Hip to be square

I’m sure Epicus Doomus is happy to not be blogging about old men having boring conversations for the first time in months weeks (tip of the Funky felt-tip to you for your endurance), but neither I (billytheskink, hello there) nor the readers are going to be so lucky. Nope, today’s strip offers a change of venue but not of subject, old men just won’t stop blandly contemplating the decline of themselves and their worlds… and our venue may well shift back to last week’s graveyard by the end of the week if Crazy can’t name that tune in 12 notes.

Yep, Crazy’s a goner. Dang, and I had Frd Fairgood in the death pool.


Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

50 responses to “Hip to be square

  1. Captain Gladys Stoatpamphlet

    That’s a jukebox; it can’t have a song later than the 80s. This is not about being hip; it’s age-related mental decline.

    • ComicBookHarriet

      I don’t doubt there’s a way to rig jukeboxes to play newer songs. I mean last June it had Frank Sinatra, Carole King, and THE BLACK KEYS (2001) Adella selected Beatles ‘Rain’ a couple years ago, and visible in the close up also was ‘Paperback Writer’, and ‘Papa oh Papa’ and ‘Cemetery Shoes’ by Johnny Dowd. Though a couple months later Wally picks Marah’s ‘So What if We’re Out of Tune’ and ‘Pizzeria’ is visible… and that song is from 2005…so IDK. Seems like the jukebox has whatever Funky and Wally like on it. And if I were putting together a playlist of my favorite bops, it would be a pretty eclectic multi genre and decade collection.

  2. Epicus Doomus

    “Gee, Crazy, what was it like way back in the day when you WERE hip? How have things changed since then?”…sigh. Too much Crazy Harry…something I never imagined I’d have to say. Yet here we are, with another week of fry-brained Harry and his meandering Act III sad-sackery. Crazy’s Act III fall from grace bothers me the most, as his only high school crime was being really cool, yet here he is, still paying for it a million years later. This comic strip is so spiteful sometimes.

    • erdmann

      Crap. Hit thumbs down by mistake!

      • Y. Knott

        I never see any thumbs up/down things. Where are they?

        • @Y. Knott, the site uses a WordPress plugin that lets visitors upvote/downvote comments. Looks like this on my Windows laptop running Chrome (I can also see ’em on my iPhone).

          • Y. Knott

            Huh. On my Mac running FIrefox, the thumbs up/thumbs down and “rate this” icon simply don’t appear. At all. Under any of the comments.

            So everyone, please just assume I like your comments!

      • Sourbelly

        Uh huh. Sounds like ED’s Mad Downvoter WANTS to be caught. (j/k)

      • be ware of eve hill

        Whenever I mistakenly downvote a post, I discovered *spazzing out on the upvote thumb will change your vote.

        *Spazzing in a panic, not required. One or two clicks on the upvote thumb should change your vote. I don’t believe there is a time limitation.

      • be ware of eve hill

        I gave you a downvote yesterday evening for testing purposes. Today I clicked on upvote using the same browser/machine and my vote changed. No time limitation.

        Thou art downvote free, erdmann

  3. William Thompson

    I’m not sure I’d want to recognize anything on the Montoni’s jukebox. It’s all from the Payola Records catalog, isn’t it?

    • none

      That or Johnny Dowd, as was shown in a prior strip.

      Of his many crimes, making me be aware that this person exists is towards the top of my list.

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        I am with you on that one. Johnny Dowd is the Tom Batiuk of music. Can’t write, can’t sing, can’t carry a tune, puts out massive amounts of material. Thinks he’s some kind of artist’s artist, because he loves to drone on about his “process.” I challenge anyone to watch more than 30 seconds of this:

        • be ware of eve hill

          More like Johnny Dudd. The least interesting man in the world.

          Johnny: I don’t always drink beer, but when I do, it’s the unfinished open beers at the local bar.

  4. Sourbelly

    Did Ayers call in a backup artist for panel 2? It seems even worse than the typical Ayers effort. The line work on Qwazy and Funkface looks totally different (Qwazy looks like he has a swelled-shut black eye caked with eyeliner), and the pixelated framed pictures look nothing like what Ayers would draw. Is Ayers simply losing the will to draw three panels a day for this dreck? I would totally understand that.

    • be ware of eve hill

      Crazy Harry has pink eye in panel #2. Communicable diseases are a common side effect of the Montoni’s dining experience.

  5. be ware of eve hill

    “Crazy” Harry hasn’t been hip since Act I. Whatever happened to the air guitar virtuoso who also played pizzas on his turntable? Like most of the cast, excluding Les, Harry peaked in high school.

    More of Batty’s mawkish tales from the dark side. Is it time for an intervention? Can one of our Northeast Ohio snarkers perform a welfare check on Batty? Should I send him a fruit basket?

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      I’m afraid a welfare check on Tom Batiuk would discover that he died in 2016, and nobody at the syndicate knows who’s been submitting strips since then.

      • be ware of eve hill

        Mrs. Batiuk has been submitting strips from Batty’s reject pile. Wait, that can’t be right. Batty has no reject pile.
        Batty: First idea is the best idea. *smirk*

        Zanzibar, the murder chimp?


