Merrily We Troll Along

Batiuks aims for “bearded hipster” and hits “happy Cro-Magnon”

I’ve struggled to hang on to the notion that Tom Batiuk’s illusory superiority renders him oblivious to his online critics. But between yesterday’s “chew toy” reference and today’s panel 3, it seems that not only are some of those slings and arrows getting through, but that TB gets the last laugh. “Hate readers”, after all, are better than no readers; meanwhile, those paychecks from King Features Syndicate continue to accrue.

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29 Comments

Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

29 responses to “Merrily We Troll Along

  1. If I’m reading this correctly, the success of Funky Winkerbean is entirely due to Son of Stuck Funky. When will the checks arrive?

    Pete Rudolph doesn’t seem any cheerier with this news, though.

  2. SpacemanSpiff85

    It’s amazing how incredibly out of touch Batiuk’s writing is. Instead of just telling him “This was your idea, dumbass, why are you whining to us?” they’re trying to persuade him by talking about sales. Batiuk of course wants us to think that these are the “greedy, amoral morons” who kept Funky from fulfilling his dreams, but they’re coming off as way more patient and understanding than any rational people would actually be.

  3. If this is Batiuk’s attempt to flippantly dismiss his critics, it would be a lot more convincing if he hadn’t already devoted enormous amounts of ink to creating strawman caricatures of said critics.

  4. Epicus Doomus

    When I first discovered SoSF I had two main questions regarding the strip. One, is anyone else out there actually reading this thing every day? And two, is this Tomba Tiuk guy for real or what?

    Over the course of the last five years question number one has been answered with total certainty: yes, SoSF readers are. As far as I can tell, no one aside from a few other hate-readers follows it regularly at all. There’s no FW fan site, there’s no FW forum, there’s nothing. I mean we’re not discouraging anyone else from reading it and we definitely don’t exclude dissenting FW opinions (total so far that I know of…one*). So if there really are any loyal genuine FW fans out there they’re awfully quiet.

    As far as two is concerned, I’m just as uncertain as I ever was. Sometimes I’m sure that yes, this really is the best he has. Then other times I’m sure that he’s just f*cking with us. And other times I don’t think he himself even knows, like with this arc. He’s clearly trying to reference his online critics (and the internet as a whole) via this Pete arc but he’s doing it in that weird roundabout way that’s all wrapped around another one of his terrible boring stories.

    Not only is it just mind-blowing that we’re the main (and only) FW fan site, but we’re the only people capable of deciphering his incoherent babbling too, which makes the whole thing even stranger. It’s like he’s writing the strip for us and he doesn’t even know it.

    * Remember that guy from a few months back? Everyone was polite and civil enough but he never returned. You think he was a spy or something? Maybe trying to solicit some slanderous insults for an upcoming arc about bullying???? Think about it….

  5. Rembrandt36

    @Epicus Doomus. I do remember the person you speak of. To be fair there are times this site is NOT fair to Batiuk. Yes, 99% of the time he leaves us scratching our heads with WTF, but there are – rarely – those times that something he does is mildly humorous. Unfortunately instead on embracing those days, the attitude is “Well, this is Son of Stuck Funky, so we have to find something bad to say about today’s strip – even though this rare one is innocent of any wrong doing.”

  6. $$$WESTVIEW ONCOLOGIST$$$

    Here’s a question to you all. Would you rather be Tommy Wiseau or be an unknown director that made a a few decent indie movies and film school projects.

  7. Epicus Doomus

    Rembrandt36: Perhaps, however I’ve admitted it when an individual FW strip made me laugh. It really doesn’t happen that often though and that’s not just a snarky wisecrack, it’s just the truth. It does happen here and there though.

    One thing that always happens to me, though, is when I defend an aspect of the strip it inevitably backfires on me. Example: a few months back a question was raised, which has deteriorated more, that artwork or the writing? I actually defended the artwork, as I feel it’s the more difficult of the two things by far and all in all it wasn’t all that bad. Then a day or two later everyone had huge Crankshaft noses out of nowhere. So if I ever really write a rave review of a FW strip it’s a sure bet that a character is going to die and soon.

  8. Batom is a self-righteous punk. I’m sorry, I’ve tried to be nice, but he is. He thinks he’s so smart, but he’s not. Firstly, he wouldn’t have so-called “trolls” if his strips didn’t completely SUCK. Secondly, we’ve tried to be civil and even helpful in our commentary of this “story” strip. Unlike him, we actually care (or used to care) about the strips and the characters. THAT is why the crappy writing and inconsistencies are brought up all the time. He should stop being such a pompous, lazy version of modern-day Brian Griffin and wake up!!

    Plus, he could be trying to use reverse psychology and get us to break up and take this website down.

  9. Oy. Truer words have never been spoken. But this really is all he has! Grandpa Google searches reveal milquetoast, uncritical articles about how long the strip had lasted, and its focus on serious issues. Oh, and a boatload of comic snark sites and articles. I think there’s a defiant but definite sense of despair with this acknowledgment.

