Elemental as Anything

Except for his outburst of mock anger yesterday, the usually cantankerous Phil Holt has been positively gleeful about rebooting his comics career. What ever became of the one-man “hostile work environment,” who walked off the job in a fit of resentment, regarded his own work as “just junk“, and had to pay the bills working as a caricaturist at kiddie parties? All it took was a little affirmation of the meaning his work had for others. The hard feelings he engendered in his partner, and the hardship he spitefully caused himself, are forgotten, and he’s ready to return to “working in a bullpen”.

What’s also forgotten in today’s strip is that “the batty Batom bullpen” never existed, at least not as a rollicking, “fun” filled, shared workspace. From April, 2018:

Turns out that Batom Comics pioneered the “work from home” concept that has, since last year, become more commonplace. A fact that Chester, having more money than brains, discovered only after he bought the entire building in pursuit of fulfilling his Silver Age fantasies. “Emphasis on the ‘bull'” indeed.

45 Comments

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45 responses to “Elemental as Anything

  1. Epicus Doomus

    A single-panel strip jammed full of comic books, comma eyes and wryness…welcome to FW Act III, ladies and gentlemen. This thing is ponderous even by FW comic book arc standards, which are already lower than a sinkhole in Hell. It’s so dull I actually checked the BatBlog to see if there was something…anything…else going on and he was jabbering about some stupid “Crankshaft” crossover from a hundred years ago, which is actually worse. Please, let this be a one-week arc, please.

    • William Thompson

      Let’s not forget the vast intellectual depth involved in applying Aristotle’s concept of elements to comic books. It’s funny because Aristotle believed you could understand the universe through reason alone, which is going to put a crimp in Batiuk’s style.

      • billytheskink

        Aristotle may have believed one could understand the universe through reason alone, but I doubt he would have found a lone reason to even try to understand the Batiukverse.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Bullpen bullpen bullpen bullpen bullpen! Batiuk doesn’t even care about the comic books anymore. You can tell by how little thought he’s put into The Subterranean story, which has been going on for six weeks now and makes zero sense. It’s all about indulging his childhood fantasy that he gets to work in a comic books bullpen. Where everyone just smirks at each other about how how great it is to be in a comic books bullpen. Christ, this is tiresome.

      • be ware of eve hill

        Is Batty even using the term “bullpen” correctly? One of the places where I worked had a “bullpen” but it was a location, not a group of people.

        I hated those stand-up meetings in the bullpen. We were forced to listen to everyone give their status reports one-by-one. What a waste of time.

        • Banana Jr. 6000

          I think it’s OK. In baseball, “bullpen” can mean the physical location, or the people who work in it.

    • Sourbelly

      To quote the late Kasey Kasim: “This is ponderous, man. It’s fucking ponderous!”

  2. J.J. O'Malley

    Boy, today’s strip really moves the storyline along, don’t she? As for other burning questions:

    Anyone else think Chester’s eyes are inspired by Cincy baseball mascot Mr. Red (https://content.sportslogos.net/logos/54/56/full/716.gif)?

    At what point will the Rapa Nui come to Westview in order to convince Flash Freeloader to return to his ceremonial home on Easter Island? Look at how his skull expanded from the 2018 Sunday strip to today.

    How nice to see that at least one of the female characters gets a line of dialogue this week. Oh, well, just two more depictions of “bullpen boredom” until Sunday’s sideways Elementals mediocrity, I suppose. I wonder how Funky’s AA meeting is going.

    • Epicus Doomus

      “Female characters”??? Oh, yes, I see her now. Seriously though, the women of Atomik Komix have one title to their credit, the unbearably lame “Wayback Wendy”. Meanwhile the dudes in the AK “bullpen” are banging out ideas by the bucketful, without even really trying. Oh well, at least they opted to tolerate having icky girls around, so by FW standards that’s major progress.

      • Anonymous Sparrow

        Aren’t you forgetting the Scorch?

      • Maxine of Arc

        And “Wayback Wendy” is a children’s book, nicely continuing the stereotype of women working on girly or juvenile stuff, despite the many examples CBH and others have pointed out of women working for the majors in Gold and Silver ages (and indeed Ruby herself supposedly an example of this). At AK they keep the ladies in their lane!

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        And this can’t be shown enough times:

        Ruby and Mindy legitimately contributed to something, and Pete got all the credit for it. And wanted to assign his share of the revenue with a long-dead crooner instead of the women who actually did the work. One of whom is supposed to be his fiancee!

