Hello beady eyed nitpickers of all ages! I hope you’re all ready for this, because today, we reach the end of John Howard’s appearances in Act II of Funky Winkerbean. It’s December 2006, Lisa’s Story is in full swing, and as if impending cancer death wasn’t melodrama enough, Batiuk also has Becky Winkerbean heavily pregnant while her husband, Wally, is stationed in Iraq.
At this time Becky and Wally are the serfs inhabiting the apartment above Montoni’s. And let that sink in for a moment. That Wally Winkerbean moved into that apartment twice, with a different woman each time.
At least the Montoni’s apartment is just a few flights of stairs from Komix Korner, where Becky can grift all the erotica her husband needs from her simp.
So here’s a question: The sleeve of Becky’s winter coat is pinned up, and she’s wearing a shirt underneath that. Do you think the sleeve of her shirt is pinned up too? Oh, who are we kidding, of course it is. So you think the two sleeves are like, tucked into each other? Like shoving an eggroll into a burrito?
So here’s a question: How’s DCH John’s mom doing? She was at the hospital? I guess John took her there, which is the second time since the famous Drunken Birthday of Depression DCH has mentioned his mother. Does DCH still live with her? Is she still an alcoholic? Why did Batiuk let us see a weeping woman passed out over a Superman cake if he was never going to follow up on it?
So, here’s a question: Did Becky pay attention in health class? Or to her obstetrician when they outlined her birth plan? Because, from my friends and family who have spawned human infants, everything I’ve heard is that you shouldn’t drop everything and rush to the hospital at the first sign of labor. Especially for your first kid. I guess if you’ve been trying to birth a big enough team to put on family reunion renditions of The Sound of Music, by the youngest you risk popping them out like nerf darts. But normally these things take hours and hours. Becky has more than enough time to call her sister for a ride.
So here’s a question. If you’ve gone into labor with an expected baby within the expected span of time, during the day, do you go to the emergency room entrance? But I guess DCH has to drive Becky to the Emergency Room. And he’s so terrified by the experience that he changed his shirt in the car without realizing it.
So here’s a question? Would the family or friend who brought a laboring woman into the hospital be separated from that person and then led back to them in an uncomplicated labor? Is that normal? Wouldn’t the baby daddy, future grandma, future aunt, taxi driver, be allowed to accompany the woman in the back as emotional support? But I don’t want to rag on this too hard, because given where this story is and where it would go, having DCH John be the one to drive Becky to the hospital and be mistaken for the father WORKS. DCH would like to be the father, so this hurts. And DCH would actually go on to be the father. There’s all the seeds for good soapy drama here.
This moment isn’t the problem. It’s the future, when Batiuk chickens out on the entire ‘Wally Jr. has two daddies’ situation. When Batiuk forgets Wally Jr. entirely for ELEVEN YEARS. But seeing DCH John in this awkward place of only being a friend, of literally waiting alone in the wings works. He didn’t want to leave Becky all by herself, so he waits for her family to arrive.
So here’s a question?
WHERE THE F*^#% is RANA? Did Becky seriously just abandon her daughter in her apartment?
(Why does Batiuk always do this?)
One thing I don’t want the uninitiated to think is that Wally has disappeared at this point. Or that Becky isn’t still very Wally focused. Since this is a John Howard dive, we’re missing multiple entire weeks of Becky and Wally’s emails back and forth, being superimposed over grim war scenes or strippers.
Once John slinks out of the hospital right before the birth, we don’t see him again for several months. But in March 2007 he turns up again and we get another instance of DCH taking Becky and Rana out to the Valentine.
I get wanting to continue to show DCH John being a family friend to Becky and Rana, because Batiuk totally completely intends for his time skip, love triangle, switcheroo. He wants to put these characters on a trajectory where we can see how in 10 years they could be married. What I absolutely don’t get is the SPLASH SPLASH SPLASH?
What? Why? We’re not shown like gallons of rain or anything tipping down. I guess this could be tied to all the construction going on outside Montoni’s, but that is never clarified. And yeah, seeing that many water logged comics must be hard…but…uhh….
Unless DCH John did something that caused this, wouldn’t this all be on Tony? Legally?
You know what I love? John doesn’t say anything. He just lets Tony and Funky come up with some cockamamie scheme. And he stares goggled-eyed in horror. Completely overwhelmed as his landlords loudly convince him that they can fix the problem that is probably THEIR FAULT by toasting The Incredible Hulk in a commercial pizza oven.
Insurance money does seem to be on the table, as DCH John and Kevin squelch their way through soggy longbox after slimy spinner rack.
And Becky abandons both her toddler and her infant to see how they’re doing.
And THAT is the last strip of Becky and John before the time skip. The last time we see them interacting as friends and not as spouses.
And THIS is DCH John’s last Funky Winkerbean strip before the time skip.
Will the next post see our crew in a new decade. Is the stinky stripey era of the skunk upon us?
101 responses to ““I Think My Water Just Broke!””
Today’s Crankshaft attempts to be heartwarming. It does not succeed.
Most of this is garden-variety mediocre-to-bad. Hey, did it ever occur to you that some kids take school buses because their parents can’t afford a car?
Whoa. Mind. Totally. Blown. Right?
But never fear! Tom Batiuk just found out about this shocking fact, and now is dramatizing it so that readers may also find out about The Grim Truth In America Today. Oh boy, are YOU gonna be surprised! You probably didn’t even THINK about issues like this until you saw it in F̶u̶n̶k̶y̶ ̶W̶in̶k̶e̶r̶b̶e̶a̶n̶ Crankshaft. But now, thanks to Tom Batiuk, you are Informed! Informed about facts like ‘some people don’t have cars’!
Say, maybe kidnapping one of their kids and riding around with them feeding them sweets will solve that problem! What could be wrong about that?
Also a special mention needs to be made of “Are they too lazy?” This is a line too awful to believe…. Batik’s tin ear for dialogue has degraded to … a chlorine ear? A sulfur ear? An arsenic ear?
