Stag Queen

“Film historians describe stag films as a primitive form of cinema because they were produced by anonymous and amateur male artists who generally failed in achieving narrative coherence and continuity.”

Wikipedia entry on Stag films

Tom Batiuk’s neither anonymous nor an amateur, but narrative coherence and continuity aren’t his strong suits either. Mandy’s persistent questioning of Ruby in itself is starting to border on harassment. Yesterday I was able to dismiss her editor’s “not bad for a girl” remark as harmless. Ruby’s male coworkers inviting her to watch porn after work, well yeah, that’s all kinds of wrong and just, well, ick. Note however that Ruby admits she “didn’t think of it as harassment then.” I’m pretty sure it was, despite what Ruby thinks, but she was able to turn the ridicule back on her would-be tormentors, just like she did that time with Boob, I mean, Bob. Ruby’s had to deal with income inequality, which sucks, but she’s clearly someone who can handle herself, giving as good as she gets. So what’s the point of this arc?

60 Comments

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60 responses to “Stag Queen

  1. J.J. O'Malley

    Why does it feel like Battyuk is harassing his readers all this week?

  2. Epicus Doomus

    This one suddenly took a bizarre turn into serious icky-ness, didn’t it? “I didn’t think of it as being coerced into watching pornography with my male co-workers. After all, I’ve been nude myself many times”. Yeah, sure Ruby, whatever you say. I wonder if they forced her into the Studebaker after and went down to the drugstore for a malt and a Moon Pie, then made her do the Twist for their amusement. I have to assume they did.

    Coming tomorrow: Ruby insists that she didn’t think of being stripped, bound, gagged and thrown into an icy pond with a cinder block tied around her neck as “attempted murder”, but merely the sort of hazing a young female comic book creator had to endure back in those days. She then explains that it wasn’t like she hadn’t been thrown into a pond before. Mindy looks on uselessly, as always.

  3. William Thompson

    Welcome to 1957, when the Soviets launched the first Earth satellite and Rubella became the last woman to talk back to a Funkyverse man.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      And where was all this spunk yesterday, when her work was being called “good for a girl”?

  4. Tom Batiuk, you are a cad and a bounder. You deserve nothing less than the complete and utter disinvitement from any and all awards issued for whatever reason, from now until perpetuity.

    (Sorry I’ve been watching the David Niven “Around the world in 80 days” film and his utter and complete dismissiveness of that which does not satisfy kind of grows on a person.)

    • firedmyass

      Niven, like the amazing Maggie Smith, could convey such effortlessly withering contempt with the kind of subtlety that the target had no real clue until well after the dagger had been removed, cleaned and replaced in its display case.

  5. Charles

    “Unlike you guys, I won’t be seeing anything I haven’t seen before!”

    Tune in next week when Tom Batiuk, through his characters Mopey Pete, Dorkin Fairgood, Jff and his Starbuck Jones Decoder Ring, and Gross John of the Perpetual Batman Shirt, takes on how cruel it is to stereotype comic book fans as sad virgins who will never get to touch a tit or know the love of a woman!

    • Epicus Doomus

      “Hey Ruby! Come by after work and watch some pornography with us.”

      “OK, but be aware that unlike you I’ve had sex before.”

      (Confused nervous glances)

      Not to belabor the point re: BatHack and his failings re: female characters, but there were a million different ways to tell this story and make some kind of discernible point yet he chose to drag “stag films” into it, which doesn’t seem like the kind of thing that would come up during, say, a Pete and Boy Lisa arc. I mean if you’re going through the trouble of doing a story about the changes re: gender inequality in the workplace over the years then great, but this is just weird Batom girl talk, something he definitely does not excel at.

    • William Thompson

      Fine, just as long as we don’t get even a hint of how they lost their virginity.

  6. billytheskink

    TB should probably use his blog to source this story to some sort of real life claim, because otherwise it says quite a lot about him and his imagination. Then again… this is a comic strip whose very first panel referenced Playboy magazine…

    • Epicus Doomus

      Yeah, I agree, that might be a wise idea. No living writer is worse at “girl talk” and that might even be understating the case. If you ask me he should just write the female characters just like they’re males (minus any prostate gags, of course) and forget all about trying to think “like a female” because it’s not going very well at all.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      On Batiuk’s blog, he goes on and on about his wonderful editors who helped him weave a rich tapestry of characters and complex stories, take on difficult topics, and invent a new genre in comic book history.

