John Howard has been arrested for ANIME CRIMES!!!
Once Not-Dead-Yet St. Lisa got her client out of the clink, DCH John is full of the righteous indignation at his unjust persecution is determined to fight back against the wrongs of this world with everything he has in him in order to preserve his lifelong dream and livelihood.
For the first time I can tell, Becky actually tells us what she thinks of her mother. And we learn that Becky has nothing but disdain for her mother’s worldview to the point that she sees her mother as less than human.
Is this believable? Yes. Is it a lazy way to avoid conflict by having a potential Roberta sympathizer declare for the other team? Yes.
I LOVED LOVED LOVED (so much loved) how in the comments, many of you guys were already taking Batiuk to task for the character of Roberta, Super-Prude. Such a stock pearl-clutcher works in other narratives, like The Simpsons, because of the satirical nature of every member of the cast. Everyone can be a stock joke.
But in Westview, it is only the Moral Crusaders and Sleazy Businessmen who are exaggerated caricatures, with the ‘good’ characters appearing normal and reasonable. Where have I seen this kind of writing before?
So Wally and Becky came down to Komix Korner to ask DCH John if there was anything they could do to help. Only to then tell him that there is nothing they can really do to help. Because they are also impotent Westview mope monsters with horrifying black inky eyes.
Only St. Lisa, the single character nominated to act in this arc, can help him. Why does Batiuk always write like this? A group of people shrugging helplessly at each other until one randomly rescues everyone with a job offer, a business location, legal advice, a student handbook, or Bill Clinton. He’s so addicted to the Deux Ex Machina and the eucatastrophe that he completely denigrates the power of collective action.
What does ‘classics of their genre’ even mean? Or prove? 120 Days of Sodom is considered a classic of its genre. I love Anime and Manga as much as the next nerd, but even I know that Japan has different standards of what is considered acceptable, and what might be considered ‘a classic’. Lots of Japanese classics are illegal in Canada. Do I need to reference Boku no Pico again?
And, as beautiful, beady-eyed commenters noticed, we’re given no insight into what these objectionable comics contain. What does DCH John consider an ‘adult’ Manga that he wouldn’t sell to kids? Garbage loli fetish shit? Or something with real artistic merit that just isn’t suitable for children?
As Gerard Plourde commented yesterday, much of DCH John’s case is ripped right from the real life case of Texas v. Castillo. The brief rundown of the case is as follows.
In 1999, Jesus A. Castillo Jr., a manager at Keith’s Comics in Dallas, Texas, sold two adult comics, specifically hentai, to an undercover police officer. The comics were in an adults only section that children could not access, and were labeled ‘not for children’. He was arrested, and charged with two counts of ‘display of obscenity.’ The case went to trial in 2002. He was found guilty on one count and given a suspended jail sentence, a year’s probation, and a $4,000 fine. The ruling was upheld despite several appeals that lasted through 2003. The fine was paid off via donations from people against the ruling.
Since this is obviously Batiuk’s inspiration for the arc, lets say that the comics from Texas v Castillo are the comics in play here.
Demon Beast Invasion. The comic Castillo was actually charged with. This was written by erotic manga artist Toshio Maeda in 1989, has been adapted into anime, and had a sequel.
The story is basically alien tentacle rape. You know that scene in the original Evil Dead? The one with the tree? Yeah. That, but slimy.
I mean, there is a plot there, I guess, about aliens seeking to save their species through hybridization or something. But Berserk this is not. I have to laugh at the Comic Book Legal Defense fund for using THIS cover to signify the work.
They are obviously trying to hide the content from sympathetic comic defenders. Which is. I must stress. Violent alien tentacle rape.
The second comic was Urotsukidōji: Legend of the Overfiend. Also written by Toshio Maeda, in 1986. The obscenity charge on this was dropped. Probably because it was overkill. I found a blog breaking down the plot. I would advise MUCH CAUTION if you click this link. There be dragons.
Here’s the sweet wholesome cover CBLDF chose for their write up.
Now, all this being said, in Castillo V Texas, these comics were in an adults only section that children couldn’t access. My personal feeling is that I find these comics reprehensible, even if they’re very nicely drawn. And poor Jesus Castillo probably shouldn’t have been charged.
