Today’s Preview Was Not Available for Preview

Surprise, today’s strip wasn’t available for preview. My guess is it’ll either be Jeff in the back of a taxi telling the driver he needs to be/just peed (possible “so that’s why the cab is yellow” gag), or Pete sitting on the beach with Mindy moaning about how he wishes he was with her dad instead.

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Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

57 responses to “Today’s Preview Was Not Available for Preview

  1. CRM114

    Nothing can happen more beautiful than death.

    Walt Whitman

    I’m hopeful.

  2. Epicus Doomus

    A few months ago BatHam mentioned on that blog of his that this arc would be “long”, at which point I audibly gasped in horror, as I’ve read FW long enough to know what that maniac means by “long”.

    The fire, itself a sub-arc, is apparently going to spin off another sub-arc (or a sub-sub arc), a sub-arc featuring characters from an entirely different comic strip. And those characters are only there thanks to yet ANOTHER sub-arc, this one involving a movie but not the movie the main arc is about. That’s three sub-arcs in the span of a few weeks. The whole “Lisa’s Story” arc, which also spun off another sub-arc (Les doing a cameo) brings the current sub-arc count to four.

    “Long”, he calls it. I call it “really easily distracted” which, judging by those Hollywood pictures he posted on that blog of his, is not merely idle speculation.

  3. billytheskink

    More like the entrance to the city of Moron-ia…

  4. William Thompson

    Oh, great. Old Jfff is seeing his abused, traumatized younger self, who only survived childhood through comic books and addictive viewings of “The Phantom Empire.” You’d think that if Batso understood one thing, it would be how insanity works.

    • Rusty Shackleford

      I was always on the side of his angry mom. She didn’t want her son to grow up to be some comics loving man-child.

      • William Thompson

        Did Batiuk ever give any details on why she was so abusive? Or, just as important, the ways in which she abused him? Because the impression I get from what I’ve seen is that she objected to nothing but his comic-book fixation. “Mom running crazy with scissors” would be moderately high on my list of scary childhood experiences–but a deranged hatred of comic books would be one part of a more extensive list.

  5. Epicus Doomus

    Oh my God, he’s actually sending Jff into a cave. I guarantee he’ll find a bunch of old movie props in there, thus kicking off sub-arc number five. “Long”, he said.

  6. Is that supposed to be Jff as a child?

    • Epicus Doomus

      Yes, although at first I likewise though yet another new and highly disturbing sub-arc was about to begin.

      This sub (sub)-arc is so obvious now. Jff will be in the cave putzing around with the old movie junk and/or his idiotic childhood fantasies, while above ground everyone will think he’s been incinerated. Then he’ll come out (probably with some sort of old decoder ring or something) and wonder what all the fuss is about. This whole fire thing won’t have anything to do with the cancer movie at all. BatYap just put his big movie arc on hold specifically to cram this fire story in there and now that I know exactly how it’ll play out it’s an even bigger waste of time than it already was. Which is really something.

      • William Thompson

        I’d love it if he finds a picture of Adam West’s Batman snogging Cat Woman. Bonus points if it was Eartha Kitt, who was the best of the three.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      It’s unclear, isn’t it? There’s nothing in the drawing or coloring that indicates the child isn’t a real person in the here and now. And I certainly wouldn’t put it past Tom Batiuk to think an 8-year-old in 2020 who worships Phantom Empire is a plausible character. And that he’d arrive at the same place at the same time that Jeff does, and nobody would be there to see the BatCave. The self-serving contrivances never end.

      • It’s completely unclear. I figured the standard way Batiuk would do this, if that is indeed Yng Jff, would be to have the last panel in monochrome with photo corners. Because that last panel, otherwise, is pretty troublesome looking. I’m surprised Batiuk didn’t realize how it could be interpreted.

        Scratch that, I’m not surprised at all.

        • SeaCountry

          There are so many ways to communicate this “inner child” concept visually, and yet a devoted, lifelong student and admirer of comics chose none of them.

          • Today’s strip would have worked much better if had panels two and three had been swapped around, and panel three presented in monochrome and Ld Jff removed.

