Annnnnnnnnnnnnnd, back to damate climage in today’s strip. I know we were all wondering how last month’s second issue of The Subterranean sold. Not well, which I am sure surprises absolutely no one. Flash seems especially put out by this… and it was Batton that got nicknamed “Bummer”?
You know, the climage damate books aren’t the only things at Atomik Komix not working…
51 responses to “Climate-specific progress goes “broke””
This is some almost inconceivably bad dialog. Weird, clunky sentences like these aren’t going to land you that Pulitzer nomination there, Bat Boy. Why on Earth would he use “dealing with” instead of “about”? No one talks like this. “I think we’ve been able to raise people’s awareness of the fact that what we’ve done so far isn’t working”. Clunkier than a pillowcase full of gravel. Mind you, this guy writes for a living. There’s just no excuse. I had teachers in junior high school that would have circled these sentences with red ink and drawn a frowny face next to them.
And on top of the oafish dialog, you have sweaty Batton’s obnoxious observation, which more or less implies that the entire human race consists of selfish dullards incapable of grasping complicated topics like climate damage, thus merely making them aware that it exists is some sort of moral victory, even though, for the most part, no one really gives a shit. Which is pretty funny, as Batton himself only really started giving a shit about climate damage yesterday.
I am going to push back on Batton only giving a shit recently. As, in universe, he wrote the ‘ecology button’ joke that was actually one of Batiuk’s first.
And Batiuk himself has been a whiny impotent armchair ecologist from the beginning. He just diluted the insufferable posturing between strips and jokes that were actually sort of funny back in Act I.
More proof Batty should have kept things as they were. With these, he makes a good point and you get a little laugh out of it.
Nowadays he uses a ton of words and you still can’t figure out what he is saying.
Thanks for finding this. It reminds me of what I liked about Act 1.
The mention that Funky’s never-seen dad worked for an industrial polluter probably resonated deeply with readers, especially in the “rust belt”. Southeastern PA has its share of Superfund sites.
“Yes, we’ve made people aware that the climate is getting worse! But they aren’t doing anything about it! They expect the Elemental Force to show up and solve the problem for them!”
I can’t tell if he’s referring to the comic not selling or just talking about the whole of the Earth’s efforts not working. I know it’s probably the former but I can read the vagueness there.
And a thing about Mr. Subterranean’s book not selling; Any casual snarker can point out the classic superhero who beats up crooks in the streets doesn’t really do much to fight crime on a systemic level and overall improve the world, which is why at best they’re more of a symbolic gesture of goodwill while also being more effective fighting supervillains who do things real-life criminals could only dream of (though of course this can differ depending how good a writer is). With that in mind, writing comics about superheroes who “fight” the climate crisis as a means of raising awareness not only in-universe would seem futile unless we’re dealing with Captain Planet-style villains within its story (though again, a nice story could be made about how a superpowered character demonstrated consequences against humanity or something for its actions, depending on the writer), but is again futile when the causes is out of the average comic buyer’s hand, plus also the general public issue isn’t raising awareness of its existence anymore, but actually convicting people it’s a big deal when people are adamant about it being a hoax or exaggerated or not something human action is affecting.
Would be funny though if the weird angry mobs who bothered WHS about a cancer play and a gay prom would come to Atomix Komix to protest them about flaunting “fake news” about climate damage though.
Of course, “would be funny” is the same as “won’t be in FW.”
Yes. In panel one, it reads like Batton is asking Flash how the books themselves are feeling about climate damage. Then in two and three, it reads like the AK readers are aware that the climate damage comic books aren’t working. You need to be familiar with the way he thinks to understand the intent here, as he’s just not capable of expressing it properly himself.
Which touches on another problem with Batiuk’s writing: the dialog is clunky and confusing to readers, but the characters understand each other perfectly.
“How are your books doing” sounds like “how are they selling” or “how are fans liking them”. But Flash instinctively knows the strange thing Batton means, which is “how are they influencing people”. Which Flash can’t even answer, because the story never even told us what these comic books were supposed to achieve. Or what the internal story even was. Or anything other than the damned cover. It’s making a callback to a story it never bothered telling in the first place.
“I can’t tell if he’s referring to the comic not selling or just talking about the whole of the Earth’s efforts not working. I know it’s probably the former but I can read the vagueness there.”
