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Filed under Son of Stuck Funky
Tagged as Atomik Komix, Darin, Darin's blue shirt, Holtron, lawyers, Mindy, Pete, Ruby Lith, traveling green shirt, Wayback Wendy
If I had know that the annual cancer fun run was last weekend I would have gone, as meeting TomBan, pretending to be a huge FW fan and asking him a lengthy series of increasingly ridiculous FW questions has become my new life goal. I’m going to make that happen someday and when I do you’ll hear all about it, trust me.
In case you missed the BIG NEWS, it appears that Sir Thomas of Batiuk is about to breathe some new life into the strip, in a manner of speaking. I have to assume he felt it’d be OK to spoil it by announcing it in the BIGGEST NEWSPAPER IN THE WORLD because he’s well aware that no one’s actually going to read it anyway. I say hold on and enjoy the ride, as unlike Act II he doesn’t just kill characters off every day anymore.
This storyline is going to look super damn awkward in the inevitable hardcover prestige book collection (probably titled The Last Yard). It’ll be full of “haha, Bull is such an idiot right now” ending with a page where Bull kills himself and then five pages of Les talking about Bull’s life to Cayla on his porch swing.
I predict Bull hangs himself from the Westview goal post. And somehow botches it, since he’s Bull and Batiuk can’t resist having him botch everything.
I think Lisa would be proud.
In case you missed the BIG NEWS, it appears that Sir Thomas of Batiuk is about to breathe some new life into the strip, in a manner of speaking.
I think you meant to say “breathe some new death into the strip”
You could have gotten yourself a signed print of one of his Sunday Strips for your trouble. There were 36 entrants and most age groups (except the ‘old man divisions’) only had a single person in them!
Just what every 14 year old wants: signed Cancercomix to proudly hang on the wall.
Yeah, the run was not far from my house…bah, I just don’t care. Man, he is just grubbing for awards now. Shameful.
We know Bull is going to commit suicide. Batiuk’s told us that. From the lead-up, here, to the actual act, who cares what wry smirks are presented?
PS: As someone who really does suffer from severe depression, I am not looking forward to this issue being handled with any kind of realism.
Same here, along with PTSD, and a mother whose dementia is coupled with other issues. The way Batiuk bungles mental health issues is a disgrace. I can mock him for it, but he’s still getting a free pass from newspapers and websites to spread his vileness.
Same here. I have dealt with depression issues too. Suicide is a bad end to this plotline. There’s been too much humor at the expense of Bull’s condition over the last couple years. Some gallows humor for a terminal diagnosis, like breast cancer, is one thing. Gallows humor for a terminal condition leading to suicide is grossly inappropriate for anything outside of the blackest of comedies.
I always though his take on adoption was as crass and heavy-handed as he could get but he’s plumbing new depths here with his meat-headed “take” on brain injuries. Lest we forget, early in Act III he did a prestige arc about Funky’s father suffering from Alzheimer’s (an arc that ended with Funky nearly dying in a car accident after nearly blowing his sobriety) which ultimately led to his father becoming a lively, mischievous and spry old coot, an outcome that, uh, rarely happens in “real life”.
Featuring a CTE related suicide in the strip may be “timely” and all and it might satiate Batiuk’s endless thirst for plaudits and attention but honestly I just don’t see why it’s necessary at all. He already “addressed” the issue, he could have just let it be and let the Bull character fade away but, Batom being Batom, he feels compelled to lash out at the sportos one last time and send Bull out via a grim Sunday suicide scene, one that will probably creep out more people than it impresses with its “artistry” and “realism”.
Much agreed. There is really no reason for this arc to end in a suicide other than for attention-grabbing shock value. But what else could be expected of TB, the guy who turned teen pregnancy and breast cancer, a pair of things that are hundreds upon hundreds of times more common than CTE, into shock shlock by being insufferably self-important both in strip and to every media member who would answer his calls. The strips covering these issues du jour are largely about how important the issue is, never about telling a coherent or compelling story.
The time between Bull’s retirement ceremony and now has featured not a single “serious” moment where we got to see the real impact of Bull’s illness on himself or his wife. It was all played for chuckles, all of it. Even the retirement ceremony itself was played for laughs, with Les and Funky snarking on the proceedings and Bull spilling Coach Stropp’s ashes. It was never a “serious” look at anything at all. And now, out of nowhere, it’s going to end with a depressing Sunday strip featuring the suicide of Bull Bushka. I either don’t understand Batiuk at all or I understand him way too well.
I still don’t see how his heavy handed approach helps anyone. These arcs are just dreadful.
