Batton Down The Hatches

Link To This One

It’s nice to see that good ol’ Batton survived the local “KOVID” scare unscathed. KOVID was a purely Westviewian viral strain, transmitted only through old comic book paper. It left many survivors with a complete inability to properly appreciate Silver Age comic books, which obviously led to rampant binge drinking and countless suicides. Some experts have speculated that the milk and cookies trade in Westview may never fully recover. The vaccine has some unfortunate side effects, for example an inability to properly grip pizza slices and a precipitous drop in overall wryness, leading many Westviewians to question whether the cure is actually worse than the disease.

But yeah, anyhow, this Batton guy just might be the single most obnoxious “new” Act III character of them all, for obvious reasons. It’s all just so shameless. The wry, self-deprecating banter about how obscure he is, that overly sincere smirk, the way John had to mention the character by his full name just so confused readers would know who the hell he is, it all just makes me sick and quite frankly totally ruined my whole f*cking Monday. It’s a pain my fellow SoSF hosts (and everyone else really but especially them) know all too well. You’re waiting to see what the next arc will be, then you discover it’s a f*cking Batton Thomas arc and you just groan in disgust. Happens with a lot of characters, now that I think about it.


Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

38 responses to “Batton Down The Hatches

  1. Mr. A

    Honestly, I’d rather have “self-deprecating humor” Batton Thomas than “endless, vague, pseudo-poetic gushing over a particular comic book” Batton Thomas, though I fear we’re going to get both.

    In fact—and I hope you’ll forgive me—I feel a weird twinge of admiration for (what I perceive as) Batiuk’s defiant attitude here. “Yeah, I know that no one besides the oldest of fogies gives a damn about my work. So what?”

  2. William Thompson

    I can understand Batton Thomas’s fear. That angry mob might forget to light its torches and sharpen its pitchforks, and he could live through the whole experience. Even he doesn’t want that.

    On the other hand, now I understand that look of existential dismay on Skunkhead’s face in the banner.

  3. J.J. O'Malley

    I don’t know about everyone else in SoSF land, but I actually ENJOY reading 70-year-old newspapers. Korean War news, editorials on who the Dems will nominate if Truman decides not to run, Studebaker ads…oh, it’s the newspaper READERS who are 70. Never mind.

    “Hey, Batton! What brings my favorite comic strip creator in today?” It’s still a little clunky, but I daresay it sounds more like normal human speech and less like obligatory exposition (which will probably pop up again this week). But, of course, it doesn’t set up todays knee-slapper of a punchline. And, ironically, those septuagenarian comic strip readers won’t even “enjoy” today’s side-splitter because there’s no home delivery on Mondays (see last week’s “Crankshaft”).

    Seriously, the number of Medicare-eligible comics legends living in or near a small northeast Ohio town boggles the mind. Never mind L.A. or New York; Westview is truly America’s entertainment hub.

    • Epicus Doomus

      I would imagine that in Westview, Batton Thomas would be like The Beatles in “A Hard Day’s Night”, unable to walk from the Montoni’s District to Comic Book Village East without being swarmed by hordes of hysterical comic book fans all begging him to sign their walkers and oxygen bottles.

      “(Cough cough, hack) Isn’t he (cough) just dreamy?”

      “HE”S SO WRY! HE’S SO WRY! SCREEEEEE (cough) EEEEEE!!!!”

  4. Sourbelly

    Oh, total Hell.

    Batton has de-aged significantly. He sort of looks like Les with gray hair. In fact, he looks a whole lot like, oh, I dunno, Tom Batiuk? Go figure.

    Anyway, I hate that moment when you know one unbearable arc has ended, and you realize that whatever comes next will somehow be even worse.

  5. Batton Thomas just seems like “Please love me, readers, here I am all just loving comic books, can’t we all just admit we love comic books?”

    I mean, there have been author insertions for decades now, but this just seems the very definition of “pathetic.”

