Respect Your elf

Link to today’s strip.

Wow. This strip really gives “nothing” a chance to stretch out. I mean, I cannot think of a single thing that’s worthy of comment here.

It’s not funny. It’s not educational. It’s not poignant.

It’s nothing at all. As Spock would say, “It occupies space.”

It would be one thing if the elf costumes were outlandish or otherwise goofy, but they aren’t. They don’t look embarrassing at all. I guess one could question why they’re dressed as elves in the first place–it’s possible the kiosk is labelled “Santa’s Wrapping Workshop” but the name is obscured by that deathless dialogue.


Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

26 responses to “Respect Your elf

  1. Epicus Doomus

    The scene: Comic Con 2022 (“Now COVID-free for almost one year!”), the Tom Batiuk booth.

    TB: “Are there any questions?”

    Me: “Yes. Back in December 2020 you did a holiday arc featuring Summer and Keisha. Cayla said they were finishing up their college careers, but they started at KSU back in 2012, which means they attended college for nine years. I mean, are we to believe this is some sort of (chortle) magic college where you can just keep going and never graduate or what? I sure hope someone got fired over THAT blunder!”

    TB: “Let me ask YOU a question. How on earth do you even KNOW that?”

    Me: “Uh, I withdraw my question. Oh, by the way, do I really have to buy that book to get an autograph or will you just sign this gas station receipt for me?”

    TB: “Whaddya YOU think?”

    • ComicBookHarriet

      Magical comic book time is magical. I mean. If a year is a year in funkyverse then shouldn’t Skyler be in fifth grade?

      • Margaret

        You know, I’ve been thinking that same thing. Yes, FW is hilariously bad for all kinds of reasons, but we may be piling on Batiuk unfairly over the time thing. Why would we assume that time passes in the strip exactly as it does in real life? I mean, if that were true, then Les spent three days getting out of his car and confronting Mason when Mason was following him and Cayla. And that Cindy and Marianne were out on that roof waiting to get rescued from the fire for two or three days. I wonder that since Batiuk is aware of this site and annoyed by it, he’s never explained his blog what the relation of the strip to real time is supposed to be. He probably doesn’t keep careful track of it, but I doubt it’s intended to be 1:1.

        • newagepalimpsest

          I agree that there’s no way it’s meant to be “real time.” I guess it’s just funnier to imagine Summer and Keisha’s neverending First Year, rather than their exile to a bad “Saved By the Bell” episode.

          (At least the time loop means that the Mall Santa can’t possibly be Crankshaft, unless they have traveled back in time to Centreville Mall…)

        • Charles

          I might consider it unfair if he applied the time inconsistency consistently. At least then it shows that it’s a plan. Meanwhile, it’s taken Summer and Keisha 8 years to age 3.5 while Funky aged about 18 years in the same amount of time. Either that or Funky’s been somewhere between 10 and 13 years older than the rest of his high school classmates.

          Which reminds me that the rest of Funky’s generation has been aging 1 in-strip year to 1 RL year throughout the entirety of Act III. Who the hell knows what’s been going on with Dorkin, Mopey and their peers. They might be anywhere from 1 to 1 to being 5 years younger than they were when Act III started.

        • billytheskink

          TB isn’t doing anything necessarily wrong (by comic strip standards) by inconsistently applying time to his characters and stories, but I will argue that he also hasn’t earned any fairness from us. We nitpick these inconsequential things because TB has insisted that we take his comic strip so very seriously and has acted as if his work is above criticism because it sometimes involves “real life” issues that are not humorous… while he also retcons with abandon and often poorly researches his trademark “substantial ideas”.

          I think our reactions of “Summer and Keisha are STILL in college?!” and counting the years since their graduation was depicted come less from a place of frustration with TB’s use of time and more from a place of frustration with his use (or lack thereof) of these two characters. Frankly, it feels like they’ve been in college for an absurd amount of time because they have both barely appeared or have even been mentioned since they left high school. Yesterday, Cayla lead off the strip with a tremendously awkward bit of expository dialogue because even TB doesn’t think his readers remember these two are in life.

          Compare Summer and Kiesha’s generation in FW to the title character and friends in Luann, which I also thought made a rocky transition from high school to college in many ways. One thing it did do fairly well though, especially compared to this strip, is let the reader know what all of these characters were doing. We know who goes to college where, who lives with who, and the characters that appear sparingly or have been essentially written out pretty much all received some closure about their whereabouts. In this trainwreck, though: we don’t know if Summer or Kiesha are even still on the Kent State basketball team, we don’t know what Cory and Rocky do besides occasionally appear at Montoni’s, we don’t know what encouraged Rana to return to the Muslim religion, we don’t know if Jinx or Maddie are even still alive. We don’t know hardly ANYTHING about this entire generation of once-regularly appearing characters even though ALL of these characters’ parents remain regulars in the strip.

  2. William Thompson

    They really went along with Cayla’s wacky, degrading plan? I don’t know what they’re majoring in, but the prerequisite classes must be “Cult Behavior 101” and “Introductory Abject Obedience.”

