The tapes…which tantalize Onanism

Link to today’s strip.

Les’ fetish has never seemed so sick.  Of course he can’t let part of his shrine be glimpsed by an unbeliever.  I’m surprised he’s allowing Mason to touch them.  I’d have thought Les would have punched Mason in the face at such sacrilege.   (Mason:  “Huh, I thought I felt a light breeze just then.  Did I forget to close the door?”)

This and yesterday’s strips really should have Mason backpedaling furiously toward the door, his voice a gibbering quaver of terror as he makes his excuses.  But no, he sees these tapes as some rich vein of unobtainable treasure, sure to give his movie the gravitas it requires.  In this terrible, terrible comic strip everyone worships Lisa.  Not one person sees anything wrong with this.

As seen in the strips highlighted yesterday, even Lisa thinks she is an object of worship.  It’s clear to her that any “other woman” would never supplant Lisa in Les’ heart.  All this “other woman” can do is bake cookies for him, anoint his brow with oil, and make sure the Lisa shrines are properly dusted.  Les’ heart is forever bound to Lisa.  “Moving on” is something that Lisa (and Batiuk) cannot comprehend, much less allow.

Hey, Les, maybe there’s a tape in that bunch labelled “For the actor who wants to produce a movie about me.”  What do you want to bet?  And, if there is…what do you do now?


Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

64 responses to “The tapes…which tantalize Onanism

  1. billytheskink

    Les – angrily worried that “Hollywood” won’t portray Lisa properly.

    Also Les – angrily refuses access to video of real live Lisa discussing every topic a Lisa’s Story could possibly cover.

    Absolutely Les – angrily insists on being the gatekeeper of all things Lisa to ensure that the main character of Lisa’s Story remains him and him alone.

  2. Epicus Doomus

    Yes Tom, we all remember the time Lisa sadistically hid secret videotapes all over the house so she could haunt the Moores for years and years after her, uh, untimely death. Maybe next week you could remind us about the time she got blown up or the time her and Les had a superhero-themed wedding or the time she parted Lake Erie to save those Canadian refugees. I will care exactly as much as I do right now.

    I can’t wait for the one where Les gets his first glimpse of Marianne as Lisa. “L-L-L-Lisa???? But…how…Lisa????”. Oh it’s gonna be revolting beyond all imagination and you know there’s no way it’s not happening. Man, I bet he really regrets creating Cayla right about now.

    • I think he regrets the Les-Cayla marriage. He thought that would bring in some awards, but if he’d thought about anything other than awards, he could have had an interesting (there’s that word again) scenario.

      Lisa’s death was so devastating to Les that he couldn’t function. Friends hired Cayla as a live-in caretaker for him. Eliminate any (cough) romance between them, and Les’ continued refusal to let Lisa go makes somewhat more sense. It also makes Cayla less of a doormat.

      The problem is that Batiuk really wanted Les to be a super chick-magnet, so he derailed his best chance of telling his story.

      • Hitorque

        Les HAD to get married because as fucked up as this situation is, it looks a damn sight worse had he remained single all this time… For the same reason why Pete had to get married since people were starting to openly wonder if his lifelong bromance with Darrin wasn’t something a little more meaningful than what it was…

        As an aside, I’m so goddamned sick of the trope about geeky anti-social dudes having perfect, ready-made geeky-yet-incredibly-attractive women fall into their laps with absolutely no effort or self-improvement of their own… And thousands of writers of books/comics/TV/movies do this, not just Batiuk…

  3. William Thompson

    “Gosh amighty, Les, you act like there’s something incriminating on the tapes!”

    “NO! How can you even suggest that? Lisa died because of cancer, of a medical mix-up, by her own failure act when she learned she still had cancer–I was just an innocent bystander in that office when her records were mixed up with another patient!”

    • Hitorque

      God, I’d love nothing more than to see Les and “Lisa’s Story” get scrutinized to death by the legions of self-appointed podcast detectives, half-assed journalists and Netflix documentary filmmakers…

  4. Captain Gladys Stoatpamphlet

    If Les actually cared about what Lisa says on the tapes, you’d think he would have transferred them to DVD at some point.

    • billytheskink

      He (well, Summer) did. And then they were allegedly thrown away…

      TB forgetting prior story details? Inconceivable!

