How the Other Half Burns.

Link to today’s strip

First of all, YOU CRAZY COMMENTERS! I haven’t seen our comments section this lively since Bull pulled an Aldo Kelrast off Nobottom Road. You make it incredibly difficult for me to find something to say that hasn’t been said, but I bear that cross gladly.

Second, when I saw yesterday’s strip I knew that our personal Winkerpedia, BillyTheSkink, would be able to provide the deets, and he did. Thanks Billy! He gave a great breakdown of The Great Montoni’s fire of ’97 yesterday, so if you didn’t read his comments, go back and take a look. The most important details seem to be:

1.) Wally Winkerbean saved both Lisa and Les from the fire when he crawled through the smoke to wake them up.

2.) The fire was arson and was probably started by a guy called Plantman who was attempting to destroy evidence of the murder of Jess’ father, John Darling, who was murdered.

3.)Les ran back into the apartment to retrieve a floppy disk containing his research and draft for ‘Fallen Star,’ a book about Jess’ father, John Darling, who was murdered.

4.) Les did not save Lisa.

5.) Crazy Harry committed mail fraud for insurance purposes.

6.) Les is a selfish prick who has forgotten that he didn’t save Lisa.

Yesterday’s juxtaposition of past and present made sense; young Les ‘saving’ Lisa versus old Les extra bonus saving pretend Lisa. Today’s series of panels make it a little more difficult to parse out the symbolism.

But today seems to show that while Les and Lisa were poor newlyweds devastated by losing their crappy apartment along with nearly everything except each other, Masone and Cindy are rich and so don’t really care about one of their houses getting torched. They’re gonna go to their fancy boat, sail out into the bay, and sit on the deck sipping wine. It’ll be a fun date night to watch the plebs flailing and drowning in the shallows, trapped between waves and flames, like the peasants of Pompeii.


Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

67 responses to “How the Other Half Burns.

  1. Epicus Doomus

    Of course! A boat! The fire CAN’T get them there! Because of the water! Get it?

    Coming tomorrow: as the water below them begins to bubble and boil from the massive firestorm, an oblivious Marianne and Cindy make margaritas and exchange ditzy quips, even as Les and Mason use Mason’s jet ski to race to the scene before it’s (gasp!) too late. Then they all head to Mason’s zeppelin hangar, where they board his airship and escape the fire’s fiery wrath.

  2. The only saving grace to today’s episode is that it was not published on Friday the 13th. Because, who wouldn’t love to see Jason Voorhees decapitating Les with a machete.

  3. SeaCountry

    Maybe Mindy will rescue Jff from the cave, or at least lead qualified people to him, thereby being a woman character who isn’t completely helpless. And maybe my leftover Red Robin fries from tonight will be good after I reheat them in the oven tomorrow, too.

    • Jimmy

      Are they still bottomless once you get them home? I think they’re contractually obligated to keep bringing you fries on your couch.

      • Hannibal's Lectern

        Yes they are, but the waiter who brings them will also be bottomless.

      • SeaCountry

        I should try this next time. But my Grubhub delivery person made sure I had lots and lots of fries, and the Impossible burger was pretty filling, too!

  4. Captain Gladys Stoatpamphlet

    They are ditching Les and Marianne, right?

  5. William Thompson

    Wait, what? Aren’t they heading back in the direction they came? Back into the flames? And even if Batnesia has struck again, how is it that Mariash and Cinders didn’t just drive away along the non-burning road?

    • Y. Knott

      If he clenches his jaw and drives REAL FAST, Mason’s car can drive right through fire, silly. That’s just science!

      • SeaCountry

        Which leads one to wonder why NASCAR drivers always act at least a little scared when their cars catch on fire and why they need firefighters at the track just in case. They even wear fire-resistive suits like cowards! Maybe all Kevin Harvick or Jimmie Johnson really need to do is grit their teeth and keep driving real fast!

  6. William Thompson

    Yes! Get to the marina and be safe on a boat! The exact same plan Pliny the Elder and his friends had in mind at Vesuvius! I hope it works out the same way for this band of wannna-be survivors

    • comicbookharriet

      Now, to be fair, Pliny the Elder took a boat TO Pompeii to try and rescue people, and then got stuck on the shore. So Masone was doing that when he willingly drove his car through a wildfire. We call that Pulling an Pliny: the Leeroy Jenkins of the Classical world.

