The Crankening.

As a newcomer, I’m mystified as to why Crankshaft ISN’T being covered here by rotating commenters on a daily basis. (Other than perhaps after years of covering FW, the regulars are burnt out — except clearly, they’re still posting, so that wouldn’t seem to be it.)

From the standpoint of keeping the blog fresh, CBH’s epic deep dives are fun … but even CBH seems to be giving herself six months before she either runs out of energy or archive material. And I’m sure none of us want to burn CBH out!


ONLY talking about the old stuff seems more insular, and isn’t as involving to me. I mean, I can chime in with “Yeah, I guess that WAS weird.” But I wasn’t there for it when it originally happened, and so I don’t have much more meaningful to add.

Y. Knott.

That is a very good point, Y. Knott. And something I’ve been pondering back and forth too. So don’t feel like I’m calling you out! You just were the one to most clearly put into words something I’d been pondering.

First of all, Cranky complaining in the comments is ALWAYS welcome, as far as I’m concerned, and Ducky has been great with providing a Crankshaft report there. Don’t let Epicus scare you off!

And I do have to laugh about the idea that I was there for any of this Act II stuff. Nope. In 2003 I was in high school ranting to other nerds about how Elrond isn’t really half-elven, (he’s 9/16ths elven.) While BJ6K’s comment, “Scratch a Funky Winkerbean hater, you’ll find an ex-fan. I certainly was one.” is true of so many here, it is not true of me. I was lured into comics commentary on the basis of snark alone about ten years ago, and became obsessed with Funky Lore via Chris Sims ‘Funky Watch’ on the website Comics Alliance. I’ve only been at this for about a decade.

Some of this Act II stuff is new to me, so it’s like I’m getting to snark on it for the very first time!

But you’re right. Some of our commenters seem happy to leave Cranky languishing. But some seem hungry to comment on current events.

People here respond to different kinds of posts, I’ve noticed. Some people really latch on when CBH goes personal, or serious. Some people are obviously here for the humor. Or the history. Or the tangents. Or the parodies. That’s why I’ve tried to mix up my approach to the deep dives. And why I’ve done some days of just plain parody. I want everyone to get a little of what they like, even if it’s not every post. The variety also helps me keep things fresh.

We, so far, haven’t found a way to hack the system and get Crankshaft early, which would muck up the way several of our old guest hosts would do their shifts. Many of our old guest authors are taking a well deserved break from more than a decade of the Batiukverse looming over them. They’re thinking about retirement, emeritus status, or just the very occasional post.

I’m no where close to burning out as long as you people are content with only two or three posts a week, and have SO MANY old topics that I’ve been wanting to sink my teeth into. I’ve got folders of stuff I’ve already pulled togeher. Running out of old material to discuss is just not possible.

But I am not at ALL adverse to also discussing current Crankshaft.

Unfortunately, Cranky since January has been pretty anemic. We’ve had multiple weeks of completely disconnected gags of the type Cranky has seen over and over and over again. If you told me everything BUT the comic wankery had been written by a chat bot, I would believe you. It is snarkable, but there’s less to work with. It’s all fluff, so it wouldn’t sustain the blog very long if we went to pure Cranky, because we’d start to repeat ourselves. It’d be like trying to say something new about mashed potatoes.

I have wondered about doing a Crankyweek recap once a week. Just some parody strips and snark. Short and sweet. For example.

Whadda you guys think?



Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

88 responses to “The Crankening.

  1. sorialpromise

    Anything that makes Be Ware of Eve Hill begging me to edjumakate her, is a plus for me. She is so cute when she begs me to edjumakate her. It brings a tear to my eye.

  2. billytheskink

    Crankshaft has been in a serious rut over the past couple years. It has never quite sunk to the offensively bland depths that the most boring strips of Act III FW did, even the Komix Korner intrusions don’t seem to justify the retching that the place usually did in FW. It seems like it has been 3-5 years or more since TB wrote a single Shaft story arc that dwelled on one of the staples of Act II and III FW, “substantial ideas” and his fuzzy memories of the strip’s history and lore.

    • Andrew

      Crankshaft is a lot of things, but at the least the times it does do serious stories in the midst of all their Garfield-tier jokes gives it a dash of the extra gravitas that gives them value. I rather like the Kent State story even with the snark I do have from time to time, and I actually do want to read the Roses in December collection at some point (which is funnily enough probably the better Alzheimers stories in the Funkyverse considering Batiuk either straight up forgot that was Funky’s dad’s diagnosis or decided to have him magically get better being a social hound at the nursing home). While it’s nowhere near the likes of Watterson being able to veer Calvin into a serious story about a dying raccoon, it’s at least a noble effort as far as Very Special Episode stories go, a nicer distribution as opposed to the constant barrage of melodrama FW fell into. Plus it adds the utter hilarity of Crank & his Valentine-owning friend walking past Les and Lisa while going “wow we’re lucky, imagine being terminal with cancer!”

      It’s probable we could see another Pulitzer bait story in Crankshaft before the end, whenever that happens, but either way it would keep things interesting from the banal of general gags, pointing out when Davis is tracing the heck out of Ayers’ backlog, or just how far the Westview infection will take over.