And what’s with the strip’s implication that this child must have some kind of horrible life? Someone needs to tell Mr. Climate Damage that a lot of people don’t have cars. Maybe this kid’s parent got a DUI. Maybe the parent is blind. Public transportation is a thing, and many people use it, Tom. It’s also a lot better for the environment than your custom-printed overnight-shipped omnibus comic book covers.
I’d also like to make a small wager that Saturday’s punchline is “it’s in the repair shop.”
To your point, even his hometown of Medina has a scheduled daytime public bus service that runs Monday through Saturday.
And you could be right about Saturday’s punchline.
Either that or “we don’t have a car, we have an SUV”.
That would be a perfect Tom Batiuk punchline, because it renders the setup nonsensical. Having an SUV instead of a car doesn’t explain why they couldn’t pick the kid up.
Giving it five minutes of thought, I think I know how to save this week’s Cranky arc. Crankshaft drives the kid around for awhile then they finally get to his house to find that the entire school was picked up by their parents to prepare for a block party celebrating the kid’s birthday! His beloved twin sisters who share the same birthday have come in from college for the party. The kid is a fan of old time classic Ohio TV stars so the guy who had the gun which murdered John Darling who was murdered is there showing off his collection of stuff. Zanzibar the Chimp is handing out smuggled Cuban cigars. After the wonderful festivities and everyone else goes home the kid exclaims to his parents and sisters, “This is the best birthday ever!” Then they tell him that everyone in the family except him has a different type of terminal cancer.
Very clever, Entranced Cat! But I think you kinda went a bit over the top, into the utterly ridiculous.
Because, I mean, why would any of them not have terminal cancer? And of course, that includes both Zanzibar and the guy who owned the gun that murdered John Darling, who was murdered, the father of Jessica Darling, whose father John Darling was murdered.
Anyway, welcome! It’s good to see another Fan of Zan (as we ZanFans call ourselves).
Very good. It actually ties together all these disparate happenings.
I’m now totally confused by Batiuk’s clash of timeline(s). Today’s installment of the Becky/DSH saga has triggered a number of questions.
1. Doesn’t Becky have friends her own age? Shouldn’t her emotional support group be different from Lisa’s?
2. From a flashback that introduced him, it appears that Funky and Les were late elementary- or middle-schoolers when Wally was born, making them somewhere between eight and twelve years older than he and Becky would be. DSH appears about the same age as Funky, Les and Harry. Why hasn’t he suffered the same ravages of time?
3. Which brings us to the temporal anomaly and the alleged noneffect on Crankshaft. DSH and Harry appear to be the age they were at the end of Act III. Jff and Pmm have remained their Crankshaft ages. How old are their kids at this point? How old is Pete, who has now appeared in the Crankshaft universe, albeit briefly? Did Timemop de-age him and erase his entire professional career prior to his stint in Hollywood and at Atomik Komix? How old are Darren, Jessica and Skylar?
That’s the genius of the Elegant Solution!
Doesn’t Becky have friends her own age?
Shouldn’t her emotional support group be different from Lisa’s?
Why hasn’t he suffered the same ravages of time?
How old are their kids at this point? How old is Pete, who has now appeared in the Crankshaft universe, albeit briefly? Did Timemop de-age him and erase his entire professional career prior to his stint in Hollywood and at Atomik Komix? How old are Darren, Jessica and Skylar?
Nudge. Nudge. Nudge. Nudge.
Nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more. Is your wife interested in…comic books? Comic books, he asked him knowingly!
Are you insinuating something?
Oh no, no, no, no, no….yes.
Based on the “Meet the Act III Cast”, Wally and Becky are 13 years younger than Funky/Les/Crazy/et. al. (The older cast are 46 at the start of Act III, Becky is listed as 33. Wally didn’t have a listing, to preserve the “surprise” reveals of him being presumed dead but really alive, but we have to assume he and Lefty are more or less the same age since they were in the same graduating class.) Skunky is listed as being 38, so eight years younger than the original core cast, and five years older than Becky. Mopey, Boy Lisa, and Jessica Darling Whose Father John Darling Was Murdered were all 28 at the start of Act III.
Canonically, the original core cast were all 68 at the end of FW, so Act III spans 22 years, putting Skunky at 60 at the end of the strip (still wearing a hair style he got in his mid- to late-20s, and it didn’t look that good on him then), Becky at 55, and the Atomik Komix “youngsters” at 50. (Which somehow still lines up with continuity, as it had been 50 years since the original cast graduation, including Lisa, and Lisa gave birth to Boy Lisa while still in high school, meaning he would have to be 50 years old at minimum. How Batiuk managed to NOT mess up that timeline is truly astounding.)
And Skylark is whatever age Batiuk writes him as at any given moment, I think. (I honestly doubt Batiuk himself has any clue how old that kid is supposed to be, given how inconsistent he’s portrayed.)
As to how old they would be when they appear in Crankshaft, Timemop only knows. I *think* they’ll probably be their end-of-FW ages, despite the previously-established ten-year gap between strips (otherwise Timemop’s “elegant” explanation of the gap makes even less sense than it already did), but the real answer is probably “whatever Tom writes that day”.
I think John is supposed to be somewhere between the Act I gang and Act II’s first generation of high school kids in age, probably around Donna’s age.
TB showed both in “1980” during last year’s helmeted Crazy Harry’s off-gassing adventures and they appeared to be a bit younger than the original Act I gang was in late high school. Is Crazy’s dream world “1980” actually canon? Well, given Summer’s adventures later in the year…
“Crazy Harry’s Off-Gassing Adventures” sounds like a ride at the Funky Winkerbean theme park. (Hey, Lil Abner had one.) It’s like Pirates of the Caribbean, but you slowly ride past realistic scenes of Harry reading silver age comic books, playing Space Invaders, and trying to warn Lisa to get a mammogram.
And forgetting to close his HTML tags. Twice.
