A Dash Of Hope

Link to today’s strip.

Here we see the problem with Mr. Brian Steinberg’s piece on Funky Winkerbean, much discussed over the past couple of days.  The claim was made that Tom Batiuk likes to handle the tough issues, and here we see how he does it–after weeks and weeks of build-up, the “Diversity University Ironton” story is deflated with its defining moment happening off-stage.  All we get is the pitiful aftermath.

So, yeah, there’s the Tom Batiuk we all know and love.   No matter the story or the theme, it’s always the same–let’s build up the hopes of someone who isn’t Les over and over, and then, in an instant, let’s dash those hopes to the ground, so that they can never be reassembled.  Make those characters know their place.  As I’ve said on many occasions, I believe Tom Batiuk really hates these characters (except for the ones named Moore) and today’s offering looks like more evidence.

Contrast this with the loathsome Les Moore, on whom fortune shines at all times, and to whom giant checks come calling regularly.  Les’ disappointments are all those of the Superior Man confronted by those incapable of appreciating his Genius and Insight.  Which sounds, so, so familiar, and quite frankly isn’t helped by pieces such as Mr. Steinberg’s telling Tom Batiuk that he is on an exciting course into uncharted territory.  Again, no disrespect is meant to either Mr. Steinberg or Mr. Batiuk, but I sure don’t see any better with this vision.

About that aftermath.  I’m assuming–always a bad idea–that Bull was told by DUI that they were considering other candidates, and he passed this info along to his wife, who therefore had no reason to mail a resignation letter…but that’s making an awful lot of assumptions for an idiot like Bull and a shrew like Linda.  If DUI didn’t tell him this, then that seems pretty shady.  I wonder if, in a month or two, we’ll hear (third-hand, of course) that DUI is being investigated for various things and is probably going to be closed down.  It’ll give Bull the chance for a smirk if nothing else.

If the letter went out, will the board let Bull keep his job anyway?  Probably, as he has just won a championship…but I bet they’d eye him askance from now on, since he has indicated he would jump ship in a heartbeat in the middle of the semester.  (I’m assuming Westview has things like signed contracts, and they tend not to tolerate them being casually violated.)

Bull’s lack of loyalty actually gives him something in common with the unseen and unnamed fellow who scored the DUI job–they’re both opportunists who cannot be counted on and have no loyalty to anyone.  Which seem like sound survival traits in the Funkyverse.

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34 Comments

Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

34 responses to “A Dash Of Hope

  1. SpacemanSpiff85

    I had a feeling this was going to happen, since they made a point of stating that Bull was the backup. This is life, people. There’s always someone better than you, so don’t get your hopes up.

  2. SpacemanSpiff85

    Also: Why is Linda responsible for sending Bull’s letter? She’s not his secretary, or even his secretary.

  3. Earlier this week: “Oh no, I’ve been offered a new job that will have challenges and new opportunities and I really, really don’t want to take it even though everybody around me thinks I should!”

    Today: “Oh no, the marvelous new opportunity I wasn’t really enthusiastic about was snatched out from under me! Oh, woe and misfortune!”

    That’s Funky Winkerbean in a nutshell for you: it doesn’t matter what happens, as long as you’re miserable about it.

  4. Epicus Doomus

    Here’s a great idea for a new fictional comic book hero for Batom. It’s Anti-Climax Man, the superhero who resolves everything as boringly and stupidly as possible. Classic TB storytelling…premise, repeat for a week or two, resolve in one contrived panel, back to the sad-sackery like none of it ever happened. It’s his tried-and-true formula and obviously it works, at least for him.

  5. Nathan Obral

    I thought Anti-Climax Man was Les Moore’s alter ego already.

    Annnnnnnnnnnd Ed Wood Batiuk does it again!

  6. Rusty

    I would bet that this whole sordid episode is never mentioned again, and Bull continues farting around as coach and AD of Westview HS. If he did resign, make room at Montoni’s for another dishwasher. Maybe they can finally promote Wally.

