Monday’s strip was not available for preview. Now I know what you’re thinking–oh God he’s going to go on and on about something really stupid–but fear not, gentle reader.
For instead, I give you: bees.
Well, it’s another Sunday time-waster starring Owen. I recognize that’s a really redundant statement, but like that fetid chullo, there it is.
Tom Batiuk has some thoughts on the original King Kong, and he is of a mind to lecture us on its short-comings.
Let that thought sink in for a few minutes.
In preparation for today’s post, unlike Tom Batiuk, I actually sat down and watched King Kong (1933). If you’ve never seen it…well, you probably know the plot anyway, but some of what I note below can be considered SPOILERS.
1. No one on the voyage knows they are looking for a giant ape. Carl Denham has heard there’s “something” on Skull Island, and he knows it’s called “Kong,” but he doesn’t know what it is.
2. Furthermore, all he wants to do is photograph it. That they end up capturing it is not the point of the voyage–that’s Denham’s last minute improvisation. But Owen says “determined to capture” as if that was the goal.
3. Denham and crew do not see any dinosaurs “along the way.” They don’t spot any dinosaurs until well after seeing Kong for the first time. At this point, they’re trying to rescue Ann Darrow so they have other goals in mind than film-making or capturing animals.
3. The dinosaurs were not “small,” though some are slightly smaller than Kong (which still makes them pretty huge). And they definitely don’t appear to be “a lot easier to capture” or easier to control. They cause several deaths. (Remarkably ghastly deaths for the time, too.) Of all the dinosaurs in the film, only one can be considered “small” – a bear-sized beast that climbs up a vine in an attempt to menace John Driscoll.
These things effectively negate everything in today’s strip.
I try to keep from saying anything about Tom Batiuk personally in these posts…but this is shameful. There are really only two explanations for this. A – He wrote this based on vague memories of King Kong, or of the various remakes or sequels. And he didn’t bother to watch the film again to confirm any of this. That’s sheer laziness, especially with a year’s lead time. B – He wrote this, then watched King Kong to see how clever and superior he was; he saw instead that he was King Wrong, but decided it didn’t matter, that no one in his audience would remember King Kong, and even if they did, they wouldn’t bother to watch it either and they’d think Tom Batiuk was some kind of film genius for poking holes in a masterpiece. That’s sheer contempt.
I’m not sure which one is worse, to be honest.
That leads me to my final point about today’s strip –
4. I’m not a psychiatrist, nor do I play one on television. But the whole strip seems to be asking the question, “Why try for something unique and spectacular? Aim for ‘good enough’ and that should be good enough.” Why climb Mount Everest when you can climb the local dump instead? Why go to the Moon when it’s much less dangerous to go to the mall? Why use actual jokes and interesting characters in your comic strip, when you can just use fifth-rate puns and have people smirk to show they “get it”?
Oops…did I type that last one out loud? Whoopsie.
Well, Funky, my guess would be that you’d have one nickle, as I for one have never encountered that phrase before. No idea who Sarcastic Old Bastard is, but he sure is lovingly detailed so I wonder if he’s some Real-Life Friend.
I’m more of a casual exerciser myself, so can anyone tell me…aren’t you supposed to do your stretching before you start running?
Look at Les’ delicate little pose there, right dead center of course, and tell me you don’t want to set him on fire. You can tell that was the very first thing that Tom Batiuk drew, then he sat back and admired his work for a while, then sighed and figured he had to get Funky in there “because the gum-chewers who fail to appreciate Les will expect it.”
Well, such work deserves consideration.
Or we could just cut to the chase.
Hey, way to be the ultimate douche-bag, Les! Don’t tell your “friend” about the sports car as you approach it (or, if it’s driving, approaching you) so that he could easily see it. No, no, wait until you’re both past it, so he’ll have to turn around to see it and halt his momentum. That’ll teach him to be a fat slob of a loser!
I guess the “joke” was on Les, though–his Expression in Panel Two looks like someone who is stunned that his get-the-fat-guy-to-turn-around scheme has had no effect.
And this strip is yet another in which there is absolutely no content. No attempt at a joke, nothing that’s supposed to be “meaningful,” just another week of naught tossed off in a matter of house, then tossed into a drawer to be brought out and printed when snarkers derail your planned Ghost Lisa appearance. (I’m assuming.) Nothing to think about, except 1) who “shoots” an episode entirely from the back like this (although I guess it saves having to draw a nifty car), and 2) I wonder who went to all the trouble of shoveling the sidewalk so neatly. I mean, look at that–someone did a really good job shoveling, and just the sidewalk, too. Not like a homeowner shoveling his way from door to walk, just sidewalk all the way.
Anyway, that’s all I see here. And as it’s hard to criticize something that has no substance at all–neither good nor bad–I have to say, well played, Tom Batiuk. You’ll get to that magical 50th yet!
