Bullpen Bullshittin’

Sorry to disappoint those of you betting on Sunday’s strip being a random one-off. You’d think a Gen X’er who lucked into the comics business with zero experience, working alongside a Silver Age legend, would be keen on learning from them things like technique. But all Mindy wants to talk about are the “good” old days.


Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

54 responses to “Bullpen Bullshittin’

  1. Banana Jr. 6000

    Oh. COME. ON.

    • Rusty Shackleford

      Those evil men, always sitting around smoking. Women would never do that.

      Batty really does live in a fantasy land.

  2. William Thompson

    It’s a wonder any of you had an IQ that measured above seventy (pause, contemplates the evidence) no, you didn’t.

  3. Banana Jr. 6000

    “It’s a wonder any of us made it to the seventies”? Lady, I don’t think you’re there yet.

  4. Epicus Doomus

    “So what was it like making comic books back during the great Silver Age when all of our most favorit-est comic titles were churning out classic issues?”

    “Oh it totally f*cking sucked, man. Sheer drudgery, just terrible working conditions. It was like being on a prison ship, with slightly better food”.

    OK, Tom, I think this topic has been adequately covered, multiple times. The “good old days” sucked but they were better than now, except for the comic book industry, which is way better now. Got it.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Yeah, really. Why don’t the characters remember that they’ve had this exact conversation multiple times before? Why don’t they remember that Chester gave Ruby the original art and the characters, the very things she was upset about not having back in the day?

    • none

      Also, while the industry is better, comic books themselves were far better from those days.

      Maybe that could be the result of those companies not hiring 40 year olds with zero experience as well as 100 year old millionaires who have no real reason to still be working at all, much less hunched over a desk to scribble disposable children’s comics, but what do I know.

  5. Gerard Plourde

    As erdmann pointed out yesterday, “The legendary ‘Marvel Bullpen’ of the 1960s was mostly a myth created by Stan Lee to foster the idea that the company — and by extension, its fans — was one big happy.”

    But I suppose TomBa would prefer the fantasy of a creative sweatshop to the reality of artists working on their own schedules in their own homes and submitting work on deadlines.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Batiuk is inventing the past he wants, so he can invent the present he wants. It doesn’t matter what really happened. He wants to live in a world full of oh-so-put-upon silver age comic book women, so he can be their white knight. He’s just like Les, charging into a bomb scene, because all those EMTs and firefighters don’t know how to save Lisa correctly.

      • none

        Dick Facey: I quit the football team after one day.
        Dick Facey: I’m so physically inept I get my body tangled in the gymnastic equipment.
        also Dick Facey: I CAN GET HER THERE FASTER MYSELF!
        also Dick Facey, age 60: I alone can save this A-tier actress from a burning building!

        I said it before: He gaslights himself, and nobody else who matters calls him out on his bullshit, and here we are, yet again.

      • Rusty Shackleford

        You nailed it. That’s Batty in a nutshell.

    • batgirl

      The deadlines point reminds me – wasn’t there a brief arc where Flash Freeman (who broke Chester’s heart with the no-bullpen revelation) had to deal with an artist who was always missing deadlines? And it was clear that artist was working from home and the contact was all by phone, reminding him to bring his work in to the non-bullpen office.
      Ah well, as H.P. Lovecraft said “The most merciful thing in the world is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents.”

  6. J.J. O'Malley

    But, but…what happened to all the empty food cans hanging from the Winkerbean’s “reno-ed” kitchen ceiling?

    “The Atomik Komix bullpen,” Min-dull!? There’s just four people working in one office, plus Chester Chiselsmith in his publisher’s suite. That’s barely a cattle stall, let alone a bullpen!

    Also, how many titles does your one-flight-up firm even publish these days. All we see is Mopey Pete, Durwood, or yourself coming up with derivative character ideas followed by a Sideways Sunday illustration of the first issue. Have any of Atomik’s books made it to issue 25 by now? Who knows?

    A whole week of this nonsense, two months before the real (virtual only) San Diego Comic-Con? Hoo boy!

  7. I really hate the characters that Tom Batiuk obviously expects us to love. I seem to recall that our own ComicBookHarriet deflated the “horrible sexism” arc when she posted several articles that said, “No, women in comics were not treated as slaves, but were respected.”

    But that’s not going to win any awards, is it?

