In the heart of planting season right now! Today we had major mechanical issues that nearly cleaned our entire small town out of 15 ATC Fuses.
So the final Act II era DSH John post is delayed due to worn out seed plates.
In the meantime! Enjoy the touching end to the family drama!
49 responses to “I Bequeath You, My Grill.”
That’s better than the original mess…..which, sadly, isn’t hard. We get an equivalent mess with Beardy McMoron feeding people dialogue because he doesn’t like candor if it makes his readers feel old and obsolete.
And surprise, surprise, everyone in the strip likes what Batty likes. Both of his strips should have been called Batty’s Wet Dream.
“Worn out seed plates.” How dramatic! Far, far more dramatic, interesting, and thought-provoking than anything Batiuk’s done all year. Hope your planting issues are nicely resolved and everything gets into the ground as it should.
Meanwhile, re: Crankshaft…
1. Today’s Crankshaft installment is part 4 of something that should have taken 1 day. And Skip still hasn’t asked when they’re opening, which is arguably the most salient question for his readers. Nor have we clarified what “old-timey” movies are. Silents? Golden Age Hollywood? (Sorry — forgot that Golden Age Hollywood was the silent era, per the Butter Brinkel storyline.) I wonder whether, by chance, they’ll be showing “Radio Ranch”? Just a hunch.
2. I flat-out refuse to read the sideways panels, as the content isn’t worth the neck crick. So I didn’t notice till today’s amusing parody that the drawing of Crankshaft lighting his grill is identical to the drawing that GoComics uses as the strip’s permanent masthead. But I can’t blame Dan Davis for being lazy, can you?
should have taken 1 day
It should have taken 0 days, because property purchases are public record, and Skip should know how to look that up. Mason could hide it behind a shell company, as celebrities often do. But that would give Skip an impetus to approach Generic Young Starting Out Couple #12 and ask the questions he’s asking about who the real owner is.
This plot wrote itself, but Batiuk unwrote it he could re-write it his own way.
A puff piece about the theater reopening is right in a small town newspaper’s wheelhouse. But I don’t understand why Skip is approaching this like serious investigative journalism. He should be asking these two about their thoughts and plans and what a movie night would be. Offer them a little free advertising.
But IS it a puff piece about the theater reopening? IS Skip trying to sell them favorable coverage if they buy advertising, but they’re too dumb to get the hint? Is it hard-hitting journalism to unmask the mysterious person who bought the theater and handed it back to the previous owners? Tom Batiuk’s writing is so bad it’s not even clear what’s going on in the arc.
I thought surely CBH had photoshopped that grilling Crankshaft! The idea that it is not only not her work but is even the masthead illo for the strip suggest that Davis is actually trying to create a public confession. “They’d have to notice me to catch me!” he wept.
1. That punchline at the launchpad is brilliant…!
2. Today I learned that Skipper what’s-his-name from the “community-owned” Centerville Birdcage-Liner absolutely sucks at his job as a reporter which pains me to see because someone his age would have been trained in the old-school rigorous hardline reporting tradition… No wonder the paper went belly-up if Skipper was supposedly the best of that newsroom staff…
Weren’t you a journalist for a newspaper? I seem to recall you mentioning that, but maybe I am wrong.
With his love of newspapers you would think he would get this right, but nah, he just puts his silly fantasies to words without any thought or research.
Yep, for some small community papers here and there… I peaked with the Providence Journal but not long after that (2004-05) the roof started to cave in on the entire industry…
It’s good to see you back, h/Hitorque!
To paraphrase Dr. Doom’s definitive review of Thor in “the Ding-A-Ling Family”:
Today’s Crankshaft offers us a little Batiukese with giving Mason a tongue bath. “Rug pull”, indeed!!
How is Skip going to open that bottle of mustard?
I’m sure someone will give him a hand with it.
Oops! Sorry, Becky!
Does anyone have any theories about where they keep the left arms that were amputated as a tribute, akin to the yubitsume finger-shortening ritual of the Yakuza?
