Lestember Mourn

It’s late summer in the Hollywood Hills. They are standing in the still-smoldering aftermath of a massive wildfire. And  Cindy’s got her arms wrapped around herself like she’s freezing. I guess it’s an attitude of shock and/or grief. Les, to his credit, tries to comfort her. Or, he’s using the opportunity to paw Cindy’s bare shoulders while Mason stares distractedly at a charred bit of paper.


Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

46 responses to “Lestember Mourn

  1. SeaCountry

    Will you look at L*s doing a credible imitation of a person who considers other’s feelings?!

    • William Thompson

      If Louse gets any better at it, he’ll have to join the Screen Actor’s Guild.

      • Maxine of Arc

        Come to think of it, he’s eligible now, isn’t he? He had a speaking role in a (presumably) SAG production.

        • William Thompson

          I think the SAG has an exemption for people with no speaking roles or just one line. Over the years various non-actors–Chuck Yeager, James Lovell, Billy Bishop, Robert Benchley and Arthur C. Clarke–have had cameos in different films without SAG membership.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      The artwork in this strip looks like the director yelled “cut” and told them to emote more. Too bad they don’t have anything to emote about “Oh no. All of our stuff is burned. And it was expensive.” These people are so shallow they can’t even lament a sentimental item that they lost? An award? A pet? A friend whose fate is unknown? How about a memento? This world revolves around mementos! How many times did we see Bull Bushka’s death helmet? The Lisa tapes? Becky’s neatly pinned missing arm sleeve? And yet a story about the fiery consumption al of Los Angeles can’t even reach THAT level of maudlin fetishism.

  2. J.J. O'Malley

    Of course, I am well aware that just because there was a day’s gap between yesterday’s and today’s fireside strips doesn’t by any stretch of the imagination mean that it took a full 24 hours for Les to think of something sympathetic to say…but I still like to think that it did.

  3. William Thompson

    What are the doing in an area that’s still smoldering? Those smoldering areas are dangerous; there might be unburned material under the ashes, waiting to be kicked up and exposed to the air. Don’t count on the rubble forming stable heaps or the surface under your feet being solid enough to support your weight (or cool enough not to melt your soles). And do they know how much they look like looters? Melted gold jewelry and coins are still worth their weight in gold, if you find them, and some people keep valuables in fire-resistant strong boxes.

    And if you’ve ever gone through a burned-out area after the ashes are cold, the smell is still overwhelming.

    • comicbookharriet

      I can’t wait for the cancer saga for Les, Masone, and Cindy, after they breathe in all the wonderful toxic residues of torched insulation.

    • LTPFTR

      If it’s wrong to root for a rekindling of this fictional fire, I don’t want to be right.

    • Hannibal's Lectern

      Eating at Montoni’s has permanently destroyed their senses of smell and taste. The latter is also the reason Masone thought it would be a good idea to star in “Dead St. Lisa’s Story: the Motion Picture.”

  4. Gerard Plourde

    Their main house is in Malibu. Would anything of sentimental importance be in Hollywood? I guess it’s possible if they made Hollywood their primary residence so that Mason could be closer to the studio.

    TomBa has made an interesting choice here. While he gave short shrift to Murania, he’s lingering over the devastation here in order to provide Les with the verisimilitude of humanity.

    • Masone Jarr: “My collection of vintage Ohio Blue-Tip Safety Matches!”

    • Hitorque

      Nevermind the fact that Masone is insured anyway and has hundreds of millions in the bank while elsewhere people have lost everything that they own, their jobs, and still have to go down to the makeshift morgue over at Dodger Stadium to identify remains…

  5. Banana Jr. 6000

    Yep. Our house has definitely burned down.

  6. Epicus Doomus

    He couldn’t even allow Cindy to drop the superficial status-seeker act for one strip. The spitefulness is strong with this one.

    • Just tonight I was watching an episode of Schitt’s Creek. The Roses are at an estate sale, and Moira is lamenting all the belongings that were confiscated by the feds. Johnny: “Well, they were just things, Moira, just things. Moira: “Yeah, designer, one-of-a-kind things.”

      • SeaCountry

        Loved that episode, love that show! Having a certified comic genius like Catherine O’Hara deliver that line probably improved it tenfold.

    • Gerard Plourde

      Of course, the concept of expensive stuff reflects TomBa’s status. Mason and Cindy, based on their respective careers are wealthy. What TomBa would consider expensive probably wouldn’t even constitute a day’s earnings for them.

  7. I bet Mason is looking at what’s left of his signed copy of the “Lisa’s Story” book.

  8. comicbookharriet

    And the moral of the story is: Shop Goodwill. Because life is flammable, and $15 in furniture burns just the same as $2000.

  9. Jimmy

    Nice touch with the possessed car. It has the evil headlight eyes, akimbo wheels that couldn’t possibly propel anything, and barely enough seating for 1 1/2 people.

    It’s the perfect Batiukmobile!

  10. Olive McSweeney, LLC

    “Cheer up, everyone! The Lisa Tapes DVDs are on their way!”

  11. Boots Gandalf

    Brings a tear to my eye to see bad stuff happen to self-absorbed assholes.

  12. DreadedCandiru2

    As long as they’re insured, they can rebuild. They can’t rebuild dead people….or else Les would have done that long ago….