Hm, the “Meet the Act III Cast” has Donna at 46, the same age as Crazy. Except that, canonically, she’s five years younger (Crazy first encountered The Eliminator when they were 16 and 11, respectively). I’m going to guess this was a mistake on Byrne’s part (i.e., Batiuk didn’t give him Donna’s age, so he assumed it to be the same as Crazy’s).
Of course, the 1980 date of the Off-Gassing Adventure fits with none of the timelines we’ve ever been given, as Batiuk’s given us several different graduation dates for the original cast. But that’s just me being a beady-eyed nitpicker again, I guess.
I think that the “Harley the Time Traveling Janitor” storyline fucked up the timeline really badly (not that it was prior to that)
Does Crankshaft have garlic in his soul?
It’s been a long time since I’ve been heading off to the hospital for a childbirth (purely on the support side of things) so my memory may be faulty. And since this was pre-Covid, things may be different today, of course.
Regarding when to go to the hospital, in addition to recognizing real vs. “false” labor, I’m pretty sure we were instructed, “If her water breaks, come to the hospital”. So, if we imagine this happened discreetly “off screen”, then heading in, no matter how far “along” Becky’s labor was, makes sense in my experience.
When you get there, there’s a lot of waiting — I’d think that Becky would have been allowed to have at least one person of her choice to wait with her, but as the husband/father, maybe I got special privileges.
Finally, there’s the trope of getting to the hospital. I tried to (safely) speed down the highway, figuring that if I was stopped by the police, I had the perfect excuse: “My wife’s having a baby!” Sadly, my wife asked me to slow down.
The flooding wasn’t caused by Montoni’s. It was caused by Becky. She even says (as per the title) her water broke. Must have been a lot of it.
Haha, I had forgotten that John got his own “I can get her there faster… myself!” moment. Tony has got to be fuming that he didn’t get to put another baby-shaped victory mark on the old Montoni’s delivery van.
Given how the Batiukverse is like a sheet of paper folded in half 8 times, Becky’s sister Bonnie probably couldn’t take her to the hospital because she is the mother of the kid in today’s Crankshaft, whose parents don’t have a car…
Considering we were first reintroduced to Boy Lisa as 9-ish during a Halloween event, then seen in high school age like 2 years later, it seems Batiuk has always had trouble overseeing the child characters consistently. We just have to assume they’re being babysat or the comic-book time shenanigans are acceptable enough, because it’s clear that whatever he says about overall story, he clearly found himself writing more about senior problems and writer “woes” than bothering to remember those he meant to pass the torch to, unless it slipped into his other intrigues. Summer and Corey are the only ones who got some decent, memorable development, and they both got bussed off away to college/military school to be served convenient off-panel character shifts for his own purposes (the other day I looked back at the week where Summer’s changing majors is treated as regular enough for smug Les to make punchable faces about while ignoring Cayla’s concerns. Blech)
Honestly I can buy the pizza-oven-saves-wet-comic excuse, considering that Montoni’s statue as a Act 1 legacy location, it’s one of those places that still holds vestiges of the era’s weirdness magnets from time to time with the pizzaria-selling gimmicks and other shenanigans (Pizza Monster, need I say more?).
I think the problem with drying the comics in the pizza oven is that it probably IS sort of possible, except that the comics WILL get warped regardless. I mean, you can dry off wet paper in your oven, but it’s still going to be obvious that the paper isn’t pristine. For an entire comic book, it’s going to be a mess.
Basically, they could dry out the comics, but getting them in even Very Good condition would be a minor miracle.
A term I associate with DC’s Blue Devil, A.K.A. Dan “No Relation to Hopalong, Sorry, Tony” Cassidy. (Or Jesse Custer’s vampire friend from *Preacher,* with the embarrassing actual name of “Proinsias”.)
The issue of *Starman* in which he died (for a little while) is the only issue of the series I can recall which had no letter column commenting on his demise (and that of the Crimson Fox and Amazing-Man).
Very interesting, but stupid, as Artie Johnson might have said.
And here we are with the very stupid implication that Becky married John because he ‘was there for her’ when she needed him. That makes Lefty into a character from FBorFW: a blind-eyed simpleton who doesn’t understand cause and effect.
Wasn’t this the same reason Lisa married Les? He was a Nice Guy™️ so he was owed sex and marriage.
That’s not how courtship works. That’s not how love works. That’s not how any of this works.
The Funkyverse is the only place where the Nice Guy™️ act actually works. Everywhere else including other fictional worlds, it’s this:
I like the XKCD, but it also falls into the trap of the “girls date jerks instead of nice guys!” dichotomy. Some girls, of course, do date brutish creeps. But Nice Guys™️ are equally as creepy, in their passive, clingy way. Perhaps even creepier, because they pretend to be above the crass carnal desires that drive the “sporto” jock types.
Women would be well advised to steer clear of either, but if forced to choose, maybe the jerk who openly just wants sex would be less scary than the disingenuous sycophant who secretly hopes that if he inserts enough Good Boy Points into the sex dispenser, he’ll be rewarded with access to girl parts.
the jerk who openly just wants sex would be less scary than the disingenuous sycophant
I interpret that as being the point of the strip, because that’s exactly what Megan does in the final panel. (Yes, the XKCD stick figure characters have names.) I don’t see XKCD as being pro-“Nice Guy”; I think this strip brilliant deconstructs and mocks the concept. The tactics and motivations are laid bare, and we can see how not-nice they are.
In the Funkyverse, this is exactly how you get the girl. It’s what John Howard and Les both did, when the girl they wanted became impregnated by other men. They just hung around, and waited for their target to give in. Pete Roberts-Reynolds didn’t even do *that* much. It’s disgusting.
I agree, but my point is that there is no dichotomy. It’s a false dichotomy. A woman who is mentally and emotionally healthy will reject both the Nice Guy™️ (because she has functioning creep-dar) and the Jerk (because she believes she has value beyond being a temporary sëx toy).
