- assuming power or authority without justification; arrogant and domineering.
So I suppose that a Rexall pharmacy COULD be “imperious”, I guess. Once again I know exactly what he was going for here but once again it doesn’t make it any less baffling. “My grandparents lived in Akron and there was a Rexall two blocks away”…how hard was that?
“Holy temple”…”sacred texts”…OK sure Thom, whatever you say. Once again we see BatYam venerating the most mundane aspects of things he loves the most, just like last week. I mean I remember where I bought my first copy of “Love Gun” but you don’t see me getting all nostalgic over going to Crazy Eddie‘s. It’s where they sold the records. The store was the facilitator, a means to an end, not the primary focus. Of course I liked going there, as it was where I’d buy the stuff I liked.
But it’s never that easy for Westviewians. They can’t just buy pizza, they have to immerse themselves within a whole complicated pizzeria experience full of old jukeboxes and whimsical band boxes with colorful local characters exchanging wry banter all over the place. And they can’t just buy a comic book, they have to enter a fantastical nostalgic dream world full of holy scriptures and clandestine attic forts full of milk and cookies. They just have to complicate everything, no matter how dumb it is. No wonder they’re all so grumpy.
60 responses to “Akron Zip”
“Imperious Rex!” is something Stan Lee would say sometimes in his editorials, and sometimes his characters would say it too. That’s the whole reason for today’s episode.
You know, I Googled it but to be honest I quickly lost interest. You learn more from a SoSF comment than you do from FW itself. He might have mentioned Stan Lee in the strip but of course that would have drawn the focus away from 1950s nostalgia and we can’t have that.
Yeah, it was specifically Prince Namor the Sub-Mariner’s catchphrase in his Silver Age solo series, as he stood there declaring himself King of the Seas or some such. Sure it is hokey, but it was considerably better than when he’d exclaim “Sufferin’ shad!” or “Holy haddock!” back in the ’40s and ’50s.
Imagine building an entire opening to (yet another) flashback sequence around such a flimsy in-joke. Now there’ll be two or three more days, I supposed, of young Batton messing up the druggist’s magazine display as he paws through his 12-cent treasures before making his purchase, while Skunky sits there in awe. Sufferin’ shad!
Namor would also say “chuckling clams!” from time to time. (And, remember, Kids, “Namor” spelled backwards is “Roman.”)
I’m pretty sure ***IMPERIOUS REX*** was one of the Transformers?
I can assure you…he was not. Though Liege Maximo was. And Emirate Xaaron.
And a dinosaur named T-Wrecks.
Transformer names are all over the place in tone and complexity.
It’s like a cult, isn’t it?
The Komix Kult, of course.
Like you pointed out Epicus, the weird ceremonial aspect of everything is super creepy. Everything is fetishized.
Next week, Batton Thomas goes to the forest to commune with the trees, because they will someday become the newsprint that comic books are printed on.
This is, as far as I can recall, Batton Thomas’s fourth appearance. Less than a month of “screen time” under his belt, and he’s already a cliché.
…OK, I admit it. I feel bad about picking on this strip. We should all have a right to wax nostalgic about our childhood. Why not leave the old man to his memories? He’s not hurting anyone.
But I agree that the “imperious Rexall” pun is garbage.
Too much waxing, not nearly enough waning, that’s the problem. That and the fact that every comic book fan in town has the exact same comic book memories.
Why not leave the old man to his memories? Because he’s being paid to do something else! He is supposed to be producing material that entertains newspaper readers. Every other content creator on earth is required to meet some kind of quality standards, even if it’s just for likes and subscribers. Not this guy, apparently.
A stand-up comedian who delivered this kind of material would be booed off the stage within three minutes. Yes, some comedians do talk about their own lives, like Ron White and Bert Kriescher. They make it work because their stories are relatable, and/or entertaining as hell. And they have a certain artistry in how they tell them. They construct the story in a way that is efficient without being obvious, and has frequent punchlines. Batiuk drones on for weeks about irrelevant details, and tries to get laughs from obscure trivia. (That imperious rex joke sailed waaaaaaaaaay over my head.)
Just exactly right, Banana Jr. 6000. Newspaper comic strips are a mass medium, not a fanzine for making obscure puns about your personal experiences with obscure media. And yes, Silver Age Sub-Mariner is obscure to the vast majority of Batiuk’s readers.
If this were in one of the many online fanzines or blogs devoted to tiny slivers of pop culture, I wouldn’t criticize it. And, I should note, he wouldn’t be getting paid for it, because people who do work that’s purely focused on their own little inner world, keeping it inaccessible to 99.9% of the rest of us, generally don’t make money on it.
He’s getting it both ways. He’s doing “Welcome to my WordPress Blog where I reminisce about my Akron childhood” -level work, but making syndicated cartoonist money. He’s cheating, he’s coasting, and he sucks.
