A sudden pivot to golf in today’s strip… huh? What is this, Gil Thorp? Not that I’m complaining about getting away from Les terrorizing the soundstage…
I’m guessing re-incarnated Bull, John Cleese, and Mr. No-Face here are playing golf at the Malibu Golf Club, which is closer to Thousand Oaks than it is to Point Dume. It is missed details like this that really drag Funky Winkerbean down, you know?
36 responses to “Impending Dume”
Um, OK then. I guess this explains the sudden and very abrupt shift away from Les’ point of view yesterday, as I have to assume that these are “studio executives” who are somehow going to exploit and defame Lisa’s golden-haloed memory in some repugnant money-grubbing way. Or maybe not, as no one can ever really say for sure what this BatYap guy is going for with his whimsical little “stories”.
Coming next month: after successfully hustling the studio executives on the golf course, a deeply conflicted Les contributes his winnings to the “Lisa’s Story” budget, thereby ensuring that they’ll be able to use real cancer in the cancer scenes, as opposed to special effects cancer, which just doesn’t film the same as the real stuff does.
“Here goes nothing?” I hate self-aware Funkyverse characters. I hate them worse than I hate Illinois Nazis.
Unless Mr. Hide-A-Face is Mason (perhaps playing avid golfer Les, hence the dark hair), this is really from out of someone’s hind end.
He’s such an unbelievably bad storyteller. He had that whole thing going where Marianne and Mason were pulling out the stops to prove she’ll be a perfect Lisa, then all of a sudden Les was in the movie, then completely out of nowhere we’re in Malibu, watching some guys playing golf. It’s not “non-linear”, it’s totally random. Ideas come and he just uses them whether they fit into the larger story or not.
Knowing FW as I do I think it’s pretty obvious that something “Hollywood” is about to happen. Not actually being Batom, I have no earthly idea what that “Hollywood” thing will be. I do know that whatever it is it’ll be stupid beyond any dumb idea I could have dreamed up.
My call is that they’ll casually overreact to the situation. The movie just went over budget? Shut it down! Destroy all evidence that it ever existed! Terminate the careers of all involved! Because The Hollywood Suits hate the old-fashioned purity of a simple, old-fashioned love story. They’ll also destroy the movie careers of everyone involved in the Dead Lisa project, as a warning to anyone else who shares Batiuk’s old-fashioned values.
Batiuk’s obsession with turning his bizarro ideas into movies and comiic books has been a decade-long temper tantrum on his part. He tries to drum up excitement in the strip, but it doesn’t carry over to the real world. So it must be the fault of evil men that Hollywood deprives the world of the beauty of his creations.
Mason drops dead on the golf course, Less steps in and saves the day with his new found acting chops! He even wins an Oscar! BatHack’s fantasy in now complete. Close scene.
Optimism, famous last words of many a Batiukverse character. Who doesn’t love a golf bag full of flag pole toppers, though?
Sure, this stupid Lisa movie story has been going on for 8 months. Why not introduce some villains now?
You don’t suppose that Sunday will show Les flubbing his one line yet again, leading him to yell and hurl expletives so loudly that his rant will reverberate from “Hollywoodland Studios” all the way across the city to Point Dume? Could that be what this seemingly disconnected dementia is about?
Either that, or Mr. No-Face is really the disguised Frankie, this time for sure!
You know, most creators would give us a hint of why we should care about this.
DeadBull: What a beautiful day for golf!
Mr. Mustache: I’m just glad to be away from the studio for a while.
Sunglasses McGee: Yeah, especially while Jarre is filming that #%$@!! cancer bomb.
Caption box: To be continued.
This of course would lead the reader to gasp, “What’s this? Three studio execs who don’t believe ‘Lisa’s Story’ is destine to be greatest masterpiece in cinematic history? What perfidious ‘Producers’-like plot are they preparing to perpetrate? Oh, God! i can’t wait for Monday! I have to know what’s going to happen next!”
Well, okay. It would more likely cause the reader to yawn loudly before moving on to “Ask Wendy,” but the point is, at least he or she who know there might be a legitimate reason for this strip to exist.
I like this premise.
“So what this cancer movie Jarre is doing? Are they really uglying Marianne Winters up? I mean, duh.”
“Ever read the book? Drears-ville.”
“Hey “Lisa’s Story”, 1970 called and they want “Love Story” back!”
“HAR HAR HAR!”
“So I heard they totally biffed the budget by holding a fake chemistry read because the author wasn’t sold on Winters as the lead.”
“Who’d they get to direct that thing?”
“(Chortle) Martin Johns? Ha ha ha! Oh man, that’s f*cking inspired, bro!”
“Last I heard Johns was directing those annoying insurance commercials. You know the one with the obnoxious agent and the quarterback?”
