He’s a well murdered man about town.

Have you been paying attention to Crankshaft this month?

If not, then today is not going to make a lick of sense.

Currently in Crankshaft, Cranky’s grandson Max and his common-law wife Hannah, have gone back to working for Channel 1. Channel 1 subsequently suffered an implausible ransomware attack and is having to air reruns of The John Darling Show. Did you know that Darin’s wife, Jessica, is the daughter of her father, John Darling, who was murdered? Les Moore wrote a book about it.

Did you also know that Max, the not-a-husband of Hannah, (the woman who spoke of these tapes as if they were some long forgotten media), is also the nephew of John Darling Jessica’s father, who was murdered?

And this is why Batiuk’s random decision sometime last year to, without explanation or official announcement, just drop the time differential between Westview and Centerview is going to muck up way way way more than it is ever going to ‘fix’. Because his two strips are more incestuous than a GRRM fantasy setting. And so many of these relationships were founded during the time the differential was in play.

This is just a sample of people related by familial bonds. This barely even touches on all the casual relationships.

I mean, did YOU know that when Pete finally ties the knot with Mindy it will make Darin his cousin-in-law? (I know BillyTheSkink does.) But does TOM?

What about Emily and Amelia. You know, the blond twins that just graduated from high school this year?

May 28, 2022.

Well, if Crankshaft and Funky Winkerbean are now on the same time plane, they sure grew up a lot in just a week.

May 17, 2022.

I can hear the arguments already. ‘The time skip just confused people.’ ‘Hardly anyone is going to notice in the week to week.’

The thing is, Batiuk is obsessed with the legacy of his work. If this was cheap, disposable, storytelling then randomly unraveling the time skip in bits and pieces, uncommented on, wouldn’t matter. But what about the work AS A WHOLE? You can sit down, right now, and read all of Act III. It only takes a few hours. It actually improves quite a bit on being consumed this way. 15 years, binged all at once. And if you do that, then the Crankshaft crossovers show up once or twice a year.

And now they’re not going to make any sense. Dozens of stories, dozens and dozens of strips, are going to be in this weird de-canonized place. Because they CAN’T have happened. All that confusion is going to crop up about four hours into consuming Act III.

I guess it’s called writing.

Speaking of writing! Someone got a little creative in the comments this week and wrote a little golfing arc for us. I don’t have the time to adapt the entire thing in MS paint. But I thought I would bring you the thrilling conclusion. Especially since this Sunday’s strip is so unbearably unpunny.

So here it is! Satisfying Shit by Sorial Promise, Comic Book Harriet, Batiuk, Davis, and Ayers.

 

And that’s it for me this shit.

I mean SHIFT! SHIFT! SHIFT!

 

PPS: For any of you wondering about the Smokey Williams, Jefferson Jacks, sitch from my last shift. Strike Four! came and I read it. There was a long arc of Crankshaft mentoring Smokey Williams (Cayla’s Father) to a Cleveland Indians World Series victory. Crankshaft then gets a WORLD SERIES RING, and I laughed and laughed and laughed at how similar it was to the Les Moore wins an Oscar plot.

Smokey Williams is never racially targeted in his appearances.

79 Comments

Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

79 responses to “He’s a well murdered man about town.

  1. Epicus Doomus

    “John Darling” the comic strip featuring Jessica’s father John Darling. My old newspaper didn’t carry it, so almost all the old JD strips are new to me. There’s nothing about it that I really specifically dislike, but I sense that’s about to change, in a big f*cking way. Now let’s all sit back and watch BatYam strip all the humor and joy out of yet another gag-a-day strip.

    And now I have to go and look at “Crankshaft”, which I’m loath to do under any circumstances. He’s been trying to force and/or trick me into reading that thing for years, but I’m not budging. I’ll check out the most recent CS arc for research purposes, but that’s it.

  2. William Thompson

    I looked at that Crankshaft strip and, being one-third Irish, repeatedly invoked the revered leprechauns O’Shit and O’Fuckthis.

    • Anonymous Sparrow

      What about their cousin Pogue Mahone?

      Guh sayeree jeea ayera, as Captain Boyle would say.

      (It’s a prayer, he says, even if it means “God Bless Ireland” and not “Rest in Peace.”)

  3. Y. Knott

    The time jumps were always Batiuk’s way of skipping over the parts he knew didn’t have the chops to write.

    (N.B.: He didn’t really have the chops to write the stuff that came after the time jumps either, but he wasn’t self-aware enough to know that.)

    It took him … what, thirty years?…. to realize he also didn’t have the chops to maintain the time discontinuity between the two strips.

    I guess minimal self-awareness is still self-awareness. Congratulations, Tom!

