Naming the Unnameable

Link to today’s strip.

Well, will you look at that.  That cranky old bus driver has finally been named!  I guess Batiuk realized his word zeppelin wasn’t big enough to include “–what was his name, again?  I can never remember–” so he was forced to use his real name.

And for Heaven’s sake, Cory, you’re going to wear holes in that countertop.  How much polishing does it need, considering there hasn’t been a customer at all during this “story”?  Talk about putting in the effort without obtaining a result.

That might be a good euphemism, come to think of it.  “Tom Batiuk has been polishing the countertop on Funky Winkerbean for a couple of decades….”

Afterword:  SoSF mourns the passing of Bill Bickel, host of “Comics I Don’t Understand.”   He presented senseless comics that needed an explanation, and he and his commentors were always up to the task.  “Senseless” also describes his passing, and the internet is poorer now.  I’m not very good at deep thoughts, so I will just say that I will miss his wisdom.


Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

43 responses to “Naming the Unnameable

  1. Epicus Doomus

    This one is very strange visually. You have Adeela with the air quotes, which indicates that she’s either more wry than I previously assumed or she’s just reminding us that she’s the “oppressed one”, like how Funky is the “fat one” and Boy Lisa is the “oh yeah I forgot he’s still a character one”. Then you have Cory with that strangely out of place smirk, like he’s in on a joke we’re not privy to. At least someone was amused, I suppose.

    Then in panel two it gets really weird, as Wally doesn’t just mention his old high school bus driver for no good reason, he actually channels his old high school bus driver for no reason. That sideward-eyed tilty-headed cackle he’d doing is eerily Crankshaftian and that can’t be an accident. And while Adeela and Rocky react with predictably detached bemusement, Rachel appears to have achieved some sort of nirvana-like state, like Crankshaft is her god and Wally his earthbound prophet. It’s a very odd, uh…”artistic choice”, let’s say.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Then you have Cory with that strangely out of place smirk, like he’s in on a joke we’re not privy to.

      That is an apt description of the whole thing. Today’s strip has the structure and flow of a joke, and the characters react as if to a joke, but there’s no joke. In fact, nothing in the facial expressions matches the dialog. All the characters are emoting if they’re talking about something much more meaningful. They’te not even giving us any new information. It’s like they’re doing the “no soap radio” bit, and the joke is on us.

  2. Gerard Plourde

    I find it interesting that TomBa can stretch this minor event out to two weeks while during the LA conflagration arc Jfff’s visit to his beloved Murania barely lasted four panels over three days.

  3. Jimmy

    I wasn’t a regular reader of CIDU, but I always enjoyed catching up on what I missed. RIP Bill.

    Speaking of names, does anyone remember the name of your bus driver?

    • SeaCountry

      One, but he was psycho and should have been in NASCAR.

    • erdmann

      I actually remember the name of my sixth-grade bus driver. He was also my sixth-grade shop teacher and owned a lot of farmland to the north of town. Come to think of it, he actually looked a bit like Crankshaft, but with glasses. He was also a douche.
      I also remember my sophomore year bus driver’s name, primarily because I had known her for years previously. She almost caused a wreck by racing through a parking lot to avoid a stop light and once hit a bump in the road so hard that a kid in the back seat bounced up and struck his head on the bus ceiling. She was also a douche.
      God, was I ever glad to get my license.


      I am unfamiliar with Mr. Bickel and his website, but it sounds like one I would have enjoyed. My sympathies to his family, friends and fans.

    • Professor Fate

      This is sad news. Sigh. 2020 continues to suck.

  4. Professor Harlan Grankle

    So, are they making a movie out of this too? This has to be one of the most engaging plots since 1924’s “Let’s Watch the Grass Grow.”

  5. J.J. O'Malley

    Another week of motor vehicle mirth? Who woulda thunk it possible? You know, waiting in line at the DMV (or BMV, or what have you) is actually more amusing than this.

    In the meantime, here’s a depressing thought; What if Cory isn’t wiping the counters with that rag, but he accidentally cut off a finger whilst slicing pepperoni, he’s using the rag to stem the flow of blood, and he’s been too weak to tell anyone all this time?

  6. SeaCountry

    Ugh, Batiuk is gonna stretch this out after all. At least Adeela gets to talk. And seriously, Cory, find something else to do!

    • Charles

      At least Adeela gets to talk.

      Don’t get ahead of yourself. Once she starts talking in about two days you’ll wish she’d just shut up again.

      At least we’re used to Wally being a smug douche.

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        They’re all unbearably smug. They just talk in circles about Adeela’s minor achievement, while smirking like they just won a bet against you and they’re about to rub your face in it. God, these characters are unlikable. Even when they’re happy they can’t just be happy, they have to be obnoxious.

  7. Epicus Doomus

    And this is presumably an arc about driving which is taking place solely within Montoni’s. There was an actual car in like one panel.