  10. @Rembrandt – if there are aspects of a strip that are worthy of praise, I try to do so. And I strive mightily not to attack Tom Batiuk personally. The work should always be fair game, though. Really, though, why can’t Mr. Batiuk get Pete Remington’s last name right?

  11. The problem as I see it is that he doesn’t want to ever have to have the question “And whose fault is that?” asked. People might do something unfair and say that he himself is to blame for ruining the franchise by obsessing about things no one else cares about and making the characters so bland and boring that they inspire apathy. I find it easier to root for Beetle Bailey than I do most of these non-entities because the writing team at least make the effort to make him almost relateable. Here, we have a cipher whose life struggles inspire anti-sympathy.

  12. Rusty Shackleford

    Calvin and Hobbes struck the best balance between silliness and seriousness. But FW just drifts all over the place. In the old days, FW was at least funny, but now it is just a random jumble of unrelated plot lines that are simply not at all interesting.

    I’m still amazed he gets paid to write this crap.

  13. Nathan Obral

    The last time that Funky Winkerbean has genuinely made me laugh was the first time Batom® trotted out the “fat loser Funky is tortured by his sadistic, nameless fitness trainer” concept.

    Then he repeated the same joke 537 times and drove the humor into the ground.

  14. sgtsaunders

    Don’t look now, but Pete’s about to Bonnie-And-Clyde his meeting.

  15. billytheskink

    There’s two things wrong with James Harden’s periphery cameo in today’s strip, but TB can only be blamed for one of them.

    Not TB’s fault: James Harden isn’t white. Blame this on the syndicate’s coloring department who must have run out of ink last week making sure Sally Forth’s new coworker didn’t make readers wonder when Faye became an adult.

    TB’s fault: James Harden doesn’t work for a comic book company, or smirk like that, or hang out with bespectacled jazz handers and towheads whose heads actually look like toes.

  16. In today’s strip, Pete Rozonkiewicz is poised to pass Les in the “most punchable FW character” competition. You’re working at your dream job, earning a living doing something that thousands of artists are doing for free or next to nothing, You’ve just been told that your latest book is flying off the shelves (and will no doubt be a “key issue” for collectors in the future), yet the look on your face tells the tale of a person who is abjectly miserable because there are people in the world who don’t like it. Well, fuck you Pete. Go move into the basement of Montoni’s next to the Space Invaders machine and produce artwork that nobody will ever see or comment on, if that will make you happier.

  17. I don’t have a problem with TB calling me, SoSF fans or anyone critical of his work a “troll.” As a Vietnam veteran, I’ve been called a lot worse by people with guns shooting at me; but, of course TB wouldn’t know anything that. Sometimes, his strips are good and sometimes they’re not. He should pray, however, that the day doesn’t come when the “trolls” he despises are his ONLY readers.

  18. @Bill: That day seems to have come and gone for Lynn Johnston. As she gets dropped from paper after paper, it’s getting to the point that the only people who follow her work ARE the Deconstructor Fleet on Livejournal. Batty is just following in her footsteps……

  19. Pete Roswell & Les Moncton, delicate flowers both. Why? Because they write, dammit! In BanTom’s version of this aged trope, however, the quality of the writing is irrelevant.

  20. Nathan Obral

    If Batom® excels at anything (besides mooching off paychecks from King Features and making Brendan Buford look like a moron) it’s his penchant for making all of his characters totally unlikable and devoid of value. In effect, just like Batom® himself. Pete Ripperton is the latest character, not that it wasn’t that hard of an achievement.

    What is dumbfounding is that Batom® is doing all of this vengeance writing without the thought of an endgame. Unless he plans on destroying Pete Radocovic to the point another My Father, John Darling Who Was Murdered stunt is played out again… as a literal victim of Teh Internutz Bullying**… it’s yet another pointless, worthless waste of time that is symbolic of Funky Winkerbean in general.

    God help the poor souls at Kent State who will have to trot out the vanity prints of “The Complete Funky Winkerbean: 2012-2015” and watch as it sells only eight copies.

    ** I wouldn’t be surprised if that happens, but such a pathetic denouement would set back the anti-bullying efforts back by a few centuries.

  21. Jimmy

    Now that word balloon in the banner makes sense.

  22. Nathan Obral

    @Bill: I do believe that Funky Winkerbean’s readership is now solely those who rip on the strip.

    Even in Cleveland, there is scant interest in FW… and Cleveland is FW’s home market! Only when the puff piece softball interviews with Batom® run on NewsChannel 5 and the Elyria Chronicle-Telegram do you realize that, 1) “Wow, FW is based here!” and 2) “Wow, FW really sucks!”

    In many ways, Batom® has no one to blame but himself. He easily could have embraced the Internet like other comics (heck, even Barney Google and Snuffy Smith have a very good web presence, and current artist Joe Rose is interactive with his readers online) but failed to do so. His lack of interest shines through with the invalid “Bantom” copyright on his outdated website that is peppered with a blog so outlandish, it makes Ed Wood and Coleman Francis look like Gilbert and Sullivan.

