On Wednesdays I Go Shopping

Link to today’s strip (eventually).

Wednesday’s strip was not available for preview.  THANK GOD.

There’ve been many times lately when criticizing this strip feels like criticizing a preschooler’s finger-painting.   When presented with such a work, you don’t want to say, “Well, Tommy, arms don’t really come out of the sides like that, and shoes aren’t big and round like wheels.  And is that a dog?”  That just seems kind of mean-spirited.

Tom Batiuk doesn’t write well.  To put it mildly.  He cannot plot out a proper story, his ear for dialogue is deaf, and his points are buried beneath the ineptitude of his execution. Occasionally, he has a sort of ham-handed way with a phrase that has a certain off-putting charm, but that’s about it.

But what if that’s the best he can do?  His “stories” over the last couple of years have started out like they might be going somewhere but always–always–end up like a balloon that’s just been unknotted.  Falling to the earth with a farting noise.  The Butter Brinkle thing–seriously, what an embarrassment that would have been to a professional, published writer.  Here?  In it goes.  And once it was done, it was gone.  Nothing to tie it together, nothing to indicate it meant anything…no impact at all.

Lately, the strip has been all been wish-fulfillment.  Les gets showered with praise.  Funky gets stepped on.  Everyone talks about how awesome Les is.  Bull gets an off-hand death that is largely used to push “Lisa’s Story” again.  That really seems like the work of someone who doesn’t care.

But he seems to be losing his grip on the elements he’s always deemed important, like Les and “Lisa’s Story.”  How many times has Mason told Les he wants to option the book?  He flew out to Ohio to do it, then flew Les in to California to do it.  That doesn’t seem like someone who can separate the wheat from the chaff.  Both are treated with equal carelessness.

So I wonder if I’m pointing out the shortcomings in the work of someone who should do better…but can’t.


Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

30 responses to “On Wednesdays I Go Shopping

  1. CRM114

    This is why TommyBoy irritates me. If he was trying hard and just wasn’t capable, like so many people are, then he gets a pass. But his blog comes across as arrogant and so full of himself. In my high school days, the analysis of someone like him was…” He thinks he’s hot sh** on a silver platter when he’s really cold snot on a paper plate.”

  2. Epicus Doomus

    Suddenly Summer, who once suggested a 3-D “Lisa’s Story”, is as deeply cynical about Hollywood as Les is. Her mother would probably be very proud of what a wry young woman she’s become. A little “welcome to Act III” humor there.

    Apparently LesTom has copies of his “perfect” cancer book propped up all over the house. The living room, the kitchen, the guest crapper, always a copy within quick reach in case anyone ever gets the urge to re-live his wife’s tragic death again. You know, for nostalgia’s sake. Speaking of which, this one really takes me back to the early ’10s, back when it seemed like the whole strip was about “Lisa’s Story”, all the time, every day. Les’ entire character arc from the beginning of Act III through to “Lust For Lisa” was the most annoying thing ever written by anyone, ever. Les didn’t become this despised by accident, some of those strips were actually downright traumatizing.

  3. William Thompson

    Because Hollywood has never turned a good book into a good movie? Come on! Sometimes the movie is better than the book. Look at what “Life of Brian” did for the New Testament!

    • Jimmy

      I thought you placed the book in the parody version. I cannot believe it appeared in the original.

      • Epicus Doomus

        Oh I wish I had that kind of Photoshop skill LOL. I’d be putting that book everywhere. Although the way this is going maybe he’ll just do it for me.

      • William Thompson

        I’m waiting for a courtroom scene where a witness is sworn in with a copy of “Lisa’s Story.”

  4. Take a look at the latest TB blog post. He’s running the same “John Darling” strip he ran about a week ago.

    • Epicus Doomus

      He does that shit all the time, it’s how you know he’s actually updating it himself. The rest of the FW site is rarely ever touched, other than the occasional update on the Events page. Look at those cast “photos”, some of those characters haven’t appeared in over ten years.

  5. William Thompson

    “Lisa’s Story” is a perfect book? Well, uh, yeah, it has both back and front covers, with precisely enough pages to hold them apart. And those pages are what keep all the words in place. You can’t get more booky than that.

  6. Jimmy

    There was a guy (Maddox) who used to critique kids art on his web site. I thought it was hilarious, but many people took it seriously and berated him.

    Batiuk’s writing with Lisa’s Story does not rise above a kindergartner’s imagination. I am reading this through the prism of today’s reality. Les and Mason probably have Coronavirus, but they think they’re too important to worry about the little people who will contract it from them.

  7. Doghouse Reilly

    Consider yourself blessed, beckoningchasm, that you didn’t have a chance to read the preview of today’s strip.
    “Such a perfect book”? Really? TB has the utter gall to have that phrase come out of a character he wrote to describe what is essentially his own work? I haven’t seen this kind of self-congratulatory contortion since legendary WWF jobber Barry Horowitz patted himself on the back before matches.
    The cherry on the top of this self-serving salute to literary onanism, however, has to be the copy of “Dead St. Lisa’s story” prominently displayed (cover out, so Glamazon shoppers know to look for when ordering it) in a way that an ordinary couple would reserve for wedding day photos or pictures of their offspring. But then, this book of books, tome of tomes is indeed Les’s lover, wife, child, and raison d’etre, all pressed between two hardback covers (You are, of course, ordering a deluxe hardback edition instead of a chintzy paperback), isn’t it?
    Someone please tell me I’m feverish from coronavirus and imagining all this.

