Some optional reading for you, in the unlikely event you have nothing better to do than wait for today’s strip to drop after midnight EDT.
Readers, earlier I touched upon recent changes at the syndicate’s website that make it impossible to view some strips ahead of time. I won’t bore you with the behind the scenes, nor do I wish to once again run afoul of Batiuk’s lawyers, and so I’ll spare you the minutiae. Simply stated, we here at SoSF use a weird trick to peep each day’s strip a couple days ahead of time. If we didn’t, our dedicated team of writers would have to stay up very late to compose each day’s analysis. I know very many of you live outside the GMT-5 time zone, and/or are night owls, so we’re happy to let you all have at each day’s Funky as early as we can bring it to you. Here on the east coast, when I check SoSF I see dozens of comments. Lately in fact, we’re getting more comments, and a rash of former lurkers turned eloquent and valued commenters. The volume of traffic is not anywhere near what you’d find at the Comics Curmudgeon or Comics Kingdom (both which I know many of us read and comment upon). But this little comics snark blog over which I’ve presided for the past ten years is the funniest and friendliest online community I’ve ever known.
And we intend to keep bringing you Son of Stuck Funky at least up until FW hits fifty years on Sunday, March 27, 2022, or whenever Mr. Thomas Martin Batuik puts down the Funky Felt Tip. Kindly note, however, that for the first ten days of each new month, each day’s strip won’t appear online until after midnight. After that first week and a half, we start getting strips in dribs and drabs. And Sunday and Wednesday strips are never accessible ahead of time.
So now you know why you sometimes find a “today’s strip is unavailable” link. It’s also why we’re switching up the author rotation a bit: myself or Epicus will take turns covering that first week and a half of new strips. So that no guest author will ever again get stuck like poor spacemanspiff1985 getting stuck with a week and a half of nothing to write about (and Spiff did an outstanding job as he always does). Look for a placeholder post with that magic link that should take you to the latest fresh Funky hell, at midnight or shortly thereafter. Subsequent days will be covered by the rest of our awesome, unpaid staff in ten- or eleven-day stints (instead of the former two weeks).
As always, my most humble thanks to Team SoSF and to everyone here who faithfully reads and/or comments.
102 responses to “I am the God of Hell Fiyah”
Whatever it is you’re doing, have you tried it with and without leading zeros on the day of the month?
Tried it seven ways to Sunday. The image paths on the comics sites years ago actually had the date string as part of the URL. Editing that date would take you to that day’s strip. Now it’s a long, seemingly random alphanumeric string. Which we had cracked, for a while. Meanwhile, some newspaper sites such as seattlepi.com hosted comics pages powered by Comics Kingdom. King Features yanked that service and now hosts all their comics content on Comics Kingdom. The syndicate is understandably protecting their intellectual property. Even Funky Winkerbean.
For those who are interested…the “random alphanumeric string” is a Base64 encoding (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Base64).
Taking the image file for today’s strip as an example…
We feed “RnVua3lXaW5rZXJiZWFuLzIwMjAvMDgvRnVua3lfV2lua2VyYmVhbi4yMDIwMDgyNl8xNTM2LmdpZg==” into a standard Base64 decoder (there are half-a-dozen free ones online), and we get out…
Side note: Base64 is intended as a way to represent binary data, e.g. an image file, in a plain text format. Converting a file NAME into Base64 is just a lousy attempt at obfuscation, since a file name is already text.
Here’s tomorrow’s: https://safr.kingfeatures.com/api/img.php?e=gif&s=c&file=RnVua3lXaW5rZXJiZWFuLzIwMjAvMDgvRnVua3lfV2lua2VyYmVhbi4yMDIwMDgyN18xNTM2LmdpZg==
Sunday has a different base filename
A big Tip o’ the SoSF styrofoam boater hat to Mr. A and Gladys Stoatpamphlet for that Base64 knowledge!
I’m new here, but this IS a friendly (and funny!) community. Nice to think that an otherwise complete waste of newsprint and/or bandwidth turns out to be at least indirectly good for something after all!
Nowhere else will you find any more faithful daily readers of Funky Winkerbean. Hate-readers, but faithful ones. Many of us fondly recall the “early, funny” Funky from the days before Batiuk got a taste of media attention and started flogging “contemporary,” “thought-provoking,” “sensitive” material to attract some more.
