All is Vanity

Link to today’s strip

Yes. Please Mason. Go back to clogging up traffic, making things more difficult for fire and rescue, just so you can have all your friends together for your fun bonfire boat party. Mindy and Pete presumably know about the fire, call them to let them know they’re welcome to your BYOB yacht club and let them evacuate themselves.

Of course, this is Pete, he’s probably been evacuating all over himself for the last couple hours.

Nice vanity plate on Masone’s circa 2004 SUV. I guess it really would be the best way to go incognito around LA if you’re a mega famous Hollywood heartthrob. No one would believe that the star of the mega blockbuster Rise of the Zeton Warriors would be both that cheap AND that egotistical.

Who do you guys figure might die in this arc? Cindy? Jff? Masone? Or will Marianne attempt to drown herself after being stuck for hours alone on a boat with Les? Even if she tries, I’m sure a life affirming quote from Kurt Cobain or Sylvia Plath could put her back on track.


Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

47 responses to “All is Vanity

  1. Epicus Doomus

    So apparently Mindy and Jff are like The Professor and Mary Ann…”the rest”. How does Mason even know they’re in town? Why wasn’t the motel evacuated? Why are they staying at that shit-hole in the first place? Is Mason really going to drive into the teeth of the fire again again? So many pointless questions.

    This also means that Les and Lisa 2.0 are going to be on the S.S. Jarre alone. I’m just saying is all.

    • SeaCountry

      All valid questions…for a BEADY-EYED NITPICKER!

    • erdmann

      Once alone, Marianne will surrender the pink to Les in gratitude for his saving her life. After that, she will submit to a series of painful medical procedures of dubious legality to fully look like Lisa forever so that she can be his wife and bring him chocolate milk and cookies while he writes his award winning series of “Story” books about Mason, Cindy, Jeff, Mindy and Pete, who all perished in the inferno. As for Kayla… Wait. Who was Kayla again?

    • Madcougar92

      My first thought seeing the panel a few days ago with Les pulling out Marianne from the house was “She’s going to drop her panties for him the second she recovers!” How will Les be able to resist Lisa 2.0?!

      • SeaCountry

        This will be when Cayla finally bothers to check on L*s. L*s will answer on her third attempt, tonelessly tell her everything is fine, just fine, and hang up. He will then cry and whine, disgusting Marianne into a state that’s the opposite of that celebrated in the new Cardi B/Megan thee Stallion song. Marianne will put her clothes back on. And Cayla will get back to work on her packing, her list of ultimatums for L*s (“You will answer my damn calls”), and her Plan B (B for *belladonna* instead of *basil*).

        • Mela

          If he’s alone with her then, then yes, that will probably be the time that Cayla calls. I can certainly see that happening. And as much as I would like to see Cayla give Les some ultimatums (your list yesterday was great, by the way), she’s too much “go protect Lisa” for that to happen.

          • SeaCountry

            Thanks so much! Reasonable stuff, right? Everyone but Batiuk understands that L*s had no business remarrying when he did and that this unfortunate, nice woman will never, ever measure up to Lisa. Everyone but Batiuk also understands that Lisa was just a nice woman who did her best with a bad hand in life, too. So of course, if Cayla did present ultimatums to L*s, Batiuk would present her as a villainous bitch who doesn’t understand nice guys or twoo luv, and L*s would cry.

  2. Y. Knott

    Have we considered that “STARBUCK” might be a *flying* car, able to leap over flames, highway traffic and police roadblocks in a single bound? And that due to the FW policy of keeping anything interesting strictly off-panel, we just haven’t seen it fly yet?

    And if this is indeed the case, this arc could be dubbed “Shitty Shitty Sturm And Drang”?

  3. William Thompson

    How old was Batiuk when he dreamed up this arc? Six?

  4. William Thompson

    So Mason drives a villain-black SUV? With any luck his old white sportscar got burned up with Hollywoodland studios, but with any Batiuk it will return unscathed

  5. SeaCountry

    Well, at least everyone is accounted for now, except Jeff. And Cindy wants to help now, forgetting that she was too helpless to see the smoke and drive away. Does anyone know Jeff’s in that cave?

    Speaking of celebrities and un-subtle vanity license plates, my mom and I once saw a town car with super-dark windows and a New York plate saying “IAMISAID” in the Lincoln Tunnel. We figured that had to be either Neil Diamond his very own self or a really huge fan.

    • Y. Knott

      Isa Id could never figure it out. Why did everyone who read her personalized license plate keep assuming she was a Neil Diamond fan?

