Carry On Baggage.

Link to today’s strip

Wow, Les has really manned up in the last couple decades. He’s gone from passively handing his standing wife off at the door to another manlier man, to bridal carrying his wife’s avatar over the threshold at a brisk jog; effortlessly hauling all 110 lbs of Hollywood starlet in his arms with the wiry strength natural to a fifty year old English teacher.

Just kidding. This is the dumbest attempt at trying to make something look more dramatic I’ve seen in this strip. Unless Marianne fell down the stairs off panel, she should be perfectly capable of walking out the door. What is this strip trying to convey? The weakness of Marianne, or Les’ overprotective instincts? An excuse for an upskirt shot? We don’t know what the situation was like in the house, or how the women were reacting to it. Apparently the sight of fire turned them into whimpering passive objects unable to move or think without the firm touch of a man guiding them.

They must have lost the car Marianne drove in one of the THREE CARPORTS this McMansion is rocking.

Seriously, what happened to this car? Is it a self driving car? Did it drive itself away from this nonsense? Good for it.


Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

86 responses to “Carry On Baggage.

  1. William Thompson

    So Les has a habit of running into burning buildings, then running out again? Fight it, Les! Stay in one!

  2. William Thompson

    And, uh, how did Marianne go from wearing that slinky black number to that white dress? Are we going to see Cinders wearing Marianne’s dress, which they changed in the confusion of the artwork?

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      She was in a bikini about to sunbathe. Apparently she had time to put that dress on, but not to get in her car and drive away from a wall of flaming death. Ladies always changing clothes, amirite fellas?

      • Charles

        She was never actually wearing a bikini. She was wearing this garment on Sunday as she and Cindy were laying down their towels on the balcony.

        It’s almost exactly the same outfit that Mindy was wearing earlier this week, meaning that she has no greater fashion sense than some loser chick from Ohio who’s never held a real job until just recently.

        • SeaCountry

          Also no regard for how weird her tan lines might look.

        • Hannibal's Lectern

          Oh, great… now I’ve got the mental image of Marinara-as-dead-Lisa sunbathing in the altogether. My brain bleach bill from Costco is gonna be HUGE this month…

  3. Epicus Doomus

    Does BatScam really think anyone remembers the Montoni’s fire? I certainly don’t. Shit like that happened to Lisa at least once a month, there’s no way anyone could remember each specific tragedy. Act II was like a huge ball of pathos, always gaining more melodrama as it (very slowly) rolled downhill.

    So what the hell were Marianne and Cindy DOING while this massive firestorm rolled over them? Running around hysterically until they passed out? Frantically cowering in a corner and praying that the boys would save them? And how do they plan on getting out of there?

    Wait til Cayla hears about THIS Lisa-related sequence of events. Why, if I didn’t know any better I’d assume that Les isn’t even married at all but alas, that’s an arc I DO remember. Sigh.

  4. William Thompson

    Smoke inhalation must be an awful thing, if it makes women willing to have Les lay hands on them. And if Marianne has been weakened by smoke, heat and carbon monoxide, how is it that Les is doing so well? Did the unbreathable air run from him because he’s more toxic than it is?

  5. bigd1992

    It’s a good thing Lisa made a tape about how to rescue people from a wildfire. Seriously, we’re to believe a mid 50’s version of the biggest wuss to ever graduate Westview can carry a woman from a burning building?

  6. So, was there a story where Montoni’s caught fire and Les had to save Lisa? Or is this just more from comic book sensation Captain Batiuk, with his “You will regard Les Moore as a hero! YOU WILL! REGARD! LES MOORE! AS A HERO!” comic book series with all the variant covers…all of which seemed to portray Les Moore as some kind of hero?

    Because Les Moore is not a hero. Best thing he could do now is put himself in a paper bag, write “Dog Poop” on that bag, and place himself on the mayor’s doorway. That would tie in nicely with the “flaming” stuff.

  7. SeaCountry

    Marianne’s surprisingly convincing portrayal of Lisa is all L*s has left of her aside from the book and room full of videos and the annual fun run and the daughter they made together and memories and stuff. Of course he’ll summon the full extent of his adrenaline-fueled strength to preserve that.

