Licensed to Ill

Link to today’s strip.

For someone who prides himself on his writing ability, Tom Batiuk sure doesn’t show any evidence of possessing any.   Today’s strip is full of unneeded detail, as if Batiuk was certain the reader couldn’t remember what happened–not just in the previous strip, but in the previous panel.

Of course, he has space he has to fill.  I remain convinced that he does, indeed, draw the strip a year in advance including the word balloons, but the word balloons are not filled in until the last minute.  Notice how a cleaned-up version reads:

Notice how the flow is much better.  But it obviously wouldn’t do to leave all that white space.  So, off he goes filling the space with whatever comes to mind.

The second flaw in Batiuk’s “writing” is the fact that the joke isn’t a joke at all, yet he’s got his characters laughing uproariously at what is little more than a simple observation.   I would guess that DMV officers test drivers in all kinds of vehicles; it kind of comes with the job.  Though I should note that when Wally and Adeela came back to Montoni’s, she was driving a standard robin’s egg Batiukmobile.  How is this a “first time” for a DMV (or if you insist, Tom, BMV) officer?

Did “the officer administering the test” have to shove piles of pizza boxes into the trunk before he could fit in the passenger seat?  Batiuk, you should at least 1) try to set up your joke properly, and 2) try to have an actual joke.




Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

55 responses to “Licensed to Ill

  1. SeaCountry

    This is getting painful to read and too boring to even snark about. Mary Worth is moving faster than this!

    • William Thompson

      Batiuk has decided if he makes the dialog banal enough, there won’t be anything to snark on. Once again he’s undone by his lack of imagination!

  2. J.J. O'Malley

    I’m sorry, was there a test involved in Ardeela getting her license? She didn’t make that very clear in her dialogue today.

    Also, I hate to break it to Battyuk, but most “pizza delivery cars” I’ve seen are simply people’s everyday vehicles with light-up signs from the pizzeria they work for suction-cupped to the roof. Maybe there’s a removable vinyl sign on the door. Precious few restaurants–even the big chains–have their own delivery fleet, and they simply use employees’ rides. Take the sign off, and it’s just another car.

    • billytheskink

      In very early Act III, Funky showed off his “green” delivery fleet to Pizza World magazine reporter Darcy Williams (who looks quite a lot like Cayla does now… hmmmm).

      Yet mere months later, Maddie Klinghorn was using her father’s teal Batiukmobile to deliver pizzas for Montoni’s (with a learner’s permit and Crazy riding shotgun).

      • Epicus Doomus

        Did Boy Lisa bring pregnant Jessica to the HOSPITAL in the Montoni’s van, or was that van merely in the Lisa flashback that accompanies every Westviewian birth? Because I definitely remember the van.

        • billytheskink

          Just a flashback. But Durwood did keep the Montoni’s topper on his Batiukmobile for the drive to the hospital.

          • Epicus Doomus

            Yup, that’s the one. Having a certified Funkstorian on staff pays for itself in so many ways, as this dumb FW trivia would have gnawed at me for hours. I was certain I saw the old Act I van in flashback form during the Boy Lisa/Jessica pregnancy arc, but I couldn’t recall if there had been a contemporary counterpart. And now I know.

      • Charles

        “Looks like our daughter is following in my footsteps.”
        “Why does that frighten me?”

        She married this man. She knew what he was when she married him.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      And Adeela’s car didn’t even have any such signage when it pulled up.

      • Count of Tower Grove

        No doubt the stench of stale pizza cannot be overcome with a forest of those little pine fresheners.

      • Mr. A

        In fairness, Adeela’s word balloon was covering the roof of the car. So there could have been a Montoni’s sign up there.

        • billytheskink

          Tom Batiuk hasn’t earned fairness.

        • Banana Jr. 6000

          But the joke doesn’t work. Humor has to be based in some kind of reality. When she says “I took the test in a pizza delivery car,” and we already saw her drive up in a non-pizza delivery car, the joke contradicts itself. A book I read once called this a “comedy disconnect.” And Tom Batiuk is a prolific producer of them.

          In fact, today’s last panel has FOUR disconnects in it:

          1. Adeela didn’t drive back from the DMV in a pizza delivery car.
          2. There is no such thing as a pizza delivery car. They’re just ordinary cars with signage attached.
          3. Taking a driver’s test in such a car would not be unique.
          4. The uproarious laughter doesn’t match the intensity level of the joke. It was a minor quip, not the funniest line in Carlin on Campus.

