Ask Me Weather Eye Care

September 9, 2019 at 12:13 am
Buck is still the only person who visits Bull. Les has completely abandoned his old tennis partner, and the man who personally rehabbed his daughters traumatic knee injury. Wish I was surprised.

I know that she’s a retired teacher, but not even a tweed-jacketed, pipe-clenching Ivy League professor would drop a phrase like “keep a weather eye” into normal conversation. TB finally gets around to reminding non-readers of SoSF, and himself as well, that Buck was (somehow) diagnosed with CTE shortly after Bull was. But while Buck has yet to manifest any of the symptoms we’ve seen in Bull, he is apparently crippled by survivor’s remorse.


Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

49 responses to “Ask Me Weather Eye Care

  1. So, the awards are supposed to come from some “survivor’s guilt” group. Now, it makes a lot more sense. And yeah, Batiuk gets to preen a lot more.

    Despite all of this, I still don’t wish Batiuk any ill-will, or any misfortune. He has the right to earn his living doing what he does.

    I just wish “doing what he does” was less vile.

    • comicbookharriet

      I don’t even think that he is doing this hoping for an award. He just wants another important issue feather to put in his massive headdress of Social Awareness Posturing.

      He’s doing this so that he’ll get a little attention and affirmation from the media. He’s violently sacrificing one of his first born children to momentarily interest people who don’t know or care at all about the universe and characters he’s spent nearly 50 years building. Meanwhile the snarkers here and at CK and CC, the audience who is knowledgeable and engaged with his work, the audience he disdains, are the only ones who are actually going to mourn and miss Bull as a character.

    • Rusty Shackleford

      Did you see this puff piece on Comics Kingdom? It says Batty was involved in sports. Is that even true?

      • I never heard about TB’s “background with sports,” and can’t remember (and can’t confirm, thanks to the NYT paywall) if that gets mentioned in the story. I know he likes sports, and probably plays a little tennis, but was no sporto. I think he played trombone in his high school band.

        • Count of Tower Grove

          The Times piece says nothing about Todd’s sports background. The comment section was anemic, so I’m guessing I and six other people who read Fungy subscribe to the Times online.

  2. As I wrote last week, Batiuk cares more about making sure the lines of dialogue in his word balloons line up than he is about how actual human beings speak.

    • Epicus Doomus

      IMO this is fact, as I believe the word balloons are drawn first with only a vague idea of what they’ll eventually contain. Thus the awkwardness.

      • billytheskink

        I absolutely believe this, but I find it interesting that a pro would do so in a dialogue-oriented comic as it seems to create all sorts of issues in any comic where the dialogue is important.

        As a (very very) amateur comic strip artist, I pretty much always lay out my text before I do anything more than identify where in the panel I’m drawing the characters. I did it the other way around as a much younger fellow (because it was easier and the only learning about creating comic strips I did was reading them) and was always cramming dialogue into tight spaces or leaving off words I wanted to put in.

        • Epicus Doomus

          It’s always been a very strange aspect of the strip and the only thing that really accounts for the sometimes bizarre syntax and phrasing he uses. IMO he probably has a vague idea of what the dialog will be and I think he just wings it when he gets there.

  3. Epicus Doomus

    It is weird how Buck just literally appeared completely out of nowhere to become Bull’s best and only friend. I believe Bull has two children, Mickey and Jinx, but they’re so infrequently seen they might as well have never existed. Dick Facey was supposedly Bull’s pal and you’d assume that perhaps a few other WHS faculty members might consider him a friend, but Buck is the only one who seems to take an active interest in the guy. Which is sad, as Buck is pretty much a one-dimensional lummox who never talks about anything but football, the very thing that’s haunting Bull right now. But then again who cares, as he’ll be dead soon anyway, right?

