World’s Worst Guessing Game

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Well, apparently Bull’s “hurry up” defense storyline has wrapped up–although it’s quite telling that in Sunday’s episode, we see no indication of a score, and the visiting team seems to be playing much better ball than the Westview Tongue Depressors (or whatever they’re called).

So…let’s guess!  On Monday we’re probably off on a new adventure–and who will be our stars?  Holly?  DSH John?  Darrin?  Dinkle?  Think of the characters you hate most, and imagine them off and running!  Who will offer the bon mot of despair, the smirk of superiority, the devastating pun of wisdom?

Well, no one of course.  This all depends on your definition of “adventure,” and in Funky Winkerbean, an adventure consists of people sitting around talking, and accepting that they are powerless in this world.  Which is how I’m sure Tom Batiuk would like his critics to behave.  Hence the reason for the absolute refusal to allow anything to happen in this strip.

I was thinking about the Les-in-Hollywood story recently–God in Heaven, save me, I was thinking about the Les-in-Hollywood story–and it occurred to me that Les never articulated any criticism of the revised script.  The closest he came was to squeak, “Lisa lives?!” when told of the revised ending.   The rest of the time, he just wearily accepted what was going on and moaned that he wished he was dead.

We readers, on the other hand, were meant to be outraged, outraged at the changes made to the precious Lisa story.  Les doesn’t have to articulate anything, because–supposedly–we’re doing it all for him.  No work at all on Tom Batiuk’s part.   Pity the readers don’t seem to be on his team, cos it’s a great way to avoid effort.

That ain’t workin’, that’s the way you do it
Money for nothin’, and a nice “Kill Fee”

UPDATE:  So apparently, Holly is going to deliver the winner of that 3.2 million Action Comics issue to whoever bought it off eBay.   That’s clearly an issue of Action Comics.  “Written a year in advance” my ass.

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Golden Years

Link to today’s strip.

Sunday’s strip is generally not available for preview, so here are a couple of thoughts until it goes live.  (I’m thinking it has been a while since we had a comic book “tribute,” myself.  I’m told, though, that we’ve got more Les on the way.)

For those of you who see the title and think David Bowie, well, here you go.

There’s been a lot of speculation here, especially during the last week, as to exactly what Tom Batiuk is up to.  We had six solid days of a “joke” that could have told itself in two, tops.  Why?

Well, I have a possible theory.  I think he wants that golden year.  I think he wants Funky Winkerbean to last for fifty years, so he can say he had a strip that reached that landmark.  Peanuts lasted for fifty years, Dick Tracy lasted for fifty years, The Far Side lasted for fifty years…that’s the only reason anyone talks about those strips, which are way inferior to mine.  So if get to fifty, I will enter the pantheon of the greats.

So, how does he reach that magic date?  By s-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g these pitifully weak story arcs way past the breaking point, and having them haul more panels than their recommended load capacity.  You could hear them straining and buckling all last week, and I’m sure they’ve still got a week’s work to go starting tomorrow.  If you can stretch two days of “story” into two weeks, that Golden Anniversary is yours, baby!

This is not the first time this strip has had a space oddity or two–there’s plenty of sound and vision evidence.  From Funky always crashing in the same car, ending up in a Moonage daydream, to Wally living life on Mars while suffering panic in Detroit.  Just recently, Les had the chance to start a new career in a new town with all the young dudes, leading to fame, fashion and maybe even modern love (though not in a creepy way). However, thanks to the harassment of Le Chat Bleu (his laughing gnome), he rejected the changes and became one of the heroes.  He learned the heart’s filthy lesson, rejected those scary monsters, and chose not to become the man who sold the world.

All of this should have taken about the same time it takes to listen to a “Greatest Hits” album.  Instead, it deadheaded on for months and months.   That ought to be enough evidence that Tom Batiuk’s not doing it for the “art” anymore, he’s doing it for the “history.”  The last story I remember here that was even half-assed was when Pete met Flash Gordon; there seemed to be a little bit of engagement on the part of the author.  Everything I can recall since has been assless; I’m not even aware if there are any fully-assed stories.  One suspects not.

All I can say is, there’s a song that fits this perfectly.  I forget who made the song, but the chorus goes like this:

“Ashes to ashes, funk to Funky
We know Major Tom’s a junkie
Strung out in heaven’s high
Hitting an all-time low…”

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Saturdrag

Link to today’s strip.