  3. Jeff M.

    The ice cream/gelato strip is a really great gag-a-day version of Crankshaft if it were just a little bit darker. Well, maybe more than a little bit. Archie Bunker-type stuff. Who knows where we are in the time stream anyway? I can’t even remember if Crank fought in Dubya Dubya Two – the Big One. You know, when Archie got shot in the keister in “It’ly.”

    (And the “weed” one just made me laugh out loud. Depending on where we are in the time stream or whatever the hell it’s called, Crank is a Boomer, so…)

    • Anonymous Sparrow

      I went online to find some euphemisms for marijuana and thought I should share what I found:

      Acapulco Gold
      Aunt Mary
      Baby Bhang
      BC Bud
      Black Russian
      Bo-Bo Bush
      Devil’s Lettuce
      Dinkie Dow
      Donna Juana
      Flower Tops
      Giggle Smoke
      Giggle Stick
      Good Butt
      Good Giggles
      Hot Stick
      Jolly Green
      Joy Smoke
      Joy Stick
      Left-Handed Cigarette
      Mary Jane
      Maui Wowie
      Panama Gold
      Texas Tea
      Thai stick
      Wacky Tobaccy

      Robert L. Fish wrote wonderful parodies featuring Schlock Homes of 221B Bagel Street. Among them is “The Adventure of the Widow’s Weeds,” in which a woman sells special cigarettes called “Mary-Juana,” the name chosen to appeal to sailors. Another name for them, which Homes and Dr. Watney urge her to stop using, is “Reefers.”

      For those looking for a parody in which the names aren’t changed, seek out the *National Lampoon’s* brilliant “Chums in the Dark,” in which the Hardy Boys find themselves strangers (if not afraid, like the hero of the Housman poem) in a world they never made. Watch out for the Purple Sombreros!

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        I think a lot of those names are synecdoches: they represent strains or forms of the substance, but are used to describe it as a whole.

        I’d never smoke it, because smoking anything is gross, unpleasant, and stinky. But since my state got into the hemp-based product dispensary business, I’ve, uh, partaken. I can spend less than the cost of a cheeseburger and giggle for hours. It’s probably safer than all the expensive beers I drink.

      • Green Luthor

        I saw “Dinkie Dow” in the list and at first I thought it said “DINKLE Dow”.

        Now THAT would have real potential…

        • ComicBookHarriet

          Makes me think of this classic SOSF Parody strip from HeyItsDave… who, like a chad, came in, dropped a bunch of absolutely insanely funny parodies, refused to elaborate, and then left.

          • Epicus Doomus

            Sigh. I really miss Hey. Everyone’s parody strips are nothing short of excellent, and I’ve done a few good ones myself. I even won a contest once. But HeyItsDave was like the Jimi Hendrix of FW parody strips. Except for the whole aspirating on his own vomit thing. As far as I know, that is. Wherever he is, Hey will never be forgotten. I really hoped he’d reappear, but alas, he never did.

          • Anonymous Sparrow

            Please excuse us, so we may kiss this guy, if only in memory.

            The bathroom’s on the right, where it always will be.

            Green, green, the mondegreen grass of home…

          • Banana Jr. 6000

            Some actual potheads would have made the Funkyverse a lot more believable. All we got is people who acted like potheads, but consumed nothing but pizza and comic books.

      • sorialpromise

        1. In my first children’s book, “Snootchie Woogums Presents: Spangles Never Go Out of Style,” 2 characters make a cameo. They are Schlock Homes and Dr. Watsonny. I was not familiar with Robert L. Fish until Anonymous Sparrow posted. Had I been aware, I would not have included them in my stories. I am certain that Mr. Fish uses them more witty and cleverly than anything I could come up. My humor only reaches the level of a third grader.
        2. Gasper, the friendly roach. I don’t claim this as original, but I find no reference on the internet. That surprises me. It is such an obvious clever bit of humor. That pushes it to late Spring, 3rd grade.

        • Anonymous Sparrow

          Robert Leslie Bellem’s pulp detective Dan Turner spoke of his smoking as “setting fire to a gasper.” He also always heard guns — which he usually called “Roscoes” — making a “ka-chow!” sound.

          S. J. Perelman wrote an essay about Dan Turner for *The New Yorker* called “Somewhere a Roscoe…”

          Villains Schlock Homes encounters: Professor Marty, Colonel Moron and the jewel thief Irene Addled.

          Fellow detectives he meets: C. Septembre Duping and “Hansom” East. (East is a play on John Creasey’s Inspector Roger “Handsome” West.)

          Inspectors Lestride and Balustrade undertake the official police role.

          No stranger to the cinema, Schlock Homes is familiar with “Hal-loids” and “Buster Ketones.”

          And as Holmes had a Persian slipper, so does Homes make good use of an Iranian wagon-lit, which is “a Persian sleeper.”

          In battling Professor Marty with his violin, Homes mourns his “last bow.”

          Raymond Chandler wrote in “The Simple Art of Murder” that “Sherlock Holmes is nothing more than an attitude and a couple of dozen lines of deathless dialogue.” Fish, along with the puns, captures and satirizes that attitude, most notably in his view of the United States of America, which for Homes and Co. remain “the American colonies.”

          And twice Homes reads Watney’s mind, though in both cases, his deductions are decidedly imperfect.

