Today’s strip gives us our first glimpse at a young Batton Thomas… back when he had the hair of a newscaster, the jaw of Rob Riggle, and the neck of something that doesn’t have a neck. Quite a contrast to today’s sad-sack Batton, who looks like he could be Pete’s dad (he’s not, John Darling program director Reed Roberts is). Trading that plaid seersucker jacket for a blue Members Only was a good call, though.
So The Flash #123 inspired Batton Thomas (and, most definitely, one Thomas Batiuk as well) to become a cartoonist, eh? How, exactly did it do that? If we are lucky we’ll get that answer in 6-10 business days. Or just visit the official Funky Winkerbean blog, where TB writes more about The Flash than he does about his own creations… Haha, yeah, you all go do that. I’ll wait.
33 responses to “Flash has reached end of life status”
What was the game? Tic-tac-toe?
More like Trivial Pursuits.
Yes, Batton loves comic books. It’s fairly safe to say this has already been quite well established. But why? Was it the artwork? Was it the stories? Was it the history? Not that I really care, but simply saying “I love comic books” doesn’t really make this a “story”, for lack of a better word. Sigh.
Will this lead to a story where Boytoy Thomas meets those two Eisenhower-era comic book creators? The ones who are modelled on Mopey Pete and Dull–
BLOODY MARY! BLOODY MARY! BLOODY MARY!
(Whew! Better to summon her than them!)
This is just sad.
You know, if before today someone was doing a pub quiz devoted to minor FW characters and the question came up, “What inspired Batton Thomas to become the ‘world-famous cartoonist’ he is today?,” even without seeing this exercise of self-fellating Silver Age worship I daresay I could have come up with “He read comic books as a little boy.” Gee, what a shock.
Honestly, I figured BattThom to be in his late 70s or early 80s, as a possible contemporary to Ruby Lith and Phil Holt. Imagine my dismay upon seeing that he’s only 8 or 9 years older than me.
Love the Dinkle-sized smirk on Skunky’s face as he listens in awed silence to yet ANOTHER geriatric gush over the four-color ephemera of his youth. Every time Battyuk goes off on one of these tangents I’m reminded of a classic line of double entendre dialogue from the 1955 melodrama “Sincerely Yours,” in which concert pianist Liberace is described as respecting the classics, “but from a sitting position, not on his knees.”
“It showed me that comic books had a past”.
What? Did he previously think that the Silver Age DC pantheon sprang like Athena from Zeus’s forehead?
(I know I shouldn’t knock the perceptions someone had as a little kid, and that TomBa is around five years older than me, but the first Batman Annual came out in 1961 and it’s not as if all Golden Age reference had been purged from the collective memory.)
For heaven’s sake, the first Silver Age *Flash* story has Barry Allen reflecting on the Golden Age Flash! Furthermore, the Silver Age comic-book continues the numbering of the original series, beginning with #104. If that doesn’t speak of a past, I don’t know what does.
Fun fact: when the four *Showcase* try-outs showed that the second Flash could carry his own title, there was some discussion as to whether the book should continue the old numbering or begin with #1. The powers that be decided that beginning with #105 would persuade customers that this was a successful, well-established title. (With *Green Lantern* the following year, things began with #1; apparently, starting with #39 wouldn’t send the same message.)
Correction: the last issue of the Jay Garrick (or Jay Garrett, if you’re James Robinson’s Shade, who also called the Black Canary Diana Lance and reflected on social morays) series was #104; the first issue of the Barry Allen series was #105.
Thanks for adding that context. It serves to show how utterly inexplicable Batton’s comment is.
“It opened the door to my future.” He says this like it’s a good thing. But Batton has been perpetually presented as failed artist, unknown and unappreciated.
If this strip was true to what we’ve seen before, Batton should deeply resent Flash 123, and buy a reprint copy to burn in spite while bemoaning his unfulfilled artistic vision.
Also DSH’s dead-eyed smile in panel three just screams, “Shut up and buy the book already, I didn’t ask for your life story, asshole.”
That whole third panel is unsettling. DSH and Battom both look capable of and eager to swallow the other’s head whole.
That whole “awe-stricken by comic books as a child” thing is one of BatYam’s most over-used tropes, even by his trope standards. I mean how many times has he done this exact same bit? It’s way easier to count the Westviewians whose lives weren’t impacted by comic books, as it’s probably somewhere between zero and three.