  13. bigd1992

    Too bad the freaking tapes and DVD’s weren’t in the house

  14. Dood

    Les is channeling his inner Thénardier. Master of the house …

  15. SeaCountry

    Proposed this in Comics Curmudgeon and am sharing it here. Also applies to novel serials, TV shows, etc. , of course. I made the point of saying “non-villainous” because some characters are actively created to be awful people who do awful things, and that’s necessary.

    Call it the Batiuk/Johnston Rule: If you begin to openly hate your own primary, non-villainous characters to the point that readers wonder why you’re trying to punish them in your stories, re-evaluate, retool, or retire.

    Johnston Amendment: If that character is a minor child, for God’s sake, get help.

    Batiuk Amendment: If nobody has seen the character you named your strip after in 2 years, you’ve likely lost anyone who might actually have read your strip because they enjoyed it already.

    • William Thompson

      Funky has made a couple of appearances in Sunday strips. There was the one where he jokingly compared himself to a caveman by lighting a fire, and the one where he and Holly applauded the display of summer leaves. Self-deprecating humor and an appreciation of a pleasant day? That’s something you never get when Les is hogging the scene.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Funky Winkerbean needs to embrace what it is. “You’re going to call me Funky Cancercancer? Fine, I will hand out so much cancer you’ll be afraid to touch this strip with your ungloved hands.” Give a high school student cancer. Give cancer to two-year-old Skyler. Then show his self-absorbed parents enjoying their virtual ice cream date while Skyler is dying in a pediatric ward, having been misdiagnosed with tonsillitis. That would be very on-brand. Too bad Batiuk doesn’t know it. He thinks everything he does is the new Sophie’s Choice. And it’s all too microscopically shallow it wouldn’t even pass for a bad soap opera.

      Or, go the other direction, and start treating serious topics with actual seriousness. Have you never seen a news clip of some poor person going to the site of their destroyed home? It’s devastating to watch. These people talk about death and loss look like they’re noticing the bus is late.

    • SeaCountry

      I found a true fan of Batiuk’s new strips on a Facebook group when I posted this there. He also said I misread FBOFW & the concept of a hate-reading site is awful. It was like seeing a zebra roaming wild in the woods here in Florida. Majestic, really.

  16. Banana Jr. 6000

    Hey, you know what would have been a good story? Les has the Lisa tapes sent to Hollywood before the fire, and they are consumed in it.

    I’m not even joking. Wouldn’t this story be better if it had any emotional stakes whatsoever? As deeply important as these tapes are to this entire world, what if Les suddenly had to live without them? If his emotional crutch was abruptly kicked out? And this forced him to finally accept that Lisa is dead?

    That would be… okay, that would be horrible, but it’d be a lot better than what we’re seeing. It would be a very Funky Winkerbean plot development. I can see the third panel now: Les on the phone, telling Cayla “I know they’re the only copy, but it’s urgent.” Or the second panel, where the third panel is a wordless look at the growing Point Dume fire.

    These are the questions good writers ask themselves. They look for ways to challenge their characters, put them through difficulties, to see how they handle it. Tom Batiuk does the absolute opposite. He makes everything as easy for his characters as possible. He even built in a delay to the filming of Lisa’s Storyso the fire wouldn’t interrupt it. And what should be a major story is devoid of anything interesting.

  17. Bless the Beasts

    Don’t they have a neighbor named Phoenix Ryesing?

  18. Gerard Plourde

    Today’s TomBa blog offering discusses the introduction of Susan Smith, who he describes as diaphanous. It’s revealing because it clearly discloses the basic flaw in his writing – the fact that these characters exist so that he can manipulate them through predetermined situations without giving them an existence of their own.

    The strip he uses to highlight this has as its punch line that her imaginary friend moved away, which really misses the mark. Did he want readers to find the line funny even though he was planning to use her for an examination of teen suicide?

  19. newagepalimpsest

    So in summation:

    Les – BURN
    Cindy – BURN
    Mason – BURN
    Marianne – Actually, I kind of have a soft spot for her, because she’s basically Tom Batiuk’s take on the girl from Tom Petty’s “Freefallin'” AND because something she once did pissed Les off at some point.
    Pete – BURN
    Mindy – BURN
    Jeff/Skippy – BURN
    Tika, the Queen of Murania – All she ever wanted was for Gene Autry to stop singing and go away and leave her people alone, and now her kingdom has once again been destroyed. She would be 100% justified in rallying her robot subjects against the tyranny of the surface world, and if that should cause the destruction of The Tapes and/or Lisa’s Story, then so be it.

    • comicbookharriet

      “All she ever wanted was for Gene Autry to stop singing and go away”
      Truly the most sympathetic motivation of recent memory.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      I wish Marianne would have stayed the newly confident ingenue she was at the chemistry reads. A successful, well-connected young woman who would not give a molecule of a shit about Les Moore. Of course, Batiuk turned her into just another Westview schlub.

    • batgirl

      I have a sneaking sympathy for Jfff. Yeah, he’s a self-pitying simp who kind of makes you want to kick him, but he gives the impression – like Funky – of trying to be a decent guy. He gives houseroom to his appalling father-in-law and even for some years to his abusive mother when she couldn’t live on her own, and he’s supportive of his son’s movie-theatre project. He seems to have shared his enjoyment of comic books with his daughter, enabling her to get a job she likes (anyway, she doesn’t gripe the way D-boy and Pete do).
      And it saddens me that Pam, so endlessly and quizzically patient with her father’s madness, is becoming a killjoy with Jfff’s small pleasures.