Mail Day Part Three…Suspense Builds

Link To Today’s Strip

“Hey Bob, you like comic strips?”

“Why sure, who doesn’t?”

“And you love reading mail, right?”

“Oh, you bet I do!”


Sigh. Bull went for a stroll (and apparently came back already), Linda got the mail, so naturally the Great Story Ruiner had to slam on the brakes and slow things down by spending an entire mid-week one-paneler on Linda dramatically looking at a letter. Nicely done, Spoiler Boy, nicely done. Obviously this is a BIG DRAMATIC MOMENT where Linda is about to receive LIFE-SHATTERING NEWS right there in her WEIRDLY HAIRY LIVING ROOM which makes me seriously queasy to look at. We get it, it’s fabric, a standard sofa and carpet component. This is a comic strip that often forgets it once jumped ten years ahead, I doubt any longtime FW readers would wonder to themselves “hmmm, I wonder if that sofa and that carpet is made of a fabric-like substance?” if the gross hair-indicator squiggles were omitted. It’s like those coffee steam lines, there’s no reason to specifically note that the beverage is hot unless that’s actually part of the story, which it almost never is. It’s one of the most annoying things about FW in my opinion.

One of the other (sigh) most annoying things about FW is how stupid it is, an example of which BatYak helpfully provides each and every day. Everyone knows the letter will contain bad awful no-good news that will condemn Bull to a fate so brutal he’ll see no other choice than to throw himself into death’s cold grim embrace once and for all, probably within a few weeks or thereabouts. This waste of time might have have some impact on a dullard or two if the guy who writes this thing didn’t go ahead and deliberately ruin his most interesting story arc in ages, but he did and it won’t. Idiot. Lords knows I’ve seen plenty of stupid things in the Funkyverse in my day but this debacle takes the prize.


Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

43 responses to “Mail Day Part Three…Suspense Builds

  1. William Thompson

    Welcome to Hump the Readers Day!

  2. William Thompson

    Why does Linda look so disturbed before she’s opened the letter? Is it from Certain Doom, Inc? Westview Hospital’s Department of Lethal Mistakes? Bull’s forgotten son, addressed to “Most-Hated Father Ever?” And what’s with the bizarro stairs, which don’t even ascend at the same angle as the rail? Who needs a car crash when Bull could easily fall down them?

  3. louder

    My understanding is that BatHack wanted to “raise awareness” about CTE by this arch. As if no one who is a fan of football, player or parent isn’t aware of CTE. As if youth football isn’t losing players by parents refusing to let their kids play. But BatHack’s dopey comic is going to turn the tide and get him the awards he’s panting for. Gesh, what a Diva.

  4. Batiuk’s claim that he’s a “storyteller” is the one thing that really makes me want to confront him at one of his moronic book signings. He’s nothing at all like a storyteller. He’s an awards-whore and he damned well knows it.

    “Hey, here’s a story! These two kids, from families that hate each other, they fall in love–and they commit suicide, because their families can’t reconcile! Can I get a nom from an anti-prejudice group?”

    “How about this one? There’s this kid on a desert planet, and he destroys a huge planet-destroying weapon all by himself! Can I get a nom for highlighting deserts?”

    “No? How about this–there’s this planet that has six suns. Wait, it gets better! The suns only set every thousand years or so, and when they all do, everyone goes nuts because they’ve never known darkness, and civilization collapses! Yeah! Can I get a nom from one of those ‘safe light bulb’ groups?”

    “Okay, here’s one you’ll like. No, wait! This huge shark terrorizes these beaches, you know? So a trio of people who don’t much like each other go out and kill that shark. Hey, it’s got beaches and stuff! Can I get a nom about researching the oceans?”

    “Well, you’re a tough audience, I’ll give you that. Here’s one. There’s this round-headed kid who only wants to win ball games and kick a football, and he never, ever does! Tell me that’s not the height of hilarity. Can I get a nom from a cartoonists group? Hello? Is anyone here? Why did the lights go out?”:

    • William Thompson

      And they answer him, “There’s this hungry giant that loves to eat hacks! Nom-nom-nom!”

