Through a Glass, Dorkly

Link to today’s strip.

Gosh, Mr. Batiuk, that sure is a swell observation about Superman’s glasses, but don’t you think it might be too clever? I mean, it’s so deep and true and sure to leave an impact on the world at large. Here, you’re wasting it in the funny pages, which, aside from the notable exception of your own work, is chodder for dum-dums who can’t handle innovation! Maybe you should write a book — “Superman’s Story – The Other Lens” — and send it to those clodhoppers at the Pulitzer Committee! And write on the inside cover, “Here’s some genius–let’s see if you can recognize it!”

I believe Dullard’s “clever” observation has probably been in circulation since, oh, I dunno, probably as long as Superman himself. I’m sure there have been a number of theories about why it works when it shouldn’t. I recall one of the more, uh, fanciful ideas was that Superman is actually using a low-level form of his “super hypnotism” power. Against the entire world. At all times. That sounds like something Batiuk would write, so maybe DC should have snapped him up when they had the chance.

It does remind me of the 1978 Superman film, where Christopher Reeve’s acting style could make you believe that he was two entirely different people. That was an excellent performance, which I don’t think has been bettered in the role of Superman in the years since.

I think that’s the only way I can use the word “excellent” in a post about Funky Winkerbean,

24 Comments

Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

24 responses to “Through a Glass, Dorkly

  1. J.J. O'Malley

    This is how the “Durwood and Jessica Make Out in the Office” subplot ends. Not with a bang but a wimp.

    Seriously, does TB think he’s breaking some bold new ground in comic book commentary here? The Superman/Clark Kent dichotomy was old hat when Tarantino had David Carradine discuss it in “Kill Bill: Vol. 2” 17 years ago. Pretty much every animated and live-action iteration of the Man of Steel, and countless DC stories, have offered their take on why no one notices the resemblance between Kent and his Kryptonian alter ago. What is the point of these six or seven panels except to show that the Atomik Comix bullpen, which should be a bustling beehive of activity with all five–count ’em, five!–employees hard at work on however many series they’re publishing now, is about as busy as Montoni’s at lunchtime?

    Here’s to the start of a new arc tomorrow wherein Dinkle goes to the eye doctor.

  2. Gerard Plourde

    Great observation about Christopher Reeve’s ability to make the Clark/Superman disguise believable.

    • erdmann

      I wholeheartedly agree. Forget “you’ll believe a man can fly.” With Reeve in the role, the real magic of the film was “you’ll believe a man can fool the entire world just by putting on a pair of glasses.”

  3. billytheskink

    Did TB steal this bit from a moth-eaten 55 year old copy of Cracked magazine? I’m pretty sure these jokes were old enough to claim social security when I was still in diapers.

    Anyways, it works (in many versions of Superman, anyways) because Clark Kent lives in one of the world’s largest cities and behaves in such an unassuming way that he gives no one reason to suspect that he could be Superman. That’s the entire gist of the Christopher Reeve performance, for which Reeve was rightfully praised.

    And people who wear glasses regularly can look remarkably different when they take them off. My wife calls me “Steve” when she sees me without my glasses because she thinks it is funny how different I look.

  4. Epicus Doomus

    See, I can’t tell if Boy Lisa means he’s never understood how that worked or if he means he never understood how that worked until now. Does he “get it” now or doesn’t he? It’s not really made very clear IMO. So what I’m saying here is that BatYam even managed to screw up that hackneyed old gag.

  5. William Thompson

    The version I heard about the glasses thing is that when Siegel and Shuster developed the character, they had run into more than a few anti-Semites who claimed they could always spot a Jew. Their joke was to have give Superman’s alter-ego the lamest possible disguise: glasses and a meek, mild-mannered personality. Then enjoy the way us gentiles were baffled by the way nobody could figure it out.