  7. Nathan Obral

    A real writer would have addressed Joe Don Bushka’s obvious bribing of a ref during the title game. But a real writer wouldn’t have brought it up as clumsily or ineptly as Batiuk did.

    I think he’s letting Bull off easy here… this being the Funkyverse, after all. Either a scandal, an illness, or both, will befall Bull.

  8. ComicTrek

    Status quo!

  9. Jeffcoat Wayne

    Once again, events being presented in ways I assume they don’t really unfold in real life. If the first candidate turns the job down, then it’s game over, right? You don’t get to call back a week later and say you’ve changed your mind. Right? That’s feasible enough if we’re doing a lame arc about choosing a date for the prom, but I’m not sure that applies to a lame arc involving a job offer to a fictitious university. Doesn’t matter. This is all about the joy Batiuk gets from dicking around with his characters for no reason.

  10. Howard and Nester

    @Nathan Ordal: Ha! Not a chance. First of all, that would require the invocation of continuity that doesn’t have anything to do with Lisa or Les, which by itself mortally wounds the idea. Even more fatal to that plot twist is that Bush getting invoked in a bribery scandal would actually be kind of interesting. Mr. Batiuk doesn’t exactly do interesting.

  11. Epicus Doomus

    The galling part, as always, is how he spent almost two weeks on a story he wrapped up with one sentence in one panel. Now imagine if he used EACH panel to advance his little stories instead of filling them with endless amounts of filler, then he might really have something here. Probably not, though.

    Nathan Obral: Remember FW Predictions Rule One: if it seems like it might be too interesting, logical or entertaining for FW, it is.

  12. Charles

    Once again, events being presented in ways I assume they don’t really unfold in real life. If the first candidate turns the job down, then it’s game over, right? You don’t get to call back a week later and say you’ve changed your mind. Right?

    It’s actually possible, but they’re not required to accept the offer from the coach. They’d be unlikely to do so seeing as how they already offered the job to another guy and given him a period of time where the offer would remain open. If Bull accepted (which any sensible person would do before resigning from his previous job… hmm, I see the problem here), DUI (Seriously, what the hell) would be legally liable if Bull quit his current job under the promise they gave him of the new job.

    But of course, that’s the legal realm, and even though Batiuk’s far-and-away favorite character was portrayed as a lawyer, he knows nothing about the legal system and doesn’t know the first thing about promissory estoppel.

  13. Nathan Obral

    @Howard and Nester: See? That’s my point. Even Batiuk can’t properly depict a crapsack world because he doesn’t know how to do so.

    The other blatent clue here was in Bull’s Wall O’ Text in last Friday’s strip. He asked the DUI AD for time just to make sure that he wasn’t “being punked by an old friend from college.”

    Clearly Bull, by hesitating, punked himself and blew a DUI gig.

    It’s called writing.

  14. SpacemanSpiff85

    I also just realized that never once in the previous two weeks was Linda discussed at all. No “Hey honey, how you do feel about abandoning your career for a job I’m pretty much guaranteed to fail at?”. Instead, her and every other woman in Bull’s life was just drooling over the prospect of more money.

  15. Nathan Obral

    @Epicus: The people who compare Funky to the latter stages of the Dick Locher-helmed “Dick Tracy” make a valid point. Reading his solo efforts post-2005, it took him days… if not WEEKS… to advance a single plotline, with repeated filler and recycled material.

    It said a lot when the Stanton/Curtis team summarized Locher’s final Tracy storyline – which plodded for two whole agonizing months – in one panel of a single strip.

  16. Nathan Obral

    @SpacemanSpiff85: Perhaps Linda and his kids knew he wouldn’t really get the job to begin with, so they decided to unilaterally endorse the idea just to make him hate his job and his life even more.

