I’m All Ears

Link to today’s strip.

So, here’s Tom Batiuk’s actual “Black Friday” joke…if “joke” is the right word.  Selling books instead of turkeys is hilarious?  In both cases, the terrible odor from the unsold items would be intolerable as they fester.

Note that with a little change of tense (“didn’t have” for “don’t have”) he could have run this on Saturday and had something a little more traditionally holidelic on Thanksgiving, but when you’re giving Harry Dinkle a soapbox, well…priorities, baby, priorities.  Thanksgiving Day comes and Thanksgiving Day goes, but Harry Dinkle is interminable.

Whenever Harry Dinkle appears, you can be sure the boredom will come thick and fast.  He basically short-circuits his own content by being so utterly obnoxious that he’s his own heckler.   If you ask him what time it is he’ll give you some insufferable response that boils down to “find a clock somewhere after I finish regaling you with irrelevance.”  Actually, the only question I can imagine asking Harry Dinkle is, “Do you want me to punch you again?”

What’s really striking in today’s episode is Becky’s left ear.  Look at that thing–has her face been torn open at the back?  (We can always hope so!)  I cannot imagine how, with her face positioned the way it is, that her left ear should be visible at all.   Once again, I am guessing that Tom Batiuk had a bit of gold ink on the brush and didn’t want to waste it, and that meant drawing an ear to hold that earring.

In a strip drawn as badly and as lazily as this one, Tom Batiuk at least manages to draw his avatars–Les Moore, John Howard and of course Harry Dinkle–with a loving consistency.  The other characters not so much, but this…this is kind of a landmark.

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Not The Worst

Link to today’s strip.

Happy Thanksgiving, folks!  To celebrate the holiday, Tom Batiuk presents…a Black Friday joke?

As “Black Friday” jokes go, well…this is…um, running on Thanksgiving Day?  I guess when you’re writing drawing your comic strip a year in advance, and the calendar falls behind the couch, well, holiday mistakes will happen, right?   I know that stores opening on Thanksgiving Day is a Thing now, but only in Funky Winkerbean would that be the aspect of the holiday that you want to highlight.   Because that’s what holidays are all about–annoyances and boorishness.

I guess that means for Christmas we can look forward to a strip where Funky is stuck in the mall parking lot, waiting for a tow truck to haul away his car because it ran out of gas.

As for today’s offering, as a regular, plain old joke…well…this is…um, obviously a joke, so there’s that.  It’s been done a few billion times before and has, therefore, lost its freshness, but it’s…uh–

I don’t know, I hesitate to call it an “attempt” since it doesn’t really try to do anything.  Crowds on Black Friday, they’re wild and make stores super crowded, and even old ladies with walkers want to grab those big screen TVs that the youth like to watch Grand Funk Railroad on.   And little kids won’t eat their vegetables, and women are always shopping for shoes, and old people like to rock in their chairs and complain.   And teenagers today, those dance steps they do are like someone who has ants in their pants!  Plus, with their long hair, you can’t tell the boys from the girls!

You know, I always like to give Tom Batiuk credit when he makes the attempt at humor.  I went a bit overboard last Spring with a “Funky at the Gym” arc, but I thought the attempt to put actual jokes in the strip was worthy of notice.

Here, not so much.   My main feeling when looking at this is a sense of tiredness, of being told a joke you’ve heard so many times it’s depressing, and you’re too weary to smile at the teller.

(Oh my God…I’m turning into a Funky Winkerbean character!   Argh, today’s strip is the worst ever!)

Still, it does have one thing going for it–absolutely none of the Funky Winkerbean cast appear.  I guess that’s a pretty decent holiday gift from Mr. Batiuk, so let’s all give thanks for that.  Thank you, Mr. Batiuk.

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Below C Level

Link to today’s strip.

Now, the proper response from Ms. Lavender would be, “Actually, I’m afraid I’m going to have to smash your f***ing face in, you self-inflated old sack of garbage!”  Of course, she’s dim enough to want the book, and Harry’s dim enough to assume he knows how to spell her name, so this encounter is obviously meant to be.    There really aren’t a lot of ways to spell “Jim,” or “Mary,” or “Dave” but when there are variants, it’s a good idea to, you know, ask “How do you spell that?”