I’m sensitive to it because, like the virgin/whòre dichotomy, this one is everywhere once you recognize it. And it’s equally reductive and false. We don’t actually live on a desert island where there are only two men, a Nice Guy and a Jerk. In reality, there are plenty of sane men who, unlike both the Nice Guy and the Jerk, view women as something more than just a hole to which they intend to gain access using either passive aggression (Nice Guy) or overt aggression (Jerk).
Yes, XKCD is just a comic strip and doesn’t intend to be a master’s thesis on relationships, but I think they could have done better. The strip plays into the ïncel trope of “women always date abusive jerks while ignoring Supreme Gentlemen like me, wah, wah!”
Or maybe it’s just that when a man sees someone else dating the woman he had his heart set on, that other guy is always gonna seem like a jerk.
Agreed, but I don’t think that level of nuance exists in the XKCD universe. (Or Funky Winkerbean, as much as Tom Batiuk thinks it does.) Niceguyism is such a toxic idea I’m delighted to see it called out every time it is.
Now in defense of DSH John, (GASP,) I do not think he’s written as expecting anything out of Becky for his ‘efforts’. If we can criticize him for anything, it’s using caring for Becky as a proxy-relationship instead of pursuing a romantic relationship with an actually available woman. But he’s not a horrifying Wilbur Weston who is consciously playing ‘the long game’ with multiple ‘friends’.
Of course, that is how the ‘nice guy’ trope works in fiction more often than it manifests in real life. The nice guy is actually a nice guy who just wants his unattainable woman that he holds a torch for to be happy. And then he gets the girl. And then toxic people hold up these stories as if they’re scientific equations proving they are owed women.
Or not sometimes not. Many many kudos for the end of, of all things, Disney’s Hunchback of Notre Dame, for showing the nice guy accepting his crush choosing someone else.
I feel like if we can go too far weeding out the ‘nice guy’ trope. Pining for a crush, love triangles, and long suffering romances are tale-as-old-as-time, and many fictional masterpieces depend on those elements. Why should we let a cabal of mentally ill incels ruin it for us?
The stories of choosing a nice guy over a jerk, or choosing the girl next door over a vain beauty, are little morality plays that do represent a human truth, that compatibility and personality are more important for long happy love than conventional attractiveness.
And do we really want to discourage genuine kindness or no-strings-friendship, by criticizing people, or even fictional characters, with, ‘She’s still not going to sleep with you bro.’ ?That’s also reducing all male/female interactions as a transaction for sex.
Of course, the ‘fake nice guy’, only in it because he thinks this will get him romance, is another valid a fictional trope I love to see, because damn if those slimeballs don’t exist.
He’s thus more like Gordon Mayes than he is Anthony Caine. Gordon blunders into success. Anthony whines his way into it.
In total agreement. That’s the difference between a nice guy — a guy who is nice — and a Nice Guy™️, who is not nice at all but phony and manipulative, and ironically a hater of women.
You can be a guy who is nice and pine for a girl. You can be involved in a love triangle or all kinds of drama. You can strive to win the love of your crush and all that good romantic stuff.
But if you feel you’re owed access to the “playground” because you jumped through a certain number of hoops? If you become furious and resentful when you don’t get what you think you deserve? If, to put it bluntly, you think of women as prizes that you’re due instead of human beings with their own agency, feelings and desires? Then you’re a Nice Guy™️.
Now in defense of DSH John, I do not think he’s written as expecting anything out of Becky for his ‘efforts’. If we can criticize him for anything, it’s using caring for Becky as a proxy-relationship instead of pursuing a romantic relationship with an actually available woman.
Fair. But it also makes Becky choosing John over the returned Wally even more inexplicable. Her true love missing soldier returns alive, says how his memory or her kept his mind together, and she rejects him for this schlub who never even made a move?
I’ve witnessed this firsthand. My older brother was in the friend zone with the same woman between 1995 and 2019. They used to be co-workers and members of the same church. She dated other guys while they were friends. He never dated other women. A one-sided love affair if there ever was one. He was even friends with her parents. They appear to have drifted apart. Perhaps he reached his limits. Perhaps she lost her looks.
You remind me of Francois Truffaut’s short sequel about Antoine Doinel of “The 400 Blows” in the anthology film “Love at 20.” Antoine had a great relationship with Colette’s parents, but they never quite came together; in the final film in the series, we have the sense that while they’ve found happiness, it’s with different people, not with one another.
C’est la vie (ou la guerre).
I suppose Mitch and Hannah think “Truffaut” is something you eat, after special hounds or pigs track it down,
I’ve seen The 400 Blows but have never seen Love at 20. I’ll have to check it out if I can find it. It’s difficult getting Mr. bwoeh to watch movies that require subtitles. He finds subtitles distracting.
Upon seeing a photo of Francois Truffaut, Max and Hannah would most likely declare, “Hey, it’s the science dude from ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind.'”
Considering Act III started with them married with no explanation as to how that came about, I think that’s the assumption we’re supposed to make. Which is quite a stretch because she clearly always had him in the friend zone.
Wouldn’t it have been great to see some actual conflict when Wally returned? Some flashbacks from Becky reflecting on her relationship with both men & thus why it was so difficult to choose between John & the father of her child? Of course, that would require a female character to have some depth and complexity.
Regarding the flood: certainly the damage was minimal, because I’m sure super comics fan John had all his comics in sealed plastic bags, yes? It’s not like they were just thrown into document boxes and left on the floor, right?
If not, why not? Oh right, because the author needs cheap pathos. Plus, I’m sure to Tom Batiuk, losing some comic books to flooding is way more tragic than losing an arm, being an alcoholic, or being held as a POW for a decade. Imagine of one of those comics was Flash #123!
Regarding something else. Why would Tony say “I’ve dried out enough pizzas in this [oven]”? Quite frankly, it sounds like his technique is to turn a pizza into a slightly flavored cracker. “Montoni’s: pizzas so dry you can blow the dust off them!” Quite frankly, the greatest comic strip writer who ever lived should have come up with a better way to say, “This oven, it gets hot.”
