Break A Leg

Link to today’s strip.

Ron Jeremy’s Tony [Isabella]‘s overacting ought to tip off anyone that the fix was in, but Holly, being Holly, remains oblivious.  Dickhead John smirks from the back, having made fools of two of his friends.  What a special day for him!

The question here is this–

Will Holly actually pay that quarter, or will she insist on getting the issue for free, because Cory Winkerbean?

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Workin’ on My Dick Moves

Link to today’s strip.

Wow.  Just wow.

Just when you think a character can’t possibly be more of a dick, he descends into a full-blown scumbag.

Maybe I’m overreacting to this, but John knows Holly wanted that issue.  She spent the money to go across country to Comic Con, and hunted for that issue.  Got really upset when she couldn’t get that issue.  Even went back to an empty hall, hoping to find that issue.

She had no other purpose at Comic Con.  I’m sure they probably showed the teaser trailer for the upcoming Starbuck Jones movie, and instead she rode around in a little cart.

And now John wants to have a little fun for himself, at Holly’s expense.   How long had he had that issue with him?  A couple of days, I’m guessing.  I guess he was really just enjoying all her worry and anxiety, as well as a totally unnecessary trip to Tony [Isabella]‘s house.   Or maybe he wanted revenge for having to do all that pedaling.

I’m sure Tom Batiuk and his various pseudonyms would say, “Oh, come on, it’s just a harmless bit of fun,” but I disagree.  It seems to be much deeper, and much darker, than that.

You think you really dislike these characters, then they do something to make you realize you’ve barely scratched the surface.

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You Left Out The “B”

Link to today’s strip.

See, it’s like John said “Garage Con” and I’m like ha ha ha more like “Garbage Con,” amirite?  So I titled this “You Left Out the B” because that’s like a totally witty thing to do which all the kids are into nowadays, not like old times when they had some respect!  Oh good heavens, just kill me now.

At least they’ve left Crazy Harry to die somewhere by the road, or he’d have come up with a third terrible comic-themed name for a place.

This whole comic book arc has been dead boring, more boring than any other story I can think of from this strip.  Having a third straight week is like being told, “Hey, where are you going?  You’re still in prison for another week!”  Even the John Darling Who Was Murdered story at least had some folks who straight out hated him, which is what every non-ninny felt was what he deserved.  And that hate at least gave rise to some semi-humorous insults and rude behavior.

The problem here is that comic books, for Tom Batiuk, are sacred objects and thus are not to be treated with disrespect–you know, like using actual jokes near them.

I have a better title than both “Fortress of Storage” and “Bookcave” put together:  “The Hill of Dung.”

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Moanday, Rueday, Whineday

Link to today’s strip.

Monday’s strip was not available for preview, so I guess it’s time to speculate on what the new week will bring.

For the most part, I don’t think stories in Funky Winkerbean are told much past two weeks (whether the story ends then or not).  There are exceptions here and there, like last year’s Frankie mega-arc, and the trip to Kilimanjaro (though I think that one was interrupted when Funky had to name his new car).  Two weeks seems to be the default length for a “chapter.”

So if I had to guess about what we’ll get, I would say that we won’t see more of Holly and her comic quest in the coming week.  I would guess we’ll get a week of filler–Funky at the gym again, Owen and Cody giving blood again, Dinkle going to some conference again.  Something like that.

Of course, I could be entirely wrong.  Monday might begin with John and Crazy driving Holly over to Tony Isabella’s house to get that last damned comic book.

There’s no real suspense to be had either way.

In other words, I got nothin’.

UPDATE:  So I was wrong.  In a world in which Funky Winkerbean exists, being wrong is no big deal.

 

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Sunday the 20th

Link to today’s strip.

Sunday’s strip was not available for preview, so you get more of my ramblings.  Lucky you!  I’ll try to keep it to a reasonable length…which for me is, what, eighty paragraphs or so?  Ha ha ha.

One of the problems I’ve had with this year’s stories is that a number of them (all the comic book ones, the “shot down helicopter” one) depend on sympathy for Cory Winkerbean.  And I find that very difficult to muster.  Admittedly, I’m not sympathetic to any of the characters, but at least the rest of them aren’t snotty, jerkwad criminals.

In that regard, I’m thinking of Cory’s theft of the Lisa’s Legacy Fund.  Aside from a limply stern threat from Funky, Cory’s never been punished for this and so far as we know, never had to return the money.  And yet, the instant he joins the army, readers are supposed to do a 180 and suddenly regard him as the best and brightest that Westview can offer (whose last name isn’t Moore, that is).

While I greatly admire those who choose to serve our country, in Cory’s case it seemed less that he was doing so for noble reasons and more for the sake of a “screw you” to Funky.   In other words, nothing seemed to have changed with Cory other than his status from civilian to soldier.  Has he changed?  We’ve seen no evidence that he has, other than he seems a bit more polite on the phone.

