The Thousand Panel Stare

Kids don’t read newspapers or newspaper comics these days… Boo hoo, so sad, this generation is killing the papers and the cartoonists, blah blah blah yackity smackity… Sorry, don’t care. I’ve heard it all before, and in better comic strips to boot.

Today’s strip is bland, rote filler in a dumb, overplayed story arc, but… that second panel. Chuck Ayers artwork since taking over duties in Funky a couple years ago has taken a good step back from the solid work he did for many years in Crankshaft I would argue, but the second panel in today’s strip is a genuinely excellent piece of cartooning. The beady eyes, the nonplussed expressions, the unrealistic density of students packed into every millimeter of the panel… you can practically hear the crickets chirping in background of this non-reaction. It is an extremely rare and truly good thing to see in Funky Winkerbean. What a pity it isn’t in the service of a better joke.


Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

41 responses to “The Thousand Panel Stare

  1. Gerard Plourde

    Les apparently doesn’t comprehend that a journalism class in high school teaches the elements of factual reporting – who, what,when, where, why, how. It may also teach some rudimentary rules of layout – the most important story goes at the top of page one – (“above the fold”). It does not generally deal with the comics page which is usually buried somewhere in the middle or the back of the paper. Discussions about the artwork belong in an art class and discussions about storytelling belong in a creative writing class. Neither of these topics are appropriate for a journalism class.

    • billytheskink

      The sum of Les’ experience in journalism was his off-again on-again job as editor of the school paper in high school, a paper that got read even less than Roland’s self-published “underground” paper where he complained about his tv-addicted hairless father and the “women’s libbers” or whatever.

    • Discussions about the artwork belong in an art class and discussions about storytelling belong in a creative writing class. Neither of these topics are appropriate for a journalism class.

      B-b-b-b-but n-n-n-n-NEWS-p-papersssssss

    • Hitorque

      Agreed… As someone with a J-school degree, bringing in a syndicated cartoonist (who never, EVER sees the inside of a newsroom) makes about as much sense as bringing in the paperboy (yes, I know kids don’t throw newspapers from some big basket on their bike anymore…)

      I mean for fuck’s sake, Lester didn’t even bring in a political cartoonist, or even a political satirist like Doonesbury’s Trudeau (as an aside, it’s insane to think that Batuk and Trudeau started around the same time, but Trudeau is light years ahead in his ability to keep up with the changing times and current pop culture)…

      Seriously, motherfuck Lester for dragging some poor cartoonist from his work just to make him feel awkward and outdated by an ungrateful, indifferent high school class… All so Lester can not do his job of actually teaching for another day. The sad part is “Batton Thomas” could have given some pretty good insights to an art class, talked about the creative process, or even given a glimmer of inspiration to that one loser in class who makes cheesy doodles in his spare time (Once upon a time, that loser was named Darrin, but he’s way too famous and makes way too much money to waste time talking to a high school class)…

      • Professor Fate

        oh by the by Trudeau actually won a Pulitzer Prize for his work on Watergate and the fall of Richard Nixon. One can only assume is galls Batuk no end.

  2. Epicus Doomus

    Some good old-fashioned self-deprecating humor today, centered around how astonishingly obscure FW is after all these decades. Like in real life, no one knows what the f*ck Les is talking about, which (gulp) means I almost have something in common with him, except he likes the fictional FW and I hate the real one. The day I fully relate to Les Moore is the day I take the plunge to the hard pavement below because who could go on living while knowing that?

    But that said, we ARE talking about comic strips here, a medium that peaked in popularity during the 1920s, primarily because there was little else to do. You might as well show those kids a portable record player and a stack of Chubby Checker 45s, why the hell would a bunch of 15 year olds read a moldy old comic strip about cancer and dementia patients? Let me tell you something, if they had free porn on cell phones back in the 1920s no one would have read comic strips back then either. It’d be way more alarming if they DID read it, at least in my opinion, as it’d mean that today’s youth have just plain given up.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Oh, this is probably Tom Batiuk’s idea of self-deprecating. But it doesn’t work, because he never lets himself be the victim of the joke. Whenever Batton Thomas doesn’t get respect, someone else is always in the wrong for not giving it to him.

