Making Book

Chuck Ayers’ name is misspelled here. Discuss.

Kudos to the our newest bullpen addition BananaJr6000 for a stellar debut. Is it too late to hold him over for another week? Because I was hoping that by the time it was my turn in the barrel, this Phil + Flash + Kitch arc would be concluded, and I would get to write about something, anything else besides Batty’s imaginary comix universe.

Apologies if this point has been raised around here, but has everyone noticed that BatAyers no longer uses the photo album corner thingies to denote a flashback panel? Looks to me like these were last employed in March. While faithful readers understood this visual cue to represent occurrences in the past, the photo album corners were inconsistently and sometimes improperly applied. In a lot of cases too, their presence would lead the reader to wonder “um, who would have been there to take that picture, let alone save it in a photo album?” Anymore, it appears Batiuk and Ayers have replaced that device with a layout that I have unimaginatively tagged the memory bubble*: a panel with one or more corners formed as a cloud, with contents rendered in sepia tone or occasionally duotone.

Since it’s been established that this scene is taking place in their high school days, let’s invite a quick aneurysm by trying to calculate the year in which today’s panel three is taking place. According to the Book of Batom, chapter 3, verse 2, it was 1954 when Flash “showed up on Batom Comics doorstep,” after stints as “a stringer for the Press as well as a freelance writer for various publications around town.” Let’s allow a couple years for his prior work experience, preceded by a minimum of two years of college. And we’ll make them sophomores here, as presumably were Darin and Pete when we met them in Act II. This generous estimate puts us circa 1948…seventy four years ago. Which would make our boys about ninety now.

They say “age ain’t nothing but a number,” but in the Funkiverse it’s anything but. Once a Funky or Crankshaft character leaves high school (after eight or 20 years), they age elastically. You have your spry nonagenarians, like Phil ‘n’ Flash, Ruby Lith, and Cliff and Vera. I reckon Morton and the rest of the Bedside Manor residents (except for decrepit Ed Crankshaft) to be somewhat younger, with Mr. and Mrs. Dinkle a few years behind them. The core characters (remember the core characters?) are, like myself and many readers of this blog, late Boomers, though they (except for brilliant Les and ageless Cindy) share the infirmities, world-weariness, and woe of the older cast. Meanwhile, ostensibly fortysomething Act II characters like Darin and Jess, Pete and Mindy, are presented as starry eyed kids.

Act III begat teenage Summer and her pals, closely followed by Cody and Owen’s class, who were succeeded by Bernie Silver and company. With their graduation this summer, it’s officially time to retire the old tag line: “[A] reality-based comic strip that depicts contemporary issues affecting young adults in a thought-provoking and sensitive manner.” Anyone have a suggestion for a substitute?

Rusty Shackleford
July 24, 2022 at 7:02 am
The tag line for this strip should be: Pizza and comics with a heavy dose of boomer gripes.

Not to be confused with the reality bubble, that tiny, round bit of original content that BatAyers sticks at the bottom of a sideways Sunday comics cover.



Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

51 responses to “Making Book

  1. Y. Knott

    Chuck “Ayres” is obviously signing his work that way in solidarity with “Gary” Morrow.

    The new tagline: Funky Winkerbean is that strip you automatically skip over.

  2. William Thompson

    If that’s 1954, where did the cola cans come from? A quick googling says that Coke started using cans in 1960. Colas came in glass bottles before that. I know this is nitpicking, but I can’t make myself care about the bigger parasites and vermin in this strip.

    • ‘54 is when Flash went to work at Batom Comics. I’m pegging this as taking place at least six years earlier. Even so, I’m giving ‘em a pass on the soda cans, as canned beer dates to pre-WWII.

      • ComicBookHarriet

        The things we end up researching on this blog…

        The strip has gotten so banal that run-of-the-mill nits won’t satisfy us anymore. We need EXOTIC and ESOTERIC nits only detectable by secret knowledge and cutting edge research.

        I love it.

      • William Thompson

        From the small amount of checking I did, canned colas weren’t in common use then (although Gerard Plourde has different information here). Supposedly colas were acidic enough to acquire a metallic taste from unlined cans. Of course taste has never been an issue in the Funkyverse.

  3. Epicus Doomus

    Ol’ BatYam never tires of creating fantastical nostalgic comic book-based fantasy worlds where everything is fantastic, nostalgic, impossibly nebulous and extremely vague. And it’s a genuine problem now, and something I really wish he’d stop doing. Flash and Phil ALREADY HAVE a whole history together, one that has more than adequately been fleshed out and totally forgotten. There’s no need to start digging deeper here. I really, truly hate how Flash and Phil have suddenly become major starring characters, just completely out of nowhere. And I wish it would stop, but given how these guys are like ninety, their life story could take quite a while to play out.

    • William Thompson

      And don’t any of these characters have something other than comic books and cheesy serials in their lives? They seem as bland and irrelevant to the Fifties as a rerun of “Happy Days.”