And the “adult next to his childhood self as he experiences something he likes” visual trope. It’s like the dead grandparents in Family Circus by now. And that strip was trying to portray how children view and understand death. Everything in this shitshow is about pizza and comic books.
The bench in panel 2 looked like a couch to me at first glance, so I spent several moments wondering if Young Batton was so thrilled at TWO FLASHES that he pooped a hole in his chair.
It’s funny because young Batshit Thomas was old enough to read and still couldn’t tie his shoelaces.
So he was inspired by Flash 123. There’s a shock.
Still it’s remarkable just how bad he is at showing or even explaining why he found this so inspiring. Comics had a past, is if you think about it, a pretty meaningless commonplace observation. How did comics having a past effect him? He of course does not say. As an example, Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones has said that the first time he heard Chuck Berry “the world tuned technicolor” – in that one line there is that sense, a sense of expanding horizons hell exploding horizons that you don’t get in all of FW. There you get smirks and sterile fetish worship.
And yes I do hate the comic book arcs.
The very statement “Comics have a past” is a monument to Tom Batiuk’s narcissism and closed-mindedness.
This man refuses to acknowledge that comics have a present. Or any pasts he disapproves of. Dark and gritty is bad. Multiple universes are bad. The Internet is bad. The 1960s Batman TV show was bad, and the whole world is wrong for finding any enjoyment in it. He thinks the comic book industry should hire him. He thinks Hollywood should throw money at him to make Crankshaft: The Movie, and that he should be able to direct it to his exact specifications. He builds entire Funky Winkerbean story arcs around his selfish, out-of-touch ideas about how the comic industry should work. Coming from this guy, “comic books may have been good before I personally started reading them” is actually quite an admission.
You hit the nail on the head. Saying comic books had a past doesn’t reveal anything about the effect the discovery had on young Batton Thomas, but that’s the defect exhibited in all of his characters. Think about the CTE arc. The perfunctory treatment that subject got makes me believe that it was mainly a convenient plot device for eliminating Bull (and it had the added insult of making short shrift of the complexities surrounding the topic of suicide.)
As always, it comes back to the failure to develop any depth in the strip’s characters.
I rate this strip “harmless”. Frankly, I can’t find it in my heart to be annoyed with an old man recounting fond childhood memories.
Normally I would agree. If it were a standalone thing, if this were the only character in the strip who made comics for a living, if we didn’t have some vaguely masturbatory “storyline” about silver age comics being Art in its Purest Form EVERY SINGLE MONTH. If this were just one character who occasionally made an appearance, it might even be endearing.
In the context of this strip and its constant, relentless, and dead serious worship of comix (ART IN ITS PUREST FORM!!!!!), it is just exhausting.
I give today’s strip credit for one thing: it gave us BTS’ glorious description of young Batton’s appearance.
“back when he had the hair of a newscaster, the jaw of Rob Riggle, and the neck of something that doesn’t have a neck.”
“The neck of something that doesn’t have a neck.” That covers both characters. It’s like Jeff and P.J. Keane drifted apart in childhood, then met again at retirement age. “Whatchya done with your life, Jeffy?” “Ida Know! You learn to read yet, PJ?” “Not Me!”
I hear you and I don’t even disagree, it’s just that he’s done this SO MANY TIMES before. They’re all the SAME childhood memories. Perhaps “Funky Winkerbean” is just one person with multiple personalities. That’d sure be a twist, eh?
As a comics fan — and as a fan of Golden Age characters such as Jay Garrick in particular — I am irritated every time Batiuk does one of these ham-fisted, comic-centric arcs. They’re dull, pedantic, repetitive and as many of the comments here prove, they do NOTHING to make other people say “Boy, comics sound great! I’m gonna go out and buy some today!”
Indeed, just the opposite is true. Hell, I’ve been reading the things for more than half a century and these strips even make me want to set a match to the entire collection.
Stop, Tom. Just stop.
Was it reading comic books that deformed young Batton’s head? It’s not just the pompadour vs balding. The entire shape of his head is different, and his forehead has collapsed from a cliff-side to a gentle rise.
I will give the strip this – we now know what the metal glider that graced the Batiuk’s porch when TomBa was growing up looked like.
Another phrase that occurred to Batiuk, and he just had to share it, it was so clever and funny and kinda profound, you know?
We’re really lucky there was never a comic book of The Phantom Empire.
Shhh! The original serial is in the public domain! Don’t give the Atomik Comix crew any ideas for their next title!
“Opened the door to my future” is a nonsense statement.