A Beckoning Glance

CBH here again. Wasn’t it nice to get a TFH post? Made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

Hey Beckoning Chasm, I found another issue of Timemop for our collection! This one is a crossover issue! I wonder how many more of these are out there?

With artistic credits to Tug McGraw, Beckoning Chasm, Chuck Ayers, Tom Batiuk, and CB Woodling.

When we last left HAH John, near the close of 1998, he’d slipped into the Westview community and ingratiated himself climbing the background character ranks from bystander with an occupation to friend with a quirk.

During the preparations for Thanksgiving 1998, we get his first real arc.

The nerd is going to the first Comic Book Convention of Act II. I am SHOCKED.

And yeah, it’s a local Ohio convention that Tom wanted to plug for backpats.

HAH John owns a comic book shop, getting a booth at local conventions to swap stock, network, advertise offload poorly selling merch is pretty typical business practice. I’ve been to enough Transformers conventions, I know all the typical vendors, and maybe a third still have brick and mortar collectible shops in their home towns.

If we’re accepting of a comic shop owner as a character, then we must accept that he will go to conventions. Expecting otherwise would be like accepting a stripper character until she takes her top off.

‘9 Chickweed Lane’ levels of filth here…

What is completely unnecessary but utterly typical is all the Westview males in attendance having a big old male bonding session over their passion for superheroes. And I mean EVERY Westview Male.

Don’t you Western shame him!

Funky, of course, picks Superman, because he’s both a normie and a troll. By picking ‘The Flash’ Crazy Harry shows level 2nerd cred. Level 2 nerds tend to gravitate to ‘The Flash.’

They say it’s because Barry Allen is a cool and affable scientist who no one thinks of as OP but he is totally OP. Really they do it because Barry’s riding that cosmic treadmill right on the edge of mainstream without being too mainstream. Saying you like ‘The Flash’ is really saying ‘I’m a real nerd, not like you posers who like Batman and Superman because you watched their movies.’

Because he owns and runs a comic shop, HAH John is free to confess his love of Batman. No one is going to second guess him for a normie, not when he’s dedicated so much of himself to the geek lifestyle.

Tony, a man a generation older, liked the Westerns. Score one for some accuracy. Then take that point away and crumple it up and grind it into the the dirt for sullying even Tony with the Comic Book Manbaby Curse.

Yes, much sadder than Wally and Becky’s car accident from a few months ago.

Pretty detailed cover…I wonder.


This issue of Hopalong Cassidy came out in April of 1957. If Tony saw it on the shelf as a small boy, say 5 to 11, that puts him at his late 40’s or early 50’s in 1998. I just wish Tony had gone to the store a few months later. Then we could have been on the hunt for the issue where a horse shoots a gun with his mouth!

Eat your heart out, Zanzibar.

HAH John asks Tony if he’d like to check the con out to look for his comic book, and we learn something else about HAH John. He’s not just fat, he’s a full on sponge, mooching for free labor.

Come on Tony, these polybagged issues of X-Force #1 aren’t going to haul themselves.

Tony doesn’t come out the deal empty handed though. HAH John is only too happy to take his picture with the lovely cosplay ladies.

Wonder Woman and…Purple Scarlett Witch? Huntress? Help me out.

I think there’s a lot of cameos in these strips. You get all these odd faces popping up into the foreground like wildlife in Classic Mark Trail.

So Tony misses out on buying his precious comic, and goes home empty handed except for some cheesecake photos. But then HAH John comes to the belated rescue with a surprise Christmas gift.

Get it? Because the HORSE was named Topper!

Not even Tony is free from age regression in the presence of comic books, and we’re treated to Muppet Babies Tony.

The picture of Tony’s dad on the desk is a nice detail. I’ll give him that.

HAH John takes an acquaintance on a comic hunt at a con, they fail to procure the comic at the con itself but John gets it through his vendor connections later. Now where have we seen all this before? later? I mean where WILL we see all this again eventually? (I’d pull the strips, but we’ll get there.)

We don’t see HAH John for the first couple months of 1999. Other characters are too busy dealing with students with oversized bookbags and getting cancer. HAH John shows up again in February. And, oh look, Becky is working there!

I’m going to guess no.

Becky, who is attending community college, applied to fulfil her Mandatory Montoni’s Service back in December. She started her pitch off strong with awful wordplay.

Number one salesman tip in Westview? Always be punning.

Tony is unsure of her ability to do the job, even after the proves she can memorize orders and serve drinks. She finally sells him on her epic one-handed box folding skills.

Either Tony talks really slow, or she should go pro.

The first few days of the week are all about reasserting that HAH John is a slovenly, petty, lazy manchild. He almost regresses to his initial appearance.

Why are you making fun of a comics shop, Crazy?
That’s what you get for being nice, Cindy. Stay in character!

Midway through the week, the topic shifts to Lisa’s recent cancer diagnosis. Here HAH John is appropriately bummed at the shortage of perfect breasts in the world.

Yeah, nothing else serious has ever happened to us before, certainly not a terrorist attack just a block away that almost killed our friend, with the culprit never apprehended. That was kiddy stuff.

Of note this week was this little glance from HAH John. He’s definitely noticed the new waitress at his regular lunch place.

What a beauty!

But, bafflingly, Becky also seems to have noticed John.

What a beast!

Is the pizza oven of love about to be kindled? With the spicy pepperoni sparks start flying?



Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

157 responses to “A Beckoning Glance

  1. Green Luthor

    My best guess is that the second cosplayer is a miscolored Scarlet Witch, although that seems an odd choice for 1998. I mean, even the non-comics fans would know Wonder Woman, but Wanda? (Yeah, people might recognize her NOW, thanks to the MCU, but that was a long way off at the time.)

    In the middle panel of the “Mark Trail wildlife” strip, I think the guy with the beard and glasses MIGHT be John Byrne, although he’s usually shown with more hair than that, so I’m not 100%. The other guy might be Sergio Aragones (of Mad Magazine and Groo the Wanderer fame)? Again, I’m not 100% on that. (The three in the strip where they’re leaving the convention I honestly have no guesses for at the moment.)

    Anyhoo… okay, so there’s the string (or whatever) that lets the horse pull the trigger, but… how does it pull back the hammer to rotate the cylinder? And even if it could, how does it reload the gun? This is a staggeringly awful plan, Hopalong.

    • Mela

      My comic book nerd spouse says yes, that is the Scarlet Witch. He said she had some stories in the 90s.

      • She actually appeared back in the 60’s as a villain before becoming an Avenger. She was a team member in the 70’s.

        • Mela

          My husband nodded in agreement when I read your reply. He is my go-to on most comic book related topics. I can hold my own on Watchmen, Jon Sable Freelance, a bit of Batman, and any of the Archie gang, but any major Marvel or DC talk is all his.

        • Green Luthor

          Just to be clear: it’s not that there wouldn’t be a Scarlet Witch cosplayer at a convention in 1998, I just can’t fathom why one would be shown in a comic strip. Just about anyone, especially after the 70s TV show, could recognize Wonder Woman. Pretty much no one who doesn’t read comic books would know who the Scarlet Witch was back then. Were it not for Elizabeth Olsen, they STILL wouldn’t know who she is. The choice of having a SW cosplayer is an odd one, is all. (But Batiuk’s mind works in unfathomable ways.)

