Banana Jr. 6000
December 4, 2020 at 12:36 pm
…The joke is so mild and so botched, and the reaction is so ridiculously oversold, that the strip should be funny for how misguided it is.
Does anyone else think that Darin in the last panel looks like he was drawn by MAD’s Maddest Artist, Don Martin?
Tom Batiuk has frequently expressed, in his work and in interviews, that even though we call them “comics,” they don’t necessarily have to be “funny.” “I don’t see why a comic strip can’t carry the weight of substantial ideas,” he once said. But even a storyteller like Batiuk must cleanse the palate with the occasional standalone gag, or even a week’s worth of them. Everything about Pete’s “holiday joke” is lame, and the smugness with which he delivers it is just off the charts. Of course, the response is a hearty HA! HA! HA! from all but one of the Atomik staff. At first, it looked to me as if Chester was the one admonishing Pete to “stick to writing drama,” which would make sense as he’s Pete’s boss. Naturally, as his fiancé, Mindy must come to Pete’s defense. But nobody knows better that his real soulmate, Darin, that flighty, distractible Pete needs help with focus. And anyway, his jokes suck.
Something that does not suck is the way Beckoning Chasm goes to work on Funky Winkerbean with a pair of pliers and a blowtorch, and his authoring stint begins with Monday’s comic. Stay safe and well and happy, people. –TFH
Here’s that “Rip Tide, Scuba Cop” cover that nobody asked for. Back in June, Batiuk shared Craig Rousseau’s preliminary sketches for this cover on the FW blog back in June. The draftsmanship is fine (certainly better better than Batiuk and Ayers recent output), even if the composition’s a little…busy. In this way, it has more in common with the action-packed Silver Age covers of Batiuk’s beloved Flash than with the edgier, minimalist modern day covers that he likes to feature (without attribution) on the blog.
No doubt that this one had its genesis when comics fanboi Batiuk seized on the “Scuba-side” pun. After that, it was just a matter of squeezing out a few more jokey names based on bodies of water to round out the “squad.” Then it was just a matter of finding a comic book artist with some free time on his hands.
All that was left was to contribute the “humerous bon mot” (that’s how Batiuk spells it) featuring Mindy and Pete, to give this strip some tenuous tie to an FW plotline. Mindy’s not just some dumb gurl who lucked into a colorist job at Atomik Komix. She’s the brains behind Pete. Her insistence on going to the beach, instead of hiking to Bronson Canyon, inspired Pete to create a new Atomik title (and potentially saved them from dying in a fire).
As silly and lame as this story has been, I do like the second panel, where Pete’s girlfriend (fiancee?) is genuinely worried he’s not going to ask her to attend the red carpet premiere with him. Because of course she’s concerned he’d ask Darrin instead of her. I still think at least part of the reason she exists in this strip is because Batiuk finally realized how weird it looked having Pete and Darrin take trips together to buy dollies, and Darrin spending all of his time with Pete when his wife was staying in California for some unknown reason.
I do not understand Pete’s expression in the last panel. Is it smugness, like “I’m a heck of a guy, inviting my girlfriend on a trip for two someone else is paying for”? Or is he just closing his eyes and imagining fighting Zeton warriors?
After a six day stretch of Montoni’s pizza ‘n’ coffee with a side of band candy, Batiuk serves up a palate cleanser in the form of a sideway Sunday Atomik Komix kover. These Sunday treats typically consist of artwork by Batiuk’s comics buddies (this one’s the third or so from “America’s [and northeast Ohio’s] Thom Zahler” and colorist Rob Ro). Batiuk’s contibution, if there’s any, is what our Epicus Doomus dubbed a “reality bubble”: a little vignette of one or more FW characters doing or saying something that provides context for perplexed Sunday-only print readers of Funky Winkerbean.
“Reality bubbles” in most cases are inserted at the bottom of the vertical frame, almost as an afterthought. Today’s bubble in at the upper right hand corner, and is so large it renders the comic’s title as “KY KERBEAN” (what a silly name for a comic strip). All this real estate so that Batiuk can throw shade at Trump, with a jab vague enough that he could write it a year in advance and folks would still smirk knowingly like Ruby is smirking here. As for the Wayback Wendy cover itself? It pretty much gives away the resolution of the story, doesn’t it? Looks like successfully delivers the speech (written on an envelope, natch) to Honest Abe in time not to disrupt history.
Today’s strip is up. And looks like when Batiuk released poor Burchett from his prison of half smirks, beady eyes, and morphing noses, he still retained his skills for comics covers. Anyone know when exactly Ayers took back over? There’s a some tea hiding behind the scenes that I’d like spilled.
Pretty exciting cover. Especially since apparently all these Stardusters can breathe in space.
Welp. I’m outta here. The ever talented and insightful Beckoning Chasm is taking over the pilot’s seat. If anyone can make beautiful snark out of the depressing malaise of a two dimensional universe slowly decaying through entropy, it’s our resident abstract artist.
If anyone can truly understand the twisted psyche of Tom Batiuk, it’s a man capable of painting something like this and calling it, “Sleep”
Link to today’s strip
Min completes you Petey? The first time Mindy had a comics idea, it was for a kid side-kick you found so repellent you tried to erase him from your field of vision.
