If you feel like giving me a letter of devotion…a second-hand promotion.

Link to Today’s Comic.

There is almost no better metaphor for the way nostalgia farming is an inherently parasitic enterprise than Chester thinking giving out antique items they didn’t make, manufactured for a completely different product and IP, would be a great promotion for their comic company. They’re not selling to readers based on the quality of the stories being told in Atomik Comics, they’re marketing based solely on their ability to provide a pastiche of an era that they can’t possibly hope to equal or overcome. They’re repackaging someone else’s toys and regifting them to the people that already have them.

When an IP stops growing and changing, it dies, like a massive oak that has fallen in the forest. As it decays from public consciousness it often sprouts the little mushrooms of nostalgia grabs, some delicious and innocuous, like the Brady Bunch movies, some poisonous and nasty, like Ghostbusters 2016. But all of these mushroom reboots will never replace the oak tree, they can never grow that big, and they can never last that long, because they can’t make their own food, they can only feed off the carcass of the original. And if remembered at all it will be as a tiny footnote to a larger story.

And sometimes the oak tree thinks it’s still alive, still growing, when really it’s nothing but a rotting skeleton of an idea sprouting little mushy mushrooms of nostalgia and telling itself they’re leaves, as Tom Batiuk’s universe crumbles away into banality.

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18 Comments

Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

18 responses to “If you feel like giving me a letter of devotion…a second-hand promotion.

  1. The Nelson Puppet

    It’s painfully obvious Batiuk writes this “comic strip” to amuse himself and his friends. There can’t be much of an audience for this. It’s just awful.

  2. The Nelson Puppet

    The comics syndicate is to blame for perpetuating Batiuk and many other unintentionally funny and not-so-funny “comic strips”.

    • Buckeye Feculence

      I’m not sure what kind of metrics the syndicate uses to determine which strips to keep and which to drop. But I too wonder what makes FW worth keeping in its stable considering how few papers actually run it.

      But maybe the mechanisms of fate are slowly working out a cruel, soul-crushing, Westview-like scenario – the syndicate drops FW just short of its 50th anniversary. (Whereby life imitates his “art”–and I use that term loosely)

  3. spacemanspiff85

    In what way is this a promotion if they’re only going to give them out to people who are already fans? Are they just hoping their existing fans just buy multiple copies of every issue, out of gratitude for decades old rings, rather than doing anything that might get them new fans?

    • The Nelson Puppet

      Who in the hell sends letters to comic book companies in 2018? I mean, other than bill collectors?

    • hitorque

      Forget about the details… Batiuk got to burn an entire week showing us this ring in nauseating detail, and reinforcing how rare/cool it is and how cool Batiuk is by extension…

      So, mission accomplished

  4. billytheskink

    I’m not defending the Batom Comics flashback story arcs that we used to so often see before TB came up with this miserable excuse to transport the same premise to the “present day”… BUT, this dopey “based on a true story” atomic bomb ring thing is a story MUCH better suited to those old sepia-toned fever dreams. At least in flashback this stupid story about stupid rings could be told as it happened and on its own terms.

    There isn’t a shoehorn on this planet that is gonna make this story fit into this situation. At some point TB’s gonna dig himself so deep that the Chinese will unfortunately be exposed to Funky Winkerbean.

  5. Rusty

    Chester is pissing his money away like a lottery winner, rather than someone who was portrayed as shrewd in his youth.

    • hitorque

      Yeah, like he wasn’t already pissing away his money buying a nine-story downtown warehouse and completely renovating it into an office space to house *TWO* employees, or when he put Pete’s girlfriend on the payroll with no experience/qualifications, or when he hired a butler for the sole purpose of bringing him an ice cream sundae every hour, etc…

  6. Who is sending them letters? I thought the whole problem was that no one knew they existed. No one reads their books, therefor no one writes them letters. This is the stupidest sop to nostalgia ever.

    It would make more sense if the comics were popular, and they wanted to reward the fans, but Batiuk can’t stand to have anyone successful other than Les Moore.

  7. hitorque

    God damn… Maybe it *IS* an engagement ring the way he keeps flaunting and preening like a soon-to-be-bride… Even Super Bowl rings don’t get this much “I DEMAND YOU TO LOOK AT ME AND BEHOLD MY GREATNESS!!!” -attention…

    At least now I understand why Chester is a lifelong virgin despite being a multimillionaire…

  8. Gerard Plourde

    I’m sure this isn’t happening, but this would be a great setup to Mopey and Boy Lisa discovering that they’re working for a delusional narcissist.

  9. Professor Fate

    Ack. There isn’t a universe in existence where this plan works – and as noted this promotion is supposed to attract NEW readers not the ones already rotting their minds on the toxic nostalgic swill they are churning out.
    And if Chester was able to get ‘several boxes’ of these over the net a while ago – this would imply there are a lot of these rings about – the whole idea of this stuff is that yes they were made in their millions but most have been tossed away or otherwise lost. Rarity is what makes a collectable. So i’m not even sure that sending one of these miserable little tin rings to the best letter writers would be something the letter writers would even want. I mean it’s one thing to enjoy things that are mostly aimed at kids it’s another to pretend to be a kid.

    • billytheskink

      The inscriptions are actually similar to speech bubbles in comic books, because they describe the activities of the characters, who offer explanations of what they are doing (‘I am cutting (stone),’ ‘Alas for me! I am dead!’), which is also extraordinary.

      Is… is Tom Batiuk an ancient immortal?

    • Maxine of Arc

      There’s an Egyptian Old Kingdom tomb at the Metropolitan Museum that has similar captions. It’s kind of adorable? https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/577371
      (“go, you! taking [the grain] by donkeys”)