Hot Button Issue

Link to Today’s Annoying Vertical Strip

“Rapping Around”??? Oh…I get it. “Rapping” meant something else in those days. Way to date yourself there, Batton. Sigh. Obviously the gag here is how Batton was tackling these timely, topical issues way, way back in the 1970s, when everyone started giving a hoot and not polluting. And Batton is all wistful about it as he realizes that his “art” made no difference whatsoever. And it’s all very hilarious, in that patented unfunny way of his. I’d like to throw the whole lot of them in that river, preferably with cinder blocks chained to their ankles.

Why is this an annoying vertical strip? Panel one, the fake strip, panel two, word balloon one, panel three, word balloon two. How hard was that? Something about that pseudo-Funky font really irks me, too. “Rapping Around” my ass.


Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

56 responses to “Hot Button Issue

  1. Banana Jr. 6000

    “I know! I’ll have my fake self show my real comic strip to the fake comic book company I created! That’ll convince me to hire myself!”

  2. William Thompson

    Can art change anything? We can’t answer that question until Batiuk gives us some art–of his own.

  3. Sourbelly

    ED, thanks for pointing out that “Rapping Around” text. The font was so muddy I initially thought it was just a black cloud hanging over the characters’ heads. I think a black cloud would have been preferable.

    As for the dialog in that panel, it’s good to see that Batton employs the same tight, concise prose that Batdick does.

  4. sorialpromise

    I believe a lot of us are sensing a decline in Mr. Batiuk’s ability. Sure it was always bad, but now? Before we had the Pizza Bandit, and Holly fighting with her overbearing mother. Then there was Dinkle. And Les seeing his dead wife feeding birds. Yes, it was crap, but it had a fresh defecating aroma to it. But this is worse than crap. It is inert. There is no organic particles in it. I come to FW only to get to SOSF. For the bloggers like TF Hackett, Epicus Doomus, ComicBookHarriet, and you wonderful others. (I’m looking at you, BillietheSkink!) then the blessed posters like batgirl, Y. Knott, and Beware of Eve Hill. I am sorry to leave most of you out. I apologize. I come here to SOSF because I enjoy your wit and creativity, not for Tom Batiuk, who apparently quit caring.

    • ComicBookHarriet

      Part of me feels bad that you’ve lost whatever tenuous respect for Batiuk you may have had. But part of me feels like Palpatine looking at a potential new apprentice.
      “Gooood. Gooooooood. Let the hate flow through you.”

      I haven’t noticed an overall drastic decline in quality lately, though a gradual decline from early Act III to this is glaringly evident. But when I look back on ‘Crazy gives wife salad dressing’ or ‘Darin and Pete go to Flash Museum’, he’s been like this for a while. I think that the length of the ‘Crazy/Donna/Eliminator’ arc coming right after Batiuk breezed through a major milestone, wore a lot of us down.

      He’s done several self-aggrandizing yet lazy arcs in a row, rather than spaced out like before…and it’s left a lot of us reeling.

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        Funky Winkerbean has become so self-indulgent it’s recursive. Most of the main characters (Les, Funky, Pete, Darren) were already Mary Sues in one way or the other. Then he created Batton Thomas, an even more blatant Mary Sue. The strip has been about comic books for years, but not in ways that would appeal to anyone else who likes comic books. Now Batiuk is using all the copies of himself to give the main copy of himself the job his real self always wanted and is still bitter about not getting. And he’s using his real artwork from that same era and his real opinions to justify it. Attack of the Clones indeed.

      • Y. Knott

        A “blessed” poster? Wow! I’m genuinely and sincerely touched by this. Thank you, sorialpromise!

        As for Batiuk’s decline, the strip now seems to have devolved into almost entirely self-congratulatory wish-fulfillment. I mean, I know FW has had those elements (self-congratulation, wish-fulfillment) for a long time. But now it’s SO pathetically front and center to SUCH an extent that one really has to question if Batiuk is currently able to function in the real world at all. He is NOT getting congratulations on his work from anyone else, and probably never will again; his specific comic-book employment wishes will never come true; nor will his desire to win a major award. Which means that his comic strips — his largely unread, universally unloved comic strips — are all he has now. It’s true, they will not garner external praise or awards … but he WILL twist them (and himself) so they fulfill his desires.

