The Wreck of the Old ’97 Hatchback

Hey, so we get a microcosm of this whole story arc in today’s strip, jumping back an hour prior to the wreck that we’ve already seen… much as TB has already spoiled how this important story arc ends.

The worst thing, though, is that poor, lonesome, neglected potted plant 8-and-a-half feet up on top of the kitchen cabinets… or maybe its that Linda’s oh-so-clever hiding place for the car keys was the top of the unlocked junk drawer? The dadgum JUNK DRAWER, Linda?! The place EVERY sentient being knows that EVERY key-sized thing winds up in at one time or another? Were you even trying?

38 Comments

Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

38 responses to “The Wreck of the Old ’97 Hatchback

  1. Epicus Doomus

    Uh yeah, real nice job hiding those keys, Linda. She should have hid them somewhere he’d never look, like behind the diet pills or under a book or beneath Linda’s sense of selflessness.

    BatYam’s attempt at a clever fractured narrative type thing is pretty funny. FW is an encyclopedia of cheap storytelling tropes like this. Today’s big reveal…”oh, he took the keys and killed himself” will go on all week, just like this. The only real mystery is what happens after Sunday. I’m thinking a few weeks of “I can’t believe…/…remember when?” but I’ve been wrong about this Batom guy before, so who knows?

    • comicbookharriet

      If it gets as bad as the fractured narrative for Rose’s death in Crankshaft we’re in for a real treat!

  2. Still no indication that Bull was choosing suicide. He found the keys, then went on a joyride and drove over the side of Nobottom road.

    Which Google shows is one of the flattest roads in the US. But why let facts get in the way of award-seeking? That’d be silly!

    • Epicus Doomus

      I’ve said this countless times in the past but it’s just such childish storytelling, like it was literally written by children. “The football player hurts his brain and he gets real mad and retires and his wife is sad because they have no money so he gets in his car and goes real fast and crashes and the police come…”. Anyone who nominates this crap for any kind of award is obviously someone who a) didn’t read it or b) isn’t familiar with comic strips at all and believes this is representative of the best the art form has to offer because of the shock value. But in reality it’s laughably thrown together and simplistic.

      • Paul Jones

        “And the police come and the stunted fungus people in basements go on computers and say ‘What the literal $#$%$$% is this @#%$#$#$? I wouldn’t line a birdcage with this unless I hated the bird!!'”

        • Banana Jr. 6000

          It’s not just the juvenile plotting: the pacing, tone, and details are grossly amateurish.

          Batiuk spent a week opening a letter, and no time telling us why its contents mattered. We STILL don’t know. Meanwhile, he spends entire days telling us what we already know, or can easily foresee.

          His characterization ranges from unclear to downright tacky. Why the hell was Buck smirking so hard at Bull’s symptoms? Why does it look like he and Linda are having an affair, or at least they want to?

          The story’s examination of CTE is shallow, and used mostly for jokes at Bull’s expense.

          But why should the audience care about Bull when no one in the strip does? Buck and Linda talk about him right in front of him. No one else calls or visits. And, hey, why should they? He was a violent bully as a high schooler, and later an abrasive, angry, indifferent teacher and coach. I wouldn’t visit him either. God, can we get one likeable character in this story?

          And we all know where this shitshow is going: a town-wide, month-long mopefest. Not for anything having to do with the deceased, but because they love moping. It’s the Westview town pastime. These are the kind of people who keep pet goldfish so they can have a funeral every time one dies.

          And at the end of this parade of tasteless nothing, we have author Tom Batiuk stumping for awards. And you know what? He’ll probably get them. He’ll probably get them for this.

      • Perfect Tommy

        Or c) is a close relative of Batty.

    • William Thompson

      Did you find out how it got that name? I’m guessing it’s a reference to “bottom land,” an area of fertile, well-irrigated soil that makes for good farming. (“Hey there, Zeke, how’s the land in that-there valley?” “I’ll tell you honest, Luke, it’s no bottom land. It’s so danged worthless, that Batiuk feller cain’t even cultivate ideas on it, and he’s been tryin’ for years!”)

    • bigd1992

      It’s called “writing “

  3. William Thompson

    And one hour before that, Bull laboriously prints his suicide note. One hour before that, his lips move as he reads the NFL’s rejection letter. One hour before that, we see him discover he needs Linda to change his Depends. It’s like that “China Beach” episode where Ricki Lake’s character has an abortion, but without the compassion and pain.

