Best Fiends Forever!

Link to today’s strip.

Lots of good speculation this week about what Mason might do, now that he’s learned of the Lisa Tapes, but as always there’s more creativity in the comments here than in Batiuk’s entire studio.   Mason just makes his excuses and leaves, and from the looks of it, he’s not doing anything interesting like hiding a couple of the tapes under his shirt.   Just another extraordinarily lame “joke” and we’re done.

Think about that for a moment.  The Lisa Tapes were mentioned, Les was extremely snotty about them, and the subject was dropped.  Mason didn’t even ask what was on them.  Long-time readers such as we (and probably only we) know all about the Tapes, but any casual reader is going to be baffled by their mention.   “Well, gosh, what are these tapes?  I didn’t learn anything about them!”  Batiuk probably thinks that since the Tapes are Known to Him, they’re Known to Everyone–something that happens a lot to folks who work on a project for a long time.  The details are so ingrained in his mind that he thinks everyone is similarly familiar with them. “Everyone knows Dinkle hates vanilla ice cream, no need to address that at all, the joke works fine as is.”

But the casual reader has to be brought up to speed for a situation to make sense.  As Stan Lee famously said, “Every comic book is someone’s first comic book.”  Without the background, this mythical casual reader will soon become an ex-reader.   Here’s the problem, though–Batiuk can’t talk about the tapes themselves.   Batiuk thinks the tapes are cute and endearing and evidence of the great love that Lisa generated.*  But any casual reader–and, realistically, anyone else–would find them horrifying, evidence of deep mental problems in Lisa, Les, Cayla, and anyone else caught in Lisa’s web.   A casual reader would be repelled–the characters, Les especially, would be revealed in the full glory of their loathsomeness.

The cynic in me has another answer, though–Batiuk hopes this will intrigue a casual viewer into taking the next step–“Since I must learn what those tapes are about, I guess I’ll have to buy the books to find out more!”

It’s right there, between the second and third panels.

*PS: I agree with Comic Book Harriet that a tape left for a child by a dying parent can be a touching display of parental love.  But that’s not what Lisa is doing here.  She’s never told Les or Summer that she loves them.  Every tape is designed to run every aspect of their lives according to her will.

22 Comments

Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

22 responses to “Best Fiends Forever!

  1. Banana Jr. 6000

    Table reads for the role of Lisa? So it’s NOT going to be Marianne Winters now?

    Also, you just learned there’s video recordings of the person being read for, and you’re just going to leave without them? After following the owner around in a car?

    And if you have so many friends, why are standing on Les Moore’s porch in Westview, Ohio, instead of anywhere else in the universe?

    Can this story make up its goddam mind about anything?

    • William Thompson

      This strip reminds me of the old (Fifties era?) cartoon where a sheepdog and wolf are battling over a herd of sheep. Toward the end the sheepdog catches the wolf and is about to kill him–then a factory whistle blows, the fight ends, and the dog and wolf walk off together to punch their time cards. “‘Night, Fred,” “Tomorrow, Jack,” they say, and go home for the night.

      This strip is exactly like that factory whistle: it blows.

    • justifiable

      You know this was all just a setup for Todd to drop another bit of industry jargon. But a chemistry read isn’t a table read-through. A table read is exactly what it sounds like – actors sitting around a table reading the screenplay before various audiences – financiers, studio execs, directors, writers, etc. It serves several purposes, not least as an audition or casting tool, but they can’t determine personal attraction, and they’re not done before a camera. FYI, even if an actor’s technically been cast, if they can’t pull off a decent interpretation when it’s called for in a read-through, that’s generally the point where they’re replaced.

      Chemistry reads are usually done before a camera – after read-throughs and callbacks, at this point the actors should be off-book (have their lines memorized) so that the director and execs can focus solely on their performances and analyze whatever connection the actors have. A chemical read is more than just acting, because you can’t fake a believable emotional connection with someone if the basic spark of animal attraction’s just not there.

