Rubber City Meltdown

Link To This One

“Hmmm. Maybe I’ll do a crossover story where Jessica sees what’s going on with Channel One and becomes nostalgic over her father, John Darling. Then they’ll visit Atomik Komix, where Phil will draw Skyler a spaceship. Chester will tell her about a freaked-out collector weirdo, who will be Mitchell Knox, the old Batom Comics child prodigy. Then Mitchell will give her the gun used to kill John Darling. Then she’ll take the gun home, and have it melted down into the very same spaceship Phil drew!” (begins writing furiously).

The thought process at work here is unique, you just won’t find it anywhere else. This is why I’m increasingly inclined to believe* that this BatYam nut is actually a national treasure. He’s not just responsible for a whole slew of terrible comic strips, despite the bevy of evidence to the contrary. He’s actually more like an avant-garde free-form musician no one likes, who’s taking the art of writing itself into strange, abstract directions that totally defy all known conventions and standards. These stories cannot exist, yet they do.

Just re-read my description of the story above, and marvel over how that’s pretty much exactly what happened. He needed to quickly pull a story out of his ass, and THIS is what came to mind first. I mean, wow.

*(not really)


Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

66 responses to “Rubber City Meltdown

  1. sorialpromise

    Wow! We got some high quality people making heavy duty predictions on this website. I am in awe!

    • KMD

      We stand in line.

    • Anonymous Sparrow

      My prediction: if it becomes a spaceship, it will be called

      a) The John Darling; OR

      b) Grandpa (hey, Cuba has Granma, so why not?); OR

      C) The Grandpa D (now, Sheriff John Stone, why won’t you leave us alone?)

      I should say that I am terrible at predictions. When I read comics, I could never identify a mysterious figure in the shadows until I was in my thirties and correctly identified the World’s Smallest Super-Hero, the Atom.

  2. KMD

    So is this going to turn into the equivalent of the “a very special episode” TV sitcoms of the 1980s? TB will tell us not to leave handguns on our desks OR CHILDREN MIGHT DIE! This will carry us through until the Pizza Monster makes his annual contribution to the decline of our collective intelligence before TB hits us with “don’t play hide and seek in abandoned refrigerators by the side of the road month” for November.

  3. Y. Knott

    He’s actually more like an avant-garde free-form musician no one likes, who’s taking the art of writing itself into strange, abstract directions that totally defy all known conventions and standards.

    It’s kind of like outsider art, except Batiuk has somebody else helping who can do the ‘art’ part.

    So it’s kind of like if Elton John decided to set music to the lyrics of William McGonagall. And then McGonngall sang the results.

    • Epicus Doomus

      It’s like free-form writing, where wildly disparate ideas are just kind of mashed together, in defiance of logic, common sense and or entertainment value. Sci-fi rocket ships from the 1950s, John Darling, handguns, metallurgy, children…it’s an incomprehensible mix of things that can’t fit together, yet somehow they do, sort of. There’s just no one else alive that could have told this story in this way, as no one else is capable of thinking this way.

  4. I’m certain that I don’t understand what’s going on here. It seems like Durrwood surrounded the gun used to murder John Darling Who Was Murdered and Was Messica’s father with clay, and then shaped it into something resembling Philled Hole’s bizarre drawing of a spaceship. Tomorrow, he’s going to take the clay-covered gun to Akron, where there is a place that can melt guns. And that place will then cast the melted gun covered in clay…into the shape of the thing Durrwood cast, which they just melted. Am I even close?

    • Epicus Doomus

      “Joe’s Smelt & Melt.”

      “Hey, I was wondering if you guys could melt down an unregistered firearm for me, then cast it into a child’s toy according to my specifications.”

      “Seventy-five bucks. Bring it by tomorrow.”

      • billytheskink

        I don’t know if it is good or bad that there’s no way TB realizes how sketchy any place that would melt down a gun no questions asked would be.

        One one hand, there is entertainment potential in Durwood waiting around a forge on his murder weapon disposal with three Guidos and the 3rd-in-command of the Shaker Heights yakuza. On the other hand, it’s TB. He would screw up that premise in ways I could not possibly imagine.

        • Maxine of Arc

          Okay, so there’s not nearly enough metal in an old handgun to make a reasonably sized spaceship, right? And the metals that are there would definitely not be safe for a child to play with, right?