  2. Wonder Woman and…Purple Scarlett Witch? Huntress? Help me out.

    Who was the evil Green Lantern female? Star Sapphire? She had a mask, though….

  3. be ware of eve hill

    Sorry I can’t help you with the purple Scarlett Witch character.

    I was perplexed by HAH John’s football jersey. Black with yellow/gold numbers? A Steelers jersey in Browns country? The colorist should have been clubbed and skinned.

    I was forced to look up the number. #51 for the Steelers in 1998 was right outside linebacker for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

    Bio: Emmons was drafted in the seventh round of the 1996 NFL Draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers and played for the Steelers until 1999. In 2000, he began playing with the Philadelphia Eagles and was named team Defensive MVP in his final year. He signed as a free agent by the New York Giants in March 2004 and was released by them on February 12, 2007, after having career-ending back surgery.

    See Lillian, bios are easy. You just copy and paste.

    • ComicBookHarriet

      I took it for a miscolored Dick Butkus jersey. Yeah, it’d be way out of date by the 90’s, but could be a ‘childhood hero, sitch. Given this is Funkyverse I’d put money on the childhood hero sitch, actually.

      Also, LOL DICK BUTKUS.

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        I once had a temp job answering phones for ESPN Fantasy Football. You don’t want to know how many team names were versions of LOL DICK BUTKUS.

        “Ditka In Her Butkus” was the most common.

      • be ware of eve hill

        Ha! One of my first thoughts was of Dick Butkus. Synonymous with a dark jersey and #51 (any color numerals).

        If it was supposed to be a Steelers jersey, it should be #58, Hall of Famer Jack Lambert – Kent State (1971–1973).

        Hmmm, black and gold? Did HAH John go to Big Walnut Tech?!

        • My favorite Steelers linebacker was Jack Hambert. He played like he was two separate players!

          • be ware of eve hill

            Tall, but not overly big. A linebacker and a safety in one.

            I remember a classic television ad where another Steeler ridiculed Lambert for being soft by asking, “What’s your recipe for Quiché, Jack?” The closing shot featured a closeup of the advertised product accompanied by a sound over of Jack yelling “Quiché!”. Then there was a loud wham and the whole screen shook.

            I don’t remember what the advertised product was and can’t find the commercial on YouTube. Bummer.

          • be ware of eve hill

            Oh, jeez. Jack Hambert. I just noticed that.

            Of course. Jack Lambert and Jack Ham.

  4. be ware of eve hill

    CBH, thanks for including my buddy Scroogie in the Timemop cover.

    I can overlook the Pets logo being backward by saying he’s wearing the jersey inside out. But Scroogie is a southpaw just like the ol’ Tugger. It is part of his personality. Lefty baseball pitchers, especially relievers, have long been regarded as flakes.

    Perhaps Scroogie is an ambidextrous “switch pitcher”?

    You know, I think Lisa would have liked that.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Pat Venditte says hello.

      • ComicBookHarriet

        Was about to mention Venditte, and the Venditte rule!

        • Banana Jr. 6000

          I live in Omaha, and Pat Venditte is a local high school/Creighton University product. So he’s been well-known here for a long time. He’s probably the biggest local baseball star since Bob Gibson.

        • be ware of eve hill

          Had to look up the Venditte rule. Found the cause/need for the rule.

      • be ware of eve hill

        Hello Pat Venditte.

        He made the majors but I’ve never heard of the gentleman. My MLB knowledge sure has dropped off. I used to be a big fan. Thanks a heap 1994–95 Major League Baseball strike, steroid era, Bud Selig, Rob Manfred. “Boo!”, say the fans.

        • ComicBookHarriet

          Pat Venditte is a curiosity with an awesome quirk, but he didn’t pitch well enough or fast enough with either arm to really make it big in the majors. No knock on the guy. Making the majors at all is a huge athletic accomplishment, and his minor league stats show he wasn’t JUST his gimmick. So far he’s the only truly ambidextrous pitcher to go pro.

  5. Mindy’s “boyfriend” has arrived in Centerville…

    • Rusty Shackleford

      I wonder when we will see Ed again, or will just be comic books from now on?

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      All procedure, no story.

    • ComicBookHarriet

      Not just the art stolen today.

      Given Mindy’s prominence in Cranky, as her significant other Pete is the one FW character who had a legitimate right to invade the strip once the timelines were aligned.

      A legitimate right I really really really wish he didn’t have because BARF.

    • Bill the Splut

      At the performance review:
      “Thomas, half your work has been exemplary, and a great benefit to the company. However, we still don’t know why–or even how–you burned the parking lot down. We’re halving both your hours and pay for now. We’d like it if you reviewed your priorities.”
      (Thomas goes and buys more napalm)
      There have got to be people who love CS but have never even heard of Floppy Wankledong. They must be scratching their heads. “Who are these people? Where’s the punchline?”
      Why’s he turning his successful strip into the one that got cancelled? Is he still chasing the Pulitzer/EGOT/First Place in the Westminster Dog Show thing?

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        I said at the beginning: if the new syndicate doesn’t to sit on Batiuk and just lets him do whatever he wants, he’s going to turn the viable Crankshaft into The Lisa and Comic Books Power Hour. Apparently this process is already underway. And I’m calling it now: Crankshaft will have its first comic Sunday book cover before March ends.

        • Oh, good God. It’ll be Super Lillian. Folks, stock up on emetics.

        • be ware of eve hill

          Voices: In the bookstore, look: It’s a wimp. It’s a wuss. It’s Sissyman!
          Narrator: Slower than an asthmatic sloth, weaker than a newborn infant, unable to leap a single bound. The wussiest character in all of Funky Winkerbeandom is now invading Crankshaft: Sissyman!

    • Epicus Doomus

      Ugh. If that’s indicative of the FW/Crankshaft crossover content we’re in store for…sigh. I guess he’s just too attached to his weird, boring comic book sub-universe to fully let it go.

      • The Duck of Death

        And we’ve spent five (5) days establishing what should have been accomplished in one panel: Pete, a comic book writer, will write Lillian’s website bio.

      • Gerard Plourde

        Sadly, I think he believed (believes) in the existence of the Marvel/DC “bullpen” where the artists, inkers, and writers could hang out, socialize and (possibly) get inspired by each other.

        I think we’re likely to see a bunch of Lillian/Atomik Comix crossovers.

        • Banana Jr. 6000

          I think he certainly believes in it. I can’t find it right now, but I had an article from a comic book historian/author who explained the bullpen wasn’t a real place, but a fanciful fan engagement concept. Most of the staff worked remotely, much like they do now. And Batiuk still thinks it’s a real place that he’s going to get to someday. Sometimes, I pity the man.

          • batgirl

            There was a strip where Chester had his heart broken when Flash told him the bullpen had never been real. So TB knows. But the Funkyverse is his domain that he can mold to fit his ideals.

  6. Paul Jones

    And here we go with the Muppet Baby thing that reminds us that Batiuk has like zero clue how irritating and entitled he looks…..and acts….and is. All this whining about women tossing comics displays no hint that the woman tossing it wants more out of life than to coo mindlessly while a spoiled brat gobbles down cookies and milk while reading nonsense about a man in long johns running at Implausible Speed so he can punch a minster-show caricature of an Australian for an arbitrary and stupid reason.

