Hey gang, TFH here! The title character in a Tom Batiuk comic strip can expect to meet one of only two possible fates. We saw John Darling famously meet his at the wrong end of a gun. Such will not be Ed Crankshaft’s fate. He’ll join Funky Winkerbean as a title character who’s rarely seen in his own strip.
It’s been two full months now since Funky Winkerbean ended. Two months and a week: I refuse to count that last week of Byrne-drawn, futurismo, book-shilling schlock. If the 50 year Funky Winkerbean saga were a movie, it’d have ended with the combined FW and Crankshaft casts filling the pews of St. Spires, smirking dreamily to the strains of the Jazz Messiah. And that “Summer’s granddaughter goes to the antiquarian bookstore” bit would be tossed in at the very end of the credits. On the Blu-Ray edition.
These past two months mark the longest consecutive stretch over which I’ve read Crankshaft on a daily basis. Funky Winkerbean and I go all the way back to the beginning, when I followed his antics in the good old Newark Star-Ledger. Crankshaft appeared, 15 years later, in the hated Bergen Record. I don’t really recall Ed Crankshaft’s Funky appearances, but didn’t start to follow his comic strip much until I started blogging about FW.
“Those characters have been so good to me over the past 50 years that I really kind of owed it to them to wrap up the strip in a good way and tie a neat bow on it…I’m just going to go down swinging, we’ll see where everything goes…I’ve already written ‘Crankshaft’ stuff for next year where some of the characters from ‘Funky’ have started to slip in…”
Tom Batiuk, interviewed in the Akron Beacon Journal, Dec. 30, 2022
So here we are in the post-Funky, post-Comics Kingdom Crankiverse, aka Act IV. It only took Batiuk two weeks to “slip in” Crazy Harry and
Dead Skunk Head Tarantula Toupee John. We got a week of Ed attempting to melt the ice on his roof by nearly burning down the house. After that, Batiuk gave the World’s Greatest Band Director yet another chance to strut around the OMEA conference, when Dinkle and the choir were inexplicably invited to perform there.
The current arc, now entering its second week, began with Mindy suggesting to Lillian that she create an online presence to promote her “book-themed mysteries.” Can anyone think of another “Author” with books to sell, and whose own website underwent an extensive (and horrible) redesign? Do you think that Author decided to save some money by trusting that job to a couple of schoolkids? Sure looks like it!
Lillian’s homepage will have wallpaper! And a bookshelf! And cats! I take back what I said about Emily and Amelia’s web development skills, this is some state of the web shit! When did these two get so brainy anyway? They seemed kind of…dumb, back in 2015…
Wait, 2015? Eight years ago? Shouldn’t they be high school age by now? Right you are!
“They’re twins…sort of…and their hair keeps changing color…” When Harley allowed the Time Bubble to be “absorbed back into the timestream,” Emily and Amelia not only “transferred” back to Centerville, but also back to their precocious tween selves. I guess Les was right after all: some children were left behind! Speaking of Les, hopefully this precludes him from ever appearing (sorry, reappearing) in CS,…if Mr. Moore were to encounter these ‘tween Twins, it could create a temporal mess that even a Custodian’s TimeMop couldn’t touch!
Well, readers, those are all the Comix Thoughts that I have to share right now. Thanks to all of you for your continued engagement, and extra special thanks of behalf of us all to Comic Book Harriet, whose deep dives into Funky canon continue to astound! If you care to read Crankshaft (I won’t judge you), the comics can be found on GoComics as well as Arcamax. The latter seems to have livelier comments, though the comments on either site fall well short of the ones on Comics Kingdom in the Disqus days. Unlike CK, both sites seem pretty generous so far in giving free access to past strips. But so far I haven’t found a means of accessing upcoming strips ahead of time, which is why SoSF hasn’t simply morphed into Son of Stuck Cranky. But I hope you’ll all keep coming back here for as long as we keep this thing of ours going.
43 responses to “This Week in Westview”
Every time Crankshaft destroys personal property-especially when it’s his daughter’s-I ask myself “Is this the final straw where Pam & Jeff determine he’s a danger to himself and others and ship him off to the nursing home, as we briefly saw in FW?” So far, the answer is “Nahhhh…”
And it’s always major, home-damaging, insurance premium-raising, lawsuit-level damage. Not petty stuff you could laugh off. Like that dumbass stunt that caused their roof to leak, and looked for all the world like Ed was running a grow operation. And the TWO flamethrower stories this year.