    • Epicus Doomus

      It isn’t merely that he decided to include himself in the strip. For me it’s more about how he made himself so unfathomably boring and stupid. Only he would create a new character based on himself then do absolutely nothing of note with him. He just wanders around talking about being a not especially successful comic strip writer who only appeals to the elderly. Which, in theory, could potentially be funny. But it isn’t. At all.

  6. Banana Jr. 6000

    More phony self-deprecation from Mr. Earnestness here. Putting down your readers, and the publications that reprint your drivel, is not “self” deprecation at all.

    This is almost as bad as that bullshit about Holtron’s machine gun playing the school fight song. Batiuk pretends he’s acknowledging that a past joke didn’t age well, but he’s really doing the opposite. Instead of admitting his misstep, he makes up a ludicrous retcon to try and deny it.

    To do self-deprecation, you have to be willing to admit your mistakes, and laugh at them. Batiuk is far too thin-skinned, insincere, and full of himself.

  7. Hitorque

    1. So this is the second time this year the “famous” Batton Thomas has walked into a comics and collectibles shop, and not once has the self-appointed Vice Pope of all Comics Geekdom even bother to ask him for an autograph or picture? Maybe you should stop calling him “famous”?

    1a. Then again, Masone Jarre goes anywhere he wants in public without being recognized and mobbed by fans, so I guess this is how fame works in the Funkyverse?

    2. Who the name of fuck says “comic strip creator”? I’ve heard comic strip writers/authors/artists/etc., but never creator… What ever happened to simple “cartoonist”?

    3. Yes dude we get it — Syndicated newspaper comics and all the other old ways are dying off fast so it makes you constantly mopey… Instead of drowning in self-pity and thinking up hundreds of self-depreciating one liners for people who actually remember you, I suggest you: A. Fucking call it a day and retire somewhere warm, or B. Find a new media to print your content and find another hustle, or C. Make yourself accept the reality that “it is what it is” and kindly STFU about it, or D. Beg Atomikkk Komixxx for a job because they’ll hire anybody while paying top dollar…

    But before selecting any of these options, you might want to stop jerking off in your own self pity and thank the fucking Gods for the decades you were allowed to prosper as a syndicated cartoonist; living in relative comfort all you life and never having to worry about shelter or feeding your family or your kids’ dentist bills… What is it with Funkyverse characters born with horseshoes up their rectum along with nepotism being their only ‘qualification’ for cushy high paying jobs, and their total inability to appreciate what they’ve been blessed with?

    • Hitorque

      And no, Batton is too proud to ever ask for a job at Atomikkk Komixxx… BUT HE ISN’T TOO PROUD to put his “woe is me” shtick on repeat at max volume, and eventually John will tell some Funkyverse character about it, who will tell another Funkyverse character about it, who will in turn tell Pete, Mindy or Chester…

    • Rusty Shackleford

      Meanwhile Les had all the ladies chasing after him after Lisa died.

  8. billytheskink

    Finally a Batton Thomas week where I’m not the guest author! What a relief, Batton is about as interesting as a garbage disposal overflowing with cream of wheat.

    TB’s reputation would be well served if he kept Batton on the bench anytime Stephan Pastis inserts himself into Pearls Before Swine or even when Vera Alldid shows up in Dick Tracy. That would include now.

    • Mr. A

      Your mention of Pastis in Pearls set me to thinking: what if Batton Thomas revealed that he was really Tom Batiuk, and all the other characters in the strip were his creations? That could be interesting. I imagine that:

      – Les would demand Lisa’s resurrection.
      – Dinkle would thank Batton for making him just the way he is.
      – Funky would sigh morosely, mutter about how he always thought God had it in for him, and go on with his day.

  9. beware of eve hill

    The works of Tom Batiuk. Don’t waste your time reading crap like that.

