Oh, good. Logan, got my advice. Despite presumably having the entire summer to continue seeing each other, Logan is drawing a line under this date. Never again! After this is over, she’s never going to go to the mall with Malcolm, never going to eat ice cream with Malcom, and never going to watch a Marvel movie ever again. Good for her.
I do find the meta-joke funny here. (Not the strip itself, it’s pretty clumsy.) They went to see ‘the latest Marvel movie.’ Batiuk’s writes everything a year in advance, but he knew there would be ‘a latest Marvel movie’, no matter when this arc ran. There is always a latest Marvel Movie. There will always be latest Marvel Movie. The virtual reality computer chips Elon Musk will get us all to implant in our heads 20 years from now will come with Disney+ preinstalled and undeletable, and our decaying brain matter will be eternally wirelessly downloading the latest Marvel Movie as we lay dead and rotting in our Disney Corporate caskets in the Magic Kingdom to Come.
Weird that Logan is saying this is the first time they’ve ever eaten ice cream together. I mean, they’ve been friends, at least casually, for years. We saw them hanging out at Komix Korner together after school. But they’ve never eaten ice cream in proximity? Or just gone to the mall to kill time with Bernie and Connor?
Wait, what mall is this?
Thanks to strips the glorious Batiukstorian, Billy The Skink, dug up last week, we know at some point there was a Westview Mall. At least at the time of Les and Cindy’s graduation. Which surprises me because Westview doesn’t seem like a big enough town to support a thriving mall. Especially now that malls everywhere are dying a slow agonizing death.
When Cayla farmed her daughters out as labor for Christmas break in 2020, they certainly weren’t working at the Westview Mall.
‘TH’ Mall is probably supposed to be Mammoth Mall; the mall in Centerview where Crankshaft used to traumatize children as a photo op Santa.
Mammoth Mall is also where a very late Act II Darin and Pete went in 2006 for Senior Skip Day.
And at the time Mammoth Mall is referred to, by both Linda and Pete as THE Mall. So I think we can safely assume that Mammoth Mall in Centerview is ‘the mall’ for both towns.
But, that doesn’t make any sense. Because Crankshaft learns in 2019, (and ten years in the past?) that the mall was supposed to be closing.
Indeed, in 2017 the Mammoth Mall was already as empty as the mall from Silent Hill 3, and full of similar haunting horrors.
Of course, in August 2019 there was still enough of a crowd for Crankshaft to taunt multiple groups of innocent children about the inevitability of summer’s end.
And for the 2020 Christmas season, either a year or eleven years after Cranky got fired from his Santa gig, there wasn’t a shortage of traffic.
So Mammoth Mall is Schrodinger’s Shopping Complex. When unseen it is both dying and fine simultaneously. But when observed in strip it is always either dying or fine, based on Batiukian forces beyond our understanding.
In a way, it stands for the dual fates of malls in modern society. Many are sad, desperate shells, full of broken dreams, and dentist offices. Some are still doing fine, still a hub for women to shop, teens to hang, and men to wait on benches staring blandly at their phones. And I’m guessing that everyone is within day-trip distance of one of each kind.
When my mom calls me up and asks if I want to go to the mall, I always wonder which one she means: The living, or the dead?
36 responses to “Mall Marvels”
Not many “first dates” begin with the parties in question declaring that it’s the very last time they’ll see one another, as that’s typically something that’s left unspoken. I mean yeah, it’s June 2nd, not August 31st, so beats me why they can’t get together again. Batiukian logic, I suppose. It seems kind of hard to believe that they’d have anything else to do, as they’re already resorting to going to the mall one day after graduation. It’s kind of sad when you think about it.
Batiuk is always skipping over the part of the story he should be telling. Why is this the last time they’ll have ice cream together? There’s plenty of summer left, are they going to different colleges? Why is she talking to him so bluntly about their non-future? How did the conversation get to this awkward place so quickly?
I feel like I just watched the 3rd and 63rd minute of a romcom, and skipped the hour in between. The story went straight from the meet cute to the second act breakup. It’s called not writing!
Time is an incredibly fluid concept in FW. Since financial aid details usually aren’t worked out until later in the summer and the back to school sales don’t kick in until late July or early August, we might posit from the dialogue that the date we’re seeing is happening sometime in late August. But Heaven forbid that TomBa would save the arc until then.