  4. William Thompson

    Understandably, Butterfingers Batiuk thinks the kitchen tool drawer is just the place to hide the car keys. It’s got to be the last place he would look.

  5. Rusty Shackleford

    Who cares about this dumb strip. Batty’s going to flip when he sees what this girls does with old comic books. She cuts them up and makes purses/wallets out of them! Heh heh heh… bye bye vintage comics!

  6. billytheskink

    “That a Batiukmobile down there, trooper Mount?”

    “Looks like it to me, trooper Daniel.”

    “Thanks, I wasn’t 100% sure. I’ve never seen one in such good condition.”

  7. Paul Jones

    The sad thing is that they’ll be be right to make a pariah of her but for the wrong reasons. Sane people would tell her that she was really bad at hiding things. These morons will want something stupid of her.

  8. ComicTrek

    YET AGAIN, we gave The Bat too much credit. I thought Linda at least had the keys in her own pants pocket, or her purse or something!

  9. Gerard Plourde

    I don’t know the physics involved in car crashes, but I find it hard to believe the result shown. Would the Batiukmobile end up on its roof like that?

    • Charles

      And the distance too, basically the only way this could have happened is if the car slid down the embankment, and hit something that, because of the angle of the car, caused the car to flip over forward.

      I think he was going for a Toonces-type crash, but there’s no way the car would be that close to the road in that case.

      Also, if Bull’s plan was to kill himself by doing this, this didn’t have a great chance of doing so. Sure, he could be injured pretty badly, but dying in the crash is nowhere near a sure thing, especially when we’re going to find out he was wearing a football helmet.

  10. Banana Jr. 6000

    FINALLY, the strip shows us Bull getting the car keys. Without the NYT spoiler, we wouldn’t know who was even in the car until now. And now that that’s done, the rest of this week will be devoted to Bull seeing the NFL rejection letter, Bull seeing his wife, Bull tiptoeing out of the house, Bull getting in the car, Bull turning the ignition, Bull adjusting the mirrors, and Bull driving to Nobottom Road.

    This strip treats you like an idiot. When it’s not skipping over information relevant to the story, it’s spending a week spelling out the incredibly obvious.

  11. Count of Tower Grove

    Bull went out looking for the last pizza delivery driver.

  12. CRM114

    “So?”…”Yeah, I put the keys in the junk drawer. He’ll find ’em. I tell everyone I hid ’em.” (long and loud chuckles)….”Nate, sing Barry to me.”…”Lin, ohhhhh babybaby, my life, my love, my everything….”…”Sighhhhhh.”

  13. Epicus Doomus

    “It…it…looks like a note! Let’s see…Tide pods, dryer sheets, cream cheese, hey, wait a minute! This is just a shopping list!”

    (Cut to close-up of crumpled suicide note in Bull’s pocket)

    Linda and Les wryly smirking at one another: “Oh, that wacky Bull!!!”

  14. Professor Fate

    As so many others have noted – nice hiding place for the keys there Linda.
    Again, we’re not given any information on why Bull decided to do this. Perhaps the NFL rejection letter might set him off but a) we don’t know if he’s seen it, and b) would he even understand it in his present state? Again the NFL – no angels for sure – doesn’t owe him anything. I’m not sure why it’s made into a plot point unless the Author is awards trolling (what am i thinking of course that is why).
    This is bad story telling very bad. It’s a mark of the badness that readers are going ‘hey wait a minute…” a LOT.

  15. If I cared about any of these characters, then this arc would be something. But Batiuk has made absolutely certain that no one can care what happens to these people. They’re colored inks on newsprint, nothing more.

  16. ComicTrek

    Oh, boy, the header image. We’re really in for it now.

  17. Andrew

    I’ve come back to help snark on this “dramatic” new Funky storyline!
    Ok, so given how sudden the Sunday crash was, it’s like Bautik wrote this out like a scene where you see Linda pouring her heart out in an IRC clinet, then the car, and he expects readers (mostly non-readers and those who don’t read NYT exposees on his strip) to be all “Oh noes! Car crash! Who drove the car!” as if it was another twist to be revealed. Which honestly, Bautik would have set up a lot more threads to tease for that to work (Wally having another PTSD spiral, Funky or Les finally cracking, the one Les didn’t marry showing up in depression). Because the only people who will feel suspense is anyone who only just learned of the storyline last Sunday, which is a pitiful way of trying to grab readers.
    Between this and the letter-reading week of strips, Bautik is expecting silent, “dramatic” panels to keep suspense far longer than he thinks, especially in this day and age.

