Funky Awards 2022 Coming Soon!
Today! The latest installment of the Funkyverse’s most exciting new game show, brought to you by Crankshaft!
Find! That! Line Art!
DING DING DING!
Tell our valiant players what they’ve won!
Why! They’ve won a flashback trip down Lover’s Lane (Barres Lane) in Westview (Elyria), Ohio!
And you might be thinking, ComicBookHarriet! How do you know that all this took place in Westview? Lisa and Frankie were going to Big Walnut Tech, which may or may not be in the same town?
Well I have an answer. The apartment was just down the road from Bedside Manor, which exists within the Westview Time Bubble.
At the start of June in 2013, there was the faintest hint of a Funky/Cranky crossover. The week before Fred utters his immortal “Pm nd Jffff” in Funky Winkerbean, in Crankshaft, Pam and Jeff Murdoch look at an old photo album and reminisce.
Ann and Fred have a brief cameo at the end of the week. With Fred looking considerably younger than his Act I days,
Of course, before Jffff or Pm could show up in Funky Winkerbean proper, the story needed to take a quick detour to pick up Summer, so she wouldn’t miss having her sister-in-law’s uncle tell her all about the night he stopped her mom from getting beat up.
They caught Summer up as efficiently as possible, with two days of word zeppelins full of incestuous plotting.
Enter Jeff Murdoch for, I think, the first time in Act III. (Billy, feel free to correct me.)
Notice how it’s only Jeff? You think this was just a cute (and by cute I mean infuriating) way to reference Ed Crankshaft without mentioning him by name?
Nope, Ann Fairgood is in attendance so showing Pam Murdoch in the same room would be too confusing. I joked yesterday about Pam and Ann being dopplegangers. Well.
Here’s Ann in 2013.
Here’s Pam in her first Act III appearance. in 2014.
There’s some effort to give Act III Pam a weaker chin, and a little turkey neck…but all that hits home is that Ann Fairgood is a more believable aged up Pam, than the Pam we’re actually seeing.
Remember these are different people.
No they’re not.
They’re Tom’s wife, Cathy.
And you know what? That’s fine.
Or maybe it’s not fine, but I don’t really have it in me to get mad about it. We all rightfully rib on Batiuk for the idiosyncrasies of his work, for a million little and massive flaws in execution. We all notice things in his public statements, in his writing, that don’t just rub us the wrong way, but rub us the wrong way with jalapeno sandpaper.
But one thing I find endearing, (maybe it’s just me,) is that Batiuk seems genuinely enamored with his wife. He is like Tolkien in these two ways, and only these two ways. One, that he spent his whole life creating a complex world with hundreds of characters (no matter the relative quality.) And two, he wrote his wife into his work multiple times with multiple characters. Tolkien did it with more art and grace (Duh). Batiuk mindlessly overdoes it until he’s peopled his world with clones. But of all his many sins, CopyCathy is one I smile at.
I think Pam in Crankshaft is actually written pretty well, by Batiukian standards. There’s something a little more solid inside her compared to the empty shells of Cayla, Jess, Mindy, Holly or Donna. Maybe it’s the added focus of the smaller cast? Or maybe her Cathyness is purer? In any case an instance where drawing the from the personal has worked.
Jeff on the other hand? What a downer.
And that is it. The only point of dragging the Murdochs into this is so Jeff can mention a journal. There would be a million more plausible ways to get from Frankie threatening a Reality Show to someone remembering that Lisa kept a high school journal. But on the other hand a squiggly line connecting a stupid point A to a stupid point B is a little more interesting to look at than a straight line.
And so we end today on an UNSETTLING Cayla closeup.
Join us tomorrow, as we get Lisa’s story and discover the SHOCKING TRUTH of THE NIGHT AT LOVER’S LANE.
53 responses to “Deja View Times Two”
CBH, I don’t know how you’re able to spot these repurposed panels, but it’s frickin’ uncanny. I wonder if the artwork in Crankshaft is being rendered by AI, using a database of the last fifteen or so years’ worth of strips? It wouldn’t be hard to do. Something that would be very hard to do would be to angle one’s hand and arm in the manner that DSH John is doing in panel 3. Hurts even to look at!