    • Epicus Doomus

      I have what I feel is a terrific idea for a story. There’s an irrelevant, obscure and very bored comic strip author who lives in the Midwest. For years he’s been going through the motions, losing his passion for the strip and barely putting any effort into it at all. Then one day he’s watching TV and sees a piece about head injuries and their effects on old retired football players. Remembering that his own strip features a retired football player, he gets an idea…a grand and marvelous idea!

      Working very slowly over the course of several years, he begins his story. The football player character begins to show signs of cognitive decline. His wife and some guy grow concerned. He is forced to retire from his football coach job. A visit to a specialist confirms his worst fears…he broke his brain playing football.

      Several years pass. His wife expresses concern about the football player’s health. The dark forces of The Universe begin to move into alignment. The football player and his wife are despondent. Then, shockingly, the football player commits suicide to spare his wife and that guy any ongoing pain.

      The comic book author gets very excited about his story and contacts his agent. Thinking it sounds pretty weird for a comic strip, several media outlets agree to interview him to capitalize on the needless shock value of the whole thing. During the interview the comic strip author idiotically spoils the entire story for his readers weeks before it’s supposed to run, thereby ruining the whole thing. Outraged, his tens of loyal readers abandon the strip and it is soon dropped from syndication mere months before it was to turn fifty and thus be in line for prestigious comic strip industry awards and a nice trophy. The comic strip author goes home and sighs while staring from his studio window forlornly as a single autumn leaf gently falls to its inevitable death.

      The working title is “Nice Going, Asshole” but I also like “Dumbbell: Based On A True Story”.

      • Rusty Shackleford

        Justice would be served if his strip got canceled over this crap.

        Of course he would pout and play up the martyr bit. I’m just an artist and the big evil corporations are trying to silence me!

        Spreading misery and gloom, that’s all he does now.

  5. billytheskink

    My word! Bull’s CTE has gotten so bad that he’s shedding… and shedding so much that Linda can’t keep the hair off the floor!

    • Epicus Doomus

      “I’ve…I’ve…I’ve never SEEN test results like this before!”

      “What is it, Doctor?”

      “His brain…it’s pushing his his hair out…FROM THE INSIDE! We have to quarantine this man…NOW!”

  6. Banana Jr. 6000


    I thought his name was Crazy Harry.

  7. comicbookharriet

    Some better than average artwork, with lots of detail, ruined by scribbling all over the floor. Also, Linda looks like some kind of sleeper agent that has just been activated. Carefully shuffling across the carpet with an envelope in both hands.

    • Epicus Doomus

      I will never for the life of me understand why this comic strip always absolutely has to indicate fabric-ness (fabricity??) with those squiggly hairy lines. For example, Bull’s chair downstairs. No squiggles. So is it leather, leather-like, plastic or what? We just don’t know. I mean if you’re going to be that specific then be specific, don’t half-ass it.

      • spacemanspiff85

        It’s not even fabricness. He does it a lot on totally random walls. I think once he got artistic advice saying “draw lots of lines all over everything to indicate shadows or texture” and just scribbles pubes all over everything.
        Judging by that picture prominently displayed there, do you think Batiuk has forgotten they have kids?

    • JustLom

      Linda as a sleeper agent, kills Bull and makes it look like a suicide, would be 100% times more interesting than mail sorting.

      Also – I want to guess that the letter is about one of his former students also getting CTE, except Linda hasn’t read the letter yet, so why is she so dramatic already?

  8. Charles

    Fucking hell, she’s not going to open this letter until next week, huh?

    • spacemanspiff85

      You’re such an optimist, are you new here?

    • Epicus Doomus

      My guess is that we’ll see what the letter says in the last panel on Saturday. Or, alternately, Linda will be sobbing and Bull will appear at the door and say “bad news?”. That might be optimistic, though.

  9. William Thompson

    Hurry up, Linda. Bull could die of old age waiting for the news that kills him.

  10. Paul Jones

    The sad thing is that long ago, a man tried to explain to him what pacing and composition were and why they were good. He’s resented Stan Lee ever since. He thinks that he should be able to turn in a first draft and people should love it. It works out great for him that he’s in a medium wherein no one in charge cares about quality….but for his readers, not so much. Either we waste a week watching Linda open a letter or he builds up to something only to not show it so we can have people vaguely allude to it after the fact.