    • Jimmy

      We are all just a Tom Batiuk fever dream.

    • Rusty Shackleford

      I’m starting to think Batty pays the newspapers to carry this strip…I mean it’s just all advertising. Advertising for all of his childish fantasies.

  8. billytheskink

    What’s funny about this is that “the book will still be here” is also what bookstore employees say when they are told Lisa’s Story is now being made into a major motion picture.

    • Epicus Doomus

      “Yup…(flips to last page of book)…she’s still dead.”

      • comicbookharriet

        Hey, in a lot of comic books that IS a real accomplishment. Just ask Jason Todd, Bucky Barnes, and Barry Allen.

      • hitorque

        I remember when “Titanic” was blowing away all the box office records and some comedian was like “Why? Do moviegoers think the ship doesn’t sink in the end or something??”

  9. Paul Jones

    It will still be where it’s meant to be: gathering dust in KSU’s warehouse. What we need to see is Summer’s Story and it’s the one story Batiuk was too big a coward to write. He just jumped over her childhood because he couldn’t bring himself to show it.

  10. Gerard Plourde

    So is the whole purpose of this arc going to be an extended ad for “Lisa’s Story”? The cynic in me wonders if TomBa planned the Bull’s death arc as a lead-in to this commercial break for his masterpiece.

  11. comicbookharriet

    If Batiuk was a snarky internet celebrity this strip would be 100% sarcastic. They’re always slipping in their calls to action and plugs dripping with sarcasm because they know we’re sick of hearing it, and it makes the audience feel understood.


  12. William Thompson

    “Lisa’s Story” is the Perfect Book? Thus speaketh its Creator! A book so perfect we can only guess at its revelations.

  13. Rusty Shackleford

    As he says…it will still be here…

    In the Amazon warehouse, waiting for someone to buy it.

  14. hitorque

    1. Somebody please SHOOT this girl already… Look, I realize Batiuk is off-panel staring at Summer and menacingly holding a kitten in one hand and an icepick in the other, but this is really over the top even by his standards…

    2. Yeah, a “perfect book”… In your unbiased expert literary opinion, my naive little child?? For fuck’s sake you’re about to be a college graduate and I always thought the *ONE* indisputable thing everyone learned in college was how to thing for themselves and challenge their own biases?

    3. Um… Even if it was, nobody who wasn’t 100% brainwashed would say “perfect book”… “perfect novel/story/biography/etc.,” sure…

    4. I love how it’s *Hollywood* messing up her mom’s story when this is the fifth(?) time that Lester is dragging out his dead wife’s corpse so he can hump it in full view of the public..


    6. It’s mind-boggling to hear her say “I don’t know why dad is trying to make a movie…” when the revenue from the first book is LITERALLY BANKROLLING HER SEVEN-YEAR UNDERGRAD EDUCATION

    7. Cayla isn’t just 0-for-3 in delivering punchlines this week, she has been 100% craptacular… I thought Hank Hill was awful last week but he might as well be Rodney Dangerfield by comparison…

    8. There’s a very real reason why Summer is doing all this venting to her stepmom instead of, you know, calling up her loser old man…

    9. The farther along we go in Lester’s life, the more improbable it seems in retrospect that he found a woman willing to procreate with him in the first place, and that his little micropeener was able to even do the job…

  15. hitorque

    10. And it just wouldn’t be the Funkyverse if effortless, gift-wrapped opportunities for fame and fortune weren’t treated with disdain and haughty disgust… But then again it’s the Funkyverse and these characters literally every day get offered a cushy nepotism job, a lucrative business partnership, or some pinhead wants to sell them an assload of priceless comics memorabilia for 50 cents…

  16. Banana Jr. 6000

    You know, Summer, most people find it very off-putting to read detailed accounts of their parents’ courtship and/or death. I don’t even like looking at family photo albums.

    • William Thompson

      With her parents, her attitude might be “It’s a perfect book! My flustercluck of a mother died the slow, agonizing death she deserved, and the ugly dweeb she married exposed himself for the bungling moral defective he’s always been. I hope that when I write Les’s Story it will involve him dying alone while sitting on the toilet!”

  17. Charles

    You know, I was initially put off by the sheer ego and self-indulgence of this strip, where Batiuk puts his book on display (that’s his book, not Les’s. Lisa’s Story was supposed to be a non-fiction novel. That book has the dimensions of a picture book). But something else was nagging at me about this, something that pointing out the egotism and the self-indulgence didn’t adequately address.

    It’s the desperate neediness that’s so off-putting. He’s so desperate for affirmation, for praise, that he devotes strip after strip pleading with his audience to accept his assessment of his own genius. Again, it’s not a good book. It’s not even a great book. It’s a perfect book. He seems to think that if he does this enough, he can wish it into existence. And every time he does it, he just reeks more and more of both his desperation and his self-pity.

    It’s disgusting. I’d almost feel sorry for him if it weren’t so revolting.