Give Me Some Slack

John Byrne has drawn his fair share of unsettling imagery, like this nightmare of putto hand-puppetry shared by Green Luthor.

Byrne knows his horror, and can draw a pretty disturbing face. Sometimes even on purpose.

Feels like there’s a late-stage Michael Jackson joke in here somewhere.

But nothing, in his superhero work compares to the facial horror he produced during his run on Funky Winkerbean. Week after week after week, he attempts to top himself in sphincter clenching terror. Such as this.

Oh, Lord. That face…
It wants to feed off my fear…

DCH John has decided to ask Becky to marry him. And so he decides he going to meet her after work at Montonis, dressed in a fancy suit, and just…pop the question… I guess. We are given no indication that they’re arranged a date for tonight.

So Becky is going to be footsore, smelling of bleach and garlic, surrounded by coworkers and the random supper crowd? We are approaching Engagement Tiger levels of awful proposals. Even before we get to a flop-sweating wreck in a damp suit who has just washed his entire face in a public restroom.

We are going to pause in our dive at this critical moment. The moment before DCH John leaves the restroom to pop the question. We are going to go deep into some fun, fanwanky, analysis.

Banana Jr 6000, I promised I would dig into your comments from a few posts ago. Here we go.

I’ve said this before, but Becky is the person who would be the least tolerant of a childish partner. She’s a rarity in Westview: hard-working, self-motivated, pulls her own weight in life, and doesn’t bemoan her lot (when she has valid reason to). She would quickly tire of putting in 12-hour days, while her husband plays with comic books all day and never changes his t-shirt.

They say opposites attract… but not in this way. Couples need to share values, and these two are a complete mismatch. The whole town is a mismatch for Becky. If she was a real character, she’d be miserable in Westview. She’d be much better off in a big city, populated with more ambitious people, working for a school system that would keep Dinkle away from her.

Banana Jr. 6000, March 31, 2023.

This is a very solid theory BJ6K, and yet, in Becky’s case, I disagree.

Becky herself gets a chance to say what she looks for in a romantic partner, during a girls talk week in 2001.

She wants a guy who is sweet, stays sweet, and does what he says he’s going to. A pretty low bar. Whether Becky is talking about Wally in these strips, or if she’s had some off panel boyfriends since, I don’t know.

What I do know is that Becky fell in love with two men. She fell in love with Wally Winkerbean during high school, and she fell in love with John Howard…at some point. Whether or not she is in love with DCH in 2003, we know she married him during the second Time Skip, and proceeded to pick John over Wally in the end.

Now, a person can, over the course of their life, fall in love with two different people who are literally different. Temperament, values, personality, etc. But when I look at Wally Winkerbean pre-car crash, and John Howard…these guys share a lot of traits.

John Howard is a guy with no greater ambition than to own a comic shop and marry a woman. His goals are focused on his interests, comforts, and companionship. Not on being the best at anything. Not on succeeding in any superlative way. When Becky rejects him after their first date, he doesn’t take it personally. Despite the alcoholic mom mopeyness, he’s a guy who would rather be happy.

And Wally, pre-accident.

Wally may be brave, when he saves Les and Lisa from a burning Montoni’s but the kid is not ambitious, and not egotistical. He’s an easy going dork.

Becky tells Wally that her dream is music and Julliard, and Wally tells her that his only goal is to live in the moment with her.

Why would an ambitious woman fall for slackers?

Why wouldn’t she?

Lets think about the relationship between her parents. What kind of relationship have Walter and Roberta Blackburn modeled for their daughter. (Walter? Wally? Hmmmm?!???!?)

Walter seems like a nice enough guy, what we can see of him behind the viewfinder. And he allows his wife to dictate everything, from the number and gender of their children, to how he will spend his free time. Roberta is a harsh, opinionated, unyielding, woman who, when she wants something, goes on a screaming warpath until she either gets it or is defeated. That is ambition. That is hard-work.

Becky has lived under her mother’s tyrannical regime. She obviously learned early on that it was easier to roll with it until you could escape than put up direct resistance. Boy, have I seen that parent/child dynamic before. “Agree, agree, then do what you want.”

While Becky’s goals and her mother’s goals coincided, Becky seemed content enough to be what her mother wanted. But I sincerely, sincerely, doubt that Becky would look for another ambitious person for a mate. Why risk being shackled to a Roberta, when you can find your own Walter?

If Roberta was a tyrant, I think Becky dreams of being a benevolent dictator. So she’s attracted to people who will make her the goal.

Someone ready to take whatever she wants to give, to follow wherever she wants to go. Someone more than willing to relax or quit when she wants to, but who will support her when she does want to succeed. And most important of all, someone who only cares about her success because of how much it will add to her happiness. Someone that prioritizes fun. Someone who will accept failure with a smile.

Once free of the pressure, the volatility, the ego of someone like her mother, it must be so nice to be able to control the level of ambition in a relationship. Slackers are so hot.



Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

80 responses to “Give Me Some Slack

  1. billytheskink

    Slacking and shirking are such common traits among Batiukverse characters that I’m not sure I ever even noticed that Wally and John were slackers. At least they’re generally honest about it. Most FW characters seem to believe that their inaction is somehow meaningful and important…

    • Epicus Doomus

      Yeah, there was always a cloud of creeping malaise hanging over Olde Westview Towne, a glaring lack of ambition fueled by low expectations and a resigned acceptance that only the inevitability of death was real. The only character that came anywhere near being a genuine proactive go-getter was that demented band director. And maybe Funky, who did after all have the biggest house in town by a rather comfortable margin.

    • Green Luthor

      “Meaningful and important inaction.” I think Les has a new pull quote for “Lisa’s Story”!

  2. Epicus Doomus

    Great post CBH, it really drives Becky’s overall sad-sackery home with a vengeance. Her own back story was dreary enough all on its own, but then BatYam married her off twice, to two of Westview’s other notable sad-sacks. Wally spent decades as Batty favorite punching bag, and John runs an unprofitable comic book shop. It doesn’t get a whole lot sad-sackier than that.

