With the Markers and the Colored Balloons

Girls are either natural-born comic book colorists or complete screw-ups.

Like most people who will read today’s strip, I never heard of Charlton Comics, so once again, off to Aunt Wikipedia I go to glean some knowledge about yet another one of Batty’s obscure cultural touchstones. Though young Phil dismisses them as “crummy,” Charlton’s history is rather more colorful that the one TB dreamed up for Batom Comics. Charlton Comics was started by an immigrant bricklayer in 1931, initially publishing magazines of popular song lyrics. His disregard for copyright laws landed the founder in jail for a year in 1934, where he met the attorney who would become his business partner. Charlton went legit in 1935, continuing (with permission) to publish lyric magazines. They began printing comics in 1944, and continued putting out superhero comics, along with romance, Western, horror, and science fiction titles through the silver and bronze ages.



Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

57 responses to “With the Markers and the Colored Balloons

  1. Epicus Doomus

    LOL oh man, BatHam is really letting ol’ Charlton Comics have it today, I’ll tell you what! It might even be kind of funny if I had any idea who or what “Charlton Comics” is. But hey, it really amused one person and in the end, isn’t that good enough?

    So Phil has or had a sister, eh? Phyllis Holt? It’s mildly noteworthy, as siblings are somewhat rare in the Funkyverse. Maddie has a few, sort of, Cindy has a sister, kind of, and there are those annoying twins who have something to do with Crankshaft, but otherwise, everyone’s an only child. Or they have some weird half-sibling, like with Boy Lisa, who has two half-sisters. But no one counts that.

    • William Thompson

      I think Cory had a brother, what’s-his-name, but I may be overthinking this.

      • Epicus Doomus

        Cory is Holly’s kid, and Funky doesn’t have any children. There’s Wally, who’s Funky’s nephew or cousin or something. Crazy and Donna have three kids, Cindy has a sister, Sadie, and there’s Boy Lisa with Summer and his weird adoptive half-sister. And that’s it, at least as far as I can tell. Even relatively minor characters, like Owen, Cody, Alex, Wedgeman, Jarod, Bernie, Wally Jr., Rachel’s kid, Skyler…all only children. It’s kind of peculiar, like everyone in the Funkyverse tries sex once, then becomes fairly indifferent about it.

        • ComicBookHarriet

          Contrast with Crankshaft, where everyone has ONE sibling. Cranky has two girls, Cranky’s girl had two kids, the neighbors have twins, the elderly neighbor Lillian had a sister.

        • William Thompson

          Well, the sort of comic books you’d find in the Funkyverse don’t exactly encourage sexual behavior. Girls are there to wear tight costumes and not be icky.

        • billytheskink

          Wedgeman is the one exception, he’s one of FIVE brothers.

  2. William Thompson

    So Junior let his sister do the coloring, and he didn’t discuss the job with her? And what is his complaint? Personally I hope she did the work with the same color ink used for the dialog. Come to think of it that technique would improve Funky Winkerbean and Crankshaft.

  3. billytheskink

    Charlton was particularly well-known for romance comics, some of which were successful enough for DC to completely rip-off.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Charlton’s greatest contribution to the comic book art was in 1983 when Alan Moore needed some disposable superheroes for this edgy story he was doing. He ended up creating new characters instead, but Watchmen worked out pretty well.

    • Anonymous Sparrow

      They also had some “Action Heroes” characters which Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons transformed into *Watchmen.*

      Hurm to you, Rorschach, who survived the Charlton Home.

    • Jimmy

      Wow, that’s sadly ironic considering the backstory we have on Charlton’s founder above.

  4. Banana Jr. 6000

    Look at Phil’s face in the last two panels. He looks like he’s watching 9/11 happen. “She colored in the balloons! LIKE CHARLTON COMICS!!!” Oh, the humanity.

    Also, how did Phil reach high school before he learned that younger siblings will screw up anything they touch?

  5. Oh, bitch all you want, you beady-eyed bitches, but I for one find it wondrous to see Philled and Phlush, two of this strips most beloved characters, in their tender youths, acting exactly like they do in this, FW’s golden age. Just goes to show how none of us really change at all after high school!

  6. sorialpromise

    Charlton was definitely behind DC at number one, and Marvel at number two. (Sales, not quality.) Yet at different times, they had some of the best writers and artists: such as Steve Ditko, creator and artist of Spider-Man, Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams later famous for some of the best stories and art on the Batman. Charlton had one huge advantage over the Big 2. Yes, they paid less, but gave creators huge freedom to do their own magic.
    Perhaps Charlton has one other claim to fame: I do not believe they ever hired Mr. Sour Grapes Tom Batiuk.

  7. Y. Knott

    First Hal Foster, now Charlton Comics! Tom Batiuk has no fear — he’ll take on ANYONE!

    Assuming, of course, they’re long dead and can’t possibly answer back….

