The Fire That Burned Les Up

Today’s strip wasn’t available for preview. I’m guessing it’ll be a Human Torch inspired comic cover. And knowing Batiuk it’ll be the first one that nobody remembers.


Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

65 responses to “The Fire That Burned Les Up

  1. William Thompson

    I’m sure Les will stand there and evacuate.

  2. William Thompson

    Next Sideways Sunday will feature Les rescuing everyone–but will he be drawn as the Flash or the Human Torch?

  3. SeaCountry

    Apparently Cindy (in a bikini) and Marianne can neither see nor smell smoke, and are missing an important message about evacuation from Mason. I forget who pointed out that Cindy is clearly no longer working, but they appear to be right.

    • Epicus Doomus

      That’s hilarious too. The dumb girls are outside getting hammered and floozing around, blissfully ignorant of the impending disaster until a man clues them in. Tomorrow they’ll be running around hysterically screaming and utterly helpless, no doubt.

      • SeaCountry

        Forest fires are pretty common in California—wouldn’t they be somewhat prepared, the way Floridians like me typically are for hurricanes? And again, Cindy might not be working anymore, but as the up-and-coming co-star of a big movie that’s about to premiere, Marianne shouldn’t have much time for socializing at the moment.

    • SeaCountry

      It occurred to me that if, in Batty’s world, attractive women have sensory issues that allow them to ignore a massive forest fire headed toward them, that would explain why they might ever take an interest in L*s.

  4. billytheskink

    What an unnecessarily verbose report. Did TB steal this from a Sunday Mark Trail?

    • Epicus Doomus

      It’s hilarious. “The climate change fueled environmentally-damaging conditions have sparked a grave conflagration that threatens the posh glittering mansions of Tinseltown’s elite motion picture industry movers, shakers and power-players, forcing them to flee their luxury hillside castles and take refuge in yet-to-be-determined location elsewhere, at least on a temporary basis with safety and preservation of human life the priority in this unfortunate tragic set of unforeseen circumstances leading to the blaze on which we are currently reporting…live”.

      • Charles

        Clearly this woman should let us dum-dums know what the Santa Ana winds are and what causes them.

        “Okay, Geology lesson time! The sun’s rays hit the earth most directly at or around the equator, causing the hot air to rise…. and then you can see the impact of the Coriolis effect on the dry winds coming southeast from the… which is why Southern California is mostly desert and…. as you can see, the shape of the Sierra Nevadas and the Rockies to the east cause the interior wind to collide with the ocean wind to form….”

        I think he makes a completely superfluous reference to climate change because it’s what he believes makes his strip current and relevant.

    • Charles

      I love how Batiuk has the newswoman standing right next to this gigantic conflagration like it’s nothing. Apparently all the protective gear firemen wear is cosmetic. Fire apparently gives off no significant heat whatsoever and asphyxiation doesn’t exist.

      Fun random fact that has nothing to do with today’s strip! Did you know that if you got close enough to lava to touch it, the air temperature around you would be about 800 degrees?

      • Epicus Doomus

        Yeah, it looks like Dresden 1945 behind her and she’s awfully matter-of-fact about it. There’s a time and a place for speculating on the causes of the fire but that time and place isn’t typically when you’re standing right next to it.

        “A lackadaisical approach to safety and inadequate preparation led to this glowing blob of radioactive reactor fuel you see here next to me…”

      • Margaret

        Yes, which is one of the million or so insane, incredibly stupid things featured in the Star Wars movies: Anakin and Obi Wan fighting it out in a lava field hopping over puddles of the stuff. No harm done until you actually touch it.

      • Hannibal's Lectern

        The “reporter” and the camera dude carefully making sure not to highlight her plastic-surgery scars are standing in front of a green screen in an air-conditioned studio, miles from the fire. As for the unpaid intern who’s trying to keep his camera steady as the fire advances and his $300 sneakers melt… well, they’re are a dime a dozen…

        • Hannibal's Lectern

          By “they’re” I mean interns, obviously. Sneakers are three hundred bucks a pair.

