It Is By Will Alone I Set My Mind In Motion

Today’s Strip.

Les, you horse’s ass.  You’ve never had any problem visualizing Lisa’s thoughts before–why not grab a thermos, a legal pad, and head on out to the park bench?   Lisa can dictate the entire damned script to you.  Problem solved.  Cayla can do the rest of the yard work.  I mean, Cayla has to be good for something, right?

Now, let’s leave aside the fact that you were LIVING with Lisa all through this time, because if we bring that up, it might just indicate how much of a self-obsessed jerk-clod you are.  It might explain why you can’t (or don’t care to) remember when Lisa confided in you about what she was going through.  You know–the kind of thoughts you’re having so much trouble with right now.

Of course, none of her thoughts and fears back then had anything to do with you, Les, and to be honest it kind of moved the spotlight a little too much away from where it should have been.  After all, what about your needs!

But that’s not really the point I was trying to make, Les.  You are supposed to be writing a movie.  Movies have things happen, and scenes where people speak.  They’re a visual medium.  They are not endless interior monologues, unless they were made in France back in the late 1950’s.  You are adapting a book about a woman who died of cancer.   If there was an audience who wanted to see such a film, they’d want to see how she copes with her illness, how her friends react, how her life changes, perhaps how her priorities shift and how she now sees the remainder of her life in a different light.

The Japanese film Ikiru is a fine example of such a film.

The idea that Lisa’s thoughts should be part of this script is really just begging for a nice case of Writer’s Block excuse (“How can I possibly write her thoughts for Hollywood,” Les preened).  Her thoughts would naturally be expressed, visually and through dialogue, in how she interacts with her friends, her family, her doctors and so on.   It’s all about relationships and how cancer would impact them.  All things that could be shown on screen without too much difficulty.  It’s called writing.

As for you, Tom Batiuk, you really don’t know how to write, do you?

Actually, I secretly think Tom Batiuk regrets the whole “serious issues” path he’s taken, and wishes he were doing gag-a-day again.  It would explain why the strip is so half-hearted and bland.  Well, heck, here’s an easy out for you:  teenage Les awakens in study hall.  “Whew!” he says.  “It was all a dream!”  Then Bull punches him.  There you go, that’s funnier than all of 2013’s Funky strips…which admittedly isn’t saying much.


Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

25 responses to “It Is By Will Alone I Set My Mind In Motion

  1. Gyre

    Well, look on the bright side. I don’t have to retract my criticism!

  2. John

    Ikiru, the rare film that doesn’t sugar coat how hard it is to change things, how brutal life treats those who do force a change, yet at the same time beautifully depicts the much greater rewards to those who refuse to give up on changing themselves and the world for the better…even if it literally WILL be the death of them.

    In contrast, we have LISA’S STORY, the riveting tale of how a woman with cancer (apparently) spent every spare moment of her remaining years filming videotapes for every loved one she had, to be opened and watched on every special occasion ever, seemingly for the sole purpose of making every future event in their lives about how much they should miss her.

    Hmmm. I’m detecting a flaw in Lisa’s alleged saintliness.

  3. Rusty

    Hmm, if only there was a source, a written record, if you will, of Lisa’s inner thoughts about her life.

  4. Sgt. Saunders

    Let’s just hope that damn Le Chat Bleu doesn’t show up.

  5. I sincerely hope that’s a book on Ohio divorce law Cayla is pulling off the shelf, and not Lisa’s diary ex machina.

  6. Epicus Doomus

    Tremendous post BC, loved it. There’s no way anyone could possibly overstate the complete and total ridiculousness of this arc and if that book Cayla is reaching for is what it has to be, it’s about to reach some depths of maudlin, craven sappiness we haven’t plumbed in a while.

    There’s much hilarity going on today, though. Les’ pitiful, whiny dialog is a good starting point. Even funnier is Cayla (in full-on good-natured doormat mode) reaching for one of the Lisa reference books they keep around the house, just in case Les needs to know what Lisa’s thoughts and feelings were on any given day. Man, that Lisa sure did a great job documenting her life, it’s actually amazing that she ever found time to get sick and die.