          Fish wrote more serious works, including *Mute Witness,* the source novel for the Steve McQueen movie “Bullitt,” and won an Edgar for his novel introducing Captain Jose Da Silva, *The Fugitive.* He also completed a Jack London novel (*The Assassination Bureau, Ltd.*) and wrote a novel based on a Peter Falk TV series (*The Trials of O’Brien*).

          The game is afoot (Fish has a pun about that) and I must go. Happy weekend to all SOSFers!

          • sorialpromise

            1. So long. Farewell. We hate to see you go!
            2. Roscoes were familiar to me, but I would have called them a gat.
            3. When you wrote S. J. Perlman, all I could think of was S. Z. Sakall from “ Casablanca.
            4. I must add Robert Fish to my Anonymous Sparrow reading list. Sincerely, it is Joy! Rapture!

  4. Epicus Doomus

    As Harriet mentioned above, having access to future strips was maybe the most crucial part of the old SoSF machine. That way, you could blast out a full week’s worth of posts at a time, schedule them, and not have any worries until the next batch dropped. There were instances where we lost our access to future FW strips, and until it was resolved (which it always was, thanks entirely to TFH), it was pure panic, as everyone couldn’t be expected to wait around til midnight, then bang out something incredibly witty and hilarious just like that. It never would have worked, at least not the way we wanted it to.

    Speaking for myself, I don’t see anything intolerably terrible about a weekly “Crankshaft” recap, other than the subject matter. But daily coverage? I vote no f*cking way and I’ll never waver on that. As Billy pointed out above, it’s not good enough to comment on every day, and it’s not awful enough to snark on every day either. Some things are just not meant to be, and if anyone hated “Crankshaft” to a point where they took it personally, I’m sure there’d be a blog about it somewhere.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      I agree with ED that CS doesn’t warrant daily coverage. It does occasionally rise to the level of needing commentary, like that drawing business last week.

  5. CBH has very succinctly addressed the State of SoSF here: for most of the blog’s run, we were able to access the daily Funky Winkerbean comics on the Comics Kingdom website a week or more ahead of time. This enabled our team to write and schedule each post well in advance. We’ve been unable to find a back door of this type at the two (!) sites that now carry Crankshaft. I probably would have been game to carry on, taking turns at kicking Crankshaft, which has now evolved into a sort of FW Lite. Honestly, though, it’s all I can do to remember to read each day’s CS, let alone take an hour or more to craft a thoughtful, funny post about it.

    I can’t speak for anyone but myself, but Harriet’s point about author burnout is absolutely spot on. I just know that when I’m on my deathbed, I’ll be lamenting that portion of my lifetime that I spent contemplating Funky Winkerbean. Of course, what made that waste of time worthwhile was the virtual community that grew around our shared contempt for that strip. For the time being, that community abides, and this blog will continue to afford a space for all who care to drop by until further notice. Thanks all!

    • Gerard Plourde

      “For the time being, that community abides, and this blog will continue to afford a space for all who care to drop by until further notice.”

      Thanks for allowing us to continue to congregate here, TFH. It’s a source of wonder that Batiuk’s work has provided a springboard for this community. The content that the hosts and the commenters bring here is always informative, entertaining, and thought-provoking. For as long as you are posting I will be a daily visitor.

    • alarkmark

      Reading SOSF during difficult times in my life was a GodSend. Thank You Everyone!!

    • Epicus Doomus

      TFH: I feel similarly. I’m quite pleased regarding what Harriet’s done to the place, and it’s played out far better than I originally anticipated. I have no issue at all with continuing my usual SoSF duties, and dropping the occasional post, and commenting when I feel like it. But going back to a daily posting routine? I don’t think so, unless he resurrects FW or something, which will never happen.

      It was always a crusade for me. I was a real, non-ironic FW reader at one point, and I felt personally slighted by BatYam’s descent into total madness. And, like the lunatic I am, I carried that grudge all the way through to December 31, 2022. I just don’t hate “Crankshaft” in that same way. I mean, yeah, I hate it, a lot in fact. But it isn’t personal, like how it was with FW. That was what really drove me to keep going, and going, and going.

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        I can tell you the exact day I turned against Funky Winkerbean. It was Act I, I was in high school at the time, and there was a Les arc that was so contrary to my own experience, that I felt downright insulted. Since then it has only gotten more smug, condescending, self-important, and out of touch with the “reality” it claims is central to its existence.

  6. sorialpromise

    There is a world of difference between GC Crankshaft community and SOSF community. On April 11, someone called out our own dear J J O’Malley on GC, and accused him of being mentally ill. I have no words to describe that action. They got upset at “muddled aphorisms.”Apparently, GC Crankshaft people will aggressively defend TB’s right to be bland. That was the day for ‘cone of uncertainty.’ TB loves that level of smirk. But smirk has to rise above “meh” or it’s wasted effort. It just lays there, begging for a better response, that will never come. It’s sad that when I joined SOSF, I had high hopes that Mr. Batiuk would go out on a strong arc. Give it one last hurrah. The closest he came was when Funky (Keeping his name alive!) and Les played football. Nothing else came close to that week.

    • Green Luthor

      Wow. I’ve had comments removed from GC for gently mocking the strips (like pointing out how it’s difficult to tell the Generic Blonde Women apart), yet an outright attack against another commenter is apparently fine? (Though I suspect denigrating one of the Defenders of the Cranky wouldn’t fly. Just a hunch.)