  7. billytheskink

    Even at a Comic Con, I imagine if you start talking about Hopalong Cassidy in Columbus, Ohio you’ll get a lot of folks thinking you are talking about this guy:

  8. BTW, if anyone would like to create their own Timemop cover, I can send the elements from mine. Just email me at my screen name at gmail.

  9. Not only has Mindy demoted Pete from fiancé to boyfriend, he’s gone from a “sack” to a “lump.” Poor, mopey fella!

    • be ware of eve hill


      I often think of Mopey Pete using the terms “lump” and “sack”, but sure as hell not thinking of them filled sugar. I’m thinking of a different s-word (the curse word). 💩

      Surely, I’m not the first to think of this.

      • The Duck of Death

        All I can think of when I hear “sugar lump” is this brilliant Flight of the Conchords song. Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie pull it off perfectly, but thinking of Pete in this context is… uh, well, disgusting.

    • PrezGAR

      Well, when they were engaged, her Gramps was in a wheelchair and living in a nursing home. Blame the time helmet for that.

  10. Perfect Tommy

    Becky had a prosthetic arm? Did she even wear it? All I ever saw was the pinned-up sleeve. So she could, you know, have her life-changing injury on constant display. How big of a fish did you catch Becky? It was THIS big!

    • Rusty Shackleford

      That’s what I thought! But then I realized that Batty must have realized he could get more sad sack mileage out of that pinned up sleeve.

      • ComicBookHarriet

        A lot of amputees don’t take well to prosthetics. Depending on the injury, they may get in the way more than they help. Even those super high tech hooks with cables to open and close have all these straps that go around your chest. And those are mostly for below the elbow amputations.

        If I had lost an arm at the shoulder I wouldn’t want a big limp hunk of useless rubber hanging off my stump every day. I’d probably chuck it too. The most baffling thing is why she got one in the first place.

        I remember reading about amputees from the the Civil War, how so many men wanted them not for any utility, but just to give the illusion of wholeness because of the way disabilities were viewed. I don’t think that view still holds quite as strong.

        • Rusty Shackleford

          Same. One of my good friends from grad school was paralyzed from the waist down. He didn’t like to be treated differently, nor did he like unsolicited help.

          Definitely a hard way to live, but Batty missed the point entirely. Cheap drama gimmicks for him.

    • Charles

      She stopped wearing it when Gross John told her that he didn’t mind her not wearing it.

      Because, of course, she needed permission.

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        Women never do anything for their own reasons. Every act is to appease their man, or attract one. Losing the prosthetic because John said she didn’t need it implies she had no other reason to use it.

        You can’t even say she had cosmetic reasons, because that would extend beyond John. Some people use prosthetics just to appear normal, or not draw attention to their condition. And Becky’s job requires her to demonstrate the proper use of musical instruments, which must be difficult to do with one arm. (Lord knows how she teaches anyone to play saxophone.)

        • William Thompson

          Maybe Becky doesn’t need the second arm to do her job. Has she ever been shown to teach a student how to use an instrument? And when Dinkle is around, doesn’t he elbow her aside?

          • Banana Jr. 6000

            She’s never been shown doing it, but in my own experience as a middle school band student, it happens. The band teachers would demonstrate proper fingering, how to hold the instrument, and whatnot for the novices they were in charge of. Maybe by high school that’s no longer done.

          • Rusty Shackleford

            A successful band director needs both arms, if only for conducting. You need to signal things to the band and one arm is just not enough.

            Becky is just another cheap prop in the Batty drama arsenal.

  11. csroberto2854

    I’m thinking Becky used the prosthetic arm for a while and then stopped using it

  12. Rusty Shackleford

    Anyone hear from CheesyKun? Haven’t seen him posting lately.

    • ComicBookHarriet

      I hope they’re okay. They might have been a hop-on-hop-off commenter. Those happen. I remember SeaCountry, someone who hopped on, had some great commentary around the Hollywood Fire arc, then disappeared. Some people get burned out on too much Batiukian Hash. Completely understandable. I just hope they know they’re always welcome back!

      Lurkers are also around. Sneaky, wonderful, shadow lurkers.

      • Epicus Doomus

        True. Sometimes they just come and go, like snarky zephyrs blazing across a comic book-colored sky. One of my old favorites, HeyItsDave, was a parody strip prodigy, who was here one minute and gone the next, never to be heard from again.

        • Banana Jr. 6000

          I’m like that with political forums. There are some I really enjoy, but man, I can’t take much of that topic anymore. I explained this to the group once, and got a “yeah, we’ve all been there too” response. Wouldn’t be surprised to learn the same happens to visitors here.

          • TimP

            I will start to leave a reply, then I will edit it, then I will ruin the joke I was trying to make or realize it wasn’t funny to begin with and then realize I don’t have the time for this and then not post…

      • To be fair, the strip is over and done so casual folks might have assumed this forum has folded. With no new FW strips, the only reason to visit here is to read the wit and wisdom of the hosts (of which there is plenty, but it’s very specialized).

        I would say it’s equivalent to, I dunno, a James Horner fan site. There’s no more new music coming from him, so….?

        • ComicBookHarriet

          Very true. I showed my roommate the crossover Timemop cover and she just stared at it baffled and said, “This is too deep for me to get.”

          • Rusty Shackleford

            Yeah, this strip has been gone for two months and we are still here discussing and dissecting things. As has been said many times before, we are Batty’s faithful readers.

      • mrvy

        The lurkers are most appreciative!😉

  13. Today’s CS: DAMN IT, every book ever published HAS A BIO right on it. (“Isaac Asimov wrote over 40000 books, on topics such as general science and history as well as science fiction. He lived in Los Angeles.”)

    You don’t need to write it again!!!

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      I’m waiting for the tombatiuk.com blog post about Pete writing Lillian’s bio being his “elegant solution” to inundating Crankshaft with his comic book shit.

      “Elegant solution” should go into the Batiukionary, by the way.

      • Bill the Splut

        I’m just not getting this. He wants to shove FW into CS, and he uses these characters?
        Personality: frail old lady, once screamed “A TIGER IS EATING MY BIRD FEEDER!” when it was a squirrel. Also, puts her hand gently across her mouth when she hears freakish words like “blog” or “web-bio.”
        Other trait: She writes books about books that are about books about mysteries! Set in bookstores!!!
        Then, GENERIC BLONDE:
        Personality: Tom: “Is she Mindy or Mandy, or Monday Monday by the Mamas and Papas?! I told Ayers to label these blondes by number!!”
        Other trait: Exists as a trophy for some ugly comic book schlub, sorry, Tom’s done here
        THE TWINS:
        Personality: The Shining.
        Other trait: “Will you play with us?”
        Oh, my god, could we find a character more boring than these? OF COURSE! It’s Mopey Pete, who could be more boring?
        Personality: Ugly comic book schlub.
        Trait: See above.
        Tom Tom’s literally using the least interesting characters to shoe horn this into CS. Wow, regular readers must be fascinated!

