The Very Model of A Modern Major Millennial.

Link to today’s strip

At least we now have some kind of in universe excuse for why Summer has been at Kent State for so long. Apparently she calls her father every year at the same time to change her major. And he seems smug as a snake about the whole thing. Is he paying for her college, or has she taken on student loan debt?

I decided to do an archive deep dive and found that Summer and Keisha last showed up on October 7 for a one-off Sunday strip.

If I could ask Tom Batiuk one question, honestly, it would be why he doesn’t write people interacting with their kids. The children of main characters are an afterthought if they are remembered at all, and parenting and concern for offspring are rare topics. It sometimes shows up. Rarely. Holly was worried about Corey being in the military, and had a snit fit when he wouldn’t text her back about things.

But if we were to compare the number of strips involving couples and their relationships to the number of strips about parents and kids, there would be no contest. Despite the bond between a parent and a child being the more inalienable, demanding relationship. You can’t amicably divorce your kids, and see them socially on occasion.

It makes me want to sit down with Tom and a shrink and ask him about his relationship with his parents, and then his own kids, to see if those relationships were as bland and benignly distant as the ones he portrays. I would like to see if he resents the idea that his kids should affect his life and dreams, or have a claim on him for time or emotional support.

I don’t have kids, but I have parents, aunts, uncles, coworkers…and it doesn’t matter how old you or your children become, your bond with your children is primal. It will take up a chunk of your emotional and relationship capital. You can’t have casual children. But Tom has never wanted to present children as obstacles in that way. People just show up together, without their kids, and no mention of babysitters.

Darrin apparently has dumped Skyler off at his parents’ and forgot about him and Jess is content to live in California forever. Wally didn’t know Rana had gone back to college, and we haven’t seen him interact with Wally Jr in years. Jinx didn’t show up to her father’s retirement. We never get to see how Bull’s CTE affected his kids. Jinx could still be in college, but that didn’t come up when Linda was talking about finances. Crazy Harry’s Maddie has slipped into the memory hole, along with her other two siblings.

Maybe Batiuk would fob this off by saying there are already so many comic strips about parents and kids, so he chooses not to show the moments of parenting. They take place off panel. But in a strip that’s become about less than nothing, maybe some parent-child dynamic could bring a bit of heart. Shoving hordes of kids into the attic like an army of Chuck Cunninghams only makes your characters seem shallow and self-centered. Every couple a codependent, un-nurturing, dead end.

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18 Comments

Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

18 responses to “The Very Model of A Modern Major Millennial.

  1. spacemanspiff85

    Not writing a comic strip about kids, or the relationship between parents and kids, is fine. Having kids feature prominently in your strip for years and then completing forgetting they exist is just crappy writing.

    • Charles

      Yeah, I don’t think it stems from deep-seated issues in Batiuk’s real life. I just think he doesn’t find the next generation to be interesting enough to write about them, and their boringness is absolutely on him. He just brings them up when he has some prestige arc he wants to use to gain attention, for example, making Cory a soldier to celebrate soldiers, especially after Wally’s treatment, or Rana deciding completely out of nowhere that she’s now a devout Muslim and is going to teach in Afghanistan when before she’d been nothing but a superficial cheerleader.

      • Yeah, I remember when Emily and Amelia first showed up, one wanted to be nice and the other wanted to shake things up. That lasted, what, a week? Before Batiuk got bored and went back to comic books? Now they’re background characters.

    • comicbookharriet

      I totally agree that not writing huge arcs about about kids, or parent/child dynamics are fine. I just wish he didn’t always forget about the kids he’s established. Especially when he’s writing dramatic, medical, or marital life changing storylines, and forgetting to involve the children in even a background-of-panel capacity.

      • Charles

        Way late in replying, but I felt it needed to be said…

        Yeah, like Rana not showing up at Wally’s wedding. I mean, holy shit. The groom’s ex’s husband who hates him is invited, but the groom’s daughter is nowhere to be found.

  2. Double Sided Scooby Snack

    “Hey, Kiddo! Anymore, how goes college?”

