Schlemiels on the Bus

So does he feel even a slight bit of relief to find out that this apparent potential bridge jumper is merely a stranded motorist? Nope,  Crankshaft is pissed. This is what he gets for being a nice guy. For someone who’s having the “worst day of her life”, Susan’s demeanor has brightened until she’s as chipper as Crank is cranky.


Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

35 responses to “Schlemiels on the Bus

  1. Epicus Doomus

    Remember, it took him ELEVEN YEARS to get to this point, where a newly-fired Susan Smith ambles aboard Crankshaft’s bus. This was ELEVEN YEARS in the making. And literally nothing happened. All we know for sure is that she ran out of gas, and we didn’t even see it happen. Eleven years. It kind of makes the entire universe and even time itself seem stupid and pointless, doesn’t it?

    • J.J. O'Malley

      Chekhov’s Gun: “If in the first act you have hung a pistol on the wall, then in the following one it should be fired. Otherwise don’t put it there.”

      Batiuk’s Gun: “If you’re going to bring back a character that your strip’s readers haven’t seen in over a decade, be sure it’s in a flashback that adds nothing to their story and features an intrusive cameo by your other strip’s ‘protagonist.'”

      Pizza Monster madness, take me away!

    • Anonymous Sparrow

      Has Crankshaft always driven a bus with the plate number 0013?

      If so, it says a lot.

  2. So the takeaway from this arc is that Crankshaft is a miserable choad. Thanks, Batdick.

  3. Y. Knott

    From the third and final BattyBlog of old Susan Smith strips: “This wraps the call-back to the earlier Susan Smith story arc to which the current Funky week is an untold tale follow-up.”

    So Tom, does that mean today’s cross-over flashback strip wraps the untold tale follow-up to the earlier Susan Smith story arc of previous times of which this current Funky storytelling week which we are reading is calling back to in comic form?

    • Epicus Doomus

      Consider this: over the course of eleven years, Susan’s story has progressed by maybe an hour, tops. Move over, Boy Lisa opening his mail, because I think we have a new champion.

      • The Duck of Death

        Sorry, the new arc to beat is “Adeela delivers a pizza to a dark building.”

        I think this arc is in the running for new champ.

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        I actually didn’t hate Darrin taking some time to open that letter. He was finding out who his biological mother was, and I can imagine an adopted child going through a moment of “do I really want to know this?” These stories don’t usually have happy endings.

        What I hated was Linda taking a week to open a letter from the NFL. We all knew it was going to say “neener neener, no money for you.” When it was never established why this was even important.

    • be ware of eve hill

      It’s like Batiuk is padding an essay. He turns on a mental switch marked “extreme verbose mode.”

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      It doesn’t add anything to the story, does it?

    • Rusty Shackleford

      The only thing this did was refresh my memory of the details. I always thought Susan was fired, but now I know she resigned.

      Like the Rolanda arc, this does nothing but add new details that lead the story nowhere.

      • William Thompson

        A detail I didn’t know was that her last scene showed her walking past the garbage cans. Which is interesting; the first Starbuck Jones movie arc ended with a copy of Variety (with a headline that declared the movie was doing boffo box office) being tossed into a waste-paper basket. It’s like his subconscious is telling him something about the stories. Has Batiuk done other arcs that end with a heap of trash?

  4. William Thompson

    The only question left is, will the Sunday strip find a way to make this non-event even more pointless? Or will Sunday’s strip fail to make a point about something else? All I got out of this was the discovery that Crankshaft drives bus #13, which is about as useful as discovering the East Pole.

  5. billytheskink

    Since TB has shown more contempt for his readers than usual this week, I’m just going to post this photograph I took of my local grocery store’s clearance section crammed with dozens of extremely unwanted boxes of Flash breakfast cereal.

    Your obsessions are not welcome at Kroger, TB!

  6. “I told you about my major league baseball dreams being crushed, and you’re just out of gas? What kind of a monster are you?”

  7. be ware of eve hill

    Well, we didn’t really learn anything new this week in the saga of Susan Smith.

    So the week isn’t a total loss here is a bit of car maintenance advice.

    Q: Can running a vehicle low on fuel damage the fuel pump?
    A: When there’s not enough gas in the tank, the fuel pump doesn’t get the same level of protection as it would otherwise. If you run the car low on fuel consistently, you can wear out the fuel pump prematurely, over-stressing it and making it hotter. Driving on low fuel levels also makes it possible for particles and debris to damage your engine or fuel pump. If there are any pieces of dirt in your fuel, they will settle at the bottom of the tank and are much more likely to end up in your fuel pump if your fuel levels are low.

    The more you know. 🌈✨

    • Y. Knott

      Good information!

      But be careful — you may be setting yourself up to provide some useful advice every time Batiuk writes a pointless arc. That’s a full-time gig!

  8. ComicBookHarriet


    Everything I love about Crankshaft. The pure, unapologetic id. Les Moore wouldn’t have done this. Les Moore would have probably been too self-absorbed to even notice Susan staring into the abyss. And if he had pulled over to ‘talk her down’, he would have brought up Dead St Lisa. And if it had turned out to be a misunderstanding he would have faked not feeling put out, but silently been fuming and disappointed.

    Not Crankshaft, he’s gonna let her know that he’s annoyed and hungry. He’s still gonna give her a ride. But she’s gonna have to deal with all his pissy old man energy.