It’s awesomely impressive — I hope CBH has pledged never to use her powers for evil.
Meanwhile, it’s interesting to see Batiuk and Davis setting us up for the inevitable future. 80 years from now, all art will be traced from Lisa’s Story: The Other Shoe
Thanks TFH and Y. Knott!
It’s not actually that hard, at least for these DSH strips. I’m operating off of the assumption that everything is stolen. So from there it’s just going back to the few times John has showed up in the last few years.
I am 120% sure these Lillians are stolen too, but they’re too generic to really go searching for.
I did find the Lillian and Twins from Monday though.
As well as Lillian’s expression from Tuesday.
I guess this explains how the time shift works post-Funky Winkerbean.. “Characters are whatever age that has the most pre-existing art.”
In theory, there’s nothing really wrong with Batiuk basing both Pmm and Ann on his own wife. But… then one remembers that Ann secretly despised her husband for years, and things start to get… odd. (I mean, I have no doubt the Batiuks are very happy together, and more power to them. It just seems a questionable choice to have a character based on your own wife who hates her husband, y’know?)
Anyhoo… I know Batiuk isn’t the only one who does the expositional references to characters (although he’s also raised it to an art form), but Les talking to Girl Les about “your half-brother Darin” will never not be awkward dialogue. I don’t think you need to explain who Darin is, Les, I’m pretty sure she already knows. (I mean, I could see why you might want to specify which Harry you’re talking about, or which Andy Clark or Rocky Rhodes, but even then she’s not actually related to any of them. Even if there was another Darin around, I’m pretty sure she’d assume you meant the one she’s related to.) (On the other hand, she’s still in college at 37, so who knows?)
And lucky for Davis that he could use all three panels from a single strip. How awkward would it be if he had taken the art from one strip where Dead Skunk Head was wearing his Batman shirt, only to try to copy a panel from a different strip where he had a different shirt! (No, wait, that’s never going to be a problem that comes up at all, never mind.)
I think Les, Funky, Darin, Pete, DSH John, and of course Batton Thomas are all Tom Batiuk in some way. Which means he has six characters for himself and two for his wife. Seems a bit excessive.
Most people who create more than one author avatar will try to make the characters reflect different aspects of their personality. Not Bats. Every one of those characters is some variation of an eminently slappable comics nerd.
Funky is the least slappable because I don’t think he started out as an author avatar; I think he was a foil to the original self-insert, Les.
I would throw Lisa on the Cathy pile.
And the Holly/Funky slice of life marriage strips paint her very Cathyesque.
Ugh, Jeff’s sad-sackery is underrated. He could give Linda a run for her money… and Linda even has the advantages of not being a fan of comic books and The Lovin’ Spoonful.
Davis’ art-swiping is remarkable considering that not even a year ago TB was belittling Charlton Comics, who were well known for swiping or being swiped. I guess it makes sense, though. Davis also pencils Garfield and you know the art-swiping has got to be rampant in that strip.
And those two nerds grew up to be… They Might Be Giants.
And now you know… the rest of the story.
Oh, Leroy? Leroy, would you be a dear and fetch the mop? There appears to be a clog in the torso chute. Oh, I’d be just ever so grateful if you would.
But seriously, if anyone has any idea what I can do to avoid this, let me know. Is it my IP address? I can use a VPN. Or maybe I just post too often. Guilty as charged.
Sorry the chute’s been so sticky for you lately, Ducky my dear.
I’m both deeply flattered and troubled that my chute-clogging abilities are legendary enough to inspire a custom graphic.
And I’m worried about what Harley might nudge up there in the torso chute.
I thought no one knew about that tiny town. Unless they went to college at…
(shrugs, mumbles) Let’s just say that I loved that college, and 1978 Tombat would’ve run screaming from there. Every other-year’s Tombat as well.
That wonderful Ben Franklin, and that “Burger Chef and Jeff” that refused to serve the college students. What a time!