Is there a warehouse full of rotting flesh, piled high with maggot-covered Sam ‘n’ Ella turkeys that even Dinkle couldn’t sell, and sprinkled with left arms that the rats can nibble on? Maybe it’s sequestered as a sort of biohazard area, like Centralia, Pennsylvania or Pripyat, Ukraine. I imagine the dense cloud of flies warns the curiosity-seekers away.
Based on the material about mastectomies in *The Cancer Ward,* Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn might have some ideas about what happens to the left arms.
Alas, he died in 2008, around the same time as Lisa.
Does anyone know the Russian for “raunchy broads”? The term turns up in the translation of *The Gulag Archipelago,* and I’d love to learn what the original Russian is and whether the English rendering is cleaned up.
Open it with his eye socket à la Joe Charboneau.
Seriously, what the hell are those things they’re holding? GC commenter suggested “squeeze bottles of mustard” but they have screw-off caps and it looks like they’re toasting and about to drink. Yet they don’t look like any beverage bottles I’ve seen either. Did the colorist just see “bottle” and think “mustard”?
Let’s face it, between the writer, the artist, and the colorist, there’s about an hour total of work, tops, being put into each of these strips. Nice work if you can get it. Ironic, but we all put much more work into Crankshaft than anyone who gets paid for it.
The editor is the clear winner, having put no effort into it at all.
“Why don’t I what? What are you talking about? I never heard of this ‘Crankcase’ strip, whatever it is. Something about cars? Look, it’s probably one of those ‘acquisitions’ we got for pennies because King Features had no use for it. Bane of my existence. Anyway, read it, don’t read it, I get paid the same either way.”
— the Andrews McMeel “editor”
It’s a movie theater. Those are obviously bottles of butter flavored oil these guys are about to all chug as some kind of initiation ritual.
“GC Commenter”? That was long-time FW snarker and SoSF contributor William Thompson.
Today was a clear victory for the Crankshaft critics. It was difficult to find non-critical comments.
A salute to J.J. O’Malley’s persistence. He keeps reposting his comments after the Batiuk Brigade gets his original comment deleted. Salute!
“Yeah, it was a real rug pull.” Ugh.
Batty can’t just say “Yeah, it really pulled the rug out from under us” like a normal human, he has to put his own special spin on it.
“Yeah, it was a real rug pull when we were on a solo car date and discovered the sportos had bought all the band candy out of the vendos. They’re so Nordic.”
To this day I still legitimately can’t tell if “good a call” was a mistake or an intentional choice by Batiuk. I’m not even kidding, I can believe it either way.
Sorry, old chap, can’t understand your banter! I may be forced to release the tiger!
Krankenschaaften: FFS I’ve been around long enough to see this coming yet I didn’t… Batiuk has now officially retconned the Valentine’s bankruptcy as the fault of COVID-19 and not the absolute brain-dead business sense of Idiot Bro and Idiot Wife… I hope Skipper asks these two about why they stubbornly insisted on showing ONE fucking movie in an absolutely empty theater for months when it should have been clear that nobody in Centerville wanted to see it again for the hundredth time…
Krankenschaaften 2: Yes, celebrity-owned vintage/retro theaters are most certainly a thing but it makes zero sense for Masone to buy one in West Bumblefuck, Ohio unless he’s planning to buy a second home out there. It also makes zero sense that Masone would not have his own people running it.
Krankenschaaften 3: Is this really how Batiuk thinks America works? Spend your professional life fucking up horribly in all things but never have to worry about anything because there’s always some relative or in-law who can instantly hire or at least refer you to a high-profile well-paying job with highly flexible hours, or in some cases your previous employer kept your old job vacant just for you, or bored multimillionaires like Masone Jarre or Chester Hagglemore happen to walk by and impulsively decide to scratch out a blank check for you to keep your business venture going (or maybe even start a new business!) with absolutely zero conditions, management or financial oversight…
Re: Krankenschaaften 3, above….
I have a sneaking suspicion that’s how Batty’s life has worked, always falling upwards. Maybe that’s why his characters lead such charmed lives. Doesn’t explain why his author avatars are so bitter, though.
It’s exactly how his life worked. He fell into a job as a nationally syndicated cartoonist at 25 — and 51 years later, that’s still his job. While in the beginning of his career, he displayed a mixture of talent and dedication, he hasn’t had to possess more than the absolute bare minimum of those attributes in decades … and he still has a job.
