Like many a random female comic character of the 80’s and 90’s, I am pulling on the discarded mantle of a now-gone vigilante to assume his identity for political justice! So watch in amazement as slip on my Mask of Internet Anonimity and take of the Cloak of The Devil’s Advocate. I ascend the rickety soapbox and become…. THE DEFENDER!
I went on an hours long Funky binge today, reading the entire Holly collects Starbucks series again. Because I was completely ready to lambaste this strip, and accuse Batiuk of all kinds of fussy comic book hang-ups. But I suddenly had an epiphany, like a lighting strike! (Into photo-developing chemicals!) And suddenly I could see. We are reading the meaning of Chester the Chiseler wrong.
The rich, obsessive, fanatical, Chester is prancing around like a grade A WWE heel, begging for our boos. And we’ve been booing. But we’ve also been accusing Batty of throwing a temper tantrum and making Chester a strawman of people who are ‘Bad Collectors’ who ‘love comics wrong.’
We’ve been wrong. Chester isn’t bad because Tom Batiuk thinks there is only one way to love comics right. Chester is bad because CHESTER thinks there is only one way to love comics right.
I’ve got more than a couple long boxes hiding in my apartment. I know firsthand how weird comics collectors can be, and Tom knows it too. There’s a mix of comic nerds and non-nerds in the Funkyverse, and Batiuk has made jokes on both sides of the ‘aisle’ so-to-speak without making anyone ‘the bad guy.’ Sweet pleasant little old ladies wandered into Komix Korner on Black Friday and didn’t think it was a real store. And Holly was teased for not knowing what ‘Slabbed’ means.
Most of Chester the Chiselers traits have been displayed by sympathetic characters previously. So those aren’t WHY Chester is ‘bad.’
Mason is rich; he’s not pilloried. Crazy Harry was flat out ‘Crazy’ about his collection he had to sell, and had grouped every book with awful acronyms. He also apparently was willing to spend college savings levels of money to complete his collection of Tarzan. Chullo boy swore on a ‘slabbed copy of Amazing Fantasy;’ so nothing against comic books being sealed away to preserve them. Pete had a hoard so big he had a street sale before moving. Darin bought a life-size Cosmic Treadmill. DSH John gave Holly bargaining advice before she went to buy a comic from Nick the Geek. Holly went absolutely CRAZY CUTTHROAT during an E-bay sale.
But Chester is a SNOB. Chester judges other nerds by what they like, and how they like it. Chester talks down facets of nerdom he thinks beneath him. Chester thinks that his collection makes him awesome and powerful. That it gives him authority to dictate comics dogma. That pointing out nerdy flaws at other nerds makes him THE ONLY TRUE NERD KING. He is a terrible person, who just happens to love comic books. If he didn’t love comics, he would still be a jerk. It’s his interactions with other people, not his interactions with comic books, that make him a villain.
Chester sees John’s wall of questionable loli manga, and back issues of Sonic Adventures…and he is not impressed.
Disagree? Please let me know! I wanna hear your analysis!
Tomorrow we return to your regularly scheduled snarky nitpicking. Defender out!