SIGH. It’s still going. Jessica, a born and bred Westviewian, doesn’t understand nerdy collectors? Puh-LEEZE! Not buying that, even for a second. Her husband owns a Flash treadmill, for crying out loud. This is just plain lazy writing, and BatYam should be ashamed of himself. If he had any capacity for that, I mean.
Another robin’s egg blue car. I’m assuming that a container ship full of knock-off Estonian cars washed up on the Ohio shores back in 2002 or so, and everyone grabbed one. And that car would NEVER pass New Jersey’s stringent auto emissions standards, that’s for sure. I mean, no one would notice or even care, but you’d never get a clean inspection sticker driving around in that thing.
So where in God’s name could this arc possibly be going from here? Will Boy Lisa find some local weirdo who repairs cracked coffee mugs, thus preserving John Darling’s (Jessica’s father) legacy forevermore? Will he use the gun to wrest control of Atomik Komix away from the geriatrics? I don’t know, but I do know it’ll be stupid in ways that none of us are capable of accurately forecasting, and that is a 100% certainty.
42 responses to “His House Was A Museum, When Boy Lisa Came To See-Um”
Is Jess somehow less self-aware than Tom Batiuk himself? She’s asking why someone would collect the very same “old stuff” she was literally looking to collect when they visited Mitchell!
This is just asinine.
It’s one of the most ridiculous things any FW character has ever said. Jessica is literally surrounded by comic book geeks and collector weirdos all the time, of course she “understands” collectors. It’s absurd to even suggest otherwise. But the word balloons needed filling, so you know, whatever.
I put more thought into my first word in Wordle than BatHack puts into a month’s worth of word balloons. What.A.Hack.
It suggests that if you were to ask Batiuk why Jessica bothered to get this mug, and what it means to her, he wouldn’t be able to answer either question.
That place was like a museum! With a helpful tour guide who discussed the historical context of the well-preserved and displayed artifacts, as well as informative signs and a gift shop. Yep, Messica has seen real museums in her time!
It was exactly like when I visited the Smithsonian back in ’89. A security guard was rummaging around in a desk drawer when he sudden shouted, “Hey, look at this! The Hope Diamond!” He then asked if I wanted it because they had “three more of the damned things just sitting around gathering dust.”
Robin’s egg blue is definitely the unifying theme in today’s strip: The Estonian Batiukmobile, the cracked coffee mug, Dustbin’s shirt, the creepy monochrome background in panel 1, and the hellish void he’s steering into in panel 3.
As always, I respect Ayers’ laziness when having to illustrate such dreck.
And the little puffs of exhaust smoke to indicate motion, like it’s the 1930s or something. “What that they’re riding in? Oh, smoke puffs. Must be one of those new “horseless carriages” I’ve been hearing about, the motorized ones.”
Yes, how did that formerly white coffee mug suddenly gain its azure appearance? Why does the Durwinmobile still have a front license plate, when the state of Ohio hasn’t required them for over two years? Is Delwood obsessively collecting them, or is it a vanity plate that reads “My other vehicle is a Cosmic Treadmill”? How that Dobbin has criticized folks for “living in the past,” can he focus on his job of drawing rip-offs of Golden and Silver Age comic book superheroes? What new depths will Week Four (!) of Murdered Talk Show Host John Darling Who Was Murdered-related nonsense plumb? Enquiring minds want to know!
For a brilliant, incisive arc as wondrous as this one, Batiuk simply MUST break the unbreakable “arcs can only be three weeks” rule! Yes! He dares break a rule that is sacred comics law — a rule so ingrained in the fabric of storytelling that surely no other comic artist in history has ever had the courage to break it!
I mean, look, just take Batiuk’s word for it and don’t go and check, okay? It’s a thing! Really! For the “three week rule” is a well-known and inviolable commandment of the comics industry that only the most bold, fearless and talented of storytellers would have the vision — the bravery — the stunning, enviable and genius-level audacity — to go beyond! To smash the shackles of a rule that binds ordinary storytellers, and tell a tale that demands the freedom of a full extra week! And you — YOU, lucky readers — YOU get to experience it! So strap yourself in for a comics experience like no other… an experience previously never thought even possible! The incredible, the majestic, the epochal wonderment that is — WEEK FOUR OF THIS ARC!
He could have easily adhered to his stupid three-week rule if he’d chopped out some of the filler. It’s like he just wanted to break the rule, even though he didn’t need to in terms of length or importance.