    • William Thompson

      I can’t wait for Batiuk to make the ultimate time jump, which puts us a century in the future. Westview is a decaying ghost town and all that remains of the characters are their names on headstones in the old cemetery. Except Les; he was buried at a crossroads.

      Death and decay are the only things Batiuk understands, so he may as well get to it.

  4. Y. Knott

    By the way, CBH, particularly sterling work on the callback to Sorial Promise’s great postings!

  5. sorialpromise

    ComicBookHarriet,
    It is a good thing that I was sitting down. You floored me, woman. You floored me.
    As I saw it, my hand slapped across my mouth in disbelief. Then pure joy! Ecstasy!
    (As the Scarecrow would say, “Joy! Rapture!)
    You are amazing, and so wonderful. Thank you for honoring me.
    You are loved!

    • sorialpromise

      There is one point I would have CBH consider. In the early days of Marvel Comics, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby came up with a new method of writing and drawing their comics, called the Marvel method. The writer comes up with the idea, and the artist does her interpretation of the story. That is what we did. Between us, the reader received perfection on the page. Again, thank you.

      • ComicBookHarriet

        I was at an amusement park all day and just got home. So sorry if this is coming late. But it was a pleasure to play Jack Kirby to your Stan Lee.

        Just promise me you won’t steal the credit! 😉

    • Mela

      If the station has paid the ransom, then why haven’t the hackers released the servers so the station can run normal programming? Why would they give the money back? The whole arc has been silly anyway, but the punchline here makes no sense.

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        And the “hackers” are Russian now? That detail wasn’t mentioned before. The Ukraine war began 7 months ago, which is less than Batiuk’s 11-month lead time. I smell a pre-emptive retcon – Batiuk rewrote the strip before it even published. But he *didn’t* remove or rework the abortion joke. Okay then.

        • The Duck of Death

          Come on, BJr6K. You should have recognized the fiendish style typical of Putin and his hacker army.

          First: Target a 3rd string station in West Butthair, Ohio. Make sure they aren’t affiliated with any network or another station that could supply them with programming or a feed.

          Second: Uh, “hack” them. You know… [waving arms vaguely] … with the computers and such. The hacking thing they do. Then, ransom, payable to V. Putin, Kremlin, via Venmo or Paypal. No checks accepted, Amerikanski!

          Third: Walk away with a sweet, sweet 60K to fund your war machine. 60K rubles, that is. In dollars, $1000.

          Who says crime doesn’t pay, comrade? Hahaha. Haha. BWAAAAH-HAAAA-HAAAAA!

          [Russian national anthem plays militantly]

          • Dood

            Today on CCCP1 …

          • Banana Jr. 6000

            Well, I recognize the fiendish style typical of Batiuk and his hack army. He invents an easily solved problem that makes no sense, contradicts itself left and right, and is an insult to anyone who’s actually worked in the profession. He props up one of his Westview Mafia* characters to be the hero who solves it. All so he do more strips about his favorite storytelling trope: video tapes of dead people. (No wonder he likes Phantom Empire so much; everyone in it has been dead since at least 1998.)

            * – I’m co-opting this term from Hitorque, because it is very on point for how Batiuk rewards members of the main families in the Funkyverse

          • Banana Jr. 6000

            On a side note, their $1,000 USD won’t buy them very many rubles right now. The last few years it’s typically about 70-75 of them to 1 USD, so 60 to 1 is high. It was as low as 135.8 to 1 earlier this year, after the current phase of the Ukraine conflict started. I don’t think anyone predicted their currency would *gain* value after the entire western world embargoed their economy. But that’s what happened.

          • The Duck of Death

            The 60K was based on today’s exchange rate! Surely you don’t think Putin would be so foolish as to hold on to dollars when there’s a war on! Nyet! When he masterminds these schemes he always converts to rubles immediately!

            Not to get political, but at the time, I read many predictions that the ruble would rise, and some exhortations to buy rubles. I’m not a currency speculator, so I stay out of this kind of thing. But the predictions were out there. Some might say the ruble’s strength is predicated on Russia’s oil, but we know better. It’s clearly their $$$$BIGMONEY$$$$$ ransomware schemes that are keeping their currency afloat.

    • Charles

      He so desperately wants to go back to gag-a-day that it’s gotten pathetic at this point. He’d love nothing more than to come up with two insipid jokes like that and be done with it, but his ego just won’t let him. He has to instead jam his insipid humor into his idea of a story with “deeper meaning” or some such. I’d almost feel sorry for him if he weren’t both so needy and proud of himself.