But DCH John only had a little sticker labeling one rack his adult section, which had every cover in full, unobscured view to the place where little tots played their Magic: The Gathering. This is what Batiuk is getting up on his high horse to defend.
That is, if Batiuk means THESE to be the comics John’s selling. He’s obviously pulling from this case. But did Batiuk take the time to dig a little deeper past the talking points the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund put out to actually see what he’s defending as free speech?
Which is. I must stress again. Alien. Tentacle. Rape.
Yeah, that’s right.
YEAH. THAT’S RIGHT.
We’ll get a little further into Free Speech vs. Obscenity later. But this strip makes me laugh in a bitter spiteful way.
Because yeah, maybe DCH John Howard does have a legal right to sell rapey Japanese tentacle porn from his comic shop. But parents have a right to forbid their kids from going to a shop where such things are sold. If he wanted his shop to be a safe place for kids to come and learn about Truth, Justice, and Diversity, if he wanted it to be a hub and safe space for high-schoolers to play video games and card games, then maybe he shouldn’t be SELLING PORN.
Keith’s Comics in Dallas, Texas no longer sells any comic books above an R rating.
48 responses to “In Defense of The Slimy Classics.”
That certainly is an interesting bit of info regarding the real-world case. You can kind of see why the prosecution skimming the info of the case would want to throw the book at the guy, but they had no real justification to do it, just pushed through anyway (that could segway into more than a few ugly debates about the justice system). Good for him that he was able to get the fees paid off with ease, at least.
Who knows how much Batiuk knew or was intending to take word-for-word in his analog of the story in little ol’ Westview. Certainly he doesn’t strike one as a regular manga/anime reader (unless there’s a Batty Blog entry I never noticed), so he may not know or read deep enough to understand the nuances beyond “Japan gets weird sometime”. Really the worst one could out of this arc with the IRL truths in mind is that he isn’t really giving enough focus and details on the crux of the matter that really give us insight, at least for now (dunno if it does or doesn’t improve as it goes on, we’ll see). You can see it again with the famous Gay Prom arc where Roberta strikes again (“this time she’s homophobic!”), where the actual kids the whole mess helms in on literally never appear again after they show up and make Roberta’s eyes twitch, with all the regulars having to step in on their behalf (and the way it ends with literally-Hiding Gays behind prom decorations thanking their principal for standing up for them doesn’t really help the visuals either)
I don’t think Tom Batiuk has any real opinions about manga or anime. They’re comic books, and his life’s mission is to defend comic books; The End.
Same with cancer, transsexuals, gay teenagers, prisoners of war, domestic terrorism, CTE, “climate damage” and every other social issue he’s wiped his ass with in the last 15 years. They’re mechanisms for him to draw attention to himself, beg for awards, and indulge his one obsession. He has no real opinions about any of it, nor does he even care enough to be informed about these topics.
And as Paul Jones points out, even John Howard can’t be bothered to give a shit, when he’s the one facing the consequences. It’s like he knows Batiuk is just going to push the Deus Ex Author Filibuster button, and solve all his problems in one very wordy Saturday panel.
Well, when the idiotic story is a How It Should Have Been According To A Whiny Dumbbell anyway, he might as well just wait for the miracle.
I had to go back and look at the comments on here from the beginning of the gay prom story, we were in fine form taking TB to task for the uninspired choice of Roberta as the story’s villain. It helped that we knew what was coming, as TB alerted the papers in advance that the story was happening. He even got a story about it in USA Today! And this was back when mid-priced hotels still gave out copies for free!
The biggest legacy of the gay prom arc, aside from our recollections of it, is that videos about it are the only Funky Winkerbean-related videos on YouTube where Batiuk’s work from his perspective is the closest to the spotlight (via 2 separate CBS news channel uploads at 2.6k and 1.1k views). Higher than him is a comic strip review of “DSH rants about the dictionary definition of ‘comic'” week at 4.1k views, and then the Simpsons bit of the Funky balloon at 5.2k views.
Meanwhile if you search “Skunky Funkybuns”, the skit’s views outpaces them all at 26k views.
Of course at least 1k of those views is from me rewatching it weekly.
