Is there any character in this strip as thick-skulled as Mindy? She’s been standing outside the Bedbug Hotel with Pete long enough for Masone to drive from the Channel Island Harbor Marina (The nearest marina north along the coast from Malibu) to, judging by the view, the Hollywood foothills.
I know Comics Curmudgeon has been going nuts trying to parse out the geography of this arc, but here’s my take on it:
So, of course, given this map, it was entirely reasonable for Mindy and Pete to stand and wait for the minimum of two hours it would take Masone’s Starbuckmobile to drive BACK THROUGH THE FIRE to pick them up after dropping off Marianne and Les.
Only for Mindy to then remind her friends that her dad was hiking in Griffith Park.
Pete is smiling in relief in panel one, and suddenly worried in panel two. So unless he has the attention span of a goldfish, Mindy is only bringing this up now. And she seems at a complete loss as to what to do next. So she’s going to let her fiancee and his pal decide if and how they should alert emergency personnel. Or is she expecting them to go charging through the brushfire themselves?
Truly, dumb as a box of sponges. Because a box of rocks at least has some weight.
69 responses to “Passive Patricide”
Batiuk doesn’t care about facts, logic, or basic smarts. He wants things to happen the way they ALWAYS SHOULD HAVE happened, forever, and if those things scream “This isn’t how this should happen in a reality-based, Pulitzer nominated strip!” then he will kill all logic to make Les the Ultimate Hero.
He doesn’t care. He was NOMINATED for a PULITZER. That is the defining moment of his career, and the defining moment of Les Moore.
It’s amazing how pathetic this makes his entire career.
Are we entirely sure those weren’t P.U.Litzer nominations?
At this time I am contractually obligated to once again point out that he was nominated (did not win) for the comic strips, not the cancer book (the real one), as it’s not actually a “book” at all but merely a collection of those very same previously-published comic strips he was nominated (did not win) for. Nominated.
Or maybe the Putziler?
Pathetic indeed. He’s been dwelling on his Lisa story for thirteen years now. It didn’t inspire him or motivate him to push FW to new heights, instead he did the exact opposite. He made a conscious effort to “slow things down” then, after metaphorically throwing in the creative towel, he spent the bulk of the next thirteen years on essentially gloating about the one noteworthy story he wrote that time.
I think that for one brief moment he hoped that Wally would be his Next Big Thing, gaining him the same attention and accolades from veterans that Lisa had from cancer survivors. But that didn’t happen, which I think explains why he has since treated poor woebegone like crap.
In case anyone forgets, he actually bragged once on his blog (I think it was in one of his made up comic company histories) about how real writers just write, without doing any research at all. That still baffles me. I mean, it makes total sense given the quality of his work, but just the fact that he admits and brags about it like it’s a wonderful thing really amazes me.
While it does sometimes help to just write (it can be a way to burst through a stretch of writer’s block) one usually goes back and EDITS what one has written; an action that is as foreign to this strip as the idea of the author writing the first draft in Urdu.
And more importantly this causes problems when his obvious lack of concern for how things actually work causes the collapse of what Coleridge called ‘the willing suspension of disbelief’. You are going along as a reader and suddenly you think ‘no that’s not how that works’ (recent example being the geography of Los Angeles and environs) and bang the illusion is smashed and instead of following the story your reader is thinking ‘no – they didn’t make silent movies in the 40’s’ – while the Author has more than once decried ‘beady eyed nitpickers’ his refusal to pay attention to how things actually work when telling a story is a serious serious flaw.
“He doesn’t care. He was NOMINATED for a PULITZER.”
Scott Adams did a few minutes about the Pulitzer prize and process on his podcast a few months ago.
It’s not such a big deal…….
The funny thing is, since Cindy came along for reason, there isn’t enough space in the car for all of them if they do rescue Jeff and the kid.
Is it dawn? The Les show was in full night.
Naw. It’s a big SUV. Should seat at least seven.
My mistake, I thought it was a sedan.
Wait a few days.
An SUV, it should be noted, that’s driven through walls of fire and appears to be no worse for wear for it. Even the paint job still has that new car sheen!
Nothing to refresh a paintjob like melting the topcoat.
Everyone should probably shelter in the fireproof SUV instead of the boat.