In fact, somebody else does all the drawing for him … and he still has a job. He can submit any old drivel he can think of … and he still has a job. There can literally be no-one in his reading audience who can or will defend his work on the basis of quality … and he still has a job. He can be a self-important failure who’s impossible to respect on any level except for his longevity … and he still has a job.
In Batiuk’s life experience, a job is something that just IS. Once you have it, you can pretty much behave in whatever manner you want, and do it (or not do it) in whatever way you see fit. It will still be there.
He’s bitter, though, because he will never, never, never, never, never, never, NEVER get the job he really always wanted — which is, of course, to write for comic books. Even though he’s so, so close to it! Even though he knows people in the industry! Even though he can hire comic book artists to create covers based on his concepts! Even though he’s convinced he would fit into that mythical comic-book-creating-bullpen so, so perfectly! He’s so close, guyz!
And yet, even Batiuk knows it will never, EVER happen for him.
I guess you’re right. It does explain pretty much everything.
The part of this that just chaps my ass is that he *could have* written comic books, even in the 70s-80s. There were already many alternative comics publishers, and business was booming. Plenty of artists needing writers, and writers needing artists. And plenty who did both.
And today? The sky is the limit. There are countless serialized comics supported by various methods, like Patreon and similar. They range from the very primitively drawn — even Batty can draw better than Chris Onstad and Allie Brosh, two of my favorites — to the fully fleshed-out and realistic.
No topic is too outré or too quotidian. No art style is off limits. (Look at XKCD, incredibly popular using nothing but stick figures and graphs!) No deadlines, other than the self-imposed.
What is keeping him from fulfilling his fantasy? What has kept him from it all these years?
One thing we know: It’s not his Crankshaft workload. So what is it?
Simple. He was never a good enough writer or artist.
Artist: Nobody would hire TB to be an artist for someone else’s writing. Look at his work on FW before Ayers started drawing it. It’s barely adequate to the task, but no more than that. Any comics company in the world probably saw dozens of better artist portfolios come in every single week.
Writing: Batiuk was actually not bad at gag-a-day, which is a real skill. But he simply cannot grasp — at all — how to tell a story. He is just spectacularly incapable of understanding characterization, pacing, tension, stakes, or ANY of the elements that make up successful storytelling. We have years of evidence that he can’t do it in long story arcs, or even in week-long bursts. In fact, even when he tries to do a Sunday strip with six panels, it’s often three panels of pointless filler surrounding a three-panel gag-a-day type bit.
Sure, Batiuk WANTS to be a comic book writer … but there’s no way that anyone in the industry who saw his attempts at comic book story ideas (or spoke to him for even a few minutes) would want to hire him. His “story ideas” are merely comic book covers, and nothing more. (And every comic book cover idea he has is basically the same anyway.) Batiuk couldn’t have gained entry into the comic book world at any time, because he simply has just no talent in that direction at all. Not even a faint glimmer. Zero.
Of course, no-one in the industry will tell him that, because he’s great to have around in case you need quick cash for drawing one of his cover ideas. And, hey, it’s nice ego boost to have someone in your life who makes a big deal about you because you illustrated some Flash comic books 35 years ago. But hire Tom Batiuk? Hahahahahaha, that’s a hard no.
Well, you make an excellent point. But for at least the last 20 years, Web comics have been a thing.
Nobody hired Allie Brosh, Chris Onstad, or Randall Munroe. They simply started putting their work on the Web. They started out as total nobodies. No fans, no followings. Eventually they all found their audience, like hundreds or thousands of other Web comics.
That led to book deals, Patreon supporters, sales of assorted branded swag, and all the other good stuff that allows creators to make a living.
There is nothing — zero, zilch, nada — to stop TB from doing the same. And he has name recognition as a cartoonist, so he already has a leg up.
Tom, if all those comic book editors didn’t recognize your genius, now is the time to do it your way. Put up or shut up.