Ditto. “Skunky” is like Wilt Chamberlain’s 100 point game, a feat that will probably never be matched, much less topped. During that clip, the audience is laughing uproariously, but I’ve always wondered how many of those people actually understood just how epic that bit was. Channeling Tom Batiuk and Lynn Johnston at the same time is a dangerous game indeed. The “is it because the war changed me?” strip is the best FW parody strip of all time, IMO.
Skunky Funkybuns was Dan Ronan’s definitive bit. He died at a young age, and on YouTube you can find a memorial show the comedy club held for him. They show a clip of this performance during the show, and many of the speakers mention it as a high point in Dan’s life. Clearly, it impacted a lot of people besides us.
It was an epic The Reason You Suck Speech.
If nothing else, beady-eyeing Funky Winkerbean and posting here introduced me to Dan Ronan and for that I will ever be grateful.
As long as Batiuk is sore at his mother for having better things to do than to feed him cookies and hand him milk and say confusing and evil things like “Don’t dull your mind on trash”, Roberta will be a one-note monster.
There’s a meme i saw recently of current political cartoons that just broke a generic one down into a template:
1. reasonable guy (generally looks/sounds like the creator of the strip) says something reasonable
2. crazy extremist starts yelling at him for no reason
3. reasonable guy response in unreadable wall of text
This was also a pretty good recap of whenever TB gets a bee in his bonnet about an ‘issue’.
(looking at my decade-old comments just makes me feel like the moment when the vampire sees the sun and ages a thousand years)
Today in Crankshaft, A Non-Speaking Extra In His Own Life : https://www.gocomics.com/crankshaft/2023/04/27
Has Mary’s last name changed? Probably a dozen people here would know the answer to that off the top of their head, but I’m not one of them. Hey, I don’t even know the name of Green Hat Guy … although if I had just started reading Crankshaft this week, I would assume Ol’ Green Hat was “Crankshaft” himself due to his propensity for actually occasionally, y’know, saying things and moving the narrative — such as it is — at least infinitesimally forward.
Of course, I have been reading Crankshaft for two weeks now, so I would not make such an obvious error.
But in other potential news, does the “99 Bottles of Beer” reference imply the high school students were drunk on the senior trip, as I earlier suggested? I vote yes on this one — although it goes without saying that this being a Batiuk story, the students were drunk in the most boring and offstage way possible.
HA! Mary’s last name has changed.
Though I’m not devoted enough in the last 10 years of Cranky lore to know when exactly the change took place.
Oh, that’s a shame. “Mary Marzipan” is ADORABLE.
I love Crankshaft’s reaction to this annoyingly peppy newcomer; it feels like something he’d say. I also like the OP strip about “even Dinkle couldn’t get her to back down, so you’re not going to.” There’s some good characterization in some of these strips.
Maybe it’s her stage name? In her private life, she’s Mary Cummings. When she takes on her bus-driving persona, she’s “Mary Marzipan”! The world’s sweetest bus driver … who’s also just a little nutty!
(Yes, I realize that I’ve now just given this more thought than Tom Batiuk ever has, or ever will.)
Green Hat Guy is Andy Clark. No, not that Andy Clark, the other one. There are two Andy Clarks in the Batiukverse.
In the strip that CBH posted below, the other guy is Rocky Rhodes. No, not that Rocky Rhodes, the other one. There are two Rocky Rhodes in the Batiukverse. (But then, a name THAT punderful simply CAN’T be limited to just one character. That Batiuk, what a card!)
As for Mary, it’s hard to believe Batiuk would just randomly change a character’s name like that. You wouldn’t catch a writer of, say, Mopey Pete’s caliber making such an amateurish mistake, that’s for sure.
I have a theory about that: Tom Batiuk is confusing his characters with the real people who inspired them. Flash Freeman suddenly changed to Flash Fairfield, a real person from Tom’s past. Pete Reynolds and Mary Cummings aren’t so easy to nail down, but I wonder if those name changes are references to actual people who figured into the characters’ creation.
No, the 99 Bottles of Beer reference implies that Tom remembers the other 1000 previous times that he made the reference throughout FW and Crankshaft. Ha ha! Bored kids sing annoying songs on a bus ride! Again! Still! Always a hoot to use it as a punchline – every time! 99 times!