  7. J.J. O'Malley

    You know, separate panel three from the rest of the strip and it looks for all the world as if an elderly pedo is about to trap an oblivious young boy in a remote cave.

  8. The Nelson Puppet

    I’m SO GLAD Tom Batiuk is memorializing the location of the 1960s Batman TV show’s Bat Cave! Finally Bat-Yuck is giving Batman his Bat-due!

  9. Paul Jones

    And yet, when people still fail to be impressed by the load of old jumk Jffff digs, Batiuk will never learn that if everyone else says something is garbage, he might be the one with bad taste.

  10. comicbookharriet

    1.) The Phantom Empire came out in 1935. How old is this coot supposed to be?
    2.) That is obviously Rura Penthe from Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.

    • Professor Fate

      How old is this coot supposed to be – well if he saw this when he was say eight years – he’d be about 93 now – not that impossible but it also meant that his daughter was born when he was in his late 60’s early 70’s (depending on how old she is – i’m guessing 20 something) which while not impossible is weird.
      But as this is part and parcel of the Author’s utterly baffling nostalgia for things from before he was born to quote Charles he’s not going to let any sort of temporal problems ruin his wallow in this. Jff as child saw the Phantom empire continuity be damned.

      • Margaret

        Well, it is perfectly possible to love movies, TV shows, and certainly books that were produced before you were born. As a child, I LOVED The Monkees, The Avengers, Kimba the White Lion, etc., all of which I saw in reruns many years after they first ran. The owner of a hardware store near me who is in his late 20s loves The Munsters because he watched it on NIck at Night as a child. Cult films like Rocky Horror keep picking up new fans who weren’t born when they came out. It would be a sad world if people couldn’t appreciate art works made before they were! Lord of the Rings, Shakespeare, Tolstoy, Casablanca? Ok, Phantom Menace isn’t in that class, but when you’re impressed by something when you’re five it sticks with you. So that’s one of the few things about this story arc that I don’t agree is stupid.

        • Absolutely. The only thing that’s stupid about it is that since the author loves The Phantom Empire, all of his characters have to love, love, love it. If they would rather go to the beach on a hot day after they JUST arrived at the hotel, then they are stupid!

          And as everyone has been saying all week, it’s rather interesting how almost all of these “hyuck hyuck they just don’t get it like US GEEKS do” go to the wives and girlfriends. Even though Mindy also writes comic books for a living and just got her own byline (alongside Ruby.)

        • Banana Jr. 6000

          Yes, it’s fine to like things that were made before you’re born. Yes, it’s fine to have affection about a story that influenced you. What’s not fine is boring other people to death about it. Batiuk doesn’t use Phantom Empire as an influence; he name-drops it incessantly, like he’s promoting an upcoming release.

          • Professor Fate

            This – very much this. He’s not showing his influence he’s just being tiresome about it. I have an affection for the old 1950’s monster films but I try not to bore everybody around me by droning on and on about it.
            I also have a fondness for the clunky energy of the old serials (for example The Undersea Kingdom staring Ray (Crash) Corrigan – but again i don’t go around jabbering about or Mary Sue liking that into a character.

        • comicbookharriet

          I agree! I love plenty of IP and stories much older than myself. But Batiuk has almost Spielbergian levels of reverence for adventure stuff of the 30’s and 40’s. And he’s never clear on exactly how old his old folks are, because he’s uncomfortable about thinking of them as his own age.

  11. Charles

    That’s Ro-Man’s lair from Robot Monster and I will hear nothing more of it.

    If Batiuk puts in a reference to the Automatic Billion Bubble Machine, I’d almost forgive him for his awful storyline.

    I want Batiuk to continue this “nostalgia for something that came out years before you were born” and massively fuck up by having Crankshaft reveal his fondness for Birth of a Nation.

    • Charles

      Actually, if Batiuk had that kid turn to Jfff and say “I just think you’re just a big bully picking on people smaller than you are.” and have Jfff respond “Now, I will kill you.” I would forgive him for a LOT of things he’s done over the years.

