Tag Archives: photo album corners

“Here’s a Quarter…

–call someone who cares.”

For the first time since time immemorial, there’s an actual punchline that’s kind of funny.  A mangled aphorism, sure, but so much better than anything ever featured in Shankcraft.

The fact that the rest of it is stupid beyond measure is beside the point.   Reviewers:  “Yeah, I thought the movie was overly maudlin and treacly, the characters were loathsome, the production values are nil, and I was about to give it zero stars, but the quarter-finding scene turned it into a masterpiece of high art.”

I get it, Batiuk, every single trivial thing that involved Lisa is sacred, no matter what did (or didn’t) happen.   It’s all part of some fantastic mosaic of incredibleness and awesomeness and every person alive (or dead) should go out and a) buy the hardback trilogy and b) give Batiuk all the awards that can possibly be awarded.

There’s no question in my mind that Batiuk is winding this thing down.  The endless descents into utter trivia, treated as if they are gifts from the gods; the settling of old scores; the elevation of the hero characters; and the general disinterest he shows in his writing–all these things point to man who has spent his legacy and just can’t care anymore.

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Talkin’ “Turtle”

Epicus Doomus
December 1, 2019 at 11:34 pm
The sad thing about this is how [Batiuk] seems to think a story about a comic book artist who’s always behind schedule is an interesting and relatable premise.

We get it. “Turtle Thompson” was a real pain in the ass to work with. Luckily for him, he was surrounded by enablers who let him get away with being lazy and unreliable. Maybe his artwork (which we’ll never see, unless tomorrow’s strip is a sideways Sunday comics cover) was so good, he was worth the aggravation. Maybe capable comics illustrators were hard to come by in those days (doubtful). At any rate, years later they are reminiscing fondly about ol’ Turtle. He, and Flash and Phil Holt and all those comics legends created entire worlds, and their work was consumed by legions of devoted fans. Though Darin and Pete imagine themselves to be in their same league, their work will never have that kind of impact. It’s no wonder that Darin’s quip, referencing a supervillian who exists nowhere outside of his and Pete’s imaginations, falls a little flat:

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Flash in the Dark

comicbookharriet
December 3, 2019 at 12:55 am
…[I]f he ever wanted to vacation at Easter Island, the locals would probably worship (Flash Freeman) as a god.

Lest we forget which “Turtle Thompson” we are speaking of: it’s “The artist.” Props to commenter Scott J Lovrine, who yesterday cited Silver Age comics inker Frank Giacoia as a likely inspiration for “Turtle Thompson.” A number of readers have suggested that this arc might be a dig at the mysteriously departed Rick Burchett; I’ll give Batty a little credit here and say that he wouldn’t throw a former partner under the bus like this. We don’t know how about Burchett’s ability to meet deadlines, but his work on Funky was just terrible, and I for one was happy to see him go. But his replacement, the formerly reliable Chuck Ayers, has rendered a grotesquely misshapen head on ol’ Flash here, making him look in rear view like a Q-Tip with ears.

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Deadline, Schmeadline

Like pulling teeth without any anesthetichow, exactly? For the one pulling teeth, or for the one whose teeth are being pulled? If they’re your teeth being pulled, well, that’s literal torture. It can’t be a picnic for the tooth puller either: extracting teeth takes a fair amount of strength, especially from a flailing, un-anesthetized subject. Anyway, yesterday Flash said that “Turtle” had “gone to the well once too often,” implying that he pushed things too far and was finally let go, yet the cajoling continues.

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Fare Thee…Well…

In what line of work, particularly in a publishing company, would a contributor get away with repeatedly pushing back deadlines?  Especially without an explanation or excuse aside from “Well…”  And what’s the reason that Flash has to speak to him by phone? Why is “Turtle” Thompson not chained to a desk like everyone else we’ve seen in the Batom salt mines? Why does the “sepiatone” flashback image have hints of yellow and green? Well? WELL???

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Turkey Trot

Today’s strip, when it drops.

Today’s strip wasn’t available for preview. I asked my Zoltar machine about it, and he quoted Macbeth, “It is a tale. Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing.”

Then he turned me into Tom Hanks.

As boring as the perfunctory band strips are, at least they’re only depressing in an abstract way.

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Running on Empty, Running Blind.

Today’s strip, when it drops.