      • Charles

        Notice how little Batiuk gives a shit that he had Les in this strip and the prior strip refer to his daughter’s mother as “Lisa”, not “Mom”.

      • Hitorque

        Chicks with sideburns? Must be an Ahia thang…

        • billytheskink

          Summer’s real father is former University of South Carolina and ABA basketball star John Roche.

      • Don

        I have a feeling Tom didn’t forget – and that somebody is going to get (through means fair or foul) their hands on those DVDs, which will make their way into the final cut, and Les won’t notice until he sees it for the first time at the premiere.
        Well, either that, or the film will just make up something to be on the tapes (“it’s called ‘creative license,’ Les…”)

    • William Thompson

      Crazy Harry took care of that several years ago. It’s strange how Creepy Les didn’t mind letting Harry watch all the tapes. If Batiuk suddenly remembers what happened, he may retcon in a bit where Cayla arranged the transfers as a surprise and Les got upset.

  5. Charles

    The amount of contempt Les has for Mason is palpable. Look at that face: that’s not the face of a guy who’s worried that something intensely personal to him is going to be violated by a mercurial jerk. He’s simply being a gigantic ass who has the power to refuse a request and is wielding that power as best he can. He’s not doing it because he cares about the Lisa tapes. He’s doing it so he can pull a childish power trip on Mason. He’s going to humiliate him by making him beg and then humiliate him some more by turning him down even after he begs.

    As if we actually needed more evidence of how crappy a writer Batiuk is, he’s going to leave it with this. He’s not going to have Mason do the obvious thing and ask Les why he won’t share the tapes with him. He’ll just have him continue to ask to see them like a 6 year-old on crack. And Les won’t do the obvious thing and tell Mason why he doesn’t want Mason to see the tapes. He’ll just keep saying no with that disdainful asshole look on his face.

    This story’s supposed to be how devastating the loss of Lisa was, and Les is so fucked up about it because of the enormity of his suffering, and yet Batiuk never once actually goes into it. He just suggests it with stupid contemptuous gestures like this and assumes we’re going to get it. Look at that asshole’s face, that’s a man so tormented by the death of his wife that his story’s going to sweep the Academy Awards like One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest or It Happened One Night. Mason will win Best Actor. Marianne will win Best Actress. Martin (why are they all M names?) will win Best Director. Lisa’s Story will win Best Picture. The schmuck they find to play Funky will win Best Supporting Actor. The dope they find to play Cindy will win Best Supporting Actress. Les will, of course, win Best Screenplay.

    And look at that asshole’s face. That’s suffering that deserves to be remembered a century from now. GFY, Batiuk. TRY to be a better writer at least.

    • Epicus Doomus

      And the tapes (which shouldn’t even exist, as documented above) are right there in the guys f*cking living room, it’s not like he caught Mason rummaging through boxes in the garage or something.

      IMO every one of these “LS”-related arcs are nothing more than infomercials for the real-life “LS”. The point of every single one of them is to remind readers about the weight and significance of the cancer arc and Les’ job is to remind the readers that “LS” is not some joke meant to be taken lightly. Les’ entire Act III character arc is all about making sure we remember the one “noteworthy” story Batiuk wrote a decade and a half ago, his big claim to fame, his legacy to the world.

  6. Gerard Plourde

    I can’t get past the fact that TomBa doesn’t seem to have any idea how insane this whole arc makes Les look. There is nothing normal about the way Les is acting about Lisa. She’s been dead for over twenty years (thanks to the ten year time jump TomBa arranged so that he didn’t have to deal with Summer’s childhood)

  7. Jimmy

    Hate to take this in a dark turn. Let’s say I went to the house of an acquaintance and noticed a bunch of old video tapes prominently displayed on a shelf in what is supposed to be 2030, then asked him about them.

    If this was his reaction, I would immediately think one of two possibilities before calling the cops: bunch of snuff porn or kiddie porn. Especially if he had pervy facial hair like Les.

