Seeing is Believing

You guys are killing it in the comments section over this courtroom drama arc! I was kinda bummed I missed out on some of the Free Speech fun due to important transport related issues the last couple days.

As in, transporting the spring calving cows and babies to their summer pasture. So for Mela and all you other city slickers who enjoy the Farm Progress Report, the promised round up photos!

Pairs in the corral, ready for sorting. The red cow in front and her calf were sorted off along with a few other pairs, and any cows that didn’t have calves, just so the pasture wouldn’t get overloaded. The red cow is one of our older girls. How old? I don’t know, but I’d believe anything between 14 to 20.

The calves sorted off in our little calving shed. We haul them separate from the cows in just case a calf slips in the trailer. Don’t want the little babies squished! The one in the very front has a funny spot on his nose, probably from some Simmental genes.

That old red cow was sorted off partially because she has a habit of being a massive pain in the butt to get into the corral at the end of the season. She’s not crazy wild, or aggressive. She just doesn’t feel the need to go with the herd, no matter how good the bait my dad is offering.

Speaking of going with the herd!


Cindy Summers is on the scene! Giving a blatant editorial opinion rather than just the objective news. Which would be fine. As long as this is supposed to be an editorial.

Sensationalized, over dramatized, and the stakes are artificially blown out of proportion? Just like reality TV, indeed.

Reminder that at this time Cindy was a big time news reporter for ABC in New York. So this isn’t just the local Channel 7 rumor mill relieved to have something to cover local other than Little League tournaments. The Westview Nepotism Mafia has its greasy mozzarella tendrils reaching all the way to seats of power and influence.

Um, is Cindy interviewing jurors? Is that allowed?

That’s harsh, Lisa! Reminding Les of the time he totally blew winning ten thousand dollars at a Cleveland Cavs game!

Missed the shot he never took.

The trial of the century adjourns for Thanksgiving. Sitting at the table with her husband, her parents and her young innocent child, Lisa says the family grace. She reverently tells God that she is grateful he put her on this Earth in a place where alien tentacle porn is available.

Dear Lord, thank you for giving us a country where Alex Jones can rant about gay frogs.

And then, it’s back to the trial. Where Lisa seems more interested in embarrassing Roberta Blackburn than proving DCH John’s comics weren’t obscene. Any legal folks out there, help me out, why would Roberta be on the stand twice? And why would she have two eyelids?

Haha! Even the elderly jurors are smirking! That’s how you know St. Lisa won!

This “I know it when I see it,” line is undoubtedly a reference to the famous quote from Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart. In the 1964 Supreme Court case Jacobellis v. Ohio, an Ohio movie theatre manager, Nico Jacobellis, was charged by the state of Ohio with obscenity for showing the French movie, Les Amants.

The Supreme Court overturned the conviction, with Justice Stewart stating in hid concurring opinion.

…under the First and Fourteenth Amendments criminal laws in this area are constitutionally limited to hard-core pornography. I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description; and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it, and the motion picture involved in this case is not that.

The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has an entire page dedicated to the case, and suggests flaws of the ‘I know it when I see it.’ test. Flaws I’ll freely acknowledge. But I think it’s funny that Batiuk has put, ‘I know it when I see it.’ in the mouth or Roberta, when Justice Potter was on the side of a narrow definition of ‘obscenity’ and the artistic merits of an erotic movie like Les Amants.

Poor Justice Stewart, he is quoted later in life as saying, “In a way I regret having said what I said about obscenity—that’s going to be on my tombstone. When I remember all of the other solid words I’ve written, I regret a little bit that if I’ll be remembered at all I’ll be remembered for that particular phrase.”

So, in accordance with Justice Stewart’s wishes, another famous quote by him, with some very solid words pertaining to this case.

Even if you have a right to sell Hentai, is it right, JOHN?!?

Caveman Lawyer gives his closing arguement.

Gabby had an interesting comment on the last post. “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).”

Gabby is correct, of course, because her knowledge of the subject and level of education and experience vastly outweighs my half-hearted attempts at getting closeish to a degree and papering over the trivia cracks with Google.

But in Castillo v. Texas, the fact that Keith’s Comics was across the street from an elementary school was brought up during the trial, and one of the prosecuting attorney’s closing arguments, (according to the CBLDF) included the following.

I don’t care what type of evidence or what type of testimony is out there; use your rationality; use your common sense. Comic books, traditionally what we think of, are for kids. This is in a store directly across from an elementary school and it is put in a medium, in a forum, to directly appeal to kids. That is why we are here, ladies and gentlemen. We’re here to get this off the shelf.

Rex Anderson

In the appeal to the case, one of the points of error Castillo’s lawyers tried to use to overturn the case was the prosecution’s mentioning of the school. This didn’t work because the defense hadn’t objected to it during the trial itself, and during a pretrial hearing their motion to preclude it from being mentioned was denied.

In his sixth point of error, appellant complains the trial court erred in admitting testimony about the proximity of an elementary school to the comic book store. Appellant filed a motion in limine seeking to preclude the State from “making any sort of reference or allusion to the fact that Keith’s Comics … is in close proximity to a school.” In a pretrial hearing on the motion, the defense argued such evidence was irrelevant and its probative value, if any, was outweighed by its prejudicial effect. The trial court denied the motion in limine. When the evidence was adduced at trial through Reynerson, [a witness for the prosecution] appellant did not object. It is well-settled that the denial of a motion in limine is not sufficient to preserve error for review, but rather there must be a proper objection to the proffered evidence. 

