Back Page News

Are you wondering how Bull’s wife and children are mourning his death? Maybe how his former players and fellow coaches, whose lives he surely had a large impact on, have reacted? Well, too bad for you, for the art of storytelling, and for general decency… because today’s strip is focused on four schmucks, only one of whom even knows Bull moderately well (and one who has NEVER once met the guy) and none of whom have talked to Bull in at least 3 full years. Heck, they aren’t even talking about Bull, they are awkwardly reminding us that Cindy was popular in high school.

Bull’s death only made page 2 of the Westview Gazette? This is a town with only five employers and Bull was the most decorated employee in the history of the largest of those. What could possibly have made the front page?


Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

70 responses to “Back Page News

  1. Epicus Doomus

    I always forget how much I despise Dick Facey. I mean I never actually forget it, he’s easily the single worst character in the entire history of fiction. You don’t forget a thing like that. But when he’s not around it sort of dulls to a persistent background hate, almost like a measuring stick of sorts. “Darin is nearly as hateable as Les now”…”God, Dinkle is almost worse than Les”…that sort of thing.

    Then he returns and it all comes rushing back. The detestable bearded face, the unbearably smug dialog, they way every single death in Westview is all about him. Look at him there, greeting the funeral guests like he’s the town grief counselor or something. It makes me sick. He’s by far the most repellent fictional character of all-time. No one else is even close, he’s like Secretariat in the Belmont. It’s literally every single detail, every single facet of Les just disgusts and enrages me. He could do a six month arc of all silent panels just featuring Les standing there saying or doing nothing and I’d have six months worth of complaints about it. What a dick.

    And like every other leaden gag in this monstrous and increasingly hateful super mega-prestige arc, Cindy’s “punchline” lands like soggy toilet paper on a cold tile floor. Is she saying she felt obligated to come because she was popular, or is she just obnoxiously going out of her way to remind Les that she was the most popular girl in school? Either way it’s dumb as all f*ck and comes across like just another loogie being hocked into Bull’s still-fresh grave. The hate he has for the Bull character is really glaring right now. BatBlab did a bunch of arcs centering around Bull’s redemption but BatYak never forgave him for the bullying atrocities he played for laughs. It’s so weird and deeply strange too. He never stopped wreaking revenge upon Bull and he’s still doing it now even after he whacked him.

    • ComicTrek

      I was wondering why Les seems a little too casual – almost happy – about this whole thing. All I can say is, the fact that he’s TomBat’s author avatar was never so clear as it is today.

      • Epicus Doomus

        It’s just so bizarre how he holds those long-standing grudges against character he himself created. There’s Bull, who perpetually paid for being the school bully, there’s Funky, who’s still paying for being the happy well-adjusted one who married the hot girl and Cindy, who’s forever doomed to a life of anxiety and insecurity because she was popular and attractive in high school. Crazy Harry never amounted to much either, now that I think about it. Les’ entire character arc (and by extension the entire strip itself) is almost a revenge fantasy where the high school uber-geek ends up smirking down upon those whose high school experiences weren’t totally miserable.

    • Charles

      Les is being pretty gauche here. I have to admit that if at my father’s funeral, if one of the people he worked with or his childhood friends were thanking people for coming, I wouldn’t have been offended, but I would have been puzzled and a little put off. I mean, there’s a receiving line for family at the wake and the funeral just for this sort of thing, to thank the people who came for coming.

      But the thing that’s absolutely unforgivable is what Cindy’s saying. Batiuk was tripping over himself so badly at the chance to use a quote derived from Spiderman (even though the character saying it is one of his least likely to use quotes from comic books, I suppose Adeela would be even less likely) that he didn’t pay any attention to the meaning of the words.

      What’s she’s saying is that she wouldn’t have come but for the fact that people would have noticed that she wasn’t there, and would have said unkind things about her because of it. She’s not there for Bull at all. She’s just there to maintain her reputation from high school. She’s not there because she cared about Bull, or was his friend, or was a friend of Linda. She’s just there so no one bad mouths her for not being there. That’s all she cares about. “Nobody would have noticed if you hadn’t shown up, Les, but I have a reputation to maintain.”

      I wrote here a while ago about how it amazes me how Batiuk makes his characters assholes without even trying. He has Cindy open her mouth and after that moment she’s a complete shithead.

      • William Thompson

        Of course his characters are assholes. Batiuk writes what he knows.

