Today’s strip goes beyond TB’s regular “tell, don’t show” philosophy into, well, “tell, don’t tell” territory I guess. We get a couple of 35 cent metaphors and learn NOTHING. Not a thing. In fact, you could swap the order of yesterday’s and today’s strips and it would make exactly as much sense as the present order. The Flash #123 made this big impact on this author avatar who went on to become a cartoonist… yeah, we knew that yesterday (or, 12 years ago, if you’ve ever read TB’s blog). Shouldn’t we be on to the why? The how? No, don’t bother with that, we need to hear a few more flowery words that restate what has already been restated ad nauseam.
This is beyond Herb and Jamaal‘s dopey non-specificity, which muddied the gags but didn’t keep the reader from recognizing that they existed. This glacial garbage muddies a complete lack of any substance to begin with. There is nothing here. Nothing. At all. No conflict, no suspense, no character development, no dispensation of information real or fictional. We’re waiting for a man to pay for a comic book. WE ARE WAITING FOR A MAN TO PAY FOR A COMIC BOOK. I’ll put up the $5.99 or whatever the #123 reprint costs just to get Batton the heck out of there.
59 responses to “The Taking Of Boredom 123”
“The action, the mythology, the alternate universes and sub-universes, it sparked a creative fire within me that exploded into a huge conflagration and inspired me to create a fantastical fictional universe of my own, complete with its own mythology and multiple sub-universes. In this week’s installment a character spends six days receiving and opening a letter.”
Sure Batton, whatever you say. And in 1975 Fonzie inspired me to leap my Big Wheel over fourteen wastebaskets, leaving me with a fear of ramps that persists to this very day. Guess who gives a shit? Do you think John or Crazy or Pete or Boy Lisa ever look at their watch and think “holy shit, it’s quarter to five already and so far today no geriatric former comic book writers or artists have wandered in off the street yet, I wonder what’s wrong?”. Because it must be so weird when that happens.
“Impacted my blahblahblah like a meteor? An immortal wound?” Translation: “Reading this issue left me brain-damaged, which is why I became a failure of a comic-book perpetrator!”
And with panel two, Tom Batiuk has just won the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest for 2021!
Seriously, WTF is that mess?
Today is EMBARASSINGLY non-specific. It’s not just yesterday and today that are swap-able.
You could swap in ANY book title in panel 2, without changing another word, and it still makes perfect sense. I personally got a good chuckle substituting ‘Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health’
I cracked myself up again, subbing in ‘Twilight’.
“American Psycho” makes it way more interesting too.
“Getting Girls Through Hypnosis”
“The Turner Diaries”
“Tom of Finland: Bikers, Vol. 2”
“The Best of Letters to Penthouse Forum, Vol. XXXIII”
“The Autobiography of Malcom X”
“The Enigma of Amigara Fault”
“The Spook Who Sat By the Door”
“Pictures: Robert Mapplethorpe”
“Uncensored: My Year Behind the Scenes with Michael Lucas and His Models”
“Pimp: The Story of My Life” by Iceberg Slim
“Battle Hymn: Revelations of the Sinister Plan for a New World Order”
“Chilton Repair Manual for Dodge Omni, (1978-1988)”
“The Global Jewish Conspiracy to Meddle in the Daily Affairs of Decent, God-fearing Americans in Northeast Ohio”
“The Revolution Betrayed” by Leon Trotsky
“What If Our Entire Universe is a Fictional Simulation Cooked Up By Some Hack Cartoonist?” by Tom Batiuk
“Battle of the Newspaper Comics MILFs: Blondie Bumstead vs Lois Flagston vs Fritzi Ritz vs Thelma Keane vs Alice Mitchell”
“The Velamma Comics Anthology”
“Golf: It’s A Funny Old Game.”
“Seduction of the Innocent.”
Does anyone have any idea what “an immortal wound” would be? Does he mean that it wasn’t fatal or that it never heals while not being life-threatening?
Whatever TomBa intends, it doesn’t sound like it would be a positive thing.
I Grampa Googled “immortal wound,” and found this: “a deep, gushy way of saying, bad memories that will stay with you until you fall into your eternal slumber, or whatever it is that your own faith has lead you to believe.”