      • sorialpromise

        We are living in the age of Orwell’s “1984.”

        Here are the remarks from the great offended:
        “Imhungry • 2 days ago
        @J.J. O’Malley Your remarks give the impression that you are mentally a very sick person. What is your problem with the cartoonist of this strip

        Here are the remarks that caused the offense from our wonderful, honored member of SOSF:

        J.J. O’Malley • 2 days ago:
        “It’s supposed to be clever wordplay based on the phrase “zone of uncertainty.” Batiuk sometimes forgets that it’s his title character who is supposed to make with the “muddled aphorisms” (as he once put it).”

        You have to ask, “What doesn’t offend people like this?” What does it say that this person holds Crankshaft to such lofty heights?

  7. Y. Knott

    Y’know what? I can put up or shut up. So here’s an attempt at a daily Crankshaft post.

    I must admit, today’s Crankshaft gives us little to work with. Circa 1985, Woody Allen silently watches a woman with a slightly outdated sense of style (even by 1985 standards) spill kernels of popcorn everywhere as she approaches their couch, also in silence. Perhaps they are smiling because they know at least today, they won’t have to spout any Batiukian attempts at dialogue.

    Meanwhile, the TV blares out a pun that would have been tired in nineteen fifty five. And Batiuk thinks it’s a punchline! Someone with even modest writing talent — if they felt they had to use the name “Red Herring” — would have tossed it off as a wry reference in the first panel, and then gone on to tell an actual joke.

    Of course, Batiuk doesn’t really have modest writing talent, at least not any more. What’s interesting to me is that when Batiuk is in ultra-lazy mode like this, he’s failing because he’s not even trying. But he also fails when he’s trying really hard.

    That’s part of the repellent fascination of Batiuk. His failure at whatever writing endeavour he undertakes is almost inevitable. But the way he fails? That’s subject to variation and the element of surprise. And once in a very, very long while (just often enough that I have to say his failures are almost inevitable) he comes up with something … adequate.

    Not, however, today.

    • billytheskink

      The gag itself is ancient, but whenever I hear the term I always think of the character “Red Herring” (a fairly early Scott Menville voice acting role!) who was a running gag on A Pup Named Scooby-Doo, a bully stereotype who was always blamed by Freddie for the crime of the week but was never actually guilty.

      The show ran the dumb gag into the ground so hard it came back around to being funny, paying off in one episode where, to win a bet with Daphne, Freddie finally doesn’t blame Red for the crime of the week… only for Red to actually be guilty for the first and only time in the series.

      • Y. Knott

        This akin to the Spike Milligan theory of running gags. Out of boredom, he decided one day he could create a running gag on “The Goon Show” that wasn’t at all funny, but would get laughs strictly through repetition. Little Jim’s line “He’s fallen in the water!” became a catchphrase in Great Britain as a result, and — after about its first half-dozen appearances — always got a laugh, and frequently cheers and/or a round of applause.

        It helped, of course, that there was always SO MUCH funny stuff going on all around it.

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        This was a problem I always had with the Scooby Doo franchise: Fred’s kind of a dick. This “babies” version is even worse: he comes off like Mike Nifong.

        • ComicBookHarriet

          A Pup Named Scooby Doo was pretty great though. Fred being kind of a dick served a very important function in the group’s energy. Every character was basically one of the emotions from Inside Out. So everyone had a niche and everyone was different. That’s one thing Batuik could have learned from children’s cartoons. Ahhh childhood memories.

    • Green Luthor

      It’s not even a punchline that makes any sense. Why would you name the detective in a mystery story “Red Herring”? A “red herring” is a false lead, something you (the audience) are supposed to think is important but turns out not to be. Who would give that name to the detective character? (Besides Tom Batiuk, obviously.)

      So we get a tired pun that’s not even mildly amusing, and doesn’t fit the context it’s being used in. If the Pulitzers had an award for “most half-assed attempt at writing”, then Batiuk might have a chance of winning one.

      • Y. Knott

        Even “half-assed” is being generous. “Quarter-assed”? “Hemisemidemiassed”?

        • Banana Jr. 6000

          I propose “nano-assed”, which is .000000001 of an ass.

          • The Duck of Death

            You are far too generous, BJr6K. It’s the gentleman in you.

            Puffy is clearly zepto-assed; his work possesses one-septillionth of an ass.

          • ComicBookHarriet

            If the amount of ass Batiuk puts in was an average ass, then this morning Y. Knott’s ass is 35 feet wide and weighs 6000 lbs.

          • Y. Knott

            Perhaps I need to cut down on the potato chips a little…

      • Anonymous Sparrow

        One of Dorothy L. Sayers’s Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries is *The Five Red Herrings.* It came out in 1931.

        “Red herring” apparently goes back to 1686.

        My current reading is Philip Kerr’s *Prussian Blue,* in which his detective Bernie Gunther basically gives Sam Spade’s speech about what you’re supposed to do when your partner’s killed, only applying it to the murder of Roger Ackroyd. Given the identity of the killer of Mr. Ackroyd, I wonder whether Kerr is playing with our expectations.

        How do your vegetable marrows grow, M. Poirot?

