DCH John Howard is charged with heinous comics crimes! CBH is on the case! I am highly qualified to provide legal commentary and counsel on this fictional court room drama. Below, a list of my qualifications.
1.) My friend is a lawyer.
2.) I have a working internet connection, and am not afraid of the CIA seeing my search history.
3.) My mom has 60% of the OJ Simpson Trial recorded on VHS.
4.) I once got two speeding tickets in one week.
So I am READY. I am KNOWLEDGEABLE.
Let me flash some of that sweet sweet knowledge!
For example, did you know that it takes months at minimum for a misdemeanor to go from the initial charges to the trial?
I’m not really being sarcastic here. It took two years for Castillo v. Texas to go to trial. And even though no one would have batted and eye at Batiuk going straight into John’s day in court, Batiuk took the more realistic approach.
After being arrested in March 2005, DCH John is temporarily a free man. Free to attend Funky Winkerbean’s surprise birthday party. To which Funky showed up absolutely wasted.
DCH John isn’t mentioned again until June, when Funky and Holly and Becky and Wally are preparing for their double wedding in the Greasy Grotto of Settling.
DCH John isn’t seen attending the wedding of Becky and Wally. But he was nice enough to send the happy couple a gift that wonderfully splits the difference between thoughtful and pathetic. Sending a gift may be an indication he was invited, but couldn’t bring himself to go.
But despite legal troubles and a broken heart, DCH John can still smile at the thought of Funky ruining a Paris honeymoon with cringe wordplay.
And I guess Funky was also thinking of DCH John during his honeymoon. Gross.
Finally in November, a we get back to Comic Books on Trial.
But St. Lisa is setting up an ironclad case. Complete with witnesses! Including one she’s scribbled onto a legal pad and slapped on the table for Les to read.
The trial begins!
For the purposes of this discussion, I am operating under the assumption that the comics DCH John sold were the comics Jesus A. Castillo sold. Tom Batiuk is obviously pulling from that case. He is obviously putting John in the place of Mr. Castillo, and Komix Korner in the place of Keith’s Comics. So I am putting Demon Beast Invasion and Legend of the Overfiend in the place of these unspecified manga. Tom Batiuk has not made any indication the material should be understood as tamer, or less pornographic, than the comics in the real life case.
Maybe this isn’t fair. I actually hope that Batiuk didn’t actually know what those comics contained and was imagining Berserk or Vagabond on trial, like I did when I first read this arc. I would rather believe Batiuk is lazy and didn’t do his research, than believe he would knowingly insinuate DCH John has read and chosen to sell this stuff.
The prosecuting attorney is a lantern jawed meat man. Joe McCarthy meets Unfrozen Caveman Lawyer. And Roberta sits next to him the whole time she’s not on the stand, even though she’s just the city councilperson who blew the whistle on Komix Korner.
Yes. What a loon! Roberta is absolutely insane for stating such unsubstantiated nonsense! Like that Komix Korner is within walking distance of a school, (which is is,) and that children often go there alone without adults, (which they do.)
This entire Kevin gag is just baffling. What does it matter that Kevin Brown, the only person in the store when Roberta was there, is actually an adult? So she was mistaken that Kevin was a child. That would only matter if DSH John was running a bar, or an actual porn shop, or a strip club. In that case Kevin being an adult rather than a child would mean something. It would mean that Komixxx Korner Adults Comix Shop is for Adults and John is enforcing that rule.
Roberta’s point, that children have access to Komix Korner without the supervision of their parents is true.
Heck, DCH John has underaged employees working there. Did he let Wally and Pete flip through hentai while they were stocking the shelves?
Oh, but Lisa has some expert witnesses on the stand.
Ha. Ha. Yes. Only really smart kids read comics like this!
(WARNING DO NOT CLICK THAT LINK. I WAS HORRIFIED.)
In summary, Demon Beast Invasion is so full of popular and traditional Japanese concepts and themes! Like violence against women and incestuous monster rape being titillating! Such a serious literary endeavor! There would be no way to get any of those concepts or themes across without the porn.
John Byrne on the stand isn’t only a nod to one of Tom Batiuk’s comic book buddies, it is also another reference to Castillo v. Texas.
As part of his defense, appellant also called two experts. Scott McCloud, an award-winning author and comic book artist, testified that sixty-eight percent of comic book readers are over the age of eighteen. He explained comic books have diversified over the years to include more general interest fantasy, autobiography, romance, and “very naturalistic fiction.” He told the jury that comic books were “huge” in Japan. McCloud had read all four volumes of “Demon Beast Invasion.” He described the series as a genre of Japanese horror/science fiction dealing with the alien infiltration of earth culture with themes of love and evil. In McCloud’s opinion, although the writer and author struggled in certain areas, the series and volume two specifically have serious literary and artistic merit because *822 of the effort and skill involved in the production. He acknowledged the comic book is “sexually potent in places,” although he did not find the series, or volume two, sexually arousing.
On cross-examination, McCloud admitted the series “push[es] the genre” with its alienation and sexual subject matter. Further, he said volume two “contains probably the most sexual[ly] explicit material” of any of the four and agreed most of the issue “is basically sex.” Nevertheless, in his opinion, the sexual scenes should be interpreted in light of volume one, which set out the characters in “healthy, normal relations.” When questioned whether he thought the tree scene was “perverted,” McCloud replied, “I think it’s disturbing… to most readers. And it’s meant to be.”
