“There are gaggles of geese, pods of whales and murders of crows. What term would do justice to the special nature of black holes?…The question was crowdsourced on Twitter recently as part of what NASA has begun calling black hole week…Among the many candidates so far: A crush. A mosh pit. A silence. A speckle. A hive. An enigma. Or a favorite of mine for of its connection to my youth: an Albert Hall of black holes.” –Dennis Overbye, “What Do You Call a Bunch of Black Holes: A Crush? A Scream?”, New York Times, April 22, 2021
Thankfully we’ve survived the week-long shipwreck that is Tom Batiuk’s imaginary Hollywood, to find ourselves in the more familiar confines of Westview High School. Jim shares his dismay over his students not picking up on his referencing a fifty-five year old Beatles lyric. Which would be akin to 1970’s high school kids recognizing an Al Jolson reference. Which, come to think of it, we 1970’s high school kids might’ve picked up on, so maybe Jim’s pupils are deserving of his disdain after all.
Today we learn the name of Westview High’s janitor. Is Harley his first name or last? It Harley matters…
44 responses to “Harley Holey”
A classic case of a momentum-ruining Sunday strip. Something is almost, nearly, kind of happening and Batiuk slams on the brakes, abruptly doing something completely different, totally out of nowhere. He must be fun to drive with. On top of that, it appears that we have yet another named character, the mysterious Harley, who will have a job at Atomik Komix by the end of the week.
The same thing happened in Crankshaft, where the “save the newspaper” arc stops for a lame gardening joke.
And Batty will forget his name and call him something else.
It’s normal for continuity strips to avoid the main plotline on Sundays, lest readers whose newspapers only publish on Sundays (or on non-Sundays) miss out on the story. Some do just a recap on Sundays (or recap the Sunday on Monday), but many do it this way.
Sundays are also a time when cartoonists can use the extra panels to create something special…or they can just be lazy like today’s sideways Crankshaft
I know, but it doesn’t make it any less weird, stupid and annoying when it happens.
Yeah, speculate about the janitor and what he might know and feel. It’s not like these lofty high-school teachers should talk to him. But it will be all right if Les asks himself why he talks to people like Cayla, who works in the office, and Funky, who was once a mere student. Up your snobbery game, Les!
SOSF snarkers, we now have our own collective noun: “Sea of blank faces”!
comicstrip is for the people who long for Funky Winkerbean to return to its high school hijinks days.
Not much of an improvement, is it? 😝
TFHackett has now identified how far Batiuk writes these strips in advance. With that joke having appeared in the New York Times on April 22, 2021, we can now confidently state Tom Batiuk “works” ten months ahead of the publication schedule.
In other news, how incredibly filthy IS the area right in front of the teachers’ lounge? Because Harley is really giving it a THOROUGH going over….
My guess is that Harley is applying multiple coats of wax until the floor is smoother than glass and slicker than ice.* Then, he just walks down the hall and waits to watch each of these smug pricks go tumbling head over heels as they stagger one by one out of the lounge.
*Shout out to Steve Luhm!
Very surprising! Only a ten month gap? He must have started slowing down as he begins his descent into retirement. Tbh i was sure he had sped up in the last leg here hacking it out without a second thought.
The source is amusing in it’s own way. Tom outs himself as the rural Ohioan trying to get coastal elite approval by immersing himself in the daily NYT. “I’m a real intellectual, not like these hicks around me. Welp, time to steal a joke from the Old Gray Lady!”
I’d love to turn this strip off.
“He’s been with the school so long, COVID precautions weren’t a thing yet!” And they’re talking about someone who’s clearly in his 60s. Is that really the joke?
The author not only punks the New York Times over the “seriousness” of the CTE tale, but he blatantly rips off its reportage.
Incidentally, I first read panel three as Kibbleschlitz speaking to the janitor: “Think of what it must be like for our school, Janitor Harley.”
Man, I’ve listened to the Beatles and I had no idea what John was singing in that last verse of “A Day in the Life”. That’s pretty obscure.
Harley the Janitor still resents Les for pissing himself in the janitor’s closet:
Also, I know some commenters here have been suggesting that Tom Batiuk is experiencing cognitive decline. While I don’t think that’s true, I will point out here that on his blog, he’s spotlighting a Superman cover that he just featured a little over a month ago.
“Yellow liquid”…ugh, LOL! That was one of the stranger FW retcons of all time.
Wow he is SUPER excited about the new gay Superman
As much as I dislike his work, I really hope Batiuk is not experiencing cognitive decline related to dementia. Especially since I’ve been calling him “Batty” over the last several years.
I hope that duplicate Superman blog entry was due to laziness or poor note keeping.
I genuinely wouldn’t wish it upon him either.