Comic bags aren’t generally airtight, so water getting into them during a flood is actually fairly likely. The bags simply weren’t made to protect against that sort of thing. (They might help against a minor spill, but not against being actually in water.) (Unless you vacuum seal it, airtight bags could actually damage the comics over time, as any gasses that could cause premature yellowing of the pages would then be trapped in the bag; it’s actually something of a concern in the storing and grading of comics, as there have been “gimmick” books that came in sealed bags – like some versions of the “Death of Superman” or X-Force #1 with the trading cards – and the question is whether the book is still Mint if the bag has been opened. You could open the bag (or make a vent hole in it), but some graders might say it’s no longer Mint, but being in the bag could yellow the book, which would drive its grade down even further.)
Basically, comic bags can protect the books from getting dirty (especially from fingerprints), or protect against minor dings or scratches, but they’re not going to stop water from a flood. (That would probably require “slabbing” – encasing the book in sealed hard plastic – and that’s just not economically feasible for any books without a decent price on them already, as the slabbing process will likely run you $30 per issue.)
As for Tony’s comment, I think he was trying to say that he’s accidentally overcooked enough pizzas over the years, not that all his pizzas are dried out. Though given that might make sense, it’s probably wrong. (In any case, drying comics in a pizza oven is still moronic.)
Well said, but… If you had a comic book shop, though, would you put boxes of comics on the floor? It seems to me that leaks can happen at any time, so it would be best to put them off the floor somehow.
Also, if the books are to be sold, wouldn’t it make sense to–and I know this is revolutionary, but bear with me–make sense to put them on tables, so the customers could look through them without straining their backs?
I mean, I get the point of the strip, it’s supposed to be a tragedy. But it doesn’t have to be dumb at the same time.
IDK, my old comic shop had long boxes stashed everywhere. The new stuff was on display on nice shelves, but the guy didn’t even have enough room on his long box tables for all the old 90’s back issues he’d picked up for basically nothing acquiring old collections.
But these are characters who literally worship comic books. Who make extravagant claims about how comics “saved” them and “showed [their] futures.” It would make more sense if the entire town gathered together and burnt John at the stake for his blasphemy.
This was the era when Komix Korner was in the basement, right? See, the thing about basements is that they are always susceptible to flooding. And anyone who has had one should know to keep anything valuable off the floor, period.
It’s his inability to understand how odd the things the characters say that makes him Batiuk.
I sometimes vaccilate over whether I’m being too literal-minded in my interpretations of FW strips. But I blame that on TB: A literal comic-book dealer, whose shop readers have seen through various ups and downs, is literally flooded. There’s nothing here that suggests fantasy or magical realism.
But then FW is constantly darting back and forth across the International Date Line separating wishful magical realism from hard-hitting reality. And it wants to be a citizen of Quarter-Inch From Reality when it spends most of the year in You Gotta Be Kidding Me.
Today, in You Gotta Be Kidding Me: Drying comics in a pizza oven. Professional pizza ovens are designed to be much hotter than regular ovens — about 600°-900° degrees. To dry paper, you’d want a temperature of maybe 110°. I doubt they even run that cold. Not to mention the crumbs, grease, ash, and assorted food residue.
Have you ever tried to dry out any important papers? The only way to do it without ending up with hopelessly crinkled pages is to sandwich the paper between other porous, un-inked pages, put it on a flat, smooth surface, and pile books or other flat weights on it. And wait. And hope.
This does not work with books or magazines. I know, because I had a leak in my house that drenched a whole shelf of books and magazines, including a bunch of softcover DC and Marvel anthologies. They cannot be restored to anything resembling their original state.
I wouldn’t care except for the way this dumb plot is surrounded with Real Angst, like labor pains, war, and the potential destruction of DCH’s business. This mix of ultra-grim reality and frivolous fantasy is one of Batiuk’s worst tendencies as a writer. It sucks all the gravitas out of the reality, and all the fun out of the frivolity.
Even if the comic books didn’t catch on fire, wouldn’t they dry all stuck together the way Tony and Funky have them stacked?
At best, they’d be horribly wrinkled. Methinks TB didn’t do well in chemistry.
May I remind everyone out there what happens to paper when the temperature reaches Fahrenheit 451?
Ray Bradbury didn’t just pull that number out of his tuchis when he was looking for a book title (apropos of nothing, I was fortunate enough to meet Mr. Bradbury at a 1993 Famous Monsters of Filmland convention in suburban DC and am the proud owner of a personally autographed “451” paperback).
I saw R. Bradbury & Douglas Adams at my college alma mater in Indy not long before Adams passed. Bradbury was in a wheelchair by then and wasn’t doing autographs, but his mind was still sharp. They both amazing!
Sorry, my proofreading skills are lacking this morning. They WERE both amazing. It was such a thrill to see them both on the same program. And I will always regret not getting the Adams autograph because my friend didn’t want to wait in line.
It’s possible to flatten some crinkled paper that has been wet, but it’s tedious. I’ve done it to some family history paperwork I found that had gotten water damaged.
You basically take a flat iron, ironing board, and a spray bottle. Get the paper just slightly misted, barely damp, and then iron it flat. Then rest the paper between two heavy flat things, like books, for a while.
I doubt this would work on modern comic books, or comic covers, because I’m not sure how those glossy ink saturated pages would react. Maybe would work on some older newsprint ones. But it wouldn’t get the comic back to anything better than a ‘reader’ copy.
Mmmmm… Egg roll burrito! Drool!
Today, in Crankshaft, TomBa has drawn the curtain of decency over the scene of the crazy old bus driver taking the lone child for a little extra drive on the way home, and stopping to get the kid ice cream. We don’t know what happened after that, but I assume the Centerville DA’s office is unraveling the chain of events as we speak.
Instead, we get a monologue from Lena as the drivers sit and listen.
“Even though every kid is being picked up by their parents now, your jobs are safe. People will eventually get sick of picking up their kids when winter returns.”