    As far as FW’s female sad-sacks are concerned, in my opinion Becky is second only to Linda, who can’t possibly be topped sad-sack-wise. I mean, come on. If the maddening futility of daily existence and soul-crushing human misery was a horse race, Linda would be Secretariat. And Becky would be Sham, giving it her all and still falling short, which would be perfectly in character for her.

  3. Gerard Plourde

    Who would have thought that Becky Blackburn Winkerbean Howard would be among the most consistently depicted characters in the Funkyverse. Thanks to CBH’s deep dive, we’ve been shown how her family background would explain her romantic choices.

  4. The Duck of Death

    Thanks to a tip from Vince, I removed the “s” from the https on the FW site, and it appeared. And I saw, as others mentioned, that TB had taken the idea of a kid drawing a comic cover from an actual comic store where an actual kid had done just that, and as in the Crankshaft strip, the owner had pinned the art on the wall. I should have known the idea was too simple and heartwarming to have been TB’s.

    Here’s what’s not the least bit heartwarming:

    He photographed that art on the wall and used it without any attribution.

    No tip o’ the Funky felt tip? It’s amazing that, as a former comics-obsessed kid, he can’t put himself in that child’s place.

    And it appears from the blog post that he not only didn’t give attribution, he didn’t get permission from the artist, only the owner of the art.

    FYI: The owner of a physical piece of art is not the owner of the image itself. In other words, if I buy an original drawing of a FW strip from 1978, I own the physical drawing but not the right to publish the image, the right to refuse to publish it, or the right to profit from it.

    His reward for the kid, whose work he made money from? He’s gonna take a copy of the strip back to the comic store so the proprietor can pin it next to the original artwork.

    Even in the blog, he doesn’t give the kid’s name. Since the art was signed only with initials, he probably doesn’t know. He probably doesn’t care. He doesn’t think for a second how he would feel if he’d been a child and someone had taken his work without attribution and claimed it as theirs.

    I know the official position of SoSF is that Tom is a “good egg” and a “nice guy.” Maybe he is, in some contexts; I obviously don’t know him. But this, combined with too many other situations in which he hasn’t acknowledged/has stolen from fellow artists — it’s a dick move. The kind that gets you labeled an asshøle.

    • Gerard Plourde

      I read that blog post. I’m willing to accept Batiuk’s belief that he was was doing a good thing. I can also believe that the issue of consent prior to use didn’t even enter his mind. I am surprised that the question of non-permitted use wasn’t raised by Davis. His name is on the strip as well and his work contributed to the publication.

      I do wonder whether the blog post might be an after the fact disclosure prompted by the syndicate in the hope of forestalling some kind of legal action.

      • The Duck of Death

        Yet, oddly — mods please shut me down if I’m not supposed to mention the war letter — Batiuk wasn’t too keen on a certain site using his own work without permission, even with attribution.

        Seems to be a hefty double standard there.

        I obviously can’t read the guy’s mind or know his intent. However, this is a chronic issue with him and he has never, to my knowledge, apologized or even issued a “my bad.” Commercial artists who have been privy to contracts and permissions and legal wrangling for many decades can’t pretend they don’t know the rules, both the legal rules and the moral rules.

        Remember, this is the guy who pitched a grade-A hissy fit over his ownership of the supposedly valuable “John Darling” franchise. He’s not easygoing about his own rights. And I’m not saying he should be, btw. But a crusader for his own rights should at least give a bit of consideration for others’ rights.

        Kurt Vonnegut said it best, and with a charming succinctness:


        • The Duck of Death

          The whole topic puts me in mind of a long conversation I had with Neal Adams. He was at a table, selling art and signing things, and occupying his spare time by drawing a buxom superheroine. Business was very slow, so after I got a couple signed books, we started talking and he told me the (fairly well known) story of how he had fought like hell in every way possible to get DC to return original art to the creators, since for many of them selling this art was effectively their pension. We talked about Don Martin’s break with EC/MAD over this same issue. Neal was very kind and intelligent; it was heartbreaking when we lost him.

          My point was: Neal Adams wasn’t just fighting for his own art. He was crusading for all artists to own their original art. Of course, the question of who owned the right to the characters, and the right to publish the art, was not in question. He just wanted the physical art. Eventually DC was shamed into submission.

          I own some unpublished originals by Lynda Barry and Tony Millionaire. I cherish them. I have the right to sell the artworks if I want, but I know I can never publish them or make money off the images. Everyone knows that. Well… apparently almost everyone.

          Sorry for rants, but this infuriates me on behalf of that kid. And it’s all the more infuriating because it was the first TB strip in years that I really found endearing.

          • vince

            it is never fun to deal with copyright law and such, and ethics with artwork which doesn’t entirely overlap. But making a copy of artwork for parody/criticism like this site does generally is considered to fall under “fair use”. Stealing some kid’s artwork, not so much.

            Especially trimming off the signature. I know that’s a thing that happens on the internet/facebook all the time and I also know it infuriates artists. But if the person is just some nobody and not making money off of it, generally it’s not worth the bother to do anything about it.

            here though is different. It’s not a re-worked or re-drawn version of some art. It’s not an easter-egg in the background you’d have to look hard to see it thing. It’s the focus point of the entire strip, artwork stolen from a kid. Something the author/artist is getting paid for, and I doubt he has any intention of offering any percentage to the kid. If pressed he’s probably one of those condescending people who would be like “I’m not going to pay you, but think of all the free exposure you got, since I’m such a famous person and you’re not”. I agree, it’s unfuriating.

          • Imagine how thrilled the kid would be to see “A tip of the Funky Felt tip to future comics superstar Noah Count!” All his relatives would have bought a copy of the newspaper. What does he get instead? A clipping from said paper. “Check out how I deigned to use your work to shore up my own. Cool, huh?”