But, really, in the right hands a comic about blue collar space miners/treasure seekers running into adventures could be a fun, character driven, romp. I’m picturing a cross between Firefly and Farscape with a dash of Justice League International. IN THE RIGHT HANDS. With Atomik Komikxs ‘Stardusters’ we’re more likely to get something like this goofy idiot from Episode 30 of Lost in Space.
Still, whatever nightmare sideways strip we’re getting tomorrow, it has to be better than the underground comics ‘Stardusters‘ that came out in 1991. I found someone reviewing issue 3 of the series. It’s like if a Jack Chick tract fell into the creepy BDSM scene and was expecting a visit from Chris Hansen.
So the bar for ‘Stardusters’ as a concept has already gone as low as it can go. But it’s also gone as high as it can go. Because the GI Joe character Starduster is a stone cold jetpacking badass from the circus who juggles live grenades.
So I guess what I’m saying is that GI Joe comics from 80’s were pretty great. And you should read those instead.
Link to today’s strip
We’ve been learning too much this week. All of us! The comments have been crammed with factoids about vinyl and Marvel, basketball and Bolsheviks, GI Joe and Ohio, lounge singers and long sandwiches.
And today, we learn that every atom in our bodies with an atomic number higher than hydrogen was originally forged in the heart of our universe’s first stars.
And due to the carbon cycle, probably every cell of our body is full of recycled shit. Just like this strip.
So, for everyone’s viewing pleasure, I have random panels of Stardust The Super Wizard and his weird tiny head and single facial expression. I will trust our team of crack commenters to regale us with wonderful Fletcher Hanks factoids!
And, my personal favorite:
Link to today’s strip
If this is how Batiuk imagines the comic book creative process, then it’s no wonder he couldn’t get a job writing them. Pete is constantly spewing new characters based on whatever wanders through his field of vision. Even going back to his time being harried by Lord of the Late, some word association would lead him down a nightmare pun hole to a new asinine character.
I don’t need to tell any of you that compelling and exciting stories are built on conflict and plot. Maybe, in the old days, you had Plastic Man and Matter Eater Lad wackiness every month. But that was when comics were mass produced to be consumed and disposed of by children. Kids have YouTube unboxing videos to watch now. Comic books are for a niche market of teen and adult readers who will mock relentlessly stupid gimmick characters made from dumb word associations.
Speaking of stupid gimmick characters made from dumb word associations, have you guys seen Marvel’s ‘The New Warriors’? I guess morons like Pete CAN get jobs in comics.
Link to today’s strip
Except he wasn’t named for a sandwich, Pete. According to the ever reliable Wikipedia, Hoagland Howard “Hoagy” Carmichael was named after a circus troupe called the “Hoaglands” that had stayed at the Carmichael house during his mother’s pregnancy.
And we keep slipping further back in musical history, because ‘Stardust’ was recorded in 1927. I expect tomorrow we’ll be referencing ‘Maple Leaf Rag’, and by June Ruby will have pulled out a phonautograph to listen to the 1860 recording of ‘Claire De La Lune’.
At least Stardust has become something of a timeless classic, with famous covers by Sinatra, Louie Armstron, Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole, Willie Nelson, and Fred Flinstone.
So don’t besmirch the Hoag for his weird name dear Pete. Then man wrote hundreds of songs, over decades, including ‘Georgia On My Mind,’ ‘Stardust’ and ‘Heart and Soul.’ HEART AND SOUL, Pete! The only song other than ‘Chopsticks’ passed around from one unlessoned kid to another via church basement pianos and children’s keyboards for decades immemorial. The song 70% of the population would try to plunk out if tied to a piano and told to play something under pain of death.
You will never, in your entire life, do anything that could even come close. Stardust was chosen by Library of Congress for the National Recording Registery. All you’ve done is come up with a handful of pathetic comic characters with even stupider names than Hoagland flailing their way through inane plots, barely earning you a footnote in history, Tom.
Um, I mean, Pete.
Link to today’s strip
Pete has totally declared himself forever stuck in the nineties, the only decade when a child might not recognize a box of LPs on sight. “What are these?” There’s a record player on the friggen desk you dunce! With music coming out! Ruby has worked in the same office with you for how long? Pete comes across as a amnesiac toddler pointing to things he has to have seen a million times before and asking, “Wat dat?”
And all to cover the limitations of sloppy artwork. A more natural beginning to the conversation would be. “Hey Ruby, why did you bring your old record player in?”
The strip is nonsensical all across the board. Every panel has something either inane or baffling.
Everyone likes to listen to music while working. Find me a person who enjoys working in complete silence and I’ll have another name to add to my list of suspected pod-people.
And the record player is ON HER DESK, she might not even need to stand to flip that LP over. Does standing register steps on a fitbit? I’m guessing that Batiuk wanted to give an interesting juxtaposition of old and new technology to show that Ruby is hip with the times. But for THIS joke to work the record player would need to be on a separate table a few feet away. Which would have been doable, but Batiuk and Ayers didn’t even bother.
Strap in folks. It’s going to be a bumpy week.