        • Philly Boy Roy

          Sparrow – As a fan of the Gunther mysteries, I was surprised to discover that the late Philip Kerr’s wife – Jane Thynne – also is a marvelous historical novelist.

          I highly recommend her deeply evocative “Clara Vine” series. By day, Clara is a German film star, by night she’s a British agent working to defeat the Nazis from within. These books have it all: glamour, intrigue, death-defying escapades and romance.

  8. Hannibal’s Lectern

    Meanwhile, it looks like Tom Batiuk guest-wrote today’s “Broom-Hilda.” Comix comix comix comix comix…

  9. Hannibal’s Lectern

    Your “Crankshaft” parodies have an odd resemblance to Reuben Bolling’s “Super-Fun-Pak Comix” (also on GoComics). That’s a compliment.

  10. Gerard Plourde

    Over on Batiuk’s blog, the April 12 “Match to Flame” is an unfathomable excerpt from the intro to The Complete FW Vol. 12. In the space of a paragraph he veers from touching on the mighty task of bringing powerful emotions to the comics page, through the apparently negative he received as a result, to musing whether he should just post those emails as the introduction and ends with the equivalent of Emily Litella’s “Never mind”.

    It’s no wonder that Crankshaft is idling in neutral.

    • billytheskink

      You know, I actually kind of like that MTF entry, because he finally admits he runs away from any interesting idea that comes to his mind.

      “In fact, I had briefly toyed with the idea of simply turning this intro entirely over to the emails. A totally email intro might have been an interesting exercise. We’ll never know.”

      • The Duck of Death

        You’ve touched on such an interesting topic. It’s not just that TB runs from interesting ideas, it’s the total lack of curiosity and adventurousness that he displays. Doesn’t he ever ask himself “what if,” other than that one time when he asked himself “what if Lisa croaked” and the answer he gave himself was “you’re a shoo-in for a Pulitzer, Tommy boy”?

        • Anonymous Sparrow

          Stan Lee, circa 1974, in a “Treasury” edition of *Fantastic Four* stories, said that he often worked on that title by asking “what if?” questions, such as:

          What if the Human Torch quit when he was most needed?

          What if two of the team got married?

          What if the Invisible Girl had a baby?

          And so on. The best “what if?” questions may have gone into the title with the same name, but the ones he posed in mainstream continuity wound up having pretty good answers.

          Perhaps that’s what Tom Batiuk seeks to achieve, not recognizing that clobberin’ time is more satisfying than Montoni’s time…

          • sorialpromise

            I think that is what pulled me to Marvel and away from DC. (Although, I loved Metal Men) Marvel had hero’s that were not perfect. They had problems, and mental health issues. People on the street did not worship them. They intentionally mocked them. “Yancy Street Gang” is an example. The heroes had unrequited love. Rarely suffered by the normal humans. Who couldn’t identify with that?
            TB has some of that in Act 2. None in Act 3. He was a much better writer in Act 2, just poorly executed. And it wasn’t scripted well with a beginning, middle and climax. So he set a low bar of professionalism that Act 3 could not reach.

          • Anonymous Sparrow

            In his comment on *Flash* #214, the Super-Spectacular which delayed the Vandal Savage story the reprint of “Vengeance of the Immortal Villain” set up, Batiuk says that he was never a big fan of the Metal Men.

            (I wonder what he made of *The Doom Patrol.* Maybe Robotman for him could only be Robert Crane/Paul Dennis and never Cliff Steele. Robbie the Robot Dog and Buddy the Service Dog would probably become fast friends.)

            That reprint was their first appearance and my first story featuring them, and it replaces the 1962 copy (in which Colonel Casper asks the readers to write in if they want more of the Metal Men) to tell us that this wasn’t the end for Dr. Will’s robots, who did return and have many more adventures. (He was Dr. Will at first and became Doc later.)

            The Metal Men had a direction shift of their own beginning with #33. It had time to play out, as Metamorpho’s didn’t (if you know who Wally Bannister is, consider yourself the Prince of Nickels), but it’s pretty much gone the way of the 1990s approach which briefly found Doc becoming a robot called Veridium.

            One of the most perceptive comments on the difference between DC and Marvel comes in Steve Englehart’s story in which the Avengers battle the Squadron Supreme (basically the JLA). As they gear up for battle, the Golden Archer (originally Hawkeye:
            see *Avengers* #85) says:

            “And when we win, we win! There aren’t any loose ends like there are in those Avengers cases I’ve heard about…”

            See *Avengers* #148…and the paperback reprinting of *GL/GA* Nos. 78-79, in which Denny O’Neil speaks to Hal Jordan and Oliver Queen, and Ollie says that when they come up against a social problem, they win.

            Must go before brightest day turns to blackest night…

          • sorialpromise

            Good night my friend.

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        If Tom Batiuk had a nickel for every reader email he’s received since 2008, I bet he’d have less than $3. And if he had a nickel for every email that began with ‘My dictionary defines comic as’, it’d be less than a dime.

        This is his favorite criticism, and the only one he’ll acknowledge. It’s also the real reason he’ll never post these alleged angry fan emails: they don’t tell him what he wants to hear. Which is “you’re a visionary genius who deserved to win every Pulitzer prize since 1986, but unfortunately people think comics should be funny.”