      • SeaCountry

        Hahahahahahaaaaa!!!!! Well, my mom was one, so she was pretty excited. I was navigating in the passenger seat because she always believed driving through NYC was a 2-person operation. So I grabbed the wheel for a moment, just in case.

  6. Count of Tower Grove

    BWAWHAWHAWHAW! It’s funny because the Lard of Langwidge didn’t catch Cinder’s double negative!

  7. William Thompson

    Yes, Cinders, ride with Mason! Help him rescue Dopey, Mopey and Jff! After all, you were so useful at rescuing yourself and Mariash. Now I want to see less and Marianne try to board Mason’s yacht without him. What would be funnier: If they get arrested for trying to steal it, or if Les manages to get them out on the ocean before sinking?

  8. J.J. O'Malley

    Is it worth mentioning that California vanity plates have a limit of seven characters, or did Battyuk assume that his readers wouldn’t be able to figure out “STRBCK,” “STARBUK” or “STARBCK” without their radioactive decoder rings?

    Is it worth wondering if Mopey and Cindy rented a car at the airport (Otherwise how would they be getting to the beach, the premiere, and around L.A.), and thus would not be in need in rescuing by Dork Knight Masonne and his Starbuckmobile (You mean not one coffee franchisee got that plate before 2018)?

    Is it worth caring how Jeff’s serial spelunking expedition in Bronson Canyon (which is north of Hollywood) figures in all the conflagratory chaos?

    Is it worth asking if has occurred to Les by now that he should call his second wife–the one who didn’t die of cancer or had a movie based on her life in production–to let her know he’s okay?


    • SeaCountry

      Batiuk is just now acknowledging the existence of Amazon and Jeff Bezos in Crankshaft. Starbucks will require a longer adjustment. Everyone in Cancerview drinks coffee from the teacher’s lounge at Westview High or the break room at the Westview Oncology Center.

      • batgirl

        Don’t forget coffee at the lunch counter of the pizza restaurant.
        Maybe the emetic effect of coffee is what’s needed after Montoni’s pizza.

        • SeaCountry

          OK, but the break room at the Oncology Center has—get this—French vanilla and hazelnut creamer! No wonder it’s the most happening place in town!

          • batgirl

            The Westview version of Everybody Comes to Rick’s – and not just because they or a loved one have cancer!

    • Cabbage Jack

      More of his vaunted “research.”

  9. billytheskink

    Pete’s prepared for this! He has been dressing to be a wildfire refugee for decades.

  10. J.J. O'Malley

    By the by, I refuse to believe that the Funkyverse’s version of either Katee Sackhoff or Dirk Benedict wouldn’t have gotten those sweet (and wrong) “Starbuck” tags before Masonne?

  11. Deanxietized

    Hello all, reasonably long time reader, longer time reader of Comics Curmudgeon, not generally inclined to join comments sections so pardon me if I don’t participate in extended conversations. I’ve had a version of this rant going through my head off and on for the last couple of years but held off it because what’s the point of calling any part of this strip beneath the bottom of the barrel when there is no bottom in the first place? What could I say that isn’t already in plain sight to anyone who reads Funky Winkerbean? I mean other than Batiuk. Or as I’ve been calling him this past week, THAT FUCKING HACK.

    I have to hold back from raving about his exploitation of California’s wildfires and his complete disinterest in putting even the smallest amount of research into the events, the geography, the people or even how goddamn fire works before dropping his own characters into it to make them look like heroes. I have to resist howling about it’s even possible that someone this far up his own ass about comics and film serials could employ a bog standard concept like rescuing damsels in distress and fail to use principles of visual storytelling like establishment shots and crosscutting between simultaneous events to build suspense that were established in film and, yeah, COMICS over a century ago. THAT FUCKING HACK.

    No, I want to talk about something I see pop up in the FW Tweet-catcher I’ve noticed. Now and again someone will find the little trivia nugget that Batiuk writes it all a year in advance and comment, “What a work ethic!” Well yeah, keeping up with the grind of a daily newspaper comic isn’t nothing. But just about any writer offering practical advice will say that the real work begins with the rewriting. By now, I don’t believe Batiuk has done a second draft of anything in his entire life unless you count his blatant Les-is-a-golden-god retcons. You’d think one advantage of that year’s head start would be the luxury of rewriting or rearranging in light of real world developments, but no, because THAT FUCKING HACK.

    Here’s what I think Batiuk’s thought process is. “Boy, that COVID-19 sure seems like a contemporary issue affecting young adults and students and employees of high schools that could be covered in a thought-provoking and sensitive manner! Pssh, ‘Funky Winkerbean’s’ set ten years in the future! Who knows what’ll be the deal with coronavirus then!”

