With a capital ‘D’ and that rhymes with P…

Oh, we’re sticking with Ruby this week, huh… at least in today’s strip we are. Can’t you see the excitement on my face?

*staring noises*

Looks like Ruby is ready to start living off her social security checks and some meager and infrequent Miss American residuals. That or she’s dying (to start living off those social security checks and meager and infrequent residuals…). Either way, a blow for feminine editorial oversight at Atomik Komix, but what women’s lib doesn’t know won’t hurt ’em!


Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

69 responses to “With a capital ‘D’ and that rhymes with P…

  1. William Thompson

    You can tell Ruby is done by the way that red button has popped up from her hat. And we all thought she was only half-baked!

    • J.J. O'Malley

      Well, I’ll be! That little red thing really is a button! Here and I was always thinking it was a tiny red star to indicate how Ruby Lith, nee Ruth Litvak, grew up in the ’30s and ’40s in, you know, “New York, Jewish, left-wing, liberal, intellectual, Central Park West, Brandeis University, the Socialist summer camps, and the father with the Ben Shahn drawings” (to borrow from “Annie Hall”), and how she was part of a young Socialist group before the HUAC hearings and changed her name to Ruby Lith as a nod to her artistic leanings and so as to avoid any blacklists or embarrassing her family. Boy, you think you know someone.

    • Jimmy

      It means she’s ready to return to Mother Russia with the microfilm she squirrelled away over the years.

      Wait until they learn Westview is even more dystopic than the Soviet Union.

      • William Thompson

        Westview will improve once Les Moore is embalmed and displayed under glass in a mausoleum. Russian visitors can enjoy making comparisons: “He has the same beard as Lenin!” “But Lenin dressed much better for his funeral!” “Just like Lenin, he has stopped writing!”

  2. Y. Knott

    Okay, so Tom has clearly become familiar with the concept of cartoonists who retire. Now — who can convince him to take the next step and apply the concept to his own life?

    • ComicBookHarriet


      While Batiuk IRL is way overdue to ride off into the sunset, I selfishly want him to keep on creeping along so I can keep complaining about it and going off on wacky tangents with my favorite internet strangerfriends.

      • Rusty Shackleford

        True, without Batty I am stuck complaining about Mary Worth and that isn’t as fun.

        • Margaret

          I really think that Karen Moy understands how completely nuts Mary Worth is and does it on purpose for the humor. It’s fun to talk about, but it’s quite different from Funky Winkerbean. Batiuk is absolutely 100% sincere about everything he writes. I don’t think could ever understand what makes his strip so bad it’s good (sometimes). He reminds me a bit of Ed Wood.

      • billytheskink

        It’s a weird situation. The best thing TB can do to us is retire and end the strip… but it’s also the worst thing TB can do to us.

      • Y. Knott

        I must admit, finding some other property with Batiuk’s peculiar mix of complete self-absorption and utter lack of self awareness would be a challenge. In the comics world, 9 Chickweed Lane maybe comes closest — although 9CL’s grandiose pretensions are different than FW’s, as are its extremely narrow obsessions. Still, 9CL does have word zeppelins, detestable characters, a carefree approach to continuity, and no reason for its continued existence outside of inertia.

        Although it doesn’t have Batiuk’s singular approach to ‘research’, a big part of FW’s snarkability.

      • none

        On one hand, this little corner of the Internet really is truly nice. It’s a diverse set of well-informed and generally good hearted people, and dumb stuff is kept to a minimum.

        On the other, the textual English language cannot accurately convey how much I utterly despise Tom Batiuk for the total lack of quality in his work, how he has made a living in doing it, and how there are fans and media outlets which defend his work. The most recent WSJ article about the strip contains language and praise which simply doesn’t apply to the strip as it exists in reality, and there is seemingly no way to compel the strip’s supporters to acknowledge any criticism. What seems so obvious to us every day is not only handwaved away, it is silently handwaved away, as if our words are incomprehensible. And all the while, nobody tells Tom “no” – at least not after Marvel and DC did, and certainly not after his last editor died. How would this world function if everyone had Tom’s work ethic and ability.

