My Mother Said, To Get Things Done, You’d Better Not Mess With Major Tom

Link to today’s strip.

Wow.

You see that, sportos?  If you start out in sports and athletic endeavors, your life will end in crushing failure after a career of setback after setback.  Any chance for happiness will be snatched back at the last moment, leaving your suffering ever more exquisite.  Serves you right for bullying certain people we could name.  Those people practice the only pure sport known to man, running!

You just wasted your entire life.  You could have done things differently–you could have followed the smart people, and become a big comic book fan.  Those people never ever fail at anything, and are always living fulfilling lives.  People smile and wave at them, and offer them rewarding jobs just because they’re comic book fans.  Just think, right now, Linda could be bringing you milk and cookies as you sat in the attic reading about the Flash.  But no, in the strip, you’ve never even mentioned whether you even like comic books.  Loser!

I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a naked expression of hatred from a creator to his creation as today’s strip.  This goes way beyond harsh into rabid, frothing vendetta-land.  This is a person deciding his child’s kindergarten painting wasn’t very good–so it needed to be shredded in front of said child’s eyes as a lesson.  This is “vindictive” with a capital “murder,” to the point where I honestly can’t believe what I’m seeing.

And it would have been so easy to turn it around, to make it something positive.  Get rid of Bull’s dialogue in panels 4 through 6, and replace it with Linda:  “Bull, it’s okay.  That’s the last act of your old life.  The life where you were always worried and angry and things kept going wrong.  That life’s over, and we’re starting your new life tonight.  The one where we face life together.  You and me.”  Then the lights go out, but there’s the hopeful tinge that Bull actually has something to look forward to.  But no, we get an ever descending chorus of bleakness, then the lights go out.  I’m surprised there wasn’t a “BANG!” sound effect in that last panel.

It seems weird, because it sure looked like Bull was being rehabilitated.   As HeyItsDave pointed out on the 24th, Bull has a long list of favors that he’s done for Les.  I mean, if you can’t get absolution doing favors for Les Moore, than your star really is about to shatter.   But there’s always been a rather blatant contempt for sports in the strip.  Yeah, Wedgeman and the other team members were stupidly evil, but that’s typical for a lot of comic strips.  The real “sports is nothing and requires no talent” bit came when a star quarterback emerged from smoking loser Jared.  No practice, no hard work, no talent, anyone could do it.

Today’s strip, though.  I mean, like a nine-car pileup, it’s hard to look away.  This strip really looks like a revenge fantasy that Tom Batiuk drew without ever intending to publish (a sort of voodoo-strip, if you will).  But then there was this deadline, see, and time got short–

Makes me wonder if he has Sunday revenge-strips all drawn, inked and colored about all of us.  Somehow, I would not be surprised.

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21 Comments

Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

21 responses to “My Mother Said, To Get Things Done, You’d Better Not Mess With Major Tom

  1. spacemanspiff85

    I honestly expect worse to come for Bull. Like, tomorrow it turns out he destabilized the light tower by turning it on, and it falls and crushes Linda and what’s her name. And then Bull collapses and has a massive heart attack, just shy of the goal line. And next Sunday, Les steps from out of the darkness, smirks at the dying Bull, and just says “One word . . . Hollywood.”

  2. HeyItsDave

    Truth be told, BC, if T-Bats wanted to draw a revenge fantasy strip about me, I’d send him my photo so he got the likeness correct. I’d frame it and put in up in the living room, and when people asked me about it, I’d say “Oh that? There’s this old guy in Ohio who got butthurt because I poked fun at him online, and he drew that to get back at me.” It’s just so small and pointless. I can just imagine little Tommy B, a scrawny little 13-year-old shit, crying himself to sleep at night, vowing how someday he’d have his revenge.

    My daughter, like most twenty-somethings, doesn’t read newspaper comics and has no interest in following FW day to day. I showed her this arc – and billytheskink’s Stropp retirement summary – and her comment was, “What a tiny little vindictive man.”

  3. Epicus Doomus

    First he pretends he’s doing a prestige arc about head injuries, but then he veers off into “gag-a-day” land, turning Bull’s degenerative brain disease into punch line fodder. No one appears saddened, shocked or upset about the horrible news at all, in fact his oldest “friend” offers nothing more than feeble insults and a limp handshake.

    Then he has to humiliate the dumb jock one last time, then follows THAT up with a relentlessly downbeat Sunday strip featuring Bull contemplating his wasted useless life. BatNom revels in it too, with the pathos-laden imagery as Bull shuts off the lights one last time. It’s indeed a revenge fantasy, an unholy mash-up of his strange hatred for his own creation and unresolved issues from high school, fictional or otherwise. The whole thing is warped.

  4. spacemanspiff85

    Actually, my first scenario probably has Batiuk giving Bull more attention than he wants to. What’ll probably happen is, in a few weeks, Les will be silently reading the paper and there will be a little tiny obituary for Bull on the back page, at the bottom. Les will see it, and just laugh and laugh about what a stupid name Jerome is. And nobody will ever mention Bull again.