      When Cayla and the students don’t immediately know who he is – or have the audacity to use their cell phones during their free time – they’re drawn with dumb stares. Batton saying “I should have phoned in” isn’t self-deprecating, it’s a whine that he’s not being paid enough attention. By people who weren’t told to expect him, or even made aware of his relevance.

      Another example is this strip. Even though Batton is not getting any visitors, the third speaker has to put it in the form of an ignorant question. He can’t just say “Who?”, like in so many other “people don’t know who the creator is” gags.

      Batiuk doesn’t have a self-deprecating bone in his body. He thinks he’s the greatest creator of anything since Shakespeare. So when he thinks he’s being self-deprecating, it’s really just needy, self-indulgent, and insulting.

      • Hitorque

        Wow, I missed that one… Never knew Batton Thomas had appeared before now. Good to see the author has a thing about humiliating himself. Well done “Thomas” on going to a convention with no swag to give away, signs, displays or merch… Fire your fucking publicist.

        And holy damn — I was reading that third panel for a few good minutes trying to understand his context and even now I’m still not sure.

    • comicbookharriet

      In the 20’s they mixed porn WITH comics and called them Tijuana Bibles.

  3. Doghouse Reilly

    Holy “Village of the Damned,” what a second panel!

    Yeah, that’s right, not a single teen in that classroom ever heard of newspapers (even though Les went over that with several of them a few months ago) or comic strips (even though some of them attended last year’s Free Comic Book Day and saw the legendary Batton Thomas in the flesh). They’re all unaware of where Snoopy and Charlie Brown, Garfield, or those melon-headed kids their grandmothers keep pictures of on their refrigerators came from.

    Or maybe they’re not a generation of tech-addicted zombies after all. Look at the kid on the far left, the one directly under Les, and the brown-haired one on the right in panel one. Maybe they’ve each got head lice, and the little critters are leaping onto their classmates’ scalps in between panels.

    That would certainly explain the expressions on their faces…not the fact that they’re trying to learn how to be reporters, editors, photographers, and radio/TV anchors and their teacher is wasting their time by bringing in an old-time cartoonist who probably doesn’t even interact with the few remaining birdcage liners-in-waiting publishing his scribblings.

  4. spacemanspiff85

    That second panel really looks like Ayers finished drawing it and was told he had to draw faces on the kids, and then five seconds later was done with it.

  5. Banana Jr. 6000

    Does Tom Batiuk (not Batton Thomas) have any idea what an asshole Les is being this week? Even by his standards.

    Les clearly invited Batton Thomas to speak to his class under the false pretense they were all deeply interested in Three O’clock High. When we’ve seen Les mock his students for not knowing what newspapers are at all. He was obviously expecting a big reaction from both his wife and his class, but he didn’t gauge either of them first, or even tell them Batton was coming. They wouldn’t have had such confused stares if they knew any speaker was coming to the school today. So I can only conclude this was meant to be a surprise. Which makes Les an ever bigger asshole, for arranging something only he was interested in, and acting like he’s giving everyone else a big treat.

    This is not a wacky misunderstanding. This entire situation is attributable to Les Moore being a thoughtless, selfish prick. And the story will never call him on it.

    • Epicus Doomus

      This is a perfect summation of Les Moore. Bringing in a guest speaker for his own amusement with no regard whatsoever for his students OR the speaker. What a dick.

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        Les also humiliates his wife by testing her Three O’Clock High knowledge right in front of its creator, forcing her to sheepishly admit she doesn’t read the strip. Les obviously didn’t tell her that “Batton Thomas”, who Les is obviously trying to impress. was coming to the school.

        Which is a whole other layer of asshole, because Cayla’s the school receptionist! Why would a teacher not inform the school receptionist of a guest they’re bringing to campus? It’s her job to manage visitors! What if she’d sent Batton Thomas away, not knowing he was invited? She obviously didn’t know who he was; Les needed to show up at that very moment to explain. Would that be another wacky misunderstanding?

