You Dropped a Bomb on Lisa

Link To Strip

It’s great to be back here for one last time (maybe, unless Batiuk is just tricking everyone). I really, really do not understand the point of this arc, unless it’s Batiuk kind of giving a middle finger to his critics and trying to say that actually he did have a plan all along, and every insignificant thing was part of the beautiful tapestry that led to Summer. But even just a really casual reading makes things super baffling, since:

  1. Harley did nothing to prevent the bombing, which I’m pretty sure injured and killed people other than Lisa.
  2. If Lisa hadn’t been at the post office, I guess Harley wouldn’t have given a crap.
  3. Harley had to somehow alter dozens of people’s minds in order to get them to help after a tragedy.
  4. Could he not have “nudged the mind” of the bomber to prevent the bombing?

I’m also curious how he “made sure” the physician was in charge of Summer’s care. Did he have a second job as a hospital director, or did he bribe someone? Did he kill Westview’s previous lousy neonatal physician, ensure the top neonatal physician (in the entire world, I guess) lost his job in such disgrace that he had no choice but to come to Westview? And if he cared so much to get involved in Moore family health care, could he not have done something to help Lisa? I’m seriously waiting for the strip where he reveals he intentionally messed up Lisa’s paperwork and nudged her mind so she’d die in order for Summer to write her book.

Great Moments in FW Arc Recap History

I totally forgot this classic part of one of the lamer bombing related storylines in fiction:

Les was going to go to the post office instead of Lisa, but she forced him to get back to work, because she existed to make him happy. And apparently she didn’t have anything to do that day, nothing as important as whatever stories Les was writing.

I just love Les’s expression in the second panel. I’m not entirely sure if I prefer CBJ’s ponytail or skunk hair, but they’re both awful.

The “USA!” panel is definitely in my top five favorite FW panels. (Especially know that you know that somewhere, the high school janitor is smiling to himself and thinking “Yes, all is proceeding according to the grand design”.)

And here we have a strip where Bull appears to be a decent and selfless guy, which he did for most of Act II, but know we know it was actually Harley who nudged his mind, I guess, which takes away from Bull’s character and is totally in line with how he’s been treated in this strip for all of Act III.

Oh, and in strips like this, where a medical professional is mocking someone who is literally helping save lives for being fat.

I’ll just end with this strip, because it’s extra funny now. Your fate was not in your own hands, actually, it was in the hands of the janitor who probably stared at you and Lisa an awful awful lot.

The rest of the arc recap is totally worth reading. It’s one of the weirder arcs Batiuk has done. Even so, after reading it again now, I was struck by how much better Act II was compared to the last five to ten years of this strip. It definitely had a lot of flaws, but things happened. If Batiuk did this kind of story now, it would’ve just been a week of Les and Tony listening to the radio and then back to an Atomik Komix arc.

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Nudge, Nudge, Say No More… Please

Hey folks, billytheskink here… I’m back for at least one more post so I can tag the ever-loving dickens out of today’s strip.

Lest we think Harley only takes agency and free will away from women, we learn today that he did the same to DSH and to the various members of the Westview High School class of ’92-’88-’78-’72 reunion committee. Since TB is looking back, let’s step into our own WABAC machine and see what exactly happened in the these two events that Harley interfered in.

First off…

Great Moments In FW Arc Recap History

November 19-December 20, 2012
An extended Crazy Harry arc begins. Harry explains to Donna his love of old comic books. The next day he walks into Montoni’s to inform Funky that USPS is shutting down the Westview Post Office and he’s out of a job. Harry decides he must sell off his beloved library, spending a week sorting and packing his books and his comics before schlepping them off to John, who offers Crazy Harry a job at the Komix Korner.

Granted, I cannot say what she was thinking, but back during this story arc, Donna never talked about leaving town. She didn’t do much of anything, really, except try to come on to Crazy while he moped about and spout off about how his political beliefs had changed with age. Also, is Harley admitting here that he “nudged” long-time Komix Korner employee Kevin out of existence to clear the way for DSH to hire Crazy? There are consequences to this time-meddling, Batiuk!