Wait… What’s with all that Baylor stuff in the header? I wanna have a chat with the manager here…
They won the national championship in men’s basketball. I’m guessing TFHackett is a fan. Or BillyTheSkink, since he was apparently occupied at post time on Monday night. I like it because it gives Les a new repulsive trait: sports bandwagoner. Can’t you picture him wearing a Gonzaga t-shirt if they’d won?
I am a Baylor graduate and long-time Baylor basketball fan, though I did not put TFH up to the header changes.
Maybe Philoctetes would know. He had a wound that wouldn’t heal, so I suppose that qualifies as an immortal wound.
On the other hand, that wound smelled pretty bad, so you might not want to ask Philoctetes,
Philoctetes still repulsed less people than Les Moore.
And Philoctetes was marooned on an island by the entire Achaean Fleet for being a stinky whiner.
Batiuk intends to sound clever. That’s it. He’s not actually trying to say anything.
“Immortal wound” makes no sense here. First, the mood is way off. He’s been praising this comic book all week and now he’s calling it a wound? You don’t use the word “wound” to describe something positive! A wound connotes pain and damage. Nothing negative happened in this process, so why use a negative word like “wound” to describe it?
Second – and this is a common problem with Batiuk’s metaphors – he disregards context. “Mortal” in this context means “fatal.” Which worsens the problems that “wound” introduced.
Third, it’s a jarring change of tone from gushing to negative… and then immediately back to gushing in the third panel.
The metaphor “immortal wound” is a complete mismatch for what it purports to describe here. It would better fit what TVTropes calls Cursed With Awesome: something hurts you in a way that also empowers or strengthens you. Or, some cases of Despair Event Horizon, where something pushes you over the line in a way that forever changes who you are. Like when Walter Kovacs saw what happened to the little girl he was searching for, and it turned him into Rorshach. If he called that experience an immortal wound, I would buy it. It sounds like something he would say, and it fits what happened to him.
I found a novel called Immortal Wound about King Arthur. Presumably it refers to the grevious wound Arthur received from his nephew/illegitimate son Mordred at the Battle of Camlann. It is said that after the battle, Arthur was carted off to the Isle of Avalon for healing; he is there yet, and will return in Britain’s hour of greatest need.
I have no idea if Batiuk intended this association. Reading a comic book and being inspired to become a cartoonist seems very different from suffering a pseudo-mortal injury at the hands of a traitorous relative.
Batton Thomas is The Fisher King?
Batton Thomas is Frodo Baggins?
Okay, let’s go over Batton’s soliloquies panel by panel:
“When I first opened up this book, I had no idea what I would find…”: Umm, a story with two different Flashes, perhaps? It’s spelled out right there on the cover! That scene even takes place in the story!
“impacted my…12-year-old brain like a meteor! It was an immortal wound!”: These maladroit metaphors are, I think, a call-out to 1963’s Flash #137, “Vengeance of the Immortal Villain.” In it, Barry Allen and Jay Garrick teamed up for the third time to battle Vandal Savage, a caveman who gained immortality after being exposed to radiation from a meteorite. The story also featured the long-awaited return of the Justice Society of America. Boy, what a nerd TB is to include all this minutiae.
“By the time I finished the book, I had a plan!”: This is Battyuk admitting that he just wants to keep waxing poetic about the transcendent joy that is Flash #123 and, short of having a shocked Skunky look on as BatThom proceeds to release his precious essence upon Carmine Infantino and Joe Giella’s cover art in pure ecstasy, has no plan as to how to end this…story? That’s too strong a noun. How about series of statements?
Good catch on the Vandal Savage immortal meteorite reference. Slipped right by me.
This stupid description also expects us to believe that 7-year-old Batton Thomas opened this comic book expecting his life to be changed. 7-year-olds don’t think that way. It would make a little more sense if he was 14, because at that age you’ve started to think about your career a bit. I mention 14 because that’s how old Tom Batiuk was when Flash #123 came out. But he didn’t want to depict Batton Thomas at that age for some reason.
To be fair, Batton says he was 12 when he was reading Flash #123, but your point is still valid.
