CBH at the helm for this one. And FIRST OF ALL.
We’ve reached the maximum busy season for farm work here in CBHville. Where we are trying to simultaneously finish planting beans, chop rye hay, spray weeds, apply fertilizer, care for cows, AND (most daunting of all) clean my parent’s basement for my sister’s family to arrive for Memorial Day.
I was feeling overwhelmed.
And a hero answered.
So MANY thanks to Banana Jr. 6000, for offering up some great posts to take a little pressure off before this DSH John Howard Deep Dive gives me the bends.
Speaking of John Howard, you guys sick of him yet? Cuz we’ve still got fifteen years and all of Act III to go studying that salt and pepper baked potato of a man. Though I’m guessing that from about 2013 to 2023 I’ll be able to sum it up with, “Look, more dumb comic book stuff.”
But if you ARE sick of him, than this post should offer you a little reprieve, as John Howard, of any dead animal type, doesn’t actually appear.
I told you guys on the last DCH John post that the last time we see John Howard in Funky Winkerbean prior to the time skip is him mopping up his moldy basement Komix Korner on St. Paddy’s Day.
But that isn’t the last time he appears in the Funkyverse before that fateful Act III day in October 2007.
Because in April 2007, over in Crankshaft, one of the weirdest and longest Funkyverse crossover arcs begins.
And it begins with Lillian visiting her senile sister Lucy in the nursing home. And for reasons not ever explained bringing along her neighbor’s kid and her neighbor’s kid’s boyfriend. (Okay, I can fanwank it for Mindy. After all Mindy grew up right next door to these ladies her entire life, I’m guessing they’re as close as grandparents/maiden aunts to her.)
But that boyfriend.
Yup! It’s Mooch Myers!
Eric ‘Mooch’ Myers was introduced all the way back in 1998 as part of the class that included Mopey Pete, Boy Lisa, and Jessica Darling, (the daughter of John Darling, who was murdered)
He’s an interesting character. Possibly a fun subject for a future dive. But for those unfamiliar, he’s a lazy little git, barely tolerated by his social circle as a hate sink and punching bag. And he mostly deserves it.
At Darin’s birthday party in December 2006, in Funky Winkerbean, he starts chatting up an attractive blonde Montoni’s waitress. Which one? Good question. This time it’s Mindy Murdoch. Setting the stage for this crossover. And establishing early on that Mindy has a fetish for pathetic manlets.
So Mooch picks Mindy up at the Cranky Compound to take her out for a super romantic fast food date. But first he takes in the scenery.
Unfortunately, their date gets cut a little short.
But Grandpa Google was correct. In 1999 Mooch Myers set fire to the school.
And I guess this was before the days when juvenile offenders had their identities protected.
Mindy doesn’t seem daunted by this information though. If anything she seems impressed.
MOOCH YOU DIRTY LIAR! YOU DIRTHY FILTHY LIAR! YOU SET FIRE TO THE SCHOOL TWICE!
Prior arson convictions that may or may not be kinda like a budget CW show is enough to get Mooch within an Eskimo Kiss of first base.
And Mindy walks through her front door from Funky Winkerbean back into Crankshaft.
Parental disapproval seems to have sealed the deal, and Mooch and Mindy are still dating by the time April 2007 rolls around.
Following the visit to the weird beige gradient void where Lucy McKenzie resides, Lillian asks for help clearing out her sister’s hoarded junk now that Lucy is too addled to miss her sister tossing all her trash.
Little did Mooch know, up in the attic Lucy was hiding a stash of the good stuff. The sweet soma every Westview male binges on like a Skinner Box rat.
So Mooch knows a guy in Westview, obviously referring to DCH John. But he doesn’t bring him in right away. The story breaks for a few weeks of Cranky nonsense before…
As much as an illegal liaison between two virginal sociopaths separated by sixty years would make for a juicy narrative, Mooch and Lil aren’t macking in the attic. But Jeff seems to think they are. Which is great.
Instead Mooch, always hungry for attention, has delayed bringing in DCH John. He wants to make himself an integral part of this process by inserting himself as an unnecessary middle man, doing something DCH John could do, and indeed will probably have to do again in order to judge the condition of the books for himself and make an offer.