Comic Book Harriet, back in the saddle again. I want to thank BeckoningChasm for a great stint through this horrorshow. He really puts me in a tough spot. Because what is there to say about this nightmare abortion of a plot arc that hasn’t been said already by our crack team of beady-eyed nitpickers?

I’d never expected to see the loss of a father, spouse, and friend, approached with every character acting so sedate that depression is indistinguishable from boredom.

I remember those times when our esteemed historian Billy the Skink has put up strips from Act II full of intense soap opera pathos. Les running down the street shouting “USA! USA!” Wally trembling and crying while standing on a landmine begging whatsisface to tell his wifey something something he loves her.

Bull’s been dead for over a month, and we’ve yet to see a single tear.

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Herstory of Herassment.

Link to today’s strip

Stuckfunkian commenter Scott Lovrine guessed last week that Ruby Lith may be based on Ramona Fradon, who worked on Aquaman and Metamorpho. The visual resemblance is very strong both in the past and currently. But from my research Ramona didn’t time in ‘the bullpen.’

I believe that Marie Severin and I were the only women drawing superheroes at the time [50’s]. It’s funny that she was drawing Sub-Mariner while I was drawing Aquaman. People always used to ask me if I knew her, but I didn’t meet her until years later, at a convention. I didn’t work in a bullpen like Marie did so, aside from being uncomfortable with male fantasies and the violent subject matter. I never really experienced what it was like being the only woman working in a man’s world.

Marie, who did work in an office with men, talked more about feeling slightly isolated or left out rather than harassed. The only story I could find her recounting was a male college blowing on the back of her neck.

In that case, comics have always been a rather male dominated field, and you, like Ramona [Fradon] are one of the two reigning queens. How many other women were there at Marvel at the time doing art, and did you ever have any problems with “the Bullpen” or anything like that?

MS: Not really, the guys, they say that women gossip, well networking is male gossip, and they “networked” all the time. But, just like we wouldn’t want a guy when we were sitting around talking about somebody’s shoes, or a certain eyeliner, they weren’t interested in having a woman around, and sure, I’d have lunch with them once in a while, but the conversations were always male; it was just normal. So, you’re sort of out of it. I didn’t have any real problems.

But that brings us to Lily Renee. If Batiuk wants to claim that Ruby Lith is based on any one woman, Lily Renee is the option that closest fits his ‘narrative’. And she also has a physical resemblance.

Lily Renee worked in the 40’s as a penciler and inker for Fiction House. She was Jewish, from Vienna, and had immigrated alone, at the age of 14, first to England then the United States to escape the Nazis. When her parents joined her a couple years later she took up a job in comics to help support her family. The men in the office teased her, tried to teach her dirty words in English, and drew nudes in the margins of the work she was supposed to ink. But she wasn’t the only woman working in the office. There were many women working for Fiction House at the time, and she was on good terms with most of them. She would regularly go out for lunch with Fran Hopper, and at one point, she lived with artist Ruth Atkinson for about a year.

Unlike Batiuk’s fantasy Ruby Lith though, Lily just did it for the money, and after leaving the comics industry in 1949, went to work on other things; illustrating children’s books, writing plays, and working in fashion.

So, big surprise, sometimes it was uncomfortable being a woman in a office predominated by men. Sometimes the women were ‘left out’, sometimes the women were teased. Sometimes it led to much drama that weren’t black-and-white cases of sexual harassment. The inker Violet Barclay, by her own admission, flirted with men in the office leading to acrimonious feelings and love triangles.

Barclay’s complicated relationship with benefactor Mike Sekowsky — who bestowed expensive gifts on her even after his marriage to Joanne Latta — caused friction in the Timely bullpen, which she left in 1949. As she later described the office environment,

“Mike was a very good human being. Everybody at Timely liked Mike. Nobody like me because they thought I was doing a number on him. Which was true. World War II was on and there were no men around, so I just killed time with him. Everybody, Dave Gantz especially, picked up on that. … [Mike] once tried to get me fired over my fling with [Timely artist] George Klein. Mike went to Stan Lee and said, ‘Stan, I want her fired, and if she doesn’t get fired, I’m going to quit’. Well, you couldn’t ever tell Stan Lee what to do. Stan said, ‘Well, Mike, it’s been nice knowing you’.”