Saturday’s strip was not available for preview, but let’s face facts: we can say without question that it’s boring beyond description.  For that reason, I’ve invited someone else, boring beyond description, to write today’s post so I can start my drinking early.

Hello, everyone on the internet, I’m Les Moore.  I teach Language Arts at Westview High School…and I’m a bit of a writer!  I’m sure that’s why your friend Beach Cheese* asked me to write for you today…that, plus he said I was “just as boring” as the strip, by which he meant that, like a drill, I am able to penetrate many layers to get to a deeper meaning!

*(I think the name was Beach Cheese.  Is that right?  Does anyone know a Beach Cheese?  Well, you’re better with me, because I’m sure whatever he might have written would have been quite cheesy.  Ha ha ha ha ha, ha ha ha, ha ha ha ha ha ha, oh my.  Ha ha ha ha, ha ha ha ha, ha ha ha, I do have a gift, don’t I.)

Well, let’s start.  Okay, we have Bull and this other man, who is quite handsome, speaking to each other, and one of them made a joke!  Ha ha, that is a pleasantly diverting moment from the ongoing despair that envelopes us in a continuous haze of fear, regret and brown-tinged memories of desperation.

It reminds me of a funny story.  You see, our old principal, Fred Fairgood, had a stroke nearly two years ago.  When Funky told me about it, I smirked and said, “Well, we’re going to have to write Fred’s name in a serif font now,” and I then explained that a serif font is one that has decorative strokes.  Well, clearly Funky had never heard such a funny joke, because he just frowned at me for a long time trying to figure it out, even after I explained it to him.  Some people just don’t “get” the best humor!

Another funny story is about Wally.  See, he was a soldier somewhere outside Westview, and a few years ago, I saw him on the street and I said “Hey!” and I made my hands into gun-shapes and said, “Pew!  Pew!”   Well, he covered his head with his hands and dropped to the ground, because I think the secret code of military toughness means they’re not supposed to laugh at funny jokes–like those people who guard the Queen–and he was hiding his laughs so he wouldn’t get in trouble.  But don’t worry!  If I saw his sergeant, I would have said he laughed, but he laughed in a tough manner, so don’t put him in Army Jail too much!  He got a dog a year or so later, so obviously I was right.

Well, I’ve given you two funny stories, which is probably more than you get in a month, so I’ll just leave it at that!   I’ll be sure to tell that Beach Cheese person that you enjoyed them, so he’ll get me to do this again.  I have to get back to my wife, Lisa, who died of cancer, and that other woman who cleans and makes food.  What is her name again?  I should really know that.  I should get her a Christmas card and thank her this year.  Maybe, if I have time–lots of stuff to do for other people, like Lisa.

Oh, but I do want to leave you with this fun activity you might want to try:  collecting old comic books.  You’ll be surprised at how it makes you feel!

In closing, let me just quote Billy from Predator:  “We’re all gonna die.”  So long for now!

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…Durn Near KILLED ‘EM!

Link to today’s strip.

Again, it sure seems to me that someone who has come to “check out” Bull would be listening to Bull talk about his, um, er *cough* “successes” rather than go on and on and on and on about some play.  It makes me think that this DUI guy stepped on a few too many toes, so they sent him to Westview to see what his future could look like if he doesn’t start shaping up.

Look at Dolt’s expression in panel two, and contrast it with his expression in panel two of Tuesday’s strip.  The sunny helpful face has been replaced by one creased with worry.   The penny is beginning to drop.   You know, those guys who said, “Good luck, and don’t come back!” weren’t really smiling.

Maybe I can grab one of these tackling dummies and bring it back to DUI, and say, Guys, meet Bull Bushka! and everyone will laugh and I’ll be okay.  He glances between the two.  The tackling dummy certainly is smarter and has a better personality…

I have to say, for a strip that specializes in being unbelievably boring, Tom Batiuk has really outdone himself this week…and we’re not over yet, not for the week and I’m sure not for the arc.    After all, nothing resembling a “point” has reared its ugly head.  All of which I’m sure will lead to Bull being tempted to go to the big city, but deciding to stay in Westview because of a poorly-worded platitude he smirks out to someone.  Les, probably.