Timely is the precursor to Marvel Comics, and was started in 1939 and ran through the 1950, during the Golden Age of Comic Books. Golden Age comic books are the most valuable because fewer of them survived and even fewer in good condition. They were considered as disposable as magazines back then, and many were pulped during World War II. So if Lucy had collected every Timely comic, they would be worth a pretty penny. And even the inevitable damage of storing them in an uninsulated attic for sixty years wouldn’t render them completely valueless.
You know what is going to ruin that fragile newsprint? Storing them vertically in boxes instead of flat, and flailing those books around all willy nilly! And why the frag is he doing all of this in the attic?
I’ve seen this arc discussed before in the comments. Would these comics have survived those conditions? They certainly would have been damaged. Maybe they would be destroyed. Some of you had stories of newsprint crumbling away to nothing in an attic environment.
But once upon a time, my mother suddenly got it in her head to check out this old barn where stuff had been thrown after my great grandma had died. This barn was not a ‘nice’ barn. It was a steel cattle shed with two sides completely open to the outside, and a dirt floor where generations of rats had excavated an entire primitive urban housing complex amongst the dilapidated furniture. And tucked within all this junk was a old steel wash tub with a lid, kinda like this one. The lit was on tight enough that animals couldn’t get in, but I wouldn’t say it was airtight.
And inside. Photos, paperwork, newsprint, letters, old German bonds issued for WWI reparations. It had all survived 50 years in that barn. Really only protected from direct rain and snow. The stuff inside was fragile, a little damaged, but there, and not immediately crumbling. In a climate similar enough to Ohio, four seasons, with hot and cold, wet and dry.
The Crankshaft Comics Saga will continue!
As long as I can survive the next couple weeks!
51 responses to “Cranking It Up!”
Wow. That’s some great writing. I mean yours, CBH, not Tom’s. The real question is not how the comics survived in an attic, but how Tom’s monitor survives all the Tom-splooge on it when he writes about comics.
To, I’m certain, all your shock and dismay, not all silver age comics were good! Not as life-changing as “The Flash becomes the FATTEST Man Alive!” as several Pulitzer Prize/Oscar winners have said! In fact–
The hell? Fat Flash changed some rust belt dweeb’s life?! These notes can’t be right! What, they are? The fu–
(throws notes into a lit locker)
Not to toot my own horn, which is a thing only said as some guy whips his Commander Riker trombone from the Enterprise bridge chair he sat in weirdly, here is a tribute I wrote with my own head brain 20+ fucking years ago to the 1967 classic, Tod Holton Super Green Beret.
(locker explodes into flames, smashes into Crankshaft’s grill, and what’s with Tom’s obsession with fire?)
“One hundred men will test today/but only Tod Holton becomes Super Green Beret…”
Christopher Morley wondered how Dr. Watson cherished a portrait of Henry Ward Beecher, but the questions here are even more perplexing:
Why did Lucy McKenzie accumulate a collection of Timely titles?
(Eugene, is that you?)
Why didn’t Lillian know that she had it?
If she knew that she had it, why didn’t she greet its discovery with a line like “oh, so it wasn’t thrown out, after all” or “I always wondered what happened to that”?
Why didn’t Lucy ever display unexpected comic-book knowledge in her senility akin to Walt Kelly’s pup dog saying “Poltergeists make up the principal type of spontaneous material manifestation?” You know something like “Captain America had a triangular shield in his first appearance” or “Toro used to pull potatoes out of the fire for the gang” or “the Sub-Mariner’s three most famous exclamations were ‘suffering shad,’ ‘holy halibut’ and ‘chuckling clams’?”
And so on.
Finally: if “the Lucy Collection” is that vital to Western Civilization, why isn’t it in the Smithsonian instead of Komix Korner?
The letter of suspension of disbelief killeth, and the spirit does not giveth life, nor Ellen Dolan the mayorship of Central City. (No, Barry, not yours!)
if “the Lucy Collection” is that vital to Western Civilization, why isn’t it in the Smithsonian instead of Komix Korner?
In this world, Komix Korner *is* the Smithsonian.
I like how CBH contrasts the family’s dislike of pyromaniac Mooch Myers, with their endless ignoring/tolerating/enabling of Ed Crankshaft’s destructive behavior. But Mindy doesn’t call her parents on their hypocrisy.
