And All the World is Football Shaped

He may be the only Westviewian who’s not enthralled with comic books. But for someone who dreaded high school gym class, Les is…not uninterested in sports. He plays tennis (but only against easily defeated, out-of-shape opponents like Bull and Funky). He’s not real good swinging a bat (except in his mind), but he raised a basketball phenom, and we know he watches hoops on TV with his current wife. Never pictured him as a football fan, though. But Les being Les, he and St. Lisa saw no mere game, but rather “a model for dealing with and overcoming adversity“. Assuming he’s watching the Cleveland Browns, like everyone else in Batiuk’s realm, that actually begins to make sense.

48 Comments

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48 responses to “And All the World is Football Shaped

  1. William Thompson

    “–and not a chance to see some mean old sporto suffer a crippling injury on the field!”

    • Epicus Doomus

      Announcer: “And if you’re the squeamish type you might not want to watch these twelve ultra-HD slo-mo replays…you can actually see the bones popping out as the ankle is torn from the leg…oh dear, we hope he’s OK.”

      Les, reclining smugly in chair: “Heh, shoulda studied harder in school there, sporto!”

  2. Epicus Doomus

    I assumed the gag is that they were playing fantasy football, then I started to doubt it, now I’m not really sure. I can’t believe he gave Les and Lisa their own special pandemic to enjoy together, but then again I totally can. Sigh.

    Speaking of things I detest: Les. I despise that pompous hand gesture he’s making in panel one and the less said about Les’ comma eyes the better. The saddest thing about this arc is that one day soon BatYam will do one of his regular puff-piece interviews and he’ll start gloating about the “pandemic” arc he did and THIS will be what he means. Sigh.

  3. Cleve Cloven

    And that does it. Now he’s lost his audience TWICE.

  4. Banana Jr. 6000

    Les, if a football team ever gave up on a game as hard as you gave up on Lisa, they’d be indicted for match fixing.

  5. B4B

    “And I’ve got 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 …”

    I get the reference, so to speak.

  6. J.J. O'Malley

    You know, normally I will leave a comment revolving around how badly done that day’s “punchline” is. Thing of it is, I can’t do that today because I’m not even sure there’s any sort of joke here, just a tiresome “sports is life” metaphor (Frankly, I’m not sure his old pal “Bull” Bushka would say it helps you overcome adversity if you’re almost always losing). And what is with the dig at fantasy football? Did he bet heavily on Kansas City last month? And, lastly, WHY is this fakakta book signing/lecture taking place?

    • none

      The Type A standalone FW strip is “let’s smirk at a lame pun”.

      Type B is “let’s be judgmental of someone we’re supposed to agree that deserves contempt”.
      These persons are typically people like the sportos, or the dumb kiddos, or the extortos who only want things to flip them on flea bay; today, it is the griftos who only care about gambling in relation to sports – a mentality which is below that of Les.

      Of course, FF didn’t exist in nearly the same way then as it does now, so it would have made more sense to say that they simply cast derision upon the bettos rather than target FF, but then, maybe we wouldn’t have gotten that reference, so it’s a good thing he didn’t let that technicality get in the way of today’s cutting message.

      Take that, you fucking piece of shit griftos.

      • Mr. A

        I expect Les to be unpleasantly sanctimonious. But I must admit, I never expected him to extend his disdain to people who enjoy sports the wrong way. Say what you will, the man’s got range.

        • Banana Jr. 6000

          Where does this anti-fantasy football sentiment even come from? It’s not meant to be a joke; he delivers it with a grim, judgmental face. It’s completely out of tone with the rest of his presentation.

          And fuck you, Les, for daring to lecture people about “overcoming adversity” when you fold at every minor obstacle. It’s practically your defining trait.

  7. J.J. O'Malley

    Oh, and kudos, TFH, for the “Senses Working Overtime” reference. Seeing it linked to Les Moore really makes this “The Agony and the XTC.”

  8. louder

    Not surprised that someone from Cancerville focuses on the losing aspect of sports instead of the striving to overcome the odds to win angle. Must be why his name is Less.

  9. Gerard Plourde

    The tone of Les’s monologue bears a remarkable resemblance to his therapy sessions at the beginning of Act III. Why would anyone want to voluntarily sit through this without being paid to listen?

    And just to be clear, as far as I know, winning loads of cash from fantasy football wasn’t a thing until DraftKings and FanDuel came along which was after Lisa’s death.

  10. Banana Jr. 6000

    I’ve developed a head canon that Les is like of Hawkeye from the last episode of MASH. Les is still in denial about his “dead chicken.”