I fondly remember his cheerleaders coming up with “cheers” that befit the Westview team’s constant loser status. I was in middle school. I moved a lot, so when I saw Funky again, I was really surprised by what it had become.
I used to like the strips about Dinkle and especially the Battle of the Bands annual downpour. Also Holly and the flaming baton trick. And the Star Trek computer. It was all so much better than this weird, pathological nonsense. Of course, I was a kid back then, so maybe it wouldn’t seem as funny as it did then if I read it again today.
I liked the DInkle strips too. He made my band directors seem tame by comparison, and they certainly had offbeat personalities. And I remember Les stuck on the rope and Funky as a goofy kid. Light and kind of fun.
Agreed. “Fandom” doesn’t (shouldn’t) mean “never saying anything uncomplimentary ever.,” and if Mr. Batiuk thinks that the comments on comics blogs are excruciating, I sure hope that he’s never seen a full-blown Twitter pile-on.
Also, welcome, and thanks for reading and commenting.
Thanks for the explanation, and for keeping track of these things.
Thanks for reading and commenting!
Thanks for the explanation.
One of the great things about this site is the incredible knowledge base that the contributors and commenters possess and freely share. It’s kind of ironic that TomBa’s lack of diligence and research has inadvertently led to the creation of a site that can provide background to fill in the blanks or correct the errors. Thanks for brining us together.
SoSF is not merely the best FW website on Earth, it’s the ONLY FW website on Earth. We are apparently the closest thing FW will ever have to a real “fan site”, which is both sad and pretty funny when you think about it. I’ll be here until the last FW strip runs, there’s no way I’m letting him win.
Ha! I was idly wondering if there actually was a non-snark FW site out there. What would the people posting on it be like? What could they possibly write?
“Couldn’t wait to see the exciting action in today’s FW! It once again exceeded my wildest expectations! Now I’m off to take my hourly ketamine dose and watch the scenery through the bars in my windows!”
There was an old Geocities or Angelfire (I forget which) fan site, but it was pretty skimpy and hasn’t been active for ten of fifteen years now. SoSF is it.
An archive link to the The Unofficial Funky Winkerbean Fan Page on Angelfire can be found on this page in the FW Related Links.
It is indeed! The top FW resource on the World Wide Web, right here. “Last updated on 9/23/2003″…that’s still Act II. I guess non-ironic fan interest kind of petered out once broadband became widely available and folks had better things to do.
I looked at the GoComics comments out of curiosity. Maybe the true fans will come in at a respectable hour, but none of them had arrived yet.
Sorry, meant “Comics Kingdom”. Most of the strips I really like are at GoComics or Instagram.
Batty’s Blog is it, but even he would rather talk about something else. Most of the content is comic book critiques and old John Darling strips—which I do enjoy.
I groan every time he talks about FW and his secret sauce.
Even the Comics Kingdom discussions about FW are 100% snark, except for the occasional drive-by downvotes that SoSF also gets. Other strips that get made fun of a lot, like Luann, have their defenders and unironic fans. FW has none I’ve been able to find anywhere.
Honestly, you think he’d be more grateful for us.
To paraphrase Winston Churchill, never has so much been done by so many for so many others…over something with so few intentional laughs.
Truly, beating this dead horse of a strip creates the insoluble glue that binds us all together.
That is a gorgeous metaphor right there.
YOU GUYS: help me come up with a nickname for Jff’s boyhood avatar. He’s been in enough strips to qualify for his own tag. Please leave your suggestions in the comments. Winning suggestion will be used as a tag for his appearances in the strip, and will be the agreed-upon name for the annoying little Kevin Harvick lookin’ dipshit. Winner will be announced Wednesday evening, 8/27 at 10:30.
How about “jff”?
^^ Early favorite right here.
The Moronian Kid
(As in Jeff and Jeffy Keane.)
Really? I was thinking more as in “Lube.”
Mtt (‘n Jff)
Jff’s Nnr Chld
Splendid suggestions all, and borderline haiku!
That last one, Jeff’s Neener Child, really speaks to the topic.
I love “Jff’s Nnr Chld”!
The Death Agony of Noodly Jeff’s Oxygen-Starved Noodle?