        Over in the CK discussion, I used to joke that Batty had a Cocker Spaniel named ‘Sparky’ who served as his reluctant editor. Whenever Batty presented an idea, Sparky would cover his head with his paws and whine.

  6. Gerard Plourde

    A jukebox? Really? Back when Harry was still working for the postal service, he had a smartphone and was complaining about genius suggestions based on his playlist history.

  7. billytheskink

    To make matters worse for Crazy, dressing like Steve Jobs isn’t hip any longer either. On the plus side, he has only eaten the FDA-approved 0 grams of Montoni’s infamous whole black olive pizza thus far.

  8. J.J. O'Malley

    You know, conflating the phrases “my hip is bad” and “I’m not hip” is the sort of unfunny wordplay I expect to see over in Batiuk’s other strip.

  9. ComicTrek

    Wait, what? How is business still bad? Everyone goes there for everything! Out for lunch, a place to chat with friends, a Christmas meal for the homeless, a break from a diet…

    Even Mason Jarre is a regular! How is *that* not good for business?

    • batgirl

      Westview, population: 13
      Westview population already employed by Montoni’s: 8
      Westview population who only buy coffee: 3
      Westview population who actually buy a meal: 2

      Come to think of it, the jukebox may be a stronger player in the Westview economy than Montoni’s itself.

      • ComicTrek

        That was my mistake. I was looking at the parody instead of clicking on the actual link. I confused the parody with a preview of the real thing. Sorry! The rant was in no way directed at BillyTheSkink!

        • billytheskink

          I’m happy to hear that putting together the letters in “As bad as business at Montoni’s?” is convincing enough to pass for TB and Chuck’s work… though maybe I shouldn’t be.

    • ComicTrek

      Oh, didn’t click the link. My bad. It just goes to show how a parody and the real strip can get mixed up! Please disregard!

      • Y. Knott

        The key difference, of course, is that SoSF parodies are actually entertaining. Which means that if you read an FW strip or panel on this site and you laugh, smile, or are amused or intrigued in any way … you know the SoSF crew have been at work!

    • Green Luthor

      I know you didn’t realize that was the parody, but I still feel it should be pointed out that one of Funky’s AA stand-up routines was about how bad business was during the pandemic. The pandemic that had people regularly ordering out for food, so Montoni’s, as the only restaurant in Westview, should have seen a surge in business. But… nope, apparently they did terrible business, which can only lead one to conclude that Montoni’s food is so awful that most people (i.e., everyone in Westview who isn’t a named character) wouldn’t eat it even during the apocalypse. (Which then raises the question of how they stay in business during non-pandemic times, of course. I’m thinking “money laundering front for the Mafia”.)

  10. batgirl

    I’m trying to imagine the setup line for this, and I’m not coming up with anything plausible.
    But why hasn’t TB included it? Unnatural & implausible dialogue never bothers him usually.

    • The Duck of Death

      A cromulent setup might be:
      Flunky: You look uncomfortable, Harry. What’s troubling you?
      Harry: Hip trouble.
      Flunky: Oh, arthritis?
      Harry: No — I’m having trouble understanding what’s hip nowadays.
      Harry: No — I find it troubling that this kind of music is hip nowadays.

      This makes more sense, especially since Crazy should be delivering the punchline to his own “joke,” but still isn’t remotely funny. Part of the reason is that music hasn’t been called “hip” (at least unironically) in at least 50 years, so it’s nonsensical to call current hits “hip.”

      The best setup would have been to write this gag down on a piece of paper, look at it, and hurriedly hurl it into the nearest garbage can, or a fire if one is handy.

      As usual, it’s futile to dissect a Batiuk gag to find out where it went wrong, because the answer is always “everywhere, and from conception.”

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        I remember this joke from January 1991:

        Q. What do Vanilla Ice and Bo Jackson have in common?
        A. Artificial hip.

        You see, Jackson had a hip injury, and Vanilla Ice’s lameness was a thing people still had to point out.

  11. Perfect Tommy

    So it looks like CK is a pay site now huh?

    • Not exactly. You need to clear your cookies if you want to read more than eleven strips, or else you’ll start getting that banner in place of the comic strip. I’ve developed the habit of clearing the cookies before I start reading, then when I start getting the banner (around Rex Morgan MD), clear the cookies again and resume reading.

      • Perfect Tommy

        I get that, but it’s kind of a drag to always have to re-sign into everything.

      • J.J. O'Malley

        I for one refuse to give CK the satisfaction of clearing my cookies, so I just blow up the “Buy a Print” picture of the strip to a size where I can read it and go from there (plus I have no idea how to clear cookies).

        • I primarily use the Chrome browser, which give you the option of clearing out only the cookies that were created in the past hour, but then I just installed Firefox, which uses its own set of cookies, and pretty much use Firefox exclusively for CK, so clearing cookies doesn’t bother me so much.