        • Banana Jr. 6000

          And he didn’t even bring in Darren for the right reason! Darren supposedly built a web app for Montoni’s Pizza, he could have done the same for Lillian’s bookstore. Mindy works with Darren, so she could have gotten him involved just as easily.

          “I know! I’ll have Pete write a bio for Lillian’s website, so Darren has to help when he drops off the spinner rack!”

  14. The Duck of Death

    You know, I’d seen those Tony/Hopalong Cassidy strips before, but the full stupidity of them hadn’t fully sunk in.

    How did it come to pass that Tony saying he’d been looking for the comic his whole life didn’t result in a sale? The logical, if unethical, result should have been that the dealer hiked his price to the highest amount he thought Tony would pay.

    It makes no sense that the dealer, confronted with the most motivated buyer he’d ever find for this comic, purposefully hiked his price so high that this extremely eager buyer couldn’t possibly afford it.

    Is this TB’s paranoia shining through? “Those dealers quintuple the price of Flash #123 when they see me coming! They’d rather let it sit on the shelf than just inflate the price a little and then sell it to me!”

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      It’s TB’s lack of theory of mind shining through. He can’t imagine what you did: that comic book vendors WANT to make sales. Especially for some damned Hopalong Cassidy that probably gets zero interest from customers, and which Tony even said was low-condition.

      Batiuk can only imagine the transaction from his own perspective: wanting a comic book he can’t afford, and the universe conspiring to not let him have it. Even though this hasn’t been an obstacle in TB’s life for a very long time.

      • The Duck of Death

        Yes, and after all that, after refusing to come down in price so he could sell it, the dealer gave it to HAH John because he “owed him a favor.”

        God forbid everyone not get the comix they want. God forbid there be any delayed gratification, frustration, or friction.

    • Green Luthor

      From my (possibly limited) experience, dealers usually put, y’know… prices on the comics they’re trying to sell. It would either have a price sticker on the bag, or it’d be in a box where everything is priced the same (“All comics $1” or whatever). (Otherwise, they’re going to have to look up EVERY comic they sell, and it’s not likely a dealer would have had a computer with Internet access at their table in 1998, if there was even a reliable place to look it up. No, they’d have to page through their Overstreet Guide. For EVERY comic they sold.) (Well, okay, if it’s a well-known issue, they might know generally how much they should be charging. But it’s safe to say NO ONE would know the estimated price of a friggin’ Hopalong Cassidy comic offhand. Hence why you price them beforehand.)

      Realistically (hahaha), Tony would pull out the comic, see the price on it, and either pay it or not. A dealer who puts one price on the comic then tries to gouge the buyer with a higher price isn’t going to get many customers. Even if you said “I’ve been looking for this my entire life!”, any competent dealer would be more likely to say “hey, then it’s your lucky day, let’s deal”. (Because, seriously, when else are they going to find someone to buy a friggin’ Hopalong Cassidy comic? That box space could hold another copy of X-Force #1 or something.)

      Also, looking up how much a copy of Hopalong Cassidy #122 could possibly sell for nowadays, it might get $135 in Gem Mint condition (i.e., so pristine it just came off the printer and was never touched by human hands), and that’s at the high end of estimates. That copy ain’t Gem Mint. Tony says it’s in “poor” condition, but we can safely assume that isn’t the same as the “Poor” grade, which is the absolute lowest grade for comics. (If the cover’s still attached and there’s no pages missing, it’s probably above Poor.) A “Very Fine” copy might get $76.50, but that’s now, not 1998, and that’s even assuming it’s at VF quality. (I’m being generous, since we can’t see what condition it’s really in.) (VF is 8.0, as opposed to a 10.0 for Gem Mint.) (Poor is 0.5, and would probably get $0.45, in case anyone cared.)

      So… yeah, it’s not a “break the bank” comic, and I really don’t see how much the dealer could have even tried to soak Tony for that was so far out of Tony’s affordability range. (Especially for him to then turn around and just give it to Pre-Skunky. Though Skunky also gave away a $200 statue to Desperately Going To Need Therapy Kid, so this is probably another example for the “Batiuk doesn’t know how business works” file.)

      • The Duck of Death

        You’re so right, of course. I was very generously going along with the idea that these were unpriced comix. I guess it could theoretically happen if someone bought a big collection either just before heading for the show or perhaps even at the show, and they decided to start selling them immediately. Of course, even that is silly, because they’d need to look up the value (as you say, especially of obscure comix like HC), and once they’ve done that, it only takes a second to write a price on a sticker. Most would price them at the high end and negotiate down. Negotiating up just doesn’t happen, Tom. Especially with a comic you later give away to a colleague as a favor.

        The galling thing is that even if you accept Puffy’s premise completely, the thing doesn’t even make sense in its own universe.

        But then, that could be said for pretty much all his plotlines.

  15. be ware of eve hill

    The current story arc in Crankshaft clearly displays Batiuk can’t handle writing a merged Crankshaft/Winkerbean universe. Here we have a typical Crankshaft story arc where a member of the Crankshaft household pops over from next door to visit Lillian in the ‘Village Booksmith.’ Batiuk is trying to insert Winkerbean characters into Crankshaft, but readers who have followed both strips for years are baffled and confused.


    🤔 1). Mindy in this story arc appears to be Crankshaft Mindy. She drops in on Lillian’s bookstore, as she has done multiple times. Does Mindy still live next door with her parents? Does she still work at Atomik Komix? Doesn’t Chester pay her enough to buy/rent her own place? She doesn’t live with her boyfriend/fiancé(?) Mopey Pete? How quaint.

    🤔 2.) If Mindy no longer lives next door, why is she visiting Lillian in her bookstore? Did Mindy jump in the car and drive all the way over to the ‘Village Booksmith’ for old times’ sake? Did Mindy’s cosmic awareness tell her Lillian needed a website?

    🤔 3.) How old is Mindy? Crankshaft Mindy was a recent college grad at most. Is Mopey Pete still her boyfriend? How old is he? His late forties? No wonder Mindy calls Mopey Pete “sugar.” More like “Sugar Daddy.”

    What do you like about Pete, Mindy?
    Gold digger Mindy: He’s rich! Squee! (happy claps)
    Is there anything else you like about Pete?
    Gold digger Mindy: ?

    Is Mopey Pete suddenly ten years younger now, thanks to timemop?

    🤔 4.) The twins just graduated from high school in Funky Winkerbean. Now they’re back to grade school age. Do they have any recollection of having been in high school? Will the twins still transfer to Westview when they reach high school age? How do they know how to build a website? Was it something they learned how to do in high school?

    🤔 5.) Mindy teleports back into Winkerbean world, where she visits Mopey Pete hard at work in the Atomik Komix office. 🤦‍♀️

    Why isn’t Mindy working? Did she take the day off to pester Lillian in her bookstore? Why did Mindy travel all the way to downtown Cleveland to ask Mopey Pete in person when a text or phone call would be sufficient? Mopey Pete doesn’t own a phone? Nobody else in the office she could call and put him on the phone? Is everyone else blowing off work? Is it the weekend?

    🤔 6.) Both Mindy and Mopey Pete teleport back into Crankshaft world, where Mopey Pete will write Lillian’s bio in person. Mopey Pete couldn’t talk to Lillian over the phone and email her the bio? Oh, that’s right. Mopey Pete doesn’t have a phone.

