I put all my energy for this post into the remixed comic above. I’ll let you guys do what you do so well. Here’s today’s real strip.
Filed under Son of Stuck Funky
Tagged as cellphone, Fire, Jeff, Jfff, Murania, Pam, Pmm, Starbuck Jones
To recap: Les flew out to Hollywood to do chemistry reads (remember those?) for the cancer movie. Then he got a small role in the cancer movie. Then some wry golfers accidentally sparked a huge conflagration by accidentally striking some flint the country club carelessly left lying around.
Meanwhile Pete, along with Mindy and Jff, flew out to Hollywood for the Starbuck Jones premiere. Jff took a side trip into the Hollywood hills to visit an old movie cave from the 1930s. As this was going on, Les and Mason drove through the wildfire to rescue Cindy and Marianne, who were sunbathing and giggling, totally oblivious to the enormous fire bearing down on them. Les rescued Marianne just like he retcon-rescued Lisa when someone related to his John Darling book (“Fallen Star”) torched Montoni’s in order to destroy Les’ manuscript. Then Les and Marianne bonded on Mason’s boat.
Meanwhile Jff, who was now accompanied by his younger hallucinatory self, was nearly overcome by the fire until he was saved by some imaginary movie robots, who took him to visit their queen and their underground movie kingdom. After being actually rescued by (presumably) “real” firefighters, Jff (minus himself) is now safely on Mason’s boat, along with Les and (presumably) Marianne.
But now the SJ premiere has been canceled, which means that Pete and company flew to Hollywood and almost died in a fire for no reason at all. Now go back and read my recap, then try to make an argument that Tom Batiuk is not in fact the worst storyteller who’s ever lived. You can’t, because that fact is indisputable.
So what now? All signs point to The Gang heading to Westview to shoot the rest of the cancer movie there, which at this point seems logical. But as you’re all well aware, “logic” has no place in the Funkyverse, so I dunno. At this point it could go literally anywhere. Perhaps Mason’s overloaded boat will sink and Rip Tide: Scuba Cop will use The Amazing Mister Sponge to save The Gang from The Indelible Ink or whoever. Or maybe Marianne, Cindy and Mindy will toss Mason, Pete and Jff overboard and throw themselves at Les which will lead to a groundbreaking and very topical polygamy arc. Or, more likely, NOTHING WILL HAPPEN AT ALL, which is where I’d be putting my money if wagering was permitted here at SoSF, which it is not without the expressed written consent of SoSF. (Send me a five in an envelope and you’re good to go)
I really don’t see how the rest of the cancer movie gets made. There’s first the practical consideration that the studio where the movie was to be made has been completely destroyed, but there’s more to it than that.
Lisa’s Story is an “afflict the comfortable” type of story. It really can only work in a society that’s comfortable and content. But this fire is a country-wide trauma. There are the people who have directly lost something, which numbers in the few millions. And then you have the wider society that has experienced that trauma vicariously, which affects tens of millions, especially when it’s something like the entertainment industry, which directly affects almost everyone’s life. I mean, look at how many people have been traumatized by Chadwick Boseman’s death this week. Look at how many people have been traumatized by Kobe Bryant’s death several months ago. Hell, even though I didn’t like the guy I still get news updates on my phone when his wife publicly does something with one of his surviving children.
And this would affect virtually every celebrity in America. There probably wouldn’t be a single person in America who knows of and likes somebody who lost something in this disaster. The trauma’s a cultural.
So everyone in America has experienced a devastating loss now, and they’re supposed to give a shit about Lisa? They’re supposed to be moved by this stupid story about a stupid woman who got cancer and gave up, so she died? Not any more. Everyone’s got more important things to grieve about.
And we can see what happens when I get an email when I’m finishing a paragraph.
“The trauma’s a cultural phenomenon.”
You’re talking sense again. This is how normal people behave and think in the real world. Batiuk has never heard of Chadwick Boseman. Cayla and Keisha will not cry and do the Wakanda Forever pose like virtually every black person I follow on my social media accounts. The celebrities that count are OK, after all. Why wouldn’t America line up for a charming little movie about breast cancer that is almost exactly like a painful experience most families have had, only centering the man?
Pffft. Getting upset over dead actors and athletes. Sparing a thought or a nickel for ordinary displaced Angelenos. Why would anyone do that?!
Why wouldn’t America line up for a charming little movie about breast cancer that is almost exactly like a painful experience most families have had,
And the thing is, it doesn’t even have that angle! It’s not about solidarity in the pain of those of us who’ve lost a loved one to cancer. It’s about Les’s singular loss that is worse and more devastating than anything anyone else has ever experienced in the world. Batiuk purposefully excludes everyone else’s experience to laud just how much Les has suffered.