“Sacred texts.” Fuck off, Batwad.
There is truly something unsettling about the salvific power he attributes to comics and the consequent adoration he pays to them and any place tangentially associated with them. The cult of comics is all-consuming. Episodes of active play never seem to be part of the kid and preteen world he describes. Didn’t he ride a bike, run around with neighborhood kids playing army, the Lone Ranger and Tonto, Cops and Robbers or maybe catch or pickup baseball or touch football? Did he build plastic models? It’s just really weird and unrelatable for me. (Full disclosure – I think my nonathletic Boomer nerd credentials are pretty strong. In sports I was usually one of the last kids picked. And I was a voracious reader, first of comic books, then progressively the Hardy Boys, Sherlock Holmes, the works of Jules Verne and on to Tolkien.)
Sorry for the rant but I really just can’t identify with the claustrophobic kid world he conjures.
Batiuk’s nostalgia trips never have any other children present, or even any adults. He’s always by himself. Maybe that’s a typical childhood for a bookish only child, but Batiuk acts like every single aspect of his own life is universal.
I don’t relate to today’s comic strip, even though I should. I remember going to my own “imperious Rexall” to buy baseball cards when I was 7 or 8. It wasn’t a temple. They weren’t holy texts. It was a crappy convenience store, and the cards were one of many small pleasures you have when you’re a kid. You know what I remember? My dad or my mom took me. And my little brother went with me, and he also got a toy car, which was his thing.
Batiuk has no interest in anyone but himself, or anything but what he wants. He’s the kind of kid you don’t invite over because he just wants to do the same thing every time.
As a bookish only child, I can assure you that it wasn’t my experience and I don’t think what he describes is typical of an only child’s experience.
You know what rings true of my childhood? Your experience that getting baseball cards at 7 or 8 being “ one of many small pleasures you have when you’re a kid.”
What TomBa describes is a kid with an obsession.
Wow. Someone call the Guinness people. We have a new record for just how far someone will go for word play.
A big problem with this joke is that practically no one will get it. Heck, I didn’t get it at first and I count myself a Sub-Mariner fan. If Marie Severin had used it in “Not Brand Ecch” in 1968 (by having Subby seek the closest Imperious Rexall for a cure for landsickness or some such) it would have worked because the readers would have been familiar with Namor and his catchphrase. That isn’t the case here. Instead, its more likely to leave readers scratching their heads over how being imperious ties in with the religious imagery that follows.
I’m absolutely certain he’s been nursing this joke since 1961, waiting to spring it on an unsuspecting world and then bask in the accolades.
Whatever one can say about “Not Brand Ecch,” it was written for the audience and intended to entertain them.
This strip is just purely navel-gazing. We are not invited into Batiuk’s world to experience the universal emotions of childhood (cf. the work of Lynda Barry, for example). Instead, we are allowed to gaze at his supreme devotion and admire it, even if we cannot comprehend its depth, the way an illiterate medieval peasant toiling in the fields would admire from afar a monk who spends his day copying sacred texts and worshipping God.
Oh. So we get another iteration of “mothers are stupid and bad because they hate comix” theme. Perhaps Mrs Thomas will stab the comic out of irrational spite and refusal to admit that she should feed a smug and entitled slacker milk and cookies while he ignores the fact that she’s worried that he won’t go anywhere in life.
“Hey, what’s Funky Winkerbean all about?”
“Well, it’s basically a bunch of imperious assholes who drone on about the most eye-roll-inducing shit while punchable douchebags sit there listening and smirking. Oh, and cancer.”
Oh no! Brown Street Rexall Drugs in Akron Ohio, batten (pun intended) your hatches. There’s going to be a pilgrimage of Batiuk fans marching to your door. Both of them.
Seriously, I know Rexall Drugs is defunct. The location is most likely a Dollar General store now.
Looks like it’s a Soul Food restaurant now. Seriously. 1098 Brown St. Akron Ohio. Google Maps it. Panel 3 is a decent enough rendering of the façade of the building.
Sorry. That’s 1094.
Great research, CBH! Thanks for filling in another piece n the puzzle.
Wow. Good eye. That is the place. You did a lot more research than I did. How did you find the place?
I just did a quick web search that revealed Dollar General sells Rexall brand items. Dollar General stores are a dime-a-dozen in Akron. I just made the assumption.
I basically drove down Brown St via google street view until I saw it. Was much more interesting than the strip itself.
Omg! Brown Street….I lived near there when I was in college….wow!
If you check BattyBlog, you will see posts about this. He has been showing some of these bits in his posts.
Howdy again, neighbor. I’m a U of A grad too. Bachelor’s degree from U of A, I also have an Associates degree from Kent State.