  3. Banana Jr. 6000

    This feels like a Laverne & Shirley plot. Except it’s completely devoid of humor or charm.

  4. Charles

    Not to compliment Batiuk, but this strip is uncharacteristically concise. Normally it’d be something like this:

    “Well, here we are at the X Mall doing the jobs that your mom got us!”
    “The X Mall is very busy during the Christmas Season!”
    “Yes it most certainly is!”
    “Just look at all the people who will need gift wrapping assistance from us, because that is the job that we were hired to do!”
    “Yes, but I am not too troubled, because the job isn’t that bad.”
    “No, it is not bad at all.”
    “But I’m sure we can find something to dislike about it.”
    “Yes, I don’t like that they make us wear elf costumes.”
    “I knew you’d come through for us.”
    “That’s my other job.”

    The following day:
    “Having a job wrapping gifts at the mall during Christmas season certainly is a way to keep you busy during your college winter break!”
    “What an odd thing to say to me. I mean, I’ve been here with you the whole time, dumbass.”

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      You’re right, it is competently constructed. There’s just no punchline. There’s no exaggeration or juxtaposition of anything to create any humor. It’s just two ordinary-looking people wearing ordinary costumes in an ordinary situation. Aren’t these basketball players? The elf costumes should be too small. They should look uncomfortable. They should be too big for their environment. The costumes should be outlandish, skimpy, or embarrassing. If anything, they actually look like elves!

      • Mr. A

        I guess the idea is that elf costumes are inherently wacky and/or degrading? I mean, it does feel a bit odd to say that dressing as a fairy-tale creature is “ordinary”…

        Maybe this is a generation-gap thing, and everyone over the age of 70 is laughing uproariously.

        • Banana Jr. 6000

          Not getting the jokes in Pluggers is a generation gap thing. Even if I don’t get them, they’re written coherently enough that I can see what they’re aiming at.

          This is a visual gag. The humor depends on the costume being humiliating for the wearer. We have to see it. Or, there has to be context. Instead, we get two Funky Winkerbean staples: telling us one thing and showing us another, and a character groaning about something that’s not worth groaning about.

          I have two theories about why Batiuk does this: one, he thinks he’s being subtle, as if those two idiot smirks carry all the emotional weight of Marilyn Monroe raising an eyebrow. Or, he’s referencing an ancient obscure gag that he expects his readership to instantly recognize.

  5. billytheskink

    That’s a mall? Looks like a Kmart that closed and was converted into a flea market that has now also closed.

  6. J.J. O'Malley

    I think the sign over that kiosk says “GIRLS ROPED INTO GIFT WRAPPING.” But then, I think Battyuk meant the sign in panel one to read “THE MALL,” but the “E” fell off. It’s funny how much today’s strip looks like it should be taking place about 2004 or so (a crowded mall, maskless shoppers, elf costumes, Keisha and Summer looking like they’re about to start college).

    • Gerard Plourde

      “It’s funny how much today’s strip looks like it should be taking place about 2004 or so”

      Interesting that you should say that. It’s been speculated that the last few strips were filler culled from strips that were hanging around. This week’s offering would make more sense if it took place during Summer’s and Keisha’s senior year of high school in 2011-12.

  7. newagepalimpsest

    Well look at Keisha, getting to speak in TWO consecutive strips for the first time in years? Possibly ever?

    She’s right about the costumes, by the way.

  8. Barnaby Scones

    The image of Santa doubled over a North Pole toilet as he spews up fish head soup doesn’t tarnish the holiday spirit as much as these two assholes.

  9. ComicBookHarriet

    On what planet would a parent randomly sign their adult child up for a job without consulting them? I mean, even if we’re in comic book land and Summer is only finishing her FOURTH year of college, the girl is a minimum 22?

    Suddenly Caucayla seems a bit sinister. Like a mom that forever sees her children as extensions of herself to arrange and manage without discussion.

  10. erdmann

    My son currently dates a senior college basketball player. Most years, as I understand it, the season would already be underway. This year, thanks to COVID-19, she doesn’t have a game until January. Still, she was only able to come home for a few days last week, then had to return to college for a couple more weeks for practices and such. So, even with the pandemic, she wouldn’t have time to take a holiday job in the area mall that was already half empty before the virus hit.

    Oh, and she’s 5’2. Not sure how she fares at basketball, but she would probably make a good elf. No Zooey Deschanel, mind you, but…

    • Maxine of Arc

      Out of curiosity, do you know what position she plays? She must be a heckuva player to hold her own against what I’m guessing are a lot of taller girls.

  11. Perfect Tommy

    These two should head over to Small Wonders at Sally Forth.
    Jackie needs an off-beat hook to boost sales.

  12. ian'sdrunkenbeard

    Her hand gestures show
    As she works at the mall,
    Poor Keisha’s shirt
    Is two sizes too small.

  13. Westview Radiology

    Summer is so smirk~a~licious !!