      • Professor Fate

        And Bravo for this one as well – Hell i’d settle for jff saying When we return to our planet, the high court may well sentence you to *torture*

        • Charles

          And then a giant backlit lobster comes out of the cave and attacks him! So he jury rigs the ray gun he got with thirteen mailed in box tops of Sugar Jets with the convenient power line nearby and kills it. Then he gets together with an unbearably cute girl and tells her that he “will make the earth [his] home, and [he] will never leave it” in a tone of voice that suggests he’s shot up enough heroin to kill a bull elephant.

          And then when Mopey and Mindy come to take him home he refuses and when they force him after threatening to kill the imaginary cute girl he goes with them and blows up the plane to Cleveland. They all die.

          That would be cool.

          • Charles

            Damn it, start from 2:38 people. Youtube’s share utility is terrible when it comes to starting in the middle of the video.

      • At what point on the graph do “tedium” and “terrible” meet? How do you calculate that?

        • Professor Fate

          Have to add this:
          Great One : Earth Ro-Man, you violate the laws of plans. To think for yourself is to be like the hu-man.
          Ro-Man: Yes! To be like the hu-man! To laugh! Feel! Want! Why are these things not in the plan?

        • Banana Jr. 6000

          At what point on the graph do “tedium” and “terrible” meet?

          October 4, 2007.

    • Professor Fate

      Bravo – thank you for the Robot Monster reference.

      • Charles

        I can’t believe I missed an even more apt reference!

        Jfff is stunned as a 7’3 giant of a man, wearing a bearskin and wielding a club, stomps out of the cave mumbling incoherently. He gets frightened and falls down, breaking his clavicle! The giant takes him into the cave and imprisons him. Then Mindy and Pete have to take a dune buggy out into the desert to look for him! They’d first have to make sure to Watch Out For Snakes!

        Pete’s even uglier than Arch Hall Jr., so they could totally pull it off!

        • Charles

          Too bad the comic strip medium would prevent the story from having that totally groovy soundtrack.

  12. Gerard Plourde

    I thought it might be the birthplace of Leonard James Akaar.

    Knowing that TomBa considers the’60s Batman series to be a blasphemous abomination (see Match to Flame #73), I’m not surprised that he’s avoiding any mention of the Batcave entrance.

    How much more of this tedium is there?

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Match to Flame #2 (https://funkywinkerbean.com/wpblog/match-to-flame-2/) is the money shot here. You’ll never believe this, but Tom Batiuk thinks Phantom Empire is the greatest thing ever made. The whole thing must be read to be believed, but here’s the part that caught my attention.

      [Gene Autry’s character] would periodically have to have to show up at Radio Ranch to sing on his radio broadcast or the evil bankers were going to foreclose on his ranch. It was this dose of realism (defined by me at the time as anything that wasn’t fun) juxtaposed with the over-the-top fantasy elements that really caught my attention..

      I mentioned Thomas Friedman the other day. This is exactly how Friedman writes. He begins an idea, and then changes it in the middle, in a way that makes the whole thing make no sense. So realism is “anything that’s not fun”, but it caught his attention and influenced his cartooning for the next 50 years? Batiuk says exactly that.

      Also like Friedman, Batiuk is amazed at the most banal, obvious things. Introducing time deadlines is Storywriting 101 stuff. It creates tension, and drives events towards a conclusion. Which is exactly what Funky Winkerbean doesn’t do. Its stories drone on forever, and nothing ever compels them to go anywhere.

      Look at the current mess of arcs. Imagine if Lisa’s Story had to be completed by X date, the wildfire threatened its completion, and Les is still getting his lines wrong. Nope! The story instantly solves Les’ problem (and is praised for it, of course), the filming hiatus was scheduled (because of Starbuck Jones, of course), and the wildfire is 25 miles out of town.

      I *wish* Funky Winkerbean was more like Phantom Empire.

      • Professor Fate

        Read the whole essay – whoooo boy – that is just sad. And it would explain his poor storytelling skills – Serials were 20 minutes of incident leading to cliffhanger – the story didn’t come to any conclusion until the last episode. which does have echoes in FW story arcs.