  6. erdmann

    True story: Many years ago, just before I started wearing glasses, the local police got a new K-9 officer. For whatever reason, every time he saw me, he barked his fool head off. This was odd because most dogs, including most police dogs I’ve known, have liked me.
    Then, the first time I encountered the dog after getting glasses, he looked right at me and walked by with nary a woof.
    As I walked away I said to myself, “I’ll be damned! It DOES work!”

  7. Banana Jr. 6000

    Here, Batiuk, let me punch up that dialog for you:

    Seriously, you just spent an entire week telling us a story about a 35-year-old man being afraid that glasses would turn him unattractive to his wife. And on Sunday you have the GALL to make the joke that glasses make no visual difference in a man?! And the characters don’t even notice the contradiction. Okay then.

    This strip loves to undermine itself. It spends huge amounts of time on things and then throws them aside. As if to say “what, you read that? Well, that’s your own fault, dumbass.”

    • Epicus Doomus

      Thirty-five is being kind. If we assume that Boy Lisa was eighteen when Act II wheezed to an end in 2007 that would make him thirty-two now, but there’s also the ten year time skip to consider, so he has to be at least forty-two right now. Boy Lisa and Jessica have been a “young couple just starting out” since they returned in 2010 (or maybe 2011), which means they’ve been “starting out” for ten or eleven years already.

    • Hitorque

      Bloody brilliant… And fuck Batiuk for giving us three days of buildup for a reveal which could have been told entirely in one day

  8. ComicBookHarriet

    As many of you have pointed out, the Clark Kent/Superman glasses joke is so old it’s collecting Social Security benefits.

    And any comics fan worth their salt should have read at least a dozen different takes by different authors throughout the decades explaining it. From weird Silver Age nonsense where Superman can physically alter the shape of his face, to altering his entire posture to make himself shorter, to hypnotism enhanced by magic glasses, to social and psychological explanations. I remember a weird one from the late silver age where superman’s face is impossible to clearly photograph because he vibrates it quickly back and forth.

    A comics writer saying, “I never got why this works”. Is like a five star general saying, “A land war with Russia in the winter should work, right?”

  9. Hitorque

    Just wanted to say 1978 Superman is awesome… And the orchestral theme is an all time top 10, if not top 7…

    • Rusty Shackleford

      I’m waiting for a BattyBlog rant where he gives us a long winded treatise about all the ways 1978 Superman sucked.

      • ComicBookHarriet

        I mean… the weird Lois crying beat poetry section is kinda cringe in my opinion. Also it makes physics weep.

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        Yeah, 1978 Superman is exactly the kind of superhero property Tom Batiuk would hate. He’d say the physics were all wrong, and completely miss the point that it was a fantastic ending. We get to see Superman have an emotional breakdown, make a moral choice, and test the limits of his superpowers.

        Then he had to listen to Lois Lane complain, which was kind of my favorite part. He shows up all smug and heroic, but quickly realizes that no one will ever know he saved the day. And we see it on his face. This also explains how the time travel works, and at least nods at the problem of changing earth’s history (because only Superman would know it changed).

  10. Jonas Grumpy

    Well, all I “see” is the superior Burgess Meredith episode of “The Twilight Zone” to counter this asinine glasses arc. They could have at least ramped this up with a face transplant or bionic parts.

  11. Charles

    I remember a Superboy comic from about 45 years ago where Superboy explained it and since I read that it really isn’t an issue. It wasn’t magic. It wasn’t mind control. It was simple.

    I featured Jonathan Kent telling Superboy that the disguise of nothing but glasses was really flimsy, so he had to be careful about his protecting his identity. Superboy pointed out that it wasn’t simply the glasses, but how he carried himself while he was wearing the glasses. He acted out an entirely different persona, of a meek, anxious, mild-mannered man, which the glasses helped create. No one would look at him and think he was Superboy.

    I mean, 1978 Superman was obviously a great example of how it works, with Reeve’s role in it. You watch the scene with the mugger where he catches a bullet that would have hit Lois, and then promptly pretends to faint. The mugger runs off and Lois is left with the idea that her nebbish, stammering dope of a coworker was a coward who’d faint in violent situations. She was more “super” than he was.

