As usual, Sunday’s strip wasn’t available for preview. I’m actually hoping we get a comic cover of some kind. Anything to actually showcase the fictional artwork of the fictional woman we’re supposed to be honoring.
I’m going to give Tom Batiuk the benefit of the doubt. I don’t think he intended this arc as some completely hollow awards grab. Epicus said it best in a comment from earlier this week, “I think he does these idiotic stories to give himself something to mention during his annual puff-piece interview in the Canton Daily Bugle’s “Lifestyles” Sunday supplement.”
I would add to this that I think Batiuk sees himself as a man with a platform to bring attention to real life issues, and historical injustices. And while a part of him may be doing this for the ego-stroking self-importance, I want to honestly believe that there is also a part of him that genuinely desires to, in his own tiny way, examine the problems in our world by putting them in his. Those occasional Funky-goes-AA-to-rant-about-global-warming, and Funky-wanders-through-an-abandoned-house-and-ponders-mortality, arcs seem to come from real anxieties about our world, and the nature of his art, his legacy, and being forgotten.
The problem is that Batiuk goes for the easiest answers. The most comfortable soap boxes. And has shown himself unwilling or unable to do the minimum of research required to keep himself from spouting out popular narratives that are unsubstantiated and unverified.
The women I’ve been reading about all week were diverse, their viewpoints were diverse, and their experiences were likewise different. Most importantly, their experiences were complex. They struggled with deadlines, business cycles, and plain old artwork, more than they ever struggled with sexual harassment. Yet Batiuk has given us two weeks of a conversation framed almost entirely around men.
If Ruby Lith was meant to be the avatar for the experiences of these women then, I’m sorry Tom, you have done them a gross disservice. You chose to portray their struggles through a bitter old harpy who would rather talk about the men who done her wrong than her own accomplishments. Tom, these people were artists. They were not cardboard dolls for you to act out your white-knight fantasies with.
Well, that’s it for me for now! Our glorious leader, TF Hackett, will be taking over on Monday. Many, MANY, thanks to him and Epicus for letting me take this blog in a more serious direction for a couple weeks. I promise that zany sarcasm is still definitely on the menu the next time I’m in the driver’s seat, so those of you bored or unimpressed with the Grampa Google assisted history lesson need not worry.
But, thanks so much to everyone who left warm and enthusiastic comments over this arc. It meant so much to me that you all were so supportive in my obsessive nit-picking and interested in learning about the awesome Golden and Silver Age artists Ruby Lith should have been based on.
Until next time!
21 responses to “Sympathy for the Devil.”
Thank you, CBH, for doing what Batiuk cannot–educating people. And making it fun and enjoyable–two words that haven’t been associated with Funky Winkerbean in decades.
It’s long been my theory that Batiuk feels that just by mentioning a topic–world hunger, global warming, inequality–he somehow thinks he’s “solved” that issue, merely by mentioning it. It’s the equivalent of putting a “Coexist” or “Visualize World Peace” and thinking, Wow, I have helped save the planet Cue the Les Moore smirk.
As everyone has said, you’ve done a terrific job with the awful crap you’ve been handed. Thank you!
That’s exactly what it is. Batiuk does an arc about “global warming is bad”, and it’s just people sitting around talking about how global warming is bad.
The problem, to put it bluntly, is that he’s gutless. One could argue that the only FW arc that went in a “bold” and/or unexpected direction was “Lisa dies”, which, not coincidentally, is the one he’s still patting himself on the back for all these years later. Yeah, a lot of the Act II stuff was sort of “edgy” but it almost always ended predictably, like when Lisa got blown up and ended up being fine in the end. I suppose part of it is the medium, as attracting the “wrong” kind of attention could have led to “controversy” which would have led to issues with syndication, but another part of it is just a lack of imagination.
Every time The Author tackles a ‘deep subject” i am reminded of what Teddy Roosevelt said about William Howard Taft “he means well feeblily.”
And to be honest i am not 100% sure just how sincere he is about all this – consider this arc sure he talks a good game but his treatment of women in this strip is HORRIBLE – they are ether emasculating, doormats or creepy mother substitutes who bring milk and cookies to man children who read and one assumes re-read DC comics from the late 50’s and early 60’s.
Argh, meant to put “bumper sticker” in between “Peace” and “and”
CBH, is that your own artwork?
I wish. That is the awesome and talented Marie Severin. She doodled that little self portrait for a fan of her’s back in the 50’s. I just loved the sass, the confidence, and the unpretentiousness of it.
You got what you asked for, a “Miss American” cover. With an inset of Ruby Lith saying “they wouldn’t let me sign my covers… but Miss American was me!” and an extra drawing of Ruby in the title. There’s also a note “a tip of the funky felt tip to Tall Thom Zahler and Rockin’ Rob Ro!” I’m guessing they drew the cover or helped with it. A self-indulgent capper to a self-indulgent story.
Oh look, it’s the ONLY image of Miss American we have ever seen!
And look, it’s drawn by a man! Not that it’s badly done, but wouldn’t it have been more appropriate to have a woman artist do the job?
And again, kudos to CBH for her excellent posts during this painful arc.
After an arc that was about how women were treated like second class citizens in the comic books world to have two MEN do this cover is honestly enough to have irony just give up and go drink well whiskey in some dive somewhere.
And by the by if i remember back in the day nobody signed the covers yes?
EC did have artists sign the covers, but they were the only ones for a long time.
Now that he’s “solved” that problem, it’s probably time to visit another pile of burning rubble. Perhaps Bull will have the brain damage again.
I think CBH and beckoningchasm have it right that Batiuk really does want to spotlight issues to effect change. They’ve also identified the shortcoming. His lack of research and follow-through defeats his purpose. He would really benefit from having editorial input to guide his work.
Why do the GIs look Japanese? Are they twins? And no, Miss American isn’t Rubella. Miss American has a perky nose. Rubella has a proboscis loaded with nickels.
And if this is WW2 most heavy bombers were 4 engine jobs and not 2. Ain’t nit-picking fun?
Actually, it’s a julienned carrot that’s been grafted to her face.
Miss American was a commie. Got it.
HE HAD TWO MEN DRAW HIS TRIBUTE TO FEMALE COMIC ARTISTS? WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH HIM??
I think he’d be genuinely puzzled if you pointed this out, though he might say something like, “No, no! You see, it took TWO men to draw a cover that ONE woman could do!” and claim it was a testament to female power.
It makes me wonder exactly how this came about. Was he completely lacking in self awareness such that this never occurred to him? Did it occur to him but he didn’t care? Did it occur to him but he didn’t know any female artists who he could ask to do this? Did it occur to him but he decided plugging these particular guys was more important? Did it occur to him, he asked a female artist to draw the strip and she refused? It’s genuinely baffling to me how this happened.
This is quite possibly the worst strip he’s ever done. I’m not being hyperbolic here. This is extraordinary.