For cryin’ out loud, boys, Her Majesty’s eyes are up here! If Nancy creator Ernie Bushmiller had drawn today’s strip, there’d be bold, dotted lines going from their eyes directly to Queen Tika’s rather modest bosom. You guys haven’t been out in the desert that long! Meanwhile, old Jff, “real” Jff, wears the same frightened expression that’s been on his face since the smoke and flames started closing in. This queen and these friendly, helpful robots most likely will be revealed to be figments of his boyhood fantasy, come to life! Shouldn’t adult Jff be the one wearing the excited grin?

*Congrats to Y. Knott for coming up with the winning nickname Skppy for Jff’s boyhood alter ego!


Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

81 responses to “TikaTalk

  1. Epicus Doomus

    So Jff’s childhood fantasy was to meet the queen of the antique robots? Yes, that’s real normal. Other than us what are the odds that anyone anywhere has any idea what this is supposed to be? Sigh.

    • William Thompson

      Well, I could understand that if the queen of the antique robots was Susan Calvin, but that’s just me.

      • William Thompson

        I looked at the Battyblog and, holy crap, he’s heard of Susan Calvin. And Isaac “Asomov.” Impressively, he read the robot stories when he was younger, and learned from them that as stories progress through the years, characters get older. Instructing Batiuk in realism may be one of Dr. Asimov’s greatest achievements.

  2. I can easily imagine Tom Batiuk’s fans saying “Finally! The Phantom Empire done right!

    What I can’t imagine are Tom Batiuk’s fans.

    • Epicus Doomus

      Somewhere right now there’s a 95 year old man having a newspaper shoved in his face by one of his children.

      “Look Pop! Wasn’t “The Phantom Empire” your favorite movie when you were a kid?”

      “What? Get that out of my face, “Diagnosis: Murder” is on, you moron.”

    • comicbookharriet

      I can imagine them pretty well. Because I looked up pictures of Tom’s wife and son on Grandpa Google.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Someone has to protect The Phantom Empire.

  3. Y. Knott

    I am overwhelmed that my simple peanut butter based wordplay has led to this wonderful moment. Now I’m off to update the “Awards Won” section of my CV!

    • Epicus Doomus

      Here at SoSF we like to reward contest winners by NOT sending them one of the many copies of “The Trilogy” we have over in the warehouse. Kent State University Press needed storage space, we had some for rent and, well, the story goes downhill from there. But congrats and enjoy not reading it, it’s the least we could do!

      • Y. Knott

        I could ask for no finer gift than not reading Batiuk’s magnum opus. The Trilogy’s absence from my bookshelf will always hold a special place in my heart!

    • Count of Tower Grove

      Congratulations! That’s one more award that Todd doesn’t have.🏆

  4. Petula Clark Five

    This is one out-of-control delirium. Now we have 40-year-old Crankshaft as a fireman.

  5. William Thompson

    Firefighter: “Is it too late to order barbecue sauce and coleslaw?”

    In Moronia: “I am Queen Tika! At last, manly surface-men to make my decisions for me! Let me serve you hot chocolate in ivory mugs!”

  6. billytheskink

    There was a hiker in Bronson Canyon? ONE hiker? In a park smack in the middle of the second largest metropolitan area in the country there was only one hiker?

    That tells me the park was closed and Jff ignored the closure. Moronia indeed.

  7. Gerard Plourde

    If Dorothy Christie were still alive, I’d advise her to sue for the awful job that TomBa and Co. have done in portraying her.

  8. Hitorque

    Is the average reader really supposed to know who the hell this lady is, and why they should give a rat’s ass?

  9. Might I ask for a shibboleth explainer, please? I can’t remember how it is we got the name “Jff” going. I had thought that it was taken from a character’s post-stroke attempt at saying Jeff? But I can’t think which character that was and whether it was Crankshaft or Funky Winkerbean.

    And I’m not sure that I didn’t get that idea from For Better Or For Worse when Lynn Johnston was warning Liz that if she didn’t marry Granthony then Grandpa Jim was gonna die.

    • Charles

      God damn it, people! This is totally getting out of hand and I need to stop it!

      In the ridiculous strip of June 4, 2013, Darin wondered aloud to his august assemblage of his wife, Les, Les’s worthless wife, his mom Fishstick, and his brain-damaged dad Fred what they should do about Frankie, who was coming back to Westview to make a show about Lisa. Who could imagine such a crass and heartless thing!

