Hey COVID Nineteen

Link To This One

Oooo-fa. BatYam swings, BatYam misses. Just an awful, illogical, stupid gag, delivered poorly by the most detestable character in the history of fiction…what’s not to hate here? This week reads like he suddenly realized he’d better crank out a few more pandemic gags even though he had nothing prepared, which is obviously par for the FW course. But man oh man do these jokes suck wet limp tool, even by FW’s abysmally low standards.

From the BatBlog: “A question I get asked a lot, and I mean A LOT, is why I didn’t do a time-jump in my Crankshaft strip at the same time as Funky.”

Define “a lot”, as I refuse to believe that ANYONE has ever actually asked that question EVEN ONCE. If there’s someone out there that actually pondered this question (let alone asked it) please, by all means tell us about it in detail. We’ll even send you a prize of some kind. Not a good one, but nonetheless.


Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

80 responses to “Hey COVID Nineteen

  1. Banana Jr. 6000

    Today’s comic strip is so wrong it’s offensive. Any newspaper that printed this garbage should be ashamed of itself.

    • Epicus Doomus

      How many nineteen year olds are still in high school? It’s a major reach for such a tiny payoff. I put more thought into the post tags than he puts into gags like this. Just dismal.

  2. The Duck of Death

    I had a thought. A terrible thought, but I know none of you here will judge me.

    What if Batiuk has decided he’ll finally win that Pulitzer by having the first COVID death in the comics?

    • none

      Of course it could yet come but we’re now about what, four to six months in from his lead time on when the pandemic started?

      A normal-thinking person in his position would have used the first AA meeting to have someone contract it and initially blame it on Funky’s useless interminable yammering about nothing as a wonderfully smirkable joke (“It wasn’t the booze or your tall tales that got me, Funkster”, he says with a smirk, then turns away and nods off forever) and there’s been ample opportunity otherwise.

      if anything, he’s managed to show some kind of restraint, if only accidentally so.

    • Hitorque

      Please…. The most we can hope for this Covid storyline is Pete getting an inspiration to create a Covid-fighting comic superhero…

    • Charles

      I think Batiuk’s too entrenched in his ways to kill one of his main characters this way. It’d disrupt his strip too much and would probably foreclose stories or at least storylines that he’d want to tell. (Think how many random dumb sequences we’d miss out on if he killed Funky, for instance)

      But if he kills someone no one gives a shit about, like Lumpy Black Guy, nobody gives a shit so it doesn’t have any significance. If nobody cares about the character, nobody’s going to kill if he eats it. I think Batiuk’s got barely enough awareness to understand this.

      That said, there’s one character that he might try it with that would resolve both the significant impact while not having a major impact on the strip’s long term direction, and I’ve mentioned it before.

      He kills Skyler with Covid. It’s pretty obvious that he has no idea what to do with Skyler, so he stashes him off-panel with his grandmother. And thus his parents can behave like a childless couple. In fact, many of the strips featuring Dopey and his dipshit wife make them seem like a childless couple. They seem to forget easily the role their child would be playing in their family. And they’re hardly ever shown with him. Neither Dopey nor Jessica mention him all that much, even when they do talk about each other to a third party (which would tend to them bringing up their child, but they never do so). I really do think that at this point Batiuk would prefer them as a childless couple.

      And oh, it would be so tragic. Imagine how much sympathy Batiuk would think he could bring to his youngest author avatar Dopey and his stupid wife. Imagine how many serious issues he could touch on but never actually confront. He’s got enough unearned confidence in his writing that he just might think he’s up to it.

      The problem, of course, would be that he wouldn’t think much about it and its implications. So not only would it be extraordinarily crass for him to kill a child in order to call obvious attention to himself, he’d also fuck it up. After three months have passed since poor Skyler drowned in a sea of his own phlegm, Dopey and his dumb wife are right back where they were before the whole thing started, with him writing her love letters and her getting stupidly jealous over things she misheard. They wouldn’t act like parents who lost a child in the least.

      So anyway, 20-80 yes/no I say, mostly governed by how willing Batiuk is to take on a storyline that requires a modest amount of thought and planning, even to botch it as badly as he undoubtedly would.

  3. J.J. O'Malley

    So, if COVID is still such a problem in the Funkyverse, why is nobody wearing a mask?