    🤔 7.) As several folks have pointed out, Lillian needing someone to write her bio at this point in her career is ludicrous. Mopey Pete doesn’t even know Lillian.

    The merging of the two comic strips hasn’t been well thought out at all. He’s hammering square pegs into round holes all over the place.

    Knock it off, Tom. If you keep doing this, you’ll look like an…

    This list is a salute to Hitorque. I miss your “gripe lists”.

    • be ware of eve hill

      It’s like Batiuk is throwing all of his ideas at the wall… and they’re all sticking.

    • sorialpromise

      You should be a writer. Your synopsis (highfalutin term to impress those from N. M.) just needs a crime or adventure and boom! 💥 You have a story. [Perhaps a tainted band turkey…or an unmelted bullet left in a melted gun toy…or an unreachable itch raging in Becky’s right side. Only Mopey Pete knows enough to find the solution.] Get on it, Evester!
      {I pronounce it, Eve-ster. Then I realized those from the high plains would prefer, E…ves…ster. I must admit, Evester has a certain amount of panache.} ♥️💖❤️🫂🌺💐🌹

      • be ware of eve hill

        I can’t make this stuff up. Despite living in my present home for only five years someone nominated me for a position on the community home owner’s association board.

        It’s funny for a few reasons:
        1.) One of the reasons Mal and I left southern California was disagreements and conflicts with our townhouse’s community HOA.
        2.) As a result of our poor previous HOA experience, we have had very limited contact with our current HOA. Just quarterly newsletters and phone calls to invite us to the annual Home Owners Association meeting.
        3.) I have not attended any of the annual Home Owners Association meetings. I’m not even sure what the HOA does. Make sure people pick up after their dogs? Make sure residents take their trash bins back inside after pickup?

        And finally, the really coincidental part.
        4.) They want me to write a short bio to put in the community newsletter so people know who to vote for at the annual association meeting late next month.

        I need to write a short bio? Should I get Mopey Pete to write one up for me? 😂

        Perhaps one day I could run for the board presidency. Evester? Ha! Call me the sheriff!

        • sorialpromise

          To my dear Sheriff Evester:
          Mopey Pete might make a comic book cover for you. I will look for it this Sunday.
          This might give you an idea of the kind of loon you are responding to:
          I am fascinated with viscosity. At the hospital, when it was slow and all I had to do was answer phones. We gave away small bottles of baby shampoo to the patients. I would pull off the front and back labels and would constantly watch an air bubble float up through the shampoo. I was (and still am) convinced that this has deep scientific meaning. We, (meaning I) did this at least 15 years. So being retired, I checked my bookshelf today and found a 1948 high school text book on physics. It was owned by some kid named Robert. I read up on, or should say, I started to study some viscosity. But a couple of pages in, Robert began leaving messages. (Go to page 54. There was another message from Robert, go to page 30.) This went on for over 40 messages. I looked up every one. The final one said, “Sucker!” Needless to say, l learned none of the deeper meanings of viscosity today.
          [As for your coming election, I will look for radio and TV ads saying, “I am Be Ware of Eve Hill. I approved this message.] First, your HOA. Then New Mexico. Next: 🤷🏽 🫤

    • bad wolf

      I think you speak for all of us re: missing Hitorque!

  16. ComicBookHarriet

    Wanted to have something short and stupid up tonight to tide you all over the weekend, but then I jammed a couple fingers in a gate while running heifers through at the vet. Currently typing this like a one-armed band director. Please, everyone, continue to bitch about Crankshaft! Like Pete’s hair in panel two today. The Fkk?

    • be ware of eve hill

      Mopey Pete has white hair that he colors with an extra wide Sharpie®?

    • be ware of eve hill

      D’oh! Too quick on the reply button.

      I hope your fingers feel better!

    • Gerard Plourde


      Following up on bwoeh’s latest comment. I also hope your injury isn’t serious. I do know that even just “jamming” fingers can really hurt and take time to fully heal. Best wishes for your recovery.

    • The Duck of Death

      No need to trace the origin of that art. The “quarter-inch pinch” is as good as an Ayers signature scrawled at the bottom.

    • Mela

      I wince on your behalf. Ouch! Hope your fingers move without pain soon!

      • ComicBookHarriet

        My finger is feeling a lot better today, though I’m gonna have a nasty bruise under my fingernail for a while. I’ve been showing it off like a T-ball player way too proud of the skinned knees he got ‘sliding’ into second base.

  17. Gerard Plourde

    Assuming her lack of full context, I can understand her reaction. That said, given the ongoing sources of discussion, I would miss the opportunity to interact with this community about it as well as the deep dives into the strip’s history.

  18. Coming soon: more Timemop.

  19. Bill the Splut

    “Yes, we two pencil-necked geeks lugged this spinner rack up your insanely long steps with it already loaded with comics, because we’re too stupid to unload it, or even ask if you want it! Also, when was the last time you saw one of these? The 70s? Good, because NIXON is president again!”

    Tom–you’re the only one wanting to relive your childhood.

  20. ian'sdrunkenbeard


    • Banana Jr. 6000

      She introduces him as “boyfriend” right in front of his face, and he doesn’t even react. We wondered why those Cory and Rocky got married in 2023 and not these two. But it’s clear that not even Pete cares about this relationship.

    • Rusty Shackleford

      This works on so many levels and fits with her character. We know she is a spiteful, bitter old fool who would throw her own sister under the bus and so it would be totally in character for her to be endlessly criticizing younger people.

      At work we had an older lady who was a receptionist, she would constantly belittle the young ladies in our office for dating losers. They should have heeded her advice but they didn’t.

      Thanks for this!

  21. The Duck of Death

    Today: A spinner rack. A MF’ing spinner rack. He just can’t stop with the spinner racks, his obsession, his fetish object.

    A bookstore might sell bound collections of comix as graphic novels, but why would they want a spinner rack of kiddie comix? The woman’s in an attic, for cripes’ sake. It’s not like she’s got a vast space.

    This is the equivalent of volunteering to do something for a friend, and then presenting an invoice for your work. It makes Pete look like a selfish asshat, which would be fine if that were the intent. I presume it’s just an implied trope that Puff Batty characters would all eagerly welcome a spinner rack in their workplace, whether they are a veternirary surgeon, a landscaper, or an undertaker. Because Westview — er, Centerville.

    For what it’s worth, there’s a comix store a couple blocks from me. They have no spinner racks; all the comix are displayed on shelves. I assume Batiuk would flounce out in a huff if he ever entered a store like that. It would be like a Catholic church with no altar or crucifix, or a temple with no Torah.

    And for those of you keeping score at home, yep, we’ve just introduced Derwood. One by one, inexorably, the whole town of Westview is oozing into Centerville, just as the prophesy hath foretold.

    • The Duck of Death

      Forget Lil’s boring books — the only real mystery is when will we see the first appearance of Les/the first mention of Lisa?

      We should have a pool. I don’t know what the prize would be — I guess just bragging rights, or an ineffable feeling of cold existential horror to visit you as you lie in bed trying to sleep. Something like that.

      I say: First Les April 15. First Lisa mention April 20.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Tom Batiuk has autism. There’s no way in hell he doesn’t.

