Tell, Don’t Show

Mr. A
September 10, 2021 at 9:37 am
It’s never been more obvious that Batiuk came up with an idea for a cool comic-book cover first, and worked backwards from there. On Saturday they’ll name the water character, and then we’ll see the cover art on Sunday, and then we’ll be done.

Two outta three ain’t bad, Mr. A! I didn’t even get today’s gag until the third or fourth read through. Why was the writer teasing the artist about an “obsession with writing things down”? I suppose that Phil is implying that he did the real work of drawing, while all Flash had to do was spin a “story” without even having to set it down in written form.

So we won’t know yet how the fourth character, representing the water element, will be (the Inedible Pulp, perchance?) But yes, tomorrow we’ll see a Comix kover (desktop users, get ready to rotate those monitors). And then we’ll be done. And, speaking of teasing, we’ll reconnect with yet another octogenarian FW character, one whom we’ve only seen in a single cameo in all of 2021!


The Batty blog is running the FW strips from the aftermath of September 11, 2001. The strips are really…not so bad (this was still Act II), and, to TB’s credit, they ran less than one month after the attacks (not a year later, as is the case with his Covid content). Anyway, I’m bringing this up as an excuse to post the most savagely funny sendup of a certain self important cartoonist from Ohio. Never forget.



Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

38 responses to “Tell, Don’t Show

  1. The Freeman-Holt thing keeps switching. First it was Freeman grabbed all the credit, then it was Holt wanted to own his characters, then we were back to credit-hogging, which was instantly switched to ownership, and now we seem to be back to the credit thing, with Freeman admitting they did everything together. Including what TFH’s graphic is implying.

    I recognize that Batiuk hates drama of any kind and will short-circuit it as soon as it rears its ugly head, but couldn’t he be a little consistent?

    –ha ha, I slay me.

    • “Consistency is the hobgoblin of beady-eyed nitpickers.” Thomas Martin Batiuk

      • ComicBookHarriet

        Is that a real quote? Because Poe’s Law is in action here.

        • Anonymous Sparrow

          “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson.

          In his poem, “Each and All,” Emerson wrote:

          The lover watched his graceful maid,
          As ‘mid the virgin train she stayed,
          Nor knew her beauty’s best attire
          Was woven still by the snow-white choir.
          At last she came to his hermitage,
          Like the bird from the woodlands to the cage; —
          The gay enchantment was undone,
          A gentle wife, but fairy none.

          A true fairy, if I read Batiuk correctly, would have brought milk and cookies.

    • Mr. A

      The thing is, when Freeman and Holt say they created everything together and they can’t remember who did what, they seem to be talking exclusively about the writing and character concepts. When it comes to the drawing, Phil is doing 100% of the work. But this suggested “storyteller” billing makes it sound like they’re putting in equal effort on all fronts. So from my perspective, Flash really is hogging the credit here.

      • Mr. A

        …unless Phil is getting both a “storyteller” credit and a proper artist’s credit. Is that what Flash means? Even in that case, replacing the “writers” credit with “storytellers” is pointless and pretentious.

  2. William Thompson

    Get a crypt, you two!

  3. none

    I’m quite sure it has been said here at some point before but it bears repeating here.

    All of his life’s work to this point, between these strips and the blog entries and other writing, shows that the author sincerely wanted nothing more than to be The Idea Guy at a big-name comic studio.

    So many non-casual video game players think that they should be The Idea Guy but have 0% of the initiative or knowledge to make those ideas realized.

    Nearly everyone thinks that they have great Ideas for what a band’s name and the titles to the band’s songs should be, and maybe they can sing out a bar or two of some melody that they imagine to suit the Idea, But it never goes any farther than that, and they still go through life thinking that they have such a great Idea.

    How many people do you know of who state that they have the great Idea for a novel that they never write.

    The only thing that he has ever conveyed in any of this Atomic Comic trash are the Ideas. That’s it. Here’s the name of the book, here’s the cover to the #1 issue, and everything else – story, marketing, advertising, criticism, reception – is irrelevant. Yesterday, someone here mentioned that Starbuck Jones still has zero fleshed out content on the basis of these strips, and it’s true. He presented the Idea, and, if anyone fills in the details, it is the readers.

    And with that, congratulations is in order, because while it isn’t in the employ of one of his childhood’s favorite studios, he has realized his dream. Within the strip, he is The Idea Guy, he gets paid for spewing the drivel to the syndicate, and everyone else doesn’t notice or care or curses the sky for allowing one man to have an entire life and livelihood subsist on the creation of irredeemable garbage.

    • Well, Funky Winkerbean hasn’t always been “irredeemable garbage.” I dare say that many snarkers on this site and others once were true fans of the strip (particularly “band kids” like myself). I was a fan of FBOFW too. Both strips became a drag once “the weight of substantial ideas” was applied.