    As her death fades more and more into the past, the ways he tries to keep using her in the strip get more and more contrived, don’t they? You’d think that Mr. Realism would realize that there can’t just be an endless supply of long-lost Lisa stuff lying around waiting to be unearthed, yet here we are again. If there’s anything I think he regrets, it’s killing off his favorite character because he obviously can’t stop dreaming up ways to keep her going even though in strip time she’s been dead for sixteen years or so now. It isn’t as blatantly idiotic as it used to be, but it’s still really pathetic and silly.

  7. Gyre

    Let’s see.

    Strip is about Les. Take a shot.

    Strip is about Lisa and/or Lisa’s story in some way. Take a shot.

    Strip is about writer’s block. Take a shot.

    Strip has Cayla appear to ask about and/or help Les with the story. Take a shot.

    Can anyone think up another Funky staple (cliche) present here?

  8. Howard and Nester

    Let’s just hope that damn Le Chat Bleu doesn’t show up.

    That’s really too bad. Le Chat Bleu could be a comedy goldmine. He appears in front of various strip characters and makes fun of them before they die, Final Destination style.

  9. Howard and Nester

    Can anyone think up another Funky staple (cliche) present here?

    Well, the strip doesn’t have:
    * Pointless jabs at Hollywood.
    * Characters praising Les for “working hard… you know?”
    * Ghost-Lisa smiling beatifically in the background.
    * Chatting over a pizza.
    * Godawful Puns.
    * Smirks.

    So as far as Les the Delicate Genius storylines go, this strip is rather on the average side of cliche density.

  10. Orbiter

    Whew. Today really sums it all up and sadly its all on target. But there is still the arresting possibility that Les really does keep notes, manuscripts, spare change and the like in Lisa’s mummified head in some upstairs room of the house a la Norman Bates. Wouldn’t be a stretch considering all this foolishness. But whatever, the new wife sure is a sucker.

  11. Sgt. Saunders

    The only book Cayla could be fetching that is worthy of the utter stupidity of this arc is “Lisa’s Story”.

  12. billytheskink

    Looks like yet another Lisa journal is being pulled off the shelf… She’s got more posthumous material than Tupac.

  13. Guest Page Turner Author

    Didn’t he already write the book that this script is based upon? This should have been a weekend project. I thought it was done last spring, when they were hauling the swing out of the garage.

    Cayla seems to have that disease Benjamin Buttons had. She’s growing younger looking more quickly than meth-head Annie was growing old last week.

  14. bobanero

    So this whole arc is just another excuse to drag out and read from the “Book of Lisa” again? She’s had more new material discovered since her death than Jimi Hendrix.

  15. Howard and Nester

    Is there any particular reason why Lisa didn’t pursue a career in writing while she was alive? I mean, yes, the last months of cancer are oppressively painful and I can understand and even respect her sang froid at shoveling glurge at family members yet not at the public at large.

    But seriously, for all of Lisa’s faults, her work ethic and productivity was way above the Delicate Genius’s.

  16. Rusty

    Another FW cliche in today’s strip: Kent State sweatshirt.

    If Lisa kept that diary from pre-rape van to death, I would expect a thicker volume.

  17. Flummoxicated

    Cayla has to listen to Les yammer on about how hard writing is and Lisa Lisa Lisa Lisa Lisa.

  18. Charles

    This is what I mentioned a couple days ago. Les is so hung up on Lisa that he’d rather faithfully reproduce her thoughts than actually write a compelling script. So it’s not about what kind of writer he is, it’s how good a stenographer he is concerning his sixteen-years-dead wife’s thoughts.

    You see this every so often with amateurs, where they believe that “It’s true! It really happened!” is an adequate rationale for putting something in a story, that hewing to the truth is more important than the theme of the story itself. And that’s why they’re amateurs.

    Here’s the thing that’s amazing. Les is going to shirk his job of writing this script, and yet we’re almost certainly going to be told that he’s a hero for “letting Lisa tell her story”. He’ll put as little independent thought into it as possible, instead letting Lisa’s entire Library-of-Congress sized journal collection do the thinking for him.

    And oh, it will be beautiful… except it wouldn’t be, because the first thing a real filmmaker would point out to this douche is that nineteen scenes of our protagonist’s wife sitting in a doctor’s office talking to a doctor isn’t the sort of visual excitement people watch a movie for.

    Also, another point: all of Lisa’s drama was created in order to show how wonderful Les is in his reactions to it. None of the storylines were really about Lisa, but instead about Les’s reaction to them. Lisa’s cancer was about Les. Lisa’s teenage pregnancy was about Les. Lisa being blown up in the post office was about Les. And most importantly, Lisa being unwilling to fight off her cancer was about Les. That’s why Lisa’s a one-dimensional saint – it’s never about her.

  19. Professor Fate

    Charles Bravo – nailed it again. And really the main problem with the idea of a film about Lisa diying of cancer is that she really didn’t do anything except close down her law practice take to her bed and die. She didn’t even sue the doctor who mixed up her x-rays. However you propose a plausible reason as to why Les is having such a problem with getting inside Lisa’s thoughts. He was too absorbed in how this was affecting him to pay any attention to the dying woman. It’s not a pretty reason and could – in other hands – lead to a very powerful arc where Les Grows the fuck up – but we will not have that. It will Lisa ex Mahinca and another deathbed wallow that would make Bulwer-Lutton hoot with derisive laughter.

  20. Don’t forget this cliche…

    -Any female on the strip is hatchet-faced, fat and homely or looks like a dude.

  21. Now wait a minute! If this ponderous, black tome is Lisa’s journal, Les already knows of its existence, but has been too cowardly to read it. So what’s the deal with Cayla’s big reveal? Is she going to contribute to Les’s personal growth by leading him to the diary as one would lead a horse to water? Will Les drink the knowledge from Lisa’s fount? How will this affect Les? Because—make no mistake—this is about Les not Lisa.

    What’s unusual about today’s strip, though, is none of that. The overweening leitmotif of the strip—that the world revolves around Les, Batominc’s avatar—is nothing new. This strip shows something happening—not as a flashback, nor as a recounting in a wall-of-text speech balloon. Batominc has deigned to show a porch swing being deposited in a garage, and a woman pulling a book from a shelf. This is more action than I can remember ever happening in a Funky Winkerbean strip that wasn’t about a post-office bombing.

  22. John

    Don’t forget, Charles, Tom had Lisa’s own parents reject her JUST SO LES WOULD SEEM LIKE A BETTER PERSON, -not- because he actually had any ideas for that plot element.

    Yeesh. Lisa’s entire life became just window dressing for a Gary Stu fan-fic!

  23. @oddnoc – Don’t forget the greatest action strip ever – Les getting beaned by a softball.

  24. Charles

    Don’t forget this cliche…

    -Any female on the strip is hatchet-faced, fat and homely or looks like a dude.

    So long as we’re talking about women in the strip: Every time Cayla is shown with Les she does nothing at all beyond servicing whatever need he has at the time. What he is doing and whatever he is concerned about is the most important thing in the world to her, indeed the only thing in the world to her.

    I think that’s why Cayla “won” over Susan, because enough of Susan’s character concerned going out and pursuing what she wanted. That would never do for the wife of Batiuk’s avatar. She can’t do anything more than sit back and react to whatever he’s doing.

    Also, I’m wondering which of these horrible-in-their-own-way developments today’s strip is. Is Cayla grabbing the same Lisa diary that Summer brought back from school? If so, it’s morphed from a tiny pocket-sized book into a full-sized 9×12 hardback. If it’s a different diary, well, then they’ve got multiple Lisa diaries taking up space on their bookshelves. And Cayla knows enough about them to know they’ll be of help to Les.

  25. apauled

    “Lisa’s mummified head in some upstairs room of the house a la Norman Bates.”

    I wasn’t reading the strip when she died — did we ever see a funeral? Do we actually know that she was buried or cremated? Or…..