Midwestern Boy On His Own

And now, we return you to your scheduled program of…

Speaking Frankly, The Fallen Leaf.

Tonight we’re travelling back to a magical place, Hollywood. And we’re travelling back to a magical time, 2016.

Ah, those golden halcyon days of arguing about Ghostbusters reboots, watching celebrities die, gorilla hostage situations, being unfriended by people on Facebook for picking Scrappy Doo to beat Jar-Jar Binks in the election. All that karmic backlash necessary for the Cubs to finally win a World Series.

I mean, arguably worth it.

Now, seen next to global pandemics, European trench warfare, and The Rise of Skywalker…it all seems so quaint.

You widdle nigh-mare

In the Funkyverse, The Starbuck Jones movie was in full swing. Location shooting in Ohio had wrapped, Mason Jarr had given a peppy and optimistic graduation speech for Owen, Cody and Alex to mull over.

Jff and Pmm spent an entire week playing with his old decoder ring.

Remember Pam and Jeff, not Ann and Fred, or Batton and [ERRORWIFENOTFOUND]

Reconnecting with an old flame had washed-up serial star, and closet pinko, Cliff Anger, feeling positive.

Cue final heart attack.

Someone decided to add a little foreign cachet to his name.

Come on Pete! You know all about changing names!

The infuriatingly rejuvenated Morton Winkerbean THREATENED TO MAKE ME LAUGH?!?!?

How dare you be funny you miserable old sack of shit!

And Pete, Darin, Mason, Cindy, Marianne, and the rest of the Starbuck Crew head back to the Hollywood Hills to finish their blockbuster.

How dare you not really be dead you miserable young(ish) sack of shit!

Cindy and Mason are engaged. And Cindy, like all cougars after a successful hunt, has become wary that another predator will come along to poach her hard won buck. So she is aggressively marking her territory, hissing, spitting, and threatening to drag Masone into a secluded area so she can feast in peace.

This catfight is brought to you by zip-a-tone.


It is sure good that all the crew people outside the food truck are deaf, so I can tell you aloud things you already know, my friend and partner, Lenny.

Frankie and Lenny are BACK BABY.

Frankie goes to Hollywood?

ian’sdrunkenbeard, October 6, 2016.

He forgot to have Lenny exclaim, “Mwahhahaaa!”

oddnoc, October 6, 2016.

At last! The return of a character who hates the other characters as much as we do! I’m hoping this time they have effective weapons. Of course, “hope” is something the Funkyverse extinguished long ago, so…

beckoningchasm, October 6, 2016.

Also apparently they are murderous cannibal serial killers.

We might be able to pull a full-on Cronus sitch here, Lenny. You hear that? A FULL CRONUS.
Finally, some good f**king food.

Why is this in black and white? *shrug*

Especially because the next week is just…in color. No real rhyme or reason I can tell. This arc is in color for another couple weeks. It then goes back to black and white for the end.

The only plausible explanation is that they were going for an old time, noir feel. And failing. Spectacularly.

But, more importantly, WHAT IS FRANKIE UP TO!?!?!? What is his evil scheme? How will Frankie threaten his bio-son’s happiness with his family and Pete this time?

Tune in Wednesday night.



Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

38 responses to “Midwestern Boy On His Own

  1. Funny, each one of those strips only has a single signature, “Batiuk.” As far as I’m concerned, that’s much more contemptable than anything Frankie ever planned to do.

  2. billytheskink

    The Starbuck Jones decoder ring storyline was quietly one of the more ludicrous ones TB hatched over the years. Dozens (hundreds?) of old men turned out for a meet-and-greet with Cliff at the Silver Grill in Cleveland… an event advertised exclusively through a national newspaper ad campaign (of tiny ads, maybe 1/8th page at best) featuring a Junior Spacemen of America decoder ring coded message that was devoid of any context beyond the coded message. The best part was Mason attending the event, in costume as Starbuck Jones, and not having a single fan pay attention to him.

    • Y. Knott

      Y’know, I can see where that’s actually a funny idea. The execution was totally botched, of course — it being Batiuk, a complete lack of writing skill is simply a given.

      But even a marginal writer could have done something with this premise. It’s goofy, sweet and has potential.

      I wonder where he stole it from?

    • ComicBookHarriet

      Maybe with enough lead time, in the age of the internet an ad campaign that obscure could work. Like they run the ad every day for an entire month in several newspapers.

      But it would be in the context of Jff going from his decoder ring and paper to the Starbuck Jones subreddit he lurks on as JupiterFan69 to confirm everything with MileMeekMurderer, the know it all fan with insider knowledge who currently lives in Finland. In that case it only takes one guy to notice the ad and solve the puzzle to get the whole fanbase, such as it is, in the know.

