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…”