In Space, No One Can Hear You Repeat Yourself

Link to today’s strip.

Hi folks, BeckoningChasm back in the center seat. First of all, many thanks to TFH, Comic Book Harriet, Epicus Doomus and the others who are willing and able to try and rip some sense out of this…thing. Hat tip: it’s never an easy job. Tom Batiuk seems to be obstinate about refusing to put actual content into his strip, so the hard work must be done by others.

And for the next two weeks–that’s me. And when we look at today’s thing, we can see that once again Tom Batiuk has dredged out one of his golden floaters, Flatus Freeman, to appear in the strip and advise the young striplings. Although, as always, this episode makes the case that Pete Retardo has never, ever, come up with an idea on his own. Everything crucial has come about because someone else has made an off-hand remark, and today, the tradition continues.

Despite the fact that, you know, Pete mentioned nothing at all about space. But who cares, right?


Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

52 responses to “In Space, No One Can Hear You Repeat Yourself

  1. Banana Jr. 6000

    The highest paid writer in comic books, folks.

    • Hitorque

      I love the fact that he’s the highest paid writer in the industry, he’s essentially the managing editor of his own publishing house when Chester isn’t meddling and micromanaging and Pete STILL doesn’t have a personal office of his own in a freaking 9 story warehouse housing a grand total of six employees…

      • William Thompson

        He’d get lonely and start crying for his mommy.

      • Charles

        Thing that always gets me is that Mopey wrote what was supposed to be the most successful film of the year it was released. Due to Batiuk not understanding how the screenwriting process works, he showed Mopey basically writing the whole thing with occasional vapid suggestions from the guy who turned out to be the director. The whole endeavor suggested that it was Mopey behind the creation of the Starbuck Jones story. It was his story, not him doing the actual scriptwriting of a treatment that someone else had come up with. He didn’t seem to have a whole lot of producer meddling in his work, and certainly no evidence suggested that the story was written by someone else.

        And yet he wasn’t deluged with offers following the extraordinary success of Starbuck Jones. Producers would have been calling him every day to ask him to work for them. Some of them probably would have given him a “whatever you want to do” offer. He certainly would have had offers until his projects produced enough failure to override the success of his Starbuck Jones work.

        But there was never any evidence of this. In fact, Mopey quit screenwriting right after his enormous success because he thought that it wasn’t a secure enough profession. And then he whined about how Hollywood destroys people. Again, there was never any evidence of this in Mopey’s life. He was treated well entering screenwriting. He was treated extremely well while screenwriting. And he wasn’t blackballed out of existence when he bailed on the sequel he had signed onto.

        It’s amazing how incongruous what Batiuk comes up with, what he thinks he’s come up with, and how circumstances like he describes would happen in real life. He really is so ignorant that he has no conception or awareness of how ignorant he is.

        • Charles

          Just to make a comparison, if Starbuck Jones is supposed to be the most successful film of the year it was released, of the top-grossing films of each year of the 2010s, the lowest worldwide gross was Toy Story 3 in 2010, with 1.066 billion. If instead we’re looking at something more in the middle of the decade, 2014’s Transformers: Age of Extinction made 1.104 billion. Again, those are the two lowest grossing films that nonetheless grossed the most in their respective years over the last decade. This is the stratum that Batiuk portrayed Starbuck Jones existing in. You don’t walk away from something like that. You can’t walk away from something like that. Yet Mopey left as if it was nothing, and nobody tried to convince him to do otherwise. Not his friends, not his family, not his agent, nobody.

          • ComicBookHarriet

            To be fair, if Starbuck Jones was that year’s Transformers: Age of Extinction I wouldn’t trust the lead writer to draft instructions on how to make Easy Mac. I don’t care how much money it made in China.

          • Hitorque

            It wasn’t just highest grossing of the year, it was one of the highest grossing of all time… It was Infinity War times Avatar.