    • Epicus Doomus

      Good point and valid even if it’s actually just 2020 (no one really knows at this point). If I was in the home of an acquaintance and noticed a bunch of old video tapes prominently displayed on a shelf my first assumption would be that they were a Grateful Dead fan or into old cult-following films or something. Upon finding out that they were actually old video tapes his dead first wife made for him twenty-three years ago I would wait for him to leave the room then ask his wife if she wanted to go get a drink somewhere, as I suspect she’d say yes.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Funky Winkerbean has such a sick fixation with death that “snuff porn” isn’t that far off a description for the comic strip as a whole. How many times we did we see Bull’s football helmet after he used it to kill himself? How many characters, including his own wife, indifferently carried it around? How many car crashes, explosions, suicide attempts, and crumpled, lifeless bodies has Tom Batiuk shown us over the years?

      In fact, why is this even allowed? The comics book page is spectacularly conservative. Dilbert couldn’t even introduce a devil character, and had to create “Phil, The Prince of Insufficient Light” instead. But this incompetent, no-talent ghoul can draw Faces of Death: The Comic Strip for decades?

  8. William Thompson

    What’s with the blonde in the SoSF banner? Is that a new character? The actress who’s going to play Lisa? The script doctor Frances Stine, hired to help Les work on the script? Is it Cayla, with her eyesight damaged as she speeds through the last steps of her whitening? So many possibilities in such a bland face!

    • I am not sure, but I believe that’s Andrea Martin’s iconic SCTV character Edith Prickley appearing as Boy Lisa.

    • Epicus Doomus

      SPOILER ALERT: That is none other than Anorexic Lisa, from the Eating Disorder Mega-Arc of 1989. In a futile attempt to become thin and popular like Cindy, Lisa straightened her hair and embarked on a crash diet that saw her lose sixty pounds in two weeks. She began hallucinating in the WHS hallway, imagining that strange men in white vans were coming to get her. Luckily Les GOT HER TO A HOSPITAL in time and after a few visits to Montoni’s she was as full-bodied and effervescent as ever.

  9. Banana Jr. 6000

    So, Mason, you wanted to experience the rhythm of Les’ life and get into his head? Well, you”re getting the deluxe tour right now.

  10. Paul Jones

    Les tells himself that he’s protecting Lisa’s memory by not allowing Hollywood to distort what she is. Les is too Les to realize that he’s keeping her memory dead by hoarding it to himself.

  11. AmigoLupus

    I can only hope that if, by some ungodly method, Mason pries those Lisa tapes from Les’ slimy hands, that the first tape he watches is the one where Lisa tells “the other woman” that it’s perfectly natural when they have sex that Les moans Lisa’s name.

    • louder

      MY EYES!!! I had gratefully forgotten about this strip, the sickest, evilest, three panel comic in American history. Incredibly sick.

    • Hitorque


      You know, for a mostly unremarkable geek girl dying of cancer who had drawn attention from exactly two men her entire life, Lisa’s ego was reaching damn near Cindye Sommers proportions…

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        I wouldn’t even call Lisa (or Les) a geek. Certainly not the way that word is used today. A geek is someone with a hobby. These two have no interest in anything other than their own egos. Not even their careers or family.

        What they are is a couple of codependent narcissists. Their entire relationship seems to be based on validating each other. Considering they both had abusive, antisocial childhoods, this makes some sense as a foundation for a relationship, but it got WAY out of hand. These two validated each other so much, they now think they’re more important than everyone else. Remember Lisa showing up at Holly’s trip to Congress and co-opting it for herself? Remember that time Les did… well, pretty much anything?

        This is also why Les can’t let go of Lisa. Without Lisa, he’s nothing. Without Lisa, he’s still the loser who can’t climb the rope in gym class. With Lisa, he’s a guy with a girlfriend, and that makes him cooler than you. We all encountered that attitude in high school, but at age 50, Les lives it. “High school follows you” indeed. Cayla is light-years more loving and supportive than Les deserves, but she doesn’t “get” Les like Lisa did. She doesn’t instinctively understand Les’ pain like Lisa did.

    • Charles

      And keep in mind that that strip was supposed to make Les *more* sympathetic. You were supposed to find that charming.

  12. Professor Fate

    Masterful dialogue yes?
    Has Les ever seen so utterly deranged and hateful.
    And what are the chances that Mason breaks into Les’ house late at night to get the tapes? It’s just awful enough to be plausible.