      Video games do this sometimes. I’m specifically thinking of ‘I love bees’ for Halo 2 and PT for the cancelled (sob) Kojima/Del Toro Silent Hills game.


      PT was especially for the ‘age of the internet’ as the way to solve the game to get to the ending was insanely obscure and not explained at all. So it became this puzzle box of playtesting where people on the internet were collectively comparing notes and theories.

      My galpal has a precious Playstation that still has PT downloaded.

      • billytheskink

        I think my favorite bit of that story, other than Mason being absolutely ignored at the meet-and-greet, is Pete’s casual admission that HE placed the coded advertisements in newspapers…

        This wasn’t even a publicity stunt to promote the movie! Pete spent thousands of dollars (tens of thousands of dollars if he bought more than a couple papers) on these ads, presumably out of his own pocket, just to… I dunno, make Cliff feel wanted or something? Because being dragged out of his decrepit apartment in New York and being given cameos in the Starbuck Jones movie by a big movie star didn’t do that, I guess.

        I don’t think that’s milk Cindy is drinking there in panel 2.

        • Banana Jr. 6000

          Considering how much money the Atomik Komix clowns got paid, Pete probably had tens of thousands of dollars in his bank and nothing else to spend it on. And he’d still give Mindy an engagement tiger, because he’s just that stupid, cheap, and juvenile. It must be nice to live a world of such undemanding, easily-romanced women.

        • Charles

          How could Pete have gotten Mason and Cliff, who have other things they could certainly be doing, to go to this Cleveland meetup if he had not told them how it had been organized?

          Another one of the weird things with Mason was how willing he was to do all this off-the-record off-the-books promotional stuff for Starbuck Jones and how thoroughly he got into it. He never let slip once that “Jesus Christ, I have to fly out to Cleveland to entertain a gaggle of manchild 65 year-olds and drink nothing but powdered chocolate milk for this stupid thing.” He was always full of enthusiasm for this stupid shit.

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        The problem with the story was that it asked way too much of people who decoded the message. In a real-life contest, the participant would just have to call a number or send a letter. Not show up in person at a certain grill in exurban Cleveland three days from now.

        Also, how did this story co-exist with the “Atomik Komix gives out a bunch of old decoder rings that were radioactive” story?

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Another example of an autism-driven storyline. I hate to keep bringing that up, but so many events in FW are examples of it.

      Major nationwide contests that involve decoding a secret message don’t have that many contestants get it right. And that’s with a major publicity campaign, tons of context and clues, a valuable grand prize, and the sponsor will fly you in for the finals. Here’s a good example: the Atari 2600 Swordquest contest.

      Imagine your own grandfather telling you he has to drop everything and fly to Cleveland next week because of a secret message in the newspaper ads he decoded with a 1950s comic book/cereal box decoder ring (which he still has somehow.) That’s… atypical behavior, to put it mildly. And for what? To stand around talking about silver age comic books?

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        Sorry, I duplicated CBH’s comment.

        • ComicBookHarriet

          Nah, not a duplicate at all. Two different ways to look at obscure puzzle based promotion. Yours is mostly pre-internet, something looking for only a few winners to solve a tough challenge.

          Mine is about how in the crazy internet age, a dedicated group can basically brute force their way through a puzzle.

          When I was at the first of my three colleges, a million years ago in 2007-8 I was on a nerd-honors floor. Every year the school radio station would hold a 24 hour quiz show. One new dumb bit of trivia, every five minutes or so, and your ‘team’ would call in with your best guess.

          Our nerd floor had won three years running. One of the dens was converted into an internet cafe, everyone signed up for shifts. And at every question you had 20 some students Googling, flipping through books, phoning friends.

          Not trying to make any kind of political statement, but this video where 4chan trolls were able to pinpoint the exact location of a flag hanging in a room…is kinda scary.

      • Perfect Tommy

        1946. William “Wild Bill” Donovan is transforming the wartime OSS into the nascent CIA. “Blast! What are those pesky Russkies up to?” “Martha! Get me my secret decoder ring!
        I’ll Checkpoint Charlie their asses right out of Berlin!”

        • Banana Jr. 6000

          Funny thing is, that might have actually decoded a letter or two. Some Cyrillic letters are the same as Latin letters, but represent different sounds. H in Cyrillic is N, C is S, P is R, X is “kh”, and so on.

          And if you look at that panel, it’s a simple letter-replacement code:

          U in the ciphertext always decodes to s in the secret message. V is e, F is t, and so on. I can’t decide if that’s a realistic depiction of how limited a cereal box decoder would be, or if it’s just really unimaginative artwork. It would have taken zero effort to make the E’s in “meet” not be the same cipher, creating the impression the code is more complex than that.