I too was puzzled that they kept staying up in the attic. I guess that is feasible in Ohio weather and Ohio architecture? Where I’m from, attics are cramped, stuffy, and 100 degrees in the winter. My wife absolutely refuses to go up in our attic, even when I tell her that her Christmas presents are hidden up there.
Mooch Myers was one of TB’s more interesting creations. Naturally, he turned him into a bland comic book obsessive before just completely abandoning him. But it is fun to remember him, especially in the context of Mindy’s eventual relationship with Pete where TB appeared to completely forget that she had ever met Pete, much less that she once dated Pete’s second best friend and is Pete’s best friend’s wife’s cousin and that all these folks attended prom together.
My parents’ attic was tolerable in winter, but a blast furnace three or four months out of the year. Stuff actually melted up there. When I was going through everything in that attic, I found an old “Mad Men” era slide projector, that was stored in some sort of plastic-like case inside a bigger plastic-like case. The interior one decomposed into a black tarry goo, which apparently re-melted ever summer for a solid fifty-seven years or so. Could comic books survive that environment? I mean, I guess so, but still, it would probably be more practical to, you know, catalog them AFTER removing them from the attic, like how sane people would do it.
I had no idea that Mindy once worked at Montoni’s. So basically, when he brought Pete and Mindy together for no real reason, he just blithely ignored a whole big swath of strip history. I always used to imagine that Batiuk would have a big flow chart kind of thing in his studio, spelling out how all his characters are related and connected, but I guess it’d have been too much work, so he decided to just not give a shit instead.
“I always used to imagine that Batiuk would have a big flow chart kind of thing in his studio, spelling out how all his characters are related and connected, but I guess it’d have been too much work, so he decided to just not give a shit instead.”
The more these deep dives reveal, the more that appears to be the case.
When you’re doing a gag-a-day strip, continuity and history doesn’t matter nearly as much, as time is standing still. The characters are all caricatures (say that five times fast), and that one defining trait is all the reader needs to know. “Hey, look, the jock bully and the hot girl are goofing on the hapless dweeb LOL”.
But if you’re doing a serialized strip, where characters develop, grow and change, of course continuity matters. If you do a series of stories about the jock bully’s tumultuous home life, or the hot girl’s insecurities, you can’t just go back and use their old defining trait as the basis of a gag anymore, as you changed all that when you fleshed the characters out. You can’t, to use a real example, have a character grappling over the ramifications of his father’s advancing Alzheimer’s, then have the father become a silly, quick-witted old horndog later.
Of course, you CAN do those things, but it takes a special kind of writer to properly pull it off. If I ever come across one of those, I’ll certainly let you know. IMO it’d be a fine topic for a deep dive, as there are probably dozens if not hundreds of examples of weird, contradictory Batiuk retcons to analyze and mock.
“IMO it’d be a fine topic for a deep dive, as there are probably dozens if not hundreds of examples of weird, contradictory Batiuk retcons to analyze and mock.”
Honestly, it could keep us happily occupied at this blog for years, if not decades.
Also, the charactrs simply never grew up. They’re basically all still high schoolers, and all the stories are high school plots, applied to adults as if they worked exactly the same.
Dinkle is a great example of this. Batiuk just kept giving him the same “making everyone practice until 3 am” dynamic with adults as he had with high schoolers. Adults wouldn’t silently tolerate his behavior, especially not volunteers. Nor would a church that is subject to state laws about the treatment of workers and the elderly.
To say nothing of Dinkle’s magically restored hearing.
What’s particularly galling is that it would have been easy to write a more realistic, yet still Dinkle-ish situation for the church choir. Instead of a bunch of nonagenarians inexplicably allowing themselves to be kept in rehearsal till 3, why not give them a motivation? To wit:
Dinkle, with his boundless energy and enthusiasm, has gotten them all fired up. They haven’t had such a sense of purpose in decades! He appeals to their pride, telling them that with a little extra effort, their natural talent will lead them to compete in, and win, choir competitions. Etc.
It would have actually been interesting to see the sad-sack St Spires choir getting all excited. And it would have been a much better story line to justify Batiuk’s OMEA sinecure: Dedicated band leader inspires people and fills them with hope and pride.
But TB doesn’t write characters. He writes situations. Boring, confusing ones.
when he brought Pete and Mindy together for no real reason, he just blithely ignored a whole big swath of strip history.
This is also something I’m going to do a deep dive on: how much Funky Winkerbean ignored its own lore.
