Bowles Movement

Link To The Sunday Strip

Does he really not know? Because Phil doesn’t appear to be kidding here. So the question must be asked again: what is he, some kind of moron? It might not have been his intent, but every character in this week’s arc came across like a total dolt.

“Bowles”…nice proofreading there, Pulitzer (nominee) Boy. “From the bowles of the Earf, it’s the Subterrain Ian!”. What the hell is The Subterranean doing there? Collecting scrap metal? I mean, sure, that’s terrific and all, but hardly planet-saving. He’s like Bubbles from “The Wire”, but with a tiny head and muscles. And way less personable, too.

Well, it was a long, strange stint for me, but now it’s over. According to my calculations, I should be back just in time for (gulp) the holidays. You know, the annual year-ending ones. Up next, a tanned, rested and mellow TFHackett! Stay Funky, gang!



Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

75 responses to “Bowles Movement

  1. It’s not a spelling mistake; it’s a family designation. Like “the Smythes from the Hamptons” or “the Van Burens from Long Island.”

    Seriously, though, it’s surprising how Batiuk can misspell the source of all of his material.

    • And he misspells the name of James Pascoe, the guy who drew this mess. That’s a fine “tip of the Funky felt tip”!

      • William Thompson

        Batiuk also credits Chuck Ayers and Bob Ro. What was their role here? Commiserating with Pascoe? At least the artist didn’t have to face this task alone.

        • Chuck gets credit for drawing the reality bubble at the bottom right. “Rockin'” Rob Ro is the colorist, who’s collaborated with Pascoe (with an “e”, Tom) on all the Elementals covers.

      • Y. Knott

        Hey, if you were James Pascoe, would you want credit or acknowledgment for this? “Spell my name right on the cashier’s cheque, Tom….don’t worry so much about spelling it correctly elsewhere, okay?”

  2. William Thompson

    Such a moving cover! Uh–ICK! I reached for the low-hanging fruit, only that wasn’t fruit.

  3. bayoustu

    Leave the feces-centric material to “Marvin”, Batton!

  4. Gerard Plourde

    The Bowles of the Earth?

    Does is the Subterranian from Antarctica, the UK, or California?

  5. KMD

    This Ben Grimm rip off is not subtle at all. So is his arch enemy the Mohel?

  6. Y. Knott

    From the ‘bowles’ of Batiuk’s brain — another pile of ‘sith’! Climate damage SOLVED!

  7. Subterranean was spontaneously spawned from the loins of none other than Todd Bowles, mediocre head coach of your Tampa Bay Buccaneers! Or something like that!

    • Dood

      What about Sally Bowles? This strip is a cabaret, old chum.

      • Anonymous Sparrow

        I was thinking of Chester Bowles myself, but Sally Bowles may be even better.

        Another song in *Cabaret* is *If You Could See Her,* which concludes:

        I understand your objection
        I grant you the problem’s not small
        But if you could see her through my eyes
        She wouldn’t look Jewish at all.

        If we could see *Funky Winkerbean* through its creator’s eyes, imagine what we would see.

        Me, I’d rather remember my father joking that when John Kennedy named C. Douglas Dillon Secretary of the Treasury, he should have named Chester Bowles his undersecretary, so we could have a “Gunsmoke” gag:

        Bowles: Mr. Dillon, Mr. Dillon!

        Dillon: What is it, Chester?

        Bowles: Trouble in the tariff talks!

        Alas, Kennedy put Bowles in the State Department (“Mr. Rusk, Mr. Rusk”…no, not the same…though the Red Skull was once U.S. Secretary of Defense as “Dell Rusk”…) and later named him Ambassador to India.

  8. none

    Several people looked at this image for weeks and nobody said anything about the misspelled word or name. Not once.

    • Y. Knott

      Are you assuming that there is some sort of editorial process at King Features? Because it’s been pretty clear for a number of years that — other than to ensure that some sort of imagery has been provided that’s large enough to fill the assigned blank space — no-one looks at these strips at all, in any manner whatsoever, prior to publication.

      And probably not afterward either.

      • The Duck of Death

        Really? Are you asserting that Mintberry Crunch*, despite xir** promoting of Batiuk as an Important Artist with a Sincere Desire to Improve the World, doesn’t even read the thing?

        Well, crack open your 64-crayon Crayola box, and color me shocked.

        *I refuse to call the KF editor anything but this, in love and honor of South Park, back when it was funny.

