You say it best (when you say nothing at all.)

Link to today’s strip

Baituk is really desperate to sell some books, eh? First he tells all his Beady Eyed Nitpickers on his blog that in order to truly understand the difference between a ‘retcon’ and ‘direct flashback’ we need to buy and read The Complete Funky Winkerbean Volume 9. Now he’s referencing some obscure bit of titillation, as if to bait us into buying and scouring Lisa’s Story for the infamous ‘Snow Angel’ incident.

I’ve only got the vaguest recollection of Les spilling this sordid tale to someone else before, and I couldn’t find the moment in the archives. I’m crossing my fingers and hoping our Skinkmeister can give some context to the readers who’ve only been able to religiously follow this strip since the end of the Bush administration.

It’s weird that, whatever the dirty little something was, Marianne is flat out refusing to say it on screen. A slice of life drama like this movie, which seems to be going for, ‘A Marriage Story, but ending with cancer and not divorce’ lives and dies on the simulacrum of realism, and if we’re getting the horrible ‘playground closed for repairs’ bit, then this must be something next level nasty.

Batiuk is probably imagining that we’re picturing kinky, like what Pepper Potts whispers into Tony Stark’s ear in the first Avengers movie. But cute and kinky would make it into an adult movie, as an important establishing moment of vivaciousness and young love. There is nothing a Hollywood starlet wouldn’t say or do if she thought it would increase awards potential.

Except something like:

But what do you guys think? I’d love to see some of your takes on Lisa’s forbidden dialogue.


Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

76 responses to “You say it best (when you say nothing at all.)

  1. Epicus Doomus

    When Marianne first appeared in this arc she was all tarted up and oozing with showbiz phoniness. But now that Les has officially appointed her as Lisa 2.0, she’s all demure, innocent and childlike. Lisa always looms over everything but especially over Batiuk, who’ll never, ever stop congratulating himself for creating such an incredible lovely iconic character. It’s extremely disturbing on multiple levels.

    • J.J. O'Malley

      Truth be told, Epicus, I believe it’s Les Moore who’ll never, ever stop congratulating himself for creating the literary heroine of Dead St. Lisa. Of course, he had some help when Battyuk retconned her from willing single mother to sexual assault survivor, but it’s clear that all Les has done for decades to glorify–if not quite deify–his “dream woman” with a series of books that must read like hagiographies, and is now ready to give his approval to an actress in a film that will help Les spread the subject of his modern-day gospel to all corners of the world.

      • Epicus Doomus

        Pretty much all of Act III has been one long “Lisa’s Story” victory lap for BatHam, who’s apparently never, ever going to stop gloating about the time he wrote a story that briefly attracted some national attention. For a while there it seemed as if he’d finally (for the most part) put his cancer story behind him but now here in 2020 it’s back with a vengeance. It used to be all about the impact She had on the lives of all who had the honor of knowing her but now she’s profoundly influencing people who weren’t even born when she died.

        And to make it even worse it’s not like Les is quoting the many wise and deeply insightful things she actually said, he’s just repeating the same stupid Lisa anecdotes contained in that book of his, anecdotes Marianne would probably already be aware of if she’d bothered to read the f*cking script.

  2. Banana Jr. 6000

    “The playground is open.”

  3. J.J. O'Malley

    Frankly, Harriet, I never saw this exercise in cinematic mawkishness as “A Marriage Story” with cancer in lieu of divorce. I pictured it as “Marley and Me,” but with Lisa in lieu of a dog.

    Say, do you think Lisa whispered “Rosebud” in Les’s ear…especially given what the term supposedly referred to in the Marion Davies/William Randolph Hearst relationship?

    • comicbookharriet

      True. I am comparing it to Marriage Story more because of the novelty of seeing Black Widow and Kylo Ren argue on couches is similar to the idea of the stars of Starbuck Jones making a weepy “Fault In Our Charts” rip-off. And the dog in Marley and Me has more personality and agency.

      • SeaCountry

        Excellent comparison. Maybe the third Starbuck Jones movie will have a cute little puppet that half the world falls in love with, and there will be graphics of Mason-as-Les trying to tell it something as it giggles.