    And then when he turns to Crankshaft: “Boy, that COVID-19 sure seems like a contemporary issue that would affect elderly adults like Ed, especially with having a newborn great-grandchild and his making a living driving a school bus which would leave him caught between his own vulnerability and the chaos over school closures and openings! Pssh, ‘Crankshaft’s’ set ten years in the past! Whoever heard of coronavirus then?”

    Yes, that conception of the timeline makes no (more) sense, but that’s just it, because Batiuk exists in an eternal present of the spotless mind. I am 100% convinced now that Batiuk’s real motivation for putting a year’s lead time on any of this is that when his steaming loads finally hit the page and the screaming starts, he can tell himself, “Pssh, I wrote that, like what, a year ago? Move on already, people! I did!”

    In summary, THAT. FUCKING. HACK.

    • SeaCountry

      Welcome! I was a long-time listener and first-time caller myself recently. Good rant, and THAT FUCKING HACK sure does about cover it. But if you find yourself with more to say, we’re here for that, too. People here are hilarious, smart, and build some interesting stuff on top of the wreckage of Tom Batiuk’s overly long career in comics. Yesterday, someone busted out a reference to Pliny the Elder’s doomed mission to Pompeii. (Meanwhile, I mentioned that fire is one of the few things that typically scares seasoned NASCAR drivers. We all have our contributions to make.)

    • Rusty Shackleford

      I’d like to give Batty a pass but I just can’t. I know it’s difficult to come up with fresh material every day, but he doesn’t even try. His ego, awards chasing, and his interest, combined with a large dose of weird nostalgia are the drivers for his work. Oh and let’s not forget that he also likes to take pot shots at his enemies from high school.

      I was going to read some FW collections but instead I pulled out my collection of Dave Berg paperbacks. I’m glad I did. Take that hippies! (Prepares second Bloody Mary of the morning).

  12. Hitorque

    Masone: “I’m sick and tired of being typecast as a one-dimensional action star!”

    Also Masone: Has “STARBUCK” vanity plate on his wife’s car…

    2. Am I really supposed to believe Masone would have Pete’s number saved in his phone?

    3. So Mindy+Pete were literally standing outside in a parking lot with their thumbs up their asses until Masone called? It’s funny because Pete knew there was a raging wildfire even before he left Ohio and he still didn’t make any contingency plan…

    3a. And of course Pete is back in his standard issue 90s college grunge slacker stoner uniform…

    3b. It’s funny because Masone literally has zero family, friends or colleagues if a comics artist/scriptwriter is now his #1 rescue priority.

    4. Why the fuck is Cindye going along? She wasn’t smart enough to save herself so what benefit could she possibly provide? Oh right, this is her and Masone’s “date night” since they so rarely get to do something as a couple…

    4a. Watch Cindye remember that she used to be a newsblonde and bring along her iPhone for some video footage and quickie interviews with random people and some network will use it and she’ll get an Emmy or whatever because in the Funkyverse just showing up is enough to get rewarded.

    5. Now we at least know why Masone is in the SUV instead of his Porsche… So he can “Schindler’s List” everyone to safety one truckload at a time… A shame Cindye has to take up one of the seats.

    6. So after he picks up Mindy and Pete, Masone has to go get everyone from the movie studio, right? Because Batiuk has officially established the narrative that absolutely nobody in greater Los Angeles knows what to do when smoke is in the air… And shouldn’t the entire city be on fire at this point? Flames were already licking the car when they left the studio…

    • William Thompson

      I think the plot here is to leave Les and Marianne alone, because Les can’t be properly heroic if there’s another man in the area. Just how goofball will the heroics get? Is the marina going to catch fire, forcing Les to crew Mason’s yacht single-handed? Or will Mason, Cinders and the rest get stranded on a beach, hemmed in by fire until Les sails to the rescue, picking them up with the private helicopter in the yacht’s rear-deck hangar?

      Because multiple melodramatic rescues by a jackass are the issue that matter the most to contemporary young people during a natural disaster.

      • Mela

        I got the impression that Mindy and Pete were in the middle of evacuating the hotel and were perhaps loading up their car as Mason was calling them. The people behind them appear to be leaving, as they have their luggage in hand. There’s really no need for Mason to come get them, unless yes, the intent is to give Marianne and Les some alone time to either a) have a fling b) allow Les to talk about what a disaster the entire movie making experience has been or c) tell Marianne all about Lisa so she can play the part more realistically. Or some combo of all three…

        • SeaCountry

          Good point. Mindy and Pete clearly will be OK. If anything, they should be expressing concern for Jeff (“He went to visit Bronson Canyon, mentioned a cave where they made his all-time favorite movie…”)

  13. Paul Jones

    I have the distressing feeling that we’re going to spend a lot of time watching a smoke-inhalation related hallucination that puts Jeff in the Secret Empire. Given Batiuk’s many failings as a creator, it will make us hate the movie.