          • SeaCountry

            I’d make a redshirt joke, but that would be something only a fake geek girl does, according to Batty.

  5. Epicus Doomus

    Man, he’s really pulling out the stops here by FW standards. This is shaping up to be a true mega arc and he hasn’t done one of those in a while, unless you count last year’s Bull suicide arc, which I do not, as a) it only featured a few characters and b) it was really stupid. Also, this is a very rare example of a mega arc within a different mega arc. The Funky Coma arc that birthed (sigh) Starbuck Jones, the Original Book Option Launch Tour arc which was an enormous sprawling mega-arc with all kinds of sub-arcs, the Frankie Reality Show Date-Rape Retcon arc and of course the Same-Sex Prom arc, which got real weird real fast.

    This one contains SEVEN characters, eight if you count Martin Johns, which I do not. Mason, Marianne, Cindy, Les, Pete, Mindy and Jff, all crammed together in one premise featuring Hollywood, “Lisa’s Story”, “Starbuck Jones”, climate change AND Crankshaft…that might be unprecedented. And they’re all (more or less) directly involved in the story too, which is mind-blowing by FW standards.

    • ian'sdrunkenbeard

      It’s epic. TB is the Charles Dickens of comic strips. cough, cough

      • J.J. O'Malley

        Yeah, “Bleak House.”

        • SeaCountry

          A Tale of Two Cities (Westview & LA). “It was the worst of times, it was also the worst of times, and this was before we’d even heard of coronavirus…”

    • louder

      And EVEN in this mega arc, with all these characters, Cayla is still not to be found. The hated that BatHack has for Cayla is stunning.

      • SeaCountry

        Good point. Not even a call or concerned glance at the news? But really, Cayla’s busy taping up big boxes of unsold Lisa’s Story books and even bigger boxes of Lisa’s tapes for Summer. She had to quietly check on the surprisingly large insurance policy on L*s first.

  6. J.J. O'Malley

    Question is, is Mason calling Cindy or Marianne? And what sort of 21st-century actress or newswoman doesn’t have her phone with her at all times?

    Also…”well-heeled hills of West Hollywood”? What the frack is that supposed to mean, that the hills were brought up in good homes and never wanted for anything? Now, if tomorrow’s strip shows Marianne and Cindy sunning themselves in skimpy attire, will they be referred to as “well-hilled heels”?

    • Epicus Doomus

      LOL “well-heeled hills”. Not like those lesser-heeled hills, with their public schools and less flammable vegetation.

      • Rusty Shackleford

        It comes off as a cheap jab against wealthy people…see, they didn’t earn their wealth the honest way through comic books, so screw em! They deserve to have their houses burned.

    • Charles

      That’s got to be Marianne’s phone, since it’s in a purse next to a set of keys. Why would Cindy have her phone in her purse if she wasn’t going anywhere?

      Cindy apparently has nothing to worry about though, ’cause check out those huge pink granny panties that Marianne’s wearing in the left circle!

      Also it’s kind of extraordinary how bad Batiuk is at researching something like this. A massive brush fire is not something that sneaks up on you. I remember smelling smoke and the sky changing color due to a massive forest fire hundreds of miles from my house.

      • Charles

        Also, West Hollywood is not Hollywood Hills, and if West Hollywood is threatened by a fire that originated somewhere around Malibu, huge, significant portions of Los Angeles are going to be on fire. UCLA, Brentwood, Beverly Hills, Bel-Air, Santa Monica, Pacific Palisades, Malibu itself, all of them could conceivably be in the path of this ridiculous fire.

      • Epicus Doomus

        And they’re OUTSIDE TANNING, yet aren’t aware of the darkening skies, which is something you’d probably notice if you went outside in order to SUNBATHE. Maybe it’s one of those new smokeless fires, like a vaping kind of thing.

      • Margaret

        Yes indeed. Whenever they do a controlled burn in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey it stinks all over the town I live in about 20 miles away. Forest fires are not hard to notice.