    Superman 2 was even more obvious, with the scene at Niagara Falls, where Lois sees Clark without his glasses, notices that he looks exactly like Superman, after which Superman shows up at Niagara Falls while Clark is conveniently absent. When Clark tells her her suspicions are ludicrous, in his typical stammering, guileless manner, she bets her life on it and throws herself into the raging Niagara River, depending on Superman to save her. Clark acts like Clark, only surreptitiously using Superman’s powers to provide a floating log that she can latch onto until she floats into a calm pool, and the point of the scene is made when Clark is a dope again who falls into the water after Lois is safe, making Lois think she needs to save him. The last line of the scene is the disgusted, humiliated Lois looking at the soaked, pathetic Clark with contempt, saying “And you’re the man I thought was Superman? This is so embarrassing.” (Sorry if the line’s not quite right. I’m quoting it from memory after haven’t having seen the movie in over 30 years) Anyway, it was a brilliant bit to, again, bring the slow members of the audience up to speed who might think Superman’s Clark Kent disguise is just a pair of glasses.

    I mean, hell, the plot that was Batman Begins emotional core was about how Bruce Wayne had to change his public persona to ward off the very obvious conclusion that he was Batman, and how that adversely affected his relationship with Rachel, the woman he loved. People look at this spoiled, shithead rich kid, banging two supermodels at the same time and essentially being a complete jackass, and they can’t imagine that he’s devoting himself to anything the way Batman devotes himself to the public good.

    These are not obscure examples. You have to be an oblivious dope to have missed it, which is why Batiuk still has these two dipshits doing it today.

    I mean, hell, Darin’s supposed to be a comic book artist. Is it too much to expect him to have some sophistication about his job and his medium of choice?

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Good rant. There are also non-comic book examples. The Somebody Else’s Problem field from the HItchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy books, and the Perception Filter in Doctor Who (which may have been inspired by the former) work on the same principle. People simply don’t notice things they don’t want to, or aren’t important to them.

      Real-life examples exist. Supposedly Marilyn Monroe could go out in broad daylight, and nobody would notice her if she carried herself like the ordinary Norma Jean Mortenson. She could turn it on and off. A lot of home security techniques involve hiding valuables in plain sight.

      What sucks so hard about this is Tom Batiuk’s complete inability to explore this idea. He makes the most banal observation possible, and doesn’t even connect it to this week’s plot. I can even re-write today’s strip to do this in a non-snarky way: “Nerd… Sexy! Clark Kent… Superman! I guess I was worked up about nothing.” “You’ll always be my man of steel.” It’s the sweetness Batiuk is aiming for, and it’s a lot better than these two idiots agreeing with each other, and making out like horny teenagers.

  12. Anonymous Sparrow

    When Walt Simonson gave Thor a new identity as Sigurd Jarlson (ah, Don Blake, we hardly knew ye) in *Thor* #341, he had Nick Fury give him a pair of glasses. Fury pronounced them the “greatest idea since pizza.”

    Evidently the Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. was correct, for on the following page, the bespectacled God of Thunder bumps into two reporters, one male and one female. The woman thinks nothing of it, but the man suspects that the blond-haired fellow is somebody else…only to dismiss his suspicions with a “naah.”

    Near the end of Simonson’s run, Thor declares that heroes have an infinite capacity for stupidity. What Tom Batiuk’s infinite capacity is for I shall not even begin to speculate!

  13. Jimmy

    “Superman’s Story – The Other Lens”

    Brilliant! That was my biggest laugh of the week.

  14. Professor Fate

    Just to add a pedantic note – the 1999 film Mystery Men riffed on the glasses no glasses bit – this was ah…some Twenty Two years ago and it was old then.
    Does his editor (he does have one) do anything at all? Or do they just lock the door and silence the phone make sure nobody disturbs them during their mid morning nap?

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      The Twitter roll had a woman who said she was Tom Batiuk’s editor. I really, really, really want to ask her some questions. Starting with “have you ever actually edited anything?”