  3. J.J. O'Malley

    Oh, and STILL not a customer in sight over the last seven strips.

    • William Thompson

      Tomorrow, the view from the ceiling shows a half-dozen corpses sprawled on the floor with pizza slices caught between their teeth. That’s what will make this funny!

    • billytheskink

      Last seven strips or last seven years?

      • William Thompson

        Montoni’s had customers last October, when the pizza-box monster showed up. Or maybe they were street people who needed to mooch leftover pizza; one of them looked so impoverished that he was wearing Mopey Pete’s green shirt.

        • billytheskink

          There is precedent for that. Funky met his eventual Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor Wade Wallace because Wallace was running a scam where he would order a pizza, not pick it up, and then fish it out of the dumpster when Funky threw it out… you know, because he was living on the streets.

  4. William Thompson

    “But what does this line on my license mean? ‘May only drive on the sidewalks’?”

  5. Olive McSweeney, LLC

    “So I put the car in gear, and we went down Maple Street. Then we turned right. Then left. Then right again. Oh! Then went left!”

    “And you used to do some driving in Qatar?”

    “Or as my old school bus driver Crankshaft would say, in the gutter!”

    “Hahaha. Giggle. Smirk smirk smirk.”

  6. William Thompson

    “But why did he look at Wally and suggest I hire a real driving instructor?”

  7. Professor Harlan Grankle

    Is a pizza delivery car shaped like a wedge of pizza, with pie-shaped wheels? I mean, color me clueless!

  8. Epicus Doomus

    “That…that’s not Adeela at all! Uncle…FUNKY?????”

    “Damn it! Yeah, Adeela paid me two hundred bucks to throw on a hijab and take the driving test for her. Woulda gotten away with it too if not for that meddling Rachel!”

    I mean come on, that’s obviously Funky. And check out the eyebrows, just low-effort all the way. And correct me if I’m wrong here, but weren’t they using Wally’s car just a few days ago? While Wally’s car might technically be a pizza delivery vehicle, it’s still “Wally’s car”, not the “delivery car”, right? Or is it part of the Montoni’s fleet, like that pregnancy truck thing they used to have? You know the one I mean. Didn’t they haul Jessica to the hospital in it? Or was that Lisa?

    It was really stupid to keep Adeela around in the first place. At the end of what should have been Adeela’s first and last arc, he should have had her take a call or something then have her tell everyone she was just offered an architect job over in Mount Misery. Then she says thanks and goodbye and leaves the strip. Permanently. Same goes for Buck, Cliff and Ruby…one and gone, like with Phil Holt. Introduce them, do the dopey story then have them die “off camera”, that way you never have to do these ponderous “catch-up” arcs no one wants to see.

  9. Gerard Plourde

    I guess that when he was writing the dialog, TomBa forgot that Adeela had taken her test in a nondescript blue Plotnix, the official car of Westview. (Or, to be charitable, maybe everyone in Westview delivers pizza for Montoni’s. Universal home delivery would explain the lack of customers in the restaurant.)

    • Epicus Doomus

      If the robin’s egg blue Plotnix is indeed the Official Montoni’s Delivery Vehicle, what would they have done if (gasp) someone ordered a pizza? Apparently no one knew where Wally (and Adeela, who presumably works there) was, which quite frankly reflects extremely poorly on Wally’s managerial aptitude and general common sense. I mean it’s swell how Adeela wants to assimilate into the culture and all but it was (apparently) the middle of the afternoon, when the dinnertime rush (presumably) begins. Maybe that’s what Cory was smirking about, he knows that assistant manager job is his if Wally keeps blundering and screwing it all up.

  10. William Thompson

    “Wait! Why does my driver’s license say ‘Admit one to the OMEA Bumper-Car Ride’?”

  11. comicbookharriet

    You asked Batiuk to “at least 1) try to set up your joke properly, and 2) try to have an actual joke.”

    You might as well have asked him to 1.) spin straw into gold, and 2.) hammer that gold into strap-on aerodynamic pig wings.

    • Epicus Doomus

      There should be a fourth panel where Rachel or Rocky says “ha ha, that’s funny because you work at a pizzeria and used the pizzeria car to take the driving test!” because how else would we know? As BC pointed out above, Batiuk seems to assume no one will know what’s going on from day-to-day unless he goes to great lengths to explain it over and over, so why not go all-in?

