Fort Knox

Link to Todays’ Strip

I spent way too long a few months ago reading about the McDonald’s ad character Mac Tonight a few months back. I bring this up because Flash in the first panel sure looks like him.
I feel like anyone who would collect John Darling memorabilia (were there McDonald’s toys? or trading cards?) is the kind of person I’d want to avoid, but I’m not a FW character.



Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

65 responses to “Fort Knox

  1. Epicus Doomus

    Of course, Mitchell Knox. Sigh. Apparently BatYam still harbors that weird grudge against “collectors”, as Mitchell will no doubt be some sort of difficult weirdo, who’ll only acquiesce once little baby Skyler does something adorable. Then he’ll give Jessica one of John Darling’s (her father) coffee mugs or headphones or his rest room nameplate or something, and she’ll treasure it forever or until Sunday, whichever comes first.

    Coming tomorrow: after Mitchell gives her a box containing her father, John Darling’s, personal effects, Jessica is stunned to learn that she, like Boy Lisa, was adopted, and her biological mother was a young Westviewian woman who later died from cancer. Skyler’s weird developmental issues suddenly make way more sense.

  2. HEEEE-larious!!! Where does Batdick come up with this stuff?

  3. Banana Jr. 6000

    What a random question. “Do you, eccentric rich guy with no friends and a comic book obsession, know anyone who collects memorabilia from 40-year-old local talk shows?”

    • billytheskink

      And what a random answer too. Mitchell Knox was some sort of child prodigy comic book writer in TB’s Batom Comics history blog novella. Why on earth would he be someone who would collect John Darling memorabilia? And if he did… why didn’t Les talk to him when writing Fallen Star?

      If anyone has any “memorabilia” for the John Darling show, such as such a thing can exist for a locally-produced talk show that went off the air 35 years ago, it would be someone who worked for Channel 1. Even 1/4″ from reality that would be true.

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        Oh, God, you’re right.

        The new website is still missing tons of old blog posts and has other problems besides, but you better believe he got the comic book bullpen shit moved over. Just what Funky Winkerbean needs: another new character who makes comic books. Sheesh.

        • ComicBookHarriet

          Instead of going to Chester the Molester…imagine a different world where instead Jess asked Darin, “Hey, Pete’s dad worked with my dad, you think he has any memorabilia?

          • Epicus Doomus

            CBH: Pete’s dad worked with John Darling? If so, that makes everything EVEN DUMBER. In fact, it just boggles the mind.

          • ComicBookHarriet


            That’s what BillyTheSkink told me… Reed Roberts was the producer of the show, and was apparently supposed to be Pete’s dad…

          • Green Luthor

            “Hey, Mopey Pete, your dad was Reed Roberts, who worked with John Darling Who Was Murdered, right?”

            “Nope. My dad was Reed REYNOLDS. Totally different names. Don’t know why everyone thinks my name is Roberts, it’s always been Reynolds.”

            And now we know why Mopey’s name was mysteriously changed. Maybe. Honestly, “Batiuk just forgot” is still leading the polls. But the idea that Batiuk would go to that level of effort to ignore the history he himself established is completely on-brand…

        • Anonymous Sparrow

          Mitchell Knox is Jim Shooter, isn’t he?

          When he was a teenager, he created Ferro Lad, Karate Kid and Princess Projectra for DC…to say nothing of the Fatal Five and Mordru the Merciless.

          I wonder how he felt about High School…

        • Scott Lovrine

          Just read those blog posts. I guess Mitchell Knox is based on Jim Shooter. What, you thought Batiuk made up a prodigy?

          Form wikipedia: “At age 13, in mid-1965, Shooter wrote and drew stories featuring the Legion of Superheroes, and sent them in to DC Comics. On February 10, 1966, he received a phone call from Mort Weisinger, who wanted to purchase the stories Shooter had sent, and commissioned Shooter to write Supergirl and Superman stories. Weisinger eventually offered Shooter a regular position on Legion, and wanted Shooter to come to New York to spend a couple of days in his office. Shooter, who was 14 and lived in Pittsburgh, had to wait until school was in recess, after which he went to New York with his mother.”