        Tom Batiuk thinks he’s progressive about women, but he shows his true colors often enough.

        • Charles

          Tom Batiuk thinks he’s progressive about women, but he shows his true colors often enough.

          I think he makes the same mistake that he does with his belief in his brilliance. He’s convinced that he’s progressive and pro-woman so he doesn’t even think about it, and so his entrenched biases shine through unabated. It never even occurs to him because of course he’s pro-woman so he’d never say anything that’s not pro-woman.

          It’s like a label he applies to himself that has no bearing whatsoever on how he conducts himself. He thinks he’s pro-woman, so he is. He thinks he’s brilliant, so he is. He thinks that he writes interesting and provocative material, so he does.

  3. Sourbelly

    Mopey Pete’s “Did you ever meet him” retort makes no sense, at least not to me. And thus Ruby Lith’s grandmotherly remark just makes it all worse. I am not charmed. And why is Chester in these strips at all, other than to enrage us even further with his pointless, protean face?

    • Mr. A

      Pete is making the quip about Flash’s age that our own billytheskink proposed yesterday.

      • billytheskink

        And that’s why he’s the writer and not Durwood.

        In fact, Pete is by far the most accomplished writer character TB has ever created, though I’m not really sure TB realizes this. Even with Les’ high-profile flogging of Lisa’s Story and Dinkle’s overlong biographies of himself and of Claude Barlow, it’s Mopey Pete whose books have moved copies and whose movies were genuine hits. Does that make him the best writer in this strip? Maybe, but does it really matter? Being the best writer in this strip is like being the funniest joke in an issue of Jackie Jokers

  4. Gerard Plourde

    Not to be outdone by his moron sidekick, Pete asks Flash if he ever met Aristotle.

    Is TomBa actually giving us snarkers Easter Eggs now?

  5. Mr. A

    In this strip, Chester represents Batiuk. “Look at all my legendary comic-bookers, comic-booking it up! God, I love this.”

    I’m glad you’re happy, Batiuk, but what are you doing for your other readers?

    • Epicus Doomus

      It really is just amazingly self-indulgent, while also being staggeringly dull. Even his lifelong comic book fantasies don’t excite him enough to get him to put any effort into it, which is just so weird. Given his obvious passion for comic books you’d think he’d put a little love into the stories he writes about them, but instead they’re as dry, wry and boring as any other FW stories you could name.

      Imagine a “really big Beatles fan” who only wants to talk about the person who led the marketing team for the “Yellow Submarine” album. That’s Batom. He “loves comic books”, then focuses on the employee banter in the studio where they were made. It’s so peculiar.

      • ComicBookHarriet

        “Amazingly self-indulgent, while also being staggeringly dull.”

        Now this is the blurb that should be on the back of The Complete Funky Winkerbean Volume 18.

        Funky Winkerbean is, truly, the ‘Gods and Generals’ of weekday comic strips.

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        Comic books in Funky Winkerbean are just not fun! They’re not even fun in-universe. If anything, they’re kind of obligatory. Characters say things like “I need to raise money for my honeymoon, I’d better sell my comic books”, with a tone like they’re executing a stock option. Lisa and Les didn’t even want to do a comic book-themed marriage, and grumbled about it the whole time. Because neither of them had any interest in comic books! Batiuk just forces it on everyone.

        And it’s only the aspects of comic books Batiuk cares about: 90-something creators, the silver age, superheroes, certain parts of the publishing process, awards, and his stupid ‘bullpen’ fantasy. We never get so much as a story. Instead of inventing sidekicks for the Subterranean, maybe the story could tell us what he even does. Hell, what does Starbuck Jones do? The comic strip has spent years on that, and we don’t know, do we?

        If Tom Batiuk wants to make comic books so badly, he should just do that. Self-publishing is incredibly affordable nowadays. He could probably talk some independent publisher into giving him a title, especially if he wants to front some of the costs. But he doesn’t do that, does he? No, because he doesn’t really want to publish comic books. He wants to live the life he thinks publishing comic books would give him. He wants to do what his characters do: wander around the bullpen, talk about comic books, make up new characters, draw covers, screw around all day, get paid, and never have to answer to anyone. He doodles his fantasies because it’s less work than living his own dream.

        And that’s why this stuff is such crap. It’s narrow, self-indulgent, and not at all entertaining to anyone else. It’s just as much self-serving niche porn as anything Brooke McEldowney does.

