Why Is There A Raccoon’s Ass On Your Shelf?

Link to today’s strip

I don’t know why Phil’s bringing up that anecdote about Picasso moving rather than cleaning his studio. Apparently he moved to Ohio less than a year ago, and his new home has become this cluttered in that little time.

One of Tom Batiuk’s favorite tropes is on display today: elderly men acting like teenaged boys. Phil Holt is ancient, and he’s also an analog to one of Batiuk’s real-life comic book heroes. And this is how he gets portrayed? Like a 15-year-old who’s had a girl show up at his house unexpectedly? But of course, she thinks it’s cute and endearing. Ugh.

This doesn’t feel right for either character. Phil seems more like a neat freak to me. Like he stores all his pencils in the box they came in. Kitch runs a highfalutin’ art gallery. She might be used to the eccentricities of artists, but she wouldn’t find them charming. This is a great example of how all 300 characters in Funky Winkerbean are all the same person, differentiated only by gender.

Seriously, though: why does Phil Holt have a raccoon’s ass on his shelf?

That’s not a cat or dog. Phil doesn’t seem like a pet owner anyway, and he’s certainly not Ace Ventura. It’s the kind of detail that doesn’t belong in a quarter-inch-from-reality strip. If you want to make Phil messy (and ignore all the problems with that I already mentioned), then he should be messy in ways that make sense for his snippy personality. A random raccoon is the kind of detail you see in Animal House, to show how bonkers the frat party was. Or in Bloom County.


Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

44 responses to “Why Is There A Raccoon’s Ass On Your Shelf?

  1. William Thompson

    The raccoon’s ass is a coonskin hat. When Disney ran some shows about Davy Crockett, “King of the Wild Frontier,” that type of hat was part of the Fess Parker’s costume. Caps like that were mass-produced for us baby boomers, and were a big fad in the mid-Fifties. It’s the sort of kitsch Batiuk would remember.

    • William Thompson

      Fun facts I recall from back then: Those coonskin caps were made from whatever sort of animal fur was available, bleached, then dyed to look, vaguely, like raccoons (the ones who show up on my porch are gray and black, not tan and black). Skunk fur was a common substitute.

      An authentic coonskin cap used the entire pelt of the raccoon, including its head and forelegs, so the real Davy Crocket would have looked like he had a dead raccoon draped over his head. Actual raccoon fur repels water, so it makes a good rain hat.

      • Gerard Plourde

        Regarding Disney’s Davy Crockett – Given that Phil Holt and Flash Freeman were adults working for Batom Comics when those episodes aired and that the caps were marketed to kids, I find it weird and somewhat creepy that one would be among Phil’s memorabilia.

  2. Epicus Doomus

    Apparently, when Phil came back from the dead, he got himself a place in Ohio, took all of his old stuff out of storage, then haphazardly threw it all over the place. And now he lives in askew squalor, just like he did before he died. The more we see of Phil, the more objectionable and annoying he becomes.

    Obviously Kitch (sigh) is going to unearth some sort of priceless comic book treasure from Phil’s degenerate filth piles, otherwise why would she even be there? How many more times can he milk this pony?

    • Green Luthor

      “The more we see of Phil, the more objectionable and annoying he becomes.” I think that’s Batiuk’s mission statement for all of his characters.

  3. “I would have loved to have been his agent….” Nice, Batdick. Not enough “o’s” in “smooth” to describe that bit of dialog.

    • Jeff M.

      Yes you would have loved to be his real estate agent, dummy! More moves = more commissions and Picasso wasn’t exactly starving, so…jeebus, I’d love to would have to have been his would-be real estate agent that he would have had to have. To have had. This kind of business sense explains why she’s in Westview and not at Marian Goodman or Hauser + Wirth, or, hell, Sotheby’s.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      In Funky Winkerbean, even the characters who hand out money for no reason, want jobs where they’re handed money for no reason,

  4. erdmann

    Oh, God! Phil’s expression in the last panel… Sweet Christmas! I think he’s (Urp!) flirting!