But it’s not HIS past. This man is choosing to live in an idealized version of other people’s pasts. It’s not healthy, it”s sick. Batiuk always tries to gloss over that aspect of it. But it’s pervasive. Everyone in rhis world is preserving their idea of what someone’s else’s life meant Les and his Lisa, Tom Batiuk and his comic books bullpen. Jff and his Phanton Empire, Jessica and her father who was murdered are all forms of this.
We still have no idea why the eighty-something Knox, who would have been past his prime when John Darling was a TV presence, was so obsessed with that bespectacled annoyance.
I’m annoyed that I feel the need to give the strip a charitable reading, but Knox did say something to the effect of his being a fan of Cleveland local TV personalities. That, to me, gives his fandom a reasonable scope: it’s a broad enough subject you aren’t going to exhaust it anytime soon but narrow enough that friends can’t just send you a videotape of Syracuse’s Bozo the Clown and expect you to care.
And a reasonable enough implicit fandom origin story: someone somewhere caught his imagination, whether Barnaby or the conspicuously-unmentioned Ghoulardi or whoever else, and Knox started looking into the local TV personalities and that grew out, in channels and in time range, until John Darling was one of them. We’re just lucky to have caught Knox right after he’d stuck the set of Fireman Fillip who introduced Heckle and Jeckle cartoons every morning on channel 79!
I agree, we saw the children’s TV hosts included. Those were probably the gateway drug.
It’s such a weird strip today. It makes sense for Knox that he collects because he is longs for the past, before whatever horrible comics writing trauma prematurely ended his childhood. So what Jess is saying is true for Knox.
But the way it is framed makes it seem like this is the truth of all obsessive collectors. Which is neither true in the strip or in real life.
But it’s a chance for Batty to spout one of his trademark depressing, final panel, blanket statements.
We long for a past that never existed. All our dreams will be crushed by banality. And then we die. Gimmie a Pulitzer.
“Living in the past is better than the present.” And that’s the problem of FW and TB’s work in a nutshell. Everyone in FW lives in the past. We have a bunch of 68-year-olds still obsessed with their high school years. We have comics collectors who are always interested in issues published decades before they were born. We have people who were either born in the 50s and 60s obsessed with films from the 30s. We have Crazy Harry, who claims to be hip but is totally unfamiliar with hip hop. We have old jocks, popular girls, and nerds mulling over their teen years and not evolving since then. We have old bandleaders who draw all their self importance from their not really that important glory days. We have Holly dressing in her old uniform to perform a flaming baton trick–so does that make her mom 90? TB, Act III, every character in the comic is stuck in limbo. They do no grow, they do not change, they do not evolve. All we have are bad puns, too many smirks–and a cowardly and reprehensible message of hiding from the challenges of the present day to live on in the past. TB needs to listen to “Don’t Look Back” from John Lee Hooker and Van Morrison–and start following the sage advice they offer in the lyrics.
Please include the Mick Jagger/Peter Tosh duet of “(You Gotta Walk) Don’t Look Back” with that. (And the original from the Temptations.)
Given the selection of “I’m Not Like Everybody Else” at the Reunion (no longer coming or looming…), maybe it’s time to move on to another song from the Kinks, 1978’s “Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy.”
By the way, I thought the title for this installment was creepy and kooky, mysterious and spooky and all together ooky!
Bravo, Epicus Doomus.
I’m hearing “Celluloid Heroes”
And I’m thinking “Picture Book.”
Picture book, when you were just a baby, those days when you were happy, a long time ago.
You can’t go wrong with *The Village Green Preservation Society,* which even contains a phenomenal cat to make Bingo sulk in the church choir and never again emerge. With that in mind, perhaps we should listen to “Do You Remember Walter?,” in which Ray Davies sees both sides of things:
Walter, you are just an echo of a world I knew so long ago.
Walter, if you saw me now, you wouldn’t even know my name.
I bet you’re fat and married,
And you’re always home in bed by half past eight.
And if I talked about the old times, you’d get bored
And you’d have nothing more to say.
Yes, people often change.
But memories of people can remain.
And as Paul Simon wrote, “take care of your memories/they’re all that’s left you.”
“Living in the past is better than the present.” Tom Batiuk’s mission statement, ladies and gentlemen! It will likely be engraved on his tombstone.
Well, if it’s written on a tombstone, I’m gonna have to say I’d agree with the sentiment in that particular instance.
“On the whole, I’d rather be in Westview.”
