Maybe This is Heaven

William Thompson
August 26, 2020 at 1:31 am
Even money that Queen Tika will be played by the actress-queen who had lunch with Les. It’s a dead certainty that she’ll smirk at her guests and offer them hot chocolate.

queenA big missed opportunity for Batiuk right there. The Mauve Queen’s ostensibly Elizabethan attire looked much more  sci-fi than those renfaire rental robes that Queen Tika’s wearing. Wikipedia calls her “the icy, blonde, evil Queen Tika,” but in  today’s strip she comes across as downright friendly (aaaand, brunette).


Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

53 responses to “Maybe This is Heaven

  1. Epicus Doomus

    An enormous deadly wildfire. The Batcave. A brigade of magical antique robots serving a 1930s movie queen. Stifling, crippling boredom.

    Which of those things seems out of place? The only noteworthy thing about this “story” is that now I care about Jff and BatYam’s other comic strip even less than I did before, which shouldn’t even be possible. At least if he burned up there’d be some shock value. Aside from martyring Lisa, is there ANYTHING that inspires this guy?

    “I can’t believe these magic antique robots are saving us!”

    “I am queen of the robots.”

    “I am queen of the robots. My robots have saved you from the fire.”

    I mean wow. I wrote better stuff than this on the school bus the morning after I blew off my homework from the night before. And I don’t even have ONE comic strip, let alone two. I’ll never forgive myself for missing out on this whole comic strip racket. They just give you money for doing literally nothing, year after year after year. Sigh.

  2. Captain Gladys Stoatpamphlet

    The distress on Jff’s pants is disconcerting.

    • Y. Knott

      Judging by his facial expression, he appears to have, ah, relieved himself of said distress by panel three.

      Skppy, meanwhile, has never, ever seen a woman before, and is clearly completely enraptured by her chest.

    • SeaCountry

      Well, as established on the airplane, he has to pee a lot.

  3. comicbookharriet

    As someone who actually watched the serial, this is incredibly out of character for Queen Tika. In the movie, she kidnaps Gene Autry to kill him, because his Radio Ranch is bringing too much attention to the area where the entrance to Murania is. She literally puts him directly into an electric execution chamber, and he’s only saved by a conniving advisor sneaking him out. She’s a stone cold bitch, who only allows them to live after the entirety of Murania is already doomed anyway.

    I liked her a lot. I forgot what a woman with a backbone acted like after too many years of Funky Winkerbean.

    • billytheskink

      To be fair, she only said they would be safe until the firestorm ended. Then it’s off to the electric execution chamber!

    • Charles

      Well, c’mon, no one would be able to resist Jfff’s ingénue sincerity, even the august Queen Tika!

      Either that or she saw that here was a 70 year-old man who wears a god damn Starbuck Jones Decoder Ring around as if it’s his wedding ring and was so moved that that sad, precious little man wasn’t going to be able to survive that fire that she had to help.

  4. SeaCountry

    Batiuk can’t even get details right on a pet obsession. Or maybe the colorist gives most Funkyverse women that dull brown hair color? I still remember a few months ago in this arc when L*s described an actress as having a hair color he’d only seen on yarn (lame description, but whatever). The actress had the same dull brown shade, which entirely undercut the joke.

  5. William Thompson

    Jfff and Skppy are due to be rescued on Sunday, so she’d better hurry up with that hot chocolate! Because if there’s one thing you want after being out in a Santa Ana during a firestorm in August, it’s a big steaming mug of hot chocolate.

    This is all we’re going to see of Murania? No 25,000 foot plunge from the surface? Just one glimpse of the city, one glimpse of Tika’s throne-free throne room. And the Queen Tika of the serial was obsessed with protecting her empire’s secret existence, so why is she going to let her guests leave with a simple promise that they won’t reveal Murania’s existence? Will she at least make them say cross their hearts and hope to die? Find out tomorrow in Chapter 22, “Come Ninny-vah, Come Tiresome.”

  6. Gerard Plourde

    So will we get an explanation why Queen Tika decided to send her robots to the surface to save Jfff and Skippy (who seems to have become a real person instead of just being the imaginary conjuring of child Jfff)?

    For answers to these and other questions, expect TomBa’s response to be “It’s called writing”.

  7. Hitorque

    So this queen has a shelter and a magical army of fireproof robots and she saves *ONE* person out of all the dead and dying locals desperate for some kind of rescue?!

    • SeaCountry

      But Jfff is special because he loves and understands Murania! (Plus anyone else in the area had sense enough to get the hell out.)