    Coming next week, you won’t believe his timely, no-holds-barred takedown of Ohio-born “Cartoon Parade” creator Leland S. McClelland! (1914-2002!)

    • be ware of eve hill

      Batty is on a rampage! Who’s next?!

      The Johnson-Smith company who advertised their catalog in many comic book titles?
      Young Batty: *sob* It’s all junk! The x-ray specs don’t work!

      Sea monkeys?
      Young Batty: *sob* They were brine shrimp!

      Young Batty: *sob* The magic decoder ring was plastic and Ovaltine tastes like plastic!

      Sell Grit?
      Young Batty: *sob* You mean I have to work to make money?!

      The Batman television show featuring Adam West and Burt Ward?
      College-age Batty: *sob* You ruined Batman for me!

      The snarkers?
      Old Batty: *sob* You beady-eyed nitpickers and hide-bound literalists! Quit picking on me! If you don’t like it, why do you read it? Let’s see your nationally syndicated comic strip?

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        Funky Winkerbean is a window into a man’s personal hell. The most pathetic personal hell ever conceived. “My sister colored in my comic book wrong and ruined everything! She made it like Charlton!” God, where would Sigmund Freud even begin with that?

        • be ware of eve hill


          There are first-world problems, and then there are Batiuk problems. I bet Batty entered a month-long depression when his favorite artist or writer left his favorite comic book.

        • be ware of eve hill

          Those crazy dames be coloring comic books all willy-nilly! First Mindy, now Phil’s sister, Philomena.

          We have no idea how old Phil’s sister supposedly was at the time. Wasn’t he watching her as she colored his precious comic? Did Phil establish any guidelines for her?

          • Rusty Shackleford

            Batty does have a sister, so I wouldn’t be surprised if she was the inspiration for today’s gripe!

          • Banana Jr. 6000

            Yeah, the age of the sister seems relevant to Phil’s reaction. Maybe she was 3, and it’s Phil’s own fault for trusting a child that small not to make a mess of things. Or maybe she was 14, and doesn’t know what a horrible affront she committed.

            This is Les’ “tell Lisa’s story correctly” shtick again. Phil’s throwing a shitfit because someone failed to read his mind, and inadvertently offended his artistic sensibilities. Though I have to get Phil a point for at least saying what she did wrong.

      • Rusty Shackleford

        I loved Johnson Smith! I remember browsing those catalogs and buying crap.

  8. J.J. O'Malley

    Yeah, sure, Batiuk, mock the company whose Atomic Mouse and Atomic Bunny you ripped off with Atomic Ape; whose Captain Atom and E-Man you ripped off with Dr. Atmos; whose Timmy the Timid Ghost you ripped off with…er, Dead St. Lisa? I’ll take Silver Age Charlton’s Blue Beetle, Judomaster, Nightshade, Peacemaker and Question over Atomik’s dippy Elemental group any day!

    • ComicBookHarriet

      Peacemaker! Starring John Cena. (The show is amazing btw.)

      • Rick Brooks

        Here’s some useless trivia for all you Winkerheads – The artist/co-creator of The Peacemaker was San Antonian Pat Boyette. Here in South Texas we could see him anchoring the local evening newscasts, but comic book nerds knew about his secret identity moonlighting for Charlton.

    • Anonymous Sparrow

      Don’t forget Tiger, Judomaster’s young partner!

      Honorable mention to the Sentinels and the Prankster.

  9. ComicBookHarriet

    Charlton Comics gave us Blue Beetle!

    You gave us Dinkle, Tom.

    It’s like Rebecca Black throwing shade at Stevie Nicks.

    • Bad wolf

      I always thought the Ditko Question was most memorable, the only superhero to follow strict Objectivist philosophy. Not everyone’s cup of tea but always thought it was a good basis for a superhero book.

    • Rusty Shackleford

      Dinkle was a good character when the strip was humorous, but after Batty destroyed it with endless suffering and pointless melodrama, Dinkle became just another annoying old man.

      It didn’t have to be this way, but that’s what Batty wanted. It’s called writing, and if you can’t get that reference, then all I can say is: “Lisa would have liked that.”

    • be ware of eve hill

      Rebecca Black? Noooooo!

      My memory had suppressed ‘Friday.’ That god-awful tune, I remember it now. The horror!

      Have pity!

      • ComicBookHarriet

        I ironically enjoy ‘Friday’ and have been known to sing it on our Girls Gaming Nights. I also used to play it in the office when I worked a desk job.

        I also have a special cover of the song that I sing when going to Botcons.

  10. Gerard Plourde

    It also appears that John Byrne did a stint at Charlton.

    And given the way this is heading it appears that Flash and Phil have supplanted Pete and Darren. I expect those two to recede into the background like Wally and Becky.(Is it too much to hope that DSH John will also disappear?)

    • Y. Knott

      But then who would Batton Thomas talk to about the latest ‘new collections of old comic strips’?