    • Cabbage Jack

      In Worstview dying from Covid is the only way avoid dying from cancer.

    • J.J. O'Malley

      I hate responding to myself (I never listen to a thing I say), but I forgot a few items:

      1.) So now Battyuk is having his characters stealing “punchlines” from former U.S. presidents about the origin of the COVID-19 designation? It was discovered in 2019, you bearded putz! You’re not even making a “Dad joke”; you’re making a “Don joke”!

      2. If the school and faculty are so concerned about the pandemic, shouldn’t Lester be talking to his homeroom class instead of just the five people apparently still working in the campus TV newsroom?

      3. “Because of all the risk factors associated with your age group”…you know, like unmasked adults talking to you in close quarters. Stop doing it.

  4. Sourbelly

    God…Dammit this strip sucks!
    Panel 1: It looks like Voldemoore is wearing the shattered remnants of a Jacksonville Jaguars helmet on his skull. That’s not a hairline any human being has ever sported.
    Panel 2: Again with that infuriating hand gesture. Does it represent Batboy’s quarter light year from reality?
    Panel 3: None of your students are 19 years old. Or maybe the are, if your school district is filled with hack teachers like you. Anyway, that age group isn’t…never mind.

    • Epicus Doomus

      When I first saw this one I thought that maybe I was missing the joke or something, as that has been known to happen here and there. This one is so stupid it has to rate as one of the twenty worst FW gags of the Act III era and maybe even the bottom ten. The thought process at work here is downright alarming, in a “someone might need to step in here” kind of way.

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        Les is just so punchably smug. He always looks like he’s talking down to you, even when he’s spewing complete misinformation like he is today.

    • William Thompson

      The gestures, the body language, the facial expressions–they all make Les look like he’s telling a scary story around a campfire. Tomorrow it’s “Whooooo got the ‘ronnaaaa? Whoooooo got the ‘ronnnaaaa?” (creepy pause, then Les jumps) “YOU GOT IT!” And he dies laughing.

    • Panel 2: Again with that infuriating hand gesture. Does it represent Batboy’s quarter light year from reality?

      Thanks for picking up on that, @Sourbelly! A lot of FW’s characters make this weird, squinchy hand gesture when they speak. I think it’s time to add a new post tag: “quarter inch pinch.”

  5. The Duck of Death

    No, it’s not called COVID-19 “for nothing.” It’s called COVID-19 because it was first observed in 2019.

    I hate you, Les.

    • William Thompson

      Les thinks the Covid Nineteen are a group of Sixties radicals. He doesn’t know if they were on the right or left, but he feels very passionate about whatever it was they did and he won’t let these ignorant kids ignore his feelings.

      • Anonymous Sparrow

        Not to be confused with the Secaucus Seven or the Chicago Eight.

        Or the Gang of Four.

        Or the Faultless Four (threw that one in for Batton Thomas, who kveiled when Sieur Satan appeared in an *All-Star Squadron* story, I’m sure).

  6. Banana Jr. 6000

    Lisa’s death is a tragedy. A million deaths from COVID is a punchline.

    • none

      Newspaper readers across the country: “Huh, why is this strip acting like COVID is new? Weird. Anyway…”
      Newspaper editors across the country: “Yup, everything came in on time and I haven’t really changed anything in the past twenty years or so. Cool. Tee time!”
      The Author: “Ah, my paycheck cleared! Hooray!”
      The rest of us: *screaming into an empty void that echoes when brick walls are punched with fists*

  7. billytheskink

    Yes, Les is less likely to transmit COVID than his students, but that really should be nothing for him to brag about. No one was willing to get within 6 feet of him before the pandemic either.

  8. erdmann

    Sweet Christmas! There is so much wrong here and I’m not just talking about Les’ strangely-drawn hand in panel 2. No masks, no social distancing, no humor, just bad taste and Les distributing misinformation to his students.
    The only thing right is the look of dismay on the one girl’s face in panel 3. She knew she should’ve opted for remote learning.

  9. William Thompson

    Now I want to see how Batiuk handles the Great Toilet Paper shortage. That one is right up his alley.

    • none

      It’s not as much up this strip’s alley as it is Marvin or Pluggers, and the fact that I can’t recall a single day or week of either of those feces obsessed strips revolving around the panic means that I did a suitable job of ignoring them. This is not an invitation for this strip to sink to the occasion.