        • none

          The entire point of that second paragraph was for me to say that I would be positively ecstatic to hear that FW was discontinued instantly today, or any day.

          I don’t harbor any personal grudge against Mel Lazarus or Cathy Guisewite but I am eternally grateful that I will never have to see a new Momma or Cathy strip ever again in my life. That was 30+ years of completely unfunny, unartful, unintelligent, worthless trash. FW is like that, only 50+ years.

  3. Epicus Doomus

    Billy, I saw this one, and I felt just terrible. Two weeks of anything AK-related is just cruel. Susan Smith is back, Montoni’s is closing, Summer is writing a book, and you draw a Ruby Lith arc. Jeepers. Sorry, man.

    I assume she means she’s quitting, which, given yesterday’s sad-sack-f*cking sorry comic book cover, is probably a good idea. If she is indeed retiring, one has to wonder if she’s retiring retiring, or FW retiring, which could, in theory, mean she’ll be around more than ever.

    And the biggest question of all is: why did he feel it was necessary to flesh out the Ruby character at all? Does he just suddenly remember they exist, or is there some other arcane method he uses when he suddenly focuses on a fourth-tier character out of nowhere?

    • Charles

      I think it’s probably part of his tying up loose ends, like revisiting Susan and bringing Summer back after 9 years of neglect. Ruby was a terrible character who he couldn’t keep from screwing up with. Every time he brought her up to celebrate her he somehow managed to marginalize her instead, whether having men draw her “historic” covers to having her upstaged by two men at her own Hall of Fame panel. And now she’s become a vestigial part of Atomik Comix gang, which he seems more determined than ever to focus on.

      So he wraps her up by having her leave Atomik Comix. He’ll never face criticism going forward about how she’s portrayed because she won’t have any reason to be. Before, it was obvious, risible and disgraceful how marginalized she was in these stupid comic book company sequences, and Batiuk wasn’t interested in changing that. So he tries to avoid criticism of not including her by having her leave.

      Now watch how marginalized she’s going to be in her own retirement sequence. Watch how little she’ll be celebrated for what she’s done and who she is. It’ll be like Susan’s finale, only missing a garbage can in the foreground in her final panel.

  4. Andrew

    She was remembered just long enough for her to decide to retire. Clearly we know who the favorite characters in the bullpen are.

  5. vince

    I know people have speculated on this already, but maybe he is pulling another John Darling. He’s going to retire so first he has to close all the loose ends so no one can continue the strip. (“ha ha they can’t keep writing Funky strips after I’m gone if Montoni’s is closed!”)

    the thing is for a purported comic book fan he doesn’t seem to realize that even death doesn’t stop a determined evil corporation from bringing back characters if enough money is involved

    • billytheskink

      Unless… he’s even more clever than we thought and the past decade of this terrible strip is his plan to make sure there will never be enough money involved in Funky Winkerbean to justify continuing it after he retires.


    • Cabbage Jack

      …and that’s why John Darling stayed dead and why this strip won’t be continued when Batty is done. It only exists because of inertia and because it’s blandly inoffensive enough that no one cares what goes on in it. You could plug in any other comic strip, and probably a cheaper one, and who cares?

      He always acts like killing John Darling was some master-stroke, but if it was worth the effort, the syndicate could have turned it into a dream sequence, not run the final strip, or any number of things to keep it going. Batty’s work, ultimately, isn’t worth the effort to keep going when he’s done.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      If that’s true, he has a very bad idea of what loose ends need to be closed and which ones don’t. If fourth-tier characters like Ruby Lith, Rocky and Cory need to be resolved, then it’ll take years to work them all. Maybe he’ll finally get Roberta Blackburn off the scissor lift.

  6. Even as Ruby tells her boss she’s Done, she’s still pretending to “work” at an empty drawing board, in keeping with the Atomik Komix tradition.

