What Hath Chester Wrought?

Link To Today’s Strip

Sure Pete, wrought iron work like that seems to be a lost art these days, sort of like how it’s been impossible to find actual jokes in FW since 1981 or so. Sigh. At least they’re finally there, although that driveway looks like it could very well take several more weeks to navigate. And speaking of navigating, that’s a spiffy Batiukmobile they’re in, eh? I recall seeing a few of those over in Albania before communism fell, they’d hand them out to all high-ranking party officials. I’m dying to see an arc centering around Westview’s new and used car lot, “Crazy Hektor’s House Of Off-Brand Motor Cars”. I’m assuming that the proprietor of Westview’s auto parts store hung himself years ago after one too many dreary locals came in looking for a rear flangelator for a ’92 Labda 3-cylinder diesel.

I hate how every FW character needs to wonder everything aloud just to repeat the premise over and over. I mean come on BatNard, we f*cking know where they’re going, they’ve been bantering about it almost non-stop for five weeks now. I really hope there’s a valet or something, as I don’t think I’ll survive a week-long arc about those newfangled backup cameras the new cars have nowadays and how much better it was when you had to turn around to see behind you “back in the day”. It’s a near certainty that we won’t know what Chester wants until Saturday, the question is how will he kill the next four days? My educated guess: moronic comic book banter. But you already knew that.



Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

The Purity of Fandom is Never Tainted by the Coin of Commerce.

Link to today’s strip. Note: Comics Kingdom has finally awakened.

First of all, let me apologize for recycling a phrase for a blog post title, but I must confess I liked that phrase so much that I thought it deserved a bit of immortality.  Surely, if Tom Batiuk can resurrect the moronic whimsy he concocted when he was ten years old, I can re-employ a phrase from just last week.  Especially when mine is so much better.

Sunday’s strip was not available for preview, probably because it’s terrible and extra time would just mean extra critiques.  My guess this time is that we’ll remain with The Story of Chester Hagglemore, Bounder and Cad, Volume Eighteen, but every time I guess at these things it’s like Bullwinkle trying to pull a rabbit out of a hat.   Except Bullwinkle was funny.  This strip…not so much.

So, here’s a nice painting of the seashore.

Speaking of funny, thus ends my time in the Cylinder of Despair; taking over, starting tomorrow, your master of ceremonies will be Epicus Doomus.  His posts are guaranteed to be funnier than this comic strip.  While admittedly that’s not much of a stretch, Epicus definitely brings the entertainment…while certain cartoonists we might name adamantly refuse to do the same.  Hail Epicus!


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Another Saturday Night and I Ain’t Got No Preview

Link to today’s strip.

Well, so far Pete’s learned absolutely nothing of value from John, which isn’t even a little bit surprising.  I’m guessing that in today’s episode we learn even less, but as it wasn’t available for preview, we can all be disappointed together.

By the way, did any of you notice that Chester has a mutant super-power?  I’m a bit red-faced that I only recently saw this.  Observe:

He has the power to hitchhike whenever he wants!

Actually, let’s improve this.

Much, much better.

A couple of days ago, commentor Charles asked this:

“And why does it always have to be someone like Crankshaft and his daughter? I swear to God when I first made the observation that “There are 200 people in the Funkyverse and they’re all within two degrees of separation” I was joking.”

Many others have asked the same.  (And it’s almost always Crankshaft characters appearing in Funky Winkerbean, rarely the reverse–though I do remember Les showing up the used bookstore.  Les Moore?  Double-yuck!)

My own theory is that Tom Batiuk is trying to create some kind of Funky Winkerbean Extended Universe; the idea being that someone reading this would learn of Crankshaft and think, “Wait, there’s MORE like this?  Wow, I have to find that!”

Which is exactly the reaction he gets nowadays.  Oh, except the word “find” is replaced by “avoid.”



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The Weed of Crime Bears Bitter…Hey Wait a Minute!

Link to today’s strip.

Ah, so finally we know why Chester the Chiseller is considered pure, unadulterated evil.

He’s a success.

Why, the blackguard!  How dare he!

If ever there was a “victimless crime,” this sure fits the definition.  John said yesterday that Chester’s pilfering didn’t impact the store to any noticeable degree, so I don’t see any high crimes and misdemeanors here.  And I’d almost be willing to bet that Chester made sure he did a lot of business with Danford, just to “show” his appreciation.

My question is this:  in order to sell comics for “an incredible sum of money,” I would assume that Chester would have to have a lot of them, and they’d be more valuable if they were old.  How many years did he sweep that floor?  If he took ten a month (five to sell, five to his own collection), his yearly take would be sixty, and after ten years he’d have six hundred.  That’s a lot of sweeping.

Secondly, how long does it take for a comic to become valuable?  What would, say, Fantastic Four #1 or Amazing Fantasy #15 be worth ten years later in 1972 (again assuming a ten-year career in floor maintenance)?  “An incredible sum of money”?  Perhaps–but I’m thinking that any Batom comic wouldn’t worth nearly as much, fifty years after publication, except if the bathroom was out of toilet paper.