“Tensions Rise in Middle East” is bland as filler headlines go. Where’s the political inside baseball of “New Petition Against Tax Law” or the sheer mystery of “10,000 Chinese Living in Trees”?
The sad part is, I can believe that “Tensions Rise in Middle East” was Batiuk’s way of foreshadowing Wally’s upcoming story.
“So I need to get Wally back into the service so he can disappear once I do the time skip. But how can I justify him going back? I know, I’ll start to hint that tensions are rising in the Middle East, because the readers surely wouldn’t believe such a thing could happen if I don’t foreshadow it! Tom, you’re a genius!”
(I mean, I can’t say that it DID happen, but I can’t rule it out, either…) (This is, after all, the guy who thought a headline of “Soldiers Taken Hostage” was also a hint that Wally was presumed killed in action…)
Here’s where Batiuk’s being a quarter of an inch from reality fails him. By making John into a simpleton who makes no effort to protect himself and even less effort to understand what he’s doing to antagonize the community, it’s kind of hard to see who the actual bad person is. He’d go on to make the same unforced error when he had Suicide Girl inform parents that they were stupid idiots who wanted to laugh mindlessly while the world fell down around their ears because they didn’t see the point of exposing kids who THEY knew were depressed and unhappy to begin with to a bleak look at pain, misery and death.
“But in Westview, it is only the Moral Crusaders and Sleazy Businessmen who are exaggerated caricatures, with the ‘good’ characters appearing normal and reasonable.”
Jocks are also exaggerated caricatures…save for Summer perhaps.
“But in Westview, it is only the Moral Crusaders and Sleazy Businessmen who are exaggerated caricatures”
Which is fine. Helen Lovejoy, like a lot of Simpsons extras, is an exaggerated caricature. But her job is to be a foil to the main characters, whose views are more nuanced. The “Itchy and Scratchy and Marge” episode I mentioned is a perfect example of this. Marge is a thoroughly-developed character, and we know she’s not really a zealot or a prude. She had a valid reason to launch the crusade she did, and she learned the hard way where such crusades turn into.
The failure of the writing in the Funkyverse (and Chick tracts) isn’t the one-note villains; it’s the one-note main characters. The Westview characters aren’t “normal and reasonable”; they’re right because Tom Batiuk says they’re right. Their arguments are poor, and are based entirely in Batiuk’s own stunted worldview.
John Howard should be passionate about the material he chooses to sell in this store. Lord knows he’s constantly talking about his comic book preferences. But he has no conviction about anything, even when he’s facing an actual conviction over it. But he doesn’t relent, either, and remove the offending material out of self-preservation. He just doesn’t seem to care. He’s practically inert. That’s not a quarter-inch from reality; it’s piss-poor writing. Listen to George Carlin or Lenny Bruce or Richard Pryor or Larry Flynt talk about being censored, and you can feel how passionate they were about what they had to say. Not the people in the Funkyverse.
Same thing with that asshole Les. He just pouts and preens all over the place about “protecting Lisa”, as if this were some kind of universal truth. There was no reason for it, the story never gave us any reason for it, and everyone in Westview enabled it, even at their own expense.
Yes, very good points. In addition stereotypical people can make for some great comedy, but we see none of that either.
What’s more, Les never said what he was protecting Lisa’s reputation from. All we saw was a man being a stick in the mud for no reason other than to be a stick in the mud and, given the poor grasp of human motivation and inability to understand how other people might react, possibly to make the story mostly about his having to decide things. Fast-forwarding past the real story to get to what should have been the epilogue just makes it worse.
As for the “Stand around and moan helplessly” nonsense that is meant somehow to display good moral character, all we’re seeing is how the hapless, helpless extras reacted to Captain Boomerang’s latest idiotic plan. Doing things to stop him would detract to Flash pulling a solution out of his rear end. It’s only mothers, bullies, fungus people and snarker trolls who ask mean and useless questions like “Why doesn’t the bank guard shoot the idiot in the funny costume? He’s not bulletproof, is he?”
Why, that would be like Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin calling on an innocent bystander for help in an episode of “The Man from U.N.C.L.E”! Can’t have that!