          • Banana Jr. 6000

            Reminds me of “Ding Fries Are Done.” It was an internet meme that Family Guy re-used verbatim as a cutaway gag, without acknowledgment or credit to the creator. Sheesh, would it have been so hard just to get the creator’s permission, and give him a writing credit? That would have been a nice example of big media respecting the IP rights of others, instead of just bludgeoning people over petty violations.

          • The Duck of Death

            I had no idea that “Ding Fries are Done” was a meme — I don’t even remember seeing it in the show — but I’m guessing they paid for it. FG constantly uses songs for parody, such as “Frank Sinatra’s Restaurant” (“I Wish I Were in Love Again” by Rodgers and Hart) or “I Have James Woods” and “A Bag O’ Weed” (“You Two” and “The Old Bamboo,” from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang). These songs are never attributed to their original source, nor is the source acknowledged, but you can be sure Fox is paying royalties.

            Given that, there’s no way to know for sure whether the song was paid for, but unlike TB, Fox has a legal team dedicated to song clearances, and I suspect they either got permission or paid, or both. Messing up permissions would mean legal problems and would require them to re-edit the episode for syndication, both of which cost $$$ I’m sure Fox doesn’t want to pay.

          • Banana Jr. 6000

            FG probably got rights to “Carol of the Bells,” or didn’t need them because it’s an old folk song. But they also copied the “Fries” lyrics verbatim, which could still be copyrighted by someone else. It’s a bit of a gray area, but it’s a big reason why “Happy Birthday” is still copyrighted after all these years. Which is quite a story.

          • The Duck of Death

            Sure, “Carol of the Bells” is public domain. I’m saying they likely got permission to use the parody/meme, because it’s easier to do that than to get taken to court over it. Fox has a lot to lose, and some guy who made a YouTube video has a lot to gain, in that instance.

            My best guess, based on having read about similar cases and situations, is that if they can’t get permission for a song, or a borrowed bit, it doesn’t go in the show.

            I recently saw a video in which Jack Black described the incredible lengths he had to go to to get permission to use the Led Zeppelin song “The Immigrant Song” in School of Rock. The surviving members are notoriously unwilling to allow their songs to be used commercially. He filmed himself singing the praises of the band and literally begging on his knees in front of a huge audience screaming their support. Finally the band relented.

          • Green Luthor

            In terms of Family Guy and securing the rights to things they feature in the show…

            In one episode, Peter and Cleveland are playing the NES basketball game Double Dribble. Peter exploits a glitch in the game to win easily. Now, to show the glitch, they used a YouTube video that someone not connected to the show or Fox made demonstrating it. Did they get permission to do so? No. Absolutely not. In fact, not only did they not get permission, they then turned around and issued a DMCA takedown against the person who made the original video that they stole!

            In short, screw Family Guy.

          • The Duck of Death

            If that’s the case, then, yeah, they suck. It could be that Fox gambles in cases where they think the “owner” of the property doesn’t have the means to face them in court.

            OR it could be that the copyright to the gameplay was owned by NES and it was actually the video maker who was stepping on NES’ toes, and they got permission from NES.

            I’m not trying to be argumentative, honest! I’ve always been interested in copyright law, especially as it relates to music, because it’s so tremendously byzantine and weird and I’m a great big dorky nerd. So who knows what happened there, or with the “Ding, Fries Are Done” guy. All I know is these mega-corporations are all about protecting themselves and their money.

            And yes, I’m certain that they’ll get away with what they can, if they don’t think there’s too much risk. Which will bring… us… back… to… Tom! (apologies to Oscar Hammerstein)

          • Banana Jr. 6000

            My recollection is there was a furor at the time about “Ding” not being permissioned or okayed in any way when FG used it.

        • Rusty Shackleford

          Oh yeah, Batty won’t hesitate to use big, expensive law firms to bully others.

          But then he complains about big business, Hollywood fat cats and the like, screwing over the little guy.

        • This is also the same guy who didn’t credit Ayers for his work for about 30 years. Apparently his own should be praised and touted and absolutely not used without express permission, but anyone else should be just damned glad the great Tom Batiuk has brought their work into the sunshine.

          • Banana Jr. 6000

            anyone else should be just damned glad the great Tom Batiuk has brought their work into the sunshine.

            Batiuk acts like Funky Winkerbean is some kind of cultural kingmaker, like having Weird Al Yankovic parody your song, or being a guest voice on The Simpsons. Then in the same breath he says “they’ll have to explain to the kid what a newspaper is, LOL.” Either you’re important or you’re not, Tom. Pick one.

          • The Duck of Death

            Yes, BJr6K, and the funny thing about that comparison is that, even though parody is fair use as long as you pay the appropriate royalties, Weird Al famously always seeks permission from the original artist. It makes sense; why would he want to do a fun parody of someone’s work if it’s just going to make them angry? Why create bad blood? The point of funny songs is to make people happy, not create conflict.

            This might explain why Weird Al has had a multimedia career for almost 50 years and appears to be universally beloved. At least I’ve never seen or heard a bad word about him.

            A bit of respect for your fellow artists goes a long way, it seems.

          • Banana Jr. 6000

            There are some complications if you also intend to publish and re-sell the songs, as Al does. But yes, he does make an effort to maintain good relations with musicians. He never did a Prince parody, because Prince was the one artist who wouldn’t grant permission. Al never grumbled about this, but he was vicious about “You’re Beautiful”, because Atlantic Records vetoed it after James Blunt gave his okay. He’s also had the same backing band since 1983, which further suggests good people skills.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      It’s bad form, at the very least. I remember when Bloom County had cameos from other comic strip characters like Cathy, as part of the story where the characters all looked for jobs in other strips after BC ended. They always had the notation “apologies to Guisewite” or whoever’s character he borrowed, written on it. And his stories were well within fair use. (Though that wasn’t well codified yet; this was about the same time when the 2 Live Crew/Roy Orbison ruling happened.)

      Tom Batiuk uses any comic book characters, comic strip characters, or real people he wants. He doesn’t give any credit or thanks, doesn’t adhere to Fair Use principles, and acts like *he’s* doing *you* a favor. I share your opinion that his “niceness” is very superficial.