“What is an epitaph not found on any grave marker anywhere in the entire Funkyverse, Alex.”
“Correct, for $1,000!”
So apt in so many ways, not least because it has the typical tortured grammar. It should be “Living in the past is better than living in the present.” Bravo all round, Puff Batty.
Especially since it’s young people saying this, for whom media of the distant past might include “Seinfeld,” “Friends,” “The Nightmare Before Christmas” or “Toy Story.”
Hell, they should print that on the currency…
We are going to end up having Mitchell working at Atomik Komix aren’t we?
Or, maybe like Buck in the very sensitively treated Bull Bushka CTE/Suicide Arc, we will never see him again.
Sometimes predicting where TomBa is headed resembles consulting a Lucky Eight Ball.
Batiuk is such a terrible writer that he completely skips the thing that this sequence of strips should have been addressing.
Jessica wants something to remember her father by.
There’s a guy who has a ton of stuff associated with her father, including things that her father’s show “owned”.
She meets him and gets a coffee mug from him.
That’s it. That’s the story.
The coffee mug has no meaning to Jessica. It didn’t have any apparent meaning to Mitchell either. It’s just stuff. She wanted it just because she wanted stuff. It doesn’t offer any connection to her father, and it seems as if Batiuk didn’t even realize that that should be the central consideration of this arc.
And Batiuk brings it up right here. Jessica could have asked Mitchell what value he found in all these things associated with her father. And then maybe Mitchell’s story might offer some insight into her father and what he meant to people. That memory would certainly be more valuable to Jessica, at least what she claims to value, than any random piece of junk from John Darling’s television show. She wanted to know something about her father’s legacy and she just completely neglected to ask this “obsessive collector” of her father’s things about it. It’s just a terrible, complete screwup by Batiuk as a storyteller. He takes three weeks to tell a story about Jessica obtaining some “stuff” that vaguely relates to her father.
Instead, this just reads as Batiuk getting in another dig at Mitchell as a weirdo. Making him a complete slob, a fat, balding, inappropriate weirdo was apparently the only thing Batiuk wanted to do with him. So now, in addition to those indignities he unleashed on him over the last few weeks, he’s now making him someone incapable of functioning in the present. And it’s both amazing and yet totally unremarkable that Darin’s observation has absolutely nothing to do with the strips that preceded it.
Good point. Batty could have devoted a strip or two to Knox telling Jess about why John Darling, more than any other local TV personality, was his hero. Perhaps he could’ve shared a memory that, more than any physical memento, would have given her new insight and a stronger feeling of connection to her father.
But yes, the arc seemed only to exist to display Knox as a schlubby, unstable weirdo, which brings up a question. Does anyone know exactly when Batty tried to get on at Marvel? Knox’s origin tale is clearly based on that of Jim Shooter, who sold his first “Legion of Super-Heroes” script in 1965 when he was 13. He served as Marvel’s editor-in-chief from 1978 to 1987. Did he turn down Batty’s submissions?
Perfectly stated. We had the daughter of John Darling meet some fan dude who had the entire set of his show in his house, yet neither one of them actually talked about John Darling at all.
And if Jess and Darin don’t want to be around others living in the past, they better get the hell out of Westview.
“I wonder why someone would obsessively collect all of that old stuff?” she asked while carefully, cautiously clutching the coffee cup keepsake that she had been gifted.
Speaking of collecting, how did all of those Trabants and Ladas end up in Northern Ohio?
I briefly got interested enough in this morass to check whether John Darling (who was murdered) was holding a coffee cup when he was murdered. Then the coffee cup with the crack could be the the most poignant piece in the “collection.” His right hand is hidden in his final panel. I’m going to pretend he’s holding a coffee cup down by his leg where we can’t see it. Then this “story” wraps up in a slightly satisfying way.
1. I refuse to believe Jessica is this self-oblivious about herself, her husband, and the general “THERE IS NO OTHER GOD BUT COMIC BOOKS” ethos which has been a cultural tradition of her hometown for generations… Batiuk is trying to troll he hell out of us now…
1a. Either that, or Jess/Darrin are living in a fucking Black Hole of denialism where not even light can escape because they really need to convince themselves that they’re “better” than compulsive weirdo loners like Mitchell Knox when in reality they’re just the same as him.