When I’m feeling as pre-verse as Colonel Bat Guano, I often think of what would have happened if the security guard who’s asked Spider-Man’s assistance in stopping the Burglar had gotten what he asked for.
Most likely the guard would have hogged all the credit, making Peter think that do-gooding was a waste of time and that he should leave it to the Fantastic Four.
And the next time someone asked for his help, he would say it wasn’t his problem and the felon would go on to kill Uncle Ben.
Much as cheerfulness keeps breaking in, so does great responsibility with great power.
Either that or the Burglar would have gotten away in any case (“well, lad, at least we tried,” said the guard. “Thanks for the help. Say, can I have your autograph for my wife? Just write ‘To Roberta Blackburn — with love’ or something like that. She’s a bigger fan of yours than all four of our daughters combined!”), and the events of *Amazing Fantasy* #15 would have proceeded as Lee and Ditko intended
Suddenly thinking of an “Imaginary” *Superman* story in which if Krypton hadn’t blown up, Kal-El would have become Superman all the same. Must get home to Carole King…
Ah, yes. Marvel’s answer to letting a singular stupid event define the life of Animaltheme Man. What Batiuk doesn’t want to realize is that when it happened makes all the difference. A screwed-up eight year old kid wanting to be big and strong to beat the Bogeyman is less realistic than a screwed-up teenager who thinks he’s an accomplice by inaction. I can think of any number of scenarios where he was never asked to stop that guy and STILL thought he was to blame.
I am hard pressed, as an anime nerd going back to the 90s, to think of anime pr0n that would be considered “classics of their genre.” The examples given here are indeed well known, but they are well known in the “notorious” sense, at least on this side of the Pacific. I can’t speculate on what the Japanese might think of them, but I can say if you waved them at a US judge and insisted they’re not obscene because they’re classic, you would be laughed into the ocean.
I do think that legal ruling was absurd, but I also agree that that poor guy had his p0rn much better guarded than John and look what happened to him.
Back in 2005 when this story arc was running, I was a regular poster on a message board I had stumbled upon a few years prior that was called “The Anime Sucks Foundation”. Despite the name, nearly every poster was actually quite a big fan of anime and manga… but they were also either overly annoyed with more effusive anime fans (always contemptuously referred to as “otakus”) or they were folks who thought it was funny to troll other anime fans through over-the-top criticism. Or both, I suppose. The site was the kind of dumb thing young people will get involved in when they spend too much time on the internet, but it was mostly harmless fun (the one regrettable thing I recall was mocking posted photos of cosplayers), puncturing the self-seriousness of much of anime fandom and also fostering some interesting discussion cartoons and animation in general. I was the rare outsider on the message board, someone who loved cartoons but did not generally care for anime and was still puzzled by its apparent appeal as kid-friendly examples of it took over the then-dying vestiges of American Saturday morning network programming.
This story arc is giving me a nostalgia trip, I still have internet friends from those days… but anyways, I brought these strips up for discussion at the Anime Sucks Foundation. As I recall, most everyone found the idea that DSH would be arrested and tried for selling pornographic manga to be rather funny, which is a part of why I still laugh about that particular strip. I also recall that absolutely NONE of the other posters (who were mostly young men in their teens and 20s at the time) had even read Funky Winkerbean before I brought it… the common case that those familiar with the issues that TB tries to tackle are as unfamiliar with his comic strip as he is of the issues he’s highlighting.
A couple of observations –
I agree that the result in Texas v. Castillo is troubling. Sadly, based on a quick review, the statute under which Castillo was convicted is still apparently the law in Texas. (Although the specific material as described by CBH is troubling to me.)
That said, I also do think that the way Batiuk set up the situation in the strip, especially if the manga purchased by the undercover officer was what Castillo sold or similar to it, would probably end up getting DSH convicted because of its its explicit nature and its ready availability to minors.
The foregoing leads me to think that Batiuk is probably not familiar with the explicit nature of hentai. (No surprise here)
As an aside, CBH’s inclusion of the Chick tract samples does make me wonder whether Batiuk might be a reader of those. He did make an appearance in a video adventure of the Christian superhero The Cardinal.