    • The Duck of Death

      Crankshaft already did the Great Toilet Paper Shortage arc, and it was just as shockingly unfunny as you’d imagine. It was actually funnier to see it happening in real time. IRL, it was at least darkly amusing on some level in its absurdity. In Crankshaft, it was about as funny as E. coli.

  10. On the Crankshaft Time Jump: I will stand up and say I do wonder why he didn’t jump both strips together. Not so much the first, four-year jump done back in 1992 or whatever; for comic strips that live in a basically-perpetual-now with characters who don’t age, it doesn’t matter if their birth dates are now four years later than they were a week ago.

    But the ten-year time jump back in 2008(?) … that is mysterious. Again, not so much that the Crankshaft set, who don’t age, didn’t get older. But the weird decision to have both strips taking place in The Present Day, while Crankshaft characters get ten years older when they appear in Funky Winkerbean, and Funky Winkerbean characters get ten years younger when they appear in Crankshaft. That needs explanation.

    I kind of get what he’s going for, a riff on (of course) DC’s Earth-One and Earth-Two that were twenty years (or so) out of synch despite both being in The Present when they were seen. But it means even readers who are trying to be sympathetic to Tom Batiuk end up confused about, like, “Did the Starbuck Jones movie premiere at the Valentine?” Never mind the openings it makes for snarky readers.

    I get if, back whenever this was first established, he figured the two comics would overlap so rarely it didn’t matter, and the characters aging/unaging would be a cute little thing to amuse the hardcore fan, a treat for remembering the Big Time Jump. But the more he has the strips interact, the more it doesn’t work. Why not just drop it? Why has he decided to keep doing this odd, confusing thing? I would in fact like to know.

    • gleeb

      Because it’s already absurd that Ed Crankshaft is over 90 and still driving a schoolbus. There’s no reason to make it any worse.

    • The Duck of Death

      In all seriousness: I think he’s still doing it because he just doesn’t give a damn. He doesn’t care about whether his work makes sense, and he doesn’t care whether or not his readers are on board, and he doesn’t care if no one understands the time jump.

      He’s bored with the whole thing, so he just kinda forgot about it. And he writes for an audience of one — himself — and that audience thinks he’s a genius. So as far as he’s concerned, everything is copacetic.

  11. Mr. A

    So the pandemic is “better”, but it could still “spread easily here”? I think Batiuk is trying to set up a framework where he can do storylines that are specifically about the pandemic, but he can also feel justified when all other storylines pretend that the pandemic doesn’t exist. Gah.

    To borrow a phrase from Ron Swanson: Batiuk is always trying to half-ass two things instead of whole-assing one thing.

    • The Duck of Death

      If only it were half-assed! More like quarter-assed.

      “It’s just a quarter-ass from reality.”

  12. Lord Flatulence

    P2: Measuring his penis size.

  13. Hitorque

    1. Les, I’m pretty sure that the county public schools superintendent, the principal, and the county department of public health (and not to mention their parents) ALREADY lectured these teens to death about the dangers of contagion… They don’t need to hear it from you.

    2. Funny how there’s not a single mask in sight or any discussion about getting vaccinated…? I’m sure it’s just an oversight on Batiuk’s part.

  14. be ware of eve hill

    Hey Batty, mail it in why don’t ya?

    This is one is awful. Hit send, submit to the syndicate, cash the check, close enough for Batiuk work. Where is your pride, Batty? Did you write this one the day the new Flash comic book came out? Priorities amirite?

    Kings Features Syndicate, where is your business sense for putting out a quality product? Why do you keep letting Batiuk continue to put out crap like this?

    If this is the level of teaching present it’s no wonder why Westview can’t pass a school levy.

  15. be ware of eve hill

    This group of kids represents Les’s usual group of suspects. I know Bernie Silver and Logan Church. I know the twins Emily and Amelia.

    What is the name of the kid in the red Westview t-shirt? Has he ever been given a name? I’ve seen commenters give him the names “That’s Not” and “Forty-Year Old Black Guy”.

    • Hater Squirrel (FKA Suicide Squirrel, FKA Drunken Squirrel)

      A nameless character added in the name of diversity? He appears to have been tagged in the SOSF archives as “Thatsnought Hewmore”, “Lumpy Black Guy”, “token black character” and “token black student.” I think you should storm La Casa Batty and demand he gives the poor kid a name. Nameless is no way to go through life, son.