    Don’t fret, Ruby. Absolutely no characters in this strip or snarkers of this strip will miss you. In fact, I think I’ve already forgotten that you existed, outside of a couple of half-assed flashbacks where you were harassed so that Batdick could check off another box on his Important Issues checklist.

  7. billytheskink

    Given the way Ayers has been drawing Ruby these past two weeks, perhaps “I’m done” refers to her time in the oven.

    And what would Chester know about comic books being completed ahead of schedule?

  8. I hated this character when she was introduced, and I will hate her when the door closes behind her.

    She was brought in so Batiuk could tell stories of the awful sexism in the Golden Age of comic books (which Comic Book Harriet refuted with evidence). He hoped he’d win some awards with her, but as usual that didn’t happen.

    She can take pride in one thing–there were more issues of Wayback Wendy than there were of any other AK title.

  9. Jimmy

    Is there anyone who cares outside of this cabal of craziness known as SOSF?

    I mean, I don’t care, but certainly one of you might.

  10. Cheesy-kun

    Capital D done? I did not even know she had ever capital B begun. Was she actually part of the AK bullpen? I thought she just showed up when Batty felt the urge to float his SNAG creds.

    Billytheskink, you’ve been dealt a rough hand, but your commentary remains capital A aces. Seriously, great work with dreadful stuff.

  11. The Dreamer

    Maybe Ruby found out Montoni’s is closing and is going to buy the building and open a new restaurant or something on the ground floor and keep the ccomic shop upstairs as paying tenants Montoni”s Pizza becomes Ruby’s Soul Food!

    • ComicBookHarriet

      Just don’t drink the coffee.

    • Rusty Shackleford

      I picture opening some feminist inspired, dog- friendly vegan joint where you can gather and share fair trade, organic raw vegetables at top dollar prices.

      • batgirl

        That would actually be kind of a fun strip – there was a Canadian(?) strip back in the 80s with a similar setting. The manager was often the target of the joke for her oblivious hypocrisy, especially in the arc about the dishwasher, who was a Central American refugee. The manager and her boyfriend expressed sympathy, as they were refugees from Suburbia.
        But I doubt the words ‘vegan’, ‘organic’ or ‘fair trade’ mean anything to TB. Or ‘dog-friendly’ either.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      You can get anything you want at Ruby’s Soul Restaurant. Walk right in, it’s around the back. Just a half a mile from where Lisa cacked.

    • Anonymous Sparrow

      You may be the Dreamer, but you’re not the only one…

  12. be ware of eve hill

    Typical Batiuk. He brings back Ruby after a year’s absence. Temporarily gives her the spotlight… then promptly boots her out the door.

    Comic books. It’s a man’s job, bitch!

    Actually, I don’t blame her for wanting to quit. Can you imagine what it’s like being in the same office as Flash and Phil all day? Watching them talking each other up and making goo-goo eyes at one another all day?

    Flash: Phil! You’re the greatest comic book artist ever.
    Phil: Well, Flash, you’re the greatest writer in comic book history.
    Flash: I absolutely agree, Phil! What do you think, Ruby?… Ruby?… Why are you standing on that window ledge?

  13. be ware of eve hill

    Did they finally get rid of Batton Thomas?

    Batton, you don’t have go home but you can’t stay here.

  14. Paul Jones

    Batiuk is about to prove a point that proves somethng about him: he doesn’t understand or like women all that much.

  15. Cheesy-kun

    CBH, Anonymous Sparrow, beckoningchasm, Banana, Jr. 6000: This one is for you. A day late, hopefully not a dollar short. (You don’t want yen, these days.)

    Please pardon my late reply to your comments about counting animals- and counting poop! (BJ6K, my SON loves the poop info. Thank you. Perfect, well, crap for a 16-year-old! Really, thanks.

    An “unkindness” of ravens?! Fantastic to learn that! Thank you, !

    CBJ-sama, thank you very much for the Medium link. I shall be reading that on my commute home tonight.

    I could not figure out how to reply to your posts from yesterday and the time difference means I wake up in the AM my time to the best comments section club on the Intertubes, but woefully behind in acknowledging everyone’s kindness.