Given that TomBa’s world is singularly untouched by most world events, I doubt he’s given any contemporary concerns a thought.
From the non-sequitur in panel 3, I suppose Jff has some minor brain damage from the fire.
Thank you, Captain! Non-sequitur was exactly the word I was looking for. Jeff comes off as being so relieved about being rescued from having to go the the Starbuck Jones premiere. It does not follow…
It’s bizarre. He’s also looking at that other boat, which might lead confused readers to wonder how that other boat figures into the story. Hypothetical readers, of course.
I figured “someone” was Queen Tina or Skppy.
The hard drive on my main PC recently crashed. Trying to revive it entailed several days of the Windows recovery console trying to repair it all. Mostly, this meant watching a crawling task bar as the system attempted to retrieve the OS. Over, as mentioned, several days.
It was (and is) way more interesting than any arc in Funky Winkerbean.
In the Funkyverse that would be a major prestige arc that would start with Crazy Harry trying to replace the hard drive with a pizza, then would suddenly veer off into a sepia-toned retcon flashback about the time Les and Lisa went parasailing during a tsunami.
Also, it appears Jfff is terminally stupid, as he had to be reminded of his pledge of secrecy regarding Moronia mere moments after giving it. If his *cough* Younger Self wasn’t there, there would be explorers in Moronia even as we speak.
Pity “terminally stupid” isn’t as terminal as promised.
The Handmaid’s Tale lip rings are still an option, just sayin’….
Unseen Panel Four: In the clouds over the marina, the heads of Queen Tika of Murania and Dead St. Lisa suddenly appear and begin quarreling. “I used all my royal powers to keep them all safe while making sure my subterranean realm stays hidden,” Her Majesty states. “I think your crown’s too tight,” Our Lady of Cancer retorts. “I’ve saved my beloved Les from disasters before and I did it again this time. The one thing I couldn’t save him from was marrying another woman who is clearly my inferior.” Suddenly, the head of little Jffy pops up and asks, “Will one of you be my mommy?”
I literally just howled laughing at this!
“…the head of Little Jffy pops up…”
And all it took was a catfight in the clouds between the Evil Queen of Moronia and Dead St. Lisa to do it! Wow, old people get turned on by weird things.
And what of Mason and Cindy’s adventure in search of Jfff? Did they, Mopey and Dopey rescue him from the clutches of the firefighters? Were they consumed in the holocaust, leaving Jfff to discover the yacht because how can you miss it in a region as tiny as Los Angeles? And what of the promised rock of the cave? Will Jfff return to Bronson Canyon to collect his souvenir? Or does he already have it in his head for safekeeping?
Your remix is both more interesting than and more faithful to the story we saw unfold than what TomBa actually submitted.
I remain disappointed that Zanzibar the Murder Chimp couldn’t be worked into the arc somehow. Wouldn’t hiding out in Murania be the perfect spot to find him?
Jff: Thank you, your Highness, for saving us.”
Tika: Disgusting worm! Surface-dwelling fool! We did not bring you here to save you. We brought you here because our great god requires sacrifice! Guards, seize them and take them to the temple of He Who Gets Drunk and Shoots People!
Skppy: Oh, no! Did you hear that, Jff? It can only mean one thing…!
Jff: Yes, Skppy. Zanzibar the Murder Chip is alive and now control Moronia!
[Cut to temple interior where Zanzibar sits in the shadows with a bottle of whiskey and a loaded gun.]
Zanzibar: That’s right, Jff. You’ve learned my secret. But it doesn’t matter. You won’t be able to warn the surface world of my plans! You will never leave Moronia alive! Bwa ha haaa!
Announcer: Are Jff and Skppy doomed? Or can they escape Zanzibar’s malevolent clutches before it’s too late? Find out next week in the next thrilling episode of “Return to Moronia”… “The Death Traps of Zanzibar!” Right here, in this same theater!
Both better, AND more in character for Queen Tika.
So Jfff and everyone escaped the Starsux Jones premiere because of the greatest natural disaster in American history? I get the feeling that the Somebody who was watching over them lives underground in a place of eternal fire.
Les modeling his Dr. Doofenshmirtz posture today, I see.
I’m surprised Jff didn’t suggest moving the Starbuck Jones premiere to his son’s ratrap theater in Centerville… you know, where they had the first film’s premier.