Call him Nood for short.
“Annoying Little Kevin Harvick Looking Dipshit” works for me.
So, based on today’s headline, can we call this current subplot The Crazy World of Jeff Murdoch?
Also apropos of nothing, the website of an firm specializing in movie memorabilia (no names, please) is taking bids on an online mid-September auction. The second highest item on the board so far is a complete and uncut pressbook (clip art, poster art and articles theater owners would use for their newspaper ads and publicity) for–you guessed it–1935’s “The Phantom Empire.” Current high bid is $725. You don’t suppose a certain cartoonist from Ohio (and I don’t mean Mopey Pete) is that bidder, do you?
This clip is incredible. SOSF comes through again.
My dad had this song on a Greatest Hits of British Rock album. It immediately followed “Needles & Pins” so you went from nice relatively mellow 1960’s guitars right into “I AM THE GOD OF HELL FIRE”, making for a wonderfully twisted transition. And thanks to Margaret for reminding me of Holly’s baton trick, because now I’m imagining Dinkle featuring this song in a band show where Holly’s flaming baton would have been perfect. Well, at least until the rain comes…
No wonder he’s begging people to buy books.
I sincerely hope that it is him, because his affection for TPE must certainly be genuine at this point (maybe Grandma and Grandpa Batiuk took him to a matinee at their local mouldy old cinema years and years and years ago…) and he’d probably be super excited to have a treasure trove like that.
(Until some assclown pizzawife from downtown Cincinatti came to his house and ripped the posters out of the slabs because COMICS BOOKS SHOULD BE PURE.)
Buyer? He’s the seller.
He found that item at a comic con of some sort, bought it because it was cheap (because literally nobody else cares) and it checks all the boxes of his interests (childhood escapist entertainment, obscure, science fiction angle), has grown tired of it taking up space in his garage, and now shamelessly uses his strip to try to drum up interest in a buyer, much how he shamelessly uses his strip and blog to constantly remind people that he has books for sale.
Yeah, Batiuk went there.
Just saw the strip. All I can say is that is one big-ass cave.
I once had a creative writing teacher who’d fail you for using “I can’t believe” or any other similarly lazy crutch in an expository and/or filler-material way like this. In the Batiukiverse, though, it’s pretty much a pillar of the strip, along with time-killing silent panels and rehashing the premise from Tuesday through Friday. Magical eighty-five year old movie robots just saved Jff and Mini-Jff and the best dialog BatScam could come up with was “I can’t believe”. Even his personal pet passions don’t inspire him, apparently nothing does.
TFH. Thank you so much for all the work you do here. It’s an amazing vehicle of nitpicking genius and I always imagine you as Classic Captain Picard, with Epicus as your fiery and passionate Riker.
That means BillyTheSkink is definitely Data,
And Beckoning Chasm is Geordi.
And Spaceman would be Worf.
And I’ll be Wesley, because I am an insufferable know-it-all.
And there, a more recognizable and sensible science fiction reference than a month in Murania.
What a crew. I salute you all!
Even money that Queen Tika will be played by the actress-queen who had lunch with Les. It’s a dead certainty that she’ll smirk at her guests and offer them hot chocolate.
While he is saying a line beloved of hacks and incompetents, Hallucination Boy Jffffff should be suspicious. He isn’t in Murania because he isn’t real. Idiot Fanboy Adult Jfffff is slowly dying and his oxygen-deprived brain is making him see the Platonic Ideal of Kitsch.
Batiuk will try* to have it both ways. Queen Tika will take the kid as her prince-consort, so he’ll have to stay in Murania. The robots will lead Jff to safety through the empire’s secret exit (the rear of the cave) and leave him there. When Jff is rescued and revived, he’ll believe it was all real and that his younger self will grow up to rule Murania. His delusion will be reinforced in the hospital, where Prince Dorki will visit him in the ICU.
*if you can call what he does “trying.” **
** Okay, enduring his crap can be very trying.
The strip has dropped and if what TomBa’s giving us is supposed to be reality rather than Jff’s near death experience then we’ve reached a new level of “jumping the shark”.
These sorts of things have repeatedly turned out to be “it was all just a dream”, which is worse.