    And now the theory that Marianne dies is blown. (We knew Batty was just teasing us about the possibility for L*s.) But we haven’t seen Mason, Cindy, or the Crankshaft crew….

  8. Charles

    When I said the other day that Batiuk had never heard of smoke asphyxiation, I wasn’t quite right. Smoke asphyxiation affects only women.

    Seriously, Mason and Les haven’t been wearing anything that’s protecting them from the smoke. They’re in it as much as Cindy and Marianne are. Are we to believe that they were able to get into the car and drive down to the house through a rampaging wildfire the whole way and rescue the women and in all that time the women haven’t even moved? They haven’t even done act one in self preservation?

    Anyway, great fucking action heroine there, Batiuk.

    • Epicus Doomus

      I assumed they screamed, wept, ran around in hysterical circles, changed clothes, then passed out from the sheer excitement of it all. You know, like how FW women do. I mean Marianne once tried to kill herself over a rather innocuous paparazzi photo, so she’s probably not someone you’d want around when the shit goes down.

  9. Y. Knott

    Wiry upper-body strength, you say? Looks like all that rope climbing in high school finally paid off!

    • Charles

      They should really put handles on women for easier carrying.

      Seriously, she’s a woman in her early twenties who, if we’re to believe she’s some credible sexy actress, works out many hours every day to maintain her physique *as a normal part of her job*. Yet this Ohio schlub schoolteacher who’s defined as a wuss is able to physically keep going and carry her around in a situation where she falls apart helpless. We’re supposed to believe that Marianne would have burned to death or asphyxiated if Les hadn’t come by.

  10. William Thompson

    Here’s a report on the Lake Hughes fire, in the Angeles National Forest, just north of the Los Angeles Basin:

    In the space of eight hours it went from a newly-reported 50 acre fire to a ten thousand acre fire. That still isn’t as fast as the Batiuk Blaze. The photos show how easy it is to spot the smoke from a considerable distance. And the LAFD already has the evacuation and roadblocks organized.

  11. billytheskink

    OK, so here’s where today’s first panel flashback comes from: July 21, 1997.

    And here’s why it is a poor comparison to this story arc: Les didn’t save Lisa or anyone! The implication that he is saving Lisa here is a gross misrepresentation of what happened during the 1997 Montoni’s fire.

    See that guy with the backwards ball cap and the bandana? That’s Wally. He and Lefty were necking in the alleyway behind Montoni’s after Funky locked up while a shadowy figure with matches and gas can set fire to Montoni’s. Wally then did what all men in this strip do and decided to try to put out the fire HIMSELF (Lefty, reasonably, called the fire department). Upon realizing the fire was too big to put out with his plaid overshirt/makeshift bandana, it then dawned on on him that Les and Lisa were likely upstairs. He crawled through a smoke-filled and burning Montoni’s to an interior staircase and found Les and Lisa asleep in bed. Wally woke Les and Lisa up as the fire department arrived and they all escaped using the apartment’s outside entrance.

    While idiot Michael Patterson is more famous for it, Les actually ran back into an burning apartment to save his terrible book manuscript before stupid Mike made every FBOFW reader roll their eyes out of their head in late 2006. That’s why he handed Lisa off to Wally, so he could run back in and get a 3.5″ diskette that contained his John Darling murder book research… research that he then surmised was the reason that Montoni’s was set on fire.

    Cindy then showed up with the local TV crew and interviewed Wally, the hero of the day. Wally feared that his parents would ground him for life for necking with Lefty past curfew. And to top it off, Funky had mailed the insurance payment check ONE DAY LATE, coverage lapsed, and none of the fire damage was covered. Tony was remarkably cool about all of this and then all of the strip’s named characters came together to help rebuild Montoni’s. You cannot make this stuff up.

    • Epicus Doomus

      Jeepers, this is one of the most Act II-ish things I’ve ever read.

      • billytheskink

        Even more Act II-ish, all of this happened in only about a month’s worth of strips! TB’s pacing was so amazingly dramatically better in Act II than it is now, even though he used that relatively brisk pace to cram as many stupidly maudlin “important” events and issues into the strip as possible.