I wonder if there are any “unenlightened” FW readers out there who think he’s basing this arc on the current wildfires plaguing California right now. It really is pretty strange how he sometimes stumbles into these weirdly prescient arcs. And too bad that crystal ball of his never sees anything funny.
It’s also noteworthy how this one is an actual Saturday cliffhanger, which is sort of rare, as Saturday has traditionally been a garbage dump where stories flicker out with an easily-forgettable wry wisecrack or two. I guess Mason is driving into the teeth of the fire again again, again. Speaking for myself I don’t really care if Jff survives or not, as I can’t stand Crankshaft and I never, ever read it. I only found out about it in 2010 when I first came here and I was aghast that BatHam had TWO daily comic strips. I still am, too.
Impossibly, TB will drag this out until next year’s fire season.
What’s really weird is Crankshaft is set 10 years behind FW, so if Jeff dies here, he’ll survive in the other and we’ll know his expiration date. This week’s Crankshaft has been about going to the State Fair, and I just wantEd to tell Jeff, “Go ahead and pig out on fried everything; you’re gonna die right outside the set of your favorite movie in California.”
It is quite literally what Lisa would have done.
On the bright side, no more Lisa talk for now and we’re on the way to the fireworks factory…I mean, to see how Jeff and his hallucination are holding up. An improvement over yesterday’s strip is such a low bar that a tapeworm couldn’t limbo under it, but I’ll acknowledge it.
1. Wait a minute… Wasn’t it already fuckin’ night time at the Marina?
2. Yes, fine we get it, Tom… All women in the Funkyverse exist to look dumb, act vapid, and be convenient, agreeable eye candy on the arms of loser male characters… No need to keep beating us over the head with it…
2a. And seniors only exist to indulge their 60 year old comics fandom and wax poetic about their high school days.
3. I don’t get it — Somehow the flames are much farther away from the street and hotel than the last time we saw Pete? Masone was barely able to even survive the roads earlier and today he acts like a mildly annoyed Lyft driver slightly behind schedule?
4. Seriously, why did Les stay in the boat instead of joining Masone? He had no problems leaving the movie studio, and he didn’t hesitate a Goddamn second a couple hours ago when he stormed into a burning condo with zero protection…
5. Explain it to this lifelong East Coaster: Even in the best of times, isn’t L.A. traffic really really awful? How are the roads not packed solid with evacuees? Why is there no widespread rioting and general chaos?
My Lyft driver acted like more was at stake when I asked him to let me pick up Sonic (I pre-ordered on the app; I’m not a L*s) in the drive-thru.
Speaking of cell phones and apps, those are VERY USEFUL THINGS THAT MOST PEOPLE HAVE, Batty! If it’s hard to call or have low battery, you can still text! Messages like “We’re OK, but my dad’s at Bronson Canyon!”
We know why L*s stayed, don’t we? I’m guessing this is, like, “Meanwhile, while they were on the boat and Marianne was contemplating taking her chances with the sharks…”
4. The way I figure it, Les’ heroic rescue triggered his deepest darkest Lisa longings, thus totally disabling him, so the gang though it best to leave him in the company of a hot twenty-three year old Hollywood starlet who’s playing Lisa in a movie so she can placate and pacify him as only Lisa or a reasonable facsimile could. You know, by listening to him simper and whine, of course.
I guess we’re lucky that Mindy isn’t wearing pearls because she’d be literally clutching them instead of wringing her hands.
“Who is your dad, and why should I give a shit? Seriously, I don’t even know you.”
It’s shocking how many basic continuity threads Batiuk neglects to tie up, even going at his traditionally glacial pace…
I also have to point out that this is a very rare example of a strip featuring two characters whose names rhyme. Mindy, Cindy. Maybe Khan and John were in a strip together, I just don’t know. But it seems uncommon.
Just noticed that Cindy, who’d been wearing a bikini and was presumably rescued in it, is now wearing what appears to be a black tank top and jeans. Like, WHEN, dude?! Excuse me, seriously, please, and thank you!
Obviously they stopped at a boutique, where she looted them amidst the panic that a city-engulfing inferno usually produces.
Based on Mindy’s statement we can assume that Jeff doesn’t have a cell phone, much less a smart phone that could provide his location via GPS. So how are they to find him? They might know that he intended to go to Bronson Canyon but they have no way of knowing if he actually got there or if he’s somewhere on the route there or back. A rational person would realize it’s pointless to drive into the fire area with no idea where s/he/they are going.