  8. billytheskink

    I’m not gonna claim they NEVER crossed paths, but… Crankshaft left Westview for Centerville in 1987 when his spinoff strip began while Wally first appeared as a student in Funky Winkerbean in early Act II in 1992.

    Good to see Adeela’s now understanding misstated expressions. She’s come a long way from not getting “tell me about it”.

    • Epicus Doomus

      Coming in 2030: Owen, Cody and Alex reminisce about the old high school bus driver the old people used to reminisce about when they were in high school (Owen, Cody and Alex, not the old people).

      “Remember that old bus driver the teachers used to reminisce about? Crank-something, I think,”

      “Oh yeah, that guy. I sure have some fond memories of hearing them reminiscing about that guy. What a nut!”

      “He was so crazy! Remember when they told us about the time he did the thing?”

      “Like they used to say he used to say…”you gotta put your legs on one pant at a time!”

      (Blissed-out grins, knowing smirks)

  9. William Thompson

    Huh? Adeela is from Iraq? Women drivers were the norm under Saddam Hussein. I thought Adeela was from Afghanistan, where the Taliban was dumb enough to say “Yes! Osama bin Ladin! What can go wrong if we ally ourselves with him?” Or should I just resign myself to saying “The Middle East–yet another item on the endless list of things Batiuk doesn’t understand”?

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Yeah, I thought she was from Afghanistan too.

      • Gerard Plourde

        The confusion is understandable. TomBa sent Wally to both Afghanistan and Iraq. And in BOTH cases he was captured and declared MIA. The first time was TomBa’s nod to 9/11. Wally enlisted because of 9/11 and was sent to Afghanistan. While his unit was being ferried by helicopter, it crashed with presumably no survivors. But Wally was pulled from the wreckage by Afghan rebels led by Khan, who eventually repatriates Wally. Upon Wally’s return to the states, he marries Becky (who inexplicably has found herself attracted to John). They return to Afghanistan to help remove land mines. Wally meets up with Khan again and they work together to diffuse mines. On that trip they adopt Rana after her family is killed in a car bombing.

        Then we have the inexplicable arc in which Wally is recalled to the Army because his discharge paperwork was filed one day early and he’s been considered AWOL. (TomBa doesn’t explain why it took the Army years to find this mistake or why they’d make him do another full tour of duty. “Writing”, I guess.) Wally goes to Iraq and is captured again, this time for TEN YEARS so that he can get declared dead and clear the way for Becky to marry DSH. (Writing again. Did someone tell TomBa the plot of Silas Marner?)

        • Banana Jr. 6000

          I totally forgot about Rana. Maybe that’s who I was thinking of.

        • Margaret

          That was an amazing summary. Congratulations to you for being able to remember all that, and keep it straight! I had completely forgotten about Rana too. What happened to her? Was she raised by Becky and John? I can’t remember seeing her since the bombing. I’ve read FW since I was a teenager back in Act I but I have pretty much lost track of what’s going on at this point. (I’m not sure why I care, but this strip does have a weird fascination, doesn’t it?)

          • billytheskink

            Becky and John did raise Rana (she even took John’s last name, at least for a time), who was positioned in the Cindy/Sadie/Jessica role when Act III began as the stuck-up popular girl.

            Like pretty much every single one of the teen children of Act I and II characters that were introduced early in Act III, TB’s interest in writing anything for or about her quickly fizzled.

          • batgirl

            Rana showed up briefly during the first Adeela arc, in the Diversity Cafe at the community college, where Adeela invited Wally to have lunch. Wally (her adoptive dad, I think) was astonished to see Rana because she had converted to Islam and was wearing the hijab. So they all went to Thanksgiving dinner at John and Becky’s, which may have been one of the very few times we have seen John and Becky in the same place.
            This is from memory – corrections from the better-informed are welcome!

    • Rusty Shackleford

      Women are allowed to drive in most Islamic countries. From what I have heard from people who grew up in those countries, there were many exceptions to the rules. Countries like Afghanistan are the exception. The Communist countries seem like they were ruled more brutally.

  10. billytheskink

    Terribly sad to hear that Bill Bickel has passed. CIDU has been around in some form or another since the days of dial-up, Compuserve, and Prodigy and what a wonderful internet community Bill cultivated there through the shared interest in comic strips. The whole internet comics-reading community will miss him badly.

    Bill was kind enough to give SOSF shout outs from time-to-time, even after he made the wise decision to stop reading Funky Winkerbean regularly several years ago. I was thrilled and honored when he linked to one of the posts I authored here a few years ago, after I described a Dinkle strip as “breaking the ‘oy’ tag” at CIDU.

  11. newagepalimpsest

    Props for finally bringing a long-running gag to a close and all, but Crankshaft is just a bad character, as well as a bad person. Frankly, the only thing that he really has going for him (in my mind) is that he’s not Lillian.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Yesterday, Crankshaft said an NFL team has a linebacker named Ruffin DePasser. Maybe he’s not the guy Cory should be looking to for witty insights.

