A Paltry Substitution.

Link To Today’s Strip

Dinkle’s back. We’ve had to suffer through an inordinate about of Dinkle this winter. From piano lessons to turkey shenanigans to OMEA. It almost seems like Batiuk is intentionally giving us a break from Lisa’s Cancer Movie Extravaganza. Is he trying to reset our sensitivity to the storyline? Like letting a prisoner stew in the hole for a few weeks before bringing them back out for another round of enhanced interrogation.

Had a moment of confusion on my first read. Who the heck is Mrs. Howard? You mean One-Armed-Becky? The wife of Dead-Skunk-Head? I’m so far removed from thinking of either of them having surnames. I can barely remember DSH is named John.

I don’t think that this is a Dinkle strip that’s going to get cut out and pasted on many doors. The joke is anemic, but tolerable enough. Shrewd old teacher is down with substitute pranks. But this must either be a Freshman band class, or Dinkle hasn’t substituted for three years straight, otherwise the kids should be wise to his wisdom.

The real thing holding this strip back is the atrocious art in panels one and three. What is that hand in panel one? I could draw a better hand left handed. All the poor kids have horrible receding hairlines. I half expect that panel two was changed to black outline after the fact. After Ayers drunkenly turned in a scribbly panel of twenty mangled high school students as seen through a cracked funhouse mirror.


Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

30 responses to “A Paltry Substitution.

  1. Epicus Doomus

    It’s not a gag aimed toward band directors and it’s not a gag aimed toward substitute teachers, it’s a gag aimed toward substitute band teachers, which is one hell of a specific niche demographic right there. How many substitute band teachers are there and how many of those substitute band teachers read FW regularly? Since one can assume they enjoy band way too much and have lots of spare time to sit around reading the newspaper, I’m going to guess there’s at least one, who’s no doubt taping this one to his refrigerator door as we speak. He or she is definitely using tape and they’re definitely applying it haphazardly, too.

    I get the joke, that the kids all switched instruments to f*ck with the sub, but the sub is Dinkle, who’s literally there all the time. And it’s already February, thus it seems kind of hard to believe that he wouldn’t already be very familiar with these students by now. But hey, it’s not like it’s suddenly gonna get all logical now, right?

    • gleeb

      I guess they were told there would be a substitute, but not who it would be. The omission here would be why Lefty isn’t in class. Has she flown to Texas to see her internist?

  2. William Thompson

    Some change! Eye detest this story as much as the last one.

  3. none

    To further reinforce the judgment of the art as poor, try drawing some extended perspective lines in Panel 3 among the background bulletin board, the door, and the adjacent window tiles. Euclid may be asking for some HCl eye drops after that.

  4. Sorry, I don’t know what the joke is supposed to be. I know that for David Bowie’s “Lodger” album he and Eno had folks switch instruments…but that was supposed to be an experiment.

    Here…I don’t even know. Why would Becky have people swap instruments with those they’re unfamiliar with? What would be the point? The students are supposed to be educated in the instrument that they’ve chosen, so they, can, like, play that instrument in a band concert.

    I know, I know, expecting “a point” is a fool’s errand, but still….

    • Epicus Doomus

      I believe the joke is that upon learning they had a sub that day, they switched instruments just to mess with the sub, which is a thing that often happens to substitute band teachers, I guess. It’s a very specific gag that’s aimed only at them, as they’re the only ones who’ll really get it aside from a small handful of obsessive Tom Batiuk observers. I needed some time to parse this one too, but remembering who wrote it made the “point” much more clear, believe it or not.

      • Gerard Plourde

        I agree that that’s what the joke for today’s gag-a-day installment is. My problem with it is that Band, like Art or Theater, is an elective that students who are interested in the subject voluntarily take. They probably wouldn’t engage in those kinds of shenanigans. I’d expect kids in Les Moore’s class to switch seats on a substitute (if the class has a seating chart), but this makes no sense.

        Also, given how much time Dinkle spends in the Band Room at Westview, shouldn’t he pretty much know most, if not all, of the students already?

        Finally, if Dinkle is working as a substitute, that means he’s back on the district’s payroll. Or does TomBa think that a volunteer can just waltz in to cover a class for someone?

        • …Band, like Art or Theater, is an elective that students who are interested in the subject voluntarily take. They probably wouldn’t engage in those kinds of shenanigans.

          You must not have been in your high school band. The shenanigans were great!

