Gad, the pacing in this damned strip…”glacial” isn’t the word for it, since glaciers manage to move a few inches per year. This is like trying to put together a jigsaw puzzle, except you have to wake up a really old caretaker to hand you each piece, one at a time. And in the end, the resultant picture is not worth the effort.
Let’s recap: We have a date, Wally’s off with Adeela, I’m mad, Wally and Adeela are driving….
Tomorrow, I expect them to impart that Wally and Adeela are driving a car, and they’re not on the golf course starting wildfires.
Credit where it’s due: Rocky’s been drawn nicely, especially panel three.
Here’s what Brian Eno had to say, back in the day.
45 responses to “Driving Me Backwards”
The thought process behind this strip never ceases to amaze and baffle me. Today we learn that Wally is apparently teaching Adeela how to drive, which is easily one of the most inexplicable and pointless premises ever. I mean was anyone actually wondering about this? If such a person exists, I really want to meet them.
This has to be Rocky’s first line of dialog in years. What a useless character. When you look at the roster of new Act III characters it’s a pretty f*cking sad-sack sorry lot. Rocky, Buck, Marianne, Cliff, Vera, Mason, Chester, Owen, Cody, Adeela, Phil Holt, Ruby, Jarod, Wedgeman, Cayla, Keisha, Bernie, Mallory, Skyler, Robbie…that’s a pitiful group right there. One could argue that aside from Buddy it’s entirely possible that Owen is the MOST likeable character of the group. And that’s downright alarming.
Cory’s been saying things to make Rachel’s antennae go up, and then says she’s been “nothing but questions”? Okey-doke. Lord, this is maddeningly slow and stupid.
Note how the Women Of Westview have already sapped the life out of poor hapless Cory. And he isn’t even married yet. This week is like a homage to ancient sitcom tropes. Maybe tomorrow Rachel’s “master” will return home and order her back into her bottle, or in this case the apartment above Montoni’s.
And I wonder if we’ll actually see Adeela this week, as it could mean we’d see Adeela, Rachel and Rocky all in the same strip, a confluence of characters I guarantee we’ll never see again.
The next Wally/Rachel arc will be Wally walking through the front door to tell Rachel that he’s bringing the boss home for dinner. An embarrassed Rachel will say the only thing in the refrigerator is leftover Montoni’s pizza, and they’ll start to panic. Just then the doorbell will ring and Wally’s boss, Funky, will enter…bringing a piping hot family-sized Montoni’s pizza with the works, and all three will share a hearty laugh.
It’s derivative and cliche as hell, but Batiuk could do a lot worse than directly copying the infamous “Steamed Hams” bit from the Simpsons…
Maddeningly slow and stupid–the perfectly distilled description of the Batiukverse.
Wasn’t Rocky’s original name Raquel? Why didn’t Batiuk go back to that? The opportunity to confuse Rachel and Raquel would let him squeeze at least two extra days of pointless confusion from this, uh, story? Arc? Vaguely-connected series of panels?
I think her name was Roxanne, which makes sense if you squint at it and close your eyes tight. As I recall, the whole point was “Huh, Rocky’s a girl!” One of those dull reveals the strip specializes in.
Correct, the ENTIRE POINT of creating Rocky was to do that “Rocky is a girl” gag. And now he can’t get rid of her. I mean even a character as worthless as Vera served a sort of purpose. But Rocky was created just for that one gag. Other than her mom being a squirrely weirdo we know absolutely nothing about her.
Not to mention that Rocky’s last name is Rhodes… which, in addition to being a really dopey and very well-tread pun, is also the name of a much longer-standing character in TB’s own Crankshaft. He’s the younger bus driver with the chin fuzz who has been spotted wearing the traveling green shirt from time-to-time.
I totally forgot about that. I stand in line, in the main, of course. I do remember that her mom was somehow tangentially involved in the SJ collection arc with Holly. That one was so long ago that SJ was still just a comic book.
Amazing the amount of waste generated by Batty. All these throw away characters. You don’t have to be a master storyteller to come up with this.
So, there are two characters named Andy Clark also? Damn, Batiuk’s imagination is looking more and more threadbare. Either a terrible pun an 8-year-old would scowl at, or one of his pals. Pick one!
Explains all the red lights in Montoni’s ingesting room. BatHack was setting up a cameo by Sting.
To wake us all up, does Adeela come crashing through Montoni’s window in a ’72 Pinto?
