Mail Day Part Four…The Pondering

Link To Today’s Strip

Nothing spells “storytelling” like using no dialog at all day after day after (sigh) day. Turns out the letter is from (peppy marching band music) the National Football League, America’s preeminent and benevolent Fun Time Sports League, the league that once gave an already-ruined and addle-brained Bull Bushka a shot at the big time, a shot he of course totally botched. Why, my guess is they’re going to give Bull a retroactive fifty million dollar “Nice Try, Local Sports Hero, Get Well Soon!” grant that he can use to beat this CTE thing once and for all! So what is she WAITING for? OPEN THE LETTER LINDA, OPEN THE LETTER!

No, because a CERTAIN SOMEONE who just happens to have a lot of extra Pulitzer space around the house decided to give away the entire outcome of his big Prestige Mega-Arc weeks ahead of time, we know the letter is actually from the non-fictional and maliciously malevolent (ominous scary music) NFL (trademark!), the heartless and amoral pro sports concern that cruelly turned Bull’s brain into putty and now laughs at his feeble prayers for help as it sacrifices billions of dollars a day to Lord Satan himself upon its blackened altar of young broken men’s ruined bodies. Otherwise she wouldn’t have brought it upstairs to her bedroom to open it, because in every cornball sitcom scenario like this one when a female character gets bad news in letter form she must have pillows handy in which to throw herself upon reading said news. Don’t lie, ladies, we all know this stereotype is 100% true, otherwise they wouldn’t be allowed to do it on TV. Anyhow, it’s a near certainty that the letter will utterly destroy Linda and turn her into a humorless wad of wryness (it’ll be tough to tell sometimes, though) and viciously mock Bull, his life and everything he ever believed in while coldly sneering at his pitiful plight. Or something similar but less dramatic.

The next installment of this thing isn’t dropping til midnight tomorrow. Not that it matters much, as we all already know what’s going to happen thanks to a CERTAIN SOMEONE who just couldn’t stop yapping and flapping his gums about it. There were a dozen ways to go about it without saying “and then the lead character kills himself” followed by actually running the climactic strip a MONTH ahead of time, but in all the excitement a CERTAIN SOMEONE couldn’t be bothered to care about shit like his dumb stupid readers or their “opinions” of him. Man, I’ll never forgive him for that blunder, it would have been the biggest day in SoSF history since that prom scenery came out as gay. I really hope that pillar eventually found someone, you know?

42 Comments

Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

42 responses to “Mail Day Part Four…The Pondering

  1. The NFL updated that logo, with the curly “L”, around 2008. Perhaps this piece of mail was misplaced for the last ten plus years…”Dear Mr. Bushka, please fill out and return the enclosed form within 90 days. Failure to do so will result in your being ineligible to claim future disability benefits…” mwah hah haaahhh…

    • Epicus Doomus

      Heh heh. See, now that would be a great plot twist for Bull, totally in character too. “Whoops!”.

      So the NFL will be playing the cancer part here, I guess. And rather than put his loved ones through unnecessary misery when there’s no hope anyway, Bull will elect to bow out on his own terms. Sounds vaguely familiar.

    • billytheskink

      So it’s a joke about the speed of the post office… how original!

    • Hannibal’s Lectern

      That was my first thought as well (we all know how BatHack hates the Post Office). But… hasn’t he done the “Cruel Fate Delayed Letter” trope already? And, if I recall, it didn’t win him an award then… Would he really do more of what didn’t work last time?

      Another possibility: he brags about writing [sic] these strips a year in advance… maybe, in fact, he wrote this series eleven years ago. Maybe he’s actually completely done with “FW” and is spending his retirement crafting the Great Starbuck Jones Graphic Novel that’s going to blow away all his critics…

      Nah. Probably just sloppy research.

    • Count of Tower Grove

      BWAWHAWHAW! I get it. The obsolete logo tells us the letter is eleven years late and the NFL uses the post office across the street from Atomik Komics for its mail drop!