  6. be ware of eve hill

    There’s no emphasis on Bull. Bull Bushka was a sporto so he had to go.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Not just go, but be humiliated. Even though Bull was probably the best person in Westview. He was successful at his job, genuinely helped and inspired his students, and made a real effort to atone for his misdeeds as a child. But he had to die in disgrace and be insulted at his funeral because Les Moore can’t outgrow anything, ever.

      Besides, Bull Bushka wasn’t even the worst bully in Act I. That would be Harry Dinkle.

      • be ware of eve hill

        I’d like to know what the hell that was all about. Pick a lane, Batty.

        Bull is a dim-witted bully. No, I’ll retcon him into a great guy who is a boon to everyone and had Les’s best interests at heart. Hmmm, I can’t think of anything else to do with the character, let’s kill him off in a poorly presented award-bait prestige arc. Oops.

        A psychiatrist could have a field day with Batty. Perhaps win an award in the psychiatry publications. Take that, Batty. You bundle of meaningless emotions.

  7. be ware of eve hill

    Chimp-Faced Mindy has been replaced by Way-The-Fuck–Out-Of-Mopey-Pete’s-League Mindy.

    • ComicBookHarriet

      A recently laundered hospital mop with a pair of stuck on wax lips is out of Mopey Pete’s league.

      • be ware of eve hill

        The London Fatberg is out of Mopey Pete’s league.

        Sorry. I’ve been reading Sherman’s Lagoon.

    • Smirks 'R Us

      Too true. And Durwood is back to “muppet face Durwood.”

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        My favorite is “vaguely Don Martin-looking Durwood.”

      • be ware of eve hill

        Ayers’s open mouth, toothless smiles totally creep me out. You can see clear through to the other side of the person’s face. It looks like a hatchet or a carving knife was used to create the character’s mouth. Jack O’lantern smiles.

        Sometimes I think dear Chuck was out sick the day the art teacher taught drawing faces.

  8. Let’s be thankful for small favors; at least no one has said “Elementary, my dear Holt!”

  9. Charles

    In his spare time, Flash rents his head out to clear clogged drains. Jesus, that thing is 4 times taller than it is wide.

    And Darin is consistently rude, with a nasty sense of humor. Why doesn’t everyone hate him? I mean, aside from the obvious reason. He needs someone nearby every moment in his life to tell him to go fuck himself.

  10. Gerard Plourde

    The “Atomik Bullpen” is missing its teenage savant, the Brady Wentworth role at Batom. Will TomBa create a new character or will he figure out that he can find a place for long-lost Skylar?

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      His “Batom Comics” backstory on the Funkyblog mentions a teenager who worked for them. So yeah, I wouldn’t be surprised if one turns up in the comic strip.

    • Actually, Brady Wentworth was the office manager and (according to Batiuk’s own strips) the one who came up with Jupiter Moon while his workers were complaining about having to work.

      Before you ask, yes, I hate that I know this.

      • Gerard Plourde

        You’re right. I should have written Mitch Knox. I also have a morbid fascination with the Batom backstory.

  11. Ralph the Wonder Llama

    Chester seems awfully chipper considering no work is getting done. It’s a good thing he doesn’t pay these people by the hour.

  12. Jeff M.

    Ugh, these single panels. Has Ayers been watching too many early CinemaScope movies, when bad lenses with no depth of field resulted in endless “clothesline staging” – as in, all the characters lined up with no basis in human behavior? If I could embed a pic I would, otherwise see: http://www.lolajournal.com/4/cinemascope.html

    • Anonymous Sparrow

      Fritz Lang thought CinemaScope best for snakes and funerals.

    • Professor Fate

      Akira Kurosawa managed to use the wide screen brilliantly in Yojimbo (1961) but he was after all Akira Kurosawa.
      The lack of visual sense, flair or dynamics in the strip’s one panel does mirror the lack of anything similar in the dialogue so he’s being consistent. I presume he does understand that stories need conflict yes? Not a group of boring people all getting along (although doing not a lick of work it seems)

  13. be ware of eve hill

    Why are these Atomik Komix people always standing around when they discuss work issues? Didn’t Chester have any money left over for a meeting table and chairs?

    No meeting rooms? The entire floor is occupied by a half dozen or so desks?

    Does Chester have an office, or does he just appear in a puff of smoke? Perhaps his office is in his home, and he travels to the AK offices every time he wants to speak to someone.