It Was About Cancer, Not The Heart, Mason

today’s strip

“It’s a romance movie! There’s never been one of those before! I mean, sure, they literally go back to 1896, but still romance! Surefire hit! And so what if the movie ends with the heroine wasting away and dying rather than finding the man of her dreams?”  Does Batiuk think this is supposed to be a good pitch?  Stating the genre of the movie isn’t a convincing argument for why it should be made.
Man, someone must have once told Batiuk that the only reason Hollywood hadn’t paid him nine figures to adapt Lisa’s Story was because it was Too Much Art for the masses. Or maybe that’s just what he tells himself. Although I can totally picture him calling up studio after studio until someone finally realized if they just appealed to his ego he’d leave them alone.
I would really, really love for someone in this strip to just not like Lisa’s Story. Even those who are against the spreading of the Lisa Gospel are totally convinced it’s beautiful art. Just once someone should react like a normal human would: “Wait, the lab results got mixed up somehow? And you spent how many pages on this ‘Darrin’ dork opening a letter? Why is this all about Les, it’s supposed to be ‘Lisa’s Story’?”.
Since Batiuk is just repeating the last “Lisa’s Story: The Movie” arc, how long do you think it’ll be before Alan Silver suggests Lisa not dying in the movie?

Also, if you want to laugh more than you’ve laughed at this strip (for a reason Batiuk intended), read the Wikipedia page for “four quadrant movie” and try and imagine how Lisa’s Story would be remotely close to what it describes.


Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

58 responses to “It Was About Cancer, Not The Heart, Mason

  1. William Thompson

    A “four quadrant movie?” Batiuk couldn’t find his audience with a sextant.

  2. William Thompson

    “Creating art isn’t a business model.” Certainly not in this strip.

    • justifiable

      How the fuck is that even a response to “this movie has world-wide box-office commercial appeal in every demographic there is”? Especially when the not-arthouse action star pitching it looks like someone jammed a cattle prod up his ass and turned it up to 11?

  3. Epicus Doomus

    So wait, does this mean that this guy actually WANTS to bring Les’ drippy artistic vision to life? WHOSE SIDE IS HE ON??? “Four quadrant movie”…LOL. Oh Tom, you lovable scamp, always with the zany “insider” lingo.

  4. William Thompson

    Nobody has beaten Creepy Les to a pulp! He can still show his face in public! He’s actually slept with two different women! Does it get any more amazing than that? And the reality-based quote is “Astonish me!” from Sergei Diaghilev.

  5. louder

    What complete BS we’re having this week. Why can’t someone tell these two fools that this proposal is not for the movies, but rather TV. Go the Hallmark or Lifetime, and pitch the story to them. Here’s the cast: Lacey Chabert as Lisa and Luke Macfarlane as Less. I’d make Lisa die during Christmas time and the Cayla / Less wedding take place on the anniversary of Lisa’s death, as a sign that Less has found a new true love. A Hallmark Christmas movie, it warms the cockles of my heart (it should be obvious that I know waaaaay too much about Hallmark Christmas movies, they’re my true guilty pleasure! and they’re about as inventive as this piece of crap movie Mason and Less are offering around Hollywood — btw, this sets the record for a Son of Funky’s longest parentheses excursion, you’re welcome, I just want to give to the community here…)

  6. spacemanspiff85

    You know where I hope this story goes? Given how far in advance Batiuk writes this strip, CGI recreations of deceased actors could’ve been big news when he was writing in this. Instead of casting the role of Lisa, they could just use the endless Lisa Tapes to create a CGI version, and Cayla could just vanish from the strip forever.

  7. billytheskink

    Lisa’s Story has worldwide box office appeal!”

    Because people literally everywhere have cancer? What a pitch, Mason, what a pitch…

  8. Good grief, can Tom Batiuk and his ego just get a room, please?

  9. Doghouse Reilly (Philadelphia)

    Oh, I see: Masonne and his sidekick decided that all Hollywood producers must be looking for high-concept audience grabbers that bank in China, and they’ve adjusted their pitch technique accordingly, only to find they’re not in the presence of a “Last Tycoon” type who thinks cinema is an art with a capital “A.” Zing! Maybe M. Night Shyamalan should direct “Lisa’s Story”!