Justice Molly Francis, Court of Appeals of Texas

Truth is the courts and law enforcement in the US are pretty lenient and permissive when it comes to overlooking quite a bit of technical obscenity being bought, sold, and traded. Even if gross hardcore video nasties wouldn’t pass the Miller Test, judges have more important things to do than lock up the local adult video store owner for peddling in ‘Backdoor Sluts 9’ to his clientele of shifty eyed adults.

Obscenities charges now usually either pursued in the name of protecting children, or to restrict the trade in pornography where violent crimes against people, children, or animals, is part of the titillation. Two of the more recent cases taken up by the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund were basically defending pedophilic hentai because they were drawn.

In 2003, the United States Congress passed The PROTECT Act, a sweeping anti-child pornography law that expanded prosecutorial remedies to punish child sex offenses. Unfortunately, the law also created a new crime – producing, receiving, possessing or manufacturing “obscene child pornography” of a non-photographic nature.

Comic Book Legal Defense Fund

Recently two books were up for obscenities’ charges in Virginia, in the name of protecting kids. Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe and A Court of Mist and Fury by bestselling author Sarah J. Maas. The cases were tossed. I am unfamiliar with Gender Queer, but I have watched some hilarious YouTube reviews of Sarah J. Maas books. They went from generic YA romance to hardcore fairy erotica with all the bells and whistles. And yet. Not legal obscenity.

Batiuk must have heard or read that closing argument in Castillo v. Texas. And he hammers the ‘not for kids’ ‘adults adults adults’ over and over and over, with all the self-righteous smugness of a crusader for comics as a ‘serious artform’, compounded with a kneejerk disdain for all moral busybodies who disagree with him, (while lauding moral ‘crusaders’ he agrees with.)

Not Dead Yet St. Lisa gives her closing arguments to little middle class slice of corporate diversity.

This comic rack has alien tentacle rape on it!

All missing the real crux of obscenity vs free speech. Not if porn is ethical, not if porn is art, not if porn is attractive to children, but if the government has the right to outlaw it.

I really, really, really hope that when Batiuk wrote this he was thinking of comics like Watchmen, Maus, Berserk, and Monster. Real adult comics, unsuitable for children but undeniably art. Great art.

I hope that Batiuk wasn’t having his pet character give this impassioned speech about the rich history of comics as a serious artform to defend a comic book where the exciting climax of the action includes such thoughtful and serious content like, “Some days later, Kayo goes to see her classmate, Hitomi, give a pop performance but suddenly she falls nauseous and sprouts a huge tentacle NOPE from under her skirt and NOPES Hitomi. Clearly possessed by some being, Kayo is unable to stop her actions. Hitomi goes straight on stage for her live TV performance but finds herself exposing her private parts against her will by an outside force live on TV.”

Was the comic book DCH John sold obscene? Batiuk doesn’t want his audience to know. Lisa doesn’t want the jury to know. He wants to hide behind as many feel good vagaries as he can. Hentai is part of the foundation of America! It is an inalienable right, under threat! It is our patriotic duty to make sure that the generations after us will have free and unrestricted access to CELEBRATE hentai! To lustfully gaze upon men, women, beasts, machines, tentacles, and aliens! To arouse themselves with rape! To titillate themselves with lolicon! THINK OF THE CHILDREN!!!!


Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

81 responses to “Seeing is Believing

  1. billytheskink

    “To quote Wayne Gretsky…”

    It’s this attention to detail that Lisa shared with her radiologist.

  2. csroberto2854

    I think Roberta and her lawyers are people who would drop dead (or at the least, faint from shock) when they take a glance of anything written by Garth Ennis

  3. Bill the Splut

    You guys seem to know all this legal mumbo-jumbos, but who should I believe? A buncha eggheads, or the guy who was sure that the salad days of silent movies happened in the 1940s? #busterbrinklelife #zanzibarwasframed

  4. J.J. O'Malley

    Thanks for the farming update, CBH, but I’m a city slicker and a little confused. When do the cows graduate from Bovine University?

    • ComicBookHarriet

      LOL! All you silly city slickers!

      Assuming you’re being genuine in your interest. And assuming that by ‘graduate’ you mean matriculate to mastication.

      Steers and heifers unsuitable for being mommas are usually ready for your grill by around 2 years old.

      Bulls get big, fat, lazy, and sometimes ornery by 7 or 8 years old, and are sold for manly meat patties. Can’t keep them too long or they’ll have too many daughters in the herd you’ve got to work around.

      Momma cows on our farm can top out nearing 20 if the girl stays in good condition, doesn’t have behavior issues, and raises a good calf. Lots of bigger farms cull harder, with upper limits at 10 to 12 years. Anything after 15 years is kind of a gamble, because if an old cows goes downhill, they go downhill fast.

      We’ve had one or two old girls that had to be put down because we kept them one year too long. They got arthritic in their hips, going from walking okay to obviously hurting in just a few months.

      A cull cow in decent shape is still worth $700- 1000 as hamburger, and is worth more the younger and better shape she’s in. So a cow that’s trouble, or not a good momma, or gets a bad udder, is worth more to cull than keep, no matter how young she is.

      We lost a few calves early this season due to crappy weather. Half those cows went to town, and half got another chance.

      World record for cattle is like, well over 40 years, but normally even a pet cow would be nearing the end by 18-20.

      • Gabby

        I have a friend in Europe who is a now-retired veterinarian. He was trained to be an expert witness in cases where a farmer claimed an old bovine had died after being hit by lightning—apparently a fairly common grift was to electrocute poor Hildegarde or Andre and claim it was lightning in order to collect insurance

        • ComicBookHarriet

          Ah! We actually did have a cow get hit by lightning once. Got the vet out to confirm and everything.

          At this point insurance isn’t really worth it to pursue a single animal loss around here. Now if Zeus decides he’s going to smite an entire herd… that’s different.