Susan Napier, an associate professor in Asian studies at the University of Texas at Austin, is a specialist in Japanese literature and culture and has extensively studied “anime” and “manga.” Anime is the short word for Japanese animation; manga is a Japanese word for comic books. Like McCloud, Napier had read all four volume of “Demon Beast Invasion” and believed volume two should be interpreted in context with the other three volumes of the series. Napier briefly summarized the contents of each of the volumes and explained the story line deals with love, alien infiltration, and the attempt to overcome the infiltration. According to Napier, Japanese culture is fascinated with metamorphosis, bizarre creatures, and the apocalypse, which is what she said the series depicts. Napier testified the narrative, suspense, love story, and “beautifully drawn” scenes gave the series and volume two serious literary and artistic value. Because the story also involved the desire for power, Napier believed the series also had political value.Castillo v. State, 79 S.W.3d 817 (Tex. App. 2002)
Castillo v. State, 79 S.W.3d 817 (Tex. App. 2002)
Jim Mateer, the high school art teacher who spent more than 10 years, and nearly all of Act II, painting the murals in Montoni’s, also testifies. Though I have absolutely no clue if he’s for the prosecution or the defense.
Why all these questions about art, and culture, and serious literary endeavors?
Well, they’re trying to get DCH John on an obscenity charge.
The United States of America has broad protections for Free Speech. But multiple court rulings, at the highest levels, have set the precedent that obscenity is not covered by free speech. That doesn’t mean it’s automatically illegal, but it means that it can be restricted by legislation.
The definition of obscenity has narrowed over the years. The standing Supreme Court ruling is Miller vs. California. In that 1973 case a pornographer Marvin Miller mailed brochures advertising porn out, and those brochures were pornographic themselves. The Supreme Court devised three criteria that must be met for obscenity. This what is called The Miller Test.
- whether the average person, applying contemporary “community standards” would find that the work, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest;
- whether the work depicts or describes, in an offensive way, sexual conduct or excretory functions, as specifically defined by applicable state law.
- whether the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.
(Is this perfect? No. Personally, I’d love to tighten up that obscenity definition to something more concrete. But I’m not a lawyer. )
So, for Castillo v. Texas, the attempt was made to prove that the hentai in question had literary, artistic, and political value. And Batiuk is taking DCH John’s trial down a similar route.
Until we get to THIS:
This one Sunday strip.
It breaks my gosh darn brain.
Crazy, have you been paying attention to this trial at all?
Lisa’s entire case hinges on the idea that some comics aren’t for kids. That comics are a medium that can be serious art with adult subject matter. The one thing that isn’t in debate here, the one thing both sides agree on, is that the comics John are on trial for were adult comics. That they were only for adults. And thus they are unacceptable for children. The comics that are on trial are supposed to be bad for kids.
And now you’re telling the jury that comics are crucial to the development of some children. You’re saying that without comics you could have gone to a bad place and would have been lost. You’re telling everyone that one of comics’ most important functions is to be edifying, because they are attractive to young minds.
Won’t some people who hear you think that we should make sure the stories inside are uplifting, to save kids like you?
What if you hadn’t had your hand held by The Comics Code Authority? What if, instead of superheroes that taught you good lessons, you instead went into your local comics shop and half the wall behind the counter was covered in tentacles and tits and terrified looking women? Would you have been lost then? Would you have become something worse? According to you, ideas have power!
Your statement, that as a vulnerable child comics provided the role models that shaped you, is a massive point in ROBERTA’S favor. For ROBERTA’S side. On the side of censorship for the public good.
When you are trying to defend comics about alien tentacle rape, maybe don’t ask the jury to THINK OF THE CHILDREN.
104 responses to “Tribulations and Trials”
As I said before, I missed this when it originally ran, so it’s been a pretty entertaining ride, all full of outrageously obscure characters and references, like any Act II arc worth a damn should be. Even back then, BatYam had no focus. All of a sudden the entire story is about something else entirely, and to no one’s surprise, that “something else” is his childhood love of freaking comic books. He simply can’t tell a comic book-related story without having that seep into the story somehow. He can’t just have a taste of that old comic book nostalgia, he has to dump the whole pot over his head and wallow in it, like a pig in the mire.
At least the prosecutor was COMPLETELY incompetent. I mean, Lisa had to present her list of witnesses ahead of time (it’s just how the court system works), yet they didn’t bother to actually check who any of those witnesses were, or what they would say? I can buy that they didn’t corroborate Roberta’s claim that there was a child in the store (it’s sloppy, but that type of thing happens), but when the name “Kevin Brown” appeared on the witness list, they didn’t bother to find out who that was? If Roberta is sitting at the prosecution’s table (not that she would, unless she works as an attorney in the DA’s office in addition to her counsel work?), wouldn’t she also know who the witnesses would be? And know that she shouldn’t testify that there was a child in the store, and at least have some idea who John Byrne is? (But then, that’s how you can tell she’s EEEVIL; she doesn’t know who JOHN BYRNE is! What an ignorant monster!)
(I’m not even a lawyer, and I know this is just WRONG. Though, granted, I also like to follow guys like Bob Ingersoll, who point out legal inaccuracies in fictional works. Entertaining AND educational!)
(So I also know that Crazy Harry’s little speech would never happen. Witnesses don’t get to give unprompted soliloquies on the stand. How it would actually play out:
Lisa: No further questions.
Harry: Can I just say something here?
Judge: No you may not. The witness is excused.
He’d get maybe five words into his diatribe before the judge had the bailiff haul him off in contempt.)
Ah, well. GREEN PITCHER! Always a welcome sight.
If only the prosecution had hired Amicus Breef… He would have subpoenaed Lisa’s evidence. Well, he would have talked about it, at least. A Lot.
It should be Lisa, not the judge, telling Harry to shut up. Any real lawyer would quickly silence any potential “helpers” before they torpedo the case. Especially when the lawyer personally knows them to be a complete weirdo. There are lots of lawyer stories about defendants who talked themselves into jail or an unfavorable judgment.