I disagree, Andrew. From what I can gather, Not-Dead comic book artist meant the world’s response to “Climate Damage.” Of course, I could be wrong.
Credit to Ayers for Flash’s oddly but remarkably consistent head tilt. Does he have taco neck syndrome?
A Calvin & Hobbes-inspired pun to describe a Funky Winkerbean strip? It’s like decorating a cesspool with a bouquet of roses!
True, but it’s a nice to be reminded that once upon a time — for what now seems only like one brief, shining moment — there existed newspaper comics that didn’t suck. Just imagine Watterson’s take on dimate clamage. It would’ve been great.
No need to imagine it!
Watterson was always really sharp with his more environmental-messaged comics (though not necessarily perfect, he admits his arc where Calvin & Hobbes went to Mars that had such a message could’ve been drafted better).
Though it feels weird in a time-capsule sort of way when he brought up the ozone layer hole as a big issue. I haven’t heard about that in years.
That’s because we actually fixed the hole in the ozone layer problem by banning the chemicals that were depleting it, and the hole is gradually filling in to it’s earlier state.
A classic! He made a serious point and you get a chuckle out of it too.
“I think we’ve been able to raise people’s awareness of the fact that what we’ve done so far isn’t working.” I think Atomik Komix just found its ad slogan.
WHY IS THATTOM BIOMASS ALWAYS ON THAT GODDAMNED TREADMILL? Sorry, panel 1 just enrages me.
How does Phlesh Phloppyhead know anything about the societal impact of a comic book that has been on the market for maybe a week (assuming any of the copies have been shipped, given the crippling effects of Dimate-Covid Clamage on the supply chain)?
And the message, “Nothing we’ve done has worked” seems less than inspiring. It is depressing though, which I guess tracks with the FW Universe.
This is the same message TB gave Cayla to deliver in the ‘shopping while Black’ arc: racism is always with us, it never gets better. Nothing we do can fix or even mitigate it.
I wondered at first why he wants to tell this story – that we can’t collectively redress wrongs or make things better.
But I think I know why – he wants to establish Bad Stuff as a background against which his middle-class straight White guys can show up as People Who Care. Not ‘people who can take action’ of course. That might be hard and expose them to criticism. But they CARE, so they’re better than you.
I can hear the puff piece now: “Funky Winkerbean was the only comic strip to take on the difficult issues of climate and race in 2022…”
It’s imperative that Buttock Dumbass drive to AK and run on an electric treadmill instead of, you know, just walking outside.
If he’s not burning fuel wantonly, how will he come up with stories on how to save the planet?
There is a very short list of fictional media for which there is justification to say that their existence altered the course of social progress and discourse. Uncle Tom’s Cabin and The Jungle are two which I can think of first, and I don’t think the list would be longer than one dozen or two of such novels.
I cannot think of one single issue of a comic book which meets this criteria. I honestly ask if anyone reading this can do so. Out of all Marvel and DC creation, all of everything that’s classified as a standard “comic book” – if it all never existed in the first place, does anything else in society change? I truly don’t think so. This isn’t to say that various issues of some things address social issues sooner than other media, but that none of it made any initial effect on society at large which is so great that it can be attributable to the genesis of that effect.
Suppose every US citizen purchased these environmental comic books, in real life, right now. Over 275 million copies sold each time. Does anything change? Anything?
This strip comes face-to-face with acknowledging the ultimate worthlessness of comic books in this context and yet he just plugs along with it all anyway.
They’re fucking comic books, you asshole. Children’s comic books. That’s it. Nothing more.
What makes it extra hilarious is that I can pretty much guarantee Batom does not release its comics digitally, so they’re all made by chopping down trees.
Nothing would change if people bought these environmental books, because this strip itself admits that they offer no real solutions to the problem they face.
As far as a work so seminal it is the catalyst for change. I can’t think of anything in comics as powerful as ‘The Jungle’ (though that is an interesting case because the author was trying to preach socialism, but instead reformed food processing.)
I could think of a few comics, such as The Watchmen, that are compelling and widely enough known to affect the way people think about certain issues.
Comic books have always doubled as soap boxes, going all the way back to the intentionally diverse (and racist) Young Allies, and Boy Commandos telling kids to buy war bonds.
It’s hubris to think a comic book can fix an issue, but it’s not wrong to want to change a few minds, educate a few readers, with a story that has a point to make. I’ve read plenty of comics, ranging from excellent to insufferable, that obviously have an agenda in mind.