    Considering all Funkyverse females not related to St. Lisa the Cancer Chew Toy are depicted the exact same way…

  17. @Charles: Even if he did know, Batiuk lives in a world where only terrible and evil people sue if they’ve been shafted like this for stupid reasons. A good person is supposed to wallow in his misery and use it as an excuse to be a bitter jerk to everyone around him. The exemplar of that sort of non-adaptive behaviour is simultaneously a hateful old fool bus driver AND a forgotten vegetable clinging to life in an old age home.

  18. gleeb

    I would object to one thing in this summary of the DUI story. It’s not that its defining moment happened offstage, all of its defining moments happened offstage. That is, it’s a story about a football coach that contains no actual football. The closest we come is seeing Cody and middle-aged goth woman in the bleachers reacting to Owen’s illegal play. For all the football we see, Bull might just as well be a banker, a surgeon, or Mississippi river pilot.

  19. Nathan Obral

    Has Batiuk EVER portrayed a football game, and done so correctly? He used Jack Stropp’s squad solely as a punchline to advance Harry Dinkle and the marching band back when the strip was worth a damn.

    The only athletic event he’s come close to actually depicting has been the Scapegoats women’s basketball team because Summer Moore. And those depictions defied the laws of physics.

  20. Wow! Even the Oakland Raiders have a better chance at happiness this year than anyone living in Westview. This is sad.

  21. bad wolf

    Speaking of the football team, note that if the championship is now over, then so is the football season. Therefore no marching band jokes this year, and no band turkeys. (Of course, he could still do it and defy all logic of time and space… but what are the odds?)

    Again, a year ahead of time to arrange this schedule.

  22. bad wolf

    Oh snap… Brian Steinberg left us a comment at the end of yesterday’s thread.

    Looks like we finally found the real RedRonin, guys!

  23. Brian Steinberg

    Well, anyone can call himself “Brian Steinberg”.

  24. billytheskink

    I’m tellin’ ya, TB has a sign over the door to his art room that says “Tell, Don’t Show”. He reaches up and touches it before entering the room to work on a strip, like the Notre Dame and Oklahoma “Play Like a Champion Today” signs…

    Also, pretty sure that’s at least a copy of Bull’s resignation letter in the middle of his desk.

  25. captaincab

    As said before, that Variety article was woefully off point. “The Funny Page’s Unlikeliest Savior.” Right, it’s unlikely alright. So unlikely it’s not likely to be the saviour of any comics page in any newspaper in any universe.

    Hey look at that, “”The Funny Page’s Unlikeliest Savior” has bestowed us with another anticlimactic, easy-out ending courtesy of the author’s usual garbage “writing.” At least Batiuk didn’t draw Linda with Funky’s face again today.

  26. Epicus Doomus

    Hey, anyone who likes FW and feels like posting here is more than welcome to do so. I will freely admit it when I read a FW strip I enjoyed. It happens…occasionally…but it does happen. While we’re never going to allow our comments to degenerate into a “flame war” sort of deal (take that shit over to the CK site if you must), dissenting opinions are fine and dandy. That said, if you have a dissenting opinion I’d hope it has more substance than simply repeating the standard FW boilerplate stuff about “groundbreaking” and “issues” and such.

  27. I’ve never said that Brian Steinberg likes Funky Winkerbean, nor has he demonstrated any of the traits of the typical Funky-Defender. His article did discuss the substance of the strip rather than simply brand critics as “jobless.” My motive in all this has never been to demean or insult Mr. Steinberg, just to point what I saw as oddities in the article.

    I agree with Epicus: I would love to see a nice, reasoned response from a Funky Winkerbean fan who takes the time to point out what is good about the strip and its execution. Sadly, all we seem to get from the fans are incomprehensible ad hominem attacks that say nothing about the strip.