Re: Less swearing yesterday
I just learned the word “grawlix” from a 2018 Beetle Bailey. My older sister had me convinced that she could translate grawlixes. “Now Sarge is yelling ‘Fart! Ass! Crap!’ at Beetle.” I believed her for more years than I care to admit.
Many years ago, Mort Walker wrote a very entertaining book, “Backstage at the Strips,” which revealed a lot of this stuff (as well as the creation of Beetle Bailey et al). It seems to be in print, still.
“So what’s new, J.B.?”
“We’re screwed, unless we can find a self-loathing prick who can’t act and is milking his dead wife‘s cancer trauma twenty times over.”
Y’know, sometimes I think, “Hey, does this strip REALLY deserve all the snark it gets?” I mean, okay, Lord knows it’s not good … but, c’mon, there are lots of comic strips out there that aren’t good. And sure, fine, agreed, FW is almost always poorly written and lazily plotted, and the dialogue can sometimes be indicative that the author has had some sort of minor stroke that’s permanently destroyed the “things people might actually say” centre of the brain.
But if we try to be objective?
Sometimes … *sometimes”, FW can be …. well, not a completely pointless piece of drivel with no redeeming qualities on a script or storytelling level. Okay, yes, conceded — we’re talking some admittedly *rare* times. I mean, FW is never *good* … at its best, it’s simply a strip that’s not an *actively*, hopelessly soul-draining, charisma-free waste of paper and/or bandwidth.
But Is today one of those ‘best’ days?
Well, Les isn’t in the strip. He isn’t mentioned or referenced in any way. Nor are comic books, or cancer, or Harry Dinkle, or Montoni’s, or any regular character or setting. (Or any fatal disease.) Which means it’s possible to speculate — at least for today — that Batiuk has simply completely given up, and will devote the rest of his years to chronicling the golf hijinks of his brand new cast of merry misfits.
Yes, okay, fine — their BORING golf hijinks, with no humour or tension, or narrative drive. Or punchlines.
But with no Les. Or Dinkle. Or Mason Jarre. Or “Lisa’s Story”.
This brief one-day dream? This is as good as it gets in this strip.
So no snark from me today.
You ask a valid question. I think the strip deserves the snark because Batty is such a pompous a$$. All the bragging, the awards chasing, the so called research, the secret sauce, all the trivia, the cancer, the death…and so on.
I also snark on Mary Worth, but it’s different. They put out some bad strips, but they are bad in a way that usually brings some laughs, and Moy and Brigman do not take themselves so seriously. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to find they read MaryWorthAndMe and laugh with the rest of us.
If FW were like that, I could enjoy it in the same way…now back to Lisa’s stupid sucky snark worthy story.
Yes, I can’t *believe* Mary Worth is still being run in newspapers — but I suspect Moy and Brigman sometimes smile and shake their heads at this too. Whereas Batuik gives off the impression that being seen in several hundred newspapers is simply his due … even though he’d give it up in a flash for a deal in almost any other medium (which will, of course, never, ever happen).
I’ve wondered that before, if the strip deserves the mockery it gets. I’d say so, yeah. There are plenty of terrible, terrible comic strips, but none that is presented as if it were high art, like Funky Winkerbean is. Whenever you see one of Batiuk’s interviews you can tell how pretentious he is about the strip. If he was like every other cartoonist and just tried to be funny, tell a story, or just generally attempt to entertain his audience he wouldn’t get nearly the reaction he does. But he continues to do either half-assed (at most) strips like “Lisa’s Story: The Movie: The Recurrence” or total wish fulfillment garbage, like “Look! I made a fictional comic company! And look! I copied old Flash backgrounds and stuck my own characters on top!
And now look! There’s ‘Batton Thomas’, the beloved cartoonist!”.
Or the piece de resistance, the Bull suicide arc. The way he hyped it up in the news media like he was changing the world by covering a health issue nobody else has ever talked about and killing off a character (sound familiar?) when in reality the arc was tacky beyond believe and ended in Les complaining about Bull bullying him.
I would say 9 Chickweed Lane has perhaps even loftier pretensions to high art, but the increasing apparent mental illness of the author makes it unsporting to snark at it. Kind of like the last couple of years of Apartment 3G, where it became heartbreakingly obvious we were watching the effects of steadily advancing dementia in real time. Towards the end, snarking at A3G wasn’t just unsporting … it was cruel.
But you’re right; Funky W doesn’t recognize how poor it is NOT because of any cognitive decline, but because of a combination of narcissism and delusion on the part of its creator. (And lack of storytelling ability and laziness, of course.)
Banana Jr. 6000’s observation, below, I think makes a good point about the cumulative effect of this strip…
I can’t decide if Brooke McEldowney is more of a pervert than Tom Batiuk is, or less. Seriously, what the fuck is this shit? https://www.gocomics.com/pibgorn/2020/07/22
Funky Winkerbean absolutely deserves the abuse it gets… but it’s difficult to quickly explain why.