      In his actual comic strip, we get stag parties and “not bad for a girl.”

      This is the best he can do, folks.

      • Rusty Shackleford

        Yeah he talks a good game. 25 years of compelling, reality-based stories!

        • Banana Jr. 6000

          And he wasn’t even trying to write realistic stories for most of those 25 years. Look at the timeline it presents: debut, Dinkle is created, Lisa’s pregnancy (in year 14), graduation (year 20), then the parade of misery starts in year 22,

    • Check out his blog for a fairly recent story. He and his family went to a Vietnamese restaurant, and while there he noticed a clipping on the wall telling how the owners escaped from Vietnam and made a new life in America.

      TB immediately thought this would be a good story for FW…with the added element, of course, of racism.

      That’s how his imagination works. Take a nice story and make it miserable.

      This week’s entries are probably the result of TB’s reading an interview with a Golden Age comics artist. She was probably asked about sexism and said, “Well, there was some, but I dealt with it fine.”

      And TB’s “imagination” went to town.

      • batgirl

        Oh dear lord. Is he going to create a tone-deaf Asian character with a cardboard backstory so Les can white-knight them?
        The consolation I guess is that after that arc they will vanish forever or until they are needed to make another blunt point.

  7. Mr. A

    I’m sorry, WHAT.

    I mean, I know this is not completely outside the realm of possible human experiences. I’ve seen Wolf of Wall Street. But I don’t think this was common. At least I hope it wasn’t. Ugh.

    This is another example of Ruby getting the short end of every possible stick. As we’ve discussed, she’s supposed to be The Woman in Comics History. Her experiences are meant to be representative of an era. But as CBH and others have pointed out, her experiences are NOT typical. It seems like she was just really, really unlucky.

  8. none

    thathappened.jpg

  9. The Nelson Puppet

    Mandy: “Oh, that’s nothing! You should see the films John Howard makes over at Komix Korner. Now THAT is something you’ve never seen before.”

  10. ComicBookHarriet

    The weak comeback to harassment: “You have no sex.” deserves ridicule. It doesn’t challenge or attack the idea behind the harassment itself.

    It’s like telling a bully, “You have no friends.” If the bully does have friends, then he can write off your retort.

  11. Hitorque

    Wait… Is Ruby’s boasting about seeing nekkid ladies before a confirmation that she’s lesbo? Wouldn’t her sexual orientation have been much more of a controversy with the workplace attitudes back then?

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      That was my reaction. It sounds like she’s admitting to having seen porn before (which was pretty rare in the 1950s), and is enthusiastic about seeing it again. The second she left the room, the men would have been like “what did she mean by that? And is she really coming, or just being a smart ass?” But don’t worry, Tom Batiuk assures is this a world-class zinger.

      • Mr. A

        Personally, I don’t think Batiuk would make a character gay unless he was trying to Make a Point™, as with that prom storyline. The Point™ of Ruby is that she faced misogyny; making her face misogyny and homophobia would muddy the waters, so to speak. I think what Batiuk meant is that Ruby was familiar with her own naked body, and he didn’t mean to imply anything else.

        • Banana Jr. 6000

          Oh, I agree. The problem is that Batiuk’s writing is so poor that he’s constantly implying things he doesn’t intend to.

          • William Thompson

            Rubella’s comeback is a bit vague. Is she saying “None of you have ever seen a woman’s unclothed primary or secondary sexual characteristics” or “None of you children are equipped like a full-grown man?” Or is Batiuk just saying they’re all terminally myopic and should see an optometrist? (I think the artwork supports that interpretation.)

        • Hitorque

          Then that makes even less sense to me…?

          “I know all about nekkid ladies because I’ve seen myself in the mirror!!” isn’t the caustic burn Batiuk seems to think it is.