But it’s telling that the only argument put up against the beginnings of cognitive decline is that, cognitively speaking, he really wasn’t that consistently sharp or energetic to begin with. So, y’know, he’s not “declining”, he’s just always been this bad.
Either way, it’s not pretty.
Somehow I thought Linda had retired a few years ago to take care of Bull. Did she come back, is this another continuity violation, or is she doing a Dinkle and just coming back to hang out in the break room?
“Doing a Dinkle” covers a lot of ground.
Linda did say she planned to retire to take care of Bull full-time. I don’t believe she had enough time to follow through with those plans before Bull’s “accident.”
Linda most likely received a hefty life insurance payout because Bull’s death was ruled an accident rather than suicide. Rather than teaching back at Westview high, Linda would most likely be sipping a Mai Tai on a Tahitian beach.
I guess the only escape from Westview is death.
Thanks to law enforcement leaving a few key details out of the “accident” report.
Yeah, those greedy insurance companies, but thank goodness for corrupt or perhaps incompetent police officers.
Unfortunately I am familiar with how all of this works as I lost two family members to suicide.
Disabled the driver’s side airbag? Either that is incredibly weird writing or I am too young to get the reference.
Linda is back in the staff lounge because it is her life’s purpose as a Westview woman to listen to the menfolk’s witticisms and complaints. Fortunately she isn’t required to respond in any way.
OT: do we ever see Becky or Dinkle in the staff lounge?
Even more OT: the staff lounge in my high school was Room 101, which amused the Eng Lit class when we did 1984.
Ha, I was in high school in 1984 and we read that book! Fortunately our senior lit teacher wasn’t a big jerk like Les. She actually encouraged us to read and enjoy literature and didn’t criticize us unnecessarily.
Yep. Good old Harley. He’s seen it all. The joys. The sorrows. The endless pageantry of High School education. His noble work enables us all.
Hey! Harley! Get in here! This garbage can isn’t going to empty itself!
I refuse to believe the janitor has been at Westview longer than Dinkle…
Linda Lopez is creeping me out in this comic. She doesn’t say anything, and her expression never changes. She’s just staring blankly ahead with that silly grin.
Perhaps she died since we last saw her, and her last wish was to have the local taxidermist have her stuffed and mounted at a table in the Teacher’s Workroom.
“Teacher’s WORKROOM”? My schools always had Teacher’s LOUNGEs.
Principal Nate: “Hey, you teachers! Stop lounging about and start working! Can’t you read the room name?!”
The door to the teachers’ lounge at my school was usually closed. We students had no idea what was going on in there.
Perhaps the students were just gaping at the tarantula on Jim’s head.
I’m 45 years old… I know Albert Hall the actor, I know “Royal Albert Hall” the venue in London, but I have no idea what Albert Hall has to do with black holes…
So instead of lamenting the fact that teenagers don’t know your pop culture references anymore, why not try updating them??
I work at a university and it was probably ten years ago that I told y’all the time I dropped an “Animal House” reference to a bunch of freshmen and just got blank confused stares looking back at me… It happens… But did I continually force the issue hoping that successive freshmen classes after them would magically get it? No… So maybe Jim should start researching what today’s teenagers are into, and talk to them on that level??
(And if you absolutely must know, my Animal House reference was “DOUBLE-SECRET PROBATION!!”)
I got the reference. It refers to a throwaway lyric from The Beatles’ “A Day in the Life” on the Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album. I’m 64 now (get the reference?), and since I was 9 years old when that album was released, I’m probably on the lower end of the age range of people who would actually consider this a topical reference.
The holes were in Blackburn, Lancashire. And they were rather small. What the hell does that have to do with black holes (which are arguably not holes at all, nor small, nor [as of this writing] in Blackburn, Lancashire).
Does Batiuk think he’s witty or intellectual for referring to a Beatles song? I honestly don’t get it.
I believe that he thinks he’s “hip” and “with it” for referring to a Beatles song.
He believes he’s witty and intellectual for reading the New York Times, and ripping off a gag therefrom.
Man, that John Vernon had a magnificent voice.
So, why is there a picture of the mascot just poorly taped to the wall? Wouldn’t something like that be mounted more permanently?
So most folks (except his students) picked up on Jim’s Beatles reference. But not one of you got the Neil Diamond-inspired post title?
1. I was a kid in the 60s, and I have the complete Beatles DVD set. And I did not “get the reference” about Albert Hall; I guess I have a blank face.
2. At my kids’ school when they were cleaning surfaces, they NEVER had the kids do it because of many concerns: would the kids be exposed to disease, dangerous chemicals, would they do a proper job. Wiping surfaces was for grown-ups in gloves; it was not like clapping erasers. I can’t imagine kids wiped surfaces at any school.