Making a Connection

Eight Weeks since the Funkypocalypse, and poor Crankers himself is lucky to get the scraps of several days of disconnected gags this week. Give the poor old coot an arc already!

After HAH John’s disastrous date with Becky Blackburn in March 1999, he slips into the background for a couple years. After all, Tom had bigger cancerous, alcoholic, unhappily married fish to fry. He still shows up, of course, and we still learn new things about him. Such as his willingness to give his friends a hand when it isn’t money on the line.

And the fact he does laundry more often that I do.

We learn Darin is a regular customer at Komix Korner. And HAH John has an uncle, and as well as other career option.

We also learn Darin’s a little odd.

HAH John passionately defends women on the internet!

Do you remember when Bull was a contestant on ‘Who Wants to be a Millionare?’

HAH John sells other people’s comics on consignment?

Tom can write a funny joke?

And HAH John still enjoys trolling poor Tony Isabella.

During the summer of ’99 Mopey Pete is desperate to get away from the twin harpies of his mother and his sister. So he decides to take up Wally Winkerbean’s old job as a professional Komix Korner loiterer.

Classic asshole sarcastic Komix Korner HAH John.

Bafflingly, despite just having hired Pete, a few weeks later HAH John takes on another employee, and we are introduced to Rachel. Pete is, of course, a little creep.

Yes, Pete, goddesses were very common and popular in the Bible.
hahah childhood lust is so amusing wry smirks all around

What is strange is that we NEVER see HAH John actually interact with his new female employee. Maybe this is because HAH John so far seems like the kind of guy who would hire a hot chick in the hopes of wooing her, and at the very least so he could oogle her. I’m guessing Tom didn’t want to confirm or deny that was the case. To confirm would make HAH John more of a creep than Tom wants at this point. To deny would be to make him seem less desperate for a romantic partner.

That desperation is an important character trait! For example, HAH John chokes and blushes at the thought of Cindy’s no-go-zones.

Isn’t Cindy like…27? A mammogram already? Or does she get actual glamour shots of her tits?
CBH also has a tattoo you’re never going to see… (It’s Star Wars)

Right before the end of the year, Pete gets some bad news, and John gets a little arc.

If I can’t oogle older women, what’s even the point of existing?
I know HAH John is an asshole to everyone when he’s in Komix Korner, but I approve of him being an asshole to Pete.

Oh, that’s right, I forgot to mention. Darin and Pete were also at the Mid-Ohio Comic Con. At least now I know they were presented as comic book obsessed unbearable nerds from the beginning, instead of it slowly growing on them more and more like a infantilizing mold.

Talking to girls!? Icky! I don’t even make eye contact with my mother!

Anyway, HAH John and Mopey Pete think that this fifteen-year-old chimp child should continue to be the middle man in this exchange, rather than have HAH John contact him directly.

Yeah, tell him my mom doesn’t have a washing machine!

Now, are you ready to be stunned, and maybe get angry?

I don’t know how a guy who loves comics so much he opened a comic shop that he only grudgingly allows customers to enter would have such a low opinion of colorists. Especially this far into the more modern era. This is 1999! Both Marvel and DC had transitioned to glossy paper years ago! I mean, yeah, colorists don’t get the clout of the penciler, but damn man. If you want this joke to work make him the LETTERER!

Big old article on colorists!

Pete is very polytheistic.

Of course Stuart looks like some kind of weird goth rock star.

Very judgmental for a man with a greasy pony tail wearing an A-Rod Jersey.

Stuart Starkweather also talks like a Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins.

Oi nevah lissen ta moi editah!

We get confirmation for the REAL inspiration for Harry Dinkle.

Broke Godwin’s Law before it was a thing.
I choose to believe HAH John is lying to make Les feel better. Because I refuse to believe anything short of documentary war footage could make a Les Moore book signing look better by comparison.

In summer 2001, HAH John finally gets another chance at finding the one, when Lisa’s French roommate comes to visit.

‘Nice-looking’? Who says ‘nice-looking’ to mean sexually attractive? You say nice-looking about an sixty-year-old elementary school teacher. Or when your mom wants you to dress up for a picture you’ll give your grandmother.

And then Allison arrives. And I if I had to see Les Moore’s smug hiding-a-boner face then so do all of you.

I’m sorry, psychological trauma this intense must be shared.

After a party at Les and Lisa’s that most of the cast attends, Les lets the guys know that Allison saw an American there she’d like to show some revolutionary French maneuvers to.

I like how both Crazy and HAH John seem to be imagining Allison as taller than them.

And, as all the potential suitors plan their next move, we finally have confirmed for us what was hinted in the Stuart Starkweather situation, HAH John lives with his mother.

He gets his opportunity.

Takes his shot.

Aaaand Aiiiir Ballll!

It turns out Allison wasn’t interested in any of them, but that’s a story for a different day. Instead we end the arc with HAH John and Crazy Harry, commiserating with comic books. Neither of them may have the flesh and blood woman of their dreams, but they have their escape.

And maybe, after years of coffee counter conversations, and casual acquaintanceship, in each other they’ve discovered something more? A certain, nerdy kinship?

Could this be the start of a beautiful bromance?

Beautiful? Ehhhh…maybe not.

But Bromance?




Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

119 responses to “Making a Connection

  1. be ware of eve hill

    For a moment, I didn’t get the joke where Bull couldn’t get through to HAH John when he was a contestant on Who Wants to be a Millionaire?.

    Ah, yes, the good ol’ days of dial-up Internet access. Bull received the busy signal because Hah John tied up the telephone line by accessing the internet chat room.

    How many folks remember getting bounced off the internet because somebody picked up the phone to make a call? How many people remember getting cursed at because you picked up the phone and broke the connection?

    How many people remember a modem connection so slow you could watch the cursor traveling across the screen?

    Does anybody remember monochrome display monitors?

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      I’m an LGR fan, so “yes” to all of the above.

    • Rusty Shackleford

      Yes to all of those.

    • Green Luthor

      Yep, I remember all of those, too.

    • sorialpromise

      1. Celebrated our anniversary with Mrs. Lucky. Safely back from New Mexico. I ate most of the hot dogs and peas in the BWOEH freezer. Too bad Eve and Mr. Bwoeh could not join us. (Well, it was the middle of the night.) Good Times. Good Times.
      2. I have a question over today’s Crankshaft. Who the heck are these identical women? I think one works on TV. Didn’t the other one melt down a gun? 🤷🏽 Did one of them have a baby in the theater? Are they related? Are they the timemop version of the 2 girls last week that did Lillian’s website? If I was betting, I sure wouldn’t bet the paycheck of Anonymous Sparrow. All I know, I miss Ed.