        **Mintberry Crunch uses some unusual pronoun or other and I can’t be arsed to look it up. Disrespectful? Perhaps. And I think it’s disrespectful to not do your job, and foist utter crap on the world while patting yourself and your contributors on the back. I only show as much respect as I’m given (in this case, zero).

    • Dood

      Don’t you wonder who proofreads this dreck?

  9. Green Luthor

    Wow, that’s some bad art. I mean, maybe it’s not quite Liefeld bad, but… that’s bad.

    And what is burning in the background there? Did the Subterrerium cause the fire, or is he trying to stop it? Is the fire causing the climate damage, or is it meant to fix it? (Though how would a massive fire prevent climate damage anyway?) And how do those relate to each other? Like, did the Subterrier start the fire to cause more climate damage? For all the talk about how important these “climate damage covers” were, they never really did specify if they were for it or against it…

    So I guess the answer to Dead Phil’s question is: probably, yeah, it’s too subtle, since I have NO IDEA what you’re actually trying to say. But this is what we SHOULD be reading! It’s called writing!

    Epicus, you are one brave snarker, to voluntarily take an extra week AND have to deal with this inanity. We stand in line.

    • Epicus Doomus

      It doesn’t get a lot weirder than that gun arc, but it could have easily been far, far worse. No, really, it could.

    • Green Luthor, thanks for sending me down a Rob Liefeld rabbit hole! Good grief!
      The 40 Worst Rob Liefeld Drawings

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        I want to see a “40 Worst Funky Winkerbean Sunday Comic Book Covers” article, just so we can see a collection of them and see how they’re all exactly the same.

        • The Duck of Death

          Something tells me that, in a room in Puff Batty’s house, you could see all 40 framed on a wall.

          And something tells me that’s his favorite room. Where he can be 10 again, and live out his fantasies of Batom Comics and its roster of superheroes, which he created when he was 10. Yes, he brags about this. He thinks it shows how precocious he was; it actually shows how arrested his development is, to think that he hasn’t been able to improve on nebulous ideas he had at the age of 10.

    • erdmann

      Yeah, we only have Phil’s word the Subterranean is on our side and he’s hardly an unimpeachable source. And it doesn’t help that his tiny head appears to have been traced from an old Lee Elias Eclipso drawing.
      Maybe Rocky means it when he calls Earth “my planet” and intends to rid it of the hairless apes that infest it. I wouldn’t be surprised if his next words are “Puny surface dwellers! Soon my Magno-bombs will damage your precious climate permanently! Then, when you are no more, my people will emerge from the bowles [sic] of the Earth to rule it as they did in eons past! Bwa ha haaa!”

      • Anonymous Sparrow

        “Good stars” and “great atoms,” as Simon Bennett would say, how I relished your mention of Eclipso, the Hero and Villain in One Man!

        The Subterranean sounds like a Vietnam era soldier explaining that it was necessary to destroy the village in order to save it. Maybe he needs to talk to Dane Dorrance or Ra’s al Ghul. They may be ecological extremists, but they know where to draw lines.

        • Hannibal's Lectern

          My thought as well. Batty does come from the “we burned the village in order to save it” generation. Maybe he’s forgotten that at the time, this was considered a bad thing.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      It’s a symptom of the mythos Batiuk has built in his own head about his writing. He thinks he’s being subtle when he’s just being unclear. “Subtle” is saying something important in a small way. We don’t know what’s being said here at all. What kind of facility is The Subterranean standing in front of? Why did he destroy it (or did he)? What’s in his hands? What’s he’s taking a stand against? To say nothing of all the errors in the drawing.

  10. Banana Jr. 6000

    NUMBER TWO???!!! Are you f*cking kidding me? Subterranean No. 1 was 13 MONTHS AGO!

    How the hell does this square with anything? “Tomorrow is a luxury we don’t have!” Then why the f*ck do you spend 13 months making a goddamn comic book cover that you’re not even sure is clear??!! What happened to the lifelong project that was so important to Phil Holt that he ROSE FROM THE DEAD to make it happen, after the strip spent weeks setting it up??

    What the hell is Atomik Komix’ business model? Release a #1 issue, solicit #2 orders, and let the money earn interest for a year while the bullpen screws off? Your whole team of 8 obscenely overpaid world-class comic book geniuses can’t make an issue in a year?? Of any of your 20 properties?