      • Epicus Doomus

        It’s unreal. Cindy is the most accomplished member of the cast. She’s an Emmy-winning former national TV network news anchor who’s married to a Hollywood superstar, yet even she just can’t let her pathetic high school identity go all these years later. Apparently Batiuk brought her back merely to twist the knife and make the “hot popular girl” suffer, as he can’t let his old high school grudges go.

  2. spacemanspiff85

    Here’s what was on the front page:
    A giant ad for Montoni’s-“Our prices are plummeting like a car off a cliff!”
    Beneath that-“Announcing the first book in the Bull’s Ballad trilogy, ‘Peeing in Closets”, by Les Moore, published by Kent State University Press.”

    • Epicus Doomus

      “Summer Moore Commits To Senior + Senior Year At KSU”

      “Five Pizza Joints In Westview? Consumers Baffled, Vexed By Pizza Glut”

      “”They’re Mostly Aluminum Foil And Gum”: Guard Rail Scandal Embroils Public Works Department”

      “Gazebo Renovation Stalls As Nail Gun Misplaced”

      “Ordinance Barring Charity Fund Raising Runs At Local Park Passes Unanimously”

      “Ohio-Based Comic Strip Goes Too Far, Kills Beloved Jock Stereotype For Shock Value”

  3. comicbookharriet

    Hey look. In the background you can see the faceless squiggles of what may be Jinx, Rocky, and Rocky’s husband. It’s nice that Batiuk thought to include them in this strip about how Les and Cindy took time out of their busy lives to appear at Bull’s funeral.

    And of course, raining. It’s not a funeral without black umbrellas. Batiuk’s gotta play all the trope cards he has in his deck.

    • CRM114

      So, what was the purpose of this arc except to kill Bull. This is it? Will the residents of NYC march on the offices of the Times and burn them out over anger at being informed of the existence of this strip? (As the molotovs rain down the chant goes up, “Didn’t want to know. We don’t know Funky.”)

      • ComicTrek

        I’m pretty sure killing Bull was it. If he wanted to include CTE in the strip and kill off a character, why not Buck?

    • William Thompson

      I think that’s Buck Futt on the far right, standing discreetly close to Linda.

    • Epicus Doomus

      He couldn’t even give him the honor of a big funeral with lots of mourners. Instead it’s a drab, dreary affair attended only by family and a few old acquaintances from high school. His college football pals, his many former students and players, the WHS faculty…nowhere to be seen. There’s just a meanness to it all, a real sense of spite. BatGak still thinks about high school way, way, way too much. I’m (sigh) roughly the same (sigh) age as the lead characters in this strip and I rarely think about high school at all except when I have the urge to cringe. But this nut just won’t let it go.

    • sully

      You left out the ‘r’ in dreck.

  4. It reminds me of the Batman movie, “Mask of the Phantasm,” in that whenever there’s a tragedy, Les has to be there. “Bull, your angel of death awaits.”

    Hang on, “Mask of the Phantasm” is one of the best Batman movies ever made. And this strip is just slurping for awards! Oops.

  5. ComicTrek

    So we skip ahead to Bull’s funeral and death announcement. And just like that, Batom has washed his hands of him.

    “Bull” is not even his real name. Even Jack Stropp was referred to as John in his obit, so why not Jerome Bushka? And in what way is Cindy still the popular girl? It’s a funeral, not a high school reunion!

    Lazy, thoughtless, careless, pointless TRASH.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      That’s a good point – the news story should call him by his real bame, Jerome “Bull” Bushka. Even the high school stadium is named that! Not calling him his full name in a news story seems like another backhanded slap from the author.

  6. William Thompson

    I’m astonished that Les is holding the umbrella instead of having Cayla do it. And that the umbrella is big enough to cover her and Les’s ego. And that Mason Jarr isn’t melting in the rain. And that Batiuk didn’t work in the only line we know from Starsux Jones: “It’s nice to be nice.” I swoon, I tell you, I positively swoon!

    • Charles

      And that Batiuk didn’t work in the only line we know from Starsux Jones: “It’s nice to be nice.”

      Now now, you’re forgetting “Once you’ve been kissed by Jupiter Moon, you never forget it, Starbuck Jones!”

      Yeah, a in-demand screenwriter wrote that. Sure. Obviously. God damn…

  7. William Thompson

    Bull died yesterday and they’re planting him today? You’d think that if Batiuk knew anything, it would be about death itself!