        • Jimmy

          Or maybe Les pulled these stunts to prove to Batton Thomas that the latter is an irrelevant hack. Remember, Les wrote a very important book about his wife who died of cancer instead of wasting his time on a comic.

          • Gerard Plourde

            Oh yes, the opus that somehow is either a traditional memoir or a graphic presentation with drawings by Darin looking remarkably like TomBa’s KSU-produced offering (most recent appearance coinciding with Summer’s cameo).

  6. William Thompson

    “The comic strip that runs in the newspapers? As opposed to the comic strip that runs in the Encyclopedia Pederastria, or runs wild in the streets, or gives you the runs?”

    • Saturnino

      “or gives you the runs?”
      You know, when you watch the workout goddesses on cable, do you ever think “she would sell her shyte if she could find a way to package it?”
      Well, the secret is, turn it into a comic strip.

    • Hitorque

      Lester had to say newspapers because in the Funkyverse if he introduced him as a “comics artist” the whole class would have been asking him about Blue Beetle and Booster Gold and the Crimson Avenger and Liberty Belle and if he thought Wolverine could beat Superman in a fight…

      My hands are shaking because I’m having a very ugly flashback to college when I was trying to sleep and the entire wing of my dorm was having a screaming debate for three hours over the “Wolverine versus Superman” question…

    • comicbookharriet

      Given the popularity of web-comics, it’s not the silliest thing he’s ever said. If someone told me they’re a comic artist these days I’d assume they draw furry stuff for their Patreon.

  7. William Thompson

    Yay! It’s the brain-eating zombie apocalypse! And like all kids they hunger for junk food!

  8. Paul Jones

    As I said yesterday (and pretty much every arc that has Les in front of a class), the underlying emotion behind strips like this one is a smug contempt for students for not knowing about something that happened long ago. It’s not a sign that they’re evil or thoughtless or stupid that they aren’t fixated on twee junk like that stupid bandbox or Les’s (and Marge Simpson’s) favourite comic strip but you can’t tell Batiuk that.

  9. Count of Tower Grove

    t’s all running together now. Was it here or at CK, or both today’s strip was predicted? Any of us here could write this strip.

  10. Next week: Les Moore brings in a special guest to speak to the Car Club–why, it’s Motto McUikba, the world champion velocipede rider!

    • justifiable

      Just wait – Battocks will have the kids asking if you have to have a custom-made saddle to ride a dinosaur.

  11. Jimmy

    I see this week’s strips as bring one of two things:
    A) It’s a sad admission from Batiuk that he doesn’t matter and his strip sucks.

    B) Someone wronged Batiuk in 2018 or 2019, and he’s getting his revenge on those who dare cross the mighty Tom B.

    I’m leaning toward B.

  12. Hitorque

    Wait a minute: Why the fuck is “Batton Thomas” even considered outdated in the motherfucking Funkyverse of all places? With exception of obvious nods to smartphones and social media, the calendar is perpetually stuck on “1997” or thereabouts… Teenagers literally spend their Saturdays and Sundays reading comics at the local store. Everyone’s favorite eatery is a pizza parlor that is a time warp to circa 1980. Everyone’s favorite movie theater is a renovated single-screen joint from the 1940s. People still wear tuxedo t-shirts like they’re still a trendy act of tasteless rebellion. Comic book store guy still wears his 1989 Michael Keaton “Batman” logo shirt… People still watch shit on VHS with standard definition Zenith TVs un-ironically. People still use pay phones and consult the yellow pages. The famous football coach Ed Crankshaft is *clearly* an avatar of coached his last game in 1978. Students still peddle things door-to-door to raise money for the band. Pete and Darrin have wasted away years of their lives daydreaming about what it would have been like to publish comics in the 1950s. Literally EVERY “bright” idea born in the Funkyverse is some variation of “Let’s try doing it like they did in the old days!” And then you look at all these characters who have a pathological inability to let go of the past — Lester, Dinkle, Bull, Buck, Linda, Funkmeister, Cliffe Angere, Phil Holt, that old woman working with Pete+Darrin, Cindy (What’s that? You’re telling me there’s an actual Westview grad who’s a famous, kinda-successful journalist? And Lester just visited her a few weeks ago?)

