That was nice what you just did, Bull"?!? What English teach– uh, sorry, Language Arts teacher, let alone a pretentious douchebag like Les, would utter such a colloquialism? And the "nice thing" he did? Catching a trio of repeat-offender school bullies in the act and letting them walk away without even a verbal warning.
A few days ago, I wondered if it would be worse for Batiuk to treat bullying in an inappropriately (and unfunny) humorous manner or a insufferable serious manner. Now I know an even worse third option exists: total schizophrenia.
…and TB's schizo tendencies extend to his continuing retconning/re-retconning of Les and Bull's high school relationship: two years ago he went to great lengths to posit that Bull was just pretending to beat Les up in order to protect him from the real bullies. But for the purposes of the current storyline, it turns out that Bull really did pick on Les, and now must spend the rest of his life atoning.
Thirty years ago…not only was the bullying real, it was actually pretty funny!
Before becoming a cartoonist, Tom Batiuk taught for several years at a junior high school. If held felt anything like the antipathy that Les has always had for his students, well, it's fortunate for them that he left teaching for cartooning. Unfortunate for the rest of us though.
If Tuesday's strip qualified as one of the "Comics I Don't Understand", then what the hell are we to make of today's strip? Les bemoans his students' performance on his latest quiz, implying that they have retained nothing of what he's taught them. Does Cody's response mean that while they may not have learned anything, they are at least less easy to deceive? Even more baffling than the presumed punchline is Cody's crudely rendered profile in panel 3: his jawline resembles a peeled sweet potato.
Grab Bag Week: High School Hijinks Edition continues, and yes, dear reader, today's strip is the source of that oh-so-punchable Les face in this week's banner. That's the expression Les wears when he's doing what he does best: being a smug, superior dick to his students. Owen's right, Les, for once: that was a trick question. Doesn't the fact that nobody, nobody in his class is able to answer this question say more about the teacher than the students?
You'd think that producing Westview High's closed-circuit morning newscast would be a job that a couple of geeks like Cody and Owen could not only do but might actually do pretty well. Naturally, everything goes terribly awry, as typified by the fact that the picture on the TV is upside down. Just more fuel for Les and Linda's disdain of their idiot students.
Never mind that, though. Get a load of who's sitting in the front row: it's Alex, most recently seen dispensing totally worthless relationship advice to lovestruck Owen. Surely there is some retconning going on here: we met Alex at mopey Pete's book signing in December 2007 (see below), and she appeared to be at least high school age five years ago (I was going point to the fact that she sported tattoos even back then, but apparently Ohio law allows minors to get tattoos with parental consent). She's certainly old enough for Pete to attempt hitting on, though we know that that's not the best indicator. Note that her model sheet on the Meet the Cast page is one of the few that does not give an age. How convenient.
Dec. 10, 2007 strip:
Filed under chullo, Cody, Cody and Owen, Les, Les' yellow shirt, Linda, Mallory, Owen, random students, technology, Westview High School
"If you're still watching this on videotape…"? It is a videotape! What's he supposed to watch it on?
There are seventeen comments already below as I write this, so I'm way late to the party, but the general tone of the comments so far is "What. The. Fuck," and rightly so. The worst part, of course, is that Batiuk intends for these neverending Lisa Tapes to be heartwarming. What we'd really love to see is Cayla lurking just outside the room where Les pays rapt attention to his first and only true love, finally, finally realizing that she needs to move on.
That section of fence should have a permanent indentation from how Bull drapes his bulk over it every football season. "Jason's" dad pleads on his son's behalf for more playing time. Bull's reply delights Mr. Williams (no relation) who goes strutting happily on his way. Hopefully, when Mr. Williams realizes that Jason has effectively been cut from the team, he'll come strutting back to punch Athletic Director Bushka right in the face for making a jerk out of him. And would the poor kid's title really be "ball boy" and not something less demeaning like "equipment manager"?
Let's assume, shall we, that the warm, passionate hugs and kisses between Les and his betrothed Cayla have already been exchanged at the arrival gate. This allows us to cut directly to Cayla complimenting Les' appearance. "I know," replies Les (instead of something like "Gee, thanks honey!"). The always self-effacing Cayla wryly supposes that perhaps she could benefit from losing some weight. Rather than attempt to dissuade her or even smile, Les responds with a blank look. Batiuk inexplicably closes the Kilimanjaro epic by inserting a completely random sketch of some "flat top acacias" from his Africa journal.