  2. William Thompson

    I can believe Adam Batiuk placing the blame on a woman, but I can’t believe him giving a woman an active role in events. Linda’s a lot more likely to cry herself to sleep after reading the letter. Asleep, she can’t stop Bull from entering the bedroom, discovering the letter and discovering he’s screwed. Suddenly he’ll stop being the clueless goofball Batiuk made of him and turn into a vortex of despair. Too bad that Batiuk didn’t concentrate on his feelings, but then, that would require some empathy from him.

  3. Gerard Plourde

    Now that I know his strips are drawn with the eventual KSU-published anthology in mind, I understand the purpose of the long, wordless reveal. It doesn’t make it any less annoying though.

  4. spacemanspiff85

    The inevitable hardcover prestige collection of the Bull’s Ballad strips is going to be super awkward, since it’ll start with Bull clearly never actually playing in the NFL and then end with “the NFL killed him by playing him too much!”.

    • billytheskink

      Is that any more awkward than subtitling a hardcover collection of strips chronicling Les and Cayla’s relationship “Lisa’s Story Concludes”? Or titling a Crankshaft collection that contains numerous strips about Ralph Meckler’s Alzheimer’s-stricken wife “Your Favorite… Crab Cakes!”

  5. comicbookharriet

    Gonna call you out on one detail Epicus. Using no dialogue at all, day after day, or panel after panel, but effectively conveying meaning, is the tell of a great comic storyteller. I’ve seen numerous comic pages that would benefit from someone deleting the massive word zeppelins because they’re unnecessary.

    GI Joe 21, Silent Interlude, is a great example of silent storytelling.

    I’m not defending Batiuk here, because to be a great storyteller you have to have a decent story to tell.

    Also, it never occurred to me that the big gay castle reveal might just be a big gay piece of painted cardboard. I mean, we have sentient computers…it’s not that much of a stretch.

    • Epicus Doomus

      Fair point, I’m more of an expert on BatYak’s various tactics and tricks than I am regarding comics in general. I haven’t followed any other comics in ages and I refuse to read Crankshaft on principle. Last week Linda briefly mentioned that the NFL might turn down Bull’s application for supplemental disability benefits. Today it would appear that an answer is imminent. But in-between nothing happened except for Bull going for a walk and Linda sorting mail. As always he’s just killing time here, padding the story out to make it appear more dramatic and substantive than it really is. Everything that’s happened since Linda mentioned the application could have happened in two days, but instead it’s been seven. A, um… better storyteller, let’s say, could have conveyed the exact same tension and dread without using cheap cliffhanger tactics and wasting time drawing hairy furniture. I’m sure plenty of other comics have used silence to great effect, just not this one.

      I should also point out that the prom scenery never actually came out as gay, but instead suggested that IF it was ever going to consider doing so Nate made it slightly easier. That Batom, always so wishy-washy and non-commital.

      • comicbookharriet

        Well, if that prom scenery still exists, it’s definitely stuck in the closet now. 😀

        • Epicus Doomus

          Wow, that was over seven years ago, in Summer’s senior year. How does time in the Funkyverse both fly by and drag on forever? This strip would even confuse Stephen Hawking.

      • William Thompson

        An actual storyteller might have set the stage for Bull’s suicide by showing him eavesdrop as Linda and Buck talk about Bull’s declining health and finances, and how Linda would have to sell the house soon if the NFL didn’t help. What Batiuk has given us is like one of those movie trailers which contains all the good scenes from an otherwise crappy movie.

      • AmigoLupus

        The only reason you’d wanna look at Crankshaft this week is if you wanna see just how badly TomBat bungled his ‘lesson’ from Ruby Lith about how sexism in a workplace is terrible. Surprise surprise, it’s yet another arc of Crankshaft and his cronies being misogynistic assholes to a woman whose high crime is being kind and wanting to be part of the team.


        Like it’s barely been a week since Ruby’s story ended. You’d think Batiuk would wait a while before trotting out this garbage of a joke again. It’s really telling how the thing with Ruby is just TomBat’s shallow attempt at trying to be progressive and how he really doesn’t believe any of that.

      • Professor Fate

        Once again Batom -as Teddy Roosevelt said about Taft “means well feebly.”

