Mother’s Little Helper

First and foremost! Happy Mother’s Day to all the Moms, Grandmas, Aunts, and Female Mentors in our comments section. I hope that somebody spoiled each and every one of you today in the way you love best, whether that be your favorite food, a foot massage, a long Sunday nap, or an obnoxiously obsessive post about a defunct comic strip.

Whatever you did today, pretty good chance it was better than Rose Murdoch’s Mother’s Day back in in 2014.

I hate you, Mom. I hate you soooo much. I only let you live in my house so I can watch up close the misery and fear you feel as your mortal vessel crumbles around your poisonous spiteful soul.

Following DCH John’s not guilty verdict and big ol’ hentai block party in December 2005, Batiuk can’t shove him back on the shelf fast enough. In January 2006 he has a single strip appearance wandering into Montoni’s to provide a punchline in an inane week where Crazy does nothing but pitch reality TV show concepts.

“I would.” Tom whispers to his strip of newsprint. “I would. I would kill to be locked in that house. Kill anyone.”

In June 2006, DCH John overhears Mopey Pete and Darin gushing over Jessica Darling’s high-school, hot-tub, seduction technique.

Please, John thinks, Don’t talk about underaged girls in their underwear in here. I’ve had enough trouble as it is.

For once, there’s no time for comics wankery, because other important things are front and center in 2006.

Pregnancy. War.
Whatever the hell THIS was.

Late Act II was an interesting time for the strip. As Batiuk himself admits and realizes this really was the high water mark for the entire 50 year run. Of course, we look at it now through the lens of many many story telling crimes before and since, and that taints the picture. But I hypothesize that if you handed someone Funky Winkerbean Volumes 11 and 12, 2002-2007, and ONLY those volumes, they’d come away thinking they’d read something perfectly adequate. Melodramatic? Sure. But I remember watching my little sister binging season after season of 7th Heaven around this time. This is about on level with that.

And this stuff is as close as Batiuk came to the hypothetical multi-tiered, slice-of-life, soap opera strip that he’s still interviewed about to this day. When Terrance Dollard was lobbing softballs at Tom in the interview BJ6K dissected, this was the era really being discussed barring TimeMop shenanigans.

Halloween 2006, Dead Cat Head John Howard makes his triumphant return!

Better not be a scratch on her! She’s a rare foreign import!

And DCH John is dressed up as. Uh. The Sentry?

The power of a million exploding fanboys!

Look, in my comic book collecting days I was a DC, not a Marvel. This guy was a complete mystery to me before today. But I dutifully dove into Grandpa Google’s waiting arms to try and figure out why the heck Batiuk would have chosen The Sentry as John’s costume in 2006.


From what I read, and any Marvel aficionados in the comments are free to elaborate, The Sentry is one of the most stupidly OP characters in the whole Marvel universe, able to do pretty much anything with the power of a thousand exploding suns. He was introduced in 2000 in a self contained storyline. Having read only the synopsis, I can’t tell if it would be awesome or cringe. But the gist is Bob Reynolds, a middle aged alcoholic, suddenly remembers he’s actually a massively powerful superhero that everyone magically forgot, but he was totally there the whole time guys just believe him. And for a while you’re supposed to wonder if he’s crazy.

But, the reason everyone on Earth, including Bob himself, had to forget he was a super hero is that his existence is tied to a massively powerful supervillain that could destroy everything called The Void. And the story ends with him having to be erased again to keep The Void at bay.

Then in 2005 the character was brought back for a series of edgy New Avengers comic books where you learn that The Sentry and The Void are two halves of the same personality, and that Bob Reynolds, in the words of the comic itself, is a ‘schizophrenic and agoraphobic drug addict’ and the whole thing is just one angsty, trippy, mindfuck after another.

Schizophrenia. Does Not. WORK THAT WAY!!!

Okay, so this is all very interesting/offensive to mental health experts, but why would Tom have John….


Sigh. Yeah. That’s up Tom’s alley…

Anyway. Some of you may have noticed that Becky is pregnant, Wally is in Iraq, and John is most definitely just a good friend helping another good friend out while her husband is half a world away.

What is up with the Montoni’s pizza box pose in panel 3?

At least Becky is very much focused on her husband. This is also a subtle reminder that Wally was a comics reader in high school and used to WORK at Komix Korner. Or Batiuk forgot that but it’s Westview and comics are on the list of any man’s essential supplies.

But plenty of sex. Just. All the sex. You still sell that stuff, right?

I guess that’s not just a ha ha joke…because whatever Becky picked out for Wally needed a brown paper bag to obscure the cover. So it wasn’t a keystone issue of Starbuck Jones, like Holly would send to Cory in ten years.

Why yes, John, all four-year-old Afghani immigrants are big Three Stooges fans.

After generously donating the brave troops some Tijuana Bibles, DCH John figures this is the perfect moment to ask a married woman out on a date. And she accepts?

Note how there are people sitting directly in front of you who would appreciate it if you didn’t provide asinine commentary.

Okay. We’re getting into some weird territory of just how appropriate it would be for John to be hanging out with Becky and Rana while Wally is away. On the one hand John is a family friend who has known both of them for years.

On the other hand John and Becky dated long enough that DCH John was on the verge of proposing. And at that time Becky welcomed his interest.

