Diss Master

Again: why is this meeting even taking place? Aaron and Marc, the Clone Brothers, knew that Mason wanted to make “a depressing film about a woman dying of cancer,” yet saw fit to waste their time and their sparkling water in order to tell Les to his face that this project was a no go. This whole sequence harkens back to that time that Les and Susan Smith had to face a bunch of angry Westview parents over Susan’s choice of Wit for the school play:


Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

61 responses to “Diss Master

  1. “No offense!” says Les. “My book is too pure to appeal to the *cough* masses anyway, those horrible things that simply CANNOT grasp how sublime my suffering…oh, and Lisa, too, sure.”

  2. William Thompson

    So why did the Mixmaster Blades waste their time on this meeting? Why not send Mason Jarr a vague note about how their production schedule is full, their Chief Operations Officer had a nervous breakdown and they plan to visit Borneo for the Leprosy Festival?

    • Christopher Robin

      They could have had Morticia handle the whole thing. “Hi there… Aaron and Marc are tied up on a conference call right now… and also they think your movie is…” (pauses to read note) “… a mopey pile of damp crap. So, like, you have to go now.”

  3. William Thompson

    It would be perfection itself if tomorrow one of the Unsuitables tells Les “We don’t handle this kind of film. Your best bet is a place called CME.”

  4. William Thompson

    “No offense meant?” Oh, come on! How can anyone talk to Les and not want to offend the bejeezus out of him? That beatnik goatee is worth at least one snide put-down, Good Will is ashamed to have sold him that ensemble, and as for those eyebrows, how can you not suggest a good spritz of insecticide?

  5. Epicus Doomus

    The whole thing was just a way for BatHam to take a dig at Hollywood as it relates to the Chinese market, but what that dig was supposed to be is anyone’s guess. Imagine reading this one with no context to go on, you’d have absolutely no idea why this is supposed to be witty, assuming it was supposed to be, that is. But I’m not even sure about that.

  6. billytheskink

    Once again, telephones seem to phase in and out of existence in the Batiukverse.

  7. Lord Flatulence

    And why is grey hoodie boy smirking?

    • William Thompson

      He’s working on his own comment. It takes time to work up a proper giant fart.

  8. Hitorque

    I’m not an L.A. guy, but shouldn’t this high powered pitch meeting be happening in a skyscraper or at least an office located on studio grounds?

    And I’m sorry but who the fuckin’ hell are these guys again? Producers? I thought Masone was the producer… Distributors? Venture capitalists who put up the funding? Generic middlemen they have to impress before talking to the real studio decision makers??

    And exactly why is Red China the be-all end-all in this discussion?

    Well, yeah… If you don’t think it will be a success in Red China, maybe you shouldn’t assume it will be a success in America just because the book, the sequel, the prequel *and* the graphic novel adaptation (ugh… And yes that really happened) sold moderately well…

  9. Christopher Robin

    I’m really torn between wanting to scream about what the hell was the point of even having this meeting, and on the other hand, experiencing a new respect for The Producers for going to such effort just to dick with Dorky and the Blonde.

  10. spacemanspiff85

    I’m guessing Sunday’s strip is going to be a sideways “homage” to the Pieta, with Les as Christ and Lisa as Mary. Lisa will probably be telling Les “You poor thing, you and the wonderful piece of art my death inspired were too beautiful for this world. They didn’t deserve you.”.
    Or it could be the two guys Batiuk went out of his way to portray as Jewish nailing Les to the cross, with a sign saying “Les Moore, King of Profound and Meaningful Art” nailed over his head.
    My point is that this “Les/Tom Batiuk is being persecuted by the cruel world who doesn’t appreciate him enough” was sickening enough the first time. Batiuk might as well just go all in and make the rest of the strip Batton Thomas sitting on a throne will caricatures of everyone who’s ever offended/annoyed/wouldn’t date him apologize and grovel at his feet. It’s basically what the strip has degenerated to. Just be honest and embrace it.

  11. spacemanspiff85

    Also, do you think the genesis of this “arc” was Batiuk somehow coming to the conclusion that the reason Funky Winkerbean/Lisa’s Story was never adapted into a movie is because people are afraid to offend China? Because that’s a special kind of deranged.

  12. Christopher Robin

    I’m sure the intended reading is that Beardo McMohawk is saying “No offense for being honest about the value of your stupid story”, but I’m sticking with the interpretation that he means “Now don’t take offense at this, but I need to ask whether you comprehend the words we are saying to you.”