  4. Captain Gladys Stoatpamphlet

    Something Marianne could never say? Hmm. “I love you, Les.”?

  5. Banana Jr. 6000

    …”9/11 was an inside job.”

  6. Banana Jr. 6000

    …”Hail Hydra.”

  7. Banana Jr. 6000

    ..”I just saved a lot of money on my car insurance by switching to GEICO.”

    • Charles

      “Making that snow angel sure was exciting! And when *your* life gets exciting, it’s good to know that you have Mutual of Omaha to protect you!”

  8. SeaCountry

    What the actual hell?! Seriously?! Freaking seriously?!

    Second panel fillers:
    “It might be the Champale talking, but I think you’re sexy, Les” (Adapted from the words that would forever bind Marge Bouvier to Homer Simpson.)
    “Let’s make comic book angels on the bed!”
    “Wanna call Funky and have a three-way? It’s not gay as long as I stay in the bed.”
    “The more I think about it, the more I think the moon landing has to have been staged.”
    *sings* “There’s some whores in this house, there’s some whores in this house!”
    “If we’re flexible enough to do this, we can definitely give the Kama Sutra another try.”
    “If I die first, please don’t make a big screaming deal out of it. Just be happy and try to move on.”
    “On nights like this, I know Cthulhu is real.”
    “I bought you your own special lingerie so you’ll stop stretching mine out.”
    “Just for fun, can you put on the Pittsburgh Penguins jersey and let me call you Mario when you score?”

    • SeaCountry

      Sorry, I have a few more. This kind of thing is in my wheelhouse:

      “Let’s get wild! Let’s order from Pizza Hut!”
      “You and me baby ain’t nothin’ but mammals, so let’s do it like they do on the Discovery Channel.”
      “I’ll put on my khakis and be Jake From State Farm.”
      “You owe me 100 Nazi scalps!”
      “Don’t you think you should be nicer to Wally? He did save our lives once.”
      “You know what I absolutely can’t stand? Kittens.”
      “Fine, if you won’t be Lemieux, *l’ll* put on the Penguins jersey and be Jagr!”

  9. Charles

    “How is babby formed? How girl get pragnent?”

  10. Y. Knott

    Les actually said absolutely nothing for, like, ten solid minutes. It was glorious.

    Finally, when it looked as if he might actually say something, Marianne started babbling just to keep him quiet.

  11. Epicus Doomus

    When Lisa Said…

    “You know Spanky, people would like you more if you weren’t so smug and, well, dickish.”

  12. William Thompson

    “Let’s fuck.” Because Marianne is so pure she can’t imagine a good girl enjoying sex, much less demanding it. And the movie comes to a grinding halt because her mommy raised her to never even pretend she was a naughty girl.

    • SeaCountry

      All qualities that we normally associate with movie stars, but maybe acting super-virginal and pure might tame Cindy’s green-eyed monster.

  13. Gerard Plourde

    For sheer cringe-worthiness, maybe some innuendo related to the characters they represented in their wedding attire. (I’m sure billytheskink can find the actual reference from the original strip but, based on this strip, I’m beginning to wonder if TomBa could really be a reader of 9 Chickweed Lane.)

    • Hitorque

      9 Dickweed Lane I had to quit reading… Every storyline was just an excuse for the author to act out his same old tired laundry list of fetishes, but as long as he crammed in a shitload of 10-cent words, Shakespeare and references to Jung, Sartre and classical composers, in his mind it was *art*…

  14. William Thompson

    As a minor point, why does that one boat have its sail raised while alongside the dock? First, there’s a Santa Ana blowing, and that’s going to apply a lot of force to the sail.. Even if the wind has miraculously Batiukly died down, that’s a relatively small and crowded marina. Aren’t modern sailboats equipped with an auxiliary motor to let them maneuver easily and safely under those circumstances?

  15. erdmann

    “Frankie was better… and I had to get his sorry butt drunk and force myself on him.”
    “You could’ve had Cindy in high school? Ha! I DID have Cindy in high school! Oh, and she was better than you, too.”
    “I killed John Darling.”
    “Mangled Baby Ducks.”
    “10,000 Nuns and Orphans Eaten by Rats.”