      As for the “certain site”, I think he had a valid beef there. “Use no more of the copyrighted material than necessary” is a principle of fair use, and just linking to the daily strips instead of posing them in full didn’t hurt the site any. He also hasn’t complained about the re-posting of older strips, or the many Photoshop parodies, so I have to give him credit for that.

      I have bigger problems with how creatively bankrupt it is; the overweening dependence on comic book stories; Batiuk needing a whole week to set this scenario up, because of his strict adherence to dumb rules; and that the drawing itself is so unremarkable.

      • Rusty Shackleford

        And look, Bloom County had a handicapped character, but Berke didn’t make a big deal about it.

        Batty loves to show that pinned up sleeve, it’s a cheap gimmick so he can make himself feel good.

        • Paul Jones

          Ah, yes. It’s all about calling attention to himself. He wants to make a big noise but he doesn’t like earning it.

          • Banana Jr. 6000

            That’s the real problem with it. Batiuk doesn’t actually give a shit about the child. Notice he never wants to learn who the artist was, even as he learns the real-life backstory of the drawing. Batiuk’s interest died long before it was ever about any human being other than himself.

            He saw an excuse to build a story around his precious comic book store, and a situation he could use to fish for media attention. Ironically, he defeated his own efforts, because the reaction of the the child and their parents is what’s interesting about situations like this.

            I spent that whole week wondering why Batiuk was telling that story, because there was nothing else driving it. It was because he felt he had to engineer a situation where a 10-year-old boy was in a comic book store. That’s how blind he is. Ed Crankshaft can be in the audience of a musical in an NYC-sized theater with zero explanation, but a 10-year-old boy in a comic book store needs an entire week of exposition and a blog post to justify.

            Batiuk’s treatment of children reminds me of his treatment of women. He’s falling all over himself to perform his “correct” values. But in doing so, he demonstrates how little he really thinks of them as human beings. It’s another one of Batiuk’s inadvertent overarching themes: comic books and comic book stores are for adults only. He tries to demonstrate that they’re not, with occasional background characters playing tabletop games or whatever. But he badly tips his hand with the overall composition of the story.

            This is a question I’d love to ask Tom Batiuk. Why wasn’t this just a standalone Sunday strip? It needed no setup.

          • The Duck of Death

            Yes to everything you mentioned. I can tell you why the setup took a week:

            1. Gotta have something to fill those panels or Tommy don’t get paid

            2. When in doubt, comix. Comix store. Even better, comix as a storehouse of value, being exchanged for money. This is the theme Puffy is drawn to by default. It’s a real obsession. He’ll come back to it as often as he thinks he can get away with. Regular Crankshaft readers/fans are heartily sick of it already, but I have a feeling they ain’t seen nothing yet.

          • The Duck of Death

            I realized something else about whoever drew that Negative Man.

            What if they look nothing like Mitch? What if Mitch is the wrong size/shape/age/gender/race, etc?

            It might be upsetting to see someone who looks nothing like you credited with a drawing that you did, that was used without your permission.

            But as you said BJr6K, the great Tom Batiuk has deigned to pluck your drawing out of obscurity, so you should be flattered, kiddo.

    • Andrew

      To some extent I can understand not voicing out a young kid’s name in a medium that’s under such heavy snark scrutiny (though most of us know better, who knows if there’s some bad apple that would stoop as low as insulting some kid who just happened to be noticed by a senior citizen cartoonist), but I’d probably find it more remarkable how the blog demonstrates how Batiuk would rather handle things indirectly and make it a “surprise” that his drawing showed up in newspapers around the country without attribution, and not even talk to the boy directly about it, just a mysterious a gesture of sudden goodwill as if he was Santa Claus (also not as cool as Bill Watterson slipping autographs into local bookshops). At least try and have a conversation with the youth, surely he did a lot of that back in the day sitting in on high school classes for “research” for Act 1.

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        Or he could actually contact the child, and ask if he wants to be recognized. And if he does, ask the parents what form of recognition they’d be comfortable with their son getting.

        Or he could simply re-create the story, without using the actual drawing, and changing some details. Ironically, he’d be following his own advice: “step back from an idea and just get out of its way.”

        Or he could not be so fucking obvious about the fact that he’s fishing for more asspats from the Akron Plain Dealer. You can imagine the article, can’t you?

        “World-renowned local cartoonist Tom Batiuk, two-time Pulitzer nominee and the creator of Lisa’s Story, made a young child’s wildest dream come true today when he used the child’s drawing of Negative Man in his comic strip Crankshaft last Sunday….”


        By the way, I love the part about “a young boy sketched it as he was waiting for his father to finish up his business in the store.” It’s a comic book store, Tom, not H&R Block. Why would a young boy who’s interested in Negative Man not have “business” of his own to conduct?

        • The Duck of Death

          To add one final wrinkle: What if the kid didn’t want his art published, or didn’t want it published in that specific venue? It shouldn’t be assumed that he wanted it disseminated at all, let alone for free, let alone without credit or payment.

          It’s such a Les thing to do, isn’t it? Especially the self-back-patting afterward. Just yuck.

          • Gerard Plourde

            I agree completely with this point. It’s similar to having one’s photo published – consent of the subject (in this case the creator, the budding cartoonist – or his parents since he’s a minor) is a necessary prerequisite.

  5. Bill Epps

    I think comparing Wally and John, is a little like comparing apples & oranges. Of course Wally was a free going slacker, while he dated Becky, he was a kid in high school. John, on the other hand, was supposed to be an adult who had his own business, yet was more child-like than Wally. He finally grew up (sort of), but that was more to do with Becky’s doing than his own.

    • ComicBookHarriet

      That’s true they have plenty of differences. And I agree with all the commenters that my stupid fanwanky headcanon is not what was on Batiuk’s mind when he set up the love triangle.