This is great work. And you’re right hat Harry’s testimony makes no sense and hurt Lisa’s case.
Great catch that Roberta wouldn’t be sitting at the Prosecution table during the criminal trial. She also wouldn’t be called as a witness. That role would be filled by the undercover officer who purchased material that has been defined as obscene by statute from DSH. There is no need for her presence at this trial. She, of course, sit in the spectators’ area, which is separated by the bar from the judge, the witness stand, the prosecutor, and the defense and defendant. Didn’t Batiuk ever watch the original Perry Mason series?
Also, about Harry’s testimony regarding the sequestration of the adult material from the rest of the store. There is nothing that Batiuk showed us in either Roberta’s or the officer’s appearance in the store that shows the adult material sits on a shelf identical to the rest of the store that doesn’t keep it from children in any way. Also, if the area was marked (which it isn’t) it raises the question why Roberta to would blithely wander over there. But, of course, Batiuk needed a “straw man” villain and who better than Roberta for that purpose.
Edit of my post:
“ There is nothing that Batiuk showed us to support this. Both Roberta’s and the officer’s appearance in the store that shows the adult material sits on a shelf identical to the rest of the store that doesn’t keep it from children in any way.”
Having to admit that a person he doesn’t like is right doesn’t appeal to the whiny little child in him. He found a peer and an enable in Byrne who lets his own stupid issues and resentments distort his creative vision as well.
“I represent the Lollipop Guild.”
“Your honor, could you ask the witness to please stop inhaling helium while on the stand?”
It’s the middle of the night and I have to go to work in a few hours, so I may expand on this later. But, I’m pleased that I actually can make an informed comment based on my professional knowledge!
First, in an obscenity case, the fact that it is available to minors is irrelevant. As CBH illustrates in her statement of the Miller test, there is no age related criterion. It’s obscene whether it’s available to a 12 year old high schooler or a 75 year old PhD (not that I would-cough-consider ever being exposed to such a thing).
Maybe the most interesting part of Miller is the “community standards” prong. Most interestingly, it means that a jury in Westview might find the “book” to be obscene, a jury in that Ohio Sodom known as Centerville might not (although to my knowledge there has been no definition of what constitutes a “community”). What might have made a more interesting story would have been how the Westviewians lined up on the case. We have a good idea where Less would be, and perhaps Cindy the journalist, but what about Tony, or Bull?
Batiuk doesn’t see that because Batiuk, he’s reacting to his mother telling him that comic books are rotting his brain while quoting the big bogeyman of the OG nerd: Doctor Wertham.
Thanks for pointing out the key point in the Castillo case. Batiuk in his attempt to deal with an issue “ripped from the headlines” missed the fact that if the judge, looking at the hentai in question and applying the community standard in Westview, found it to be obscene, DSH would be convicted, no matter who Lisa called as a witness to argue the material’s literary merit or how well guarded from minors it was.
On top of that, it doesn’t help that his artwork was inconsistent with Harry’s testimony.
They have standards in Westview? Give me a millenium or two to wrap my head around that.
A million years ago in the 1980s, I got stuck covering an obscenity trial. At one point, the state’s attorney presented the jurors with one of the magazines the police had confiscated from the local porn shop. He flopped it down and I, seated in the front row near the jury box, got far too good a glimpse of a ridiculously well-endowed man.
I considered myself an average person, and while I couldn’t swear to what the contemporary community standards were, I was certain the material didn’t appeals to MY prurient interest. Eww.
And here we are with the woman presented as being an ignorant idiot whose opinion is worthless because she doesn’t know who a preening non-entity is. It’s all a quarter of an inch away from putting MOMMY on trial for objecting to feeding him milk and cookies while he dulled his mind reading about No Motivation That Makes Dramatic Sense Man running at Impossible Speed to punch a man who plays with tops.
Ain’t that just like a woman — especially someone’s mother? Philistines all! But in reality, how many of Batiuk’s readers recognized John Byrne’s name at all? There’s not necessarily a huge crossover between comic book readers and newspaper comic readers. I do enjoy Roberta’s giraffe neck at the moment when she reveals her unforgivable ignorance.
There’s not necessarily a huge crossover between comic book readers and newspaper comic readers.
It is an indictment of Funky Winkerbean that it’s not the center of that Venn diagram. This is a storytelling world that is obsessed with the production and consumption of comic books. Buying, selling, reading, collecting, making covers, having them define who you are. And there isn’t a drop of crossover interest from comic book enthusiasts. “Where my Winkerheads at?”
Comic book nerds, everywhere: “That Batiuk guy, man, he just GETS us!”
An interesting point. No, he is not the patron saint that he thinks he is.
No, he’s absolutely not, and I for one would be happy if he never mentioned comics again.
By the way, I’ve only ever seen one copy of an early volume of “The Complete Funky Winkerbean.” It was a special order for another customer at my local comic shop, probably the same who bought the inaugural volumes of Beetle Bailey and The Family Circus.
I don’t get there as much as I used to, but from time-to-time I still visit what is probably the most prominent comic book store in the big city I live in. It is a bit more than half the size of a typical drugstore, about 7,000 or 8,000 SF I think. In the whole store, which is crammed to the gills with comic books, collectibles, and other geeky bric-a-brac, there are two small shelves (about 3 feet wide each) devoted to collections of newspaper comics. Never once have I seen any of TB’s books on those shelves. I mean, this place has whole bins devoted to Archie back issues…
I’ve been to more comic stores and book stores than I can remember, and there are some really huge examples of both in NYC. I have never seen a TB book for sale. Never. You can find plenty of omnibuses or collections of very old, obscure, or schlocky newspaper comics. But no TB.