    Batom®’s lawyer brigade throwing up a C&D temper tantrum at SoSF hurt Batom® in ways that he’ll never realize. Not that I care. Personally, with TFH’s support staff behind him, I have reason to believe that SoSF will outlast FW.

  23. Jim in Wisc.

    Nathan Obral: God help the poor souls at Kent State who will have to trot out the vanity prints of “The Complete Funky Winkerbean: 2012-2015″ and watch as it sells only eight copies.

    Considering the pace at which “The CFW” series is coming out – one volume per year and three years of strips in each volume (with this year’s release covering 1981-83) – if my math is right, these last few years should be released in book form sometime around 2025 or 2026. Which makes me wonder if by that point, there’s going to be any public interest left for this quickly dying comic strip. I would think if this strip keeps spiraling downward, by that point even the Kent State Press will have long before said enough is enough.

  24. Rusty Shackleford

    Cleveland is also home to Art “Chip” Sansom jr, who draws The Born Loser. But unlike snobby Batom, Chip is a nice guy. I used to see him at some of the bars around town as he played bass in a local band.

  25. Rusty

    @ Paul Jones: Could you link to any FBOFW discussions on LiveJournal? i’d like to read the snark.

  26. bad wolf

    I’m going to go out on a limb and predict none of the recent years (Act 3) will make it to print. As long as it’s on the CK website archives (eg post 1998) there’s not much demand (yeah i know) and you can get a nice print of any strip if you wanted a keepsake. Book printing is getting more expensive and i doubt if the numbers will add up to keep any comics collections (maybe 5 exceptions) in print.

    Let’s see if the archives go further back or print reaches into Act 2 at all.

    Batiuk’s got an.. interesting perspective with regards to modern comics (ie, hates them), and probably has a sense of ‘legitimacy’ for not being a webcomic. I kind of doubt he would keep going online if the papers just up and folded on him completely, the way some comics went (back) to web-only when syndication didn’t work out for them.

  27. Epicus Doomus

    The official FW website just fascinates me. I mean how hard could it be to maybe create some sort of updated character tree? I’m a longtime reader and there have been times where I had NO idea who a character was, like with that Mickey cameo a few months ago. The “group shots” he has posted are ancient and mostly useless. It (along with arcs like this one) indicates he has little-to-no regard for his fans, it’s a slipshod and lazy approach IMO.

  28. Rembrandt36

    Oh I agree… praising TB can blow up in your face. Basically you know that it will go back to crap. As to trolls, I think pretty much everyone here make valid points to TB. However even if the strip was perfect there would be people out there (not here) that would rain on his parade simply because they like to be mean spirited. Is TB self centered and probably full of self importance? Yes.
    However, can you imagine doing a comic strip for 25 to 30 years, day in and day out. You rarely get complaints or hate mail, but on the other hand you really don’t get praised either. People didn’t bother unless they REALLY had too much time on their hands. Even then the chances of the feedback getting back to you was slim. You just hoped people liked it.
    Then, the internet and blogs come along and every single day people are blasting your work out of the water. A lot of them are cussing you out and saying that your work sucks and yadda yadda yadda. Some may even try to be funny by saying the artist should get run over by a bus (I have seen that kind of posting). That has got to have been VERY foreign to a lot of cartoonists and probably weighs on them. They probably don’t listen to ANY of the suggestions. No matter what they do they know people are going to bitch. Do they lash out? Sure sometimes. The work can be real crap – that I admit.
    But at times I think this is a guy pushing 70. He’s running out of steam after doing 1,000s of daily strips. His one goal in life is to meet the 50th anniversary of his cartoon when he gets to his mid 70s. The bottom line is that WHEN TB does a genuinely funny or sweet strip… maybe we should honestly give him a pass those days. No “trying to pick apart something that doesn’t deserve it.” Embrace it instead. We all know it will return to shit by tomorrow.

  29. Epicus Doomus

    Rembrandt36: We don’t permit stuff like wishing harm upon people or personal attacks just for the sake of them, Batom included. Criticizing the strip is fine, wishing harm to anyone (characters excluded) is not. The general point here is to have fun with it, not to be constantly hateful. Sometimes it gets vicious and sometimes it does generate genuine anger, definitely, but yes, sometimes people do take it too far. However IMO the vast majority of SoSF commenters know where the line is and they respect it.

    I have often remarked about how IMO he would be far better served by returning to a “gag-a-day” format centering around simple topics, like jogging or getting a new VCR. Drop the complicated back stories and the morose nonsense with the go-nowhere plots and just do easy gags involving just the main characters. I seriously believe that if he did that much of the snark would fade away, as I can tell you from experience that the toughest arcs to snark on are those ordinary everyday gag-a-day strips.

    And if he REALLY wanted to do away with us totally he could resort to the FW “nuclear option”….twenty consecutive weeks of Les. No one would be left standing after that. Imagine how bad it’d be just by week two, then each succeeding Monday…”NOOOOO!!!! NO! This…this…this just cannot BE!!!!”.