            And it had to be, because given the monumental cost, 30-month production schedule, and putting half of Westview on the studio payroll, anything less than Infinity War would have gotten Pete and Masone tarred and feathered and run out of town…

        • hitorque

          It’s funny until you realize Pete and Darren’s foray into Hollywood was still a hundred times closer to actual reality than Les Moore’s twice-aborted Lisa movie project…

          And I’m still trying to figure out how Les got paid twice for the same movie and STILL HAS YET TO ACTUALLY MAKE A MOVIE!!

  2. William Thompson

    Yesterday, Family Circus paid tribute to the family’s paternal line. Today, Mopey Pete pays tribute to his mother and her ancestry. Balance has been restored to the Farce!

  3. Epicus Doomus

    Oh yeah, Flash Freebase, the “other” ninety year old FW comic book figure everyone always forgets when they’re listing all the ninety year olds in the strip. I remember him, sort of. Interesting how with the men of AK it’s all wry banter and silliness, unlike the women of AK and their “real life” problems. That’s a recurring FW theme, BTW and one that should surprise exactly no one.

    “Charger Chimp”…what does HE do, run up humongous credit card bills in his enemies’ names?

    “Quick, Charger Chimp, grab the Hammacher Schlemmer catalog!”.

    “One 24K gold plated fondue set with USB capability, please!”


  4. William Thompson

    Charger Chimp–a twist on Crusader Rabbit?

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Charger Chimp was an offhand suggestion by Mindy, who instantly became a major character because that’s how the creative process works, doncha know.

      • Mr. A

        Credit where credit is due, those facial expressions made me laugh. Mindy looks like a happy anime character in panel 1, and Darin’s side-eye is particularly choice.

        • Mr. A

          On closer inspection, this strip is from the period when Batiuk was working with Rick Burchett instead of Chuck Ayers. I thought the anime expression was a little outside the Batiuk/Ayers wheelhouse…

      • Hitorque

        Has Pete *ever* come up with an original idea of his own? Exactly what the hell has he done to earn the overly exorbitant paycheck Chester the Molester gives him twice a month??

        I guess I should especially ask the same question to Darren, since he and Pete were a “package deal” when Chester hired them both out of Hollywood… At least Pete could say he wrote the script to a successful movie— All Darren ever did was sketch the storyboards which and basic artist off the street could have done.

        • Banana Jr. 6000

          Has Atomik Komix ever had an original idea? They’ve got the Peabody & Sherman ripoff, the Wonder Woman ripoff, the Incredible Hulk ripoff, and the charmless, banal Flash Gordon ripoff that’s somehow the Star Wars of this universe. They’re like the comic book answer to Asylum Films. If you bought something of theirs, it’s because you didn’t look closely enough at what was in the dollar bin.

  5. ComicBookHarriet

    I think it’s interesting that, a million years ago, when he showed us a Miss American cover with a ‘tip of the Funky felttip’, he listed the publisher as ‘Capitol Comics’. Even with his rant about sexism, he wanted the Batom artists he’d already established to remain free of sexism taint.

    • Mr. A

      You mean Flash Freeman didn’t watch illegal porn reels with his bullpen buddies every Friday?

      I guess, technically, we don’t know for sure that he didn’t…

  6. Banana Jr. 6000

    “Down in Texas, they’re still talking about the rabbit who came down from the United States.” Texas became a state in 1845. How old IS this?

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      That was supposed to be a response to William Thompson and Crusader Rabbit.

    • Gerard Plourde

      I remember seeing Crusader Rabbit cartoons in the late ‘50s. According to Wikipedia, the series was the first one created specifically for tv and was produced between 1950 and 1959 by Jay Ward. Unlike Warner, Walter Lantz, Hanna-Barbera, or later Jay Ward products, I have no memory of any of the plot lines.