    I “get” what he’s trying to say here but on the other side of the coin football is, after all, a game that involves “hitting” your opponent, a fact everyone who plays it is well aware of. I don’t think Buck suffering from some remorse is particularly far-fetched or anything, but IMO blaming “football” itself is sort of disingenuous, as the possible health risks were pretty well known even before modern-day research on the effects of concussions became better understood. By this logic Coach Stropp should be the real enemy here, as he was the one who coached all those teams that regularly got the snot beaten out of them week after week. But Coach Stropp is already dead so who cares, right?

    • comicbookharriet

      If Jinx on Mickey do not speak once before the end of this arc, I will be mad. Neither of them have said a word since his diagnosis. If he forgets to even put them in the funeral, I’ll be beyond mad and all the way back around to being amused again.

      • Epicus Doomus

        Mickey appeared during (of all things) a football arc a few years ago and if I’m not mistaken Jinx was last seen when she agreed to help Jessica with her John Darling (her father’s) documentary. Just more of Batiuk’s fallen Act II soldiers.

        • comicbookharriet

          I just reread the entire CTE arc thus far. Mickey showed up as a silent witness to both Bull’s retirement and his getting awarded. One strip during the awards arc referenced her time as a kicker. Jinx showed up in two panels of the awards arc.

      • Charles

        It is kind of amazing how the kids are completely absent. Since this entire story has been about caring for Bull as he deteriorates, the kids should have at some point come in and helped their mother out in caring for Dad. If we’re supposed to feel bad for Linda as Batiuk suggests, her kids should have been pitching in to help alleviate her stress and troubles. Hell, the strain on the entire family could be a way to illustrate how terrible this is, better than anything Batiuk has actually shown. If Batiuk showed Jinx taking a year off from university to help Linda care for Bull, or even just weighing the consequences from making that choice, that would bring up some significant issues. I mean, Buck here feels guilty about the hits he laid out on Bull decades ago. Wouldn’t Jinx feel guilty that she was off living her life care-free while her mom suffered and her dad deteriorated until he’s dead? Isn’t she going to miss him?

        I don’t really include Mickey since she wasn’t Bull’s child. She was Linda’s from a previous marriage, so it’s possible she doesn’t have the same attachment, but even then that can lend some conflict that this story needs if it’s going to accomplish what Batiuk feels it’s going to.

      • gleeb

        I guess, as is sometimes the case with bullies, Bull took it out on his kids and they’re happy to get out.

        • Gerard Plourde

          Your introspection shows far more thought than TomBa puts into any of his storylines. The number and varied experiences of all of his main characters provide limitless potential. Even something as simple as Harry’s lay-off as a postal worker with a large family could have, in the hands of a more diligent storyteller, explored the ramifications of a middle-aged head of household losing a stable job in a location that was already suffering economic stress.

          TomBa does get attracted to potentially interesting material. The Starbuck Jones arc, the Ruby Lith arc, even the Hollywood documentary arc could have been the basis for good stories. Instead, we get underdeveloped plot which serves as set dressing for mouthpiece characters. The Bull/CTE storyline is just another example. Notice how, in true TomBa fashion, we aren’t seeing first-hand any of what Bull is experiencing. And instead of seeing Linda at the Social Security Office or applying for the NFL benefits, we get “tell, don’t show” dialogue.

          The execution of the idea is invariably frustrating.

          • Charles

            Yeah, Batiuk does get attracted to potentially interesting material, but that’s all that happens really. I’m sure that when he had the initial idea Bull-gets-CTE and came up with a rought story he had decided that it was going to end with Bull dying. But that was it. The details are the lamest, least imaginative and most perfunctory developments. He hasn’t spent any more time thinking about it.

            I mean, think of the stupidity of the police officer who informs Linda of Bull’s fate carrying a football helmet from his car to her door. And he does that because Batiuk wants to show that this is about football. It’s not about a person who died. It’s not about a person committing suicide and exploring the reasons for why he would do it. That shallow, perfunctory connection between Bull playing football and Bull killing himself is as deep as he’s going to get. Bull was football, and now he’s dead.