    “I’m changing my major.”

    “Awesome. So, another 7 years at Kunt State, then?”

    “Mega!”

    “Okay then! Talk to you next year!”

    “Les, wait… Ask her how Karmeesha…”

    “SILENCE, WOMAN!! YOU HAVE NO LINES TODAY!!!”

  3. Double Sided Scooby Snack

    By the way… This was the reason Goatee Boy needed to be sitting down??

    Reasons to have someone sit down:

    1) I’m pregnant!
    2) I’m marrying Karmeesha!
    3) I was offered a job at Westview High!
    4) I’m ‘Samuel’ now!
    5) I have the Komix Kancer!

    Reasons NOT to have someone sit down:

    1) I’m thinking about changing my major.

    When they start giving Pulitzers for fake suspense or empty filler, Batty’s phone will finally ring off the hook.

  4. Epicus Doomus

    LOL “changing her major”…SEVEN years in. Sure Tom, whatever you say. The really weird thing is that until she left for college, Summer’s continuity was pretty much on the money. Graduated from WHS when she was supposed to (more or less), senior year basketball hero and etc. Now it’s all haywire, like everyone else. So why’d he graduate her at all?

  5. Paul Jones

    Lynn Johnston was trying to do that with April, I think. As I recall, the second she turned sixteen, her parents declared that they were done raising her and tried to fob her off on other relatives…..

  6. Gerard Plourde

    I’m curious to see if he’s going to drake any reference to her basketball eligibility (which should have expired two or three years ago at Division I Kent State).

  7. Gerard Plourde

    “make”

  8. sgtsaunders

    The shiz is this, Smirk Week?

  9. Max Power

    Summer’s biggest “appearance” this year and all we’ve seen is Les at Smug Level 100 and forlorn Cayla all week.

  10. So what’s the chance that we find out anything about what her previous major was, what her new major will be, or any other back story on Summer at all this week, or anything at all about Keesha? Did he just bring her back so we could see Less smirking in his kitchen for 6 days and deliver jokes that were never funny?

  11. Personally, I think everything since Les’ wedding has just been filler to get to that 50th. I see no evidence that Batiuk has any idea what to do, character-wise, and consistent or meaningful relationships seem beyond his reach.

    The only things that seem to engage him at all are comic books and Les Moore. Oh, and making sure the cool kids in high school get their comeuppance. How dare they be popular and successful!

  12. billytheskink

    TB has never been comfortable depicting parent-child relationships in FW (maybe he thinks he does enough of it in Crankshaft) and did very little of it in Acts I and II. Even his Act III grand designs (which he spent years setting up with several characters having babies in late Act II) were much much much more apt to depict the children of the old gang at high school rather than at home. Now that they are all out of high school, he’s clearly completely lost interest in them. Summer, Keisha, Maddie, and Cory may as well be Owen, Cody, Chien, Monroe, or Barry Balderman. Really, the ONLY post-Act I child characters he’s shown any continued interest at all in post-high school are Pete, Durwood, Wally and Lefty.

    The only thing he’s depicted even less than parent-child interaction is sibling interaction. Nearly all of TB’s characters are apparently only children and those that we know do have siblings generally see those siblings disappear, sometimes alarmingly quickly — Maddie’s two siblings appeared in all of one strip. Pete’s sister Ally, perhaps the most interactive sibling in strip history, appeared sparingly for maybe 2-3 years in mid-Act II. I’m not sure Cindy’s kid sister Sadie has been seen since the Clinton administration and rarely ever interacted with Cindy anyways. Jinx and Mickey pretty much never interacted. Ditto Durwood and his first half-sister. Long before Rana went AWOL, Wally Jr. had been reduced to a rarely seen and never mentioned prop. Rana’s birth sister met a tragic end in an Afghan street. Emily and Amelia don’t even get Logan Church-level appearances.

    • comicbookharriet

      There’s another wrinkle I hadn’t considered! So weird that Batiuk has everyone connected but forgets about relatives.

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