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.