Which will be followed up by Holly trying to cheer up a forlorn Funky by telling him, “Well, you always said we should have a drive-through window!”
Followed immediately by Les honking his horn and complaining that he’s being ignored.
“Hey, Rachel!” “Hi. Rocky!” It should only read “Oh, hi, Rocky!” and we’d be well on our way to Battyuk’s take on “The Room” (“You are tearing me AH-PAHT, Wally!”). Maybe Rachel will set up a tape recorder under Montoni’s counter to catch Wally and Ardeela in flagrante delicto.
Speaking of said counter, good thing Cory is wiping it down again a few minutes after he gave it a good cleaning a few minutes earlier in yesterday’s strip. Dust has a tendency to settle on furniture that isn’t being used. Seriously, could there be a background figure or two to at least the impression that this is an open-for-business restaurant? But then, if Wally was giving Ardeela “driving lessons” when the place was closed or on weekends, he might have offered a logical and frankly expected explanation to Rachel, and thus spared everyone inside and outside the strip all this nonsense.
The “lost” characters of early Act III are another fascinating-yet-dull group of “new” Act III characters. While Summer is technically an Act II character, she was just a baby so I lump her in with the rest of those early Act III high school characters who’ve more or less vanished from the strip. Summer, Cory, Jinx, Rana, Maddie, then later Owen and Cody (who’ve been absent for quite a while now). All that wasted time and (guffaw) character development and for what?
I’ve often pointed out how funny it is that no one ever seemed to comment upon or even notice how radically different Cory was when he came back home. You would have thought everyone would have been totally astonished but nope.
Especially since it would have been good for time-wasting discussion of how the army made a man of him – with some stupid wryness about not making a man out of Rocky – some lazy wordplay about before and after, and a little clunky pandering to veterans thrown in.
Not asking to be shown Cory’s character arc, which is obviously beyond TBs capacity, but in a strip that’s all people talking about stuff that happened offscreen, why not spend a week talking about that?
Let’s face it – is there ANY difference in ANY of the characters in this strip? They’re all a bunch of smirking, eye-rolling, lame-punning, boring, defeatist, townie clones with severe maturity problems. This week’s stupid arc could have been done with almost any married couple in Westview, without even leaving Montoni’s. Funky Winkerbean‘s conceit of having a deep character roster doesn’t hide the fact that they’re all the same character.
I wonder what goes through his mind when he scripts this stuff. Does he think he’s emulating soap opera pacing, which has storylines that run for months and even years on end? The difference is that those have multiple storylines running at once, so although the resolution of a single storyline takes time, the twists and turns and inevitable daily and weekly cliffhangers kept the audience’s attention. TomBa seems to mistake weeklong repetition of the same fact by multiple characters for plot exposition.
That is exactly what he thinks he’s doing, emulating soap opera/serial pacing. The problem is that he almost never allows more than one development to unfold per week. Premise, rehash, rehash, rehash, resolution, cliffhanger/end. If anything else (so to speak) happens (so to speak) in the story it takes another six days to unfold and so on. Which is why, for example, the cancer movie arc will require YEARS to play out. Mason suggests movie, Les waffles, Les agrees, Mason scouts locations, Les arrives for casting, casting, discussion re: casting, filming begins, Les cameo…that’s nine weeks, more than two full months of strips. The first three things could have all happened in one week, but Batiuk doesn’t do things that way.
Tomorrow Cory will try to pull a rabbit out of his hat while Rocky says “and now here’s something we hope you’ll really like!”
Or so I hope…
That trick never works!
We’re in day five of this bullshit and I’m still waiting for an explanation why 1. Wally+Adeela are allowed to skip work whenever they like, 2. Why Montoni’s has no customers in the middle of the afternoon, and 3. Why Wally took the time to schedule a date night with the wifey only to be absent when she arrived…
I stopped reading “Luann” after 32 years to get away from this fake assed contrived plot setup, which to even have a snowball’s chance of working demands the reader to seriously believe that a longtime married couple never speak to one another, ever…
And why is Funky nowhere to be found? Restaurant owners live at their restaurant. I know, because my cousin owns a pizza shop. He is there all the time, especially when they are open for business.
Then again he doesn’t have dozens of people on staff..a neighborhood pizza joint doesn’t need that level of staffing.
Over on Crankshaft, Batty mentions Chippewa Lake…that’s like ten minutes from his house and forty minutes from mine! Oh wow, local places mentioned in a nationally syndicated strip! Golly gee!