            I’d say it’s amazing that Batiuk never developed any empathy for Bull over the last 47 years, especially when he seemed to have been trying to redeem and humanize him since the beginning of Act 2, but he really doesn’t have empathy for any of his characters. They’re just vessels for him to write about something that he thinks will garner him attention. Bull has football and its CTE. Wally has The War and its PTSD. Funky has alcoholism. Becky has disability. Lisa has cancer and death. Les has widower’s grief. They’re not characters. They’re just tokens to remind you of subjects that Batiuk thinks are serious.

  4. William Thompson

    Wait, what? Buck Futt made a point of hitting Bull in the head? How do you do that by accident? Did Cinderblockhead just admit to committing felony assault and battery?

  5. Gerard Plourde

    I don’t understand why TomBa thinks Buck would have survivor’s guilt. Buck played football in a position that subjected him to the same situations that Bull endured and has been diagnosed with the same condition (while apparently exhibiting none of the symptoms that would lead to the tentative diagnosis).

    This, like the Butter Brinkel arc earlier this year, is shaping up to be another superficially researched and incoherently told outing.

  6. billytheskink

    Please Buck… Bull hit Les far more often than you ever hit him. Probably harder too.

    It is Les, though, who should probably be having survivor’s guilt. Bull had no symptoms of CTE until Les mocked him on the tennis court.

    • comicbookharriet

      Yup. That was almost the last time they interacted.

      They’ve literally not spoken to each other since October 31 2016. I just looked it up. Since he retired he’s spoken to someone other than his wife or Buck four times. Right after Christmas in 2016 Dinkle brought him a videotape. On Feb 3-4th 2018 he asked Crazy Harry to put his football VHS on DVD. On September 5-6th 2018 he talked to the Westview running back that broke his record. And on March 27 of this year he talked to a doctor.

      • AmigoLupus

        To be fair, not wanting to waste any more time talking with Les is the smartest move.

        • comicbookharriet

          What’s the most ironic is what Bull last told Les, “We gotta be around for each other, it’s getting too late for me to make old friends.”

          Cue Bull making friends with a guy he knew from back in his high school days. If Batiuk actually planned that, I’ll give him a point.

  7. AmigoLupus

    It just hit me last night, but I have this sinking feeling that TomBat’s gonna post the strip of Bull killing himself during the last day of National Suicide Prevention Week. It’s such a peak Batiuk Bumbling Blah-thos move that I’ll be almost disappointed if he doesn’t go through it.

  8. AmigoLupus

    Completely unrelated to this trainwreck, but remember how the previous story was Ruby telling how tough it was to work when you gotta deal with sexism? How TomBat wanted to impress everyone by going “sexism exists and it’s bad, k”?

    Well take a look at Crankshaft, where it’s back to the same old “gag” of Ed and his cronies whining and moaning about how Lena is sooooo awful. Lena, who committed the high crime of being kind and thoughtful and wanting to be part of the team.

    It just makes TomBat’s attempt with Ruby look even more shallow and gross than it already was.

  9. William Thompson

    Is this why Buck Futt became friends with Bull? Because he felt guilt and was too cowardly to bring it up and apologize in the first place? Maybe he’s been trying to soften up Bull so the poor bastard will take an apology gracefully and not get enraged?

    I know, I know. The flaw in that theory is, does Batiuk understand the concept of guilt?

    • Epicus Doomus

      Speaking of Bull’s lack of friends, it’s kind of interesting and pathetic how none of Bull’s old student football players ever come by to visit either. He was, after all, the WHS football coach and AD for a few decades so you’d figure he must have made an impact on somebody along the way. Then again, maybe he didn’t.