          • bad wolf

            It’s a bit of a long game for Batiuk to bring Knox on, have him (of course!) hired immediately by Atomixxx, then work his way up to being the most beloved and productive Editor in Chief Atommmix has ever had. But it’d be worth it (it will not actually be worth it)!

            I’m fascinated by Shooter’s story tbh–i even tried driving around looking for relevant sites here in Pittsburgh once or twice.

          • Green Luthor

            Hm, if Mitchell Knox is indeed Jim Shooter, I have no idea how well he’s going to be portrayed. In addition to becoming the regular writer on a DC book while still a teenager, Shooter is also famous for being the Editor-in-Chief of Marvel in the late 70s and early-to-mid 80s. His time in that role was… contentious, to say the least. On the one hand, he worked to get freelancers the best page rate available, as well as things like “residuals” and “health benefits”. On the other, he had some policies that a lot of the creators didn’t always care for. Some were perfectly understandable: he actually expected creators to get their work done on time (the fiend!). But he also exerted some control over the content of the books that some creators didn’t agree with.

            One of the most famous examples is the Dark Phoenix Saga in X-Men. Originally, the story was to end with Jean Grey merely being depowered rather than dying. But Shooter thought that was way too lenient for someone who murdered BILLIONS of sentient beings, thus resulting in the character’s death. Whether it was the right decision is a matter of opinion, of course, but there’s other examples of things like that happening. To the point that, when he was fired from Marvel, one particular creator had a gathering at his house in which they BURNED SHOOTER IN EFFIGY. Though, to put things in proper context, said creator is also known to be somewhat of a grudge-holding jackass himself. Said creator being John Byrne, artist on the aforementioned X-Men story, and… oh, yeah, the guy who did six weeks of art back in 2006 for a comic strip called Funky Winkerbean.

            (On the other hand, Batiuk claimed that he didn’t cover the Byrne fill-in at ComicCon at Byrne’s insistence, although whether that’s true or not I have no idea. Is Batiuk still on good terms with Byrne? Does Batiuk share Byrne’s disdain for Shooter? Guess we’ll find out the hard way…)

        • Rusty Shackleford

          I never read these before. They are as poorly written as his strips. Does he ever proofread anything?

      • Epicus Doomus

        You know, I knew that “Mitchell Knox” was too specific to not have some sort of backstory attached to that name, but I had no earthly idea what that backstory might be. Sigh.

        Just consider how deranged this scenario really is.

        “Hey everyone. You know my father, John Darling, the TV host who was murdered many decades ago? I was wondering if you know anyone who collects memorabilia related to his old show.”

        “Oh, sure, John Darling memorabilia. That’d be ol’ Mitchell Knox. He’s part of my fellowship of obsessive collector weirdos. I have his number right here on speed dial.”

        This is what he calls “writing”. As always, every single element of this story is just impossibly implausible and dumb. The reason the show was airing in the first place was dumb. Jessica’s reaction to seeing the show was dumb. Boy Lisa’s reaction was dumb. The whole family heading over to AK was dumb. Skyler asking for a “spaceship” was dumb, and now Jessica’s query is dumb too. He could have gone in a hundred different directions with this story, and he chose this one, the dumbest possible path. And he always does it, too. He is batting an even 1.000 in that department. It’s so consistent it just HAS to be deliberate.

        • Banana Jr. 6000

          The dumbest and most self-serving. Every plot development is an excuse to push the story back to the things Tom Batiuk wants to do: bash technology, reference himself, reward his Mary Sue characters, fish for awards, and fantasize about his precious comic books bullpen. He’s managed to do all five of them in this arc.

          I find it amusing that Batiuk’s panel at Comic-Con was called “Writing From The Personal.” This man desperately needs to STOP writing from the personal.

  4. William Thompson

    We’re going to discover that there was a John Darling Fan Club, with membership cards, newsletters, a theme song, the inevitable secret decoder ring, and a mysterious 5.25″ floppy disc that only Crazy Harry can open.

    • Anonymous Sparrow

      Promo posters in the strip for John Darling’s show said that “He’s Your Darling.” I imagine a theme song would go something like this:

      Oh, he’ll always be your darling
      Until the final flight of the starling
      So tune to Channel One
      For daily barrels of fun
      You’ll never feel yourself in a con
      When Penny Pinscher talks to John!

