And when the door was opened, there was nothing standing there

Link to today’s strip.

Let me just say  that my mention of “hospital” yesterday was just errant speculation due to the recent shuffling of artists.  I, and I’m sure I speak for everyone else in the SoSF community, sincerely hope nothing bad has befallen Tom Batiuk; I have never, ever wished anything  but good fortune to him personally.  As I’ve mentioned from time to time, from all reports he’s a genuinely nice guy who enjoys meeting his fans; I hope he continues to be so, and do so, for many years to come.

That said…today’s episode is…well, I was going to say “beyond awful,” but I’ll go with “inexplicable” instead.  There’s no joke, there’s no good drawing, no wit, just…nothing at all.  It’s impossible to imagine a new reader coming across this strip and saying, “Hey, this is a comic strip I’m going to read from now on, with relish!”  It’s very possible to imagine a long-time reader saying, “Okay, this is it, I’m out of here.  From now on, it’s BC Classic for me.”

The only positive bit at all is the fact that Dinkle is there, and he’s completely silent.  I bet he hates that.  He’s not even drawn fully, he’s just a menace in a left corner.

It’s also another avenue for speculation.  Ordinarily, it would be Dinkle saying all this stuff, while Becky gazed at him in full worship mode.  (Heck, I think the last time we even saw Becky, she was a silent potato at Wally’s wedding.)

Why this obvious scenario was flipped, we’ll probably never know.

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One-Armed Bandit

Link to today’s strip.

Ugh.  Batiuk’s characters are never worse than when they’re being smug and self-satisfied.  Here Becky crows about the utterly stupid mattress sale, only to get to a pun that would be rejected by a chewing gum wrapper.  And look at that writing:  “our band” in panel two could have been replaced by “the” for a much smoother read.  It’s like he really does think his readers will forget the band’s involvement between panel one and two.

As for Becky, I can’t think of a single positive aspect of her except one:  she’s rarely around much.

Once again Chuck Ayers helms the pencils, leaving me to wonder if Batiuk’s in the hospital or something and the syndicate is having to rustle up some leftovers he had salted away.  Or maybe Rick Burchett, having gotten his “Inedible Pulp” cover, decided he was better than this and decamped to brighter pastures.

 

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It’s Monday

Link to today’s strip.

Monday’s strip, like Sunday’s before it, was not available for preview.

Why not enjoy some Pringles while we wait?

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Sunday morning, praise the dawning

Link to today’s strip.

As twas ever thus, Sunday’s strip was not available for preview.   I’m going to guess that we’ll get a reprise of the previous week, with Funky and Holly gasbagging about texts and/or Cory, but as a guess, it’s just that.  The actual strip could be anything.  Funky and Les jogging, comic book tribute, anything at all.  Anything except good, of course.

Normally, I’d stay up long enough to add to the day’s analysis, but unlike Tom Batiuk, I have a real job that requires that I fulfill certain goals.  Unlike Tom Batiuk, if I fail to fulfill these goals, I could get fired, which would not be beneficial to me, though I would assume it would cause Mr. Batiuk some amusement, and perhaps some satisfaction.

But until the time when he has control over my life, I will continue to deny that to him, and I’m off.  See you folks on the funway, which is already in progress!

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Nuclear Whiner

Link to today’s strip.

I’ll admit I found today’s strip amusing.  What’s interesting is that Tom Batiuk actually took the trouble to build to this punchline, both by portraying Holly as increasingly anxious and angry, and by using yesterday’s strip as a direct lead-in to today’s.   The payoff is nice; it shows Holly being self-aware enough to know she was overreacting, and it de-escalates things (for now).  It also shows that Mr. Batiuk is (or was, as this week was likely made up of old standby strips) capable of creating something that is at least funny.

The pacing is still off–it would have been better to cull the “fat-fingering” episodes and reformat this arc as a single Sunday strip–but it’s been obvious for some time that Tom Batiuk is just running out the clock.  Ya can’t make that ol’ 50th by being briefer, after all.   Still, the week showed some nice craftsmanship; the humor, instead of coming completely out of the blue like most of his “wit,”  was planned in advance.  Bravo.

The craftsmanship in the artwork is 50/50.  The drawing of the scene is quite good, showing some nice perspective and giving a sense of “place.”  The characters, on the other hand, are rendered as slap-dash, sketchily-defined blobs–and I’m aware that they are slap-dash, sketchily defined blobs; it would just be nice to see some consistency panel-to-panel.

It would also be nice to see the non-author avatar characters drawn with a bit more sympathy.  Holly looks like she steps on puppies for fun, and Funky looks like someone exhumed him from a shallow grave somewhere.  But none of that will change; it’s also obvious that Tom Batiuk just loathes Funky with all his heart.  Still, there’ve been worse weeks here; considering we had no Les and no comic books, I’d put this episode in the “plus” column.

Congratulations Mr. Batiuk.

 

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Baby Got Back

Link to today’s strip.

I have to admit I found today’s entry amusing.  For Funky Winkerbean, it’s actually funny.

Good on commentor Double Sided Scooby Snack for catching that Chuck Ayers was the artist for this week’s, um, “effort.”   Also, to Gerard Plourde for divining the reason for this:  this is something that Batiuk wrote and Ayers drew months, if not years ago, and it’s been sitting in a drawer ever since.  I assume the idea was that readers would explode from happiness if there was too much Les or comic books, so a week-long interlude with Funky texting his stepson ought to calm those passions.

I do like the art here.  The perspective in panel one is very well handled, and the sidewalk bricks done nicely.

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The Half-Hour of Reckoning

Link to today’s strip.

Not much to say with this one, except confirmation that Funky is indeed left-handed.  I don’t know if that was established in the strip before…and what difference it would make if it were.  After all, this is a strip that can’t even get one of its main characters’ last name right.

So, Funky’s got a texting app that lets him delete a text with one keystroke?  No confirmation or anything?  I’d actually like that.  Admittedly I’m not a prolific texter but if I think better of sending something, I’ve got backspace over it until everything’s gone.  There’s probably a more efficient way of doing it, but like Tom Batiuk, there are some things about which I really can’t be bothered to research.  See also my lawn, and why you shouldn’t be on it.

And you’d think Funky would use a better epithet than “Shoot!”  That sounds an awful lot like an invitation in Westview; only the fact that it would be interesting keeps it at a figurative level.

“Shoot!” John Darling said to Plantman.

“Blast it all!” Lisa said, arriving at the post office.

“We’re so screwed!” Pete and Darrin yelled as the police broke down the hotel room door.

“What in blue blazes!” Les yelled when he was trapped in an industrial blast furnace.

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