I asked my normie friend what she thought, and she agreed that it’s in that moral grey area. If there had never been a real romantic connection between them or if they’d only gone on a casual date or two and Becky had rejected DCH, it would be a little clearer. But if there was attraction on both sides, then these two might be tempting fate spending too much time alone together with a toddler who barely speaks English.

After their not-a-date, Becky checks her email for messages from Wally and then…takes…a…bath? .

They have a very deep but very narrow tub.

I get this is showing that Becky’s evening ritual is Wally and comfort focused. I actually kind of like how that is told wordlessly. She connects with her husband, she relaxes, she is content. But can you imagine, if this was the only strip of Funky Winkerbean you ever saw? You open the paper, browse the comics, and there’s just five panels of a woman shutting off her computer and taking a bath. No explanation. And it’s called Funky Winkerbean?

I think we have an obscenities charge on our hands.

Meanwhile, DCH has his own rituals.

Hmmm…that date on the second ticket stub. 4/6/03. What could that be referring to?

(Bovine Palate Cleanser.)

Happy Moother’s Day!


Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

89 responses to “Mother’s Little Helper

  1. sorialpromise

    1. The baby calf is so cute. Maybe not as cute as a promised picture of a 1980’s computer. What was the daddy? Couldn’t be an Angus. Was it a roan bull or dairy?
    2. Place some writers and artists in a house and have them come up with a super hero character by the end of the show? Stan Lee and Jack Kirby could have 100 characters by the end of an hour, including origin, side characters, and at least 3 pages story boarded. I am sure other professionals in the comic industry could do the same. TB proves again that he really does not understand how real comics are made.
    3. I never cared for the Sentry. “Power of 1,000 exploding suns.” What a maroon! All characters have to have something for the reader to cling onto. With the ridiculous exploding suns and the schizophrenia, this character missed the boat. Same thing happened when Mr. Feige introduced the MCU Captain Marvel. She is so strong that she can move a planet. Then has her terrified in a gunfight.
    4. FW ACT2 is TB’s high point. I wish I read those stories daily. SOSF would have had a heyday with those stories. But no. I got stuck with Act3 at its sorry end.
    5. Are those Becky/John stories drawn by Byrne?
    They are really good. Strong shadows. Human looking expressions. Solid plotting by Batiuk.
    6. That is until we come to the Mother’s Day card.
    Jfff is the worst character in FW/Crankshaft. Even more than Les. I know I will get pushback on that.
    But Exhibit A is this card. What a lowlife cretin!
    7. I love you all. ♥️💖❤️🫂🌺💐🌹

    • Green Luthor

      Maybe it’s because I wasn’t really paying much attention to comics at the time, but Sentry struck me as one of those characters that absolutely no one really liked, yet Marvel kept using him again and again. (I’ve heard some people say the initial story was decent, but only as a self-contained story that never should have been referenced again.)

      He seems to be a symptom of a problem Marvel has had in recent years (well, decades by now, I guess): they keep trying to introduce a Superman-level character, despite the fact that Marvel has always worked because they DIDN’T have anyone that absurdly overpowered. (Even the real powerhouses of Marvel – Hulk, Thor, Doctor Strange, Silver Surfer – aren’t as ridiculous as Superman gets. Heck, even the outright Superman stand-ins, like Hyperion or Gladiator, weren’t as absurd as Supes himself.)

      Yes, the strip with Becky and Pre-Skunky at the Valentine was part of Byrne’s guest stint.

      • sorialpromise

        Thank you, Green Luthor.
        I have always liked Superman. I was born in late 1953. Of course, the TV show “the Adventures of Superman” made an immediate impression. My earliest memory of a Superman comic, is the first Bizarro story in Action comics #254.
        To me what separates Superman from his imitators like Sentry, is the character has to have heart. When characters have heart, they immediately have vulnerability. This is a striking contrast inherent to Superman. He is objectively invulnerable. Yet he cares. This explains the great cast of side characters. These are the people our hero sacrifices for. Even in the television show, George Reeves presented a believable hero. This “weakness” let’s lesser villains challenge the Man of Steel, that the writers craft into exciting stories. He even has a motto: Truth, Justice, and the American Way. This resonated with us little guys. DC in “Superman Returns” tries to abandon the motto, but they fail. Why? Because Superman is not the American government. He is the expression of the rights of mankind living under a limited government. He personifies freedom. He fights tyranny regardless if it comes from petty crooks, despots, or supervillains. (Part of the reason Captain America succeeds.)
        What can I say, Green Luthor. You made me think. (Ouch!)

        • Green Luthor

          Sorry, didn’t mean to make anyone have to think. 😛

          Yeah, Superman is fine, even with being ridiculously overpowered. Well, he’s fine when he has a decent writer who understands what the character is supposed to be. (So not Zack Snyder.) (On the other hand, for whatever faults he may have, John Byrne really does seem to get Supes. Even when giving the character and continuity a complete overhaul, Byrne knew what made the guy tick.) But Superman works in the DC Universe, which was built around ridiculously overpowered characters. Superman doesn’t work in the Marvel Universe, which was built around much more constrained powers. Which is why Marvel trying to shoehorn in Superman-type characters is just so baffling; they’re not only not needed, they just don’t work there.