        Shortly after the 1997 Montoni’s fire, The Spokesman-Review out of Spokane, Washington ran a story on FW that perfectly encapsulates Act II’s relentless and pretentious parade of misery.

        Here’s just a fraction of what Batiuk has been up to:

        In 1986, one of his high-schoolage characters got pregnant.

        In 1994, a character brought a handgun to school.

        In 1995, a young woman character fell in love with her English teacher and, when he gently rebuffed her affections, she attempted suicide.

        In 1996, a bomb blast severely injured one of the strip’s major characters.

        And just recently, an arsonist set fire to the strip’s major hangout, Montoni’s Pizza, nearly killing the characters who live upstairs.

        What is going on here?

        Natural evolution, Batiuk says.

        • SeaCountry

          Guess who the English teacher was! Just guess!

        • Epicus Doomus

          My local newspaper used to run FW and FBOFW right on top of one another, so it was a daily double-barrelled blast of maudlin melodrama every single day for years and years on end. How Batiuk and Johnston didn’t get together is a mystery to me, imagine the offspring those two might have cranked out. It’s hard to really explain how tripped-out and nutty Act II was. He was, uh, really ambitious back then, let’s say. On top of the freaked-out melodrama he gave every character (even the new ones) a convoluted back story which itself was fraught with melodrama. It was just endless.

          • SeaCountry

            I came to really hate For Better or For Worse once the kids got older, too. Plus the mother and Lynn Johnston herself seemed actively hostile toward the youngest daughter for no good reason.

    • Charles

      Listing everything wrong with that and this current sequence would take several messages. Plus, it’s really shabby of Batiuk to retcon this into Les being the hero. Really shabby.

      Anyway, we have smoke inhalation once again not affecting men, but overwhelming women easily, so they must be helped to by the immune men.

      Batiuk already gave an adequate reason for insurance not covering Montoni’s when he had an obvious arsonist committing obvious arson to burn the place down. The arsonist didn’t even try to hide it! Batiuk didn’t even need to include the part about Funky being an epic dumbass who gets owned again and again by the cruel and heartless outside world because he’s a dumbass.

      I would love it if my community came together to pay my bills for me, not because I’m poor or down on my luck, but simply because I’m a dumbass who doesn’t pay my bills on time. I’d especially love it if my bills were in the neighborhood of over a hundred thousand dollars.

      You can’t put a 3.5″ floppy near a fucking lit fireplace without destroying it, Batiuk. Hell, put it in direct sunlight on a hot day and it’ll be ruined. You really think one of those things is going to survive THAT fire?

      • SeaCountry

        One could generously guess that L*s feels guilty that he wasn’t the man Lisa deserved, and he’s thinking about that as he goes in for Marianne. One *could*, but this is Batiuk we’re talking about, and he makes it way too difficult to reach such a conclusion. If I’m going to be making a leap in logic over this comic strip, I’d rather spend it on assuming that unlike our friend Funky, who became a minor character in a strip that bears his name, Cayla is always, always, ALWAYS on time with her insurance payment. She whistles a merry tune as she tends the herbs in her garden, just one more thing L*s never gives a damn about because it’s not Lisa’s…

      • billytheskink

        Amazingly, the Funky-insurance plot point gets even dumber when Funky actually does receive the check from the insurance company (less than a month removed from the fire!). Turns out mail carrier Crazy Harry somehow found the envelope with the insurance payment check and altered and backdated the postmark on it so that it qualified as an on-time payment. Crazy, of course, insincerely denies doing this when pressed by Funky because even in the Batiukverse mail fraud is a Federal crime.

        • Hitorque

          And I bet they still kept the 100 grand they fleeced from the yokels…

        • SeaCountry

          I’ve worked in insurance. In most states, Funky would likely have had a few days’ grace period so there was no lapse in coverage.

          • Hitorque

            Nevermind the fact that the insurance company would have sent a rep out to at least document the wreckage and question the owner so Funky getting a check shouldn’t have been any grand surprise…

    • Y. Knott


      (Not Batiuk’s dumb story, of course. Your analysis of it.)