    What a joke. What a stupid goddam joke this is.

    • William Thompson

      All things considered, “Number Two” sums up this cover perfectly.

    • erdmann

      Only joke this strip he included in years.
      Maybe Phil is taking his cues from the the late, great Neal Adams and his environmental hero, Ms. Mystic. After years of her series being in the works, seven months passed between issues 1 and 2. Issue 3 took another six.

    • Dood

      It’s No. 2 from the Bowles.

  11. billytheskink

    The Subterranean… famous for his hatred of, uh, what am I looking at here?

    Radio towers?
    Vacuum tubes?
    Stage rigging?
    Kanji that’s on fire?

    It’s pipes, isn’t it? The Subterranean hates them because humans keep putting them underground where he lives. Got it. Got it.

    Too subtle indeed.

    • Epicus Doomus

      Yeah, this is supposed to be a huge, statement-making piece of art, but all I see is some guy holding a bunch of junk while straddling a trench.

  12. sorialpromise

    1. Good eye, Mr. TF on the artist Pascoe.
    2. “Bowles” stood out like a ⚫️ on a white suit.
    3. Subterranean screams like he is going to stop Earth’s damage. Yet the cover shouts that the worst has already happened.
    4. Let’s say that if we get 100 people mentioning “Bowles” on SOSF, we meet up at the CBH Farm for a BBQ. 🍖 If BWOEH supplies the wet bar, I will supply the dry wit! [at least, half!] (CBH don’t let your livestock accidentally volunteer.)
    5. This cover that we so desperately needed, who is responsible for the shoddy result? Batiuk, Ayers, or Pascoe?

    • be ware of eve hill

      If we could get all the SOSF snarkers in one place, I would gladly supply the wet bar. It’s the least I could do for all the laughs.

      Drinks on me! 🍷🍸🍹🍺🍻🥂🧉

      In light of my suffering 401Ks, it would be one of the best investments I made all year.

      I knew a guy in high school named Jack Bowles. He was a muscle-bound idiot bully in the class a year ahead of me. My little brother once had the guts to call him a “skunk ape” to his face. Fortunately, a teacher broke up the fight before it started.

      • sorialpromise

        So far counting spouses, we have 4 attendees. (If I am going to supply half the wit, I better get filling!)
        Eve, this might be the earliest that you have ever posted. Are we keeping you up?

        • be ware of eve hill

          Are you keeping me up? Not really. I’m mountain time. It’s just after 10:00 PM.

          We’re both just sitting out on the balcony, though it is getting a bit chilly. Nice and quiet. I love this neighborhood.

          • sorialpromise

            Eve, did you notice Green Luthor’s nickname for the Subterranean? Subterrier!!!! That is perfection.

          • be ware of eve hill

            I love it! I used to have a little Westie named “MacDuff”. Mac was my dog of 14 years and my sleeping cuddle buddy. Sometimes I literally did “Lay on MacDuff”. 😁 Oh, how I miss him.

            We presently have a German Shepard Great Dane mix. Mr. bwoeh has always liked big dogs. Rusty weighs almost as much as I do. Taking him for a walk (a.k.a. a drag) can be an adventure. A few years ago, as I was walking Rusty, he chased after a squirrel. I wasn’t prepared and the tug on the leash knocked me over and I hit my head on the street. I ended up in the hospital with a concussion. In a way, it was kind of cute. As I laid injured in the street, Rusty put his head on my chest as if to say, “I’m sorry, mommy”. Afterwards, some neighbors were perplexed at the sight of a woman walking her dog while wearing a bicycle helmet. 😂

  13. “Too subtle?” No, Holt, you dolt. It’s incomprehensible. We see our hero destroying a…factory? Refinery? with his bare hands, while flames and smoke fill the air. This is how he’s fighting climate damage? And this character is kinda, I dunno, gross. The comparisons to Ben Grimm are apt, but Jack Kirby gave “The Thing” a traditional cartoon strongman physique. The Subterranean’s massive thighs, trapezius muscles, and bulging crotch only draw attention to his small, glans-like cranium.

    I immediately thought of this classic B. Kliban cartoon:

    • Epicus Doomus

      I think I might get it now. The Subterranean has just destroyed some sort of evil factory that was presumably damaging the climate. He did this by burrowing under the factory and pulling out the factory’s fire suppression pipes. The workers at the factory are undoubtedly dead, and that smoke might be a problem for everyone downwind, but the factory is no more. It’s incredible how one single picture can be, all on its own, just as incomprehensible as a four week-long arc is.

