Whew! I am so very happy to report that today’s strip doesn’t take place at the optometrist office, we’ve instead moved to a world where two Northern Ohio-based nonagenarian comic book legends are somehow meeting for the first time. It is, remarkably, a welcome respite.
Are we really supposed to believe that Flash and Ruby Lith, alleged fans of each other’s work, are meeting for the first time? Ruby Lith (hired in September 2019) wasn’t in the office during Flash’s last visit, when he dropped by to kvetch about “Turtle Thompson” (wait, was “Thompson” part of the guy’s nickname?) back in December 2019? Yes, Ruby Lith’s Miss American was a Capitol Comics title while Flash worked at Batom, but these two have both presumably been alive since the Coolidge administration working in the same industry in presumably a similar geographic area… they never met at a convention? Trade show? Art supply store? Comic book store? 3:30 PM dinner buffet?
While the plot seems a stretch, the puns today, however, are… well, they certainly are present. Though I incorrectly guessed her relation, I knew Amber Lith was coming. Really, I think we all knew Amber Lith was gonna be a gag in a Ruby Lith strip at some point. Didn’t see the dog’s related punny name coming, but it feels incredibly uninspired and unsurprising nonetheless.
38 responses to “Frisket Business”
“And now I’m working on a comic where my albino brother becomes a heroic super-nutritionist. Yes, he saves the world by developing the Pale Lith diet! And he’s aided by his slovenly boy Messy Lith!”
There would be a Neolithic pun in there, but this strip’s humor never evolved that far
“How do you do? I’m Ruby Smith. And this is a picture of my daughter, whose name is Amber Smith.” Seriously, in what reality does TB think that people introduce their children by specifying that they have the same surname as their own?
Oh, that’s right. in the reality where you have to drive home a “joke” that only the 0.0005 percent of your readership familiar with lithography and the graphic arts will get…and probably still not laugh at.
And why have we never seen Ruby’s beloved dog before? Does he just sit home by himself all day while she’s at the studio, and did she never think about bringing him to work (it’s not like those floors are carpeted)?
At least Ruby didn’t say Amber’s an “estranged” daughter, do maybe we’re not foreshadowing a maudlin reunion plot…but then again, who knows? Better yet, who cares?
Admission: I sort of kind of like it when he re-visits really obscure characters out of nowhere for no reason. I mean yes, Ruby is annoying and I totally forgot all about Flash Freeman, but that’s the appeal of it to me. I’ve always wondered if he keeps track or has some kind of “last appearance” chart or something but honestly I think it’s just that peculiar Batiuk randomness, there’s no logic, pattern, rhyme or reason to it at all. And at this point any mild surprise or deviation from the norm is totally shocking and almost newsworthy in and of itself.
I wish Ruby has mentioned her mother, Mono. Quite a presence, that Mono. Her father Mega cut quite an imposing figure as well. Her older brother Paleo was quite an old-fashioned guy, very set in his ways. Good God, look what he has me doing now. Now I’m going to have to read some “Far Sides” or something to cleanse my palette.
I hear her brother Frankie “Fork” Lith was president of the local teamsters union for decades.
I think this marks the first appearance of Ruby Lith’s tiny neck-hand. I’ll bet it freaks Frisket the heck out…
I really hate all these “characters.”
LOL comment of the week.
I don’t get any of these puns, and even if I did I wouldn’t laugh…
I’m surprised Ruby didn’t mention her Irish relatives who are also big in the printing industry. Perhaps you’ve heard of the Lith-O’Graphs?
Don’t forget that Irish wizard, Slith Erin. (Is that clumsy enough for the Funkyverse?)
“Wayback Wendy” and her dog “Retro”…I forgot all about that too. Of all his many make-believe comic book titles, I have to say “Wayback Wendy” is the worst of the lot. The alliteration there really just annoys the shit out of me for some reason, as does the entire “concept”, for lack of a better word.
I also hate how he invents all these daffy fictional comic book titles but never bothers to ever flesh any of them out even a little. As a result, I have no idea what Wayback Wendy and her dog Retro even do. “Rip Tide-Scuba Cop” is self-explanatory…he solves undersea crimes, obviously. But what the f*ck does Wendy do? Does she go back in time and influence historical events, solve crimes, do good deeds or what?
Well, the only WW strip I remember seeing was the cover where Wendy is running after Lincoln to hand him the speech he’d left behind (presumably the Gettysburg Address, since there was a train in the background). So it seems like she’s there to keep history on track? I don’t know why it would be off-track in the first place, but time travel fiction is generally messy.
Oh yeah, I’d totally forgotten all about that one too. So she DOES go back in history and influence past events! Or maybe her power is confined to really trivial-yet-crucial scenarios, like forgetting your speech or misplacing your car keys. Because being able to go back in time and influence past events would be a pretty big f*cking superpower for a character named “Wayback Wendy”, wouldn’t it? There has to be a catch, otherwise Wendy would pretty much rule the world.