    • Paul Jones

      But Les wants to think that he did something heroic so he can make up for what he thinks was his being unmanned by the explosion. You can’t tell him that if he was there that day, he’d be another person buried under the rubble because he wants to be the hero.

    • gleeb

      Who set the fire? The same guy who set the high school on fire?

      • billytheskink

        It is implied that the Montoni’s arsonist was John Darling’s murderer, Pete “Plantman” Mossman. While holding Les hostage at Channel 1 in late July 1997, Mossman mentions that he will return to Les’ apartment to destroy the evidence against him.

        It was Pete and Durwood’s buddy (and Mindy’s eventual ex-boyfriend) Eric “Mooch” Myers who set the high school on fire in the mid-2000s.

    • Rusty Shackleford

      Our public library just reopened and I was thinking of borrowing some FW collections. But after reading this, I’ll pass.

      My goodness Batty and Johnston are horrible story tellers.

    • Hitorque

      So am I to understand that Montoni’s didn’t have smoke detectors, fire alarms and a sprinkler system? How were they even allowed to operate?

      • William Thompson

        The safety inspector looked at the Montoni crowd, thought about a major fire, and muttered to himself, “Darwin, do your thing!”

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      So Les in the past wasn’t even saving Lisa, he was shoving her out the door so he could rush back in and get his goddam book manuscript. And now he’s misremembering it so he can glorify Lisa in his mind while someone else’s life is in serious danger.

      Whenever I think I’m being too hard on this feature, it produces something like this. What. An. Asshole.

    • Gerard Plourde

      Yet another stellar piece of research by billytheskink.

  12. J.J. O'Malley

    Really, Ms. Winters succinctly summed up today’s “action,” the fire arc, the “Lisa’s Story: The Movie II: The Passion of the Les” storyline, and the entire saga that is FW with a simple *Cough*.

  13. Stupid me.

    I thought Baituk was building to a climax where Mason saves Cindy, and the prospect of losing his wife gives him the inspiration to go back and shoot scenes with real emotion.

    No, it’s just Les getting his chance to “save Lisa,” which has no payoff.

    • SeaCountry

      L*s could apologize to Marianne for insulting her acting ability, tell her she’s a great actress, and say he’s glad she’s OK because she has a bright future. He *could*, but he won’t, because jerk drawn and written by jerk.

    • It’s only Thursday. Mason’s probably right behind carrying Cindy.

    • Hitorque

      And seeing Les risk his worthless life to “save” her will no doubt inspire Marianne to put in an Oscar winning performance as Lisa, and Les will be the FIRST person she thanks when accepting the award…

  14. Professor Harlan Grankle

    Well, I’ll say this much: “*cough*” is actually the least horrible dialogue this clown has ever written.

  15. Hitorque


    I’m beyond words…

    • Charles

      As I said earlier this week, if you’ve got a problem with the lack of agency in Batiuk’s female characters, this is going to fucking enrage you.

      Batiuk really should just make a joke out of the whole thing. Next time Cindy and Marianne get together, here’s how it should go:

      Cindy is talking to Marianne about what Mason is doing because these two women can’t have a conversation without bringing him up, you know. She walks right into a wall *hard* and falls down, stars spinning around her head. Marianne asks her if she’s okay.
      “Oh, I’ll be fine. Without Mason here to guide me, I find myself constantly walking into walls and stuff because I can’t really figure out this “walking from place to place” without him. I’ve totally gotten used to it by now.”
      Marianne smiles and says “Oh, I know exactly what you mean,” as she trips and falls over the couch onto her head.”

      The next day, they’re sharing wine talking about Mason because of course, or maybe they’re talking about that one time Cindy totally would have done Les if he had only asked. Cindy pauses in the conversation, tries to sip her wine and completely misses her mouth, spilling it everywhere. Marianne looks at her, momentarily distracted from the fact that she just wet her pants because no one was there to tell her to go to the bathroom.