        He has to. There is no choice. There is nothing else for him now.

        So, enjoy! It will only continue to get worse.

    • be ware of eve hill

      Thanks for your reply yesterday. I appreciate it. I was just reciting the opening lyrics to a song titled Sometimes (I Feel so Uninspired). Yesterday was the second day in a row I couldn’t think of anything worthwhile to post. I have a case of snarkers block, and was feeling a little down.

      You can rest assured that I’m not going anywhere. Even on the days when I can’t come up with a worthwhile comment to post, I’ll still be here reading and upvoting the posts of others. 😉

    • be ware of eve hill

      Batty’s decline appears to be attributable to the loss of an internal filter, reminding him about what his readers would like to see in Funky Winkerbean.

      Perhaps the 50th-anniversary date of the first FW strip and his 75th birthday made Batty realize that the end is near. He has a limited amount of time left and probably has a bucket list of stories he wants to write.
      Batty: It’s my comic strip, and I’ll write about whatever I want. If you don’t like it, don’t read it.

      As @Banana Jr. 6000 said, this story arc is self-indulgent, to the point of selfishness. It’s awkward for me to read. I feel as though I’m barging in on someone’s private moment.

      (Knocking on door) Mr. Batiuk, would you like to be alone? I can come back later.

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        @Eve Hill, I really liked what you said earlier in the week about “I feel as if I’m barging into one of Batty’s private sessions with his psychiatrist.” That was really on-point. Tom Batiuk’s relationship with comic books is NOT healthy. It feels like a placeholder for some unresolved issue.

        His interest in comic books in never extends his very narrow, peculiar ideas of what things are important. And they all seem to point to something from his past: the “Imperious Rexall” where he bought them; the spinner racks he chose them from; the idea of mothers or wives throwing them away; the idea of them being worth oodles of money (with no regard to condition or rarity); people getting ideas or inspiration from them; every person in town being an enthusiast of some sort; comic book artists being upheld as the pinnacle of creativity; hating the Comics Code, even though it’s been irrelevant for decades; and above all else, his precious comic books bullpen – .his idealized vision of how the creative process would work if he were part of it.

        Atomik Komix is a gigantic, 50-year coping mechanism. As we all know, he wanted to work for Marvel, and they didn’t hire him. So he made up a comic book company that runs exactly the way Batiuk thinks one should, with none of those pesky managers or owners or creative limits or internet presence or trying not to go bankrupt or anything else he finds an intrusion on the his sacred comic book creation process. He hires two idealized versions of his younger self – Pete the brilliant writer and Darren the brilliant artist, both from good ol’ northeast Ohio, the cradle of great comic book creators. He makes up two characters that are obvious stand-ins for his heroes Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, so his Mary Sues can work alongside them, and they can see his greatness. We’ve had countless week-long arcs that are nothing more than an excuse to go through this exercise. Over and over and over again. It’s sad, really.

        • be ware of eve hill

          Some readers have wondered if Tom has developed some form of dementia. I really hope that is not the case. That would really be sad.

          Tom does appear to be exhibiting some of the symptoms of dementia.
          1.) Memory loss. He sometimes writes stories that contradict prior story arcs.
          2.) Finding it hard to carry out familiar daily tasks. Would this explain why the ridiculous lead-time of one year? Is he writing while he still has the capacity to do so? Once created, his story arcs appear set in stone. Wouldn’t the current story arc have been better suited to run during the week of Earth Day two weeks ago? His comic strips struggle to correspond with current events, i.e., Covid.
          3.) Struggling to follow a conversation or find the right word. I often find Tom’s writing style difficult to follow. Sometimes I have to re-read his sentences several times to understand them.
          4.) Being confused about time and place. This one is a bit of a reach, but it may help explain his confusion over dates. We’ve seen this issue all over the place lately, i.e., Crazy Harry was shown as a high schooler in 1980 when it was established he graduated in 1988.
          5.) Becoming obsessive. Case in point, the endless comic book story arcs. The weekly critique of The Flash comic books. It seems obsessive to me.
          6.) Loss of a social filter, a reduced sensitivity to others’ feelings Doesn’t seem to care about what would be of interest to his readers.

