Harry Rag

Crazy Harry? Copying the crowd? Strange but true.

Crazy Harry was never part of the ‘In-Crowd’? GASP! I don’t believe it. (sarcasm)

Crazy Harry noticed or cared enough to feel excluded? I don’t believe it. (not-sarcasm)

He could barely tell that Mr. Mathews openly despised him.

Crazy was so weird that he bent reality around himself. And he didn’t seem to notice how strange it was.

And yet, he was voted Student Council President in an election against Mr. Mean, Median, and Mode himself. So his weirdness notwithstanding, he must have been liked well enough.

50 years later, Crazy Harry is barely wacky enough to wear a Hawaiian shirt to his reunion. And his line today could have been spouted by anyone in attendance. In fact, it already HAD BEEN. TWICE. In order to get his anemic little point across, Tom will let Harry rag on high school now as if it wasn’t a decent time for him, that he reminisced on fondly just earlier THIS YEAR.

Banana Jr put in wonderfully in the comments yesterday.

It’s not exactly The Breakfast Club, is it? Those were different characters who each, in their own way, learned that they had some things in common. This is like watching Twelve Angry Men, if they all agreed he’s guilty in the first minute and spend two hours telling each other how right they all are.

I’ve complained about it before. I will complain about it again. But the hollow sameness of every character cripples this strip in ways I don’t think Batiuk realizes. You ever buy a danish, or a jelly doughnut, and when you bite into it you realize that all the filling has been baked out? That’s an Act III Funky Winkerbean character. Bland, flakey, overcooked yet doughy. And completely empty inside.

When poking around the Toledo Blade Microfiche, looking for when Cindy first hit it off with Funky, I stumbled across a hilarious and yet infuriating week.

Les teaches Sadie Summers STORY WRITING.

Ah, Tom’s a writer and Tom is bold
Tom is bolder than the writers of old
But whenever he gets in a bit of a jam
There’s nothing he won’t do to let Harry rag

Harry rag, Harry rag
Do anything just to let Harry rag
And he curses himself for the life he’s led
And writes himself a Harry rag and puts himself to bed

Ah, Tom’s old Lisa is a dying lass
Soon they all reckon she’ll be pushing up the grass
And her bones might ache and her skin might sag
But still she’s got the strength to let Harry rag.



Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

45 responses to “Harry Rag

  1. Epicus Doomus

    Uh yeah Tom, everything changed…or did it? Real universal premise you cooked up there, it really resonates with everyone who attended high school, ever. The entire point of Crazy’s character is that he was “crazy”, wacky, zany, eccentric, nutty, daffy, weird, “out there”, “tripped out” and so forth. Thus “not fitting in” wouldn’t really apply to Crazy, but it’s only Thursday and he had three more days to fill, so what the f*ck.

  2. William Thompson

    So all the people who, yesterday, said they never felt like they fit in, never belonged and all that good angsty stuff, turn out to be charter members of the Crazy Harry Clone Club? Pod people who are all nothing alike? Congrats, Battyboy, you’ve set a new low for not making sense.

  3. Mela

    Well, it’s been a great week for multiple Kinks references anyway-some lesser known ones too.

    • Y. Knott

      I’ve been enjoying them too! Excellent job here, CBH!

    • Anonymous Sparrow

      Yes, hasn’t it? “Harry Rag” is on the 1967 *Something Else* album, which also contains “Afternoon Tea.”

      That’s about a failed relationship with a woman named Donna (the same name as Crazy Harry’s wife).

      If Harry and Donna ever break up, he may well use on how she might have stayed to finish her salad dressing.

      Great as *Something Else* (beginning with “David Watts” and ending with “Waterloo Sunset,” it can be nothing else!) is, my favorite Kinks album is *Arthur.*

      I’d like to know what others in SOSF-world think

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        The Kinks were a little before my time, but I’m learning more about them this week. The best thing I’ve learned about aging is that my taste in rock music has gotten a lot better. I grew up in the age of hair metal, and teenaged me didn’t “get” bands like Rush, The Who and Pink Floyd. I get them now. The Kinks fit nicely into that, especially since I’m already a fan of the “proto-power pop” oeuvre.

      • Y. Knott

        The Kinks had a pretty amazing run from about ’66 through ’70. In order, the albums “Face To Face”, “Something Else”, “The Village Green Preservation Society”, “Arthur” and “Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround” all show the Kinks at the top of their game. If I could only pick one, I’d probably go with “Something Else” … but “Arthur” and VGPS are very, very, very close behind.

      • Mela

        I have my brother to thank for my Kinks knowledge. Dad had some British rock albums so we knew You Really Got Me and All the Day and All of the Night. But my brother really discovered them during their early 80s resurgence when Come Dancin’ was all over the radio and MTV. He ended up buying most, if not all of their albums so I heard a lot of the Kinks as a teen. We generally liked each other’s music anyway. My favorite album is probably Give the People What they Want, but man, they had a bunch of great tunes.

