Smells Pretty Fishy.

Link to Today’s Strip.

I mean, sure, why not? Why not, apropos of nothing, have a Atomik Komix cover on a random Sunday. No lead in. No follow up (spoiler warning.) Just a one-off cover.

I can’t help but wonder if this was supposed to be part of an Atomik Komix storyline that Batiuk cancelled or moved in order to squeeze in some of the pandemic arcs we’ve gotten this year. He first teased these covers more than two years ago, back in April 2019.

“Here’s a rather deep dive into the pipeline for a premature peek at a preliminary sketch for a Rip Tide comic book cover done by Bob Wiacek. Let me caution that this will eventually appear in Funky, but it’s going to be awhile.”

April 17,2019

“I know I already showed these cover sketches once, but the actual cover/Sunday kept getting pushed back further and further on the schedule. It’s a beautiful Bob Wiacek cover, and I wanted to reconnect with what led up to it as the actual piece is about to see print on Sunday October 24th.”

October 12, 2021

So, after putting off this commissioned cover for months, all we get from it is a fairly obtuse and hard to spot Transformers joke. Transformers, an IP that peaked around 2010, and has been gradually on the way down ever since. Bumblebee Tuna is a name brand, so if used, he might have been sued by a fishmonger. And the ‘Octopus Prime’ joke is going to go over people’s heads because the villain name is in a bland looking text box, and the aquatic robot is a uniform grey. Make him look like this, then there would be no mistake!

Octopus Prime by Sachmoe64 on deviantART | Transformers funny, Optimus prime  toy, Transformers artwork

As one of the Transformer collecting masses of Hasbro devotees, I can inform you that we have yet to see a Transformer with an octopus alternative mode. But we’ve had our share of cephalopods. Many of were even released under multiple colors and names.

File:BWII-toy Ikard.jpg
Ikard, A punny portmanteau of the Japanese word for squid and Picard. Other characters using this mold include, Scuba and Claw Jaw.
File:BWN-toy DeadEnd.jpg
Dead End, Japanese Exclusive Oooooooh
Scylla, this one’s a pretty girl. Kind of!
Tentakil, a robot squid with legs that also forms the leg of a larger robot combiner, Piranacon. Kind of an entire seafood buffet.
File:G1Octopunch toy.jpg
Octopunch. A ‘pretender’. Meaning he’s a robot, inside a fleshy sea monster costume, inside a diving suit. Because 1989 was a weird year for Transformers.
Transformers Toy Review - Tako Tank Beast Wars 2 + Clawjaw - YouTube
Tako Tank. If God has abandoned us, we only have Japan to blame.


Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

44 responses to “Smells Pretty Fishy.

  1. Epicus Doomus

    All right! Finally! Rip f*cking Tide, Scuba f*cking Cop, my current favorite FW character. “Octopus Prime”…har, I get it. Best AK comic book cover of the year, by far.

    Too bad he ruined it with the dumbest Sunday reality bubble ever. Now if she’d said “Charlie The Tuna” it’d still be a really, really shitty gag, but at least it’d almost make sense. It took me half a second to come up with that, which means BatYam put less than half a second into this sorry excuse for a joke. Soon we’ll need to measure his “creative output” in quantum terms, as standard units of measurement will no loner be applicable.

    What’s Jessica doing there anyhow? I mean that is Jessica, right? Or are Jessica and Mindy exactly the same now? Jessica doesn’t work for AK, so what gives? Dumbest Sunday reality bubble ever.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      I thought this Sunday’s comic book cover would be a blatant ripoff, and yet it wasn’t the blatant ripoff I was expecting. I guess that’s being saved for next Sunday.

    • Green Luthor

      The “joke” actually makes sense; though, of course, “making sense” and “being funny” don’t necessary correlate. “Octopus Prime” is obviously a play on the Transformers character “Optimus Prime”. And another Transformers character (who even got his own movie) is “Bumblebee”. So, Blonde Girl is making another aquatic-themed “joke” based on another Transformers character.

      Surprisingly, this one probably *did* take some thought on Batiuk’s part, thinking about other Transformers that he could use to make another “pun” name. (Although, of course, if the result of his putting thought into things results in comics that are just as unfunny as his normal half-assed output, it doesn’t really say much good about his abilities, but if I suppose if there were a lot of good things to say about his abilities, this blog wouldn’t be here…)

  2. Ray

    Sadly, there isn’t more than meets the eye here.