          Futurama did this. They had on-screen messages in two different alien languages. The first was a simple letter replacement, while the second was more complex to decode.

    • Epicus Doomus

      Remember when Starbuck Jones was an obscure, short-lived 1970s comic book title no one really remembered? Then remember when it was a series of little-remembered movie serials? Then, just totally out of nowhere, there were hundreds of issues, and legions of old SJ fans, all of whom still had their 1950s, polonium-contaminated decoder rings stashed away in the attic. It went from a long-forgotten obscurity to being the biggest movie franchise in the world, all in just a few short years. As usual, Batiuk just threw continuity and logic out with the bathwater, as he was always want to do.

      IMO, the low point was that double SJ-themed wedding, with the Xaxian minister. Ugh. It was every bit as stupid as it sounds, too.

  3. ComicBookHarriet

    For the CrankyArt watch. Found one panel. I’m sure the rest are out there…somewhere…

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        Re 10/5/17: Oh look… the detestable main character got everything he wanted just because “they” don’t understand how hard his not-very-hard job is. It must be nice to live a world of such undemanding, easily-converted villains.

      • ComicBookHarriet

        The 10-5 is interesting, as that is only a few months into Davis tenure. It shows how much more ambitious/nuanced the art stealing was early on. You’ve got the signs, the windows, the coffee counter has been extended. It’s a Crankie from somewhere else.

        That steal was pulling a lot more elements together.

    • hitorque

      Didn’t they literally just have a major winter storm the week before? Did they forget about the whole flamethrower-on-the-roof adventure?

  4. Paul Jones

    What I find irritating about a petty shakedown that is easily thwarted is the reason why he was retconned. Batiuk has an aversion to being asked “Why this hoo-hah about this Frankie dude? Les is just as big an asshole.”

  5. Perfect Tommy

    Excuse me? Craft service guy? This overpriced hotdog isn’t very cooked. Well suck it coastal elite! Revenge is a dish best served cold! HaHa! Sweet victory! Now go back to your stupid comic book movie you Spider-Man underwear nerd! And tell ‘em Frankie sent you!

  6. Y. Knott

    But, more importantly, WHAT IS FRANKIE UP TO!?!?!? What is his evil scheme? How will Frankie threaten his bio-son’s happiness with his family and Pete this time?

    And perhaps most important of all — even if the scheme and/or its execution is totally off-the-wall bonkers, how will it be made thoroughly anti-climactic and dull through the patented process of Batiukization™?

  7. Gerard Plourde

    On the Crankshaft front, this week’s arc ironically highlights an impending snowstorm accompanied by a “polar bomb vortex” (given this week’s actual forecast for the Eastern US I can’t help but wonder if the deity has joined us SOSF snarkers).

    Today’s installment gives us another example of TomBa’s lack of research. Pmmm muses that it’s truly a “perfect storm” occurring during sweeps week.

    The problem – “Sweeps Week” was abandoned in 2018 because data collection is now ongoing due to technology.


  8. be ware of eve hill

    Speaking of dumpster fires, I’m experiencing yet another issue with my paid Comics Kingdom subscription.

    As a paid subscriber, one of the alleged perks is receiving a daily email of all my favorite comics that have been updated for the current day. Twice in the past week, only my vintage favorites have appeared in the ‘Your Daily Comics’ email from Comics Kingdom. That’s only three comics out of more than thirty. 🤦‍♀️

    Way to go, CK! 👍 /s

    My Comics Kingdom re-subscribe-o-meter is buried at zero.

    Did I fill out another problem ticket with CK Customer Support? You betcha!

    • be ware of eve hill

      I guess what I’m trying to say is, if you’re tempted by the recent 100-day free trial offered by the Comics Kingdom, I strongly advise against it.

      DON’T DO IT!!!

    • be ware of eve hill

      If the decision to leave the Comics Kingdom was Batiuk’s alone, he’s a hell of a lot smarter than I thought he was.

      The Comics Kingdom, the suckiest suck who ever sucked. DEEP HATRED!!!

      Okay, I’m done. Enough venting for one day.

    • ComicBookHarriet

      I’m pretty frustrated with both of them atm. Comics Kingdom has been a high end dumpster fire for a while. But I’m still up in arms about GoComics shadowbanning me

  9. William Thompson

    When Mark Twain passed through Centerville, he shook his head and said “Everybody whines about the Weather Channel but nobody uses the remote.”

    Of course he didn’t say that, but Batiuk could retcon it.

  10. ian'sdrunkenbeard

    The Adventures of Barstuck Jones!

  11. ian'sdrunkenbeard