      Anyway, Fred decided Pam and Jeff Murdoch could help, because even though his wife could fully recount the story he was alluding to, it’d be so much better if they dragged those two oldsters into Les’s house to tell them the story themselves. This revelation took three days, by the way.

      Since he was addle-pated, Fred could only pronounce their names as “Pm nd JFFF“, which really isn’t how someone in Fred’s condition would pronounce those names, but I digress.

      It was THREE (3) F’s! Not two (2)!

      • William Thompson

        And Pam only got one M as Pm. Even in nicknames Batiuk likes to shortchange his female characters.

        • Charles

          My totally unsupported feeling is that Batiuk gave Jfff three F’s because he saw how ridiculous “Pm” looked but wouldn’t go back and adjust it.

          But try to pronounce that line. That’s not a guy who had a stroke that affected the speech centers of his brain; that’s a guy whose vengeful wife wired his mouth shut.

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        Good lord, that arc is horrible. Frankie was going to produce a TV show about HIS DEAD RAPE VICTIM? Forget Mixmaster Entertainment and China, I want to see the pitch meeting where he sold that. They’d point him to the Jerry Springer auditions.

        And these idiots have to have a meeting about what to do about it, because the Westview town motto is habemus praesidio Lisa. From what I’ve seen of small, insular towns, “everybody beat the shit out of him in an alley” is still pretty effective. Especially when you’ve got a local police force that will cover things up, as we later saw with Bull Bushka’s cause of death.

        And Les is completely useless in that story. Someone points out that Lisa’s journal might include an incriminating account of Frankie’s assault on her, and LES REFUSES TO READ IT. He doesn’t even say why, he just says “I can’t…” with a look on his face like it would interfere with his golf game.

        Les refuses to read Lisa’s journal, so Summer has to do it. Let me repeat that: Les made his own daughter read her mother’s private journal to learn about her being raped and beaten. Great fuckin’ parent you are, Les.

        It gets better. They video record Summer reading it, which means she has to read it all again, and also recite it out loud. Then they threaten to put the video on YouTube if Frankie doesn’t stop production. Which should really have no effect on someone who’s already this evil, but he backs down because it’s called writing. And Jessica gets a Hollywood offer, because no one in this town can point a camera without that happening.

        • SeaCountry

          I missed this and am so glad I did.

        • newagepalimpsest

          Summer gets a lot of crap in this community, but her role in that storyline is proof positive that nobody craps on her harder than Tom Batiuk.

          Speaking of, do you think he even realizes that he largely ruined the Lisa’s Teen Pregnancy arc with that “actually it was rape” retcon? There are a million, billion teen pregnancy stories that say ‘good girls don’t OR ELSE,’ and so very few that say ‘good girls do make mistakes.’

          • Mela

            Others may have to help me out here because I can’t recall exactly when he retconned that story but yes that particular one is bothersome for a number of reasons. It’s a particularly touchy subject anyway, but I’m guessing that the reason it was done was so that Lisa could be portrayed as a saint who would always be the innocent good girl that died, as opposed perhaps to a real character with depth who made mistakes but persevered. The problem with a lot of the retconning done in this strip is that the changes are such major upheavals that they completely change the context of everything that has already happened and therefore don’t fly with the readers. Lisa’s pregnancy retconned from sex the back of Frankie’s van to a rape made me if I missed something the first time around or if it was just changed for the sake of making Frankie a complete villain and Lisa the aforementioned saint. Bull’s bullying Les in order to “protect his real friend” was unbelievable 20 years later (if that’s true then why did Les spend Bull’s funeral telling everyone how he was picked on by him) and the recent implication that maybe Cindy had a secret crush on Les in high school is just silliness. She didn’t give him the time of day and never would have.

          • SeaCountry

            I think Batiuk is awful to Summer. She’s been in college, what, 8 years? She doesn’t have a career path or partner, and Batiuk writes her like she’s still a teen when you do see her. (Plus, the woman is clearly gayer than the Skittles factory, but Batiuk doesn’t acknowledge it.) And making her read aloud those parts of her mom’s diary?! No kid should be subjected to that!

        • Mela

          Was this the same arc that had Frankie or someone interviewing a bunch of people in Westview who pretended that they never knew Lisa because they were coached to do so by the “We Must Protect Lisa” community cult led by Les?

          • batgirl

            Yes, it was – it got a Sunday strip if I remember correctly, and it really cemented the “It’s a _Good_ Life” impression of Westview, for me.
            One week it’s “Nope, never heard of Lisa Moore”, then back to “Lisa’s life and death mean more than my own life and death” or else you’ll be sent to the cornfield.