    • J.J. O'Malley

      I believe the technical term for that facial tic The Late Phil Holt is experiencing in Panel Three is a “Dinklesmirk,” usually occurring when someone too full of themselves thinks they’ve just uttered something so incredibly wry and witty it makes an afternoon’s quotes from the Algonquin Round Table read like the script from an episode of “Friends.”

      They’ve going to wind up doing it on Phil’s drawing table, aren’t they?

    • Anonymous Sparrow

      Which would make Phil, in Luke Cage’s expression, a jive-talkin’, freakin’, motherless candidate for the psycho hatch.

  5. Y. Knott

    It’s hard to believe that Bloom County and Funky Winkerbean can even be considered to be operating in the same medium. It’s like comparing the sun to a hockey puck.

  6. billytheskink

    I don’t know if this is actually true about Picasso or not, but I do know someone it is true about… and that says absolutely nothing positive about Phil here.

    My father worked in advertising for 40 years, most of which was happily spent at a local grocery chain. He got his start in the industry, though, laying out newspaper ads for a regional chain of low-end hi-fi stereo stores. By his account, it was a fun job (if one with demanding hours) and had the sort of bullpen environment TB thinks he is depicting at Atomik, with great camaraderie among the young commercial artists working there. By the early 80s, though, the stereo market was saturated and the local economy was badly flagging. Thus, the chain quickly shrunk and, a few years later, shuttered completely. My dad was one of the last people there, working up to last weeks of operations in no small part because a new job was tough to come by in the sputtering local economy.

    A few months later, my dad was able to find a new job… laying out ads for another chain of stereo stores, this one a much smaller operation with only a few stores locally. Instead of a chummy bullpen environment, though, he found himself on a staff gripped with fear of the chain’s megalomaniacal and micromanaging owner. One of this owner’s worst traits was, well, exactly what Phil cites Picasso as doing here. When his office would become too cluttered with documents and boxes and other bric-a-brac he had accumulated, he would simply leave it and move to another one. Or rather, he would go kick someone else out of their office, leaving them to move into his old office and deal with all of the junk he had crammed in there. My dad worked at this place for less than 2 years and he recalls this happening 4 or 5 times. To this day he will tell you it was the worst job he’s ever had, if not the worst time of his life… and that includes things like a consulting job that unfairly refused to pay him and, oh yeah, battling cancer.

    About 15 years ago, I was waiting in a long line at the DMV and got to chatting with the guy behind me. He asked what I did for work and I asked the same. He was the owner of a couple of stereo stores on the west side of the city… Yep, it was the same guy. He did not remember my father working for him, which did not surprise my dad in the least, though it suited him just fine.

    • ComicBookHarriet

      Your dad’s boss sounds like the kind of nightmare supervisor sitcoms are built on.

      To counter your story of the malign clutter bug.

      When one of my brothers moved out, my mom and dad decided to convert his old room into an office for my dad, so he would stop using the dining room table. They painted the walls, got new floors, and dad and I moved a HUGE desk up from the basement that dad wasn’t sure he and I would be able to move.

      “You moved it down there!” My mom said.

      “I was 30 years younger then!”

      For a brief window, maybe a couple months, the office was the nicest room in the house. A place where mom and dad worked on their paperwork and projects. Mom even moved her sewing machine in there.

      But it couldn’t last, because my parents are horribly messy people, and my dad is just THE WORST. Now the entire room is a cacophony of clutter at least as bad as Phil’s here if not worse. A piled up mix of farm laundry, business mail, electric fencing supplies, random tools, and stacks of the books my dad spends all winter reading, all spewed over every surface including the floor.

      The whole time we were growing up, all five of us kids were constantly blamed for the state of the house. Now, only one adult sibling still lives at home: (my younger sister who has a relatively low paying job as a teacher and so lives at home to save money.) And the house is JUST THE SAME as when we were kids. I point to my mom and dad, It was YOU! It was YOU ALL ALONG!

      Just today, my mom came to me, her adult child who has completely moved out, and begged for my help getting things presentable enough for a relative to stay in the guest room downstairs tomorrow night. So there I was again, cleaning my parents’ house. (She said she would pay me. I probably will try to refuse and she’ll end up hiding the money somewhere in my truck, as is traditional)

      My parents are the first to admit their messiness isn’t one of their better features. But I wouldn’t say it says anything BAD about them. I would defend them against anyone who points to their clutter as a MORAL failing. They are still two of the best people I know, and I love them so so much.