      • Green Luthor

        I made a comment regarding the Generic Blonde Women on Tuesday’s Crankshaft, which, for some reason, appears to have been removed. If I remember correctly, it was something like:

        That’s Generic Blonde Woman, not to be confused with Generic Blonde Woman, Generic Blonde Woman, Generic Blonde Twin #1, Generic Blonde Twin #2, Generic Blonde Woman Whose Father John Darling Was Murdered, Generic Blonde 68-Year-Old Woman Who Looks 40 Years Younger, Generic Blonde Woman Turned Generic Potato Person, Generic Blonde Woman Turned Generic Potato Person, Generic Blonde Woman But Only When The Colorist Forgets She’s A Redhead, Generic Blonde Woman But Only When The Colorist Forgets She’s A Redhead With A Hat, or Lu Ann From Apartment 3-G.

        Not sure which part set off the GoComics filter, but it looks like someone doesn’t have much of a sense of humor over there.

        • sorialpromise

          Green Luthor,
          You are so accurate. I can’t tell these generic women apart. I can’t tell the difference between Summer, Becky, or the actress named Marianne (if that’s her name?) Seems to me that there is another couple of lookalikes. But they are so forgettable. That’s our Batiuk.

          • Green Luthor

            I would expand the list a bit: Summer, Becky, Marianne, and Mopey Pete. (Seriously, Summer in particular looks a LOT like Mopey.)

            (I know this is a Byrne strip, and the context makes it obvious it’s Mopey, but… seriously, at a quick glance I thought this was Summer…)

          • sorialpromise

            It does look like Summer…or Marianne?

      • J.J. O'Malley

        The boring answer, sorial, is that the standing girl is granddaughter Mindy (she who helped Lillian the Lizard tame the Internet), while Channel 1 employee Hannah sits with husband Max on the sofa watching what appears to be a colorized version of Martin Landau in “Ed Wood.” Good thing Jessica and the Grady Twins didn’t show up, too.

        • sorialpromise

          Thank you, JJ! The most interesting item in the paragraph is “Ed Wood”!
          But with deep regrets, I ask:
          So is Mindy and Darrin related?
          Are Mindy and Hannah related?
          Whose mom gave the gun toy to a kid?
          I will let you rest, and ask our resident Crankshaft expert (😜) explain, Mr. TF Hackett.
          [Notice the proper emoji, BWOEH, for tongue in cheek!]

          • Green Luthor

            Mindy and Max are siblings (the children of Pm and Jff, and thus Ed’s grandchildren). Max is… dating? married?… to Hannah. Mindy is… dating? engaged? being blackmailed by?… Mopey.

            Jessica Darling Whose Father John Darling Was Murdered is married(?) to Boy Lisa (son of Dead Saint Lisa and Frankie) (and thus half-brother to Summer and stepson to Les), and they’re the psychopaths who gave their son, Skylight, The Toy.

            To the best of my knowledge, there’s no relation between Mindy and Boy Lisa? (Unless them both being inexplicably tied to Mopey counts as a relation?) Mindy and Hannah would be sisters-in-law if Hannah and Max are actually married. (I think they are, but I’m not sure if even Batiuk knows for sure anymore.)

            (Also, Pm and Jff were neighbors with Fred and Ann Lockhorn-Fairgood, Boy Lisa’s adopted parents. And Jessica Darling Whose Father John Darling Was Murdered’s father was John Darling Who Was Murdered, who used to work with Pete Roberts’ father. Whether that’s still true now that Pete Roberts’ name was inexplicably changed to Pete Reynolds (aka Mopey Pete)… again, I don’t know if even Batiuk knows.)

          • sorialpromise

            Green Luthor, thank you.
            Just when I think I got it and can walk away proudly, you pull me back into confusion!!!
            Thank you for helping me with Darrin and Jessica. I thought there was a blonde guy and girl with gun. Wow! This is mind numbing. I see why BWOEH curses so much! I may have her teach me. Also, it makes me admire CBH even more for her ability to post all this in easy to understand bites. 😘 💋 😚

          • be ware of eve hill

            Mindy and Darrin are not related.

            Mindy and Hanna are sisters-in-law. Hanna is married to Max.

            Hanna is the mother of Mitch, not to be confused with Mitchell Knox.

            The mom who gave the gun toy to Skyler was Jessica.

            Jessica is married to Darrin.

            As we all know, Jessica’s is the daughter of John Darling, who was murdered.

            Jessica’s mother (whose name I have forgotten and too lazy to look up) is the sister of Jeff Murdoch, Crankshaft’s son-in-law. Mindy’s dad.

            Batiuk does a credible job of walking the incest tightrope.

            [Aw, you’re full of coke. How can 😜 be “tongue in cheek”? The tongue is not in the cheek. It’s sticking out of its mouth.] 🙄

          • sorialpromise

            [Aw, you’re full of coke. How can 😜 be “tongue in cheek”? The tongue is not in the cheek. It’s sticking out of its mouth.]
            How was I to know you would take it so literally? I forgot that you have spent years? Months? Weeks? Pouring over Batiuk illegibles. What chance does a poor likable schnook like me, to get one emoji by BWOEH? This tells me one simple fact, Eve. The longer I know you, the more I respect Mr. BWOEH. He is a heck of a man. He is a MUCH better man than I am.
            I guess I should have said “figuratively” tongue and cheek. {there is no cheek emoji 😱😤🤯}

            “Batiuk does a credible job of walking the incest tightrope.” He certainly does! Truer words were never written.

            One last item. For the last hour and a half, I have tried to get over to continue my anniversary week with Mrs. SP. Yet every time I try, there is another reply from SOSF. In my weird reasoning, I would like to think I took the road less traveled, and that has made all the difference. *
            *apologies to Jack Frost.

          • be ware of eve hill

            If you take a heaping portion of Kansas City BBQ to CBH’s farm, perhaps she’ll make a link chart of all the characters and their relationships.

            Or has she done that already? 🤔 (seems familiar)

          • sorialpromise

            😜I believe she has. But I don’t think she would appreciate the BBQ Sauce so close to her new born veal, oops I mean calf.