  9. Banana Jr. 6000

    What is with the facial expressions in today’s strip? Crankshaft doesn’t look annoyed, he looks so belligerent I’m concerned for Susan’s safety. And why does Susan have that idiot grin on her face when she’s being verbally abused?

    How is Ed late for dinner when it’s clearly about 3 PM? We know Susan left school during the school day, and Ed’s coming back from a school bus run, so it can’t be much later than that.

    And to think this is strip was made 11 months ago. Imagine what one more year of cognitive decline will do.

    • I’m thinking that maybe Crankshaft’s retort “I’m late for dinner, by the way”, may be an oblique reference to the old standard joke – “Call me anything you want, just don’t call me late for dinner”. However, the expression on his face in panel 3 indicates that he is serious, and he is annoyed with this woman because he wasted an act of goodwill on her? At least it looks like this arc is only lasting one week, then Susan Smith will plunge back into the memory hole.

      • I thought that too about “late for dinner.” See, if he’d put quote marks around it, it would have been clearer. But that’s not the kind of edgy storytelling Batiuk craves.

  10. Paul Jones

    We’ve learned nothing much about Susan’s fate. What we’ve been reminded is That Bus Driver is a whizzled up old pisstank who’s mad at the world because he coulda been a contender.

  11. Either:

    1. Crankshaft is too stupid to live.


    2. Crankshaft is badly written.

    Once again, I’m going with Number Two!

  12. Hannibal’s Lectern

    To summarize: a crossover character who’s despicable meets a minor backstory character who’s not worth caring about in a non-story that adds nothing.

    Ladies and gentlemen, I present for your edification: Tom Batiuk the Storyteller™!

  13. The Duck of Death

    Meanwhile, in Mary Worth, there’s another “Will they or won’t they plunge to their death” arc going on. The Wilbur one was so successful I don’t blame them for repeating it. But it’s a mystery why Puff Batty is reprising the “will they or won’t they die by suicide” theme.

    Elective, successful cataract surgery is treated like a mad scientist carving up your eyeballs.

    Suicide is played for laughs.

    Batiuk’s a jerk.

    • Epicus Doomus

      Agree, the whole “oh, ha ha ha, you thought I was contemplating suicide” element of this “story” really rubs me the wrong way, especially in light of the fact that the character in question actually attempted suicide once before. When you think about it, Susan Smith is possibly his most poorly developed female character of them all, which is a really bold statement to make given his history. She exists to fawn and yearn over Les, she’s always been depicted as being a weird, stalker-esque, emotionally troubled woman with no ability to control her (sigh) wanton desire to be with Les. It is, and always has been, totally ludicrous.

      • The Duck of Death

        Yes, you make a good point.

        Les gets “Le Chat Bleu” as his personal depression avatar. His writer’s block is portrayed as a tragedy he must fight his way through. His performative grief has lasted decades with no realization by TB that it’s become sick and unpleasant.

        Funky gets a whole set of drunken misadventures/ concerned friends/ shattered marriage arcs to show how he hit bottom with his alcoholism. Even now, his constant moping and whining are indulged.

        Susan Smith tries to kill herself and TB just hustles her out of the strip. He doesn’t care to explore her mind, her history, or why rejection set her off — she’s yet another literal prop to prop up Les by pining for him, then being saved by his heroics, then conveniently disappearing once her Les-related job was done.

        #Sexist #BechdelTestFail

      • Charles

        Susan Smith is possibly his most poorly developed female character of them all,

        I don’t know. This sequence is reminding me of just how terrible the character Cayla is, and since she’s supposed to be an active character presumably contributing to storylines, I think that makes her worse.

        She’s a nonentity who’s just agreeable with everything Les needs or wants, has no needs or wants of her own, and when she breaks a bit from that, it’s always to trigger grievances in Les that Batiuk loves writing about. And most of the time, the stories involving Les’s grievances are tinged with some level of sexism.

        And her story of dating and eventually marrying Les was very similar to Susan’s concurrent story, only she didn’t have the history with Les that Susan did, and once she “won” Les, she no longer had driving her character. She was like a more boring, less descript version of Susan.

        Also, a ton of the weaknesses in Susan’s character deal with the inability of Les to confront Susan and her issues with him. It was as if Les had no idea at any point how Susan felt about him, but he never quite acted as if he was ignorant. He came off much more as someone trying to maintain plausible deniability about Susan while still making the most out of her devotion to him.

  14. Tom from Finland

    Based on on the latest entries in the FW Blog I assume that Batiuk’s train of thought for this week’s arc went something like this:

    Hey! I have a great idea! The readers like when I tell what happened to some character not seen for long time. That will make a great story for a week!

    Let’s see, who would I pick… Now I know! Susan! I’ll tell what happened to her after she left Westview.

    Ok… What traits Susan had? Has crush on Les… Tried to kill herself… What else… Awww, this is hard! Why I ever decided to do this?

    Maybe I’ll just write what happened to her one hour after she left Westview. Yes, that’s good enough. So… Her traits… Crush on Les won’t work…
    I’ll throw in some funny suicide misunderstanding… and… Hey!, Crankshaft, yes, everybody likes Crankshaft. Done!!
    Phew, that was exhausting!