Today’s strip was not available for preview. It will, almost assuredly, be about Max Murdoch’s imperiled Valentine Theater though.
But before The Valentine was Max’s imperiled theater, it was Ralph Meckler’s imperiled theater. For those of you fortunate enough to not follow Crankshaft, bespectacled and mustachioed Ralph is Crankshaft’s
best only friend. Poor Ralph is a decent enough character, and is (sadly) a definite contender for the Batiukverse’s ultimate “chew toy” award.
Not only did he struggle for years to keep The Valentine afloat before unloading it on Max and his I-guess-girlfriend Hannah, he also failed in a recent bid to unseat Centerville’s corrupt, do-nothing mayor. In fact, he lost the mayoral race on a coin flip because the election was tied. The election was tied, of course, because his good “friend” Crankshaft forgot to vote. Oh, and he let Crankshaft make that fateful coin-flip call…
Also, his wife has Alzheimer’s (revisited in two different books) and his son was killed in the Vietnam War.
Sheesh. No wonder he says stuff like this…
Welcome, everyone, to that damn Crankshaft theater. Today’s strip finds us back in the middling maudlin morass that came to define this strip during Act II. It certainly says something about the relentlessly positive Comic-Con arc that it failed to provide much refreshment in its departure from this strip’s trademark tone.
“Valentine’s Day may be over.” Heh, cute. Doesn’t explain how you’ve been making your loan payments for 10 years and are only now in danger of default… maybe you’ve been driving customers away by needlessly questioning them instead of taking their money.
Meanwhile, Ann Fairgood Pm nd Jff play the “Incredible Hulk” TV show’s closing credits music in their heads as their son walks out the door with his oversize copy of yesterday’s strip.
Today’s strip simply confirms what we’ve all known since Monday, that this movie premiere is going to take place at “that damn Crankshaft theater”.
And we can all blame Jeff Murdoch, a passive-aggressive sad-sack who has never managed to elicit sympathy from readers despite constantly suffering under his mother and father-in-law, two of the nastiest and most despicable characters to have ever graced the comics page. We can also blame Batiukverse Twitter, which waived its character limit to allow Jeff to convey the following information in a single tweet (maybe he typed this all up in Notes and tweeted a photo, which is still contemptible):
– His first and last name
– His location
– The fact that he was a member of the Starbuck Jones Junior Spaceman Fan Club when he was a kid
– That he saw the original Starbuck Jones serial at the then-new Valentine Theater
– That his son now owns the Valentine Theater
– And that he thinks it would be a good place to hold the premiere of the new Starbuck Jones movies.
Given all of that, I’m surprised he didn’t mention how movie tickets only cost $0.10 when he first saw the Starbuck Jones serial, or how much he misses voting for Robert Taft Sr., or how great his old LaSalle ran.
While Jeff Murdoch apparently violates Twitter’s character limit in today’s strip, Director Martin Johns violates general decorum by thinking Jeff’s tweet is worth reading out loud to these Hollywood types lounging about in wicker chairs.
Prescient SOSFer erdmann hypothesized yesterday that this would lead to the premiere of Starbuck Jones at “that damn Crankshaft theater”. Today’s strip all but confirms that, and I can tell you that the next several strips will not dispel the idea. If you consider this to be a spoiler then you haven’t read Funky Winkerbean for very long.
In other news, Cindy has lost her right foot. Oh, and Jeff Murdoch is apparently both old enough to have seen and remember original-run Starbuck Jones movie serials (before Cliff was blacklisted sometime in the early 1950s) and young enough to have also been attending Kent State in 1970 (on a John Sebastian impersonator scholarship, apparently). To be fair, there is a window of time in which that works, but it is narrower than Crankshaft’s mind.
Link to today’s strip
Yep, the only thing this whirlwind of an arc was missing was a good old fashioned time-killing silent strip. This is almost as suspenseful as wondering when the highway department is going to pick up that deer carcass you pass every day on your morning commute. It’s all in the details today…Jeff’s steam line-free coffee mug (indicating he’s been at this for some time), his tongue sticking out as he works diligently on a puzzle based on a child’s toy (indicating his complete idiocy), the legal pad helpfully labeled “legal pad” (to avoid any confusion) and, last but not least, Jeff’s pencil-holding hand, which indicates he is writing. At least someone involved with FW is.
