Suspense… of belief

“Read” today’s strip

So is this it? Is it over? Can we get back to what the Westview High School news broadcast kids are up to now? I’m ready for Bernie Silver’s review of the latest Amazing Mr. Sponge after all of this.

Or did Marianne use the same ninja skills that got her past security up to the sign, the ninja skills that allowed her to balance on the knife’s edge that is the top of the H, to disappear into the night?

If you are wondering why I keep hammering on this dopey theory that Marianne is a ninja, it is because it almost makes her interesting.


Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

28 responses to “Suspense… of belief

  1. Here’s what today’s strip was supposed to be, before Tom Batiuk’s lawyers “bullied” him into changing it.

  2. Epicus Doomus

    Poor Summer, I hope this doesn’t affect her athletic scholarship in any way. So I guess she jumped, or climbed back down, or was rescued by someone. Unless it’s all a dream, of course. It’s all just so exasperating. If she really did jump it’d end one of the shortest FW runs I can remember and not a moment too soon, as this is plodding along at a “Darin opens his mail”-like pace now. It’s just impossible to not laugh at the overall ineptitude of this mess, why he doesn’t just stick with his pizza, comic book and old age gags is beyond me as he’s just laughably terrible when he tries these “serious” stories of his. That Bull thing, Cliff’s ridiculous steamer stories, this DMZ gossip arc, they’re the work of a madman, a tired unmotivated madman.

  3. We’ve reached the point where the plot is both a maudlin Very Special Episode and a cheap cop-out. It’s Schrodinger’s suicide.

  4. Gerard Plourde

    So we’re left with the sketch of an actress whose addition to the film gave it blockbuster potential but who confronted with a story (and possibly comments) on one web site decides to commit suicide. No hint of prior depression, no hint of any negative consequences to her career, no truth to the story. (or is there?) Will we find a note that confesses that she had felt compelled to get involved with Mason as she had with her other leading men and but so no way to control the urge, making the story not about cyber bullying but about a psychologically troubled person? We’ll probably never know because Batiuk has most likely finished with it.

  5. I expect this is a classic TB fake-out, where we’ll find out tomorrow that she stood and contemplated the LA skyline for a few moments, then decided to descend back down the ladder and get back to normal life, or something. But on the other hand, she is a minor enough character that TB could decide to kill her off for the purposes of making a very lame point, and that would give him an excuse to kill the whole Starbuck Jones project mid-stream, while everybody collects their kill fees and goes home.

  6. spacemanspiff85

    I’m sure she just climbed down the ladder. Except Batiuk will spend all of next week before he shows it. And then the next week he’ll reveal it was all a dream of John’s. And he’ll have learned a valuable lesson about how you shouldn’t say anything critical online about Starbuck Jones.

  7. Epicus Doomus

    If she changes her mind it’s only a little less insane.

    “Well, I was so upset that I stood on top of the big H and almost jumped before deciding nah, I can put this behind me. Plus there are still eight more letters, just in case things don’t work out on a repeated basis”.

    “Um OK, Marianne! Sounds great! (note to self, avoid Marianne, more insurance)”.

  8. The only thing really committing suicide is what’s left of Batiuk’s intellect and sense of fair play. A dumpster fire of a story line like this is why I keep saying that we should still be dealing with a down-beat clone of Archie.

  9. the dreamer

    hopefully she jumped, otherwise she’ll end up visiting or moving to westview, which would be a fate worse than death

  10. Charles

    The only reason why I’m convinced that nothing has happened here is that Batiuk didn’t alert the media about this sequence so they can blow smoke up his ass about what an uncompromising artist he is.

  11. Rusty Shackleford

    She jumps.
    Masonne says, i know someone who looks like Marianne.
    Summer arrives on set…this is the hook that brings Les back out there.

  12. louder

    She’s still alive because BatHollywoodHack has no idea how to write anything that would mean a damn thing to continue the story in the aftermath of Marianne’s suicide.

  13. Rusty Shackleford


    I think you are correct. She comes down, and next thing you know, she’s a tough, alpha girl who takes down her critics and then boldly says: “I gotta get back to work”. Everyone on set smirks.

  14. sgtsaunders

    OK, thanks, Tombat. Now I can’t get Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin'” out of my head.

  15. This is such maudlin, transparent crap I don’t care whether jumped or not. I did a cursory search, and there was indeed a raft of stories in the news during the second half of 2015 about cyber bullying suicides – among TEENS, that is. There’s no logical or creative reason to transplant this to celeb cultur, other than as a means of getting in “double relevance” by yoking TMZ and its ilk to this overwrought, stupid plot. If TB had placed this arc at the high school, it might’ve had a chance – he could even have the actress come to speak at the memorial and talk about how, back when she was just a mousy drama student, she was bullied too, but she managed to survive it, blah blah blah, and “the rest of you can, too, so just say NO to cyber bullies, kids!” Bah.

    Relatedly: I discerned no consistent use of the wavy panels, which are typically used to visually signify “meanwhile, elsewhere…” or a shift to the past. Obviously he employs the antique picture holder corners plus sepiatone to denote the latter. Inconsistently, I’ll admit. And similarly inconsistent, he used the location shift for this arc as well. Clearly this is a man who feels he’s earned the right to create his art minus any outside input or assistance. I’m a magazine editor, and whenever I’ve encountered a writer with the attitude that he doesn’t need an editor, I just nod my head because I’ve heard that claim before. And then I change his shit anyway, because that’s part of my job – to ensure a consistent, quality publication.

