Moore’s the Pity

Link to today’s strip. 

ACTUAL STRIP CONTENT COMMENTARY:  There isn’t any.  “Content,” that is.  What we’ve got is a recap post for those poor souls unlucky enough to have missed a month of Tom Batiuk’s brilliance, and are desperate to find out what’s “happened.”   To those folks, well, I can only quote the Daleks: “‘Pity’? The word is not in my vocabulary.”

I have to say that the last panel is a perfect summation of all of Funky Winkerbean.  It should be the logo on the official site.


In 1941, Preston Sturges made Sullivan’s Travels.  If you’ve never seen it, I highly recommend it, and I won’t spoil it for you.  The premise is that Joel McCrea plays a Hollywood director who specializes in frothy, lightweight comedies.  However, he longs to make serious dramas that call attention to the ills of the day.   The film never outright says it, but Mr. McCrea wants to be known as an artist, and not an entertainer.  The lessons he learns, and the conclusion he comes to won’t be surprising to anyone, but I still find it amazing that others in Mr. Sullivan’s shoes seem oblivious to those same lessons.

I wonder, if Tom Batiuk was just starting out on his career as a syndicated cartoonist, and if he took the best strips of the past three years, do you suppose any syndicate would hire him?  Or would they show him and his relentlessly gloomy strips to the exit?

What publisher looks at the comics page and says, “We need more depressing comic strips.  Buy Funky Winkerbean!”?  I can’t imagine such a person.  (Well, okay, I can imagine J. Jonah Jameson doing this, because he hates his readers.)  Does this mean that Funky Winkerbean still appears in newspapers due to inertia and nostalgia, for a time when we were younger and the strip made us smile wryly?

In the very infrequent times that I step in the Comics Kingdom comments section, Mr. Batiuk has a few defenders, none of whom can point to the positive aspects of his work that they enjoy (it’s well drawn, the characters are realistic, it reminds me of my youth, etc etc).  None.  The only defenses I’ve seen employed by his fans is that his detractors have never won an award and must be unemployed.  Well, I mean, take that!  Oh–and there’s also “If you don’t like it, don’t read it!”  I’ll wait for you to recover from that mot juste.

I wonder what Tom Batiuk really hopes he’s accomplishing.  Does he, J. Jonah Jameson-like, take pleasure in consistently thwarting people’s desire for entertainment, because that damned Spider-Man?  Or, conversely, has he simply ceased to care?  I know that if I drew a nice paycheck doing something in which I no longer believed, I’d probably keep doing it as long as the bills kept arriving.  Everyone has the right to survive, after all.  But I’d still take no joy in it.

Of course, a creative person (an artist or an entertainer) might find a way to bring joy back to his creation.  As I noted yesterday, when Conan Doyle brought back Sherlock Holmes, he did so in The Hound of The Baskervilles–hardly an FU to the Holmes fans.  Would such a thing be possible for Batiuk?  I don’t know, but I think it’s far too late for Funky Winkerbean–Batiuk has started down his chosen path, and he’ll be damned if he’s going to admit he made a terrible mistake.  No, you will take Les Moore, and you will like Les Moore, and you will find yourself amused and enlightened by Les Moore*.  I suppose it’s a strange stance to take, to decide that this is the line that shall not be crossed.

Everyone can see the line, it’s just that no one wants to stand on that side.

O Brother, Where Art Thou?

*For amusement, try substituting “horse poop” for “Les Moore” in that sentence.  It reads exactly the same!

Speaking of O Brothers, the greatest O brother of all, David O, will be driving the SoSF Funky Cart in the Depression Box Derby starting tomorrow.  Thank you for your indulgence, and exit right to Funway!


Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

19 responses to “Moore’s the Pity

  1. Howard and Nester

    What the hell kind of beat panel is that?

    Final Beat Panels get their humor by either invoking a ‘waaaait a minute’ moment from the characters involved.

    If Batiuk had set up this strip by Les Moore humblebragging about how hard Summer has it and then Funky deflated him by going: ‘Gee, that sounds so much harder than Cory, who is clearing landmines and being shot at’ and the final panel had a triumphantly smirking Funky, THAT would be a legitimate beat panel. It wouldn’t be funny and in fact would be really irritating, but it’d be a legitimate beat panel.

    This right here is just a smug dick and a laconic sadsack whining and occasionally gurning with goggle-eyed horror.

  2. Epicus Doomus

    See, the “punch line” actually works in one context. In panel six, Funky replies to Les in a straight-forward, honest fashion, with no sarcasm, wryness or smirking. The reaction to that is, of course, awkward silence. It’s like a local custom there, not answering a question with a smug sarcastic remark in Westview is the biggest of faux pas and leaves the locals confused and insulted.

    I love how the ever-obnoxious LesBat can’t resist reminding his old pal that HIS kid is in college, while Funky’s useless delinquent step-son is mere bomb fodder in a war-ravaged hell-hole. And the cheapskate appears to be drinking ice water, too. What a dick. A smug, cheap dick.

    I LOVE the ominous cloud over Montoni’s. though. It should follow Funky wherever he goes, like how PigPen had that dust cloud.

    Great posts over the last two weeks BC, they were like solitary flowers blooming amidst a vast landfill of total garbage. A vast, vast landfill of total garbage. TB’s really off to an especially, uh…listless start in 2014 so far, you know?

  3. To the people who think we’re exaggerating about this strip: here’s proof that we are not.

  4. Gyre

    Got to notice that people seem to imply that there’s something inherently wrong with the person if they’re unemployed. Or, as Stewart put it, “those poors!”

    So not only can those people not find anything good about this, they’re outright biased against anyone who doesn’t have a job. In the middle of the worst global recession in nearly a century.

  5. Epicus Doomus


    Bonus alternate version, that last panel is definitely awesome. Wish I could PS that storm cloud over the whole thing too.

  6. Epicus Doomus


    I’ll stop now….

  7. Epicus–if TomBat doesn’t hire as the new FW writer, it will prove two things–
    1. There is no justice in this world, and
    2. HURRY UP, sweet meteor of death!

    Seriously, your work has been the only source of fun from Funky Winkerbean for the past several years.

  8. Rusty

    Well, it’s not snowing, so winter has ended. Montoni’s continues to survive with no paying customers in sight.

    The only thing better than that last panel ennui, is that one where Les says something smug about the apartment being where he began everything he became and had that silent, self-satisfied smirk in the last panel. That was also comedy gold.

  9. Sgt. Saunders

    Behold the last panel – the black hole of the Funkiverse. It’s as if the entire umpty-bazillion panels, story lines, depression and outright misery that is and ever has been Funky Winkerbean were conflated into a single panel. No smirk can overcome it’s gravitational pull. Query whether we’re seeing the event horizon of TGF. Oh, and speaking of has been…

  10. DOlz

    I can’t decide if TB is trying to channel Norman Rockwell or Edward Hopper in that last panel. Either way I’m just glad neither of them are alive to see it.

  11. John

    (Meanwhile, at college)

    Summer: “So, I finally met the ‘evil professor’ who gave Dad’s paper a bad grade years ago, who told him he’d never amount to being a good writer.”

    Keisha: “Oh? What’s he like?”

    Summer: “He’s a sweet old man who probably hasn’t so much as thought about my Pop in 20+ years.”

    Keisha: “…interesting. Did you remind him about your dad?”

    Summer: “Yeah, but it took a while. Would you believe the guy kept copies of every paper he’s ever graded on a flash drive? I tried to joke about him using Evil Technology. He looked at me like I was from Jupiter.”

    Keisha: “So, your Dad’s paper?”

    Summer: “Turns out his remarks were actually “use the proper format next time” and “type it, as your calligraphy is total chicken scratch.”

    Keisha: “…Your Dad turned -those- minor corrections into a storm of rage that consumed him for decades?”

    Summer: “Well, until he patted himself on the back for NOT screaming at an old man.”

    Keisha: “….yeesh. How’d your phone call with your Dad go?”

    Summer: “He asked me if I remembered Kilimanjaro. At first I had no idea what he was talking about, until he mentioned the KITTY CAT we met! WHEE, kittens!”

  12. John

    On another note, this strip says it all. Tom’s sympathies are solely with the old-before-their-time complainers who live vicariously through their children’s activities while not so secretly disdaining them. The offspring themselves are only useful so much as they provide a source for gossip and cheap, pointless angst.

  13. Saturnino

    January 25, 2014 at 11:12 am
    “What will it be next week? I think we’re due for another Les/Cayla writer’s block arc”

    Got the Les part right……………………..

  14. John

    Epicus, you need to become a Nationally Syndicated Cartoonist!

    Or better yet, since 1997 was eons ago, a web comic creator!

  15. The Dreamer

    Cory is doomed! He’ll step on a landmine for sure and end up MIA. Only to reappear in the strip years later having as it turns out been held as a POW all these years. Oh wait, thats already been done hasn’t it? Or is it a concidence that Cory and Wally are drawn alike?

  16. Epicus Doomus

    Thanks all, sometimes he just makes it so, so easy. Then other times the strip is so completely devoid of any redeeming value that there’s just nothing anyone can do to “punch it up” a little.