          • Green Luthor

            Aw, dang, you’re right, I had completely forgotten about Jff and Jessica Darling Whose Father John Darling Was Murdered being uncle/niece. Dang it but this is confusing.

          • sorialpromise

            To say the least!

          • be ware of eve hill

            How was I to know you would take it so literally? I forgot that you have spent years? Months? Weeks? Pouring over Batiuk illegibles. What chance does a poor likable schnook like me, to get one emoji by BWOEH? This tells me one simple fact, Eve. The longer I know you, the more I respect Mr. BWOEH. He is a heck of a man. He is a MUCH better man than I am.
            I guess I should have said “figuratively” tongue and cheek. {there is no cheek emoji 😱😤🤯}

            Ha! You think I’m bad? You should meet Mr. BWOEH. Where do you think I get it from? By comparison, Mal makes me look like a Sunday school teacher.

            FWIW, I’ve been a Sunday school teacher.

          • sorialpromise

            I would have paid good money to have sat in that Sunday School.
            Well, my anniversary plans got shot all to hell! (If I may quote bwoeh?) Mrs. SP worked Wednesday, the date of our actual anniversary. So our plans were to go early and go to the Gem, Rock, and Mineral Show: be there by 0930. My son calls. Our daughter in law has operated a sourdough shop from her house, but now wants to open a brick and mortar sourdough shop in NKC.
            He calls us. He’s desperate. Can we change our plans? He needs us to watch the kids all day at their home in KCK. We live in Kearney. What can we do? We dropped our plans and babysat the 2 Rug Snufflin Dogs, otherwise known as our grandkids. Then we left and got a late lunch at Cascone’s Italian Restaurant. Great food. Great service. We were telling the server about all our struggles to get to this dinner. The couple next to us overheard us, and bought us glasses of wine. So nice. Such great conversation. It would only have been better if you and Mr. Bwoeh could have joined us.

          • be ware of eve hill

            Aw, so sorry to hear your anniversary plans were altered, not once but twice. Family, whatcha gonna do? Mention it often and hold it over your son’s and DIL’s heads. Perhaps that way they’ll be inclined to do something special for your 50th. 😉

            SP: Say, do you kids remember what we did for you on our 48th anniversary? We helped you expand your business. It sure would be nice if somebody threw us a party for our 50th anniversary. (hint hint hint)

            Is it still possible to attend the Gem, Rock, and Mineral Show?

            Cascone’s? Name doesn’t ring a bell. Are they new? It sure was nice of that couple to buy you wine.

          • sorialpromise

            “Say, do you kids remember what we did for you on our 48th anniversary? We helped you expand your business. It sure would be nice if somebody threw us a party for our 50th anniversary. (hint hint hint)”
            I will engrave these words into stone and cash the receipt in 2 years. Thank you Eve.
            Cascone’s was started years ago by the great? great grandfather both of the River on N. Oak. Still going strong.
            How long have you guys been together? Mal is so lucky.

          • be ware of eve hill

            How long have you guys been together?

            37th anniversary is in June. We dated a couple of years before that.

            Sad Story. We met at his sister’s funeral. She was married to my little brother. Yes, I married my brother-in-law.

            Both Mal and I were expected to be in their wedding party but Juilia got pregnant with my niece a year before the wedding. They married in a civil ceremony shortly after they discovered she was pregnant and kept their plans to have the big wedding after she graduated from college. Tragically, Julia was killed in an automobile accident four months after her daughter was born, three months before her college graduation. The wedding was planned to be on the same day as her birthday so my brother would have fewer dates to remember.

          • sorialpromise

            Thank you for sharing about your sister in law, Julia.

          • be ware of eve hill

            I’m sorry. I probably overshared. I tend to be overly yakky when I’m buzzed.

            One of the things Mr. bwoeh likes about me is that I’m a “cheap date”, in other words I get drunk easily and keep the bar tab low.

            I met Julie a few times before she died. Like her father she had a great sense of humor. Oh my, the things she could say with a straight face. She also had a way of making people feel good about themselves. She could make you feel like you were filled with gold.

          • sorialpromise

            We need more people like Julia, not less. God has too many people with short candle wicks. They bless us for just a short time. Then they are gone. There are people that live too long, like Putin. He makes all of us miserable, and stick around forever.
            So you are a cheap date? Al I know is that this week in SOSF, has been especially enjoyable since CBH says I cursed their herd. That is all due to you, Green Luthor, JJ O’Malley, and Gerard Plourde, and so many others.
            It started when I couldn’t keep track of all of the interBatiuk-ian gene splicing among Crankshaft and his family. (Then I find someone who will not be named, hunted down her brother in law and married him. I bet there was some quantity of Merlot consumed to make that relationship legal.)
            Good times. Good times.

      • be ware of eve hill

        1.) You ate most of the hot dogs and peas? Hog. 🐷🐖
        I hope they were good eatin’ frozen.

        We were wondering about the scrap of someone’s pants in our dog Rusty’s mouth. Who’s a good boy, Rusty? You are! Good dog!

        2.) That’s Ed’s granddaughter Mindy (famous website consultant) standing on the left. Grandson Max is sitting on the couch with the other generic blonde, his wife, Hannah.

        I’m not sure why the generic blondes have light brown hair like Max. I reckon it’s possible with all the generic blondes in the strip over the past couple of weeks, the Crankshaft comic strip has exceeded it’s allotment of yellow.

        Hanna gave birth to Mitch, in the midst of a blinding snowstorm, in the auditorium of the Valentine Theater in early 2020.

        I remember Hannah‘s name because there is a Hanna Theatre in playhouse Square in downtown Cleveland. Hanna and Max (used to?) operate the Valentine Theater.

        • sorialpromise

          Thank you, my Evester!
          Also thanks to Green Luthor and JJ O’Malley

          So Mindy and Max are b & s. Max and Hannah are h & w. They made the gun toy for Mitch. No one knows why their hair is brown.
          It’s sad that we put this much effort into identifying these characters, and TB puts out no effort to help us.
          (By the way, Eve, go easy on the cilantro hotdogs. They clashed with the peas.)

          • Green Luthor

            No, the toy gun that was made from The Gun That Murdered John Darling was given to Skylab, son of Boy Lisa and Jessica Darling Whose Father John Darling Was Murdered. (So they gave the kid a toy made from the gun that murdered the grandfather he never knew. That’s a thing mentally healthy people do, right?)