They can also call 911, describe Jeff, and tell them he was planning to look at an old movie set in Bronson Canyon.
“911. What’s your emergency?”
“LA is burning down, and you expect us to go after another old fart who just had to see where “Teenagers from Outer Space” was filmed?”
OK, admittedly resources would be stretched very thin, it would be hard to even get through on 911, and Jeff would not be first priority. But it would still be a good idea to make that call ASAP and try to get the old man some help. Better than waiting around forever, then trying to involve an amateur in the rescue, anyway.
Plus, making the call would show some concern for Jeff. But “concern for others” isn’t a virtue in the Funkyverse, it’s a plot complication.
That would be the rational thought. However, a a Westviewian’s natural instinct appears to be to take on the rescue operation oneself.
“Hurry! I’ll take you to my boat!” is at least an unintentionally funny take on “Come with me if you want to live!”
Maybe in the future Mindy and Jess can bond over their dead fathers who were also brothers-in-law even though TB doesn’t remember that. Jess can start a documentary about the fire but not finish it.
And Les can write a book about it, “Me, My Younger Self And I”.
That’s right, I always forget that Jessica is a Murdoch (right?) and thus related to a bunch of Crankshaft characters.
Jeff is Jessica’s uncle as his sister/Jess’ mother Jan was married to John Darling.
Bonus John Darling connection: Pete’s father is former Channel 1 program director and Darling show producer Reed Roberts.
Man, that Act II character tree was convoluted beyond belief. It’s really embarrassing but this trivial Funky shit just fascinates me. Who’s related to who, how Westview is laid out, rhyming character names appearing in the strip together, who’s gone the longest between appearances, all that stuff. The world really needs a comprehensive Funky database of some kind, I’m sure at least a few of his tens of loyal readers would really enjoy that. I’m not doing it, though.
See, I love this kind of stuff in fiction, but Funky Winkerbean really takes the concept of “ignoring all of that in favour of a gag about comic books I first wrote back in 1978” to the next level.
But I can produce evidence that Mopey Pete’s surname is Reynolds.
And his mother can produce evidence that his real father is her husband.
Changing Pete’s last name from Roberts to Reynolds is one of TB’s strangest alterations to this strip because it isn’t in the service of anything… not propping up the strip’s “serious issues” bonafides, not linking the character to someone or something he originally wasn’t, it does nothing… Really, it makes it look like TB forgot Pete’s last name one day and could only recall that it started with an R so he just went with Reynolds rather than looking it up.
This is all a dream, right? Surely none of this nonsensical crap is actually meant to be actually happening. Batiuk’s pulled the dream card to get out of stupid arc before, no?
Yes, Mindy, your dad is up there. Up in smoke.
Unseen Panel Four: A panic-stricken Pete blurts out, “Oh, no! Your dad didn’t have his Starbuck Jones Junior Spaceman Fan Club Decoder Ring with him when he went up to the cave, did he? It’s priceless!”
Still-Unseen Panel Five: A middle-aged Mindy is shown sitting on the front porch of her family’s Ohio home, talking to her twentysomething nephew Mitch and his younger sister Murania. “And that, kids, was when I realized you should never–NEVER–get romantically involved with a comic book geek!”
Murania is my new favourite baby name of 2020!
This is so beyond STUPID that my brain is ready to pop. Apparently Jarre Head has the super power to evade LA (evacuation-panic-plus) traffic. The world is burning around them and they’re smiling like it’s Christmas morning. A dinky boat is sanctuary because maybe it has a dome to repel toxic smoke? Les can’t be bothered to call his wife. And Jeff is out wandering with his creepy childhood self and yeah, he’s old, who cares?
I know that others have said that it only stands to reason that the stupid young woman hasn’t thought to call 911 to save her father in the intervening time but it bears repeating. It also bears repeating that his termagant wife will blame him for burning half to death instead of the pea-brain daughter whose tiny brain went into vapor lock because she was expected to do what only men do: make a fucking decision.
So have you all heard about Lisa?
Hmm. Your ideas are intriguing to me, and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.
Thanks, bud, but I’ve already got a religion and I’m satisfied with it. No, I won’t be needing a flyer. Bye now!
