Tag Archives: Crankshaft

While Visions Of Garden Hoes Danced In His Head

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There’s Ed’s name…right there on the wall next to his door. Who’d have thunk it? Talk about wrapping things up with an anti-climactic thud. I get the feeling that they could have given Ed a Chinese restaurant menu or an old orange rind and it’d have made no appreciable difference (and it might have saved Funky a nice chunk of change too but that’s just speculation). Normal people might be amazed that a nationally-syndicated comic strip creator needed TWO daily strips to spin a yarn about an old gardening catalog but regular FW readers know this is more or less par for the course. In fact I’m sort of surprised that John Darling wasn’t somehow involved too.

Coming soon: A health aide at Bedside Manor mistakes Ed’s precious life-affirming gardening catalog for garbage and tosses it, prompting Mort to convince Dinkle to hijack a WHS school bus and take “the gang” to the local municipal landfill for a good old-fashioned scavenger hunt.

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That Almost Imperceptibly Grinning Guy From Room /Z/

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Crankshaft’s fondest-ever possession and the one thing he secretly pines for the most…an old gardening catalog from the 1950s. Such a deep and complex character, no wonder BatStrips felt he merited an entire spin-off strip to himself. I like how Mort and Funky are completely indistinguishable from one another now, which will make things a lot easier for Batom in the long run, continuity (guffaw) be damned.

One can easily imagine a young Ed huddled in the attic with his catalog, some cookies and a glass of milk, engrossed in comparing rake prices and marveling at the innovations in wheelbarrow technology that made the entire post-war boom possible. Or one could continue to ignore Crankshaft, as I prefer. Whose heart is warmed by this drivel? Who’s been waiting years to see Ed crack a dreary dying grin? Do people who read Crankshaft but not FW even know that this is supposed to be Future Ed? Are FW readers who don’t read Crankshaft trying to figure out why Funky is in a nursing home and/or what the f*ck is going on here?

One can safely assume that Funky is eventually footing the bill for this idiotic gesture, probably without even knowing about it too. Funky essentially paid for the SJ collection Cory later pawned (and he’ll be paying for and hosting the wedding too, bet on it) for Rocky’s engagement ring, then he financed the Dick Tracy collection that’s keeping the Korner afloat. And now he’s buying Chester’s already-flailing comic book company some time via his dad’s impulse purchase which also impacts Pete, Darin, Jessica and little baby Skyler. Plus he supplies the town folk with pizza. The guy is the backbone of the entire Westviewian economy and he doesn’t even know it.

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Grandpa Batom Always Does

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At least demented, Alzheimer’s-ridden old Morty had a unique FW personality all his own, uninteresting and un-entertaining as it may have been. Now, alas, he’s just like the rest of them. Sigh.

Note to Tom: “Grandpa Google” is never, ever going to catch on, mainly because it doesn’t make any f*cking sense whatsoever. Perhaps it’s almost time to stop carrying on as if The Internet is some sort of newfangled marvel and just allow the characters to use it without acting all incredulous about it.

Coming tomorrow: Mort’s three-hundred pound box of old catalogs arrives and is unfortunately dropped on Ed’s oxygen hose. It crimps and he dies. Entire generations of comic strip readers shrug and/or say “what the hell is a “Crankshaft”?

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Tedium Rare

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The single dumbest FW/Crankshaft crossover arc ever continues today, as the Power Couple Of The Century continues to drone on and on about some old catalogs in front of a decrepit and slowly dying Crankshaft, as an increasingly aware and mentally sharp Morty eavesdrops and schemes in the background. It’s difficult to believe BatWad needs TWO daily comic strips to spin this yarn but then again it’s difficult to believe he has two daily comic strips at all.

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Mope Springs Eternal

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Springtime…a time of rebirth, flowers blooming, leaves sprouting (as opposed to falling), sunshine, mailboxes full of junk mail…yep, a time when a psychotic old bus driver’s fancy turned to the ol’ mail order catalog. No wonder everyone hates him and/or can’t ever remember his name.

Then there’s Pete, who understands ol’ Crankshaft all too well (and has to make the conversation all about himself and comic books, of course). Apparently HE sat on pins and needles waiting for the new “Starbuck Jones” to drop even though it may or may not have already run its course ten or thirty years before he was even conceived. WHY are these two talking about old mail order catalogs at a nursing home? What prompted this completely random old memory? Why is Morton lurking suspiciously in the background? Is he going to buy Chester’s old catalogs for his ol’ pal Crankshaft?

Of course he is. Crankshaft sold his catalog collection to Chester who’s going to sell his catalog collection to Morton who’s going to give them to Crankshaft, because that’s how things always work in the Funkyverse. Then Crankshaft will die and some cold unfeeling health aide will unceremoniously toss his life’s work into the dumpster and the circle of junk will be complete. I mean just look at ol’ Cranky…what the hell is he going to do with two hundred pounds of old catalogs? No one sentimentalizes old garbage quite like BatNut does. Just look at how he keeps re-packaging that stupid old Lisa story…ZING!!!!

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The Sorrows of Young Chester

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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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How ’bout “Murder-by-Book-Signing”?

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Look at that douche in panel 1, visible strain on his face as he forces himself to listen to Lillian’s blathering. Les does however hit paydirt as Lillian acknowledges that she’s here to buy “the new Lisa’s Trilogy books”. This is not how a real person would describe what she’s doing, but at least Les made one sale. I suppose that’s the part that drives this book signing sequence forward, since the punchline is nothing more than a continuation of yesterday’s punchline. I do like how Les in the last panel, looking puzzled, holds Lillian’s book right up to his face as if he’s never seen such a thing before in his life, deciding to smell it. He looks confused and disoriented. Oh, Lillian, your delightful smile is wasted on this man. He’s never going to read your book. Don’t kid yourself.

I have to admit that I’m more intrigued by the subtitle in panel 2 for The Last Leaf, which is “Lisa’s Story Concludes”, which with that awful stylized lettering I’ve read more than once as “lisa’s story omelettes.” How could this possibly be a conclusion to Lisa’s Story? She DIED in the last one! If it’s about Les’s ability to become a functional member of society again after his loss (which not only has a debatable premise, but is also the most reasonable direction for the book to take), that’s not about Lisa. That’s about Les. It’s as if Fitzgerald wrote “Gatsby’s Story Concludes” about how Nick Carraway got on with his life.

But that’s not really a surprise. After all, I bet if you took all the strips in the new “Lisa’s Trilogy books” of Batiuk’s and counted the strips where Lisa appears and the strips where Les appears, Les would have more by a substantial margin. Hell, dump the book where his purported protagonist is dead and I’d bet Les still has a wide margin in the other two. It’s never been about Lisa. It’s always been about Les. For every strip of Lisa reflecting on her own about her life’s circumstances in a way that doesn’t focus on Les, there are probably ten of Les moping about some damn thing.

Whew, what a tangent. Anyway, your main character, ladies and gentlemen.

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