      But apples and oranges, and Wally and John, do have some similarities. They’re sweet, relatively cheap, easy to acquire, and easy to consume without much fuss. That covers a lot of Funkyverse characters and foodstuffs…but not all. It’s not like comparing apples to Dinkles. Or rambutans to Les Moore.

  6. The Duck of Death

    Enough ranting — time for raves! Raves for the Timemop cover (how I want all the Timemop issues to be collected in a prestige, perfect-bound paperback). And raves for the deep dive into the beaten-down Becky.

    I doubt Batiuk was thinking of the psychology of the character over the years, but CBH has made sense out of randomness. I think her thesis makes sense: She was so tired of being browbeaten by her “tiger mom”-esque matriarch that she fled the other direction, into total slackness. It explains so much.

    It explains dang nigh everything about Becky, except why someone who was driven enough to get accepted to Juilliard (overall acceptance rate 7%, and this is after in-person auditions) would suddenly be totally okay with having their music career & future destroyed. You sort of have to handwave (sorry Becky) that away. You have to handwave away grief, anger, and the incredible drive and perseverance it takes to get from West Butthair High School, OH, into the premier perfoming arts school in the world. That kind of focus and intensity can’t be forced on you by your mother. Sure, she could force you to practice, but she can’t force you to be phenomenally dedicated and talented.

    Where did all that intensity and focus and drive go?

    • ComicBookHarriet

      Thanks for the TimeMop love, DOD! I can’t thank BC enough for passing on the templates.


      • Green Luthor

        If I had ANY ability to use graphics-editing software, I’d consider it.

        But that’s a HUGE “if”.

        • Email CBH, TFH or myself and I can send you the various bits, though to be honest they’re not as exciting as the products the folks here have made from them. It would be cool if TFH could just post a link to them and generations hence could produce their own Timemop covers with a click of the mouse….

  7. Banana Jr. 6000

    I like how Harriet portrays Wally and John Howard as both being Becky’s “type.” That fits, and it’s probably more thought than TB put into it.

    I can buy that Becky might find John attractive; the bigger problem is she wouldn’t STAY with him. I didn’t make that distinction in my post CBH is responding to, but it’s more what I was getting at. His laziness, childishness, and low income would be a major problem in the marriage. I don’t think Becky needs to be “kept”, but she does need to be supported, and I think she’d quickly lose respect for him when she realizes he has no interest in doing so.

    They were a much better candidate for divorce for Pmm and Jff were. Batiuk pulled that out of his ass over the plot contrivance of Pam not getting to be an author, even though they were reasonably happy, and practically every other person in town is a published author.

    And Becky dismissed Wally so indifferently. She had no conflicted feelings, no concern for what he suffered as a POW, and gave no weight to the fact that he used her as his inspiration to survive. It’s almost like the story was trying to make some kind of social point about marriage being sacred, while also disregarding Wally’s circumstances and his no-less-sacred marriage to the same woman.

    The Funkyverse forces cheap divorce plots on couples that don’t warrant them. But it lionizes bad marriages that really should break up, or would at least be plausible if they did. John Howard and Becky weren’t even the worst offender. (I’m looking at you, Cayla.)

    • ComicBookHarriet

      I agree that DSH John’s financial woes should have realistically put a strain on the Becky/John marriage.

      Though I guess that two low income jobs could have all been a scam to maximize the survivor pensions that Becky’s two children would have been eligible for if their combined income was low enough. The real reason the couple never produced a child of their own… that baby wouldn’t have Uncle Sam paying child support.

      Rereading the Funky/Cindy divorce, that one was, to me, very believably set up. A significant difference in life goals leads to a break up of the marriage despite a few honest attempts to salvage it.

      It seems like every other divorce involves one complete non-character jerk bailing on the ‘good’ character. (And I don’t think Wally/Becky really counts, since Wally was ‘dead’.)

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        Becky and John seem pretty guileless to me. They’re not Linda and Les, who give off the feel that they’re trying to take advantage of everyone around them.

        You make a good point about the main characters always being the recipients of the divorce, rather than the initators. It fits perfectly with how passive all the characters are. They never initiate things on their own. Note also that Pmm and Jff are still married. It’s beyond Batiuk’s writing ability to create a good character who wants a divorce.

        • Green Luthor

          Minor point, but I think you mean Fred and Ann instead of Pm and Jff. Fred and Ann are Boy Lisa’s adoptive (i.e., not as important as Lisa) parents; when Fred had his stroke (while on the can, because the whole thing wasn’t humiliating enough for Batiuk to do to the guy), Ann revealed that she had secretly resented Fred for years. (As demonstrated by her seeming to be happy whenever they’d reminisce about the past or anything.) Pm and Jff are Crankshaft’s daughter and son-in-law (respectively) and seem generally happy together (which means they either hate each other or possibly have been abducting and torturing transients in the basement).

          You can tell them apart because one pair are generally unassuming types with light-colored hair who both wear glasses, and the other are… um… anyway, at least they’re easier to differentiate than the Generic Blonde Women…

          • Banana Jr. 6000

            Which one was the high school principal? That was Fred Fairgood, right? You’re right, I meant Fred and Ann then. Thanks for the correction.

            And yeah, Fred and Ann were a symbol of what a depressing hellscape the Funkyverse had become. They were decent, happy, likeable people until Batiuk pulled that out plot twist out of his ass. Over not getting to be an author, a status he hands out like candy.

      • gleeb

        Why doesn’t Wally count? He ghosted Becky, didn’t he?

  8. Andrew

    Also for once we get to see a bit of substance to the “Cover Me” blog posts, and more of Batiuk’s vices alongside Snoopy’s brothers and Adam West Batman; variant covers, particularly those with an element of a “blind bag” gimmick.

    Honestly I like the sound of a scratch-off cover image, even if that does mean damaging a comic from “mint” status and has an element of randomness you can’t predict. At the very least, the internet likely has an answer for “how many” different versions there are, and maybe there is something in the legal guff printing as far as to what cover variant is which. Either way, still feels like a molehill to the mountain he makes of it.