        My brother and I talked our dad into taking us to see the Kinks with the Romantics as the opener in 1983, as we weren’t quite old enough to go by ourselves. Out seats were in balcony, which bounced so much from everyone dancing that I really thought it was going to come down. We’ve also been lucky enough to catch Ray Davies solo a couple of times through the years, and he’s just wonderful. The first time was in 2001 late in September just after 9/11, and I remember him closing the show with Waterloo Sunset and dedicating it to the US.

        OK, now I’m going to have to pull up “Ape Man” or something…

  4. I guess today’s jape jibes with Batdick’s overarching message: “Nothing changes or matters after high school – you know, the subject I focused on way back when my strip was funny, relatable, and popular.”

    The strip since then has been, to paraphrase CBH, a half-baked jelly doughnut without the jelly.

  5. RudimentaryLathe?

    It kind of goes without saying but Bill Watterson communicated this sentiment a whole lot better.


    And yeah, there’s absolutely nothing about Act 1 Harry to indicate he cared about fitting in. I truly don’t get why Batty is so very determined to kill everything that once made these characters likeable.

    • Epicus Doomus

      He’s not even bothering with giving these characters unique, character specific takes on the topic. It’s just generic “I never truly felt I belonged” dialog instead. For example, Cindy could have said “I never had any trouble fitting…until I moved to Hollywood”, or Harry could have said “fit in? What a concept!”. Then they’d get to Les and shake their heads sadly, as Les seethed in anger. And it’d make sense, as they weren’t all the same character with the same concerns.

      But that would involve some work and effort, so it’s just easier this way, I suppose. Doesn’t do much for the readers, though.

    • Rusty Shackleford

      Now that IS writing.

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        The writing in Calvin and Hobbes doesn’t get as much credit as it deserves. Everyone gushes about the art, and well they should, but the writing is also A+. Watterson did a great job of making Calvin a believable six-year old. His thought process reminds you of your own thought process when you were that age. Just a masterwork in every possible way.

        • Jeff M.

          Don’t forget how well the parents were written, too, as the above example shows. Genius.

        • be ware of eve hill

          The final Calvin and Hobbes comic strip came out over 25 years ago, yet it is still the most popular feature by “likes” at GoComics.

          Was there a C & H story arc that didn’t work?

          I get so irked every time Tom Batiuk is mentioned with Bill Watterson in those puff pieces because they both happen to live in Ohio. Batiuk is not even worthy of holding Watterson’s Reuben award(s).

    • Hannibal's Lectern

      Shannon Wheeler’s “Too Much Coffee Man” may have said it best of all. I cannot find an image of this strip on the internet, but it’s a simple dialog in a coffee shop. The characters reflect on how, during their high school days, they were looking forward to the great future after graduation; now, as adults, they’re looking back at high school as the best four years of their lives. One sighs, and says, “somewhere between anticipation and nostalgia, we should have been happy.”

      I would like to think Batiuk wishes he could write like this, but I suspect he can’t even appreciate such writing.

  6. Y. Knott

    After reading today’s strip, see if you agree with this line of reasoning:

    1. Things we’ve learned from reading FW strips over the past few years:

    – While some characters are more equal than others, all continuing Funky Winkerbean characters are avatars for Tom Batiuk.

    2. Given the above, things we’ve learned from reading FW strips this week:

    – In high school, Tom Batiuk didn’t fit in.

    – Adults with whom Tom Batiuk interacts still treat Tom Batiuk with the same withering aloof disdain he was subject to in high school.

    3. Conclusion based on 1 & 2:

    – We commenters at SoSF are either treating Tom Batiuk just like everyone else does … OR, Tom Batiuk reads SoSF and we are the only form of communication he has with other humans.

  7. billytheskink

    What, exactly, has Crazy been excluded from as an adult?

    Getting laid off by the Post Office (literally the only real hardship of any kind we’ve seen Crazy experience) =/= not getting invited to cool kids parties in high school

    • William Thompson

      He doesn’t get to boss around his spineless wife, because Dinkle has commandeered that role. That’s a major horror in Worstview.

      • William Thompson

        And, damn it, Batiuk’s characters are so flat that I confused DeadSkunkHead with Crazy Harry. And it wouldn’t surprise me if Donna and Lefty can’t tell them apart, either.

  8. erdmann

    And now for something completely different:
    The Columbia Journalism Review Wednesday reported Imagine Entertainment has several projects in development “based on the archives, past and present, of the Washington Post.”
    “… A top Imagine executive referred to the paper as a ‘gold mine’ for cinema-worthy stories.”