      • spacemanspiff85

        I went back and read a lot of the Act II on Comics Kingdom’s archives a few years back. I wanted to see how bad it was (and it was often bad), but by comparison to the strip today, it’s amazing. There were actually stories and characters grew and changed. Things actually happened. It held my interest, and at least felt like Batiuk was honestly trying. The vibe his strip has given off the past several years is just “I get paid no matter what I turn in, so why should I put in any effort?”.

        • billytheskink

          The brisk pacing really lifts Act II’s depths way above Act III’s, especially in the 1995-2003 years where TB bounced through a new “important” issue almost every week. Yeah, it was generally moving from one personal raincloud to the next, but you almost never knew what was coming next like you do now. Numerous new characters actually got a chance to be introduced and play significant parts in stories (Adeela, for example, doesn’t have 1/10 the development that the Chinese siblings who ran the Jade Dragon restaurant had) and when it was truly dreadful… well, at least it was almost always over in a week or two.

          Back then, Crankshaft was the strip where things moved glacially. “Important” story arcs were given so much room to breathe that they often ran out of air and other story arcs revolved around boringly stupid things like Jff recounting how he once skipped a test in school so he could go buy a Lovin’ Spoonful record.

          • Anonymous Sparrow

            If it was a Lovin’ Spoonful single, I hope it was “Did You Ever Have to Make Up Your Mind?”

            Hot damn, it’s no longer summer in the city, or anywhere else, and it’s like trying to tell a stranger about *Funky Winkerbean*…

      • Rusty Shackleford

        That pretty much describes me. I actually tuned out for years as this strip was so bad. I only came back to reading it after I found this site.

      • gleeb

        The marching band stuff was garbage to anyone not in a marching band. And, I imagine, to some who were. And what else was there? Roland’s unmoving father? Creepy Les hanging on a rope? Batiuk’s unrelenting hatred of women? Face facts, it was always garbage.

        • Rusty Shackleford

          No, he captured the essence of band camp in a fun and playful way that most people appreciated.

          And no he doesn’t hate women, he fancies himself as the ultimate white knight who understands women—unlike those stupid, insensitive jocks. Sure he plays up the stereotypes about women, but other than that, he praises them….well as long as their name is Lisa.

          • William Thompson

            And he remembers the perfect woman by endlessly moping over her memory. He’s a lot like Louis in “Interview With the Vampire,” reveling in his grief over Claudia until even he wonders if his pain is all he has left.

          • gleeb

            Tom Batiuk will never admit it to anyone, most especially himself, but he hates women.

      • Maxine of Arc

        Honestly I think the reason we snark here is because on some level we actually care about this strip and want it to be, you know, good. It has been good, in the past. Batty has shown some insight and attention to plot and character development, in the past. But he’s no spring chicken and he’s checked out of the whole enterprise, using it now to showcase a long string of very stupid ideas for comic books no one would ever buy, and it’s frustrating to watch. I want to care!

    • Hitorque

      “So many non-casual video game players think that they should be The Idea Guy but have 0% of the initiative or knowledge to make those ideas realized… …How many people do you know of who state that they have the great Idea for a novel that they never write?”


    • newagepalimpsest

      Phil, I said I liked you now, but that was entirely conditional on you continuing to swear at the rest of these dumbasses.

      Did Chester and Mindy wander back to their desks to do their work? Or are they just dead from boredom?

  4. Sourbelly

    Panel 3: Five smirks, no discernable joke. (I mean, I kind of get it, but not really. Please don’t explain the joke, because I know it won’t be anything like actual “funny.”)

    • William Thompson

      It’s not a joke; it’s two ancient cartoonists congratulating themselves for still being at their peak as creative geniuses. And so modest! It’s a fantasy that makes sense if you imagine both of them as Batiuk.

  5. billytheskink

    Capital idea Flash! It’s not like readers know which of you two comics legends is a writer and which one is an artist…

  6. J.J. O'Malley

    Merciful Minerva, today’s exercise in nothingness has to have set an FW record for the largest number of smug faces in a single non-Sunday strip! WHY are Mopey and Durwood standing there with goofy, doodoo-consuming grins on their faces at every “adowable” word coming out of Flash and Zombie Phil’s mouths (I’ll give Ruby a pass because it’s probably just a sign of encroaching senility)?
    And yes, the “storytellers” nonsense is more of Battyuk’s attempt to put his own “happy ending” spin on Silver Age Marvel Comics culture, where Stan Lee gave co-plotter credits to Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko in the mid-’60s. It didn’t stop Stan and his two artistic collaborators from falling out over that and other matters by decade’s end.

  7. hitorque

    Okay I get it… Phlash and Phil obviously have a “partnership” under the sheets as well as in the art studio… And what does it say about this strip when two 90-year-old dudes have more chemistry and affection for each other than any of our longtime established married couples in the Funkyverse?

    And you’ll hear no 9-11 remembrance from me; I’ll be spending the entire day pretending to be happy about my 45 birthday and persuading myself not to jump off a bridge for another year…

  8. be ware of eve hill

    Oh, puhleeze! We’re beyond cloying now.

