Decode Blue

Link to today’s strip

And I immediately recognized this piece of crap from all those shitty Funky Winkerbean comics I used to read as a kid. So, that Anger asshole is doing an appearance at some stupid nostalgia-themed restaurant now, is he? Why that sounds just swell! Everyone can greet him and talk about how great his old movies were and how great the old theaters were and how great old Hollywood was and how great those old Starbuck Jones comic books were and what they were doing for the last sixty years while Cliff sat broken and alone in a squalid apartment with faulty lampshades.

Of course the most objectionable thing about this totally worthless arc was how he insisted on dragging this Jeff character into the fray in a painfully transparent attempt to lure FW readers into checking out his intensely dreary “mommy didn’t love me” arc he’s been doing over there. FW is loaded to the rafters with boring aging morons who play with comic books all day, yet he had to ram Jeff down our throats just to cross-promote that remorselessly shitty other comic strip he’s trying to pimp again. What, someone like DSH John or Crazy Harry can’t spend a week looking through the attic and jabbering about comic books?



Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

33 responses to “Decode Blue

  1. I call bullshit. No way they’re having an event like this anywhere but Montoni’s

  2. And this garbage could’ve been condensed into one daily strip–heck with a enough space for a punchline, too (Remember those, Tom? I’m not sure you do, since this week’s strips didn’t have any.). and, for example, the trip to Washington could’ve lasted a week. Pacing: another think Batiuk knows nothing about.

  3. Epicus Doomus

    dougputhoff: “Hey, a secret code! I remember these from SJ! Let me get my decoder ring! Got it! Wow, the original SJ actor is going to be at the Silver Grill! We should go!”. That’s six panels, tops. Two days. It took Batiuk six days and he didn’t even get to the “let’s go” part yet.

  4. spacemanspiff85

    Yeah, because if you’re a never-was actor who had to sell his prized memorabilia in order to pay rent in your crappy apartment, and you were so little known that the actor who’s playing the same role you did has never heard of you, you definitely want to encode information about your public appearances in a crappy local newspaper’s classified section.

  5. @Epicus Doomus Heck, why did Batiuk need the secret code in the first place? How many people would’ve kept their decoder rings after 50+ years? The ad would’ve made more sent presented in plain English.

    Panel One: Jeff is reading THE PAPER and says, “Hey! Cliff Anger is going to be at the Silver Grill June 12th.

    Panel Two: Pam replies, “Who’s Cliff Anger?”

    Panel Three: How soon people forget.

  6. Or better yet for my Panel Two: Pam replies, “Wasn’t Cliff Anger one of the Sex Pistols?”

  7. Epicus Doomus

    dougputhoff: But then BanTom wouldn’t be able to revel in his nostalgic childhood memories and we CAN’T HAVE THAT!

  8. Wasn’t the whole point of decoder rings that the code changed each time? If so, why would “Starbuck” consistently translate to the same letters? (Yes, these are the things my brain thinks about to avoid shutting down from sheer boredom.)


    Yes, the word that reads like “You Fucking Pig Cow!” was firmly in his head as being the code for Starbuck Jone’s own name.

  10. We waste a week here being reminded of Batiuk’s stupid love of the tawdry and idiotic and a week on Crankshaft being reminded that this boring man made a fetish of his equally threadbare childhood. This is why I called this arc grimderp.

  11. I liked this comic better when it was about cancer.

  12. @TheDiva: This is too bad to be boring. This is like the movie “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.” It’s mesmerizingly bad. You wonder how 4+ billion years of evolution could produce something this awful.

  13. Professor Fate

    So on the day of the event how many people are going to show up six?
    “I don’t understand we put ads in all the papers”

  14. sgtsaunders

    I suppose there’s comfort to be found in the fact that it did not say “meet the original Les Moore..”

  15. Gerard Plourde

    Another example of his weird priorities. He spends a week detailing mundane tasks that involve little or no interaction between characters, like this decoding arc, or Jeff retrieving his box of comics from his old house in Crankshaft (more about that below), or Les snarking his way through the meeting with the senior parents about the class trip, while actual storylines are consigned to a single strip. (Also, in today’s strip Pam doesn’t even get a line of dialogue. She’s just there as a sounding board for Jeff’s monologue.)

    Taking a detour to Crankshaft, why didn’t Jeff retrieve the box from his closet when he sold Rose’s house? And even more how could he sell the house without Rose’s consent (alluded to in the “Rose Dies” arc)? There’s never been any indication that Rose was ever declared to be legally incapacitated and Jeff appointed to be her legal guardian. Without that kind of power, an attempt by him to sell using a durable power of attorney would be voided by Rose’s objection. So we have another instance of real things The Author chooses to write about without bothering to educate himself.