  10. ComicBookHarriet

    Epicus, I am honestly wondering if there’s a character that you’d be pleasantly surprised to get an arc about? Same question to any others in the rotation. Who borders on bearable for you?

    For me, I don’t mind a Masone Jarre arc.

    • The Nelson Puppet

      I would love to see an arc in which there were NO characters over the age of 40.

    • Charles

      It seems utterly counter intuitive, but I didn’t mind having Les arcs when I was the one writing the daily post. He’s appalling in an engaging way. At least he gives you something to write about.

      If I got Dinkle there’d be huge gaps in the daily output on this site, I think.

      I don’t think there’s anyone who would pleasantly surprise me. Best I could do is “I can work with that I guess.”

    • It’s kind of a trick question, because Batiuk would make that character insufferable. I mean, Buddy the dog is okay, and I actually don’t mind Crazy Harry when he’s not treating salad dressing like a gift from the gods, but that’s about it.

      It’s like being asked “What kind of cookies would you like?” and you tell Batiuk and he brings them to you, but he’s added raisings to all of them.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      It doesn’t matter to me which characters appear in Funky Winkerbean, because the strip has a much more fundamental problem than that: Tom Batiuk simply cannot tell a story. The few times he’s tried to do something unique, they’ve all had the same massive flaws.

      All of his “prestige arcs” start with too much talking and too much unnecessary backstory. Remember Amicus Brief? That arc spent a week establishing that Rachel knew him, introducing him, and telling him things the audience already knew. And then he quickly became irrelevant to the story. Batiuk doesn’t know how to let his audience fill in the blanks.

      But we all know why that happened. Rachel from Montoni’s had to bring the lawyer to Montoni’s to have a meeting at Montoni’s about rescuing that Montoni’s employee because Montoni’s Montoni’s Montoni’s Montoni’s Montoni’s. Batiuk is far more interested in shilling his crappy products than in entertaining anyone.

      After his stories take way too long to start, they end way too fast. Endings are abrupt and have no real resolution. Cliff Anger spent weeks droning on about Butter Brinkel and that woman who mysteriously died in his house and IT WAS A TALKING MURDER CHIMP THE END. The last two days of that weeks-long arc were “Where’s father?” “So the chimp dunnit?” “Yep.”

      Batiuk fastidiously avoids anything interesting. Talking murder chimp really demanded an explanation, which we never got. Or he deus ex machinas everything. He got Adeela arrested in a case of false identity, and then pushed the Bill Clinton button to make it go away. The story took longer to arrest Adeela than it did to free her!

      He always misses the emotional center of the story. The Butter Brinkel story never cared about the murder victim. The Adeela story never addressed the Kafkaesque nightmare of being falsely imprisoned, and then having to deal with a maddening, overzealous bureaucracy. The CTE arc barely touched on the subject, except to make cheap jokes at Bull’s expense. The “Lisa’s Story II” arc was far more interested in Les’ precious Lisa tapes than it was in killing and displacing millions of people. Self-indulgent return trips to San Diego and Pasadena are already planned.

      And that’s just the major stuff.

      • hitorque

        I’m so glad I was taking a hiatus from comics and missed that murder chimp story completely… I’m certain that poor lady’s descendants who had been waiting 60 years for closure just loved to hear that it was some kind of cigar-smoking, whisky-guzzling primate (who was also fully fluent in the English language by the way, but that was just a meaningless sidenote) to say nothing about Brickel’s descendants as he rotted away at Alcatraz for a crime he didn’t commit.

        I suppose it’s too much to fucking ask *WHY* even a wealthy person would ever waste his expensive cigars and premium whisky on a pet, or why Cliffe never thought to tell the police (or anyone) about it 60 years ago, or why Cliffe didn’t just take the secret to his grave, or why this wasn’t a much bigger national story than it was, or why even in 1949 or whatever there was a loaded sidearm lying around in Brickel’s house or why Cliffe didn’t fucking ASK THE HYPER-INTELLIGENT MONKEY WHO WAS FULLY FLUENT IN ENGLISH WHY HE COMMITTED THE MURDER…

    • billytheskink

      I would say that I would be pleasantly surprised to get an a week-long arc about Barry Balderman… but there was a time when I might also have said the same about John Darling weatherman Phil the Forecaster and look how that turned out.