I’ve said this elsewhere, but for a time I used to work in what was literally the worlds biggest bookstore. It was completely Batiuk-free.
Hold up. Roberta tried to get Les fired? I instantly like her a lot better now.
In an arc full of missed opportunities and ridiculous contrivances, two things stand out for me:
1. Dwarves/midgets/little people look nothing like small children. Their bodies don’t, their heads don’t, their faces don’t. Even in the dark. And their voices don’t sound like children’s voices either.
2. “But it’s culturally significant art, in another culture” is not an obscenity defense, since the issue rests on community standards. And in any case, is tentacle p0rn considered a valid, important art form in Japan? Is it not considered obscene there? I have my doubts. Where is Cheesy-Kun Shiba when you need him?
Bringing in the local high school art teacher is such a *chef’s kiss* Batiuk touch. “But art is important, y’all!” “Oh, well, then, case dismissed! I had no idea art is important! That means tentacle p0rn can’t possibly be obscene!”
At least in the Castillo case, they had an expert in Asian culture testifying, not a random Marvel Comics guy. Byrne testifying to prove hentai is not obscene is the equivalent of getting Peter Jackson to testify that some violent, torture-filled X𝐗𝖷 film cannot possibly be obscene because movies tell important stories, y’all.
That depends on whether or not the small children in question were drawn by John Byrne.
Ouch! Mr. theskink, sir, I stand corrected.
Also, the cherry on top of TB bringing the local high school art teacher into this story is that Jim Mateer was TB’s actual real life high school art teacher.
The real, late Mateer was still alive when this story was written, did he sign off on being used to defend hentai? Surely he did… I mean there definitely are other reasons why his cameo in this story arc isn’t shown on his website alongside other appearances, right?
did (Jim Mateer) sign off on being used to defend hentai?
You’re kidding, right? I doubt it even occurred to Batiuk to run it by him.
Crankshaft report — why not?
There’s actually a gag in there today, limp as it is, about one of Crankshaft’s grills colliding with an asteroid. But it takes SO MANY words to tell it, and it’s told so incoherently, that any scintilla of humor is wrung out of it.
As a somewhat prolix writer myself, I’m qualified to say: I’ve never seen a comix writer more determined to jam excess words into straining word balloons. And the crazy thing is that he used to be able to get to the point just fine. The excess verbiage crept in with age, along with the “So”s and the “What are you doing”s.
George Bernard Shaw is said to have written to a friend, “I’m sorry this letter was so long. I didn’t have time to make it shorter.” It takes extra effort to edit and polish your own work to remove the fat. And I just don’t think TB can be arsed to spend the extra 10 minutes.
Yup. Today’s strip is obviously a first draft that took about three minutes to write in its current tortuous form. And it’s clearly a gag that occurred to Tom when news of NASA’s “DART” mission was being widely reported.
NASA’s press release about the impact of DART was issued on September 26, and confirmation that the asteroid path was changed came in a press release on October 11. So Batiuk now only seems to be working a little over 6 months ahead — hence, I guess, the rush. Can’t stop to edit your golden words when you’ve fallen so far behind your (pointless, self-imposed) schedule!
All right, I’m not done. This arc really brings the irritation, doesn’t it?
What jumps right out at me as I read the whole sorry mess at once, is: What the hell is Batiuk trying to say here?
— That hentai isn’t obscene?
— That it is, but it’s art?
— That it’s considered meaningful in Japan so we should follow their lead?
— That it’s obscene, but it’s okay if the person buying it turns out to have been an adult?
— That art is mankind’s highest intellectual achievement, so all art is valid in all circumstances?
— That because comix “saved” Crazy Harry, tentacle p0rn shouldn’t be held to community standards?
— That comix are for adults, but they save kids’ lives?
In the end, he said nothing, so business as usual, I guess.
Incidentally, I mentioned last week that Bats constantly says comix showed him the way to live, etc, but never ever gives one concrete example of how. How did comix save Crazy Harry? Specifically how?
And while I’m ranting: God, I hate spunky lawyer Lisa. In fact, I hate all the Lisas other than the weird, insecure control-freak Lisa who dated Les in high school. She was horrible, but at least she was recognizably human and would have been redeemable as she grew up, if he hadn’t changed her into a completely different character altogether.
A great distillation of how Tom Batiuk’s writing fails to communicate ideas. He wanted to do a story about the Castillo case because it was a vehicle to talk in circles about comic books and his precious Lisa. His interest in the topic started and ended there.
And as ED said above; every comic book story turns into the same comic book story. Oh, comic books are so important and artistically valid and they shaped my life – which he has nothing to say about either. Characters are constantly proclaiming it so, but you never see anything to support this idea. And again, that’s not what the case hinged on anyway. But every battle about comic books must Tom Batiuk’s battle about comic books.
As for Lisa, I don’t think ugly knocked-up teenage control freak Lisa and smug adult lawyer control freak Lisa are even the same person. Clearly they share one trait, but I don’t buy that one grew into the other off-panel. Law school is not for timid, easily intimidated, unmotivated students. Never mind how she paid for it, having no parental support of any kind.
It’s like a TV show where the actor died and they hired a Suspiciously Similar Substitute. But they did such a bad job of it it screwed up the show. Act II Lisa bears no resemblance to Act I Lisa. Maybe Les has been hallucinating a lot longer than we though.
Oh, comic books are so important and artistically valid and they shaped my life – which he has nothing to say about either. Characters are constantly proclaiming it so, but you never see anything to support this idea.
