Lisa’s Longevity

Her dying just didn’t test well.” Just like Westview High School’s production of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play Wit didn’t “test well” with the parents:

(September 2009)

…because you see, it’s Art:

…and art belongs in a museum.

Good Lord, the lecturing never stops!


Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

28 responses to “Lisa’s Longevity

  1. Epicus Doomus

    It’s not just Hollywood…it’s EVERYONE! We’re all just a bunch of shallow halfwits incapable of enjoying and appreciating a well-written cancer story. I get it now!

    But why are you running yesterday’s strip again? What? Of course it is…oh, yeah. I see. Disregard.

  2. The ironic thing is that a Pennsylvania high school recently canceled its production of Spamalot due to homosexual themes–which I guess makes it “art” now, since the unwashed masses don’t understand it:

  3. Ken’s face in the last panel reflects every regular reader of this strip whenever Les shows up, or when Holly is off to get free comics, or…or, well, any Funky Winkerbean strip, really. I mean, that expression is just perfect.

    I find it interesting that Tom Batiuk gets worked up into high dudgeon when someone dares alter Lisa’s Story or question the value of comic books, but he simply can’t be bothered to respect the details in any other sphere (making films, as one example in a long list).

  4. Charles

    So they audience tested the film and decided to change some key scenes. That means that they already have a film in the can and they’re finishing it up. You don’t run a script or treatment past a test audience. That would be absurd.

    Never mind that no one making a crappy little movie to fill the Tuesday night slot on a basic cable channel would bother running it past test audiences. What a silly, incoherent series this has been.

  5. jp

    So…what has Tombat got against museums?

  6. DOlz

    TB since you think someone needs to die for a story to be worthwhile and/or meaningful, may I suggest “Game of Thrones”? Lots of people die so you should be happy, but here’s where it differs for your ahem, offering. We care about the people in the book, it’s well written, there is humor real humor not smirking, the stories develop and are internally consistent, and finally it doesn’t constantly insult the readers as unwashed plebeians.

  7. DOlz

    @jp, not enough comic books.


    Sorry if this was brought up before but isn’t this now supposed to be the pilot episode to a TV series??? Why is she dying in the pilot? Is the rest of the series going to be about glorifying what a great guy the male lead is and how people don’t understand his artistic vision?

  9. Epicus Doomus

    WESTVIEW ONCOLOGIST: Pointing out the individual plot holes and inconsistencies is futile because the entire story is ALL plot holes and inconsistencies. Apparently the entire point of this arc…and maybe the entire strip itself…it to always remind the reader that Lisa’s death, the cancer book and Les’ entire post-Lisa life is all one huge magnificent masterpiece that most of us slobbering idiots can’t understand because we just lack the sensitivity The Author and/or Les has. Or at least that’s what I’m getting out of it.

  10. spacemanspiff85

    What infuriates me the most about TB is how he’s getting paid to do this strip, and so much of it now is just him indulging himself or lecturing his audience about how great his work is. There’s only so much space in newspapers anymore, and Batiuk wastes his. Also, real artwork doesn’t go on and on and on about how it’s art.

  11. Nor does it go out of its way to bash the readers for how stupid and blind they are for not appreciating how real everything is.

  12. Christ, what an asshole.

  13. It’s funny how Batom Inc. equates the death of characters with art. I suppose all of Shakespeare’s comedies are “*%$@.” Seriously, has he been in a museum? Hardly any paintings of corpses there.

  14. A HREF

    I think that what this plot needs is Darwood and Jessica showing up and then taking umbrage and then taking a entire week to stalk out. It worked on Franky—it will work on the fat Dennis Miller look alike that is the script doctor here. What’s his name–Ken Casey. And where is Ghost Lisa—she doesn’t show up anymore?

  15. billytheskink

    Funny enough, that 2009 story was probably the last time any trace of wit appeared in this strip. There sure isn’t any in this storyline.

  16. Professor Fate

    oh boy – everybody settle in for the lecture- here we see the Author at his most unapealing (and is that saying something) Not content to let the work speak for itself we get treated to lectures on what shallow dolts we are for not apprecating his work. Which is actually number one on the hit parade of what not to do when you’re an artist. Especially in a mass audience format like a comic strip..

  17. From yesterthread:

    Epicus Doomus
    July 2, 2014 at 1:45 am
    Last week I mentioned that several years ago Les had a whole imagination sequence where he imagined what Hollywood would be like…he envisioned some random studio stooge asking him if “she really had to die at the end”…

    Yup, May 17, 2011:

  18. A few points about those 2009 strips:

    I can just see Batiuk’s thinking: “‘Wit’ is about a cancer patient, and it’s a work of genius! My story is about a cancer patient…therefore, it is also a work of genius! It’s called ‘logic,’ you beady-eyed nitpickers!”