  8. ian'sdrunkenbeard

  9. J.J. O'Malley

    I can only pray that– if I one day find myself trapped in the middle of an overwhelming forest fire–I’ll find myself magically transported to the front steps of the Delta Tau Chi fraternity house at Faber College. There Delta brothers John Blutarsky and Daniel Simpson Day will pick me up and carry me inside, where a killer toga party is going on and Otis Day and the Knights are performing in the basement.

    • SeaCountry

      Cool. While we’re making our forest fire requests, I want the Rose family to escort me to Schitt’s Creek, where everyone is sharp-witted but accepting and there are more attractive single men per capita than any large city.

      • comicbookharriet

        I want Indiana Solo to come riding in on his horse, Chewbacca, and sweep me away in his spaceship, Air Force One, and we can adventure across the stars finding and retiring rogue replicants.

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        If we spend our last moments in life imagining ourselves in movies, then I want to be a Ghostbuster. I want to be part of an elite, self-made team that saves the world from interdimensional horrors through bravery, knowledge, technology, and being hilarious.

  10. Paul Jones

    Batiuk is not only serving up grade school melodrama and forgetting that that we have to actually care about someone to worry if he survives or not, he’s just undressed himself in front of us again. We are reminded of the tedious and mildly sinister ideal he sees as superior to the horrible character development and real-world challenges that a man who saw comics as a pot-boiler that paid the bills until he managed to write The Great American Novel mandated. Excelsior, Tommy….your head is full of it.

  11. Y. Knott

    Picture being one of the many cast or crew members of “The Phantom Empire”. A time traveler comes back from the nigh-unimaginable year of two thousand and twenty. A *masked* time traveler, it seems — apparently the future is a horrible place where a plague is running rampant, and the traveler doesn’t want to bring it back to 1935. For the traveler must insure that history comes out the way it’s supposed to….

    The traveler considers himself a storyteller, though, and you are told of many strange and fantastic things that will happen in the future — of devastating wars, of life-saving medicines (although NOT for cancer, he’s most insistent on that), and of technological marvels that are almost inconceivable. Not much of it makes sense, mind you, and the traveler has an uncanny knack of telling it flatly, leaving out the most interesting parts … making what could be an engrossing story into something very, very boring. But at least the traveler is genuinely excited to be here, and he seems harmless enough.

    But you soon see through the whole “time traveler” charade. He *insists* that 85 years from now, daily newspapers (and some strange other form of communication called the In-Ternet) will carry a continuing feature about the marvel and majesty of the greatest storytelling achievement in cinematic history: “The Phantom Empire”. And that’s why he’s here — to ‘research’ this feature! Even though his research seems to consist entirely of taking seemingly random photos of nearby buildings…

    You politely excuse yourself and call security. You don’t care about the photos … you just want to get this clearly disturbed man OUT of here. He’s been bothering everyone, wanting to know where the “silent” film studios are … he seems to think that two-reel silent comedies are still being made in 1935 and will be for years to come. And when he sees a chimpanzee being escorted by a trainer to the Tarzan set, he pleads with the chimp not to kill him with a gun. “I know you can talk!” he insists.

    But the most disturbing part? His creepy fixation on this film you’re working on. You KNOW it’s utter crap. Hell, everyone working on the film knows it. You’re still going to try to do a vaguely professional-quality job on it, but c’mon….”The Phantom Empire” is a low-budget quickie serial with a repetitive, brain-addled plot that might entertain a dull-witted seven year old for twenty minutes or so. It’s junk, filler, intended to be seen once and only once by undiscriminating kids. And absolutely everyone working on the picture knows it.


    Oddly, as the day wears on, security can’t find the traveler… after an alert was put out across the studio, he just seems to have disappeared. “Perhaps he went back to his own time,” you tell them, laughing. “That must be it,” says the security chief, smiling. “If he comes back, what do you want us to do?”

    You think it over. “Hm. Give ’em a real hard time,” you say, eventually. “I don’t want that guy to have *any* good thoughts about Hollywood — you keep him as far away as possible, got it? Give him an inch, and the next thing you know, he’ll be in here trying to pitch his godforsaken script ideas.”

    “No worries,” says the security chief. You can just barely make out the last name on the nameplate he wears: Bushkin? Bushka? Something like that, anyway. “I’ll make sure he gets what’s coming to him,” he says, grinning.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      It’s junk, filler, intended to be seen once and only once by undiscriminating kids.