  7. William Thompson

    Uh, Mason? Aside from the fact that the fire started along the coast north of Los Angeles, shouldn’t your first thought be “Quick, to the ER, let’s make sure those helpless, feeble damsels-in-distress aren’t suffering from smoke inhalation, heat exhaustion or carbon-monoxide poisoning! And not to sound too cowardly, Les, but we should get our heads examined, too.”

  8. Gerard Plourde

    It never ceases to amaze how tone deaf TomBa is. The fire he envisioned burned a huge swath of Los Angeles (of course he didn’t consult a map when he was researching), and because of that Mason and Cindy appear more shallow and self absorbed than ever.

    • Mela

      Yes, they sure do, don’t they? And it almost seems intentional. Why else would you have a flashback panel with Les/Lisa and then have the current panel show Mason/Cindy unless you’re trying do some sort of have/have not comparison? And the tone is so jumpy-we go from superhero Mason speeding through flames one day in fear that Cindy is in danger to his gingerly helping her to the car as if they’re going to the prom the next. No fear, no urgency, nothing to indicate they are remotely scared about this fire harming them or their home. I wouldn’t be surprised after all of this that the fire miraculously spares their house. And where are Les and Marianne? Did Mason/Cindy really just ditch them to go drink on their boat until the fire blows over? Did Les/Marianne leave in her car, and if so why the hell didn’t Marianne and Cindy do that in the first place? Or is Les having a meltdown in some non-smoky pocket of L.A. over how all this triggers memories of Lisa? Regardless, Mason and Cindy just come off as flippant, self-centered, callous jerks today. If that’s the intent, then bravo because he nailed it.

  9. billytheskink

    “Drive north along the coast…”
    So where exactly does TB think Point Dume is?

    Also, here’s the original of today’s flashback:

    Lisa and Les’ embrace is not retcon, but it was originally a background detail in a strip where a firefighter mocks Cindy’s news crew.

    • SeaCountry

      Waitaminute, the fire is still burning, these firefighters are standing around, a news crew can’t be expected to move as fast as a fire department, and the upstairs residents are freshly rescued by Wally, not the fire department. So where exactly does that firefighter get off…?

      Oh yeah. Batiuk. Why miss the opportunity to let a character be a smug jerk for no reason?

    • Epicus Doomus

      Look at Batiuk with the “Eyewitness News” wordplay. I seem to remember him doing this semi-regularly, like when Dinkle paid a wacky visit to the hospital after Lisa blew up. He’d have another regular character appear on the scene to deliver a little “levity” to the proceedings in some totally unnecessary way. I have to imagine the point was to counter those who accused him of becoming an attention-seeking madman using cheap shock value tactics, which was totally true by the way.

    • Hitorque

      The really dumb part is if Batiuk wasn’t hellbent on forcing some “connection” with an unrelated, long-forgotten fire 20+ years ago, he could have combined yesterday and today into the same strip…

  10. Banana Jr. 6000

    Oh, look everyone’s fine. Nothing to worry about here. Never mind the giant wall of fire, they’re just going to it out on their yacht. It takes Les a month to sign a contract, but when he’s in real danger, it’s over in three panels.

  11. J.J. O'Malley

    “Boat at the marina”? Will this story climax like “Some Like It Hot” or the remake of “Dawn of the Dead”?

    • William Thompson

      I hope it has a climax similar to “The Pirates of Pen-ship,” with Darrin and Mopey Pete boarding the yacht and getting blown away. For real.

  12. Barnaby Scones

    “We can stay on my boat in the marina and sip Chardonnay while the little people burn in hell. Where’s Les, you ask? I think he’s back there somewhere. He’ll find us eventually. I can’t thank you enough from lifting me off the chaise lounge. Tanning exhausted me and I slept right through that pesky fire. Oooo… pull over here! I want to pick up those little crackers that go so well with that caviar you like!”

  13. Y. Knott

    This entire arc is in dubious taste in any event. However, a real life fire is currently — like right this minute — raging in L.A. County. It’s already destroyed several buildings, and is threatening more than 5,000 others.