  3. Epicus Doomus

    I wish he’d dump FW and “Crankshaft” entirely and focus solely on Rip Tide-Scuba Cop. The premise is so rife with potential. Not in his hands, I mean, but generally speaking. A cop who solves underwater crimes…it’s brilliant.

    I’m not real big on that costume, though. When I picture a “scuba cop” I have an entirely different vision in mind. I want to see a more traditional look, but with flippers, a mask and a tank. Also, the super-villains are a terrible idea. He should be battling illegal dumping and fish poaching, not battling underwater robots and shit like that.

    Tom, if you’re reading this don’t do anything else with Rip until you talk to me. This is a million-dollar idea but you’re gonna blow it with the stupid retro cliche stuff. This could be a global phenomenon IF you get the origin story right. First he has to start on the river beat, then move up to a Great Lake, then eventually the ocean itself. Remember, he’s a SCUBA COP, not freaking Aquaman.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      I’ll second that. My elderly parents live in a south Florida town, built on a big river that connects to the Atlantic Ocean. The town police force actually had jet-ski cops. I’ve always wondered what their adventures were like. It’s a legitimately fun idea. I bet Netflix or Hulu could make a good TV show out of it.

    • J.J. O'Malley

      “Rip Tide, Scuba Cop”? Yeah, after a week’s worth of Lester and Cayla constantly reminding each other that “Lisa’s Story: She Died” likewise croaked at the box office, this is the logical follow-up. Heaven forbid he could have one day of an actual conversation between husband and wife last week and then cap it off with his “muddled aphorism” conclusion in today’s strip.

      No, this is the Sabbath, so we needed to bow before the altar of Silver Age Comic Books once more, as a hero who mixes DC’s Sea Devils and Super Scuba from the “Super 6” ’60s cartoon series battles an octobot who looks suspiciously like the cover menace of 1966’s Blackhawk #224 (check out
      ). Unless we’re jumping back into the Atomik Comix bullsh…er, bullpen on Monday morning, what is the point of this?

      • Mr. A

        On first read, I took Jessica’s remark as a complete non sequitur. Also on second read. I would probably still be scratching my head if CBH hadn’t pointed out the Transformers connection.

  4. It just emphasizes to me that Batiuk should stop doing…anything. Everything he does is either an inferior rip-off of something good, or a terrible original idea that would excite no one.

    Really, Tom, you’re not that talented.

  5. Sourbelly

    I do not understand the punchline.
    Please somebody help me understand the punchline. It’s got something to do with the relationship between bumblebees and octopuses, right?

    • J.J. O'Malley

      “Octopus Prime” is an obvious reference to Optimus Prime from “Transformers,” so Jessica mentions another Autobot, Bumblebee, who shares his name with a popular brand of tuna. Hilarity ensues.

    • Epicus Doomus

      I was totally baffled too. I “think” she’s goofing on Boy Lisa (even though he’s just the artist and doesn’t write this stuff, which adds yet another layer of stupidity to the whole thing) for ripping off “Octopus Prime”, like “ha ha, yeah, why not throw Bumblebee Tuna in there too, ha ha”. Of course it’s sub-moronic, as “Bumblebee Tuna” is a thing and not a fictional super-villain or even a character, unless she’s referring to the Bumblebee guy on the label, which would be really strange, at best. Also, tuna swim in water, which is where Rip Tide plies his trade. These are just guesses, however, as trying to understand the inner workings of BatHam’s mind is a fool’s errand.

    • Y. Knott

      Do you want to understand the punchline, or do you want to find it funny?

      To understand it, you need to realize that there was a deadline approaching. Looking for something to put in the reality bubble, Batiuk thought it would be funny if the hero had a sidekick. What underwater-themed name could he use? The first thing he came up with was the brand name “Bumblebee Tuna”.

      As per usual, his first thought was the one he used … why bother with more than one thought when your *every* thought is a work of genius? And because it’s such a brilliant thought, it doesn’t need explanation, or context! Voila, DONE!


      If you want to find it *funny*, that’s much more difficult. Maybe some sort of experiments with hallucinogens, or do-it-yourself brain surgery?