      • eve hill intentions

        “Hater” Squirrel? That’s new. 🤔

        • Glass-half-full Squirrel

          Profile names “Suicide Squirrel” at Comics Kingdom, “Drunken Squirrel” at GoComics.

          This week I received flak for both names.
          Such as:
          “A friend of mine committed suicide last year. How insensitive.”
          “Alcoholism isn’t funny. My father was a drunk who beat us kids.”

          One of them called me a glass-half-full person and a “hater.” I guess I could have used “Glass-half-full Squirrel.”

    • be ware of eve hill

      Nobody knows the kid’s name? Only Batty could create a recurring character and forget to give him a name. I suggest we call him “Nameless.”

  16. Jimmy

    If the insinuation is that it affects 19-year-olds, and by extrapolation the majority of his students are 19, Westview High School has failed the town and society in general.

  17. I think he’s passed the threshold–Tom Batiuk is aware now, that we are his only audience, and he is hate-posting us.

    • Y. Knott

      Serious question — *are* there readers out there who avidly follow the strip in a non-ironic way? Is there a fabled Funky forum somewhere in which FW trufans marvel in earnest at the wonder and majesty of Batiuk’s wit; the awesomely magnetic pull of his brilliant characters; and the meticulously-researched accuracy of his fully-realized, multi-layered storytelling?

      • Rusty Shackleford

        Yes, it’s called the Kent State Alumni Association.

        • Banana Jr. 6000

          Kent State always struck me as the second-tier university that other second-tier universities look down on. That they still hold Tom Batiuk in such high regard does not disabuse me of this notion.

      • The Duck of Death

        I’ve often wondered that as well. There are the periodic comments (especially on CK) to the effect of, “If you don’t like it, why do you read it,” but no amount of polite coaxing will bring those people back to actually defend the strip or tell us one thing they enjoy about it.

        The sales of the collected FW volumes suggest that he really doesn’t have many fans. The latest, Vol 10, which covers 1999-2001, boasts these ranks on Amazon:

        #2,153 in Comic Strips (Books)
        #24,330 in Humor (Books)
        #25,037 in Graphic Novels (Books)

        Yikes. It has two ratings but no reviews at all. That doesn’t exactly indicate an active, passionate fan base.

        My bet is that there are far more people who enjoy occasionally, nostalgically rereading the old, yellowed trade paperbacks from early Act I than fans eagerly snapping up the new ‘prestige’ collections.

        • Banana Jr. 6000

          The most recent FW collection is ranked #902,046 in Books. According to online calculators that I’ve seen, this translates to selling about 5 copies a month. That is abysmal for someone with as much mainstream exposure as Tom Batiuk gets.

          Both of Allie Brosh’s books are in the Top 10,000, including the one from 2013. 10,000th place translates to 25 copies per day. (Not per month.) Which works out mathematically, because Hyperbole And A Half is about 150 times better than Funky Winkerbean. And she started from a WordPress blog, not from being in every American newspaper every day for half a century.

          Its focus is different, and the art style is crude, but it is an infinitely better example of a graphic novel that talks about serious issues will still being very funny. Contrary to what Batiuk often says on his blog, people don’t have anything against serious topics appearing in the comics. There are just people doing it much better than he is.

          • Allie Brosh’s two episodes on depression are some of the most insightful writing I’ve ever seen on the subject. The fact that she’s able to make it humorous is a clear indication of someone with a gift for writing.

          • The Duck of Death

            I was actually thinking of the counterexample of Allie Brosh when I wrote the above. She never had anything running in any mass medium. I don’t think she even had a Twitter or Instagram. Just ecstatic word of mouth and people forwarding her stuff all over the place.

            Her writing on depression has been cited to me twice by people who actually suffer from chronic depression as the most “real” thing they’ve ever read on the subject. It’s hilarious and then gut-wrenching. And so beautifully, honestly observed. Just her dogs are 1,000,000% more real and true, and funny, than anything Batiuk’s ever written.

            Her simple, extremely expressive art and self-deprecating, yet vicious wit really remind me of James Thurber. To me, that’s extremely high praise.