    Quick note to the syndicate: maybe this isn’t the very best time to be presenting the idea that the ideal defense against a raging L.A wildfire is to simply drive right through it.

  14. Petula Clark Five

    Cayla? Have you heard about the RAGING LA FIRE? Do you watch the news? Does Les ever call? Do you ever call Les? Do you take two or three olives in your martini? Are the days melting into one awesome ride in your beautiful balloon?

    • SeaCountry

      Come on, the poor woman will be disappointed soon enough. And it’s not her fault if L*s couldn’t be bothered to learn the difference between basil and belladonna.

    • Hitorque

      That reminds me… How many years has it been since Les+Cayla even had a “date night?”

      Because Les has literally had more dinners out at fancy restaurants with Ghost Lisa than his actual wife

      • SeaCountry

        I know I find way too much humor in the prospect of Cayla eventually killing L*s, on account of he’s a horse’s ass and I listen to far too many “scorned woman” country songs. However, there are other options. I am prepared to forgive Batiuk a lot, and I mean a LOT, if, at the end of this adventure, L*s comes home to Cayla packed up with a list of ultimatums. Her demands would include never again having to watch the Lisa tapes with him, couples therapy, being treated like a beloved wife instead of a maid or roommate, L*s taking an interest in her life and well-being, and going to restaurants that are not Montoni’s. Bonus points if she looks recognizably African-American again.

        Now, to continue the food analogies, I expect this about as much as I expect Dominos to taste like the pizzas made by New Haven, CT’s finest. But damn, that would be nice.

    • ian'sdrunkenbeard

      Extra thumb up for the 5th Dimension ref. You knew a place to drop that in.

  15. Hitorque


    And when the hell did Masone buy a boat? I don’t recall him ever mentioning it…

    And doesn’t Marianne have an elderly mother living somewhere nearby? Has anyone thought about saving her??

  16. Hitorque

    And I’m sorry, but do millionaire celebrity couples in SoCal have “date nights”?

    EVEN IF this was the moment for a lameassed one-liner, it’s like 2:30 on a weekday afternoon?! How does a “date night” joke even work? And why is Masone not screaming in her ear that now isn’t the time for jokes and the have to get the hell out??

  17. Hitorque

    So the entire west side of the city was an inferno carrying a tidal wave of flame and superheated toxic air but not so bad that Masone can’t drive through it and leave with no difficulty whatsoever…

    And Marianne+Cindye were minutes away from choking to death on the smoke but they aren’t in so much danger that they couldn’t change clothes and drop stupid one-liners like a typical on-screen love interest of our dashing movie star Superhero…

  18. William Thompson

    Tomorrow, please let Mason or Cindy or somebody call Les a hero, just to keep this arc from sinking deeper into the abyss of creative stupidity.

  19. Paul Jones

    This is why Stan Lee told him that he was the wrong sort: he’s captain of the USS Makeshitup and he howls about being bullied when his flaws are pointed out.

    Also, news teams have to navigate street grids too so Fireman Sam can shut his gob.

  20. Who Wants Eggs!!??!!

    Why didn”t the women just get in their car and drive away? This is a legit question.

    • Hannibal's Lectern

      As CBH pointed out yesterday, it’s apparently a self-driving car, and it drove itself away. Those Teslas have a strong self-preservation instinct.

  21. Hannibal's Lectern

    To those who might be concerned about Marinara and Cindery maybe needing medical care for burns, smoke inhalation, etc., no worries. Masone is so wealthy that he recently purchased the Navy hospital ship Mercy and relocated it from its home port of San Diego to his marina. (The ship had been docked in LA to deal with Covid patients, but after treating all of 77 people, it returned to San Diego in late May.) Of course, Masone only bought the ship, not its crew, but I’m sure Les knows enough about medicine to treat everybody… and maybe, in the process, permanently turn Marinara into Dead St. Lisa II.

  22. Count of Tower Grove

    BWAWHAWHAWHAW! HAW! It’s funny because Masone and Cinders are driving in the direction the fire came from! What the fuck does geography have to do with STORYTELLING?????

  23. Professor Harlan Grankle

    What a Les-venture this has been. From a discerning auxiliary casting director to a super talented one-line genius actor to an action hero who saves helpless tanners.