Wait a few days (or weeks, Batiuk being the lazy hack he is) and we’ll be told that Jff suggested taking the premiere to Centerville.
The Valentine will host the premiere, guaranteed.
I can’t see how this DOESN’T end up in Ohio. The (sigh) premiere and the cancer movie both, it’s the only possible way he could tie this mess together and explain why these characters were interacting in the first place. Then again, it’s entirely possible that there’s no plan here at all, which means literally anything could potentially happen.
Coming soon: Les brings Marianne home to watch the Sacred Tapes. She stays in Summer’s old room, but the following morning she wakes up and IS Summer. Then it’s revealed that the entire story was just one of Les’ stupid dreams, at which point he wakes up again and realizes THAT was just a dream and Lisa never actually died at all. TomBan still doesn’t win any Pulitzers.
I can see how it doesn’t end up in Ohio. Somebody has the genius idea that they’ll premiere the movie in Los Angeles as a charity event. Bring hope and joy to all the survivors, delight children of all ages, and incidentally generate free publicity when the news media takes an interest in the refugee-camp-themed event.
Les has poor posture and perpetually plays pocket pool.
L*s is trying to explain to Cayla why that TMZ photo of him on the boat with Marianne, or as they reported, “Starbuck Jones Star Marianne Winters Alone on Boat with a Schlubby Much Older Man for Some Reason”, is totally innocent.
Pm looks so disappointed to hear from Jfff. All that money on that insurance policy, gone for nothing!
Yes, like Cayla, she has a surprisingly large policy on her husband. And speaking of disappointment….
So somehow everyone got on the boat. We didn’t need to see how that happened, though, I guess. Who is L*s calling, and why wasn’t he making calls before talking Marianne’s ear off? Speaking of cell phones, since Jfff had one, why weren’t he and Mindy using it earlier?
The movie premiere being canceled (well, of course) was the only useful thing about this strip.
Thanks for the revised strip, TFHackett.
It also bothers me more than it should that nobody seems to have taken Marianne’s purse, including her cell phone. My whole life is in mine. And damn it, if L*s had that phone the whole time, couldn’t he have let her borrow it?! Maybe he had a barter system: one call in exchange for 30 minutes of Lisa stories and general pissing and moaning.
Of course they’re on the boat. An elderly man who was deprived of sufficient oxygen for hours during a firestorm would obviously be released by paramedics into the care of his daughter’s fiancee to be driven to some weird boat.
How I wish a creepy child was peering into Pam’s window. But the main purpose of this strip is to disappoint, so, yeah. Yawn.
And this is why he should have stayed with the gag a day thing: he cannot tell an extended narrative any longer. All we get is something that eventually disappears up its own asshole.
Goatee Boy is on the phone with the Coast Guard.
“Hello, this is Les Moore, the great WRITER… Les Moore!… Lisa’s Story???? Hmmmfff… Anyways, I was talking to Maryanne Summers Winters… MARYANNE SUMMERS WINTERS! The Hollywood Movie Actress??? Anyways, I was going on and on about Lisa, and she jumped overboard and just started swimming… Could you look for her…? Yes, yes I said ‘anyways….’ COULD YOU JUST LOOK FOR HER???”
Hopefully Marianne has swam to a truly star-sized yacht containing half the LA Kings, who brought her aboard. As hockey players, they know the importance of hydration and have given her a bottle of water. They’ve also got the news on a TV, and at least one let her make a couple calls.
Or, if she’s still on the boat, in the cabin:
Marianne: “Another woman married him?! Who’s the brain donor who did that?”
Mason: “Shhh, he’ll hear you.”
Marianne: “Oh, fine.”
After Hurricane Katrina, the New Orleans airport was closed for 15 days, and the first day had only five flights total. It took a year to return to full capacity. But sure, Jeff, you get on that “next flight” back to Westview, which is probably right after you’re done talking about comic books, even though you’re still on a boat in the harbor. The fiery destruction of 20 million people’s lives is of no further importance, because the Starbuck Jones premiere is cancelled.
God, everything in this world is so selfish. This story burned down all of Los Angeles, and for what? Starbuck Jones, Lisa’s Story, and The Phantom Empire. This from a guy who thinks Hollywood is shallow.
It is possible to tell an effective story about a significant event by focusing on a few people whose paths may or may not cross. It us not, however, possible for Batiuk.
It’s practically the formula for Independence Day and all the early-2000s disaster movies that came in its wake. They interweave the personal stories with the larger catastrophe story. This story is so focused on its narrow-minded little fandoms and solving Lisa-related problems that it trivializes the disaster. It’s kind of in bad taste, especially considering there’s an actual wildfire going on right now.