    • Hannibal’s Lectern

      Wait… in the fifth panel, the guest (who wrote the tell-all book about hotels) is named “Mini Barr,” as in the diminutive form of someone named Barr? Not “Minnie Barr,” which would be an actual human name and a pun (a weak one, but better than the nothingburger served up here). Ladies and gentlemen, I give you master storyteller Tom “It’s Called Writing” Batiuk.

  6. Jeff M.

    You know what? I’m going to go ahead and the *that guy* – as in, the guy who’s a moving image archivist and has watched the Crankshaft goings-on (to call it an ‘arc’ would be to give it too much dignity) with disgust. This is not about the fact that John Darling was (spoiler alert) murdered in 1990, which means that all of those shows are on ¾” U-Matic or even 2″ open reel tape. It is about the inescapable fact that making digital files from analog videotapes (don’t even get me started on .mp4 as a preservation file) requires they be played back *IN REAL TIME*. This is being treated as some sort of drag-and-drop project, when, even if they weren’t facing playback issues (such as “sticky shed,” which does in fact require tape backing”) – you don’t walk into a room with a box of tapes and then have them on the air – apparently 24/7 – immediately. You work for, if all goes well, 2-3 hours and end up with one hour of digital video. Rinse and repeat. Having Crazy dust off a Sony BVU-750 from his garage to play back those old shows, and putting them out directly to broadcast, would be more plausible. Thank you for listening to my rant, and if nothing else, please remember, .mp4 is *not* a preservation-quality file format.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      I want to rant a little too. I worked for a radio station for a year, and the thing I remember about it most was: YOU DO NOT BE OFF THE AIR. EVER. Not even for five seconds. Doing so is a complete catastrophe, and people get fired on the spot. It destroys your station’s audience, credibility, ratings, and advertising revenue like the Black Plague. And this was a radio station, which doesn’t even have a visual component.

      The idea that these chuckledicks went dark for a week to get out of paying a $1,000 ransom (which they joked was a small amount), and then pulled up some random, horribly out-of-date public affairs show just to fill time, is so stupid it’s insulting.

      • The Duck of Death

        I worked for a radio station as well, briefly, in the engineering department. What I remember is that they not only had a backup transmitter ready to go at a second’s notice, but they had programming queued up for that transmitter.

        Being off the air, even if running backup programming, meant refunding the money for every ad that had been scheduled to run. As you say, would have been a complete disaster and major finacial hit.

        Channel 1 — which cannot be a broadcast channel because, in the US, there is no such thing as a “Channel 1” in broadcast TV — presumably is one of those stations that can’t sell ads, even for $20 per minute, so they just run the same 15 PSAs during every commercial break.

        God, Westview is depressing.

        • Banana Jr. 6000

          Refunding the money or doing a “makegood”, which is what we called it when we had to reschedule an ad that failed to run for whatever reason. This consumes ad inventory and annoys the customer.

          • Mela

            No wonder I like this group. We’ve got former radio/TV people here. Banana Jr., it sounds like you worked in traffic/continuity. I’ve spent a career doing just that-scheduling revenue and making sure the ads run. I’ve heard a program director yell “DEAD AIR” if he heard silence and have seen him high tail it across the room into the studio while calling the engineer.

            As others have said, TV and radio stations have backups. It doesn’t mean they won’t be off the air for a bit, but engineers will scramble like hell to get back on the air because they’ll lose revenue.

            I remember that when 9/11 happened, our stations had to make up nearly an entire day’s worth of ads because we switched over to national non-stop network coverage and wiped out all spots for the day. It was a mess, but of course, not as awful as what was going on in the world.

            And before Russians were mentioned, I assumed that the $1000 figure was low because some Westview kid down hacked into their programming and didn’t know how to go big with the $ demand. Oliver from Bloom County certainly could have managed that.

          • Banana Jr. 6000

            Banana Jr., it sounds like you worked in traffic/continuity.

            It was my first internship! In 1989.

        • Rusty Shackleford

          Same here. I’m an electrical engineer and worked for a company that maintained the transmitters, lines, and antenna systems.

          Everything was redundant and we could switch over with just a few seconds of dead air.

  7. Andrew

    I could be proven wrong Monday, but seems like that’s it for the “big”50th Reunion. The 2nd biggest timeline jumble this year (next to today) for two weeks of extremely typical “we never really talked in high school” moping that leaves the reunion feeling like a wet fart. Most that happened was a character came out as trans offscreen and we got like 3 strips about it. Hell of an anniversary story, if you could call it that.

  8. I find a jokey reference to an abortifacient in the Sunday funnies to be a little distasteful.

     
    • Bad wolf

      “What’s this guy smiling for? Doesn’t he know what I’m doing?”

