And so we come to Saturday, after a week of watching a fat man struggle with exercise equipment while a young woman smirks.
Tell me that description is what keeps Funky Winkerbean in hundreds of newspapers. “See, there’s this fat, sweaty guy who owns a pizza place, and he’s at the gym! Isn’t that hilarious?” Actually, no, it’s not–in fact, it’s not even interesting. Watching Funky fill Snowball’s gas tank would be just as compelling. And, it would have the added bonus of bringing back a character we don’t hate–Snowball.
I don’t know about you, but this week has been a difficult one–it’s hard to critique peanut-butter sandwiches. There’s no level digging, no uncovering of insights, no finding a universal truth, or a moral path, or even an interesting story in a peanut-butter sandwich. Trust me, this week has been as boring to write about as it has been for you folks to read.
And I’ll be charitable and say that it was probably just as boring, work-a-day, no-satisfaction as it was to create these strips in the first place. Sometime during the Act III years, I’m sure this set of drawings was tossed off in a day or two and then filed away in the “filler” drawer, to be published any time–just like the “Snowball” arc, no doubt. I cannot imagine anyone tossing this stuff off with any level of enthusiasm–in a sense, I feel sorry for Tom Batiuk here. Writing comics that have nothing to do with Les Moore is obviously hard work for him.
One thing that’s really easy, though, is hating these characters. Just ask Tom Batiuk. The unabated contempt that radiates from the strip when Funky’s on the screen (like now) can’t be accidental.
If Tom Batiuk can’t treat his characters with anything other than loathing, why should anyone else have a different reaction? If the puppeteer hates the puppets, the audience isn’t going to like them either. Which makes me, for the millionth time, wonder why Tom Batiuk goes on with this thing. Is there a way these characters can be redeemed in the eyes of their creator?
You know, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle once threw Sherlock Holmes over a waterfall. Doyle was tired of the spotlight Holmes cast on him, and he wanted to write about other things. After several years, public pressure led Doyle to bring Holmes back–in what was probably the best Holmes story of them all, The Hound of the Baskervilles. Maybe something like that is needed so that Funky will once again interest Tom Batiuk. I wonder if eight years will be sufficient. (I also wonder if there’ll be any public pressure, but never mind that.)
Are there any waterfalls in Westview? Just askin.’