    • That got me too. By TB including the newspaper, he removed the reasonable inference of the funeral occurring days AFTER an autopsy had been conducted. The inclusion of the newspaper implies the funeral is the day after the accident giving no time for an autopsy which is essential to the storytelling of this arc. Furthermore, without instructions to look for it, an autopsy, if conducted, would not automatically look for CTE damage as opposed to concussion damage suffered from the auto accident. But I guess it’s called writing for a reason.

  8. Gerard Plourde

    Why are Les and Cindy even relevant in this arc? This is supposed to be focusing on CTE and (I suppose) the effect it has on the affected player and his family. The focus, as CBH pointed out, should be on Bull’s family.

    I just realized that the blond guy is supposed to be Mason Jarr(e) and not Darin. Score one for sloppy artwork.

  9. William Thompson

    Oh, hell, is Synthetic Cindy there to film a prize-winning documentary on CTE, and get Creepy Les to write the script?

  10. billytheskink

    A rainy funeral… oh how incredibly original. Granted, I haven’t seen one in this strip since Lisa’s funeral, which was… pretty much 12 years ago on the dot? Seriously, this is 12 years and one day exactly since Lisa’s funeral.

    TB’s borrowing so much for this story arc that we’ll probably learn that Bull had dyslexic teen pregnant bullying alcoholic cancer with a side of bringing a gun to school.

    • Epicus Doomus

      Jeepers, 2007 was a wild, wild year in the Funkyverse.

    • spacemanspiff85

      I’m looking forward to Bull’s surprise bio-kid popping up in a few months.

      • Epicus Doomus

        I could actually see this happening. Why not make Bull a secret philanderer too?

        (Huge lunkhead rings Linda’s doorbell)

        “Hi, uh, I’m looking for Jerome Bushka. I’m, uh, his real bio-son, Moose.”

        “Sigh. Oh yeah, the cute intern at the coaching conference over in Mount Misery. What was that, 2003? Anyway, Bull’s dead. I’m throwing all his shit into that dumpster right there if you wanna help.”

        “Uh, yeah, uh, is he here? Tell him it’s Moose.”

    • William Thompson

      Is Les laughing or puking as he covers his mouth? Both? And what’s with the couch? If he’s sunning himself, he should be lying on a flat rock. If he’s seeing a therapist, he should be sitting in a chair the way all us self-respecting nuts do.

      • It’s worse than that. Les is clearly reading the poem in panel two, panel three shows him so overcome with emotion that Funky has to take over. Good grief, Les is a disgusting blotch on the comics page.

  11. Merry Pookster

    Die yesterday… funeral today… instant fly-in from Hollywood…must be several daily non-stops

  12. Paul Jones

    The sad thing is that this is just what I expected to happen. Batiuk simply can’t see the need to focus on Bull’s children or the football team or anyone else because it’s not about a dim woman burying her husband. It’s about the smug rat bastard idiot with the rubbish beard all the fucking time.

    What makes it even worse is that Batiuk doesn’t even seem to realize that he’s done anything wrong in leaking this or making us worry that Bull’s grave marker will be a traffic pylon with his mugshot clumsily taped to it.

  13. Charles

    It’s interesting that the first funeral strip features Mason Jarre, who despite being a very wealthy and presumably busy actor nonetheless is available to attend the funeral of some guy he doesn’t know, because his wife went to high school with him forty years ago. I wrote this about him a few years ago:

    Until Les Moore galumphed into Mason Jarr’s life, he apparently had no friends, no family, no girlfriend/wife, no community that he was a part of, no entourage like, say, Leonardo DiCaprio’s, no groups of female admirers despite the fact that he’s supposed to be a hot, successful actor. He has no handlers, no personal assistant, no one who helps him with his day-to-day responsibilities like a personal trainer or a nutritionist (does he vacuum his house himself? Does he make himself breakfast?), no agent, and no advisors. He was a blank slate. He literally had no one.

    Because I’ve been thinking the same thing about Buck. Until he lumbered into Bull’s life, he had no one. He didn’t have family. He didn’t have friends. There’s no indication that he has a job or ever had a job. He’s just a blank slate, despite the fact that if he had a wife who he invited to come with him whenever he and Bull and Linda did something it could open up more possibilities to explore the things Batiuk claims he’s interested in exploring. (ie. Linda could have talked to Buck’s wife about dealing with CTE rather than sitting on a computer. They could have talked while Bull and Buck did whatever so that getting Linda’s perspective wouldn’t require Bull ignoring his friend who came to visit, etc.)

    But no, Batiuk gives his new characters just the sliver of initial rationale for coming into the strip and never does anything else with them. Buck didn’t exist prior to the day he came unannounced to Bull’s house. Let’s see if he manages to exist after Bull’s death.

