The Last Detail

Link to today’s strip.

I don’t know what Tom Batiuk is reaching for here, but it is clear it exceeds his grasp.

Supposedly, Bull is suffering from memory loss, yet he seems to recall clearly what Coach Stropp’s last instructions to him were.  I guess it’s a good thing Bull never got fired, or crushed in a car accident when he stormed off a while ago.  The urn would have just sat there atop the lockers until someone just happened to spot it.  “Say, what’s that up there?”  “Dunno, looks like garbage.”  “I guess we should throw it away.”  Again, Tom Batiuk wants Bull to have a debilitating condition, but has no idea how to portray that.  It comes and goes when it’s convenient, when it can be used for pity.  Then it disappears until its next cue.

As for why we are now focusing on someone unseen in the strip for years (aside from a very brief appearance last September–of course, as a Les flashback), I have no idea.  It’s not like anyone really cares about the characters abandoned when Act I became Act II.  Tom Batiuk doesn’t seem to care about them.  Boy howdy, does he not care about them:  as BillyTheSkink noted yesterday, this seems to say quite openly that Coach Stropp had no family, or a family that hated him.  There isn’t an another interpretation that looks good for ol’ Stropp.

My assumption is that this is supposed to be a poignant moment here.  It fails.

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13 Comments

Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

13 responses to “The Last Detail

  1. Epicus Doomus

    Another weirdly Batiukian paradox: he’s doing a homage to an old character within a homage to another character. AND he’s botching both homages terribly. BC is right on the money, if he’s suffering from memory loss how does he remember Stropp’s last wishes so well? Of course (as always) asking that question means you’ve already put 100x more thought into this than Guy McAuthor did.

  2. spacemanspiff85

    It’s weird that he wanted his ashes in the locker room until Bull quit. Like, after Bull’s gone, he doesn’t give a crap about the football team anymore?

  3. HeyItsDave

    You know who I really feel sorry for? Coach Stropp’s wife, Barbra “Bra” Stropp. All these years, she’s never suspected that she had a jar of Agway bone meal on her mantel. Bull should have told her he’d taken her husband’s ashes.

  4. billytheskink

    I suppose there is one other interpretation, that it was Stropp who was the hateful one in his family. Still, this seems like an incredibly unfulfilling way to stick it to them. In fact it clearly punishes Stropp more than anyone, his remains accumulating dust and insect droppings while year-after-year bad football players lie about their recent attempts at dating and discuss whose parents are out of town this weekend.

    None of the possible interpretations, of course, manage to avoid being unsettling.

  5. bayoustu

    Brain damage and human remains: surefire comedy gold! Only in The Funkyverse! What on Earth is wrong with Batboy??!

  6. Gerard Plourde

    Has Batty had experience with cremated remains? They’re not ashes but are bone fragments that have the appearance of sand mix and can have sharp edges. Also, they alter the chemistry of the ground and tend to kill the grass which is why colleges routinely refuse to allow scattering on their athletic fields.

  7. Epicus Doomus

    The strangest thing of all about this arc is how Batom Inc. felt compelled to radically change the Bull character for no real reason at all. What possible purpose does it serve to suddenly strike down the goofy sports coach character with an incurable brain disease that will force him to abandon WHS and his sports coach life effective immediately? He couldn’t have done a football-related head injury arc without banishing Bull forever? He couldn’t have done a Jack Stropp’s ashes gag without it being Bull’s final act as WHS coach?

    After finally letting his hapless inept jock character achieve some modest success after decades of humiliating failure, BanTon said “enough!” and struck him down with a disease that will soon rob Bull of his treasured sports memories. It wasn’t enough that he’d no longer be WHS’ football coach, he had to twist the knife and leave him with nothing, the once-feared jock-bully nerd-terrorizer reduced to a blubbering drooling imbecile all thanks to foolishly wasting his life on stupid sportsball.

    You could really see the disdain for the Bull character seeping through last week, which featured two assholes making stupid remarks about their so-called “friend” and expressing no shock whatsoever over his illness. Just totally soulless, almost hateful one might say. And like bayoustu said above, it actually features human remains too. No real send-off, no actual story, just the usual awful gags and some feeble blather about a safer football helmet foundation to soothe his conscience and pretend his sick revenge fantasy has a point other than to yank out Bull’s tiny brain as one last final act of revenge to atone for his high school bullying. That he himself wrote! It’s all so twisted and warped, beneath the unbearable blandness there’s sometimes some pretty peculiar stuff going on here that might not be readily apparent to the casual FW reader, or the other one. But read it every day and you’ll eventually see just how the whole thing is just about a smug jerk who lives to keep settling old fictional high school scores and that’s all I’ll say about that for the time being.

  8. The final indignity for both characters. One is about to become a pollutant and the other has been reduced to a blubbering cipher because an angry asshole can’t get over not being picked for the team.

  9. Rusty Shackleford

    Batty’s just trying to shill for an award. At best he will get an interview where he will talk about all the research he did while “exploring” this topic.

  10. $$$WESTVIEW ONCOLOGIST$$$

    What kind of idiot would give those type of instructions after his death?. You either want your ashes spread or you want to stay in the locker room! What the hell does Bull quitting have to do with anything? What if Bull died suddenly, your fucking ashes would be staying up their forever and then get tossed in the trash. Maybe instead of trusting Bull with the secret maybe he has his family or his estate handle this and maybe even tell the FUCKING school about this !

  11. To be fair, memory loss is a peculiar thing. It’s possible to remember something that happened ten years ago but not be able to remember what you had for breakfast. But that doesn’t mean that TB won’t be cavalier in his depiction of the disease. I think that, much like Dinkle’s deafness, it’s something that will be made a big deal over now, but will never be mentioned again, and we’ll start seeing Bull hanging around on the sidelines soon enough.

    I’m wondering if the ashes-spreading ceremony will be played for laughs a-la The Big Lebowski, of if he’s going to give it serious treatment. My guess is that since the Coach Stropp character was nothing but a bad joke (He never won a single game in his career??), his final posthumous act will be just as bad of a joke.

  12. Jimmy

    Man, all you people who were joking about the Stropp being a perv were right on. Though TB tried to word it differently, it’s still a creepy final wish there.

  13. sgtsaunders

    Only in Funky Winkerbean would you find the ashes of a dead coach gathering dust in an unmarked vase stashed in a random corner of the locker room. Spider webs. Even in death, you can’t escape Westview. Die in Westview and you could turn out like this decedent trapped in Westview’s fetid locker room, or you could wind up like the Late Lisa, being violated by Les at a private party on New Year’s Eve.