Prisoners of the Lost Universe

Link to today’s strip.

This is a good example of what I mentioned yesterday–the majority of “stories” in this strip are people complaining about something without being specific in their complaints.  “X stinks, man.”  “Yeah, X sure stinks.”  “Good, we agree that X stinks.  See you tomorrow.”  “Not if I’m lucky, you won’t!”  (smirk) (smirk)

If you look at the dialogue in this strip (sorry to make you read it again) you could replace the word “hazing” with anything, and nothing would change.  Smoking.  Drinking.  Farting.  Reading comic books.  Reading Funky Winkerbean.  Try it; it actually makes the strip enjoyable.  Is Tom Batiuk crediting his readers with already knowing what “hazing” is, or does he just not care?

Well, let’s see, here’s a strip with Becky and Dinkle chatting.  I left it blank what they’re chatting about…time to turn on the news!  Say, this story about hazing sounds good!

Today, Dinkle throws out “Stockholm Syndrome” with no clarification and again, it could be that Tom Batiuk credits his readers with enough intelligence to know what Stockholm Syndrome is…or it could just be the case that he threw it in, knowing it would make him sound smart.

It doesn’t really seem appropriate for a story vague chat about “hazing” though–while there have been some recent horrible stories about hazing, in those cases the hazee didn’t immediately turn around and defend those who had wronged him.  Nope, in the case I heard about, police and the courts got involved and the ending was not pretty.

I would say that particular incident might have started as hazing, but quickly turned into abuse, and abuse is another matter entirely that I don’t think anyone would find defensible (or funny).  I should note that I’ve never experienced hazing from either end, but from what I understand it’s supposed to be a good-natured trial by fire endured to enter some club or another.  You would never know what hazing is if you relied on this strip.  Or Stockholm Syndrome for that matter.

We could see the effects of this hazing on a student (in a conversation with Becky), or actually see the hazing in question.  But I’m going to put my money on “No, we won’t.”  The rest of the week will be like today:

Two people having a nothing conversation.   Has Tom Batiuk been held prisoner by the forces of mediocrity so long that he now believes them to be his only friends, his guiding lights?

Art-wise, it’s eerie how Becky almost morphs into the gal in the second panel.  Same height, nearly same expression, just further left in the pane.  It’s such an odd thing to look at that it has to be deliberate.  I assume that he just doesn’t scribble stuff down and be done for the day, but I may be mistaken!



Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

18 responses to “Prisoners of the Lost Universe

  1. HeyItsDave

    Has Tom Batiuk been held prisoner by the forces of mediocrity so long that he now believes them to be his only friends, his guiding lights?

    Heh. I saw what you did there.

  2. Epicus Doomus

    Yeah, I mean what are these two imbeciles babbling about here? Is Dinkle saying that back in the “old days” his students endured hazing rituals because the bonding was similar to what a prisoner feels toward his or her captors? Or is he just being his usual wry annoying self and jabbering pointlessly for no reason? Has a hazing incident taken place? If so, who and when? And if not, what the hell are they talking about? Why is Dinkle even there at all? Did Becky ever finally stand up to her meddlesome old bag of a mother? Is this an example of what passes for “band camp” humor now? I don’t get it.

  3. spacemanspiff85

    Oh, I think you can definitely learn about Stockholm Syndrome from this strip. Just look at Cayla.
    And I love how they’re complaining about hazing when the exact opposite of hazing is going on right in front of him. Those two students are clearly about to make out right there on the field.
    I really wish Batiuk had written this vaguely in Act II.
    “Hey Les, where’s Lisa?”
    “Oh, she got cancer and died.”
    “Oh. Who’s that androgynous teenager sitting next to you?”

  4. billytheskink

    “Back in the day”, Dinkle’s megalomania was defined by subjecting the students in his band to insane practice schedules, performances in deplorable and health-threatening weather conditions, and regular verbal abuse.

    “Hazing”, whatever it was, was probably looked on as a welcome break.

  5. spacemanspiff85

    Yeah, Dinkle really is the actual last person who should be talking about how bad hazing is.

  6. That’s right. There was another bonding experience that made them identify with their abuser: exposure to a vainglorious psychopath who would subject them to all manner of horrors in the quest for applause.

  7. Rusty Shackleford

    Panel 2 was awkward because Batty needed a way to show the missing arm…after all, that is the defining feature of this character.

    As for hazing at band camp, this is totally stupid. Our hazing was done not by our captors (Band Director and staff) but by other students in our section.

  8. Pretty sure 99% of the population says “Stockholm syndrome” without the “the.” I mean, this isn’t Crankshaft speaking, although put a ball cap on Dinkle and… TB writes the most awkward dialog on the planet.

  9. Ray

    Sigh…I really wish this was the “American Pie” version of Band Camp, and Becky played the flute,

    At least that would be interesting.

  10. I don’t get it… Is hazing supposed to be funny or something? Or is this one of those inside jokes only those who did marching band in high school would understand?

  11. HeyItsDave

    If you look at the dialogue in this strip (sorry to make you read it again) you could replace the word “hazing” with anything, and nothing would change. Smoking. Drinking. Farting. Reading comic books. Reading Funky Winkerbean. Try it; it actually makes the strip enjoyable.

    Why just replace a single word? FW is reaching such Garfield-level banality that we can just drop in today’s Garfield dialogue and get a better strip.

  12. Krankenschaaften: Damn… If only these impressionable kids had some dedicated adults willing to coach them up and help them get better so they could fully enjoy what I consider to be the greatest game instead of indifferent, misanthropic clods who get their kicks laughing at how poorly they play the game…

    Krankenschaaften 2: All I want to see this week is Ed going full “Earl Weaver” on some poor volunteer Little League umpire… Batiuk has to show us that at the minimum, right??

    Krankenschaaften 3: Can someone please inform Batiuk that the “Our little league team is *SO* bad….” -comics trope was officially retired by Charles Schultz almost three decades ago?

  13. @HeyItsDave: Somebody somewhere ought to be paying you $$$$ for how well you can give a makeover to Batiuk’s work…

  14. Rusty Shackleford


    I did marching band in high school and had a neurotic Dinkle style band director. Heck, Dinkle was painted on the director’s door.

    We had band initiations and yes, maybe some went a little too far. But that could be a story, if he would just show some action. But instead we just get words.

  15. Roll out those lazy, hazing, crazy days of summer.

  16. Harry’s got a simple solution to this problem:

  17. Gerard Plourde

    This strip should just be renamed “Talking Heads”. At least it would convey truth in advertising.


    This is almost as bad as someone trying to defend domestic violence in the 50’s as family bonding.