    • Charles

      I am amazed that these two pantloads have probably had more sequences devoted to them this past year than any of the major characters that Batiuk’s focused this strip on for decades.

      In that above calculation, I’m discounting the “Funky is a befuddled idiot” and “Let’s celebrate Dinkle!” sequences because those are more excess stimulus response to him now rather than any deliberate act. He’s put more thought into these guys and their dumb past than anything else in a while.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Reading Funky Winkerbean is like listening to a junkie talk.

      I don’t think Tom Batiuk has cognitive decline; I think he has a crippling behavioral addiction. Comic books have consumed every part of this man’s brain. It’s why the strip is never going to end: because he needs income to buy comic books. And it’s why the strip is getting worse and worse every day.

      • William Thompson

        “Junkie talk.” That’s the best answer to my question about the emptiness of their lives. You’d expect comic-book creators to have an awareness of the world around them–of how people deal with their problems, and what delights them–so they would have raw material for their stories. But their comic books only show people who write comic books, don’t they? Phil Dolt’s “Prince Valiant” submission probably involved Gutenberg printing the first issue of Chaucer’s “Canterbury Comics.”

  4. Why would Kitsch Swoon care about any of this? I’ve pretty much forgotten why she wound up talking to Philled Hole in the first place. Something about a Lichtenstein print or something? I refuse to go back to previous strips to figure this out, because I’m far past caring at this point. Just end this, so we can move on to the next bout of incoherence.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Batiuk has no clue how tedious this is. He thinks every other person on earth wants nothing in life but to listen to him drone for eternity about comic books. These aren’t even anecdotes, character insights, or stories that would be interesting to comic book enthusiasts. The same with Les and his long-forgotten dead wife.

    • batgirl

      Kitch is a woman in the Funkiverse. She has no other Funktion than to listen to the menfolk and occasionally feed them cookies, cocoa, and straight lines for smirky puns.

  5. And TFH, the “Chuck Ayres” thing tells me everything I need to know about how much anyone involved in this strip cares about anything. It’s kind of astounding, in a very sad way.

  6. billytheskink

    I do have to give “Ayres” kudos for young Flash there in panel 3, who looks less like a high schooler and more like someone serving 10-20 who stamps license plates at the state pen.

  7. Gerard Plourde

    Using TFH’s very plausible calculations, Flash and Phil would have been born around 1932, the height of the Great Depression and would have been what we now term tweens at the outbreak of World War 2, entering high school in the fall of 1946. I have trouble imagining that comic books were that much of a thing in those years or that kids growing up at that time would have had the free time to sit around making thir own comics. My late father-in-law, who would have been their contemporary, was involved in scrap metal drives during the war. If they had siblings, it’s likely that they would have household duties, since it’s possible that their fathers were either drafted into the army or engaged in war-production work and their mothers were also likely in the workforce as well. TomBa has no first-hand knowledge of the period and seems to be imputing his Boomer experience to the earlier generation.

    Also, while Pepsi was available in cans starting in 1948, Coca-Cola didn’t use cans until 1954. Even when I was a kid in the early ‘60s, returnable bottles were the norm.

    • ComicBookHarriet

      As a child of the 90’s I still remember the last couple returnable glass bottle vending machines in town. One was tucked away in the building where we had our 4-H meetings, and was still working and somehow getting bottles delivered to it through the very late 90’s or even the early aughts.

      Something about drinking Pepsi from a 20 year old glass bottle that had been reused a million million times was frikken amazing. I can’t find when all distribution of major brand returnable glass bottle soda stopped in the US, but the last Coke plant doing it was closed in 2012, (though they might be bringing the practice back)

      • be ware of eve hill

        I remember going along with my brothers to the barbershop when I was little. The barbershop had a Coca-Cola vending machine that dispensed a 7 1/2 oz. glass bottle for a dime. The perfect size for a kid.

        This would have been late 1960s, early 1970’s

    • Anonymous Sparrow

      Maybe Batiuk is looking for inspiration to Jules Feiffer (born 1929), who did create his own comic-books in the early 1940s. “Mine went for less,” he recalls, “because they weren’t real.” See *The Great Comic Book Heroes* for details.

      (Jules Feiffer, by the way, has a Pulitzer Prize for his cartooning.)

      By the way, in 1948 (or in 1954), super-heroes didn’t exactly have monthly solo titles. They appeared monthly in anthology titles such as *Action,* *Adventure* and *Detective,* but the books named for Superman, Superboy and Batman appeared eight times a year well into the 1970s.

      Wonder Woman, as E. Nelson Bridwell reminds us, lost two of three titles in which she was appearing by 1951…and while Johnny Quick was more durable than the Golden Age Flash (Magic Formula, I suppose: 3X2(9YZ)4A! Beats heavy water every time!), he was in limbo by 1954.