          My father died from complications of Alzheimer’s. I’ve known people who have died from cancer. It was awful witnessing them suffer all the pain and waste away. Someone dying from Alzheimer’s is equally sad. It was a despairing sight to watch Dad lose his personality and wither away. The big man with the booming voice was reduced to half his body weight and talked in a hoarse whisper. The smile was there but the essence of Dad was gone. He lost all the weight because some people with Alzheimer’s lose their sense of taste.

          As I said, I really hope that Tom doesn’t have dementia. That would really be sad. Hopefully, he’s just become bad at what he does.

          • be ware of eve hill

            When my father developed Alzheimer’s, it seemingly came out of nowhere. I can remember my little brother, who lived near my parents, telling me that Dad was showing signs of dementia. I told him he was overreacting. It wasn’t until I came into town during a holiday that I witnessed it for myself. My Mom was a person who liked to keep things organized and hated clutter. I don’t remember the exact question, but Mom asked Dad about what he wanted her to do with something lying on the kitchen counter. Dad angrily told her to stick it up her (you know where). An outburst at Mom I never believed could have come from Dad. My brother gave me a sad look that said, “Told ya.”

          • Y. Knott

            I’m sorry to hear of your loss Eve, and the awful circumstances surrounding it. Dementia isn’t something I’d wish on anyone.

            And yes, it would indeed be extremely sad if some sort of dementia is what Batiuk is in the early stages of … but given the evidence, it’s hard to argue that there isn’t something going on in terms of his mental acuity. Nevertheless, whatever may be happening, I hope in all sincerity that there is a loving and patient family to help him along.

          • be ware of eve hill

            @Y. Knott
            Thank you. From what Tom has shared in his blog, they seem like a nice family.

            I’m sad because a commenter in another comic forum wrote how much they missed their father. I started thinking about my Dad. Next month marks the second anniversary of his passing, and he hasn’t had his funeral service yet. Two squabbling sons are holding things up. One son because he’s selfish, lazy, and over-entitled. The other son because he’s pigheaded. He says he has taken care of Mom and Dad’s affairs over the last decade and insists that big brother needs to contribute something.

            I’d like to see this dispute resolved and have volunteered to arbitrate, only to be told to stay out of it because I’m adopted. That hurts. This man raised me, too. My birth parents died when I was three.

            Sorry. Friday (end of workweek) + wine = blather

          • sorialpromise

            You are so special to share your loss. We care about you. I pray right now that the 2 brothers reconcile and apologize to you. From your previous posting, I know your husband is supportive and loves you. Families can be such jerks. All the evidence is life is already too short. Today, you made my life and others here better!
            Life and Light!

          • be ware of eve hill


            Thank you for your kind words. I thought I may have overshared.

            We were a close-knit family until Mom died four years ago. She was the glue that kept the family together.

  5. Gerard Plourde

    Quick note- The top panel is an actual strip that TomBa did for his local paper (Chronicle-Telegram in Elyria, Ohio) before the launch of Funky Winkerbean.

    He is inserting himself into the strip.

    • William Thompson

      “He is inserting himself into the strip.”

      Serves him right!

    • J.J. O'Malley

      “He is inserting himself into the strip.”

      In the immortal words of the late Major Dennis Bloodnok, OBE, “It’s Hell in there!”

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Batiuk is inserting himself into the strip, when it was already about nothing but himself. Batton Thomas is an author avatar. Atomik Komix is the symbol of what the author wanted in life. The strip revolves around the author’s narrow interests, and his even narrower opinions about them. It reminds me of the scene from the movie Being John Malkovich where Malkovich goes into his own head.

      • ComicBookHarriet

        How did you make that thing say ‘Batiuk Batiuk’ instead of ‘Rapping Around’? I am in awe.

        • Banana Jr. 6000

          I cut up pieces of the existing letters to make the parts I needed. “Rappin’ around” had A, I, and U. B was made from the top half of R and the bottom half of U. T and K were made from bits and pieces of I and N. That part was actually easier than working with Flash’s ridiculously tall head.

    • Hannibal's Lectern

      It would be better if he were to insert the strip into himself. Preferably rolled up.

  6. billytheskink

    I’ll let Tom Leher take this one:

    “One type of song that has come into increasing prominence in recent months is the folk song of protest. You have to admire people who sing these songs. It takes a certain amount of courage to get up in a coffee house or a college auditorium and come out in favor of the things that everybody else in the audience is against, like peace and justice and brotherhood and so on.

