The Sorrows of Young Chester

Link to today’s strip.

So, he stole them!  He’s a terrible thief.  But he saved them from destruction–he’s a saint!

Surely, in Tom Batiuk’s world, Chester’s scheme makes him an awesome hero.  I seem to recall reading something in Batiuk’s blog where he talked about taking comics from somewhere–I think it was a barber shop?–because they weren’t appreciated there anyway.  Chester’s going a step further–he’s saving these books from destruction, not just neglect.

Now, I’m not going to condone Chester’s petty thefts, but the strip is sending mixed messages here.  I know, I know, Chester has to be the bad guy, because he’s not noble, pure (and poor).  He looks down on the people who collect and preserve comics aren’t like him.  He comic book obsession hasn’t caused him to suffer in any way we’ve seen, not like John or Harry, so he’s just gotta be bad.

But he’s saving Bantom comic books from the flames.  Something no other character here (other than the creator-hated Funky) has ever doneNot even Les.

He’s using his resources to preserve beloved comic books.  Meaning, it’s actually people like Chester who keep John’s store in business.  It’s certainly not idiots like Chullo and Glasses, who show up to read comics and play video games, but never buy anything.  You’d think John would do his best to woo Chester as a customer, but no, the purity of fandom is never tainted by the coin of commerce.

I’m also thinking that ties into my next comment.  We’ve seen that the drug store has stacks of comics that it can’t sell–meaning, in my world, that these comics aren’t popular.   Yet it is implied that Chester was able to sell these same comics to amass a fortune.

Look.  These comics can’t be simultaneously obscure, neglected masterpieces as well as the storied beacon of a generation.  I strongly suspect Tom Batiuk has a variant of the anti-popular syndrome–if it’s well-known, it’s shunned, while the more obscure something is, the more obviously superior it is (as well as its appreciator…well, that’s only natural, right?).  After all if everyone liked it, you wouldn’t be special for liking it too.  It’s a pretty despicable kind of fandom, but it definitely exists.

Things I Like Dept:  panel one’s a nice perspective shot, and the figures are well-posed.   Good chair drawing too.  Pity this good stuff is wasted on such awful characters.


Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

14 responses to “The Sorrows of Young Chester

  1. Epicus Doomus

    “These comics can’t be simultaneously obscure, neglected masterpieces as well as the storied beacon of a generation.”

    That sentence describes Batty’s Starbuck Jones fantasy world perfectly. It’s the long-forgotten and obscure comic book no one read that everyone remembers fondly as being absolutely integral to their childhoods. There used to be just one issue, then suddenly there were five hundred. Everyone totally forgot about Cliff Anger for sixty years, then suddenly everyone remembered how much they adored those ol’ Saturday matinees at the Valentine. Everyone loves the Valentine yet it’s always empty and dilapidated. Pete and Darin are furiously working on the SJ sequels, yet they’re always on vacation. Like with every FW story, literally every single detail is totally contrary, paradoxical and confounding all at the same time.

    And in keeping with that theme, now Chester is completely paradoxical and confounding too. He’s the uppity comic book-commodifying jerk who surreptitiously saved those special relics out of sheer love. He’s a rare example of a deeply layered totally one dimensional character. It makes you wonder what FW could have been if Batom had ever bothered to put any effort into it.

  2. spacemanspiff85

    So the drugstore owner never noticed how he was shorted credit for every single comic he sent back?

    • billytheskink

      Batom titles apparently sold so poorly that Chester could do this and Mr. Danford still got about the credit he expected.
      I can believe that, its that the books ever became valuable again that stretches credibility.

    • Rusty Shackleford

      He was able to collect a kill fee.

  3. Double Sided Scooby Snack

    Again, Skunk Boy is privy to every detail of Chestmore Haggleberg’s life, including his childhood. Also including his private thoughts. Did these two man-children once have an, ahem, intimate relationship? Or is this just more forced, contrived, made-up-as-we-go crapola?

    “Gee, Chester, how’d you get so rich?”

    “Elementary, dear fellow. I stole TWENTY ‘books’ as a young lad. TWENTY! All told, they were worth millions! Of course, when the store owner found out, I went to jail. It was there I learned how to please a man. Let’s finish our hot cocoa and retire to the boudoir. I shall demonstrate.”

  4. Is that supposed to be a young Ed Crankshaft in the background? What year would that make this? Other than “impossible, because then Chester Hagglemore would be at least eighty these days?”

    • Gerard Plourde

      Yes, if this follows directly from yesterday’s set-up. (And from the way Chester’s drawn in panel 2, Danford could be violating the child labor laws.) In this attempt to shoehorn Crankshaft into the Funkyverse chronology, all of the time (age) jump inconsistencies are coming home to roost. Not to mention the fact that comic book collecting as we know it wasn’t a thing in the ‘50’s and ‘60’s. If Chester was reading comic books back then, he would have ripped the cover off and taken the contents home. (Also, if I’m remembering the “nod and wink” practice of selling remainders correctly, the entire cover of periodicals wasn’t sent back, just the portion with the title and issue information.) The important thing would be to read the story, not to preserve a pristine, unread artifact. Of course, like all of the other contradictions that have been identified, it will be ignored because “it’s called writing.”

  5. Since this is only Wednesday, this can’t possibly be where Chester took the wrong path in life. We’ll have to wait until Saturday for that to happen.

  6. Gerard Plourde

    Looking at the “teaser” you’ve posted at the top of the page, it appears that the Silver Age Batman’s butler. Alfred Pennyworth, will be making an appearance.

  7. sgtsaunders

    They weren’t “old” comic books when Kid Chester was boosting them.

    • comicbookharriet

      They would have been ‘old’ in the sense that they’d been on the shelf for weeks and hadn’t sold. A magazine from a month ago can be called ‘old’.

  8. hitorque

    I thought Pete wanted some basic background info, not the dude’s goddamn life story from humble beginnings??

    And was Chester at the Starbuck Jonez Premiere last year or no? Because if he wasn’t that is another major plot hole…

  9. hitorque

    I’ll never get tired of the staff at Komics Korner and Montoni’s literally spending their whole 8-hour shift telling some kind of story to advance the plot because both places seemingly go through six-week stretches where they don’t get a singly paying customer — But they’re able to stay in business because reasons…

  10. Hannibal's Lectern

    Would it work any better if in Panel One DSH was saying, “Apparently young Thomas could’t bear the thought of his dad burning those copies of ‘Playboy’ after his mom found them…”?

    Maybe a little. Shame to waste half-decent artwork.

    And yeah, a year ago I would have lifted the graphic and inserted the changed words, but why should I work harder than The Author?