        • batgirl

          The date-rape retcon also makes it really strange that Frankie in fact was present and sort-of involved through Lisa’s pregnancy. There’s a strip (probably found by the invaluable skink) where Frankie and very-pregnant Lisa are squabbling in Montoni’s about how unreliable he is. I may be wrong but I think Les finally turns up as the one who drives Lisa to the hospital.
          Honestly, I think the reason for retconning wasn’t so much to make Lisa over as the Purest of Pure, but rather to set her in TBs preferred mould of Wry Snarker. Original shy wallflower Lisa would have been utterly impressed by leopard-skin (fake, almost certainly) seat covers, but Les’s Destined Mate Lisa would make a snarky (and hackneyed) observation about the skins looking better on the leopard.
          Once Lisa had been remade into a standard-issue Wry Snarker, Frankie seducing her would be too much of a lapse. It had to be rape.
          Apologies for attaching the honoured name of Snarker to a TB character.

          • SeaCountry

            Question: With all these life-altering, context-shattering retcons, why on Earth didn’t Batiuk give adult Funky an “official” first name to pull out occasionally, say, at the DMV?

      • Thank you so for the explanation and the context! I shall be careful to make it the full Jfff now that I know it should be.

    • SeaCountry

      Oh, wasn’t the Liz and Anthony wedding *awful*? I hadn’t wanted to scream “Get away from him, girl!” at a fictional character since “You’ve Got Mail”. (In addition to the Cayla life insurance fantasy, I have a Meg Ryan’s character bought Amazon stock fantasy, meaning she now has tons of money while her husband’s big box bookstores are almost gone.) Thankfully, Liz is still a young woman and has hopefully divorced the bore and moved on. I do not acknowledge the retcons.

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        Liz reminds me a bit of one-armed Becky. Becky had talent and ambition, tried to pursue it, and Batiuk lopped her arm off as punishment. Liz was doing good things with her life, teaching underprivileged children in the far north, and Johnston dragged her back to Mississauga to marry a deeply shitty man. They were both characters whose natural stories went against the author’s world view, and were vindictively forced back into it.

      • Gerard Plourde

        Being partially of French Canadian descent, I also found it odd and troubling that Johnson ultimately made her sole recurring identifiable Francophone character an adulterous heartbreaker.

        • hitorque

          Yeah, that was NOT an accident on Lynn’s part…

        • Banana Jr. 6000

          It backfired when Therese came off more sympathetically than Anthony did. She didn’t want a family, but Anthony pressured her into having one, and then he didn’t keep up his end of the deal. As for being her paranoid about Anthony cheating on her, she was jolly well right about that.

          • Gerard Plourde

            You’re right. I had always thought of Anthony as merely inoffensive and lacking personality, but in retrospect, the level of attention he and Liz lavish on each other was excessive and would have been a major factor in Therese’s need to find support and comfort elsewhere.

          • SeaCountry

            Emotional cheating is *real*, y’all.

          • Banana Jr. 6000

            @Gerard Ploude Oh, Anthony was a scumbag. He clearly wanted Liz the whole time he was with Therese. This was supposed to be romantic, but he came off as juvenile, selfish, and unfair to the woman he married. Therese having a child was a compromise to what Anthony wanted in life, but he was never willing to make concessions. And he had some kind of low-end family job he didn’t even like while Therese had an actual career, so she should have been the breadwinner anyway.

            To say nothing of his worst moment: declaring his love for Liz the night she escaped being sexually assaulted. That is not when Rusty makes his move, Anthony!

          • Hitorque

            And to this day I still don’t understand why a woman like Therese ended up in bed with someone like Anthony, much less marrying him.

            (Although maybe she was attracted to his skills as a competitive dancer?)

      • Professor Fate

        Oh god yes Blandtony – if memory serves it was called the Fooboclypse by the snarkers. it was an almost text book case of what happens when an author refuses to let the characters they have created be who they are and jam them into a story line because that’s the way it should be. Never mind that Anthony (he of the I have no home) was a passive aggressive manipulative bastard that forced his wife into having a child that she didn’t want (and then in a real creepy bit had the child pretty much a prisoner in his basement) all the while pining for Liz. it was presented as a happy ending by Ms. Johnson the idea being you never left where you came from and that you married you high school sweet heart and that’s the way it should be for EVERYBODY. It was a bit of cruel Karma that Lynn Johnson’s husband left her shortly after the initial run of the strip ended.