  13. Doghouse Reilly

    Well, it’s perfectly obvious that Marc and Aaron were drawn into a meeting by Masonne’s extreme personal magnetism: “Hey, bros, Starbuck Jones here with a chance for your company to be in on the ground floor of my hot new franchise, based on a book that sold multiple copies!”
    Yes, Tom, over the last 20 years or so scenes have been changed and characters added or cut to please Chinese audiences (or, more importantly, the government) on plenty of films: “Iron Man 3,” “Looper,” “Independence Day: Resurgence,” “Doctor Strange,” and so on. These, however, were big-budget would-be blockbusters, not a cancer melodrama that would be hard-pressed to crack the arthouse circuit here or in any other country. No movie mogul worth their salt would conflate the two.

    • justifiable

      It makes even less sense because these two dudebros are clearly NOT producing the CGI blockbusters that make the quota of American films that China allows into the country. China decides how many films open, what films open, and where they open – it’s not up to the studio.

      Know what doesn’t make that Chinese cut, opens in Hong Kong, and limps home with less than $300K in box office returns? Woody Allen films like Match Point – which had a budget of $15M and grossed $23M domestically and over $52M in Europe. So not making My Derivative Cancer Story That’s Not “Wit” because it won’t be boffo in China, when a lot of profitable American films don’t make the cut anyway, is ludicrous. Todd not only knows fuck-all about the industry, but he sucks at coming up with a decent excuse as to why no one would give his shitty art house-reject screenplay house room.

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        You know what else never got released in China and made a tiny amount in Hong Kong? The Fault In Our Stars. In terms of subject matter, it’s probably the most comparable real-life movie to Lisa’s story. And that movie was a huge worldwide hit. See https://www.boxofficemojo.com/title/tt2582846/?ref_=bo_se_r_1 for the data.

        • Banana Jr. 6000

          Further to the above: someone made me aware of The Farewell, a 2019 movie about a Chinese-American family with a matriarch who is, you guessed it, dying of cancer. The entire cast is Chinese-American, and much of the movie takes place in China. Despite all this local appeal, It grossed only about $550,000 in China, out of $22 million worldwide.

  14. louder

    Well, if you’re talking about an action comic movie pulling in 200 million, I can see the concern about China. But a crapy movie about two nobodies from the middle of nowhere Ohio? Right, China’s will be the major stumbling block for the movies lack of success! Has nothing to do with a terrible book that’s been published 20 years ago and quickly forgotten. Geesh, what drugs is BatHack taking to even think like this?

    • Rusty Shackleford

      It’s just Batty’s way to keep this story out there as if it is a big deal. He is ticked off that he hasn’t won any awards. He is desperate for recognition and validation, which is why he always mentions that his work was “Pulitzer nominated”

      It was a terrible story and the sales ranking on Amazon proves it. But go check out all the five star reviews from his friends.

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        I think real-world self-promotion is the object of the Sunday comic book covers, too. They just scream “Look, everybody! I made a comic book! It was a big hit! You know it’s true, because the character said so, in the line I wrote for him to say! I’m totally available for hire!”

      • Christopher Robin

        That it was nominated at all — given that For Worse was also nominated for doing a coming-out story, whereas the strips that won walk the border of being political cartooning rather than “funny pages” material — frankly looks to me like a patronizing gesture. “Aw look, the comic strips are talking about serious issues! They think they’re news people!”

        • Rusty Shackleford

          I agree, and FBOFW and Funky were pandering for awards, hence the rush to outdo each other with controversial stories.

          Watterson and Breathed never won any Pulitzer’s…no wait, Breathed did win one for editorial cartooning…but they both put out incredible cartoons.

          • William Thompson

            LJ might have had a slightly better chance if she’d made one of Elly’s offspring gay, forcing her and McHusband to deal with their feelings. But this is the same woman who had the family dog die a contrived heroic death, rather than have everyone deal with “Farley’s old and sick and we have to put him to sleep.” She wasn’t up to handling real-world problems.

          • Christopher Robin

            After doing a little bit more research, I’m not sure whether Breathed won for Bloom County or for other political cartooning, so as far as I can tell — which is not very far, I’m sure someone has better knowledge here — Doonesbury is the only “comic strip” with a Pulitzer (and even that one, in many papers, runs in the editorial section with the political cartoons rather than with the other “funnies”).

          • Banana Jr. 6000

            Johnston deserves some credit. Lawrence was an established character, and had a personality where coming out made sense. The story committed to the change permanently, and explored its long-term effects. And, this was all 30 years ago, when gayness in general was not so accepted. Some newspapers wouldn’t even run the story.