Tom Batiuk was born in March 1947. Flash #123 was published in September 1961. He was 14, unless Wikipedia is wrong about one of these two dates.
Agreed. But the Batton Thomas character in the strip states he was 12 not 7 when he read Flash 123. So while TomBa was 14 when it was issued, I’ll accept that the avatar character was two years younger.
Sorry, I missed when “Batton” said he was 12. He looks a lot younger than 12 in the drawing, which is where I got 7 from. Agreed the real difference is negligible.
You know what forever changed my life as a 12-year-old??
Swiping my dad’s latest Playboy and Penthouse mags…
Banana Jr. 6000,
To your point about the character in the flashback looking seven: I wholeheartedly agree. Sloppy artwork strikes again.
Shouldn’t we be on to the why? The how?
To be fair, who could possibly give a shit? This is just wallowing in the childhood of an elderly eighth-tier character who was created as a gimmick a couple years ago so Batiuk could self-insert better than all the other self-inserts he already has. Was anyone clamoring for the “Batton Thomas Origin Story, or How He Decided to be an Uninspiring Comic Strip Artist Who Doesn’t Motivate or Interest Anyone Today or Any Other Day”? The question is absurd on its face.
“Eighth-tier character”…LOL, if that. Fun SoSF fact: so far billytheskink has been hosting during every single Batton Thomas appearance, which is both unintentional and sort of unfair, but that’s how SoSF arc roulette goes. Sometimes you get a huge fire or a deportation or something fun, sometimes you get Funky at the gym or Batton Thomas.
And yeah, a young and impressionable Batton read a spectacular issue of “The Flash” and found himself inspired to create a wry light-hearted “slice o’ life” daily comic strip about a daffy fictional high school? That’s aiming pretty low.
I went back after I posted to look at the two prior times this chump appeared in the comic and here’s what they were:
He shows up on Free Comic Book Day at Gross John’s shop. The kids don’t know who he is and upon speaking with him think he’s an out-of-touch old man. They don’t respect him and treat him like a chump.
One year later, he shows up in Les’s class, where Les gave so little a shit about the presentation that he’d be giving that he let him crash and burn. The kids didn’t give a shit, didn’t respect him and treated him like a chump.
So yeah, Flash #123 lead to him having an unfulfilling career where children treat him like a chump. We might be able to say that Gross John’s comment to him at the start of the week was a compliment, but if you read his words as dripping with sarcasm, it fits much more readily with how Thomas has been portrayed, and it’s funnier too!
And it makes you wonder if Batiuk has any respect for the people who created the comic books he says he loves . . . or is the right term “toxic jealousy for their talents?”
No, Batiuk thinks he’s just as talented as they are. It’s the “business” people that he hates. Because they won’t hire him, and they keep making comic books incorrectly. You’ll notice that Atomik Komix has no management of any kind.
I’m in full agreement, I just want to point out that I only care about moving on to the why and the how so we can get closer to the end of this insipid thing.
“What if… Funky Winkerbean Had an Editor.”
Batton: Hey, a reprint of Flash 123! You know, “The Flash of Two Worlds” is the story that made me want to be a comic creator myself!
John: Cool! I’ll bet it inspired a lot of folks. You want that one?
Batton [winking]: No thanks. I’ve still got my original.
One strip and done. Not necessarily all that funny, but at least we could already be agonizing over the return of the Atomik Comics crew or whatever fresh hell is next.
If I had the original, I’d be selling the crap outta that puppy. Even beat all to hell, it’s still worth a couple grand.
Once my experimental time pool is fully functional I plan to go back and pick multiple copies of several key issues, Flash #123 included. I’ll auction off most of them but keep some for myself. I won’t repeat the mistake I made when I sold my sole copy of Dazzler #1.
Yeah, I know what you’re thinking — how could he done such a thing? But in my defense, it was the ’80s and I was young, foolish and in desperate need of that 37 cents the comic shop offered me.
What would be funny here is Batton going on-and-on all week about how wonderful The Flash #123 is and how much it inspired his work and how loves to read and re-read the book and is worried he’s wearing out his copy… and finishing it all with a Sunday strip of Batton putting the comic book back on the rack and leaving Komix Korner.