Tom Batiuk seems to have some ethos that “friends are friends forever”, no matter how abusive they are to you. Most of his protagonists are deeply toxic people, whose behavior would quickly alienate an average person. And characters like Ed, Les, and Dinkle take advantage of this. They abuse everyone around them, because they know they won’t face any repercussions. They’re all manipulative sociopaths.
Thanks for keeping this going, TFH and CBH. I’m here as long as the lights are on… and probably at least 6 months after they’re not.
Artist rendering of BTS lurking SOSF after the apocalypse, nestled in the lonely abandoned darkness.
As long as you guys and gals keep putting up the quality content, I’ll keep coming back.
Keep snarkin’ brother!
I’m here for the ride.
Don’t stop, I only just got here!
Okay, yes, I’m the guy who says “We Don’t Talk About DilBruno”, so this is hypocrisy. If you read the “old tree copies” of comics, have they announced what will they replace it with?
Did you know that both Brewster Rocket and Breaking Cat News are in newspapers? If they want oldie comics, Broom-Hilda is actually older than Stinky, and still funny. Of course, I once saw a rock funnier than Funky.
Today’s CS: The most Tom has ever said without saying “Golly, but do I need a new pair of underpants!”
It might as well be Son Of Stuck Cranky…..that’s because, as I said, Lillian Lizard is our gateway to introducing Winkerbean characters into the strip.
And right on cue, guess who’s going to write Lillian’s bio? Pete! He’s a “very good comic book writer”, which makes him qualified to write a brief author bio, something an award-winning novelist/independent bookstore owner could never do herself.
Mindy also calls him her “boyfriend”, not her fiancee. It’s a step in the right direction: I wish this creepy relationship would go away completely.
I’m going to guess that “Tom lets a hot trophy GF/wife get away from nerdy annoying comic book slob to have her own life” is never going to happen. What’s next–she gets a backstory?! Starbuck Jones ain’t got that much science fiction!
Or “another man flirts with Mindy, seeing Pete as being of no relevance in her life.” Or “not knowing Pete exists,” since they never spend any time together or show any affection for each other. And there’s still no ring on her finger. What a sham.
Far worse than the inexorable march of FW characters into CS is the d r a g g i n g out of the story. Get to the damn point already, Bats. This week’s arc should have started:
P1: [Lil] I need a bio for my new website.
P2: [Minty] How about I ask my boyfriend Popey Meat to write it? He’s a professional comix writer.
p3: [Lil] I’m a professional writer too, but I guess comix writers have a special expertise in writing capsule bios. Bring him by!
Then get the f#@% on with it before your readers all age into Bedside Manor. But you know P. Batty — all preamble, no story.
The greater problem is that last week’s arc never established why she needs a website at all, or what it even is or does. Much less why it needs a bio. But as always, the narrative goes straight to what Batiuk wants to write about. The rest of this week, we learn what a great guy Pete is and how good he is at comic books!
At this rate, Crankshaft won’t see 2024.
I agree, aside from the fact that this is the second time we’ve been through “Lillian needs a website.”
But I think a comic strip writer can introduce an arc on a flimsy pretense without any problem. The problem is that he’s not getting into it, just talking around it.
How about this, establishing want and motivation in one word balloon.
Monday, Panel 1 —
Lillian: I want a website to help [pick one] publicize my books/sell my books/promote my bookstore.
I’m sure Atomik Komix has some kind of web presence, and Pete probably had a hand in the copy. It would be much more appropriate for him to consult on that general topic than to tell a professional, published, bestselling writer how to write a 2-paragraph bio. He could talk about search engine optimization, or wireframes, or some of the other aspects that distinguish web copywriting from book writing.
Maybe next week we’ll be treated to Popey Meat telling Lil that she needs more copy about what rearranged her molecules and changed her life like a bolt from the blue and showed her that mysteries had a past, and a future, etc.
The thing is, LIllian has written books. What do books have, usually on the inside dust jacket (hardbound) or lower back cover (paperback)? That’s right, an author bio. In other words, the bio is already written and ready.