        • Mela

          Actually, I think they split before the strip ended. That’s why John isn’t in it as much near the end. And when he is, he’s usually playing with his trains .

        • SeaCountry

          The Cartoon Art Museum should definitely have an exhibit on strips that went deep into the woods and fizzled out in ways that pissed readers off due to the writers’ issues and obsessions. FBOFW and Funky Winkerbean will lead it, though I’m sure there are others.

          • Y. Knott

            The two others that spring to my mind? 9 Chickweed Lane, and Lil’ Abner towards the very end.

          • SeaCountry

            Then there’s the tragic demise of Apartment 3G. Call the exhibit “Better to Burn Out than Fade Away” or “When Good Strips End Badly”.

      • Mela

        I liked Paul, I liked Warren, and I liked Liz in another environment where she was maturing and finding her own identity. Anthony had no concern for anyone’s feelings but his own, and Therese’s dogging on Anthony over still having a thing for Liz was a failed attempt at portraying her as a jealous, insecure witch because her observations were spot on.

      • Part of me believes that every group of comic strip snark-readers is trying to find The New Liz/Granthony Relationship. It just kept giving so many new things to be appalled by.

        Luann and of course Funky Winkerbean/Crankshaft do much to fill the gap, but there was some special, transcendent magic in how For Better Or For Worse died.

  10. William Thompson

    So how long has Tika been a queen? Longer than Queen Elizabeth II? Shouldn’t a reality-based strip like Funky Winkerbean deal with such mundane issues as aging and royal succession?

  11. J.J. O'Malley

    Well, at least they’re not just reusing the same basic art and updating the “joke” each day, like over in Jeff’s usual strip.

  12. Charles

    So they devoted four firemen to rescue one guy in a park, in a metro area of 13 million, where about a third of the entire city is burning down.

    Sounds about right for a Batiuk plot.

    • Hitorque

      Yeah, I was wondering why these firefighter bros aren’t dealing with PTSD shell shock given the thousands of charred skeletons they had to drive over just to get to the park…

  13. SeaCountry

    Sheesh, Skippy, settle down! Congrats to Y Knott; the name is perfect.

  14. DreadedCandiru2

    We’re so focused on watching Jffffff and Skippy that we’re ignoring something even worse: Batiuk depicted first responders as lazy people sitting around watching a fire burn.

    • SeaCountry

      At least Batiuk didn’t draw the firefighter putting marshmallows on a stick; give him some credit.

      • William Thompson

        Mad Magazine would have done that.

        • SeaCountry

          I spent all middle and high school reading MAD magazine (sometimes beyond, too). Maybe it makes sense that I thought of it.

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        That would at least be darkly funny. I can see that happening in Bloom County or The Far Side. You know, good comic strips.

  15. Banana Jr. 6000

    “Apparently there was a hiker in Bronson Canyon!” Who told you that? Mindy didn’t know where her father was. He didn’t call for help. How did anyone see him when he went into the cave? There was no one there to see him in any case. And if there was, Jeff could escape however that person did. Did someone call you from Bronson Canyon, tell you they saw a hiker, and not mention themselves? And what makes Jeff a hiker? He brought no hiking gear, and doesn’t dress like one. Like everyone else in Westview, he dresses like he gets paid in JCPenney’s gift cards.

    “As soon as it cools down enough for us to get in there…” If it’s too hot for rescue teams to enter, he’s already dead. Especially since we’ve seen him coughing, and now he’s hallucinating. I remember being taught that in a house fire, you’ve got about three breaths before the smoke inhalation incapacitates you. Jeff’s been there for hours. To say nothing of the suggestion the authorities would devote any resources to rescuing a single person, given the massive scope of the fire we’ve been shown.

    Tom Batiuk has written Jeff into a situation he has absolutely 0.000000% chance of surviving in a realistic world, and is now pulling an even more contrived rescue plan out of his ass. But I bet that “murania” font perfectly duplicates one used in the serial.

    • William Thompson

      I googled for TPE images, and it doesn’t look like that’s a Muranian fount. Todd may have felt daring enough to create his own, even if it violates canon.

      I did find something curious in the images. Evidently the robots fight with long flaming sticks. I recall a scene from the filming of the original Starsux movie where the aliens use similar weapons, and Holly demonstrates her old flaming-baton techniques for one of the inept actors. Maybe TPE is where Batiuk got the idea for both Holly’s cheerleading gimmick and the alien weapons.