  6. Banana Jr. 6000

    *throws something in the direction of Cleveland*

  7. Banana Jr. 6000

    I had an idea: SoSF should publish a media statement about this story arc.

    If journalists are going to write stories about Batiuk and this story arc, some of them might be interested in criticism of it. SoSF is mentioned in the Wikipedia article about Funky Winkerbean, so some writers might come here looking for a statement. Let’s put one together. Put it right at the top, with a title like “SoSF Media Statement On The CTE Storyline.”

    It could be something like:

    “We find the Funky Winkerbean CTE storyline extremely shallow, and devoid of insight or empathy. The first week was mostly Bull’s wife and friend smirking at his symptoms; the second week was devoted entirely to opening a letter from the National Football League. Who it seems disingenuous to blame for Bull’s CTE, since it is long established that he only had a brief tryout with the then-St. Louis Cardinals. Despite claims to be an exploration of a sensitive subject, this story seems to be mostly about the shock value of killing off a main character, and the attention that generates.”

    Followed by a contact email, since they’ll probably want a real name to publish.

    I hope I don’t overstep my bounds – this is all just a suggestion – but it might help provide a counterargument to the all the sloppy, gushing stories being written now about this dreck.

  8. Paul Jones

    The real tragedy is having to speculate what a competent artist who gave a shit about his readers instead of more or less masturbating onto the page would have done with the concept. This is why he killed off John Darling instead of let someone else write his story: they might have done a better job.

    • ComicTrek

      And not only did he kill him off for nothing, but he stomped JD’s legacy into the dust! Probably to keep FW readers from wanting to see it.

  9. Chyron HR

    Dear Ms. Bushka:

    It is my sad duty to inform you of your husband’s impending death.

    Very truly yours,
    Tom Batiuk

  10. AmigoLupus

    I can’t tell which comic has the most sluggish pacing: This, Mary Worth, or Mark Trail.

    Just read the damn letter already.

    • comicbookharriet

      At least Mary Worth has good art, and an established artist that seems somewhat in on the joke while still putting in good work. I thought about adding info about June Brigman during the Ruby Lith storyline, but she only started working in 80’s.

  11. Rusty Shackleford

    Batty had to give the ending away in order to gin up excitement for this arc with the hope that this might encourage the awards people to look at his strip.

    If the quest for awards impacts the readers, well he just doesn’t care.

    Still laughing about how all these articles say he “explores” things. That word is overused as it is today. With Batty, it’s just plain ridiculous .

  12. sgtsaunders

    NFL says Ya Boy “played” fifteen minutes on the bench for the Browns and was never hit. So no CTE funds for you, Lady. PS – who is this “Les Moore” asshole who keeps writing about the, yes, grisly details.

    • Rusty Shackleford

      Yeah, you know it will end up with Les writing a book on Bull’s life. “Heads Up”. The story of Jerome “Curly” Bushka.

      • Cabbage Jack

        “Giving Ground: A Bull Bushka Football collection.”

        Buy it today for the Football or FunkyFan in your life!

  13. 7dials

    It’s no wonder Bull feels he’s a burden, when this entire freaking arc so far has been about Linda treating him like one.

    I’m disabled and can’t work, and have lived with depression since my teens. We’re feeling the pressure financially and my husband, who didn’t bargain on this in his mid-thirties, is finding himself slowly taking on more and more parts of the carer’s role. So far, this has been mostly limited to my mobility, but there’s no guarantee things will plateau here. Yes, I absolutely feel like a burden. Yes, I sometimes think there’s an obvious way to ease that pressure. But I like to believe that I’m more than just a source of it, and my husband has told me repeatedly that he values me anyway. That he still wants the best for me, and wants me to be happy.

    Where’s the love here, Tom? Linda doesn’t even act like she particularly likes Bull. We’re seeing none of the reasons she’ll miss him, and all of the things that she won’t.

  14. Professor Fate

    So the NFL says no. We knew this was coming. Moving on now.
    And isn’t this supposed to be Bull’s Story?

  15. ComicTrek

    I know I’m late, but I’ve gotta say this – sometimes, I’d at least TRY to cut TB at least half an iota of slack, but now? That’s gone. I’m just done with him now.