      The Captain Marvel Fan Club code was the alphabet backwards. I imagine a John Darling Fan Club Code would be each letter being the one after it (B for A, C for B, etc.)

  5. William Thompson

    Too bad we don’t get any dialog with Skyler and Dead Guy. The kid looks like he wants to sniff the fumes from Phil Holt’s sharpie, but Holt is bogarting the pen.

  6. Hitorque

    1. In which fucking world would someone “collect” memorabilia from some cheesy public access talk show from 1982?

    1a. In which fucking world would such a “collector” be instantly known by name in the memorabilia geek community?

    1b. In which fucking world would “memorabilia” from some cheesy public access talk show HAVE ANY MONETARY OR COLLECTORS VALUE WHATSOEVER? What is the market for this stuff? Jesus H. Christ not even John Darling’s co-workers, his TV guests, his family or especially his own fucking WIDOW gave enough of a shit to keep anything of his around… Which means this “Mitchell Knox” could only have built his “collection” from camping outside and dumpster diving back behind the Channel One building, or every Wednesday night he was sifting through Mrs. Darling’s trash cans (or in the worst case he may have even dug up the coffin and looted it!) I find this horrifying and pathetic because there’s fandom, geek fandom, obsessed geek fandom, and “Please get an emotional health evaluation because you’ve taken this way too far”-fandom, and THEN, a hundred levels lower than that is Funkyverse character fandom…

    1c. Only slightly less pathetic is the fact that Lester would know from memory the weirdo with the biggest collection… I mean, WTFH?! You’re a 48-year-old manchild who is inexplicably a self-made multimillionaire, you’ve got the giant mansion estate with the swimming pool and tennis courts and private chef, maid and butler, but there’s no McLaren in the garage, there’s no Gatsbyesque parties, there’s no nekkid Victoria’s Secret models draped around your bedroom, there’s no charitable or philanthropic works, there’s no desire for fun, adventure or excitement, you live completely alone, the only real work you do is watch the stock market and eBay on a laptop all day, and the only “friends” in your life are your fucking employees at Atomikkk Komixxx — That is to say, YOU LITERALLY HAD TO DANGLE OUTRAGEOUS SALARY OFFERS JUST TO BUY SOME CASUAL ACQUAINTANCES AND PEOPLE TO TALK WITH (!)

    1d. IIRC, wasn’t Darling shot by a deranged stalker? I guess it’s perfectly okay to track down and conduct business with a different stalker since Darling is already dead?

    2. Oh and make no mistake, I haven’t forgotten about all the bullshit going on this week over in Krankenschaaftenland… If I find time I’ll get to that rant later…

    • ComicBookHarriet

      “I find this horrifying and pathetic because there’s fandom, geek fandom, obsessed geek fandom, and “Please get an emotional health evaluation because you’ve taken this way too far”-fandom, and THEN, a hundred levels lower than that is Funkyverse character fandom…”

      I feel seen and judged.

      Going to go cry all over my Toledo Mudhens Crankshaft Bobblehead…

      • Anonymous Sparrow

        Judge not, lest ye be judged, says the Bible.

        And wipe your tears, because you’re wonderful just the way you are, ComicBookHarriet.

      • sorialpromise

        Did a little comparison research. California had a very controversial talk show host in the 1960’s named Joe Pyne. WW2 vet. Died from lung cancer in 1970. He was must see TV for syndicated shows. EBAY has a few items for this nationally known tv host. You could probably buy every single one of them for less than $100.
        Then Kansas City KMBC had a man named John Bilyeu. He was jack of all trades at the station. Even substituted for Dick Clark. Had a weekend cartoon show, I think called Wonderama. He worked at least 30 years. Nothing on EBAY. But he was not controversial and did not die tragically.
        Finally, Kansas City had a controversial kid TV host arrested for sex crimes in Phoenix. He even had a YouTube presence. Died in prison. NOTHING ON EBAY.
        Contrast: I bet we see that John Darling, local, very local TV host, who was murdered, will have tons of memorabilia worth thousands of dollars. Yet all given away free to the daughter. (I am willing to bet CBH’s Princess Leia’s slave outfit!)
        [If Mr. TF Hackett ever wanted to retire rich, all he would need is to get that picture, and auction it on SOSF.]
        {Maybe I need an “emotional health evaluation.”}

        • sorialpromise

          And I own a Toledo Mudhens Cap.

