Link to today’s word zeppelin.
“[French director] Alain Resnais…was a student of American culture who had learned much of his English from comic books. He was a huge admirer of the Marvel Universe and of [Stan] Lee…Their first project was The Monster Maker, a pop-art parody about a frustrated movie producer who seeks creative and spiritual redemption by making a film about pollution. With gentle direction from Resnais, Lee wrote a full script…The Monster Maker‘s protagonist, Larry Morgan, is an apparent stand-in for Lee himself. Morgan produces schlocky horror pictures that make money and are popular with kids, but he can’t help but feel that he’s reached a dead end. He is despondent about his life and his job, and what he craves more than anything is recognition from an adult audience [emphasis added]. Through a series of story twists, Morgan embarks on a ‘serious’ film project to expose the evils of pollution. There’s some violence, a fire, and then a climactic montage sequence in which a monstrous wave of pollution descends upon New York City, choking the sky, the waterways, and the streets. The true horror, it is revealed in less than subtle fashion, is the accumulation of garbage that we so callously resign to landfills, mindless of the terrible price that we might pay in the future.
“The movie closes with a voice-over:
“…At one point in the movie, Larry Morgan tells his ex-wife, Catherine, about his new, meaningful work. She glows with pride: ‘Larry, you must have known how I always felt about those shallow horror films of yours. I always wondered how you could bring yourself to keep grinding out such juvenile, unintellectual pablum. But now, to think of you tackling a worthwhile theme like pollution—to think of you turning your back on commercialism in order to say something that must be said—Oh, Larry—I can’t tell you how thrilled—how proud of you I am.‘ Unlike Morgan, Lee wasn’t exactly turning his back on commercialism. He and Resnais sold The Monster Maker in 1971 for $25,000. The script gathered dust and was never made.”
Raphael, Jordan and Spurgeon, Tom. Stan Lee and the Rise and Fall of the American Comic Book. 2003
47 responses to “We Deserve No Pity”
You see how he does this? He leads readers to believe he’s doing a story where the AK gang tackles human inaction re: climate change, but it’s actually about a column Stan Lee used to publish in those old comic books BatYarn loves so much. It’s not about “climate change” at all, but when the reporter from the Medina Daily Bugle interviews him for the Sunday “Lifestyles” piece about his upcoming 50th anniversary and asks him about the stories we’ll see in 2022, he’ll say he just did one where he addressed climate change, and of course everyone will just believe it, as who’s gonna know?
“Reporters are faced with the daily choice of painstakingly researching stories or writing whatever people tell them. Both approaches pay the same.” — Scott Adams
He leads readers to believe he’s doing a story where the AK gang tackles human inaction re: climate change, but it’s actually about a column Stan Lee used to publish in those old comic books BatYarn loves so much.
This is a great observation. So many “plots” in Funky Winkerbean are just an empty pretense to talk in circles about comic books. Even though this whole storytelling world already revolves around comic books! And if it’s not comic books, it’s one of Batiuk’s other constituencies: high school band, Luig– er, “Montoni’s”, or Dead Lisa (complete book trilogy with attractive leather slipcase only $59.99).
Since TB never liked the name of his comic strip, maybe it could be changed to Shit Nobody Cares About.
If he’s doing a premise where there’s even a slight whiff of controversy, like with climate change or gay prom couples, he will always deftly avoid actually “tackling” that topic by quickly making the story about something else, or, in some cases, nothing at all. Arcs about thing like cancer, giant fires, drunk driving and dementia are fine, as no one has any kind of dissenting opinion on those things, so there’s no controversy to fear.
For example, the arc where ICE nearly deported Adeela. “Bungling heartless bureaucracy makes dumb mistake” was really the extent of it. It wasn’t about discrimination or persecution or judgement, it was merely a dumb mistake with a lot of red tape to cut through. And nobody likes government red tape, so that’s a safe tack to take. He always finds the most boring, staid path and sticks to it firmly, lest he ruffles any feathers.
Tom Batiuk has some nerve. He’s the biggest producer of garbage on the planet.
Why is Flash standing over there looking all self-satisfied? Pete just caught him plagiarizing.
Plagiarizing what appears to be a satire of the very thing Batiuk wants us to seriously congratulate him for. Amazing.
Is that Cindy in the masthead, or has Cayla gotten a bleach job?
It’s not plagiarism if it’s cited.
No, but it’s damn lazy. For a professional columnist to just reprint someone else’s long quote as their own article, and then say “nuff said,” would get a failing grade in a high school journalism class. And again, these people are supposed to be creative geniuses.