    Les failed Lisa. His bad advice, selfishness, and inability to speak out killed her almost as much as the cancer did. And on some level, he knows it. That’s why he’s spent the last 13 years running all over creation, trying to “protect Lisa” from nothing in particular. It’s why he’s in this bookstore right now, telling a bunch of strangers about Lisa, when he should be teaching his class. Look at him boast of his knowledge and resilience, which were not in evidence when Lisa needed his help. He failed her in life, and he’s trying to make it up to her in death.

    Look at those smug, empty eyes in the third panel. That’s not the face of an after-dinner speaker telling a joke. That’s the face of a deeply insecure man taking a shot at some random audience member, just so he won’t be the lowest person in the room. You don’t fool me, Les.

    So why does everyone else in Westview put up with this? It’s a small town, and Les is somewhat popular. I like to think his friends indulged his behavior for awhile, in hopes he’d come to terms with Lisa’s death. But his dysfunction went on too long and got too big. No one dares say anything about it now. Least of all Cayla, who gives off signs of being trapped in her marriage.

    That’s why Les demands complete control over this Lisa movie. He knows that if anyone else starts digging into the events of Lisa’s life, marriage and death, it will paint an unflattering picture of him. We all know what Les’ ego is like; can you imagine how he must portray himself in those books? No wonder he hated Lust for Lisa; it would have been closer to the truth than The Last Leaf was.

    And yet, he still can’t – or won’t – say no. When Mason Jarre approached him about reviving the movie project, all he had to say was “no.” He said “yes”, hoped Hollywood would drop the ball, and whined the whole time. Because despite his fixation on Lisa, he still wants the money and the fame and the awards and the ego-stroking. Remember when Les was nominated for an Eisner award? He wasn’t protecting Lisa then.

    I don’t even hate Les anymore. I pity him. I pity him because I see through him. His snotty attitude, his terrible jokes, and his dragging Lisa into everything are just his conscience trying to make amends for what he did and what he failed to do. He’s beating himself up much better than 16-year-old Bull Bushka could ever dream of doing.

    • Gerard Plourde

      Banana Jr. 6000,
      The Les you’ve created is complex and nuanced and even plausible given the material the nearly half century run of this strip has provided. Sadly, I don’t hold out much hope that TomBa could pull together the threads he’s dropped as imaginatively as you have.

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        Thanks! And trust me, I have zero hope that Tom Batiuk would ever make his Mary Sue character face up to anything. He’s such an inept writer I don’t even want to see him try. Look at this week: Les gets center stage to talk about his precious Lisa some more, and look what he has to say: I read books! I went to the grocery store! We watched TV together! Scintillating,

        I’d love to see someone else take over this comic strip and change the tone, like happened with Mark Trail, but Batiuk’s ego will never allow that.

        • ComicBookHarriet

          I don’t think you ever could, or should, remove Batiuk from the Winkerbean equation. His weird hangups and eccentricities are so integral to the flavor and structure of the strip. It’s a horrifying house of cards, and removing Batiuk would make the whole thing tumble down. Like a Neil Breen film not starring Neil Breen.

          • Maxine of Arc

            I have somehow only just discovered the cinematic ouevre of Neil Breen, so I can triumphantly shout from the back row “Got the reference!”

          • Banana Jr. 6000

            Yeah, I get what you mean. I’ve praised the Mark Trail reboot, but at the same time its awkward 1940s feel was a a big part of its charm.

            I guess I cling to the romantic notion that there’s something left in Funky Winkerbean, beyond Batiuk’s weirdness, that’s worth saving. It was once a welcome stop on my daily tour of the funny pages. The residents of Westview used to be good characters. And they could be again if a writer would give them something worthwhile to do.

          • Charles

            That said, if Les inexplicably showed up at Bull’s crash site, cradled the dead Bull in his arms, wiped Bull’s blood all over his face and then said:

            “I can’t believe you committed suicide. I cannot believe you committed suicide. How could you have done this? How could you have committed suicide?”

            It would have been the funniest Funky Winkerbean strip in about 35 years.

            But in that scenario, Bull wouldn’t have committed suicide. Linda would have killed him, which, you know.

          • Charles

            …following up on my previous post.

            The one that Batiuk can actually do involves Lisa coming back to life, acquiring a corporeal form, which, since she has the ability to use phones, make out with Les and call in bomb threats even though she’s dead, isn’t that big a stretch.

            So when Les meets her they go to the damnable park bench and have sex. At the same time, Cayla is overdosing on painkillers in bed. Les comes home after having sex with Reincarnated Lisa to find Cayla dead in bed and just quietly cradles her while telling her to wake up. He doesn’t call 911 or Poison Control or anything.