Things I Like Dept:  Pete’s face in panel one is perfect.  “What?  Are you still talking?  I’m trying to read, pal.”  This is probably the only time I’ve liked Pete at all.

And look at Chester, too–happily enjoying ice cream while reading a comic book.  First of all, the book isn’t sealed away, as I would suspect all his books to be, but out to be enjoyed. Given his reaction to Holly’s opening a sealed book, this is something I would not suspect.  I would have thought Tom Batiuk would draw Chester admiring his collection through glass cabinets and pointedly not having fun; maybe the new guy slipped up.

Secondly, he’s going to eat ice cream in close proximity to a comic book.  I have a feeling that John, Harry, Pete or Tom Batiuk would be shrieking if anyone brought ice cream into the Korner.  “Get that out of here!  What if it drips on one of the books!”  And the offender’s face would turn ghostly white.   Oh my God, I almost ruined a comic book!

How rare indeed it is to see someone enjoying himself.  Happily and non-cynically, with not a smirk to be seen.  It’s refreshing.


Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

Quote Unquote

Link to today’s strip.

So, question for the group:  Why the quotes around “save” in panel one?  Let’s not beat around the bush, here…had this been a young John, or Pete, we’d be told how these comics were saved, no quotes, from destruction.  Chester, however, has his actions quoted, implying that they weren’t saved at all.  But we see him carefully putting them away in boxes.

Again, I’m not condoning petty thievery, but this seems remarkably harmless.  I’m shocked that Batiuk didn’t have Chester’s actions bankrupt Danford’s store.

It’s exactly what a commentor pointed out here a couple of weeks ago–all of Tom Batiuk’s good characters are impossibly good, and all of his bad characters are impossibly bad, so even though they do the same things, those things must be judged “good” or “bad” on the actor, and not the act.   Chester could save orphans from a burning building, and we’d be told how “naturally, after Chester ‘saved’ the orphans…” he was still a bad guy.

I don’t know what this is called, but “writing” it ain’t.


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The Sorrows of Young Chester

Link to today’s strip.

So, he stole them!  He’s a terrible thief.  But he saved them from destruction–he’s a saint!

Surely, in Tom Batiuk’s world, Chester’s scheme makes him an awesome hero.  I seem to recall reading something in Batiuk’s blog where he talked about taking comics from somewhere–I think it was a barber shop?–because they weren’t appreciated there anyway.  Chester’s going a step further–he’s saving these books from destruction, not just neglect.

Now, I’m not going to condone Chester’s petty thefts, but the strip is sending mixed messages here.  I know, I know, Chester has to be the bad guy, because he’s not noble, pure (and poor).  He looks down on the people who collect and preserve comics aren’t like him.  He comic book obsession hasn’t caused him to suffer in any way we’ve seen, not like John or Harry, so he’s just gotta be bad.

But he’s saving Bantom comic books from the flames.  Something no other character here (other than the creator-hated Funky) has ever doneNot even Les.

He’s using his resources to preserve beloved comic books.  Meaning, it’s actually people like Chester who keep John’s store in business.  It’s certainly not idiots like Chullo and Glasses, who show up to read comics and play video games, but never buy anything.  You’d think John would do his best to woo Chester as a customer, but no, the purity of fandom is never tainted by the coin of commerce.

I’m also thinking that ties into my next comment.  We’ve seen that the drug store has stacks of comics that it can’t sell–meaning, in my world, that these comics aren’t popular.   Yet it is implied that Chester was able to sell these same comics to amass a fortune.

Look.  These comics can’t be simultaneously obscure, neglected masterpieces as well as the storied beacon of a generation.  I strongly suspect Tom Batiuk has a variant of the anti-popular syndrome–if it’s well-known, it’s shunned, while the more obscure something is, the more obviously superior it is (as well as its appreciator…well, that’s only natural, right?).  After all if everyone liked it, you wouldn’t be special for liking it too.  It’s a pretty despicable kind of fandom, but it definitely exists.

Things I Like Dept:  panel one’s a nice perspective shot, and the figures are well-posed.   Good chair drawing too.  Pity this good stuff is wasted on such awful characters.


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Repeating the Repetition

Link to today’s strip.

Look, it’s bad enough that Tom Batiuk said “back in the day” two days in a row, but now he’s repeating himself twice in the same strip!  It makes me want to tear the covers off!  Tear the covers off, I say!  That’s right, I want to tear the covers off!  What do we want?


That’s right, and why do we want them?


Tear them where?


I can’t hear you!


That’s right!  Tear the covers off!

And now we know what happened to Cody.  He invented a time machine and went back to a simpler, less stressful, more enjoyable time.  You might say he went “back in the day.”  Let’s hope that as he gets older, he remembers to drive fast enough to hit and kill a teenage Les Moore, who was crossing against the light.


Filed under Son of Stuck Funky