      Phil, on the other hand, is a bitter old coot, whose only act of generosity we’ve seen (leaving something valuable to Darin) was retconned into an act of cruelty (letting everyone think you’re dead) Doesn’t matter how messy his studio is. The guy has a cluttered and filthy personality.

      Also, we saw his apartment before he faked his death, and it wasn’t particularly messy.

  7. none

    “Ugh its fuggin 9AM Monday and here I am at the goddamned desk drawing more shit that burped up from the asshole of that fucking Pete idiot. Everyone else works from home and here I am like a dumbass only I’m 90 years old and I need to glue this fucking pencil to my hand to keep it upright. Not enough meth in this coffee to-
    -who the fuck is that broad? The fuck is she doing here? Fuck go away you silver skank, the fuck you doin here? You fuckin cunt. Get the f-
    -prints? Me? Mine? Toots I’ll roll some prints up and slap you upside your head so hard you’ll shit your fucking dentures. Prints. Get a load of this cooze. Fuck, I’ll just tell her that they’re at home and she’ll-
    -fuck, come over? The fuck is this, a sleepover now? When I get home the only thing I’m cleaning is a fifth of Jim Beam, and I got fifty years of bullshit all over the place, and you want to come over?

    Well sure, yes. Yes, this is definitely a good idea. I definitely want this to happen. Please come right in, ma’am.”

    If an angry mob with pitchforks and torches shows up at Tom’s door and asks to burn his house down, would he just let them in? “Well, they asked, so I guess there’s literally nothing that I can do now.”

    Can Kitch please grab Zanzibar’s ray gun there in the P1 background and shoot Phil to kill him a second time before she kills herself? Please?

  8. ComicBookHarriet

    Shouldn’t these two be getting ready for another Comic Con arc to coincide with Batiuk being a special guest at SDCC next week? Or we will have that this time NEXT year?

    Or will they get lost along the way?

    • ComicBookHarriet

      FYI: So far Batiuk is down for a personal retrospective panel on Friday.

      “Maggie Thompson (Comics Buyers Guide) interviews Tom Batiuk (Funky Winkerbean, John Darling, Crankshaft) about his 50-year journey with Funky Winkerbean. Tom relates Funky’s origin story and answers your questions about his three strips.”

      And a Sunday roundtable panel called ‘Injecting the Personal’

      “Every story we tell ends up being personal. It’s the nature of art and of creation. The things we value, that frighten us, that we long to see in the world, they come out in our stories. How do we honor those personal stories? Andrew Aydin (Run: Book One) and Comic-Con Special Guests Tom Batiuk, Cecil Castellucci, and Sophie Yanow convey how they put their stories into the world and what that means to them. Moderated by Vince Alvendia (Dark Agents: Book One).”

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        Tom Batiuk doesn’t so much “inject the personal” as bludgeon Funky Winkerbean to death with it.

      • Y. Knott

        Damn. Won’t be at SDCC this year. (Last was there in 2019.) So I won’t be able to ask questions, like “What are your retirement plans, Tom?”.

        But if limited to one question, what would YOU ask?

  9. sgtsaunders

    It’s a coonskin cap. Google Davy Crockett.

    • William Thompson

      Which is better than what some of us did: be so old we remember it.

      Every so often the raccoons show up and eat the food I put out for the neighborhood cats. “Get off my lawn!” I tell them. “I’m a baby boomer who wants a new coonskin cap!”

  10. Hitorque

    1. That’s one of those Daniel Boone coonskin caps, isn’t it? Or is like Super Mario 3 and the hat turns Phillips 66 into some kind of mythical flying human/animal hybrid?

    2. WHERE DID ALL THIS SHIT COME FROM? Am I the only one who remembers Phillips 66 being flat broke and needing to do funny sketches at toddler birthday parties for $65 (and that wasn’t his price per sketch, it was his flat rate for the entire two hours!) just to keep his lights on?


