ICE ICE Baby

Link to today’s strip.

And just like that, the question I asked about Thursday’s strip has been answered in the worst possible way.

Folks, prepare yourself for another heavy-handed, preachy, insultingly inaccurate trip through Tom Batiuk’s Outrage-a-Thon.  Sorry, tickets are non-refundable.

“Boss!  BOSS!  I think we found that woman on the hot list–the one who was looking at fabric on sale!  *Shudder*  I get chills just thinking about that!  Anyway, lucky for us she applied for a driver’s license using her real name, address, and everything!  Otherwise we’d never catch someone so wily!”

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Ruined in What Way?

Link to today’s strip.

Other than taking place at Montoni’s, I don’t see how “date night” has been “ruined” in any way.  Unless the BMV was hundreds of miles away, Wally and Adeela should have gotten back well before any form of “night” started to fall.  Perhaps, once back at Montoni’s,  Adeela talked and talked forever about how awesome it is to have a driver’s license (which I would not put past any character in this strip), but it should still be late afternoon at most.

And even if she was excited about her achievement, she knows that Wally’s generosity put him on thin ice with Rachel; a decent person would have said “Wally, thank you for your help, enjoy your date tonight!”

I’ll grant you that decent people are not found anywhere in this strip, but it would have been the right thing to do under any circumstances.

Not to mention, prior to the test, “Say, Wally, are you sure you can do this?  Isn’t tonight your date night?”  Of course, we would have missed the last two scintillating weeks, but….

Oh!  I’ve got it–there was another Time Jump, though only a few hours this time!  Sure, that’s it!

And the kicker is, Wally and Rachel are right there at Montoni’s, where (for some reason) they wanted to end up anyway.  What’s to stop their “date night” now, other than Batiuk’s fear some lightheartedness will detract from his serious “talking about driving” arc?  Rachel looks as puzzled as I am.  Well, she looks like she’s rethinking this whole “Wally” thing, but close enough.

And Batiuk’s plugging of Crankshaft is definitely irksome.  I’m surprised Adeela didn’t follow up with “Is there a convenient link a person could click on to learn more about this Crankshaft?  Thank you!”

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Maybe she’ll be “awarded” citizenship!

Link to today’s strip.

See?  “Awarded”?  It’s like getting an award–something a certain cartoonist has never achieved!

I don’t know what purpose Adeela serves, except to fulfill a diversity quotient in hopes of attracting the attention of an awards group or two.  The thing is, he already had Khahn, who was a Muslim, and who was available as a worker at Montoni’s but then he decided to give him his own shop and then wrote him out.  Why try again?  Has there been an uptick in awards for this sort of thing?  The blandness of the dialog in panel three makes me think so.

In contrast to some of the earlier episodes of this arc, the artwork here is very slapdash.  To coin an oxymoron, it’s decidedly slapdash.

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Taking Fred’s Job Away

Link to today’s strip.

First of all, nice ventriloquist’s dummy of Wally in panel one.  If they revive “Tales from the Crypt” you should definitely apply to play the Cryptkeeper.  Secondly, there’s an actual kind-of joke in panel two.  But naturally, Batiuk has to ruin it with panel three with something meaningless yet vaguely depressing.  From what we can see, he has definitely brought the mood down for everyone.

I guess this makes today’s episode a grand slam!  He’s out on that tiny baseball diamond even as we speak!

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Licensed to Ill

Link to today’s strip.

For someone who prides himself on his writing ability, Tom Batiuk sure doesn’t show any evidence of possessing any.   Today’s strip is full of unneeded detail, as if Batiuk was certain the reader couldn’t remember what happened–not just in the previous strip, but in the previous panel.

Of course, he has space he has to fill.  I remain convinced that he does, indeed, draw the strip a year in advance including the word balloons, but the word balloons are not filled in until the last minute.  Notice how a cleaned-up version reads:

Notice how the flow is much better.  But it obviously wouldn’t do to leave all that white space.  So, off he goes filling the space with whatever comes to mind.

The second flaw in Batiuk’s “writing” is the fact that the joke isn’t a joke at all, yet he’s got his characters laughing uproariously at what is little more than a simple observation.   I would guess that DMV officers test drivers in all kinds of vehicles; it kind of comes with the job.  Though I should note that when Wally and Adeela came back to Montoni’s, she was driving a standard robin’s egg Batiukmobile.  How is this a “first time” for a DMV (or if you insist, Tom, BMV) officer?

Did “the officer administering the test” have to shove piles of pizza boxes into the trunk before he could fit in the passenger seat?  Batiuk, you should at least 1) try to set up your joke properly, and 2) try to have an actual joke.

 

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Naming the Unnameable

Link to today’s strip.

Well, will you look at that.  That cranky old bus driver has finally been named!  I guess Batiuk realized his word zeppelin wasn’t big enough to include “–what was his name, again?  I can never remember–” so he was forced to use his real name.

And for Heaven’s sake, Cory, you’re going to wear holes in that countertop.  How much polishing does it need, considering there hasn’t been a customer at all during this “story”?  Talk about putting in the effort without obtaining a result.