  18. The Dreamer

    Maybe Bull dies but he remains haunting Westview in ghost form. He meets up with the Ghost of St. Lisa, who is still around watching over Les, and the two of them work together from the beyond to keep their friends out of trouble. This will also leave Les free to leave his wife for Linda Bushka who he has always secretly been in love with (why do you think he stops over there all the time)

  19. Charles

    Couple things:

    People have already pointed out how badly Linda hid the car keys, but I still have to express my disbelief that she hid them in a spot where any sentient creature would know he’d look for them.

    Second, Bull asked her about the keys, found the keys, left the house and has been gone for an hour and apparently Linda had no idea of any of this. Did she just assume that he went back to his hidey hole to watch his high school football DVDs?

    And continuing on that point, this could have been avoided if instead of blowing Bull off when he was looking for the keys, Linda engaged with him. She could have asked him where he was trying to go. She could have distracted him away from it. She could have offered to drive him herself. But she did nothing. She just blew him off so she could get back to her online pity party.

    But this really isn’t a character issue, because you know that Linda’s never going to call herself to account for the stupid way she handled this. This is simply Batiuk coming up with the first and thus easiest way to portray this. It’s just more epic laziness, and with a storyline that he really seems to think is going to be a big deal.

    • William Thompson

      Not going to defend Batiuk, because he perpetrated this despicable arc, and I don’t mean to dump on you, but as the caregiver to a demented parent I have to speak. Batiuk has spent several years making a joke of Bull’s CTE and showing Linda as a useless presence in his life, when he should have shown how CTE and the demands of caregiving placed a growing burden on both of them. It’s only now, when he smells a Pulitzer in the wind, that Batiuk has retconned the past–and still not got it right.

      Bull should have been shown with increasing rage incidents, cognitive and memory issues, and a growing frustration with his problems. Linda should have been shown growing more and more exhausted as the problems mounts. And the bills. Friends and relatives should have been shown dropping away because of Bull’s growing problems. Buck Futt should have been shown as actually caring about Bull, instead of making Bull look foolish. The support group could have been shown as supportive.

      Leaving the keys in an easily-found place would make sense, if Linda had been shown to be worn out. Not engaging Bull now would make sense if we’d seen the irrationality of dementia. But Batiuk can’t stop poking fun at Bull because–what? The character represents his inability to get over a high school problem? His inability to be more than a mediocre gag-a-day writer? A lack of empathy? I can’t imagine why he shows Linda as uncaring, especially when she’s still taking care of her husband.

      • Charles

        I don’t feel dumped on. I’m just approaching this and every sequence Batiuk writes from the point of view of a writer wondering both what he’s trying to accomplish and how well he’s doing so. I’m not even particularly concerned about how realistic his stories are so long as they’re engaging and the compromised realism doesn’t fail to suspend my disbelief.

        Anyway, I guess my point is that his tendency to Tell, Not Show, doesn’t become any less acceptable because he’s writing about suicide, dementia and CTE than it would if he were writing about Les failing to climb a rope in gym class.

        • Charles

          Excuse me, any MORE acceptable.

        • William Thompson

          Thanks; I was concerned that I might appear to be criticizing you.

          I don’t know who gave us those thumbs-down, but I suspect it wasn’t someone who got up at four-thirty in the morning to flush his mother’s toilet (because she no longer does that, but does leave a huge mess of toilet paper in the bowl, and the alternative is to clean the floor when the bowl clogs and overflows), get her a drink of water (because she ignores the glass of water by her bedside), and pick up the eight (tonight) empty glasses she’s scattered around the house since midnight (when I turned on the dishwasher to clean the last accumulation of empty cups, glasses, mugs and bowls she used for drinking), and pick up the used tissues she dropped in her wanderings. But if it’s Batiuk, I wondering who’s cleaning up after him.

          Past five-thirty now, and I’ve fed the cats, made some posts and answered some e-mails.