  5. Epicus Doomus

    Coming soon: Bull discovers his medical insurance does not cover “dumb jock-related head trauma” just as Linda learns that Bull signed his pension documents in the wrong place thus rendering them null and void. Jinx returns, gets Bull to assign her power of attorney and sells the Bushka home out from under her adoptive parents as revenge for not inviting her to the retirement ceremony. Funky chuckles at Bull’s travails and comments on what a lousy student Bull was in high school.

  6. ComicTrek

    But all he had to do was just pick him up! Pick him up and then scatter him! Right? He picked him up to put him back in, so why not…?

    “I miss my old coach”. Dude, you’re half-heartedly carrying him around limply in your fingers right now. Make the thing happen for your supposedly beloved coach before you forget he’s there and end up dropping him again!

    “I miss…” Blah, blah, blah. “We used to be high school students, and now we’re older adults and our lives suck.” Same basic message since 2007.

    And I am so tired of seeing their stupid childhood photo “memories”. They fool no one. If we learned anything from the time pool crap, it’s that they’re (now) just kiddie versions of the sarcastic, sad, old, dickish lumps we know now. Not quirky or funny at all! No machine guns, no pizza record playing, no Star Wars. If TB wants to show us memories, he could just reprint the old strips. But no….

  7. spacemanspiff85

    @epicusdoomus:
    He probably signed them “Bull” instead of “Jerome”. Or maybe just “Coach”.

  8. billytheskink

    The funny about this past week of strips (the ONLY funny thing about them by the way) is that, if you swap football for cartooning, Batiuk is essentially describing how his own retirement will go down.

  9. gleeb

    No number of Wedgemans can make up for forcing Wes Moore into a closet until he pissed himself. Bull was on borrowed time.

  10. The irritating thing is that no one in this mess is ever going to say “I’m happy, hope you’re happy too.” Happiness would involve not being a passive god-damned pile of shit wailing about a wasted, blighted life because some petty moron from the Rust Belt can’t deal with not being universally loved in high school.

  11. Saturnino

    “Makes me wonder if he has Sunday revenge-strips all drawn, inked and colored about all of us. Somehow, I would not be surprised.”

    You never wondered about those sharp pains you get once in a while, out of the blue?

    Or the occasional nasal congestion that feels like you have a pen up your nose????????????

  12. Charles

    So he falls over and the ashes dump out in a discrete pile like that and he just leaves it there? So tomorrow the groundskeeper notices this odd pile of white sand near the end zone, scoops it up and Jack Stropp’s remains go into a garbage can. All because Bull gave up immediately when it became unpleasant, even when doing so was morbidly inappropriate.

    I guess it is a perfect tribute for a Batiuk character.

    And unlike most people who post here, I don’t think Batiuk is still hung up over specific people from his high school days. I just think he’s a nasty person. He finds his humor in cruelty toward others, and the only characters who are spared this are those who have author avatar elements. I don’t think Cindy represents a specific woman. I just think she represents all beautiful women who never had time for him. (which would be all of them) I don’t think Bull or Jack represent anyone specific. I think they represent the concept of high school bullies or sadistic gym teachers, or even people who were simply better at sports than him. There’s too much obvious self-loathing just under the surface for it to be directed specifically.

  13. Merry Pookster

    Batiuk is one sick Mother……

  14. Gerard Plourde

    Maybe it’s the optimist in me, but I keep hoping that one of these dramatic arcs won’t follow the well-worn path of resignation and despair. I doubt that that’s likely,since redemption in the Funkyverse only happens through association with comic books (Mason’s career, Cliff Anger’s rescue from obscurity, the success Pete and Darin and now John are examples of the magic comics hold there.)

  15. Rusty Shackleford

    Crankshaft was surprisingly good today.

  16. I think Josh Fruhlinger nailed it earlier this week with his comment on this week’s arc:

    I absolutely love this, because the only time I respect Funky Winkerbean is when it really, really owns its total oppressive gloom.

    Anyway, today’s strip goes way above and beyond TB’s normal standard of nihilism. More than usual, I feel emotionally drained after reading it.

    It’s a joke-a-day strip, and today’s joke is Bull’s entire life. Ha Ha

  17. Sad, though probably not in the way Batiuk intended.

  18. Don

    I wonder if the last panel is really the school “turning the lights out” on football. Watch the school’s new AD – some recent athlete who graduated from Kent State – decide that the sport is (a) too unsafe and (b) too expensive.

  19. Professor Fate

    Ya know, there really isn’t anything stopping you from picking the damn ashes and trying again. It’s one of the most hateful bit about FW if at first you don’t succeed – quit and mope about how unfair life is.

  20. The Dreamer

    why is the stadium being named after Bull and not coach stropp? bull had a horrible losing record as a coach