          And HOLY HELL THIS IS SO MESSED UP I can only concentrate on extremely practical concerns such as lead levels or I’m going to lose it.

      • Green Luthor

        “Also, we’re running a sale this week. 25% off our usual body disposal fee!”

  5. William Thompson

    Future Skyler (next year or twenty years later): “That spaceship was my favorite toy! And you made it from the gun that killed my grandfather? What were you thinking?” Because it’s never too late to develop your childhood trauma.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Really. This whole story is sick. Making it worse is how badly these two neglect their own child every day. They’re constantly ditching him to go on comic book-related trips. They didn’t even bring him on this trip to Mitchell Knox’ house, or involve him at all in learning about his grandfather. And now they’re going to hand him a toy made out of his murder weapon. And Tom Batiuk thinks is heartwarming. Good Lord.

      • Mela

        Leaving Mitchell’s house with gun in hand (or on finger) pretty much guaranteed that the story would go in some bizarre, icky direction.

    • Maxine of Arc

      YES! This is HORRIFYING.

    • Rusty Shackleford

      Future Skyler will be telling this to a psychiatrist.

  6. Epicus Doomus

    “A place in Akron”. Does he mean Smeltie’s over in East Akron, or The Forgery in Goodyear Heights, or EZ’s Anvil over in Sherbondy Hill? Back in Batom’s day, he probably would have brought it over to The Meltorium, but they closed in ’05 after the fire.

    • Y. Knott

      Akron Steel Treating Company. Since 1943, it’s been your go-to for all your metallurgical needs.

      • Epicus Doomus

        Also lost in this tsunami of inexplicability is the fact that that Boy Lisa is just blithely driving around Ohio with an unregistered, unlicensed handgun in his possession. Imagine explaining that to a cop.

        “Oh, that. Funny story, actually, officer. See, that was the gun used to murder my father-in-law. I’m having it melted down into a toy spaceship for my son. It was designed by a guy I know who faked his own death”. That’d make for one hell of a Sunday strip, now that I think about it.

        • Y. Knott

          A sideways comic book cover Sunday strip:

          TRUE CRIME STORIES! The unbelievable exploits of America’s dumbest criminals!

    • ian'sdrunkenbeard

      I’ve gotta tell you, ED, you really cracked me up when you name checked all those Akron neighborhoods that you pulled out of your a.. ah, gazetteer. The names of the businesses were supoib!

      • Y. Knott

        Agreed! Melting down a Tom Batiuk strip and somehow getting entertainment value out of it is a daunting task … but the SoSF crew does it every day!

  7. RudimentaryLathe?

    VC Andrews only dreamed of writing this kind of toxic parent-on-child projection.

  8. be ware of eve hill

    As usual, I’m missing some obscure message Batiuk is trying to convey here. Melting the gun down to create a toy sounds like something Rod Serling may have written. Here’s hoping the gun/toy is cursed. Jessica trips over the spaceship and falls down the stairs, etc.

    Why didn’t they just throw it into Lake Erie?

    • billytheskink

      Well, Durwood did say this place in Akron will cast the gun after melting it down… we can only hope Lake Erie is where they’ll cast it.

      • be ware of eve hill

        When Jessica trips over the cursed toy spaceship and falls down the stairs, she may need a full body CAST.

  9. Gerard Plourde

    Wouldn’t it just be cheaper, easier and less fraught with injury to Skyler’s psyche to buy the Corgi model of Thunderbird 2?

    • ian'sdrunkenbeard

      We were thinking along the same lines, GP. We both thought of Gerry Anderson creations, but Fireball XL5 was the spaceship that popped into my head. It even had a spiffy song that my older sister would have liked.

      • J.J. O'Malley

        Please tell me there’s a porno movie out there called “Steve Zodiac’s Big 20-Inch Long Fireball XL5”! Maybe if they showed more “films” like that at the Valentine it wouldn’t have shut down the first couple of times.

        P.S. You haven’t lived until you’ve seen “Sandman” creator Neil Gaiman perform his cover of the “Fireball” end theme:

    • Anonymous Sparrow

      Thunderbirds Are Go!

      Before there was Alex Rider, there was Joe 90.