Unless that SUV can fly or travel through time, it will have taken most of a day for Mason to have driven there from the marina. Any marina, and that assumes the evacuation has already cleared out most of the people in the danger zone. And that Mason can get around the inevitable roadblocks, and not be spotted by police helicopters. And yet, despite the long travel time, the fire has been most considerate and has not overwhelmed the motel’s neighborhood, and people are still running in and out of the motel. This isn’t an evacuation, this is stupidity.
Mason has done a lot of driving in an SUV with lousy mileage. Has he refilled his gas tank, and where did he get the gas? Because one thing that happens in an evacuation is that everyone suddenly needs to buy more gas. Either all the filling-station tanks will have run dry or the clerks will have locked up and evacuated. Mason and his merry band of apocalyptic survivors had better get ready to walk.
What’s missing in all of this ridiculous running around is a single panel with a thought bubble above Mason: “I wonder if Marianne has talked Les into letting her view the videos Lisa made.”
Jiff will be baked to a fair thee well.
If FW were still a funny comic about teens, “baked” would have a different meaning.
This is a classic example of what Roger Ebert would call ‘an idiot plot’ in that this only makes sense if everyone involved is an idiot. Still as they are all idiots it makes a certain amount of sense.
As far as i can tell Mindy forgot a) she had a father and that b) he wandering around where they filmed Robot Monster and c) he – in a city he’s never been to doesn’t have a cell phone or even it would seem his own car (just how the hell did he get to Bronson Canyon in the first place?)
While I would like to see them all burn to death stupidly trying to rescue Jff and his creepy inner child familiar, I know this won’t happen as then production of Lisa’s Story would be shut down completely and there would be no reason to Marianne to journey to Ohio to learn the innermost thoughts of the blessed St. Lisa or admire the statue of Lisa Les made out of butter. So no – no scene were we find the burnt out SUV filled with charred corpses with Les having to i.d. the bodies and then complaining that Cindy never slept with him. Alas.
James Blish is credited with creating the term “idiot plot,” and the SF writer/critic damon knight expanded it to “second-order idiot plot.” That’s a story which only works if everyone in the story-world is a total idiot. That would include this wildfire, which somehow spreads east into the Santa Ana winds, yet stops short of homes and motels to twiddle its thumbs while the characters await rescue.
On August 15, Mason said “I’m going back to get Pete and the others!” If he’s just now learning about Jeff, who were the ‘others’?
According to the banner, one of them is going to be Tika, the Queen of Murania.
I’ve been trying to avoid it, but you’re right, we’ve got a full week of that shit to look forward to.
Whatever comic strip has that line in it should have been sent back by the syndicate with the word “NO” stamped on it.
Maybe that’s the actress who shared lunch with Les. The experience drove her mad and now she’s looking for a consort. Jff or Les? Let’s hope she forces them to duel to the death for her hand.
“Thank goodness you’re here, Mason! We’ve been waiting all this time for someone who actually does something! If you hadn’t shown up, we would have stood here until we burned to death or starved or got hit by a bus or something! Anyway, can you save my dad too? He similarly can’t take care of himself.”
There’s a massive wildfire that’s destroying all of Los Angeles and Mason drives back and forth through it as if it were nothing.
Panel 2: I’ve always wondered why Batiuk and now Ayers draw Mason as homely as they do, seeing as how he’s supposed to be this manly, sexy, handsome Hollywood leading man. In panel 2, it’s like he lacquered his hair down and then oiled up that droopy spit curl to hang over his forehead. The guy looks like a wavy-haired blond Squiggy from Laverne and Shirley, only even homelier.
It must be a rule that nobody in this strip can look more attractive than Les Moore. Which means a major artistic effort is needed to create something that’s even more repulsive than Creepy Les.
That may be part of it, but I also think that Batiuk’s conception of what makes an attractive man may be stuck in the ’40s and ’50s along with all of his other sensibilities. So Mason’s supposed to resemble Buster Crabbe in the Flash Gordon shorts or Johnny Weissmuller, or Superman in the old comic books. But those sensibilities just don’t widely exist anymore. So he just ends up looking ridiculous, and since these guys doing the art don’t take a whole lot of care with their craft, he also looks unattractive in addition to ridiculous.
Sexiest character to date was the track-and-field metallic robot creature, in my opinion. Hooooo yah.