            Compare that to Batiuk, who made up two faceless, generic characters we never saw before or since, and cued up his insufferable main cast to spew cliched opinions about it.

            If Johnston panders for awards, at least she puts some effort into it. Though I will agree that Farley’s death was crap.

          • Christopher Robin

            It takes courage to speak up and take a stand against something as popular as cancer.

  15. Christopher Robin

    I guess we have to assume that part of the novel we haven’t seen is the extensive essay on Tibetan liberation and fundamental superiority of capitalism.

    • justifiable

      I figured it was Lisa’s critical care nurse Dolly Lammer that killed it. With or without a fee.

    • billytheskink

      You would think the Chinese government might actually like the parts of Lisa’s Story where the for-profit hospital mixes up Lisa’s test results and allows her cancer to spread unexpectedly and when she hijack’s Holly’s trip to Washington DC to testify before congress about how more and more people will wind up looking like her and James Carville if they don’t increase funding for cancer research. Kind of like how the Soviets apparently loved the song “Sixteen Tons”.

  16. Hitorque

    I never expected anything from Masone because he’s always been a loud talk/no balls kind of bro, but even I wasn’t expecting him to be this goddamn useless…

    Because I must say once again — Masone has more clout in Hollywood at this moment than he will ever have in his career SO WHY IN FUCK’S NAME ISN’T HE USING IT? Batiuk thinks all actors are spoiled entitled divas anyway so why doesn’t Masone play up the “role”?


    Of course the effect of such an outburst would be short-changed by the fact that Masone decided to wear a salmon colored polo shirt with black golf slacks… You want people to take you seriously in business discussions, you’d better dress like it.

  17. AmigoLupus

    I can’t help but notice that Les hasn’t said much of anything so far. He’s just sitting there, silently judging everyone for being greedy Hollywood types and not getting that his book is supposed to be a piece of art that the stupid masses can’t appreciate.

    You know, the same guy who made his fortune off his wife’s suffering and death, and made so much cash from tanking the first attempt at making his dreck of a book into a movie.

  18. Banana Jr. 6000

    “Starbuck Jones is an incredible action franchise.” Starbuck Jones? This was all a goddam commercial? Son of a bitch!

  19. Mela

    Hang on. They haven’t actually said it’s a no go yet. Remember, they liked the movie idea but said it had to “bank” in China. And with all the Starbuck Jones mentions in the past week, including the past two days, I have to wonder if these two guys are about to suggest that Lisa and/or (heaven help us all) Les be portrayed in a superhero type flick. Lisa either vanquishes cancer and all other evil or Les becomes some sort of mutant superhero after his wife tragically dies from cancer (a la all the other origin stories that stem from the death of a loved one-and I’m verifying this with my comic nerd husband as I type this). I’m hoping I’m just overthinking this because I’ve been quarantined too long. But what would Les do at that proposal? Smirk or completely blow a gasket?

    • Christopher Robin

      Oh, oh man, that’s… there’s a terrible beauty in that. It would be right in line with the same sort of plotting that had the last set of movie makers want to turn it into some kind of softcore. Wow, I think you might really be onto something there.

      Something horrible, but almost beautiful in its gawd-awfulness.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      That’s actually a good question. Les should blow a gasket, because he’s known to blow a gasket over the tiniest deviation from his idea of how Lisa’ story should be done. But he’s unwillingly gone along with this movie project, when he could simply say “no” at any time. So I can see him rolling his eyes and smirking at whatever solution they come up with to the China problem, as if he has no say in the matter.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      I like your theory, but I think there’s a fatal flaw: if the producers change the story that much, then Les no longer serves any purpose to the movie. What’s he going to do, whine that Lisa rising from the grave as a cyborg isn’t being told correctly? If the story goes abstract, there’s nothing for him to ensure the accuracy of, or object to. The strip would need to make a lot of bizarre justifications to justify his continued involvement.

      • Christopher Robin

        Bizarre justifications are, however, one of the things we actually can kind of rely on Batyuck to produce.

  20. William Thompson

    One of the many weird things is that after the Starsux Jones movie came out, Batiuk ended that arc with a whimper: a Variety headline announcing boffo box office, ending with the paper being dumped in a wastebasket. If Batiuk is saying he isn’t in it for the money, well, you can’t argue with that.