The last time this strip was halfway interesting and trying something slightly unique was the time pool arc, which of course turned out to be fake.
Lisa got Masky McDeath and Jeff apparently get robots. Bottom line is TB escorts characters he likes to the “other side” with angels of familiarity. Poor Bull got rammed into death with a high school football helmet that probably didn’t fit him.
I feel like the CTE was more an attempt to punish athletes, using Bull as kind of a voodoo doll to represent them, than a serious attempt to address a serious issue.
Which is why Jeff is not going to die in a cave. Comic book nerds and sci-fi geeks do not die in Funky Winkerbean.
Murania just looks like The Jetsons moved to Detroit.
Batiuk needs to find a new dealer, the nickel bag must have been contaminated
I was just reminded that I’ve pretty much always been a “beady eyed nitpicker”. This may not be the best story, but at least it’s better than the one we’re currently discussing.
We had a book called Garfield and his Nine Lives that my brother, who was 8 years younger than me, always wanted me to read to him. So I got quite familiar with it. It placed Garfield in settings ranging from the prehistoric era to noir detective to outer space. When I was in 8th grade, I submitted a story to the Weekly Reader’s contest. Didn’t even place. OK, that happens.
However, the winner had submitted a story about a noir cat detective that sounded suspiciously like the one I’d read so many times. I told my English teacher I thought the winner had cheated. I didn’t mind not winning, but I very much minded a winner cheating so blatantly.
So I brought the book to school and showed my classmates and teacher. My teacher had me make copies of those pages and write a letter to the Weekly Reader for extra credit. Weeks later, the second place story was published, with the writer declared the winner, and I got a letter thanking me for my “vigilance” and letting them know what had happened. I found the letter while going through some things this morning, which is why I remember this now. I’ll never forget my English teacher telling me I was a good writer, but I might become a fantastic editor.
I think the world needs a few more “beady eyed nitpickers” and that we’re highly underrated.
and editors are very important – they can actually help a writer to bring to reality what they are trying to say – as an example look at what Ezra Pound did to TS Eliot’s draft of the Wasteland – he crossed out the first 3 pages and when he got to the line “April is the cruelest month” wrote “Start here”. Elliot being an artist and not a hack agreed. A sympathetic editor can be a great help to a writer – helping them to define their work and sparing them from their worst excesses. and it never hurts to have another par of eyes look at what you’ve written.
Unless you’re a thin skinned hack.
Sorry today’s strip has really pissed me off
Oh, we all know anyone who tries to edit Batiuk suffers for their effort, don’t we?
Batiuk constantly argues that writers should have creative control of everything. And yet, he’s a textbook example of why that doesn’t work.
This even shows up in-universe. Atomik Komix’ library would be a mess of short-run franchises that it impulsively started and quickly abandoned. Have you seen Wayback Wendy lately? Customers and sellers would quickly turn on the brand, once they realize it will never support its characters with new stories.
That is a great story. We do need beady-eyed nitpickers to root out the hackery of self-serious hucksters from the comics page to the government and everything in between.
It is also a nice reminder of a comic strip properly indulging its flight of fancy. Garfield is roundly and rightly criticized for being the incredibly rote these days, but neither the strip nor its creator have ever taken themselves so seriously that the occasional breaking of the reality of the strip’s universe fails to make an impact. And His Nine Lives (granted, not printed as part of the strip) worked. Garfield running away to join the circus in 1985 worked. Those creepy Halloween 1989 strips where Garfield wakes up to find his house abandoned worked. 2003 Garfield meeting 1978 Garfield worked. They were all discordant with the strip’s universe but it is not a universe that demands such things be impossible.
TB’s flights of fancy, such as this Phantom Empire bit, pretty much always fall flat because he has demanded that his strip be taken so seriously that even he himself won’t really allow for it. Pretty much all of these universe-breaking bits are eventually roped in to some real world issue (or mundanity) with a “real world” explanation… and NEVER in a way that offers any meaningful insight into either these characters or their situation.
– Jff hallucinates his inner child and a visit to Murania while all of Los Angeles burning to the ground just because he liked the film serial as a child?
– Les imagined himself in a noir setting while working on the Lust For Lisa script only to give him the idea of demanding the infamous “kill fee”.