In a rival publication no less!
Plagiarism is a crime. This is recycling! It’s noble!
Batiuk acts like something out of a bad movie, all right–a White Savior. He’s the guy who leaves his comfy modern-day middle-class life and goes *somewhere else* to battle racism or sexism or homophobia. Or he’s a guy in the past who sides with the Indians, or enslaved Africans, or the French resistance and battles against evil on their behalf. The audiences love it because they don’t think the problems are part of their lives, and they leave the theater thinking that somebody else has accomplished something to make them feel good. So here he is, giving us a message (from somebody else) that was fresh a couple of generations ago, and acting like it’s a great thing he’s done.
I don’t expect Batiuk, or his characters, to Do Something grand and fix the world. But today’s offering is as inane as the self-congratulatory bits that his “creators” swap while premiering a new comic-book cover.
Wait a friggin’ minute. Yesterday, Pete was reminding Flash about the time he “addressed climate damage.” But all he did was quote Stan Lee and agree with him? And Pete thought this was memorable? I guess Phil Holt’s “he wouldn’t forget something he’d written” comment was on point; he didn’t write it! And these are supposed to be our comic book geniuses? When Stan Lee now exists in this universe?
Tom Batiuk is such a hack, he can’t even create any characters who aren’t hacks.
Yeah, when it comes to this comic book stuff, I’m out.
Petey: “Don’t your remember, Phush? You addressed climate “damage” in the Phlash’s Phorum where… uh, you reprinted a quote from Stan Lee!”
Philled Hole “Hard to believe you didn’t take credit for something you didn’t write!”
Petey: “Nuff said.”
Readers: We don’t get it, but we got it. END!!!
The office has that much open wasted space because it needed it for these turgid word zeppelins. Look at all that space in behind Mopey’s monitor. How much does it cost to heat that place in the Cleveland winters?
So this Hall of Fame writer hasn’t written anything himself on this topic. All he’s done is quote someone else. Naturally Batiuk thinks this is adequate. He doesn’t even try to write something on this topic he claims he cares so much about. He subcontracts it out. (See, this is me coming in with something in my own words that expresses pretty much the same thing as you guys who posted earlier. I’ve not only worked harder than Batiuk has, but I’ve also shown him what he should have been doing. Write a comic about me, Batiuk! I’m Fucking Superman!)
So here we are this week.
“Climate change is something we should care about.”
“Well shit, I have to admit I don’t really think about it that much.”
“Yes you do! Remember when you quoted that guy that one time?”
“Oh yeah, I guess I did.”
“That was cool.”
“Yeah, it was cool.”
“Oh well, might as well draw this stupid comic cover so we won’t ever have to think about it again.”
So, a writer for Batom Comics lifted a column from the editor-in-chief of rival Marvel Comics (which, one has to assume, is still is business in the Funkyverse), and no one said anything or sued anyone?
Also, I hate to have to try and open Mopey Pete’s eyes (give me some toothpicks to prop up his droopy lids), but absolutely nowhere in Stan’s/Flash’s ecological lamentation are the words “climate change” used or even alluded to; the piece is all about wrecking the environment in general and is reminiscent of the 1970s “Crying Indian” TV spot. And look at the smug half-smirk on Freeman’s punim (“Yeah, boy, I sure can transcribe what others come up with, can’t I?”).
Batiuk once again tries to justify shoehorning his Silver Age comics fetishism into a modern topic and fails miserably. This arc has been compared to a message story with all the subtlety of a “Captain Planet and the Planeteers” episode, but that’s giving it too much credit; It’s more like an early ’70s installment of “Yogi’s Gang.”
and no one said anything or sued anyone?
Atomik and Batom Komix are such blatant plagiarists of everything that this doesn’t even show up on the list of reasons to sue them. And that’s not even my opinion; it’s their backstory! They were sued out of business over “Arachnid Man.”
But you’re right. Such a long and meaningless quote wouldn’t be allowed in high school writing class. Which Tom Batiuk, having been a teacher, should know. It is not “nuff said” because it doesn’t say anything at all. It’s just a bunch of that flowery, meaningless writerese Batiuk loves so much. It doesn’t identify any missteps or suggest any corrections; all it does it berate whoever’s hearting it. Go find a list of quotes by Rachel Carson or Jane Goodall or almost anyone, and see how much more meaningful and to the point they are.
“Which Tom Batiuk, having been a teacher, should know.”
TomBa’s brief teaching career was as an art teacher. (Not a criticism of art teachers, just to say that we can’t assume that he’d know this.)
