Sponging Off Relatives

Link to today’s strip.

Ha ha ha, the first line Darin’s had all week and Pete immediately steps on it!

I continue to be amazed that anyone, anyone at all, could find a sponge-based superhero to be interesting.   When I was back in the ninth grade and was drawing superhero comics on notepaper, I would never have considered such an idea, much less dealt with it for more than a few seconds.  (“What a stupid idea.  Must be too much eraser dust in the air, confounding my brain.”)  Perhaps I’d use it as a comedy character who was immediately defeated in some humorous way, but anything ongoing?  NO.

And remember–I’m talking about the ninth grade.

I don’t know what to make of Tom Batiuk’s fantasy publishing world.  In a way, it’s quite impressive in its scope and detail, but it makes me wonder why he doesn’t apply some of that creativity over here, in the strip that puts bread on the table.   Wouldn’t that be something?  Imagine reading posts on this site telling how much we liked the episode of the day.  As it is, Funky Winkerbean comes across as an afterthought–as Gerald and others have pointed out, no one who only reads the strip would have any of the Batom Books details provided in the blog posts, which robs these flashback strips of rather most of their impact.  Not that it would really make much to people not obsessed with silver age DC comics, but still, some context is always nice.

Without any of that, reading about some guy’s fantasy comic-book publishing world is like listening to a really boring person at a party.  You suddenly realize you’ve heard nothing he’s said for at least five minutes, and you start to worry he’ll ask you a question and you won’t have any idea how to respond.  And your drink is almost full–can’t use “Going to get a refill!” as an excuse.  Maybe plead for a bathroom break?  Give it a shot.  You can hide in the den…and read old comic books.

Heh heh heh.



Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

21 responses to “Sponging Off Relatives

  1. SpacemanSpiff85

    So if spongetonite counteracts sponges, I’m assuming kryptonite counteracts Crips gang members?

  2. Said the person who has done this exact same “lol, producers and editors, amirite?” about half a dozen times now…

  3. Epicus Doomus

    I don’t know what to make of BanTom’s weird Batom Comics fantasy world either. He creates a fictional comic company with a detailed back story, but only on a platform where no one will see it. Then, after he works his fictional comic company into his comic strip, it’s all leaden, tired gags, moronic characters and plodding repetition. It’s almost as if he’s afraid to use anything interesting in FW, like it’ll end up being way too overstimulating or something. It’s difficult to shake the feeling that he doesn’t think a whole lot of the strip or his “regular” readers, what other conclusion is there to draw? I mean it’s a pretty bold statement, to claim that it appears that he isn’t very interested in entertaining his readers, but as a daily reader it’s impossible to conclude otherwise. The evidence is all right there on the page.

    Unless, of course, he really IS trying and this is just the best he can do, but I genuinely don’t think that’s the case. I believe he COULD write a better strip if he wanted to but, for whatever reason, that’s just not his goal here. We’ve said it a thousand times around here: sometimes he comes up with premises that have some potential but he always (ALWAYS) badly squanders them. I personally feel that if this was BanTom genuinely trying here, at least one or two decent arcs would occasional slip through the cracks. But that never, ever happens, not even accidentally.

    It’s totally bizarre and endless fascinating to me. Here he has the chance to go off and do a story about something he’s obviously passionate about. He could create a whole new mythology with wacky new characters and be totally unencumbered by continuity or limitations. But instead he goes with stupid Pete and Darin clones cracking wry while a dopey stereotype blathers like an idiot. He doesn’t even try to include a proper joke or two. He’s both wildly self-indulgent and mind-bendingly monotonous at the same time, which is a really odd combo that you don’t see too often.

    So in short, the BanMan is a real nut and his comic strip is laughably awful. It didn’t have to be, it was all by choice, which is why I have no qualms about mocking it every day. It WOULD be pretty cool if one day he stunned us all by cranking out an arc (or even two or three single strips in a row) that actually entertained or made us (or anyone) laugh but I’m not holding my breath on that.

  4. SpacemanSpiff85

    @Epicus Doomus:
    His heart obviously isn’t in it. I’m wondering, would he not get the fifty year award if he wasn’t the one doing the bulk of the writing? Because he could let someone else take over and they’d definitely do a better job than he could. If your heart’s not in creative work, it shows, and you’re not doing anyone any favors by sticking with it.

  5. HeyItsDave

    Better superheroes than The Amazing Mr. Sponge:

    The Crimson Chin



    Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy

    Flaming Carrot

    Seriously, all T-Bats is doing this week is wasting everyone’s time by building up to one of his Sideways Sunday Comic Book Cover Masturbation strips.

  6. billytheskink

    This reminds me… Back in August of 2008, there was a multi-week story where Pete left Marvel (seriously, MARVEL!) and signed an exclusive deal with DC comics (seriously, DC!) to write for Superman (seriously, SUPERMAN!). He, like everyone TB writes about, gets severe case of writer’s block so DSH drives him to Jerry Siegel’s one-time Cleveland home. Pete wanders around the house for a solid week, imagining himself as a sepia-toned young Siegel until his writer’s block is miraculously cured.

    And now… He’s angry with his editor while revising the script for a made-for-cable movie and imagining himself as a 1950s comic book writer who is also angry with his editor.

    In the span of less than 8 years, Pete has gone from writing for Marvel, to writing Superman for DC, to writing for The Amazing Mr. Sponge, to being humiliated by his superiors and fired from writing for the Amazing Mr. Sponge, to editing the script of a Starbuck Jones TV movie that is in development hell. That’s about like going from writing for The Simpsons to begging your friends to read the Sherlock Holmes In The 22nd Century fan fiction you post online.