            FYI, there was YEARS of pent-up demand for her second, most recent book. I preordered it, and apparently thousands of others did too, because just before and at its release, it was #1 in all books on Amazon.

          • Banana Jr. 6000

            Just ecstatic word of mouth and people forwarding her stuff all over the place.

            That’s how I found her! Somebody was making sports-related cartoons, of all things, in her style. They cited her blog, and I immediately consumed every story she had on it. “God of Cake” and “A Fish Almost Destroyed My Childhood” still slay me. She really knows how to get into the mind of her 3-year-old self, or one of her dogs, and portray these characters believably. And as beckoningchasm says, she is brutally honest while also being funny, and without ever trivializing the subject. Her stories about depression made an impact on me too.

          • Hannibal's Lectern

            Back around ’07, my one and only contribution to American literature was released by a small SF/fantasy press out of Tennessee. Before disappearing entirely from the charts, it sold (based on royalty checks) a couple hundred copies despite having effectively zero marketing and promotion. Finding out that I probably sold as many copies as BatYam’s newest will sell in forty months… well, that just made my day. Thanks!

      • Hater Squirrel (FKA Suicide Squirrel, FKA Drunken Squirrel)

        Avidly? I don’t know. Probably not a whole hell of a lot.

        I think most of the non-ironic readers of Funky Winkerbean are people who will say, “I’ve always read Funky Winkerbean. I’ve been reading it for years.”

        Up until sometime in 2015, I fit in that category too. I grew up in Northeast Ohio and even attended Kent State. Batiuk was “one of our guys,” and I felt some kind of loyalty. I never read the strip’s comments or Batiuk’s blogs. Funky Winkerbean was just kind of always there. Funky Winkerbean was just one of over 150 comics strips I read daily. I’d read the strip and move on to the next without really thinking much about it. One day I decided 150 comic strips were too many, and I needed to cull the herd. During my decision-making process, I decided to check out the Funky Winkerbean comments. Whoo-boy, what an eye-opener! I’m glad I read the comments because I was about to drop it. I enjoyed the snark and have kept Funky in my favorites since.

        As Duck of Death says, people never defend the strip or tell us one thing they enjoy about it. Funky Winkerbean is almost impossible to defend.

        Comic Strip Defender: Funky Winkerbean is a slice of Americana presenting wholesome values…
        Bzzzzzt! Wrong!

        Comic Strip Defender: Funky Winkerbean features contemporary issues thoughtfully and sensitively…
        Bzzzzzt! Wrong!

        Comic Strip Defender: Funky Winkerbean features a cast of likable characters…
        Bzzzzzt! Wrong!

        Comic Strip Defender: Funky Winkerbean is funny.
        Bzzzzzt! Wrong!

        Comic Strip Defender: Gah! I give up! Funky Winkerbean isn’t worth defending!
        Ding ding ding! Correct!

        Batiuk sometimes features photos from trade shows of his fans in his blog. Usually, they’re holding a compilation book featuring strips from 20-25 years ago.

      • none

        More people who decide to post anything non-critical of the strip online need to be engaged. Not mocked, lured, chastised; not even argued with. The Twitter feed here should be a portal with which posts can be found where one can simply ask “What is your favorite recent FW strip?”

        The lack of an answer should be a deafening silence of its own. It just needs to be repeated much more frequently for more people to take notice.

    • Hannibal's Lectern

      Remember, this is Battocks, who “writes” everything more than a year in advance. He’s been hate-posting us for over a year now!

      • Y. Knott

        Thanks, everyone, for a most interesting discussion.

        I wonder if there’s a group of Batiuk’s relatives out there who rotate the book-buying duty every week, to help keep those sales at the prestigious “five copies a month” level.

    • ComicBookHarriet

      It would be interesting if this came back around, like Mark Trail did there during James Allen’s run, to realizing that the ironic readers were the most dedicated, and actively encouraging them.

      • Charles

        I don’t know if emulating James Allen is the best idea, considering his fate.

        I could totally see Batiuk writing one of his haters into the strip though as a simple-minded villain, only for the target of his ire to realize it eight months later and be amazed rather than chastened.

        Honus Backett comes into the strip to talk about how art only belongs in a museum, and comic strips and movies are no places for art. He gets talked nearly to death by the rest of the cast rejecting his premise. At the end of it all, Honus is run over by a cement mixer.