      • William Thompson

        Don’t worry. In the Elementals Universe all of those workers were brutal thugs, hardened ex-cons and sinister foreign terrorists, none of whom had families and all of whom gladly worked for Big Climate Damage.

        • Anonymous Sparrow

          You remind me of an early “SNL” sketch of a Jerry Lewis movie called “The Wacky Air Traffic Controller.” Jerry’s character causes two planes to crash, but it’s all right because “those planes contained ba-aa-ad spies.”

    • B Kliban was a genius, taken from us far too soon. Tom Batiuk is not fit to categorize Kliban’s toilet paper wads.

    • be ware of eve hill

      I haven’t read a Fantastic Four comic in decades, but I know Ben Grimm has more charisma in his pinky finger than the Subterranean (i.e. Batiuk).

      Ben Grimm had the Yancy Street gang. Who does the Subterranean have? The Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District?

      @TFHackett, I thought the same exact thing. The Subterranean is fighting “climate damage” by destroying an oil refinery? Sorry, TB, that does not compute.

  14. Hannibal’s Lectern

    I’m sure all the smoke rising from the refinery the Sub-Turd-Anean just torched will be great for the climate…

    And anyway… why would a super-being who (according to his name, anyway) lives under/inside the earth give a rat’s patootie about the atmosphere? Isn’t that more the territory of Doctor Gasbag?

  15. be ware of eve hill

    Well, three down, one to go. What part of “climate damage” is the last remaining fire elemental “The Scorch” going to fight?

    I can’t wait. Tom? Are you still there? Tom? Are you receiving? Tom?

    Batiuk: We need more underbrush to burn… um… we need more forest fires… um… We need to protect the ozone layer? Something like that. Right?

    • The Duck of Death

      I got it. Larry Scorch finds out that paper and lumber companies grow vast plantations of trees, constantly renewed. Outraged because this will destroy Earth, no future, all doomed, just rope yourself already, blah blah, etc, Larry Scorch determines to burn down every single tree plantation on the planet in order to help reduce climate damage.

      Cover: The Elimentels Force presents SCORCH! The character is shown clenching angry, fiery fists amidst thousands of burning trees. “Too much greenhouse gas really BURNS ME UP! Today the planation plantors will PAY!” he cries.

      Tip o’the Funky Felt Tip to Rob Lowe and Chuck Aires.

      • be ware of eve hill

        R.I.P. Larry Storch. (a few months late)

      • Hannibal's Lectern

        Y’know, if “the Scorch” is really a “fire elemental” with access to unlimited supplies of phlogiston, the best way for him to help fight “climate damage” would be for him to stand inside the boiler of a power plant big enough to provide electricity for the entire world, including all the electric cars we’re going to be driving in ten years. Might not be comic-book-cover stuff, but it would be the most practical thing.

        (Can’t claim I invented this idea; see the SMBC strip for 7/13/2011)

    • be ware of eve hill

      Will Scorch expand on the Subterranean’s example and burn down an entire city?
      Scorch: Stop climate damage you a**holes, or you gonna pay!

      Cue Blue Öyster Cult.

      • Interestingly, that great track inspired one of Epicus’ classic post titles!

        • be ware of eve hill

          Epicus covered the Doctor Atmos climate damage cover arc too? He’s either incredibly unlucky or a glutton for punishment.

          There ought to be some form of hazard pay.

          PAY THE MAN!


          How about a “Get Out of Jail Hell Free” card? Epicus receives the right to skip any one story arc he chooses. For example, a story arc where Les receives a Pulitzer or yet another incredibly boring Funky AA arc.

  16. J.J. O'Malley

    When did “The Sheltering Sky” author Paul Bowles start writing for Atomik Komix?

    • Anonymous Sparrow

      Bowles followed *The Sheltering Sky* with *Let It Come Down.*

      Its title comes from *Macbeth.*

      The crack of doom must be somewhere in the bowles (sic) of the Earth.

  17. J.J. O'Malley

    So, “some covers are nice…and some covers are necessary,” huh? Pray, what third option is there for a “what-the-heck-is-going-on?” buffalo shot of a cross between Golden Age hero Man O’Metal and Pinhead from the “Puppet Master” films, standing in front of the oil refinery that James Cagney sets on fire at the end of “White Heat”? Today’s rendering makes the “Captain Planet” comic book covers Marvel put out in the ’90s look restrained by comparison.