        What a dishonest, arrogant, condescending jerk.

        • billytheskink

          The way he deploys the “if I had a nickel for every time…” expression tells us a lot about him as a writer too. Instead of doing the standard “I would have (large amount of money that would take an impossible number of nickels to equal)”, he thinks he has a creative new response… “I would be the king of nickels. I’m not joking: the king.”

          Uh, yeah, OK.

          Now this is how you repurpose the well-worn nickel expression for fresh laughs:

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      I’m sorry, but where are the “powerful emotions” that are supposed to be in that strip? It’s a banal conversation while Lisa Googles “how is cancerr formed”. It’s also completely inconsistent with Lisa’s later decision not to fight the cancer anymore.

      An actual storyteller would have used this strip as a callback. After the misdiagnosis, Les could have said something like “this isn’t the Lisa I know. Remember when you said ‘you fight your way back up’?” But Lisa was more valuable to Les (and Tom Batiuk) dead than alive, so he did nothing and let her kill herself. This isn’t powerful emotion; it’s the powerful avoidance of emotion.

      • The Duck of Death

        Avoidance, while doing a total 180 on the character he’d been drawing all this time. When things didn’t go her way, Strong Activist Feminist Lawyer-Woman Rape(?)-Survivor Lisa deflated like a Funky Winkerbean balloon after the Springfield Thanksgiving Parade.

        That could’ve been very interesting if he’d acknowledged it and explored it. Perhaps all that Strong Woman stuff was just a front for the sad, rejected, defeatist girl inside?

        But of course, this massive character change was neither acknowledged, nor explored, nor explained.

        • Banana Jr. 6000

          Hell, how did the neurotic, punching bag Lisa from Act I bag turn into Strong Activist Feminist Lawyer in the first place? Law school isn’t for the timid. Lisa also wasn’t a good student, had no other traits that would make her good at it. To say nothing of how she paid for it. All just happened off-camera.

          • The Duck of Death

            Yes — didn’t we see high school Lisa literally jump up shrieking, as if she’d seen a rattlesnake, at the very sight of an SAT test?

            Hardly law school material. Act I Lisa was someone who by rights should have taken a couple courses at beauty school, tired of sweeping up salons, and ended up working the night shift at a Hobby Lobby. Which could still have made for a great character, by the way, in the hands of a competent author.

            But it’s abundantly clear that most of Batiuk’s characters are not characters per se. They’re collections of incidents or plotlines, which readers may choose to use to piece together a semblance of personality.

            You can draw traits and incidents out of a hat and, since the human brain tries hard to make sense of things, readers will come up with a personality in the absence of author effort. But in reality, there’s no “there” there.

            It’s a decades-long game of “Exquisite Corpse,” only the author thinks he’s actually telling a coherent story.

          • Banana Jr. 6000

            Yes, the “worst ever case of test anxiety” strip. One of my all-time favorites.

  11. Westview Radiology

    Love your contributions here CBH!

  12. The Duck of Death

    Tommy sez:

    [blockquote]If I only had a nickel for every email that began with “My dictionary defines comic as,” I would be the king of nickels.[/blockquote]

    Mr. “Lord of Language” either doesn’t have a dictionary or has such awe-inspiring knowledge that he has no need of such reference works.

    Because MY dictionary (Merriam-Webster, considered the ultimate authority for American English) defines “comic” as:

    [blockquote]of or relating to comic strips[/blockquote]

    And it defines “comic strips” as:

    [blockquote]a group of cartoons in narrative sequence[/blockquote]

    Not a thing about ha-has, yucks, guffaws, or side-splitting knee-slappers.

    He keeps harping back on this trope, but a) as BJr6K pointed out, he probably got maybe 3 emails and the sheer unusual quantity bowled him over, and b) he clearly doesn’t know the definition of “comic” himself or he would just have replied, “get a more authoritative dictionary, kthxbye.”

    Cripes, what a dummkopf.

    • The Duck of Death

      Dummkopf? It takes one to know one, I guess. Look at that epically failed HTML with the wrong brackets. I’m on another site that uses [ instead of <, and, well, d'oh.

  13. Y. Knott

    The Daily Crankshaft thing:

    Today, we continue to follow 1985 Woody Allen and, uh, I guess a heavily made-up Mia Farrow? They continue to watch TV in silence. Yesterday they seemed happy about that. Today, they are glum.

    Perhaps all the popcorn they ate has given them indigestion.

    What we do know is that time has elapsed. Masterpiece Mystery seems to have ended, and now someone on their curiously blue TV (who looks far too pretty-boy to be on PBS) is telling us that PBS won’t be doing a pledge drive this week.

    Ha-ha! Whoah, those pledge drives, let me tell ya! I mean, come on! It almost seems like there’s only one week a year when PBS is NOT doing a pledge drive, amirite?

    Hoo boy.

    But hey, let’s be fair here. This was maybe a somewhat more cutting edge joke in 1985 when this strip originally ran in hundreds of newspapers across —

    What? This isn’t a repeat? This is a brand new strip?

    Hm. Okay then. Er, I guess now the only point of interest is will we ever find out about the dashing exploits of Red Herring?

    Well, duh — of course not. But this does lead to the question: was Red Herring’s mention within yesterday’s strip a multilayered meta-joke, in that the reference was in and of itself a red herring?

