Son of Stuck 5unky: Anniversary Waltz

It’s incredible to think that it’s been five years since SoSF rose from the ashes of stuckfunky.wordpress.com. I’ve taken this occasion to rewind and review some milestones…

April 9, 2010:

The first post at Son of Stuck Funky. Funky and Les were in New York to close up the last of the Montoni’s Pizza franchise locations.

February 12, 2011

WordPress.com pulls the plug on SoSF (and the dormant, original Stuck Funky) after receiving a Cease and Desist order from Batom, Inc’s legal team. Within 24 hours, the content was recovered, domain name and hosting secured, and SoSF is relaunched (minus the daily reproducing of the comic).

April 2011

Batiuk retcons Bull Bushka’s high school bullying of Les as an elaborate scheme to protect Les from the “real” bullies.

April 2012

The second anniversary happened to coincide with another bullying arc: this time Wedgeman picks on Cody (until Summer comes to the rescue).

April 2013

Les learns that Lisa’s Story has been optioned for a movie. Which will never see the light of day.

April 2014

Around the time of the fourth anniversary, Jessica Darling finally starts working on her ill-fated Dadumentary about John Darling, her father who was…oh, you know who.

Right up to the present day….

As increasingly wack as those aforementioned story arcs were, they only hint at the level of insipidity that has become the hallmark of Batiuk’s flagship comic in its fifth decade. The dialogue has become ever more stilted…the draughtsmanship increasingly inconsistent (save for the times when Batiuk straight up appropriates the artwork of others)…the gaping plot holes are enough to induce vertigo. Characters’ ages and even their surnames change on a whim or through sheer lack of attentiveness by the author. Comic books, and the people who hold them in proper reverence, are what makes the Westviewvian world go ’round. And the author’s defensiveness in the face of totally valid criticism has become ever more thinly veiled and has displaced most of the humor that once abounded within these panels.

So why do you read Funky Winkerbean and pick it apart. Every. Damn. Day?

Like a great many of you readers, I’ve grown up with Funky Winkerbean…we were in high school together, so to speak. As a band geek, I especially enjoyed the strips about the Marching Scapegoats. My memories of Act II are less fond, but I continued to read. Somewhere between acts II and III though, mortality and fatalism seeped in and overwhelmed the gags.

The interent, which was a gleam in Al Gore’s eye when Funky Winkerbean made its print debut, makes it possible, for better of for worse (ha!), for individuals to share common interests. Through a comment I saw on the awesome Comics Curmudgeon site some years back, I found such a niche community, whose interest was making fun of a comic strip. When that community petered out, I moved the party to another tent and was lucky enough to have some folks follow me.

Five years is a long time to be doing one single thing every day. The upside is being allowed to preside over the most civil, intelligent, and funniest online community I’ve ever experienced. There are plenty of places to critique comics, but here at SoSF, you don’t have to pick through off-topic or noxious comments. The downside, of course, is letting Tom Batiuk and his hackmanship dwell rent-free inside my head.

It’s been said that “Hatred corrodes the vessel in which it is stored.” I do not hate Funky Winkerbean, and even admit to sort of admiring Batiuk as someone who’s made a very good living doing something which, I guess, he loves. I do feel that it’s time for Tom to consider retirement, and free up some valuable newsprint space for someone else’s fresh comic vision.

I thought of quitting, baby, but my heart just ain’t gonna buy it

This fifth anniversary would never happen without the support and contribution of some kindered spirits, so please join me in raising a Montoni’s slice to my fellow authors who have helped keep this thing going:

DavidO:
David was the very first commenter at Son of Stuck Funky, as well as the first guest author. He has provided moral as well as material support to this blog for a number of years.

Epicus Doomus:
The most prolific author of posts here after yours truly, Epicus has become the de facto office manager here at SoSF, scheduling the rotation of guest authors and taking a ton of work off my hands.

Beckoning Chasm:
Knowledgeable not just when it comes to things Funky but across a broad swath of the cultural spectrum. Like Epicus, he’s pretty good at remixing FW strips in Photoshop.

Oddnoc:
Another erudite, well-read and witty snarker; his references have sent me to Wikipedia and Grandpa Google more than once.

billytheskink:
In my estimation, posessed of the most encyclopaedic knowledge of forty-plus years of Funky Winkerbean; excels at crafting Funky haiku.