        • Epicus Doomus

          Another proud New Jerseyan! This site attracts cynical wise asses from NJ like NJ attracts cynical wise asses!

          • Charles

            But whatcha gonna do?

            (Not from New Jersey, but I grew up across the river. Not *that* river. The other one.)

      • Rusty Shackleford

        Yeah, Cindy is in the hot black two piece but Marianne is dressed like a housefrau from Medina, Ohio.

        And no way a starlet is going to lay out in the sun and damage her skin. Again, that is for the Ohio gals who think a deep tan hides their cellulite.

        All the rich LA girls are into that natural look thing, albeit with plenty of plastic surgery. And if they were going to lay out, it would be in an expensive designer bikini.

        Batty visits a place and all he sees is useless trivia, he misses the big picture completely.

        • SeaCountry

          Hell, if nothing else, she’s not gonna risk awkward tan lines right before an event that calls for her to wear what will likely be a formal dress!

        • Hitorque

          Extra credit for Batiuk making Cindye look 16 in the distance. Another couple of years and she’ll be ready to start her freshman year at Westview…

      • Hitorque

        It also didn’t escape my notice that Masone called Marianne first instead of his fuckin’ wifey…

      • Charles

        As I now have a clearer look at that circle than I did last night, I see that that’s not a bikini bottom. It is a pair of nylon shorts or something. So I must apologize to Ayers for accusing him of making Marianne frumpy in different manner than he did.

        Those shorts, while Cindy’s wearing a bikini… Jesus, why did Batiuk even try to portray her as some nubile sexpot? She probably doesn’t even know what sex is.

    • newagepalimpsest

      I can accept Cindy leaving her phone indoors for whatever reason because she is at home, and you know that the Jarre household still inexplicably have a landline (with a corded phone, of course.)

      I cannot accept Marianne leaving her phone indoors because “Ohhhh no Cindy, my mom just texted me that my uhhhhh my cat that I totally have just died” is her second-best move to bail out of this playdate the moment Cindy starts getting too needy or too creepy.

      (Her first-best move was donning a disguise and starting the fire at the golf course. That’s my headcanon and I’m sticking to it.)

      • Rusty Shackleford

        Of course they have a landline. Les needs a landline number to call from the one remaining pay phone at LAX to let Cindy know he needs picked up. In Batty’s world cellphones can’t call landlines.

      • Hitorque

        If nothing else, you’d think Marianne would be permanently attached to her phone since she just starred in a billion dollar movie, and the billion dollar movie sequel is being released in a couple weeks which makes her the hottest thing in Hollywood and so much in demand her agent should be ringing her phone non-stop with opportunities…

        Instead she’s spending the entire day with someone she barely knows and doesn’t even like because of reasons

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Yeah, I’ll keep this development in mind next time Batiuk does another “kids these days can’t put their phones down” joke.

  7. Y. Knott

    In light of the the last few days of “writing”, I’m hoping all future FW strips will consist of non-regular characters giving long-winded explanations to camera of stuff that A) we can clearly see is happening, and B) has also already been explained in previous strips.

    FW will still be boring and poorly written of course, but this way at least we won’t have to endure the author’s attempts at dialogue and characterization.

  8. The Nelson Puppet

    To quote my own character in Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea: “Let’s kill em all dead, fellas….DEAD DEAD DEAD DEAD DEAD!”

  9. ian'sdrunkenbeard

  10. William Thompson

    Oh, gods, Batiuk is setting things up so he can fulfil last October’s prophecy, in which Mason described Les as a hero. Now Les is going to rescue, at a minimum, Cindy and Marianne, and probably Mason and Jff as well. Mopey Pete will write a grafik novul about it. (But all will be redeemed if Mindy illustrates it and makes Les look like Wayback Wendy in Buster Browns.)

  11. Paul Jones

    While we’re waiting for the inevitable and nut-bustingly stupid end of this “Some day, I’ll be big and important and show all the sportos and popular kids that I should have been the big shot” self-gratification freakfest, let’s remind ourselves that his ideas about women also congealed in freshman year.