True story. When I was a Freshman at Kent State the course catalog was teeming with dozens of Funky Winkerbean comic strips. That was back in the days when Batiuk knew his limitations.
Small world. I worked one summer on campus at KSU helping to renovate a dorm. I recall seeing paintings/ murals around campus that featured FW characters. They were fine, because like you said, back then the strip wasn’t so annoying.
Holy temple? Sacred texts?
Dear God, I think the idiot prays to his comic books.
Hmm…when I was a young man in the early 80’s my highlight of driving to Akron from a neighboring rural township oddly had a Brown Street connection too.
In my time Brown Street wasn’t in the nicest of areas and my only reason for going there was a seedy dance place called the “Back Bar” where you entered with hopes, dreams and a wallet full of singles. You left empty handed and if luck was on your side you didn’t get rolled in the parking area.
Heh heh, I used to go to a place like that on Brown Street. But I thought the Back Bar was on North Main in the North Hill area.
You know Rusty, you are correct. In my pre-coffee state this morning I had them confused. I’ve racked my brain all day and for the life of me can’t recall the name of that place on Brown. That dark and dank parking alcove there I recall quite well.
“The Imperious Rexall…A holy temple where the sacred texts were kept.”
Someone please nominate TomBa for this year’s Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest!
Comparing a corner drugstore where multiple copies of mass-produced pulp materials could be purchased for 10 or 12 cents each to a revered place of pilgrimage housing unique manuscripts handled only by a designated few has to rank up there on the overblown hyperbole scale.
Again? I already nominated him for “The Flash #123 impacted my still-developing twelve-year-old brain like a meteor… it was an immortal wound!”
Multiple entries are allowed. Although if he were to win would he retire and cause the end of this online community? I definitely wouldn’t want unintended outcome that to happen.
I’m afraid the Bulwer-Lytton doesn’t accept previously published work. But Adam Cadre’s “Lyttle Lytton” contest does.
I like comic books just fine. As a teen I was super into them, though I favored the Dark Edgy Late-80s books as I pretended to be a Dark Edgy Late-80s Teen. I now buy big old bound volumes of Tintin and Buck Rogers and whatever, and continue to enjoy them! But… sacred texts? Holy hell. They were pulp mags for children.
And it’s that lack of perspective that baffles and saddens me about Batiuk’s veneration of old media. I’d bet a shiny nickel that most-to-all of us Beady Eyed Nitpickers here like old comics and might spare a nostalgic chuckle for Radio Ranch, even, but we also get that time moves on, pop cultural tastes change, and we understand that just because we liked something as kids and can hold it warmly in our hearts doesn’t mean that it was objectively, y’know, good, or that everybody we’ve ever met should like it as much as we do. Half of these Comix Comix Comix stories could be made interesting if they showed, say, the realities of the day to day grind, trying to keep up with the major publishers and strong indie books amid constantly sinking print sales and changing reader tastes. Instead, it’s falling over to make sure we all know that old stuff is great because it’s old. It’s so shallow. He’s capable of better, he just… doesn’t have any incentive to do better.
I liked comic books when I was younger, and I remember them fondly. I wouldn’t mind re-reading them, but I’m not seeking them out. Nor do I imbue them with anything other than entertainment value.
The problem is that the creatures that live in Nostalgia are fragile, and do not often survive when they move to new lands.
Oh, my lord, the Funkyblog:
I’m at the moment writing a story where the action takes place at the Palm Restaurant in New York City… The last time I was there, I sat at this table with executives from King Features following the signing of a new contract surrounded by the drawings of every cartoon character imaginable, including a certain Funky Winkerbean.
So who’s getting a publishing contract this time?
I saw this too, I guarantee it’ll be something so stupid it’ll defy belief. Maybe Funky will try to open a location in NYC and…oh, wait. It’s been done .
And he’s made yet another pleasure trip he can write off his taxes. To take pictures of a real-world location he’ll get completely wrong in the strip.
“And he’s made yet another pleasure trip he can write off his taxes. To take pictures of a real-world location he’ll get completely wrong in the strip.”
If only he had done that. Apparently all of his research was done online. The picture with the bare walls come from a 2019 article explaining that the restaurant was moving to a new location and that moving the artwork wasn’t feasible.
Thanks for the correction. Apparently I made an unwarranted assumption.
The strips where Mason Jarre wined and dined Les at Chateau Marmont were not only from a web source, they were from the first row of photos that appears when you do a Google image search for “Chateau Marmont Restaurant.” I think it was one of the top 3 results. It was very obvious, yet he claimed that he’d done a trip to LA for “research.” I hope he gets the IRS audit he deserves.
It was a valid assumption based on his sojourn to Southern California. It’s probably only COVID that prevented this vacation, oops, research trip to NYC.