      • Charles

        As Gary Larson said about his panel “Cow Tools”: “The first mistake I made was in thinking this was funny.”

  6. Hitorque

    1. 2010? Transformers peaked in like 1987… I know because I was there…

    2. I don’t get the Bumblebee Tuna joke at all… These “comics” are nothing more than a cheap vehicle for Batiuk to show us how many punny hero and villain names he can come up with…

    3. I’m still trying to figure out exactly which law enforcement organization has legal jurisdiction of the ocean bottom…

    4. How the hell does an underwater gun work? You know what? Just forget it…

    5. Of course in the real world, Les would have been hounded to death by friends, neighbors, students, etc. all asking him when his movie is coming out… But I know Batiuk’s parlor tricks and this entire week was to establish officially that Lisa’s Story the Motion Picture has fallen down everyone’s memory hole, it’s now a part of the Impossible Zone which means everyone in the Funkyverse will move on with their lives as if it never happened and nobody will even mention the movie ever again…

    • ComicBookHarriet

      I was going with Transformers second peak, initiated by Bayformers. 2011-2012, they’d just come out with the third movie, which was okay to good depending on your measuring stick, and the Transformers: Prime cartoon was winning daytime Emmys. Interest has shrunk significantly since then, with the toyline contracted and aimed to adult collectors, and the currently airing cartoons all cheaply made and released online.

  7. billytheskink

    I’d say TB dared to be stupid here, but that’s giving him too much credit.

  8. Rusty Shackleford

    Why do the newspapers publish this crap? Can’t they say NO to some strips?

    • none

      They can.

      Zits had a daily pulled because Jeremy uttered the word “sucks” as a pejorative.

      Get Fuzzy had some strips pulled because of an allusion to being “stoned” as everyone born after 1950 understands it being related to marijuana use.

      There’s this item from the Crankshaft wiki:
      “Crankshaft became the subject of some degree of controversy when some readers and editors thought the strip trivialized rape by saying that only young, attractive women need to fear sexual assault, implying that rape was in some sense a compliment.[7] It was pulled from publication in at least one paper.[8]”

      But as we know, there’s no accounting for taste, so this will slip by just fine. The deadline was met.

  9. Professor Fate

    Aside from nonsensical punchline – he might as well have had her saying “No soap radio” for all the sense it makes – I’d like to say that the sketch is a lot better than the final cover – whoever did the final bled all the dynamic energy out of the figure of Rip Tide, he’s upright not trying to pull away as in the sketch, I’m not sure what is up with his right leg there, and his expression is now embarrassment not fear or terror. It’s now overwrought with detail and busyness and all the energy has been drained out of it. Which I guess is why Batiuk likes it.

    • Mr. A

      I’m no artist, but I’m not crazy about the color choices either. Might as well be a blue filter over a black-and-white drawing.

  10. Suicide Squirrel

    Bob Wiacek? There’s a name I remember back from the days I read comic books. If Batyuk was a comic book washout, how the hell does he know all these comic book people well enough to do work for him?

    The list of names that I know of are; Rick Burchett, John Byrne, Rob Ro, James Pascoe, Thom Zahler, Allen Bellman, Tony Isabella.

    • Professor Fate

      One: The worlds do over lap – there used to be Batman and Superman daily strips and hell comic books started out as collections of daily strips – so there is some connection, it’s kind of a small world really. Two he pays them – ‘so you want a mechanical octopus attacking a scuba diver? Fine. I’ll get on it just as soon as the check clears.”

      • Suicide Squirrel

        Yeah, that makes sense. Both comic strips and comic books are represented at comic conventions.

        I wonder how much money comic book writers and artists make? I’m sure some artists are willing to work on commission. Too bad Batyuk doesn’t hire a writer on commission.

  11. Suicide Squirrel

    For those of you that don’t know, Bumblebee is one of the Autobots in the Transformers movies. Bumblebee was even featured in his own Transformer movie spinoff.

    Am I the only one permanently scarred by Shia LeBeouf screaming “Bumblebee” in one of the trailers for a Transformers movie? I must have seen it 999 times. I don’t remember which Transformer movie. They are all overly long and all have a similar plot. The Autobots work with humanity to prevent the total annihilation of the human race. All directed by Michael Bay.