    Does everyone get notified of replies? Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. Part of the problem is my own ineptitude but I also wonder if I’ve overlooked something in the Comments Section Code.

    Best wishes to everyone for a pleasant day!

    • I usually only get notified when someone replies to something I’ve said, or to a sub-comment pf that. But not all the time.

      • Cheesy-kun

        Thanks, beckoningchasm. I was wondering if I’d made a mistake.

        Does anyone else beside me back up their comments on yellow legal pads? I’m inspired by Summer.

        Does anyone in Westview their phone to take photos, use apps, or promote their businesses on Twitter, etc? Or are they all like TB and free from the stains of 21st C tech?

        • Green Luthor

          I honestly don’t think anyone in Westview even uses their phone to call people, given their habit of randomly showing up at someone’s house without notice.

  16. Tom from Finland

    It seems they already moved Rubys desk to the basement, so I think it is a good idea to quit before they also take away her swingline stapler.

  17. KMD

    This is what happens when someone in the bullpen actually has to work. They quit. Chester should force some of the old me to work so they stop ranting about comics and leave the strip and our lives forever.

  18. Banana Jr. 6000

    We’ve spent two weeks on Summer’s literary ambitions, two weeks on Ruby Lith riding off into the sunset, and one day on Montoni’s closing. Shows you where Batiuk’s priorities are.

  19. hitorque

    It’s funny because Chester is only going to hire someone **OLDER** to replace her, if it isn’t Batton Thomas.

  20. I think the Ruby Lith character basically materialized out of thin air, so it’s only appropriate that she disappear back into thin air. Based on the visage of Cindy in the masthead, TB is not going to waste a lot of time on Ruby. I expect tomorrow’s strip to be Chester saying back to Ruby “Well, don’t let the door hit you on your way out.” and that will be the end of it.

    For you Crankshaft readers, is there supposed to be a joke in today’s strip? Is “back ordered” supposed to be some kind of malapropism?

    • Y. Knott

      No, the hilarious concept that turkeys — turkeys, I tell you — are on ‘back order’ is the whole entire knee-slappin’ joke. Turkeys! On back order! What a world!

    • ComicBookHarriet

      You think that’s Cindy in the masthead? I took it to obviously be Mindy. Though I guess it could also be Jess. Or Rachel on a Sunday. Or Emily. Or Amelia. Or Hannah from Crankshaft. Or Sadie Summers back from the phantom zone.

      • Cheesy-kun

        Thanks, beckoningchasm. I was wondering if I’d made a mistake.

        Does anyone else beside me back up their comments on yellow legal pads? I’m inspired by Summer.

        Does anyone in Westview their phone to take photos, use apps, or promote their businesses on Twitter, etc? Or are they all like TB and free from the stains of 21st C tech?

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        Could be Cindy. Could be Mindy. Could be Lindy. Could be Wendy. Could be Candy, Andi, Sandy, Mandy, Randie, Syndy (with a different spelling) or Amandy.

        These women all look and act the same, they might as well all have the same name too.

  21. Batton Thomas will be hired with a couple of sketchy stories, expecting to be made head writer immediately. And he’ll expect to be given stewardship of AK’s flagship title (whatever that might be).

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      But Ruby’s an artist, not a writer. And Pete and Darrin are supposed to be the head honchos in that department. Is Batiuk really going to demote his Mary Sue character so he can promote his other Mary Sue character? Is Chester going to continue to pay them both obscene salaries? Will Flash and Phil, both very old themselves, just absorb half her workload with no problem?

      Oh, who am I kidding. None of this will be an obstacle.

  22. The Duck of Death

    On the other hand, Dinkle’s retirement just resulted in an endless profusion of arcs about his Bedside Manorisms band, his piano teaching, his choir, his New Orleans funeral processions, his Thanksgiving feasts of dozens of surprise visitors, his door-to-door turkey sales, etc etc ad nauseam.

    What if Ruby’s quitting just sets her loose to appear all over the Crankshaftiverse?