    3a. Full credit to Phillips 66 for using that age-old, guaranteed-to-impress-the-ladies tactic of “completely unrelated comparison to someone famous…”

    “Yeah I’m short… You know who else is short? Dustin Hoffman!”

    “Yeah my place is a cluttered messy hellhole that reeks of urine… You know who else lived this way? Howard Hughes!”

    “Yeah I’m a smug insufferable asshole… But you know who else is? That’s right, Tom Freaking Brady!!”

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      1. That must be it, and thanks to everyone else who also pointed it out. Somehow “coonskin cap” never occurred to me as what this object could be. What a narrow piece of nostalgia, though! It doesn’t fit anything we know about Phil. Nothing about this whole week fits anything we know about Phil.

    • J.J. O'Malley

      1. Whether the reader sees the chapeau in question as a “Davy Crockett” or a “Daniel Boone” cap, I find, depends upon which half of the Baby Boom they grew up in. If your parents plopped you in front of the TV in the mid-’50s, it’s what a black-and-white Fess Parker wore as Davy. If you came along a decade later, you’ll recall a color Fess donning it as Daniel. I have no idea what Gen Xers and those who came after use as their frame of coonskin recognition.

      • billytheskink

        Some Gen Xers and Millenials might have seen Fess Parker and his coonskin cap in color as Davy Crockett on videocassette.

        Disney reissued colorized cuts of their Crockett TV specials as feature-length movies called Davy Crockett: King of the Wild Frontier (the first 3 TV specials) and Davy Crockett and the River Pirates (the latter two TV specials, featuring Jeff York’s delightful blowhard take on Mike Fink) in 1955 and 1956. These movie-length cuts were released on home video to some fanfare in the 80s and 90s and are available on Disney+ today. The original cuts of the TV specials, however, I think were only ever released on a small print run DVD set in the early 2000s.

        It was those videocassettes where I first saw Parker’s Crockett, and I was a huge fan when I was a kid, had a faux-coonskin cap and everything. Granted, I was also a history nerd and grew up in Texas, so there was some personal and cultural bias that went into my fandom.

        • Mela

          My brother and I watched Davy Crockett on the Wonderful World of Disney in the early to mid 70s. We may have both had coonskin caps-I know my brother did for sure because he used to run around the yard pretending to be-well, Davy Crockett.

  11. KMD

    And boom goes the Silent Generation. Based on all the flashbacks, I thought Phil and Flash worked in the 50s. I’m willing to accept they’re younger than say Jack Kirby who was born in 1917. Born in the mid to late 30s, I’d guess which makes them too old for Davy Crockets pop moment. Typical and sad. Doesn’t matter if you’re 87, 47, 27 or 17. TB makes you a Boomer. TB makes you him. Those characters who are not like him are one dimensional smirking enablers of the menchilds. Looking your way Holly and Donna. The world simply reflects TB. That’s not a mistake he made in Act I.

    • Gerard Plourde

      But even the characters who are like him are one-dimensional or nearly so.

    • Gerard Plourde

      And you’re right about Phil and Flash being Silent Generation members. TomBa actually did a series of blog posts recounting the history of Batom Comics a mythical Ohio-based publisher that began in the mid-50’s and was eventually sued out of existence for copyright infringement. (Incongruously Starbuck Jones was one of its titles, making the Cliff Anger SJ movie serial problematic.)

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        I don’t think Batiuk has a clue how bad that detail makes Batom Comics look. Copycatting is pretty standard in the comic book industry; how blatant must Batom have been to lose in court over it? Yet Batiuk pushes it as a “small brave independent publisher being picked on by the big rich evil corporation” story, when it’s pretty obvious Batom did exactly what they’re accused of. The name of the offending title, “Arachnid Man,” drives this point home even further. Asylum Films is more creative than that.

        • Rusty Shackleford

          Yeah ol BoomerBatty loves to portray all big business as being evil predators. It is all so tiring and makes for drab stories.

          Of course pay no attention that he works for a big evil syndicate that has an army of lawyers ready to defend him any time he suspects copyright infringement.