      Your local comic book store doesn’t have spinner racks for a very good reason: they’re terrible for condition. There now exist store fixtures that let sit the comic books flat, and not lean against metal wires that bend them out of shape.

      But spinner racks remind Batiuk of his precious “imperious Rexall”, so he introduces them into absolutely everything. They were even a central object in John Howard’s romance of Becky!

    • Gerard Plourde

      “For what it’s worth, there’s a comix store a couple blocks from me. They have no spinner racks; all the comix are displayed on shelves.”

      Agreed. It’s been a while since I’ve been in a comics store, but even in the 1980s, when I was a regular customer of Fat Jacks Comicrypt, one of the oldest local dealers in Philadelphia (founded 1976), there were no spinner racks. The risk of damage to (potentially) valuable collectables was too great.

      This also has to have regular readers of Crankshaft puzzled, since comic books, to my knowledge, never played a major role in that strip. (I think Jff’s Starbuck Jones and Radio Ranch/Murania adventures were covered exclusively in FW. Corrections on this point welcome.)

    • be ware of eve hill

      I wish I was more talented with Photoshop (or GIMP). There are many scenes I’d like to create:

      1.) The spinner rack sitting in or by a trash can outside the Village Booksmith.

      2.) The spinner rack sitting out by the curb with a sloppily taped on sign with the word “FREE!”

      3.) An angry Lillian yelling in panel #3, “GET THAT @#$%@ ABOMINATION THE HELL OUT OF MY STORE.”

      4.) Lillian pulling a shotgun out from behind the counter. It would explain that dopey grin she has in panel #3.

      • be ware of eve hill

        5.) An exterior shot of the spinner rack being tossed out the door.

        • Green Luthor

          6) The spinner rack outside the store with Boy Lisa and Mopey’s heads impaled on it as a warning to the rest of the Atomik Komix Bullpen to never darken Lillian’s door again.

      • The Duck of Death

        TomBa didn’t think this through — or did he?

        Carrying Atomik Komix in the store will require a financial commitment on Lil’s part. Typically, I believe, she would sell them on commission and they would periodically take back unsold comics and replace them with the new issues. Or perhaps they could have a deal where she buys issues outright and holds onto them till they sell (in other words, until hell freezes over).

        Either way, they’re forcing her to repay this paltry “favor” with a giant, ugly, obtrusive, unstable object stuck on her selling floor, and a complex business entanglement she didn’t ask for and certainly can’t use, not in a store that specializes in used books and has about 2 customers a month.

        First time I’ve ever felt sorry for Lizard Lil. I’d love to see any of your cartoons, bwoeh. Better yet, all of them.

        • J.J. O'Malley

          “2 customers”? You must be generously counting Tweedleblonde and Tweedleblonder as clientele!

        • be ware of eve hill

          People taking me for granted is a huge pet peeve. If you’re going to impose, you better ask first.

          First, Komix Korner dumps off a Miss Marple statue instead of her cut from the sale of that rare comic book back in January. Now, this.

          If I were Lillian, I’d stick the spinner rack in a closet or put it in a corner and cover it with a bed spread. There is not even going to be a chance of a sale. If Mopey Pete or Darin asked about it, I’d say the comics weren’t selling, they were in the way, and customers called the spinner rack an eyesore. Sorry about that. It just didn’t work out. Please remove it. Bye.

          In the Batiukverse, reality does not exist. Lillian is overjoyed.

          Lillian: Oh boy, Atomik Komix! The cash is going to roll in! I can operate in the black this year! Woo-hoo!

        • be ware of eve hill

          Who needs a financial arrangement?

          Who knows how Batiuk’s brain works. For all we know, Batiuk expects Lillian to put 100% of the Atomik Komix sales, in cash, in a cigar box and hand it over to Mopey Pete at the end of the month.

          What does Lillian get out of this? Why, more comics to sell, of course! 🤪

          • The Duck of Death

            “Here you go, boys, as agreed. 100% of the sales of Atomik Komix this year.”

        • The Duck of Death

          The Mopman Prophesies helmet is genius, bc, but the banana peel — it’s the banana peel that just sells it. Chef’s kiss!

          • The Duck of Death

            Mopman Prophecies, Duck, you dummkopf!

          • I can’t take credit for the helmet, all of that other than the rack and the peel were already there. (It’s from the end of Crazy Harry Goes Time-Travelling.)

          • Green Luthor

            Eh, don’t worry about misspellings, it’s not like you sat on the post for almost a year and still had a major syndicate print it with the word “bowles” across the top.

            I mean, just as a complete random hypothetical, of course. That would never happen in reality, I’m sure. A proofreader would pick up on something that ridiculous, right?

        • be ware of eve hill

          👍 Thank you!

  22. The Duck of Death

    How long before Crankshaft readers just give up on this self-serving, fetishistic nostalgia wankfest and the syndicate pulls the plug? I’m not wishing for it, obviously, since I enjoy hanging at SoSF. I just fear it’s inevitable.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Today will go down in history as the day Crankshaft turned into Funky Winkerbean. Even we couldn’t predict Lillian’s needless bio for her needless website would turn into Darren and Pete delivering a spinner rack. I’m flabbergasted at how shameless it is.

      • The Duck of Death

        BJr6K, if you look deep into your heart, you’ll find that you knew all along where this was going. All roads lead to comix, and thence to Spinner Racks.

        No plotline is immune, ever.

        IRL, the two famous inevitabilities are death and taxes.

        In the Westville metroplex, the two inevitabilities are comix and spinner racks.

    • Rusty Shackleford

      It’s gotten so bad that I wouldn’t be surprised to see Crankshaft canceled and replaced by Dilbert!

      • Gerard Plourde

        Somehow I think Crankshaft will survive for as long as TomBa wants to continue.

        • Rusty Shackleford

          Yeah, the strip in its previous form could have gone on to be a long running legacy strip even after Batty’s death. This is why he has to ruin it now and salt the earth so that it dies with him.

          I hope Mindy has life insurance. You know the cancer waiter is coming to have a last dance with her sometime soon!

  23. Y. Knott

    Get your bets in now on upcoming milestones in the Winkerbeanization of Crankshaft! Cut and paste this handy template, then just fill in the dates!

    First Sunday comic book cover:
    First appearance of Les:
    First mention of Lisa:
    First visit to the Atomik Comix bullpen:
    Initial visit of Batton Thomas:
    First appearance of Montoni’s:
    First appearance of Funky Winkerbean:
    First time travel story:
    First full month in which Ed Crankshaft does not appear in his own strip:

    • The Duck of Death

      I already put in my bet above:
      First Les, April 15; first Lisa mention, April 20. Hitler’s birthday, so it couldn’t be a more appropriate date if I’m right.

      Here are my thoughts on the others:

      First Sunday comic book cover:
      — By June 1, 2023

      First appearance of Les:
      — See above

      First mention of Lisa:
      — See above

      First visit to the Atomik Comix bullpen:
      — Mar 20

      Initial visit of Batton Thomas:
      — Mar 22

      First appearance of Montoni’s:
      — May 18. But what will be the context? Will TimeMop have cancelled the bankruptcy and closing? Or will Montoni’s open a branch in Westview?

      First appearance of Funky Winkerbean:
      — I’d say it’s about even odds that we won’t see a speaking appearance of FW this year.

