Tag Archives: Holtron

Flash Memory

April 22, 2018

Don’t you remember, Tom…? The comic book column that Flash wrote was called “Bullpen Boasts.” Like “Bullpen Bulletins,” which was what Stan Lee called the page that he created in Marvel Comics. I suppose the title could have changed over time, the way “Bullpen Bulletins” would become “Stan’s Soapbox” (hat tip Uncle Wikipedia).

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Time to Play Besides

Your genial host weighed in yesterday about snarkers who suggest that Tom Batiuk, who will turn 75 in two weeks, is experiencing cognitive decline. They point to the countless inconsistencies in character, plot, and overall quality of his two franchise strips. My take is that Batty works for a syndicate that’s happy just to have a fifty year old comic title to offer its paying customers, while providing minimal if any editorial oversight.

I give you today’s strip as evidence that TB has still got it, whatever “it” in his case means. Pete chimes in with the same remark he uttered three weeks ago, and naturally we hate-readers and everyone else is supposed to exclaim “got the reference!” Meanwhile, Pete really needs a new joke.

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I Want to Be More Like the Ocean

Banana Jr. 6000
December 2, 2021 at 9:16 am
They’ve already published a Subterranean book…they’re apparently working on another one, and they’re just now determining who their characters are? Going over their character roster is the only thing these Atomik Klowns ever do!

…aaaaand Mindy, “The Girl.”

Batiuk famously builds story arcs set in milieux around which his lack of actual understanding becomes glaringly evident: think moviemaking, or military service. But we all know him to be a bonafide, lifetime consumer and aficionado of comics and comic books. They are his sworn passion. Young Tom Batiuk even followed his dream to New York. “I met with an editor at DC Comics who ripped not only my work up and down but me as well for having had the temerity to show up at his office with it.” OK, it didn’t lead to his dream job, and he had to settle for being a mere “cartoonist.” Still, he knows and collaborates with people in the industry. Which industry, with very few exceptions, probably operates nothing like the way he depicts it here.

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All The News That’s Fit To Sit

“Really good news” for Ruby and Flash in today’s strip! We learned the “really good news” yesterday, of course, and Ruby and Flash will have to wait to learn it until… well, hopefully sometime this week. Please let them learn it sometime this week!

“What is the point of this strip?” is a question that could be asked about Funky Winkerbean almost daily, yes, and it is a question that is never going to lead to any satisfying answers… but let’s pontificate anyway on today’s long panel of pointlessness. Is there really any reason at all to not have Durwood, Mindy, and Mopey Pete tell Ruby and Flash in this strip that they will be honored at Comic-Con in a month? Not revealing the news to them today does absolutely nothing. There is no suspense for the reader because we all learned the news yesterday. There is no suspense or anticipation for the characters because they have barely expressed the need or even want to be recognized for their work. Ruby and Flash have been glorified props in nearly every strip they have appeared in, existing almost solely to help Atomik Komix’s hard-shirking employees shirk even harder. Why wouldn’t Comic-Con and the Eisner Awards reach out to Ruby and Flash directly instead of relaying the news to Pete? Why wouldn’t these three wait for the Eisner folks to inform Ruby and Flash even if they got the news first? Why would Ruby offer her sad-sack take on the state of the comics industry as a response to the question “guess what?” posed by a coworker? Shouldn’t everyone who works at Atomik Komix be well aware of the sales of both their titles and the titles of their competitors? And what is Flash even doing here? He doesn’t work for Atomik Komix. Please tell me he’s not going to become a fixture, the Dinkle to Pete’s Lefty…

All this is doing is padding out the week worse than I padded out the preceding paragraph by asking hopeless and rhetorical questions. Oh, silly me, the point of this strip was in front of me the whole time!

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People Like You (Dullard) and You (Jessica)

Link to today’s strip.

So Dullard was afraid that Jessica would think he was a nerd, because he was wearing glasses.

And then what? Divorce him? “Your honor, this man wears glasses. No wife wants a man who wears glasses.”

Seriously? I mean, sure there was a time when wearing glasses was considered “uncool” and perhaps a bit of a stigma…among school children, on television sitcoms. In the 1960‘s (at the latest). And I’m betting on each of those sitcoms the resolution was that it was “okay” to wear glasses.

Today, I’m not sure I know anyone who doesn’t wear glasses. It’s not a trait that really stands out anymore.

In a better comic strip, this could be the start of a “bit” that could be hilarious, as over the coming days Dullard tries increasingly bizarre ways to hide his glasses from Jessica. Because what else could his plan be?

Let me restate this: Dullard didn’t want Jessica to know he needs glasses. Since they are a married couple, and not casual acquaintances, this would be a very difficult achievement. “What are those?” “These? Nothing! Funky asked me to keep his glasses, just in case.” Later: “While we’re driving in the car, can you tell me when you see the signs for the exit for HorribleDemise Lane?” “Uh, I’ve got a better idea! Why don’t we ask Skyler, to test his reading ability?” “Oh, that’s such an awesome idea from a father! My father was murdered by the way.”

Skyler: “M-U-R-D-E-R-E-D. Murdered. Shot to death while on the air.”

This scenario, though, would require the creativity of 1950’s sitcom writer, which Batiuk can’t give, can’t even buy, and just doesn’t get.

Skyler: “A-E-O-N space F-L-U-X. Something unfathomably better than this horrible existence could ever be.”

(Sorry, I love that intro and wish I could do something half as cool.)

It’s another example of Tom Batiuk deciding that the first thing he thinks of would make a good story. “What if…Dullard had to wear glasses?” Well, what if? That’s just boring. “What if he wanted to hide this from Jessica?” What? That doesn’t make any sense! And it’s still boring!

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Krabby Petey

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

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Gone To Starseed

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:

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Tuesday, September 10

Today’s strip wasn’t available for preview.

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Wake Me Wendy War is Over

For once, I can at least give you all a preview of today’s strip, gleaned from the “Pipeline” of Batiuk’s blog. Just picture this illustration colored in…hell, color it in yourself, it might land you a new career! Picture the “Funky Winkerbean” header at the top, with Ruby’s or Mindy’s smug, disembodied head alongside the logo. Superimpose “Wayback Wendy” in huge, distorted digital type, across the top of the cover, and don’t forget the Atomik Komix “fallout shelter” in the upper left. At the bottom, throw in a single, round panel showing Mindy and Ruby congratulating each other on the success of their brilliant joint production. Lastly, give a “tip of the Funky Felt Tip” to the artist (not a woman) who contributed the artwork.

Update: Yeah, so I was wrong…rather than a sideway Sunday comix cover, only a portion of the artwork above is used. Unless Batiuk “disappears” Ruby, now that she’s served her purpose, maybe down the road it’ll get the full Atomik Komix treatment. –TFH

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Perfectly Stupid

Buckeye Feculence
September 6, 2019 at 8:55 am
Yes, there has been a noticeable U-turn in the Funkyverse of late. Previously people’s efforts seemed mostly to end up in failure and disappointment. Now characters seem to succeed without much effort, experience, or training.

(A “perfect” summary of This Week in Funky Winkerbean:)

An so, in that way that things have of just working themselves out in the Funkiverse, Ruby Lith returns to comics (or are comics returning to her?), and Mindy adds de facto writer to her resume, right below de facto colorist.

And now there’s no bathroom in the Atomik office? But Jessica recently complained that the bathroom there were never clean. Rather than call out TB for another lapse, let’s suppose that there is a bathroom in the office; Pete just doesn’t want to have to share it with this old crone.

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