Wow, what a miserable pratfall of a gag. “Comic book store owners are shitty businessmen and total imbeciles”…that’s what I got out of this peculiar little arc. BatYam’s real-life comic book store must love it when he meanders by for a visit. Maybe they’ll tape this strip to the wall behind the cash register. You know, ironically. Get it?
Coming next week: Les’ annual cancer screening ends with Les sneering “even I could have gotten into oncology school” as his doctor inexplicably smirks.
31 responses to “Deere, John”
Guh — buh — you just said how amazed you are that comic books stores exist! Now you’re insulting the guy who opened one?
Guh, indeed. Turing Test Fail. This one has a late-stage Apartment 3G vibe to it.
This would have passed the Turing Test:
That’s a combination of the Tuesday and Saturday strips. I didn’t change a word or a pixel, except to merge the two strips. John’s line “comic book shops may not be long for this world” makes a lot more sense as a response to Batton’s gushing how happy he is that they exist. And that flows naturally into John talking about his future business plans.
Coherent and amusing. It may pass the Turing test but it definitely wouldn’t pass the TomBa test.
Is this an attempt…at being funny? Like, wacky, odd humor?
I mean, it doesn’t work at all, but I applaud the effort. With golf claps.
I have to admit I don’t dislike Gross John’s look of apparent smug satisfaction with his plan in panel two, where he tilts his head back and closes his eyes as if he’s a genius, all for it to go in the dumper in panel 3.
So, Batiuk, I recommend every single strip from here on out be some rando coming into the strip and calling one of your central characters a dumbass. Extra points if your central character is really smuggy.
I’m glad you found the joke that TomBa was trying to make. Without your headline the exchange between Batton and DSH would have been totally inexplicable to me.
The joke also makes sense when you look at Dead Skunkhead’s unmowed scalp.
Batton Thomas’ Original Panel Three Dialogue: “Lawn mowers, eh? Makes perfect sense, since your head looks like it’s topped by a shock of crabgrass!”
But, Skunky, what witty way can you come up with to misspell your new store’s product? Laun Mower Korner? Law-in Mower Korner? Larry, Curly and Moe-ers R Us? Does he realize that most lawn equipment businesses don’t simply sell mowers, but also repair them? Has he ever done ANYTHING mechanical or even lawnwork-related? Or does he just think he’s being oh-so-clever with his pronouncement on panel two that nothing else matters? And just wait until he finds out what mowers sold for in 1962!
Batton shouldn’t be so dismissive, after all The Lawnmower Man was published by Marvel in Bizarre Adventures 40 years ago.
Between this strip and yesterday’s strip, Batiuk has presented us with “symmetrical” punchlines. But the situations aren’t symmetrical at all. “I’m a bad businessman because, when I was a literal child, I failed to recognize that one piece of disposable pop-culture ephemera among thousands would be worth a million dollars if I sealed it in an envelope and kept it for sixty years. You’re a bad businessman because you think that comic books and lawn mowers are complementary products.” In other words, Batton is allowed to have a “flaw” that isn’t really a flaw at all, while DSH John isn’t. It’s not a good look.
Since this is now Batton Thomas’ fourth appearance, I don’t think he can be dismissed as a novelty one-off character, an author-insert easter egg, as it is.
So what’s the point of this character? What’s his role going to be moving forward, seeing as how he’s managed to rocket up the charts to where he’s had as many or more sequences focused on him in the last two years than several characters have who’ve been in the strip for years.
I think this may be the start of a total Cerebus-type break. Seriously, Batiuk can’t have this guy’s entire repertoire be that he shows up at Gross John’s shop two to three times a year and says something like “Comic books are really special! Let me tell you a boring story about my childhood and comic books!”
Instead, I think he’s increasingly going to be put into different situations where he presents Batiuk with the opportunity to talk about how great he thinks he (Batiuk) is. He’ll also plug things he loves at the same time. Here’s a few condensed versions:
Funky: “Why, it’s world famous cartoonist who created Three O’Clock High, Batton Thomas! What brings?”
Batton: “I came for your fabulous pizza here at Montoni’s, Funky! Nowhere else on earth can compare!”
Funky: “That’s the thing, we were thinking of changing our ingredients, what with prices these days and all.”
Batton: “YOU CAN’T DO THAT! Montoni’s is the most wonderful place on earth and makes the best pizza anywhere on the planet! You might as well ask the pope to stop being Catholic to go with this blasphemy!”
Dinkle: “Why, it’s the world famous cartoonist who created Three O’Clock High, Batton Thomas! To what do I owe this pleasure?”
Batton: “Hello, Harry L. Dinkle! World famous band director who is also the greatest band director in the world! I came to bask in your glory!”
Dinkle: (smug satisfaction) “Bask away, my friend!”
Batton: “Thank you. I am in awe to be in the presence of such greatness! What is the best way to bask?”
Les: “Why, it’s the world famous cartoonist who created Three O’Clock High, Batton Thomas! I’d say it’s nice to see you, but that’s too gracious and friendly of me. So I’ll make some asshole joke instead.”
Batton: “Les Moore! Brilliant, Personable and Award-Winning Author of Lisa’s Story and the Lisa Series of Books dealing with Lisa and Lisa’s trials! Not since Ctrl-Alt-Delete has there been a more touching story about tragic loss! Truly the best, most impactful most REAL comic strip in the entire history of the world!”
Les: “But Lisa’s Story wasn’t a comic strip.”
Batton: (Knowingly smirking at the audience, turned away from Les in a fashion that makes no dramatic sense whatsoever) “Oh, I don’t know about that!”
1. This is the part when John reminds Batton that he’s running a business and asks him if he’s actually going to buy something.