            Though Max and Hannah did set in motion the chain of events that led to that gloriously deranged story. They work at Channel One, and when the ransomware attack caused them to be unable to broadcast their usual shows, they dug up the old John Darling Who Was Murdered Show tapes to air instead. Seeing the old shows inspired Jessica Darling Whose Father John Darling Was Murdered to seek out some memento of her father, which led them to Mitchell Knox (no relation to Max and Hannah’s son Mitch – WHY DO YOU DO THIS, TOM?), from whom they got The Gun.

            Also, I could probably use cut and paste or something so I don’t have to type out things like Jessica Darling Whose Father John Darling Was Murdered every single time, but what fun would that be?

          • sorialpromise

            Just to honor you, GL:
            Hannah, somehow intertwined with Mindy and Jessica Darling, whose father John Darling who was murdered, but not by Mitch or the other Mitch, who did not receive the gun toy that was smelted for Skylab, who is the actual grandson to our own John Darling, who was murdered, but not by Darrin or by Max somewhat related?
            (Wow! I could use some hotdogs and peas. Hold the cilantro!)

    • Hannibal’s Lectern

      Not just monochrome, but text only and an awful orange color, thirty-two lines of eighty characters each.

      Heck, I remember communicating with a computer via an ASR33 Teletype!

      • Green Luthor

        The awful orange color was “amber”. (I had one of those, too.)

      • be ware of eve hill

        LOL. A console with a printer display instead of a monitor? I’ve never seen anything like it.

        My dad worked for one of the Akron rubber companies as a systems analyst. I can recall visiting him at work as a little girl. You ever use control cards?


        *sigh* Good times.

        During the early part of my career, my workstation was something referred to as a “dumb terminal”. A text monitor and keyboard connected to the corporate mainframe. I omitted that from my original post. How many folks remember those? I believe my first PC at work wasn’t until about 1995. The operating system was OS/2. Boy, did IBM drop the ball there.

        Orange? I remember amber, which I liked better than green, as long as it was bright. My dad bought a PC in the mid 1980s that had a bright amber monochrome screen. No memory of what the operating system was. My brothers would know. What I do remember is the external unit for the twin 8-inch floppy disk drives that must have weighed over forty pounds. You had to load whatever program you wanted to use off the floppy disks.

        The absolute worst display I’ve ever seen was on the laptop my department loaned for working at home in the mid-1990s. The laptop was used only to connect to the corporate mainframe and had a built-in 2400 baud modem. It had a red-on-black 24 x 80 display. After working on that thing for an hour or two, I couldn’t see straight. 😵

  2. I made a Timemop cover! Big ups to Beckoning Chasm for the template!

  3. William Thompson

    So today Crankshaft is “Where do you find those old horror movies?” Kid, there’s no such thing as an old horror movie. There’s just movies you haven’t been lucky enough to see yet.

    • J.J. O'Malley

      So, after getting to appear in the strip that bears his name for a whole three-day stretch, Ed is sent off to bed while granddaughter-in-law Hannah takes over the familial task of making with lame wordplay? Today’s CS “joke” is one the Groovie Goolies would have rejected. Also, shouldn’t she and Max be watching old horror films downtown at the Valentine? You know, the revival movie theater that Hollywood star Masonne Jarre is PAYING them to run for him?

      • The Duck of Death

        This week has really been a showcase for grade Z wordplay. I make “jokes” like these several times a day, at least. My family doesn’t laugh, nor do I. Nobody laughs because these are just brain farts spoken out loud and forgotten immediately.

        It’s very rare for these to be memorable. Once, when my brother was about 6 and we had just visited the Museum of Natural History’s dinosaur exhibit, he referred to it as the “Zoozeum” and that’s stuck as my family’s name for the place ever since.

        Just as in real life, for every clever or appropriate portmanteau or malapropism, there are about 999 boring ones. TB seems to be determined to go through the whole list.

        • William Thompson

          I’m scared that Batiuk is about to have these two dimwits “discover” that long-lost horror film “The Outer Space Plan” starring Cliff Anger and Vera Nash.

          • The Duck of Death

            A few months back, I mentioned classic “Bringing Up Father.” It had a constant supply of one-off characters with punny names, and the worst of them was better than Batty at his best. Last week, for example, it was Professor Chris Sendo, the violin teacher.

            It took me months, literally, to realize that “Cliff Anger” was a pun, because

            1. Anger is a distinct word with a very potent meaning, especially where it concerns characters. I kept waiting for Cliff to either show irrational anger or to ironically be ridiculously mild-tempered.

            2. The “h” in “cliffhanger” is distinctly pronounced, and the “ng” is pronounced quite differently in the two words. Anger really doesn’t rhyme with hanger.

            When I finally did realize the “pun,” what a letdown.

            Anyway, my point is: Is Vera Nash a pun of some kind that I still haven’t figured out? Fear-a Gnash? Veer or Gnash? I’m lost.

            If it’s not, why the everlovin’ blue-eyed f@%! would Cliff’s name be a pun?

            Is it possible that it’s as simple as: Batty’s listening to NPR and someone uses the word “cliffhanger,” and he thinks, “Hey, Cliff is a first name too! How hilarious!” and that’s it, boom, Cliff Anger gets written into the script?

          • William Thompson

            It’s been suggested that “Vera Nash” is a vague form of “Very Nice.” And it took me a while to make the “cliffhanger” connection, too. Maybe that was because anger is one of the few emotions that Batty’s characters inspire. (I’m waiting for him to give us the backup singer Teddy Hum and the AK editor Boris Tudeth.)

          • Y. Knott

            Vera Nash = varnish?

            I mean, it’s about as close as Cliff Anger is to cliffhanger.

        • bad wolf

          My family doesn’t laugh, nor do I.

          Sorry Duck! we think you’re cool

        • DaveyDial

          My family calls aquariums “Water Zoos” for similar reasons.

  4. The Duck of Death

    Another superb and well thought out deep dive, CBH. And all this with a new calf to take care of!

    As a latecomer to FW, I’m always surprised to see how much better it used to be. The strips in your retrospective have:

    1. Reasonably well-rounded characters. Nobody is unduly evil or boringly perfect;

    2. Some conflict, light though it is. There’s no sense that everyone is just a manifestation of one single mind;

    3. Some kind of action, even if slow;

    4. Something resembling jokes; and

    5. Infinitely better writing, in the sense that it’s not garbled English and it gets to the point without too much delay.