    And this may be me speaking personally, but I hardly think all collectors are “collect ’em all” with cover variants with how crazy they are with variants these days. Batiuk seems more peeved than I am, like he’s annoyed he can’t do it all himself and soothe his own OCD impulses.

    • The Duck of Death

      I think it’s a cool idea too.

      The sad thing about the whole diatribe is that I’m sure that back when he was plotzing over Flash #123 etc, he wasn’t thinking of collectible value, or keeping his comic in perfect condition. He was just enjoying the stories and art.

      And he valorizes that innocence, that experience of going into the attic with milk and cookies, which no doubt got onto the comics, but who cares about that stuff when you’re a kid who just got a hold of the latest issue of your favorite comic/magazine?

      He blames the publisher for being “cynical” but he’s the one who has become cynical, valuing comics primarily for their worth as collectibles. 10-year-old Tom probably would have been delighted by a scratch-off cover. I know I would have been, if I had been a comic collector. Instead, I was tearing out and playing the flexidiscs that came in MAD, and folding in the back cover, never thinking of “collectibility” or future value.

      (Bonus irony: Anything marketed as a “collectible” will never be anywhere near as valuable as something meant to be ephemera that was saved by mere chance. Ask the folks who “invested” in Beanie Babies or Lincoln Mint, hoping to sell their collections at a hefty profit.)

      • The Duck of Death

        I just realized I meant “Franklin Mint” collectibles, not Lincoln Mint. D’oh!

        And lest I be called a snob, let me clarify that there’s nothing wrong with buying things you enjoy. It’s only dire if you think they’re an investment that will increase in value, and spend accordingly.

        • Banana Jr. 6000

          A lot of people got tricked into that “collectible” mentality, including yours truly. My thing was sports cards, and the 1990s were such a hellscape of competing manufacturers, inserts, refractors, special issues, variant colors, and other nonsense that inundated the hobby with useless junk – all of it marked “collectible” or some word that implied that.

          The peak of my baseball card fandom was 1978-1983, and old sports cards started surging in value because they were exactly what you said: “ephemera saved by chance.” A card that was merely 25 years old, (1953-1958) looked to my young eyes like a thing from a bygone era. And there was some legit scarcity to them, because few were preserved, and fewer in good condition. The hobby had just started promoting the idea of saving and preserving value; the producers weren’t inundating you with junk wax yet.

          But what had started was mass production. The number of cards printed each year (and before 1974, for segments within each year) isn’t well known. However, trading cards became a much more widely available product, and it’s clear that Topps printed zillions more cards than they did in the past. Cards from my childhood aren’t valuable for the same reason state quarters aren’t: they’re dirt-common. Even in elite condition, because people had been trained to preserve them by then. Supply outpaces demand 100 to 1. So it all became about professional grading, where elite value is only assigned to cards that meet mythical standards.

          Comic books seem to be deep into their own “junk wax” era. Even ignoring the variant colors and other “collectible” trash, there’s so much being printed that even worthwhile issues will never be valuable. Too bad we’ll never see the Funky Winkerbean strip where that happens.

          • Green Luthor

            Comics really hit the oversaturated “collectible” point in the 90s as well. (In fact, Topps even started publishing comics themselves during that time, though that venture only lasted about five years. But they did have titles based on previously-undeveloped series by Jack Kirby, plus licensed titles based on The X-Files, Hercules, Xena, Zorro, The Lone Ranger, and adaptations of Ray Bradbury. The possibility of getting something lasting out of that was there, but not in the 90s market…)

            The 90s comics market saw the rise of the variant and other gimmick covers, which really (and intentionally) fed into a lot of comics collectors’ “gotta get ’em all” mentality. (So when X-Force #1 came polybagged with one of five different trading cards… yeah, more than one person “had” to get five copies to get each of the cards, AND another five to keep the bag sealed so they had “mint” copies of all the versions. It sold five MILLION copies, at the time the most copies any individual issue had sold. And it led to Rob Liefeld appearing in a Levi’s commercial directed by Spike Lee. The 90s, man.)

            (And, yeah, MAYBE it sold so many copies not because of the collector/speculator market, but because people really like the comics, but… c’mon. It was written and drawn by Rob Liefeld. Whether the story or the art was worse is open for debate, but the comic was BAD.)

            You can, of course, get your pick of the various versions in comic shop quarter boxes. More than one shop owner has had to deal with people trying to sell longboxes full of the thing thinking they’re going to be walking away with a small fortune (and thinking the owner was trying to rip them off by not paying them the thousands it should be worth…)

            Basically, the 90s were lousy with “collectibles”. Comics, baseball cards, Beanie Babies, POGs, CCGs… some are still around, some are pretty much “you’re a 90s kid if you remember…” jokes.

      • Paul Jones

        That’s the thing of it, isn’t it? Batiuk has lost the ability to realize what’s really important because he let himself be duped into buying shiny junk because it made him feel important.

      • The Duck of Death

        I have a theory about collectible “children’s” items like toys, baseball cards, comics, etc.

        Duck’s Unifying Theory of Collectibles:

        With a few exceptions, most child- or youth-oriented collectibles can be expected to plummet in value when the generation that coveted them as children dies off.


        — Collectibles that fit within a lengthy longitudinal history of that item (ex. baby dolls)

        — Collectibles that are historically significant, especially in a way that resonates today (ex. Action Comics #1; superhero movies are currently popular)

        — Collectibles that have a beauty or fascination even without historical context (ex. 40s/50s Wurlitzer jukeboxes)


        — Collectibles that are extremely rare or one-of-a-kind, because they will often be in demand to fill out someone’s obscure collection

        As TB’s generation ages and fades away, I’d expect the value of mediocre comic “collectibles” to decline to near-nothing. Kids today don’t care all that much about physical collections in general; they’ve grown up on digital media.