      The following day, in order to keep from hurting themselves too badly, Cindy and Marianne are now sitting on the floor, in a massive pool of wine. Marianne asks Cindy if there’s anything to eat because she’s hungry and Cindy mentions how she wishes Mason had gotten home by now to answer that question for her because she’s pretty hungry too.

      The following day they both admit that they’d totally engage in a threesome with Les if he asks.

  16. Petula Clark Five

    Imagine, if you will, the second panel showing Marianne carrying Les down the stairs.

    Blown opportunity, once again!

  17. Paul Jones

    We knew going in that Les can’t see anything in life without looking at it through the prism of his marriage to Lisa so if Batiuk thought he was surprising us, he’s lost what little marbles he has.

  18. Chyron HR

    Less, you can write whatever you want in your book but it doesn’t change the fact that you actually shouted, “Take Lisa and not me, lord!”

  19. Count of Tower Grove

    How comforting to know in the Fungyverse the women folk are prepared to dress for every occasion. Last week Marianne wore a black dress, and apparently she brings a white dress to change into in case of fire.
    It will turn out, Jiff, Pete and Minty are misdirections as Marianne, whom we know to be psychologically friable, will develop a hero worship fixation on Less, and will don her Lisa wig to seduce him.
    Remember that I called it!

  20. alwaysnevverdissapointed

    ..and what is that punctuation that comes before and after a cough ? Can’t find it on my keyboard anwhere !

  21. Hannibal's Lectern

    So BatHack is re-running the “Great Montoni’s Fire” from Act II? Does this mean that tomorrow we will see Less dash back into the burning house, to retrieve the one-and-only copy of the “Dead St. Lisa’s Story: The Movie” shooting script? Which means there’s still a chance he will burn up?

    I’m so happy… there is still hope.

  22. Hitorque

    At least we now know why Marianne spent her day off “hanging” with someone she doesn’t even like… Just so Les could have his “hero” moment. Even by Batiuk’s standards this is really, really forced.

  23. Don

    Okay, so Les carries Marianne out (“See? She’s coughing! She must have been passed out on the floor inside!”), but now what? The fire must have blocked the only exit road by now – oh, wait, no, they’re in the mysterious Car That Magically Causes Fire To Die Down Just Enough To Drive Through, aren’t they? And even that assumes Friday’s strip doesn’t take place far from the house. (Meanwhile, what about the cave?)

  24. Vermont Freibus


  25. Perfect Tommy

    Oh those crafty wildfires. Always sneaking up on you when you least expect it.

  26. I’m happy for Cindy’s sake that Mason is apparently searching for her, but imagine how much more exciting this storyline would have been if he had zeroed in on Marianne instead.

    “Oh Mason, you really are my Starbuck Jones!”

    Meanwhile, Cindy is half-carrying, half-dragging Les out the door, and glaring daggers at the both of them. And why shouldn’t she? The jealousy that has been simmering inside of her up until now is finally justified!

    (This is the same reason why I was disappointed to see that in Sunday’s strip, Mason’s name is in Cindy’s phone, but NOT Marianne’s.)

    I suppose that it’s still possible that Cindy will finally realize that Mason truly loves her for being her, and this tragedy will ultimately bring them together as a couple. Maybe she could even come to the realization that being around her fellow high school inmates brings out the worst in her, and decide to distance herself from Les, Funky, and the rest. Oh, once in a while she could send them a Xmas card (or a ‘Sorry about your cancer’ card), but otherwise? High school is OVER!

  27. Professor Fate

    I’m rather surprised that we didn’t get to see Les carrying both Marianne and Cindy one under each arm.
    So where is Cindy? Is she hiding in the basement – probably something like that.
    And really what is the reader supposed to feel here? Is it some weird kind of sense of “will the circle be unbroken” for Les? or that Marianne will now even be better at playing Lisa since she’s now been in fire? it’s all very confusing for a reader.
    Being cynical I am willing to be that tomorrow or Saturday there will be a throw away line or two about how Marianne lost her keys or some such in order to explain why they were actually trapped in the house when they could had driven away in her car (or one of the other cars in the three car garage). This will be handled very badly for sure, mostly because the only reason this will be in there at all will be at the editor’s insistence. “Tom the both have cars how do they end up trapped” “They are women” “that’s not good enough” The author sulked and finally tossed in a line or two. “Satisfied?” he grumbled while the editor was thinking ‘the person who edits ” Pearls Before Swine” doesn’t have these kind of problems. Lucky bastard.”
    I could well be wrong but I just get the sense this will happen.