  5. erdmann

    My local comics shop is across the street from the high school. I sometimes park at the football field and walk over to the store in order to get in some extra exercise.
    I can probably count on both hands the number of times I’ve seen kids come into the store after school over the years. Usually, they’re seeking change for the pop machine out front.
    The store does not carry hentai and, in fact, very little manga of any kind except for special orders. So anyone wanting to enjoy tentacle porn with their Dr. Pepper will have to look elsewhere.

  6. Paul Jones

    One must remember that the district attorney is ALSO an elected official. If he can hang smut peddler meat on the wall, his chances of re-election or becoming a little tin god in a black robe become better. It’s a defect in your system that creates endless mischief.

  7. Rusty Shackleford

    Was out of the country for work so I have some catching up to do.

    Having served on two juries, you are permitted to talk to the media once the case is concluded and you have been released from service.

    Just some observations:

    Lisa is a horrible attorney but Cindy is a true representation of a contemporary anchor who adds a lot of their own opinion to color the story.

    Bonus points for Batty for using the word “ chilling” which is so overused today.

    Batty really is desperate to justify his love of comic books. Why can’t he just enjoy them on his own instead of preaching to everybody all of the time?

    Mary Worth: Pets doing yoga? How cute! Panel of the year in my book.

    Crankshaft: still recycling old gags..sigh.

  8. William Epps

    Well, everybody know Back door Sluts 9 was horrible. BUT, Backdoor Sluts 7 was a true masterpiece, hahaha

  9. “Comics are a medium, not a genre” sounds like she’s trying to refute the argument that “all comics are bad and should be banned.”

    In other words, Tom Batiuk flexing his non-writing ability because something sounds “noble” or “intelligent” despite the fact that it’s utterly irrelevant.

    • billytheskink

      That line made me laugh a lot. It reminded me of an internet argument I had many years ago where I debated the semantics of the term medium with an irritating fellow who used the exact phrase “medium, not a genre” in a similar fashion, to argue that something he liked was inherently important. The guy was wrong semantically too, unlike Lisa, but it wasn’t the semantics I cared about…

      It’s such a pretentious thing to say, and yet it is so meaningless. A medium encompasses more than a genre does, but that does not make it and everything in it (including, uh, genres) meaningful or good.

      • The Duck of Death

        Nailed another fake-profundity, bts.

        Besides, he’s 100% wrong. I say: “Comic books are a vehicle, not a category.” Now THAT’s what I call a profound statement. Check, and mate. That means that by definition, no comic book can ever be obscene, no matter what. Case closed. Jury dismissed. Winner: Me.

    • Paul Jones

      This means that this arc could have an over-arching title: Deepity-Doo-Dah. This is because a Jack Thompson-like sweeping generalization is met by a meaningless pseudo-profundity meant to stop a discussion.

  10. bad wolf

    I will spare you my political take on this as it’s largely irrelevant. When i heard about this before my impression was also that it was about freedom of speech but there you have it in St. Lisa’s own words, the whole point is that COMICS ARE FOR GROWN-UPS. That’s the case she’s putting forward, and obscenity, children’s access to pornography, societal definitions of ‘art’ (or ART) and cross-cultural misunderstandings don’t have nothing to do with it. All comics are infantile! says the straw-woman. This just leaves me thinking how TB overrated his own work.

    Sure, by the early 2000s comics are for grownups was a widely held belief even by normies, at least within comic-store mainstream north american direct market superhero comics. But did everyone believe that about comic strips that run in your newspaper? Apparently not! But since Funky Winkerbean was unlikely to run next to a strip of tentacle porn on the same page we have this contrived situation to bring his point home.

    • bad wolf

      (btw who are the old folks at Thanksgiving with the Moores? I thought Lisa and Les were more or less disowned.)

      • ComicBookHarriet

        Naw. Those are Lisa’s parents. They’d been reintroduced right after Summer was born.

        Les’ parents are seldom mentioned and never (?) seen, but Les thought they would have pity bought his crappy John Darling book if they hadn’t moved to Florida.

        • billytheskink

          Haha, I love seeing HAH John getting all pissy about how no one showed up to buy Les’ terrible book.

          Unfortunately, the mood is ruined… especially since I know who is off panel there in panel 3.

          • be ware of eve hill

            Nobody else is going to ask? *sigh*

            I truly don’t remember. Please tell me, who is off panel in panel 3? Was this the John Darling book?

            I’ll take the shotgun approach. Pete Mossman aka Pete Moss aka Plantman? Lisa? The widow Darling? Bull Bushka? Funky? Lillian McKenzie? HAH John’s mother? John Byrne? Tony Isabella? Tom Batiuk cameo? A six-foot tall rabbit named Harvey?

            Did Batty name-drop again? Bill Clinton? Stephen King? Isaac Asimov? Stan Lee? Charles Schulz? Ernest Hemingway? Charles Dickens? (death is no obstacle in the Funkyverse)

            Thanks in advance. Have a margarita for Cinco de Mayo on me.

          • ComicBookHarriet

            Lovely BWOEH.

            The book was indeed the John Darling Murder Mystery. And the offscreen person is our favorite sensitive waif, Susan Smith.

        • So, Lisa’s parents were there when she was born and perhaps a holiday or two after that. And then? Did they both die? Have they been consulted at all about “Lisa’s Story” and how they would be portrayed? Have they reached out to help Les when Lisa died? Have they been part of Summer’s life?

          What’s that? I’m being a nitpicker, and have no idea how to tell compelling stories? Also, you ask where’s my syndicated comic strip?

          • Banana Jr. 6000

            Les couldn’t even be bothered to consult Summer and Darin, Lisa’s own children, one of which is also Les’ child. Or Holly, who would certainly have appeared in the story for being a close friend who also had cancer, and for introducing the Washington D.C. trip Lisa co-opted for herself.