Now for the star flashback of the day…

We’re looking at August 21, 1993, when Les and Lisa reconnected at one of the incessant high school class reunions.

In the original strip, Les hung the moon for Lisa… in today’s flashback, he hung the “Westview Reunion” banner next to the moon.

Should we assume the committee back in 1993 (holding what was then a canonically a 5-year reunion) was the same cabal Les was drafted into replacing Cindy on in 2015: Cindy, Mary Sue Sweetwater, Junebug, who I think is Cindy’s frizzy-haired minion Carrie, and abdicated valedictorian Barry Balderman? Eh, why not? Barry wasn’t at this reunion, though, he had a cool job.

I’ll give Harley/TB this, his intervention into giving that crew Lisa’s Seattle address makes some level of sense as Lisa wasn’t close with ANY of those committee members (even nerdy Barry) and Les didn’t have her address until after he broke his hand punching Bull at the reunion for reasons that still defy explanation. In a rare moment of common sense, Lisa actually chided a deserving Les for still being stuck in high school. This moment passed quickly, though. Lisa was practically apologizing to Les for being upset even before dawn and the next week Bull was practically apologizing to Les for getting punched. What a time to be alive that was…

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The Ol’ Westviewian Mind-Meld

 

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I can’t believe he actually tried to explain it in panel one. Then, for no reason at all, he dredges up Susan’s suicide attempt, and sort of plays it off as being a mere cog in a far greater scheme of things. Also interesting is how he seems to remember that arc as one worth re-visiting. I guess Harley’s “nudging” skills didn’t work on the medical profession, as, well, you know. Although he’ll (sigh) surely be “explaining” that detail soon enough. This really is one ugly, ugly arc, man.

Great Moments In FW Arc Recap History

January 14-February 2, 2013
Darin makes it known that he is happy; the universe punishes his happiness by causing his adoptive father to suffer a stroke. Fred is rushed to the hospital. In the waiting room, Fred’s wife Ann shares with Darin and Jessica that rather than falling in love, she and Fred “just fell into place”, and rather bitterly suggests that her marriage to Fred meant sacrificing her own dream of being a sportswriter. Later, Darin ruminates on his adoptive parents’ “doubts and unfulfilled ambitions”. Fred, confined to a wheelchair and unable to speak intelligibly, is released from the hospital and moved into Darin’s old room. Ann will be his speech therapist.

February 3-10, 2013
No sooner is Fred settled in back at home than his heretofore unknown estranged daughter Kerry shows up at the door. We learn that she is the product of Fred’s first marriage, and that Kerry’s mother, for reasons we are not told, prevented Fred and Kerry from having any contact. After a short visit with Fred, Kerry and Darin talk over coffee. On Sunday we are treated to a depressing scene of Fred in his chair, looking out the window at a snowy day
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One of the stranger Act III arcs for sure. The Fairgoods, Boy Lisa’s adoptive parents, were always kind of nice, affable, and not particularly objectionable in any way, unlike so, so many others. Then, out of nowhere, for no discernible reason at all, Batiuk decided to give Fred a stroke (on the toilet, no less), at which point Ann revealed that she was trapped in a loveless, joyless marriage with Fred, who was also a philanderer with a secret love child, the mysterious (and never seen again) Kerry. It was almost as if BatHam was punishing the Fairgoods for having the temerity to raise St. Lisa’s love child as their own.

Next week is SOSF GUEST AUTHOR’S WEEK and they’ll all be on hand, doling out the farewell snark. Our stable of hilarious and gritty guest authors were the pillars on which SoSF stood. It simply couldn’t have existed without their efforts. Every single one of them was excellent and you could set your watch by their consistently awesome output. Billytheskink, Spacemanspiff85, ComicBookHarriet, Banana Jr. 6000, BeckoningChasm, Oddnoc, David O, Charles, Stuck Funky, and HeyIt’sDave…the names will forever ring out in comic strip snarkdom. Hope I didn’t forget anyone there. My mind is slowly reclaiming space as soon-to-be obsolete FW information is purged. Seriously though, my team of guest authors were, in my opinion, an infallible bunch of terrific, funny people, and I’ll genuinely miss you all.