    Again, duh … of course not. A) Batiuk isn’t that clever. And B), a red herring, by definition, distracts us from something important and relevant … and Batiuk has proven over and over again that he has nothing important or relevant to say.

    • ComicBookHarriet

      I am 120% on board for The Daily Crankshaft Thing happening here.

      I am 0% amused by the joke in Today’s Crankshaft.

    • hitorque

      1. Not only is today’s Krankenschaaften unbelievably cliche, uninspired and would have only been mildly funny 40 years ago, it’s shockingly tone deaf given the recent kerfluffle about “state-owned media” during Elon Musk’s latest tantrum on Twitter.

      2. It’s funny because PBS are portrayed by Batiuk as lowkey shameless panhandlers, yet the Funkyverse has never had any problem whatsoever opening up their checkbooks to keep notorious money sinks afloat like the Valentine Theatre, Komixxx Korner, Blessed St. Lisa’s Tragic Cancer Foundation or whatever half-assed ego-stroking musical adventure The Big Dink is embarking on this week… So I guess the *REAL* problem with the local Cleveland PBS station is they didn’t have the foresight to hire a distant relative or a daughter or an in-law or a high school classmate of the infamous Funkyverse nepotism mafia…?

    • TimP

      -Andy Rooney voice- And another thing about PBS fundraising is why do they always do it in the middle of the best shows?!?!

      • Hannibal's Lectern

        -Whinier Andy Rooney voice- why do they always take off their regular shows during beg week and replace them with crap like “Kings of Doo-Wop” or some guy/gal standing on a stage giving highly dubious financial (“Rich Dad’s Guide to Financial Security”) or health advice? Are they trying to threaten us, saying “if you don’t send us money right now, this crap is all we’ll show”? Are there some megabuck donors who actually like this crap, and insist it get shown for ten weeks a year in return for their donations? Enquiring minds want to know…

  14. Hannibal's Lectern

    It occurred to me while riding my motorcycle across Iowa this morning that there is a fundamental problem with snarking on Crankshaft (which I still persist in doing, just so JJ isn’t the only one at it): “Crankshaft” is what you get when Batom, Inc., sells out to Walker-Browne Amalgamated Humor LLC.

    Say what you will about his actual ability to write (and we have all said a lot), it was clear that Batiuk cared about “Funky.” That’s what made it so snarkable; it was like an Ed Wood movie, the highest of artistic aspiration with the lowest of actual ability and execution. “Crankshaft,” on the other hand, is like a badly written “Beetle Bailey” or “Hagar” or “Hi and Lois” (which has been serving up a lot of clinkers lately in my book). The gap between ambition and result is just too small to generate any really energetic snark.

    • The Duck of Death

      I agree with you about 85% of the way. There is clearly no point in snarking on something that’s just punching the clock and collecting a check. It is what it claims to be: Mass-produced, inoffensive product.

      But even before the Great Timemop Merger, even before Dinkle invaded Centerville, Puffy used to try to have it both ways: ancient/contrived “gags” and attempted prestige arcs, like the time Crankshaft was illiterate or the time one-armed Skip single-handedly (sorry, not sorry, Skip) tried to battle the Evil Hedge Fund that was taking over the Centerville Sentinel.

      Now that comix, comix, comix have oozed inexorably like the blob into Crankshaft, we should expect more FWish plotlines, and thus more snarkability.

      • Gerard Plourde

        “Now that comix, comix, comix have oozed inexorably like the blob into Crankshaft, we should expect more FWish plotlines, and thus more snarkability.”

        I am curious to see if that is the case. But I’m not certain that it will happen with any regularity. Part of me wonders whether Batiuk has the ability to do prestige arcs. At the same time, it could just be that the mandated one year lead time is the only impediment to a Funky (sans Funky himself) takeover.

  15. KMD

    This week marks the 50th anniversary of the debut of Skunky Funkybuns!

    • Green Luthor

      Man, I miss Skunky. Remember that time someone got run over by a car? Good times, good times.

  16. Y. Knott

    Today in Crankshaft:

    Today’s Crankshaft features the oft-used Batiuk Joke Extender 2000! And friends, it’s a classic comic device that’s absolutely, positively guaranteed!

    Here’s how it works: Have you given one of your characters a ‘joke’ that’s basically just a pointless malaprop? You know — a stupid bit of sub-Family Circus attempted wordplay that merely substitutes one word for another, without wit, meaning or even coherency?

    Of course you have!

    But never fear! With the Batiuk Joke Extender 2000, you can have other characters react to the wordplay “joke” in a manner that makes it clear that you KNOW the joke wasn’t funny! Because it wasn’t! It was total crap! But, hey, you’ve just shown your audience you KNOW it’s crap, so ha-ha — the joke’s on them for paying attention to you in the first place!

    Because, c’mon, that’s humour of a sort … right? I mean, as the writer, at least you’re laughing at what you were able to get away with. Right?

    And remember, friends, the Batiuk Joke Extender 2000 is unconditionally guaranteed to extend the length of your comic strip by at least one line of dialogue — or maybe by as much as an entire panel! Why, with the Batiuk Joke Extender 2000, those tedious five minutes a day spent writing your strip … they can be virtually cut in half!