That’s because Tom Batiuk writes entirely in blurbs. And blurbs never say anything of substance, because the function of a blurb is just to say “I like this.”
He’s repeated the line about how “comix saved me” multiple times now, but has yet to provide a single example of exactly what that’s supposed to mean.
And this storyline has nothing to do with Comix. It’s about tentacle porn. I’d be…. very surprised to hear that Batty actually looked at the material in question in Castillo. John is selling obscene material and is subject to whatever local laws govern those sales. Castillo had his stuff much better secured than John did, and he was still found to be in violation of laws governing those sales.
Shut up, Lisa.
I think “comics saved me” has a sort of surface profundity, if you’ll pardon the oxymoron. It sounds like there’s some meaning there, some depth, but it’s just rhetorical handwaving.
He loves this stuff. It’s one of the hallmarks of his writing style.
1. Fake-profound statements, suspiciously devoid of context and specificity. (“Comics saved me.”)
2. Purple prose about the Muse in various forms. (“So Lisa emerged from the shadows of my doubt, took me by the hand, and showed me the up-and-down vista of her future, from triumph to tragedy.”)
3. Laments that his work is too good, to profound, for the callous world to properly appreciate.
4. Tortured, torqued, and tormented English(?) syntax, usually including typos, grammar errors, and misspellings.
Collect ’em all!
Oops — I forgot a biggie.
5. “Impressive” words or phrases used incorrectly and/or misspelled.
There was a Dilbert strip that mocked the boss’ tendency to micromanage. In one panel he’s standing behind Dilbert, pointing at the computer screen, and saying “write some assembly line code here.”
This is exactly how Tom Batiuk thinks and writes. He’s heard bits and pieces of the process, but has no understanding of the greater goal, or how anything fits together. So he thinks he can achieve great writing by injecting techniques here and there. “I’ll put a simile here, and then end on a metaphor! Hmm, though I haven’t used synecdoche enough recently…” Then he writes five panels of “So what are you doing?” “I’m doing X” gumf to set it all up.
……I just had to say it, I don’t actually have an objection.
If I can look up the full saga of the trial it might actually be a funny diversion to bring up the “objection.lol” website and try to adapt the whole trial in Ace Attorney style, just for a laugh.
My takeaway from the whopper of Crazy adding his own addendum to his testimony is that its inclusion is a garish Author Filibuster in addressing the “core” of the crisis, both the IRL inspiration and the in-universe incitement. All of this fretting over sketchy manga being made too easily available for children or not is not only a “free speech” issue where people might be prunish about things not meant for kids anyways, but is supposedly a slippery slope towards comics not being available for kids anymore at all.
That’s the fear Crazy holds, that if the innocent-hearted comic seller (who is biding his time waiting for his Lost Lenore to lose her husband to the military machine) is forced to shut his store doors forever, the kids will lose the access to the true American medium of superheroes and the comics they grow out of (nevermind that good superhero movies are clawing up into the mainstream or already have established, adored television adaptations, we gotta have the pure printed pulp where the publishers are throwing every edgy thing at the wall to retain their established adult readers available for the kiddies to discover and fall in love with!)
It’s adorable in its dated perspective. By the 2000s the moral guardians were still more hung up on how violent video games were getting and that some dev left a s3x minigame coded into GTA: San Andreas that only PC mods could activate, and were only just starting to realize the internet had pr0n and 4chan aplenty on it. Yes, as the court case shows manga was able to cause uproars as well, but that didn’t mean actual band moms were grinding at the teeth to take Marvel and DC down a peg and reestablish the CCA. Comics as a medium were never in danger, and if that’s the real problem Batiuk took away from a specific uproar on a genre he probably knows next to nothing about, it says a lot more about his skewed idea on the state of the medium than his contradictory outlook on the Silver Age era and “we were demanding a serious Batman show!” ever could.
I would love to see a mash-up where the judge has thrown both sides and their lawyers into prison. With or without tentacles; I’m not fussy.
I’m enjoying this retrospective. I vaguely remember the story arc from years ago. Mainly, I remember the ridiculous usage of Kevin Brown mistaken as a child. It is one of the reasons why I jokingly requested Kevin as a deep-dive subject. A dive off the shallow end of the pool? (Shame, bwoeh).
Honestly, when I initially read this story arc, I didn’t find it too bad, except for the use of the Kevin Brown plot device. However, after hearing your thoughts, it’s clear that I was mistaken.
In my defense, looking back to 2005, I used to read Funky Winkerbean in the newspaper. Although I’m unsure when it first became available online, I spent most of my day on a PC at work, so when I got home, the last thing I wanted was to be on a computer. I read the comics in the newspaper to unwind. Unlike today, there was no analysis or comment section to read. I simply read the comic strip and moved on to the next title. Additionally, I viewed Funky Winkerbean through rose-colored glasses, as the creator Tom Batiuk was from the same area where I grew up.
The only thing I didn’t like about today’s blog was the link to the hentai. I was warned not to look, but it was already too late. I had looked. GAH!!!
I’m going to require some kind of sleep aid tonight. 😨
What the hell? That wasn’t the link I meant to copy. Oh, well. Hope some of you enjoy it.
Don’t feel too bad, CBH. My older brother has you beat. He received two speeding tickets in ONE DAY. On the SAME STRETCH OF ROAD!!!
We still joke about it. Well, he doesn’t joke about it, but my younger brother and I still do.
From the same cop?
Yep. Same cop, about two hours apart.