Tom Batiuk doesn’t actually want to create comic books. He wants to be a comic book creator. Not the same thing. He wants to live in his fantasy world of the comic books bullpen, hobnob with his comic book idols, get paid big bucks to screw around all day, be worshipped by fans, and do only the fun parts of the job. And he wants the validation of Marvel or DC declaring him and all his conceits as The Official Way To Make Comic Books Correctly.
DoD and BJr6K, I think you’re both on point, and it’s really like looking at the same issue from two different angles. Batiuk is too lazy to do — or to want to do — all the work that actually creating his own comic-book style product would entail. His dream would be to say, “Okay, so here it is — DustStorm! Idea copyright Tom Batiuk 2023! All rights reserved! She’s fast as the wind, and has, uh, super dust-storm wind-breathing powers! Cool! And she protects the environment! Right! That’s it! DustStorm! Now the rest of you just fill in the details from there, and we can get out issue #1 by Tuesday! 16, 32 pages — whatever! I’ll concentrate on approving the cover! Remember to make her look superhero-y! And with some dust and wind in the background! If you need me in the meantime, I’ll be hanging with John Byrne and talking big-time comic book creator stuff!”
Most people who seem to be big fans of XKCD are engineers/programmers/IT experts, who see the jokes and say (in the most positive sense of the phrase) “I get the reference!”
As far as art and writing, I’ve been loving Ryan North’s “Dinosaur Comics” for 20 years. It’s funny, smart, creative, and the art is the exact same 6 panels of clip art.
Nah, Tom just wants to blab about other people’s work, it’s too hard to create your own content. That’s why he loved those puff piece interviews, he could blab and wax poetically about his work as if it were deep and meaningful. The reporter was happy to get an easy writes itself assignment.
Y’know what’s funny? As I’ve mentioned, I’m kind of a Lynda Barry superfan. She’s been teaching a course for some years at UW Madison. She’s also written a number of books laying out her teaching methods, one simply titled “Syllabus.” I hardly need to mention that her mantle is groaning with awards, including Eisner awards, the American Library Association’s Alex Award, the Milton Caniff Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Cartoonists Society, a Reuben award, and a MacArthur “Genius” Grant.
What is her secret? She teaches that you need to reach deep into your emotions. If you are connected with something that is deep, your audience will go there with you. Some of her most impactful strips/arcs are about incidents that are really trivial in the scheme of things, but they stuck to her. And they still stick with me years after I read them.
All this to say: If Batty made honest cartoons about the things that really tear him up inside, he would be a 10,000% better artist. Suggestions: His horror and disappointment when he saw the Batman TV show. Feeling crushed after being turned away from Marvel and DC. The all-consuming immersion in Flash #123.
If he could really connect with those emotions, I’d be right there along for the ride. The incidents are specific, but the feelings are universal.
How is it that he rants on his blog, and puts rants in the mouths of his characters — and yet somehow none of it even grazes the reader emotionally?
Is a puzzlement.
The thing is, I don’t think he really can connect with those emotions. He’s been going on about these particular issues for years, and has been wholly unable to bring any insight into them. And I think that this is because at his core — and we can see it very clearly in his work — Tom Batiuk runs away hard from anything that would make him (or his characters) feel emotions other than smug pleasure or resigned bitterness.
Lynda Barry, of course, is a better storyteller than Batiuk by a factor that can only be measured in a series of ten-digit exponents. And yes, a big part of that is that she digs deep in to emotions, feelings and remembrances that MUST make her uncomfortable at times (and joyful at others) — and then makes it her work to accurately capture all of it in words and drawings.
IMO, Batiuk was very, very, very occasionally able to tap into his emotions. I read the success of Lisa’s Story as him actually thinking about what it would be like to lose his wife. To someone unfamiliar with his other literary crimes, it’s effective.
And there’s been a couple decent more serious stuff in older Crankshaft. In an early arc, Crankshaft has a near death experience during a bout with pneumonia, pretty well written.
But there’s this old Movie Script writing rule of thumb: Goals, Stakes, Urgency. Batiuk forgets to put these front and center over and over and over again.