He probably would’ve gotten mad at the family of albino squirrels. I never heard them ONCE squeak “Lisa”.
What you’re saying is that it’s the characters who have appearly most in ‘bean that we can expect to see in ‘shaft, on account of there being more source material?
That is a horrifying thought…
Thanks to CBH for her good and detailed work this week. I was a little surprised to see Funky characters invade CS this early since it has been less than a month since FW ended. However I am not surprised that TB went straight to the Atomik Komix clown show first. How can we miss you if you don’t go away? On second thought just go away.
First: CH, that is the most amazing de-teck-a-tive work I’ve seen. And it explains DSH John’s totally incongruous hand gesture yesterday. Although, as I said, I don’t blame Davis for using existing assets as often as possible. But they do need to fit the scene, which that hand gesture does not.
AND… speaking of Crankshaft, today DSH John offers to sell Black Raven #1 for Lillian and split the proceeds 50/50. That’s not how commissions for valuable collectibles work, as much as dealers would like them to. It’s kind of unscrupulous for DSH John to take that large a commission.
On the other hand, Lillian was gonna just give him the comic (apparently), and I guess you could argue that a fair commission is whatever the owner and dealer agree on. (I would argue that this only applies if the owner isn’t extremely naive; otherwise the dealer is taking unfair advantage. Fortunately, I don’t care if one loathesome character screws over another loathesome character. Have at it, DSH John. Get that payday.)
DSH John tells Lillian that Black Raven #1 could be worth “thousands” and she doesn’t seem especially interested. Has she taken a vow of poverty, or is the Village Booksmith doing so well that a few thousand isn’t even worth cashing the check for?
I’m developing a bad habit of replying to my own posts, but…
Remember when Lillian spearheaded a Dinkle fundraiser to buy new choir robes (which should cost $20-$30 each)? Remember when they put the cat video on — I forget the name, GrabDatKash or whatever Batty came up with instead of GoFundMe?
Remember when they raised enough funds in about 5 minutes to “buy a new church,” and we calculated that would be at the very least a million bucks?
Now it makes sense. There’s no new church. (Was one needed)? They got new choir robes at a cost of about $250 total, and pocketed the rest. A grand or two is pocket change to this crafty old grifter.
DSH John should count his fingers after they shake hands on this deal.
MoneyForNothing was the GoFundMe rebrand that TB went with. If only he was clever enough to come up with GrabDatKash.
No, the GoFundMe rebrand Batiuk came up with is “tombatiuk.com/books.”
Oh, you meant in the strip. Oops.
Don’t get me started on “Fleabay.”
Okay, we’ll scratch that one off the list.
Please DO get started! I would think eBay would get less mad about using their actual name than “All our products are infested with vermin.” Did Tommy get a Flash comic from them that he thought was “Near Mint” and get one that was “VG+”?
Ever read Not Always Right? It’s service industry people like me venting about their jobs. I get why that Big Box is called there “the place with the bullseye logo” because apparently places like “M-shaped burger place” threatened to sue them, as everyone knows that disparaging them might make people think “Hey, this doesn’t sound like a good place to work!” But why is it always “[current pandemic disease]”? Do they think they’re going to be sued by COVID?
You said it perfectly yesterday: the collection DSH John bought is whatever Lillian brought to him. The fact that she found another comic book a decade later is of no relevance. This simply isn’t how human beings do business.
I buy and sell “lots” of trading cards on eBay all the time. Buying one does not mean you now own every trading card in my collection, and every trading card I acquire in the future. Buyers understand this. It’s a bedrock principle of auctions: sellers will tell you what exactly the lot contains, and buyers know it’s their job to know what they’re bidding on.
Why doesn’t Tom Batiuk understand how simple transactions work? (Well, you know my theory.) Besides, given the immense value of that sale, and the fact that it was done partially for intangible favors in lieu of money to outbid someone, they really should have had some kind of written agreement over it.