        The rarest and most significant comics will likely retain their value, but I think there are gonna be a lot of longboxes schlepped around from buyer to buyer by people who are gonna end up disappointed that Dad’s collection is not gonna be Junior’s college fund.

        • Banana Jr. 6000

          And only a few examples that meet those criteria will retain value. Sports cards fit categories 1, 2, and 3, but there are zillions of them and only a handful retain much value.

  9. Green Luthor

    On writer Mark Evanier’s blog today, he mentions that he’s been nominated to be inducted into the Will Eisner Hall of Fame (for comics creators), and he shares this anecdote:

    I talked about it once with my friend/employer Lee Mendelson, who had more Emmy Awards than toes, and who may have been the wisest man I’ve known in the television business. He said, “It’s simple. If you’re nominated, say ‘It’s an honor to be nominated'” If you win, say ‘It’s an honor to win.'” Then find a place for the trophy and don’t make a big hazari about it.” “Hazari” — pronounced as “rye” with a “haza” (rhyming with “Gaza”) in front of it — is a Yiddish word that means (roughly) “junk food” but a lot of folks use it to mean something that is way less important than people make it out to be.

    In case you don’t know the name, Lee Mendelson was the guy who produced a whole lot of the Peanuts cartoons, like A Charlie Brown Christmas. Just to compare how a guy like that might view things as opposed to, say, Les Moore’s attitude towards an award statuette he didn’t even earn.

    Les Moore is a pompous ass, is what I’m trying to say here.

    • Paul Jones

      But he’s not aware of it or how people see him as one. It’s the lack of self-awareness that irritates the most.

  10. Andrew

    Also I may be late to the punch on this one, but looking at Tom’s site now, while he has setup Facebook and Instagram pages, not only is the Twitter icon gone, but the account itself is gone too.

    Suppose that’s not surprising in a few ways, even if any snark-back he got on the site was fairly minor, though also with the state Twitter’s in under their new management, I can’t blame anyone for wanting to leave, so good for him there I guess.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      I suspect TB’s social media is managed by a social media professional. And a lot of them just aren’t bothering with Twitter anymore, unless they already had a strong presence (like Wendy’s). The Elon Musk era of Twitter will join New Coke and as a textbook case of how not to do things.

      • ComicBookHarriet

        Actually got an email about that from Tom Batiuk, via his little bulletin email list, “Yes… I’m slowly working my way into the crazy world of Social Media. You may have seen some posts on my Facebook and Instagram (I started out on Twitter as well but I think I’m going to focus on the Metas for right now). I look forward to continuing to put stuff out there but it may be a little slow as I get the hang of it — please be patient with this old dog as he continues to learn new tricks ;-)”

        • The Duck of Death

          I’ve looked at his Facebook and Instagram and he either doesn’t realize that he can engage with commenters, or he doesn’t want to engage. One person on Facebook asked what was up with the Winnepeg Blue Bombers swag in the strip, but there was no acknowledgement or answer.

          If TB’s social media are professionally managed, they should be telling him that without reader engagement, for him it’s a waste of time. He already has a blog to broadcast with, so the point of Facebook & Instagram is to allow some kind of give-and-take.

          I predict he will hate that and either shut down the whole experiment or ignore it and let it lie fallow.

          • Banana Jr. 6000

            Batiuk misses the entire point of social media.

            Sometimes I think he misses the entire point of socializing.

  11. The Duck of Death

    Today, on Crankshaft, Pmm once again has the thankless and useless role of asking the “What are you doing”-type question that supposedly sets up the joke but in reality just wastes a panel.

    Freckles and Blondie are going to their friend’s combo brewery and comedy club, Brew Ha! Ha!. Of course, this name has already been used by many establishments IRL.

    On the bright side, the strip didn’t start with “So.”

  12. hitorque

    I’d totally read this comic…!

  13. Paul Jones

    The irritating thing about things making sense is that it’s by accident. Tommy Boy had no clue that he gave Becky a passive, easy going type.

  14. The Duck of Death

    Crankshaft is a real thrill ride today. Once again, Pmm adds nothing except to ask a question, prompting the HYE-larious punch line.

    Setup: Crankshaft is eating pizza. He is not happy. Pmm asks why. He says “I put this slice of pizza from the freezer into the microwave for two minutes… but the center is still frozen crisp!”

    I’m sorry for all of you who were drinking coffee when you read that, because in all the unbridled hilarity, I’m sure you spewed it all over your phone/keyboard/monitor.

    I could nitpick by saying it would have been clearer to write “I microwaved this frozen pizza slice for two minutes…,” but I’m more focused on the question: What kind of microwave can’t warm one slice of pizza in 2 minutes?

    And I’m kinda barfed out by the idea of frozen, microwave-reheated Montoni’s (since there is no other source of pizza in the Funkyverse, and I’m surprised Montoni’s wasn’t namechecked in this strip). Then again, I won’t eat microwaved pizza. If I’m reheating pizza, it’s either the toaster oven if I’m in a rush, or (far superior) a large cast-iron pan, preheated, and ideally covered. It only takes a few minutes and restores the pizza to something close to its original state.

    Of course, it might be that microwaved, soggy, and half-frozen is in fact the original state of Montoni’s pizza and that’s the joke: Ed shouldn’t be complaining because this is considered gourmet pizza in the Westview/Centerville Metroplex.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Montoni’s isn’t name-checked because Batiuk doesn’t want to make the joke at their expense. He is extremely protective of his main characters and won’t let anyone speak ill of them, no matter how playfully, and how much their actions warrant being spoken ill of.

    • Green Luthor

      Pm: “Did you actually turn the microwave on, or did you just put the slice in there to sit for two minutes, you senile moron?”

      (Well, except that would require Pm to get more than the entire two words she’s allowed to speak today to set up the “joke”.)

  15. be ware of eve hill

    Howdy. Playing catch up again.

    1.) The image of DCH John in the sewer opening like “It” had me laughing so hard I was crying. DCH John is a horror, indeed. Bloody brilliant.