Today’s strip is a great example. By itself, it is not deserving of snark. It appears to be an exposition panel, perhaps to introduce some new characters.
What makes it so hateworthy is the context. This arc has given us 2 weeks of getting Les to agree to the movie, 4 weeks of pitch meetings, 2 weeks of a fake chemistry read, 2 weeks of location scouting, 2 weeks of Mason stalking Les, and other weeks of aimless discussion. Even worse, it cuts away from an actual plot point: the movie going over budget because Les can’t get his line right. It’s almost like Tom Batiuk is TRYING to waste the reader’s time.
If Bathack had wanted to do a worthwhile story, he could have done a story where Marianne Winters discovers she has breast cancer while she’s portraying Lisa. Instead we got endless, pointless months about why we weren’t getting a story. (This arc reminds me of the description of “Armageddon:” “It’s like a two and a half hour long trailer for a real movie.”)
That’s an interesting point you bring up, Banana Jr. 6000. Most individual FW strips are in and of themselves not good — but they become much worse when considered as part of a whole. Sort of a Water Torture approach to storytelling….
Funky Winkerbean absolutely deserves the abuse it gets… but it’s difficult to quickly explain why.
The gap between the strip the writer is actually writing and the strip that he thinks he’s writing is greater than anything else in comics.
I’ve asked myself whether VS deserves all the snarking, too. And there have been times when I opted not to post because I think I’m just being too mean spirited. And then I read something like the promo copy for The Complete Funky Winkerbean Vol. 7:
In this seventh volume, we see the changes in tone that now characterize Funky Winkerbean. Funky becomes more of a reality-based comic strip that depicts contemporary issues in a thought-provoking and sensitive manner. In 1992 Tom Batiuk did something even more radical: he rebooted and restructured the strip, establishing that the characters had graduated from high school. From then on the series progresses in real time.
Funky Winkerbean placed Batiuk at the forefront of a new genre in comic art history. His bold characterizations and dramatic plots are engaging for his readers―teens, parents, and educators alike―because they are universal stories that people can identify with. Realizing there are many comic strips for readers interested in a fantasy world, Batiuk provides an alternative by creating stories that are powerful, real, and inspiring.
VS=FW to my spellcheck, apparently.
I agree. My main issue with FW is that the narrative about how he took the strip in a more “artistic” direction is simply not borne out by the actual content, which is almost always trite, predictable and most of all, lazy. To hear him tell it these are compelling serialized stories that artistically dwarf his old gag-a-day style, but in my opinion this is simply not true, as I believe it takes far more effort to write a passable joke every day than it does to kill entire weeks at a time with weak premise-based banter.
Again, it’s just my opinion but the way I see it his ambitious plans for FW with the intricate back stories and etc soon became overwhelming, which is when he began to rely more and more on various tricks and tropes which served to give the appearance that FW was far more substantive than it really was. Yes, he did “stories” about cancer and suicide and old age and amputations and heart attacks and divorce and etc. but when you sit down and read these stories you see how they’re all mostly just fluff and filler.
However these three people are worked into the train wreck made out of garbage fires that is the Lisa’s Story: The Movie arc, we can rest easy knowing that they’ll be wasted proving a pointless point.
The oddly specific Point Dume reference hooked me, so Googling “Point Dume golf course” came up with this puzzling result- no actual course but this 2004 Malibu Times story about Jerry Perenchio, who was teamed up with Norman Lear at Embassy Pictures, donating a non-conforming ten acre, three hole practice course located on his property to the California Coastal Commission.
Is there a Perenchio/Lear connection to TomBa’s Hollywood “Crankshaft” adventure?
That’s a really good question. I’d love to know why the Crankshaft movie never materialized. Clearly the project had some momentum, because the FW blog has pictures of actor George Kennedy in professional makeup as Crankshaft.
I suspect it failed mostly for mundane reasons. But I’d wager that Batiuk being impossible to work with helped kill it.
We can only wish that this strip will rise to the level of Gil Thorp.
Since we’re speculating about where this crapfest might be headed, isn’t it possible that, since Mason has a place in Malibu, that either Les, Mason or Cindy is about to be konked on the head by Mr. Here Goes Nothing’s errant tee shot? Occam’s razor, really.
And then Les wakes up in bed with Suzanne Pleshette…
Absolutely possible. He says here goes nothing, and he is about to hit the ball so it does seem to be a precursor of a Caddyshack type smack in the head or elsewhere. And we’ll have two or three days of panels with the ball flying through the air until it hits Les and of course Lisa will appear to him while he’s unconscious to give her blessing/curse on Mason/Marianne while she’s hanging out with spirit Elvis.
I wouldn’t figure Batiuk to be the golfing type, but here he is presenting an installment to justify his tax deduction on a golf outing. Well played, Mr. Batiuk.
For all his bragging about “research,” you’d think Bathack could at least get the physical location of a famous golf course right!