And that’s not even the dumbest thing about this. Lillian OWNS A BOOKSTORE. In a town full of people who are crackheads for comic books. Just put it on display and let the Bobbsie Twins go run their mouths around town. By morning she’d have a bigger throng of buyers than there was at the Montoni’s auction.
Another dumbness of this one is that DSH would have sorted through the comic books Lillian brought to him, seen what was there, appraised it and made an offer. He would have known there was no Black Raven #1 in the collection, ergo he wouldn’t have paid for it. But this arc is just an excuse to drag in Chester Pester, so logic died a terrible death when it entered the scene.
I’m going to guess what your theory is, because it’s likely the same as mine:
Bats in the Attic doesn’t know how ANYthing works.
The Kill Fee! Silent movies in 1940! New actors giving away their Oscars! Him getting a Pulitzer for his dumb comic! Human relationships! MAGNETS, how do they work?!?!? Crimeny, he don’t know how MONKEYS work.
I posted today’s reply yesterday, like an under-caffeinated fool, and when I tried to post it again here, I think AutoMod 9000 thought it was spam. Or it just doesn’t like me.
I’m sorry, Leroy.
There was a theory floated here not long ago that Crankshaft was being ghost-written by someone other than Batiuk. I guess now that there’s no more FW to occupy him, Batiuk is now back to focusing on Crankshaft and the ghost writer is surplus to requirements.
So naturally we pivot to comic books. And the tombatiuk.com/books shillbot now appears, though perhaps that’s been happening for a while now.
Batiuk has been shilling his books in Crankshaft for quite some time. It used to read, ‘crankshaftcomic.com/books’. Most likely changed to ‘tombatiuk.com/books’ after TB’s website redesign.
FYI, ‘crankshaftcomic.com/books’ redirects to ‘funkywinkerbean.com/books’
Batty spends too much time on stupid little details just so he can cram in another event or place from his life. This is a big reason why his stories fail to resonate with readers. That’s nice that he loves his wife but who cares.
Sure other cartoonists modeled their characters after people they knew and also replicated places they’ve been, but they were much less obnoxious about it.
Nobody cares about where things take place unless they have a reason to. What’s special about these places to the audience?
For a couple years I lived at Bleecker and MacDougal, a fairly storied intersection. Do you care? I’m absolutely sure you don’t. What was special about living there is that it was my first apartment after I left home. I spent my early 20s there. That’s an important and meaningful time in anyone’s life and it carries an enormous weight of memories. But if I wanted you to care about the block, if I wanted you be even the tiniest bit interested in my apartment and my young adult life, I’d have to use storytelling to pull you into the story. I’d have to make you feel what it was like to live in the West Village in the 1980s. I’d have to do the work to bring you in.
You’re not me. You don’t have an emotional response to places that were meaningful in my past. Why should you? How could you?
And to be honest, if I set a story or comic at the intersection of Bleecker and MacDougal, that might actually come with a tiny smidge of intrinsic meaning because the area has historical associations. These houses don’t even have that.
Batiuk somehow thinks that:
A. These houses are special. The times of his life he spent in them were special, sure, to him, but there’s nothing special about the houses themselves.
B. We will care about these houses because he tells us they are meaningful to the characters. No sale. I get that rosy memories of the past give these locations a radiant halo, but he’s the only one who sees it. It’s weird to have a guy tell us about the locations of his past and nudge us — “Remember the Rexall? The house on Barres Lane? Huh? Remember?” No, Tom. That was your life, not ours.
As usual, he’s writing for an audience of one. That would be okay if he were plumbing his own past for insight, but he’s not. He’s just mentally m@sturbating himself back into his own past, and expecting us to watch.
At least Batiuk didn’t spend a week having a character silently walk past all these locations that were important to Batiuk, but that only readers with an encyclopedic knowledge of his comics (hi, CBH!) would recognize. And make it the antepenultimate story for his 50-year-running comic. That’d just be nutty!
Batiuk is so obnoxious because he does it so much with no meaning behind it. Like Ducky says below, and you said, he contorts the story to add elements of his life, but often with no greater goal or stakes being added to the story itself.