    Coming soon: Tom Hanks is “Batiuk.” Directed by Ron Howard. Written by Tom Batiuk, based on the Washington Post article by Michael Cavna. Tag line: “He’s a quarter inch from reality.”
    The only question is, will Hanks and Howard give Batty their Best Actor and Director Oscars at the awards ceremony, or will they fly to Ohio to present them to him at Luigi’s?

  9. J.J. O'Malley

    Gosh all fishhooks, a guy who went by the name “Crazy Harry” as a teen and did everything possible to cultivate an image of a kooky weirdo felt “excluded from things” in high school. How shocking. Of course, this is also how the popular fashion queen, the peppy majorette, the average guy, and the nerdy dweeb apparently felt, too. So sure, Batiuk, give all your regulars (along with the transgender Pulitzer bait and the black couple who haven’t said a word yet this arc) the same reunion angst. Sure beats having to come up with distinctive reactions based on 50 years of past appearances, doesn’t it?

    By the by, did Masonne already go back to the hotel with the two biddies he was taking selfies with?

  10. Rusty Shackleford

    Crazy didn’t connect with anyone because he was so high all the time. You can’t complain about not being a part of things when it was you who chose not to be present and connected to others.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Which is the same problem as yesterday’s strip. Cindy didn’t connect with anyone because she was too busy lording over them all. You can’t complain about not being a part of things when it was you who chose to reject everyone based on your perceptions of their coolness.

  11. Banana Jr. 6000

    What are they even laughing at? Harry’s notion that people would “stop acting like that” when they became adults? Are they laughing at the mere suggestion that any of these people attained adulthood? That Crazy Harry, of all people, once wanted to grow up? This is so vague and aimless that I can’t even tell what the joke is supposed to be.

    • Mela

      The joke is nobody grows up and adults continue to act like high schoolers. Which in accurate in Westview. In other words, cue up the Bowling for Soup song again.

  12. Banana Jr. 6000

    This week’s Crankshaft arc may be the stupidest thing Tom Batiuk has ever written. I do not exaggerate. Go read it if you haven’t already.

    • LTPFTR

      Another example of him hearing about something, learning a bit of the lingo and getting most of the details wrong.

    • be ware of eve hill

      Is it just me, or is Dan Davis’s artwork getting lazy? Some of us have shared the same observation about Chuck Ayers.

      We know both Ayers and Davis are talented illustrators. Can we call it the “Batiuk Effect”?

    • Mela

      Those two “kids” waltzing back in and just getting their jobs back at that station was ridiculous enough, but this week has been completely silly.

  13. PrezGAR

    Did Donna not come with harry? Did she stay home teaching Maddy to play old school video games?

  14. Maxine of Arc

    I think I’ve finally figured out my big(gest) gripe with FW. Batiuk had an idea: the time skip. At the time, he thought it was a great idea. Maybe it was, I don’t even know anymore. And then, a year or so down the road, it gradually became clear that he didn’t have any ideas for what to do AFTER that. No plan. And that’s why we keep going back to the “high school” and “Dinkle” wells long since run dry.

    He made a halfhearted try to introduce some new student characters, but he cared about them about as much as we do. The time skip backed him into a corner he had no way to get out of. So he just hasn’t.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      The time skip itself was created to get Batiuk out of the last corner he backed himself into: not knowing what to do after Lisa died.

      Les adapting to single parenthood (and, God forbid, coming to terms with Lisa’s death) should have been a great source of material for the drama-heavy mode the strip was in. But Tom Batiuk can only write overwrought pathos, cheap melodrama, death fetish objects, shock panels, and stupid puns. He’s a fraud, and he knows it. He wrote a story with an emotional weight that he lacked the talent to resolve. So he just skipped it all, and acted like this was some kind of artistic decision. He skipped a decade, and declared everything fine, even though Les obviously has unresolved grief out the wazoo.

      Act III is a crutch for a crutch.

  15. Banana Jr. 6000

    The Peter Pan joke is actually pretty funny.

    • Y. Knott

      All the old strips CBH posted show at least some ability to amuse. And the Peter Pan one IS pretty funny … even if the utterly ridiculous ‘weaponized hair quiff of death’ is more than a little distracting.

  16. Hannibal's Lectern

    “…I definitely felt excluded from things in high school…”

    Wow, is that a wussy thing to say. Who DIDN’T feel excluded from “things” in high school? For that matter, who DOESN’T feel excluded from “things” in adult life? Most of us, most of the time, are in a state of partial inclusion and partial exclusion from our social groups. For instance, I’m in a band. When the subject is playing music with the band, I’m included. But some of these folks are in other bands as well, and some have non-band social relationships, and from those things I am excluded. Am I supposed to wallow in self-pity over this, when in fact the exclusion is mostly my own choice? Apparently Batty can’t grasp such subtleties–you are either a Full Deluxe PRO™ Member, or you are excluded and sad.

  17. ian'sdrunkenbeard

    I think I found a picture of ComicBookHarriet! The pieces all fit…