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The Nudge-stodian

Summer’s gone from “playing along” to listening in rapt attention as Harley the Custodian talks about his mission to ensure that she writes her important book. Meanwhile, your genial host has gone from bemused to befuddled to borderline enraged at how Batiuk has seen fit to wind down his once beloved franchise. It’s exhausting even to read, let alone to try and write something funny about. The upside is that it’s inspired some genius snark from you readers; even compelling the lurkers to chime in. Starting Monday, Epicus and I will step aside and allow our stellar bullpen of guest authors to take a couple more swings, then we’ll see how things shake out over the next, final few weeks. Don’t forget that Tuesday at 8PM EST, I’m attempting to conduct a 1-hour online event via Google Chat. Email sonofstuckfunky[at]gmail.com for an invite.

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It Takes A Nation Of Humanity To Hold Us Back

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“Recognize humanity as our nation”??? Yeah, sure Tom, and maybe we can recognize ennui as our state, and boredom as our municipality. So to recap what we thus far know: apparently, Summer’s ability to detect patterns will cause a major paradigm shift that allows humanity to become our nation, and it involves Donna’s old Eliminator helmet somehow. It’s all really coming together now. I was all confused before, but yeah, this totally clears things up.

Panel one Summer looks exactly like Act II Les, minus the nerd glasses. And that fishhook smirk in panel two seems to indicate a human emotion that as of right now I am totally unfamiliar with. Skeptical bemusement? Wry acknowledgement? Polite confusion? Beats me. And while I know that hands are always notoriously difficult to draw properly, drawing a hand holding a pen must be even harder, as this week has established with iron-clad evidence.

Great Moments In FW Arc Recap History

March 17-23, 2014
Funky visits the nursing home to discover that his Dad has taken up smoking.

This one marked the moment when Morton’s Alzheimer’s, which had been nearly totally debilitating just a few years before, began to miraculously vanish. I can’t explain the medical science behind it, but apparently the cigarettes somehow transformed Morton from a helpless drool-cup into a quick-witted, razor-sharp old coot who soon became the coolest resident at Bedside Manor. It did wonders for his virility too. And it’s probably one of the more under-the-radar courageous things BatHam did during Act III, as you don’t see a lot of people promoting cigarettes as a health aid anymore. Quite a gutsy stance.

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Protective Custodian

Green Luthor
November 29, 2022 at 10:52 pm
“Custodian” in the case of the group he’s describing would mean something akin to “caretaker”; i.e., they’re responsible to keeping anything from happening to the timeline.

But “custodian” can also refer to someone who performs janitorial duties (itself a form of caretaker). Which is the job he’s doing at Westview High.

So the high school custodian is ALSO a custodian of the timeline! Hilarious!

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

So now this arc is really starting to go somewhere! He’s been sent from the future for the “crucial job” of making sure Summer writes her book about her podunk Ohio hometown! Time travel tales often involve a character going back in time to alter events to produce more favorable outcomes. But in whatever “somewhen” Harley’s from, Summer’s book has been written; it exists. So why is it necessary for him to travel back through time to ensure that something that’s happened, happens?

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Custodious Interruptus

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THIS is why he did this arc in the first place. It only exists so he could do that “custodian” gag! This explains everything, and it explains nothing. But I know how this guy thinks, and when he got this “custodian” idea, bells started ringing in his head and he started victory lapping around that studio of his. The whole thing was built around that one stupid joke. Sigh.

Great Moments in FW Arc Recap History

May 2-7, 2011
Les finally bangs Cayla.

May 8-21, 2011
Ann Apple calls Les to tell him that “Hollywood” wants to option Lisa’s Story. This sends Les into a panic as he imagines how “Hollywood” will desecrate his work. After a park bench consult with the ghost of his late wife, Les reluctantly agrees. Ann dismisses Les’ fears by telling him there’s virtually no chance the movie will ever get made.