I can see how it helps Batty generate fake news and garner interviews, but that is all
It’s one thing when we laugh at our own problems. It’s a polar opposite to laugh at other people’s problems. (And, somehow, Batiuk’s desperate lust for an award doesn’t strike me as a real problem.)
Has there been any evidence that Bull might turn suicidal? I surprised myself when I tried it last year, but I’d been unaware of the warning signs. So far Bull hasn’t shown any sign of problems; he doesn’t seem stressed-out, depressed or isolated; he enjoys being around Buck Futt; no anger or other extreme behaviors; he’s getting medical attention from people who should be watching his emotional state.
❤ I hope you're in a better place now.
There was an arc last year with Bull spazzing about his video tapes played for about two days of pathos.
Wouldn't it be great if Bull does it after watching something like, "A Star Is Born." or "13 Reasons Why." and the entire plot turns from CTE to bringing attention to the glamorization and fetishization of suicide in fiction, and how it can trigger suicidal ideation in vulnerable people? [/sarcasm veiled rage]
I hope you are getting the support you need. There is a lot of pain in the world and I lost two people close to me to suicide.
Do we need more pain on the comics page? I say no. Watterson was able to bring some deep thoughts to his strip, keeping a good balance. But Batty just throws up walls of text punctuated by a smirk. Bleh.
Oh yeah, doing laundry had Bull’s brain SUPER calm yesterday… I’m guessing Westview only has one neurologist.
How much pestering do you think Batiuk had to do to get featured in the New York Times? I mean they have to have something better to write about. Dawn Weston’s being an idiot over someone from another country, that’s way more relevant to the Times’s readers than anything that’s ever happened in a Batiuk strip.
I find it ironic that an article about a comic strip found in very few newpapers ran in a paper that doesn’t have a comics section.
Moreover, as of this morning, there were only seven comments posted on the article. Clearly, most aren’t regular readers of Fungy, and praise Todd for his efforts.
Honestly what I kind of expect to happen is just ten weeks of jokes about Bull being dumb and then he’s never mentioned again in the strip. And then Batiuk will brag about how he handled suicide in a touching and thought-provoking manner, just like he did with gay prom attendees.
“Hey, buddy. Remember when you were young and had the world at your feet? Well, that’s all behind you. Now, you’re just old and useless and you’ve lost your marbles. You’re a joke and a burden to everyone around you. So, why don’t you do the world a solid and just kill yourself?”
Wow. Just, wow. What a great, life affirming message to share. And so well timed, what with this being National Suicide Prevention Week.
If this supposed to be a serious arc, what is with all the goddam smirking?
My God, Buck’s having the time of his life watching Bull suffer. I think that’s the happiest I’ve ever seen anyone in this strip. It’s appalling, espexially after Buck made that tasteless apeech about Bull “tackling life headfirst”. He looks he really *is* there to screw Bull’s wife. I wonder if that will be what pushes Bull over the edge.
One other thing: Buck said he has CTE himself. So how can this horror show possibly be amusing to him?
Horrible. Just horrible.
Balancing humor and seriousness in writing is a tough rope to walk, and while a good many people are capable of pulling that balance off, TB simply is not one of them. Pretty much every stab at humor in this arc is discordant or disrespectful to the affliction and the few strips to take the issue seriously are blatantly unresearched and largely about name-dropping the disease rather than telling a story about how Bull/Linda/Buck live with its sad effects. TB’s motto is “tell, don’t show”. The balance this strikes is awful on both the humorous and serious ends, making the jokes come at the expense of someone battling a terrible affliction and then telling us nothing more about them except that they are ill.
You point out one of the biggest examples, Buck maudlinly telling Linda he was diagnosed with CTE in one strip and then smirking at Bull’s antics in dozens of others. Linda frowning with Les through Bull’s photo album of concussions was told around a flashback where coach Bull claims to his players the BWT rivalry has been going on as long as he can remember, which isn’t very far since he last took the field against them. Bull’s first trip to the neurologist was full of sad-sack exposition about concussions and CTE… and Bull stupidly and briefly being relieved that he didn’t have a brain tumor.
All good points. The strip’s overall problem is tone. Batiuk tells us this is supposed to be a very serious story, but having a character grinning like Beavis and Butt-Head as he is shown the horror of the condition belies that.
It’s also confusing. Is it meaningful to the story that Buck appears delighted at Bull’s suffering? It could be, because they have a history of rivalry. Comics are a sparse medium. So when a character has an obvious expression, we the audience have to assume it is meaningful.