      Which was the year *Seduction of the Innocent* was published. Sometimes I think Tom Batiuk is John Bunyan’s man with the muck-rake, so consumed with his quotidian work that he misses the Celestial City above him.

      Given his disdain for the 1966 “Batman” series, do you think that Batiuk grasped what Harvey Kurtzman did with “Superduperman,” “Black and Blue Hawks” and “Batboy and Rubin”?

      Or, like Roland Hedley in Saigon, did he cover sports?

    • batgirl

      From my vague memories of comics history – and reading Seduction of the Innocent in my very early teens (I was a weird kid) – American comic books in the 40s-50s were aimed more at young servicemen and working men (romance comics at ‘shopgirls’) than at children – discounting those produced directly for children, like Archie, Disney, etc.
      Wertham’s argument conflated all comics genres, including the EC horror, superhero, detective, romance, … as being produced for children, when they were really closer to the ‘pulp’ magazines.
      Also chiming in on the glass bottles of Coke, standard well into the 1960s. This is bringing up some great sensory memories of the big red tanks of clinking bottles in corner stores – thanks, y’all!

  8. Guys, this very sincere comics creator met Tom Batiuk at SDCC and is Tweeting about it but tagging @sonofstuckfunky. This is awkward! But wouldn’t happen if Batiuk was on Twitter. Oh well.

  9. newagepalimpsest

    Oh my god is this how he’s planning to swing the strip back around to being about high school again?!

  10. Dood

    These social media missteps are remarkably on-brand.

  11. Banana Jr. 6000

    The Book of Batom also says “Freeman had reached out to Phil Holt an artist he had worked with from time to time on his various freelance jobs.” Not “Freeman reached out to Phil Holt, who he knew in high school and who he drew comic books with.” Batiuk can’t even be bothered to stick to the history he wrote of the only thing he actually cares about.

    • Tom from Finland

      Yeah, I was thinking the same.

      Why Batiuk has to make everybody know each other from the high school? Does he think that it is not possible to make friends after that?

      Or is this part of the current Funky-Crankshaft timeline realignment where everybody becomes the same age as Batiuk and it will be soon revealed that both Phil and Flash went to the Westview High the same time as Les and Funky.

      On the positive note I would like to recommend Tom for giving a line to Kitch today.

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        And what did these high school friends do together in high school? Comic books!

        Couldn’t some Westview High School student have a nice, wholesome meth addiction? Or get into multi-level marketing and conspiracy theories? Or get cancer instead? Maybe shoot up the place? Please, anything but more comic book stories.

  12. Rusty Shackleford

    For those who read Crankshaft. Yes, Batty is shilling today. Maybe he will get a free breakfast. I can’t believe the syndicate allows this.

  13. be ware of eve hill

    Pizza and comics with a heavy dose of boomer gripes.
    Rusty Shackleford

    This tagline is perfection. *chef’s kiss*
    I’m not even going to try to top it.

  14. ComicBookHarriet

    If you actually wanted Funky Winkerbean to make you laugh today, the vintage strip was gave me a chuckle.

  15. be ware of eve hill

    I have a notoriously weak stomach, but I’m curious, does anybody else feel queasy when they see a Montoni’s pizza featured in the strip? 🤢

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      I’m bothered by the shape. Most “good” neighborhood pizzerias I’ve known had big, thick, square slices. I know the typical triangle slice with pepperoni is a visual cue, like the cartoon ham, or the grocery bag with the baguette sticking out. But it makes the place look even more low-end. It looks like microwaved convenience-store pizza. With Wal-Mart brand coffee to drink. Ugh. It’s enough to make me consider veganism.

      • be ware of eve hill

        I’m used to round pizzas, but the sight of all that gloppy cheese and the pepperoni that is most likely pooling that yucky grease. Ugh.

        The Montoni’s Motto: Funky thinks grease is great!

        Where’s the pizza sauce? The sight of all that yellow with the black bits reminds me of fly paper.

        Montoni’s pizza is always featured the same way. You can have any pizza you want as long as it’s pepperoni.

        I prefer a square thin & crispy chicken & spinach pizza myself.

  16. J.J. O'Malley

    Gosh all fishhooks, so Funky Flashman and The Late Phil Holt were teenage comic book geeks and made their own fan pages. Well, there’s an enlightening piece of character background that makes them stand out from, say, Mopey Pete…or Darwin…or Skunkhead John…or Batton Thomas, Creator of the Comic Strip “Three O’Clock High”…or…

    It’s still too hot for this nonsense.

  17. Hitorque

    1. Fuck Batiuk for making me read more about Plymouth Valiant (a strip I couldn’t give less than a shit about) than I ever wanted to know… I can’t forget this bullshit fast enough…

    2. Doesn’t this lady have an art gallery to manage? Whatever happened all that vintage comics art she was after??

  18. batgirl

    That pic of Flash at the top – is he a Metalunan, from This Island Earth? That might explain why he was so keen on science fiction having a place in the comics – part of his sinister alien plot!