      Which is exactly why Todd will turn it into a table read. *headdesk*

  2. William Thompson

    Okay, where’s the strip that explains why Least and Masonry are still on speaking terms with one another? The strip that explains why Les couldn’t let his bosom buddy watch the tapes? The strip that explains why the movie is still being made? Come on, Batiuk, it’s not like I’m asking for a strip that explains why Les Moore is such an asshole. Just give us a few simple explanations, like “These people are so anti-social that they’d die of loneliness without one another.” and “Lisa was such a jerk that watching just one full tape would make you hate her.” How hard can that be?

  3. William Thompson

    “Okay, these ‘new best friends’ are therapists who want me to drop by. They say something about being set for life if they can get me as a client.”

  4. Epicus Doomus

    That’s it exactly, BC. The stupid tapes were there to remind his readers about the time Les found all those tapes Lisa made, just like how every Lisa’s Story-related arc is there to remind readers about the groundbreaking work he did back in 2007. Every LS arc is just an ad for itself.

    Also notable is how he needlessly went out of his way to once again demonstrate how Hollywood (and by default Mason) is full of cancer book-sullying phonies who salivate at the chance to take something pure and good and run it through their depraved soulless system just to make a quick buck. And Mason is supposedly Les’ friend, mind you.

    “Chemistry reads”…oh boy, that sounds like an eventful two week arc, doesn’t it?

    “No, too short. No, too tall. No, too old. No, too young. No…wait…Lisa????”

    “That’s Marianne Winters, Les. You know her as Jupiter Moon from the Starbuck Jones movies.”

    “Wha…wha…WHAT??????”

    Sigh. I’m just so sick of Les right now. He sort of faded into the background there for a few years and I knew all along he’d eventually return with a bearded vengeance to suffocate us once more with his fussy obnoxious wrath, but it’s like being in a natural disaster, you can only really prepare to a point. Then you actually have to survive it.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      I’m just as sick of Mason right now. He talks about what a big star he is, but there’s no evidence of this, and he’s got nothing better to do than stalk Les. His role in the movie changes constantly. He seems to have no idea what he’s doing. And he’s such a sycophant towards Les that the whole thing looks like some kind of scam. Mason’s behavior raises serious questions, and the story absolutely doesn’t realize that.

      • Hitorque

        To be fair, the Starsuck movie was the Funkyverse equivalent of Infinity War, which means it grossed billions worldwide…

        It’s TomBa’s fault that Masone dresses himself from Wal-Mart’s clearance rack, and the fact that he oddly never gets recognized anywhere…

  5. billytheskink

    Chemistry reads?! Les must have shot down every living actress and now the studio is trying to clone Lisa.

  6. Doghouse Reilly (Philadelphia)

    “Chemistry reads”? “CHEMISTRY reads”? Masonne and Marianne–or whatever ingenue reads with him for this would-be Hollywood masterpiece–couldn’t generate any heat if they added water to acid! Mr. Jarre is the cinematic equivalent of xenon, argon, or whatever other inert gas comes to mind, and doesn’t possess enough “chemistry” to change a litmus strip’s color!

    By the by, does Les in panel three look like he just wet himself?

  7. Gerard Plourde

    And so another week of Funky Winkerbean expires with a whimper after floundering around purposelessly. We began with Les having a nightmare setting up the stalker narrative which was almost immediately short circuited when we find that Mason has been trying to get a sense of Les’ character by sitting in the school parking lot all day. Then we moved to Mason’s discovery of the Lisa tapes (how he missed seeing them on previous trips to chez Moore is utterly baffling) followed by Les going fully psychotic that Mason should even touch the sacred tapes (I wonder if Les had Harry reconvert the digital version back to VHS. Maybe the Cult of Lisa shuns any technology that was not used by Lisa.) Now we have the non sequitur departure of Mason apologizing that he, a non-initiate of the cult dared seek to view them. Maybe next week we can hope to see Zanzibar The Murder Chimp do a chemistry read with Mason and be cast as Lisa.