  12. Rusty Shackleford

    To Batty I say: Cool story Bro!

  13. The Duck of Death

    SO buttons.

    SO, a needle pulling thread.

    I’m imagining what would happen if Batiuk were in a crowded building and suddenly spotted flames. “So it looks like there are flames in this building! SO IT LOOKS LIKE THERE ARE FLAMES IN THIS BUILDING!!!”

  14. sgtsaunders

    Good Lord. That woman has seen adult human bodies writhing in fleshy ecstasies of desire and passion? Her?!?

    • William Thompson

      Only in her dreams. Remember, she has the same vivid imagination that gave us Miss American, so . . . uh, yeah, point taken.

  15. batgirl

    I sort of suspect that TB is conflating two issues (and understanding neither) – the obvious one being the toxic environment of casual sexism and harassment, and the other being the construction of men-only spaces where networking and bonding happened. So I am unsure whether the guys invited Ruby with the intention of flustering or embarrassing her (harassment) or with the misguided intent of giving her a chance to bond and network (hearing about opportunities at other publishers etc.). and were just too nerdy to be aware of the ick factor.
    I wish TB could decide whether his boyhood heroes were true-hearted dedicated artists or a bunch of jerks.

  16. The Duck of Death

    So the Silver Age comics creators that both Batiuk and all his characters worship turn out to be overbearing misogynists and ripoff artists who deprive female creators of their due money and credit?

    Will this affect how Silver Age comics and their creators are portrayed in future Batiuk strips? [shakes Magic 8 Ball, turns it over] ‘Signs point to no.’ I suspect their hateful behavior in this arc will be forgotten in a typical case of bat-nesia.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      overbearing misogynists and ripoff artists who deprive female creators of their due money and credit

      Yeah, you hate to see that happen:

      Nobody treats women in the comic book industry worse than Tom Batiuk does.

      • Hitorque

        Kissing his sexpot blonde fiancee on the forehead? Ugh…

        Pete has truly never been with a woman before, has he? Mindy is going to have to draw him an illustrated “roadmap” for their wedding night, isn’t she??

      • The Duck of Death

        I remember reading that and thinking: Hoagy Carmichael wrote some of the most-recorded popular standards, including not only “Stardust” but “Heart and Soul,” “Skylark,” “The Nearness of You,” and “Georgia on my Mind.” All of these songs are still under copyright, and you’d better believe Carmichael has an estate under active management.

        Co-creator credit is no joke. Stan Lee’s failure to properly credit Steve Ditko (for co-creating Spider-Man) and Jack Kirby (for co-creating Captain America, The Avengers, and others) became a major legal and moral tussle as the years went by and the characters became more and more valuable.

        Why on earth would you assign co-creator credit to a long-dead songwriter whose works likely already generate millions of dollars of royalties every year?

        • Banana Jr. 6000

          They Hoagy Carmichael catalog is owned by a company called Reservoir: https://www.musicbusinessworldwide.com/reservoir-acquires-nearly-500-songs-from-hoagy-carmichael-catalog/

          Which means Mopey Pete would rather share his “Stardusters” comic book royalties with a holding company than with his own girlfriend, who actually came up with the idea. That seems like something Pete would do, because he’s a selfish, no-talent POS. Mindy’s too dim to realize she’s being ripped off, and Ruby would rather flap her gums about petty affronts from 60 years ago. It never even occurs to anyone in the story that maybe the women should get some of the credit.

          So Tom Batiuk can shut his piehole about the poor oppressed women of the 1940s comic book industry, and do something about the blatant sexism in his own world.

      • The Duck of Death

        I can believe this type of hazing behavior happened on Wall Street, since trading is, and always has been, a predatory field in which men haze each other savagely as well.

        Comics artists tend to be a lot more congenial and are generally not predatory. Perhaps some publishers were, but many were not; Bill Gaines, for example, was a jovial guy who generally took good care of his staff and contributors. Creating art or stories is generally a solitary act that is often the province of the sensitive, introverted, and nerdy. Few artists are bullying jocks or social Darwinists.