        • Banana Jr. 6000

          At least it’s a story structure. Funky Winkerbean is endless incident, and no cliffhangers. There’s no conflict or tension either. It just talks until it gets bored and wants to talk about something else.

          It never tells us anything about the characters either. We don’t know why Les is so ambivalent about making the Lisa movie. Why don’t know why Linda needed the NFL settlement money so desperately. We don’t know why Pete and Mindy are engaged. And if you try to infer from the characters’ actions, it reflects badly on them.

          I wish I knew what this strip was aiming for. I really have no idea.

      • Maxine of Arc

        And I’m pretty sure the only reason for even THAT level of “realism” was that it was in Autry’s contract that he had to sing a song every episode or something.

      • batgirl

        Thanks for pointing that out. Reading the torrent of brilliant pop-culture references above (Eegah! Batcave! Robot Monster! Crash Corrigan!) really brought it home that while TB loooves his ‘geek’ favourites (Flash, Silver Age comics) his pop-culture references and knowledge are narrow and apparently unchanged and unexpanded since he was a pre-teen. He saw Phantom Empire and so that was great cinema, but has no interest in or acquaintance with serials or B-movies or tv shows that Young Tom didn’t (have opportunity to?) watch back in the day.
        Most people who have a fun reading/watching/hearing experience want to get themselves some more of that or something like that. TB’s response seems to be that he must preserve that single experience and guard it against the taint of other influences.

        • Banana Jr. 6000

          Well said. Batiuk’s fandom comes off as narrow-minded and possessive. It isn’t used as a starting point for new stories; the characters just tell us how great it is. We don’t even get to see it for ourselves, not that the endless wankery and Sunday comic book covers make us want to. But if meta-fictional characters are going to be this important to the fictional world, then the audience should see them occasionally, like we see snippets of the Itchy & Scratchy and the Krusty The Clown shows.

        • Professor Fate

          Yes very well put – and yes one of the things that is off putting about Tom’s fandom is how claustrophobic it is – Silver Age Flash but not Hawkman or Batman or Doom Patrol or Metal men or Adam Strange (his negative opinion of Marvel’s line of comic books is well known along with the reasons why) And the Phantom Empire but not Flash Gordan or Commander Cody or Spy Smasher or Buck Rodgers. Its as if rather than broadening his mind he purposely chose to narrow it. It comes across as Cult like and petty at the same time. .

        • Charles

          Part of it too is that Batiuk never does anything with it. It’s like that recurring SNL sketch from the early ’90s of Chris Farley interviewing celebrities. “You remember when that happened? Yeah, that was cool.”

  13. Maxine of Arc

    Well, this is just sad.

  14. Petula Clark Five

    Pete is missing this! Maybe on the beach, a deformed flashback of his child-self will pop out of his body, too, and give the sun-burned, spoiled Californians something to worry about other than golf fires.

    • Hitorque

      Somewhere out on the beach, the spirit of 13-year-old Pete has popped out of his body and is staring at his real life girlfriend with actual titties and wondering which comics character he wants to imagine her to be (my money is on Sue Storm)

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        If the spirit of 13-year-old Pete popped out of his body, there’d be nothing left.

      • batgirl

        Well yeah, a girl who turns invisible would be Pete’s perfect mate. The inaudible part is already covered by his ignoring what she says.

  15. I just looked at Batiuk’s latest blog entry. This bit of the story is even sorrier than we thought.

  16. Rob

    It is so, so incredibly Batiuk that he’d make a fetish object out of this relatively obscure 1930s serial for no apparent reason and still get the details wrong: it’s “Murania.” Five seconds of googling will tell you this.

    • Y. Knott

      As per Batiuk: “Rest assured, however, that it will be correctecd (sic) for The Complete Funky Volume ? (sic) when the time comes.”

      I’m sure that’s a weight off your mind! Although there is still the weight of “It’s a possibility that there will be enough demand to publish ‘The Complete Funky Volume ?'”

    • Professor Fate

      It says far too much about him that he cites this serial as some sort of Ur-text for him and yet gets the details wrong. Does he know anything about anything?