        • Banana Jr. 6000

          I got a similar idea, and looked on eBay for “PM Magazine” which was the closest real-life thing to John Darling we had in my hometown. Every TV market had their own local version of the show. (I was even on it once. True story.)

          Once you get past the other things with the same name (some of which are NSFW), there’s a number of t-shirts, buttons, vintage newspaper ads, press photos, TV Guides, t-shirts, buttons, autographs, a patch, an actual film canister, and a Monopoly game. So I guess it does exist, but none of it is very valuable or interesting. Or would give you much of a personal connection with the host.

          • Jeff M.

            “PM Magazine” the first thing I thought of. From the collectors I know, the most valuable John Darling memorabilia would be off-air VHS or Betamax tapes that included the original commercials and interstitials. For which they would only be interested in the commercials and interstitials. I mean, the whole point of John Darling was that he was an awful hack – not some beloved local figure like, say, Irv Kupcinet here in Chicago. Then again, he may have been so awful that he has a cult following dating back to the VHS-trading days (search “Stairway to Stardom” on YouTube if you need an example.) A genuinely interesting plotline would be for what’s-her-name to find out that John Darling, her father who was murdered, was a cult figure because he was so awful and people just laugh at him now. Will we get that plot line, or will it be personal letters from Hollywood legends like Bette Davis who did the show and told him he was the best interviewer of all time…no, that would be interesting too… She’s going to end up with his coffee mug. That’s it. Just his own personal coffee mug.

            This is too long already but – again with the giant “hands-spread” gesture of surprise?

          • Mela

            That’s more than I would have thought of for a local TV offering. All I could come up with was T-shirts, mugs, and a bobblehead. Actually, a John Darling bobblehead might be amusing…

        • Hitorque

          God damnit… Who gave this weirdo a kid’s show??

          • sorialpromise

            As bad as we think about Mr. Batiuk, there are far, far, far worse people. My little brother, he was 6, I was in high school. We watched 41 Treehouse Lane by that guy. (I won’t even use his name.) That’s a good post. So he is infamous, but nothing collectible. Yet Darling will have truckloads, I betcha.

        • Anonymous Sparrow

          In the strip in which John Darling was murdered, didn’t he lament that he had never done anything sufficiently noteworthy to make the national news?

          Wouldn’t that mean that he wasn’t well known enough to have merchandise? Big fish may inhabit small ponds, but, as a rule, they don’t generate tidal waves in them.

          Given the case of Phil Holt and Cliff Anger, I suspect that we’ll find that Mr. Knox hasn’t done anything much since his glory days (except wait and hope that someone might find him). While we find out, I’ll pass along Stephen Dedalus’s comment on his father Simon from James Joyce’s *Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man*:

          —A medical student, an oarsman, a tenor, an amateur
          actor, a shouting politician, a small landlord, a small investor, a drinker, a good fellow, a story-teller, somebody’s
          secretary, something in a distillery, a tax-gatherer, a bankrupt and at present a praiser of his own pastr.

          • Banana Jr. 6000

            It was something like “my career is over, and I never made national news anchor.” I don’t know what exactly happened in the strip before that, if he got fired or demoted or something. In any event, he’s less accomplished than Cindy Summers.

    • Rusty Shackleford

      You nailed it. His family really saved nothing—but Batty will probably dismiss this saying the greedy studio executives wouldn’t let them keep anything.

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        What is there to keep anyway? It’s a cheap local TV show. The equipment and the set will be reused, so the station jolly well should keep them. Almost everything else is a promotional item which is intended to be given away. But yeah, I can’t wait to hear the bizarre logic behind this one.

        • Jeff M

          “And here is a fragment of the actual blood-stained shag carpet from the set on which your father, John Darling, was murdered…”

          • Banana Jr. 6000

            “Here’s your father’s chair from the John Darling show. It probably still has some of his Bartles & James wine cooler farts in it.”