        A year later we notice the similarity between his name and the name of a famous Funky snarker. Everyone is amused rather than appalled.

  18. The Duck of Death

    So, Les, what specifically are these risk factors associated only with high schoolers? Or is it 19-year-olds?

    Les? Les? Bueller? Anyone?

    Huh. Whaddya know. More nonspecific handwaving to make Les and his creator seem “smart.”

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      I guess he’s referring to the fact that vaccines weren’t initially available for people under 18. But they long since have been, and healthy young people are at the lowest risk for COVID, not the highest.

      Which is what really baffles me about this awful take: Funky Winkerbean revolves around old people and death. Now comes a real-life story perfectly tailored to that environment, and he’s using it to go back to Westview High School. A place we hardly ever see in the strip anymore.

      Because you’ll notice that Mr. Realism here only gives diseases to characters he deems expendable. He hates sportos and doesn’t want them in the strip anymore, so Bull gets CTE and dies while Les pisses on his grave. Lisa needed to die, because she was a plot driver for so much else. By the same token, illness and even death are no obstacles for important characters. Dinkle and Phil Holt magically recovered. didn’t they?

      The cynical part of me (which is about 92% by volume) thinks Tom Batiuk is going to give COVID to a child. Because Ruby Lith, Flash Freeman, Phil Holt, Ed Crankshaft, and the 60-something main cast of Funky Winkerbean are all too valuable to kill off.

  19. Interesting item in the sidebar from Tom Heinjes, regarding the start of Crankshaft. If you look at the first strip posted, it looks like Ayers drew two panels and photocopied them to make four.

  20. Hannibal's Lectern

    This is my take on why there are no masks in Batty’s Covid episodes: he “wrote” them 16 months ago, around March of last year (remember, he brags about doing this). Back then, the prevailing opinion was that Covid spread via “fomites,” small particles that stick to surfaces and are transferred by people touching their mouths and surfaces. Think of how norovirus spreads on a cruise ship (or, in my personal experience, through a high school, via kids eating in class while using shared Chromebooks; we had such a big outbreak that we were the butt of a joke on “Saturday Night Live”). Hence the obsession with hand-washing, alcohol-based sanitizers, wiping down surfaces, and the constant reminders to not touch your face.

    Of course, by mid summer we knew the virus actually spread via aerosols (tiny water droplets ejected when we talk, sing, or just breathe). Sanitizers and hand-washing gave way to masks.

    What’s telling about BatYam’s “writing” is that he’s so committed to the idea of setting it down a year or more in advance that he doesn’t go back to re-write even when his pre-written strips look embarrassingly dumb. This is beyond lazy. This is a step beyond just phoning it in. I can’t even come up with an appropriate metaphor.

    • Mr. A

      But he already did strips about people wearing masks, two months ago. Remember that week-long “Funky preps Montoni’s for the pandemic” flashback?

  21. Green Luthor

    Just remember: if Les were to wear a mask, we wouldn’t be able to see that smug smirk of his. Would you deny Les the opportunity to make us want to punch him in the face, just to help prevent the spread of some silly global pandemic? How dare you not think of Les first!

  22. Professor Fate

    About as appalling a strip as one can remember. seriously couldn’t his editor (there is one I’m told) or the Syndicate just tell him No and insert some FW greatest hits filler until this arc is done with? i suppose not but dear lord why not?
    Les Moore is as many have said about the most detestable characters in the history of fiction, that The Author likes the little creep and makes him his hero explains much, including why he thought this horrible strip was worth doing.

  23. Westview Radiology

    99.7% of people infected with COVID do not die. The people who sadly pass on to a large extant have an underlying comorbidity. Teenagers?

    • ComicBookHarriet

      I mean, to be fair, being a teenager is a disease….

    • Professor Fate

      1 – the death rate is more like 1.7% to 2% not .3%. And there are long term effects from getting Covid-19 at this point the exact percentage is not known or indeed are all the long term effects known. – and it seems but that could just be hyperbole as the papers aren’t going to report people getting better is that the Delta variant is more lethal.

  24. Jeff M.

    I’ve realized that each of Les’s sentences reads better if it’s preceded by a very heavy and theatrical sigh.

    • Y. Knott

      But if you want them to reach *maximum* enjoyability, they should be preceded by moving on to the next comic, and not reading them at all.