  12. J.J. O'Malley

    Ironically, the newsgal in today’s installment is doing a report for BuddyBlog.

  13. Gerard Plourde

    I’m beginning to wonder if while TomBa was putting the fire arc together he completely forgot that the storyline still had Les in LA (unthinkable as that is). The last time we saw him, he and Cindy were sitting around drinking wine at Chez Jarre, where it also appeared he was staying during filming.There’s been no explanation of where he is, even though the start of the fire appeared to coincide with that scene.

    If he did just drop the Les and Lisa’s Story arc that abruptly, it’s remarkable.

    • William Thompson

      Batiuk is scouring his research photos, looking for a telephone booth where Les can change into his superhero costume to save everyone. (I think Les will have to drive down the PCH to Sunset Beach to find a phone booth. There’s a preserved phone booth with a large picture of Superman taking flight above it. I hope Les can stand the competition.)

      • Y. Knott

        Considering his ability to be at the studio, then at Mason’s, then suddenly at the studio again, I’m pretty sure Les has the superpower of teleportation. He’s done it before, too, going from Hollywood to suddenly jogging with Funky and the lawn-sprinkler robot.

        Other Les Moore superpowers include his demonstrated ability to make anything all about himself, and to completely suck the air out of a room. (Oddly, that last one might actually prove useful against fire.)

  14. PrezGAR

    The Comics Curmudgeon brings up a major geographical error in today’s strip. The distance from Point Dume to West Hollywood is about 30 miles, with two freeways and numerous suburbs in between, including Beverly Hills.

  15. bigd1992

    “Climate damage?” Is that like “vendo?”

  16. Dood

    Let’s not forget about Jff, because, well, knifey mothers choose Jff.

    • Rusty Shackleford

      Based on today’s Crankshaft, it is clear that all the women in Jffs life are shrill, annoying harpies that do nothing but follow men around and complain.

      Shouldn’t Pammm be inside recording preachy videos for everyone to watch after she dies from mouth cancer instead of berating her father for enjoying his hobby? At least he isn’t inside getting off on the latest release from Batom comics.

  17. Professor Fate

    Ludicrous simply ludicrous. As others have noted the idea that either of these women would take their phones with them is highly unlikely – it’s a good example the ‘idiot plot’ a plot that requires people act like idiots. Granted most FW characters ARE idiots but this just seems special
    And as noted elsewhere a wildfire is not something that sneaks up on you (Hate to keep harping on The Underground man but part of the books atmosphere is how the fire is omnipresent and the smell of smoke everywhere,)
    And yes where the HELL is Les?
    As I said Ludicrous.

    • Rusty Shackleford

      He should be up there serving drinks to the ladies instead of dancing with ghost Lisa in his room.

      • William Thompson

        Now you have me seeing Les serving drinks in a thong, while Cindy and Marianne stick Monopoly money in his waistband.

    • Rick Brooks

      You should never apologize for bringing up Ross MacDonald!

  18. Banana Jr. 6000

    So much to say about this one. I’ll do it Hitorque style:

    1. Did Funky die? That looks like an “in memoriam” drawing of him. Why is he even being depicted when he’s not in the current story?

    2. Could the inset of Marianne’s phone ringing be any smaller? That’s the one plot-relevant thing in this strip, and it’s de-emphasized. Usually, Batiuk loves cheap irony like this.

    3. How is this a climate change story? We saw how the fire started. By having newspeople talk about climate change, when we know it’s not relevant to what happened, it’s as if he’s mocking the idea.

    4. As others have said, a fire as described here would consume a third of Los Angeles before it threatened Hollywood. Really, the story couldn’t have the fire threaten Mason’s beach residence, which is established as in Malibu? Was it really that important to include Pete and his group?

    5. Where’s Les? IOf course he’s going to turn up in the right place at the right time, to get whatever reward Batiuk thinks he should have. But it’s bad storytelling to just lose track of a character.