Not all sexual harassers got off scott free either. Toni Blum, who worked for Quality Comics in the 40’s, was treated respectfully there except for an incident between two male artists, wherein one punched another in the face. As historian Denis Kitchen wrote, “[George] Tuska, like [Will] Eisner, had a crush on office mate Toni Blum but was too shy to make his move. The actual provocation that inflamed Tuska, Eisner privately said, was [Bob] Powell’s loud assertion that he ‘could f**k [Toni Blum] anytime’ he wanted. After decking Powell, Tuska stood over his prostrate coworker and in a voice Eisner described as Lon Chaney Jr. in Of Mice and Men said, ‘You shouldn’t ought to have said that, Bob.'”

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Fact Gap.

Link to today’s strip

In hours and hours and hours of searching I couldn’t find a single instance of a woman in comics being paid less simply because she was a woman. The only time I saw it addressed directly was in a question and answer session 2007 from with Ramona Fradon, who worked for DC from the 50’s to the 80’s. She neglected to answer.

Stroud: What was the page rate at the time and did they pay you the same as your male counterparts?
RF: When I quit in 1980 to draw Brenda Starr, I think I was getting $75 a page.

But earlier in the interview she had this to say about her editors.

Stroud: Which editors did you work with? Were they easy to get along with?
RF: I worked with Murray Boltinoff, George Kashdan, Joe Orlando and Nelson Bridwell. Nelson was the only one who you might say was difficult. He was very exacting and protective of his story lines. He designed a lot of the characters and didn’t want any deviation. I preferred inventing my own characters, but these were kind of mythological archetypes and I suppose they had to be what they were.

Neither Marie Severin nor Fradon ever tried to claim sexism made their editors hostile to them. Marie Severin who worked for DC said in an interview :

Everybody was very nice to me at DC. They didn’t seem to question the fact that I was a woman doing the work. I mean it may have amused them, but they didn’t discriminate against me at all. I have no complaints at all about the way I was treated.

Some second party sources blamed gender on women being passed over for promotions or gigs, but nothing like an editor coming right out docking someone’s pay on the basis of their genitalia. There were women EDITORS, like Rae Herman and Dorothy Woolfolk, the woman who invented Kryptonite!

I also cannot find any evidence of a woman being forced by an editor to obscure her gender. Here’s a quote from an interview with Trina Robbins, a female comics writer and also historian, who wrote a book “Pretty In Ink: North American Women Cartoonists 1896-2013.” She actually researched the sexism that went on in comics.

For so much of the history of entertainment media, you’ve had women who wrote under pseudonyms or male names to get things published. Going back and digging through the history, how do you even start to try to unearth female creators when there was little attention paid to them or possibly hiding their identity under a different name?

The fact is that that’s not really true. Some women did change their names, but not the majority of them at all. It’s funny, it’s a myth that people think women had such a hard time they had to give themselves male names in order to sell their strips. Well, no. Some of them changed their names: June Tarpe Mills removed the June and called herself Tarpe Mills and said in an interview before she drew “Miss Fury” that she felt the boys who read it would not like it if these exciting and virile — she used the word virile! — heroes were drawn by a woman. But of course once she started doing “Miss Fury” there were newspaper articles about her, everybody knew who she was and they knew it was a woman, and they even knew she looked like the character she drew. There’s even one newspaper article from the New York Daily News titled “Meet The Real Miss Fury: It’s All Done With Mirrors!” It was no secret.

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Please, peas?

Link to today’s strip

So was Sunday a one-off as usual, or was Batiuk just really hungry so we’re going to get weeks of unrelated food strips? Or are we in for an entire week examining Les and Cayla’s weird aromantic relationship?

Yes, a black and white and sepia flashback, with old timey scrapbook corners, really takes me back to 2011. Makes me remember when Cayla didn’t look like someone dipped Cindy in chocolate.

Why is Bill Nye surprised someone is grilling hot dogs at a picnic? He is asking Les this, when the only possible alternative interpretation of the scene is that Les is about to skewer his wife with a hot poker. For a science teacher those are some top notch observation skills. I imagine he wanders about asking similar questions.

Enters his classroom. “So, you’re the students who are working on your science projects in my science class today?”

Standing in the lunch line. “So, you’re the the school cook, who cooks and serves the food to the students?”

Entering his bedroom. “So, you’re the man who’s been sleeping with my wife?”

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