      • J.J. O'Malley

        There were actually two different series of CR cartoons made, a b/w 1951 run by Ward and company and a color 1959 season by a different crew. Both were satirical serial adventures starring clever Crusader and his somewhat naive pal Ragland T. Tiger (a precursor to the Rocky-Bullwinkle dynamic). I remember one color serial spoofed Madison Avenue with ad men tossing out a string of popular words and coming up with “Rag,” “Land,” “Tea” and “Tiger,” making “Rags” into a national celebrity. As with other Ward shows the animation was limited, the voices were great, and a lot of the humor went over us kids’ heads.

        • Gerard Plourde

          I found some of the CR episodes on YouTube. You’re right about the subtle humor. I’ll have to set aside time to go further down that rabbit hole.

    • William Thompson

      It’s not as old as the Bugs Bunny cartoon where he goes down to Texas to fight a rabbit-hunter, then joins the Marines.

      • J.J. O'Malley

        Thumbs up for the reference to “Super Rabbit” and Cottontail Smith, “I hate rabbits. If there’s anything I hate more than a rabbit, it’s TWO rabbits!”

  7. J.J. O'Malley

    This is my reward to taking a long weekend to visit relatives: a second week of old comic book fogeys sharing industry minutiae with young fogeys. Wonderful.

    Is there some reason only two people can inhabit the Atomik offices at a time, and why one has to be at or above Social Security age?

    Also, why is Mopey Pete, who by all rights should have grown up on the comics of the ’80s and ’90s, so committed to rehashing Silver Age tropes like DC’s obsession with apes (Flash’s Gorilla Grodd, Superman’s Giganto, Batman’s Gorilla Boss of Gotham City, etc.). I know it’s really Battyuk behind it, but it would be like having a young art cinema owner now being obsessed with some 1930s Gene Autry serial. Wait a minute….

  8. Mr. A

    “Despite the fact that, you know, Pete mentioned nothing at all about space. But who cares, right?”

    In fairness, Atomic Ape has been a space-themed title from issue 1…er, 993. But before I looked that up, I entertained the idea that Pete found Flash’s tagline so irresistible that he decided to change his entire script to take place in space.

  9. Hitorque

    1. If there’s a punchline here, I’m not getting it.

    2. I know Jack Shit about comics and tropes and what goes into making a good storyline, but EVEN I know you never, ever, ever have an all-primate issue. You can do all dog characters, cat characters, bird characters, fish characters, hell even dinosaur characters… But gorillas and apes or whatever are sidekicks, comic relief, or in some cases ultra-smart supervillains like Gorilla Grodd… Unless Pete has created some kind of knockoff “Planet of the Apes” comic universe, this comic issue is going to suck hard.

  10. Go Ask Alice

    LSD. It’s outta this world.

  11. William Thompson

    Just give Zanzibar the Murder Chimp a prominent role and lots of bullets. Is that too much to ask?

  12. Rusty Shackleford

    Batty would be appalled, but I don’t care, I just don’t like comic books. I liked the satire mags like Mad and Cracked, but that’s it and so I’m totally bored.

    But there is big action happening in Crankshaft today, The Valentine in going out of business! And Batty loves to bring back previous owners, previous band directors, etc. Those guys never die, they just keep coming back.

    • Same here. I loved the comics in Mad magazine, and then discovered National Lampoon, which emerged just as I was hitting puberty. Comic books never did anything for me, though it might have been different if I had discovered Zap Comix at that time. In general, I’m more interested in humor than fantasy/adventure.

      And as for Crankshaft, I think we’re in for a big Deus ex Machina this week that will save the Valentine.

      • Mr. A

        All we can do is hope that the deus ex machina is completely nuts, so we can get some entertainment that way. Granted, it’ll be hard to top “Bill Clinton pulls some strings at ICE in exchange for pizza.”

    • J.J. O'Malley

      It’s going out of business only because Battyuk decided, after ignoring COVID in his strips for all of 2020 and the first part of ’21, to shoehorn pandemic “topicality” into them, despite the 10-year time gap that separated them.