        • Banana Jr. 6000

          It’s Batiuk imposing his high school worldview on everything. Everyone is a jock, nerd, bully, cheerleader, weirdo, slacker or some other teen archetype. He doesn’t understand anything else.

  17. Dood

    The author never misses the expressway to Tone Deaf-ville.

  18. The Duck of Death

    Yep, typical male behavior! After work on Fridays, they would drag a huge 8 mm projector into the office, get a ‘stag film’ reel, clear off a space on the wall to project onto, turn off the lights, pull down the shades, and all jack off with the co-workers they’ve been cooped up with all week (since that was the sole purpose of stag films)! That’s what heterosexual male artists working in offices love to do on Fridays!

    (Something tells me Batty never had a lot of male friends.)

  19. The joke’s on her. This week’s feature is “Bambi”.

  20. Sourbelly

    So anymore, I just can’t stand these comic book arcs.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      They’re ridiculous! It’s normal for an artist to work their interests into their comic strip. Batiuk just bludgeons his readers with his narrow-minded obsessions. Door-to-door missionaries and pyramid scheme junkies are less obnoxious!

      And Batiuk doesn’t even know anything about comic book history that would be interesting to read. Nor does he make his own comic book universe interesting. It has an elaborate mythology and a stable of franchises, which he’s never written a single story for. Not even for Starbuck Jones.

      If the syndicate ever wants to make Funky Winkerbean better, their first step should be to reject all comic book stories.

  21. Banana Jr. 6000

    MIndy talks like an infomercial host. She just asks the forced questions that prompt the interviewee to ramble on about the product.

    “Hello everyone, this is Mindy with Oxi-Clean. You know what I hate? Harassment in an all-male silver age comic books bullpen! My guest today is comic books artist Ruby Lith. Ruby, was there much harassment back in the day when you worked in an all-male bullpen?”

  22. The Duck of Death

    With weary resignation, I await the strip in which Ruby names her sexist tormentor-in-chief: Ben Day.

    • Mr. A

      Or, Ben Day was the one “nice guy” who tried (and mostly failed) to defend her from harassment. They married, but he died young.

  23. Gerard Plourde

    Does anyone else think it’s weird that TomBa thinks adult male bonding behavior includes WEEKLY GROUP viewing of porn?

    Far more likely would be the admittedly cliched but practically universal Friday Happy Hour at the corner bar. I can imagine guys getting together for drinks at the end of work (especially to mark the end of the work week) laced with sports talk, ribbing, and the occasional raunchy joke, but I find it hard to believe that this would happen outside of some member of the group’s office bachelor party.

    • Gerard Plourde

      By “this” I’m referring to TomBa’s scenario. (I think I might need an editor, or, at minimum, a sharp-eyed proofreader.)

    • Hitorque

      I don’t get it either…. Teenagers and maybe college students is understandable, but grown-ass men in their 30s and older watching erotica all huddled together in a dark office seems creepy as hell…

      • Gerard Plourde

        “grown-ass men in their 30s and older watching erotica all huddled together in a dark office seems creepy as hell”

        Exactly. Where does he get this stuff? On second thought, I don’t think I want to know.

      • Mindy: “Stag films?! Gross! Well, it’s a good thing Pete and the others would never do that!”
        *smash cut to Pete, Darrin, and Chester at the Valentine, staring rapturously at “The Phantom Empire.”*

  24. Hitorque

    You know Mindy, you don’t have to fuckin’ say “bullpen” every other sentence… “Office” or “workplace” are perfectly fine.

    • batgirl

      But the bullpen is TB’s dream home and happy place! He and Chester refuse to accept that it never existed!
      I’m starting to wonder whether the sexism and exclution of this imaginary place are bugs or features for him. No jocks or girls allowed in the bullpen.

  25. Professor Fate

    This is off topic but I think folks should know – i just saw that Ken Wilbur’s 1991 book Grace and Grit – the story of his wife’s Treya and his 5 year struggle with breast cancer is being made into a movie. (In an almost FW twist she was diagnosed with Beast Cancer 10 days after their wedding.)
    I can only imagine the sheer jealous spite that is going to ooze out of ohio when he finds out.
    You have been warned.