    TB also seems to have been able to handle comix collecting with a lighter touch back in the day. It was more of a fun, slightly silly hobby some of the guys indulged in, and less of a religion with sacraments to be taken with grave seriousness.

    • ComicBookHarriet

      We’re about to reach a sort of start of darkness point in terms of comics fetishism, but you’re right on most other accounts.

      One of my favorite film YouTubers has some fun videos where he breaks down the popular screenwriting maxim of, ‘goals, stakes, urgency’.

      Though the Funkyverse never had consistent urgency, that’s the most optional/flexible factor. Act II usually had goals and often stakes. Late Act III we’re lucky to get a half hearted want.

      • The Duck of Death

        I took improv classes for many years, and if nothing else, scenework will force you to learn how to tell a story. One of my teachers would constantly sidecoach, “Raise the stakes!” It never failed to improve the scene.

        Another skill Puff Batty could stand to learn: Whenever people in a scene would start to talk about what they were going to do, or what they should do, or whether they should do something, he was on them immediately: “DO IT!” Again, those were the magic words to bring life to a boring scene.

        RAISE THE STAKES and STOP TALKING, DO IT should be hung in 200 point type on the wall in front of Batty’s desk.

        • Banana Jr. 6000

          I took improv classes too, and Batiuk’s writing is a textbook on what improv teaches you NOT to do. My first course was long-form (full 30-minute scenes based on one audience suggestion), and team members could call scene edits from the backline. If two players were yammering about going to the rock concert, you could yell “CUT TO THE ROCK CONCERT” and they’d have to do that.

          Batiuk keeps what he should cut, and cuts what he should keep. He really is the worst storyteller I’ve ever seen.

          • The Duck of Death

            As long as we’re discussing storytelling truths learned from improv….

            Newbies often treat scenes as if the stakes were real life. In other words, if one character cries, “Look! it’s the tiger that escaped from the zoo, running right towards us!,” the newbie might say, “And there’s the zookeeper! He’s caught the tiger and he’s taking it back to the zoo, thank God!”

            Trying to combat this, one of my teachers said something very profound that applies to any kind of storytelling, not just improv. He said,

            “In real life, you want to run away from trouble. In improv, you want to run towards trouble.”

            Batty once knew this (Act II). How could you know this, and then forget it?

          • Banana Jr. 6000

            My short-form group played a game a called “what’s the worst that could happen?” which forced you to do this. The players did a basic scene for a minute, then the host stopped it and asked the audience “what’s the worst that could happen?” The players had to incorporate whatever that was, and move the scene forward. Repeat as needed.

          • The Duck of Death

            In a similar vein, my first improv teacher in my first intro class had a game called “As If That Wasn’t Bad Enough.”

            All students stand in a circle. One recounts a brief setup: “I was walking to work…” The next offers a problem: “… and my shoelace came untied.”

            From then on, all students add more problems, using the same format:

            “As if that wasn’t bad enough, when I bent over to tie it, the seat of my pants ripped.”

            “As if that wasn’t bad enough, my boss was passing by right at that moment.”

            “As if that wasn’t bad enough, our company’s biggest client was with him.”

            … etc. Again, a great tool for building any kind of story.

            Can’t we get Bats into an intro improv class? I’ve had classmates in their 60s and even 70s, and they were fantastic.

          • Banana Jr. 6000

            I think almost anyone would benefit from an improv class. It teaches you things that are hard to learn anywhere else. But you have to be open-minded and willing to take instruction.

            And that’s why Batiuk would fail at it. He’ll quit after 3 or 4 weeks, when it doesn’t work the way he thinks it should. Then he’ll go home, and repeatedly tell himself how much better he is than them. A year later he’d mock the experience in Crankshaft, much like that Funky “retirement seminar” week.

        • Green Luthor

          I have a feeling Tom Batiuk doing improv would look like this:

          (Only, y’know, without being funny because of how unfunny it is, it would just be unfunny.)

          • The Duck of Death

            That’s really funny, and I’d never seen it. Love Gervais.

            I suspect he’d be one of these dreadful people that tries to crack “jokes” in the middle of scenes.

            Or perhaps one who denies the established reality of the scene:

            [Teammate:] “Your holiness! You’re late! Step onto the balcony — the crowds are waiting for you to address them!”

            [Batty:] “I’m not the Pope! I’m a comic book dealer! Where can I put this box of golden age Fantastic Fours?”

            But anyone can learn to improvise, as long as they are “open-minded and willing to take instruction” (to quote BJr6K). I should add that you need to have the ability to not take yourself too seriously — to mess up, and look like a fool, and allow yourself to have fun doing it.

            Whether Bats has those abilities IRL, I don’t know… but based on his writing, I have some doubts.

          • Banana Jr. 6000

            That’s one of the hard lessons you can get from improv – learning to handle failure, instead of fearing it. Because you’re going to screw up. Bigtime. In front of a lot of people. And that often leads to pure gold.

  5. The Duck of Death

    Anyone been to the BatBlog lately? Yesterday’s entry (Mar 8) is more of the usual cut & paste from the intros to his books — in other words, deeply embarrassing bloviation and self-puffery.

    That’s not the interesting thing, though. There’s a photo of some kind of plasticene model of Les and Dead St Lisa on The Bench. It’s actually quite well executed. Naturally, there’s no context, no credit to the artist, no explanation at all.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Tom Batiuk is so bad at writing, he’s almost amazing. He’s an anti-genius, like “The Shaggs” are to music or Tommy Wiseau is to filmmaking. In only 252 words, this post is like a “greatest hits” of all his worst traits as a writer.

      Introducing something interesting, and then completely ignoring it: it’s amazing that a plastic model of Les and Cancer Lisa on the bench exists, and it’s the kind of thing readers actually want to hear about. Batiuk has nothing to say about it. Just like he’s never explained his Canadian football fandom despite writing about it multiple times.

      Setups with no payoff. “Otherwise, it would be a book the size of this one.” Similar to the last problem: Batiuk loves to write what sounds like the beginning of a joke, and then ignore the punchline to go wherever he wants. “Why did the chicken cross the road?” “I remember when Lisa ate chicken for dinner…”

      Talking about what he’s going to talk about. Even worse than usual: telling the reader they already know what he’s going to talk about, before he talks about what he’s going to talk about. Then he talks about it.

      Writing that defeats its own purpose The blog post itself was about re-introducing context, even though it’s taken out of the context of the book it’s in, and illustrated by a photo that is missing context.

