Plaintive Pale

The wavy bordered third panels continue in today’s strip, and they surely must be representing a dream, because what is happening is practically impossible.

According to the official Hollywood Sign website’s helpfully-titled “Why Can’t I Hike To The Sign” page:

Question: How can I hike to the Sign?

Answer: You can’t.

Why? It’s against the law. There is fire danger and your personal safety is at risk.


In the early years of the Sign, it was possible to climb to the Sign, though it was just as dangerous and inadvisable a trip then as it would be now. Even if you had the stamina to ascend the steep, slippery slope without falling, you could still fall victim to a lurking rattlesnake, be scratched by the rough brush, or be menaced by a mountain lion.


The security system for the Sign was developed in concert with city officials, police and fire authorities, park rangers, and the Department of Homeland Security, and it includes the following features:

• A tall perimeter fence with razor wire
• 24 hour electronic surveillance by City of Los Angeles authorities
• Infrared lights and cameras that can see equally as well in the day and on a moonless night
• Monitoring microphones and bullhorns
• Web cameras
• Motion sensors
• Regular patrol visits by city police and park ranger helicopters

Rigorous Enforcement, 24x7x365

Walking into the protected Sign area is trespassing and violators will be cited by police. Anyone who makes an attempt to do so will be buzzed by a park helicopter, ordered off the slope through the bullhorns, and find a police cruiser waiting for them at the bottom of the slope.

So, this is not reality we are seeing, nor is it within 1/4″ of an inch, not by any reasonable conclusion. Unless… Marianne is a ninja.

Well, no wonder people are threatening her.



Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

21 responses to “Plaintive Pale

  1. You know, I’d really like to see some of these “threats.” Because what we have is a photo of Marianne kissing Mason. What would those threats be about, again?

    “You ruined Mason’s engagement, you ice-cold you! You, you, you, you homewrecker you!”

    “Ooo, you, Marianne! You kissed a man! You should die!”

    “You completely ruined Starbuck Jones for me! You injected icky sex into my juvenile dreams!”

    “Marianne! You pointed out how some cartoonist has no idea how to tell a story! You are NOT of the body, and should sacrifice yourself, for the sacred syndicate!”

    I’m going to maintain, by the way, that the wavy lines around Marianne’s actions are just Cindy’s fevered imaginings of what SHE would do if Mason was unfaithful. And on Sunday, we’ll find Marianne in her house, picking up her phone. “What? Yeah I saw it. So? The re-shoots are tomorrow, right? Also, can I do the ADR on Thursday? My cat has diarrhea.”

  2. Epicus Doomus

    So does this mean that Mason has deemed “some” of the threats acceptable? What does he consider “beyond the pale”? Where does he draw the line? Who gave HIM the authority to determine the paleness of threats? Has everyone been this concerned about Marianne all along or is constant need to know where she is at all times new?

    So, an impossible scenario within an implausible story built on a ridiculous premise and a totally incomprehensible timeline featuring characters who are impossible to like, enjoy or take seriously in any way. That sounds about right. Obviously the smart move here is for Mason to immediately dispatch the jet to retrieve Les, who might be able to GET HER TO THE HOSPITAL in time in case she does indeed jump. Something tells me they’d have plenty of time, as that ladder looks like two or three days high at least.

  3. DOlz

    I feel like this TB telling us that we need to stop criticizing him of he might do something desperate. In the time I’ve been here there has been plenty of well deserved criticism of the strip, but can’t recalled any threats against TB. Unless (and he might) consider the time I hoped King Features would cancel FW a month short of it’s 50th Anniversary. Otherwise he should realize no matter how thin skinned he is criticism ≠ threats.

  4. billytheskink

    So Masone’s Dino Deer made The Adventures of Pluto Nash look like a critical and financial blockbuster and Cindy couldn’t drag ABC News ratings above test patterns in New York and Cleveland… but together they have captivated the tabloid press and the internet to such a point that they both are out to DESTROY a young actress who could maybe, kinda, sorta, I guess, possibly threaten to break up the idling Jarr-Summers engagement?

    When things are ridiculous and fun, I roll with them. When things are ridiculous and self-serious… I’m surely reading Funky Winkerbean.

  5. spacemanspiff85

    The studio’s contacting the authorities? Why can’t Marianne defend herself and do that, exactly? Or at the very least, her agent?