    Also, it’s telling that he cares enough about Crankshaft not to drop spoilers. Granted, this week’s arc is “Crankshaft is too stupid to get Lena to take bowling lessons again” but…….

    • comicbookharriet

      The thing is, this pacing wouldn’t be terrible if this were a graphic novel. If you go back and read an entire swath of Funky Winkerbean at a time, it’s not nearly so draggy, and some arcs even go by too fast, skipping over things that would have been interesting to see.

      I’m guessing, like the Darin opening the mail arc, that he wrote this with the trade paperback in mind. Once again, sacrificing the enjoyment of the audience who consumes it as it comes out in favor of a ‘better’ book to flog at the fair.

      • Rusty Shackleford

        Yes, I would agree. A couple of years ago I picked up some FW books from my local library (Batty and Lisa would be proud), and the stories did flow much better.

        I wonder why Batty didn’t just retire and work on graphic novels instead?

        It’s not like he needs to sell them, he could self publish. Heck, KSU would do it.

    • billytheskink

      Oh, he’ll spoil Crankshaft when he shoots for awards…

  11. Banana Jr. 6000

    Remember when Buck said to Bull “what is it that keeps bringing us back to the scene of the crime”? That would have beem a good place for, I dunno, anything. Like maybe a conversation about how our society continues to worship football despite now knowing how it destroys the peopke who play it. Instead of a week watching someone open a fucking envelope. An envelope which can’t possibly be relevant.

    And please tell me that generic Wix logo on the return address of the envelope isn’t meant to be the NFL shield. I will throw something in the direction of Cleveland if it is. But what else could it be? We’ve been told nothing else. The NFL has every right not to compensate someone who never played in a proper game. We haven’t been told this money is crucial, and what could it solve anyeay?

    This is Patch Adams levels of bad.

  12. AmigoLupus

    I honestly thought the letter was Bull’s suicide note saying goodbye. Sure, it would mean Batiuk just skipped an entire sequence of events leading to Bull committing suicide, but it made sense since skipping over important details of a story has always been the TomBat Way. I just figured Batiuk would want to jump straight to his comfort zone of writing about Le- er, I mean Linda’s pain of losing a loved one.

    • William Thompson

      The story could have worked if it opened with Creepy Les discovering that Bull had killed himself, and then went on to learn why he did it, why nobody noticed the warning signs, and how bad everyone feels for not being there when Bull needed help. It could have worked if it had started with the events that put Bull in a downward spiral, and shown his thoughts and feelings. But, yeah, Batiuk. The name that is also an explanation.

  13. Here’s a story from the Grand Rapids Tribune about The Coming Suicide. Batiuk will be interviewed in an upcoming Sports Illustrated. The article also quotes Tea Fougner, King Features Comics Editor. I wonder if we should be directing our complaints to her.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Like Scott Adams said: “Journalists can either painstakingly research stories, or just write what people tell them. Both approaches pay the same.”

    • Epicus Doomus

      I really enjoy trying to explain FW to people who are blissfully unaware. “Yeah, this one character has a brain injury and is going to kill himself”…the look you get. Everyone thinks I’m making it up.

    • comicbookharriet

      Thanks for scouring the news for us.
      I love how they want to gently explain to everyone that comics aren’t always funny. As if strips like Rex Morgan, The Phantom, and Mary Worth, don’t exist.

  14. sgtsaunders

    It’s from Les. It’s a release form related to his new book “Bull’s Tale”.

  15. Gerard Plourde

    “Tom diligently researched this story and included information about Boston University’s CTE Center, one of the leading facilities for CTE research and treatment, as a way to help open up conversations about CTE for those living with CTE and their families, and to support CTE patients in getting the help they need.”

    We’ll see if any of that research makes an appearance in the strip. Based on past stories, I’m not holding my breath.

    • spacemanspiff85

      How has not a single person who’s interviewed him about this asked “How could Bull and Buck be diagnosed while they’re still alive?”.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      I can imagine Batiuk’s diligent research:

      “What are some of the symptoms of CTE?”
      “Certain obsessive behaviors, like repeatedly washing clothes, or-”
      “Ok, great, thanks!” (Click)

  16. Professor Fate

    ah…just wondering what could be in the letter? especially to cause such da da da dramatic squirrel action? She knows Bull has CTE (leaving aside you don’t know until the patient is dead) so what worse news could there be? It doesn’t make sense. Is the NFL going to ask for Bull’s head? I don’t get it.
    One notices the Author is pimping out this story line more than usual – he wants that prize doesn’t he? Still one wonders just the reaction will be to his typical hamfisted tell don’t show story telling method, never mind that the characters are all so easy to dislike.