  13. Count of Tower Grove

    Masone doesn’t know the magic words: “I bet Lisa would like that.”

  14. Banana Jr. 6000

    Transferring the Dead Lisa taps to DVD wasn’t just a plot point, it was a three week arc:

    September 7-12
    Summer packs up the Lisa VHS library and brings it to Crazy Harry to be digitized.

    September 20 – October 4
    Crazy Harry finishes transferring (and ostensibly watching) the hours of Lisa tapes.

    Tom Batiuk spends three weeks on a subject as boring as VHS-to-DVD-transfer, and then completely ignores it when it’s relevant to the plot. And for no reason! This week’s story works the same if the contents are on DVD. It’s like he’s giving a middle finger to anyone who’s trying to follow his oh-so-realistic story. And he does it all the time.

  15. Rusty Shackleford

    Did anyone read Comics Curmudgeon Josh’s article on Polygon? He talks about how various cartoonists reacted to covid 19. The creators of Sally Forth threw out a month’s worth of strips as their current story just didn’t feel right.

    Batty talks a good game about comics being art, but no way he is doing actual work to make his strip current. No, we instead get recycled Lisa. He could throw away a years worth of strips and nobody would care.

    • Hitorque

      No justice in the world… Frulinger bans *ME* and he’s the one with a writing gig at Polygon?


    • Banana Jr. 6000

      In a different article, Josh said something to the effect of “Funky Winkerbean has no time for anyone else’s misery, just its own.” Which is a brilliant summation of the strip’s fundamental selfishness. It doesn’t participate in crossover events, unless doing so promotes its own interests. The Dick Tracy crossover story was about comic books. The one time it participated in an “awareness” event, it was for breast cancer.

  16. Hitorque

    I love how ever since that bromantic stroll through Manhattan and Central Park, and those endless producer meetings, this entire storyline has been a non-stop grudge match between Les/Masone on who can be the biggest douchebag…

    This has to be the end, right? Either Masone pulls out and tells Les good luck, or Les invokes his bullshit “kill fee” again… That’s what *should* happen, but here’s what will really play out:

    1. Masone snatches or steals the tapes anyway, or finds out Crazy Larry or Darrin or Cindye has their own personal digital copy.

    2. Kayla and/or Summer have a heartfelt chat with Les and tell him this is what Lisa would have wanted and Les finally relents.

    3. A previously unseen Lisa tape is dug up, giving her blessing for the movie project, and reminding everyone to maintain social distancing and to cheer for Lebron in the NBA playoffs.

    4. Les runs off crying and when he’s alone Ghost Lisa appears in full Jedi robes and tells Les to put his trust in the Force.

    • Hitorque

      5. Masone makes a generous bribe or I mean “donation” to the Lisa’s Legacy Foundation and bulk buys 100,000 copies of Les’ books

    • batgirl

      If Summer hadn’t fallen down the memory hole (and if women were allowed agency in the Funkverse) she could give Mason a copy of her digitized tapes.
      Though I guess those were only the ones directed to her personally, and not the ones to Les or The Other Woman.

      Hey, someone who remembers the tapes arcs better than I do, at what age did Summer get access to the tapes? I seem to recall it was only when she reached her teens or graduated. Were there established tapes for her early childhood or pre-teen years?

      • Gerard Plourde

        I can’t swear to it, but I think that there were allusions made by Lisa when she was taping them that there were to be annual birthday tapes during her pre-teen years (which of course were completely skipped over by TomBa).

      • Charles

        I believe the first mention of tapes goes back to Act 2, in August 2007, where we see Lisa filming a tape for Summer’s 16th birthday. Almost exactly two years later, we see the same tape in Act 3, with Summer watching it on her 16th birthday. Summer had another tape the following year addressing her going to prom, and then she had one when she graduated high school. Neither of these latter two tapes were shown being made in Act 2.

        That’s a bit excessive, but the tape subplot really didn’t go off the rails until December 2011, when Summer revealed that Lisa made a tape for Darin on his 30th birthday. And then it featured mid-stage Act 2 Lisa rather than late-stage Act 2 Lisa despite the fact that Lisa didn’t know Darin was her child she gave up for adoption until she was in the final stages of her cancer: withered, bereft of hair and bundled in a blanket 24/7. And it didn’t serve any narrative purpose except once again to indicate that Lisa was Darin’s birth mom.