    • Epicus Doomus

      I sort of enjoy it when long-lost characters suddenly reappear, like when Khan came back that time or when Bull’s field goal kicking daughter popped up out of nowhere. I’d enjoy a new Owen arc or maybe something involving Art Teacher, at least until Tuesday or Wednesday at which point I’d grow to despise them.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Funky Winkerbean’s name being “Funky” is a lore question that really needs an answer. I would be interested in an arc that explains it. Even if it’s just a thinly-veiled potshot at the syndicate for making Tom Batiuk pick the name for his strip, when he doesn’t like it anymore.

      • hitorque

        In my own mindcanon I’d like to think Funky’s name came from being a pothead party guy, or a smooth-ass groovin’ bass player, or just from smelling bad after gym class…

        • Banana Jr. 6000

          That’s plausible, but most people outgrow nicknames like that. Then again, nobody ever outgrows anything in Westview. So it makes sense that such a name would persist without any explanation.

  11. BattonLuv

    Give me a break!!!!!!

    We know Batton appeals to cheerleaders, body-builders, super cute twinks, nurses, librarians, Queen Elizabeth II, dogs, cats, CEOs, Jo Anne Worley, and Canada!!!

  12. Paul Jones

    He should be more worried about the question “Who are you?” because no one aside from Marge Simpson and people who criticize the strip actually follow his self-indulgent bilge.

  13. newagepalimpsest

    I would like Batton Thomas somewhat if he ever actually did anything funny or self-aware.

    “Hi John! Boy, am I tuckered out after writing an entire ten years of comics in one weekend!”

    “So I got some whiny letters from brats on the internet… AND THEN I WIPED MY ASS WITH THEM! Boy, it’s great to be tenured!”

    “Hey Les, I see that ‘Batton’s Comix Calamity Vol. 1’ outsold ‘Laura’s Story’ on the NYT Bestseller’s List again this month! Oh, her name was Lisa? Whatever, I ain’t got time to do research when there’s pizza and bowling.”

  14. Professor Fate

    Okay – “The famous Comic Strip creator” Aside from being almost as annoying a tag line as “My father, John Darling, who was murdered” it tells us exactly nothing about this guy. What comic strip did he create? You don’t call Charles Shultz the famous comic strip creator — he’s the creator of Peanuts. It is another example of the author’s failure to provide details that are important while going into mind numbing detail about a decoder ring. And oh yes – this could be read that he is the creator of the comic strip. And while seems the author does have an ego problem – I don’t think he thinks this is the case.

    • hitorque

      I don’t remember if his strip has a name, but as we learned during his infamous “lecture” to Les Moore’s English III class, Batton’s famous comic strip is (you guessed it) centered around the wacky antics of some high school character archetypes in small-town middle America…

    • Mr. A

      We learned in Batton’s first appearance that his strip is called Three O’Clock High (which is what Batiuk wanted to call FW before the syndicate nixed that idea).

      • Professor Fate

        I can see why the syndicate nixed it – Three O’Clock high sounds a) like a drug refence or something out of a World War Two movie “Zeros! Three O’clock high!”
        Of course he seems unable to let go any slight. It’s got to be exhausting dragging around all that angry baggage.

        • Hitorque

          Hell, they did him a favor… Can you imagine a strip called “Three o’clock High” that hasn’t had a proper storyline centered around high school students for YEARS?

          Hell, I don’t even know the last storyline involving any character younger than 35, besides Marianne Winters, and I don’t count one-dimensional background props like Adela, Cory, Rocky, or the goldigging blonde trophy bimbette engaged to Pete