    Of course, the real question isn’t what horrible, vile, disgusting blasphemies Blessed Dead St. Lisa uttered, it’s how the hell did these two idjits get on this topic when 99 percent of Southern California has been reduced to ash, along with half the cast of the strip?

    • SeaCountry

      Marianne: “Do you think Mason and Cindy are OK out there? He’s been such a good mentor…”
      L*s: “I’m sorry, I can’t HEEEEAAARRR you!”
      Marianne: “Fine, would Lisa think Mason and Cindy are OK out there?”

    • William Thompson

      The holocaust is a mere backdrop for the true catastrophe: the destruction of the Dead St. Lisa movie. We shall see Les Moore brood upon that loss while Los Angeles burns to accentuate his sense of relief, er, loss.

  16. billytheskink

    “I don’t care.” were her exact words. Really.

    There isn’t anything snow angel-related after this, the next strip launched into a weeklong arc where Donna smirked while an exasperated Lefty talked about how hard it was to take care of infant Wally Jr. while Wally was overseas.

    • Epicus Doomus

      LOL Wally Jr., possibly the most forgotten of all the forgotten Act II characters. I don’t recall a single Wally Jr. appearance over the last ten years.

    • SeaCountry

      That’s….it? I mean, I knew it would be a disappointment, but that’s IT?! Thanks for tracking this down, BillyTheSkink.

    • Epicus Doomus

      And yeah, she wouldn’t want to “catch pneumonia”, as that could potentially be fatal and…oh yeah, right. Never mind.

      • SeaCountry

        That would actually be somewhat understandable—her immune system’s shot from chemo, her head’s gonna be cold, she seems weak. You don’t want to take it from bad to worse. But it’s totally OK for a cancer patient to find a moment’s joy in something like fresh snow, too.

        Still. Can we find out whether Jeff has stopped hallucinating and can escape from the fire by the cave now, Batty? Or at least talk about something different?

    • Y. Knott

      Thanks, billytheskink! This helps to explain Marianne’s full dialogue for panel three, which was trimmed slightly in the editing process:

      “Oh, I could never say that. I mean, it’s really kinda…dull and pedestrian, y’know? Me, I look for dialogue that *doesn’t* suck. I suppose it does inform the character, mind you, assuming Lisa’s character is an unrealistically ‘perky’ but inconsequential, boring-ass fantasy figure who only exists to validate an emotionally stunted man’s attempts rewrite himself as the hero of a desperately dull story no-one cares about.”

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      BTS, I stand in line at your encyclopedic knowledge of Funky Winkerbean. And the effort you put in to call out the fundamental dishonesty of this comic strip.

    • Hitorque

      Ah, so yet another retcon from Batiuk…

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        “It’s not a retcon! Les is referring to this exact Sunday trip from 1998! You can see they make snow angels, and Lisa tells him something! It’s not a retcon! It’s not it’s not it’s not!”

      • billytheskink

        In fairness to Batiuk, Lisa could have said a lot of other things immediately after that strip ended. I don’t extend that fairness to him, though, because he doesn’t do the same to his readers. He wants readers to take everything about this strip seriously… except for its history, that’s his to bend to the will of his latest issue du jour. And I wouldn’t even care about him retconning or adding to the strip’s history if it were not generally unnecessary and always in the service of making it seem as if his self-important forays into “substantial ideas” have been a part of the strip from its inception. Les’ hall monitor machine gun in Act 1 didn’t need to be said to be cardboard in order to write an arc about guns in schools… Bull’s last game against Big Walnut Tech didn’t need to become a close loss decided by bad officiating for Bull to succumb to CTE… Cousins Mindy and Jessica don’t need to inexplicably become strangers to become the significant others of a pair of comic book nerds… etc. etc. etc.

        Today’s strip is one of his least egregious call backs, in my opinion. Yet, I still felt compelled to dig up the referenced snow angel incident to mock it because Batiuk made it out to be something much more interesting than he originally depicted it… and for what purpose? To reinforce Les’ long reinforced role as the one and only righteous and rightful shepherd of Lisa’s Story, all while the entirety of Southern California is reduced to ash.