          • Banana Jr. 6000

            This scenario also gives Batom Comics a very cynical business model. It’s pretty rich of Batiuk to declare these ripoff artists the good guys, and even put his own name on the company. The astounding lack of originality in Atomik Komix’ output suggests they are Batom’s spiritual successor in this regard also.

        • Gerard Plourde

          The Batom comics history was kind of fascinating to me. For one thing, the backstory of its founding was strangely familiar to me as a late-Boomer Catholic kid. I may have written about this before, so if it’s familiar to anyone, just bear with me.

          It just seems oddly coincidental that mythical Tom and Barry Martin’s father was the publisher of Cleveland’s Catholic newspaper. I think Batiuk was aware of and possibly a reader of Pflaum Publishing’s Treasure Chest was a nugget behind part of Batom’s backstory.

          When I was in grade school, George A. Pflaum Publishing Company (still in existence as Pflaum Publishing Group), a Catholic publishing company based in Dayton, Ohio, put out a comic title called Treasure Chest of Fun & Fact that was available on a subscription basis. I attended a Catholic grade school got my subscription form there. Forms were probably also given out during the after school or Sunday morning Catholic religious ed classes (known as CCD classes) run by most parishes for Catholic kids who attended public school. The title ran from 1946 through 1970, when it was discontinued (probably because it became out of touch with its demographic audience). It carried a number of things – episodic stories (Batom’s charcter Adventure Dan from the Charlie and Chuck title appears to be very loosely based on Treasure Chest’s Chuck White, a much better scripted Clutch Cargo type with the obligatory kid sidekicks), puzzles, history and geography trivia, and, being a Catholic publication during the Cold War, occasional one-offs on the existential danger of Godless Communism and the Atheist Soviet Union. (No politics intended here, but the hyperbole used did negate much of the potential merit to the argument.)

          Fun Fact – EC Comics illustrator and Eisner Hall of Fame member Reed Crandall was on Treasure Chest’s staff in the 1960s. Art being a precarious livelihood, there may be others if anyone feels inclined to do a web search.

          In some ways Treasure Chest was pretty progressive, featuring stories with racially diverse major characters, giving biographies of sports figures that included minority athletes like Jessie Owens, even going so far in 1964 as having a multi-part story about the 1976 Presidential race in which it’s revealed at the end that the eventual nominee, the incumbent Governor of New York who we’ve been following and who we’ve seen partially obscured throughout when he speaks, is African American.

          Treasure Chest was a big part of my comic diet during 4th through 7th grade.

          If you’ve stuck with me this far, thanks for indulging my trip down memory lane.

          • Rusty Shackleford

            Thanks, that was interesting. I also don’t mind Batty writing a back story for his fictional company. In the model railroading world there were people who wrote a back story about their railroad. One even used to write a fictional newspaper about the town he modeled. Fun stuff, if you can write interesting stories, and this something Batty struggles with.

          • Gerard Plourde


            I actually enjoyed the Batom backstory when he published it on his blog and thought that telling it in flashback mode in the FW strip could make for an interesting story arc with Pete and Darin hearing it from an old-timer acting as the framing story. It’s far more cohesive and developed than what he’s producing now

  12. hitorque

    What year is that Bloom County from? I think I read it as a kid? Looks familiar…

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      It’s the near the end of the Deathtongue / Billy and the Boingers arc, which would place it in 1986. You know, the year Tom Batiuk did not win the Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartooning. This is what he lost to.

      • hitorque

        9 or 10 years old at the time… I haven’t seen that since the Sunday it ran in 1986 and I instantly remembered it like was yesterday!

        Fuckin’ good old days…

  13. Hannibal's Lectern

    What’s worse: a raccoon’s ass on the shelf or a horse’s ass at the writing table? Discuss…

  14. Rusty Shackleford

    Thanks for posting that Bloom County strip. Great writing, great artwork and lots of silliness. These are all the things missing in FW.

  15. Charles

    Yet another ridiculous moment. She managed to barge into his workplace, tell him to take her to his home to show her what she wants to see, and now she’s just basically rummaging through his things.

    Does Phil have any idea what she might be looking for? Does he know of anything he has that he can show her? Or is he just going to sit back as this crazy woman tears his house apart looking for cartoon drawings?