An area the size of Rhode Island is burned, FFS! I realize Little Rhody is the smallest state, but I know it can hold a good-sized city, farms, beaches, and historical monuments.
It’s another example of his inexplicable tunnel vision. Just like the way the inevitable relocation of both the Starbuck Jones 2 premiere to the Valentine in Centerville and production of “Lisa’s Story – The Movie” to Northeast Ohio will require all of the planning and effort that goes into a trip to the mall.
There are other major airports in the Los Angeles area, such as Long Beach and John Wayne. And LAX wasn’t in the burn area, so it would probably be back in service after the smoke clears out. The real tragedy is that Mason Jarre’s private airplane will have survived, so there won’t be any problem with disrupted travel schedules. And none of these characters will have to look out the windows at the devastation, much less hitch a ride to an alternate airport.
Ugh, I knew someone would call me on that. You’re right, there are numerous airports in the LA metro area, so the whole city wouldn’t be shut down. But they’d be handling relief and cargo flights, and operating over their capacity, so “getting another flight” wouldn’t be easy. To say nothing of having to drive to Ontario or Palm Springs.
There are some military air fields in the area, too, and they would handle additional relief flights. MCAS El Toro is gone, but the old Los Alamitos NAS is still operating (under National Guard management, I think). But even so, you’re right about a major disruption to air traffic, especially if ground personnel had their lives disrupted by the fires. What’s going to be interesting here is seeing exactly how Batiuk screws it up. (Think he’ll show the Hollywood sign again? If he does, would it be a tacit admission on his part that Hollywood survived his cartoonish tantrum? Would that even occur to him?)
The flyover will reveal that only the initial letter is missing.
“Teeheehee, that fire burned the H out of Hollywood!”
It’s probably just me, but I was really hoping for a Damnation Alley type arc where they wander the barren desolation of post apocalypse America, searching for……..I dunno, a working movie theater?
“Our trip is ruined! I guess we just had someone watching over us! Like, Les, Lord of the Flies, over there!”
Is the third panel supposed to be one of those “Find the hidden image of Lisa in the background” things?
“There was a little boy there who was me as a little boy, and robots carried us to the cave, and we met Queen Tika of Murania, and that was it.”
What is that expression of Pam’s face? I guess she’s supposed to be worried, but she just looks confused. She looks like she’s thinking “is Jeff having a stroke? What the hell am I listening to?”
The expression that Pam is wearing today is the same one that I had when I read the strip.
Love the edit today TFH! Really puts on deeper spin on Pm’s facial expressions. That is a face of a woman about to experience her own “Roses in December.”
I’m done… I’ve got nothing for today that hasn’t already been ranted about.
But I do want to hold a moment of silence for the tens of thousands of Angelenos who are dead, dying or lost everything they ever owned or loved, as Southern California is now a federal disaster area. And for these cretins to pretend the cost in human lives never happened is pretty damned offensive. It’s just weird how nobody seems to even exist in this city outside of the Funkyverse characters plus Masone/Marianne…
So it’s… over? What was the point of Mason and Cindy driving back into the disaster if they weren’t going to do or see anything else or otherwise advance the story?!
I suppose that Jfff must have just hopped aboard a city bus to get himself to the marina, and wandered up and down the dock until he recognized someone he knew from Ohio (“Hey, it’s my daughter’s fiance’s best-friend’s bio-mom’s widower!”)
Well, now that Jfff has been saved, the destruction of most of Los Angeles no longer matters and won’t be addressed. We might get some statement about how sorry we should feel for Mason and Cindy, but as for the rest of the world, they can go screw.
Also, watch the smirking and jokes start, even though these people have just watched a city burn. Guy can’t get past the death of his wife for twenty three years, but most of a city burns right in front of him and he’s back to being the smarmy ass he is in only a matter of hours.
As noted today’s strip is a non sequitur coda to an anticlimax. This arc has it all. None of it’s good but it does have it all.
Sigh – this keeps happening the Author starts out his story and heck a fire does dramatic potential but he quickly loses either interest or control over his story so it simply drifts to a stop like a car that has broken down.. Over and over in his strip extraordinary things happen to dull people and their response, like when the pickpocket meets the saint is to see only dullness. Sometimes it’s enraging sometimes it encourages snark but today I just find it depressing.
My dead brown lawn has progressed further than this story. So where are we now? Awaiting the exciting adventures of trying to find a flight home, followed by the 800th viewing of the Love My Les or Else tapes.