  8. Hitorque

    1. “I got a lot of new ‘best friends’ calling and texting who want do-nothing jobs on the set, and they’re ALL from Westview!! Holy damn, you yokels don’t miss a trick when the nepotism gravy train comes around, do you? Even Pete+Darrin want in an it isn’t even a comic geek movie!”

    2. Wait… “Chemistry reads?!?!” GOD DAMN IT ONE OF MASONE’S SELLING POINTS IN THE PITCH MEETINGS WAS HIS GUARANTEE THAT HE COULD DELIVER MARIANNE!” Don’t tell me he still hasn’t even bothered to ask her yet?

    2a. AND HOW IN FUCK’S NAME ARE YOU GOING TO DO “CHEMISTRY READS” WITH NO SCRIPT??

    3. I’m glad Masone’s cell phone is blowing up because the audience is reminded that as producer HE’S SUPPOSED TO BE IN LOS ANGELES PUTTING THIS HALF-ASSED PROJECT TOGETHER!

    4. So what was this bullshit stunt trying to accomplish? Masone left all his responsibilities behind, flew to suburban Cleveland to shadow his subject and try to uncover some hidden insights into his role… Except he doesn’t do that, does he? He follows Les to work like a stalker, he waits in the parking lot for an entire day like a stalker, and he tails him on the way home like a stalker… And after a very short, awkward and ugly visit to the Moore household, Masone makes his apologies and scuttles away like a frightened puppy.

    5. I blame everybody in Westview for this… If they were really friends of Les, they would have had an intervention, told him his Lisa obsession is getting out of hand, and forced him to get a mental health evaluation. But no — For two solid decades everybody in Ohio has done nothing but encourage and enable this madness and now Les is beyond help…

  9. ian'sdrunkenbeard

    “You’ll miss a real treat if you leave before dinner, Masone. We’re having hot dogs. And peas!”

    “I’d really like to crash on your couch a few days so I can experience the rhythm of your bowel movements.”

  10. Paul Jones

    And this is why Lisa’s Story will never be told properly: Mason isn’t going to anything smart like press the issue or ask what’s on them. He’s just going to cast an actress who spouts Les’s dialogue without questioning why she’d do that.

    • justifiable

      Since he’s neither playing Lisa, nor actually casting nor directing the film, it really doesn’t matter a damn.

      IRL Less’s screenplay would have had to give people an idea of who Lisa was, because otherwise it wouldn’t have compelled anyone at the studio to greenlight this dumpster fire. In reality, it’s about a woman no one really cared about, and who was such a nonentity both as a person and a lawyer that she couldn’t even bother to challenge a critical misdiagnosis, let alone keep from being relegated to a minor role in her own story. It’s Diva Less who’s got the starring role, since it’s crap writer Less/Todd’s hopelessly narcissistic and immature wish-fulfillment fantasy.

      If Marianne Winters were being refused a glimpse at the woman she’d have to base her character on, that’d be another thing, but since in Todd’s little universe women aren’t actually creative and are mere projections of men, naturally Masonne’s desire to view them is clearly to provide her with much needed third-hand mansplaining insight on how to do her damn job.

  11. Bad wolf

    TB should set up “funkywinkerbean.com/tapes” to really get the readers interested

  12. Count of Tower Grove

    “She’s never told Les or Summer that she loves them.” But she presciently declared her love for Caucayla.

  13. gleeb

    You figure there are new Winkerbean readers?

    • I figure it’s like a bad restaurant. There are new diners, because someone’s passing through town and thinks “Why not?” But they don’t go back for seconds.

  14. ComicTrek

    It looks less like he’s answering a phone call and more like he’s shoved Cayla back with his elbow and dug it into her chest.