    This is when Batiuk is at his worst. The three stories he does these days are 1) his pet characters are rewarded unreasonably, 2) Funky is humiliated, and 3) fishing for awards. Not sure what he expects to win with this last one now, but he’s sure trying. And failing, of course, which won’t stop his blog from touting how awesome he is…and of course he has never featured a Comic Book Tribute cover done by a female, has he?

    • Epicus Doomus

      BatYam loves those old sci-fi serial films of the 1940s and 1950s. The main protagonist of his stories about those old sci-fi serials of the 40s and 50s was a miserable downtrodden old recluse who was used and disposed of by a cold unfeeling industry that never gave him his just due.

      BatYam loves those old Silver Age comic books from the 1940s and 50s. His main protagonists of his stories about those old Silver Age comic books are all miserable downtrodden and long-forgotten has-beens who were used and disposed of by a cold unfeeling industry that never gave them their due.

      There’s definitely a weird subtext involved here but it’s late and I’m not getting into THAT whole thing right now. It’s very telling how none of the people who created the things he loves the most were happy or satisfied while they created those things, that’s all I’m saying.

    • ComicBookHarriet

      I remember that arc. I remember those articles. And the thought of another week of Tom Batiuk treading out the same old ‘truthiness’ about women in comics in the Silver Age is gonna make me tread out those articles again.

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        Please do. That was some great research, especially for a non-comic book person like myself. They do a great job of showing how full of shit Tom Batiuk really is with this stuff.

      • Mr. A

        For those who haven’t seen it: start with the August 20th, 2019 post and keep reading through August 31st.

    • Rusty Shackleford

      He has such a childish view of the world. Ah, those evil greedy companies, always putting profit before art. Always making it difficult for true artists to get ahead. Blah, blah blah…

  8. Mr. A

    “It’s literally like night and day. In the old bullpen, everyone smoked! In the new bullpen, nobody smokes!”
    “How is that literally like night and day?”
    “Think about it! Have you ever seen people smoke in the daytime?”

  9. Tallulah Crackhead

    Well, the smirk seems out of place given the answer, but then, that’s pretty standard for this shit strip.

  10. erdmann

    In “Marvel Comics: The Untold Story,” Sean Howe wrote about the last cigar Jack Kirby ever smoked while visiting Marvel before jumping ship for DC in 1970. While the Distinguished Competition’s ads were trumpeting “Kirby is Coming!” and “Kirby is Here!” artist Marie Severin took The King’s cigar butt and used it to create a plaque that read “Kirby was Here.”

    • ComicBookHarriet

      Of all the women I learned about during my deep dive two years ago, Marie Severin was my favorite. That lady had sass to spare.

      • erdmann

        She was witty and multitalented and from all I’ve read about her, she was also well-respected by her fellow professionals and beloved by fans.

  11. The Duck of Death

    Of all Batiuk’s odd tics, his gratuitous use of “So” at the beginning of strips is probably the most annoying. He can’t go a week without using it. It adds nothing and makes his already extremely clumsy exposition/recaps even more kludgy.

    • Rusty Shackleford

      I hate that too. Heck, I hate to hear people use it in casual conversation.

      Pretty mediocre “Lord of the Language “ if you ask me.

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        It’s probably another case of Batiuk following some nonexistent “cartooning rule” he doesn’t need to. Writing is not court reporting; you don’t have to include every um, uh, and yeah a person says. You should do this sparingly, and only when it’s relevant to the story or character. Michael Palin in A Fish Called Wanda is a good example.

        It doesn’t matter how realistic your characters’ speech patterns are when they’re saying stupid shit like “the playground is closed for repairs.”

    • Epicus Doomus

      Good call, he does indeed do that all the time. “So, how’s your chemo coming along?”.

  12. Rusty Shackleford

    What’s going on in Crankshaft? Last week we saw them turn off the lights for the last time…because those evil bankers wanted their loan payment…but today he supposedly has a screening.

    • billytheskink

      Max has to save the Valentine so Starbuck Jones can premier there a decade later. We can’t have a discrepancy like that, it would be almost as bad as depicting a man in the St. Spires choir…

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      And you’ll never guess what movie is playing at the Valentine! Go on, guess!