May 22-29, 2011
Les and Cayla on the porch swing. Cayla interrupts Les’ “long thoughts” by uttering the words “I love you”. Les is unable to respond in kind, and after a long, awkward pause the two decide to “take a break”.

May 30-June 4, 2011
Cayla tells Linda that she and Les are through; Linda tells Bull, and Bull lets slip to Susan, who marches directly to Les’ classroom and blurts out the dreaded “I love you”. When Les (again) fails to respond in kind, Susan flees the scene.

June 5-12, 2011
Les confides in Funky and Crazy Harry about his love life. The friends react with disbelief that Les, whose inability to get a girl in high school is retold in a series of flashback vignettes, now has two women vying for his affection. Les takes umbrage at their teasing and storms out of Montoni’s. Funky shows up at Les’ porch to seek forgiveness.

June 13-July 2, 2011
Les calls Cayla to try to mend their relationship, but she is already on his sidewalk when he calls. She apologizes to Les (!). No sooner do the two exchange “I love you’s” than Keisha “crazies things up” by sending a pic of Susan kissing Les to her mom’s cell phone. Cayla buys Les’ explanation that it was not his fault. Back at Westview HS, the “kiss” photo has gone viral among the students. Principal Nate calls Les and Susan into his office, where Susan immediately takes the blame and voluntarily resigns. As she cleans out her belongings, Les halfheartedly attempts to talk Susan out of resigning, but she tells him she’s decided to make a “clean break from Westview”

Oh, if you weren’t around for this era of FW, consider yourself blessed, because the above represents TWO STRAIGHT MONTHS of solid Les. All Les, all the time, week after week after week. And there were four more weekly Les arcs in the two months that followed, with way more to come. The vitriol was pretty intense, I can tell you that. Les Moore, already the single most detestable character in the history of fiction at that point, forever cemented his legacy after this run. It was just unbearable. In my opinion, it may have marked Act III’s nadir, the point where it really bottomed out.

And, interestingly enough, the arc immediately before Les took over for TWO MONTHS was Boy Lisa’s less-than-triumphant return to Westview, after “this economy” forced him to flee his Big City MBA lifestyle and move in to his bio-step dad’s spare bedroom. The idea of moving back in with his actual parents, who were both still alive and well and living in Westview, was never mentioned. Of course, Les got Boy Lisa a job at Montoni’s, where he designed pizza apps and created the “breakfast pizza” craze that swept Westview for several panels. And Jessica, who was now his wife, was there too, kind of. Way more stuff used to happen back then, but at the time it seemed like nothing was happening, like how it is now. Maybe it was all just an illusion or something.

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Stuck Inside of Westview with the Helmet Blues Again

If you’re going to write a time travel story, you either totally ignore all the possible, unintentional ramifications of transtemporal travel, or you make the story about those ramifications. Either way, doing so requires a fair amount of narrative skill. That is, at least make it entertaining enough so that hidebound literalists and beady-eyed nitpickers don’t feel compelled to tear it apart. Gosh, this arc is infuriating. Given his seemingly supernatural gifts, surely there was some way that Hedley could have gotten back the dreary magic helmet. He’s had over 40 years to do it! But noooooo, he was content to leave it in Donna’s possession, and now it’s disappeared (and how does he even know this?). As a result, he’s “stranded” in space and time, and, nothing against janitors, but it’s probably a pretty mundane existence for someone capable of time travel and mind control. But hey, at least the music’s good!

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I Know Where He Can Find A Mind Exactly Like That

Link To The Strip

You know, the strip is drawing to a close, as is my beloved SoSF blog, and I really wish it didn’t have to be this way. It’d really be nice if we got a story that offered some kind of closure, or even a nostalgic “life goes on” clip show kind of thing, where we could chuckle at the gang and their various pitiful antics over the years. But, unfortunately, he threw whatever this is supposed to be together, so there’s nothing you can really do but marvel over how unbelievably terrible and stupid it is.

Impossible events (that they’re only talking about, mind you), wild incongruities, dialog that contradicts itself all over the place, awful artwork, it’s unquestionably one of the most terrible FW arcs I’ve ever seen. And it’s not even terrible in an astonishing way, like when Les saved Marianne from a fire. It’s just stupid. I mean sure, maybe this helmet nonsense will lead somewhere and we’ll all be like “wow, I can’t believe how that cat figured into the story!” but what are the odds?

My current guess is that the strip will end with Les asking Summer how her book is coming along. Summer will reply that it’s already finished. Then the last panel will show “The Complete FW” with a caption that says “Thanks For Reading…Stay Funky!”. This story isn’t going anywhere and nothing will happen, so right now that’s the most likely ending.

Great Moments In FW Arc Recap History

November 19-December 20, 2012

An extended Crazy Harry arc begins. Harry explains to Donna his love of old comic books. The next day he walks into Montoni’s to inform Funky that USPS is shutting down the Westview Post Office and he’s out of a job. Harry decides he must sell off his beloved library, spending a week sorting and packing his books and his comics before schlepping them off to John, who offers Crazy Harry a job at the Komix Korner.

Being a mailman was Crazy Harry’s entire post-high school identity, so OF COURSE Batiuk had to destroy it, as he’s often prone to do. I was shocked to discover that Crazy has been working as John’s Komix Korner lackey for TEN YEARS already, as I thought this happened far more recently than this. Time sure does fly. He just loved to torture these characters. He absolutely bludgeoned Funky and Wally for years on end, he had Dinkle go deaf, he had a trombone prodigy lose an arm, he had Bull lose his mind AND die, he crippled Fred Fairgood AND rectonned him into a philanderer for no reason whatsoever, and he stripped away whatever dignity Crazy had left (hint: not much), just for kicks. He’s a dark, dark character, that Batom. He obviously loves the idea of cruel fates befalling his characters, especially if they were popular or good at something in high school. It’s always been one of his weirdest traits.

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Disrupting the Timeline

Green Luthor
November 24, 2022 at 10:44 pm
But…Donna said she made the helmet herself? Is she also a time traveler? (Is that how she played Defender in 1980?) Or did she just somehow accidentally create a “temporal phase shifter” without realizing it?

Hitorque
November 26, 2022 at 12:16 am
1. So Donna lied her ass off when she said she constructed the helmet herself?

1a. So Batiuk lied his ass off when he showed us Donna being “inspired” by that bullshit comic book cover and actually making the helmet herself?!?

So not only is Harley a time traveler; today we learn that he’s a toucher of minds. If he has that ability, couldn’t he just influence Donna’s mind to return the helmet? Why do that when he can just inspire a fantasy illustrator to put it on the cover of Eerie #57 for her to find? The end of Funky’s 50-year run would be the perfect opportunity for Tom Batiuk to tie up at least a few of his myriad loose plot ends, and even revisit a few of the people and places who have played a role in this strip’s history. Instead, we’re given a week (or, likely, more) of these two mopes sitting in the janitor’s closet, discussing this hokey time travel retcon.

The Duck of Death
November 23, 2022 at 10:35 pm Edit
Kudos to Tom Batiuk for ensuring that none of his readers will be sorry when his strip ends, or miss it when it’s gone.

I’m with ya, DoD.

Great Moments In SoSF Arc Recap History: March 12-19, 2017
Funky wanders around an abandoned house in the woods.

While jogging with Les, the Funkman notices a derelict house on a hill, and he returns later, by himself, to explore. This week long, standalone arc accomplished nothing in the way of plot or character development. But it exemplifies a couple hallmarks of post-Act I Funky Winkerbean: glacial pacing and the futility of human existence. The strips from Monday to Friday are almost completely void of verbiage: Funky pulls his car over, treks up the hill, and wanders through the abandoned house. Read the entire arc here.

 

 

 

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