    I like to make fun of those bags Pete perpetually has under his eyes, but looking back at all of this, I think he’s entitled to them.

  7. Like Beconingchasm and Epicus Doomus, I see the untapped potential of a strip based on his Batom Comics mythology. And it’s precisely the contrast between the obvious labor and thought that went into the Batom backstory and the complete lack of attention he pays to the actual strip that created enough cognitive dissonance to bring me to this site. What goes on in The Author’s head is a complete mystery. As Beconingchasm and Epicus note, it appears he hates the strip, so why not chuck it and start a Batom-based one? Could it be that he considers his Batom world to be so precious that the average comic strip reader is unworthy of it? And that only true believers who make the quest to his blog and dig up the story are deserving of being initiated into it? And if that is the case, what does that say about him?

  8. Epicus Doomus

    I can’t help but marvel at FW, it’s a conundrum wrapped in lots of other conundrums, you can peel the layers of weirdness back like a huge onion. It’s unwaveringly consistent yet impossible to predict accurately. It relies on regular readers knowing the characters and their histories yet it frequently ignores continuity to the point where no one even knows what year it’s supposed to be. Like I said above, you’d think that every once in a while something halfway decent would somehow find its way into the rotation but it never happens. Even the FW website is baffling, the blog section is frequently updated with tons of comic book-related whimsy yet the main page features characters who haven’t appeared in FW in years.

  9. About the only other thing that I can remember having a superabsorbent superhero is a Canadian kiddie cartoon called “What About Mimi?”; there, the title character’s kid brother was obsessed with someone called Spongiform Man. The production company (who would later go on to animate the current adaptation of My Little Pony) seemed to have decided that a guy with the proportionate power of a kitchen sponge was the most absurd cape possible. Batiuk is taking HIS Squeegie Boy dead serious.

  10. @HeyItsDave: “…building up to one of his Sideways Sunday Comic Book Cover Masturbation strips.”

    Hey, you peeked!

  11. Rusty

    @billytheskink: One thing is clear: TB sure is obsessed with his own 1950’s childhood growing up reading comic books. It’s why Funky and the gang all appear to be a good ten years older with failing bodies. He wants to write what he knows, which is Silver Age comic books (I guess, I don’t know shit about comic books) and approaching retirement. It’s probably why the younger generation of characters is an afterthought, who knows what those twitter tots are thinking about?

  12. sgtsaunders

    There’s just so many times you can say at least it ain;t got Les. What I am saying is that this shit is excruciating.

  13. @ Epicus Doomus…TB definitely could do better, at least in the past. I’ve been heartened by SoSF to see there are others who don’t hate FW as much as they are insanely disappointed that it used to be a good strip with decent jokes and unsmirky, noncynical, un-know-it-all humor (gasp!) and that it is a daily pile of steaming lizard turd now. At least, that’s my take. I really liked the strip as a kid; now I LOVE reading it, but for different reasons.

  14. ComicBookHarriet

    If Batuik worships at the altar of the Silver Age, why is he having his characters ironically complain about how ‘derivative’ the nigh universal tropes of that age were?

    Also…we segued from Starbuck to Sponge in one day, and my brain mashed them into one far more interesting entity. I imagine that The Amazing Spongebuck Jones would sell like hotcakes.

  15. Professor Fate

    Like others I don’t know why he finds the Amazing Mr. Sponge so absorbing (ducks) He really is a lame superhero – when I was a kid I drew a bunch of my own superheroes but none of them were as odd (and I’d guess intentionally odd) as The Amazing Mr. Sponge – and his comic book company fantasy which is amazingly detailed and yet he never puts it in the strip is as other note very puzzling.
    It’s not that you can’t make the work of writing and drawing comic books interesting – The novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier And Clay proves that but you do need characters with a bit more umph than mopey Pete and Boy Lisa.

  16. Gerard Plourde

    Making the timeline even more confused is the accident arc July of 2010 in which it’s stated that the first issue of Starbuck Jones came out when Funky was in high school while The Author’s History of Batom places the first issue in 1954 and the takeover of the Batom assets by Mega Comics as a result of Batom’s copyright infringement of one of Mega’s titles in 1972. (TMI?) Old Funky tells Teenaged Funky to buy it in the drug store and later Holly mentions that selling Funky’s copy of Starbuck Jones #1 paid his medical bills. Even allowing for the earliest possible graduation date for the original Funky crew there’s no way that Funky could buy SJ #1 brand new off the drug store rack. (Continuity error due to laziness, some kind of mental health issue, trolling his readers? Who knows?)



    Somehow…this is a lot worse than watching some masturbate and have a sex fantasy with Kate Upton. At least I could relate to that. This on the other hand is disturbing. I’m basically seeing someone try to convince me that his work is genius. No..Batiuk …it isn’t. The “My Immortal” chick is more humble than you, Batiuk!

  18. SpacemanSpiff85

    The thing that shocked me about this is that apparently The Amazing Mr. Sponge doesn’t have sponge powers, but has special sponges. Does he just run around with sponges attached to his fists or something? Is he wearing a suit made from sponges? (It didn’t seem that way when Batiuk actually drew him). Just based on the name I didn’t think he could possibly get any dumber, but picturing a guy who’s running around carrying sponges as some kind of intimidating figure is pretty hilarious to me.

  19. Epicus Doomus

    SpacemanSpiff85: it’d be funnier if Mister Sponge wasn’t a literal sponge but just a big mooch instead. “Hey, Batman! Lemme borrow that utility belt thingy for a minute, will ya?”.

  20. billytheskink

    Epicus: Pete would have no trouble writing for that kind of Mr. Sponge as he was friends with “Mooch” Myers throughout high school.