    • Hannibal's Lectern

      So… the thing Marinara could never say is, “when my hair falls out, you’ll be surprised to learn I’m a Conehead!”

  17. DreadedCandiru2

    It’s like inserting characters from Crankshaft into the strip. He’s actually stirring up apathy and loving it.

  18. Jimmy

    The most exciting reveal is how Marianne grew a neck from panel 1 to panel 3.

  19. Charles


    Anyone who gets this, with the exception of one particular person who I know knows where this is from, will have my respect.

  20. William Thompson

    I’m sure this is where the movie will be destroyed. Marianne will decide that Lisa was a terrible person for saying that, demand rewrites, and reveal herself to be a prima donna who will wreck her own career if she doesn’t get her way. She finally pulls out of the production and Mason can’t afford to continue this vanity project, not if it means recasting and reshooting all her scenes. Worst of all, Mason is forced to grovel before Les and admit his unexplained objections to Marianne were right–add “good judge of character” to Batiuk’s list of Les’s virtues.

    • Hitorque

      I am a bit surprised that Marianne hasn’t tried to throw some of her clout around in this project considering her star power and leverage… I mean, Masone was throwing his influence in everyone’s face even before the first SJ movie started shooting…

  21. gleeb

    No power on Earth will make me read Batton Thomas’ weblog, but I assume the difference between retcon and “direct flashback” is that the reader is free to assume that creepy Les is lying.

  22. Professor Fate

    “No soap radio”
    Is this really the kind of conversation people have when say Los Angeles is on FIRE?

    • SeaCountry

      What do you expect them to discuss, mindless trivia like whether Marianne’s house is still standing, her friends and family in the area are OK, Mason and Cindy are OK, whether L*s can get a flight back home, how long the movie premiere will be delayed, or how extensive the damage of this fire will be?

  23. This is the point in the horror movie where the heroine nonchalantly places her hand on the speargun.

  24. I find it difficult to believe that there was some incident in Lisa’s life that was not detailed to death in Les’ book.

    • Professor Fate

      The only thing I could think of would be “don’t write about me after i’m gone you’ll just remain stuck and you’ll never be able to move forward and live the rest of your life”

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Les is awfully inconsistent, isn’t he? When he’s not chewing people’s ears off with every last detail of Lisa’s life, he’s secretive and hostile about the most ordinary things. He wouldn’t let Mason view any of his precious Lisa tapes, even though he regularly shows them to people in Westview, and it would help fulfill Les’ desire that the movie be accurate. And now he’s telling Marianne things that are so private that even the readers aren’t allowed to hear them.

  25. Hitorque

    So exactly what the fuck did Lisa say that’s such a great mystery? And if it was something perverted or lewd, why in the hell is Les even repeating the story?

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Les thinks he and Lisa are the only two people in human history who’ve ever experienced love. In his mind, this minor romantic moment was a deep, cosmic experience that can only be shared with those most worthy of receiving wisdom from the Blessed Goddess Saint Lisa. To the rest of us, they’re just “sweet nothings.” And they’re called that for a reason.

      In reality, whatever Les said to Marianne would be met with a contemptuous “so what.” For all Les’ endless yammering about Lisa, all he describes are ordinary aspects of a loving relationship. Most of us have experienced them. They’re nothing special. And Les is so jealous and guarded about these unremarkable things, that it raises this question: what the hell is his book even about?

      • SeaCountry

        Yep. L*s would likely take offense if Marianne or someone else said something like “Your book reminds me of my aunt. She died of breast cancer, and my uncle took care of her. It hit the poor guy pretty hard”. Because L*s doesn’t want his story to be relatable, even though that’s likely the greatest strength of Lisa’s Story. He wants it to be a soaring story of The Greatest Love Ever.

      • Charles

        Les thinks he and Lisa are the only two people in human history who’ve ever experienced love.

        That was something I thought about, that if he had actually made Les this unlovable putz who finally found a woman who actually loved him and then died, it could be an effective, emotional story.

        In another of Batiuk’s retcons, he changed Les from unenthusiastically settling for Lisa to being interested in Lisa, and also from someone who saw Lisa as a beautiful swan instead of the plain, unremarkable girl she was. If he had instead started with that, with Les initially not realizing what he had, to discovering what love is when he discovers that the superficial things about girls that he used to care about aren’t really important, and that what he really values is what Lisa has become to him, then it at least might have some emotional heft.