      An avalanche of cliches: house rules, sorted out, horse around, elephant in the room, casts a shadow. show of hands, spoiler alert, real time, heartbeat. At least 9 of them, in 252 words.

      Words used incorrectly: “essence” when he means “nature.”

      Weasel words. Tom Batiuk’s writing is constantly apologizing for itself. “almost real time,” “readers could almost experience.” Either they can or they can’t. Pick one. This hedging betrays that Batiuk doesn’t really believe what he’s saying.

      Useless parentheticals and ellipses. Tom Batiuk loves to… constantly interrupt himself, with pointless asides (I thought of a squirrel just then) and… meandering stream-of-consciousness passages that don’t add anything to the narrative.

      Over-explaining the obvious. This Funky Winkerbean book is a collection of comic strips that ran in the daily paper. By including both Lisa’s story and things that aren’t Lisa’s story, the narrative can switch back and forth between the two.

      Writing like he’s trying to pad a word count. Self-evident.

      All Batiuk’s opinions being complete bullshit. Assuming the audience is heavily invested in Lisa’s death. Calling his own past writing “short and to the point.” Rambling about the importance of the context to Lisa’s story, without ever saying why this matters or how it improves anything. Congratulating himself for his story being “realtime” when it droned in circles for years and has massive continuity problems.

      Here’s all he needed to say: “Unlike the book Lisa’s Story, this Funky Winkerbean collection includes the larger context of other happenings in Westview at the time of Lisa’s death.” It’s called writing.

      • “The strips collected in Lisa’s Story were carved out of the daily newspaper run of Funky Winkerbean, and in the process the context was necessarily stripped out. Otherwise, it would have been a book the size of . . . this one.”

        I think this is supposed to be a joke?

        • Banana Jr. 6000

          If it is, it’s very poorly constructed. It’s a joke at the book’s own expense. “Hi, folks, I’m your author, Tom Batiuk! This book is Lisa’s Story, plus all the crap I had to cut out to make Lisa’s Story make sense! It’s so overblown!” Not a very positive way to present a new book to his readers.

          What’s interesting is that there is an actual problem to solve here. Many of the contents of this book were previously published in Lisa’s Story, which has potential to make the buyer feel ripped off. He should have taken a more positive approach, like “this book contains much of what was published in Lisa’s Story, in the larger context of what was going on in Westview at the time.”

      • ComicBookHarriet

        I’m guilty of tons of weasel words in my posts, but they’re because I’m obsessive about being correct to the best of my knowledge. So I have to guess, suppose, seem, most and many my way through to conclusions.

        I also use a bucket load of clichés, no real excuses there.

        • Green Luthor

          Weasel words, yeah, I admit I use them for the same reason. I want to give accurate information, but even if I look something up, I still recognize it could be wrong. I guess I use them as a shorthand for “this could be wrong, but I think it’s correct”.

          And, yeah, I do a few of the others on the list. On the other hand, unlike Batiuk, I’m not a professional writer. I don’t even know if anyone would consider me a “passable” writer, and I usually don’t write anything other than entries in comment sections. Certainly, I’m not being paid to write things seen in newspapers across the country, so I can cut myself a bit of slack there.

        • Banana Jr. 6000

          There’s nothing wrong with cliches, or weasel words, if they serve a purpose. Your writing always does.

        • The Duck of Death

          When words mean something, they’re not weasel words. For example, if I say, “It appears that Puff Batty doesn’t read SoSF,” that’s not weaseling, it’s being accurate. I honestly can’t say with certainty whether he does or doesn’t.

          If I say, “It might appear that I’m criticizing FW, and some observers may have drawn that conclusion, which could be accurate — or perhaps it is not,” that’s weaseling and also dull bloviation.

          There’s a huge distinction between weaseling and inserting words that signify room for doubt.

          You’re 100% in the clear, CBH.

          • Banana Jr. 6000

            Here’s what Batiuk wrote.

            “It helps to convey the feeling that events were almost happening in real time.”

            “Helps”, “the feeling that”, and “almost” are all weasel words, because they express doubt over something Batiuk should be able to assert. He’s telling you the effect his own writing is supposed to have on the reader – something he is in position to know. He should say “It conveys that events were happening in real time.” Clear, simple, confident, short. There is no reason to weasel about it, much less in three different ways.

          • The Duck of Death

            The context of that is:

            This book, which collects all of the strips, returns the context to Lisa’s battle with cancer, allowing it to weave around and in between the other stories told here. It helps to convey the feeling that events were almost happening in real time.

            I think the “helps to” is acceptable here — it looks like he’s trying to say that it was one of several things that conveyed this feeling. But the “almost” is puzzling. So much of his writing is like trying to grab a handful of water. It runs through your fingers; it can’t hold any shape, can’t be grasped. It’s far beyond just using 100 words where five would do. It’s a squishiness, a lack of actual meaning. It signifies a lack of clear and precise thinking, using a huge pile of words as an armature to support… nothing.

            It’s weird. Just plain weird.

          • The Duck of Death

            On further thought… do the added strips in the bigger collection actually add “context” to Lisa’s story? Or are they just adding additional stories of the Westview folks? Why would he publish “Dead St Lisa’s Story” without all the necessary context?

            You know what? I give up trying to dig down to the actual meaning. There’s no there there.

          • Banana Jr. 6000

            The biggest problem with Batiuk’s writing is that 90% of it doesn’t need to exist at all. You want him to stick to the point, but he has no point. It’s all tangents and parentheticals, without there being a main line of discussion to tangent from.

          • ComicBookHarriet

            Aww, thanks you guys!

            When I read Batiuk’s work, it reminds me of stuff I would write back in high school after I’d overdosed on Dave Barry and Terry Pratchett. It’s trying so hard, but doesn’t realize it’s over written.

            I know I fall off the ‘trying to be cute’ cliff every now and then into the tangled pit of tortured metaphors. (Get it? Parenthetically? LOL!) And knowing is half the battle!

            (The other half is lasers.)

          • The Duck of Death

            Y’know what’s funny CBH? When I read that intro we’ve been quoting from, the first thought I had was: He’s trying, and failing, to do a sort of lighthearted, nominally self-deprecating Dave Barry thing. It feels like he’s aiming for that kind of voice, and missing.

            Dave Barry is almost exactly Batty’s age. And he’s a Pulitzer winner. And his work has been made into films and TV shows.