        And that tape showed everything wrong with the concept, as Lisa told Darin she was proud of him, with him mooching off Les because he and his wife were effectively homeless and unemployed until they begged Les to take them in. Plus, she speculated about him having children, two years before Skyler was born. A good writer could have done something with that incongruity, but then, a good writer would have avoided the whole “here’s a tape for your 30th birthday from someone you knew briefly before she who died 12 years ago!”

  17. Hitorque

    Masone is giving up this argument really easy for someone who just flew to Ohio to sit in a rental car in a high school parking lot for NINE GODDAMNED HOURS scribbling notes…

  18. Hannibal's Lectern

    Back in the days when I would lovingly craft snarky parodies of these strips, I would have replaced that VHS tape in Masoné’s hands with an iPad, and redone the last word vacuole to read “Okay. I’ve already found them on YouTube. Thanks, Cayla.”

    But, sad to say, BatHack’s worn me down. I think about downloading the image, editing it, putting it up somewhere and linking to it, and then I think, “why should I put more work into this than the Glorious Storyteller™ does?”

  19. Perfect Tommy

    Aaaaggghhhhh!!!! Who recorded soft core adult movies on my Lisa tapes!!!!!

  20. Gerard Plourde

    I just checked TomBa’s blog. The following from today’s Flash Fridays entry is truly ironic.
    “I don’t know if editor Julie Schwartz’s responsibilities with the Batman books at this time were causing him to take his eye off the ball as far as the Flash was concerned, but this book and the previous one dealing with the Molder seemed to be desperately in need of a stronger editorial hand. “

  21. Boots Gandalf

    I’m still waiting for more riveting (ha!) adventures with that running robot from a couple weeks back. Freaking genius, this guy.

  22. Expect a Batty Blog post in which TB pours one out for some guy who wrote Batman. Pete Roberts must be beside himself.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Except Batiuk will call him Danny O’Riley.

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        Actually, he does something even worse than that:

        But this (The Flash) book and the previous one dealing with the Molder seemed to be desperately in need of a stronger editorial hand. Writer Cary Bates had been turning in some very credible work up to this point, but it this book and the previous one (Julian Schwartz) goes right off the rails with a story that’s not only silly but downright confusing.

        Fucking REALLY?????? The creator of Funky goddamn Winkerbean is calling someone else’s work silly, confusing, and in need of editing?????? When his last blog post was a drawing of a team of scuba superheroes, which is supposed to wrap up a story about a woman who died of cancer 13 years ago??????

        Just when I think I’m being too harsh on Batiuk, he makes some snotty, self-unaware putdown like this on his blog.

        • batgirl

          Plus this gem: “And Irv Novick’s art seems to decline as well, as if the stories were breaking the artist’s will.“
          Sounds as if he’s been reading the comments here.

  23. Charles

    Btw. to make the 60th comment on this thread, there have been a staggering number of comments made this week concerning this sequence. Has there ever been a strip that provoked this many comments in the past? I know there were a ton for “Les shuns Susan”, “Les blabs about Lisa before proposing to Cayla” and “Les marries Cayla” but I don’t think it was quite this many.

    • Mela

      Probably because Les being a petulant ass has reached off the chart levels today.

      • Charles

        Les being a petulant ass isn’t anything out of the ordinary, and this sequence pales in comparison to the “Lisa makes a tape for The Other Woman”, which isn’t any defense of this sequence whatsoever.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      I think this week is a tour de force of everything that sucks about Funky Winkerbean:

      – Everything being about Dead Lisa
      – Batiuk using the strip to promote his books
      – Les reaching Olympic levels of insufferable
      – Cayla being an enabler of this
      – Characters doing stupid, unrealistic, unmotivated things
      – Not even trying to advance the plot
      – Batiuk being a jackass on his blog
      – Ignoring its own story points which it previously spent weeks droning on about
      – An SOSF header that suggests the story will veer in some other completely random direction
      – And finally, any arc involving the Dead Lisa tapes gives us an opportunity to revisit just how hateful and sick they really are.