2. And in Krankenschaaften, Masone and Cindye dutifully play their role of designated fairy godmother/Daddy Warbux by scratching out a huge check to bail some complete strangers out of trouble and immediately blowing town having already forgotten about their purchase…
2a. Sorry, it’s just weird seeing Masone jizz his $20 golfer slacks for THREE SOLID WEEKS about how kewl it would be to have his very own run-down old-timey theatre with a genuine 16 mm projector and all the hipster Dogme 95 film festivals he can host for a dwindling local populace that is strictly Wal-Mart, Burger King, Miller Genuine Draft, Big-10 football, Real Housewives and Jackass… And then immediately after signing the papers he just tosses the keys to a couple HE JUST MET A FEW HOURS AGO (And this is also the same couple who ran the theater into bankruptcy!) on his way out of town because defying all logic he’s going to let them manage it with complete 100% autonomy with no rules, no standards, no guidance and no objectives to meet…
Seriously, I need to meet the millionaire celebrities Batiuk knows if he thinks they’re this generous and haphazard with their wealth…
2b. Oh, and a hearty “fuck you” to the opinionated, always-got-something-to-say Cindye for not once in three weeks trying to talk some sense into her brain-dead husband…
3. Oh and before I forget, do a shot for every time Masone has been seen in public in broad fucking daylight this past month and wasn’t recognized… And extra credit for there being zero news or publicity about him buying a local theater — I mean God forbid Masone or Cindye or Lois Flagstone or Krankenschaaften tell the local yokels that the Valentine was just purchased by the biggest name in Hollywood! I mean, you don’t want them actually buying tickets or otherwise financially supporting a celebrity-owned local icon!
The worst of it is — I don’t think Masonne has any interest in Dogme 95 film festivals, or Truffaut retrospectives, or Ingmar Bergman double-features. Those might potentially even attract a few Cleveland hipsters.
You just know it’s gonna be “The Phantom Empire.” The most beloved of all products of Hollywood. You just know it.
FWIW, there are a few indie/repertory cinemas left in NYC. They survive by showing both new and old films. The most successful have come up with concepts like Alamo Drafthouse’s — a sort of combo bistro/movie theater that carefully programs its offerings to appeal to the locals.
Theaters that play nothing but public-domain oldies haven’t been popular since TV made them obsolete. Even in the 50s, I’m pretty sure that serials from the 30s didn’t pull ’em in, not when there were new romances, comedies, Westerns, and sci-fi thrillers coming out of Hollywood every week.
But I’ll bet a penny-filled Crankshaft sock that the Valentine does boffo business.
Speaking of Bergman double-features:
In 1982’s “Diner,” the movie house is showing “two Bergman classics,” according to its marquee. One is clearly “The Seventh Seal,” but the second isn’t identified.
What do you think it is? We’re in 1959, so it can’t be anything later than “The Magician,” and the fact that “The Seventh Seal” comes from 1957 makes me think it’s Bergman’s other film from that year (“Wild Strawberries”) or “Smiles of a Summer Night” from 1955.
The more I think about it, the more I think it’s “Smiles of a Summer Night.” Love for the old, the young and in-between figures in both, but “Smiles” is, ultimately, a happier movie, and the final images of “Diner” are hopeful ones.
Any opinions will be very welcome.
Incidentally, “Diner” has an exchange Batiuk would do well to bear in mind:
Second Stripper: [about marriage] You?
Billy: [shakes his head negatively] No marriage.
Second Stripper: No girl?
Billy: Not really. Just in love.
Second Stripper: Does the girl know?
Billy: Yeah, I told her about it.
Second Stripper: Told her? Didn’t you show her?
My choice for the second Bergman film would be “the Magician” 1958. Mainly because it stars one of my favorites, Max von Sydow. Robin Williams acted with him in “What Dreams May Come.” Great film.
I often get him confused with Maximilian Schell. First film I saw him in was “Counterpoint” 1967 with Charleston Heston. It was also the first film, my parents let me see alone with my friends. I was in 7th grade. Girl asked me if I had marijuana. I actually, stupidly told her: I left it in my other shirt.
🚦But truth be told, my favorite Bergman film is “Casablanca.” 😜
At the Valentine, a Bergman double-feature would most likely be “Casablanca” and “Gaslight” (or for Bergman and Hitchcock, “Spellbound” and “Notorious”).
I would be happy with a “Seventh Seal” and “Magician” double-feature in “Diner,” perhaps because my first connection with “The Magician” comes from a *National Lampoon* story about horny high school boys watching stag films, one of which is called “The Magician.” The boys, we learn, had seen Bergman’s movie shortly before. The heroes of “Diner” are out of High School, but they are definitely horny! (And confused, too.)