      • Charles

        The lack of students who had an impact on the lives of the main teacher characters is pretty striking. When I reread that strip yesterday from ten years ago regarding Susan putting on a school production of Wit, I thought that one of the most interesting (or absurd, really) things about the entire idea is the high school age girl Susan would find to play the lead. If there’s an amateur actress who went to Westview who could handle that role and all its demands while still a teenager, that would be one truly gifted and extraordinary child. I don’t even think it’s possible, honestly, because the lead role in Wit strikes me as similar to what Ebert said about playing King Lear:

        “(A)ge probably is a prerequisite to fully understand this character. Dustin Hoffman might be able to play Willy Loman by aging himself with makeup, but he will have to wait another 20 years to play Lear.

        “Playing Lear is not a technical exercise. I wonder if a man can do it who has not had great disappointments and long dark nights of the soul.”

        And yet it never occurred to Batiuk the sorts of demands the lead role in Wit would have on a teenage actress. It’d either be a complete disaster or something extraordinary, and it’s a tribute to his narcissism and his own needs that once he made his point about “how art isn’t always about amusing or comforting us, sometimes it’s about dying from cancer” he no longer had any use for the idea. I mean hell, we don’t even know if the play actually happened.

  10. William Thompson

    “Buck, are you saying there were frequent cases of unnecessary roughness during games, and the coaches and referees ignored them? We might have a case against the school district, and make them help pay for Bull’s care and yours. This could save us from losing our house and savings!”

  11. Paul Jones

    The not actually astonishing (although it should be) thing is that Linda is somehow vaguely surprised by this rather obvious admission. Of course, Buck slammed into Bull hard….they were on opposing teams!!

  12. William Thompson

    Buck Futt’s head is starting to look longer and narrower. Maybe the full moon rose and he’s turning into a permanent Funkyverse character.

  13. Ray

    54 years old…been all around the place…read lots of books…seen lots of movies…and have been in countless situations up and down the social and cultural dial.

    Yet today is the first day I have EVER heard or seen “keep a weather eye” used.

    Sadly, I’m not quite sure who this reflects poorly on.

    • gleeb

      I believe it’s a phrase coming from nautical use, which makes sense, the characters living inland in Ohio.

      • William Thompson

        It’s used early on in RLS’s “Treasure Island,” written in 1883 and set in the middle of the eighteenth century. Maybe some day Batiuk will become just as familiar with modern sayings.

    • Maybe Linda picked up some nautical lingo back when she sailed on a tramp steamer.

  14. Banana Jr. 6000

    This survivor’s guilt angle seems very forced. Really, Buck feels bad for being one of hundreds of players who would have tackled Bull in high school or college? What about all the other players he tackled, is he going to visit them too? Is survivor’s guilt retroactive, if you didn’t know you were causing harm at the time? Most importantly, can you have survivor’s guilt if you got the same condition you feel guilt over happening to others?

    There have been cases where football players have bonded over a serious injury, like Chucky Mullins. But those were cases that caused serious injury and were traceable to one play. Can you feel guilt for contributing to an accumulation? Especially if you didn’t know the danger at the time?

    I’m not a psychiatrist, and I defer to anyone witb knowledge in this area. But this seems unrealistic, and very consistent with Tom Batiuk’s cheap pathos and spread-the-misery approach.

    • William Thompson

      It sounds to me that Buck Futt is admitting he delivered some head blows to Bull on purpose, knowing that was harmful.

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        That’s possible, though I think it’s too much to read into what Buck has said so far. The story may be going that way, though.

    • Gerard Plourde

      Excellent points. We really don’t even know how Buck developed his CTE. Did he even play football after attending Big Walnut Tech? After all, Bull played college football and even was considered for the pros. That’s a lot more pounding than Buck could have given him in four or, at most, eight games spread out over four years.

      Then again, in TomBa’s world, high school is the one central experience that determines one’s life.

  15. Professor Fate

    So will the rest of the people that hit Bull line up to apologize or get together and send a card let Linda know they feel bad?
    If this strip is any indication, the level of Bathos in this arc are going to reach or surpass the last days of Lisa level. I still expect the return of Masky McDeath.