Another huge problem with this strip is that characters don’t notice or react to things they should. Despite Buck’s insulting demeanor, Linda’s just carrying on with the tour. Again, we don’t know if that’s meaningful or not. And again, Buck has CTE himself! That should inform his reaction here. Nope! Idiotic smirk.
You can’t tell an emotional story if you can’t convey what your characters are feeling. Or, their feelings make no sense. That’s why FW’s attempts at telling these difficult stories are so ham-handed.
You may have noticed Buck’s smirk has a lear toward Linda. Bull dies, Buck consoles Linda, Linda develops a CTE fetish. Todd milks CTE in a way he could never do with cancer.
It’s also very peculiar how Batiuk’s opinion of football so radically changed in just a few years. The shittiness of the WHS football team and/or Bull’s ineptitude regarding same was a pretty significant hunk of FW history through the years. Just four or five years ago Owen being knocked unconscious while catching a TD pass in a mascot costume was played strictly for laughs, Jarod Posey arrived on the scene to lead the Goats to victory and Bull was entertaining job offers from big-time college football programs. Now, several years later, Bull is going to die because of football which I assume means football-related gags will no longer be a thing in FW.
It’s a pretty wild swing of opinion right there. Yes, CTE has “been in the news” a lot over recent years but a) it wasn’t particularly “new” when FW “addressed” it and b) football has always involved risk, as evidenced by Owen being obliterated. I mean hey, it’s his comic strip and if he decided he no longer wanted to use football for laughs that’s fair, but it doesn’t make the radical shift any less weird either.
Another point: way back in the early 10s a certain comic strip author got all pissy and sicced his lawyers on a humble blog simply for sharing the daily strips with avid readers a few hours early. Then in 2019 the NYT comes calling and he spoils the second most shocking arc in Act III history (Les making out with himself on New Years Eve will never be topped) by giving up his big plot twist for no reason at all. If no one knew it was coming that Sunday strip would have blown minds, really freaked everyone out and certainly would have gotten nine or ten people talking but now it’s just going to drop with a big anti-climactic plop. I actually feel cheated, it would have been one of if not the greatest day in SoSF history and we would have topped 100 comments easily. Everyone loses just because The Author couldn’t stop flapping his gums for the Times, who’ve never supported FW anyway. What a waste of a rare character death.
Agreed, except it’s most likely Todd pestered the Times, rather than the Times courting Todd.
I have a nasty suspicion that he’ll doing something even worse than smirking his way through a pointless calamity. You’ll notice that Bull is the last living descendant of Beanball Bushka, the racist dickhole who cheated Ed Crankshaft out of his one shot at the Majors just to be a shitty dick. My guess is that all of the woes that have befallen his family will be said to be a karmic wheel of cheese running over them for his sins. I mean, all of the other times where we thought he’d hit the bottom of the barrel, he kept digging so……..
Doesn’t Bull have a daughter named Jinx?
She’s adopted. TomBa also inflicted impotence on Bull.
Impotence? It figures. Will he work ruptured Depends into Bull’s misery before he dies, or has Batiuk already bottomed out there?
He didn’t explicitly make Bull impotent, as far as I remember. He just had a weird thing where more than a few of his male characters didn’t have biological children. In addition to Bull, there’s Gross John and of course, Funky, who have children but produced none of them. I think of all the guys from that generation, only Les and Crazy have reproduced.
Your theory has merit. Up to this point, his treatment of Bull’s condition has been incredibly superficial, largely inaccurate, and devoid of sympathy. It would be consistent for him to have, in his mind, mapped out cosmic karmic consequences for Beanball and Bull for being Evil Sportos.
One other thing – this isn’t the first time that he’s disclosed a character’s fate ahead of time. When interviewed about Lisa’s second bout of breast cancer, TomBa revealed in advance that she would die.
“Bucket Head, I thought you had CTE too. Do you do laundry to calm your brain?”
“No, my CTE Schtick is to fuck random women 24 hours a day.”
“Let’s go! Doctor’s orders!”
(@ comicbookharriet, because the “Reply” function isn’t there for your last response to me)
Thank you! I’m not sure I’m in a better place, but I’m much more aware of the risk factors now, and (I think) handling them better. Interesting thing: the last time I saw my therapist, I mentioned snarking at bad comics. She said that was a healthy thing to do. Who’d have thought Batiuk could be good for anyone’s mental health?
I can see it. Being aware of TB’s work but letting it go unpunished certainly isn’t healthy, so it would stand to reason that the opposite is true.
I do hope and pray you get to or are in a better place and I think all of us at SOSF are grateful that you are here with us as we snark our way through this somehow never-ending disaster of a comic strip.
I second BTS here. When I was going through a dark place back in college, one of the things that kept me going was a community of online Transformers fans.