Backstory: My brother and a friend of his were participating in a form of drag racing. The main road outside the development where we lived was a straight, flat, sparsely populated road. If you turned left out of our development, about a quarter of a mile down the road, there was a speed limit sign (35 mph). From the stop sign in our development, one at a time they’d turn left, floor it and record their speed as they reached the speed limit sign. My brother didn’t expect the cops to remain in the area after receiving a speeding ticket the first time. They were wrong. Both received speeding tickets this time. Mom and Dad weren’t too pleased and took away his driving privileges for a month. Tsk tsk. Silly teenagers.
Dad griped the first ticket was for speeding. The second ticket was for being a dumbass.
Your brother is a legend.
Your brother is in good company, BWoEH. Yours truly, back in my wanton youth, received a pair of speeding tickets about two hours and 120 miles apart along the PCH during an all-night L.A.-to-S.F. drive. I figured I live on the opposite side of the country and will never be in California again, so I simply ignored them. After about a decade and a couple of address changes, the problem vanished.
Some problems really do go away if you ignore them. 😉
I had a similar situation with Columbia House Music after not fulfilling my obligation.
The police have pulled me over only once. A small town police officer pulled me over as I was passing through to tell me one of my headlights was out (I knew). Must have been a slow day.
Oh, good grief. Yesterday’s Crankshaft badly botched the delivery, but at its heart, there was a reasonably decent, potentially funny premise.
Today’s Crankshaft just tries to explain yesterday’s ‘joke’, for those who somehow didn’t get it: https://www.gocomics.com/crankshaft/2023/05/02
I guess we’re going to get a whole week of this?
On the bright side, maybe the grill’s collision with the asteroid cancelled out the Dart satellite’s change in its trajectory, and Dimorphos is now on a direct course for central Ohio. One can only hope.
Also, apropos of nothing, R.I.P. Gordon Lightfoot. “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” feels like a very Funkyverse-like ballad.
I’m sorry to hear that. He had some good tunes. Condolences to his friends, family and fans.
O Canada, you have lost a true troubadour. (No, not tubadour, Americans ignorants.)
Recommended as a fling after the wake: Camille West’s take-off of Lightfoot’s song, which is called “The Nervous Wreck of Edna Fitzgerald.”
Strangely, I never thought of West’s ode against ridiculous swimwear “L.A.F.F.” (“Ladies Against Fanny Floss”) when Logan and Malcolm were in the Department Store. It must because while there’s Thatsnot Hewmore, there is also his cousin Thatllneverbe Hewmore.
Gonna have to pull out this record set:
J.J., I virtually never disagree with you, but “Edmund Fitzgerald” features action and events. It has a plot with a beginning, middle, and end. It doesn’t waste words, nor provide clunky exposition.
It’s not Batiuk-like at all.
Probably more people know that one song than have ever even heard of FW. Coincidence?
In other news, your comments on GC are perfectly civil and violate nothing in GC’s rules, yet they keep getting deleted. Is Tommy a mod over there or something?
Valid points all, duck, but I can’t help but picture Lester Moore trying to write song lyrics that include the name “Gitche Gumee.” Frankly, I prefer “Sundown.”
Yeah, which negative comments strike a nerve over at Go is still pretty much trial and error. I do enjoy trying to thread the needle, as it were, and maybe put one over on them.
You sure succeeded today! You called them out for deleting your prediction that turned out to be accurate.
Today’s Working Daze
comic features a tribute to Gordon Lightfoot two days after he passed. The comic creator probably originally scheduled a tribute to Harry Belafonte and added Gordon Lighfoot just before submitting to the syndicate. Some comic creators are flexible and willing to make changes on short notice.
Completely unlike Tom Batiuk who shows the flexibility of a Royal Caribbean cruise ship passing through the Panama Canal.
Good grief is right! What the heck is going on here? Does Batiuk Want us to believe that the ISS spotted the space borne grill in 2018? And that it was able to travel the more than 200,000 miles to the Moon, where it was able to collide with its satellite Dimorphos?
I’ll admit that the concept, when explained, is amusing, but what an amount of work to get to the punch line! And I agree with Y. Knott that the explanation is going to last the entire week.
TOM BATIUK TAKES ON THE CLASSIC JOKES, part xiv.
“What are you doing?”
“About that woman I saw you with. Wondering who she is.”
“When is it that you say you saw me with a woman?”
“I suppose it was getting dark already, so I would have to guess that it was evening, or maybe even later. It may have been after sunset.”
“Well, could you see objects clearly?”
“I could see cars and lampposts pretty clearly, but that’s because the lights had already gone on on the street. On Main Street, that is. Because that’s the street I’m referring to.”
“You mean the streetlights or other lights on the street or in shop windows? There are a lot of sources of light on the street, at least according to my wife, who was with me last night.”
It takes Tom Batiuk 100 words to say “brevity is the soul of wit.”
Indeed. From The Complete Funky Winkerbean, Volume 23 (Kent State, to be published in 2027)
“So, in order to craft dialogue worthy of the concept I had, I realized I needed to inject a new kind of writing into the story, something that would give a poetic glimmer of lightness, if you will, into what what otherwise might be considered a dark topic, which is probably why others hadn’t tackled it before in the comic strip medium. Casting around for the right sort of inspiration was proving fruitless, as there really was no precedent for what I wanted to do, until luck or fate or call it what you will intervened and I happened on an editorial written by Stan Lee. Stan was writing about an entirely different topic than the one I was proposing to write about, but his concluding statement “‘Nuff said!” really resonated with me. Suddenly, I got it! Fate, through the pen of Stan Lee, had arranged for me to rediscover an eternal truth of writing: you can say things more clearly, and with greater humor and impact, by keeping your material brief and to the point, and not overwriting it, and making sure that once you’ve made your point you stop right there and you don’t continue on needlessly past that point and dilute the impact through pointless repetition or didactic over-explanation or pointless repetition (or didactic over-explanation), lest your writing become soulless, which in turn would destroy any attempts at wit it may have been trying to make.