  6. Epicus Doomus

    Tom BanTom, the single most inept storyteller ever. Consider this: Mason is blathering on and on about the unremitting fury of the online commentariat and how their virulent bile might affect the delicate and pure-hearted Marianne. But Marianne fled immediately after reading the story itself and unless everyone commented immediately all at once, she was already in her adorable twee car by the time the un-pale threats against her started to roll in. Thus they had no effect on her at all as she couldn’t possibly have read them. So really DMZ and our pal Frankie are the only villains here, despite BanTom’s sad attempt to blame The Internet for his character’s daffy antics.

    “All right everyone, time is a-wasting here! I want all the threats against Marianne put into three categories: before the pale, just plain pale and beyond the pale. A list of keywords are on the whiteboard. Bodily harm, arson, that goes to the top. Boycotts, protests, angry letters, not our priority right now. Let’s get going, she could potentially be jumping off of something as we speak!”

  7. If Batiuk’s intention was to inspire debate about the sheer implausibility of this situation and the pants-on-head stupid behavior of his characters, he’s succeeded. If his intention was to tell a story about a contemporary issue affecting young adults in a sensitive and thought-provoking manner, he has failed.

  8. Charles

    I think that Batiuk forgets, or never knew in the first place, that these people are contract employees, and as such don’t show up to work when there’s nothing for them to do. And that director The Load, (since he doesn’t have a name, I’m giving him this one) Mason and Cindy (!) wouldn’t really have any personal relationship with her, and barely a professional one, they wouldn’t be the people who’d have to deal with her freak outs. Christ, I’m sure Batiuk has an agent. He has to at least know OF this shit.

    Also, for a guy who feels he has a finger on the pulse of bullying, he sure doesn’t realize that a beautiful woman who becomes a hot property actress would have dealt with plenty of bullying, especially this kind of bullying, when she was growing up. I mean, there’s just something when >50 guys in your high school all think you should fuck them; at least some of them aren’t going to react well when you refuse, or when you fail to notice them in the first place.

    And if the bullying comes from her “forcing” Mason to cheat on Cindy, Cindy would be able to squash that pretty easily, (or use it to her own advantage) but she seems rather detached from the whole thing. And oh, as Westview’s Greatest Generation’s designated Hot Chick, she should be familiar with this kind of bullying on a small scale herself. There surely had to be a few guys who felt a little put out when she started blowing a loser like Funky.

  9. Rusty Shackleford

    Hollywood is a difficult place to live in if you don’t make it in the industry. I’m still trying to understand how driving up and looking at the sign makes this situation better.

    Mariannes mom would have been better off leaving once it became apparent she wouldn’t make it in the business. It would have saved us from this boring story arc!

  10. Gerard Plourde

    I know that Batiuk claims to have about a one-year lead time on his work, but it seems that that translates to “I get an idea in my head and immediately put it into three panels and never look at it again.” The present arc features a character we barely know apparently having an extreme reaction to a situation that, from what has been shown to us, scarcely qualifies as gossip, let alone bullying. There is no sign that any work to develop the story occurred.

  11. For Marianne to actually have an agent who would be handling this situation would require that TB introduce yet another character, which TB has a real hard time with (reference Bull’s having four full time jobs – athletic directory, football coach, women’s basketball coach, and physical therapist). I’m frankly surprised that he introduced the anon-o-director instead of having Masone acting as both lead actor and director (and whatever other odd jobs need doing around the studio).

  12. 1. So now we’ve escalated all the way to death threats? Seriously Tom? Maybe tomorrow the internet trolls can up the ante even more and kidnap Marianne’s mom for ransom and burn her house down…

    2. Internet death threats are usually reserved for some referee who made a really bad, game-changing call; a college kicker who misses a chip shot in a rivalry game with five second left, and that kid who kept wrecking me in (insert name of video game) because he be a cheatin’ motherfucker… Any person who would send death threats over a peck on the cheek is also the type of person who thinks his houseplants were brainwashed by the One-World Government and trained to spy on him, and that the Illuminati infested his home with surveillance cockroaches so they can later confiscate his guns…

    3. So… Despite being better known for seducing her co-stars than her acting skills, the public never had a problem with her before now, but *ONE* peck on the cheek is somehow the prelude to all-out internet war??

    4. As others have mentioned Marianne is starring in the most overhyped, overbudgeted movie since the history of whenever, and since Starbuck Jones is gonna spawn more sequels, prequels and spin-offs than the X-Men franchise, this is a guaranteed express elevator to the ‘A-list’ and she’ll be financially set for life before she even hits 25… Her peck on the cheek isn’t going to get her fired, nor ruin her career, nor thrown in jail. She didn’t get her financial info stolen, she didn’t get doxxed, hacked, SWATted, and she didn’t have all her nude selfies stolen from the Apple Cloud…

    5. I’m sorry, where is the crisis again? Where is the conflict?? Here I am giddy in anticipation of Cindy going postal and seeing a Light Middleweight Championship Catfight with Marianne, and Batiuk turns it into a treatise on cyber bullying?? A supposedly successful grown-assed woman being cyber bullied? A grown-assed woman who is ALSO A GODDAMNED PUBLIC FIGURE whose livelihood hinges on how much attention she can draw to herself, is being cyber-bullied??