Snarking here is creative and social and cathartic. That’s the beauty of this place, and similar blogs like Comics Curmudgeon, This Week in Milford, and Mary Worth and Me. I really only lurk at the others off and on, but you can see how much people in those places feel the same way we do here.
Stay proactive with your care WT. And stay Funky!
Wow, William, I know you’ve posted a lot on CK about your mom, but was unaware of depression. Keep at it, Your commentary is a big contribution to our snarkfest.
Thanks! And to stay on Funky, I went to the post office this morning. I had a terrible time. First, I couldn’t find the long, slow line being neglected by the one-and-only clerk. I was forced to walk right up to the counter and choose which of two clerks to see. There was a problem, she said; their computers were getting a software upgrade and wouldn’t be on-line for another ten minutes. Can you believe that ten minute wait stretched into a whole five minutes? When it ended I had to fill out a postcard-sized customs declaration (I was sending a gift to a friend in Croatia). The nerve of those bureaucrats to expect me to give them both my name and address and that of my friend! Plus declare what I was shipping and its estimated cash value. And I had to pay with a debit card, which took almost a full half-minute, before I was able to leave and go to my eye doctor for an appointment–and I got there in plenty of time. This is NOT what Batiuk promised me!
If you’re listening, Mr. Batiuk, you can hear me doing my Woody Woodpecker laugh. May it become your permanent, personal earworm! (I’ll share this to the CK blog, so he can get it in stereo.)
That is incredibly awesome!
It is, of course, impossible to diagnose CTE in a living person.
The Author’s understanding of CTE is on a par with is understanding of well anything.
We now flash forward to Week 11 of this very special 10-week Funky Winkerbean story:
Doctor 1: Larry? We got the Bushka autopsy results back.
Doctor 2: Thanks, Ahmad. Positive for CTE?
Doctor 1: No. Turns out his health problems were caused by microscopic particles of chemically-laced meat blocking the blood vessels of his brain.
Doctor 2 [Jumps up and grabs the report]: What? Let me see… [Reads the results and looks up, dismayed] My God! Pepperoni Toxema? In this day and age?
Doctor 1: The wife says he ate at a place called Montoni’s… a lot.
Doctor 2: But didn’t he read comics?
Doctor 1: She says he never touched them. He was a sporto.
Doctor 2 [rolls eyes]: A sporto? I thought after Lee and Kirby’s groundbreaking study in the 1960s even they knew inhaling the fumes from old comics would destroy pepperoni buildup in the blood stream. The poor SOB didn’t have to die. If only he had read comics. When will people learn, Ahmad? [Looks directly at the reader] For God’s sake, when will they ever learn?
[In the real world, Tom Batiuk pulls back from his computer and smiles. Having avenged himself on those who wronged him 60 years ago, he can now relax and wait for the awards to roll in. He wonders if he will need more shelving.]
Most common greeting in the Funkyverse: “You call this living?”
I don’t see how this is going to garner any awards. “If you have a traumatic brain injury, you should kill yourself” doesn’t seem like a slogan any self-help groups are going to adopt.
Yeah, its like he’s writing the worst after school special ever.
I really can’t add anything to what everybody else here has written with such passion and eloquence but I do have to say the prospect of just how poorly the Author is going to handle this storyline is not something i’m looking forward to. All the important action will take place off screen, we will be battered by cinder blocks of bathos, and in the end there will be smirks and pizza with Les having the final word.
Also can’t add much to what has been said here, but I will note that I hate how every single time this topic comes up in the strip, Linda and Buck watch Bull putter around doing his brain-damaged thing as if they’re anthropologists studying him. Christ, Bull’s friend comes over and they don’t even talk to one another. Bull appears unaware that Buck is even there and neither Linda nor Buck seem to have even informed Bull of this fact. It’s asinine. It doesn’t help that Buck seems to find amusement in the whole endeavor.
And you know this whole sequence is going to suck, and that it’s simply going to be Batiuk preening himself for awards, because he doesn’t give a shit about this. If he did, he would have done more than cursory investigation into CTE, but he didn’t. He makes basic mistakes. He only shows passing familiarity with how people suffering from this condition live. He jokes when it’s not appropriate. And it’s because he doesn’t care. He just sees CTE as a means to get recognition. He knows less about the condition and shows less empathy than someone who’s watched a 30 minute documentary on the subject. That’s on him. If he cared, he would have done more, but he didn’t.
I’ve always wondered if Batiuk is callous or lazy but now I’m certain he is equal parts of each. You don’t need to watch a 30 minute video, you just have to be a human being.