          (Really, though, the goofiness of Ridiculously Overpowered Silver Age Superman is great, since it gave us all those Superdickery moments. “Superman can build a solar system with his bare hands, yet can’t differentiate between homophones!” Stupid as hell, but, really, it’s a better use of Superman than trying to find a way to make Toyman threatening, y’know?)

          • sorialpromise

            Green Luthor
            You and the others are a prime example of why SOSF is so successful. (That just rolls off the tongue.) Most if not all other sites, are set up only for comments, not interaction. I don’t read comments on Comic Curmudgeon, so I don’t know if they interact with each other. What little I have seen is that they don’t appear to. Then there is CK and GC. Some do interact with others, but mainly to pile on our own JJ O’MALLEY. What a waste of time!
            Here the main discussion is focused on TB. Almost all of it in depth, researched, clever, and usually educational. (As an example, read anything posted by this fellow, Green Luthor.😀)
            But we also allow tangents and rabbit trails that follow literature, film, music, and cattle. All of this is sophisticated, and handled professionally by our leaders TF Hackett and Epicus Doomus. If the blog only survived as a blog to snark TB, it probably would not have survived. Although there still remains the promise of CBH and a certain slave girl Leia costume. I think CBH is driving a tractor in the photo.

    • ComicBookHarriet

      SP! Love you too!

      The little calf’s daddy is actually mostly Angus, but he is also part Pinzgauer. Pinzgauer are kind of like Shorthorns, (a colorful old timey three purpose breed that’s been converted to maternal lines for beef animals) Dad bought a Pinsgauer cow eight or so years ago, and really liked her, so he ended up keeping a couple bulls out of her.

      The first bull was BEAUTIFUL black and white. Not quite like baby here. Had black sides and white all around the edges. We liked his calves, but we couldn’t sell them as feeders, we had to take them all the way to finishing weight, so dad got rid of him a couple years ago.

      His little brother is pure black. Dad was hoping he would have mostly black calves, but it doesn’t look like that’s gonna pan out. Curse you genetics!

      We also still have a sister of theirs, she’s on her fourth calf. She looks a little like baby here, but her spots are this creamy light brown. But the original Pinzgaur momma finally had to go to town. SADFACE.


      • sorialpromise

        You went out on a high note, my dear. Most of us do not live in your world. I was fortunate to marry a Missouri farm girl. They raised cattle, hogs, tobacco, corn, milo, and wheat. For hobbies, they rendered lard, made sorghum and apple cider. Unfortunately, all in the past. Her family no longer does any farming. Every weekend, my wife and brother race E Mods on Friday at Lakeside by the Speedway. Then they race B Mods on Saturday at I-35 Raceway in Winston Missouri. They have a wishlist of racing into Iowa and western Kansas later in the year. They might run into you!😎

  2. “Jessica to her underwear”? To? TO? To where, Otisburg?

    • Maxine of Arc

      I suppose Mopey Pete just couldn’t stand to say the very word “stripped.”

    • Green Luthor

      His “gulp” between words indicates that Mopey skipped over the verb in his sentence, most likely “stripped”.

      Apparently, not only does Batiuk think that just because the name has the word “comic” in it, comic strips don’t need to be funny, he also thinks they don’t need to have stripping. It’s right there in the name, Tom!

      • But there’s a perfectly good two-letter word that could have been substituted for “to” and it would have been less baffling and stupid. That word being “in.”

        • Green Luthor

          It’s called writing!

          (Let’s face it, “there was another way to write this that would have been less baffling and stupid” has never stopped Batiuk…)

  3. erdmann

    What I remember about the Sentry is the PR campaign leading up to the first mini-series. It claimed the character was actually created by Stan Lee and artist Artie Rosen in 1961, prior to the creation of the Fantastic Four. A series featuring the character never materialized, however, until after Lee and Rosen’s work was rediscovered following the artist’s death.
    I was initially interested, but as the story grew, I began to sense something was… wrong. And indeed there was. Eventually, it was revealed that Artie Rosen never existed and the Sentry was a modern creation, not a long-lost Silver Age hero. The whole campaign was a fraud, but at least it didn’t involve perving on a married woman whose husband was overseas with the military. Geez.

    • Anonymous Sparrow

      I imagine that “Artie Rosen” was a tribute to the letterers of the Marvel Age of Comics: “Artie” (from Artie Simek) and “Rosen” (from Sam Rosen).

      In “Cavern of Deadly Spheres,” the Justice League of America deals with a scenario sent to them by one of their fans: “Jerry Thomas,” whose name honored “Jerry Bails” and “Roy Thomas,” two great comics fans.

      That was in 1962 (*JLA* #16). We actually meet Jerry Thomas two decades later, in *Crisis on Infinite Earths* #11.

      • erdmann

        You are correct, sir (or madam)! In fact, the combined name of “Artie Rosen” is what almost had me believing the story… until I remembered Artie Simek and Sam Rosen were two different guys… and letterers, not artists.