        And when Lisa then dies, Les realizes that he lost the only woman who actually would love an unlovable putz like him. He’ll never again be happy. It seemed as if Batiuk might be going in that direction late in Act 2 and early in Act 3, but if he was, he ruined it. First by making Les an utter self-satisfied, smug douche, and second by making essentially every woman who came across him interested in him romantically. Susan wouldn’t let him go. Cayla stayed long after any reasonable woman who have left him. Cindy was revealed to be totally hot for him (I actually thought that Batiuk was aiming at putting them together in early Act 3). Hell, Les had at least one woman from his past who came back and appeared to be hot for him. He lost whatever sympathy he might have gained from the whole notion that he’d never be able to find love again. Then the degree of his love for Lisa became something that no other woman could live up to, rather than just the love itself, which no woman would supply, and it became nauseating.

        All Batiuk had to do was continue to treat Les as an unlovable loser, and he couldn’t do that. So now Les *is* an unlovable loser, but it’s only with his audience.

  26. Perfect Tommy

    “I started the Montonis fire.”

  27. Perfect Tommy

    “I see dead people.”

  28. Perfect Tommy

    “Corn and cotton are indigenous to North America.”

  29. newagepalimpsest

    I didn’t get a chance to post yesterday, so let me establish that I really do appreciate that Les had the integrity and the decency to apologize to Marianne. (Especially since her “crimes” are looking more and more each day like “misdemeanors relating to Not-Lisa Activities.”)

    As a reward, I will admit that… I like some Lisa’s Story strips.

    There was a Sunday strip, not long after Darren and Lisa “reunited,” in which Les took Darren and Summer to the county fair. They all bring home a pile of fair food for Lisa (who of course could not go with them because of the chemo,) who digs in while saying something to the effect of “Silver linings, am I right?” IIRC, the art made it crystal clear that the implication of her words sailed over Summer’s head, while of course, Les and Darren smirked. I think it worked because it was an example of some way that cancer had stolen more than just Lisa’s health, an example of any character in the Batiukverse actually looking for a silver lining in a miserable situation, AND it was an actual example of a character saying something that might pass for witty and clever enough to make it into a movie about a brave and sassy young mother dying of cancer (this point seems especially topical today for some reason that I just can’t put my finger on…)

    The other one that I quite liked was the one where Les tries to explain to Summer that Mommy isn’t coming upstairs with them for bedtime because she’s too sick. At first it’s not clear whether Summer gets it or not, but then the strip ends with her sneaking back down the stairs to give Lisa a teddy bear so she’ll have company while she sleeps alone in her hospice bed. It’s a little bit saccharine, yes, but in light of how shabbily Summer has been treated since that moment, it hits me somewhere in a bittersweet place.

    Of course, these scenes will never be seen in Lisa’s Story: The Movie because they never did bother to cast any child/teen actors for the roles of Lisa’s children. Never mind that Darren(‘s Story) is probably the only “X Factor” that this movie really has over a pile of Hallmark movies, but since when has Les ever been concerned with the actual craft of storytelling while telling Lisa’s Story?

    • Gerard Plourde

      You have found two moments in the Lisa’s Story arc where the characters actually show some depth. The problem is that these kinds of moments are totally lacking in Act III. Today’s strip is a prime example. What did Les disclose to Marianne and why is it something she couldn’t say? Why isn’t there a storyline or at the least any acknowledgement of the horrific devastation that a fire of the magnitude TomBa has described would wreak?

      The only reason I can come up with is that he puts minimal effort into FW (and possibly Crankshaft, but I haven’t followed that strip in months, so I can’t say), hanging on so that he can reach the 50th anniversary.

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        Yes, he does occasionally get these things right. There was one strip in the CTE arc I thought was really good (9/24/19).

        Batiuk’s problem is that he tries to build the story around the drama, instead of vice versa. You have to have a story first, and the dramatic moments will arise naturally. Same goes for comedy. Improv teaches you this. You can’t just make shit up; you have to establish characters and relationships in a scene. Once you do that, the good stuff will come naturally.