  28. The Dreamer

    But Bad Wolf, the season is not over. If Westview won their conference, they are now in the Ohio state playoffs. What, Ohio only has state playoffs for girls basketball? Of course now if Bull can’t rescind his letter of resignation (presumably effective after the playoffs), I guess he can go end up working at Montoni’s Pizza or the comics shop, like many of the other sad characters in FW

  29. bad wolf

    I do have some inexplicable fascination with the strip, but i can point out a couple of specific annoyances. One, articles like that started on comic books with “Bif! Bam! Pow! Comics aren’t just for kids anymore!” pieces that described the groundbreaking work of Alan Moore and Frank Miller (eg). Those things started around 1986. Maybe it just shows how abysmally low the bar in the comic strip world is, but everyone giving Batiuk a “gold star!” for effort doesn’t seem to make him or anyone else rise to the challenge of following through on these “controversial” storylines.

    Second, the piece quotes the alleged “editor” Brendan Burford and the writer himself is apparently a TV critic for a major media outlet. TV itself, supposedly in the midst of a creative renaissance, would never permit such weak denouements typical of FW as we see today. Batiuk himself, like many cartoonists, works more or less alone, and without feedback you can easily see where he’d get off track. This is where editors and reviewers would be helpful, if they were doing their jobs. If everyone just keeps giving him that “gold star” instead of constructive criticism then the weaknesses will continue to grow and fester, and only a few of us cantankerous trolls will be left sounding the alarm.

    Third, given the title and magazine it was in, it read as a pitch piece to Hollywood to pick up Batiuk’s script and turn it … not into a Lifetime movie… but a prestigious TV show! Maybe AMC or HBO would go for it. Yikes.

    Dreamer–Okay, i may be wrong, although Bull and the team had a very “and that’s the end of that” week. We’ll see!

  30. To Brian Steinberg (yesterthread): I read & comment upon FW for the same reason that I’ve watched Plan 9 From Outer Space & They Saved Hitler’s Brain—the sheer trainwreckiness of it.

    @Nathan Obral: The only sporting event TB has ever portrayed with any verisimilitude is when Les smacked himself in the face with a softball.

    Today’s strip: Diversity University Ironton? More like Diversity University Irony, amirite?

    Thanks, folks. I’m here every day to confound Brian Steinberg and keep my pharmaceutical company in the black.

  31. Epicus Doomus

    So many great (and hilarious) comments over the last few days. I’ll say it again: if you’re a FW “defender” or a serious fan, great. bring it on and explain to us why we’re wrong. No one will track you down, run over your mailbox or etc. I don’t blindly assail every single FW strip, sometimes a decent one slips through Batom Inc. QC. It just doesn’t happen very often. If you disagree, feel free to say so. In fact, a few months back Beckoning did a week’s worth of “Funky at the gym” strips that he didn’t despise with all his being and he said so. It happens, it’s just very rare.

    IMO Batom COULD improve the strip IF he wanted to but (again IMO) he always takes the laziest path, which I’ll never understand as he’s so firmly entrenched at this point that he has little to fear or lose by being, uh…a little bolder, let’s say. I mean who cares if the Mother’s League or whoever blows a gasket because he introduces, say, a gay character? My point being that often those various TB articles paint him as this trailblazer but it’s all based on directions he took many years ago, not what he’s doing right now. And although it’s merely my two cents, IMO the strip itself provides all the evidence I need to back that statement up.

  32. Nathan Obral

    @The Dreamer: Westview is in the division of Ohio high school football that only has two teams in it, and they play each other twice a year.

    Ironically, the avatar for the Westview Scapegoats, the Midview Middies, are deep in the playoffs right now. Defeated my alma mater last Friday night, even. But Batiuk never cared about high school football throughout Funky’s entire run. Why should he start now?

  33. Epicus Doomus

    Nathan: I assume those divisions are called “Piss” and “Poor”.

  34. Nathan Obral

    @bad wolf: Per Batiuk’s own words, part of the reason why he killed off My Father, John Darling, was because Disney was reportedly interested in producing a TV show based on Crankshaft.

    I kid you not.

    I actually wouldn’t mind seeing Funky Winkerbean adapted to the TV screen. For one, actual competent writers would be handling the material. And even if Batiuk has complete editorial control (which would be highly unlikely) such a show would still be more watchable than all of the reality show dreck E! airs.