  4. Andrew

    Suppose it’s for the best of our ranting impulses that we’re glazing over the circumstances of Wally’s return to war. Whether it’s realistically plausible or quarter-inch excusable, I don’t think anyone can deny it was a trademark Batiukian move as far as making characters miserable for “character”, especially with what comes later. For now I can remark it certainly is remarkable how the comic returns to Becky and John’s relationship in these years, once again entertaining a notion…

    It’s interesting to read into the implications of Batiuk’s comic shoutouts sometimes. I know one memorable bit occurred in a 2012 Sunday strip where Crazy Harry lectured to Komix Korner kids about Marvel’s Speedball as a “real” hero from the old days that “weren’t deeply disturbed and borderline psychotic”, seemingly denouncing the comic landscape of the era (IIRC the main news being DC’s New 52 status quo shakeup, but I can imagine Marvel was pulling similar nonsense as well. So much for comic shops saving kids by then, eh Tom? At least MCU’s first phase was climaxing by then)

    Many of the comic nerds at the time (and I’m pretty sure most Funky snarkers back then) also immediately caught on to the irony of this because Speedball had been rather infamously included in Marvel’s 2006 event series “Civil War” as part of the instigators of the story’s events when his superhero team ends up instigating a massive explosion that levels an elementary school neighborhood, resulting in backlash to superhumans that causes the legal action that instigates the titular war. Wracked with guilt, Speedball is written into wallowing self-punishment by wearing an iron-maiden-style pain suit and retitling himself Penance as he resumes superheroics. It didn’t last forever and he was already Speedball again by 2012, but it’s left a lasting legacy as far as rewriting characters into dark and edgy circumstances.

    As someone attentive enough to pick up on and shoutout to the Sentry of all characters, it seemed likely that Batiuk was aware enough to remember Speedball’s Penance turn when dropping the reference to not be a coincidence, making people wonder if the reference was deeper than a first glance would suggest. Is he lambasting the edgy comic writing with a character that people know goes deep into such writing, trying to stick one to Marvel as to a character being perfect the way he was or celebrating his return to form? It certainly can suggest he did see some “good symbolism” in the Sentry with his meta-narrative comic escapism nonsense, if not thinking the story was great in the way he thought Bull’s death was some of his best work.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      seemingly denouncing the comic landscape of the era

      Let me make sure I have this right the man who wrote Funky Winkerbean thinks comic books got too dark?

      • Andrew

        For extra irony there’s a recent post on his Komix Thoughts blog where in reviewing some Dr. Strange splash page he complains that comics aren’t even doing good art/story arrangement anymore and it’s “just a block of text often with no art at all.”

        Ah yes, the Wall of Text, or Word Blimps, where have we been seeing a lot of that before?

    • be ware of eve hill

      Rare appearance of Owen before the chullo hat biofused to his scalp.

  5. Gerard Plourde

    I had forgotten the strip featuring Darin and Pete’s conversation. I also remember a weird Crankshaft strip somewhere around that time where Pmm worries to Jff that she’s concerned that Mindy may go to graduation wearing only her cap and gown. Was 2006 also the year of the “playground closing” remark? Combined with Becky’s trip to the Komix Korner for comics that aren’t violent and her late evening bath, Batiuk was veering toward Brooke McEldowney territory.

  6. Y. Knott

    Today in Crankshaft:

    I guess Mary whats-‘er-name is out of the hospital. I guess the whole incident will never be referred to again.

    I guess over the course of the next few days we’ll find out why all the kids are being picked up by their parents. I guess it will be for a fairly stupid, dully explained reason.

    I guess we’re in for another week of exposition that only exposes an ongoing lack of storytelling talent.

  7. Gerard Plourde

    In researching the Mindy graduation arc I was surprised to see how much space in Crankshaft was devoted to Jff’s mommy issues. The example CBH posted represents the tip of the iceberg.

    • The Duck of Death

      Just in case CBH has any interest in suggestions from the peanut gallery — I would love to drill down on this topic. Especially since I missed 97% of it because I came so late to FW and even later to CS.

      • Mela

        I’ll second that. I’m not necessarily looking for a deep dive on Jff but I’ve read Crankshaft off and on for years yet can’t recall why he has so much disdain for his mother. Does it go further than her getting rid of his comic books?

        • ComicBookHarriet

          It’s more a personality clash that partially manifests itself in Jffs love of comics. Rose is written as passive aggressive, domineering, never satisfied, and never happy with her son.

          It would be a DELICIOUS deep dive, I only balk at not having access to whenever Rose’s introduction was.

  8. billytheskink

    But I remember watching my little sister binging season after season of 7th Heaven around this time. This is about on level with that.

    Now there’s some nostalgic convergence, my kid sister was a big 7th Heaven fan as well at this time (my mother was too).

    However, I wouldn’t describe the show as “perfectly adequate”. 7th Heaven may be one of the most apt media comparisons to Funky Winkerbean that has ever been made… the endless melodrama and preachy, undercooked moral lessons drowning the cast of completely insufferable characters week after week. Oh how I hated that show. With FW, at least, you can wade through the cartoon anvil of the week in far less than an hour (TB used to understand pacing?!), though to be fair, nearly 1/3 of 7th Heaven‘s runtime consisted of 10-10-321 commercials that were better than most of Act II FW.

    • ComicBookHarriet

      LOL! Yeah, I mean, I didn’t watch it THAT closely, because twee melodrama isn’t and wasn’t my thing. I guess when I say ‘perfectly adequate’ I don’t mean that I would at all find it ‘good’ or even watchable. But that the badness it has is a very deliberate and calculated decision to be that kind of show. So it doesn’t stand out as a failure.