That might be a good euphemism, come to think of it.  “Tom Batiuk has been polishing the countertop on Funky Winkerbean for a couple of decades….”

Afterword:  SoSF mourns the passing of Bill Bickel, host of “Comics I Don’t Understand.”   He presented senseless comics that needed an explanation, and he and his commentors were always up to the task.  “Senseless” also describes his passing, and the internet is poorer now.  I’m not very good at deep thoughts, so I will just say that I will miss his wisdom.

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You’ll Wonder Where The Yellow Went

Link to today’s strip.

Okay, this has to be a deliberate FU to Batiuk’s critics.  All last week Rachel’s hair was pumpkin orange.  Now, she’s a frosty blonde.  And, check out Wally–his hair has gone from acorn brown to some kind of gold-bronze sheen, like Doc Savage on those old paperbacks.  I think I had a GI Joe with hair like that when I was a kid, but his hair was plastic, so he had a good excuse.  (“Only his hairdresser knows for sure!”)

Really?  Is this what quality control is supposed to look like?  Is this the comic strip you are presenting as something to admire, Mr. Batiuk?  Seeing as it’s all, according to you, reality-based, but 1/4 inch from reality?  Is this why you think you deserve awards?  Do the chains of continuity rest heavy upon you, sir?

Maybe he was inspired when the MCU had Black Widow’s hair change from red to blonde in “Avengers: Infinity War.”  I like to think the comics geek in him thought “Oh wow, I just have to do that!”

Of course, “Avengers: Infinity War” was supposed to take place some time after Black Widow’s previous appearance…not later that same day.

Sheesh.

As for the rest of today’s thing, it’s a typical Mary-Worth-style “recap of the previous week” and thus contains no new information.  At least it has the word “ASS” in there–a handy designation for everything in this strip.  (Not to mention a shout-out to the future Academy-Award winning film.)

Also, nice bowling trophy.  I don’t think I’ve seen anyone in this strip go bowling (happens a lot in that other strip), but I guess someone was good at it once.  Can’t have been Les or we’d never stop hearing about it.

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Westview: Silent Hill Edition

Link to today’s strip.

Wow, look at that background in panel one!  It’s going to be great when Pyramid Head shows up and starts butchering everyone.  I’m going to take back everything bad I’ve said about this strip!

Ha ha, not really.  Anyway, here’s another Funky Winkerbean “story” in which speculation far outstripped reality.  Imagine, you folks talking about affairs and house-building!  You should’ve seen yourselves!  Don’t worry, I’m not making sport of you, as I fall into the same trap pretty much every time.  Sigh.

A question for those of you more knowledgeable than myself.  Adeela seems like a fairly devout Muslim–aren’t there strictures on the company that Muslim women can keep?  Isn’t being with a man who is not in her family (and a married man at that) forbidden?

I know that women driving was restricted (until recently) in places like Saudi Arabia, so she’s clearly bucking that trend.  So, why continue with the hijab, then?  (I know the answer to that one–it’s so Batiuk can claim diversity by using the most superficial traits.)

Credit where it’s due:  I like the drawing of Rachel in panel two.  That is a genuinely good rendering of Rachel’s expression–someone who is clearly not happy, but is willing to listen.

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Defused

Link to today’s strip.

And just like that, the whole situation is defused.  This is a good example of Batiuk’s poor writing choices.  In the normal Archie-type sitcom scenario we’ve been seeing this week, the situation would be resolved when the wife confronts the husband, and it’s the husband who has to explain how everything is innocent.  Here, it’s like Batiuk is thinking, “Well, everyone loves my characters and I can’t keep implying that they’re doing bad things, so I’d better stop this now.”

So, Wally’s helping Adeela get her driver’s license.  So, purely innocent…and rather helpful on Wally’s part.  Those of you who, earlier in the week, guessed that something more interesting was afoot…well, sorry.  It wasn’t.

I’m really surprised Wally offered to help her.  Everything he encounters seems to trigger him into a psychotic breakdown–and given his history with women in cars, I should think this would be even more of a nightmare for him than showing up at Kent State to go to class.  According to that story, Wally leaving the house was a major milestone for him.

I think he would probably refuse to get into any car, let alone one with another person, where that person might be charged an arm and a leg.

But that’s the Funkyverse–where consistency doesn’t even apply to milkshakes.

 

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Driving Me Backwards

Link to today’s strip.

Gad, the pacing in this damned strip…”glacial” isn’t the word for it, since glaciers manage to move a few inches per year.    This is like trying to put together a jigsaw puzzle, except you have to wake up a really old caretaker to hand you each piece, one at a time.  And in the end, the resultant picture is not worth the effort.

Let’s recap:  We have a date, Wally’s off with Adeela, I’m mad, Wally and Adeela are driving….

Tomorrow, I expect them to impart that Wally and Adeela are driving a car, and they’re not on the golf course starting wildfires.

Credit where it’s due:  Rocky’s been drawn nicely, especially panel three.

Here’s what Brian Eno had to say, back in the day.

John Foxx had some thoughts as well.

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