    • William Thompson

      Does it really take an atheist like me to notice that there’s no minister at this service? And how is it that Creepy Les can tread on consecrated ground?

      • comicbookharriet

        Did they really have the service here? Or is the graveside burial after the service? Any funeral I’ve been to has had a service inside, either in a church or a funeral home, with some, but not all, of the mourners later going to the graveside.

      • Professor Fate

        Never mind that there isn’t even a minister as a character in FW – which considering the number of weddings and funerals in the strip is kind of weird.

        • William Thompson

          And every small-town community has some sort of faith-based presence. But here? Les is the focus of attention . . . oh. Hail Satan, y’all.

  14. Charles

    Also, sir! If you’re going to use so many tags, I implore you to make use of my “Complete Worthless Ass” and “Life is a dismal horror from which you can never escape”.

    You might think that Bull has managed to escape, but he’ll inevitably be brought back whenever Batiuk feels his presence can bolster some inane point.

    • William Thompson

      I want to see Bull come back as a hungry, vengeful vampire. I want to see him turn Creepy Les into his first bride.

    • billytheskink

      Updated! Thank you for making me aware of such useful tags, I like to cover as much of the strip as possible with them.

  15. Paul Jones

    The real horror is about to begin: years and years of Les riding Bull’s corpse’s coattails when he turns this sad display of idiocy and disrespect into another terrible book.

  16. Double Sided Scooby Snack

    Is it me, or is Komix Kingdom busted as of now? They reprinted the episode where Poodlehead discovered the keys missing. Did the order come from Mrs Batty’s attic in Mediba?

    Anyhoo, this is so BatHack. If you recall, Goatee Boy and Crayola’s “wedding” was never shown. Not that I’d personally encourage such a thing, but BatWit might have done something with that.

    Here, we’re “cheated” out of A Very Bull Funeral, including a eulogy delivered by Cement Head (out of the side of his mouth), no doubt denouncing football for taking Bull from us so soon. Even Les could speak, recounting how Bull used to beat him up, shove him into lockers, and give him toilet shampoos, but how they became The Best Of Friends. The new football coach (did they ever get one??) could say a word or two. We could see Bullsquat’s long-absent family members.

    Instead, nothing. He’s already in the ground. Boom. I guess Batty was itching to get back to Komix. The Pulitzer committee returned none of his 50 calls, so he said, “Fuck it. I’m moving on. *smirk*”

    • Count of Tower Grove

      Maybe we get the funeral over the course of the week! Tomorrow: a panel labeled “Yesterday.” You know how this goes, . .

      • Double Sided Scooby Snack

        Oh, God. I’m getting whiplash from the time zig zagging. Yeah, he could do that. That’s his style.

        But I’m worried about Masonnee Jarreee being in town. I’m afraid he might decide to film The Bull Bushka Story. Because actors can hire writers and artists, and produce movies.

  17. Rusty Shackleford

    Thanks Batty. We’ve learned so much about CTE. You have performed a useful service. I am looking forward to your collection of “hopefully award winning” Bull strips “School of Hard Knocks”.

  18. Banana Jr. 6000

    I’d love to hear the other end of Cindy’s conversation, with whoever the hell it is Cindy works for.

    CINDY: I need to take some bereavement time.

    BOSS: I’m sorry to hear that. Who died?

    CINDY: A football coach at my high school.

    BOSS: Were you close to him?

    CINDY: No, but he’s an important person in Westview. High school popularity rules dictate I have to be there.

    BOSS: High school what? You’re 48 years old!

    CINDY: I know, but with great popularity comes great responsibility.

    BOSS: You’re a professional journalist, what about the responsibility to your job, your coworkers, the stories you’re working on,… oh, never mind. Company policy is 5 days bereavement for a “close family member.”

    CINDY: I’m going to need five weeks.

    BOSS: Five WEEKS? Are they putting him out to sea on a burning Viking longboat?

    CINDY: Well, Les Moore is there, and he’s going to talk for at least two weeks. And there’s going to be some flashbacks, because coach actually committed suicide but we don’t know that yet. There might be an envelope involved, and those take a week to open. Plus the overwrought, empty commentary…

    BOSS: Fine, just don’t make a documentary about him. That Butter Brinkel thing you did was unwatchable.

  19. Count of Tower Grove

    I’ve been to a few funerals, including close family. I’ve never been to one where everyone leaves the family lingering at the grave. Usually, the funeral director leads the family to the limo, and everyone wants to go to lunch.
    Oh yeah! the lunch with Cookies by Karen, just a few blocks from Nobottom Road!