    • none

      If he wrote that panel to be its own strip –

      “John, we conceived this product for the persons out there who are not sure if they truly are ready for pregnancy, at least not at the present moment – the Pregnant Fluid, if you will.”

  9. be ware of eve hill

    I think I had the stupidity to defend Crankshaft in this discussion a few months ago. In that time span, I’ve been enjoying the strip less and less. Even the exploding grill strips seemed to have a certain lack of enthusiasm. Once a month, the strip features Ed, Ralph, and Keesterman sitting in a booth at the Dale Evans restaurant, pissing and moaning about current events and life in general (COVID, cryptocurrency, etc.). Where have we read stuff like that lately? In Funky Winkerbean. Talk talk talk whine whine whine, a lame joke at someone’s expense. The Crankshaft comic strip has been on a death spiral the last few months and is becoming Funky Winkerbean Lite.

    I’ve started reading the Crankshaft CK discussion again because that’s the only way to enjoy the damn thing nowadays. This Station 1 stuff is terrible. How do I change the channel?

    Say, with John Darling featured in both strips, do you think Batiuk is thinking of bringing that strip back? 😱

    Batiuk: Sloppily writing two comic strips is easy. Getting paid for minimal effort is great. I wonder if KFS will let me get away with three? What’s Tom Armstrong up to nowadays? Marvin? Isn’t that the strip obsessed about the bowel movements of a toddler? Works for me. We can add a baby to the John Darling cast.
    King Features Syndicate: John Darling is dead. You killed him off to end the strip before we could take it away from you.
    Batiuk: Ha! Not an obstacle. John Darling is not dead. He was just hiding from his fans. Does the name Phil Holt ring a bell?

    • erdmann

      Monday’s strip: Jess complains that she’s been getting calls from a number she doesn’t know. She’s been ignoring them.
      Tuesday: Jess gets another call. She wonders who it could be and why they keep calling.
      Wednesday: Jess considers answering the latest call.
      Thursday: She answers the phone.
      Friday: In panel 1, Jess says “Hello?” She listens silently in panel 2 before saying “What?” in panel 3.
      Saturday: Jess’ eyes widen in panels 1 and 2. In panel 3, she gasps “Daddy?!”
      After another month of this breathtaking action, it’s revealed that John Darling, Jess’ father who wasn’t murdered after all, never showed up for work the day he was fated to die. Instead, he found the Eliminator helmet, put it on for no discernible reason, and was whisked away to the present, where he is ready to start a new life as a 21st Century Man.
      Or maybe he was frozen in a block of ice until he was thawed out by the crew of a ship transporting special pens to America. Take your pick.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      It’s a very good question. Batiuk dickishly killed off John Darling’s title character just to make it a useless property, and bragged about doing so. But it hasn’t gone into public domain. If the syndicate owned the rights to it 1990, they still own the rights to it now.

      Maybe Batiuk has some kind of blanket permission regarding crossover characters. But that just makes his initial gripe about John Darling even more petty.

      Maybe the syndicate permitted Batiuk to use the John Darling characters in Funky Winkerbean and Crankshaft. But that would be spectacularly magnanimous of them, considering how much of an asshole he’s been about it all.

      • The Duck of Death

        The honest truth is: The ‘John Darling’ property is worthless.

        1. It’s spectacularly unoriginal. The egotistical and empty-headed newscaster was already an ancient stock character long before Batiuk got to it.

        2. TV news and chat shows are watched only by old folks. I’m not even young and I haven’t watched any of that stuff since about 1990. In fact, TV in general is almost totally ignored by anyone under 20, except when they occasionally stream TV shows.

        3. Nobody, but nobody, remembers this strip other than FW/CS hate-readers. Even CK doesn’t run it in its “vintage” lineup, presumably because it was so heavily reliant on topical trivia, 95% of which is now forgotten even by people who lived through it.

        4. The only thing that made the strip even vaguely worth reading was the capable art by Armstrong/Shamray.

        I wouldn’t pay a dollar fifty for the rights to the characters/property. Since no one edits TB’s strips, maybe the syndicate hasn’t seen Darling’s reappearance. Or maybe they have, and their lawyer’s response was a shrug. Or maybe they have, but no one at KF remembers the strip any more.

        • Banana Jr. 6000

          All true. But principles of intellectual property law mandate that if you fail to protect your copyright, this can be an argument against you if you ever try to defend one later. It’s why big media companies like Disney are raging dickheads about grocery store custom birthday cakes, and other petty copyright violations. It’s not something you can risk if you’re in that business.

          Tom Batiuk seems to have an Infinity Shield Against Copyright Violation Lawsuits, because he does this kind of thing constantly and it never seems to hurt him. Despite not having a drop of Fair Use he could argue in his defense.