But Batiuk is so HOLLOW. All his ecological posturing is pointless, because he fails to show concretely how the environment is affecting his characters in ways we would actually give a shit about. His best attempt was anemically trying to tie the LA fires to climate change caused drought.
And what did the wildfire arc ultimately focus on? Why, Les Moore’s issues re: Marianne playing his dead wife in a movie, of course. Oh, and a “Crankshaft” character being trapped in a cave.
Flash is acknowledging that his comics books are acknowledging that climate damage is a thing, and (apparently) he also believes that his readers are gradually coming to acknowledge the existence of climate damage as well. That’s just about as vague as it’s possible to be. As usual, he’s not actually addressing anything at all, he’s just pretending he is.
Great analysis CBH. I am also reminded of the Christian themed comic books that pushed biblical messages. But at this point I think I would prefer those to the crap Batty puts out.
Biblical stories are classic themes that can teach a lot about human nature even if you do not believe in the Christian faith.
When Batiuk’s not hollow, he’s just plain wrong. “What we’re doing isn’t working” is not an accurate description of anything. You might say action that has been taken in this area isn’t enough, or it’s too late, or it’s too compromised for political reasons, or it’s too weak to effectively solve the problem. But “not working” is that hollowness on display.
Another point could be made is that Atomix Komik’s intent is muddled by the way they write their comics; as staffed by Silver age veterans, their publications seem to lean on that idea by producing stories with superheroes in the style of that era, with eye-catching scenes on the covers with scripted dialogue and everything, suggesting a classic Silver-age style story inside where some random comes up with a scheme and they’re completely defeated by the end. Whereas modern comics strive for longer stories across issues and try to have more focus on nuance and overall character development, which could even better display the nuances of actual climate crisis responses.
Granted, that’s judging a book by its cover, and maybe there is more of a modern writing beyond that in-universe for the comics, but Bautik never shows us the stories they’re actually writing as opposed to just a flashy cover. Furthermore he’s set a precedent for comic writing still being set on “villain of the week” mindsets when back in 2011 Pete’s writer’s block angst about writing for Superman himself ended with his solution being the creation of “Seismo the Human Earthquake” as a bad guy. I’m sure that was a groundbreaking story.
79,000 internet points for “groundbreaking story”.
You have to judge an Atomik Komix book by its cover. That’s all we ever see.
You beat me to Sinclair’s Jungle, CBH, and you did it elegantly and succinctly. Bravo!
The curious thing with *The Jungle* is that Upton Sinclair was unhappy with the response it created. As he put it, he had aimed for the heart of the country and hit the stomach instead. No doubt he was pleased with the creation of the FDA, but he would have preferred a United States with a government based around democratic socialism better.
In one of his Lanny Budd books, Sinclair’s dedication is to the people of Britain, for trying to create such a system under Prime Minister Clement Attlee.
I’ve become a YouTube addict of the game show “University Challenge” and was amused to find a series of bonus questions on the works of Sinclair. The three questions reminded me of how much he’d written and of how much had become forgotten, even with the success of “There Will Be Blood” (from *Oil!”). The team didn’t know, for instance, that *The Brass Check* was a critique of the media.
Incidentally, Sinclair won the 1943 Pulitzer Prize for fiction with the third Lanny book, *Dragon’s Teeth,* which covers the years 1929-34. It’s a very good study of the triumph of Nazism in Germany and its fallout.
To end on a comic-book note, I must say that in John Gunther’s *Death Be Not Proud,* John, Jr. doesn’t want to read the most recent Lanny novel, because, as he puts it, “I prefer my Superman in long underwear.”
And let’s remind ourselves of why he’s trying to shove his clunky, clumsy and ridiculous phrase down out throats: it’s an inconvenience to him personally. It would never occur to him that the countries of the Global South are far more damaged than he’ll ever have been.
“What we’ve been doing just isn’t working! We’ve made two whole comic book covers, and there’s still climate damage! We’d better make a third one!”
I’ve noticed this is typical of lazy thinkers (and idiots). When they’re trying to accomplish something and a tactic doesn’t work, they don’t try to think of other tactics. They simply double down on the ineffective tactic, and double down again as necessary.