            Either (a) Les is so self-absorbed he never thought for a second about the portrayal of his friends and own daughter while he used his producer powers to “protect Lisa” from nothing. Or (b) Les is so self-absorbed that Lisa’s Story doesn’t even include any of them. Take your pick.

          • The Duck of Death

            I could write a freakin’ thesis on the Lisa movie and all that surrounded it, but to keep it brief I’ll just focus on one thing:

            The Sainted Death of Dead St Lisa won at least one Oscar, and it was a big one (Best Actress), so it must have generated some buzz. Didn’t Les do any publicity? Didn’t people write to him about their family members with cancer? Didn’t Summer see the movie? If she did, didn’t she have any opinions? Did no one in Westview give a damn or bother to watch the movie?

            So, so, so, so many questions never to be answered.

            One day, AI will allow us to easily generate the proper end to this plotline, words, art, weird squiggly “L”s and all. I look forward to it.

          • BTW, of course Lisa’s parents were there when she was born. I meant to write when Summer was born. Looks like I need an editor!

            And I’m sure Batiuk would say something like “I had to sideline Lisa’s parents because I needed to keep the focus on the important aspect of the story–Les’ feelings.”

  11. Andrew

    While not quite relevant to today’s discourse (which boils down to Batiuk’s “we’ve got to defend comics for all ages!” logic in hilarious ignorance of the IRL parallel irony), I do want to share something of note from one of the Act 1 Funky collections I’ve been perusing at my local library.

    Volume 4 of The Complete Funky Winkerbean had an introduction by the late, great Stan Lee himself. While presumably a huge honor that Batiuk is modest enough to not bring up every other blog post or interview, and unclear if Mr. Lee was paid to say some kind words or had any genuine intrigue for the strip, the most interesting part to me reading this was the kind words Stan had to say about Funky Winkerbean – specifically just Act 1 and the high school years:

    We cannot know if Stan the Man actually read deeper into the Funky chronology and knew of the strip’s older-age “dramatic” turn, or if he appreciated the comic fan service in later years. All we can say is that a comics great put into text that the strip was at its best in its original era, and Batiuk I guess never got any deeper meaning than that.

    On a personal note, my most memorable experience with a comic collection introduction by a guest writer was amusingly morbid-toned children’s author Lemony Snicket (aka Daniel Handler), who introduced Volume 20 of The Complete Peanuts collection with a wonderfully dreary take on Good Ol’ Charlie Brown’s bad luck and misfortunes that humorously frames the classic strip as one of the most ghastly comic strips to exist in the funny papers (and you can read it now with Amazon’s sneak-preview function of the book in question). IMO it would be amazing if he would be asked to do an Act 3 Funky book introduction and lay similar readings on the mishaps of the strip, but who knows if Batiuk has the contacts or connection to think Snicket would be a good fit for his material.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      I love how Lee says the name Funky Winkerbean is perfect for the strip, when Batiuk complains about it constantly. Funny how his Lee’s opinion didn’t influence Batiuk. TB loves his comic book creators, but he sure as hell doesn’t listen to or learn anything from them.

      The Far Side books had the best forewords, written by people ranging from Robin Williams to Steven King to Jane Goodall (after the controversial “tramp” cartoon).

      • Rusty Shackleford

        I think the problem with the name is because it dates the strip and is more appropriate for a gag a day type of strip.

        As a child of the 70s the word funky was used often, heck my aunt had a dog named “funky”. So the name definitely cements the strip’s origins.

        When the strip took a dramatic turn, the name just didn’t fit. ( I would have named it “misery loves company” or “the cancer chronicles”.) But Batty could have just established the fact that Funky was a nickname and then given him a normal first name.

        • Banana Jr. 6000

          Oh, I agree the name is an artifact. Batiuk’s preference Three O’Clock High probably would have been better, at least until it also became an artifact. My point is how Stan Lee’s enthusiasm for the name didn’t change Batiuk’s mind any. It didn’t even give him a “oh well, at least Stan Lee liked it” bit of reflection. It is not what Tom Batiuk wanted, and is therefore incorrect. The end.

          Also, Batiuk will also never let go of an excuse for his own failure. He thinks the name held back the strip from being more successful. As if that were the only reason it took a back seat to so much else.

      • Paul Jones

        He doesn’t value Stan Lee’s opinion that much because Stan The Man dared speak truth to fatuous unrealism.

  12. Gerard Plourde

    I think that CBH makes a very important point. By not specifying what DSH was selling Batiuk avoids the very real and very difficult issues that obscenity laws pose in a free society.

    From CBH’s description we know that the material at issue in the Castillo case graphically depicted not merely sex but rape, an offense that is primarily an act of power, control and forced submission. Does the context of the overall story justify the images depicted?

    A real jury (who in this case are the fact finders) would have been shown the material in question and would have to determine whether the content it depicted fit the definition of being obscene.

    The jury’s vote would have to be unanimous and the jurors would have to make the decision beyond a reasonable doubt using their own judgment, not substituting what Harry or John Byrne thought about it (which is truly irrelevant). I can imagine that this specific charge might result in a hung jury.

    Even if the jury found that the material was not obscene or was unable to reach on the obscenity count, it would still have to decide whether the material’s location and display in the store sufficiently guarded against its being accessed by minors, a separate offense. From the ease with which Roberta found it, a conviction on that charge seems likely.

    Coming to grips with these real issues would have made for an interesting and realistic story. What we got was soap box preaching.

  13. The Duck of Death

    CBH, I don’t tell you this often enough, but I sincerely love the Bovine Blogging. It’s like a Fresh Air Fund outing for this city girl. I’ll read about inter-cow drama any day of the week.