I feel like there are projects that would be less madness-inducing to attempt. Like trying to read the Necronomicon. You know, easy stuff.
I stare into the abyss so you don’t have to.
This is a fascinating arc. It establishes that Mindy is approximately the same age as Darren and Pete, who are approaching middle age. And Mindy is the younger of the Murdoch children. How old does that make her brother?
It appears that Batiuk has always made the ages of his characters pliable.
i think Batiuk merging both the Funky Winkerbean and the Crankshaft timeline was an really bad idea
I wonder if this idiot is behind THE BURNINGS. He looks good for it, doesn’t he?
But The Burnings almost deprived the world of Lisa’s Story and Summer’s Westview book. Idiot? No, that was a true hero. If not for RoboLillian, humanity’s salvation was at hand.
Instead, people learned patterns that made them realize that cis-hetero white male humanity is our nation.
CIS-hetero white male humanity who likes silver age comic books and The Phantom Empire. Females are permitted so long as they do not interfere with the consumption of comic books and The Phantom Empire, and prepare hot chocolate as commanded. All others need not apply.
It’s basically 2012 except tickets to board the spaceship are bought with comic books.
It’s less about being “cis” hetero white, etc, and more about being a Baby Boomer. A Baby Boomer who enjoyed media that were already old enough to be hokey (lookin’ at you, Phantom Empire). A Baby Boomer who never grew out of the childhood preoccupations of the late 50s/early 60s, to the point where the 1966 Batman was considered sacrilegious for its colorful pop kitsch sensibilities.
As long as you worship at that shrine, age, color, etc, are no barriers to living a fulfilled life in the future where these “patterns” have been detected and collected in a book that connects matters of ordinary small-town households to matters of immense consequence holy SHIT I still cannot BELIEVE that sentence appeared in newspapers all over the country and someone was PAID TO WRITE IT I think I need to lie down with a cold rag on my eyes, Jesus.
Comic books, always with the comic books. It’s a wonder I kept reading both strips for so long.
And how many times have we seen an adult male get that “o face” when presented with comic books? I remember Jff getting one over his stupid decoder ring:
Hell, Mindy should just tell her parents the truth. “I was helping clean out Lillian’s attic, and he found some comic books, and –”
“Yeah, I know how that story ends. Have you tried to talk to him?”
“I went to his house naked. He was so focused on ‘Master Mind Excello’ I don’t think he even noticed. God, I hate this town.”
You’d think Mindy would hate comic books, having been so cruelly rejected for them. Or want nothing to do with any future man who had an interest in them. Or, considering how much she supposedly loves comic books now, she’d be helping Mooch with this retrieval project. But I guess this was before Batiuk
got interested infelt the need to virtue signal about women in comic books.
God alive, that was painful to watch, wasn’t it? Somehow, it finally got through to him that girls actually do read comics and man, was his take on that clumsy and stupid!!!
Then he threw out all his continuity so the all women could be comic book fans too. Which is probably the only reason he found the idea appealing.
Mindy had no interest in comic books, and good reason to dislike them, until Pete needed a girlfriend. She instantly became a talented colorist and was given a Westview Mafia job so she could work with Pete. And so Pete could steal her (and Ruby Lith’s) ideas and give the credit to Hoagy Carmichael. Who died in 1981.
Batiuk’s clumsy, stupid takes beget more clumsy, stupid writing.
Thank you for the mention CBH, I’m very flattered. But I must admit neither my forearms nor my RAM are nearly as powerful as you have depicted.
Maybe not in the physical sense. But your snarking muscles could fold Terry Crews in half like a soggy churro.
I’m not trying to be all modest here, but I don’t think I’m in any way better than this man:
His level of commitment to an absolutely shitty movie, improvising the whole thing, and nailing it in one take. That song is more associated with Terry Crews than whoever sang it. And an assist to whichever Wayans this was for reacting in character to this awesomeness.
There is a sitcom in the works based on the comic strip Jumpstart (GoComics).
Terry Crews was cast as Joe Cobb, one of the leads.
Krankenschaaften: Let’s just fast-forward to the part where he flushes the phone already and the daughter has to fish it out…
Yes, we have the actor who will portray Crank in the upcoming blockbuster film, “Fat Old Man With Pimply Ass Is Constipated For A Whole Damn Week”!