    But the nicest thing about a protest song is that it makes you feel so good…”

    • ComicBookHarriet

      Reminds me of this vintage FW from my archive dive.

      • hitorque

        Like Les ever sang a fucking protest song on his entire life… If he actually gave a shit there are dozens upon dozens of rap groups he could have been listening to in the 80s and 90s…

      • When “disco” was a verb.

    • Anonymous Sparrow

      Tom Lehrer liked to say that he stopped writing songs when Henry Kissinger (still with us; he’ll be ninety-nine in three weeks) won the Nobel Peace Prize…and added that with John Forster around, he wasn’t really needed any longer.

      Oscar Wilde said that all art is quite useless. He also said that a cynic was a man who knew the price of everything and the value of nothing.

      • billytheskink

        Remarkably, Lehrer is still with us as well, he turned 94 in April.

        Both that introduction and the song that it is from, “The Folk Song Army” from That Was The Year That Was, have long come to my mind when TB grandstands about “substantial ideas” in FW. Lehrer’s satire in that song is not, of course, really aimed at protest songs themselves, or even the idea that they can help effect change. It’s aimed at self-congratulatory songwriters, folks who believe themselves to be brave and groundbreaking for creating art about a popular cause that is aimed at (and consumed by) people who already support that cause. It may as well be TB’s theme song.

  7. Gerard Plourde

    “Oh, we are the folk song army/
    Every one of us cares/
    We all hate poverty, war, and injustice/
    Unlike the rest of you squares.”

    Thanks for reminding me of this Tom Lehrer gem.

  8. J.J. O'Malley

    “Rappin’ Around?” What, was “How Do You Do, Fellow Kids” already taken?

  9. ComicBookHarriet

    Yes Batiuk, art can’t change anything. That’s why ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’ is completely forgotten.

    I’m sorry to say, all the ecological protesting that has happened during your lifetime has had no effect at all. That’s why whales and bald eagles are extinct, the Hudson River still regularly catches fire, and all the soil in Iowa has washed out into Louisiana.

    Are we sure that Batiuk isn’t actually a millennial?

    • Anonymous Sparrow

      In *The Autobiography of Malcolm X,* Malcolm X mentions that *Uncle Tom’s Cabin* was probably the last novel he’d read.

      Tuesday, November 25, 1862

      Harriet Beecher Stowe meets with President Lincoln in Washington, D.C., and later describes the visit as “funny.” Stowe’s 1852 book, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, became the second best-selling book of the 19th century, behind only the Holy Bible, and it helped galvanize the abolitionist movement and provided a continuing moral impetus for the North during the Civil War. According to legend, Lincoln tells her, “so you are the little woman who wrote the book that started this great war.”

      John Brown’s soul is still marching on, while Lisa Crawford Moore’s is a-moulderin’ in the grave.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Tom Batiuk thinks his opinions are the only correct ones; his causes are the only ones that matter; and that he belongs to the only generation that ever did anything of artistic merit. He doesn’t understand why everyone else doesn’t see his greatness and get in line behind him. He’s permanently stuck in the past, his ego is the size of a small planet, and he’s addicted to his own kitschy nostalgia.

      He is DEFINITELY a baby boomer.

    • Tom from Finland

      I read the message of the Rapping Around comic as:
      ”There is no point caring about the environment since environmental activists also litter”
      So Batiuk is actually correct: His art has not been able to change anything. Otherwise Hudson River would still catch fire etc.

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        This from Batton Thomas, a guy who spent a week saying “The Flash comic book opened the door to my future! It impacted my still-developing brain like a meteor!” And now he’s saying art can’t change anything. To people who are trying to do exactly that, through the exact same medium. Kind of a dickish thing to say, really.

        And Batiuk has some nerve bemoaning this. He’s basically bashing his readers for not being sufficiently inspired by his work. Well, Tom, maybe your work would be a little more inspiring if it weren’t completely half-assed. And if you weren’t fastidiously avoiding anything with any emotional weight, in favor of “time skips” that let you indulge in the shock moments and cheap pathos you love so much.

  10. robertodobbs

    Again the conflation of littering with “climate change.” Both I guess disrespecting the “environment” but totally different causes and effects. Apples and oranges.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      And this “Rappin’ Around” comic isn’t really about either. It’s a satire of phony activism. It’s about people who proclaim themselves the defenders of something, but don’t even follow the rules they would impose on others.

      It’s amazing how well this criticism applies to Funky Winkerbean nowadays. Tom Batiuk doesn’t care about the environment; he just wants to make comic book covers about it. He claims to be such an advocate of women, but the way women are treated in his world (as recently as last Sunday) tells a very different story. And of course the strip holds up Les Moore and his performative grief as a standard we should all should aspire to.

  11. Dood

    Crapping Around is far more accurate.

    • bad wolf

      I’d also accept Raping Around although highly inappropriate for the comics page

  12. touchedbydellareese

    new commenter, with two comments.
    1. Battin’ Zero here doesn’t understand protest songs or protest art. But that’s because he’s a cynical asshole, like the person the avatar represents.

    2. This strip would be more interesting if Tom Batiuk actually DID insert himself into the strip. Of course, he’d have to answer a lot of questions, and would probably be driven out of town, with the citizenry carrying torches and pitchforks. “There he is! The murderer!!” “Why did you make my wife die of cancer?” “Why did you give my husband brain damage and kill him off by driving off a cliff?” “You’re the bastard who cut off my arm and made me a BAND DIRECTOR??” “GET HIM, KILL HIM, TEAR HIM LIMB FROM LIMB! REVENGE!!!!!”

  13. hitorque

    So Batton Thomas just barged in on people trying to work just to search his online archives and show off the ONE “environmental message” comic he created for one day fifty years ago??

    • Hannibal's Lectern

      Well, how many “environmental message” strips does he have to write before the P. U. Litzer committee recognizes his genius?

  14. Hannibal's Lectern

    Of course, if BatHack wanted to actually do something serious on the subject of litter (not climate change, but an increasingly important issue as we learn more about micro-plastics and their effect on the ecosystem), he might start with the revelation that both the “Keep America Beautiful” anti-litter campaigns of my childhood and the current “Recycle Your Plastic” campaigns of today are driven by the packaging industry. The intent is to shift responsibility from the corporations making single-use packaging to the individuals who buy it (as if we have any choice). The industry is terrified that the public might decide we really don’t need all this plastic that exists simply to look pretty on a store shelf, drive impulse purchases, and then be thrown away.

    Matter of fact, that’s something the old High-School Hijinx version of FW could have done: imagine a character who insists packaging is unnecessary, and as a protest removes all the single-use packaging from her purchases at the store, saying “this mess is YOUR problem, not MINE!” Then imagine such a thing following the Alice’s Restaurant rule (“…if three people do it, they might think it’s a conspiracy, and if fifty people a day–can you imagine, fifty people a day–they might think it’s a movement. And that’s what it’ll be*…”). Hilarity ensues as the store tries to figure out what to do with the trash that they assumed their customers would handle.

    Heck, he could still do it with the current strip; he’s still got a few high school characters. It could be meaningful and even funny.

    Nah. BatHack would lose interest halfway through and go back to komix.

    • Rusty Shackleford

      If he wanted to do something he could stop publishing. Just think of all the paper that was wasted on Lisa’s trilogy. All those unsold copies are going to get pitched sooner or later.

    • Anonymous Sparrow

      Someone’s asking for a study in Washington of their fingerprints! Kids, don’t let this happen to you!

  15. Banana Jr. 6000

    And in today’s Crankshaft, Batiuk re-uses a pun from a 1999 episode of Futurama. A pun that was used to illustrate how lame an animatronics show was. Batiuk plays it completely straight. And this man wonders why he doesn’t win awards.

  16. newagepalimpsest

    More like “You’d have to be 3 o’Clock High to think this won’t look like crap in a modern newspaper.”

    • Anonymous Sparrow

      A 3 O’Clock High is the best high in the world, especially when you learn to kill your snakes yourself.

      That’s Donovan (“Rikki Tikki Tavi”), who mentions Superman and Green Lantern (but not the Flash!) in another song (“Sunshine Superman”).

  17. saneharry

    A single comic strip with a throwaway joke didn’t singlehandedly fix climate change? I cant believe it!