Hallmark Monitor

Today we’re finally treated to the Sunday strip whose pencilled preview Batiuk teased us with a year in advance. Make that a 53 weeks in advance: this strip would have served as the coda to the “Owen Learns He’s Not Good at Bullying” arc from the week before last, but Batiuk decided we needed to have a week of Les moping about life. I hope that in addition to Senior Lit with Mr. Moore, Owen is taking remedial math: he’s waited three years, not four, to become a senior (he’s entering his fourth year).

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22 Comments

Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

22 responses to “Hallmark Monitor

  1. Epicus Doomus

    Har har har. Pretty funny stuff coming from a guy who’s done stories so sappy they make “Hallmark movies” look like “Cannibal Holocaust”. So the big “anti-bullying” arc turned out to really be about Owen’s desire to be a big jerk simply because he feels he owes it to himself? OK then. It’s not just stupid, it’s totally out of character too considering Owen’s past actions, like when he ratted out Wedgeman for stealing Alex’s Metamucil.

  2. SpacemanSpiff85

    Is Komix Korner literally around the corner from the high school? That’s the impression I’m getting here at least.

  3. SpacemanSpiff85

    The picture of Owen in the title panel trying to look intimidating is probably the most hilarious thing I’ve seen in this strip. Too bad Batiuk didn’t intend it that way.

  4. Epicus Doomus

    Spaceman: I’ve been wanting to see a map of Westview for years. I assume EVERYTHING in town is within easy walking distance of the Montoni’s district, except for Sprawl-Mart, the “bad part of town” that Darin drove through that time and that shabby motel where Frankie stayed. In fact I’m amazed that Les has to drive to work, as I assumed WHS was right next door.

  5. So, that’s it then. No understanding of how bullying works, how it affects kids, how hard it can be to avoid in the Internet age, or possible solutions. Just “I want to pick on the freshmen!” “No, we mustn’t!” “Aw, dammit!”

    …I didn’t think it was possible, but this “story” (if it can be called as much) pissed me off more than the Gay Prom Prestige Arc.

  6. Rusty

    Cody must have had a growth spurt. And I don’t think we’ve seen the true bullying arc yet, it will be stupefying.

    Batiuk once drew a downtown map, after Lisa was bombed.

  7. SpacemanSpiff85

    @TheDiva:
    I don’t even think you could say the bullying storyline had any actual bullying. All that happened was Owen told some kid who’ll never show up again “We’re seniors!” while making a face. I bet Bernie didn’t even know that was supposed to be bullying.

  8. You know, when I did those “Circus poster” things a few days ago, I was pretty sure I was being sarcastic…no story arc could be so short! This was just a taste for something lasting weeks! Right? Instead, it did indeed last for two days.

    It’s weird, with a strip as terrible as this one, when you guess right now and then. Usually, the arc is much more disappointing, though much more drawn out.

    So, triumph for him, I guess…the great Tom Batiuk sure proved me wrong! Uh, by making me accurate…uh.

    So, we both win? Or something?

  9. Jim in Wisc.

    Oh, this may not be done yet. Our two “favorite” doofii are headed into the comic book store, where DSHJ will surely hold forth and pontificate endlessly on the evils of bullying.

  10. The problem is that TheDefender will show up sooner or later to pretty much read Batiuk’s empty mind. It’s sort of obvious that the Delicate Genius thinks “I want to be a jerk before fate slaps me down HARD because I’m ‘supposed’ to be/We mustn’t/DAGNABBIT!!!” is excellent writing and so will the person who thinks we’re dead inside because we think Les’s endless whining is pathetic and ludicrous.

  11. This is the only time I’ve ever seen Batiuk come close to depicting Westview from a birds-eye view.

    Batiuk has never made an attempt to lay out the city, such as it is. But his limited worldview constrains the strip to: Westview High School (Midview High School), Montoni’s (Luigi’s), Komics Korner (Ground Zero Comics), and occasionally Chez Moore.

    You’ll note that Team Tracy was so embarrassed about having to cross over Dick Tracy with FW that they invented a diner, a bank, and a police force that have never seen the light of day from Batiuk’s Funky Felt Tip.

  12. Rusty

    @Nathan: And the gazebo. Can’t forget the gazebo.

  13. sgtsaunders

    Given all we know about Owen, the wait has probably been more like five or six years.

  14. bigd1992

    “Is Komix Korner literally around the corner from the high school?”

    Where else would DSH John locate his business?

  15. Rembrandt36

    @Nathan: I do see one cop car in that drawing. I remember seeing this piece of art years ago, and thinking that Les is screaming “U.S.A.!” which would have him coming across as a patriotic lunatic. I think there is a site out there that lays out the cities that comic strips take place in, and I believe Westview has been done. I think I remember that Funky’s house is in the suburbs edge of town.

  16. @Jim in Wisc.: Ugh, you’re probably right. That’s Batiuk’s “sensitive and thought-provoking manner” right there: adults holding forth on the subject while The Kids These Days sit and listen like they’re supposed to. He doesn’t write plots; he writes lectures.

  17. Epicus Doomus

    It’s been mentioned plenty before, but still, it’s so funny how Les appears to be yelling “USA!!!” at first glance. Perhaps HE’S the mystery bomber!

  18. Obviously the post office bombing arc – which was awful to begin with – was made in a (very) ham-handed response to the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building bombing in Oklahoma City the previous year. (I presume that Batiuk was at that point already in his “year in advance” deadline mode.)

    But this Sunday panel – August 8, 1996 – ran eight days after the bombing of Centennial Park during the Atlanta Olympics. That terrorist attack was front-page news for months, and for good reason.

    So consider Joe Q. Reader back in 1996 who saw Batiuk’s horrible lettering job as “USA!” instead of “LISA!” … yet had no place to vent his snark. All the while, Batiuk was getting puff piece softball interviews on that arc, and no one held him or the syndicate to account for running those strips in the wake of a deadly bombing that scarred an international sporting event, right in our backyard. It should have been spiked completely and replaced with reruns from the year prior.

    It was then that I realized… no one really reads Funky Winkerbean unironically. And no one who interviews Batiuk actually bothers to read the comic.

  19. ScottFree

    But see the bright side in this strip: three, count ’em, three panels of lovingly-rendered brick walls. All of them ready and waiting for a collision with Les’s face…

  20. Merry Pookster

    OMG…. per Nathan’s re-print of Westview… Montoni’s is one block up from the PO and therefore so is Komix Korner

  21. hitorque

    30-something years ago, this exact same strip was probably printed with Funky/Les saying “ABC Afterschool Special” in the punchline…

  22. It probably never occurred to Batiuk to do that….which is odd because I remember that the people who created Hamtaro cared enough to include a cartoony map of his neighborhood in the official handbook to the series. If someone doing the bio of a Japanese cartoon hamster can draw a map of his home town, Batiuk can be asked to do so.