Floor Bored

Link to today’s strip

As BeckoningChasm so succinctly put it yesterday….” Mr. Batiuk, no one likes Crankshaft. No one. You cannot make people like Crankshaft by putting its terrible characters into Funky Winkerbean. No one will ever like Crankshaft. Just like people no longer like Funky Winkerbean.”

So apparently Batty will be spending A WEEK on a CRANKSHAFT character looking for a decoder ring in his attic. Twelve thousand dangling plot threads and THIS is what he’s wasting his time with. There comes a point when old 1950s comic book nostalgia stops being “cutesy” and becomes genuinely disconcerting. BanTom reached that point YEARS ago. And now, in his inimitable style, he’s absolutely piledriving it into the solid bedrock beneath the ground. Sigh.



Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

26 responses to “Floor Bored

  1. Gerard Plourde

    Because The Author was not a member of the Little Orphan Annie radio generation (and apparently never read Jean Shephard) he forgot the detail that the Ovaltine decoder ring has two dials – the first sets the transcription key for code and after that’s been defined the second dial gives the letters to be substituted to decode the message. Since he’s appropriated the Ovaltine Ring for Starbuck Jones by painstakingly drawing it in the Cliff Anger arc he’s stuck with the rules.

  2. spacemanspiff85

    As far as this obsession of Batiuk’s being disconcerting, I’m long past that point. I’d only really be concerned if the strip suddenly started having coherent, interesting plots that developed and went somewhere. I’d pretty much have to assume Batiuk had died six months earlier and someone else took over the strip.

  3. On the bright side, Batiuk didn’t win a Reuben this year. There is SOME justice in the world.

  4. As I mentioned yesterday, I used to love doing these sorts of puzzles. It took me, maybe, fifteen minutes to get going and I had no “decoder ring.”

    What I’m taking from this strip is “Jff is an imbecile.” Wait a sec, let me turn the decoder just a bit…it also says “Tom Batiuk believes his readers are imbeciles who cannot possibly work out a puzzle. A solid week of strips, one more step toward the 50th!” And there’s more! “People who…read…Crankshaft…even after all this…time…are worse than imbeciles.”

    Well, I certainly can’t argue with any of that. Score one for Tom Batiuk!

  5. The fact that Jff is still hanging on to some cheap knick-knack from his childhood just proves his adulthood has been wasted.

  6. Not only can he not make people love these characters, he also can’t avoid spoiling Crankshaft itself. This is because we know in advance that some guy who doesn’t want to indulge this self-absorbed maniac’s need to obsess over his childhood gets steamrolled into doing so because he’s too much of a man to see someone blubber like an infant.

  7. Gerard Plourde

    @ beckoningchasm,

    You’re absolutely right. What The Author drew for Jeff to solve is a simple cryptogram. If the messages was intended to be decoded employing the decoder ring it would have presented the message as a numeric cypher where the letters of the message were represented as numbers 1-26.

  8. Rusty

    I would guess that most boys in the 1950’s hid girly magazines from their mothers, but Batiuk sense reigns here.

  9. The big glaring issue is this: if there’s an event to be held on June 12, but the only way you can know about it is if you have an obscure decoder ring, there are going to be zero attendees.

    Cliff Anger’s going to be looking at an empty room. “I guess everyone’s busy,” he’ll sigh.

    “Or, they couldn’t crack the code,” the organizer will say.

    “What?” Cliff will ask. I imagine he’ll be really “Angered” at the explanation.

  10. @beckoningchasm I still need to know how you did that…

  11. @beckoningchasm And nevermind the fact that if you’re announcing a major event, even for the most esoteric, obscure, banned-from-the-local-ComiCon geeks, would you really print it on a random page in the local small-town fishwrap that *maybe* has a couple thousand subscribers??

  12. HeyItsDave

    When Jff finally finds that ring, I can’t to see how long it takes him to crack the “code.” Seriously, that was a simple letter-substitution code like the “Cryptoquotes” puzzle in the Sunday papers. Most people don’t need dime-store rings to figure out the message.

  13. bad wolf

    I thought the original drawing of the ring had the code on it but no? People here and at the CK boards decoded the whole thing in no time. Impressive! (Not you, TB)


    The only way this would be interesting is if Jeff then received a skeleton card with a bloody piece of shirt.

  15. billytheskink

    I would guess that most boys in the 1950’s hid girly magazines from their mothers, but Batiuk sense reigns here.

    I’m “lucky”, my paper has printed Funky Winkerbean and Crankshaft side-by-side for decades so I know what is going on here. If they had only printed FW and I had been reading it from the beginning, I would think this is Roland going up to the attic to look through the Playboy magazines he mentions in the very first FW strip. If I hadn’t been reading FW from the beginning and saw this strip, I would be totally lost and tell myself that I should have read Sherman’s Lagoon twice instead and called it a day.

  16. @HeyItsDave: Is it “Hustler”, or “The Best of Letters to Penthouse Forum, Vol. I-IV”?

  17. @billytheskink: Just out of morbid curiosity — What newspaper on God’s Earth would print both comics side-by-side?

    Aside from maybe Batiuk’s hometown paper?

  18. billytheskink


    The Houston Chronicle prints both strips of the Batiukverse right next to each other. Both have survived a comics page that has shrunk from an excellent 3.25 pages to 1.75 pages over the last decade. The Chronicle is remarkably chummy with TB, giving FW a front page story when TB featured the moderately well-known (among Houstonians) Brazos Bookstore as a stop on Les’ Lisa-Cancer book tour. It was immediately after this stop that Lisa’s ghost called Les at (what we presume to be) Houston’s airport to warn him not to get on his flight and then called in a bomb threat to ground the plane when he didn’t believe it was her.

    Which again brings us to the question of why ghost Lisa didn’t just pull the bomb threat thing to begin with, since she was warning Les not to get on the plane because it had a mechanical problem that would have caused it to crash had the bomb squad not discovered it. How many would have been killed had ghost Lisa’s warning to Les and Les alone been heeded? She really was a perfect match for Les…

  19. bayoustu

    @beckoningchasm: You’re forgetting this is Westview. These people are probably issued decoder rings, ray guns, and cancer with their vehicle stickers!

  20. The trip to Washington, which was hyped up for weeks, only took one strip (two, if you count Les’s return). Jff’s trying to decode the ad in THE PAPER is going to take the whole stinking week–a plot point that should only need one strip or even one panel of one strip. Either Batiuk is trolling us, or he’s the Fletcher Hanks of newspaper comics. I’m undecided.

  21. The irritating thing is that for the longest time, Batiuk has threatened to end Crankshaft and fold its unlikable characters into Winkerbean. This is probably the arc in which Jeff and Pam become two more repellent fixtures complaining about the avoidable.

  22. Professor Fate

    Oh good another arrested development man child – when does he start hanging out the Crazy Harry at the comics corner?
    And i hope I’m wrong but over in Crankshaft it looks like we are being given the back story of how jff has that hunk of tin in the first place.

  23. @HeyItsDave: I had to go back and check to see if you had added the descriptive label to that one box, or if Batiuck had tried to slip one past the censors:

    Nice work!

  24. You know, it just occurred to me–someone who reads Funky Winkerbean and doesn’t read Crankshaft would probably think these were the Fairgoods, and that Fred has recovered from his stroke.

  25. HeyItsDave

    (nods in Hannibal’s Lectern’s direction) Thanks!