    Off topic: I’ve never been clear on why he writes the strips a year ahead. Is this a known fact? If so, why? I see no evidence of that in other strips, and a lot of them use topical humor that suggests their lead time is, at best, a few months.

  16. Rusty

    Batiuk is clearly irritated that critics think he puts his characters in constant peril since St. Lisa died. So he continues to do it, only to pull them back from the brink (literally, here). Unless she jumped, then kudos to you sir.

  17. Addendum: per my note about being an editor, my editor’s eye just spotted the below paragraph in the NY Times. It’s by film critic Manohla Dargis, on the new Will Smith vehicle Collateral Beauty. I quote it near-verbatim, except in the obvious spots where I substitute FW for the title, and Marianne Winters for Tiny Tim. As the saying goes, “I couldn’t have said it better….”

    “The five stages of grief sometimes seem applicable to comic strip reviewing, except that I usually skip denial, rarely get around to acceptance and generally just settle into anger, which is where I am with the latest Funky Winkerbean arc. Many of the words that I would like to use to describe this waste of talent and time, which riffs on Dickens’s eternal “A Christmas Carol” and tries to manufacture feeling by offing Marianne Winters, can’t be lobbed in a family publication. So, instead, I will just start by throwing out some permissible insults: artificial, clichéd, mawkish, preposterous, incompetent, sexist, laughable, insulting.”

  18. The Merry Pookster


  19. Gerard Plourde

    @ Fred Blurt –

    Re the one year lead time for stories – He made that statement in an interview he gave to Variety in November of 2014. (He has it on his website under the tab “Interviews”.

  20. Jimmy

    I got an advance copy of the Sunday strip. It features five panels of Elton John singing ” Candle in the Wind.” The penultimate panel reveals him to have changed the lyric to Marianne Winters. I mean, it fits tonally.

    Final panel is Elton John in full smirk.

  21. If Marianne killed herself over some internet comments, she should never have become an actress. Anyone in any branch of the arts (including cartooning) HAS to know that criticism, whether you think it’s valid or not, is part of the game.

    And as for nastiness, again, anyone in the performing arts is going to be the target of that. It comes with the territory. If you can’t stand it, find another line of work.

    But this story is just flat-out bone-headed. This whole arc implies that Marianne is so hyper-sensitive that she’d probably drive her car off a cliff if the drive-through guy didn’t put enough pickles on her cheeseburger.

  22. Interviewer: You’re a year ahead? I’ve never met a cartoonist that far ahead.

    Batiuk: It’s an incredible luxury. It was done because of just existential things like my folks getting older and I could see things coming down the road that were going to be problematic for me time wise and so I made the effort to get a year ahead so that if something popped up I could deal with it and it wouldn’t bring everything to a screeching halt. But once I got a year ahead I found out that I could think long thoughts. I didn’t have to come up with something for Friday. I could have an idea like “Lisa’s Story” and let it gestate for a long time. In fact “Lisa’s Story” was written a long, long time before I ever put it into the strip. And I think being a year ahead has made the work so much better because I have a better perspective on it and can coordinate it. You’re not just going from incident to incident and hoping for the best. You can interlock things. Like this big long story I described to you at the beginning where Holly goes on this comic book hunt. It runs over quite a few months and I’m able to coordinate it with the activities I have going on and the covers that I’ve got and it also crosses over with “Crankshaft” at one point and if I wasn’t so far ahead, I couldn’t do that.

    Tom Batiuk Talks “Funky Winkerbean”,

  23. Gerard Plourde

    @ beckoningchasm-

    You’re right. Even leaving aside the personal attack stuff, negative comments from critics can be pretty harsh. An actress who would commit suicide over a negative story or the comments that were posted related to it wouldn’t survive community theater or a small repertory company, let alone make it to a major motion picture.

  24. Rusty Shackleford

    I love Batty’s interviews. He talks a good game and uses fancy words.

    Listen to what he says, and then look at what he produces. See any difference?

  25. Rusty Shackleford

    Oh, and it is easy to get ahead when everything is dragged out for days on end…oh wait, that’s called writing.

  26. ian'sdrunkenbeard

    The last few strips have been quite “edgy”.

    “Nowhere, Ma. I was just driving around to clear my head,as is my wont. Any calls?”

    No Floria Tosca, she!

  27. sgtsaunders

    I’ll bet she just climbed down. But there is precedent for leaping from the sign to one’s everlasting reward (If this is old news, I apologize – I haven;t read every word set forth about this storyline).
    Meet Peg Entwhistle.
    “She climbed 50 feet up a workman’s ladder to the top of the “H” and plunged to her death. Peg Entwistle – dubbed by tabloids as the “The Hollywood Sign Girl” – was only 24 years old. According to Hollywood legend, a letter to Peg arrived the day after her death from the Beverly Hills Playhouse.”
    But – as of now, closing in on the Pageantry that is Sunday FW – I think Marianne shows back up at the studio.


    So she …teleported? No seriously. What the hell happened?