As for the girls: I love how Beth notes that “A Summer Place” is based on a book by the man who also wrote *The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit.*
I saw “Judgment at Nuremberg” three months ago. Maximilian Schell’s performance as Rolfe is magnificent. Quoth the IMDb:
Watching Maximilian Schell shoot a scene one day, Spencer Tracy said to Richard Widmark, “We’ve got to watch out for that young man. He’s very good. He’s going to walk away with the Oscar for this picture.” This is exactly what happened. In another version of this story, Tracy went up to Widmark and said, “Dick, we’re in trouble”.
Also I enjoyed Max von Sydow in “the Greatest Story ever Told.” 1965. He plays Jesus. Telly Savalas plays Pontus Pilate. For the role, Telly shaves his head, and liked the look. Many great actors, but Max surpassed them all, except for John Wayne. No one delivers a line like him.
Telly was also in “Scalphunters” with Burt Lancaster. Telly and Shelley Winters chewed up some magnificent scenery with their acting.
Both Max’s play Anne’s father Otto Frank in 2 different productions. But I am afraid neither match the Japanese voice as good as Gô Katô in the 1995 animated version. I prefer it without subtitles. 🤩
“Truly, this man was the son of God.”
Well, maybe not, Centurion, but von Sydow was a marvelous (atomikkomix?) actor…and he has a comic strip connection!
He was Ming the Merciless in the 1980 “Flash Gordon.” In publicity interviews for the picture, he mentioned reading comic strips when he was growing up…and that, for some reason, Milt Caniff’s *Terry and the Pirates* was called *Jim and the Pirates.”
George Stevens directed “The Greatest Story Ever Told” and the 1959 “Diary of Anne Frank” (Shelley Winters’s first Best Supporting Actress Academy Award as Mrs. Van Daan).
You make me sorry I missed “The Scalphunters” in a recent Burt Lancaster retrospective. I’ll have to look for it online (hey, it’s there! I must be living right, or at least not living in Westview).
Does it go against Batiuk’s stated progressive sensibilities to have multiple instances of an ultra-wealthy person with the freedom of a large disposable income serving as an important patron to non-vital enterprises the middle classes would like to have but cannot afford?
He’s built a world where the obsessive whims of the upper class are instrumental in preserving and perpetuating ‘the arts’ (e.g. ancient movie serials and niche third party comic books). Meaning he’s built a world where it is to everyone’s benefit that a few people are much wealthier than the rest.
I mean, I don’t mind the capitalist crusader fantasy, but you’d think Batiuk would want to be in the eat-the-rich camp.
I don’t think Batiuk cares about any of that. He’ll set up whatever scenario is necessary to create the comic book world he wants. That this process also rewards awful people, of classes Batiuk personally finds repugnant (Hollywood people, collector/investors) is of no concern to him. It’s comic books all the way down.
Ah, but all rich people who don’t do this in Batiukland are clearly evil New Yorkers and soulless Hollywood types. They are despised, vilified, and shown to be worthy only of scorn, derision and contempt.
Still, Batiuk, in his kindness and mercy, is willing to show the extremely wealthy some hope! The path is long and hard, but worthwhile: the only redemption for the rich is to donate their wealth to the arts. (The proper arts, of course — Silver Age influenced comic books, children’s entertainment produced from about 1935 through the late 1950s, and Lisa’s Story.) Take heart, extremely wealthy people: salvation is attainable! And in comes in a convenient collectible format!
You forgot the Evil Boss of Mordor Financial, the hedge fund that took over the Centerville Sentinel, who told One-Armed Skip “I’ll see you in court!” This was after Skip stole and destroyed their property, of course. Still waiting for that court date. And Skip is about the most punchable character Batiuk ever devised, so I’d love to see how he fares against an Ebil New York City Hedge Fund and their phalanxes of $1000-an-hour lawyers.
Seriously: Batiuk’s kind of a traditional midwestern conservative festooned from head to toe with “progressive” bumper stickers. But his deeper themes belie the superficial beliefs he learned to parrot back in his Kent State days. Things were better in the 50s, always.
Example: He decries “climate damage” a couple times a year. Yet he thinks nothing of having Funky, who is a short drive from the world-famous Cleveland Clinic, jet across the country for a routine physical. It’s just lip service. He says what he thinks a “good person” would say, but it doesn’t sink any deeper than his epidermis.