    • Suicide Squirrel

      All of the Transformers movies have a lot of explosions. That’s the way of Michael Bay.


      • Mr. A

        Don’t forget the Official Michael Bay Color Balance™ that makes everyone’s skin look orange.

        This video gives an interesting analysis of Bay’s style, and why it’s not as easy to reproduce as you’d think:

  12. Dood

    Is the author a Decepticon?

    By the way, where’s Schooner Tuna, the tuna with a heart?

  13. be ware of eve hill

    So typical. There’s no cromulent conclusion to the Les/Cayla story arc. Six days to convey nothing except that the Lisa’s Story movie was a box office flop, and that’s just peachy with Les. Who wants to be successful, popular, and likable anyway. Not Les.

    What a bunch of meaningless emotions. Thank you for sharing, Batty. /s

    Batty: Hmmm, how do I conclude the Les/Cayla story arc? What to do? I’m stumped. I know! Time to shoehorn in that Rip Tide Scuba Cop cover that I’ve been saving!
    (Batty high-fives himself and runs the imaginary bases)

    • be ware of eve hill

      Maybe this is a way of Batty trying to convey that he didn’t really want that Pulitzer after all.

      Batty: (to his wife) Who needs a Pulitzer, anyway? It would just be one more thing for you to dust, sweetie.

    • be ware of eve hill

      Maybe last week’s story arc is a way of Batty trying to convey that he didn’t really want that Pulitzer after all.

      Batty: (to his wife) Who needs a Pulitzer, anyway? It would just be one more thing for you to dust, sweetie.

      • be ware of eve hill

        Repeating my post because the previous post was vague. Edit/delete functionality, please.

        I’ll stop digging now, before I get thirty days in the nuthouse for talking to myself. 😳🚑➡🥜🏡

      • Rusty Shackleford

        Oh he wants recognition, but not in the form of pleasing his readers, that would be selling out. He wants those awards as he can use them to defend his horrid creations. It would validate his opinion that his readers are worthless clods who do not appreciate the depth of his work.

        This is why Lisa’s Story has to fail at the box office, but I’m sure you will see the recognition from the right people come rolling on in any day now.

        • be ware of eve hill

          Hoo boy, that Pulitzer comment of mine was fubar from the start.

          I was going more for an attitude of sour grapes, rather than a shrug of resignation.


    • Charles

      I think it goes back to what I’ve said before about his long multi-year arcs. After all, the Lisa’s Story: The Movie Done Right started 2 years ago. And what I think happened was that Batiuk had all of these different ideas about what to do with the arc back when he first came up with it, but he either poorly outlined or didn’t even think much about the ending at all. So after two years have passed since he got the bug to do this story, he really doesn’t have any plan about what to do with the ending. All the vague ideas he had two years earlier that he never developed are terribly unsatisfying, unworkable, or would require too much effort. So he just blows it off with a whimper. He doesn’t know how to or even really want to portray the movie as a financial success, because its impact on his dumb little created community would be too significant. If Les has what’s essentially a bio-pic of him become a smash success, he can’t go back to being Les, the put-upon teacher, or Les, just-one-of-the-guys-at-Montoni’s, or Les, the long-suffering, unrecognized genius. Batiuk doesn’t want that, and he doesn’t want to do the work that’d be necessary to incorporate it into the strip world he needs to maintain because he doesn’t have many if any original ideas anymore.

      So he just ends the arc and has everyone go back to what they were before it started, no matter how little sense it makes and how completely unbelievable it requires his characters to behave. Les can’t care about Lisa’s Story bombing, because if he does, he has to change. Cayla can’t care either, because, again, that would change her relationship with Les, which is pretty much all she has as a character these days.

      I suspect Batiuk is glad that the pandemic gave him a convenient excuse to explain away the movie bombing and how nobody seems to give a shit about it. It enabled his inertia.

      It’s also just a shame that he didn’t realize that if he shows Les not giving a shit about this arc he’s spent two years on, he can’t actually expect his audience to give a shit either. Any mythical reader who cared about this arc must feel like a god damn chump now.

  14. Banana Jr. 6000

    I tried to create the ultimate Funky Winkerbean Sunday comic book cover:

  15. newagepalimpsest

    All that buildup, and we never got to see Les carving his Lisaween pumpkin.