      And yeah, we need to talk about today’s Crankshaft. Pam says “your dad (Jeff) brought his rock from Murania for good luck.” You know, “his” rock that he gave to Pam in Funky Winkerbean all of nine months ago:

      I guess Pam and Jeff have already abandoned any pretense that this was a gift – a gift to commemorate the time Jeff should have burned to death – and it’s just Jeff’s rock now. I think this is actually worse than the salad dressing. If Jeff wanted to keep the rock from Bronson Canyon, he could have just kept it and not pretended it was a deep, meaningful gift for his wife. What a cheap, selfish prick. But go on, Tom Batiuk, tell us how rudely women were treated in the 1950s comic book bullpen.

      Also, how does younger Jeff in Crankshaft have the rock when he didn’t get it until he was visibly older in Funky Winkerbean?

      • Epicus Doomus

        The rock should have gotten more screen time, as it’s a more compelling character than Jff is.

      • Mr. A

        The timelines are breaking down! The parallel pandemics were the first warning sign. We’re headed for a full-on time crash! Aack!

        Either that, or Jeff has made the pilgrimage to Murania more than once, and brought back a rock each time.

        • erdmann

          Due to Crazy Harry’s use of the Time Pool (turns out it wasn’t just a dream but a temporal tangent), the Funkyverse is collapsing in on itself. Fortunately, Jeff’s rock is actually an Infinity Stone and its power will shield all inside the Valentine during the upcoming “Crisis on Infinite Funkys” story arc. “Worlds will live, Bull Bushka will die, and everything will still be all about Les.”

          • J.J. O'Malley

            I, for one, am looking forward to the “Cranky of Two Worlds” crossover that will have to come before that. In it, “Crankshaft” Ed backs his school bus over the mailbox of a Westview nursing home and, upon going inside to turn its remains over to someone, wanders down a hallway and meets the wheelchair-bound, oxygen tank-snorting, barely communicative “Funky Winkerbean” Ed whom Mindy introduced to Mopey Pete. Pete, of course, will later turn all this into an Atomik Komix miniseries that will earn him an Eisner Award at next year’s San Diego Comic Con.

            It’s mind-boggling how Battyuk had no problem ignoring COVID in either strip throughout 2020 and the first quarter of 2021, yet now clumsily tries to shoehorn its aftermath (an event still going on in real time) into both “FW” and “Crankshaft,” with the result being that his beloved continuity is chewed up and spit out like a stale piece of bubble gum from a 1966 pack of “Batman” trading cards.

      • Gerard Plourde

        “Also, how does younger Jeff in Crankshaft have the rock when he didn’t get it until he was visibly older in Funky Winkerbean?”
        That’s a whopper of an error. And it shows what little attention he’s actually paying to the strips he’s writing.

        • Banana Jr. 6000

          Recently, Batiuk said this on the Funkyblog:

          “(The re-running of the Kent State shooting arc) threw the John Darling Sundays off a smidge. So I’m running a few back to back so I can match them more closely to the actual Sunday dates. Admirable attention to detail, or hopeless loser… pick’em call.”

          He’s neither a hopeless loser, nor does he have an admirable attention to detail. He’s obsessed with irrelevant details, but he overlooks massive errors that badly undermine his stories. When he writes everything a year in advance! How does this keep happening?

          • Gerard Plourde

            “He’s obsessed with irrelevant details, but he overlooks massive errors that badly undermine his stories. When he writes everything a year in advance! How does this keep happening?”

            This is the mystery that brought me to SOSF in the first place. And it seems that his sloppiness has increased. The work doesn’t even qualify as “mailed it in”.

      • bobanero

        This is a pretty egregious continuity error even by TB standards. Anyway, I’m guessing that something miraculous happens this week to save the Valentine from it’s deserved fate, perhaps with luck brought by this miraculous time-travelling rock.

      • Charles

        Pam says “your dad (Jeff) brought his rock from Murania for good luck.”

        So they’re buying into his delusion as well? The rock is from Bronson Canyon, not Murania. Murania is a fictional underground city from the serial The Phantom Empire. Pm can’t possibly believe that Jfff actually went to Murania, so she has to be humoring his ridiculous ass.

        Try to imagine showing up at something like a playoff game or a Super Bowl viewing party and there’s a guy somewhere around 55-60 years old there with a stick, and he says it’s his lucky stick, and you ask him why the stick’s lucky and he says, unironically in all apparent seriousness, that it’s from Narnia. And then you find out he’s wearing a toy plastic ring from some Green Lantern promotion from when he was a child and has been wearing it for years, because someday it will be useful. And then you find out that his wife and kid go along with the delusion as if it’s no big thing.