    I just don’t believe for a second that Tom Batiuk is a sincere crusader in defense of the 1st Amendment and/or the concept of freedom of expression. He strikes me as the kind of person who uncritically believes what’s in the middlebrow media he consumes. When NPR or CNN explain why a certain bit of censorship is necessary, I’ll bet he goes right along with it. Now, I don’t want to start a political debate. There are good points to be made on all sides of the censorship issue. But I suspect TB’s stirring defense of freedom of speech goes about as deep as puddle. It begins, and ends, with comics. (And I think that “comics” here are a stand-in for newspaper comics, because he’s still smarting from 3 letters he got complaining that Lisa had cancer.)

    He wanted this storyline to be more ambitious than a baby tantrum about comics are not for kids. So he reached for some lofty-sounding principle, and thrashed around all over the place, and finally settled on: Comics are not for kids.

    I’ve pointed out before the many, many award-winning adult comics that preceded this arc, among them Watchmen, Jimmy Corrigan, and Maus. He chose not to cite any of them, because that would require him to acknowledge the work of far superior artists. (Of course, this digression would have been irrelevant to an obscenity case, but so was everything else he dragged in.) Instead, he created a straw man so ramshackle even the Cowardly Lion would have called him weak and pathetic.

    • Rusty Shackleford

      I share your opinion of Batty and his hypocrisy. Today is May 4, which is the 53rd anniversary of the Kent State shootings and a similar hypocrisy is on full display by the elderly peace activists who return to campus every year. They are bitter still about Vietnam (and I’m ok with that), but are strangely silent about modern wars.

      Batty’s treatment of May 4 has been discussed at length here already and I actually liked his take and found it very realistic with no preaching. He nicely summarized the beliefs of three different generations and their view of the event.

      • The Duck of Death

        This is what I mean exactly, Rusty, about the hypocrisy. If you protested Vietnam but supported more recent US wars, and the potential impending war — why? I mean, everyone is entitled to their opinion, but why?

        The short answer, I fear, for Tom and many like him, is: Because we’re the good guys now and we weren’t the good guys then.

        Same thing for the censorship debate: People who protest pornography are the bad guys. That’s why we’re against them. We’re the good guys, see. They’re the bad guys. So obviously we support the good guys.


        Most simply haven’t asked themselves why. What distinguishes the good guys and the bad guys? Doesn’t everyone see themselves as the good guy? How do we know objectively who is good vs bad? Is there such a thing as objective morality? If so, what is the source? Who is the arbiter? If there is no definable source of objective morality, how can we be certain that we’re the good guys, when the other side believes exactly the opposite?

        They don’t ask themselves that question, let alone attempt to answer it.

        “Everyone knows” Vietnam was unjust but more recent wars weren’t. “It’s obvious” that tentacle p0rn is ok to sell in a comic store. The answers to any of these dilemmas are obvious, just because. Just because — because they are, okay?

        And that’s how you take a fascinating, complex dilemma and somehow turn it into a dull, incoherent lecture.

        • Rusty Shackleford

          My uncle was a front line artillery soldier and he got drafted at age 18. I also had a great uncle that flew bombing missions in WWII, neither spoke highly of war and both taught me that the war starts long before the first shot is fired.

          My Vietnam War uncle is currently in a nursing home and has very bad Alzheimer’s, most likely from his war service. He was spit on and criticized for his actions by those same protesters, but he totally forgave them and simply told me that both sides only did what they thought was right.

          Again, I thought Batty did a great job with his May 4 recollection strips. (We criticize him a lot so I am going to be fair and praise him a lot when it is justified.)

          As I get older I see more nuances and that there are no easy solutions to our problems, and more importantly, any solution comes with unintended consequences.

          Peace and happiness for everyone today!

          • Gerard Plourde

            Truth is usually far more nuanced than we would like it to be.

            It saddens me to hear that your uncle was abused by war protestors. I was in high school in the late sixties and thought the Vietnam War was unjustified but also had cousins who served and did tours there. I thought then and do now believe that they served honorably.

            It’s also sad that in seeking a bright line between heroes and villains many protestors latched on to the My Lai incident as justification for condemnation of anyone who served in the war. While the action was inexcusable, I wonder whether any of us, deployed to a war zone and confronted with an adversary fighting a guerrilla war would have acted differently. Recognizing the evil result does not require one to indiscriminately dehumanize the perpetrators.

            You’re right that Batiuk somehow threaded the needle with his Kent State story in a way he hasn’t been able to with any of his other attempts at the Big Issues (I suspect that Chuck Ayers had some gentle influence with it.)

            Here’s a video of Chuck talking about May 4, 1970 when he was a senior at KSU. The sound is a little rough but his description is worth the effprt.

          • Rusty Shackleford

            Thanks Gerard. That was a great video. And thank you for your comments. My uncle never got the chance to go back to Vietnam and apologize for his actions. He really wanted to do this but now he cannot.

            Anyways, I’m glad we can all sanely express our views on this subject.

          • Mela

            Much love and peace to your uncle, Rusty. One of my uncles perished in Vietnam. I don’t remember him because I was just a toddler when he died, but his passing had a lot of unintended consequences of its own.

            My father, also in the service at the same time as my uncle, was sent to Korea in the late 60s. It was only within the past few years that Dad told me that he was also treated terribly when he came home, and he wasn’t even in Vietnam. Many of my family members are ex-military, and I’m proud of every one of them. But I can’t hate those who protested either. What purpose would that serve now?

            You’re right-there are no easy solutions to complicated issues. And peace and happiness right back at ya!

          • Banana Jr. 6000

            Being able to consider nuances, and rethink your position when new information is presented, are signs of intelligence and wisdom. And in rare supply these days.