    Second, “Wit” is an inappropriate choice for a high school play, not because it’s “too serious” or because it’s “art,” but because it contains nudity. Sure, the production could be restaged to eliminate the nudity (or maybe it couldn’t…I know that there are very strict rules regarding what changes can or cannot be made when a theater gets the rights to produce a play)…but even if this particular production contained no nudity, the school would be risking protests and possibly even arrests on child pornography charges before having to explain that no, nobody’s naked in OUR version…

  19. No, Lisa dies in the middle of the movie. Have you not read your own book?

  20. Charles

    Second, “Wit” is an inappropriate choice for a high school play, not because it’s “too serious” or because it’s “art,” but because it contains nudity.

    There is that, but there’s also the fact that it really doesn’t offer very many acting opportunities for your students. From what I understand, it’s very much a personal story about one person. High school drama programs do large productions because it gives everyone participating the chance to, you know, participate. You don’t want to do a play with one major role and a few minor ones.

    Never mind that even though I’m not particularly familiar with Wit, I’m absolutely sure there’s a cathartic/traumatic scene of our female lead shaving her head/getting her head shaved. Good luck with getting that to happen in a school play.

    And if the answer would be to remove the scenes we’ve mentioned, it might be a better choice to find something that doesn’t require that you remove substantial parts of the drama in order to put it together.

  21. If there were a market for it, the publishers of Wit would probably release a pre-Bowdlerized “school edition” which trims out the content deemed inappropriate for minors–or rather, inappropriate for the parents who don’t want to admit how much their children understand. But there’s not a market for it, simply for the reason Charles stated: high school drama departments generally favor large ensemble shows with many opportunities for kids to participate, rather than an intimate piece focused around a single character.

  22. Epicus Doomus

    Thanks TFH. It’s why Les’ reaction makes no sense, he already envisioned his current situation EXACTLY! Even the “testing well” part! What a dick…and a forgetful dick, too.

  23. Phas

    Were this the first time this had happened, I might actually sympathize with Les a little bit. Seeing changes made to your work is never easy, and this particular change to what is, in-universe, a non-fictional account of someone’s death would be downright disrespectful.
    Unfortunately, and as has been pointed out, this isn’t the first time this strip has demonstrated Tom Batiuk’s inability to separate his work from Les’, and will sooner or later devolve into Batiuk screaming to the heavens about people who dare criticize his work.

  24. PolarBear

    Lisa not dying must really be tearing Les apart.

  25. @TFHackett: It would be asking too much of both Les and Batiuk to remember that conversation. Having tomorrow’s strip lead off with “I KNEW this was gonna happen” would lead to a question he might not want answered: “Why did you sign on?”

  26. Charles

    You know, I read a synopsis of Wit to see if my prediction of what would *absolutely* be in it was in it, but was unable to make that determination, which shames me (although the character is supposed to be bald for much if not all of the play). But I did find that one of the key scenes was an awkward and upsetting pelvic exam on the main character, done by an unsympathetic doctor. I’m sure that would have gone over beautifully in a high school play.

    Not to mention that apparently there’s some necessary symbolism in casting the same actor for both the doctor and protagonist’s father roles. I’m sure that would go over well too.

  27. Epicus Doomus

    For those of you fortunate enough to have missed or forgotten it, the 2011 screenplay arc came right on the heels of a LENGTHY arc featuring the book launch tour and the airport fiasco arc and it was followed by the “all the ladies want Les” arc as well.

    TB is subtly revising his own history here too, as if the ‘Lisa dies” arc was this artistic acheivement he fought tooth and nail for instead of the “can you top THIS?” arc it actually was. Any claims to the contrary are wishful thinking and/or bullshit.

  28. Spode

    Also, back in 2011, Les had a conversation with the ghost of DSL on the park bench exactly about his fears of what Hollywood might do with his book.
    Les: “What if I let them option ‘Lisa’s Story’ and they make a perfectly awful movie?”
    *beat panel*
    Lisa: “The book will still be there.”
    There is no dramatic tension here, it was resolved years ago. Les has been paid for the option, he doesn’t stand to lose anything if the movie project or his screenplay don’t work out. It doesn’t matter if the project is scrapped, if the movie is made but flops, or any other scenario. Les will come out of it smug and self-righteous. Unless he makes good on his suicidal threats. That would be something.