      So now we have the Valentine going under, even though it’s been 12 months-plus since movie theaters closed and it never came up, and even though over in Funky a couple of years ago it was the location for the original “Starsux Jones” film premiere. TB had Pmm and Jff showing up to see (God help us!) “Radio Ranch” before Max gave them the bad news. Jff was even carrying his “lucky Muranian rock” he took from Bronson Canyon during LAST YEAR’S SoCal wildfire FW arc, totally destroying his beloved continuity.

      One has to assume there’s a Schrodinger’s Crankshaft out there where Ed is now exisiting simultaneously as a fairly active school bus driver/bowler/gardener and a wheelchair-bound, barely verbal nursing home resident. If some Silver Age DC writer had decided to ignore the events of Flash #123 like this, guess who would be raising holy heck about it?

      • Gerard Plourde

        But remember, because of the second time jump, the Starbuck Jones premiere is still in the Crankshaft strip’s future. (That is, if TomBa remembers.)

        For a deus ex machina, how about a grant from the Autry Museum of the American West? Weirdly enough, they’re actually promoting something called “The New Adventures of Super Indian”.

    • Sourbelly

      Also same here. MAD and Cracked were as close as I came to comic books. It’s weird – when I was a kid (1970s), I don’t recall anybody reading or talking about comic books. I always thought Batman and Green Hornet were just TV shows.

      Wait, did you say the Valentine is going out of business?! That came out of nowhere!!!

  13. The Duck of Death

    Huh. After last week’s rant, I thought for sure he would namecheck some of the great current, innovative female comics creators, like Lynda Barry, Roz Chast, or Alison Bechdel. Or perhaps some of the excellent comic book work done by Jodi Picault, or Ann Nocenti, or far too many others to mention at DC, Marvel, and other publishers. Or perhaps highly successful syndicated creators/cartoonists like Cathy Guisewite or Lynn Johnston.

    While Lynda Barry has been writing about growing up as an outsider in a poverty-striken interracial community, Roz Chast has written a graphic novel about losing her parents to dementia, and Alison Bechdel has written about the suicide of her closeted gáy father and her own coming-out journey, Batiuk jumps right back into centenarian men mentoring guys in their 40s on how to write 1950s-style comics about battling baboons in outer space.

    If I didn’t know better, I’d think his whole long spiel about female creators was just insincere, shallow award-bait.

    • ComicBookHarriet

      He doesn’t even have to get that innovative or fancy. There are plenty of women writing your run of the mill capeshlock too. In fact, for his purposes, it would be better to list the likes of Gail Simone or G. Willow Wilson, because they are closer counterparts to the type of comics he’s obsessive over. Only listing high-brow artsy indie creators would insinuate that the superhero trashheap is a boy’s only dumpster fire.

  14. Gerard Plourde

    For him to name check women creators he’d have to do a minimum of real research, which seems to be anathema to him.

    • The Duck of Death

      OR… actually read and enjoy works by female artists, like most of us here probably do, and he’d be able to rattle off some of the well-known names in my post without any research. But until they start writing humorless stories about Simians in Space, he’s not interested.

  15. batgirl

    Pete sure is enthusiastic about Charger Chimp now, considering what a pissy little punk he was over the idea of a kid sidekick when Mindy came up with Charger originally.
    Yonks ago I read Jules Fleischer’s essay on reading comics in his youth. I wonder if TB has read it also or just sympathises generationally? Fleischer specifically mentions disliking kid sidekicks (unlike adult superheroes that he could imagine growing up to equal, they were already unachievably ahead of him) and that he would have been upset/frightened if he had learned then that girls read comics too.

    • Gerard Plourde

      That’s really interesting. I’m about seven years younger than Batiuk and my reaction was the opposite. Being a Batman reader, I imagined how great it would be to be Robin.

    • Anonymous Sparrow

      I think you mean Jules Feiffer, whose *Great Comic Book Heroes* introduced a lot of people to Will Eisner and *The Spirit.*

      • batgirl

        Yikes, thanks! That’s what happens when I post without checking my bookshelf (and when half my message box text is invisible for some reason…)