom being trapped in 1992.

  11. bad wolf

    To spare anyone who might be curious, my definitions:
    keys–key issues, may include first issues, first appearances, crossovers, beginning of famous storyline. ($$)
    graded–judged on the scale Merry Pookster described, probably by another collector or at least the store owner ($)
    slabbed–encased in plastic (really!) and graded by a particular professional comic-judging company (really!) ($)
    holy grails–issues of unusual rarity, maybe key or maybe misprints with limited runs…($$$+)

    I was never a real collector, at best i would pick up ‘reading copies’ (the cheapest available–funny how DSH doesn’t mention that possibility to a customer). Believe me, the industry has had a long conversation about these man-cave stores with geek-babble spouting salesmen freezing out potential customers by putting up a wall of ‘secret passwords’ and inner-sanctum speak. So yes, if TB is trying to show us what’s wrong with comic stores today, he’s doing a bang-up job.

  12. billytheskink

    You know what? I don’t think that this is a comic book store.

    Holly: Now then, some comics please, my good man.
    DSH: Certainly. What would you like?
    Holly: Well, eh, how about Spider-Man.
    DSH: I’m, a-fraid we’re fresh out of Spiderman.
    Holly: Oh, never mind, how are you on The Fantastic Four?
    DSH: I’m afraid we never have that at the end of the week, we get it stocked on Monday.
    Holly: X-Men? Daredevil?
    DSH: No.
    Holly: Any Martian Manhunter, per chance.
    DSH: No.
    Holly: Punisher?
    DSH: No.
    Holly: Angel and the Ape, perhaps?
    DSH: Ah! We have Angel and the Ape, yes.
    Holly: You do! Excellent.
    DSH: Yes. It’s..ah,…..it’s not mint…
    Holly: Oh, I like them well-read.
    DSH: Well,.. It’s in poor condition, actually.
    Holly: No matter. Fetch hither the faded newsprint! Mmmwah!
    DSH: I…think it’s in poorer condition than you’ll like it.
    Holly: I don’t care how bloody poor it is. Hand it over with all speed.
    DSH: Oooooooooohhh……..!
    Holly: What now?
    DSH: The goth’s eaten it.
    Holly: Has he?
    DSH: She…
    Holly: *sigh* Moon Knight?
    DSH: No.
    Holly: You…do *have* some comics, don’t you?
    DSH: Of course. It’s a comics shop. We’ve got–
    Holly: No no… don’t tell me. I’m keen to guess.
    Holly: Magnus-Robot Fighter?
    DSH: Not *today*, no.
    Holly: Aah, how about Batman?
    DSH: Well, we don’t get much call for it around here.
    Holly: Not much ca– it’s the single most popular comic in the world!
    DSH: Not ’round here.
    Holly: And what IS the most popular comic ’round here?
    DSH: Starbuck Jones.
    Holly: IS it.
    DSH: Oh, yes, it’s staggeringly popular in this town.
    Holly: Is it.
    DSH: It’s our number one best seller!
    Holly: I see. Uuh…’Starbuck Jones, eh?
    DSH: Right.
    Holly: All right. Okay. ‘Have you got any?’ she asked, expecting the answer ‘no’.
    DSH: I’ll have a look…….. nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnno.

  13. batgirl

    Can I upvote that a dozen times, please?
    I’ve spent a fair bit of time in comics shops, and yeah, where are the comics here? Where are the shelves and tables of boxes with bagged comics? Most important, where are the posters? I’ve never been in a shop with blank walls. Ever. (It may be a Canadian or West Coast thing, but I’ve never been snubbed or side-eyed in a comics shop, despite my age and gender ie. old and female).

  14. “Funky Winkerbean is a reality-based comic strip that depicts contemporary issues affecting young adults in a thought-provoking and sensitive manner.”

  15. Professor Fate

    Again with the comic books – really one long for variety here. Baseball cards, real books, Stamps or even Playboy maganzies from the 60’s now they knew how to show naked women.

  16. The last time I was in a comic book store was this summer in Morat/Murten, Switzerland. There was an old Tintin book without a price tag. In a carton. On the floor. It looked to be worth about 2 Swiss francs (2 bucks). The guy at the desk made a big show of “calling the boss” on his cell phone, and then it magically became a rare first edition, 150 francs. I laughed.

    Anyway, I thought the plan was for Holly to send the books to Cory in a war zone. But if she buys slabbed holy grails, he won’t be able to read them. It looks like the plan now is to fill the gaps in his carton of SJ issues, then Skype him an image of that. And won’t that be heartwarming and make Holly feel better about herself?

    Then Cory will steal the PX money or defect to the Taliban, and they’ll sell the slabs to save Montoni’s again.

  17. @John: I’d say Batiuk’s mentality about the comic industry hasn’t passed since the Bronze age of comics. Since I remember him having Crazy Harry be the mouthpiece for superheroes being “too screwed up” and should be more positive.

  18. John

    Fans have complained about that since 1959, Carrie.

    Tom’s just showing his willful ignorance by pretending this is a recent, instead of a FIVE DECADE+ OLD trend.