  21. Paul Jones

    And yet again, Batiuk fails to understand that it’s his own damned fault Lisa’s Story sits on the shelves. If he had gotten himself a publisher people recognized, he might have done moderately well but going with Kent State was pretty much poison. Rather than face that, he builds up straw men to blame his idiocy on.

    • Rusty Shackleford

      Black Squirrel was probably his only option. But Batty does do a lot for KSU, his artwork pops up here and there and it is generally fun—unlike this dismal strip. So maybe they owed him a favor?

  22. Charles

    I’ll ignore the point that I would have made about the cross-cultural value of Lisa’s Story is virtually nil in China, so the whole premise is ridiculous, since you guys have covered that more than adequately. Instead I’ll just note how completely inconsistent this sequence is with Mason’s initial pitch to Les.

    Mason’s supposed to be able to get Lisa’s Story made “right” because he’s got sufficient clout in Hollywood to write his own ticket so long as he occasionally makes big budget films. So the whole idea of getting a producer to sign on to Lisa’s Story is moot. They’re not signing on to Lisa’s Story; Batiuk’s own backstory suggested that Mason would agree to do, say, Starbuck Jones 3 on the condition that the producers finance Lisa’s Story for him with no editorial oversight. Mason makes their movie and they give him 20 million to make his movie. That’s it. That’s how it was established.

    So why is Mason now trying to sell these goofs on the profitability of Lisa’s Story, much less the profitability of Lisa’s Story in China? They don’t care about that. They care about the movie Mason’s making for them in exchange.

    Just more evidence that Batiuk doesn’t really have a plan, and only has a vague recollection of what he wrote before when he returns to a story. He completely forgets basic elements of the story he’s trying to tell.

    • Gerard Plourde

      “Just more evidence that Batiuk doesn’t really have a plan, and only has a vague recollection of what he wrote before when he returns to a story.“

      This really sums up the trajectory of every recent arc of the strip over the past couple of years. Just about the only rationale for this particular arc is that it possibly acts as an ad for TomBa’s book tour season during which he sells the latest volume of “The Complete Funky Winkerbean” and the “Lisa’s Story” quartet (or is it quintet with the Prequel).

      That said, the possibility Mela raises is crazy enough to be floating around in TomBa’s mind as a result of a cookies-cocoa-comics overdose. That weird superhero origin story theme would fit in with Mason being cast in the lead role as the character who somehow gets superpowers as a result of Lisa’s death. It could even have Lisa resurrect as some Jean Grey Phoenix-like entity.

    • Christopher Robin

      I honestly don’t understand,within the context of the storyline, who these people are or why the Dynamically Dumb Duo are meeting with them. Does Mixmaster do production? Financing? Distribution? What are Rosenstein and Wellman’s job titles?

  23. Count of Tower Grove

    BWAWHAWHAWHAW! It’s funny because Todd has learned uptalk*?*
    * *?* indicates uptalk inflection.

    • Rusty Shackleford

      Gosh I hate when people talk like that. I didn’t know that’s what that meant.

      I also hate the way some people say important as impor-ant.

      • Count of Tower Grove

        That, I believe is Jersey girl talk. For example: “No, I d’int!”

        • Rusty Shackleford

          It’s all like nails on a chalkboard to me!

          So is that baby talk. Veggies, sammies….bleh.

    • Count of Tower Grove

  24. billytheskink

    Reading that 2009 strip from the Wit story arc sure brought back some miserable memories, that may have been the most hated arc we discussed on the old Stuck Funky site. The point of the story was clearly TB’s “take that” to readers who did not find Lisa’s deadly cancer adventure to be the great and powerful literature he knew it to be, which is awful of course. Its reason for being within the strip’s universe, though, was just as bad. It is reasonably inferred that Susan chose Wit specifically to impress Les, who she continued to have a schoolgirl crush on as a 35 year-old divorcee. Gross.

    Once Susan admonished the philistine parents for failing to appreciate Wit, that was it. It was never mentioned again. No students learned anything while rehearsing or performing. No parents had their minds changed by Susan’s stirring defense or by seeing an actual production. Once TB decided his middle finger was tired after being in the air for a week, that was that, and Wit moved off panel.

  25. Perfect Tommy

    I’m fairly surprised that Batty, via MMA boy, acknowledged the elephant in the room that it is indeed a depressing story that wouldn’t play well anywhere.

  26. Professor Fate

    Wonderful points everybody
    Still in my dreams I would like one of the movie producers to say ” to be insulting let me add this: Les you are whiny self impressed douchebag who knows nothing about movies and yet is utterly impossible to work with. And oh yes, your cancer books eats.”