It is possible, with a certain amount of charity that I’m not prepared to give, to assume that Harry is joking in panel three.  His expression sure doesn’t offer any clues.  His face looks like someone who is monumentally pissed off that his infallibility was questioned.  Leading me to assume that his book is filled with nothing but events where Harry Dinkle was disappointed by those around him, and let them know in no uncertain terms that his fury over their incompetence is barely contained.

That is probably my main issue with Harry Dinkle–he lacks any sense of humor, especially about himself.  Oh, sure, he makes stupid puns, but that’s like saying he wears pants: everyone in Westview makes puns.   He just seems mean-spirited, grouchy, cheap, one-note, and easily offended and when he appears, he sucks any possible fun out of the strip.  (Yeah, I know, I know…)

Just think how easy it would be for Harry to make a real joke about his mistake.  “To Kathy, with a C!  Stay C#, Cathy!”  See, it’s even musical, something with which Dinkle is supposed to have some familiarity.   It would actually make Dinkle come across as somewhat charming, instead of the “insufferable” Tom Batiuk decided was more his style.  Just as his style also meant that Becky would have to loom somewhere in the background, contributing nothing.  Seriously, why was she drawn in today’s episode?  Did Tom Batiuk not want to waste the bit of ink still on his brush?

And people actually wonder why we make fun of this strip.

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Where the Emphasis Goes

Link to today’s strip.

Bleah, more Harry Dinkle.  Becky no longer mentions the “volume three” part, as it no doubt made (potential) customers say, “Three volumes from that old shriveled husk?!  Why, he must be even more of a pompous windbag than he looks!  He must talk non-stop, when he’s not clutching a book with his teeth!”  Of course, even at one volume it’s still the story of a pompous windbag, so (like yesterday) I’m guessing from that stack that sales are not brisk.

I like thinking they’ve sold absolutely no books at all.  “I’d rather the whole school close down forever than buy that book.  That book is so awful that throwing it in the garbage is the highest critical praise it’ll get,” is probably the usual response.  Other responses:  “Sorry, I don’t have a table that has a short leg, and I don’t have a toddler who needs his booster chair augmented.”  “My birdcage is lined with quality newspaper, thank you very much.”  “How well does it work to get my fire started?  I thought so.”  Followed by SLAM!  SLAM!  SLAM! etc.

Hey, does this week’s story mean that Harry is now on a tour promoting his book?  He gets more and more like Les all the time!

Another thing I like is how the falling leaves look like Harry is surrounded by flies seeking his rotting, purulent flesh.

The best part of this one is imagining how Brad DeGroot from Luann is pronouncing his sentence.  “I thought you’d be selling a turkey,” with the words going down in pitch from “thought.”  In other words, “this is a very bad thing you want me to buy, and it isn’t even edible.  Its one use seems to be to neutralize the arms of that horrible old man you’re with, and I don’t have a horrible old man, so get lost before I shoot you with my 38 special and then burn your bodies in the yard and consider my Christmas wish has come true.”

Okay, maybe that last little bit wasn’t really implied in Brad’s sentence.   Much.  As the British say, “No ‘arm in tryin’.”

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What the L

Link to today’s strip.

Yesterday I mentioned that there’s one Funky Winkerbean character that I loathe almost as much as Les.  Well, speak of the Devil, and his horns appear.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Harry L. Dinkle.  I have no idea what the “L” stands for, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it stood for “Les.”  Two more horrible characters cannot be imagined.  Oh, you can talk about your John Howards and your Darrin Fairgoods, but for my money nothing is worse than these two.  Thank whatever God you hold that they have, so far as I am aware, never worked together.

Like Les, Dinkle is filled to the brim with his own self-importance, and is convinced of his own brilliance.  Unlike Les–and I can’t believe I’m saying something favorable about Mr. Moore–he makes no attempt to hide his sense of superiority behind a mask of false humility.  No, the act of sad-sack martyr is not one that Dinkle assays with any regularity–not when he can play the smug, pompous blowhard with such aplomb.