    And best of all, the BJE2000 can be used again, and again, and again!* {*As long as you don’t have an editor, or shame, or any semblance of writing talent.}

    The Batiuk Joke Extender 2000 — ask for it by name! Available wherever $36 Crankshaft hats are sold.

  17. Paul Jones

    It appears to have finally gotten back to him that most people can’t tell his writing “LI” and “U” apart. The end result is a nonsensical pun about Crankshaft sleeping like a blimp on a log.

    • Green Luthor

      Huh, who’s doing the lettering on Crankshaft? Because, at least on Funky, Batiuk had been writing the Ls to look like ん, presumably because of that “LI/U” problem. (Was the Funkyfont used in Crankshaft? I had assumed it would have been, but I’ll admit I didn’t actually look close enough to check.)

      Oh, well. “USA! USA!”

      • ComicBookHarriet

        As far as I know the lettering is currently done via a typed font. Ayers used to hand letter.

    • Gerard Plourde

      You may be on to something. Suppose today’s strip is structured around an “Easter Egg” reference to the “LI” “U” lettering problem. It would almost qualify as “A tip of the felt-tip” to us “beedy-eyed nitpickers” who form a sizable segment of his devoted audience.

    • Hannibal's Lectern

      Yep. Odd bit o’ trivia: in the book “Who Censored Roger Rabbit?” (upon which the movie “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” was very loosely based), the “toon” characters spoke in literal word balloons, with their words lettered in them. Perhaps “Crankshaft” now takes place in that universe, as it’s the only way for the “joke” to make any sense.

  18. The Duck of Death

    The weird thing is that it’s a double mangling of the expression, to the point where any possible joke is lost.

    1) The expression is “sleep like a log.”

    2) There is an expression, “like a bump on a log.” It refers to someone being lazy or unmoving. Example: “I was washing dishes for an hour while you sat there like a bump on a log.”

    3) “Sleep like a log” is pretty old-fashioned, but Hax and Manna might know it. “Like a bump on a log” seems to be uncommon now. At least, I don’t think I’ve heard anyone say it in decades.

    So the whole thing, as usual, doesn’t even make sense as a muddled aphorism. And “blimp” does NOT sound like “bump,” and I can’t believe a native English speaker doesn’t know that.

  19. Y. Knott

    The Daily Crankshaft Thing:

    Is today’s Crankshaft actually funny? Well, it’s funnier than the last three strips put together … which, as 3 x 0 = 0, is still a very low bar. Nevertheless, at least this one has some measurable humour content.

    But as usual, Batiuk simply cannot pace a multi-panel Sunday strip. Evidently, today’s marginally acceptable three-panel idea was the only idea Batiuk had in the five-minute window he gives himself to ‘write’ these things — so he turned it into a 7-panel Sunday strip. For the better-paced three panel version, just use panels four, six and seven.

    Now, is even this shorter, more concise version a laff riot? Not really. But it’s okay, more or less, in a 1950s sitcom couple sorta way.

    Also? The three-panel version would spare us the sight of a perfectly innocent salad being drowned in green goddess dressing, at what would appear to be a 1:1 dressing-to-salad ratio.

    • J.J. O'Malley

      Funny, I thought “Foxtrot” had the copyright on “Mother tries to get the family to eat healthy food” routines.

      Also, “Sam Peckinpah’s ‘Salad Days'” was funnier. “I say, Lionel, catch!”

    • The Duck of Death

      It’s not funny in the first place, but stretching it out so long makes it seem like they’re both intellectually disabled. “What’s for dinner?” “We’re having a salad.” “A salad?” “Yes, with lettuce and carrots.” “Lettuce and carrots?” (etc.)

      The punchline, stretched over two panels(!), also makes no sense. Jeff says, “I’d heard these were supposed to be our salad days… but I always thought it meant something else.”

      We know Pmm & Jff are in their 70s at least because Pmm was at Kent State in 1971. “Salad days” means days of your youth, when you were inexperienced in the world.

      “My salad days, when I was green in judgment, cold in blood.” — Shakespeare, Antony and Cleopatra

      Your 70s are NOT your salad days.

      And this is the second time Batiuk’s belabored this uncommon expression, trying to wring some humor out of it. Remember the 3-month arc where Crazy Harry bought his wife a bottle of Montoni’s salad dressing for their anniversary? He used the same “joke” then.

      (It wasn’t a 3-month arc? Are you sure? It sure felt like one.)

      • The Duck of Death

        If Puffy just HAD to make this a Sunday panel, he could have injected a tiny particle of humor by building up Jeff’s hopes so his deflated look in the last panel — the only iota of humor in the whole sorry mess — was merited.

        “We’re having salad for dinner, Jff.” “With bacon and ranch dressing?” “No, with tofu and apple cider vinegar.” “But we can put in some fried chicken strips and croutons, right?” “You’re close. I’m adding bean sprouts and raw sunflower seeds.”

      • Y. Knott

        Not being well-steeped in FW lore, I (fortunately?) missed the “Crazy Harry buys salad dressing” arc. It doesn’t surprise me in the least, however, that Batiuk is reusing a premise and a punchline from an earlier strip.

        And, hmmm….maybe not just the premise and punchline? CBH can probably find the original Ayers ‘salad’ illustration that was repurposed for this strip….