Oh…I forgot today’s word-play.  How could I have forgotten that?  It’s…certainly there, isn’t it.  It reminds me of a dumb joke whose punchline makes up today’s title.  Other than that, it’s another Crankshaft reject.

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PUNishment Park

Link to today’s strip.

According to panel two, it sure looks like Dolt McMoron has crapped his pants magnificently.  I suspect he is either reacting badly to the horror he is witnessing on the field (what Bull calls “athletics”) or he’s making a sincere attempt to blend in on his Westview visit.  I don’t know why he’s going on and on about elementary coaching…I thought he was the one interested in Bull’s abilities, but I guess no one in this strip really knows how to yield the floor once they get on a roll.

What I’m more concerned about is the pun used here.  I’m not a user of puns by nature, but isn’t this cheating?  I looked at that pun for a while and it didn’t click, because I was going, “Payton Mann?  Payton Manners?” before I remembered that his actual name was Payton Manning.

So, punsters…can you do that?  Base a pun on only half a name?  I mean, it seems to me that it would be okay if Les was talking about German literature and he said, “There are a lot of Thomas Mannerisms,” or, conversely, if Dopey Pete said 80’s TV had a lot of “Michael Mannerisms.”   Both of those name-puns look “okay” to me, as puns, because both of those use the full names.   Terrible as they are, they sound “legit” (as much as any pun can).

But based on today’s terrible, terrible offering, it sure sounds like if I wanted to make a joke about sports on the Moon, and I said the number one event was “Neil Armwrestling,” that that’s just fine (as a pun, remember).  Or say there’s a drawing of Funky tossing spices onto a pizza and saying “I call this my Barack Oregano.”   Both of those sound like cheating to me.

So, I really feel there should be a penalty flag here.  Of course, stepping back a bit from the pun edge, the content of this strip is so nothing that a penalty seems almost cruel, like getting a speeding ticket for going 31 in a 30 mile zone.   (Or, perhaps better, going 29 in a 30 mile zone.)

In other words, another desperate attempt by yours truly to find something to say about this strip, four days into this dull arc, falls flat.  Time to hand it over to the pros.  Have at it, snarkers!

 

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Like Grandfather, Like Grandson

Link to today’s strip.

Well, one mystery has been solved.  Dolt McMoron’s clearly a relative of Crankshaft.  A grandson, no doubt, and he’s inherited his granddad’s inability to use language.   I wonder if he’ll knock over some mailboxes in his SUV when he leaves?  Or kill people?  That could be entertaining so the outlook is not sunny for the Westview nine this day.

As for the actual content of this strip, for the most part I look at this and when I look in the mirror I see Bull’s expression in panel two papered over my own, like some kind of horrible vampire-mask.  That kind of dull-witted non-interest depicted there, and felt here, sure makes it hard to wake up.  I mean, write.  But, credit where it’s due, that knob in panel two is really well drawn.  Honestly–it’s realistic enough to be recognizable, but also nicely abstract.   I think today’s offering would have been way better if it was just drawing after drawing of that blackboard knob…because the rest of it….zzz

…zzzzzzzz *SNAH!!* I”M AWAKE!

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One Letter Away From “Dull”

 

Link to today’s strip.

My memory’s not what it used to be, but I seem to recall a comic strip called “Specks” which was just that–two specks holding a conversation ending in a punchline.  (The more I try to remember this strip, the more certain I get that the author was Vera Alldid.  Probably not, though…)

Anyway, Tom Batiuk sure could have used the “Specks” artist on today’s episode.  Look at those giant toilet-clogs of verbiage.   You don’t need drawings at all, and Batiuk’s attempts to provide them aren’t helping.  Notice that in all that overflow, Dolt McMoron still hasn’t been given a name.  Other than the one I gave him yesterday, that is.

I’m sure Bull’s post-punchline bit, it’s probably supposed to make us curious…is Bull serious?  Is he being sarcastic?   Well, folks, I’m betting Bull is stupid, and since this is Westview and Funky Winkerbean, the betting is good that the simplest, dullest explanation is the actual fact.

As for that punchline, it’s scary to imagine the kind of person who would laugh at that.  It’s even scarier to imagine that that person has escaped from the asylum, and might be prowling the streets of your town right now.

 

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