      First time travel story:
      — I don’t think there’ll be another one. Perhaps that’s just wishful thinking.

      First full month in which Ed Crankshaft does not appear in his own strip:
      — Never happen, due to fear of/warnings from Andrews-McMeel. But his appearances will continue to dwindle.

      I think we need a couple more entries in this pool, too.

      — First deus ex machina appearance where person with unlimited funds (likely Chester Bestertester or Masonnee Jar) decides to invest them in some dumb obsession of Tom’s, like Montoni’s or a Komix Korner superstore

      — First appearance of Flesh Floppyface and The Artist Resurrected Dead Guy

      • Y. Knott

        First deus ex machina appearance where person with unlimited funds (likely Chester Bestertester or Masonnee Jar) decides to invest them in some dumb obsession of Tom’s, like Montoni’s or a Komix Korner superstore: Didn’t that already happen, with M.J. buying the local theatre?

        First appearance of Flesh Floppyface and The Artist Resurrected Dead Guy: Probably part and parcel of the Atomik Komix bullpen. I mean, would it be the full horror of the Atomik Komix bullpen without them?

        • The Duck of Death

          I remember the purchase of the Valentine but that was always part of Centerville/Crankshaft (someone please correct me if I’m misremembering).

          I was thinking of the wholesale importation/reassembly of elements of Westview/FW thanks to money essentially raining down from heaven.

          Your point about Flesh and the Resurrected One is well taken, but I suspect the bullpen denizens will be dribbled out, like the contents of a slowly overflowing toilet, instead of dumped into Centerville all at once. Time will tell.

          Now the question remains: Will we see Rubella Lith again? My guess is no, since she was basically just a token female in the first place and she’s served her purpose. I like to think she ran off with her fellow superannuated Commie, Skip, and they hopped a boxcar to oblivion.

          • Bill the Splut

            First appearance of Cayla: Never. She was barely in FW anyway, and even then it was Tom hoping to get some Pulitzer bait. When it didn’t work, poof, gone.

      • Gerard Plourde

        I assume “First visit to the Atomik Comix bullpen” refers to an appearance by Flash, Phil, Chester, etc. because the March 2 strip has Mindy at the Atomik Comix office when she talks to Pete.

        • The Duck of Death

          Good point. With Ruby gone (🤞), and Generic M. Blonde, Popey Meat, and Durwin already in Crankshaft, it’s just those three left, right? Plus humble, lovable, aw-shucks Batton Thomas, who was already mentioned.

          • I’ve got it. I’ve got it. Just like with Mindy, Lillian turns out to have a latent talent for exquisite lettering, and she gets hired to join the AK staff. She basically abandons the bookstore, but gets a robot to run it for her.

          • Gerard Plourde


            That’s crazy enough to be an actual upcoming plotline.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      My predictions:

      First Sunday comic book cover:
      First visit to the Atomik Comix bullpen:
      Initial visit of Batton Thomas:

      These will all happen at the same time, in March. The March 2 strip took place at Atomik Komix, if that counts.

      First appearance of Les
      First mention of Lisa

      These will happen at the same time, in April. Note that Les has previously appeared in CS, as Lillian’s writing mentor.

      First appearance of Montoni’s: June, when its existence is needed for some random story

      First appearance of Funky Winkerbean: never. Batiuk hates Funky and is probably glad to be rid of him. Ed Crankshaft is a better protagonist for the “angry common man” arcs that Funky did.

      First time travel story: never; CS will be cancelled before he can do anything that elaborate

      First full month in which Ed Crankshaft does not appear in his own strip: never, because he’ll take over Funky’s role, and because of Tom Batiuk’s “three-week rule”. Short Crankshaft arcs will be used to break up the long, meandering Lisa and comic book stories. Perhaps as early as tomorrow.

    • Y. Knott

      I guess I should put my own bets in!

      First Sunday comic book cover: August 13 (Sunday comic deadlines come a lot earlier, so it will take a little more time for this to appear)
      First appearance of Les: May 15
      First mention of Lisa: May 16, and ever thereafter
      First visit to the Atomik Comix bullpen: As Gerard correctly pointed out, we’ve already seen this — it zipped by me! But yes, I was thinking in terms of a full-on Flash/Phil/Chester/the gang’s all here bullpen visit. April 10
      Initial visit of Batton Thomas: April 12
      BONUS: Ruby Lith appearance – Tom will forget she retired, and put her in doing something inconsequential at Atomik Komix by end of the year.
      First appearance of Montoni’s: I’m thinking mid-July.
      First appearance of Funky Winkerbean: Everyone insists that Batiuk hates Funky, and will never bring him back. I think he genuinely likes giving Funky something to complain about, hence the AA meetings, the insurance seminars, etc. I envision Ed and Funky finding some meeting they can BOTH attend so they can sit there and make annoying, rambling comments. But in some context, let’s say Funky appears sometime before March, 2024.
      First time travel story: I don’t think he can resist. Ed will get a chance to go back and see Vic Wertz play, or something. (Or was it all some sort of crazy dream?) Probably sometime in late 2023/early 2024.
      First full month in which Ed Crankshaft does not appear in his own strip: Might take a while, but I’m going with by mid-2024, there will have been a four-week period in which Ed didn’t appear.

      • Y. Knott

        I should note that as of today, we haven’t seen Ed in two weeks. I suspect longer and longer periods of Edlessness are very probable….

  24. “The reason Funky Winkerbean failed was that I just didn’t push Lisa and comic books hard enough. I won’t make that mistake with Crankshaft.”

  25. Hitorque

    1. Krankenschaaften — I refuse to believe Atomikkk Komixxx has ever turned a profit with their million-dollar writing staff and their nickel-dime sales/distribution strategy…

    2. We need an in-depth discussion on my girl stripping down to her bra and panties in three seconds… Where can I find a fortysomething woman like that??

  26. Bill the Splut

    Google: “Amazon was founded by Jeff Bezos from his garage in Bellevue, Washington, on July 5, 1994. Initially an online marketplace for books”
    Literally 30 years out of date.
    What’s tomorrow? Lillian says “What is this? It feels good going into mouth, followed by stomach!”
    Shining Twins: “We hear that it’s called–food!”
    “Oh dearie me! I wish they’d invented this before I weigh 12 pounds!”

    • Bill the Splut

      TBH, going into today’s I thought there was a 50/50 chance it’d be–DINKLESHAFT!
      Most Sundays since the Funkageddon have involved Dinkle. Why not combine them, his 2 most liked characters? Set-up: Dinkle says something with a wry anti-smile, and Crank says “Yes, but,” because 3 of these 5 panel strips always need a another panel where nothing happens, and in the end he says some Crank thing like “I couldn’t get the camel through the noodle’s eye!” (laughter)
      It’s right there, Tom! The miraculously cured deaf guy, and the inexplicably undead 100 year old fart. They’re cops! They have an organ!

      Or just make it about comic books, Jesus Crimeny already.