      It’s the difference between hating generic boy-band song number 246 for being exactly what it was meant to be, and hating MacArthur Park.

      (With the similar kid sisters and the similar childhood Star Wars obsession…I’m getting this weird feeling that you’re my gender swapped doppleganger. )

      • billytheskink

        There might be something to that doppleganger business, haha.

        7th Heaven is probably not quite as offensively bad as I will always make it out to be, though I still contend that it is a great parallel to Act II FW. I would regularly wonder aloud “why does EVERYTHING” happen to this one family?” when the issue of the week was revealed. I suppose that kind of thing is less ambitious or abnormal on television than in comic strips, but the motive to tell such stories seems to be essentially the same whether we consider 7th Heaven or Funky Winkerbean.

        Frankly, I would argue that the biggest failure of both 7th Heaven and FW> are the characters, whom I either don’t care about or actively despise (I actually feel bad these days for poor Mackenzie Rosman, who played the evilly-written little Ruthie on 7th Heaven). I don’t want to spend time with most any of them. Compare to something like The White Shadow, which was plenty full of over-the-top melodrama but created characters that I enjoyed spending time with.

        • Banana Jr. 6000

          The characters in FW aren’t just boring, unlikeable and poorly written – they’re downright toxic. I just ranted about how selfish Lisa was. Funky used the AA meeting to workshop his shitty jokes and whine about how he had to move his jukebox. Mr. Elegant Solution “nudging” everything all over time and space so Les could get laid, which caused all kinds of collateral damage he couldn’t care less about. Les himself, whose complete inability to deal with his wife’s death, and his need to force it on everybody else, should have gotten him ostracized years ago.

  9. The Duck of Death

    I barely touched on 7th Heaven. Probably saw about 20 minutes of it over its entire run…. but it does have that quality that makes a work so hateable and snarkable:

    A vast, unacknowledged gulf between what the artist/s think they are creating and what they are actually creating.

    Notice that antecedents like The Brady Bunch and The Waltons weren’t nearly as hateable or snarkable. The first cheerfully acknowledged how ridiculous and unrealistic it was; the second delivered some quality acting and quality writing, at least some of the time.

    There’s nothing as delightful as seeing a “silly, lightweight” cartoon like Family Guy or Futurama punching far above its weight to deliver something unexpectedly moving or profound.

    And there’s nothing as loathesome as a supposedly serious, important work that promises profundity, pathos, and Important Lessons, and delivers a string of shallow cliches spouted by creepy, loathesome author avatars.

    • Rusty Shackleford

      Very well said. I generally prefer silliness in my shows because I am so serious during the day and want something lite and funny to watch at night.

      I hate cheap pathos, cliches, and “powerful statements”. But I will laugh like a child at a silly joke.

  10. Banana Jr. 6000

    can you imagine, if this was the only strip of Funky Winkerbean you ever saw? You open the paper, browse the comics, and there’s just five panels of a woman shutting off her computer and taking a bath. No explanation. And it’s called Funky Winkerbean?

    • You know, I just now realized that she has her bathrobe sleeve pinned up. Good grief.

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        This strip is actually a rare case of the *stump* not being front and center in every shot.

    • Anonymous Sparrow

      You know what it makes me think of?

      “Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles,” a film which has currently taken over the spot of “Greatest Film of All Time,” according to *Sight and Sound.*

      I’ve seen it twice and I imagine that one day I will see it again, but I certainly wouldn’t give it that distinction. And I’d much rather see Delphine Seyrig in “Daughters of Darkness” or “The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie.”

      • sorialpromise

        Anonymous Sparrow,
        You remind me of a foreign film set in the late 1800’s that I will watch tonight. “Babette’s Feast” starring Stéphane Aubran. It’s a quiet story of recovery and renewal in a small village in Scandinavia. It is from 1987. As I watch it, I will think of you.

        • Anonymous Sparrow


          “Babette’s Feast” was based on a story by Isak Dinesen, the subject of the 1985 Oscar Winner for Best Picture, “Out of Africa.” (Holden Caulfield is trying to read the source material in *The Catcher in the Rye* before he leaves Pencey Prep. Ackley’s presence makes that impossible.)

          One of Orson Welles’s last films, “The Immortal Story,” is based on another of Dinesen’s tales.

          Holden Caulfield’s sister Phoebe’s favorite movie is Alfred Hitchcock’s “39 Steps.” It might have shown at the Valentine when Ralph ran it, but not afterwards. (Maybe it was the other movie with “Sunset Blvd.”)

          • sorialpromise

            Out of Africa was what? A 4 hour movie? I have watched it, but think a 65 minute edit could have saved the show. Never have been a fan of Meryl Streep, but I did enjoy her in Mamma Mia. Great cast. My wife liked French Lieutenant’s Woman. She also liked Sophie’s Choice. No accounting for taste. Those were way too much ‘chick flicky’ for me. Then Streep was in “She Devil”. I really liked the PBS version with the delightful Patricia Hodge from Rumpole. Then I found out the movie had Streep AND Roseanne Barr. What a dollop of misery that would be! I would sooner memorize decades of Crankshaft sitting naked on an iceberg. (Sorry for that word picture.)