    Isn’t it time for the Dead St. Lisa Cancer Run yet?

  18. Hitorque

    Dude’s a Conehead?

  19. ian'sdrunkenbeard

  20. Green Luthor

    Assuming that whatever is burning back there is some sort of oil refinery, I’m reminded of the Steven Seagal magnum opus (read: piece of crap) On Deadly Ground. Basically, to stop the EEEEVIL oil company (run by Michael Caine, who had already proven with Jaws: The Revenge that he’ll do anything for a paycheck) from polluting the land, Steven… blows it up. He makes an oil refinery EXPLODE… to protect the environment. Good a call, Steven, we stand in line.

    Basically, it looks like the Subterrapin here has all the environmental sense of Steven Seagal. Are we SURE he’s supposed to be the good guy…?

    • The Duck of Death

      As an… uh, an underground guy, I guess?… as an underground guy, couldn’t the big greyish-green asshole have first stopped the flow of oil from deep within the bowles of the Earth, and THEN torn apart the refinery?

      City on fire!
      Rats in the grass
      And the lunatics yelling in the streets!
      It’s the end of the world! Yes!
      City on fire!
      Hunchbacks dancing!
      Stirrings in the ground
      And the whirring of giant wings!
      Watch out!
      Blotting out the moonlight,
      Thick black rain falling on the
      City on fire!
      City on fire!
      City on fire!

      — Stephen Sondheim, Sweeney Todd

  21. Paul Jones

    Someone appears to have finally learned that at some point, Swamp Thing started racing around yelling “CAPTAIN PLANET!!!” while killing oil company executives. This is his third-hand distillation of someone else’s brain fart.

  22. The Duck of Death


    Imagine moaning that “tomorrows are luxuries we can no longer afford.”

    Imagine saying that this comic book is what people “should be reading right now.”

    Imagine insisting that this cover is “necessary.”

    Then showing… this as the big reveal.

    Can anyone make the case that TB does NOT have some form of dementia?

  23. The Duck of Death

    Sure, we laugh at this ghastly abortion. But Puff Daddy has accomplished what many thought impossible: He’s made us relieved to see a Les arc. Oh, sorry: A BowLes arc.

  24. Y. Knott

    Batiuktionary alert! Because it’s such a prominently placed word, in one of his prized Sunday comic book covers — and because we’ll be referencing it for months, if not years to come — I believe “bowles” deserves an entry.

    • The Duck of Death

      Good a call!

        • The Duck of Death

          I’m so glad you linked to that specific strip, TFH, because I was trying to remember where Puff Batty insinuated that dead-tree comix are the only TRUE comix, and if a comic is not printed on a cut-down tree whose pulp has been dioxin-bleached and flattened in a giant waste-spewing factory, then imprinted with toxic inks and bound in still another factory, then shipped out in exhaust-belching trucks — well, it’s just not “fun.”

          Look, I’m not a killjoy. If you don’t like digital comix, by all means buy paper ones. But then you must spare us the handwringing, accusatory lectures about the despoiling of Mother Earth.

          Also, just a thought — how about not having your characters jet thousands of miles to have conversations that could be accomplished by texting?

  25. Hannibal’s Lectern

    I dunno, I kinda like the art in today’s Sideways Sunday cover. Pascoe, Ayers and Ro have done a great job of depicting the dumpster fire that Batty has made of this strip.

    Do you think “dumpster fire” is too new a cliché for Batty to get? How might he make it his own, á la “climate damage”?

  26. Doghouse Reilly (Minneapolis)

    From the Paul Bowles of the earth! I assume this is a Sheltering Sky reference.

  27. Banana Jr. 6000

    It’s shocking how little effort went into this, on any level. “Batton” invited himself to Atomix Komix, where he doesn’t work and has no reason to be. He spent three days patting himself on the back, and then joined the bland conversation about the comic book cover (where, again, he has no reason to be). The cover itself is so vague it’s meaningless. There is no overarching story. There is no immediate story. There is no moral. It’s never been explained what the Subterranean is. Nothing is clear. Batiuk just wanted to make another comic book cover, so we get another comic book cover. Another comic book cover that isn’t going to get him hired at Marvel or DC. But he’s too demented to stop trying.