  11. erdmann

    Other Charlton alumni included Dick Giordano (Green Lantern/Green Arrow, DC editor-in-chief), Jim Aparo (Batman, Aquaman), Bob Layton (Iron Man, Ant-Man) and Joe Staton (Dick Tracy and about a zillion comic books). Even Gray Morrow worked for them in the ’70s. Or was that Gary?

    • erdmann

      Oh, I completely forgot… writer/editor Roy Thomas’ first professional work was published in Charlton’s “Son of Vulcan.” Probably half of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is connected to his work, directly or indirectly.
      Charlton had low production values and published some bad comics (and a few gems), but there’s no denying the company’s importance as a training ground for writers and artists just breaking into the industry in the 1960s and ’70s.

  12. Charles

    So here we go with another week of these asswipes recounting something that happened somewhere in the neighborhood of 80 years ago.

    I’ve noticed how when Batiuk doesn’t have a good punchline, he seems to think he can make it up on volume with multiple weak punchlines What are we supposed to be laughing at here? That slam on Charlton Comics out of nowhere? That Phil was as “ornery” 80 years ago as he is now? (And what an incident to illustrate this!) That Phil had a dumb sister who colored in their word balloons like a dumb girl? That Phil let his dumb sister color his comics and she screwed him?

    This comic has layers, man, and all of them are woeful.

  13. Rusty Shackleford

    I would comment but I don’t read those crummy FW comics.

    Add Charlton to the list of places that wisely chose not to hire Batty.

  14. be ware of eve hill

    I got the reference!

    I love your music-related blog titles. Today’s title is based on Sugar Mountain by the polarizing Neil Young.

  15. Charlton had one hero that’s right up Batiuk’s alley: Killjoy.

    • ComicBookHarriet

      Don’t forget the Entropy Twins!

      E-Man’s alter ego? Alec Tronn….

      Maybe Batiuk should have knocked on the doors of Charleton comics before tossing in the towel on his superhero dreams.

  16. Hitorque

    This is another Funkyverse trope I despise: Non-comics people always being interested in mundane stories about what comics people endured back in the old days… It was bad enough that she pretended to give a shit about Plymouth Valiant and now this?!

    Look, I know nothing about the world of modern art or whatever, but I know enough to guanan-fucking-tee you that even a small-town minnow like Kitschy-Kitschy Coup has INFINITELY more fascinating and outrageous stories from her lifetime spent in the art world than these two old manchild fossils playing with coloring books as kids… It’s Kitschy-Kitschy Coup’s fucking stories that I want to hear; not the same old comic book boilerplate! Besides, as others have already mentioned, don’t all these Funkyverse characters have pretty much the same damn “origin story” that sparked their love of comics?? The only real difference is what year they started… My point is no matter what story Freebie Freeman and Phred Crankshaft are about to tell us, WE’VE HEARD IT ALL BEFORE ALREADY!

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Sometimes I wonder if Tom Batiuk has autism. He’s got plenty of symptoms:

      – Obsessive, extremely narrow interest in comic books
      – Not caring how uninteresting this topic is to any other person on earth
      – Hostility towards reimaginings of his comic books from the silver age formula, like alternate universes and the 1960s TV Batman.

      • Y. Knott

        For autism, even if diagnosed later in life, the symptoms must have been present from the early developmental period forward (albeit undiagnosed at that time) in order for it to be classified as autism.

        Batiuk motored along for years without displaying overt symptoms of scenarios one or two. (Not sure about scenario three.) The early strips that CBH posts are often amusing, and show that at one time, Batiuk really seemingly did care about entertaining his audience.

        Were comic books even mentioned more than once or twice in the first 25-30 years of FW?

        • Banana Jr. 6000

          Valid points. But only in Act III has Batiuk been allowed to write anything he wants into Funky Winkerbean, so that’s when the comic book obsession started to show. And Crankshaft has a much milder version of this behavior.

  17. My favorite bit of trivia about Charlton Comics is that they did their own printing in-house with second-hand cereal box presses (that’s second-hand in the 1940s). Through the companies rises and falls, they apparently never got around to replacing those presses, which were well on the way towards uselessness by the time the company wound down operations in the mid-1980s. The cheap-even-for-the-comics-industry paper wasn’t doing their deteriorating reproduction any favors. When the Charlton building was demolished in 1999, those ancient presses were still inside.

    All of this is much more interesting to me than a week of the Young Phil Holt Chronicles.

    • ComicBookHarriet

      That is fascinating! And you know why? Because it’s a weird bit of trivia that also characterizes the way Charlton operated. A tangible object symbolic of an ethos.

      A bit of real life world building that MATTERS.

    • erdmann

      I knew Charlton did their printing in-house but didn’t know the fate of the presses. A pity, really. I met a man a few months back who would’ve bought the lot had he known about it. He owns presses and parts of presses dating back about 200 years.

  18. Epicus Doomus

    Re: post title, I got the reference!