  27. Bill the Splut

    Since I have been allowed the gift of chronic insomnia, the gift that never stops taking, sometimes I just have to write in the hopes I can get to sleep before dawn. You don’t have to read this.
    I was sure I’d seen a spinner rack between Nixon but before the Burnings. I’d say it was 1990 +/- 2 years. “HEY KIDS! COMICS” it said on top. In an actual comic book shop–I guess, it wasn’t over a rancid pizza place, I’ve been told they all are. It had just a few titles, each TRIPLE-bagged with packing tape. I laughed–the first title was “Debbie Does Dallas.” FYI, this was a well-known title from the Little House on the Prairie series. All the other titles on the spinner rack were like, Jane Austen Does a Bronte or such. Just one adult comic per slot.
    I turned the rack. *screeech* I turned it the other way. *screeeeech*! It was quite rusty. I glanced at the register, where the owner and an employee watched me. It hit me. They put these in this ancient spinner because it made a noise. These were probably the most shoplifted comics they had, especially among 12 year old boys.
    I bought a Debbie, thinking “This is either going to be so stupid it’s funny, or so funny it’s stupid!” Spoiler: I was only right on the stupid part. (Best joke: 2 babes rush to investigate a burglary while carrying candles. “What are we gonna do, hot wax his legs?” Don’t pretend Cranky wouldn’t use that as a punchline)
    That was 30 years ago, and even a fish-head man would know a spinner rack was a trap.

  28. The Duck of Death

    Today, Lillian has an e-commerce site all set up where people can buy “her books.” She clicks once and finds she’s accidentally bought a book.

    Bats can’t even get this right. Amazon patented One-Click Ordering in 2000, and you better believe they defend that patent. But even on Amazon, you can’t order with one click till you’ve entered your credit card info and shipping information. Did Lizard Lil do that by accident, too?

    But the worst thing about this whole arc, for me, is the lack of clarity about the purpose of this site. To sell “her books”? Which ones? The ones she sells in her bookstore or the ones she’s written? Bats doesn’t bother to clarify; he doesn’t even think it through to that extent. He writes a whole week of foot-dragging without even caring, even in his own mind, what the characters are trying to do.

    Because what Lil is trying to do, or what the Shining Twins are helping her with, is completely beside the point. The whole point of the arc was the Holy Spinner Rack and having it shown off by Mopey and Derwin.

    If he could, he would rename the strip Imperious Rexall and his Magical Spinner Racks and have the lead character be a Stan Lee type who flies around the world blessing benighted people and solving crimes with his crew of sentient flying spinner racks, which bring joy, peace, and hot-chocolate consumption wherever they land. And we’d never see Crankshaft or Lil again.

    “Spinner Racks, assemble! And spin with your leader, Imperious Rex! Spin, spin, spin awaaaaaaaay!”

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Even the art is unclear on this point. There’s the Village Booksmith sign, a book Lillian’s wrote, and cat pictures.

      The idea that an e-commerce website could be built by a couple of 8-year-olds is laughable. Especially when the cast already a character, Darren, who canonically built one for Montoni’s (which was already ludicrous enough), and Batiuk WANTED to jam into the story so he could drag out the fucking spinner rack.

      The only TB knows about technology or media is that he can give himself awards for them.

      • Bill the Splut

        “And the Pulitzer Prize…for the Most Useless Placement of Spinner Racks in Comic Strips–goes to–”
        TOM, waking up: “Dang, this dream was just getting to good part!”

      • The Duck of Death

        You know what the saddest part of all this is?

        Here’s a guy, TB, in his mid-70s. He’s been married for probably about a half-century to the same woman. He’s raised a child. He’s had a surprisingly successful and long-lived career.

        But he always comes back to the spinner rack. Marriage, fatherhood, career — none of it glows in his memory and beckons to him like the spinner rack. It’s the most transfixing, the most important thing in his life. It’s quite obvious whenever he blogs or writes about it. Nothing else comes close.

        We all have happy childhood memories of special places and things. I’ve just never seen or heard of a dysfunction like this outside of pernicious sexual fetishes, the kind where, say, a beautiful woman is ignored as irrelevant but the heel of her shoe is enough to make the fetishist explode in ecstasy.

        He’s nuts, is what I’m saying.

        • Rusty Shackleford

          That’s because most people grow up and move on to other things. They still treasure those memories, but they realize those days are gone.

          What surprises me most about Batty is his apparent lack of gratitude and appreciation for all the good things in his life. He seems perpetually aggrieved that the world doesn’t function the way he wants it to and his writing reflects that.

          He has done so much and achieved so much yet he behaves like petulant child.

          • none

            There’s only been one concrete time where someone has told him “no”, and that was when he was struck down by the imperious Comics Authority Code Assembly of Marvel and DC. Someone please correct me if I’m wrong, but reapplications should have been possible at some point, right? Couldn’t he have tried again? And honestly, he ultimately didn’t need to do that either.

            As seen with today’s entry; for 30 of the strip’s 50 years, one of the few constants (unlike, say, any of the characters) was it being a big sloppy wet kiss for silver age US comics. In the end he was able to collaborate with industry talent and build up his own alternate Marvel/DC head canon, and all the while, he was paid to do it.

            I think it was Banana if not someone else here recently said so:
            Few people have been given as large of a stage and have said as little as Tom Batiuk.

            Likewise, he has done so much and achieved so much yet he can’t stop shaking his fist at the universe for his very few failures (which ultimately did not prevent him from having lived a profitable, stress-free, and pain-free life), and it seems that he can’t ever put that fist down to contemplate why those failures occurred, can’t conceive any way to correct those failures rather than compounding them, and can’t be content with the achievements which he has indeed earned.

            Yes, Tom, DC and Marvel and the Pulitzer board have snubbed you. Yes, Tom, those entities never have given you their highest awards and rewards. See this list? It’s the 8 billion other people on the planet who can say the same thing.

            FW is canceled, so in response, he turns Cranskshaft into FW Act 4. Once again, nobody seems to have the ability to tell him “no”.

      • The Duck of Death

        Re: The picture of the “Murder in the Bookstore” cover — is this the paperback edition or something? I no longer have access to CS archives — thanks for nothing, Arcamax — but I could swear the last time we saw the cover it was some wretched thing with a pile of books and a quill pen stuck into it with blood coming out, or something like that.

    • be ware of eve hill

      Does Lillian’s new website remind anyone else of Batiuk’s eponymous website, tombatiuk.com? I hope it works just as well. /s

      Batiuk’s view here is very simplistic. The entire operation is running on one laptop?

      What if something happens to the laptop? Are there backups?

      Is there any security? Will the laptop be hacked ten minutes from now?

      Oh, well, Crankshaft is supposed to be the humor strip, right?

  29. Rusty Shackleford

    Has it been established that Ed is a comic book fan? I’m too lazy to look it up.

    But if not, I have a feeling he soon will be. We will see a young Ed running down the street with the old Valentine Theatre in the background as he rushes into the Rexell Drugstore and over to that stupid spinner rack.

    • Gerard Plourde

      Which would be a very interesting retcon, since a long-ago arc had Crankshaft learning to read as an adult (I believe that he’s dyslexic).

  30. It wasn’t until Thursday that it struck me where I’ve seen that face before. The family resemblance is striking.

  31. The Duck of Death

    Simply brilliant. Brill, ee, yunt.

  32. Andrew

    Dropping in late to sa that I enjoy the recap and I’m a proud normie for considering Superman my favorite myself.