That is true but I think he wishes he were an English teacher or a band director.
That is an fascinating background for this quote, TFH! Thanks so much. I would have just assumed it was a preachy column. Now it has layers!
A man driven to soapbox to feed his own ego and mitigate embarrassment for his ‘art form’, quotes a movie about a man driven to soapbox to feed his own ego, written by a man driven to soapbox to feed his own ego. A ‘message’ movie that was sold for thousands and never made.
Like a scientist patented a new treatment for ALS, sold the patent, and then the patent purchaser threw the cure in a ditch. And the scientist just shrugged, counted his money, and moved on.
It’s an ouroboros of virtue signaling. Two snakes sucking each others’ tails and feeding no one but themselves.
Right when I was in the middle reading your comment I was thinking “what’s the name of that snake that’s eating itself?”
I guess I should be grateful to Batiuk…?
If today’s strip wasn’t so craptastic, I wouldn’t have gotten such a fascinating little history lesson from TFHackett! Because I damn sure wouldn’t have cared enough to track down the origin and context of Lee’s quote…
If this week had a payoff of them realizing “we’re just entertainers; we should probably try to make people forget their problems for a moment” it would at least come off as a sincere homage to Preston Sturges’ “Sullivan’s Travels”, Woody Allen’s “Stardust Memories”, or really any one of a number of classic stories about creative types losing their way trying to be ‘relevant’.
According to a 2018 Indiewire article “all the pollution in New York would congeal and form a monster that the film’s hero would have to combat.” So it was really just an update of Will Elder’s “Outer Sanctum” about the garbage monster called “Heap” in a 1953 Mad. I always thought that was Elder’s finest work with over-the top “chicken fat” as he callled it.
Heap! Thank you – I had been trying to remember what the Inedible Pulp reminded me of. Dang, Will Elder was good.
Maybe Stan Lee’s movie didn’t get made, but this one did: https://youtu.be/f2o_Tibx47w
Leaving aside the issues of morality and proportionality, it would be interesting to have Pete sum this up by making a case for the Elemental Force to act as vigilantes wreaking unmitigated havoc upon entities that willfully violate environmental protections, but I suspect his suggestion would actually end up having the superheroes passing out leaflets in front of a shopping mall.
With his luck, if Batiuk had the EF turn vigilante as described, we’d all be accusing him of ripping off last season’s “Planetina” storyline from “Rick and Morty.” Also, something similar is happening in one of Marvel’s numerous X-Men titles, “X-Men Green,” in which a mutant named Nature Girl is attacking humans for environmental crimes (even to the point of outright killing a grocery store worker whose employers use ocean-polluting plastic bags). Needless to say, this storyline–which is handled in such a ham-fisted way you’d think TB was behind it–has engendered a lot of angry YouTube rants from folks on both sides of the issue.
I had Bad Wolf’s Wednesday comment about the Nature Girl story in mind although the targets I had in mind for the Elemental Force weren’t minimum wage workers, which does possess Batiukian-level lack of awareness (or, maybe all to much awareness of who signs Marvel paychecks).
in which a mutant named Nature Girl is attacking humans for environmental crimes (even to the point of outright killing a grocery store worker whose employers use ocean-polluting plastic bags)
“Her need for guidance was never as clear as when the death of a sea turtle, caused by a plastic bag, sent her on a vengeful journey to make humanity pay for their crimes against the planet..she traveled to Las Vegas in order to find the ones responsible. She confronted the owner of Owen’s Grocery, the brand of the plastic bag, and, after growing disgruntled by his apathy about the loss of animal lives, Lin jabbed the complacent store owner in the neck with a pair of scissors.” —Lin Li (Earth-616). Marvel Database
BeckoningChasm said it perfectly earlier this week: “The problem with your story is that it has an interesting moral dilemma at the center of it.” Because Tom Batiuk doesn’t do “interesting.” Or dilemmas.
As much as Tom Batiuk claims to hate the Comics Code, his precious Atomik Komik books are exactly what it Code resulted in: simple-minded stories; black and white morality; and lots of pointless, bloodless fighting where nobody actually gets hurt.
This is not the toolbox you need to tackle environmental issues, which often call for difficult or morally ambiguous choices. You try to marry kids’ stories with serious environmental discussion, and you end up with the Captain Planet-type dreck we’ve been mockingly comparing this to all week. Not that Atomik Komix will even give us that much. At least CP had protagonists, antagonists, a plot, things like that.