    One would think that, Hollywood golden boy and insider that he is, Mr. Jarre would have a better idea of which production houses are more suitable to this project and which to skip. Here in the real world, even not-Tinseltown types know that Jerry Bruckheimer means big, burly, quickly-paced actioners, Kevin Feige is the man for Marvel superhero epics, Merchant and Ivory were all about lush and languid period dramas set in exotic destinations or English drawing rooms, and Harvey Weinstein means…well, never mind.

    Also, did anyone else notice that only facial feature of Silver’s visible in panel two is a long pointy nose? I’m just sayin’…

    • justifiable

      P2 – Guest appearance by Reinhard Heydrich. Ayers isn’t even trying any more.

    • Hitorque

      If nothing else, you’d think Masone would quit trying to pitch an already known commodity like “Lisa’s Tragi-Sexy Cancer is a great and timeless story!” and instead start shifting his focus on exactly *how* he can make it work…

      Like, did he recruit Brie Larson to play Lisa? Has he considered a new (old) twist of molding the general story into something British? Or better still, French? Maybe you make Les a woman and the story about a lesbian couple? Maybe you tell it from Lisa’s perspective beyond the grave? (And Les just jizzed his pants). Maybe you do some kind of Cinema Verite and somehow incorporate the 30+ hours of videotape she left behind (which warts and all is the one thing that makes this stupid love story unique)? Yeah, I know Michael Keaton already went there, but still…

  10. This is exactly the way it went down the first time Les tried to make this movie six years ago. The only difference is Le Chat Bleu stayed home.

    • justifiable

      Back then the response made sense given the context of the conversation. “We don’t do art” is a complete non-sequitur, given the lies Manic Masonne just pitched.

    • Epicus Doomus

      See, at first I thought Alan was saying that he’s all about the art, but now I’m seeing that he means “art” isn’t profitable in and of itself. I (foolishly) keep waiting for the “twist” here, where Alan cuts Mason short and expresses his genuine interest in the project. But he’s just gonna keep grinding that axe and base the entire story on his own limited and not terribly interesting “Hollywood” experiences instead of using his imagination to create a story someone (probably not me though) might actually want to read. The way he does this just amazes me because it’s so complete and so total and never, ever wavers.

      Like with Starbuck Jones. He creates his own fictional superhero, then features that superhero in stories about two dipshits complaining and loafing around in a dingy poorly-lit studio. He could do literally anything he likes yet he always settles on stuff like that.

    • Hitorque

      I’m still interested in knowing HOW exactly Batuik/CME were going to turn “Small-time Midwest housewife dies of cancer” into some late-night Cinemax softcore stroke flick since he hinted heavily that’s where the plot was headed…

      I’ll always believe that the REAL reason Batuik cooked up that magical get-out-of-jail-free card of the infamous “kill fee” was because he had painted himself into a narrative corner.

      • William Thompson

        That’s what Batiuk did after the SJ movie had its boffo premiere: he told us it did well by means of a Variety headline, then dropped the whole arc. We learned absolutely nothing about the impact this cultural milestone had on society. No catch phrases, no plot descriptions, no comparisons of SJ characters to Westviewians, no movie tie-in products. The same goes for the Hacktomic Komix schlock. Nobody mentions any of the characters or stories, engages in cosplay, asks “What Would Scuba Dupe Do?” Is the Inedible Pulp supposed to be a misunderstood hero with hygiene-control issues–a dumbed-down Incredible Hulk for slobs?

        I doubt Batiuk thinks his ideas are lame. He probably thinks they’re such works of creative genius that he can’t risk exposing them to the public, lest his copyrighted material be stolen by lesser writers. I’d write a biting, witty comment for his attitude, but why waste it on him?

        • Christopher Robin

          Obviously he should protect his ideas by registering them. At the Idea Office.

  11. justifiable

    HA HA – it’s funny because “it’s about heart” and is a “four quadrant movie” – and a heart has four quadrants! Get it? Gad, what dazzling wordplay, I can scarcely contain the chortles rising in my throat!

    Oh wait, that’s vomit.

  12. Hitorque

    “Art isn’t a business model?”

    Then what the fuck you doing in Hollywood, bro?