What’s happening in Crankshaft today? Why, it’s this: https://www.gocomics.com/crankshaft/2023/04/28
It’s my understanding that one of the things we very much try to avoid on this site is political discourse. And I’m totally on board with that! So I won’t comment on the political nature of today’s installment. Besides, I’m not American, so the January sixth “joke” perhaps doesn’t hit me the same way it might hit the intended audience.
I think, however, people of all political persuasions can come together and agree that today’s strip is very awkwardly written. And not really funny.
Tom Batiuk: He’s a uniter, not a divider!
He bombed hard when he had Ed tell his former girlfriend that she was too old to worry about being assaulted and he probably still thinks that he was being bullied. He’ll whine the same thing about this.
Also, what’t with the hospital setting? Isn’t she being treated for a form of PTSD which is a psychological condition?
Crankshaft is where the Funkyverse’s quarter-inch from reality shines to the fullest because it’s absorbed the last of the crazy nonsencial humor that Act 1 ran on. Bus drivers’s over-the-top struggles with their patrons and parents (the chase for missed busses, stress over class trips) are enshrined alongside brownies that are literally harder than bricks and grills that explode so hard that they’re launched into orbit as traditional running gags that keep casual readers coming, yet try to leave enough room to bring gravitas to topics like dementia and protest shootings.
And also topical hot-button political issues.
It is left as an exercise for the reader to compare and contrast TB’s attitude towards and description of the events of 3 years ago (2 years before he wrote it) with the events at Kent State 53 years ago.
Well, that’s one way to get to folks to write letters to the editor with the word “Crankshaft” in them.
Oh, fuck you, Tom Batiuk.
Ah, there we go. That’s the stuff. A reference to a contemporary event that’s long out of date, completely tonedeaf, and makes zero sense within the context of the storyline (we’re going to let comatose Mary Marzipan-Cummings watch The J6 Channel until other people show up? sure ok whatever).
That’s the TB Touch© right there.
It’s another data point for my “Tom Batiuk has no theory of mind” argument. This strip is just so blithe, like Batiuk has no clue he’s wading into dangerous waters by bringing the J6 incident up at all. And for such a poorly constructed, inessential gag. Compare that to his whole “I must protect Lisa” oeuvre, and his reaction to 1966 TV Batman.
I agree that TB should never include scorching political issues. But I must direct you to the main instigator of today’s comic, and it is not Tom Batiuk:
🤪😍@JJO’Malley is a very bad man. This is at least the third time he has infuriated GC commenters. Comics Kingdom were vicious FW snarkers. You couldn’t hang there without iron accessories (if you know what I mean). SOSF people are in-depth intellectual snarkers with a bite. My comments that get downvoted are cut by rapiers. (I am looking at you, CBH🥸) But Go Comics? Those poor people subsist on pablum. They can’t go two sentences without whining and bitching. AND IT IS NOT PROFESSIONAL WHINING. It is preschool stuff. On CK, it is a hornet’s 🐝 nest. On GC, they can’t handle Ladybugs 🐞. So when I read our magnificent JJO’M commenting, I know in 2 hours, there will be nothing but death and destruction in his wake. 😍😎 It is a thing of beauty.
(This was quite quickly typed listening to John William’s “Superman, the Movie Main Title March)
Recent post from the Batiukblog:
I was once humorously one-upped by a woman cancer survivor at a book signing for Lisa’s Story who said that her husband, who accompanied her to every one of her chemo sessions, was her chemosabi. Wish I’d written that.
You DID write it, you fucking hack. Several times, as if it were new and hilarious each time.
They say “good artists copy, great artists steal”. What kind of artist are you when you publish a joke someone created, give them no credit for it, re-use it often like it’s your best pun when puns are the only kind of joke you ever do, and admit stealing it only in blog posts nobody will ever read and you don’t allow anyone to post on?
Tom Batiuk, valiantly stealing from children and cancer survivors!
(For the record, “valiantly” was just the first word I thought of, but the evocation of “Prince Valiant” – and the association to that vile story from last year – meant I saw no reason to think of another. Tom also valiantly impugns the reputations of dead writers and artists he claims he admires!)
You DID write it, you f***ing hack would be a great title for a compilation of strips from FW story arcs where Les is writing.
I think Becky in the 3/16/2005 strip looks horrifying so: