The department store nostalgia in today’s strip is pretty innocuous as Funky Winkerbean goes. I am enough of a retail enthusiast to know that department store nostalgia is totally a thing, by the way… but I’m not sure it manifests itself in wistful disappointment when receiving an Amazon package.

But since Amazon’s logo is clearly visible on present day Holly’s package, let’s talk about THIS:

There are several, actual historic and defunct department stores in the greater Cleveland-Akron area that TB could have pulled up: O’Neil’s, Polskys, May Co., the one that Dinkle named his daughter after, the particularly famous one that had the previously-referenced-in-this-very-comic-strip Silver Grill [sic] in it.

Nope, we get Holly’s memory of shopping at DS, which by all indications stands for… Department Store. DS. Department. Store. This is Herb & Jamaal-level non-specificity. Look TB, if you can reference Amazon specifically, you can reference an actual department store specifically. The strip loses nothing if you get Ayers to write “Higbee’s” on a couple of shopping bags instead of DS.


Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

34 responses to “Boredstrom

  1. Epicus Doomus

    The stores, the shoes, the sales, the food court, the charge cards, the shopping bags, the free samples…Holly’s very womanhood was forged in America’s great shopping malls of yore. But now they’re gone, a faded memory of yesteryear, washed away in a digital tide of ones and zeroes, never to return. And Holly is lost, forever doomed to tie up bundles of cardboard and bubble wrap for the recycling truck instead of spending another delightful day at the mall, buying stuff. Sure, she’s still buying stuff. I mean she is a woman and all. But it’s just not the same.

    Seriously though, how many times has he done a variation of this gag? It has to be at least a dozen, at a minimum. That seething hatred of the internet is always there, bubbling and boiling under BatYam’s sincere and agreeable countenance. Of course he’s from mid-central Ohio so he’s never going to come right out and say it, but it’s there, always mildly irritating him.

    Anyhow I disagree with him fundamentally here, as I lost my fascination with shopping malls on the day I got my driver’s license and suddenly had the ability to do things other than get dropped off at the f*cking mall. So I prefer things the way they are now. In the past, if I needed a new roach clip with a feather on it I had to drive two towns over, park, trudge into the mall, walk all the way over to Spencer Gifts and buy one, but now I can just have one delivered to my door the next day. I don’t know about you but that seems like as close as I’ll ever get to living in a Utopian society.

    But on the other hand, I’m not a woman, so I really didn’t lose much when shopping malls died out. Because they LOVE shopping, you know. It’s a subtle theme in FW and you really need to see between the lines to pick up that vibe but trust me, it’s there. Because YOU KNOW HOW THEY ARE AMIRITE FELLAS?

    • Rusty Shackleford

      I’m with you, I do not miss malls or department stores. Fight the traffic, find a place to park, deal with the crowds, all to find out the store doesn’t have what you are looking for, or they don’t have it in your size. Bleh…

      I am surprised Batty missed another chance to insert local shopping memories. Maybe the strip was done by someone else and they are too young to remember these things or they simply don’t care.

    • Suicide Squirrel

      I can relate to what you’re saying about shopping malls. There was one about a mile away from me that permanently closed earlier this year. I probably shopped there about a half dozen times in the past fifteen years. Most of those visits were from when I ordered something online from one of the anchor stores and picked it up on the way home from work the following day. Somebody bought the place and is allegedly converting the structure into an industrial park.

      When I first visited that mall, I thought it was one of the wonders of the world. So many stores, restaurants, movie theaters in one place. Fountains that shot up thirty feet into the air. What the hell, I was five. Can I have a Carmallow, Dad? Yes, they even had a Spencer Gifts at one time.

      There was another shopping mall on the other side of town. It was closed and razed. The property is now an Amazon distribution center. Ouch.

      Geography lesson on Batyuk. He was born in Akron. Moved fifty miles west to Grafton when he was eight. Graduated from Midview High School in Grafton (Midview => Westview, get it?). He now lives in Medina, which is halfway between Akron and Grafton. He’s in the White Pages. I know where he lives.

    • The Duck of Death

      I can’t speak to Cleveland’s history, but I grew up in Manhattan and some of the old flagship department stores are/were architecturally amazing, and a real experience to shop in. Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s Herald Square, Lord & Taylor, Bonwit Teller, Saks Fifth Avenue, Gimbel’s — it was a real experience to be in these places, especially in the 70s, before department stores started their steep decline.

      In Batiuk’s defense (I can’t believe I’m typing those words), I don’t think he’s talking about mall shopping. I assume he’s talking about the distinguished 19th/early 20th century city-center department stores.

      • Rusty Shackleford

        I do agree with that. I used to love the old elevators in Higbee’s and Hallie’s. They had these big light up annunciator panels in the main elevator lobby. I would ride up and down while my parents shopped.

        • ComicBookHarriet

          I also have fond memories of being a twelve year old girl and being amazed when my mom set me free in the Mall for the first time.

          That poor mall. It has lost both the Herberger’s and the Penney’s. Now it boasts a Bath and Body Works, and something called Eccentric Times where you can buy home décor and self-defense from the same storefront.

  2. William Thompson

    Well, uh, no Dinkle, no Les, no Skunkhead, no Montoni’s and not much Melinda, so, um, two cheers for the smallest of mercies?

    • none

      Hear hear.

      Romanticized nostalgia for The Boomer Years is among the lowest of hanging fruit for contemporary comic strips, and I believe that he didn’t even botch this outing, so good on him.

      It does read easier if you are fully ignorant of the past two weeks of dailies, where this strip reads as a daughter who is wistfully reflective of her outings with her abusive mother, as if she’s trying to convince herself that things weren’t all that bad in the main, as he’d say.

  3. none

    Let’s not forget that if the past two weeks are to be taken at face value, either Department Store never had a Photography Studio, or Melinda never took Holly to their Photography Studio during any visit they ever made. Take your pick.

    Meanwhile, watching bygone relics of the past wither and die from a thousand cuts of costs and neglect is certainly something that the author should be aware of first hand, so good on him for writing to his personal experience here.

  4. spacemanspiff85

    So nobody order any Funky Winkerbean or Crankshaft books from Amazon, okay, everyone?

    • Sourbelly

      No worries there, brother.

      • Epicus Doomus

        We could start a boycott, but who’d even know?

        “You’re against WHAT kind of bean? Oh…yeah, I don’t even know what that is, sorry”.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Oh, don’t worry, no one is. Here’s the one with the best Amazon sales ranking, the not-yet-released Volume 11:

      Best Sellers Rank: #1,015,008 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

      There are online tools that will tell you how many sold copies that rank represents. All the FW books I looked at, even the most recent ones, are worse than 1,000,000th. This represents less than 5 copies a month. In the COVID world, where online shopping is more of a necessity.

      To put that into perspective, last year’s Sherman’s Lagoon anthology is about 300,000th, which about 17 copies a month. The about-to-be-released volume is 30,000th, which is about 140 copies a month. And who the hell likes Sherman’s Lagoon?

      Nobody is buying these stupid books. And I mean NOBODY.

      • Rusty Shackleford

        But you can read reviews from his old KSU buddies. That is more entertaining than the books themselves.

    • batgirl

      Also don’t order from Amazon because it’s an abusive toxic workplace that badly needs unionizing.
      For buying books, I highly recommend Book Depository. Excellent selection, frequent discounts, free shipping, and so far no reports of worker exploitation.

      • Maxine of Arc

        I also recommend, where you can designate your local independent bookstore to get a percentage. So you can buy books online but still support your local shop. I buy new books this way and used ones at the store.

  5. billytheskink

    Holly, if you don’t like buying things from Amazon, you don’y HAVE to buy things from them. It’s easy, I do it all the time, actually.

    Department stores may not be what they once were, but they still exist and they would be happy to take your money. You don’t live in BFE, Holly, you live in the greater Cleveland area. Macy’s, JCPenney, and Dillard’s, while not the paragons of corporate health, all have at least 5 locations each in greater Cleveland.

  6. J.J. O'Malley

    Poor Holly; If only some local merchant still sold the item (flammable batons, perhaps?) she had NO CHOICE but to order online six hours earlier from Auntie Amazon’s Primo Service. Apparently, though, there are NO retail businesses near her home or, more surprisingly, none in the region around “downtown Westview” where Montoni’s is (although there is at least one comic book store).

    • Epicus Doomus

      “Sigh. I sure do miss going to Batons N’ Stuff over at the mall. Wait, here it is…”Lite-It-Rite Baton Fuel, 12oz.”…whoa, $12.99 for a whole case? Can’t beat that price!”

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      she had NO CHOICE but to order online

      But COVID really did give people no choice but to order online, for a very long time.

      This strip could have been poignant. It could been Holly lamenting the loss of human contract from social distancing. And all it would have taken is a few minor changes, and having been released at a more appropriate time.

      But no, Funky Winkerbean must be an endless catalog of Tom Batiuk’s petty, misaimed hatreds. Because “the internet is bad” is really a hill worth dying on in 2021.

      • the manwich horror

        I think this is a powerful argument that the internet is bad. After all, I’d never have read this comic if it weren’t online.

  7. Sourbelly

    Looking at this as a stand-alone strip, it’s kind of sweet. But since it follows two weeks of Holly’s mom being a rottenfaced child abuser, it’s…not so sweet. And of course, we have the orange leaf at Holly’s feet in the last panel, to remind us that IT’S AUTUMN.

  8. Banana Jr. 6000

    Okay, boomer.

  9. Clara Fartone


    Okay. And one day we’ll have horseless carriages.

  10. Mr. A

    I rate this strip “harmless”. But while I’m here, I’d like to point out that department stores themselves were basically the Amazons of their day, or at least the Walmarts of their day. Here’s what G. K. Chesterton had to say on the topic in 1927.

    • be ware of eve hill

      This strip is “harmless”… which means it’s the best one Batty has produced all year.

      Thanks for not totally sucking today, Tom!

  11. Gerard Plourde

    While this strip is inoffensive (especially compared to the subject matter of the last two weeks of weekday offerings), I can’t help getting the sense that this represents TomBa’s fantasy view of life “back then”.

  12. The Duck of Death

    This strip is such a Batiuk-ism. As mentioned above, there are plenty of department stores left in Northeast Ohio. Holly chose instead to shop online, thus contributing to the further decline of her local department stores, then she sighs in defeated nostalgia when her Amazon package comes, as if she’d had no choice but to shop there.

    I agree that this strip is overall harmless nostalgia, but it wouldn’t be FW without that little infuriating sting at the end.

  13. be ware of eve hill

    I often sigh too when I see an Amazon package on my porch. It means the idiot delivery person dropped off the package at the wrong house again, and I have to complete their delivery. Great way to meet the neighbors.

  14. batgirl

    Maybe Holly’s sad that her package wasn’t delivered by a drone, the way Crankshaft’s Amazon orders are?

    Has TB previously taken up woman-centred nostalgia? There was a Crankshaft photo-corner ‘Dad taking daughter to ball game’ strip, but I can’t come up with anything closer.
    I guess shopping is to women as Silver Age comic books are to men?

  15. robertodobbs

    I’m happy, I don’t have a sad sigh, when I spot an Amazon package on my front porch. It means I have that oven hinge or drawer handle replacement that would have been impossible to identify or locate 20 years ago. It means that I have the office supplies that I need for tomorrow without driving all the way to some store and parking in the rain to find that they are out of what I need. There are still plenty of brick and mortar options. I take the kids to Books-A-Million every couple of weekends to browse and buy a few books. There is a Macy’s nearby for the dept store experience if that is what you want. There are a couple of very alive shopping malls nearby for browsing stores and eating something fun in the food court. Target is not a bad experience and I can even sit down and enjoy a nice cup of coffee from their Starbucks stand. The selection and quality of products at Target is light years beyond what we had to settle for at K-Mart when I was a kid. I’m not a fan of all of Amazon’s business practices but it has been a huge net positive in my family’s life as an option among many others.