A few one-off references to his own life, unobtrusive blink and you miss it things where an object is actually required so he puts in a familiar one would be fine.
He actually needs a church in universe, so he bases it on the church he got married in, and then a real story…with a beginning and middle… happens there,
Telling an entire story, like the cataracts stuff from 2021, or basing an actual non-cameo character off of real life is at least acceptable. Pam being Cathy is fine, because IMO it helps him write her a notch better than his usual stock female.
But it’s all this stuff in the middle, where he contorts the story just so he can do a weird ‘show-and-tell’ with no stakes or relevance. THAT is where it gets insufferable. And he does it so much,
Watterson used to say some of his nature scenes were drawn from his experience living in Chagrin Falls, and that was fine, he used it for inspiration but then added an interesting story in the foreground.
Like the rock. The furschlugginer, ferkakete rock from Bronson Canyon. It’s a freakin’ ROCK.
Confession: I have a couple rocks/shells I keep for sentimental reasons. I don’t expect anyone else to look at them and see anything but … you know, rocks. I certainly wouldn’t treat them like the damn crown jewels, unironically, and expect people to somehow understand how they’re “special.” That’d be pretty sad. No other word for it.
I had a friend back in the day who would have a sorta interesting story to tell, and it began “It was last Tuesday–wait, was it Thursday? It wasn’t Wednesday, because that’s when I go grocery shopping…Hmm, which was it? Tuesday I gassed the car…”
We eventually broke this habit by making “This is relevant to the story how?”
“Well, my year started about a year ago…”
Someone needed to tell him that straight line would get him a Pulitzer. That way, we could have avoided his clumsy and ill-conceived attempts at complexity.
“So your father, John Darling who was murdered, was married to Jan Murdoch, whose brother was…”
This is so weird. Any normal person in the universe would say “So your uncle was…” or at most, “So your mom’s brother was…” John Darling’s relationship to Jfff has nothing to do with anything in this story, but no opportunity to provide his full name and relation to Jess can be overlooked, no matter how unnecessary.
That’s so true! That’s just what my aunt’s brother’s father’s father’s grandson’s wife used to say. And I used to reply, “Aw, c’mon, mom!”
Powers of research. Powers of Prose
Weaves her rich story and captures our gaze.
But was it an enticing web, captured in her grasp?
I keep reading. I cannot lay it down.
Am I raised in rapture?
Or confined to the crypt?
Powers of good, or powers of evil?
A deciding vote cast by our own Eve Hill.
Powers of good!
ComicBookHarriet, all these blogs day after day. You’re a machine!
Thank you! 🤟
I knew we could count on you!
Aw shucks, it was the right thing to do. 😊
As long-time readers of Crankshaft know, Pam’s primary duty is to walk in on Ed while he’s doing something stupid and invariably deliver the line, “What are you doing, Dad?”
Thanks to today’s blog, every time I think of Cathy Batiuk, she’ll be walking in on TB and asking, “What are you doing, Tom?”
TB: I’m writing something stupid.
That is a beautiful mental image BWOEH.
So beautiful…I had to take it from the mental to the digital.
EAT YOUR HEART OUT, DAVIS!
I feel I should make a dozen more WordPress accounts just to give this more upvotes.
How do you do this? Those Crankshaft panels were from 2017. A humongous indexed Funky Winkerbean/Crankshaft comic strip database?
I had long ago singled out that particular strip as one I actually liked and had it saved to a folder.
Seeing the lane where the Frankie/Lisa incident occurred is kind of creepy.
Not as creepy as seeing Jaycee Lee Dugard’s kidnapper on Google Street View.
For those who don’t remember the
kidnapping of Jaycee Lee Dugard.
Creepy rapists and their vans, amirite?
Runner-up for the creepiest thing on Google Street View was seeing my little brother’s best friend mowing his yard shirtless. Ewww.
Credit where credit is due, his lawn is impeccable. Mowed in nice diagonal lines.
I was showing off my grandma’s house, where I just moved, to some friends using street view.
There was a dead cat on the curb.