    • be ware of eve hill

      We saw ‘Thunderbird 6’ on TCM earlier this month. The “6” were six different types of craft, each piloted by one of the Tracy brothers. The toy in your photo includes two of the craft. Thunderbird 2 is a transport aircraft, whereas Thunderbird 4 is a submarine.

      We joked about the possible squabbles between brothers.
      Tracy brother piloting Thunderbird 2: Aw! No fair! I wanted the submarine! Mom and Dad always liked you best!

      The unseen seventh Tracy brother got to drive a Batiukmobile.

    • Hitorque

      Thunderbird 2 was always the underappreciated MVP of the series… Did all the *real* labor and heavy lifting while Thunderbird 1 was totally useless for anything except getting to a location fast and Thunderbird 3 was primarily just a taxi to Thunderbird 5!

  10. The Dreamer

    ‘I’ll take it to this place in Akron’ Wait! I thought Westview *was* Akron! That’s where the real life pizza place that Montonis in FW is based on is located. I’ve eaten there. TomBat grew up in Akron. Now he’s saying Westview’s a suburb?

  11. spacemanspiff85

    Giving a kid a toy made from the gun used to murder his grandfather sounds like the beginning of a very bad horror movie, where John Darling and/or Plantman’s ghosts end up possessing Skyler. But I think even in a crappy horror movie people would think that was unbelievable and poorly written.

  12. Cabbage Jack

    How morbid and psychotic is this ending?

    Imagine Skyler, like 10 years from now in the attic

    Man-Child (because Westview): “oh hey! That spaceship I used to play with as a kid!”

    Mom: “funny story about that spaceship and the grandpa you never got to meet.”

    Queue 10 years of therapy (that we’ll time skip but then Unskip because reasons)

  13. J.J. O'Malley

    Lord, but I hate it when I’m right.

    Funny thing: a while back, I went to Ford’s Theater while visiting Washington and I was a little surprised to see the single-fire Derringer that John Wilkes Booth used to assassinate President Lincoln was on public display. I was sure that Mary Todd Lincoln had the thing melted down and recast as toy Civil War soldiers for her youngest son Tad to play with, just like Prince Ernst of Hohenberg learned to fence with a sword made from the gun that killed his father, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, and Caroline Kennedy had a pony whose saddle was crafted from the leather rifle holder used by Lee Harvey Oswald on November 22, 1963.

    Cushlamachree, this arc reads like Joe Orton trying to write a Neil Simon comedy.

    • Anonymous Sparrow

      Coming soon!

      Joe Orton’s *What the Butler Saw Was the Odd Couple at the Erpingham Camp,* the smash follow-up to *The Star-Spangled Girl Entertaining Mr. Sloane.*

      And in the works: *Little Me with the Loot in the Plaza Suite.*

      Riddle me this, Kenneth Halliwell:

      What’s the difference between John Darling and Joe Orton?

      John Darling was my father, who was murdered, and Joe Orton was my lover, whom I murdered.


  14. Banana Jr. 6000

    Would you just buy your child a toy, you cheap self-absorbed yuppie assholes?

    The poor kid is so understimulated he’s been playing with random objects in a bare room all week. There’s no evidence he cares about the drawing your coworker made for him; it’s one of the few things he’s ever been given in his 8 years of life, so he’s probably clinging to it like a drowning man to a raft. We’ve seen him call you out for only buying him clothes for Christmas, and drag him to Atomik Komix to buy him age-inappropriate figurines YOU wanted. Which you didn’t even pay for!

    And now he’s going to get what every child in Westview loves most: a performative symbol of their parents’ inability to get over 30-year old trauma! Notice these two don’t show a shred of interest in their child or a drop of concern about what he might want. No no no, they’re here to make a grand and pointless and hypocritical gesture about gun safety. And about the death of his own granfdfather, which they didn’t even involve him in. They just dropped him with the babysitter, again, to go indulge some personal quest.

    God, these two are the WORST. I hope Skyler bludgeons them both to death with that thing.

    • ComicBookHarriet

      “And now he’s going to get what every child in Westview loves most: a performative symbol of their parents’ inability to get over 30-year old trauma!”

      Which is why Summer got a video tape for every birthday.

      And for a special treat got to make her OWN TAPE reading her dead mother’s journal where Dead St. Lisa recounts her date rape.