    • J.J. O'Malley

      1b. Looking forward to seeing them drive over to Knox’s apartment and being invited in, only to discover that he once raided Channel One’s dumpster and has rebuilt and installed the complete “John Darling” set in his living room, like Kramer did with the “Merv Griffin Show” set in a “Seinfeld” episode.

  7. Professor Fate

    Here you are little lady: The jacket he was wearing the day he got shot. The bullet holes and the blood stains have been authenticated. No don’t thank me glad to do it.

  8. Rusty Shackleford

    I guess Crankshaft makes sense today. You would think ol Cranky would have mentioned his granddaughter owning this place…but we know he is senile, so maybe it does make sense.

  9. ian'sdrunkenbeard

    Every time I post a comment with a link it goes straight to purgatory. Please check the SoSF lint trap for my hairball of a post.

  10. Tom from Finland

    I start to suspect that Jessica’s mom had something to do with John Darling’s murder. I don’t see why else she would have destroyed everything related to him.
    Because she must have done that, if Jessica has to turn to some shady ”collector”(pervert) to get some ”memorabilia”(used underwear) of her father.

    • Rusty Shackleford

      I wonder if she took out a big life insurance policy on him?

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        That seems to happen a lot in this world. Les Moore and Linda Bushka’s spouses were both worth more dead than alive.

    • Green Luthor

      Eh, John Darling Who Was Murdered was supposed to be something of a jackass, so I could believe Widow Of John Darling Who Was Murdered wouldn’t have anything of his simply because she wanted to forget the guy even existed. (I mean, when Les dies – excuse me, I’m having some pleasant thoughts right now – it wouldn’t surprise me if Not Lisa tosses everything Les ever touched right into a dumpster. Including The Lisa Tapes, the Oscar, and Summer.)

  11. Banana Jr. 6000

    So is that Mitchell Knox in the banner, or did Atomic Komix design a new character called Half-Hamster Man?

    TFHackett said it the other day: Funky Winkerbean is ugly. It’s not stylistically ugly, like Jhonen Vasquez. It doesn’t make a masterpiece of over-the-top ugliness, like Ren and Stimpy did. It’s not realistic or flawed like real people are. Everything in this comic strip is just plain butt-ugly and unpleasant to look at.

    Even supposedly attractive people, like Mason and Cindy, are ugly. They’re off-model and poorly drawn for starters. They’re buried in smirks, rolling eyes, world-weary sighs, receding hairlines, middle age flab, lines on their faces, and they dress like flood victims. And if their appearance doesn’t immediately turn you off, their personalities will. How can anyone possibly relate to these awful characters?

  12. be ware of eve hill

    The only people shown working in the office are Phil and Flash. Darin is shown wandering in off the street with his family. They’re on a mission from the spirit of John Darling, who was murdered, or something.

    Did Darin have the day off?

    Where are Mindy, Mopey Pete and Ruby? Somebody appears to be playing hooky.

    Is this a Saturday? If so, why is Chester there? Phil and Flash have no life outside creating komix?

    Chester’s management style appears to be to let the employees work whenever the mood strikes.
    Chester: Hey Darin. Great to see you actually in the office. Feel like completing any work today? Penciling a page or two?
    Darin: No, thanks, man. I’m good.
    Chester: (shrugs) Okay.

    • Hitorque

      And don’t forget, Chester had to literally make Peter/Darren the two highest paid idiots in the industry and offer them 100 percent creative freedom just to lure them out of Hollywood…

      • Hitorque

        And don’t forget, Chester may be bankrolling the whole show, but it’s Peter who originally was supposed to have full managerial control of AK… So I can only presume Chester gave himself an office and some mundane duties just so he could have an excuse to hang around AK all day long and geek out…

      • be ware of eve hill

        Ha! It’s quite obvious Mopey Pete and Darin aren’t paid by the page. Perhaps Chester the Collector only collects alleged comic book talents. Actual komix output is totally irrelevant.

        As @bad wolf stated above, I won’t be too surprised if Mitchell Knox joins the staff at Atomix Komix. To make room, Ruby Lith’s workstation has been moved out to the loading dock area.