      That’s another thing – this is all a kids story! A story for kids who are now at least 90 years old. This is one the most bizarre fixations I’ve ever seen in a human being.

  12. William Thompson

    Batiuk’s writing is so lazy he doesn’t even try to connect Murania to the rest of the story. Why couldn’t the Mauve Queen have been one of Tika’s agents, looking for evidence that TPE might be remade? Why couldn’t the fire have been set as a part of a massive insane plot to hide Murania’s secret entrance? What if Jfff and Skppy were taken prisoner to be questioned about the Starsux Jones fan-cult (“He is Murania’s sworn enemy and I must learn how to destroy his followers!”) Or what if the queen has forsaken evil and is going to bring Lisa back to life, so she can tell the world that Les is a horrible person and he arranged her death?

    Nope. Batiuk’s notion of fantasy doesn’t extend beyond “Gosh-wow neato-keeno, Murania is a real place you can visit!” He’s shown us his childhood fantasy, and it’s so dull even he can’t stand to look at it for long.

  13. Rusty Shackleford

    I think all the cartoonists are on hiatus as they are just rehashing the same thing for two weeks now.

    Crankshaft is recycling the ol bus chasing gag.

    Mary Worth has spent two weeks on “Grams “ secret recipe for banana bread. They have also been adding extra words like “the dog” even though everyone knows Greta is a dog.

    Over here, I thought the queen was Lisa as there is only room for one queen in this strip.


  14. Chyron HR

    Anime fans have an in-joke of sarcastically referring to scenes that are particularly off model or otherwise poorly animated as “QUALITY”.

    Dunno why panel one of today’s strip made me think of that.

  15. Banana Jr. 6000

    It’s clear by now that Batiuk isn’t going to do anything with this world he’s spent weeks setting up. Just rescue them already so we can get on to the next stupid arc.

  16. Professor Fate

    Sigh. We have a rehash of the last panel of yesterday’s strip. Why? How does someone take an underground kingdom and robots and make it dull? Truly it’s a talent, not a good talent but it is a talent.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      How does someone take an underground kingdom and robots and make it dull?

      Through Batiuk’s usual techniques: Telling instead of showing. Focusing on the wrong things. Avoiding tension. Massive self-indulgence. Zero editing or discipline.

  17. Count of Tower Grove

    It will turn out they’ll be the duffers that started the fire.

  18. Banana Jr. 6000

    Just to summarize the last week of dialog:

    “My dad’s still up there somewhere!”
    “My dad’s up there somewhere!”
    “Look! Robots!”
    “Where are we going?”
    “We’re taking you to Murania to escape the firestorm!”
    “I can’t believe we’re in Murania!”
    “I am Queen Tika!” (the word Murania appears onscreen)
    “I am Tika, Queen of Murania!”
    “I sent the robots! You’ll be safe until the firestorm has abated!”

    In our next installment, Queen Tika of Murania tells them they are in Murania, and that she sent the robots to bring them to Murania to protect them from the firestorm.

  19. I dunno, I think if Queen Tika saved Jff from a fiery death, that makes her pretty evil in my book.

  20. hitorque

    I don’t get it… Is anyone going to tell this so-called “queen” that her royal jurisdiction is Jack Fuckin’ Shit because this is ‘Merika and we don’t do that whole “monarchy” thing anymore… In fact, we even fought a war to stop it!

  21. William Thompson

    I’ll tell her. Have you got her e-mail addy? Her phone number? Oh, you want me to do it to her face, while she’s surrounded by mildly competent guards and robots? Thanks, but, uh, let’s get Jfff to do it. Or Les.

  22. batgirl

    Skppy is thrilled to meet Queen Tika, and she is being sweet and welcoming, which is (as pointed out above) absolutely contrary to her on-screen persona of a stone-cold vindictive bitch. Skppy is Jfff’s child-self, and it has been well established that Jfff’s childhood was full of misery and terror because of his mother’s erratic mood-swings from motherly to vindictive bitch.
    I had been wondering if one possible ‘resolution’ of this arc would be leaving Skppy in Murania where he would be happy and away from his abusive mother. (With some obscure remark from Jfff about leaving a part of himself in the cave or whatever).
    If I believed there was any structure or thematic coherence to this bundle of random contrivances, I would guess that the makeover of Tika is Jfff’s subconscious providing a nurturing mother-figure to care for his inner child so that he could leave that past behind and grow up.


  23. Gerard Plourde

    Actually, an unreformed Tika would also explain his response, a kind of Stockholm Syndrome.