      • SeaCountry

        It probably isn’t from Miss Congeniality, anyway. However, I still have to say “You ate pizza! You stole panties! You’re a wild woman!” whenever I see a woman do a flaming baton act.

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        Right, because Hollywood doesn’t hire consultants for movies where characters have to swordfight. It only hires consultants for movies where Lisa has to be portrayed accurately.

    • Margaret

      I think that MIndy did know where her father was. If I recall right, and I’m not going to go back through the strips and look for it, Jeff told her that he was going to the cave. Pete was either there at the time, or Mindy told him later and Pete wanted to go with him, but Mindy prevailed and they went to the beach instead.

      • batgirl

        You’re correct – Pete thought hiking around Ro-Man’s hideout would be way more fun than the beach, and I wondered if we were supposed to read Mindy as the mean killjoy demanding he do what she wanted. TB’s female characters seem to teeter between compliant cocoa-providers and castrating termagants.

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        She dramatically said “my father’s up there somewhere!” as if she didn’t know exactly where. Two days in a row. You’re also right that they discussed it, so I guess this is just more of that great Funky Winkerbean writing.

  16. Chyron HR

    I really thought Jiffy was hallucinating that the firefighters rescuing him were robots, but I guess he’s just hallucinating a trip to Murania while he burns to death.

    • William Thompson

      No, Batiuk is just hallucinating that he has unironic fans.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Every single beat in Jeff’s story points to him dying, and we already know he’s going to survive it. Not through an improbable escape or clever solution, but through bad writing.

  17. batgirl

    Just wanted to share a review/recounting of The Phantom Empire movie from a bad-movie site that I’ve enjoyed (much more fun than actually watching it yourself) : https://andyoucallyourselfascientist.com/2016/04/23/the-phantom-empire-1935-part-2/
    The title card about Gene Autry encountering “a vicious party of research scientists” may be the seed of TB’s opposition to research.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Bad movie reviews are the best. Some of Roger Ebert’s are hilariously vicious.

    • Professor Fate

      Thank you for that – dear Lord it really was a bad as all that – even by the standards of Serials.

    • Maxine of Arc

      I am a huge fan of that blog. Anybody who’s interested in B movies owes it to themselves to check out her archives.

      • batgirl

        I’m so relieved to have found Lyz again – I lost the blog while she was migrating between servers. (and Hail, fellow B-Master Cabalist!)

  18. Boots Gandalf

    Just wait: the next installment has Masone driving through a wall of flames, screeching to a halt in Muriana, scooping up everyone including the robots, all to some kick-ass MacGuyver moves.

  19. Vermont Friebus

    FIREFIGHTER #1: Gee, Chief, it sure makes our job harder when people don’t do the logical thing and decamp to their boats, doesn’t it?

    CHIEF: Whoever this hiker is, he’s made a complete mockery of Smokey Bear.

  20. So, Tom Batiuk conjures up a gigantic inferno that destroys most of Los Angeles. What could possibly result from such a dramatic premise?

    Marianne gets to watch the Lisa tapes, and Jfff hallucinates about an old movie serial.

    What a fantastic payoff.

  21. Professor Fate

    So is the fire out? How did that happen? And if they are waiting for the ground to cool that I should think means that they think He’s dead. Of course he will survive saved by the power of a 80 year old serial. Which is depressing.
    Meantime I would say unless you are Tom Batiuk the last panel would mean nothing. Seriously unless you had every detail of The Phantom Empire at your fingertips, this would not mean a thing – where is this place – what is this place- why does it have a queen and why are the robots wearing gloves? These are just a few questions that come to mind here – I can only assume the Author was going for HUGE REVEAL with folks going ‘Oh my god it’s HER!’ but nope we’re as puzzled as jff looks.
    What I would like to see is the queen taking the pair on tour and explaining the ways and means of Murania and the last thing Skppy finds out is that in Murania the virgin sacrifice need not be female. Won’t happen but a man can dream.

  22. Olive McSweeney, LLC

    “Mindy, they’re out looking for your father.”


    “The firefighters.”


    “Uh…the firefighters….are… out….looking for your father.”


    “Isn’t your father up at Bronson Canyon?”

    “I don’t know.”

    “No, I Don’t Know’s on third…”


  23. Count of Tower Grove

    Apparently there are three duffers in Bronson Canyon.