  5. J.J. O'Malley

    Well, I’m at least relieved that the students who went with Lefty and Dinkleberg to Columbus for the Music Educators Conference, only to be left to fend for themselves in the convention center lobby, apparently found their way home.

    On the other hand, does the timeline of today’s band room shenanigans even make any sense? The students switched their instruments around before learning that there’d be a substitute teacher? And Dinkleberg–who is supposed to be RETIRED and giving private lessons in his home, shows up and is aware of the prank before they even play a note?

    Can someone please prescribe some eye drops for me? I have a feeling I’m going to need them this week.

  6. billytheskink

    There is so much more entertainment potential in Dinkle subbing and bringing his megalomania to any and every class or subject other than band. Heck, he could get pressed into subbing for English class when Les is off galavanting in California griping about movies and surviving fires. It practically writes itself! It doesn’t literally write itself, of course, because then it would turn out like today’s strip…

  7. Banana Jr. 6000

    Folks, today may be the first day of the 50th Anniversary arc: Dinkle’s permanent return to Westview High School as its band teacher.

    • saturnino

      Hey, when we reach the 50 year point, maybe the strip could begin to regress (unlike PJ Diaries) to its starting point so that new readers would think the strip is improving!

  8. erdmann

    I usually read the main post, then the comic, then the comments. Today, however, I read the strip first and had absolutely no clue what Dinkle was talking about until I read the post. My guess is that, of the 17 Funky Winkerbean readers in the world who don’t hang out here, 14 of them will be equally mystified.

  9. Banana Jr. 6000

    I want to hear the internal H.R. conversation that led to this. “Oh, no! The band teacher Mrs. Howard can’t be here this week! And we’re a large public high school that has absolutely no way to hire substitute teachers when needed! What about that creepy old guy who left 12 years ago but still constantly hangs around the band room? Let’s use him!”

    This is how molestation cases happen. Somebody with no reason to be at a school hangs around long enough to become “trusted”, and one day gets unmonitored access to children. No way should this happen in the 2020s.

  10. @beckoningchasm: …I know that for David Bowie’s “Lodger” album he and Eno had folks switch instruments…but that was supposed to be an experiment.

    I saw the Dead at the Capitol in Passaic on April Fools Day 1980. They switched intstruments to open with a terrible “Promised Land.”

    I’m applying the “knowing smirks” tag to this post. It’s for strips where background (or in today’s case, foreground) characters grin delightedly at each other when the punchline is delivered. The kid on the left is so amused he must stifle a guffaw with his hand!

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Yeah, those kids look way too happy to have been outwitted by the legendary Harry Dinkle. They should be annoyed that their prank failed. And Dinkle could be a little less triumphant. He looks like MacArthur returning to the Philippines. Batiuk’s joketelling is wordy, vague, and unclear. But when he wants you to like one of his characters, he can’t say it loudly enough. His shilling is the worst.

  11. In case you missed it on the Battyblog:

    Join us online this Tuesday, February 16 at 7 p.m. for a very special event as we look forward to the 15th anniversary Ohioana Book Festival in April! Each year, we call upon an Ohio illustrator to design poster art for the Ohioana Book Festival. This year’s special anniversary poster was designed by Tom Batiuk, the award-winning cartoonist and creator of the beloved comic strips Funky Winkerbean and Crankshaft. On Tuesday at 7 we will do a live “reveal” of Tom’s poster on Zoom, plus a conversation between Tom and Ohioana executive director David Weaver. Audience members will have an opportunity to ask Tom questions at the end of the program, which will also be streamed live on Facebook and YouTube.

    AND, if you register for the event on Eventbrite, you will be entered to win a signed copy of Tom’s 2021 Ohioana Book Festival title, The Complete Funky Winkerbean Volume 10, 1999 – 2001, published by the Kent State University Press.
    Here is the link to register.

  12. bobanero

    I was never in band, so I can’t grasp the hilarity of such a prank. So the substitute teacher comes in and everyone is playing someone else’s instrument? Is the joke that they’ll all sound terrible? But the way this band class has been portrayed, they all sound terrible anyway, so what kind of prank is that? At best, it’s just an annoyance. And, unless Ms Howard is going to be out for an extended period of time or there is some important event coming up, I wouldn’t expect a substitute band teacher to actually be leading a rehearsal. I would just expect them to put on a video of Amadeus or old marching band videos or something to fill the time.

  13. William Thompson

    Batiuk, this is how to tell a running joke about a lousy band with a lousy leader: