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.
BCHASM’S “TL;DR” POST:
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!