            And his writing makes sense. And it’s funny.

            And Puffy, to put it pleasantly, is no Dave Barry.

          • Banana Jr. 6000

            Self-deprecation requires you to honestly laugh at your own shortcomings. Tom Batiuk absolutely cannot do that. He carefully micromanages every detail of his public image, like North Korean propaganda. He seems afraid that revealing any actual imperfections will cost him award opportunities.

            There’s a revealing bit in an interview Batiuk did for a North Carolina university/public access thing. I think BWOEH posted it in January. The interviewer asks about the “lame parade balloon” joke on The Simpsons, and they talk about Marge being a Funky Winkerbean fan. That’s… not at all what happens in that scene. It’s pretty clear that FW is the butt of the joke, but Tom Batiuk went on TV and told the audience what he wants them to believe instead.

    • Gerard Plourde

      That illustration is the most interesting aspect of the post. The object does appear to be an actual thing, molded by hand. I’d love to know its origin story.

  6. I’m pretty sure when John says “I’ve taken a bath” he means in the financial sense.

    • billytheskink

      If there is one thing TB kept straight throughout Acts II and III, it’s that John was really bad at business. Tony and Funky give him breaks on rent on multiple occasions across the two acts.

      I am actually kind of impressed that TB, whether intentionally or not, made John’s remark about working for his uncle’s house painting business prescient by later having John paint Lillian McKenzie’s house in an attempt to get her to sell her sister’s comic book collection to him.

      • Green Luthor

        It’s kinda odd, in that him giving away that $200 statue to Skyfall seemed like Batiuk meant it to be an act of Christmas generosity or something, but… well, it really does show him as being utterly terrible at his job. But I think that’s one instance where it actually WASN’T meant that way.

        (Yeah, I know, Batiuk made his message so vague that it became completely indecipherable. First time for everything, right?)

  7. billytheskink

    Incorporating Stuart Starkweather’s accent into the dialogue but not Allison’s was certainly a choice.

    And I’m sorry to hear that the citizens of Victoria, TX will now be subjected to Crankshaft.

  8. Y. Knott

    I would just like to point to once again Batiuk’s continuing inability to grasp the pacing of a six-panel strip. He will simply write a four panel strip, then add extraneous panels to fill out space.

    Look at FW strips 1, 2, 4 and 5. Note that the first two panels aren’t throwaway panels. The throwaway panel (with the comic title) has already been thrown away.

    Take away the first two panels of each strip. Now the strips actually work better.

    • Green Luthor

      Yeah, seeing them together like that… man, that’s bad. And all four involve someone entering a room and greeting Skunky, and three of the four involve greeting him back (plus the one where he offers to help carry Les’ laundry). So not only superfluous but repetitive as well.

      My initial thought was to say “at least Batiuk isn’t having Skunky read off everyone’s resumes, like he did with Battom Thomas Creator Of The Comic Strip Three O’Clock High”, but then I realized that meant his writing actually got WORSE over time.

      Though I also would have accepted him introducing Tony Isabella as the creator of DC’s first black superhero, Black Lightning, but ONLY if he covered the character DC had intended for that role before Isabella talked them out of it. (If you don’t know… hoo-boy, it’s a doozy, all right. As many times as we might think “Batiuk, what were you thinking”, the “Black Bomber” was far, FAR worse…)

  9. The Duck of Death

    Do you think Stuart Starkweather is supposed to represent someone in particular or is he just a general statement/complaint about the then-current Neil Gaiman/Alan Moore trend of nihilistic attitudes in comix? He comes across as a poor man’s John Constantine.

    Incidentally, no Brit I’ve ever heard, let alone a Cockney, would pronounce “world” as “woild.” It’s the kind of very old-timey New York accent you’d associate with the Three Stooges or other comedians born around the turn of the century. Incidentally, I’ve lived here my whole life and heard some pretty dense classic NYC accents, but never once heard that “toity-toid an’ toid” thing. If it ever existed outside the movies, it’s vanished without a trace.

    • Green Luthor

      My first thought is that he really does look quite a bit like Morpheus from Gaiman’s Sandman comics, so… maybe him?

      Also, based on how heavy Starkweather’s accent is, and how non-existent his sister’s appears to be… it MIGHT be an affectation, not his actual accent. Like, he plays up the Cockney in the absence of any other notable character trait. (And to be an obnoxious git, of course.) That’s just pure speculation, though. (And would give him at least a dimension and a half more character than anyone else in the comic.)

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Stuart Starkweather sounds more Australian than British, with “loike” and “mite.” “Woild” is dead wrong, as you state; it’s more like “wulled.”

  10. ian'sdrunkenbeard

    • billytheskink

      I know it’s part of the gag… but Diet Mr. Pibb/Pibb Zero is about as tasty as diet soda gets.

      • The Duck of Death

        It seems a popular butt of animation jokes. American Dad has a running gag about Stan Smith’s fondness for it, and devoted an entire episode to his obsessive pursuit of the Pibb.

  11. Green Luthor

    Hm… I don’t think that’s actually an A-Rod jersey? A-Rod did wear #13, but only AFTER he was traded to the Yankees in 2004. (He previously wore #3, but the Yankees retired that number in honor of Babe Ruth.) Since the strip in question was from 1999, an A-Rod jersey wouldn’t have #13 on it.

    (Also, would Skunky wear an A-Rod jersey anyway? He played for the Mariners, Rangers, and Yankees, none of which would seem to be the preferred team for a Northeast Ohio native. I mean, baseball fans can be very passionately obsessive about things, so one never knows.)

    (Also also, on a personal note, I had to look up when A-Rod first used #13. My dad would have known the answer off the top of his head, guaranteed, because he was like that with baseball trivia. Next month he’ll have been gone ten years. *Sigh*. Again, just a personal note, feel free to ignore.)

    • Gerard Plourde

      Guess whose number was 13 when he pitched for the Toledo Mud Hens. According to Wikipedia “The title character of the comic strip Crankshaft was a pitcher for the Mud Hens just before World War II when he enlisted in the Army. He invariably wears a Mud Hens cap in the strip, and reminisces often about his playing days. In the summer of 2016 the Mud Hens retired jersey No. 13 in Crankshaft’s honor.”

      • The Duck of Death

        Timemop’s been very busy, moving WWII to the 1960s or thereabouts! Otherwise both Crankshaft and Lillian would be at least 100 years old.