      I can’t wait for them to melt Bull’s helmet down into building blocks for Jinx’s firstborn daughter, Hex, to play with.

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        It really is a recurring theme in Funky Winkerbean. These people cannot put down their death relics, or treat them with any level of appropriateness.

    • be ware of eve hill

      Poor Skyler already has an uphill battle genetically. Look at who his grandfathers are. On his mother’s side, there’s John Darling, by most accounts, an egomaniacal asshole. The grandfather on his father’s side is the evil Frankie, perhaps the biggest villain ever featured in Funky Winkerbean.

      I wonder how much Skyler has overheard about the gun.
      Skyler: (playing with revolver) Where’s grandfather? Bang! Bang!
      Darin: No! Skyler! Put that gun down!

      (Darin stops and thinks for a minute)

      Darin:Get in the car, kid. There’s somebody I’d like you to meet. We can buy some ammo along the way.

      What? You said Darin was the worst.

  15. Andrew

    Ah, yeah, this is definitely sounding like Bautik took notes from the Batman story I mentioned last week. Repurposing the murder weapon via reforging for a better purpose is definitely rather familiar:

    • ComicBookHarriet

      And yet, that is not as cringy. Batman is willingly putting himself in harms way to fight the same kind of crime that took his parents. The little metal plate might stop a bullet now.

      It’s not great, but at least the two things are thematically related, and fit Batman’s character as an avenger.

      It’s a far cry from beating swords into plowshares. That was from a time when metal was extremely precious and often recycled. The fact that the people were turning swords into plows showed that they felt secure enough to destroy their weapons AND to plant a crop and watch it grow. It wasn’t that the swords had been used for killing in the past, it’s that they were no longer necessary. And so were turned into something vital and useful.

      But this? THIS? You might as well pitch turning Auschwitz into a waterpark.

      • gleeb

        No, that’s so over-the-top Joan Crawford would call it too melodramatic.

      • Mela

        It’s not as cringy because Batman gives a reason and has a purpose for his actions. And the peace/resolution he gets from it is his own. It’s not foisted upon others.

        There’s nothing wrong with wanting to turn something terrible into something positive, but Jessica has said nothing to indicate that’s what she’s going for. The story is all over the place, from “collectors are losers who are stuck in the past” to (I think) “let’s make a murder weapon into a toy for our child”. Jessica has been drawn most of the week like she’s got some evil plan afoot, with very little, if any actual recollection of her father at all. Again, it’s all about stuff-with no depth or motive as to why anyone would think making a toy from an old weapon would be a good idea.

      • newagepalimpsest

        Yes. It’s a story idea that fits the world of “Batman.” And those real world examples come from times and places when people had a different outlook on death than we have today.

        “Funky Winkerbean” is a slice of life about people talkin’ about comic books and cancer in the Ohio suburbs. Melting down a handgun into a children’s toy so that the kid can seize a piece of its power is… an idea that’s a bit out of place.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      So Batiuk just copied the story from a comic book. Wow.

  16. Paul Jones

    It doesn’t matter if Boy Lisa indulges in his Batman fantasies so he can plagiarize Gerry Anderson because melted stolen property is still stolen property.

  17. Rusty Shackleford

    @ Gerard

    Regarding my post yesterday about The Valentine theater in Toledo, Ohio, I am confident Batty is aware of it as he has family in southern Michigan and so he passed through Toledo many times.

    I’m surprised he hasn’t featured Tony Packos in his strips, but maybe he hated the show MASH.

  18. Perfect Tommy

    Meanwhile, at Police HQ: “Has anyone seen the piece that offed that Darling guy? We have new DNA evidence that might exonerate Mossman”.

  19. Dood

    This strip never fails in wading into exceptionally dark, disturbing, and deeply cringey waters. I’m looking at you, Lilllian and Lucy, for your youthful romantic highjinks, and you, Jeff Murdoch’s mom, who went all stabby-stabby on a comic book.