    2.) It appears Wanders is shutting down (at least for a while). Who would have thought Son of Stuck Funky (sans comic) would still be going strong while Mary Worth & Me is going on hiatus? ComicBookHarriet rules. 👍

    3.) From the Utter Madness Department. I received a notice from the Comics Kingdom informing me my account will be renewed on 5/01 for another year. $29.99 for an annual Comics Kingdom subscription? A $10 increase? They cannot be serious!

    Roddy Piper expresses my feelings for the increase perfectly.

    Cheers 🤟

    • sorialpromise

      Dear precious, most beloved Be Ware of Eve Hill,
      I read about 5 comics on CK, more on Sundays. I can’t picture anyone putting out $29.99 for the privilege of reading their comics. I probably read double that on GC, which I find a much more enjoyable site. I guess GC offers subscriptions, but they have never harassed me from looking up my favorites every day. CK often does. So when they do, I find back doors like the Seattle paper.
      – – I love Rowdy Roddy Piper. My first experience was in the ‘80’s on TBS. They carried NWA Wrestling on Saturday. Tommy Rich was feuding with Mad Dog Buzz Sawyer. He was coming down to attack Rich from behind. But Piper appears from WWF. He’s holding a 2×4, and stops Buzz in his tracks. Then the next week is a promo where Piper is in the woods on a mad dog hunt. It was hilarious. Piper has the best wrestling voice. Just magic. I believe those segments are on YouTube. Piper always brought the goods!
      – – – Eve, you like older films. I watched an old war picture “Destination Tokyo” with Cary Grant. Then later watched “Hollywood Canteen”. It was like a sequel! A lot of the same actors were in both pictures as active military. It made for a nice double feature.
      ✝️🕊️☦️ Joyous Resurrection Sunday to everyone at SOSF. All of you are loved and a blessing to me!

      • be ware of eve hill

        I’ve separated my comic titles by webpage. Most of my Comics Kingdom titles can be found on either Arcamax or The Seattle Times for free. The remaining comic strips not found on either of those websites are not worth paying for.

        I was never really into “Pro Wrestling” but my guys were. It was something we could all watch on TV together. One of my first dates with Mr. bwoeh was a WWE event at the Richfield Coliseum in the mid 1980s. I most likely drove the audience around us nuts with all of my questions. “Who’s this guy?” “Is he a bad guy?” “Why did the referee get involved.” “Are the bad guys required to cheat?” “Why did they stop the match?” As somebody posted here earlier this week, there is a concept known as kayfabe. I had no idea at the time it was all fake.

        I primarily knew Roddy Piper from the movie They Live. I was searching for a GIF that signified “NO!” when I found Roddy. It was perfect for my post. Chef’s kiss. I liked Roddy not because I thought he was a great wrestler, but because he was funny. My son would say Roddy had good “mic skills.”

        I have seen Destination Tokyo. Ironically, while in the hospital after an emergency appendectomy. I have never seen Hollywood Canteen. I’ll have to keep an eye out for it. It has the Sorial Promise official seal of approval. Especially since Bette Davis was in the cast. She’s a personal favorite.

        Hope you had a Happy Easter. We attended the church service and had Easter dinner at a friends’ house.

        Cheers 🤟

        • sorialpromise

          I was into pro wrestling in streaks. In the ‘60’s and early ‘70’s I was nuts for the Mongolian Stomper, Cowboy Bob Ellis, Danny Little Bear, and hated the evil, dirty, conniving, lying, bald Bob Geigel. If his opponent had him in a headlock, he would distract the ref by telling the ref that the guy was pulling his hair. It always worked. Got back into it with WCW in the ‘90’s. Loved Sting. Got into AEW since 2019. I ALWAYS HATED WWE. ALWAYS WILL. Pro Wrestling is never fake. It is scripted. Just like the TV and film. I don’t really think Cary Grant was in danger of drowning on a sub, but I believe the setup. Same with wrestling. They have writers, directors, and actors. All 3 have to click to make it believable. Rowdy Roddy was perfect almost all the time. His only clunker I saw, was when he and Mr. T boxed in Wrestlemania 2. It was awful. I always thought Roddy was what Bill Murray would be like if he tried wrestling. As for my Easter, I will send you an email.
          You guys are loved!

    • gleeb

      Old Man Hearst must be on a losing streak at the track.

      • be ware of eve hill

        Gleeb, I see you post in the comment section in many of the Comics Kingdom titles I read. Are you a subscriber? Are you going to pay $29.99 to renew?

  16. Paul Jones

    Y’know, it occurs to me doing this deep dive, we can probably safely add the entry “Young adult: white male of Batiuk’s age and background” to the Batiuktionary given how this strip is meant for what Batiuk calls ‘young adults’. Irrelevant children, uppity women who don’t know their place and all the rest need not apply for young adult status.

  17. Gerard Plourde

    It looks as if TomBa has been visiting the Medina Bob Evans again. Today’s Crankshaft features a cameo appearance by Ed, Meckler &Co.

    • Rusty Shackleford

      Funny thing is that I have heard the term “romeos” before. A server at a local restaurant here explained that term to me and said she likes waiting on the romeos because they are friendly and tip well. Plus they order the same thing all the time and make no special requests.

      I asked her what she called the groups of ladies who come in and she said it rhymes with “itches”. She said they are hyper critical of everything and very rude with their complaining. Plus they make tons of requests: dressing on the side, leave this off, substitute that, and yet they expect no up charges.

      • The Duck of Death

        She might change her mind if she got a tip of 386 pennies tied in a crusty old-man sweatsock, like the unfortunate waitress at Dale Evans.

        • Rusty Shackleford

          Ha, true. Obviously this is just one observation from one server ne so your mileage may vary!

    • be ware of eve hill

      A year or so ago we saw in Crankshaft, Ed, Ralph and Keesterman received a plaque or certificate indicating their regular booth at Dale Evan’s was theirs for life.

      I’ve read Batiuk and Ayers, met every other week at Luigi’s. I wonder if they had their own special booth or table.