          • The Duck of Death

            Oh, I know it. “And here’s a comic I loved!” [Reprints cover and splash page of Flash comic from 1961, taking up 90% of daily strip]

            I’m thinking I could have a career as a hit songwriter. Record myself saying, “Hey, here’s a song I enjoy!,” and then just play the Beatles’ “Yesterday” start to finish. Hmm… maybe a crafty lawyer could challenge that. But if I add a little coda where I speak over the last chords, “Wasn’t that great?,” it should be bulletproof.

            Thanks for the inspo, Puff Batty!

          • The Duck of Death

            Hey, here’s a stupid thought. [I’m trying to think stupid thoughts. How else can I understand what Scott Batiuk’s trying to do?]

            Do you think Batty’s deliberately using this character that doesn’t belong to him to provoke the syndicate and make himself some kind of hero of the comics industry who goes to bat to defend what’s his? It’s clear he’s still far from over the John Darling debacle if you look at the words and actions of the (not) late, (not) great Phil Holt.

            (TB is too un-introspective to realize Phil Holt is not only an author avatar, but a very unflattering one. He stormed out of his job because he wanted to own his ultra-derivative, boring superhero. Then he spent years in seclusion/faking his own death to create … a couple sketches? That whole arc always put me in mind of the Pink Floyd line, “Plans that either come to naught, or half a page of scribbled lines.”

            So TB steals back what he thinks is his after all these years, and his triumphant, public return is… shit-tier, craptacular puns that Bart Simpson would be ashamed to troll Moe Szyslak with. #SAD)

          • Green Luthor

            It’s actually TRADEMARKS that have to be defended to prevent being able to defend them in the future. Copyrights have no such provisions. (The usage of Disney characters on birthday cakes or daycare centers or whatever is fully within the realm of trademark, however, so the general point stands.)

            Another key difference is that copyrights last a set amount of time (the life of the creator plus 70 years, or, for works-for-hire, either 95 years from first publication or 120 years from initial creation, whichever comes first), then go into the public domain. Trademarks last much less time (10 years), but can be renewed indefinitely, but only as long as they see active usage. (So while “Steamboat Willy” and the general character of Mickey Mouse may end up in the public domain, Disney will still retain the TRADEMARK to the name and design, and any works after “Steamboat Willy” will have their own distinct copyright terms.) (So you could make your own Mickey Mouse cartoon or comic or whatever, but if you use ANYTHING from a Disney property that wasn’t in “Steamboat Willy” – including a more modern design of Mickey – you’re getting sued. And don’t think about ADVERTISING it as having “Mickey Mouse”, either.)

            “John Darling”, the character, was trademarked in 1979 (serial #73231750), but the trademark expired in 2006. So while the syndicate might still own the copyright on the strip itself, Batiuk PROBABLY can get away with using the character in new strips, just probably not reprinting the old strips. (Assuming the syndicate would even bother refusing him permission to do so, but it’s not like they seem to want to do anything with it anyway.)

            (Or someone could try to see if they can secure the “John Darling” trademark for themselves and then send Batiuk a C&D, but I don’t know how well that would work. And, really, who’d even want to bother?)

            (Intellectual property law is confusing.)

          • The Duck of Death

            Oh boy, that is one tempting idea. SOSFCo, Ltd., a corporation formed just to pool resources and buy the “John Darling” property… I can see it now. The “cease and desist” aimed the other way for a change…

            But we’d have to also trademark his full name, John Darling Who Was Murdered.

            And TB could easily get around it by referring to him as “Jessica Darling’s Father Who Was Murdered.”

          • Charles

            But principles of intellectual property law mandate that if you fail to protect your copyright, this can be an argument against you if you ever try to defend one later.

            You’re thinking of trademarks, not copyrights. One of the core principles of copyrights is that you decide how the item is used. So if you don’t mind that some rando kid from Pennsylvania writes a fanfic based on your story, that’s fine, even if you might go after the rando kid from Ohio who writes his own fanfic.

      • none

        I personally believe that the John Darling implosion is part of the reason why there wasn’t a syndicate wide celebration of the 50th anniversary as there was for other strips like Barney Google or Gasoline Alley, as well as a lack of publicity (barely more than zero) for his appearance at SDCC.

        I can’t imagine that the strip was established through contracting language that defined what he could and could not do. I can’t imagine that simply abruptly ending the creation of the strip did not violate some kind of terms of engagement. I can’t imagine that other creators in the medium did not take notice of this lack of professionalism. That he was allowed to do that without any kind of repercussion is unfathomable; so maybe the repercussions just weren’t public, and the strips were allowed to stay running in the fallout. Lucky us.