This, of course, is not going to happen, but even if it did TB would still be way behind the 8 ball in selling the joke. Batton’s meanderings are not comically over the top or comically bland, they are just sincerely stupid. DSH listening with rapt attention also deadens any humorous impact, He should be frustrated with Batton for wasting his time. He should be doubly so if, perhaps, there are any customers waiting behind Batton. Or he could be humorously obtuse, ignoring customers in his devotion to Batton’s ranting, a fanboy of an unworthy idol.
It’s not even an opportunity wasted at this point, because with TB there is never any real promise of opportunity to begin with.
Is this the point where I look at myself in the mirror and ask “What if all my disappointments, failures, squandered potential, lack of direction and ambition in my unsatisfied 44 years of Earthly existence are due to the fact I didn’t read a certain comic book in 1987?”
Can one of y’all please kill me? Trust me, you’ll be doing me a favor because I’m still waiting for someone to invent that quick and easy suicide phone booth from Futurama…
What? You mean to say you didn’t read the seminal “Flintstone Kids” #1? It was the most perfect expression of pure art ever. Shame on you, sir! Shame!
According to that episode, suicide booths were invented in 2008.
Obamacare strikes again.
I collect teakettles. It’s impacted me greatly. Does anyone want to hear the story?
I’m sure it will be better written and more interesting than this crap.
I just noticed Sean McKeever’s twitter thread in the sidebar. If he counts up writing 14 weeks of FB and i know John Byrne had a run, i wonder how much total runtime was due to these uncredited fill-ins?
It should come up when TB makes his big ‘50 year achievement/retirement’ announcement. “Sorry buddy, looks like you’ve got …. 6 months still to go!”
I found a podcast interview where McKeever talks a bit more about his experience working on FW (starting at 55:30). I liked the rest of the interview too.
Wait. He really wrote for FW? I thought it was some kind of joke…
Meanwhile, over on Mary Worth, Karen Moy upstages Batty yet again. She’s had 3 solid months of two seniors blabbing about how great dogs are.
She’s even reused tons of artwork. This amount of laziness is awe inspiring. Sorry Batty, it’s time to retire.
At least the artwork she reused was done with some skill and detail.
And dogs are pretty great.
Yes they are, but 3 months of praise does not make for an interesting comic.
Then again, neither does cancer, but yet here I am.
True! I always enjoy the artwork in Mary Worth. My favorite for 2021 is Greta the goose stepping dachshund.
I bet Buddy The Wonder Dog wouldn’t take a bullet for Wally.
“An immortal Wound”
To borrow a bit from the New Yorker from ages ago
“Block that Metaphor! Block that Metaphor!”
As others have asked what the hell does this even mean? The only character with and immortal wound that I could come up with was the Fisher King who was stabbed in the ‘thigh’ (per the folks writing in the middle ages) and was waiting for a Grail Knight or the like to cure him. One supposes TB was trying to say he was changed forever but it doesn’t work. Unless he’s linking it to the FW troupe: ‘doing creative work is an unending misery’.
“I didn’t know what I would find” – and as others have noticed this makes no sense either, it’s like putting on a movie entitled Two headed Shark attack and being surprised by the presence in the film of a two headed shark who then attacks (yes this is a real film – a syfi made for cable piece of dreck)
And then he was inspired to create a comic strip? The hell? That’s about as absurd as hearing someone say that after reading Shakespeare’s sonnets they were inspired to write cook books.
One can only dread the rest of the week and it’s wallow in nostalgic bathos
Two days ago, Tom Batiuk said this on his blog:
The original ‘Grow Old Along With Me’ (is) a fascinatingly different piece and kind of instructive about the art of writing if, like me, you’re into that sort of thing..
No further comment.
And then you would be condemned for selling elaborate forgeries. “Sure, all these #123s are printed with era-appropriate ink on the same type of paper used back then–but they haven’t aged a day! Fake!”
Now if you could arrange to steal the issue that Batiuk was predestined to read, and thwart his career as a cartoonist, the world would applaud you and nobody would give you any crap about the grandfather paradox.