  13. Charles

    I like the major transformation of Mason’s nose between panel 1 and panel 3. In 1 it’s a tiny thing that points upwards, and in 3 it’s a long, flaccid droopy sad nose. And holy crap does Mason not have movie star looks.

    Anyway, what a terrible pitch. Mason just opens up with its box office potential and its appeal, but doesn’t even make one mention of what the story’s about.

    “It’s a cross-appeal crowdpleaser that doesn’t sacrifice its artistic ambitions! It’s an amazing story with the ability to speak to all people, of all races, creeds, economies and cultures. It’s got universal appeal!”
    “Great, so what is it?”
    “It’s about Dobsy, the Dog Who Farts A Lot.”

  14. Rusty Shackleford

    The KSU alumni magazine arrived yesterday and it features a four page article on Batty! A choice quote: “Funky is a reflection of my life”.

    The article was about how Batty was interviewed by The Beat, a student run news show at a nearby school, and how he used that to create The Bleat.

    The program director says they are honored to “add value” to the strip. Maybe Batty should just let the kids write it. I know they will deliver something more interesting.

    • Christopher Robin

      Y’know, there’s a bunch of strips that are just crap — Crock and Momma are turds, utter garbage that syndicates should not be paying anyone to produce, scribbles that would get a C-minus in preschool paired with jokes that were discarded by Vaudeville for being stale (or in Momma’s case, tired old jokes interspersed with unambiguously incestuous sentiments) — and yet, I don’t hang around criticizing and/or snarking at them, because basically, I don’t think these strips say anything about their creators. There just isn’t enough thought or effort put in to extract much of anything about the people behind them, and you can’t really say how a work falls short if it’s aimed at the ground.

      To put it more succinctly: if your life is reflected in Funky Winkerbean, you should probably just keep that to yourself, and privately reevaluate your own decisions and values.

      • billytheskink

        Are they making new Momma strips? Is there a new writer/artist or did Mell Lazarus live up to his last name?

        • Christopher Robin

          Ah, apparently not. I happen to have gone reading back through Fruhlinger’s archive not long ago, so discussion of it was recent in my memory, but I guess I missed where it ended. Oh well, all that changes is the tense — nobody ever should have paid for that crap.

      • Rusty Shackleford

        I know. To admit that this horrid strip is a true reflection of your real life. My goodness. Must be all pizza, comic books, and cancer in his world.

      • justifiable

        And while you’re re-evaluating, keep the number to the suicide hotline handy.

  15. Count of Tower Grove

    BWAWHAWHAWHAW! Masone Jarre psychic pendulum swings in three panels. Silver bent nailed him!

  16. Hitorque

    I’m convinced this weirdo along with Frick and Frack last week are stringing Les along and trolling the hell out of him as retribution for that KILL FEE fiasco a few years back, only Masone+Les are too oblivious to pick up the joke.

  17. Paul Jones

    Now, I don’t wanna be That Guy again but it’s always seemed to me that the worst person you could ever get to tell Lisa’s Story would be Les himself. He tends to focus on side issues like Durwood’s quiest to touch base with a birth mother who would probably have not been the mom he’d wanted her to be and doesn’t at all see the real drama: Lisa’s parents and their too-late refusal to reconcile with her.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Lisa’s story – the fictional and real-world ones – overlook the most interesting thing: Lisa becoming a lawyer. After the start she had in life: crushing anxiety, crappy parents, an unforgiving high school, being raped and impregnated, giving up the baby for adoption… and then graduating from law school? How’d she pull that off? That’d be worth a Lifetime TV movie, at least.

      Having said that, it’s just another Funky Winkerbean character being given some elite status they did nothing to earn. She doesn’t put any effort into law school (something that years of study), and it doesn’t change her in any way.

      • Christopher Robin

        Well of course this doesn’t come up in Lisa’s Story — what does law school have to do with Less?

  18. Banana Jr. 6000

    Tom Batiuk seems to have very unrealistic ideas about rejection. Because rejection in Hollywood is pretty goddam common. Especially when you’re a relative nobody trying to convince a for-profit company to invest eight figures into one of your ideas. Try it sometime.