Or he waffles back and forth. Oh, people are so greedy and materialistic, but then he is all sad that the mall is all closed up…only to then show the mall as a bustling place where young people actually want to go.
As the Mall just opened, CBH, come join me at Border’s books.
I know you have read the Iliad, and the Aeneid, but have you read the Mabinogion? First half was good, last half had too many yada, yada, yada over the best parts. How about Thebaid, or Lucan? Finally, no one does medieval history better than C.S. Lewis: Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Literature.
You are pretty well read in-between the Farm and the gas station.
Love and Light
You better have room on your card for the ice cream!
Actually, it’s a really funny thing. I haven’t read the Aeneid.
I researched translations, picked out a good one, bought it. And I’ve started it a dozen times. Every time I go on vacation I tell my best friend, “I’m bringing the Aeneid. I’m going to read it this time.” And every time… I only get a dozen or so pages in.
Not like the Divine Comedy. Read that. Inferno gets all the flash, but I actually liked Purgatory better.
We are so similar. I have 2 copies of the Divine Comedy, and haven’t read it yet.
Regards the Aeneid, I had to read one graphic novel, and then the Classics Illustrated before I could finish Virgil.
This seems like a site Batdick would enjoy:
I must admit that I enjoy seeing the chinless guy in the traveling green shirt in the background of panel 2. Maybe he’s kin to Lawrence Fletcher.
The Westview Mall of late Act I seemed to exist largely to set up gags for Cindy. If I recall correctly, there are a couple of strips in late Act I where it is heavily implied that Cindy keeps the Mall in business. In one, the Mall throws a huge welcome back party for Cindy, who had been grounded by her parents and forbidden from going to the mall. In another, Cindy gets hit in the head with a soccer ball in gym class and starts acting hippie-ish, wearing her hair down and treating people nicely. Her friends cure her of this personality shift by taking her to the mall, which had been missing her and her credit cards.
Travelling green shirt guy reminds me of Eddie Deezen.
So, a dweebish guy is out on a pseudo-date with a girl too good looking for him; she for all intents and purposes tells him to his face that this is their first and final social outing as a couple; and the nerd only takes offense when she says something he sees as derogatory towards that most comic book-like of movie milieus, the MCU. Yep, for two people whom we’ve barely seen interact over the past several years, Logan and Malcolm sure seem to have the basics of “Funky Winkerbean” heterosexual interaction down pat.
What even happened here? Last we saw they were going to a movie; did she break up with him during the opening credits? And is he too stupid or pigheaded to realize that’s what happened? If your date is telling you there are no more mall trips or ice creams, that means there’s no more Marvel movies either, dude. But in this universe, refusing to go away when you’ve been dumped is probably how he gets the girl. The girl who’s way more accomplished than he is.
And Jesus H. Christ, does EVERYTHING have to be about comic books? Grow up Tom Batiuk. GROW. UP.
(Forehead slap) 🤦♀️
She’s buying him ice cream too?!
Remind me, who asked who out?
Would I be surprised to discover Logan provided the transportation to the mall?
Why don’t you just give him your house key?
Logan: Here’s my house key. My parents are at work. Take whatever you want.
Oh, well. When somebody asks Logan what was her worst date ever, she can bring up this one.
This is what happens when you write the story around the gags, instead of vice versa. Batiuk wanted to dump on student loans, and in doing so he rendered the rest of this week’s arc non-viable. They can’t go to a movie when he has no way to pay for it. The end. Even worse, this is supposed to an accomplished, media-savvy girl who wouldn’t need to put up with such lousy treatment.
But Logan said “I got this” — looked like she was paying for the tickets. Is this their dinner before the movie? Maybe it’s the city girl in me — I never even saw a mall till I was in my 20s on a road trip — but a first date in a mall food court just sounds depressingly on-brand for Westview Hopelessness™️. For those of you who grew up hanging out at malls, is this a fun casual first date for teens or a dreary indicator of the inevitable greased skids that loom before you as you enter adulthood?
Hi Duck. I hate to see you left hanging, especially on a thread I started.
I remember my first visit to a shopping mall. It had just been built and it was colossal! There were three anchor stores and a fountain in the middle that shot water 30 feet into the air. It had twin movie theaters as huge as stadiums. To the eyes of a six-year-old, the place was a wonder. Oddly, I don’t remember a food court. There was the restaurant inside Woolworth’s and a Brown Derby.