And of course, thanks to you, the readers and commenters of this blog.

On behalf of Team SoSF, stay Funky!

Tom Hackett

Advertisements

33 Comments

Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

33 responses to “Son of Stuck 5unky: Anniversary Waltz

  1. RAy

    I also came of age reading FW, and back then it was really funny. As a matter of fact, my best friend used to carry one of the strips around in his wallet to use as a “test” if you will, of ones sense of humor.
    Time had taken the edge of the exact seting, but I think it was Les and Lisa out to dinner. A 3 panel strip, and in panel 2 the waiter asks if they would like to see the wine list as he pushes the bottle to one side. Panel 3 has Les breaking the fourth wall with his famous smirk, which back then was funny.
    I would love to find that particular strip again to copy, enlarge, and frame and mat it as a birthday gift. Does this ring any bells with anyone?

  2. Epicus Doomus

    Thanks for the kind words TFH, it’s been a pleasure doing whatever I can to keep SoSF up and running. Our crack team of guest authors makes it all very easy, special thanks to them as well as to the regulars, the semi-regulars, the occasionals and even the lurkers who make it all worthwhile. Funniest comment section on the internet IMO.

    “And the author’s defensiveness in the face of totally valid criticism has become ever more thinly veiled and has displaced most of the humor that once abounded within these panels.”

    Well put TFH. And add to that the way he references a small handful of old arcs he did years and years ago as being representative of the strip’s overall quality as a whole. I normally criticize the strip itself as opposed to “going after” Batiuk directly, as he usually seems like a nice enough guy. However, sometimes it’s just impossible to see him and his strip in anything but a cynical light. As much as I’d like to believe he’s truly giving his best effort, the strip itself contradicts that as it’s often (mostly) a haphazard and blatantly half-assed bunch of crap, sometimes to a point where it’s glaringly obvious that no one along the way even bothered to proofread it. It annoys the hell out of me when I read some article or interview hailing the guy for what amounts to a few months of strips out of a body of work spanning forty-plus years while ignoring the bulk of it, like you somehow merit a lifetime achievement award for simply existing. There are times where I just can’t help but think that the whole thing is just some sort of scam and honestly it confounds me how successful it’s been (the scam, not the strip itself).

    In any event here’s hoping for five more years (did I just say that?) of jogging arcs, comic books and screenplays. I’ll be here to the bitter end, there’s just no way I’m letting him win without getting the final word in.

  3. Wow, congratulations, everybody! 😀 That actually tugged at the heartstrings a bit. Very beautiful tribute to these five years!

    @RAy: I…have no clue! Sorry. I do miss the days when Les was a sweet, funny, and likeable character, though.

  4. I don’t have the same lifetime of experience with the strip you guys do but I do have the same sort of connection to another strip that spiraled off into a vortex of insanity, zits, vacuuming and kitsch abomination weddings: For Better Or For Worse. It used to be a fairly clever deconstruction of dom-coms until the creator got bored and started using at a means of nagging her ex and her adult children about how they should be living their lives. I found out about sites like this one and just got a bit curious about other strips suffering from a creator breakdown.

  5. SpacemanSpiff85

    I used to read FW as part of the comics page when I was a kid, but started skipping it before too long. It was probably the beginning of the Act II melodrama. I’d be really interested to see how many people actually read the strip on a regular basis these days who aren’t reading it ironically, or didn’t start reading it when the strip started and are just still sticking around. Back in the nineties when you had The Far Side and Calvin and Hobbes and Dilbert, I can’t see very many people jumping on the FW bandwagon.

  6. Helskor

    Congratulations on five years of unstinting devotion to a comic strip that lately barely deserves the effort and attention you and your guest authors give it every day. I was a long time lurker, then a regular poster, and now a lurker again, having moved under a different handle over to Comics Kingdom, which is the farm team compared to SOSF. I still start my morning by coming here first, however. Awful as it’s been for the past seven and a half years, there’s still something compelling about FW and it’s reassuring to know that others share my compulsion.

  7. Cranberry Queen

    Congratulations to you! New reader, first time commenter, and I thoroughly enjoy your site.