          • Ever see Streep in “Death Becomes Her”? Strange movie that doesn’t quite work, but interesting.

          • sorialpromise

            Oh that’s with Goldie Hawn and Bruce Willis! It is a spectacular film. I had forgotten Ms. Streep was in that. I would watch it again. Thank you.

          • Anonymous Sparrow

            “Now, a warning…”

            “Now a warning?!?!?”

            Tracey Ullman was supposed to be in “Death Becomes Her,” but the final screenplay omitted her character.

          • sorialpromise

            I have liked Tracy through much of her career, whether it is the Simpson era, Woody Allen, and even with Larry David. She is funny. Of course it helps a little that we share the same birthday. Age looks so much better on her.

          • Anonymous Sparrow

            For the record:

            “Out of Africa” is 2 hours and 41 minutes long.

            Believe it or not, it is #21 on the list of longest movies to win Best Picture, coming in between “The English Patient” and “The Bridge on the River Kwai.”

            The top three are “Gone with the Wind,” “Lawrence of Arabia” and “Ben-Hur.”

            Streep invites ambivalent feelings for me as well. We both attended Vassar, and I gather I should love everything she’s done, but I’d much rather see Julianne Moore on the big screen.

            As Patricia Hodge’s Phillida Trant Erskine-Brown became more and more important in the British legal world, John Mortimer tried to bring in replacements, but he didn’t succeed. I think he came closer with Fiona Allways (Rosalyn Landor) than he did with Liz Probert (Abigail McKern), but they were the Nerissas of the chambers, not the Portias.

          • sorialpromise

            You are a interstellar person of mystery! That is an allusion to a contributor to Jerry Pournelle’s original blog, “Chaos Manor.” Sadly, Jerry is no longer with us. He and Larry Niven wrote sci-fi together. He also encouraged Ronald Reagan to adapt “The Strategic Defense Initiative” better known as Star Wars. Whenever you write, I am always intrigued. Much impressed with Vassar.
            Like you, I felt Patricia Hodge was a tremendous opponent for Rumpole. It must have been a marriage of convenience between her and Claude, although Claude feared her anger, and her ability to divorce him.

          • Anonymous Sparrow

            Claude has his good points, as we learn in “Rumpole’s Return,” when Phillida rejects the overtures of Ken Cracknell: he does his share of the housework, for instance, and he’s solid and sustaining. If their marriage is something of a shotgun affair (to legitimize little Tristan), it endures, and their second child (little Isolde) is planned.

            She’s his superior in their joint profession, to be sure, but he’s a competent barrister and does become a Q.C. (now, with the accession of Charles III, K.C.). Think of him as Leonard Woolf to her Virginia, or as John Entwistle to Pete Townshend in the Who: the good songwriter in the shadow of the great one.

            I’ve never read Pournelle and have only read one Niven story (thank you, *Dangerous Visions*).

          • sorialpromise

            I would recommend two of their collaborations:
            1. The Mote in God’s Eye—-Earth comes in contact with their first alien specie.
            2. Inferno—-A sci fi writer falls out of a window and wakes up in what he assumes to be in an alien constructed amusement park based upon Dante’s Inferno.

          • Lucifer’s Hammer and Footfall were both good as well.

          • sorialpromise


          • Anonymous Sparrow

            Many thanks for the recommendations!

          • bad wolf

            Wait, did you say you were also a Vassar alum? As it happens I was class of (gulp) 1990. I know a few alumnae/i went on to various creative work in the field but the last time i talked to one about comics it was probably about Anthony in FBOFW.

            (what an odd week, i just saw an older fellow on the street with a VC t-shirt the other day. hmm.)

    • Epicus Doomus

      I’ve always pondered this too. There are countless individual strips like this, the ones that would make no sense whatsoever out of context. So essentially, he was relying on his regular readers to follow along, while sort of eschewing new readers by not doing stand-alone strips that anyone could understand. Yet, interestingly enough, he frequently disdained, ignored and paid no heed whatsoever to those regular readers, by shunning continuity and taking months to resolve uninteresting story arcs. So he was more or less writing the strip for people he didn’t care much for, which makes the whole thing even weirder.

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        The whole Funkyverse seems to run on an alien logic. Batiuk will spend weeks slowly marching a story toward his desired conclusion, and then interrupt it with new details that contradict everything the story needed us to assume.

        We’re supposed to believe that Lisa made some kind of noble choice to let the cancer kill her. And then didn’t spend a second of time thinking how her family would cope with her death. Or planning a will, sharing her knowledge, or even showed a drop of interest in anyone other than Les and herself. But she had plenty of time to make stupid video tapes, go to Washington D.C. to lecture Congress for not spending enough to save her, and connect with her *other* child.

        Where does any of this add up to Lisa being a non-detestable human being, much less somebody we’re all supposed to admire?

  11. Paul Jones

    One of the things that I’d most hoped for when Wally returned was DSH told to pack up his shit and leave. Instead, we get WALLY shown the door because she never lost a limb on John’s watch. It shows you just what Batiuk thinks of women.