    • Epicus Doomus

      It’s just a guess, but I’m assuming that the letter will be some sort of rejection re: settlement money or insurance, which will prompt Linda to wonder aloud “how will I care for Bull now?” which he will overhear. Every FW story like this always involves some sort of malevolent force that leaves the victim powerless, like the medical profession, cancer or Becky’s meddlesome mother. Bull’s suicide will be framed as a loving altruistic sort of gesture meant to “help” Linda.

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        will prompt Linda to wonder aloud “how will I care for Bull now?”

        Well, I guess it’s nice that she’s planning to start.

        • William Thompson

          It would be nice if Batiuk had shown what caregiving involves, but why let sympathy come between him and his fantasy revenge on a high school bully?

    • Gerard Plourde

      ‘“Is the NFL going to ask for Bull’s head?” Now that would be a novel plot twist, so it’s not going to happen in Funky Winkerbean.

      • Hannibal’s Lectern

        The NFL, having discovered that Bull got CTE despite having never played in an actual game, is planning to use him as the cornerstone of their legal defense: CTE comes from playing in HIGH SCHOOL, not the pros! Bull is living (for now) proof! All claims are denied! So yes, they want his brain for a detailed study. He will outsmart them by committing suicide in a way that leaves nothing to autopsy. Let the awards be announced!

  17. Charles

    And Bull is back in his basement hole watching old videos of his high school games. I’m well aware that depression is not simply a response to one’s surroundings, but it IS possible that Bull might not be as depressed if he, you know, got out there and did some new and interesting things. Instead, he’s burying himself before he’s even dead.

    He and Linda talked about doing “things [they] want to do when they retire” and yet all he’s done is watch those stupid videos. Is THIS really what he was talking about? All it seems to do is reinforce his belief that his life has been over for years.

    I mean, hell, if he’d been watching videos of his two teams that he coached to championships it’d be a little better, although he’d still be trapped in his own past, but he doesn’t even do that. He just wallows in his dumb high school memories.

    And his wife/caretaker doesn’t even seem to give a shit.

    • William Thompson

      Dementia and depression often go together. We can’t get my demented, elderly mom out of the house without a fight; sometimes we can’t even get her out of bed. She’s immobilized, I suspect because going out and walking around the house reminds her that she’s somehow lost a lot (somehow, because she is only vaguely aware of her problems). Staying in the house keeps her in familiar, safe territory.

      If Linda really didn’t care about Bull, the house would be a mess, he’d be filthy and hungry, and she’d go out as much as she could. She looks and acts exhausted, and that comes from going at it 24/7.

      I’m not giving Batiuk any credit for getting those points right. He’s made it clear he can’t bother with research–an on-line support group where all the wives say they envy her because of Bull’s laundry fixation? That’s crap. If I could talk with Linda, I’d ask her how she gets Bull to eat, shower and get dressed.

      • Charles

        I’m not giving Batiuk any credit for getting those points right.

        Sorry, but you are. This is exactly what I meant the other day when I said that readers will impute their own experiences with dementia and brain trauma when assessing this storyline.

        Before I wrote the comment you responded to, I made sure to go back and read every strip about Bull and his CTE diagnosis, just to be certain that there wasn’t a strip that could be used to contradict my points. And there weren’t any. There has never been a single strip where Bull’s hiding in his basement from the start of this has been addressed as unhealthy or as a positive coping mechanism. All it is is something Batiuk’s decided he does so he doesn’t have to think about giving Bull something else to do. There is nothing more to it. He doesn’t think about whether this is healthy or unhealthy for Bull because that’s more work than he’s willing to do.

        And Linda doesn’t care because Batiuk doesn’t care. There is no natural progression or logic here. There is no “if Linda didn’t actually care, this is what would happen….”, because Batiuk doesn’t care enough to even think about those implications. This is only bad storytelling.