I can’t really help you with your dating question because I never dated in high school. I chummed around with my gal pals and usually went to football or basketball games on Fridays and Saturdays. We usually went out for pizza afterwards. Pizza and a Pepsi.
When we lived in KC, my son would often take his dates to a second run movie theater and afterwards would go to the local drive-in for a burger and a root beer. We had a local mall, but it didn’t have any movie theaters. The mall had a food court, but the food there was ghastly.
P.S. “Maybe it’s the city girl in me”. 🤯
Duck, you’re a gal? I always had you pegged as a guy. Your writing has always struck me as kind of… aggressive.
For those of you who grew up hanging out at malls, is this a fun casual first date for teens or a dreary indicator?
In my high school, it was a perfectly good date option, but for unique reasons. Our neighboring town got a brand new, high-end mall at the time. It had fancy stores like Bloomingdale’s, Neiman Marcus, and Saks Fifth Avenue, that our area had never seen before. So it was a very fashionable place to go. We wouldn’t be caught dead at the boring old mall in our town, which was perfectly adequate and not even eight years old.
Look up “mall vaporwave” videos on YouTube. It’ll be some faux-retro 80s synth music, playing against vintage camcorder clips of fancy malls that probably rotted from disuse 25 years ago. It was THAT mall.
A new Funkyblog entry I found revealing:
“The hero in chains splash. You’d be amazed at how ubiquitous these are.”
That’s it. That’s the entire entry. Splash pages in comic books that feature the hero in chains are ubiquitous. Thank you for that brilliant insight, Mr. Comic Book Expert. And you’ll never guess which superhero is in his example! Would you believe its The Flash?
Tom Batiuk has devoted an entire section of his blog to his favorite part of his favorite comic books, which he already talks about incessantly. And all he has to say about it is “this exists.” If boring was a superpower, this would be it. What can you say about a 75-year-old man who’s obsessed with comic books, and constantly works them into his writing, but can’t make them the tiniest bit fun or even interesting?
I’ve said this before, but I’m always flabbergasted when TB highlights a favorite comic book and writes a thousand words about it — and all he does is recount the entire plot in detail.
Can you imagine if someone said, “Tell me about your favorite movie,” and you decided to tell them about (say) Groundhog Day. And instead of saying, “It’s about this very negative guy who has to live the same day over and over, and in the process he learns to be a better person,” you literally recounted the entire plot of the movie from the very beginning?
“Oh, sure! I love to talk about Groundhog Day. It’s sure a movie, believe me. So Phil Connors is a weatherman for Channel 9 in Pittsburgh. That’s in Pennsylvania, by the way. It’s Western Pennsylvania. It’s actually not far from Ohio! So Phil Connors is on Channel 9 giving the forecast for Groundhog Day, because it’s February 1, the day before Groundhog Day. And he says there’s a blizzard coming but that it won’t hit the area….[snip 9745 words]… tells Rita he wants to live with her in Punxsutawney.”
FYI, if your comment doesn’t show, don’t fret, the spam filter has been kind of pissy today and it’s flagging comments with links. You will be approved, so no worries!
It’s actually rather poignant because Logan realizes this is the last week she and Thatsnought will ever appear in the strip. Batty is finished with them and, essentially, they will cease to exist. There will be no more dates because there will be no more Logan and Thatsnought.
Perhaps tomorrow a wall of white will close in on them, ala “Crisis on Infinite Earths.” On Saturday, as they embrace and pledge their undying love for each other, the antimatter wave will engulf them. Sunday’s strip will be a single panel, blank except for a narration box in the lower right corner — “Tomorrow: Act IV.”
Yeah, they’re not talking about the last summer before adulthood, and they’re not talking about relationships.
Now, now, he finally has a name, so let’s always call him “Malcolm,” and recall Mal Duncan who was also the Guardian, the Herald and Hornblower in the Teen Titans.
I liked your nod to *Crisis on Infinite Earths,* which made me think of Ray Bradbury’s “There Will Come Soft Rains.” EC Comics adapted the story beautifully for *Weird Fantasy* #17; the artist is Wally Wood.
Here’s Sara Teasdale’s poem of the same name.
“There Will Come Soft Rains”
There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,
And swallows circling with their shimmering sound;
And frogs in the pools singing at night,
And wild plum-trees in tremulous white;
Robins will wear their feathery fire
Whistling their whims on a low fence-wire;
And not one will know of the war, not one
Will care at last when it is done.
Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree
If mankind perished utterly;
And Spring herself, when she woke at dawn,
Would scarcely know that we were gone.
They used to think that cowboy matinees and traveling musicals would be popular forever too!
The real surprise here — it’s a surprise to me, anyway — is that TB appears to like capesh!t movies. He’s made it clear that the premiere of the Batman TV show in 1966 literally scarred him for life, and he’s still fiery mad about it 56 years later. Given that, I’m really surprised that he hasn’t found a million rage-inducingly objectionable things about the Marvel and DC cinematic universes.
I don’t think today’s namedrop has anything to do with the movies. I think TB is still fishing Marvel for that comic book writing job he didn’t get in 1973.
This is the blog post where he talks about it. It’s a window into how arrogant and self-entitled this man is. It’s a also fine example of his “and then this happened and then this happened and then this happened” second-grade book report writing style you mentioned above.
The Trials of Tom: In fact, when I first showed up on Marvel’s doorstep looking for work, my stories were aimed for their horror mags (I aimed low figuring that they would immediately move me to Spider-Man once they saw how well I could write) and I had a lot of stuff like vampires, werewolves and some people dying, all of which I was informed were verboten by the Comics Code. My timing was just a little off, because not long after the code was revamped to the extent that you could not only mention vampires… they could have their own book for Jiminy Cricket’s sake.
I love this story, because if you read just a teensy bit between the lines, it tells a different story entirely.
Batiuk showed up at Marvel, thinking he was ready for the big leagues. He believed his writing and art could stand proudly alongside the work of Gil Kane, Stan Lee, Dennis O’Neil, John Romita, Neal Adams, Carmine Infantino, Jack Kirby, etc.
If his work had shown tremendous promise, it would have been shown to the higher-ups and he would have most likely been put in the farm leagues, perhaps allowed to do some inking or story punch-ups or something, whatever they did to develop talent. Or perhaps he would have been sent home to do a story on spec. I don’t know how they did it, but I’m sure they had a pipeline to nurture up-and-coming talent.
If his work had shown just a small amount of promise, someone would have taken him aside and given him a critique, explained what they were looking for, and told him to work on his weak spots and come back in a year with an improved portfolio.
But they clearly wanted nothing to do with him, so they told him, “Uh, kid, you drew vampires and people dying in your portfolio, so, uh, it’s gonna be a no from us. Comics Code, you know. Nothing we can do. The secretary will show you out.”
It’s the most transparent fob-off I think I’ve ever read, and he’s never seen through it. Oh, self-deception, thy name is Thomas.
Batiuk inadvertently admits that he didn’t even know what the Comics Code permitted at the time. It was initially amended in January 1971 to allow “vampires, ghouls and werewolves.” So it’s not like this happened the morning of his interview. And who did he blame? The Comics Code, of course. It’s been a punching bag in his blog and in FW itself many times. Because Tom Batiuk cannot let go of anything, ever.
As for getting a critique, there’s also this story where TB describes being savaged by DC Comics but getting a polite letdown from Marvel. And it’s full of the same self-important egotism and inability to face reality.
Damn, he really wrote that? And he wonders why he didn’t get hired.
I don’t feel bad snarking in him.
Did this really happen in 1973? By that time, Marvel was publishing *Werewolf by Night* and *Tomb of Dracula.* Not to mention *Man-Thing*!
I can believe it happening in 1969, when Sauron was a convenient way of getting around the vampire prohibition in *The X-Men* and horror anthologies were returning at DC (*The House of Mystery,* *The House of Secrets* and *The Witching Hour*) and Marvel (*Chamber of Darkness* and *Tower of Shadows*), but not in 1973.
I’m not sure, actually. I could have sworn one of his blog entries said at least one of his Marvel interviews was after Funky Winkerbean started in 1972, but now I can’t find it. What I did find, spread in bits and pieces across multiple blog posts, suggest that it was more like 1969-1970. But as far as I know, the Comics Code wasn’t changed between 1954 and January 1971. So Batiuk’s story can only have been true after that.
That’s a prodigious bowl of ice cream to say it came from a mall food court. What did that cost? About $10?
Nice job, Malcolm. You’ve driven poor Logan into stress eating.
Humph. Men. 🙍♀️
Ugh… Can these two just cut to the chase and have their nerdy awkward “don’t-want-to-arrive-on-campus-with-my-virginity-intact” sex already??