        • Banana Jr. 6000

          When Tom Batiuk had editors, they went to bat for him. There were blog posts about how they pitched his work for awards and the like. When he lost his last real editor in 2007, he also lost his last advocate. Your scenario, that the syndicate is tired of his bullshit but can’t fire him, is easy to imagine.

          • The Duck of Death

            What’s his secret? Some weird misprint in his original contract? Compromising Polaroids in a safe? Dirt on someone’s extramarital dalliances?

          • Y. Knott

            The only secret is that FW and Crankshaft are still making money for the syndicate. Maybe not a lot of money, but enough to keep the properties alive. Look, if each strip is still seen in 200 papers, and each of those papers pays $2 daily per strip for the privilege of running them, there’s nearly $300,o00 gross revenue each year….

            And if you think about it, there is nothing Tom Batiuk could have on the syndicate for effective blackmail purposes anyway. Compromising photos? Extramarital dalliances? C’mon, what could be worse than the already public knowledge “you oversee Funky Winkerbean”?

  10. be ware of eve hill

    I love the chart, CBH.

    The engagement tiger dying from cancer is hilarious. Polyfill cancer?

    Have we seen the last of Emily and Amelia in Crankshaft?

  11. Charles

    Forgive me for not addressing this in the previous week, but I believe a CBH End-of-Year ranking is justified from last week’s strips. Let’s call it “What do you consider the most surprising/inept/egregious development of the past week?”

    1. That Cindy selects The Kinks’ “I’m Not Like Anybody Else” and she and Batiuk miss the point of the song?
    2. That Cindy started us off by claiming that she felt excluded from rest of the student body? Not separate, mind you, excluded.
    3. That this appeared to surprise Funky, who married Cindy shortly after graduating from high school and who was in an intimate relationship with her for God-knows how many years?
    4. That there wasn’t an entire week devoted to Les wailing about how everyone excluded him, seeing as how his petty high school grievances have defined his character for the last fifty years?
    5. That Crazy Harry, the resident bliss ninny and weirdo, the guy who “marched to a different beat” also felt very excluded and aggrieved by that exclusion?
    6. That Batiuk’s new transgender character, who probably could have given the best accounting of feeling isolated, is given one half of a strip to voice her remembrance?
    7. That Batiuk wouldn’t use this opportunity to flog his “I’m so cutting edge. Look! I included a trans character!” scheme?
    8. That Batiuk felt that giving his two minority characters one word between them was all that needed to be said before going back to focus on his milquetoast, solidly middle class white complainants?
    9. That they’re all 68 years old and this is what they’re talking about?
    10. That this is what Batiuk has decided he wanted his big “50th Reunion” arc to address?

    See something I missed above? Add your own!

    • The Duck of Death

      Yes. Most Surprising: Little Les, no Lisa!

    • be ware of eve hill

      Thanks for opening up yesterday’s comic strip to today’s discussion, Charles. There was something I meant to post yesterday but forgot.

      I wonder why Batiuk is so bitter about high school reunions. It’s like he had a bad experience at his 50th and wanted to get something off his chest.

      Can you imagine the questions Batiuk might be subjected to at his reunions?
      Classmate #1: Are you still doing those silly little drawings you used to doodle in your notebooks?
      Classmate #2: Do you ever do any real art?
      Classmate #3: Hey, the guy who did ‘Calvin and Hobbes’ retired. That comic strip was great. Why don’t you take over that comic? You could make a fortune!
      Classmate #4: You’re a cartoonist? Anything I would know?
      Classmate #5: Hi Tom! I’m glad I cornered you. I’ve got some great ideas for your comic strip. You should do comics about my family and me. Let me tell you all about us.
      Classmate #6: You should try making your comics funnier. Y’know, so people would find them entertaining.

      Literally, anytime something mildly amusing happened, somebody would look over at Tom and say, “Ha! That would make a great cartoon!”

      Take that, Tom Batiuk. You bundle of meaningless emotions.

    • be ware of eve hill

      Sorry Charles, I can’t add anything to your list. It is rather comprehensive. 👍

  12. billytheskink

    I never realized John Darling’s show was good either… I think for good reason. Minor kudos, though, for not naming the Civil War expert Anne T. Bellum.

    That family tree is absolute perfection! Every photo choice is a winner (check Chris Crankshaft’s young Weird Al hair!) and the engagement tiger’s disappearance resulting from “cancer?” is a chef’s kiss moment.

  13. J.J. O'Malley

    So, two Sunday strips from the same creator, running on the same day, offer identical collections of grade-school puns that would have been rejected by Gold Key Comics’ “Jokes by Cracky” page and a capper final panel with members of each strip’s cast. This is beyond lazy writing; this is somnambulistic writing. Frankly, I’m shocked Batiuk didn’t borrow any Bart Simpson pseudonyms from his prank calls to Moe’s.