    Everyone is gathered around with friendly glances and merry smirks. We’re just one big happy family, and working on comic books is simply the best! God Stan Lee and Jack Kirby bless us, everyone! Group hug! YaY!

    I guess I’m just having tea for breakfast because I’ve just lost my appetite.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      It’s almost like an abused child’s coping mechanism, isn’t it? “Its always happy in the bullpen. Everyone is friends in the bullpen. There’s never any disagreement in the bullpen. And the bullpen is where all the comic books get made! Yay!” While he rocks in a rocking chair and pets a stuffed animal.

      • William Thompson

        Which is pretty much what he did in Crankshaft with Jfff Fairgoof, who read comic books in his closet, obsessed with an ancient movie serial and still sees his childhood self. Batiuk mistakes an escape from abuse for a cure.

  9. Banana Jr. 6000

    Ooooh, we want to be called storytellers! THEN TELL A STORY, ASSHOLES. “This superhero is based on air” is not a story. It’s not even a character. But whatever, give us the goddamn Sunday comic book cover already so we can get this shit over with.

    • be ware of eve hill

      Batty is so hung up on that “storyteller” stuff.

      Remember that New York Times puff piece that came out just before the Bull Bushka CTE story arc? The story arc that had all the relevancy of a mouse fart?

      “Whether they’re heavy stories or lighter stories,” Mr. Batiuk said, “I’m a storyteller.” 🙄

      Yes, Tom, you are a storyteller. A terrible one.

      • Rusty Shackleford

        Yeah, and this is why he generates so much snark. This pompous crap. This is why he does those serious arcs. Chasing awards and NYTs articles.

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        It is clear to me that all of Tom Batiuk’s media coverage is written by Tom Batiuk himself. He asked himself that question, so he could give the answer he wanted to give. (warning: long rant forthcoming)

        Look at The “news stories” are full of promotional blurbs, written in Batiuk’s own words, that portray Funky Winkerbean the way wants it to be seen. They’re not things other human beings would actually write about a person they’ve just met. Certainly not trained journalists. My degree was in journalism, I’ve interviewed other people, even famous people, and written news stories about it. The controlled nature of these stories is obvious.

        The first sentence in the New York Times piece starts with “Funky Winkerbean,” the rare comic strip that allows its characters to grow and age..” And we all know how proud Batiuk is of that. But it’s not rare, it’s not relevant, and it overlooks the nonsensical time skips that render it moot. And the story itself contradicts it! A historian quoted later in the story points out Gasoline Alley, Doonesbury, and FBOFW. It reeks of an edict that the author include that line in the story, even though his research proved it to be dubious.

        Batiuk’s interview questions fastidiously avoid anything anyone would actually want to ask him. Like “Why do you think Les Moore gets so much criticism from fans?” Or “what’s with all the comic book stories?” Or anything at all that comes from outside Tom Batiuk’s head.

        Instead we get questions like “How much research do you have to do – like with the references regarding the baseball players from the 1940 lineup?” Here’s why I know Tom Batiuk wrote that question:

        1. This question was asked in 2014! Everybody on earth knows what baseball-reference is.
        2. It’s the type of question journalism school teaches you NOT to ask. It doesn’t reveal anything about the subject, and we all know the answer to it anyway.
        3. It draws attention to something Tom Batiuk thinks is relevant but actually isn’t: the “research” he puts into his comic strips. Which again, is about a 30-second Google search.
        4. It lets Batiuk snub the Internet, which he loves doing. In his two-paragraph answer, he points out that someone pointed him to the physical Baseball Encyclopedia. Again, in 2014.
        5. Like the NYT story, and so much of Batiuk’s writing, it doesn’t notice that it contradicts itself. The story draws attention to Batiuk’s historical fastidiousness, but also points out “Crankshaft alters the story a bit each time” and “Batiuk (vicariously lets) the Indians win the World Series.” So which is it?
        6. The interview questions in that story don’t flow at all. A news story is not a transcript, but it also doesn’t randomly jump around to Batiukian talking points like that.

        And criticism is a forbidden subject in FW stories. Tom Batiuk is never asked about this blog, the Comics Curmudgeon, the Shortpacked parody, or anything else. Cartoonists like Bil Keane and Jim Davis were routinely asked questions about parodies and criticism of their work.

        On a final note: Batiuk doesn’t seem to realize how badly these stories reflect on him. One story, entitled “Lisa’s Story Continues Winning Awards”, says:

        (Lisa’s Story won) a silver medal from the Nautilus Book Awards in the Aging/Death & Dying category; was a finalist in the Popular Culture category of ForeWord Magazine’s Book of the Year Awards; and a bronze medal in the Most Life Changing category of the Independent Publisher Book Awards (IPPY’s).

        What a pathetic list of prizes. It sounds like something we would make up as a snark.

  10. Epicus Doomus

    No one ever spoofed Batiuk better. Then again, no one ever spoofed Batiuk period, so there you go.