  14. So, apparently the entire city of Los Angeles is up in flames and Mason and Cindy, rather than trust that Pete and Mindy can be properly evacuated from the Notel Motel by the local authorities, are going to come to the rescue in their special fire-resistant SUV. Meanwhile if this was really the case (city up in flames), there would be many thousands of people panicking and trying to escape.
    Every time you think TB has hit rock bottom, you find another trap door on the floor that opens up to whole other world of awful. He’s going to drag this arc out for at least another week. They’ve got to rescue Pete and Mindy, then figure out that Jff and his phantom younger self are trapped in the cave, then make another expedition to rescue him. How many more walls of flame can we expect to see Mason drive through before this is over?

  15. I thought Pete and Mindy were dressing for the beach. I guess they got there, Pete said “There’s no comic books here” and they went back.

  16. Vermont Freibus

    This is based on a TRUE STORY, for all you naysayers. In 1924, a rising star in silent movies drove his Hupmobile through a Los Angeles inferno to rescue every single citizen.

    When everyone was safe on the north coast of Santa Barbara pier in Marin County, an orphan in tears proclaimed that his sacred decoder ring had been left behind, and said star went back to find it, but suddenly felt suicidal and drove off a cliff.

    One of the men he’d rescued then admitted he’d been bullied by this actor, so a planned statue in his honor was scrapped.

    • Y. Knott

      Can’t be a true story. Everyone knows silent film stars are from the 1940s, not the 1920s!

    • Cabbage Jack

      and that silent film star grew up to be…Zanzibar the Talking Murder Chimp. And now you know…the rest of the story.

  17. bayoustu

    Looks like Pete “Something with an R” might be starting to worry…

  18. batgirl

    I know Marianne is slumping and disheveled, but it looks as if her bosom has slipped down to old-lady level. Mindy and Cindy are far more perky.

  19. Banana Jr. 6000

    The FW blog has an amazing response from Tom Batiuk to accusations of retconning the past fire story:

    I was able to point out that the two flashback panels were taken directly from the original story that ran in 1997, and that there was no retconning involved at all (Not that I would be averse to doing something like that, mind you, I just didn’t do it here).

    That’s his defense. It’s the same picture. As billytheskink explained two days ago, the scene was taken out of context to make Les look more heroic than he really was. He slept through the massive fire, did nothing heroic, had to BE rescued by Wally, and he was more interested in saving his book manuscript than his precious Lisa.

    Batiuk goes on to say that the 1997 Montoni’s fire story “brings context” to the current story.

    • Cabbage Jack

      ☺ That’s my email! I asked why he’d decided to retcon the Montoni Fire story and he sent this real snide email back with about 3 sentences saying he hadn’t rectonned it, I should buy his book, and that he wishes slapping down haters was always that easy. (my wording, not his).

      I replied saying that he shouldn’t be rude about a question when I hadn’t even mentioned the plodding pacing, the absurdity of Mason driving directly into the fire, him mispelling the name of the cave from a serial movie he claims to love so much, and also that it was lousy and lazy of him to misspell Rick Burchett’s name on his last sideways cover.

      He hasn’t replied to that one yet.

      • SeaCountry

        Since Batiuk depends on readership and syndication in the extremely troubled newspaper industry, perhaps bragging about “slapping down haters” isn’t the best business model for him.

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        @Cabbage Jack Wow, you got a personal response from The Great One himself! I’m impressed.

        And I love that Batiuk’s fan email was from a poster here. He should be really nicer to the “haters” – we’re the best fans he’s got.

      • Way to take one for the team, Cabbage Jack! You’re lucky he didn’t sic his lawyers on ya!

    • SeaCountry

      Every time one starts to think maybe one is being awfully hard on a guy who just draws/writes comic strips and isn’t very good at it anymore, Batty comes along to assure hate-readers that, if anything, they are not being hard enough.

      • Petula Clark Five

        But…but…almost Pulitzer….and serious tragedy stuff…and the very artfully done smirks…

        • SeaCountry

          “My comic strips aren’t crap! Buy my books of comic strips and you’ll see they’re not crap! They all make perfect sense! But it’s my party and I can retcon if I wanna, so THERE!”