    • Well…the flaw in your argument is that you posit the existence of an editor.

      • Professor Fate

        There is one -at least someone actually tweeted saying they were the editor and I’d point to the existence of a odd even for the Author sunday strip during the death of Lisa arc where they actually addressed suing the doctor but decided in true FW fashion that doing anything was pointless. I was always struck by the tone of that, it really had a petulant undercurrent of ‘okay fine here’s why they aren’t suing. Can I get on with killing Lisa now?”
        Her hand (I think it is a she) doesn’t show it self often but in this case the continuity error is so bad (even by the prevailing standards of the strip) that one feels they are going to have address it in some manner.
        And yes I could be wrong. I’ve been wrong before. a lot.

  28. Gerard Plourde

    So he’s reprising other old Lisa/Les storylines now?

    • Rusty Shackleford

      Sure, why not? Batty is completely out of ideas, so all he can do is reprise his “prestige” arcs.

      At this point he should drop this BS and go back to a joke a day. Do a reverse time jump and go back to high school days. That’s all they talk about anyways.

      • Hitorque

        I seriously wonder why Batiuk hasn’t pulled a Lynn Johnston and just slap a quickie “happily ever after” ending to the legacy storyline and then just turned the clock back to 1978 or 1983 with everything rebooted back to square one?

        • Banana Jr. 6000

          I’d actually like to see that happen, under a different author. Someone else could reboot Funky Winkerbean in a way that takes it back to its roots. The strip was great for what it was: a gag-a-day strip, in a realistic, well-defined high school environment, taken to absurd extremes. Update it to modern times, give it to a someone who can write teenagers well, and I think you’ve got a winner.

          Unfortunately, Batiuk’s possessiveness of his characters will probably never allow that to happen. Or worse, he gives it to one of his buddies who gives us another 20 years of Lisa And Comic Books.

          • Yeah, it could be like the modern Gil Thorp. Anyway, occasionally TB does come back and dip his toe into high school like at Westview, but when he does he focuses too much on Les’s reaction to the kids these days. He’ll spend a few days on something happening in the high school, then careen back into some hairbrained Lisa’s Story/Atomik Comix/Hollywood Brush Fire/Murder Ape arc for a month before he has a chance to develop any real characters. There’s a gold mine of local characters that readers really want to know what’s going on with that are just sitting gathering mold in the back of the refrigerator. I honestly can’t understand what must be going through his mind from an author standpoint. It’s such a wasted opportunity. This strip could be a lot better with a little focus.

    • Epicus Doomus

      LOL now? He’s rehashed the teen pregnancy arc at least a half dozen times and you could argue that he’s never stopped rehashing “Lisa’s Story”.

  29. Banana Jr. 6000

    There are so many better things that could have gone in that first panel:

    – Les failing to climb the rope in high school, showing that he’s grown strong as an adult;
    – Les rushes into the fire and is carried to safety by Marianne, showing that he’s once again done something foolhardy;
    – Les being useless and selfish in the Montoni’s fire, juxtaposed with him putting aside his own priorities to to save a life;
    – Les imagines Cayla and Summer being trapped in a fire, and realizing that he’s neglecting them;
    – Les imagines Marianne’s family worrying about her, and realizes that everyone is precious to someone.

    But Funky Winkerbean doesn’t do character development. “Character regression” is more like it. Everything that happens in this world is just an excuse for the characters to be what they already are. Nobody ever changes, or learns anything. Least of all Les The Hero.

  30. ian'sdrunkenbeard

    I keep thinking of this bit.

  31. Westview Radiology

    Dead Sainted Lisa sure was a magnet for tragedy’s !!

  32. madcougar

    Does no one else think that when Marianne recovers from the smoke, she’s going to try to force herself on Les? She’s going to be so grateful she won’t be able to resist.