  24. Banana Jr. 6000

    Bull Bushka couldn’t carry Aldo Kelrast’s jockstrap.

    Read and compare it to any “prestige arc” in this shitshow. For all the ironic love Aldo gets, his story is ten times better than anything that emanates from the Funky Felt Tip.

    It has a plot. It has believable human emotions. It flows naturally. It has appropriate pace and tone. It has tension, because it’s unclear how much of a threat Aldo is, and what really happened to his deceased wife. It has different characters with different points of view, and it shows us all of them.

    The main thing it has is dignity. For as much of an unlikeable clown as Aldo was, he is treated with dignity. His death is given weight. It has an impact on those who knew him. We see his feelings just before he dies, and they’re feelings we can all relate to. It asks difficult questions about whether Mary’s friends were right to do what they did.

    Funky Winkerbean does not have dignity. Everyone in this world is just a punching bag to be given cancer and smirked at. All the horrible, life-altering things these people go through have no impact on them. It asks no difficult questions. When people die, their funerals are used for stupid ruminations about high school. And it resolves any real dilemmas as quickly and superficially as possible.

    • Gerard Plourde

      Exactly on target. None of the characters in FW exist as anything more than one dimensional cutouts that act as mouthpieces for whatever point TomBa wants to make. No thought or effort goes into asking who any of these characters are – that would require a level of introspection and empathy that he appears to lack.

    • Rusty Shackleford

      That’s a Mary Worth classic! Yeah Todd can’t come close, mainly because he lets his own interests get in the way of telling a story, that and pandering for awards.

    • comicbookharriet

      It also has a sassy angry Mary Worth saying the word, ‘capisce’ like an old timey mob boss, and was drawn by the Silver Age comic god Joe Giella. It’s beautiful.

      • Rusty Shackleford

        Nice. Although when someone’s says capisce, you’re supposed to say I understand everything except capisce!

        I really can’t say that because I do speak some Italian. Mi capisce? (Waves arms around)

    • SeaCountry

      Mary Worth presently has a plot line about a troubled, smart-assed teen whose dad left her behind for the summer and a woman who can’t bake banana bread that has more tension and a better grasp on realism than this arc.

      • comicbookharriet

        Mary Worth is consistently quality. Schlockly ridiculous quality. Because the author actually likes most of her characters and the artists make the panels creative and interesting.

        • SeaCountry

          Yes. Mary Worth is old-fashioned, but there’s OK story-telling and you can see effort. Karen Moy also managed to connect story lines without confusing anyone.

          • Rusty Shackleford

            And she doesn’t take herself too seriously. No long boring blog posts about research and secret sauce.

            For 2020, Mary Worth has been my favorite comic strip. Sorry Batty, no awards for you.

  25. Eldon of Galt

    Of course Batiuk jumped quickly to the resolution of this event. He can’t tell a coherent story. As usual, he just thinks that briefly referring to a serious subject makes him A Great Artist.

  26. Perfect Tommy

    If I don’t see a strip with Mason holding a belaying pin, and a dagger in his teeth, repelling fire-ravaged boarders, I’m going to be super pissed.

  27. “Mason! Cindy! Come back! The EMTs want to check us all for injuries and make sure that our lungs are clear of smoke and possibly tar and toxic resins from the burning furniture and carpets! Also, the police want to take our statements and chew us out for being stupid enough to drive through a wall of flames! I think I got through it by playing up the ‘doofus tourist schoolteacher from Ohio’ angle but you might need to- Well… are you at least going to lock up your house before you leave? Oh, you gave Marianne a set of keys just in case of an ’emergency’? Ok, well, her purse is still sitting in the kitchen nook, and that’s still on fire, so maybe you should-

    You know Marianne, when Lisa almost burned in a fire that one time, I cheered her up by buying us a pitcher of sangria at Ruby Tuesdays, so how about it?”

    • SeaCountry

      No, no, no. L*s is a Nice Guy and only goes in for the emotional kind of cheating.

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        Les would never call himself a doofus. Not even jokingly, or when it benefits him to play dumb. Les must always be the smartest, deepest, most talented person in the room at all times.