A little inept artwork note here. That bicycle outside the drugstore, with the back wheel hovering in the air. Really, Ayers, is it so difficult to draw a bike with both wheels on the ground?
I think there’s a kickstand there, which would account for that. Doesn’t explain why the rear wheel is smaller than the front.
As a comic reading kid in the 60s and early 70s I remember my pals and I reading lots of stuff besides Marvel. Our favorites were the Carl Barks duck comics (though of course we didn’t know who Barks was, just that there was one really good Disney duck cartoonist!). Barks comics were constantly reprinted. We also read all of the Harvey titles, Archie, Mad Magazines (the older the better), and others. Yeah kids read superhero stuff of course but that was just part of it.
Had a sneaking liking for the Archie superheroes The Fly mostly. It wasn’t really very good but I liked it and I think because nobody else was reading it made it a bit special to me. Anyway yes we read all sorts of stuff.
The most ardent fan, standing in line in full costumed regalia at ComicCon, for an autograph from the script girl from Battle Beyond the Stars, is thinking: This guy really needs a life.
Okay. I’ve finally put my finger on what’s so damned creepy about this seemingly innocent obsession with childhood nostalgia.
Imagine you were chatting with an acquaintance at a backyard BBQ and he said, “You know, when I was 8 I thought the height of success would be having a metallic blue Schwinn banana-seat bike with tassels on the handlebars. Boy, I used to look at ads for those and salivate! I was sure one of those would make my life complete!”
You’d probably say, “Oh, yeah! I remember those. My best friend had one and I was so jealous! We used to race up and down the sidewalk and have a ball.” And you’d smile, thinking of your happy childhood times.
But what if he then said, “Your friend did what? Rode it on the sidewalk? That probably scuffed it up! Now look at mine!” And he rolled out a mint, freshly polished 1964 Schwinn and smirked, “I’ve finally made it. FINALLY made it. Look at this beauty!” And then he perched his large posterior on the banana seat, knees at his chin, and pedaled once or twice, propelling him across the patio. And he called back to you, “SEE? FITS ME LIKE A GLOVE! EAT MY DUST!”
And then someone tried to touch the bike and he said, “No! It’s MINT!” and grabbed it away. And you realized….
This man still believes that having a Schwinn banana-seat bike is the height of success. Even with a job, a house, a wife, children, and middle age receding in the rear-view mirror, he finds no happiness or satisfaction in anything that happened after 1964. He is doomed to spend his whole life trying to recapture his childhood even as it gets further and further away. Adult life holds no interest for him and he can’t imagine it holding any interest for anyone else, either.
You would be horrified. You would be frightened, even.
Batton/Batiuk clearly STILL believes that comix are the sacred texts. This is not an indulgent trip to childhood for him. This is reciting the holy canon of his religion. It’s not fun. It’s serious.
That’s the difference between fun nostalgia and creepy, stunted man-child horror-movie vibes.
As usual, you are super on-point. Batiuk is too narrowly obsessed with comic books (but only the ones he likes), and unable to leave anything in the past. It’s almost like he’s trying to convert other people to his way of thinking. We joke about Dead Lisa being a religion in Westview, but Batiuk himself uses the phrases “holy temple” and “sacred texts” to describe a drug store and comic books. Yeesh. Back away slowly.
As a fan (I’ll admit it ) of Prince Namor I can only say fuck off Tom.
As others have noted his making a fetish out of the building he would buy comics is flat out weird (I’d suggest he’s being mildly sarcastic about his younger self with the holy texts line but that would require a sense of humor about one’s self, something the author has yet to show). He is all about the worship of process and gimcracks but not the actual thing (as for example we have yet to see a single Starbuck Jones story but at least two arcs centered around the decoder ring) – it, since he used to term holy, is like someone who attends a church and obsesses about the number of candles used, the placement and type of flowers, and the choice of hymns (and they make sure to sing loudly so all know they are there) and gets their nose seriously out of joint if anything is, in their view, wrong. One could comfortably argue that they were badly missing the point of the exercise.
Which I would also argue so does the author with these nostalgia wallows.
I remember when i was a kid I got comics from a corner stationary store -Carnel’s if I remember correctly – it was a dump with the comics being sold on a wire rack that spun around and they were jammed in any which way so you had to hunt for them. They also seemed to specialize in selling every other issue (or maybe I was just slow) so I missed the end or beginning of a lot of stories something I still remember with some annoyance.
Put simply the books and the stories were the point for me, not where I got them, and when a comic book store opened in town I stopped going to Carnels without a second’s thought.
Again Tom can go and fuck himself
This strip is a million times better if you imagine DSH John as the owner of an adult movie store, and Batton is telling him the first time he shoplifted a “Playboy” magazine and gazed at the wonderful world of mystery and forbidden sacred knowledge for the very first time…
“My blood runs cold! My memory has just been sold!”