The Defender: Rebirth

Link to today’s strip

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!


Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

21 responses to “The Defender: Rebirth

  1. countoftowergrove

    So-o-o-o, Chester’s bolo tie is supposed to be above shallow and crass?

  2. An interesting aspect of this arc is this: substitute the words “comic book” with the words “comic strip” and suddenly things become very, very clear. And the roles of hero and villain switch almost instantly. Seems like a classic definition of “cry for help.”

  3. billytheskink

    So Chester is TB? Interesting analysis.

  4. Epicus Doomus

    Forget about BatYack’s nutty comic book-related tics and phobias and forget about this weirdo Chester and those two KK idiots. The really noteworthy thing about this arc is how he’s killed nearly the entire week on re-introducing Chester and hasn’t even gotten to the (God help us all) premise yet. Of course trying to predict a FW premise is a fool’s errand but I wonder where the hell this is going? What could the delightfully disdainful Chester possibly want from those two jack-offs? He can’t be buying the place, as they don’t own it and the way he’s sneering at the inventory seems to indicate that he isn’t necessarily there for comic books, so what gives?

    • redsnifit

      The only possibilities I can think of is that they either have some super-rare copy of Starsux Jones, or he’s already bought the place and is mocking them before announcing it.

  5. redsnifit

    I think that’s a fair analysis.

    I think the problem is that we don’t really see it in action. My memory might be failing, but outside of this specific strip I don’t recall ever seeing Chester’s snobbery. We don’t really see one of these “shallow” comics that he dislikes – I would assume that he’s talking about superhero comics (which tend to be the target of choice for Comic Elitists), but since he forks over tons of money for Starbuck Jones it can’t be that.

    Anyways, can Batiuk please get on with the story? What’s Chester there for? So far as I can tell this rich dude just showed up so he can make snarky comments about their clientèle.

  6. It’s very odd to have a man who derides most fans as being shallow and crass make a villain out of someone for calling most fans shallow and crass when I remember reading a blog post of his that berates changes in a character’s bullshit explanation for why Barry Allen can violate physics for a shallow and crass reason.

  7. Charles

    There’s a simpler, dumber explanation. Batiuk decided when he introduced Chester that he was going to be a bad guy, whereas the others are good guys, or just silly girls in the case of Holly and the two older women who showed up at the KK. It doesn’t matter what Chester does, he’s bad. He could do the same thing that Gross John or Crazy do, but it’s contemptible because it’s Chester, where John and Crazy are okay, because they’re good.

    We’re supposed to find Chester appalling because he bids $50k on Dick Tracy’s comics (and man, looking at that again, try to unpack that week-long storyline. They’re auctioning stolen goods?), but we find out that Holly won the auction, and yet she’s not condemned despite the fact that she clearly made a larger bid than Chester’s abhorrently large bid. And there are other things as well. Chester does something and we’re supposed to think he’s awful. Crazy does the same thing and we’re supposed to find him charmingly eccentric.

    • comicbookharriet

      “We’re supposed to find Chester appalling because he bids $50k on Dick Tracy’s comics”

      No…I don’t think that’s the case. We’re supposed to find Chester appalling because he screams his massive bid out like a two year old having a tantrum, and then laughs at everyone else who can’t pay so much.

      • Charles

        Where did Chester laugh at everyone else would couldn’t pay that much? His bid was the last panel where he appeared in that sequence. There was a guy in a long shot later who might have been him, but that certainly was not clear enough to discern whether he was mocking other people. And besides, why would he laugh? He lost that auction to Holly. He either didn’t have enough money to beat her bid or he decided that whatever she bid wasn’t worth beating, but from the way he was presented, it would seem to be the former. But if it’s the latter, Holly’s throwing around an insane amount of money for some old comic books, so insane that this rich asshole who takes a “money is no object” attitude toward these things finds that too costly.

        And either those comics were worth that much or they weren’t. If they weren’t, then yes, Chester’s bid was appalling, but that makes Holly even worse. (And think about how much that must have been seeing as how fifty thousand was Chester’s opening bid for that single auction) But if they were, then Gross John making a bid that was one thousandth of Chester’s reasonable opening bid makes him a complete asshole. (Or a terrible comic book dealer, or both!)

        • comicbookharriet

          I meant laughs more metaphorically. I agree that if he was outbid on fifty thousand than Holly spent a retirement level amount of money, and that’s neither laudable nor wise.

          My point was more that I think we’re supposed to hate Chester because he’s a mean jerk, not because of any one thing he does with comic books. The things he does aren’t wrong, it’s the fact he is a mean insufferable prick as he’s doing them.

          Thanks for the feedback!

  8. Double Sided Scooby Snack

    “I can see that you have a nice little establishment here. It would be a real shame if it suddenly burned to the ground… with you in it. For a very reasonable fee, I can PERSONALLY ensure that might not happen in the next 30 days.”

    “Gee whiz, Chester! How much would that cost??”


    “Holeeeeee Cow, John, where are we gonna get THAT kind of money??”

  9. The Nelson Puppet

    gratify or indulge (an immoral or distasteful desire, need, or habit or a person with such a desire, etc.).
    “newspapers are pandering to people’s baser instincts”
    synonyms: indulge, gratify, satisfy, cater to, give in to, accommodate, comply with
    “David was always there to pander to her every whim”
    a pimp.

    Yep, DSHJawn seems like the “pandering” type.

  10. timbuys

    No one is gonna step back and mention just how sick of a burn with which DSHJohn just blew up Chester?

    No one?



  11. @comicbookharriet – I guarantee you that your line: “Chester sees John’s wall of questionable loli manga, and back issues of Sonic Adventures…and he is not impressed,” will be the best single sentence I’ll read today. Well done and spot on!

  12. Hitorque

    I don’t know what “slabbed” means but I do know what “loli manga” are… Yes, I’m a horrible person.

  13. I’m intrigued by this interpretation of Chester Hagglemore’s life. Shall need to review his major appearances to see whether it’s sustainable. I’m not sure someone who’s excited by Original Art for The Amazing Mister Sponge can be snobby, but I’ll admit to having strong opinions about Harvey Comics characters so what do I know about anything?