Link to today’s strip
Well, MY hunch was right on the money…this arc is like a vacuum cleaner. It both sucks AND blows. This annoying old Crankshaft nimrod has (sigh) found his (sigh) Starbuck Jones (sigh) decoder ring, which as fate would have it just happened to be in his attic with the rest of his (sigh) SJ junk. Who’d a thunk it, eh? I thought that perhaps it was safely tucked away in a vault somewhere, or maybe a landfill, resting comfortably among some half-eaten fifty year old hot dogs or something.
IMO it’s time for Batiuk to start killing off a lot of these useless, unpopular and un-cared-about characters of his. Not like with Lisa either, I mean REALLY kill them off. And the beauty of it is they could be SJ-related deaths too. Like Pam and Jeff. Jeff can’t find the ring and suddenly has a childhood flashback where he remembers his demonic hellbeast of a mother forcing him to swallow the stupid ring whole. Then he develops excruciating stomach pains, is rushed to the hospital and dies during an emergency ring-ectomy. After the obligatory funeral strip we cut to Pam, who falls down the attic stairs while disposing of Jeff’s old SJ garbage and also dies. Then we cut to Crankshaft, who becomes so despondent when Pam doesn’t visit that he dies too. The big punchline would be that the secret message was from Chester The Chiseler, who was offering one million dollars for the exact issues Jeff had. The last panel would have Pam lying dead at the bottom of the stairs with SJ #165 draped over her face. See, it sticks with the SJ theme AND kills off three hated characters in one fell swoop. You’d have SJ covers, funerals, childhood traumas, medical emergencies, old people and death, all in one tidy package. And if he’s (ha) reading this, he can use that idea, no charge.
Link to today’s strip
As BeckoningChasm so succinctly put it yesterday….” Mr. Batiuk, no one likes Crankshaft. No one. You cannot make people like Crankshaft by putting its terrible characters into Funky Winkerbean. No one will ever like Crankshaft. Just like people no longer like Funky Winkerbean.”
So apparently Batty will be spending A WEEK on a CRANKSHAFT character looking for a decoder ring in his attic. Twelve thousand dangling plot threads and THIS is what he’s wasting his time with. There comes a point when old 1950s comic book nostalgia stops being “cutesy” and becomes genuinely disconcerting. BanTom reached that point YEARS ago. And now, in his inimitable style, he’s absolutely piledriving it into the solid bedrock beneath the ground. Sigh.
Link to today’s strip
Some of you loyal SoSF readers might think it’s all fun and games here at SoSF World HQ in lovely downtown Camden (located in the heart of Camden’s Snark District, right next to the Mark Trail Building), but in reality there’s WAY MORE TO IT than that. Like today, for example, when we were forced to summon our Special Code Breaking Team away from their families, friends and parole officers on a national holiday just to decode BanTom’s mystery puzzle JUST FOR YOU! After many frantic seconds of toil, they succeeded in breaking TomBat’s secret code and, at the risk of receiving annoying letters from a hack law firm, we’re going to reveal those results RIGHT F*CKING NOW, whether Comics Kingdom likes it or not. Ready? It says…..
“IF I CAN MERGE MY TWO STRIPS INTO ONE I’LL ONLY HAVE TO DO HALF THE WORK”
Wow, a stunning revelation about the future of FW and that other comic strip he writes! You know the one I mean, the really shitty one about the obnoxious bus driver. No, really, it’s real, I’ve actually seen it a few times. Obviously that idiotic SJ decoder ring gobbledygook will come into play here, even though a) no one under seventy even knows what a “decoder ring” is and b) even fewer care. Then again, I might be biased as I lost all interest upon seeing these characters from that other comic strip, as I’m sure most of America did as well.
Link to today’s strip
“The Paper”…that’s real cute, BanTom. I had to double check and make sure this is actually a FW strip and, sadly, it is indeed. Although I am aware of Pam and Jeff, I know almost nothing about the Crankyverse and honestly I’d prefer to keep it that way. I checked it out a few weeks ago and saw a funeral and a woman stabbing a comic book and that was enough for me. Where is this going? What is the point? Beats the hell out of me. I’ll be moderately surprised if it doesn’t have something to do with a certain fictional comic book title. Then again I’ll be moderately surprised if it has anything to do with anything.