Lisa’s Story would have been much more interesting if Marianne Summers had been a method actor. “I discovered I too had breast cancer, but I didn’t treat it because I wanted to understand what it was really like to be Lisa.”
Then she gives the Oscar to Les anyway, because “that’s what Lisa would have done.” She wouldn’t be wrong…
Maybe we should just be glad that Batiuk didn’t think of this angle.
“Marianne had breast cancer too!” was one of the most heinous things BatYam ever did, bar none. Of all his underdeveloped, contrived, poorly-written female characters (all of them), Marianne was possibly the worst. It was just way too revealing a glimpse into his warped, sick mind.
You nailed it, hitorque. The phone went in the toilet. I don’t know whether to congratulate you or offer condolences. Which is appropriate for someone who can predict a TB storyline?
At the rate this is going, I’m beginning to wonder how soon Batiuk decides it’s time to send Crankshaft to Bedside Manor so that he can have Mort and the gang reminisce about Silver Age comics.
Maybe it’s setting up “Crankshaft starts a fire and can’t call for help.”
Who am I kidding, of course it isn’t.
Earlier this month, @Duck of Death wrote:
I know these strips are all reruns, but damn! This one from May 24th fits this year’s Crankshaft like a glove. Day after day, it’s the same thing. Where is the punchline?
YaY! Dinosaur Comics! I have a little dry erase whiteboard on my desk.
That is adorable! Not gonna lie, jelly to the max.
Dinosaur Comics is frikkin amazing. Proof that in the comic strip world writing is king.
Art is a powerful tool. But in comics it is a tool of storytelling. Even a comic strip with no dialogue is still written. And all the best art in the world can’t save bad writing.
I can write my own Dinosaur Comics! The whiteboard is used at my place of work for reminders and stress relief. T-Rex “eats” a lot of co-workers.
GoComics hasn’t featured a new Dinosaur Comics strip since late March. 😞
Texts From Mittens (GoComics) is all phone texts, and it’s hilarious.
The cat mug was from a white elephant gift exchange. It was meant to be a useless gag gift, but I like the mug because it’s big.
This is directed at Eve Hill’s next comment about Dinosaur Comics:
Go to the source!
The Sunday Crankshaft wants us to believe that school bus drivers are rewarded for destroying mailboxes and making kids board through puddles.
Batiuk’s apparent message – Misanthropy is funny!
It’s folly to expect someone with Batiuk’s skill level to pull it off, but bus-driver based misanthropy *can* be funny. Here’s Bob Newhart from 60 years ago to prove it….
So it is 9:56am on Sunday morning. There are 18 comments on Crankshaft through ArcaMax. Crankshaft on GC has just one that was posted 5 minutes ago. I guess the cancellers were very busy today on GC and SO very early. They must receive double time pay for Sunday. MAN! I wish I could have read those comments, especially from the “Pearl Clutchers.”
To your point – Earlier this morining I posted a response in a thread commenting on a post by JJ O’Malley. I just checked and that entire thread is gone.
For the record – I was repeating my observation here, questioning what commenters at Go Comics found funny about a strip that seems to paint bus drivers as misanthropes.
Thank you Gerard.
If it smells like CANCEL, and acts like CANCEL, and looks like CANCEL, it is CANCEL.
I guess the bigger point is why offer comments at all, if they are going to be removed at a whim?
I understand that as a comics page that allow children, removing comments that are profane or worse are necessary. Yet removing comments that criticize the author or artist is inexcusable.
GC should make a list of 5 positive comments and just print those every day and not allow any other comments. The cowards.
And the fact is that today’s Crankshaft strip really appears mean-spirited. School bus drivers in cities and suburbs often come under criticism (often unjustified) and today’s strip feeds into that. Bus and truck rodeos are events that emphasize safety.
I enjoy you, Gerard.
Editors always have the temptation to abuse their power. Obviously, GC gives in to that temptation. Free speech is under attack at all times.
Take me for example, if I had that power, I would never allow Crankshaft on SOSF. But then we would be missing out on expert commentary by you, JJ O’Malley, and others. Free speech allows free flow of thought, and introduces us to new ideas.
I’ve never tested this theory, but I think there’s a chance GC deletes a comment after even one flag of disagreement. Possibly from an egotistical, crabby old man in Ohio. And I don’t mean Crankshaft.