I don’t quite know why I find the phrase he’s not strong so delightful. Partially it’s the recollection of the episode of Ren and Stimpy in which Stimpy piously asks God to “please watch out for my best pal, Ren. He’s not strong.” It’s probably also the ambiguity of it: Are you saying health and strength are the same thing? Is it somehow politer to say that a person isn’t strong than to say that he’s not well? Or is it possible to be weak, yet healthy? It doesn’t seem from what I’ve read that Kafka was ever very strong or very healthy, so this usage doesn’t clear up the matter.

Anyway, did you know that some people think Poe died of rabies? What a weirdo! Who dies of rabies? What writer dies of rabies? Poe spent all his time drinking and/or writing about beautiful dying women like the mother he watched die of TB and the wife he watched die of TB. And yes his wife was his cousin and yes she was thirteen when they got married, which even at the time was unusual enough that they needed special dispensation for it, but we are talking about the antebellum South and anyway some of his biographers contend that they lived together chastely, and when you think about it that does sound like the kind of stunt Poe would pull, frantically writing goth porn about dying women while never touching his actual wife even though she was dying too, presumably beautifully, in the next room. But my point is, when did he even go outside for long enough for an animal to bite him? Did he stumble drunkenly into a belfry one night? Or did rabies spot him and decide he was the perfect host and infect him all unbitten like some Romantic answer to the Immaculate Conception? That’s assuming he really did die of rabies, of course, and not one of the host of other things he might have had instead. But to get back to Poe and his wife being like brother and sister, I think he’d try to sell Kafka here on a similar arrangement, like “No homo, I just want to watch you die. LEMME WATCH YOU DIE, YOU SKINNY MODERNIST BASTARD.”

Batty, who though sensitive is probably not as morbidly sensitive as Franz Kafka, accuses me of being American whenever I exhibit enthusiasm or optimism. Evidently in the European mind these are New World qualities. And there is considerable evidence that Kafka found strength and forcefulness of any kind alarming at best and appalling at worst, and that in his mind as in Batty’s Amerika exemplified these qualities. His father, Hermann Kafka, exemplified them also, and I imagine that Franz would react to Poe accordingly: “You just want to gloat over my failure! You’re just like my father!”

Anyway, this is one of those comics where I started with terrifying American enthusiasm, because the idea cracked me up, but started to wonder about halfway through if I was even making sense. So you can tell me if I am or not—and even if I’m not, I am proud of the twenty-four exhausted eyes in this comic. I think that’s a record for me.