        If Batiuk wants to do another prestige arc, he can do one about how Jfff’s brain got broken the day his mother died, and how his family passively enabling him is not doing him any favors.

        • The Duck of Death

          And that guy at the Super Bowl party was…. Tom Batiuk. And now you know… the rest of the story.

          No, seriously. You just *know* this is a pretty good simulacrum of him in real life. No one on the receiving end of this manchild regressive mania could possibly paint it sympathetically. The only one who finds this stuff cute and endearing is the one doling it out.

        • Banana Jr. 6000

          (Pam) has to be humoring (Jeff’s) ridiculous ass.

          Does any wife in this universe ever do anything else? “You have to protect Lisa,” says Cayla. “You’re the world’s greatest band director,” says Harriet. “I love the salad dressing,” says Donna. “I got an engagement tiger!” says Mindy. “I’ll just stand here and say nothing while and the renovator insult me to my face, even though I made all the decisions and you’ve done nothing but whine the whole time,” thinks Holly.

      • Charles

        And you’ll never guess what movie is playing at the Valentine! Go on, guess!

        And again, Max’s (I realized these kids are named Max and Min, always some stupid gimmick) great plan for running a vintage movie theater is not “show movies that people would like to see” and is instead “show my dad’s favorite movie constantly and then play the victim when no one else shows up”.

        I know a couple women who run bookstores with a similar plan. They don’t organize their stores with the idea of maximizing their revenues. They organize their stores the way they’d like a bookstore to be. The difference, of course, is that these women are ridiculously wealthy and don’t have to care about whether their bookstores make any money.

        • The Duck of Death

          For some reason, my neighborhood attracts a lot of these vanity-project trust-fund kids who have no idea how to run a business. You walk past the storefront and scratch your head at the hopelessly high-concept idea. In six months, or a year, the business is suddenly gone, replaced with a “for rent” sign. That’s fine if you’re just puttering around with money you can afford to lose; hey, it keeps the trust fund kiddies out of trouble and off the streets.

          But where did Rusty and Farrah get the money to buy and run this theater in the first place? Old theaters are shockingly expensive to renovate and run. Hell, even new theaters eat money. Surely no bank gave them a loan with their “All Radio Ranch and Phantom Empire, all the time” business plan. Surely they didn’t make enough money to buy the theater with some other line of work; they’re obviously too clueless to make money at anything except *maybe* taking orders at a corporate fast food place, and then only because there are photos of the items on the screen that the cashier can punch if their reading skills aren’t too hot. Did…. did they run an “escort” service? Were they Centerville’s best (and only) weed dealers?

          • Banana Jr. 6000

            A similar theater renovation project in my town cost $8.3 million and took six years.

          • Charles

            There’s nothing wrong with running a business like that, but if you’re actually interested in making money, well, you ditch the plan that’s not going to work, or, like Max, you just constantly whine about how your business is going out of business. I have no issue with the women I know who run bookstores like this because they don’t care if they make money. They just want their communities to have a bookstore that’s not exclusively concerned with the bottom line (which nowadays you’d have to be if you want to run a profitable bookstore).

            I’m pretty sure most if not all of the Valentine-related stories were about how the Valentine is not profitable, and even when they weren’t they had it as an element. And that just makes the Starbuck Jones sequence all the more absurd. If the guy can’t pay his rent/mortgage, you know when toilets break they’re getting fixed with an Out of Order sign. Concessions are probably a joke, and when seats start failing, well, it’s a good thing the theater never sells out. There’s no way a movie with a mega budget would want to open in a place like that.

  13. Sourbelly

    Does Mindy do anything besides sit on her keyboard all day, distracting coworkers with the same old questions over and over?

    • batgirl

      I believe Mindy’s job description includes the duties of provoking exposition on TB’s favourite topics and demonstrating that TB supports women in the comics industry if their boyfriends work there too. Establishing heterosexuality may come under “other duties similar in scope and complexity.”

  14. Will

    Great work by the colorist: “Back then … the bullpen existed in a gray cloud…” literally everything in that panel other than the two characters is gray.

  15. spacemanspiff85

    There are few things in the world I’m less interested in than Tom Batiuk writing about the plight of women in the comics industry sixty or more years ago.

  16. Hitorque

    Nothing to see here; another day at Atomikkk Komixxx, and another day of two grossly overpaid crony hires doing anything except their actual work…

  17. Jimmy

    Good luck with this week’s tripe, you brave souls.