What’s a Booksmeller anyways? Someone who gets off on smelling old, moldy books?
Crankshaftis more worthy of discussion than Funky Winkerbean this week. What small business owner says “we lost” a competitor? Especially one as slimy as Lillian? And wait until you see Friday and Saturday’s strips.
Yeah she might do a tidy business up in her attic, but is the little old lady really a “competitor” to anyone??
BWAWHAWHAWHAWHAW! It’s funny because Rocky now realizes she stuck in the Fungyverse!
10 to 1, he’s teaching her how to drive. And red, can’t put 2 and 2 together. And why wouldn’t wally simply tell his wife that? This arc is dumber than a box of hammers.
Used for bending nails.
You’re probably right. A little over a year ago there was a flurry of stories following up on Saudi women who, about a year previously, had been allowed to get driver’s licenses for the first time.
Of course, he’d assume that this was a general ban rather than one unique to the form of Islam practiced in Saudi Arabia.
It also begs the question of how long Adeela has been living in the US and how she’d get around in suburban Ohio without access to a car.
Exactly! Rachel would have to be insane to interpret “Adeela wants to learn how to drive, so I offered to teach her the basics because lessons are expensive and she wants to get the most out of them” as an attack on her marriage.
That’s not even getting into the fact that Wally probably doesn’t have a high opinion of people who cheat during marriage, since that’s (effectively) what happened to him during his POW Hat Trick run.
How does that even work? Captured and humiliated and tortured by al-qaeda for years, living off a diet of scorpions and urine-soaked sand, and when he gets back stateside his wifey ran off with a fucking comics geek…
I wasn’t onboard during that arc, but I believe Wally was held prisoner by Khan/Kahn/Kanh in some cave and they became sort of friends when Khan didn’t hand him over to some hardliners. He may have been Kahn’s sponsor for coming to America.
Pretty sure Kanh was TB’s riff on Doonesbury’s Phred the terrorist.
That was his first captivity in Afghanistan before he married Becky. He somehow was reactivated to go to Iraq around the time Lisa was going through chemo. When Les was littering Central Park with Lisa’s ashes, TomBa showed a newspaper headline that a group of soldiers were captured. Then the time jump happened and it was disclosed that Wally had been declared dead (not sure how that would be the case since there was no body and no report of his being killed), a headstone was placed in the cemetery and she married DSH. Then surprise of surprises, Cindy, posted to Iraq by her network, finds out that there’s to be a prisoner exchange and covers the release where it’s found out that one of the releasees is Wally.
And then when he gets back it’s all like “Well, there is clearly nothing anybody can do about any of this, so enjoy dealing with your PTSD all by yourself in a rat-trap of an apartment.”
A box of hammers could be a lot smarter than this arc. I’ve got at least a half-dozen hammers in the garage, and each has a different use–basic claw hammer, ball peen hammer, tack hammers, several different types of wooden mallets, and a small sledge. And I’ve got a woodworking catalog that lists about sixty different hammers, of different functions and sizes (you’d use a deck hammer to drive nail heads flat into a wooden flooring, without denting the wood). Compare that to the FW characters, who as Banana Jr. 6000 pointed out are limited and interchangeable. They make a box of hammers look like the graduating class at Harvard.
This week’s arc is so lame it reminded me of The Adventures of Ned Flanders:
My ex-girlfriend (who is now a xtian fundamentalist) is hardcore Seventh Day Adventist and she’d consider the Flanders family a bunch of sellouts and Godless degenerates, LOL…
She’s also convinced the world is going to end very soon, so redeem those credit card points!!
*READS today’s strip*
*DOUBLETAKES in shock*
*CONSULTS Grandpa Google Maps*
*TRAVELS to the North America Syndicate HQ*
*KICKS open the door*
YOU LAZY ASS! You do know how to draw an attractive young woman who cares about her appearance! Put down those cape comics and Lurleen McDaniels novels and get to work fixing everything else you’ve drawn this year, or I’m calling your mother!
(Credit where credit is due, Rocky’s facial expression today is perfect for depicting a tantalizingly ambiguous delivery of “Sure… they go driving.” Why couldn’t we have had stuff like this during that other arc?)
Meanwhile, the 23-year-old starlet and “Sexiest Woman in Hollywood” Marianne Winters gets drawn like a 48-year-old homeless junkie…
It’s obvious that joining the Army did nothing for Corey and Rocky. It got them no job skills so that years later they are stuck working at Montonis