And it would have been easy to show that military service has changed him for the better.  All it would take is one Sunday strip, during the holiday season when Cory was back in Westview.

Panel one-the logo, with a smirking Cory head.

In the strip, Les goes out to the mailbox.  Inside is a single envelope, addressed “For: the Lisa’s Legacy Fund.”  Les opens the envelope, and there’s money inside, along with an unsigned note: “Plus interest!”

Les looks at the money and gasps.  “Why, there must be almost eleven dollars here!”*

Cut to: Cory, dressed in his uniform and hiding behind a nearby tree, watching all of this happen and smirking to beat the band.

See how easy that was?  Cory goes from being criminal-in-training to someone mature enough to try and redeem his past misdeeds.  Win-win, right?  (Granted, it would probably mean the loss of a comic book tribute Sunday strip.  Win-win-win, I say.)  And that honestly didn’t take more than a few minutes of thought to come up with that.

Which may be part of the problem.  One of the things I’ve noted in this strip is that Tom Batiuk seems to feel that simply presenting something is the same as developing something–that the hard work is done when you say, “The producers want to change Les’ script” and that having to explain further is just a waste of time and effort.  It’s certainly one reason why these characters remain so unengaging, and why their various quests rarely rise above “pretty boring.”  Interesting stories require effort, and I guess with forty-odd years of this under his belt, Tom Batiuk feels that he’s above all that.  It just seems sad to me–with a little more effort this strip could be much better than it is.  Is it not worth that effort?

 

*I refuse to believe that the Lisa’s Legacy Run in Westview has ever raised more than eleven dollars.

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Puff the Magic Wagon

Link to today’s strip.

I just have to shake my head at Holly.  Riding around in a cart is “a good idea”?  I guess it could be fun, and it gets you out into the open air, away from the human-stuffed Comic Con anchovy tin…it just doesn’t strike me as something she’d enjoy, and it definitely doesn’t strike me as something John would suggest.  It looks like something Tom Batiuk saw somewhere and said, “Hey, I gotta use that.”

If he were a far more interesting person than we’d been led to believe, I’d think John would suggest going to see Homestar Runner’s skull in the background there in the first panel on the left.  Or going to eat at Buster’s Crab.  (Can you believe I didn’t get that for a couple of minutes?  I’m getting senile.)

Physical activity for these three would be a choice of last resort.  And maybe that’s how this happened.  Maybe all sorts of suggestions were made, and Holly sighed about all of them, and Harry was no help at all, fitfully moaning into his blanket, and John, internally screaming from boredom, finally saw this cart thing, and pointed, and that’s how this strip came into being.  Another deadline met, Mr. Batiuk!  Whew!

Oh, and the answer to your question, John, is no.  None of them are helping you at all.  You’ll die alone and afraid, not knowing what’s happening to you.  Enjoy!

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Daddy Issues

Link to today’s strip.

Well, this one is just terrible.  I mean, this is the sort of strip that no one wants to read, because no one would find it funny, endearing, smart, or containing anything worthwhile at all.  It’s not even a solid waste of the two seconds taken to read it; it’s just another needle jabbed into the soul.   It’s the epitome of laziness for this laziest of strips.  It’s depressing…so I guess, touche, Mr. Batiuk.

Oh well, they’re not paying me to stare at this, waiting for something to happen, so here goes.  First, we have a jokey greeting that was a tired cliche back in the nineties, still being perpetuated here in the technical vastness of the future.  Crazy’s Grecian Formula seems to be paying off, as he doesn’t look nearly as ancient and decrepit as he usually does–though to be honest he looks more like Obi-Wan from the prequels than Luke.  (Ah, the Star Wars prequels.  Truly, entertainment suited to the Funkyverse.  If anyone should make a Funky Winkerbean movie, it’ll be George Lucas.)

Secondly, we have the whole crowd, including Holly, smirking and guffawing at this display of hilarity.  Hell, a green-haired woman in the back is so amused her face is shattering.  And a couple on the far right who appear to have dashed to Comic Con directly from their wedding–she hasn’t even taken off her veil–are staring in awe at the spectacle unfolding before them.  “See?  I told you this would be better than some dumb ol’ cruise!”

Finally, we have Comic Book John, offering one of those lines that sitcom and/or greeting-card writers would turn up their noses at.  “Only at Comic Con!” looks like it’s supposed to be a thumbs up to the event, but it comes off as a thumbed nose.

Bleah, I tell you.  Bleah.  I try to avoid criticizing Tom Batiuk personally (try, I said) but this episode is good evidence that he doesn’t care and isn’t interested in trying.

It’s also evidence of dishonesty.  What he has presented here, an episode which wallows in maudlin sentimentality, is exactly the sort of strip that he would sneer at in another comic for being frivolous and avoiding the true issues of the day.  He’d probably say it’s not serious work if these people are having fun, they should be dying of cancer.  (School play, anyone?)

Well, that oughta go a ways toward earning my paycheck.  Hey, wait a minute–they’re not paying me at all!

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