    6. So is Marianne’s skin really that thin? Shouldn’t the three stooges back at the studio be much more concerned about an infinitely more realistic threat, which is stalker fans??? Because “comics geek stalker” is the most dangerous and perverted of the lot…

  13. Gerard Plourde

    Also, in panel two the comment “The studio is notifying the authorities.” is incredibly nebulous. Is it notifying the web site about inappropriate comments or the police because it somehow knows that Marianne is suicidal?

  14. I would guess they’re notifying the authorities about the internet threats, and there’s no reason they would think that Marianne is preparing to leap from the H (insert Preparation-H joke here).
    One more beady-eyed nit: The scene of Marianne ascending the H-ladder shows a beaming Sun on the horizon across from the mountain. Is it a rising sun or a setting sun? I have to assume it’s a setting sun, since the previous action has been depicted as happening in the day time. A quick google search of “hollywood sign sunset” indicates that the sun sets either behind or parallel to the sign.

  15. @Gerard Plourde: I guess they’re calling the FBI over the threats, which really amounts to nothing since few, if any of them will be deemed credible, and 95% of the time the person making the ‘threat’ is a 15-year-old boy or girl who can usually duck under the universal “Cantcha take a joke?” -defense


    Dear Lord, this is rich. The escalation of this is one of the most ridiculous things I have seen in comics.

    1. While I don’t approve of internet bullying. If you are a grown ass adult and you are lead to suicide by internet comments…you have problems. What would have happened if a movie reviewer said her performance was terrible and she will never have an acting career. Would she have slit her wrists in the bathtub?

    2. This is in many ways insulting to Peggy Entwhistle, the woman who committed suicide jumping. Peggy ultimately had serious problems and fustrations that made her suicide sympathetic. I have sympathy for Marrianne who apparently has friggin jumped the gun over a stupid celebrity rumor. Go ahead jump, Marianne. Your death will make a more interesting story than any movie you were ever going to be in. Lisa Moore has proved that.

    3. Now I am curious as to what really IS in those emails. My experience with vicious websites leads me to believe most of the worst comments are:

    “Hey look at that. Marianne Winters broke up Masone’s relationship. This just proves that God doesn’t exist. When will religion end?”

    “Wow, good job Masone. You banged the fucking hottest chick in Hollywood and dumped that skank!!. I’ll definitely be jacking off to Marianne’s titties tonight. That’s they all women need. To be put in the kitchen or in the bedroom. Not like those fucking Faux-Ghostbuster, bitches!!”

    “Mason dumped that news reporter. Finally, he can stop this charade and come out as gay. Just like how I envision in my Starbuck/Flash Gordon fanfics.”

    “Good. They need to fire this bitch Marianne! She looks nothing like the character does in Issue #44 & #68. Let’s face it. Starbucks Jones is ruined.

    “Want to grow your penis size? Contact!”

  17. Miskatonic Sophomore

    “Beyond the pale”…”notifying the authorities”…ah, that rich, thick stiltedness that FW dialogue sometimes acquires, when the denizens of Westview (and points west) suddenly sound like Joe Friday strong-arming some hapless beatnik.

    In a way, I enjoy it. It acts as a palate cleanser, heightening my appreciation for actual human speech.

  18. Either this is really happening in defiance of all probability, logic, and halfway decent storytelling, or Batiuk is setting us up for a lame fake-out. I don’t know which possibility annoys me more.

  19. @Miskatonic Sophomore: It’s almost as if he’s the official reincarnation of James Fennimoore Cooper ’cause he’s got the stilted-ass dialogue to go with the incoherent plot and piss-poor characterization. Read Twain’s list of his literary offenses and you’ll think he’s talking about Batiuk.

  20. Don

    It’s about as possible as it is to hit a Bouncing Betty mine with a wood plank in midflight and not have it explode until it’s safely out of range. In other words…in this strip, it’s very possible.

  21. The Merry Pookster

    @ The Diva, TB has never had anything but “lame fake-outs” to every arch that otherwise we seeming to actually go somewhere.
    Then the entire item/subject of the crisis is never brought up again.
    Remember what happened to Fred’s love child? Actually nobody knows.