    It’s perhaps not that surprising that TB got bogged down in FW and CS’s “10-year” gap and chucked the whole thing, continuity be darned, seeing as it was in his beloved Silver Age Flash series that the Earth-One, Earth-Two, Etc. cosmology which plagued DC Comics to this day began. As they sought to explain how the Justice Society heroes of WWII could still be fighting crime in the ’70s and ’80s, DC eventually had to come up with “genius moves” like making Black Canary her own daughter (!) before “Crisis on Infinite Earths” and subsequent events tried–and usually failed–to simplify matters…much like Tom’s “time jumps.”

    • erdmann

      “Today on ‘Darling,’ my guests are urologists I.P. Freely and Rusty Bedsprings…”
      “My guest today is romance novelist Amanda Huginkiss…”
      “Today, we’ll be talking with cryonics expert I.C. Wiener…”

      The Simpsons (and Futurama) may not have done it first, but they did it better.

  14. The Dreamer

    So waitaminite, they did away with the time differential between Crankshaft and Funky Winkerbean current Act? In the current FW arc, Crankshaft is in a nursing home and gets wheeled out to the park once a day in his wheelchair to feed the pigeons. So suddenly he can walk again and moved back home?

    Also wasnt Mindy ten years younger in Crankshaft? So she’s underage and engaged to Pete?

    • Bad wolf

      Truly a situation (entirely TB’s creation) that causes more problems than it solves. I can’t tell if he’s lost it so much that he is just unaware of how he’s trashing whatever continuity he’s built up for quick payoffs, or he’s deliberately doing whatever is convenient in the moment to keep the plates spinning another week realizing there are no consequences to turning in substandard dreck.

      If he’s got at best a couple of years of this left in him and already gotten the 50 year time served button, why this? It’s somehow worse than the syndicate putting some B-talent that couldn’t sell their original strip on his legacy strip and have it continue out of his purview.

      Perhaps he’s got Bane’s Master Plan in mind for his legacy. “Crashing this plane… with no survivors!”

  15. Hitorque

    So I’m to understand that this woman who made an award-winning documentary about her father never watched any of his shows until now??

    Oh, and great work on that “we’re all practically cousins” family tree… The Vinkelbeane family would no doubt be even messier…

  16. Rusty Shackleford

    Ugh, I’m even more confused after reading today’s Crankshaft. They joke that the hackers gave the ransom back. But if they paid the ransom, their systems would have been unlocked.

    Smacks Batty with rolled up newspaper: No! That’s not how any of this works. No!

  17. Rusty Shackleford

    My big disappointment though is with this week’s Mary Worth. We never got to see the assorted soft drinks.

  18. be ware of eve hill

    Ooo boy. 🤦‍♀️

    I’m reminded by my anglo-scottish-canuck husband that the word “fanny” has a different meaning in Britain and the British Commonwealth.

    In the US, “fannie” is slang for one’s backside, somebody’s hindquarters. Therefore, a fannie pack is a small pack that someone wears around their waist, over their backside.

    In the U.K. and other members of the British Commonwealth, the term “fanny” is slang for a lady’s baby making bits, i.e.
    her privates. So, the name “Fannie Packer” translates to “One who packs a lady’s private parts”.

    Funky Winkerbean readers in Great Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa are laughing themselves silly at Batty’s latest fubar.

    Thank God the person in that panel isn’t a guy. I wonder if there is a British porn star who goes by the name “Fannie Packer”?

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Funky Winkerbean readers in Great Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa are laughing themselves silly at Batty’s latest fubar.

      If there are any. I doubt FW even has much of a Canadian readership.

  19. Perfect Tommy

    Well, they did say that they had eleven years worth of John Darling shows. Maybe the darn thing was on a repeating loop for a decade. Or the broadcast somehow transcended time and space a’ la “Frequency”. Continuity solved!

  20. Count of Tower Grove

    So Crankshaft has been brought into the Fungyverse present. It’s been a few years, but as I recall Minders brought her hot Mopey Pete boyfriend to meet gramps, who at the time was in Bedside Manor tied to O2 and mumbling like Bill the Cat. I recall Minder’s commentary “That’s my gramps!” And now Ed is rejuvenated.
    Next thing you know, Bull will get a retcon resurrection and kill Buck for boffing Linda.

  21. Mela

    CBH-As always, thanks for your fabulous commentary and callbacks these past two weeks. The chart today was the best! Listing the engagement tiger as Pete and Mindy’s child-great stuff!