    Finally, and also slightly OT, the image in Crankshaft today of Jeff walking out of his old house with his arm around his ghostly younger self (who doesn’t actually resemble him) is a little creepy.

  16. Since it’s been established that the only people who have these decoder rings are Jff and Mopey Pete, and the ad was run in the classifieds (or was it the personals?), I’m kinda assuming it’s not a movie promotion at all, but Cliff and Pete’s invitation for Jff to join them for some kind of three-way.

    Brain bleach, please…

  17. Rusty Shackleford

    Hmmm, I must have made a mistake, I decoded:

    You have cancer, death imminent. Smirk.

    Nice touch Batty with bringing old Cleveland trivia into your strip. I mean the few seniors from Cleveland that remember the silver grille must surely have appreciated that little detail.

  18. ComicTrek

    Yes, but again–WHO would know that? Unless maybe they decided to re-release new Starbuck Jones decoder rings in cereal boxes for the movie or something, Jeff will be the only one there!

  19. ComicTrek

    @oddnoc: In a way, it kinda still is! With the occasional PTSD thrown in for good measure. Comic books are just the cream filling between it all.

  20. Gerard Plourde

    @ Rusty Schackleford –

    Thanks for the catch re the Silver Grille. It appears to have been restored to its original Art Deco appearance and now serves as a banquet facility for the adjacent Ritz-Carlton Hotel. Of course, this leads to other questions like, who reserved it, how long ago was it reserved, and who’s paying for it.

    Some other thoughts – The Silver Grille’s decor is from the 1930’s which was the actual heyday of the movie serial. Starbuck Jones was supposed to be a product of the mid-1950’s according to the official Batom history. It’s details like this (exacerbated by the on-again, off-again “I’ll use it when it suits me” time jump and resultant retconning) that invariably turn readers of the strip into critics.

  21. Chicken Boo Radley

    He should be listening to Once I Had a Secret Code by Alan Sherman.

  22. Hitorque

    Who is DSH John?

  23. Hitorque

    Wouldn’t a big time studio plan a much bigger and higher profile public appearance since they’re trying to hype up this dumbassed movie?

    I guess I should at least be grateful Batiuk ignored every instinct to have the public appearance at Montoni’s…

  24. Rusty Shackleford


    I’m actually old enough to remember Higbee’s but never ate at the Silver Grille. I’m also not a senior and so far am cancer free!

    I imagine Batty pictures himself as a rockstar, and we his fans go nuts every time he incorporates some local fact into his strips. Whooo hooo, the Silver Grille, that’s only 15min from my house! Golly gee! Cleveland rules!

  25. Epicus Doomus

    Hitorque: DSH John is “Dead Skunk Head” John, Becky’s husband and owner of Komix Korner. His hair resembles a dead skunk placed atop his head.

  26. Gerard Plourde

    @ Rusty – I bet you’re right that Batty includes references for his Cleveland and Northeastern Ohio fans. Again it’s that weird attention to inanimate details while ignoring gigantic and easily fixed plot holes.

    I’m on the cusp of senior citizenship – old enough for early Social Security but not Medicare, so I’m kind of a contemporary of Batty’s which may explain why his mash-up of ’30’s serials with the mid to late 1950’s is so irritating to me. Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon belonged to the pre-war generation not the Boomers. The only comic character of the ’50’s that I remember having a space connection was Adam Strange who didn’t even rate his own title but appeared in stories in a DC imprint called “Mystery in Space.”

  27. Jimmy

    I am so glad I don’t read Crankshaft. This guy makes Les Moore seem like a real man.

  28. Chicken Boo Radley

    Dead skunk on the top of his head. Which one is stinking to high heaven?

  29. hitorque

    @Epicus Doomus Oh OK, I just called the dude “Comic Book Store Guy”, or “Batman” on account of his dingy-assed shirt…

  30. Rusty Shackleford


    Good observation. Yeah, not sure what goes through Batty’s mind.

  31. So, Tom Batiuk has apparently gotten the name of the restaurant wrong? (“Grill” as opposed to “Grille.”)

    I mean, that’s not surprising, but still…

  32. batgirl

    Gerard Plourde – I’m that vintage myself, and it bugs the heck out of me, too. Okay, he’s handwaved Little Jeffy having any memory of old serials by claiming that his elementary school showed them on weekends. But where would he have gotten the decoder ring and the supposed experience of decoding messages? They weren’t a ’50s comic book thing, and the radio/movie serials sponsers weren’t producing or supporting them anymore.
    Of course, it’s the same thing as his comic book covers always showing a twelve cent price, no matter what date they were supposedly produced.