– Pete and Durwood imagined themselves as unhappy shirking comic book company employees in the 1950s simply because they were unhappy shirking movie studio employees.
– Zanzibar the talking murder chimp existed only to exonerate Butter Brinkel-Brickel.
– Funky was transported back in time after a car accident put him in a coma for no reason beyond thinking about he used to be younger.
– The class reunion “time pool” was all in Les’ dream after he fainted at the real reunion… and all it allowed for was Cindy to tell her younger self that she’s never been happy.
– Etc. Etc. Etc.
Yes! I can completely understand a comic strip writer wanting some variety in their own strip. Jim Davis definitely did it right, especially when you compare his body of work to Batiuk’s.
Batiuk doesn’t allow his flights of fancy, but he doesn’t discipline himself from them either. If your world is going to be “a quarter inch from reality”, then you have to know what exceeds a quarter inch, and exclude it. But he’s constantly shoehorning in crap he wants to talk about that makes no sense in the story, while at the same time acting like he’s protecting some sacred standard of realism.
I was the original first place winner. Thanks for ruining my dream.
Oh, stop whining and grow a pair.
It sounds like you had a great teacher. It’s important to be kind and try to see the best in people, but it’s also important to assert oneself and speak out when you know that injustice has been done.
And I’ll bet that the Weekly Reader staff became considerably more “beady-eyed” themselves after that.
She was a good teacher. Some of my classmates thought I was being a nerd or picking on the winner for no good reason. But my teacher reminded us that we’d all written a story for that contest as an assignment, and all of us bothered to come up with something original. “Do you really think it’s fair that someone might have won by plagiarism instead of hard work like yours?” she asked. Crickets. “I thought not.”
I hope the Weekly Reader staff learned a lesson, too! Must have been embarrassing as hell for them.
We’d better brace ourselves. If this crap is what we have to suffer through with Jeff’s near-death or actually kicking the bucket, imagine when the Grim Reaper comes after Les.
Hahaha. Yeah, okay. Les is insufferably immortal and even the Grim Reaper has standards.
At the end of the day, the genius looks up at an empty spot on his trophy wall. The sign reads, “Pulitzer Prize.” He sneers. His campaign of revenge against the world will continue. And as long as Les Moore and Edward Roger Dale Crankshaft exist, people will not experience pleasure, but instead roll their eyes, groan, and mutter expletives.
The genius knows who the REAL losers are.
Well I wouldn’t say this strip is jumping the shark – this is the Shark jumping the strip.
And as elsewhere noted – no I can’t believe you’re wherever the hell you are EITHER – first of all you’ve done is toss the name around and we the reader have no idea what the details of the place are, second you’ve not done a single bit of foreshadowing or even explaining how this is plausible and of course you are here with your creepy imaginary inner child who doesn’t exist, gushing over a place that doesn’t exist. So no I don’t believe you are here either. And lastly there was no damn reason to repeat what the Robot had said the first panel.
and oh yes maybe you could have put a little g-d EFFORT into SHOWING us the wonders of what’s this place? the reader sees nothing but a bunch of boxes in the distant. A few details hell ANY details would have added verisimilitude (to mangle the quote a bit) to an otherwise extremely bald and very very unconvincing narrative.
Batiuk can get knotted.
I was just thinking that Murania should be a lot more interesting than it is. It’s a 1935 cowboy musical’s idea of a futuristic society with robots… and everything is just so bog-standard. The story should introduce some of the unusual aspects of this world (and TVTropes confirms that some do exist).
Or, it could introduce other elements of the story, like Gene Autry’s need to sing a song every 30 minutes, or whatever it was. The robots could make Jeff check the entrance to Murania every so often minutes, which would also represent Jeff’s mind telling him to look for ways out of the fire even as he is hallucinating. This idea was done well in a Futurama episode.
TomBa’s blog from August 6 does provide some clue. He writes, ”Jeff will even bring back a souvenir rock that resembles the cave entrance.“ So Jeff will survive, probably having been huddled in the mouth of the cave. (Never mind the fact that the combination of heat, carbon monoxide, and smoke from the conflagration TomBa has presented would almost certainly be fatal.)
The moral that he will want us to take from this miracle would be his mantra “Comic books (and in this case, 1930’s serials) save lives.”