Wendy once went back to kill Hitler, but all she got was a pat on the head and an all-day sucker.
“Gott im himmel, Vaybach Vendy??? Was ist lost? Ach du leiber!!!”
“Get him, Retro!”
“Nein! Nein! You win, Vaybach Vendy!”
From what we’ve seen of the comic, which is very little, it looks like she’s just an imitation of Mr. Peabody and Sherman.
There’s the pitch for “Wayback Wendy” – It’s Mr. Peabody and Sherman but worse! With worse puns!
Yeah, got a winner here.
Is Ruby Lifffffttttt really Hairy Dinkles in Drag?
I have no reason to care about Ruby Lith’s sources of inspiration for Wayback Wendy. First, because I have never read a Wayback Wendy comic book (and cannot, since no such thing exists), and therefore I have no emotional attachment to the property. Second, because Ruby Lith is a fictional character, and therefore her sources of inspiration are equally fictional. So even if FW actually provided us with an entire series of Wayback Wendy stories to read and care about, this strip would tell us nothing about how those stories were made, because Batiuk would be the one actually making them.
In short: this is not just irrelevant to my interests, it’s meta-irrelevant.
But Mindy invented these characters:
Why would Wayback Wendy and Retro look like Ruby Lith’s niece and dog when Mindy invented them?
In fairness, Mindy was writing a new character, not drawing one. I don’t see any sketches in that notebook.
Yes, in the Atomik Komix sub-universe comic book writers and comic book artists are totally separate, with the writer always being just a little bit more important than the lowly doodler. For example, if Boy Lisa threw an idea out there (“what if he only solved undersea crimes?”), Pete would run with it and use his vast creative powers to bring it to life. Then Boy Lisa would draw it based on Pete’s specifications. No idea what real-life scenario inspired that whole thing, though.
Well, sort of, she was going to let Pete do the writing:
Which raises the question of what was in the stupid notebook at all.
I worked a lot with Ruby’s brother, Koda.
The one comic strip artist I liked, and he gets killed off. He’s in his 80’s and he still had to draw carictures with his arthritic old hands at a three year old’s birthday party. I named him Ash. Ash Holt.
Meh. . . what this strip needs is meth.
Congratulations to those who recognized the so-called puns. All I saw was “Here’s a child and a dog that were models for a couple of characters I drew”. Unimportant, uninteresting and unfunny information, spread over the last six panels, and confirming what we see in panel one. What a great example of the lazy, tedious, pointless Funky approach.
At least it’s not another Mopey Pete Tongue Bathing Session!
That photograph is obviously very old, and there are no pictures of grandchildren. Knowing the Batiukverse, little Amber probably died in an accident involving a grandfather clock and a pepperoni pizza. Ruby’s tragedy is the grist that lets the comics mill keep on grinding…
I’m waiting for Ruby’s brother, Feca.
Incidentally, what is Flash doing there? Pitching stories? Or is this another business where people just wander in off the street and hang around?
Under Ohio Revised Code 4199 (“Dinkle’s Law”), all retired people must show up at their old workplace and make small talk at least once a month.
So if Amber’s last name is “Lith” does that mean that it’s Ruby’s married name and not her birth surname? Or is Ruby a single parent, an uncommon occurrence in the ‘50s and one that raises questions about Amber’s childhood, like who is her father?
That could actually be a good story. I’m thinking of movie critic Pauline Kael and her relationship with her daughter, who would be contemporaries of Ruby. The Kaels’ story is complicated, interesting, and even heart-warming.
With Batiuk at work, the Ruby/Amber Lith story would give you heartburn.
Coincidentally, I missed the Funky-at-the-optometrist arc because I was distracted by booking and prepping for having a needle stuck in my eye by a qualified ophthamologist. (Avastin injection for macular degeneration).
I did not annoy anyone there with stupid puns.
I’m not quite sure how to express this, but it seems to me that TB is falling between two stools, as the old saying goes. Usually his punny character names are set-dressing: they’re taken as normal names, the pun only for the supposed readers’ supposed amusement. So though there was a strip where D-boy, Pete and Mindy(?) were shown antique art supplies including (I think) ruby and amber liths, nobody raised an eyebrow when a person _named_ Ruby Lith showed up.
So Flash isn’t smiling at Ruby’s name, and not at Amber’s name. But “Frisket” the dog – that name is a funny name? Leaving aside that the alleged joke is extremely obscure, the structure of it makes no in-strip sense.
I never thought of that, but you’re right. How has no one in Westview, the pun capital of the world, ever picked the low-hanging fruit of their own names?
In a community with “Les Moore”, “Fred Fairgood” and “Harry Dinkle”, the only one who gets ribbed about his name is Funky. Because TB hates him.