  12. Aurora Snorealis

    Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz *snore*

    • Count of Tower Grove

      Just wait! sooner or later Adeela will be driving when a speeding first response vehicle comes up from behind RRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!!!!!

  13. Ray

    And never mind the fact that currently in Ohio, when you go for your drivers test you only get a piece of paper not the actual hard plastic one. That takes 7 to 10 business days. I know this because just a week ago my 16-year-old daughter took her test, luckily not in a pizza delivery car, and she’s eagerly checking the mail every day.

  14. Professor Fate

    Friday “Hey i passed my drivers test”
    Saturday “Hey I passed my driver’s test.”
    Sunday “Hey I passed my driver’s test”
    Monday “Hey I passed my drivers test”
    Tuesday “Hey I passed my driver’s test”
    Lord this is turning into the comic strip version of 99 botttles of beer on the wall isn’t it? Seriously Andy Warhol’s 8 hour film of the Empire State building had more forward motion – the sun was moving for one thing.
    And as other’s have noted without the pizza shop topper or something on the side of the car how did the guy giving the test know it was a pizza delivery car? Are we to assume that when he got in the car to administer the test Aeedla said in perfect Clunky Funky Winkerbean dialogue “Good afternoon I am a ready to take my drivers test here in the Montoni’s pizza delivery car”? It seems to only possible answer.
    And as noted elsewhere this is a huge number of people working at a place where we have not seen a single customer in a week.

  15. Banana Jr. 6000

    Okay, Funky Winkerbean, I think we’ve congratulated Adeela enough. She doesn’t need to hold up her driver’s license like it’s a Nobel peace prize. Rachel doesn’t need to lean in to admire it like she’s never seen anything so amazing. And we definitely don’t need any more third panels where everyone laughs uproariously at something that’s not even a joke. And isn’t even true from what the strip showed us.

    • newagepalimpsest

      “She doesn’t need to hold up her driver’s license like it’s a Pulitzer Prize.”

      Oh my goodness what just happened?

  16. Dood

    Does anyone know if Adeela passed her driver’s test?

  17. The joke might be funny if they actually had pizzas to deliver during the road test.

    • See, that would actually work. “The officer administering the test that I passed to obtain my driver’s license said it was the first time he could recall in his years of service where delivering pizza’s was part of the test that he administered which I passed.” (Translated into Batiukian)

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      That sounds like a zany Act I plot.

  18. Count of Tower Grove

    Tee-hee! Tee-hee! The DMV officer never tested in a pizza delivery car! SMIRKS AWEIGH!

  19. Perfect Tommy

    Um, miss? You know the speed limit is 35 right?
    What part of under thirty minutes or it’s free don’t you understand pal?

  20. Maxine of Arc

    Well, since absolutely nothing of interest is happening in the strip, I’ll just let y’all know that the National Zoo’s giant panda cub is doing great, starting to look like a panda, good visibility on the cams.

    • SeaCountry

      Baby sure put up a mighty ruckus during that veterinary exam, though! Nothing wrong with the little gal or guy’s lungs at all!

  21. William Thompson

    And one of our neighborhood’s abandoned cats now lets me pet her when I feed her. It’s only taken her a year to become that friendly. Give Maggie another year and she may become socialized enough for me to hand her over to the Humane Society. Let’s see Batiuk say as much for one of his characters!

    • comicbookharriet

      Well, Maddie in the strip has already been handed over to the Humane Society. She was sent to a nice farm upstate.

  22. Cabbage Jack

    How does he look at weeks like this one and honestly say to himself “well that is some excellent story-telling Tom, old boy. Folks are sure going to love this!”

    A whole week in which a tertiary character’s crisis couldn’t be less dramatic followed by the big reveal that another tertiary character engaged in a perfectly mundane activity?

    • Charles

      Seriously, did he think there were people out there hoping for an “Adeela gets her driver’s license” story? Did he think there were people out there who were hoping for an Adeela storyline? Did he think there were people out there who’d even remember Adeela if she never appeared in the strip again?

      Of course, he’s not actually interested in Adeela here. The actual story is “Wally, who has become one of my pet project characters once I put him in glasses and realized I couldn’t simply have every story be about how terrified is he of everything, has something he can feel smug about.”

  23. Westview Radiology

    Sooooo Adelaide has developed the “Westview Smirk” shown in panel three !