This story is so vague that even the characters don’t know what they’re talking about. “I think we’ve been able to…” “…that’s progress, I guess…”
I’m a soft touch for charities. I have a long list of causes I donate to, including human rights, social justice, workers’ rights, environment, education, famine relief, crisis aid, etc.
There’s one charity I’ve always refused, because its mandate is “raising awareness of world hunger”. I asked once if they fed people, and did not get a straight answer. But they sound like TB’s style of charity.
This sounds like The Hunger Project, a spinoff of Werner Erhard’s est movement, and my reaction was the same as yours when I learned of it. They were trying to “change people’s way of thinking about hunger” rather than … you know, feeding the hungry.
Let’s see. If I were a comic-book publisher who believed that “climate damage” is an urgent, imminent threat poised to wipe out all life on earth, what might I do? A 43-second brainstorming session with myself brought a few ideas:
1. Stop publishing paper books. It’s not just the paper itself; it’s the energy required for printing and shipping the books. It’s the toxic inks. It’s all that and more. Alternative: Print books but make them punitively expensive, and make digital books cheap, so the collectors of physical media subsidize the earth-friendly digital media.
2. Partner with an effective charity. Perhaps for every tree’s worth of paper you use, your company plants 10 trees. Or maybe offer a special book once a year, and all proceeds go to that charity. Or perhaps take a week off work and the whole staff volunteers for the charity, and invites all readers to join them. Or auction off an appearance in your most popular book, proceeds go to charity.
3. Have your superheroes demonstrating earth-friendly activities. Atmos installs solar panels. Oceanaire extols a vegetarian diet. The Subterranean shows how organic gardening and composting can support the ecosystem and reduce use of toxic fertilizers and insecticides. These activities could be the focus of a special issue (I remember Marvel doing cause-specific issues like these) or they could be scattered throughout story lines.
4. Have everyone work from home so there’s one less building to heat, cool, supply water for, etc. A very small office with a couple desks and a meeting room would suffice if WFH were the norm. This also cuts down on commuting and the associated energy waste/infrastructure wear.
All of this is right off the top of my head. Anyone here could come up with 4 more ideas.
Or — OR — the AK superheroes could subject us to some more peevish, incoherent, bloviating lectures.
It’s almost like TB doesn’t really believe blimate klamage will kill us all. It’s almost like he’s just parroting mainstream ideas on the most shallow level imaginable. Almost like.
Oh, I think he believes it. He also believes that once he’s told us about it … his part of the work needed to fix the problem is done.
But surely he realizes that the rest of the world has already heard about it from the same places he heard about it. Celebrities, mainstream media, politicians harp on it constantly. Who does he think he’s informing?
Here’s a quotation worth pondering:
“To do good is noble. To tell others to do good is even nobler and much less trouble.” ― Mark Twain
Richard Wright claimed that he wrote *Native Son* because the response to its predecessor, *Uncle Tom’s Children,* had resulted in no constructive action. It begins with an alarm clock going off, a sure sign that it is later than you think.
Work from home! But then how will these guys wander into each other’s workspaces and make one off comments that spontaneously become an entire storyline and stupid gimmick within the week?
It’s not like most ‘work from home’ employees aren’t in constant contact with each other via a computerized instant messaging system. What kind of Star Trek space magic age do you think we live in?
Amazon just delivered a large cardboard box. Two feet long, sixteen inches wide, fourteen inches high. When I opened it there was a lot of plastic padding around a second cardboard box, itself a foot on each side. That box in turn held two cartons of clumping kitty litter. It’s good to know the shipping industry thinks more of kitty litter than Batton Thomas’s comic books.
At least one knows how to reduce the stink of shit…
It’s funny because Flask Freeman by any account should be a multimillionaire given that he’s supposed to be a Stan Lee stand-in, Batton Thomas is in the twilight of his career but he still has waves and waves of that sweet sweet syndication cash coming in, and of course Chester Hagglemore is easily worth tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars…
But this is the Funkyverse so nobody is going to dare suggest they get off their asses and do something impactful besides draw comics…
Charlie Brown once took his friends to task for a materialistic attitude. When one of them (Violet?) said that he was basically no different from those he was criticizing, Charlie Brown insisted that he was.
“Because I feel guilty about it!”
In great things, said Erasmus, it is enough to have tried; I don’t think this counts.
And, as Calvin observed, there was no problem so great that you couldn’t add a little guilt to it and make it worse…