I know, Alex! “What does Batiuk use when he wants to properly pad out a story?”
I’m so looking forward to Stan’s quote showing up in a Sunday Mary Worth.
I have a feeling this whole arc was just Batiuk saying “Look at this cool Stan Lee quote. Check out how cool I am for referencing Stan Lee. Hardly anyone knows about him other than me.”
Absolutely. It’s too late in the week to have the story revolve around something Batiuk comes up with himself. Tomorrow’s the denouement and Sunday’s the comic book cover with the inane caption and Monday we’re off to the Oscars to vomit profusely.
Like a former President would say, not many people know that Abraham Lincoln was a Republican.
Stan Lee was never President, but he was the Man, as Jack Kirby was the King.
From today’s blog entry–regarding the 300th issue of (ugh) the Flash.
” and even more so these days when the typical superhero mag reboots to #1 after every six issues (pause for a sigh). ”
Gosh, Batiuk, was that a sigh of contentment – considering Atomik Komix does nothing but #1 issues?
I liked the bit from his latest Asimov book report: “Perhaps it was a little self indulgent, but why not? Asimov certainly did more than enough to earn his victory lap.” Wow, am I supposed to think self-indulgence is a bad thing? Or has to be earned somehow? And he was praising Asimov for “tying bows on everything.” That’s not self-indulgence, Tom, it’s called writing. You’re *supposed* to resolve your story points.
My God, has anyone ever had an honest conversation with Tom Batiuk about his own works? This may be the most self-deluded man I’ve ever encountered.
I posted a while ago about how Batiuk could mine some humor from these deathly dull Atomik Comix arcs by having the functionally illiterate Mindy not understand what a story was, or why you even needed one for a comic book.
But the more I look at this and at the Lisa’s Story saga, as well as Batiuk’s own ramblings on his blog, I’m seriously starting to think that Batiuk himself doesn’t really have a good grasp on what a story is. From all evidence, he appears to think it’s nothing more than a series of loosely-related incidents strung together until somebody dies or laughs or is rewarded or learns a lesson they’ll promptly forget. The notion that it’s a process or that it’s a coherent whole seems to be lost on him. He has no idea of theme, direction or objective when he’s writing. No idea of cause and effect.
Actually, it was *Flash* #196, as the first one hundred and four issues featured Jay Garrick, not Barry Allen. Furthermore, while the Flash always had a head shot on covers, sometimes Hawkman had the cover illustration.
But as Marvel said of *Thor* #200, an anniversary is an anniversary,, even if the book began as *Journey into Mystery* and didn’t introduce Goldilocks (as the God of Thunder was nicknamed) until #83..
So let me get this straight. Mopey Pete is reading from an old forum where Flash quoted something Stan Lee had written, which was the closing dialog of a movie that Stan had scripted. A movie script written about the evils of pollution, not climate change. Stan never made the movie, but profited off it anyway.
Before Bats fell into this rabbit hole, Flash and Phil were brainstorming for a new nemesis for the Elementals Force. Bats then had Mopey Pete interject and suggest the Elementals Force should battle “human inaction” against climate change.
By not making the movie, Stan Lee is guilty of “human inaction”.
So the Elementals Force is going to sue the Estate of Stan Lee? Wow, can’t wait to see that sideways cover.
Atomik Komix: Enjoy the fascinating 12-part epic miniseries featuring exciting courtroom drama.
Seriously, where in the bloody blue blazes is Bats going with this?!
Round and round the plot wheel turns. Where it stops, nobody knows.
How many readers saw today’s word zeppelins and said, “Nope. Not reading it today”.
Seriously, where in the bloody blue blazes is Bats going with this?!
He literally just remembered a Stan Lee quote about the environment and built a week’s worth of strips around it. Where he’s complaining about human inaction, and trying to raise awareness by doing as little as possible.
I’m telling you, people coming up with satires have a harder time doing it than Batiuk does when he’s not even trying. He throws a Stan Lee quote at us and goes back to reading his comic books: that’s his contribution to saving the world.
Alert the Pullet Surprise committee! Batiuk has “tackled” another heavy issue! They’re sure to reward this arc!
And unless the strip ends 23 days hence, we can look forward, a year from now, on his “tackling” the war in Ukraine. How the pullets will be surprised then!
I, for one, look forward to the Funkyverse all wearing blue and yellow armbands as they remember the one year anniversary of “That Cranky Dictator attacking his neighbor” and/or the arrival of a Ukrainian immigrant who will surrender all dreams of a better life when given the opportunity to plunge the toilets at Montoni’s.