    6. This is why artists need editors. Someone needed to tell Tom Batiuk this story is too long, too contrived, too full of unnecessary information, and has no tension.There are ways to make this story work, but mone of them are in evidence here.

    • Charles

      4. As others have said, a fire as described here would consume a third of Los Angeles before it threatened Hollywood

      Seriously, I can’t believe that Batiuk thought through the implications of what he was presenting here. This is a natural disaster that would make Hurricane Katrina look like someone dumping a mop bucket over in their kitchen. 5-10 million people would lose their homes. The cultural devastation would be extraordinary and unrecoverable. Los Angeles would never recover from this.

      And I bet the worst thing Batiuk will show happening from all this is that Mason lost his house and Lisa’s Story will now need to be shot in Westview.

      Btw, if you have a problem with the lack of agency of Batiuk’s woman characters so far, you’re gonna love what’s coming.

  19. Jimmy

    Does everyone in Batiuk’s world wear polo shirts? Weird.

  20. Hitorque

    1. Obviously, it goes without saying that no on-air reporter would ever be dressed that casually with unkempt hair and no makeup, nor would firefighters allow her to be that close to the flames nor would any on-air reporter start editorializing in the middle of her segment if she still expected to be alive, much less employed by tomorrow.

    2. Masone doesn’t even need to call, since modern cell phones have *instant* and *automatic* disaster alerts which are really fuckin’ LOUD. Trust me, we just had a hurricane come through and my phone went off 20 times. And not only that, but those alerts should have been coming hours in advance as in before Marianne even arrived.

    3. It’s funny because they’re too cheap to put a landline in a nine million dollar West Hollywood condo…

    4. Are we really supposed to believe neither of these dumbassed bints can see or smell the smoke? I live 30+ miles from the Great Dismal Swamp and when the peat catches fire we can definitely smell and see smoke.

    4a. Are we really supposed to believe that out on the balcony neither of those bints can see or hear the swarm of helicopters in the air, or look down to the street level and see all their neighbors frantically throwing essentials in the back of their $160,000 luxury SUVs and speeding off??

    5. Are we really supposed to believe a former journalist with 35+ years experience under her belt doesn’t keep up with the news? I mean, this isn’t a tornado or an earthquake with only a few minutes advance warning — This wildfire has been *national* fuckin’ news for 4-5 days at least… Cindye used to always be on her laptop at home, what happened??

  21. Dood

    It’s too bad Mason couldn’t borrow Bull’s lucky helmet for his upcoming clown car driving stint.

  22. Westview Radiology

    Bat-Hock has to throw in his political biases regarding climate change … wildfires have been happening in SoCal for many years.

    • Charles

      I know! Why couldn’t he be a Steve Forbes guy? At least then he could go with surreal humor in strips like this.

      “The Point Dume Fire is really bad, but you know what’s not really bad? A Flat Tax!”

      • Charles

        To be serious for a moment, I absolutely hate it every time Batiuk brings up climate change in his strip. I totally believe that climate change is real and that it poses a real threat to the health of the world, but that doesn’t matter here. I hate it because of how awkwardly he always shoehorns it into whatever strip he decides to mention it in. It’s never a natural part of whatever line his character’s saying. It’s always awkward and superfluous. I mean, shit, Holly’s mom is not moving to Ohio from Florida because she’s scared of climate change. She’s moving to Ohio because she’s afraid a hurricane’s gonna kill her and/or destroy her house.

        Plus, I really am not convinced that it’s his political views at play here, simply because I believe Batiuk’s too craven to get political. I believe it’s more part of the “contemporary issues affecting young people today” that he claims the strip is about. I feel this way because of many things, the most obvious of which is the Gay Prom story without any gay people, where the message was that the school can’t prevent gay couples from going to the prom because the Student Handbook doesn’t specifically forbid it. (Cue raucous cheering)

        I’m much more inclined to believe that Batiuk thinks his awkward mentions of climate change gives him some sort of credibility in the grim realism front. That’s why they’re awkward, so nobody can miss them.