It was clear to me now what I had to do. Armed with this newfound but decades-old knowledge, I humbly set forth on my precedent-setting journey to reimagine what was possible on the so-called ‘funny pages’. And Lisa would be with me every step of the way.”
I stand in line, Y. Knott. I stand most humbly in line.
Thanks to CBH for her continued excellent work.
“I was a shy, kind of eccentric kid who really didn’t fit in anywhere.”
Go back and read the Funky comics from the 1980s. Does Crazy Harry–a guy who competes in air guitar contests and MCs a Carl Sagan imitation contest–come off as shy? Does he come off as a comic book fan?
He comes off as a huge rock fan and a stoner.
But that’s not good enough for TB. Continuity, characters and his own canon must all be sacrificed at the altar of comic books. TB’s love of comic books helped make Funky almost unreadable in its final years.
According to the 50th reunion story, EVERYONE at Westview High felt like an outsider who didn’t fit in. Including Cindy, the most popular girl in school. (If only there had been a comic book shop in town back then…)
And what did those comics do for the “shy, kind of eccentric kids who didn’t fit in anywhere” (which few of the Act 1 Funksters seem to have been)? Did they inspire them to be more outgoing, take risks, join a service profession, turn their minds to science?
It would be so easy to make the “comix saved me” trope make sense. There are so many ways to go:
“I was a shy, kind of eccentric kid who really didn’t fit in anywhere… comics
— gave me an escape and diversion that helped me keep my sanity”
— helped me realize that I could create my own world, just as the comic book writers and artists did”
— proved that creative and eccentric people like Stan Lee and Jack Kirby could be respected and successful”
— showed me what real manhood means, with heroes who were strong and tough, but never bullies”
— made me laugh and helped me have fun during a time in my life when laughter and fun were scarce”
— provided a safe haven where the good guys would always win and there was always a happy ending”
… etc, and I could go on all day. It took me all of about 3 minutes to think of those. And I’m far from a comix superfan.
What the f is wrong with this guy — Tom or Harry, take your pick that he can’t articulate even one way in which comix “saved” or inspired him?
Yeah really. Most of Batiuk’s fiat storytelling wouldn’t be hard to turn into actual narratives, with actual events to support them. He’s THAT bad of a writer.
It’s almost a self-own. “Comic books helped me be a better person!” But every person who says that is an unambitious, underemployed, closed-minded, socially stunted, Kent State-attending failure at life. They’re exactly the people comic book detractors warn children they’ll turn into.
I’ve been wanting to do a Jack Chick/Funky Winkerbean mashup; this would be the ideal plot for it.
“I’ve been wanting to do a Jack Chick/Funky Winkerbean mashup; this would be the ideal plot for it.”
I hunger for this!
Count me in! And unlike FW, Jack Chick tracts usually have a fast-moving plot and an actual point to make, so it can only be a huge improvement.
I love the enthusiasm! Chick tracts are easy to parody because you can read them all, in entirety, at Chick’s own website. And they’re black and white, which makes for easy Photoshopping, unlike Batiuk and his blasted zip-a-tone.
I assumed there was a “comic books will make you go to hell” story somewhere in Chickland, but I couldn’t find one. There are tracts about Dungeons & Dragons and rock music, but the art wasn’t very helpful.
I’m also torn between satirizing Funky Winkerbean, and satirizing Batiuk himself. Not that both don’t deserve it, but such a project needs a clear focus.
My other mashup idea was introduce a new character to Westview: Quagmire from Family Guy. He’d basically just act like himself, and point out all the story holes. I love the concept, but it seems a little too one-note for extended use.
There’s another bad influence on him that isn’t the Flash: Twelve-cent Era Archie Comics. Archie and the gang changed personality and skill sets at random. This means that a buoyant wacko is retconned into being an author avatar because there is no other way to defeat Mommy Surrogate once and for all and finally have Important People (Who Can Pee Standing Up) shout down the evil voice telling him “You take that silly trash too seriously, Tommy, and it is going to cost you!”
I was looking at these strips again, noticing the boilerplate beetle-browed villain, and thinking about the Simpsons episode “Itchy & Scratchy & Marge,” which we were discussing in the last post.
The episode was clearly a barely-veiled response to the critics of the Simpsons itself, and yet the writer chose to put the criticisms into the mouth of one of the most beloved and moral characters in all of Springfield: Marge Simpson. And the head of the cartoon studio was portrayed as crass and money-driven.
It would have been so easy to portray the show’s critics as monsters and the show’s creator as a wrongly persecuted artist. But the writer (John Swartzwelder, one of the best) chose to subvert that, and give Marge a lot of good points to make.
Can you imagine Puff Batty allowing an antagonist to get in a good point, even if it was only so it could be rebutted in the next panel? Has that ever happened? Most of the time they don’t even defend themselves at all, just glower so you know they’re bad guys.
Conclusion: TB can’t even defend his opinions from critics he creates in his own comic strip, with a whole year of lead time.
Then again…..maybe Time Mop nudged Harry into perjuring himself because comics are how people recognize Humanity as their nation.
Okay, i’m really going to have to pay attention the next time someone here explains how to do image-hosting/linking. In the meantime, i give you a link if i may:
HOW TO IMAGE LINK: Post the URL directly into the message, and the URL must end in .PNG .GIF or .JPG.