  12. Banana Jr. 6000

    Let me put your mind at rest, Harry… you were never hip. You were a G-rated stoner in a D-minus comic strip, 30-plus years ago. You were a lesser version of Funky. The only reason you’re memorable at all is your pizza-on-the-record-player shtick. Which makes no sense, but Funky Winkerbean is so bland and forgettable that this sticks in people’s minds somehow.

    You want to be cool again, Harry? Face any direction away from Montoni’s and Crankshaft, and just start walking. Don’t say goodbye to Funky, your wife, your job, your adult child, or anything else. Don’t even pay your tab. Just walk away from Westview and never look back, “Hungry Heart” style. Odds are you’ll stumble into a better comic strip, where you can be the cool old guy with the ponytail who openly smokes pot, free from the oppressive yoke of Lisa, comic books, and forced wryness. Too bad Retail stopped publishing; you would have fit in well there.

    It’s the town, Harry. Westview gives everyone cancer, either figuratively or literally.

    • The Duck of Death

      Forgive me, for I am about to do the unthinkable: Defend Tom Batiuk’s work.

      Crazy Harry, in the early years, seemed to live in a bubble of surreality. The early FW always knowingly deployed ridiculous exaggeration and absurdity (which is what made it good), but Crazy Harry seemed to be living in his own extra-crazy world. For example, he lived in his locker, and the gag was that the locker actually contained a full-size apartment. In one memorable strip, a real estate showed the interior of the locker to a young couple looking for a starter home. The funniest part of this is that the interior was always left entirely to the imagination, though it was often commented on.

      Playing a pizza on a turntable, apparently successfully, is a logical thing in Harry’s Dadaist world. It worked because it wasn’t a departure from his usual life. It wasn’t a standalone gag; it was part of his character to attempt the impossible or ridiculous, and succeed, deadpan.

      I have no idea how TB abandoned the character-based humor that makes long-running strips work and went to a sort of low-rent gag-a-day format somehow shoehorned into a soap opera strip filled with indistinguishable potato-shaped whiners.

      As I’ve said before, most people get better at their craft over time, or at least plateau and begin a slow decline. TB’s skill level, at some point, started to plunge like Bull’s car off Nobottom Road.

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        No, you’re right. There was something fun and likable about Act I Harry. His pointlessness had a point, which you’ve described well. Now he’s just another smug, comic book-addled, potato-shaped whiner like the rest of them. It’s sad.

      • You could see it in CBH’s magnificent retrospective series. FW was at its best when it was at its most whimsical. There was no attempt to adhere to actual reality. That’s how we got the pizza on the turntable, the habitable school locker, the hall monitor with a machine gun (though that’s turning out to be closer to reality that I’d like), and the sapient computer. It wasn’t until he decided to switch to a reality based strip and depict characters in the real world that it became tiresome. He’d keep trying to shoehorn whimsical things into the stories (pizza box monster, the band selling mattresses door to door, etc) but they just never fit into the new mold of the comic strip. To some extent, they’ve been a little more successful with whimsy in Crankshaft, but a lot of the gags (exploding BBQ grill, Lena’s incompetence, Bean’s End) are getting old and tired.

        • batgirl

          This is a brilliant analysis. I feel like it should be a post rather than just a comment.

  13. Banana Jr. 6000

    Just like yesterday’s strip, the joke is ridiculously forced. People don’t say “my hip is bad” when they mean “I am no longer current with modern trends.” Hell, people don’t even use the word “hip” that way anymore; it sounds like you’re describing a 1950s jazz club. It’s not even a word you’d say unless you’re trying to be ironic.

  14. So, is this week’s story that Crazy is no longer “hip” (as suggested by the “I used to be cool.” bubble in the masthead), or is it that Crazy’s actual hip is bad, meaning that he needs to get a hip replacement? Either way, I guess we can expect a week’s worth of bad “hip” jokes.

  15. Y. Knott

    Advanced Studies in Hip, with Professor Blossom Dearie (citing the work of Dr. Dave Frishberg):

  16. Banana Jr. 6000

    Huey Lewis and the News’ “Hip To Be Square” was just the song of the week by Leo Moracchioli, aka Frog Leap Studios. If you’ve never heard of this guy, he makes heavy metal covers (and accompanying music videos) of… well, damn near anything. Well worth a YouTube binge if you like this kind of music.

  17. be ware of eve hill

    May 11, 2022 at 10:59 pm
    You’re a Plugger if you check the newspaper obituaries every day for your favorite celebrities.
    — Thanks to Tom Batiuk of Ohio

    Anybody read Pluggers today? It’s about reading obituaries. 🤣

    A most prescient post, erdmann!

    • The Duck of Death

      You’re a Plugger *and* an asshole if you check the newspaper every day for obituaries, and then attend the funerals of people you care nothing about, the way that the protagonist of Fight Club went to cancer support meetings even though he didn’t have cancer, just to feel something somewhere in his numb, dead soul.

      Except the Fight Club Narrator didn’t spend all his time at the cancer support meetings cheerfully chattering irrelevant snark while other people were trying to focus on the speaker and deal with their feelings of grief.

      • To be fair, you don’t really need to be a psychic to predict that Pluggers is going to do a strip about obituaries. It’s one of their favorite topics.