            I think Tom Batiuk is actually worse than your average ideologue. Ideologues know special cases exist; they just don’t care. Their position is the correct one, the end. Batiuk refuses to acknowledge the existence of anything valid about any nuance of any position contrary to his own. Or consider narrower questions. Not even in a court setting, whose purpose is to do exactly that.

            This attitude is everywhere in the Funkyverse. And it’s not just his straw villains like Roberta Blackburn and Frankie. Or his precious comic books. I mean Lisa. I mean Les Moore. I mean Ed Crankshaft. Every character just parrots Batiuk’s worshipful attitude toward them. Even though there are plenty of reasons for in-universe characters – and readers – to question or even dislike them.

  14. Smirks 'R Us

    loving Not-Dead-Lisa’s pose in that last panel. Very Shakespearian. Methinks she doth protest too much.

  15. billytheskink

    Lisa really dropped the ball in not getting Tom Lehrer to testify.

    • Gerard Plourde

      “All books can be indecent books though recent books are bolder
      For filth, I’m glad to say, is in the mind of the beholder
      When directly viewed, everything is lewd
      I can tell you things about Peter Pan
      And The Wizard of Oz, there’s a dirty old man.”

      Thank you, Tom Lehrer.

      • Anonymous Sparrow

        And don’t forget Nikolai Ivanovich Lobachevsky!

        Did you know that Fredric Brown references Tom Lehrer’s “Irish Ballad” in his novel *The Lenient Beast*?

        • Mela

          My personal favorite is The Masochism Tango, but he’s brilliant no matter what. 95 years of age and still with us!

          • Anonymous Sparrow

            Someone else who is still with us (and will turn 100 at the end of this month) is Henry Kissinger.

            Lehrer saw the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to him as evidence that satire was dead (or obsolete, like Romney Wordsworth). Martha Gellhorn would probably agree with him, based on her *View from the Ground* collection.

            Lehrer has said kind things about John Forster, a songwriter who works in his vein. Check out his “Entering Marion* and *Helium* albums.

            “Pain in neck to rule the world/much more fun to own it…”

  16. Y. Knott

    Today’s Crankshaft is in its comfort zone — using two giant word zeppelins to awkwardly recap something we already know, and then ending with a dumb pun.

    Imagine what Bloom County might have done with the same basic story concept Crankshaft is using this week. (I’m thinking Oliver may have helpfully ‘souped up’ his Dad’s barbecue a little more than anyone expected, leading to the chaos.) Anyway, the idea’s central goofiness would have worked well within the strip — and then Berke Breathed could call on a plethora of well-developed characters whose varying reactions, plans and save-the-world attempts would have been actually funny.

    But this is Crankshaft. Even if you’ve got a promising idea, there’s no character that can then run with it and turn it that idea into something even vaguely amusing … unless you’re amused by the most basic grade-school level wordplay.

    Oh well. I guess Crankshaft‘s continuing existence shows that a lot of newspaper readers are amused by the most basic grade-school level wordplay….

  17. Maxine of Arc

    Neither Lisa nor Batiuk seems to know what this case is actually about. From the way Lisa’s bloviating, you’d think this was a challenge to John’s right to sell comics of any kind, or hell, for comix to exist in Westview. But that’s not what he was arrested for. He was arrested for selling porn in an environment unsuitable for selling porn according to local edicts.

    Lisa the Crusader is my least favorite Lisa, which is saying something.

  18. Paul Jones

    And of course, the irritating thing is that no effort is made to understand Roberta as anything or anyone other than a hindrance or bully who gets up of a morning wondering how to smite the world and make suffering people’s teacher. The woman actually does think that she’s helping people and protecting people and doing right by her God image but Batiuk can’t’ see someone who disagrees with him as being sincere. It’s not as if she’s a maniac on a street corner bellowing “Open your eyes!!” because people don’t see what she sees when she looks at clouds.

    • Rusty Shackleford

      Yep, but see straw man, now I knock him down. Woo hoo, give me a Pulitzer !

  19. Gabby

    WOW I got mentioned in one of CBH’s epistles!!! Although, I am a “he” not a “her.” Fraternity nickname, not quite bestowed like Bluto in Animal House, but was given to me by the Active Brothers when I was a mere pledge.

    The SOSF discussion and the FW story illustrate one of the big problems surrounding this general topic–imprecise terminology, and too often terms are wrongly seen as interchangeable. Pornographic content isn’t necessarily obscene. “Obscenity,” as has been discussed, has specific criteria. As several of you have noted, the availability of pornographic material to minors at Komix Korner would be a subject of legitimate legal inquiry, even if it wasn’t legally obscene. A sort of parallel would be alcohol–there might be limits on the alcoholic content of beer, but if it was sold to a minor it would violate laws regardless of that percentage of alcohol

    There’s actually another related concept, but it only applies to over-the-air electronic media, and that’s Indecency. I won’t bore you with the details, but the most important case revolved around a radio station that had a panel discussion about censorship, but played Carlin’s “7 words you can’t say on radio.” The station was found in violation of the law, and fined a significant amount. Even there, as with pornography, the definition of what content is considered “Indecent” has changed over the years.

    Thanks again CBH, and mazel tov with the future Big Macs

  20. Mela

    Lots of various thoughts here:

    -CBH thanks for the shout out. I love the cow stories. I’m a lifelong suburbanite, but I don’t have to drive far to find fertile farmland in Indiana. I love learning about your herds and what it takes to be a farmer. I wouldn’t last five minutes, so I am thankful for those who know to do!