Sorry, I should let this go but it’s just too good/bad to pass up.
Today’s actual dialogue:
Generic Blonde: How about I have my boyfriend, Pete, write your bio for our website? [“our” website? — ed.]
Lizard Lil: Is he a writer?
GB: He’s a comic book writer.
LL: A comic book writer?
GB: A very good comic book writer!
Tune in tomorrow for the thrilling continuation!
LL: A comic book writer, you say?
GB: And a good one!
LL: So he writes comic books?
GB: That’s what he writes! Comic books!
LL: And he’s good at it?
GB: Yes! He’s very good at writing comic books!
Have your heart medication handy, because this week’s shaping up to be a pulse-pounder!
When I saw that dialog I immediately thought of the Muffin Man skit from the second Shrek movie. I don’t know why; maybe it’s because reading it felt like being tortured by the most inept villain of all time, who lives on Droolery Lane.
We can back-engineer this thing, but what’s it like to a regular CS reader?
I imagine their average age is “I saw my grandpa chase a mammoth off a cliff during the Pleistocene.” They’re “Ha ha, Shaft burned the neighborhood down again! THAT’S comedy!!”
Now they have these blond nobodies wandering in from the Outskirts, babbling about websites and the comical books! And now, Pete, he of the eternal eyebags, will shamble in. And ramble about…well, I guess we’ll see! It’s only Wednesday! WE GOT A WHOLE WEEK TO GO
I’ve mentioned that I like the strip Broom-Hilda. I also like The Phantom. Now, if he suddenly burst into the former, Colt 45s a-blazing and slaughtering, I think I’d be taken a bit aback.
This is what it must be to be an old CS reader right now. I don’t see them reading this much longer.
People look at me weird when I ask this about fictional characters, but what do you think Pete smells like? I’m going with “Cool Ranch Doritos and Mountain Dew Code Red,” because that’s his whole food pyramid.
I bet John Howard is the one who reeks. He’s always wearing that moldy Batman t-shirt, even in situations where more formal dress is called for. The rest of the cast doesn’t do this, not even the other comic book geeks. And he lives above Montoni’s, so he’s picking up all those greasy kitchen smells as well.
I recently mentioned an old friend who lived above a pizza parlor, and HATED it. She said “I have to keep my work clothes in dry cleaning bags!”
Darren smells like Axe body spray, and like a guy who hasn’t showered in weeks who thinks Axe body spray will cover it up.
Though there was that Phantom/Mary Worth crossover a few years back, so one never knows…
(No, really. Okay, it was really just the Phantom’s daughter meeting Mary, it’s not like Stripey Butt shot Wilbur or anything. We’d never get that lucky.)
I have a Family Circus comic on my fridge. It’s of the greatest comics crossover of all time.
I gave you the downvote. Make fun of TB or any of the characters, but leave the fans alone. Most people just like things. Some people actually miss FW. I read one comment that they already miss the humor in FW. No accounting for taste, but they are entitled to their enjoyments. I find CS has much more humor than FW that is until it gets invaded by the FW crowd. Humor is the first victim evacuated. Snark is a quality that I have little of, but I like all the commentary here including yours.
GOOD SIR! In the heat of the moment, I must say, in all intensity, that–
I agree with you.
CS has a different style of humor than FW did. In CS, you say “That’s the joke”and in FW it was…When was the last time you laughed at it? My choice would be “Les wins Best Actress,” but CS falls in the category of “laugh with it” and FW is “laugh at it.” I just don’t see CS readers getting into Tom Tom’s obscure world-scaffolding (it’s really not world-building).
I’m not a gatekeeper. I had a coworker ask “What are your musical guilty pleasures?” I said “I don’t have any. I don’t feel guilty about what I like. I love Herb Alpert and Petula Clark unironically.”
To you, I say “GOOD DAY, SIR!” (forgets why that’s insulting or whatever–“Willy Wonka”? Who’s he, the brother in law of Amicus Breef?)
Thank you, Bill. I appreciate you.
For what it is worth, I also like Herb Alpert and Petula Clark. Thanks to you, I am singing, Downtown as I write.
I saw some stand-up comic on Comedy Central in the late 80s who sang “Don’t sleep on the subway, darling, don’t stand in the pouring rain–” and then she said “What kind of moron is this woman dating?!” She went back to singing: “Don’t rub poison ivy on your face, don’t floss your teeth with barbed wire!”