”Jeff will even bring back a souvenir rock that resembles the cave entrance.“
Amazing… I think we’ve finally found a coda more mundane than Jim McKay telling viewers that Rod Laver went to visit his in-laws in Tampa following the 1973 Superstars competition.
Talk about way out there reference-Jim McKay and Superstars. That’s hilarious! Gym class was a misery for me, but I would have run that obstacle course on Superstars!
That’s another thing. Much of the appeal of old TV and movies is how batshit crazy they are by modern standards. Funky Winkerbean will just turn Murania into Westview with vacuum cleaner robots. It’s already turned Hollywood into Westview with rectangular stucco office buildings.
”Jeff will even bring back a souvenir rock that resembles the cave entrance.“
I’m not sure which idea is more bizarre: keeping a souvenir that reminds you of a string of spectacularly bad and careless decisions, or thinking that a rock, which I hope Batiuk realizes is a solid object, looks like a cave entrance, which I hope Batiuk realizes is an absence of solid objects. And when is Jff going to collect this souvenir? Is he going to pick it up while the fire is still blazing and he’s being rescued? Or is he going to return to the scene of his near-death for some more Muranian nostalgia?.
“OH MY GOD! DAD! I THOUGHT I’D NEVER SEE YOU ALIVE AGAIN!”
“Oh Mindy, don’t cry… I may be covered with 3rd-degree burns and I’m probably going to lose a lung and be on a vent for what little remains of my horribly painful life, but it was all worth it… for this…”
*a single, somehow-cave-shaped stone falls from what remains of Jeff’s gangrenous hand*
So who from my childhood fandom comes to save me the next time I’m facing imminent death? Han Solo/Indiana Jones? K.I.T.T.? The A-Team? Bo and Luke Duke? Voltron? The Super Friends? The Thundercats? The Ghostbusters? Spider-Man? The Transformers? The gang from Scooby-Doo? Remo Williams? Captain Caveman? Grape Ape? International Rescue, aka “The Thunderbirds”? John Rambo?
The fact that you can call to mind such a vast number of influences raises another question – Did only The Flash and “The Phantom Empire” strike a chord within The Author during his formative years? He grew up in an era replete with superheroes comics and science fiction/fantasy movies running the gamut from offerings by Roger Corman to George Pal (not forgetting one of my personal favorites, the classic “Forbidden Planet”). Is the answer that Jeff’s childhood is somehow reflective of his?
I wonder that too. Batiuk doesn’t just have extremely narrow fandoms; he seems completely oblivious to anything outside them, including the stories that we all know. I ranted that this plot inadvertently mirrors a famous Twilight Zone episode, but seems to have no clue that it’s doing so. And Mr. Spoiler Alert has already told us Jeff is going to survive, which makes absolutely no sense.
He’d be the worst partner on $100,000 Pyramid. “Name these things associated with Star Wars. Ready. Go.”
“Okay, he’s the bad guy, he wears a black mechanical suit, breathes heavy…”
“Queen Tika! Murania! Gene Autry! The Flash! The Reverse Flash! Flash Issue #63! Bull Bushka!”
To be fair, there’s not a lot of contemporary stuff he can reference without running into copyright issues or obliging his syndicate to pay some hefty licensing fees.
Oh no. He’s doing this because his editor yelled “Batman? BATMAN?! Do I look like I’m made of gold, young man?!!!!”
Who will save you? Depends which one of these characters first lapses into the public domain.
For me it will probably be either all of The Monkees, or Barnabas Collins.
I was always partial to Dr. Julia Hoffman. There’s nothing like a mad scientist in a crisis!
Careful what you wish for; you might be rescued by Coy and Vance Duke, the gang from “Goober and the Ghost Chasers,” or the Gobots.
Having inhaled a fatal dose of toxic smoke, Jfff sits down and hallucinates walking toward a brilliant white light. There, he meets an angelic being who tells him his life is ending, and says he has one last important choice to make: how will he spend his final moments? He’s offered two choices:
a) hallucinate that he’s being escorted by cheesy robots through a sub-B-grade ’30s sci-fi/singing-cowboy movie serial, OR
b) watch his entire life flash before him, including all those years in the presence of Ed Crankshaft.
Well, if you put it that way…
100 comments! Well done, gang!