Look at this creep, who has managed to write a third volume in his autobiography, smirking about “culture.”  If he was speaking of “culture” in the sense of a mass of deadly, flesh-eating bacteria, he is very close indeed.   The one bright spot is, weighed down as he is with books, it demonstrates that he has sold none of them, meaning that the citizens of Westview are at long last awakening from their long slumber and are no longer going to put up with such fools.

Just kidding.  They’ll all die alone and afraid.  And as the oncoming darkness surrounds them and enshrouds them, and the lights go out all over the world, they can smile to themselves, and think, Ha ha ha, I only bought the first two volumes of that bastard’s life story.

I win!

And the final curtain goes down.

 

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Bull’s Story

Link to today’s strip.

So, the dreaded Les at last makes his appearance just to rub Bull’s disappointments into his face.  This is why this comic strip is nowhere near reality, because in reality, Les would have been murdered long ago…by the entire town.  When the cops came, it would be like that scene in Spartacus.  “I am Les Moore’s murderer.”  “I am Les Moore’s murderer.”  “I am Les Moore’s murderer.”

There should be an eighth panel in today’s strip:

It would have shown panel six’s wagging finger snapped off and jammed down Les’ throat.  Bull would stand behind, arms folded.  “Yeah, Les,” he’d say, smirking.  “You know exactly how I feel.  You were given massive amounts of money, took two years to do your job, were flown out first class to Hollywood, were wined and dined and fawned over.  You whined and moaned the entire time until you managed to kill the production, and you got to keep the money, all because they wanted to make your sacrosanct story into one that people might actually be interested in seeing.  I, however, did everything I was supposed to do, and got screwed over by Fate.  So, yeah, you sure know exactly how I feel.  Now you know how Frodo feels.”

It just seems pointless to remind Tom Batiuk, Author, that Les gleefully killed the production of “Lisa’s Story.”   The job of Hollywood Screenwriter was his for the taking and he threw it away because it made him a little fish in a big pond, where he just wasn’t special anymore.

Mr. Batiuk, when you yourself can’t even remember the details of your own work, I feel absolutely no guilt in mocking it.

There’s just something evil about Les in today’s offering.  Look at him happy and smirking in panels three and seven (I’m counting the masthead), looking so pleased with himself that he can dig into his old nemesis’ wounds and jerk a little pain out.  The fact that he still lives makes this strip far more of a fantasy than Starbuck Jones could ever aspire to achieve.

Of all the characters in this strip, few inspire as much sheer hatred in me as Les Moore.   There’s one other who comes close, and you’ll never guess what my Guest Host Superpowers are revealing to me even as we speak!

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A Bigger Blight

Link to today’s strip.

Not much to say about this one, as the Bull-DUI arc sputters to a halt, shuddering, wheezing and leaking oil.  I’m honestly not sure what to make of Linda, here–I get that she’s trying to cheer Bull up, but it really sounds (in the context of this strip) that seeing Bull lose big-time is a genuine turn-on for her.  Ewww…creepies, Mudhead!  I guess since they have two kids…well, let’s see…Bull’s father must have died of cancer, and his mother in a car accident?  Or maybe Bull lost a couple of toes, or has glaucoma?  Something tragic, right?  Something to get those old fires burnin’?

Bull as a character is nowhere near the loathsome levels of such cyclopean blasphemies as Les Moore, Harry Dinkle or John Howard.  I never think, “Oh God, no,” when he shows up, and I rarely feel like I should be smashing him with a bat.  He’s just really, really boring and nothing of his world is presented as interesting.  (Yes, I know you could say that about every scenario in the strip, including those which clearly engage Tom Batiuk’s interest.   It just seems more obvious where Bull is concerned.)

Like almost all of the female characters, Bull just seems like a sad, stupid lump that gets tossed around by fate without any real understanding of the forces working against him.  He never progresses and, naturally, never learns.

And there’s always that nagging feeling radiating from the strip that he somehow deserves it, that his past as a bully (whether that’s been ret-conned or not) has set his fate in stone.

If only he was a comic-book fan.  That way–the path of the Sacred Book–lies salvation, and even an old sinner like Bull might find his destiny written within those Pages.

If only the damned old bully could read.

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