  12. Count of Tower Grove

    Having spent more years in the “food service industry” than I’d care to admit, Corey is doing what he has to do. “Time to lean, time to clean” is the industry maxim. And as a veteran, he’s mastered the art of soldiering: loafing under the pretense of working.

  13. Week two of what should have been at best 3 days of filler. What are the chances that this week will be devoted to Crankshaft remembrances?

  14. Perfect Tommy

    So Tommy Boy is standing in line at the DMV (Or BMV in Ohio, apparently)
    waiting for his GR8RITR personalized tags, when inspiration strikes.
    I got it! Drivers license arcs for both strips! Oh Batiuk! you’ve done it again!
    The other customers are fairly alarmed when he runs the imaginary bases.

  15. Stepping out of lurker mode for a moment to echo your tribute to Bill Bickel. SoSF and CIDU have been the two websites I check out before going to sleep every night for quite a while now. Very thankful I discovered *both* of your sites!

  16. Professor Fate

    Shesh, First who talks like this? “My old bus drive Crankshaft” Second this is anti-narrative raised to an insane pitch – at least in Dada the subversion of narrative structure had a point (showing the unconscious assumptions a reader brings to a work) but this this is just aimless smirking meandering because otherwise there would be a blank space where the strip was supposed to be.
    It is so odd. We get two three days of the Phantom Empire something the Author has insisted is an ur-text for him but this gormless and pointless gibberish looks like will go on for another week.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      And who reminisces about their friggin’ schoolbus driver? Hell, who even interacts with them? Much less spends enough time with them to have “things they used to say.”

      Though to give Ed Crankshaft his due, he’s so dangerously incompetent that he’d be memorable for that reason.

  17. Ok, so I forgot who Rocky is. Is she Cory’s fiancé? They met in the Army?

    • newagepalimpsest

      Yes, and yes.

      I don’t mean to appear glib, that is the sum total of her character thus far. “They go driving” is possibly the most dialogue she has ever had.

    • Epicus Doomus

      Yes, Rocky is Cory’s old army buddy and current longtime fiance. The gag was that HA HA Rocky was a girl. I seem to recall Rocky being tangentially involved in the Starbuck Jones Complete Collection arc, although I’m not sure if it’s when she was introduced. Holly was hunting down every issue of SJ and apparently Rocky told Cory she has a few back at her house, so Holly paid a visit to Rocky’s harried neurotic mother to acquire those issues. Then she completely the collection and gave it to Cory who sold them in order to pay for Rocky’s ring. It was probably only five or six or seven years ago but it seems like a lifetime ago.

  18. Gerard Plourde

    Now we’ve established that Wally knew who Crankshaft was back when he was in high school and TomBa’s insistence on tying his characters together retcons the old running “bus driver” gag out of existence. Of course it was
    always implausible. Look at all of the connections between the two strips.

    1. Crankshaft originated as the bus driver for Funky and the gang.

    2. The house that Les and Cayla live in. If memory serves, Les and Lisa bought the house from Crankshaft. Wouldn’t the connection come up in a small town like Westview?

    3. Wouldn’t best friends Les and Funky have discussed the coincidence?

    4. Mindy, now engaged to Pete, is Crankshaft’s granddaughter.

    5. Pete and Darren are best friends and regularly visited the Komix Korner owned by DSH John. (This plot line has sort of disappeared.) Another connection to Becky. (Although for some inexplicable reason Wally seems to have no contact with his ex-wife and kids. I guess TomBa figures being a captive was Wally’s fault.)

    6. Pmmm and Jfff (Mindy’s parents) are connected to Les and Jessica Darling through their witnessing the infamous Lisa/Frankie incident and meeting with Les and Jessica to relate what they saw.

    • newagepalimpsest

      A while ago, I made a remark to the effect that I consider the Teen Pregnancy Arc retcon to be a ruinous mistake.

      “6. Pmmm and Jfff (Mindy’s parents) are connected to Les and Jessica Darling through their witnessing the infamous Lisa/Frankie incident and meeting with Les and Jessica to relate what they saw.”

      The Original Situation: Two drunk kids necking in a car or something? They probably only remember seeing it because the party they were at got the cops called on them and Crankshaft rode the entire family’s butts for weeks about the garden.

      The Retcon Situation: Did they… did they witness a rape and do nothing whatsover about it, except to make note of the fact that it happened?

      Wow, what a good story.

      • Gerard Plourde

        You raise a really good point about the retcon. Yet more evidence that TomBa must consider writing these strips to be a task to be quickly disposed of so he can return to his collection of Silver Age Flash issues and his amassing of interesting new titles to be featured in his “Cover Me” posts.

      • Rusty Shackleford

        That’s Batty. Doing whatever he can to gin up a story to try and create a sense of drama. Those were idealistic days. Batty was high on the thrill of chasing a Pulitzer and would do anything to please the committee.

        Heck, after he killed off Lisa, I’m surprised he didn’t run a months worth of dark strips just to drive the point home.

    • newagepalimpsest

      Also, isn’t Cayla originally from Centreville as well?