    -The court case really is all or nothing, isn’t it? Either comic books are all bad or they aren’t. No in between, and as others have stated, not even what the case is about. Whoever mentioned Perry Mason earlier this week was spot on-both he and Hamilton Berger would have been objecting and screaming “irrelevant and immaterial” all over the place. A better prosecutor would say “we’re not here to judge whether comic books are good, bad, for kids or adults” we’re here to determine if the defendant has a right to display ‘the adult pornographic ‘ ones in a place easily accessible to underage individuals.” But no, we get the broad platitudes that “comic books are for kids”, “no they’re for adults” as if both can’t possibly be true.

    In college, I took a required broadcast law class for my radio/tv major. One of the big cases we studied was the FCC vs Pacifica case, where in 1973 a radio station got in trouble for airing George Carlin’s Seven Dirty Words skit in the middle of the afternoon where children could hear. The eventual ruling was that the FCC could levy fines against stations for airing indecent or obscene material. If I recall, a material was deemed obscene if it was patently offensive or went against community standards. Even then I wondered, “well who gets to define THOSE terms?”
    It’s tough because those standards are always changing.

    -My one brush with porn comics occurred in college when I went with two of my guy pals on their weekly comic run to a nearby shop, mostly to kill a little time between classes. There was an adult section in the back corner, where I picked up a cover which looked a lot like Archie but was definitely not. Shocked? No, but embarrassed enough for my guy friends to laugh themselves silly-one remarking to another “Look who found Cherry Blossom!” But I’m the one who wandered into the clearly marked Adults 18 and over section so that’s what happens to the curious! If John truly had his books separated where kids couldn’t get to them-which despite Lisa’s assertion was NOT evident-I would have hammered that point over and over. I would also ask John if any child had ever attempted to purchase an adult themed comic and if so, did he refuse the sale? I’d ask if kids can even see where they are kept. If Lisa was going to defend his right to sell whatever comics he wants, then I’d do everything I could to paint him as a responsible business owner who can handle carrying adult themed material while keeping out of reach of young, impressionable kiddos. Yes, if something is deemed obscene then it’s obscene regardless of who purchases it, but if I were trying to keep John out of jail, that’s the route I’d go. But then we don’t get any speeches about comics saving people and a closing statement that completely ignores the actual obscenity charges.

    -I’ve asked my comic nerd spouse if our local franchise carries porn comics and he said “If you wanted them, Pete would order them for you but no, he doesn’t carry them in the store.”

    • I believe one small correction is in order, in that the name should be “Cherry Poptart.” But I could be mistaken.

      • Mela

        Thank you for the correction! My memory is faulty sometimes, plus I probably mixed up her name with the Riverdale character. I didn’t verify it on Google because I don’t want to starting getting ads on my FB feed for naughty comics!

    • Maxine of Arc

      Comics aren’t on trial. John is on trial. I do not think Batiuk understands that even while he’s writing it.

    • Gabby

      RTV a major! Yay!

  21. Y. Knott

    Today’s Crankshaft is even stupider than usual:

    From a fundamental, basic, so-simple-even-the-dullest-halfwit-should-get-it story perspective, today’s installment should have run before yesterday’s. Yesterday, Ed was being grilled by a reporter about a subject Ed clearly knew about — but today, Ed finds out about that subject for the first time.

    Just a mix-up at the syndicate, in which the two strips were inadvertently switched?

    Or an accurate on-going representation of a decaying mental state*, in which names are forgotten, recent incidents are hazy, the suffering of others is utterly ignored, and information you’ve recently been given needs to be thrown at you again and again and again and again if it has any hope of sticking?

    Of course, this being Crankshaft, the order of the strips doesn’t really matter, as the story will be boring and unfunny in any configuration. But it’s interesting that if this was the intended order of the strips, mixing ’em up, while not making the overall story more interesting — let alone funny — actually makes it slightly more comprehensible.

    * Crankshaft’s mental state if you’re generous, Batiuk’s if you’re a realist.

    • The Duck of Death

      It’s sad, because it’s so tantalizingly close to a competent arc. Take a stock situation for the comic, and exaggerate it to a ridiculous degree — it should work. But it’s been a total mess all week.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Like I said about the Alzheimer’s book the other day; this is wrong in so many interconnected ways that it would be a god-tier troll if it were intentional. It mocks so many things about the Funkyverse all at once.

    • J.J. O'Malley

      Can you be charged for causing something that hasn’t happened yet? I would suggest that Ed hire the best defense lawyer in Ohio, but she apparently died of cancer 16 years ago. Anyone have Amicus Whatshisname on speed dial?

      It’s beyond pathetic, and I said so in both Arcamax and GC. One, I think, is still there.

      • Imagine a toddler with a teddy bear. It’s old and beat up and full of seams where the stuffing is poking out. But it’s always been a huge comfort to them, and they take it with them everywhere. If you come along and tell them “That bear has seen better days,” they hug it to themselves even tighter, and they give you a look.

        That’s a pretty good picture of most of the commentors at GoComics, especially those who protect Crankshaft. (Or Luann.
        Shudder.) Keep that in mind and it explains why comments get deleted.

        • The Duck of Death

          You know, I think “I like it” or “it’s comforting” are perfectly valid reasons to watch a show, eat a food, or read a comic. We all have comfort foods or silly movies that we love, even if they’re not great works of art.

          I may choose to eat a Little Debbie donut or watch “The Brady Bunch” because they make me happy. But I’m not gonna get salty if someone says, “Little Debbie donuts are just junk food” or “The Brady Bunch is ridiculous.” I mean, yeah, they are. I just don’t care. I like them. If you don’t, that’s fine.

          Are people this fragile? Are they that personally invested in some once-pretty-good cartoon? Jeez. It’s kinda scary.