        This problem is compounded by Batiuk’s massive need to inject his favorite topics into the strip. A sudden wildfire in the middle of Lisa’s Story could have been interesting, but this story is choking on so much self-indulgent bullshit: Phantom Empire, Starbuck Jones, a forced environmental message, Les’ endless need to talk about Lisa, Jeff’s inner child whose mother didn’t let him read comic books, Marianne and Cindy needing to be rescued so Les can be a hero, too much focus on irrelevant characters, and of course, a massive contrived disaster. And all the other contrivances necessary to make these things happen, like Cindy volunteering to re-enter the fire she just needed rescuing from.

        Which leads to the next problem: when there is drama, the story cuts away from it! Remember when Les first saw Marianne in costume as Lisa? That should have been a powerful, emotional scene. Jim Carrey made Andy Kaufman’s family cry at how much he resembled their lost loved one. What does this story give us? An external shot. Once Les got past the initial shock of seeing Lisa in the flesh, when it was time for his emotional reaction, the strip cut to an external shot. Unbelievable.

        Funky Winkerbean needs an editor with real authority. It needs someone to say no. “No, Tom, you’re not bringing Jeff from Crankshaft to California so he can go to the cave where your favorite 1935 serial was filmed. Young engaged couples want to be alone together; they do not bring a parent along without a really good reason. And even if they did, Pete doesn’t have the power to invite his in-laws to a major Hollywood movie premiere. And you can’t just announce a movie premiere out of nowhere, when its star has been doing other things for the past six months.”

        • Rusty Shackleford

          I wish you were the editor. Great analysis.

          • Banana Jr. 6000

            Thank you! I do my best.

            I’ve actually been thinking about appointing myself editor. I’ve been thinking about making a remix comic of FW, with the simple goal of making its stories work. But I’d have to buy the books or archived strips, and I’d probably get a cease-and-desist letter five minutes later.

            My edit for the current fire arc would be easy: delete about 90% of it.

      • SeaCountry

        I thought L*s’ concern that Lisa might get pneumonia on top of cancer was a loving and rational response, which is fairly amazing to contemplate considering how he becomes a bigger jerk every year. I also thought it was good that Lisa got to enjoy anything, even fresh snow. I was reminded of how when my aunt was going through chemotherapy and suffering on an uncharacteristically cold Alabama night, I gave her my knit Hartford Whalers beanie to warm her up and she cried literal tears of joy. (She’s doing well now, thank God! Still has my hat, but she can keep it.) So, there’s a confession from me. The thing that makes this strip truly awful is it actually has a tiny bit of potential. Batiuk has a tiny bit of potential. But anyone who pays attention is dismissed as a “beady eyed nitpicker”—and that would likely include a decent editor.

        • Gerard Plourde

          “The thing that makes this strip truly awful is it actually has a tiny bit of potential. Batiuk has a tiny bit of potential.”

          This is precisely the frustrating part of all this. There was a time that he put some effort into his strips. They weren’t Undying Prose but there was an earnestness that came through and readers were willing to overlook minor mistakes.

          Now, however, the overall tone is one of strips submitted before any meaningful work is done to develop concepts beyond the initial draft. That disrespect of the reader is what fuels frustration and leads us to seek fellow readers and sites like this one.

        • Y. Knott

          Agreed — there are lots of bad comic strips out there. FW is uniquely awful, in that there are very occasional glimpses of how it could be good … if only it had a completely different writer. (A good editor would not be not enough, unfortunately. The editor would spend so much time and energy re-writing the damned thing, it would get to the point where it would just be simpler to have the editor become the writer.)

  30. robertodobbs

    …”We’re all DEVO now…”

  31. Mela

    What does she mean “I could never say that?” Isn’t she supposed to say whatever is in the script? Or did they forget to write one?

  32. Hitorque

    Masone and Cindye have been gone for awhile… I’m going to assume they’re off screwing in the backseat since we’ve established Cindye is the type of chick who gets turned on by danger and destruction (they do exist, believe it or not)

  33. Westview Radiology

    Slap my A*s …. I gotta pass some gas !!