I honestly don’t know if I’ve ever laughed harder. When you go “Yeah! I may be the only person who gets this!”
When I hear “Yeah,” I first think Beatles. (Unlike you, I am that old!) Secondly, I think “Office Space.” Like you, I just like what I like. This week, I found I liked “I Don’t Want to Be,” by Gavin DeGraw. But I was equally attracted this week to “the Dew is on the Blossom,” used by John Ford in “Young Mister Lincoln,” and “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.”
Nice to see you again, friendo. I was about to photoshop your avatar onto a carton of milk. 😉
It would have to be a very large carton of milk!😜
I read SOSF every day and especially look for your posts. I love you and Mal. Until you tell me different, I will believe you all live In Colorado. Or perhaps in Omaha with BJ6000.
Life and Light ♥️💖❤️🫂🌺💐🌹
Colorado is a great state, we could have easily made our home there, but my friend recruited me to work in New Mexico.
About the time of the U.S. Bicentennial in 1976 my family made a Western trip. We went through Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming, South Dakota, Iowa, Nebraska and back to Kansas. I will never forget the first time I saw the Rocky Mountains in person in Colorado. Can you imagine what the settlers must have thought?
Settler (A guy named Denver?) Holy @#$%, this land looks like good place to stop.
To get to my brother’s home in Phoenix, we drove through the high plains of New Mexico. I saw many antelope. Now, I can no longer hear, “…where the deer and the antelope play…” without thinking of you.
(I am not sure if Mal would back me up, but to me, no one curses like Be Ware of Eve Hill.”)
tie a neat bow on it…I’m just going to go down swinging, we’ll see where everything goes…
“…that’s the way the cookie crumbles… take it one day a time… it is what it is… my back is against the wall… the grass is always greener on the other side… a penny saved is a penny earned… truth is stranger than fiction… it was beating a dead horse… you can’t judge a book by its cover… you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink… it was a square peg in a round hole…”
Aside from the parade of dull metaphors, “go down swinging” strongly suggests that he was forced very much against his will to give up Komix Kavalkade (fka Funky Winkerbean). That’s not quite the story he told; his tale was of the brilliance of Ayers and his irreplaceability.
And I laugh every time I read about “wrapping everything up in a bow.” In his blog he had it written as “bowtie,” mangling the metaphor even further.
The funniest part is that, far from wrapping everything up in a bow, he blew it to incoherent shreds. If he’d said “I wanted to go out with a bang,” it would actually have made sense.
That was part of the joke I was going for – none of Batiuk’s metaphors are even consistent with each other. “Go down swinging” means you tried and failed. “We’ll see where it goes” suggests an open-ended, unclear destination. “Tying it up in a bow” is a tidy ending to something.
So how long will it be before Pete suggests adapting “Murder in the Book Store” into a comic? And will Lillian then go on to write “Murder in the Comic Book Shop”?
Oh god, I bet you’re right.
I’m here with you, Cap. Till the end of the line!
I think this confirms that the end of FW was not Batiuk’s choice.. And, like BJr.6000, I agree with Green Luthor that the wholesale import of Atomik Comix has definitely begun.
Yeah, I’d like to be here for the long haul as well, even though sometimes I’ll be a post (or two) behind.
What the hell happened? I didn’t get an email notification for this blog. As a result, I’ve been chatting away on Sunday night’s blog like the village idiot.
Where’s my lawyer? WordPress, you’ve got some splainin’ to do.
WordPress: Sorry, your invitation must have gotten lost in the (e)mail. Soooorrrrrry, uh-huh, uh-huh, uh-huh!
(Punches WordPress in the nose, it begins talking incoherently)
Mr. Hackett, I wasn’t sure you were still reading Crankshaft. I haven’t seen ‘Son of Stuck Funky’ post a comment on GoComics in a few weeks.
You really seemed to be getting into Crankshaft a few weeks ago. Then you disappeared.
The Dinkle at OMEA story arc was too much, wasn’t it? Dreadful stuff.
And today we have Pete’s first appearance (at Atomik Comix of course). Just waiting to see if Flash and Phil were also able to migrate.
And as an aside, isn’t the Atomik Comix office in Cleveland?