Let’s leave aside the fact, a year or so ago, that the Lord of the Late was revealed to be just an aspect of Pete’s personality. That alone should banish him from the strip. (Imagine a monster, long since revealed to be Old Man Carruthers, the Caretaker, returning to menace the Scooby Gang as the same monster. They’d go right to the mask-pulling without even pausing for a musical number.)
Let’s also leave aside the charming picture of Pete furiously picking his nose in the penultimate panel. And let’s leave aside what is going on with the hand in panel four (first one on the bottom).
Instead, I have to wonder–has Tom Batiuk ever read a comic book? Because Super Villain Rule Number One is that you have to bedevil your designated hero at every opportunity. Saying “I’ll let the internet be mean to him” is just not done. Imagine the Joker refusing to plot against Batman because he notices the Batmobile parked in a loading zone or something, and is just giddy at the idea of Batman getting a traffic ticket. I mean, why is the Joker even there if he’s not going to act?
Same with the Lord of the Late. Why is even here, if his sole purpose is to announce that he’s not going to do anything? Making Pete “woefully late” is all he does. (Well, in theory. In actual fact, Pete always comes up with a remarkably stupid idea to save his career at the last moment.)
Granted, that’s not the worst thing a Funky Winkerbean character can do. At least it’s not Owen, asking why Humphrey Bogart didn’t use his jet-pack to rescue Ingrid Bergman in that poorly thought-out Casablanca film. It’s not Holly telling Dick Tracy, “It’s not what you eat, it’s when you eat it.” And it’s not Les doing, well, anything.
I mean, he’s not really here solely so we can hear about “internuts,” “twitter tots” and “tweet revenge” is he? Because that’s just sad. Look, Mr. Batiuk, I know you don’t enjoy criticism–few people do. But here’s how you get it to stop. Start actually writing stories, using interesting characters, and–this is key–ask for a new editor, one who will push you to use your strengths rather than sign-off on your work without even reading it.
Yes, I know, that’s not going to happen. It’s far easier to insult people and get all huffy than it is to change the path of a runaway truck. So it’ll be all dreck, all the time, on the way to that magical 50th. The thing is, the critics will be right along for the ride–you can’t shake them by having nothing happen in your strip, because that’s a choice as well.
Well, folks, I can see the sunshine finally appear as my SoSF guest-host stint finally comes to an end (for now). Please welcome David O as your new dungeon master starting tomorrow, as we ask the musical question, “Whose idea was this?”