  12. Paul Jones

    Also. that Mother Issues Day strip reminds us all of something Batty hasn’t the courage to face: he was probably sheer Hell to be around when he wasn’t getting his own way and a mopey little weenie when he did.

  13. csroberto2854

    I cringe so hard when i try to look at the 11/17/2006 strip

  14. Epicus Doomus

    All this Mother’s Day chatter reminded me of Cory’s wedding, when Holly inexplicably became weird and smothering out of nowhere. Batiuk and his woman issues…LOL. The funniest part of “Skunky Funkybuns” is the bit about giving “the girl” a line of dialog, as it couldn’t possibly have been more on the nose. No matter how hard he tried, Batty never figured it out. I’ve grown to respect Mrs. B more and more each day, as she really has her hands full over there.

    • billytheskink

      One of my favorite bits of “Skunky Funkybuns” is how Ronan never fails to follow every mention of “Cherry Chipmunk” with a slight pause and “the girl”.

  15. hitorque


    2. I’ve never, ever heard of a case where *every* kid was picked up by their parents… Certainly some of them could walk or bike home? Or is that not a thing anymore?

  16. Y. Knott

    Today’s Crankshaft is … not bad?

    I mean, “not bad” as a standalone piece of work, without yesterday’s pointless intro … and without the rest of the week’s follow-up strips inevitably dragging on and on. Hard to believe, I know, but viewed in isolation, today’s Crankshaft entry actually resembles a comic strip, with a set-up and and a quasi-amusing punchline. (And I’m viewing it in pretty extreme isolation — I really don’t know anything at all about the characters in this particular strip.)

    Of course, many comic strip writers are able to pull off something on this level (i.e., more-or-less adequate) every single day. But that’s way, way, WAY beyond Batiuk’s reach. Still, he scaled the heights of adequacy today!

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Except it’s not clear *why* Ed has been chosen for this honor. “It’s look like there’s” what? Is this whatsername’s revenge for all Crankshaft’s complaints about her brownies? Did Ed just draw the short straw because the kid’s route happens to be his? Batiuk is always cutting away right at the parts you need to hear.

      • Y. Knott

        To me, that’s the joke. The reason is immaterial — as soon he hears “Wait a minute, Crankshaft. It looks like there’s…” HE knows and WE know that something’s up. A smash cut to a resentful Crankshaft driving the bus with *one* kid in it, with no dialogue whatsoever, is (I think) actually a reasonable comic payoff. (YMMV, of course. But I think it works.)

  17. be ware of eve hill

    It’s been a while since I’ve seen movie listings on the comics page of a newspaper. A little bit of nostalgia there.

    Mom used to always read my horoscope to me. She’d cut Ann Landers columns out for me when she believed they were applicable. Good times. Miss ya, mom! 😢


    Once again, DCH John gives away merchandise “on the house” to Becky.

    How many times have we seen him offer that courtesy to friends? Does he ever charge them?

    Funky: How much do I owe you?
    John Howard: Don’t worry about it. You’ve been a great landlord. It’s on the house. See ya later for a slice and coffee.

    Mopey Pete: How much do I owe you?
    John Howard: It’s on the house.
    Mopey Pete: Can you throw in that Spider-Man figurine for Skyler?
    John Howard: Of course.

    Darrin: How much do I owe you?
    John Howard: For my favorite artist? It’s on the house.

    Holly: Cory will love these. How much do I owe?
    John Howard: No charge for our servicemen. It’s on the house.

    Becky: Wally will appreciate these. How much do I owe you?
    John Howard: No charge for you, Becky. Ever. It’s on the house.

    Batton Thomas: How much do I owe you?
    John Howard: For you, Batton? On the house.

    It explains why the store is always running in the red. How often does Crazy Harry buy merchandise “on the house”.
    Crazy Harry: How much do I owe you for these 25 titles?
    John Howard: Don’t worry about it. You work here. It’s on the house.

    Does John put any money in the till when he hoseys a book or twelve?

    There’s your revenue problem, John.

    When the rent is due:
    John Howard: Sorry, guys, I seem to be a bit short this month. Must have been a bad month for sales.
    Funky: Ha, ha. Don’t worry about it, John. You’ve been a great tenant.
    (Hangs Montoni’s going out of business sign in the store window)

    • sorialpromise

      If you have noticed, I only get downvotes when I mention you, Be Ware of Eve Hill, in my comments. I always thought that they were all your downvotes. But at risk of being downvoted AGAIN, here goes.
      I always love your references to your family: “Miss ya, mom🥲”
      It made me smile to read that Mom read you personal Ann Landers stories.
      You are spot on about DCH John giving hundreds, thousands of high priced merchandise away…… the richest people in his community!
      Last but not least a cross reference from GC: “Oh no! Somebody wrote something negative about a comic strip in the comment section. My day is ruined.
      Lighten up, Francis.
      (This is comedy gold, Jerry!
      P. S. I have no idea what ‘/s’ means?)
      The downvotes may commence.
      I’ll start the first one.

      • sorialpromise

        You got kicked off of GC!!!!🤣🤣🤣
        Someone almost wet their pants laughing.
        It just depends on who you know.
        Welcome to the 🌝JJ O’Malley🌖Club

        • sorialpromise

          “Lighten up, Francis.”