  20. Hitorque

    1. Melt it down into a toy?? I have no words…

    2. And why? What is this supposed to accomplish? I might be able to understand making it into some symbol with an anti-gun violence message, or even if Jessica was some kind of quirky esoteric ‘artiste’ who might transform the gun into some intellectual commentary about America’s cultural infatuation with solving problems primarily with bullets and/or explosives… Hell, melt it down into a pendant or necklace to wear, something, anything more high-minded than a fuckin’ TOY…

    3. Yes we know Mitch Knox is weirdo and a loser, but whether it was through legal or less than legal means, he still probably paid some big coin for that pistol. And he is the self-appointed guardian of Darling’s legacy… It just doesn’t add up that he’d just give away the gun for free like it was radioactive.

    4. Krankenschaaften — The marathon circle jerk over an old-fashioned theater is still going strong with no sign of letting up.

    • be ware of eve hill

      4. The first thing I’d do is paint the walls of the Valentine. What the hell color is that, Bordello Pink?

      In the story arc when Mitch was born, the walls were a boring beige. Apparently the strip club did make some changes.

      The truth is, the colorist obviously cares for continuity about as much as Batiuk does.

    • Anonymous Sparrow

      Jessica as J.J. in *Doonesbury”*?

      It won’t make Uncle Stupid any smarter, says Alex.

  21. The Duck of Death

    How heartwarming. A cast-metal toy spaceship, which somehow will enthrall a 2022 8-year-old for hours at a time. And it’s toe-stubbing heavy, too, and guaranteed to be left around the house and seen in every possible future panel.

    Think how uplifting it’ll be every time Jessica DDoJDWWM gazes lovingly upon the hunk of metal that took her father’s life. Perhaps one of the hatches can be made operative so she can jam his ashes in there too. What a lovely tribute that would be for young Skyclad to play with. Memento mori, li’l Skyjacker. Memento mori.

  22. The Duck of Death

    Let’s not forget that this is Cancerdeathville, where hope goes to die. I can’t wait for the upcoming arc wherein Skycap starts falling behind in his schoolwork, and a full workup shows devastating lead poisoning. “Why, it’s like he’s been — licking melted-down bullets or something!” exclaims the pediatrician. “But of course, that’s preposterous.”

    Skyrocket is placed in “Bedside Manor Junior,” the huge complex that houses the thousands of hopelessly mentally damaged or cancerous children of the Centerville/Westview metro area.

    He takes up smoking and makes a miraculous recovery, allowing him to accept an impromptu job offer from Chester Bestertester. His job: Serializing “The Phantom Empire” in comic form.

    Sunday: Sideways cover of Phantom Empire No. 1.

  23. After looking at today’s strip, I am kind of feeling like there’s a possibility that Skylar will somehow get his hands on the gun before Durwood brings it to Akron and something tragic will happen. I can’t see the ending of this arc being something as benign as “Skylar gets a spaceship made from the gun that kills his Grandfather and everyone lives happily ever after”. Another possibility is that somehow the strip crosses back over to Crankshaft and the spaceship somehow ends up on display in the lobby of the new Valentine.

    • The Duck of Death

      Tragedy strikes the DoJDWWM household… that’s a very cheering thought, but gun violence can only be committed by Bad Guys and Bigots with Twisted-Up Angry Faces. Puff Batty is really committed to telegraphing who’s a Good Guy and who’s a Bad Guy. We haven’t seen a Bad Guy telegraphed, so I assume we won’t see a shooting.

      Speaking of which — I predicted a year or so ago (can’t remember whether here or on CK, or both) that we would see a trans character.

      How did I know? I used the simple Profile Picture Predictor technique. If you’re seeing massive numbers of people changing their Facebook or Instagram profile pictures to highlight a particular social cause, it’s only a matter of time before Puffy B does a Very Important Arc about it.

      Which leads to the question: When can we expect the Very Important Arc about Ukraine?

      • gun violence can only be committed by Bad Guys and Bigots with Twisted-Up Angry Faces

        or drunk chimpanzees.

      • William Thompson

        There is still time for a burglar to break into the house, get the gun (“That fat collector guy will pay a fortune for the gun that killed John Darling!”) and shoot Dullard, who will die with the clay spaceship in his hands. Later, when Messica gives the spaceship to Skybolt, she’ll tell him the bloodstains are squadron markings for the Starbuck Jones Space Defense Force.

  24. Gunmetal. It rusts. So let’s add metallurgy to the long list of things Tom knows nothing about.

    Oh, yeah. Also childrearing.

  25. Don

    Wait, don’t tell me, let me guess: tomorrow…the gun is missing