    After Mixmaster Studios courteously explained their valid reasons for not wanting to make the movie, Mason called them idiots. At his second pitch meeting (which, remember, Mason is an expert in), he’s spewing Hollywood jargon. While Silver’s response makes no sense, he’s not exactly wrong to see through Mason’s empty bluster. Neither studio comes off as a villain, or even a coherent strawman. And, as others have said, Mason seems to be pitching the wrong companies. That’s his failure, not theirs.

    This story sounds like Batiuk went to one or two Hollywood meetings, got offended when the skies didn’t part for him, gave up, and went home with a misaimed grudge. It’s consistent with other things we know about him. He gave up his lawsuit after a year and a half because it was taking too long. He looks down his nose at artists who have to work for their success. He has no idea how movie making works in general. We know he expects “business” people to cater to the artist’s every whim, and doesn’t think they need to exist at all. And above all else, he has no idea that nobody wants to work with an inflexible, egotistical jerk.

    If Marmaduke and Dennis The Menace can get green-lighted, Funky Winkerbean should have been able to.

    • Christopher Robin

      Much as I like the rest of what you’ve written, you could have stopped at “Tom Batiuk seems to have very unrealistic ideas”.

  19. Christopher Robin

    Oh my God it’s the Silver Anvil. Did one of us somehow get in and slip a parody strip through to print?

    High-concept movies have their strength in a striking “pow!” idea; in a stack of points a movie might be sold on, the concept is much higher than elements like characterization, theme or emotional exploration — get it?

    High-concept pitches:
    “What if someone cloned an island of dinosaurs?”
    “Space Marines fight a whole colony of Ridley Scott’s Aliens!”
    “Space robots from an 80’s franchise bring their ancient war to Earth! ”
    “Superman and Batman fight!”

    Low-concept movies
    “A butler is so dedicated to principles of loyalty and ‘perfect’ service that he lets opportunities for an emotionally satisfying life slip away.”
    “A speech therapist works with the King of England to overcome the monarch’s stammer so he will be able to inspire the nation with a confident voice in a time of crisis, and an unlikely bond of friendship forms.”
    “A wrongly convicted man whose spirit remains unbroken through decades in a brutal prison environment brings a ray of hope into the darkest of places, especially when he carries out a daring escape.”

    People often get “high-concept” confused with “high-brow” or “high art” — which is almost, but not quite, exactly backward. Guess what Batiukman the Industry Insider has gone and done here?

    • justifiable

      It’s sort of a tossup whether Todd has no idea what any of these terms mean, or if he’s using everything Lisa’s Story is not to create this moronic reverse pitch. I suspect it’s the former, because there’s nothing “rare” about high-concept, i.e. easily-defined plot and event driven films, having four-quadrant appeal. What would be “rare” is if they didn’t have that universal appeal, which is what makes them an absurdly easy sell.

      “Love stories” per seare never high-concept. Romances that aren’t subordinate to a big event-driven plot like Pompeii or Titanic are by definition more subtle, character-driven films, like Pride and Prejudice, which is what makes them low-concept. But that doesn’t mean low-concept films can’t be four-quadrant hits. Pulp Fiction and Cold Mountain managed to pull it off.

      • Christopher Robin

        Love stories are also quite possibly the least-rare concept in cinema, if not in the totality of human artistic expression. Post-Love Story, Cancer Romance may well be in the top ten or fifteen non-rare ideas, so that can’t be it either.

        There are only two ways I can think of in which Lisa’s Story is “rare”: one, that the shining brilliance of Leslie Moore’s golden pen has graced we mortals with only a few gifts of immortal eloquence; or two, “rare” like the cab Will Smith took to Bel-Air.

  20. Gerard Plourde

    I accidentally posted the following on yesterday’s thread this morning.

    I’ve been at a loss to react to this pointless train wreck, but then I imagined where this could be (but certainly isn’t) heading.

    Suppose this latest Hollywood excursion were an elaborate plot to get revenge involving everyone Les has annoyed (basically the entire town of Westview). It could be a setup to buy exclusive worldwide rights to Lisa’s Story, including the book rights, in order to catch and kill it. As an added twist, Funky could be shown to be the mastermind behind the scheme. Maybe even throw in the revelation that he and Lisa had a long-standing affair and he’s actually Summer’s father.

    Anything would be better than what’s being served up currently.

  21. Christopher Robin