        Bring a warm coat, Ruby. It gets mighty chilly out there in January.

  13. This could’ve triggered a more spiritual quest hinging on love and loss and regret, questions about the irretrievable past asked of those who can never answer you again. But fuck that, this is America and we’re going shopping!

    Maybe that shit’s inevitable when you’re filtering things through the lens of the dealer room at a comics convention.

  14. Hitorque

    Now, some brief remarks on Krankenschaaften, because I swear these tropes are so predictable you can set your fuckin’ predictable you can set your watch by them…

    1. Masone and Cindye despite being a celebrity multimillionaire power couple, are wearing their standard issue bargain basement Wal-Mart brand clothing… And maybe Masone should have just been a golfer since he dresses like one every fuckin’ day…

    2. Cindye not being instantly recognized in Centerville despite being a mainstay on the Metro Cleveland news (and later national news) forever…

    3. Masone Jarre not being instantly recognized (or even drawing curious attention) in some podunk Ohio township despite having a hawt blonde on his arm, despite driving a droptop Porsche and despite personally hosting a famous pseudo-grassroots world premiere of his billion dollar movie just four years earlier…

    4. Masone not even bothering to introduce himself to the crazy old man yokel who honestly has no reason to remember who he is…


    6. Masone and Cindye feeling “sentimental” about some quickie farce of a cosplay wedding ceremony with no family or friends present; only 600 comic geek strangers who only cared about seeing a movie…

    7. Masone (naturally) inspecting and asking about the property in person instead of dispatching his attorney or financial manager or something… I mean, Masone Jarre (who used to get literal stage fright during table reads, mind you) struggled for a good 10-15 years before he found his breakthrough Hollywood smash hit, he’s the single hottest property in the movie industry, he can demand $35+ million paydays just for stepping onto a movie set, producers around the world are kicking down his agent’s door to offer him primo roles and projects, yet he has time to follow the wifey to some high school reunion and get shown off like a slab of beefcake and then kick the tires of some crumbling small town theater because Batiukian logic… Also, am I the only one who remembers that the Valentine was *already* sold to someone planning to convert it to a tittie bar??

    8. Masone (naturally) force-feeding his small town podunk Ohio fetish any way he can, because it’s not like a culturally inconsequential nothing state like California has any script writers, comic book artists, slutty washed-up reporters trying to seduce a with a famous actor, sci-fi geekdom experts, comic book collectors, Cancer charity 5k fun runs, suitable on-location movie sets, and ESPECIALLY vintage old-timey movie theaters and I PROMISE YOU that there aren’t 20-30 old-timey movie theaters in the Los Angeles Metro region alone that Masone could interest himself into buying…

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Also, am I the only one who remembers that the Valentine was *already* sold to someone planning to convert it to a tittie bar??

      It already failed! The strip club “never took off”, according to Ed Crankshaft. Apparently they never took the “Valentine” sign off of it, or any of the movie theater fixtures. So it’s possible nobody knew it was there.

      • Mela

        The Crankshaft-only readers have no idea who these two younger people are in the strip today.

        • Y. Knott

          I would imagine the average reader of Crankshaft has reached a median age where the memory is a little fuzzy, and when new people come along you don’t recognize, you still smile and nod and play along because there’s a 50/50 chance you’ve already met them a dozen times, but just don’t remember right now.

      • Hitorque

        LOL at a strip club “not making money” in Ohio… Now I’ve heard it all!

        And I thought the naive and randy young couple playing some stupid obscure 90-year-old movie on a 24 hour loop in an empty theater while they were the most dumbassed businesses owners ever… What an utter stroke of brilliance selling to an even bigger dumbass and letting him fail horribly so they could instantly repurchase the Valentine for pennies on the dollar… That’s hardcore ruthlessness — I mean that’s some Level 10 Ferengi shit there!!

        • Banana Jr. 6000

          Yeah, strip clubs don’t “fail to take off.” They fail because they attract community opposition, or they get raided, or they’re such scumholes that everybody stays away. Or the demographics make zero sense, which is the case here.

  15. Y. Knott

    Every Funky Winkerbean strip should end with JAZZ HANDS!