This is a rare variation of the Batiuk schtick of creating some kind of tension, then immediately running right back to the status quo with an implausible deus ex machina before anything interesting can happen.
This time he did it in the SAME SENTENCE.
Potential tension: “… every kid is being picked up by their parents now…”
Status quo: “… your jobs are safe.”
Improbable deus ex machina: “People will eventually get sick of picking up their kids when winter returns.”
So what was the point of the whole wordy strip? To say everything will stay the same?
Extra bonus Batiuk points for destroying the reality he just established yesterday, when he showed that NOT every kid is being picked up by their parents.
Bravo, Bats. Bra-vo. All you were missing was starting the strip with the word “So.” Maybe you’ll grace us with that tomorrow.
I think we can expect to see the strips featuring Ed diminish in frequency and increase in throwaway content. The future lies in:
1. Lillian centering around her bookstore (guest starring DSH and Harry and possibly Pete and Mindy)
2.Lillian centering around her writing (Does Batiuk bring in Les or Summer here?)
3. The Valentine centering around Max and his Generic Blond Spouse (Guest appearances by Mason Jarre and the never aging Cindy Summers/Winkerbean/Jarre)
4. Pmm and Jff (Jff can occasionally travel to the Komix Korner, setting up appearances by DSH and Harry, with the possibility of cameos by Pete, Batton Thomas, and Darren and Skylar).
5. Lillian at St. Spires, allowing for the appearance of Dinkle. (I’m betting on this being a holiday thing).
I’m still waiting for Crankshaft‘s official Jump The Shark moment.
The panel where she appears, or is mentioned, it’s over. And Batiuk has written himself a premise: Mason Jarre wants to have a big re-opening of the Valentine theater. I’d bet money on this being it.
Dinkle’s already been here, I think. Didn’t he show up at the OMEA this year? In Crankshaft?
6. First appearance by Batton Thomas.
I forgot about OMEA. Maybe I should be thankful about that.
I’m almost afraid to ask this, but…
Has *Crankshaft* ever explored what Ed does during the summertime, when kids don’t have school? Is he like Carolyn Haywood’s Mr. Riley, who drives a cab that part of the year?
Is he Chas Chandler to a Buckeye State John Constantine?
Or does he just launch grills into orbit and dream of zucchinis?
I just hope he “rests well, and dreams of large women.”
Kate Bush fans would be more apt to “dream of sheep.”
Dear Anonymous Sparrow,
You always make me widen my horizons. I was not familiar with the singer, song, video, or quote.
I have corrected that lapse in my education.
Also, I have started watching “Jeanne Dielman.”
Best to you and yours!
You might not thank me after watching “Jeanne Dielman.” It’s a slow film and you have to be patient with it, and even with the patience of Maigret (or Job), you might not find it as rewarding as director Chantal Akerman did. But to my mind, it fits the five panels depicting the computer-to-bath routine of Becky very well.
Kate Bush I can recommend more enthusiastically, although *Hounds of Love* (on which you’ll find the song “And Dream of Sheep”) ends a great period for her: afterwards, her albums are more sporadic (over a decade between *The Red Shoes* and *Aerial*) and while always interesting, not as compelling. Maybe I’m just more comfortable with Heathcliff and Cathy (in “Wuthering Heights,” her first hit) than I am with Molly Bloom (the subject/inspiration of “The Sensual World”).
I must check out more from Kate.
I am not familiar with Molly Bloom, but I am with “Moll Flanders,” and the wonderful Alex Kingston.
Kate Bush has a song title that describes trying to read Batiuk’s latest works, ‘Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God).’
I feel for any Crankshaft readers who have consulted the comment section in an attempt to figure what is going on this week.
I feel sorry for any Crankshaft reader.
TB wants Crankshaft to carry the weight of both comic strips. It can’t because neither strip could carry its own weight. (Insert Beatle’s tune here.) A word to the wise: check comments on GC early in the morning. They may be cancelled by the afternoon. Eve, you might know more: does ArcaMax patrol its comments like GC?
I have always liked that last figure emoji, but have no patience to make one.
P. S. I am learning how to make knots. I tried to learn earlier when I worked on the Adolescent Mental Health Unit. I had an afternoon group with the kids each day usually to do relaxing topics, like cards, trivia, games, and fun topics. I thought about teaching them various knots, but my nurse convinced me that it was a bad idea with suicidal kids. I decided she was right.
I had a busy day at work and was unable to read GoComics until after dinner (TGIF). I was hoping to catch a few pearl-clutchers whining about the commenting habits of other readers.
I sometimes wonder what I’m missing. Was my comment the other day so bad the moderator decided to delete the entire thread, or was there a big kerfuffle after my comment?
I know ArcaMax uses Disqus, which means there is the utility to flag other commenters. ArcaMax is undoubtably more lenient than the Comics Kingdom and GoComics. Commenters who were booted off CK and GC have found a home at ArcaMax.
There used to be 200+ comments every day at Mallard Fillmore. After the switch to OpenWeb and the new “more friendly” atmosphere, it’s down to twenty comments or fewer. The Mallard Fillmore 200+ comments can be found on ArcaMax.
I cut and paste the shrug emoji because there’s a Japanese character or two in there. @CheesyKun, where are you?!
I had extensive first aid training while in the girl scouts. I wonder how much I can remember. Can I still tie a square knot?
I checked your ‘Francis’ comment mid morning that day. I did not recheck it until later in the afternoon. By that time, you and JJ O’Malley remained as the lingering aroma of yesterday’s Limburger cheese. (Which I have never had. In fact, my only reference to that cheese is its use as a weapon in a Little Rascals gang war.) Today’s GC comments are definitely anticlimactic. Same for the Crankshaft comic.
Telling Mrs. SP to lighten up, Frances, did not seem to improve the relationship. I had such high hopes! [It is here that I would copy and paste your Chinese emoji, failed to copy it. I must make a memo to self: “Gladly imitate Be Ware of Eve Hill.”
Mrs. SP: You call me Francis again… I’ll kill ya.
You call me Frances again… I’ll kill ya.