        Timemop is altering the timeline. Pray he does not alter it further, or we may wake up tomorrow to hear that Pearl Harbor has been bombed and we should stay tuned for an important announcement from President Roosevelt on the wireless.

        • I feel a Gasoline Alley crossover comin’ on.

        • Gerard Plourde

          At the rate Timemop is working, I’m half expecting to wake up to find the house I live in hasn’t been built yet, that I’ve slept past noon, and a Bulletin newsboy is announcing that the Lusitania has been sunk and that crowds of people at the Pan American Exhibition in San Francisco are kissing the visiting Liberty Bell.

        • be ware of eve hill

          Your comment about Lillian possibly being 100 years old reminds me of a thought I had during Funky Winkerbean finale week.

          Do you suppose the robot staffing the Village Booksmith could have been Lillian?! Her consciousness or even her brain transferred into the metal monstrosity? 😱

          Bullsh*t or not?

    • sorialpromise

      We remember Green Luthor’s Dad.
      Tell him my favorite player was Hoyt Wilhelm. Your Dad will know him. So “Take Me out to the Ballgame!”

      • be ware of eve hill

        Hoyt Wilhem? The knuckleball tossing relief pitcher? I remember him!

        My favorite MLB baseball player of all time was Buddy Bell. Outfielder and third baseman for the Cleveland Indians Guardians* in the 1970s. So big, strong and blond. A voice so deep it made my knees buckle. You can tag me out anytime, big guy. 🥰😍

        The middle of three generations who played major league baseball. The son of outfielder Gus Bell and the father of former third basemen Mike and David Bell.

        I remember being heartbroken when he was traded to the Texas Rangers.

        You probably remember Buddy Bell as an underperforming manager for the Royals in the 2000s who couldn’t take it anymore and resigned. Oh, well. Nobody’s perfect. There weren’t any good Royals teams in that era because the owners were @#$%@ cheapskates who were more interested in profit than winning.

        *I still have trouble with Cleveland “Guardians.” The name reminds me of a newspaper.

        • sorialpromise

          That’s the Hoyt Wilhelm of my Hall of Fame. Because of him, I have always loved knuckleballers. I agree with you, Buddy Bell was wasted on the Royals. That team lost 19 straight games. I think that is a record. But Mr. Bell was all class. I will never understand sports team owners that bust a gut to buy a team, and then are content to lose, lose, lose. There is no point to owning a team, if you don’t strive to win. Look at the NYJets. Went to SB III, and have done nothing since.
          One of my football heroes died today. Otis Taylor from the 1960’s championship KCChiefs. Those teams were good and kicked ass. Then they pulled a KCRoyals and went nowhere for years until Schottenheimer. But Otis was a receiver among receivers. Against Oakland, he caught a one handed pass with a foot almost out of bounds and we went to Super Bowl IV. In the Super Bowl against the Vikings, Otis catches a short pass and runs it 46 yards for a TD. We were blessed.
          I hope you have happy plans for this weekend!

          • be ware of eve hill

            Geez, Lenny Dawson last year, Otis Taylor this year. Sorry to read that. I believe a lot of players from the SB IV Chiefs team are still with us. Players like Bobby Bell, Willie Lanier, Johnny Robinson and Mike Garrett.

            No real plans this weekend. No (local) grandkids to babysit. I just ate dinner and had a glass of Merlot. It’s Friday. I had the BIG wine glass. Salud! 🥴🍷

          • sorialpromise

            This is a freaky Friday! The couple that bought us the wine, bought me a Merlot. I had never had one before. Zingey. Well, that’s it for me: So long. Farewell. Auf Wiedersehen. Good night.

          • Gerard

            It is Freaky Friday. Had dinner out and had Merlot.

          • sorialpromise

            It is a Merlot trifecta!

          • Gerard Plourde

            And the Merlot is having an effect. Missed adding my full ID

          • sorialpromise

            We knew who you were even in our Merlot clouded minds!

  12. Paul Jones

    This bromance comes in handy when Batiuk misses the point of what centralizing the post office actually involves and Harry is let go instead of having to drive farther than normal to get to the new, not actually improved distribution hub.

  13. Hannibal’s Lectern

    In the Bible, Rachael was a prostitute.

    Seems appropriate for these guys—the only way they’re going to get any is if they pay for it.

    • ComicBookHarriet

      Was there a Rachel who was a prostitute? I know there was a Rahab who hid some dudes on her roof.

      The main Rachel was the wife of Jacob who was the mother of Joseph and his Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat. She was kind of a catty, baby hungry, idol stealing, bitch at times, but the only carnal transaction she did was selling her own husband to her sister for a night in order to get her hands on magic roots.

  14. Hannibal’s Lectern

    “Say, Funky… Did you ever get those old comic books of yours together that you wanted me to sell?”

    …said no English speaker ever.

    I can’t begin to diagram this “sentence.”

  15. Don’t forget to let TimeMop nudge your clocks forward this weekend!

    • The Duck of Death

      DoD wakes up on Sunday morning. Walks to the window, opens the curtain and looks outside. Hovercars zip by, narrowly missing pedestrians ambling down black sidewalks, swinging their four arms, long antennae bobbing. The buildings across the street appear to be made of some kind of mercury-like shimmering, morphing liquid that sloshes gently. A projection fills the entire sky, an image of an angry alien face with 3 rows of sharp teeth and compound insect eyes. It appears to be fiercly berating the people of Earth in a deafening tirade in an incomprehensible, guttural language.

      DoD: Dammit, Timemop! You sprang too far forward!

  16. ComicBookHarriet

    I wish I could go back in time and upvote this again.

  17. The Duck of Death

    Today’s Crankshaft: On the up side, Crankshaft is in it, sitting with the gang at Dale Evans, and no comix are mentioned.

    On the puzzling side, Ralph mentions that he read that a scattered mind indicates high intelligence, and Keesterman says, “Then this must be the Algonquin Round Table.” Ed doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

    The Algonquin Round Table was known for its members’ wit and repartee, not for their intelligence (though of course the two are related). Aside from that, what an odd reference, both for the Dale Evans gang and for the regular Crankshaft reader.

    Picture the creative process. Me, I imagine Bats listening to NPR, hearing a feature on Dorothy Parker or the Algonquin Round Table, thinking it very sophisticated, and deciding to show off his erudition in his determinedly blue-coller, Pluggers-esque strip, whether it fits the characters or not.

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