          • “Are people really this fragile?” I’m afraid the answer is no longer in doubt about that. The removal of JJ’s comments at GoComics isn’t some technological glitch–it’s because people are fragile and their thoughts are written on tissue paper. They cannot defend what cannot be defended, so the proper step (for them) is to delete all that threatens their worldview.

        • J.J. O'Malley

          I don’t have to imagine, beckoning; I was that toddler. Actually, I was 4-to-6 years old and had a beloved stuffed dog named Bingo (my grandmother won him for me playing Bingo at the beach). When his stuffin’ started coming out, my mother put him in a little box so I could have him next to me at bedtime, but eventually poor Bingo had to go. If only the box had also been a Transmogrifier I could’ve fixed him. Sigh.

          By the by, the ‘Shaft has only been on GoComics since January. Why are people there so possessive of it? Did they migrate over from CK, too? If so, you’d think they’d be used to the stampede of snark that the strip generates. At least Arcamax is a little more genteel (save, of course, for the “Mallard Fillmore” page).

    • Green Luthor

      Today’s Crankshaft shows just so much wasted potential. Just think how Batiuk could have structured this story:

      Monday: Ed gets the mail
      Tuesday: Ed sorts the mail, and finds one letter in particular
      Wednesday: Ed walks around the house, looking at the letter in his hand
      Thursday: Ed opens the letter
      Friday: Ed starts to read the letter
      Saturday: Ed finally reads the pertinent information in the letter

      It’s like Batiuk has learned nothing about how to pace stories…

      • The Duck of Death

        Punctuated every day by Pam asking, “What are you doing?”, followed by exposition of the previous day’s action.

        My pulse is racing just thinking about all the excitement!

  22. The Duck of Death

    This arc has yet another squishy spot that a couple people have mentioned: It talks about “comics” but it seems to me that “comics” is both the topic and also a proxy for newspaper comics. No matter how you interpret it, the “not just for kids, nuh-UH” tone comes across as laughably out-of-touch.

    Comics themselves haven’t been “for kids” for many many decades. The average age of a comic book reader, according to a statistic found by Grandpa Google, is 35. I live a couple blocks from a comics store. I never see kids there. My son used to go there for Pokemon cards, but when he outgrew that, he stopped going. And this is a kid who grew up in a house with two avid comics readers, with tastes that include but go far beyond Marvel & DC.

    If you interpret the issue more broadly as a surrogate for newspaper comics, well, that audience is literally geriatric. Seriously. I’m middle-aged and I think I’m a spring chicken compared to most of the commenters on Crankshaft. It’s not a coincidence that so many strips now revolve around characters that are canonically 75-100+ years old.

    “Not just for kids” is the understatement of the century. It makes the strawman even more hollow.

    • billytheskink

      Heck, the comic book store I visit most often has new issues of “kid’s” comics on a small and completely separate rack on the opposite end of the store from the new issues of, I guess you’d say, “regular” comics (if they have “adult” comics, I haven’t seen them, nor will I ask).

      And are these “kid’s” comics really all that much for kids? They are all kid-appropriate, sure, but they are also titles like Archie, various Disney properties, and comics based on cable television cartoon properties. Do any of these comics even have sizable kid fanbases?

      Archie‘s present place in pop culture straddles Boomer/Gen X nostalgia and the soapy television show that borrows its characters’ names, neither of which show teenagers as kids today see them.

      – Most of the Disney titles are either written by Europeans, ripped off of Carl Barks and Don Rosa, or straight up reprints of work by Barks and Rosa. I know these titles well, because these are the comics I am at the store to buy.

      – The television cartoon-based books cover shows like Adventure Time, Spongebob Squarepants, Regular Show and such… shows whose fanbases are most certainly not kid-exclusive.

      – And even the comics mixed in there that don’t fit these categories don’t seem especially kid-focused, certainly not kid-exclusive. This is the section where Lumberjanes was stocked, for example.

      • Maxine of Arc

        My local comic shop has a good section for YA and middle grade readers, but they don’t have much for elementary-age kids. And it’s probably worth noting that it’s right next to the (mainstream) manga section, which gets a LOT of crossover from the middle-grade crowd. You’d have to go to the main shelf for the Archie section, and that mainly has the titles written over the last decade or two for older and/or nostalgic readers rather than the old format Digests. (I read a lot of the latter as a child and boy howdy I am pretty sure I picked up a lot of retrograde notions about gender and class stereotypes.) But then I think they also shelved the really good Jem series from a few years back on the main shelves as well. There doesn’t seem to be a super clear policy on what gets put where. They do keep the most edgelord stuff on shelves labeled “Comics on the EDGE” but it is as accessible to a minor browser as anybody else.

        I don’t think they do sell hentai or other explicit porn, though.

    • The Duck of Death

      I forgot to mention that not only do I not see kids buying comics in that store, but it’s within a few blocks of a number of very large schools, elementary, middle, and high. Total school attendees within a six-block radius total at least a few thousand. It’s a nice store, too. If kids cared about comics, they would be mobbed every day. They ain’t.

  23. The Duck of Death

    Oh, Leroy — got the mop handy?

  24. be ware of eve hill

    Happy National Cartoonist Day, Tom Batiuk!

  25. The Duck of Death

    Well, this is too deliciously timely as we discuss how CoMiC bOokS aRE tOo fOr GrOwnUpS, gUisE.

    On Tuesday, Dark Horse Comics announced via press release that it has been working with [Whoopi] Goldberg on an upcoming graphic novel featuring a menopausal superhero, called “The Change.”

    It’s from the NY Post. I’d link it, but I already have a post in späm jail.

    • J.J. O'Malley

      Imagine Batiuk’s reaction if Dark Horse gave The Change a similarly-aged super-speedy sidekick named Hot Flash.