    Long story short (too late), these people don’t have an inch of moral high ground to stand on when they look at Batton Thomas and see a dinosaur…

  13. It’s funny to me that the journalism teacher lacks a command of the english language. If Lester has said “…creator of the SYNDICATED “Three…that runs online and in the newspapers,” his students MIGHT have been interested. But then that would have ruined TB’s joke of blank faces in the second panel and nothing must get in the way of joke no matter how lame.

  14. Professor Fate

    As others have noted he might have told his class the day before that he was going to have guest and what that guest did. But Les is a horrible teacher and i’m sure that every one of his students is just trying finish the class with a respectable grade – never mind learning anything. Seriously has there ever been a story line were a former student comes back and lets him know how much he inspired them? No of course not. For Les teaching is how he proves that he is superior to his students not passing on his knowledge or love of literature and learning. He’s a disgrace to profession.
    This whole silly arch is just another variation on ‘how stupid kids’ are trope that the author has beaten to death now. It was an old and tired complaint in ancient Athens and the Author brings nothing new to it.

    • Gerard Plourde

      It’s also interesting how Les’ teaching career disappears when it’s not convenient. I’d love to know how he’s able to do book tours and fly to California and New York on “Lisa’s Story – The Movie” business during the school year.

      Just another example of slapdash work by The Author.

      • Hitorque

        I’ve asked that question repeatedly as well… Lester clearly can afford to retire and live off his “Lisa Death Porn” Anthology, not to mention the millions about to flow in from the Hollywood movie (You’d *THINK* that given a second chance to tell his story the way he wants to, Lester would be grinding 24/7 to churn out the best script he possibly could)… And if teaching means that much to him, he could quit the public schools system and teach part-time at the local Junior College, which I know for a fact that Westview has locally… That way Lester could still do his classroom douchebag shtick with much more flexible hours.

  15. Banana Jr. 6000

    Another disturbing question about this crappy arc: why would Batiuk draw himself into the strip, just so Les can humiliate him? We know “Batton” is sensitive to not attracting fans, and Les has been lying to him all week about the level of interest at WHS. The Friday or Saturday strip should be Batton putting his boot into Les Moore’s ass. We all know it won’t be, though.

    What does this reveal about Batiuk’s psyche? Has Les Moore so consumed Batiuk, that Batiuk prefers Les to his literal self? Has he become so oblivious to Les Moore’s rude behavior that he doesn’t even notice when it’s directed at him personally? Is Batiuk turning into Les, like Anakin Skywalker turned into Darth Vader?

    • William Thompson

      Batiuk is writing this so he can humiliate the kids. The ignorant, slow-witted kids who don’t recognize a great artist when one is revealed unto them. What idiots they are, for not following the newspaper comic strips like their great-grandparents did! And still do, in Batiuk’s case.

  16. Eldon of Galt

    Hitorque’s post about Funkyverse characters “who have a pathological inability to let go of the past” is a revelation. Although the evidence was right in front of me I continued to think of it as just a few “pining-for-the-past” characters. It never occurred to me that it’s just about everybody, all the time. A world jammed with pathetic, delusional Norma Desmond types. The whole Funky Winkerbean world has just gotten a whole lot more demented and sick.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Or just a pathological inability to grow up. Westview is full of idiot man-children whose lives revolve high school and comic books, who propose marriage with stuffed animals and secret decoder rings, who eat every meal at Montoni’s or Toxic Taco.

    • Gerard Plourde

      Crankshaft has a similar vibe.

  17. Doghouse Reilly

    I hesitate to bring this up, but…has anyone noticed that we’re four days into this “story” and Mr. Thomas has yet to say a single word to Mr. Moore’s enraptured charges. Given an intro speech tomorrow and an inane question Saturday, followed by an unrelated comics salute Sunday, does this mean we have another full week of Batton droning on about his interactions with grouchy editors, inkers who missed deadlines, and other minutiae next week?

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Oh, Batiuk can make this masturbatory arc run two weeks, easy. And Sunday’s comic is the Inedible Pulp-Scuba Cop cover. The crossover of two characters no one even wants to see by themselves.