1a. It’s clear that Batton is an anti-social widower with kids who moved thousands of miles away and absolutely zero friends or contemporaries in his life to talk to; so diving into the pool of sepia toned nostalgia with John at Komixxx Korner is his only outlet with the outside world…
1b. And if you remember Batton’s disastrous lecture to Les’ journalism class, it’s easy to see why nobody wants to converse with this clown except for a bored shopkeeper on a slow business day.
2. Just like Funkensteiger’s stand-up comedy routine at the AA meeting, it’s impossible to tell when John is being serious or facetious because the punchline is so bad and incompatible with his physical expression…
2a. The sad part is I sort of wish he did start selling lawnmowers because at least then something interesting and potentially funny would happen in Westview (And Batiuk in his Act I days would have absolutely carried this silly idea all the way to the end zone)… The only problem is these days Batiuk can’t ever let his characters fail at anything anymore, so instead of a massive faceplant we all know John would become the biggest wholesaler of mowers in the state of Ohio overnight….
I’d love to see the lawnmowers being delivered by wholesalers, and taken away by buyers, up and down those rickety, pizza-grease-slathered stairs. The potential for comedy is there.
[Les, after buying a used mower, tumbles down the slippery, narrow stairs, being slashed by the lawnmower blades all the way down. Funky, watching from the sidewalk: “Les, you’re a real cut-up!” Nobody calls an ambulance.]
[A customer in the shop starts up a mower to test it. The RRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR of the motor is overheard by Wally, downstairs at Montoni’s. He has a PTSD-induced psychotic break and shoots up the place.]
[Becky comes by to visit DSH John, but a runaway mower chops off her other arm. “‘Tis but a flesh wound!” she jokes cheerfully. “Can someone give me a hand with pinning up my other sleeve?” DSH John picks up her severed arm and waves it in her face. “Okay, here’s a hand!” All smirk.]
[A cop shows up and tickets Les for blocking a fire exit*, littering**, loitering***, vandalism**** and disturbing the peace*****
* He’s just lying there with the lawn mower, blocking the stairs.
** The mower is still just lying there
***Les is still just lying there, too.
**** Ever try to get bloodstains out of concrete?
***** His death-rattle is pleasing, yet excessively loud]
“Hey, isn’t that Les Moore? He was my English teacher in high school! All the fines are doubled.”
Pretty soon I expect Batton Thomas to start talking directly to the reader, Mallard Fillmore style.
But. But we’ve seen multiple times kids hanging out at the Komix Korner to play games. Are you saying that DSH wasn’t ALREADY selling the typical DnD, Magic, Pokemon, and Warhammer fare that Comic Shops generally sell alongside the funny pages? I honestly see more game shops that DON’T carry comics than comic shops that don’t carry games.
The only way to read this strip is to imagine that John’s response is sarcastic, and Batton is just unable to detect it.
Based on this week’s strips I propose an experiment. On Wednesday, I will go to my local shop and tell the owner “I never bought Elektra’s first appearance in Daredevil. God, are you ever stupid. Funny looking, too. And don’t get me started on your skank of a mother! Well, see you next week.”
The object of the experiment will be to learn which object on the counter will be hurled with great force at the back of my head as I exit.
I only hope it’s not the Stan Lee Omnibus. That sucker could do some damage.
Yes! Brilliant move. Because lawnmowers are nearly impossible to find.
Often, lately, I find Batiuk’s setups/punchlines resemble a twisted version of MAD’s “Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions.” He can’t quite grasp the concept, so it’s more like “Incoherent Answers to Boring Questions.”
Back in Act I, he was perfectly competent at setups and punchlines. What the hell happened?
Only his are a lot less funnier than those in MAD Magazine
Just curious. How are comic book stores doing these days?
When I was into Model Railroading, hobby shops were all closing and things moved online. I didn’t mind but old timers (model railroad Battys) lamented the loss of the stores and the community surrounding them. I found the online community to be very helpful and much more diverse than my local hobby shop group.
Have things in the comic book world shifted to online? That has to be a trend Batty despises.
Hobby stores like comic books, model railroading, and trading cards really should be online nowadays. The internet removes geography as a restriction on the size of each hobby community, and creates an efficient, nearly infinite market of products anyone can buy or sell.
Brick and mortar stores of these types still exist, but I have no idea how. The overhead must be crippling. And it must be challenging to stock what customers want to buy.
One thing I miss about brick-and-mortar stores: the ability to browse in broader areas. Many times in a book or record store, I’ve come across something interesting that I was not expecting to find, because it’s a subject matter, band or genre that I’ve never heard of before.
It’s really difficult to make discoveries in online stores, because they are basically catering to what you already know.
Good point. With online recommendations you are limited to what the store’s algorithm recommends based on what it knows about your searches and past purchases.
I find it much easier to sample new things online than in person. You can easily find excerpts of things without having to bother a store employee. Online recommendation algorithms are flawed, yes, but they don’t have to be right all the time. YouTube has turned me on to so much music I never would have imagined enjoying if it hadn’t been suggested to me.
For music that’s true, it I think that there’s a lot to be said for the serendipitous discoveries made browsing the aisles of a bookstore.
Today’s strip is another example of a characters responding to something that the other character didn’t say.
John said “I’m considering expanding into other things.” Not “I’m considering expanding the store.” It sounds like he wants to do lawn mowers as an unrelated second business, not add them to the comic book store. But Batton’s response make no sense if he’s not assuming the latter. Lawn mowers are a perfectly viable product, and there’s no reason to insult John for being interested in them. Especially when we don’t know any more details than that.
Good point. He could be really creative and dress someone up as Edward Scissorhands as the mascot for both stores. (Ignoring any copyright issues).