    I only know about John Darling’s strip and its history thanks to SOSF, as I don’t remember ever seeing it in our local papers. I have no idea where TB is going with this, or why John Darling has been revived in such a ridiculously contrived way.

    • Anonymous Sparrow

      Hurry home early, hurry on home…

      The Engagement Tiger from Westview’s taking on Hobbs from a place unknown!

      The purse is the winner’s weight in tuna fish sandwiches, because tigers will do anything for a tuna fish sandwich,

      (They’re kind of stupid, that way, and also think that 7 + 3 equals 73.)

      “‘…cause he gets up in the morning/and he’s at the high school by eight/and he returns to the Taj Moore-hal and is never late…”

  22. ComicTrek

    We get it, Tom. You killed John Darling off over a little spat, “took [your] ball and went home”, and then played it off as a big murder-mystery thing. We freaking remember!

    CBH, you said it right. He keeps showing off the golden years to remind us (or himself?) that they existed, but he does not care about what he does WITH it, if you know what I mean. Incredibly inconsistent, and annoying for his readers who actually do or did care.

    • Anonymous Sparrow

      The Golden Age for various things fannish, they say, is when you’re twelve.

      Did *Funky Winkerbean* ever have a Golden Age? Or a Jump the Shark moment?

  23. The Duck of Death

    Here’s a fun entry in Toonopedia, reprinted in its entirety…. Note the appearance of “Jennifer.” Maybe she’s related to Flash Freeman… er, Fairway? Featherbottom?

    John Darling was not a long-running, well-known, highly popular comic strip. It was not an extremely important strip in the history of comics. It was not the most significant creative outlet for any of comics’ great geniuses. It has only one real claim to fame — but that one’s a doozy! On August 3, 1991, the day before the strip ended, its title character was murdered on-stage, in full view of the readers.

    Title characters of comics had been murdered before. The Comet went out in a blaze of gunfire, for example, tho a couple of decades later the publisher relented, and he got better. And a villain blew up The Doom Patrol in the final issue of their DC comic book; but there, readers were given to understand that if the publisher became convinced the comic could be resurrected, sales-wise, then the characters would be resurrected as well. John Darling was intended to stay dead, and did.

    The John Darling character was created by Tom Batiuk (rhymes with “attic”), best known for Funky Winkerbean, which he created, writes and draws. Darling was originally a walk-on character in the Winkerbean strip, an appallingly shallow, thoroughly self-absorbed talk show host. He made a big hit with readers, and was brought back over and over. He eventually became the first of two Winkerbean characters (the other being Ed Crankshaft) spun off into strips of their own. Darling’s began March 25, 1979. Given the character’s line of work, naturally, it was replete with caricatures of real-life media personalities — in fact, so media-saturated was the strip, many papers carried it on the TV page instead of with the rest of the comics.

    Batiuk wrote John Darling, and it was originally illustrated by Tom Armstrong. In 1985, Armstrong left to devote his full attention to his own strip, Marvin, which he’d created in 1982; and the art on Darling was taken over by Gerry Shamway. When the Darling strip was canceled (crowded off most papers’ TV page by the 1980s explosion of channels that required listing), Armstrong returned to draw its final three weeks — including, of course, the character’s shooting death.

    Batiuk had two reasons for closing the strip as he did. First, he wanted a boffo ending, one that people would talk about and remember. He certainly achieved that. Second, he was having a contract dispute with North America Syndicate (Sally Forth, Mark Trail), which distributed the strip, over ownership of the character, and made a decision to leave John Darling unusable.

    And yet, the character was used one more time. In 1997, long after the dispute had been resolved in Batiuk’s favor, he had Les Moore, a major Funky Winkerbean character, write a book about Darling’s murder — and, in the process, solve it. To write that story, Batiuk had to solve the murder himself. He hadn’t had any particular murderer in mind originally, but poring over the John Darling storyline, found enough clues to nail the felon.

    Other than the fact that, like mortals, he survives through his descendants (his daughter Jennifer is a regular character in Funky Winkerbean), that may well have been John Darling’s last gasp as a viable character. Like Generalissimo Francisco Franco, he is still dead.

    • Rusty Shackleford

      Or is he still dead? At this point I would not be surprised to see him walk out onto tomorrow’s strip.

    • The Duck of Death

      On careful rereading of the above entry, it says that the dispute was resolved in Batiuk’s favor. If this is true, then he still owns the character. Oh, Lord, he’s gonna bring him back now, isn’t he? He’s been chilling on Wilbur Weston Island, plotting his comeback, and … an… uh… zzzzzzzz

  24. Anonymous Sparrow

    And Sadie Summers is pregnant with his love child!