You could have won a ton of money betting me if you had seen one of my all time favorite movie, “Lock, Stock, and 2 Smoking Barrels.” I consider it one of the greatest films ever made. Barry the Baptist rules.
??? Seen Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels? Have you forgotten who I’m married to? Of course, I’ve seen it.
We’ve seen quite a few Guy Ritchie films. RocknRolla was on HDNet Movies last month.
I must admit I do love Guy Ritchie.
Snatch is magnificent. Brad Pitt!!!
RocknRolla has Thandiwe Newton as a major player. Loved her in WestWorld.
But I think my favorite is “the Gentlemen.” Mathew McConaughey tops the tremendous cast. I could do without the pig videos.
LOL. Muppet-mouth Becky. I imagine her sounding like Beaker.
Muppet-Mouth Becky: Mee mee. Mo mee meep meep. Mee mee mee. Mo meep meep meep!
Does anybody else have an issue with Becky’s appearance in panel #1 of the same strip? She resembles a member of the Lullaby League from Munchkin Land. She has no neck. The distance between her chin and baby-making bits appears to be 18 inches.
For a moment I thought Becky was wearing a ridiculously short skirt (maternity miniskirt?) until I realized she was wearing tan pants. When birth might happen any second, a skirt is much easier for medical personnel to deal with than pants. Just sayin’.
Well, add that to the number of things Tommy Boy doesn’t know. He doesn’t, as a for instance, know that if something happened along the way, DCH would be screwed.
1. Ooh! Ooh! I love Beaker! Meep! Meep!
2. I worked in daily care nursing homes with geriatrics. (Do not misunderstand my next statements. Our elderly may wear whatever clothing they choose. It is their right.) End of disclaimer. However as a care-giver, I hoped each hour that I assisted someone to the restroom, that they were wearing sweatpants. Easy down. Easy up. Easy off. Easy to change. Rarely that fortunate. The worst were tight, belted jeans with compression socks.
No problem, I get it. Both Mom and Dad were bedridden in their final days.
The elderly wearing skinny jeans? Why? I don’t wear skinny jeans. Why point out my lack of hips.
Mom wore nightgowns and had to call the nurse’s station for assistance when she had to go to the bathroom. Her final months were spent in the nursing home section of the retirement home She and Dad chose.
Dad, who had Alzheimer’s, wore sweatpants or pajama bottoms over his adult undergarments. He had to wait for the nurse(s) to make their rounds before he got changed. He had a call button, but sadly he didn’t have the awareness to use it. His final year was spent at a memory care facility.
The SoSF discussion has been reduced to tales of the bathroom habits of the elderly. Sorry about that, folks.
But it is a clever, witty, erudite discussion with just the hint of Walmart decor.
We still got it, Eve!
If I were an insurance adjuster, I think my thought process might go like this:
Q. Is there someone else with money, or insurance, that we can place blame on, thereby forcing them to pay out instead of us?
A. Yes — the landlord, in this case presumably Luigi and/or Wally. They should have insurance that would cover it. Claim denied.
Q. If there is no other source of coverage, is there anything the insured party did that might invalidate the coverage?
A. Yes. They claimed their stock was destroyed in a flood, but all I see is dry, crispy, charred comics that they put in a pizza oven. Clearly this was a deliberate act to either destroy comics or destroy evidence of fraud, or both. Claim denied.
They claim every single comic book in the store was Gem Mint? Claim denied.
And they were sitting unprotected in cardboard boxes on the floor? Claim denied.
And all this damage was caused by one pregnant woman’s water breaking? Claim denied, and referred to fraud investigators.
No Cranky parodies from me this week, sorry! Too much farm/gas station nonsense rotting my brain. I stared at Skip, Max, and Hannah chugging butter oil for half an hour and couldn’t think of a funnier punchline.
Should be something good going up Sunday night. *wink* I have it on good authority. *wink wink*
You definitely deserve a break after tackling the DSH saga. I’m grateful that you, TFH, ED, BJr6000, et al have been able to keep this community vital and active. There is still much to explore in Batiuk’s oeuvre.
Well, I called it when I discussed Friday’s Crankshaft:
SO… looks like they’ll be ferrying teachers to and from school instead of kids. A dumb idea, sure, but this is a comic strip, after all, and in the right hands this could lead to some fresh situations and new gags. Naturally it will be dropped.
I really wanted the reason for all the parents picking up their kids to be “Well, Crankshaft, word got about you and now the parents think we’re ALL too inept to transport their kids.”
The Crankshaft discussion on GoComics is really staring to piss me off. I decided to tempt fate and left the following comment:
It is 5:37 Sunday morning. Eve, there are no comments by you on GC.
Your comment is kind of vague. 🤔
The “delete me” comment I left last night is still there. Did you miss it? Apparently no one flagged it. The pearl-clutchers must have all gone out for their early bird specials.
Or were you complaining that I hadn’t left a comment on today’s Crankshaft yet? Jeez, you’re almost as bad as Yvonne on Rex Morgan M.D. pouting about waiting to hear “Muddy Boots”.😉
On the slightest of possibilities that erudite me could have mistaken WalMartesque BWOEH, I rechecked on 2 different machines, my phone and my computer. (I always hear it with Mr. Scott’s voice.) there are no comments by Eve Hill registered on Crankshaft for Friday Saturday or Sunday.
1. Maybe you should put down the Merlot.
2. Acknowledge your betters.
3. Start planning to host again the SOSF Second Annual Faux Cookout. (Our motto: We did it before. We can pretend to do it again!)
Well, after careful consideration, I’ve concluded that your machines are probably fine. The problem is a textbook case of PEBSAC*
I grabbed the snapshot below from yesterday’s Crankshaft. Kudos to the never-say-die J.J. O’Malley for reposting his comment.
Are the folks who read my post on Crankshaft today mistaken too.