Ah, there’s the punchable Les we all know and loathe. Even with little more than half a face visible, I still want to punch that half until it’s gone. Funky’s Expression in Panel Two (the Theme For The Week) is one of unmitigated fury, which struck me as strange until I realized that in panel one, Wino McHomeless’s remark could have been taken as sarcasm. And to be fair, in panel one Funky looks like Holly after being (initially) denied a comic book. Oh, I’m sooooo helpless and incapable, someone needs to give me things as gifts for free. Oh boo hoo hoo, my son is in the military, soon to be slabbed as a key issue.
…sorry, got a bit off track there. Anyway, if I was out running, and some guy passed me and said “Way to go,” I think I would probably interpret that as sarcasm if I was having the same sort of difficulty as Funky. I mean, there I’d be, wheezing and puffing, trying to keep up with my Perfect Friend, and he’s essentially saying “Huh, wheezing and puffing, eh? Well you’re doing it real good!” I wonder why he didn’t say something like, “Don’t stop! You can do it!” or “It takes a while, but you’ll get there!” or something more generally encouraging.
Oh. Oh, you’re kidding. Really? He said that so that Tom Batiuk could insert his “joke” which uses the difference between “go” and “no-go”? I don’t know if I’ve encountered anything sadder this week. And I write these entries a year in advance, so that’s a lot of weeks!
Bonus: Funky’s zipper pull tab is lovingly rendered, isn’t it? That and the Button are the only items to have any care lavished on them, other than Les, of course. I mean, look at Wino’s right hand. Clearly he’s a mutant of some kind. Is he an X-Man? I bet his mutant super-power is never appearing in Funky Winkerbean again, which sounds darn handy! (ha ha ha)!
Well, I sure get the image of Tom Batiuk, after posting today’s strip, sitting back, having run around his tiny baseball diamond, waiting for the phone to ring. Hey, it’s Apple Computer! And they love his idea of an arm holder! And they want to pay him millions for it, and they also want to produce Lisa’s Story for theatres–and the way Tom Batiuk wants it made, too, with none of those dumb changes that are dumb! Halleluiah! Amen!
In reality, of course, there may very well be such an item already on the market…and I have to say it strikes me as completely idiotic. No one who is a serious runner would be capable of using this–you have to use both arms when running, after all, but beside that you also have to be aware of where you are going and what’s in front of you, meaning you’re not fully concentrating on showing those mean commentators just how jobless they are. Most technology used during exercise is meant to keep your mind occupied so it can’t tell the body, Hey, knock it off! I’m trying to write! So listening to music is great, surfing the web, less so.
I would think such a device would actually be an impediment to getting any exercise, but of course that assumes it’s made for a human. Clearly the fellow above is not a human being, his face alone tells you that. He looks a bit like The Man From Planet X, honestly, which is great that he got work after so long…even if it means being an extra in Funky Winkerbean. Oh well.
This is a rare strip indeed where I don’t feel like punching Les, but then I am currently quite ill with the flu so perhaps I don’t have the energy. But look at Funky’s Expression in Panel Two (clearly, this is the Theme of the Week). He doesn’t look surprised to see such a device–he looks utterly crushed, as if his dreams have all just screeched to a halt.
Maybe between writing the first panel and the second, Tom Batiuk learned there was already an existing arm-holder thing. Ah, that makes it all make sense, now. Well, no, but when there’s a straw, might as well grasp it, right?
SPECIAL BONUS: HOW TO COMPOSE A COMIC STRIP PANEL – The Tom Batiuk Way!
If you put your character in front of a tree, like this:
–then you’re putting a mental image in your readers’ heads, so you might as well go all the way.
There! Perfect for the cover of the latest issue of The Nostalgic Punk.
I don’t follow sports, so I have no idea which team is represented by the button on Funky’s hat. (Almost wrote “hate” there. Whoops!) Whoever it is, it must not be a team that Tom Batiuk likes because–duh–he’s adorning Funky’s hat and not Les’. Simple logic. Besides that, what team would want their insignia highlighted by appearing in Funky Winkerbean? No team, that’s who.
Speaking of Les, isn’t it just amazing that there’s Les, same age as Funky, looking thirty years younger, and wearing a regular old running outfit too–not festooned with layers of clothing to protect his delicate fat from the onslaught of winter, like someone we could name.
Funky’s expression in panel two seems to show him melting, like a man made of mashed potatoes softening up because too much butter was added. While he shifts from panel to panel, unable to hold a coherent form, Les, lovingly rendered as always, smirks punchably. His face looks like a taunt to everyone unfortunate enough to bother with this comic strip. Go ahead, punch as hard as you like, go so far as to break your monitor, Tom thinks. I’ll keep drawing more and more Les faces. Tom smiles to himself. Because the only person I hate more than Funky is you, dear reader, you denier of prizes.