  8. Rusty

    I read it daily as a kid in the 70’s, when the strip was still fresh and somewhat different than others on the page. Of course, I read all of those too, except for the serial strips. Even though I still have a subscription to the daily paper, I find myself doing most of my reading on the net. A few years ago the Houston Chronicle site was reconfigured and I could no longer get a list of daily strips pulled up automatically. So now I only read Josh’s site and this one, because FW demands daily snark.

  9. Thanks all for your kind words! Welcome aboard @Cranberry Queen.

    @Paul Jones, agree with you totally about FBOFW. That strip and Calvin and Hobbes are the only two comic strips that have ever made me cry. While Watterson got out at the very top of his game, leaving us all wanting more, Lynn Johnston has overstayed her welcome several times over. My paper, the Bergen Record, just dropped FBOFW (stating “Lynn Johnston has not been producing new strips for more than a year“) and replaced it with Phoebe and Her Unicorn. I fear the Batiuk may at some point re-re-reboot Funky Winkerbean in order to get to a fifty-year run. I’m merely trying to outlast him at SoSF.

  10. Congratulations to Team SoSF on a job being done well. You guys are the reason (and the only reason) I still read Funky Winkerbean. Here’s to another five years!!!

  11. billytheskink

    Happy 5th SOSF and thanks to TFH, the SOSF team, and all of the great commentators for keeping this site running day-after-day and year-after-year. It is surely as much work as creating some daily comic strips…

    It’s kinda funny, I remember all sorts of useless trivia about this strip but I don’t remember how I first wound up at the original Stuck Funky. Obviously, I migrated here from there and made such a prescient first post that I had no choice but to stick around… Seriously though, I love both newspaper comics and taking the self-important down a few pegs and no site on the internet combines those two things as well as this one does. I enjoy coming here each an every day and I want to again thank everyone who makes that experience possible and enjoyable.

    RAy, do you roughly remember the time that wine list strip was published? There are resources where you can find many FW strips from the past.

  12. Congrats to TFH, the rest of my fellow cob-loggers, and the readers and commentors. There’s been more creativity, imagination and humor shown here in a single day than can be found in a month of Funky Winkerbean. Here’s to reaching the 50th!

  13. I’ve been a daily reader and sporadic commenter since a couple months before the C&D attack. I was driven here via a link from tvtropes.org after the “Lisa phones it in from beyond the grave” arc drove me into a rage.

    Anyway, I salute TFH and the guest snarkers for keeping this thing going for five miserable years. It’s remarkable that we’ve been able to read the strip for this long without at least one of us gouging our eyes out with pencils.

  14. @TFHackett: How very interesting that yet another paper has decided to drop Lynn’s Cheapie Weenie Casserole from its comics menu for something palatable. I’ll have to tell the other people on the Foobiverse about that.

  15. captaincab

    Congratulations on five years of snarking on Funky Winkerbean! It’s not just pointing out how bad FW is, in my opinion this blog also does an important work that goes hand in hand with exposing the many flaws in the less sterling corners of the comic strip page’s culture with typical stubborn, entitled, thin skinned “old club” cartoonists such as TB, Brooke McEldowney and LJ who refuse to change their work for the better or just retire. TB doesn’t respect comics fans, doesn’t respect his readers and doesn’t even respect his own work as recent examples have shown (forgetting Pete’s last name, deconstruction of Cindy, ect. ugly and horribly inconsistent character art) Keep on funkin’ on the Funk!

  16. captaincab

    btw who is the guy in the picture for the 4th anniversary banner?

  17. captaincab

    Sorry for the triple post but what happened to the link for the anniversary giveaway? Can’t seem to find it anywhere now.

  18. bad wolf

    Congratulations and thanks for many happy hours to all involved! I guess my background was similar to Paul’s, as i probably jumped on Funky after the Foobpocalypse. And although it’s a lot slower, the warning signs have been there for a long long time.

    For a guy who gives a lot of interviews TB seems pretty resistant to analysis, but my biggest question remains–how much longer? Greg Evans is passing Luann on to his daughter and Lynn Johnston rebooted FBOFW completely and hired her daughter at what remained of her studio. TB’s son, AFAIK, is entirely uninvolved and likely to remain so, so FW may be one of the only strips that doesn’t have an indefinite legacy to look forward to.

