It’s true: we boomers love to brag about having survived a childhood in which auto seat belts were not standard equipment, and among our childhood playthings were polonium rings, hot miniature ovens, and Lawn Darts. I’m just not sure why Maddie would take the existence of a kid’s helmet made of “off-gassing” plastics and extrapolate that to everything being dangerous in the old days. But I do like Maddie’s gleeful grin at the thought of living in the dangerous old days, and for once you can believe she’s her Act I father’s child (whatever happened to the other two?).
Wild Eyed, Crazy Maddie
Filed under Son of Stuck Funky
20 responses to “Wild Eyed, Crazy Maddie”
At first glance, I thought that maybe this was a roundabout drug-type gag, where Maddie was amused by her parents’ fume-huffing debauchery. But upon further review, I think it’s a riff on the general disregard people had for their well-being back in the 1980s. And there is a kernel of truth there, as the quality of consumer grade plastic was so poor back then that we’d often swipe Mom’s Tupperware and huff the fumes behind the school, over by the wood shop room. It was more of an ether-type buzz as opposed to airplane glue or Carbona, and it wasn’t like I was gonna pass trigonometry anyhow.
But in any event, it’s just another excuse to keep blathering on and on about that goddamned helmet. And now that we’ve learned it was all just a hallucination, it’s even more pointless. It’s kind of unbelievable that THIS was more or less his 50th anniversary arc, but here we are.
It’s the artwork. Maddie looks like her edibles just kicked in during panel two.
Yes, she’s all wide-eyed as opposed to wry, which is kind of jarring in a FW context, as everyone is usually at peak wryness all the time. They’re talking about huffing helmet fumes and tripping balls, and suddenly she’s interested in their plodding, ponderous babbling, like it’s piqued her interest or something. A strange artistic choice.
She’s way too interested, and it escalates he middle of the strip. I guess Batiuk had to pretend somebody was interested in this pointless story.
“in the middle of”
And based on the Confederate hat she is wearing, Maddie is talking about the dangerous old days of the 1860s.
From her expression in the last panel, it appears that Maddie is on the verge of a manic episode.
Old days nothin’ Maddie… just gather up a few friends and a pickup truck and head on down to the CSX line after they replace the railroad ties. Haul away as many of the old ties as you want, each one still has enough creosote on it to coat your skin for months.
Ah, 1980…back before people started caring about things. We soaked our railroad ties and telephone poles in creosote, our shampoo came in heavy, slippery glass bottles, our parents let us ride in the back of the station wagon unrestrained, and we burned our old electronics in a big pit in the swampy part of town. And everyone was fine with it, back before those well-meaning yet annoying do-gooders came along with their diet sodas, airbags and fancy Superfund sites.
Way back in the day, my parents had a slide projector (look it up) that came in a sort of fake leather-ish looking case. Sometime in the late 1970s, they put it in their attic, where it remained for several decades. When the time came to clean out that attic, I found that over the years the case had melted into a tar-like goo, which fused itself to the attic floorboard. It was impossible to move, I had to cut the floorboard around it and drag the whole vaguely slide projector-shaped mess out. The point being that I’d bet anything that BatYam was fiddling around in the attic during the pandemic.
They still do soak those railroad ties in creosote, and my silly little anecdote was an actual experience I had a little over a decade ago. The concrete back patio of my parents’ house, the house I grew up in, had sunk and was turning into a pond during rain storms so my dad had this great idea that he would build a new patio on top of it with permeable sand and gravel. What did he want to use to hem the gravel in on this new patio? Railroad ties.
Instead of looking into where to buy railroad ties that had maybe been clean, he noted that BNSF had just recently replaced all of ties on the line that ran about a half-mile from the house and when this happened the discarded old ties typically sat there for months before being picked up. So the two of us drove my old 4-cylinder Mazda pickup truck to the parking lot of a liquor store about 2 miles away that was just on the other side of the tracks and began hauling railroad ties to the bed of the truck in broad daylight.
We gathered 7 of those ties and if anyone noticed us taking them they sure didn’t car. They are some of the heaviest things I had ever had to carry, and my dad and I carried each a combined 40 yards or so from the tracks to the truck to the back yard. The little Mazda truck’s tailpipe was practically dragging on the ground as we slowly drove them back to the house. But it was the creosote that was the worst part of the experience. While we wisely wore gloves when moving the railroad ties, neither of us were prepared for the amount of creosote that smudged everything that touched each railroad tie. It took several showers for my arms to feel clean again and I think we both threw away the shirts we were wearing when moving the things. I would not recommend doing it again.
My parents sold that house and moved a couple of years later…
So I guess, off panel, Grandpa Google told Donna everything she needs to know about 48-year-old cheap plastic helmets, while getting disgracefully high* with her family. Cool.
But my main takeaway today is the return of the Pubic Steam!
*Pointless Steely Dan reference.
Given that the only strip that little Abbey and Tyler appear in, Crazy uses them as an excuse to buy multiple copies of signed trade paperbacks from famous comic creator Mopey Pete, my new headcanon is that little Abbey and Tyler were just some random kids he pretended were his in order to get more comic autographs to sell online.
Not that they were killed by off-gassing plastics while playing in the attic?
Am I allowed to ask why this “daughter” has blazing orange hair when neither of her parents do?
So why even keep the stupid helmet? Especially since Donna “graduated” to a black visor motorcycle helmet with full leathers?
According to last week’s strips, Donna randomly had blazing orange hair sometimes. Maybe it’s a recessive trait?
Clearly the helmet fumes bleached her hair blonde.
In act II, Crazy Harry had blazing orange hair. Don’t ask me why.
“So I’m afraid this old eliminator helmet is neither scientifically advanced or magically endowed.” WELL, WHAT IS IT THEN? “Trippy and possibly toxic fumes” don’t explain what we’ve been shown. We saw Harry go back to the past, and we’ve since seen the helmet make someone else disappear, which they explained as “imagining things.” We don’t have – and will never get – an explanation on what physically happened to Harry, even though there were two people there to observe it. Tomorrow he’ll probably find some 1978 quarters and a lock of Lisa’s hair in his pocket.
Batiuk’s trying to create a mystery where there is none. If he wants ambiguity about what happened, he should just skip the explanation scene. Or employ a seldom-discussed writing technique called “telling your readers what the hell is going on.”
If he wanted ambiguity, or any sense of fun to remain in recalling the Act 1 Eliminator and her occasional blips through time and space, he’d LEAVE IT ALONE.
You’re right, but talking about its on past is all Funky Winkerbean does anymore. It’s that or comic books.