Yet another Walmart mention? You mention them so often, one would think you work for them. You probably do. I bet you look resplendent in your royal blue Walmart vest. With a twinkle in your eye and your rosy checks, you give them a kindly grandfather smile and greet customers as they enter the store with a friendly “Good afternoon, welcome to Walmart!”
1.) Again with the merlot. It seems like ages since I drank that bottle. Do you think I’m still working on the same bottle, or I drink nothing but Merlot? C’mon, SP, expand your wine knowledge. Show some adventure. Chardonnay? Cabernet Sauvignon? Pinot Noir? Châteauneuf-du-Pape? Chianti? Sangiovese? Tempranillo? Madeira? Shiraz? A friend served an Argentinian wine a few weeks ago.
Oh, that’s right. A sophisticate like you only drinks Claret.
2.) Acknowledge your betters. This was really what your comment was all about, wasn’t it? I don’t understand why you feel the need to belittle me. I find it unpleasant when people boost their egos at the expense of others. Strangely, I seem to encounter a lot of individuals who exhibit this behavior. I must be doing something wrong to attract that kind of person.
3.) You can host the SOSF Second Annual Faux Cookout at your bungalow this year.
*PEBSAC = Problem exists between seat and computer (meaning you).
1. Wow! Someone is bringing her gun to a knife fight. The last time I saw someone with this much vim and vigor was when I took Mrs. SP to a Rassling match with Ricky the Dragon Steamboat.
2. What can I say? I like claret. (You remembered!)
3. “the SOSF Second Annual Faux Cookout”. I already sent out tickets for New Mexico. Do you realize how many dubloonies it will cost me to retrieve them?
4. Of course, carry my claret, but be sure to specify we need several bottles of Screaming Eagle Cabernet Sauvignon 1992.
J5. Crap Damn! You already have people downvoting me again. As my Dad would often ask…do I want a medal, or a chest to pin it oh
It’s pretty amusing how BatYam couldn’t even allow John to be a modestly successful comic book guy, even for a minute. He just absolutely loved torturing these characters. What a sadist.
WHERE’S THE FUCKING JOKE TOMMY?!
I imagine the comment you left in today’s Crankshaft would upset the easily offended pearl-clutchers there.
GoComics Crankshaft Pearl-Clutcher:
(clutches pearls around neck) Well! I never! Someone fetch my smelling salts. I’m getting the vapors!
Your comment here would probably kill them. 💀
I had to read the later comments to find out what today’s joke-like adjacent humor was. Haha, birds wear masks! How gosh-darn relevant Tom-BORE-rine Man, as William Shatner performing a Byrds song would quip!
(Oh, let’s all pretend Tom wouldn’t use that as a CS punchline and call it a day)
GC has deleted instantly comments I’ve left on political cartoons–a place where “spirited public discourse” would not just be welcome, but expected. I haven’t tested my theory that if one person flags a comment, it’s gone. They always get rid of those CS comments by some guy whose name is based on the hate-filled, spittle-flecked angry rants of the comic strip “Bartleby,” history’s greatest monster! OH MY G–
Sorry, I had to get the fire extinguisher as my computer’s Sarcasm-O-Meter caught fire.
These people can’t take the comments of *JJ O’Malley*? Of course mine got deleted! Are these the people who wave their hands to fan themselves when Bored Panda says “killed” rather than “un-alived”? That’s not even a word! If your snowflake melts that quickly in the light of your monitor, MAYBE NOT READ INTERNETS?
(stops breathing into paper bag; wonders why there’s fire extinguisher foam everywhere)
Is this the 3rd Sunday where Davis is actively undermining the joke? Unreadable sideways strip, last week it was the Jeopardy thing, now it’s “if you squint really hard, the birdies!” The birds aren’t in close-up. How are they even eating? Which I say as a guy who once tried to eat a hamburger with a mask on. (it didn’t work. Well, it did, but then I needed a mask without ketchup on it)
Maybe Mr Davis is looking at FW and saying “Retirement sounds nice. Next week, I’ll draw a relevant strip involving Bill Clinton and a Cabbage Patch Baby eating a POG!”
Today’s Crankshaft is tiptoeing up to the Jump the Shark moment. If birds can wear N95 masks can the return of St. Lisa be far behind?
A large, one panel, space filler. Great work Batty/Davis. Your work ethic is enviable.
Circle today on your calendar, because I’m about to defend Crankshaft.
1. Yes, a single panel, for a single-panel punchline. Something he should do a lot more often. One punchline, then out.
2. A succinct punchline that doesn’t have any unnecessary words. And it doesn’t even begin with “So”!
3. It’s not particularly funny or even timely, but it is coherent.
There were probably lots better ways to make a joke regarding birds wearing masks because of bird flu, but there were also lots worse ways, and Bats didn’t do them.
Overall, a win.
Yes, I suppose we should count it as a victory that this strip wasn’t:
Panel 1: Ed looks for birdseed in various kitchen cabinets.
Panel 2: Someone asks Ed if he has found the birdseed.
Panel 3: Ed confirms he can’t find the birdseed.
Panel 4: It’s suggested that maybe he already put the birdseed in the feeder.
Panel 5: Ed goes outside to see the feeder. But he notices something … strange … about the birds.
Panel 6: The big punchline!
A shorter Crankshaft is a Crankshaft that will probably still suck — but for not quite as long. I’ll take it!
I can already see Mason Jarre’s smug idiot Alfred E. Newman face, telling Mr. and Mrs. Westview Mafia he’s got the greatest idea for a grand opening spectactular! And then spend a week acting like it’s anything but what we all know it is.
Lisa’s Story is like a pyramid scheme run amuck. Everybody in town already belongs to it, and everybody in town is also trying to recruit you into it. “Once you donate to the Lisa’s Legacy Fund, you become a Silver Level donor, and you get 1% of every donation from someone below you!”
And of course, Lisa’s Story was a box office failure.
“Before I bought the Valentine, they only showed ‘Radio Ranch,’ a film that no one wanted to see. Well, we’re under new management! So now, starting today, we’re only going to show ‘Lisa’s Story,’ a film that no one wanted to see.”