  19. batgirl

    Happy fifth anniversary to all the SOSF stalwarts! May you see many more!
    I started reading Funky Winkerbean in the 70s, and even had 3 or 4 of the small paperback collections. If it weren’t for the title, I probably wouldn’t have recognised the current incarnation.

  20. I….actually liked the lighthearted 2008 FBorFW reboot. I mean, compared to the attitudes of crankier artists, I personally feel that it was very sweet of her to do. Even if it didn’t last long. 🙂 (*Gets shot*)

  21. Nathan Obral

    Congratulations on the fifth anniversary. I’m a relative newcomer as opposed to most of the regular posters, but SoSF is one of the most professional, well-run websites devoted to snarking on a strip that is slowly becoming too indifferent to be depressing (is that the final stage of Cerebus Syndrome?).

    At this point, I won’t be surprised if Batom® starts randomly running clip art without dialogue in order to reach that 50th anniversary. It’s painfully obvious that he is slowly running out of any material to speak of beyond those Luigi’s napkin gags.

    Seeing how badly Batom®’s flagship comic has deteriorated over the past year, I want to create a comic strip of my own. In fact, I’ve slowly started to assemble some material together and am jotting down storyline and gag ideas. I couldn’t do any worse.

  22. I know I don’t post much but I enjoy it here.

  23. Jimmy

    Thanks to everyone for taking on the Herculean task of snarking on this strip every day. It certainly makes my mornings more enjoyable.

    @Paul Jones, I came to this site in much the same way as you. I used to read the Foobiverse before I couldn’t take that strip anymore.

  24. Epicus Doomus

    “My memories of Act II are less fond…” this just cracked me up, so delightfully understated. As awful as Act III is (very), there was nothing quite like FW Act II. There was a certain pomposity to Act II FW, a sort of obnoxious righteous smugness that hung over the wildly contrived melodrama in a really annoying kind of way. As awful as Act III is, Act II was a lot more rage-inducing. It was the comic strip that was always screaming and flailing around to attract everyone’s attention all the time, like a fat ugly kid in a public swimming pool. Then you finally look and he’s just standing there doing nothing but looking stupid and you think to yourself “why am I looking at this?”. Then you look away, sometimes for years at a stretch.

    Anyhow, Act II and Act III are both equally terrible, Act II was just more manic about it while Act III is more on the “sluggish” side, to put it kindly. Post-Lisa Act I sucked too, BTW. That stupid pregnancy arc he did sucked and everything after it has sucked ever since. Lisa was always especially awful too, even long after she died. The fact that she appears much less frequently these days has been the only real upside over the last few years. If he really wants to annoy the online snarkers just bring her back, that will do the job.

  25. Epicus Doomus

    And thanks to the occasional and rare posters who took the time to comment today, good to see you again (you know who you are!). Ditto to the new posters too, welcome!!

  26. RAy

    @Billytheskink…it would have been around the 1984-1985 timeframe.

  27. Kudos & thanks, TFH & fellow guest authors & snarkers! Why do we snark? Because he tasks us. He tasks us, and I swear I will watch Masky the psychopomp fade this strip to black. So the game is on!

  28. captaincab

    “That’s me, dude.”

    Duh, should have known.

    “Stay tuned.”

    Is the giveaway “coming” or “looming” at this point? heh heh

  29. captaincab

    Cool, hand drawn FW strip on ebay from the Les-climbs-gym-rope days:

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/FUNKY-WINKERBEAN-CRANKSHAFT-ORIGINAL-COMIC-STRIP-ART-TOM-BATIUK-CARTOONIST-AUTO-/291015420452?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item43c1deea24

    I found this line in the description summarizing FW, uh, rather “interestingly worded:”

    “His stories often involve strong drama elements combined with generally rosy outcomes. They also show a strong belief in God, as well as sympathies for the American military.”

  30. @CaptainCab – clearly, the person writing that description is a visitor from Bizarro-World.

  31. captaincab

    @beckoningchasm

    Seriously.

    Also, look at the art in that strip, so crisp, iconic and defined. Batiuk was a good artist, he should never have switched to the awful “realistic” style.