You make him sound like the subject of Kris Kristofferson’s song “Eddie the Eunuch”:
Eddie the eunuch was a weasel
Nasty as an old man’s nose
Making believin’ he was evil
Struttin’ in his mama’s clothes
You know that eddie had a bad connection
Never had a chance to ball
Sleeping in the wrong direction, baby
Dreaming he was ten feet tall
But now eddie the eunuch is a rock and roll critic
Sucking like a super star
Slicker than a shoe-shine
Quicker than a two-time
Eddie what a thang you are
Eddie makes a damn good livin’, baby
Putting other people down
Eddie couldn’t ever forgive them baby
‘Cause he wasn’t jackson browne
Although the Funky felt-tip doesn’t come with a shove. (He likes comic-books and the people who produce them, after all.) Maybe he’s nearer to Edwin Arlington Robinson’s “Miniver Cbeevy”:
Miniver Cheevy, child of scorn,
Grew lean while he assailed the seasons;
He wept that he was ever born,
And he had reasons.
Miniver loved the days of old
When swords were bright and steeds were prancing;
The vision of a warrior bold
Would set him dancing.
Miniver sighed for what was not,
And dreamed, and rested from his labors;
He dreamed of Thebes and Camelot,
And Priam’s neighbors.
Miniver mourned the ripe renown
That made so many a name so fragrant;
He mourned Romance, now on the town,
And Art, a vagrant.
Miniver loved the Medici,
Albeit he had never seen one;
He would have sinned incessantly
Could he have been one.
Miniver cursed the commonplace
And eyed a khaki suit with loathing;
He missed the mediæval grace
Of iron clothing.
Miniver scorned the gold he sought,
But sore annoyed was he without it;
Miniver thought, and thought, and thought,
And thought about it.
Miniver Cheevy, born too late,
Scratched his head and kept on thinking;
Miniver coughed, and called it fate,
And kept on drinking.
Mason is using the Valentine as a tax write-off, a Producers-style fraud scheme, or a money laundering operation. Or maybe even all three, I don’t know.
I made this last year:
It has been some time since we last saw a Hitorque gripe list. I have really missed them!
Batiuk’s blog today has a very telling complaint about telling-not-showing. It’s kind of amazing that he could write (re: today’s comic books) “Now all you get is a block of text often with no art at all.”
I wonder if he’s really that blind to his own work, or if his entire Act III career just one long sarcastic parody of the self-styled genius?
He’s really that blind to his own work. Batiuk is a relatively rare (but always repugnant) example of a person who is simultaneously self-obsessed and completely UNself-aware.
“There’s enough expository dialog here to choke a horse.”
I’m sure Batton Thomas Creator Of The Comic Strip Three O’Clock High never has that problem. Or documentarian Jessica Darling Daughter Of John Darling Who Was Murdered.
Sorry, that was supposed to be a reply to beckoningchasm’s post about the Battyblog.
This is about the comic-shop-trial arc, so I apologize for tardiness; it’s that I’ve been rolling the thought around for a while.
I think ‘the right of comics shops to sell adult titles’ is somehow mashed up in TB’s head with ‘the right of adults to read/care about (Silver Age superhero) comics’, which is more or less what Crazy’s impassioned speech pleads for.
It’s further complicated by TB’s article of faith that when (virtuous) adults read comics in the Right Way, they read them in the same posture / venue / conditions that young Tommy B did, back in the long-ago. “Except you be as little (male, suburban, white American) children, you shall not enter the kingdom.”
So even when he tries to present (superhero) comics as a suitable interest for adults, he’s solidly against any kind of adult insight or attitude, and that undercuts whatever argument he might try to make.
In the Funkiverse, you can argue about (superhero) comics, but only in the most stereotypical ‘comics nerd’ way – would Batman’s tool belt be better than Wolverine’s claws? Any discussion of ‘fridging’, ‘daddy issues’, whether Bruce Wayne as philanthropist would be a more effective force for good than Batman, that’s right out. As is any discussion of horror or romance comics (or heck, Archie or Casper) and how those reflect social norms and changes.
That’s very frustrating. There’s so much potential in the history of comic books / strips / sequential art for discussion and for narrative. But all TB wants is to reiterate the milk-and-cookies in-the-attic-alone ‘superheroes saved me’ schtick.
Has anyone done a supercut of that line, by the way? I can think of 3 instances, but there may be more.