HOW TO IMAGE HOST: Get a free imgur account. When you create a post, it will have a URL like
Right-click the image, “Get Image Address” and view the address in a new tab/window. It will have a different name, but will be something like
You can then paste that directly into the message and get:
Also, I accidentally demonstrated how to paste a URL and have it become an active link. I put a space in them to break the URL so it would show the text and not try to embed from it, but I inadvertently created links that are valid enough to be interpreted as links. For example, look at this shit:
Many thanks BJ6K! I have it all copied down in case future inspiration hits.
*sniff* God bless all the hentai girlies…
4.) I once got two speeding tickets in one week.
Me too, on consecutive days, no less. I don’t do that so much anymore. I’ve also been in two three-car accidents where I was the only one with insurance, and I’ve been in three accidents on three different January 13ths.
Wow! That’s more impressive than some items I’ve read in the Ripley’s Believe It or Not! panel on GoComics. Just curious, were any of the January 13ths on a Friday?
Not as impressive, but I was involved in a two car fender bender in the parking lot where I worked. It was at Nationwide Insurance. Both the other driver and I were covered by Nationwide.
Other Driver: Meet you up in the Claims Department?
I was in an accident where a guy in a truck backed into my car. Turns out we not only had the same insurance company, we had the same agent.
I have to ask, who did your agent contact first? You or the driver at fault?
Actually, the other driver admitted fault and he contacted the agent first. It was not a bad experience, given the circumstances.
The most recent Jan.13th was indeed a Friday.
Hope you weren’t hurt in any of them.
I’ve been in three accidents over the years. Only injured in the most recent, which was just before Christmas 2020.
I was in the passing lane next to a semi when it suddenly veered left into me. The tires of the semi-trailer shredded the passenger side of my SUV. I hit the concrete barrier on the left, and my SUV flipped on its side. The semi didn’t even pull over. They drove away as if nothing happened. Some people said the truck driver didn’t even feel the contact. My son believes the driver was afraid they had killed me. My SUV was totaled. I suffered cuts from broken glass and a sprained ankle. I had to wear a boot for a few weeks.
Unlike Holly, I did not use a mobility scooter. No “chocks away” for me.
“Sundown.” “Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.” “If You Could Read My Mind.” They’re all good, but just imagine what the Battyverse versions would be like.
I can see her standing there with her missing arm
In the comic shop that caused her mom such alarm
Becky, you better take care
If I find you been creeping ’round Komix Korner’s stairs
They might have split up or they might have capsized
They may have broke deep and got cancer
And all that remains is the face and the name
Of author Les Moore, who’ll give us the answer.
If you could read my comic
What a tale John Broome could tell
About the Scarlet Speedster
And his teen sidekick as well
Heroes NEVER fail
Yesterday, J.J. O’Malley wrote “On the bright side, maybe the grill’s collision with the asteroid cancelled out the Dart satellite’s change in its trajectory, and Dimorphos is now on a direct course for central Ohio. One can only hope.”
Today’s Crankshaft: https://www.gocomics.com/crankshaft/2023/05/03
How does it feel, J.J.? Are you pleased at having the ability to predict the future? Or terrified to have a mind that thinks like Tom Batiuk?
Now I know how Christopher Walken felt in “The Dead Zone.”
Wonder if this leads into a story where Crankshaft is trained up by NASA to deflect the asteroid by launching a second grill, and he has to be motivated to do it by going to his happy place of just grilling as hard as he can.
Alternatively Timemop bats it away with Moppy like that one Mario & Luigi attack counter.
I had the same thought. I got the idea from a Futurama episode where a big ball of garbage was headed for earth, and the only way to deflect it was to make and launch another big ball of garbage. It’s too clever for Batiuk though. Ed’ll probably just accidentally launch another grill and inadvertently save the human race.
Re: Today’s Crankshaft:
It turns out that J. J. O’Malley’s post speculating that the grill would send Dimorphos hurtling toward Earth was spot on.
I do wonder what tepid anticlimax will ensue.
Today’s post on Batiuk’s blog contains this weird selection-
“Along with the Crankshaft collections that Andrews McMeel was bringing out, they also published the first collection of some of my mature, or maybe let’s call it, adult work. I had been writing a series about Crankshaft’s next door neighbor, Lillian McKenzie, being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, and it was getting a nice response from readers.”
Lillian McKenzie? The character was Lillian’s sister. How could he make that mistake?
Is the blog being written by an intern? Is there a connection to his recent cancelled appearance?
If it was intentional though, that would be an Andy Kaufman-level troll.
“The decision was made to have the material collected into a book that would be called Safe Return Home”
“We decided to collect the material into a book, Safe Return Home”
Never use one word when you can use forty.
Even better: “We collected the material into a book, Safe Return Home”
Under no circumstances should you employ a lone singular word if the possibility exists to utilize additional ones, perhaps even as many as four tens.
“perhaps even a minimum of four tens.”
How could he make that mistake?
Maybe Lillian and her sister were both tested, but that wacky hospital mixed up the results…resulting in some serious hilarity!
Also, I remember that there was a book, Roses In December, that was about Alzheimer’s featuring Ralph Meckler and his wife. Was there actually a second with Lillian?
I think Roses In December contains most, if not all, of the strips collected in Safe Return Home in addition to later strips and the Mecklers’ story. The strips covered in Safe Return Home predate the Mecklers’ story in the strip, I believe.
It’s funny because Krankenschaaften continues to be a life-threatening agent of destruction to everyone around him, but nobody in Centerville (not even podunk local law enforcement, the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security or the Justice League of America) has the stones to stop him from buying new grills, flamethrowers, chainsaws, tanks of pure oxygen, propane, liquid butane, napalm, semtex, the list goes on…
Oh yeah and he’s still allowed to drive schoolkids every day!
I wish Ed would drive his empty bus off no bottom hill.