    • CRM114

      So, I attended a grave site service last year. Was very warm so I had to stay in the car with an elderly friend. Religious aspect ended and everyone lingered and lingered and… Wondered what was going on. Well, someone had brought a flask of booze and those teeny tiny party cups and so a good size group of 30 or so all toasted Uncle Bill. (When I die I’d much rather have this than anything else, ya know.) Absolutely loved it if only from afar. I would’ve put MY experience like this in the strip so, as always, one wonders if Batty has any real life experiences at all other than attic comic book reading marathons. One light year from reality.

  20. Hannibal’s Lectern

    Y’know, people who aren’t as obsessed with Marvel Comics as BatHack* aren’t going to catch the Spider-Man reference. First thing I thought of was the don’t-drive-drunk warning on Miller beer packages (“Great Beer** Great Responsibility”). Which probably makes more sense anyway.

    * That is, pretty much everyone who didn’t get a rejection letter from them.

    ** Great by the standards of Westview, anyway.

  21. Maxine of Arc

    If I squint I can see Cindy’s trying to make a statement about Bull’s popularity, not her own, and I thiiiiink that’s what Batty intended here, but DAMN does that read like she’s pumping up her own ego at the expense of a dead man.

  22. Banana Jr. 6000

    Bull’s death only made page 2 of the Westview Gazette?

    Damn good question, considering this is the same paper that conscripted Les’ high school students to write stories about the local fair. Clearly they lack content. But the real problem may be that Westview lacks content.

    Along the same lines: why was Bull just recently chosen for the Westview Hall of Fame? He was a high school great, had a college career, and an NFL tryout. That’s enough for legend status at almost any high school, and he was a championship-winning coach on top of that. Who else is even in this hall of fame? Especially in light of Westview’s historic record of being not very good at sports?

  23. Isn’t it odd that the strip’s titular character and his wife didn’t attend Bull’s funeral?

  24. Count of Tower Grove

    See how Masone Jarre looks at Cindah. He looks like he’s thinking “and they say actors are shallow. . . What’s with his rumpled raincoat, is he auditioning for a community theatre production of “The Cheap Detective?”

  25. William Thompson

    And no mention of suicide yet. Typical Batiukian incompetence, or the first step in Creepy Les discovering the current truth as he works on his demeaning book about Bull?

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      I suspect the suicide, and Bull wearing the football helmet to save his brain for research, will be slowly revealed over the next 5 weeks.

      And it will be treated as the biggest shock since Luke Skywalker learned who his father was.

      • William Thompson

        And we’ll be treated to endless word zeppelins from Creepy Les about CTE, suicide and whatever else pops into Batiuk’s scatterbrain writing–sorry, Bull!

  26. Professor Fate

    I see that Sports Illustrated is going through a major shake up) – The Author may not be able to count on this interview showing up in print.
    Moving on – today’s strip is typical of the Author’s storytelling -sudden neck snapping compressing of events – Sunday Bull is barely cold and Monday we’re at the funeral. (and as others have noted why DID Cindy show up? She had no real relationship with Bull and his family – and oh yes where the HELL is Summer? Bull was her coach and he treated her when she was injured). We’re not shown people getting then news, the funeral (was the wake held at Montonis?) anything. No we got dick face talking to Funky’s ex and she making a quip.
    it’s just awful – he sets up this highly charged situation and then ducks out of it avoiding all the nasty emotional bits for bathos (rain at the funeral) and quips. He really is too much a coward as a story teller to handle these sorts of issues. He always ends up hiding the real story behind nonsense and like the waving hand of the gay kid at the prom we only see trivia. Which in a way can be seen as perfect metaphor for his story telling.

  27. The Dreamer

    Cindy did have a relationship with Linda Bushka. It was Cindy, Linda, Holly who were St. Lisa’s caretakers in her final days of her cancer trauma when Les was too depressed to do anything. I’m sure they bonded.

  28. Visitors to TB’s weekend signingat the KSU Bookstore included a Bernie Silver cosplayer!

  29. The Dreamer

    I think TomBat and his publisher decided the Lisa’s Story books sold so well that a fourth book– Bull’s Story– is a natural.

  30. hitorque

    1. Cindy has always been self-centered trash… Maybe she can die next?
    2. Just your daily reminder that Cindy is Bull’s contemporary agewise and she still looks like she’s in her early 30s
    3. God damn it, Batiuk…