        • be ware of eve hill

          Did anyone post a comment in the thread after me? I find it hard to believe the moderator deleted the entire comment thread over what was there when I left.

          I guess the “Comment Nazi” was displeased.
          Comment Nazi: Zhere vill be no negativity in ze comments. I must maintain ze happy place. ZE HAPPY PLACE!!!

          Oh, well. At least the pearl-clutchers’ comments were deleted too.

          • be ware of eve hill

            I’m not kicked off GoComics (yet). No great loss if they do. GC’s strict comment policy is the main reason why I cancelled my subscription after the trial period. Also, I didn’t see much difference between a premium subscription and a free account. Not enough to justify the $20 annual price, anyway.

            I’ve had comments deleted on GC before. No biggie.

      • be ware of eve hill

        It couldn’t have been me who downvoted you. I was much too busy hanging with my Walmart peeps. You know, the ones you claimed I represented? 😒

        Quite a collection of downvotes you have going there. “Ask and you shall receive, and your joy will be complete”.

        ‘/s’ indicates sarcasm. I wasn’t receiving responses to my “Why does it bother you?” inquiries, so I elevated to sarcasm.

        Does anybody else find it funny somebody chose a profile name “Retiredgezzer“? I’m not sure if this person misspelled “geezer” or if they’re completely aware of their “shortcomings” in their old age.

      • be ware of eve hill

        Mom used to subscribe to a little religious magazine titled ‘The Upper Room’. Every day had a certain prayer focus. There was the thought of the day, an inspirational paragraph and a bible verse. Mom used to tear out some of those and leave them on my pillow. Since each page had two sides, she would write “this side” on the page she wanted me to read.

        For some reason Mom never left the cliché inspirational notes in my school lunch bags.

  18. Y. Knott

    To the surprise of absolutely no-one, today’s Crankshaft stops Tom Batiuk’s streak of consecutive adequate strips at 1.

    C’mon, you knew it couldn’t last.

    • be ware of eve hill

      The kid should sit directly behind Ed and kick his seat.

      Appearance-wise, the kid reminds me of Bernie Silver.

    • J.J. O'Malley

      Why, yes, this all makes perfect sense, because it’s not as if school bus drivers are on any sort of set schedule, and it’s not as if there are cameras and monitors that can track the vehicle or see where it’s going, and it’s not as if the child’s parents might expect him home at a certain time and worry when he’s not there (“But Mr. Cwankshaff, I’ve got to be home by fwee-firty so my pawents can give me the daiwy injections I need to stay awive!”). By all means, Ed, take him down to the Valentine for the “soft opening” 3:30 showing of “Phantom Empire.” Perfectly logical.

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        Also, Crankshaft wanted to go home two seconds ago. But rather than just drop the kid off and go home five minutes later, now he wants to prolong it. Classic Batiukian storytelling.

  19. Hitorque

    And today Krankenschaaften has decided to give off some creepy child predator vibes…? I guess he’s hoping the kid will be so frightened that he’ll jump out through an emergency exit and just run home…

    • Rusty Shackleford

      And yet the GoComics people will remove our comments, saying that they are inappropriate. Yet they publish Batty’s crap.

  20. sorialpromise

    What a day! All we have to do to keep SOSF open for business, is have a weekly “downvote” SorialPromise option. Wow! It’s already up to 10! I wonder what the record is? One of the downvotes looked pretty erudite and classy. (You know, BWOEH. My kind of people😇)
    It is odd. Anonymous Sparrow brings out the literary and cultured side of me. But you, you magnificent creature, makes me go straight to goofy. It must be New Mexican pheromones.
    My Mom also read the Upper Room, and Ann Landers. Kansas City also had an evening paper. So there we read Anne’s sister, Dear Abby.
    I think you and JJ are good for the GC economy. I bet they have to hire extra ‘negativity’ staff to patrol your comments.
    You have rubbed off on my wife. She keeps asking me, “Why are you calling me Francis?”
    So with that I will close.
    Lighten up, Francis.

    • be ware of eve hill

      Right hand to God, I didn’t downvote you yesterday. I confess to downvoting a few comments over the weekend on the advice of my Walmart peeps. There were two downvotes on each comment when you mentioned me. One was me. No idea who the other downvotes were. 🤔

      I stole “Lighten up, Francis” from a commenter in the CK Funky Winkerbean discussion. You know what movie it comes from, don’t you? Perhaps the film was too lowbrow for you to remember.

      Tell Mrs. SP it’s “Frances.”

      • sorialpromise

        1. Previously, I mentioned that YOU drag a certain level of goofiness out of me. (I am whispering this next part.😶‍🌫️🫥) Most of those down votes came from me. Not all, but most. 🤫 it’s our secret. I have no idea who was the kind soul that upvoted me. You were immediately rejected as a suspect.
        2. GC truly has some sad people commenting. You have crossed swords with ‘gezzer’ before. He is not worthy to wipe the grime off your mirror. (Why there is so much grime on your mirror is beyond me?) He must be from the Walmart side of life. Sad, incapable of laughter, can’t find the humor in others’ comments. Poor comebacks. I heard someone tell them, “Lighten up, Francis.”
        (Thank you. I have never seen “Stripes”. I must correct that oversight. I can learn from my betters. ♥️💖❤️🫂🌺💐🌹