            And then that very night, he and Reincarnated Lisa sleep together in the same bed that Cayla killed herself on.

            “So, uh, your wife’s suicide really worked out there for you, huh?”

            It wouldn’t be out of place in this strip.

    • Professor Fate

      A brilliant analysis of the character. It makes everything fall into place especially his insistence on controlling every aspect of the memory of St Lisa and yet crowding her out of her own story (we three days into his lecture on how I took care of Lisa but we haven’t seen her once). And yes his guilt at his passively accepting Lisa’s decision to fold up and die is eating him alive.
      And oh yes I used to play fantasy football – first prize was well first prize no money. I found it enjoyable and would still be doing it if the game was still going on mostly because the teams I follow – for one The Jets would usually be out of playoff contention the third week into the season.

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        Lisa gave up on treatment so quickly that frankly, it should have raised ethical questions. In real life, people that young don’t choose to die that easily. Unless they’ve got something that’s rare, nasty, and untreatable, with a short prognosis.

        Les basically told Lisa to commit suicide. Because he was okay with her death. And she did it. She never questioned it. He never rethought it later. He could have spoken up at any point and suggested she resume treatment, get angry at the people who gave her a wrong diagnosis, or at least tried to tell her that life is worth living. He didn’t do squat. Lisa will haunt him for the rest of his shitty life. And it’s 100% what he deserves.

  11. You guys! I was just in the SoSF dashboard and noticed that this is the 4,000th post on Son of Stuck Funky! Could never have attained this dubious milestone without Epicus Doomus and all guest authors past and present. And thank you all our wonderful readers!

    • Bad wolf

      Good job everyone! I only notice it’s been so long whenever i think “didn’t Les’ daughter and her friends have a spot in this strip? Oh yeah that was… ten years ago.” Yikes.

      Well, thanks for the laughs, SOSF contributors… Not so fast, TB

    • ComicBookHarriet

      HOLY COW! Congrats on 4,000 posts. 4,000 days of, ‘damnit Les!’

    • Epicus Doomus

      Four thousand FW strips…the mind reels. Here’s to four thousand more. No, seriously.

  12. Hitorque

    It’s dumb because Les doesn’t realize degenerate gamblers have been making/losing a fortune betting football games for decades before fantasy football ever became a thing… Which oddly enough, any legit sports fan would know — But we always knew Les is a poser talking out of his ass…

    Oh and Batiuk, you’re also a good 10+ years behind the time when cracking jokes on fantasy football nerds would have been moderately funny…

    So why football instead of literally any other sport? Did Lisa get turned on by the brutal violence? She liked to watch Ohio State’s marching band? Did it make her feel better about cancer watching elite athletes in the prime of life getting crippled??

    • billytheskink

      Les doesn’t even realize that over a million Americans were playing fantasy football using notebook paper and newspaper box scores a decade before Lisa first got cancer, and millions upon millions more were playing it online when she was diagnosed.

  13. Rusty Shackleford

    Maybe the comics could be what they should be if crappy cartoonists like Batty weren’t getting paid.

    He loves to insinuate that money ruins everything, yet I’m sure he never turned down a check. And frankly, he’s overpaid.

  14. Rusty Shackleford

    Gotta love today’s Crapshaft. When Lisa died, she was immediately beatified by everyone in town.

    Wine loving Eleanor dies and all she gets is a snide comment from the Lillian.

    • Mr. A

      “Tragedy is when Lisa cuts her finger. Comedy is when Eleanor falls onto an organ’s keyboard and dies.” —Mel Brooks, probably

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      I love the juxtaposition of Batiuk’s two strips today. Lillian talks shit about a7 church organist while her corpse is still warm from dying mid-hymn. Meanwhile, Les drones on about that time in 2006 he watched TV with Lisa. And these are both supposed to be the “good” characters in this universe.

  15. sgtsaunders

    Guess who lost his shirt (unfortunately not the stank yellow one) playing fantasy football? Knowing Les, he probably found a way to get beat up while doing so.

  16. It’s hard to imagine a more self-centered person than Les. I can easily see him getting angry when someone suggests he sharpen his pencil in an electric sharpener rather than a hand-turned one.

  17. Don

    To be fair, he’s got a point with how fantasy football seems to be taking over the game. I can only imagine how many people have yelled at a TV screen because a player made a “heads up” play that cost them a fantasy game – for example, if you’re ahead by less than 8 with under 2 minutes to go, your opponents have no time outs, and you intercept a pass, you DON’T try to score a touchdown; you run out of bounds or take a knee so your team can run out the clock and win, rather than watch the opponents score, recover an onside kick, score again, and win in overtime.

    I wonder how Tom feels about college football. It’s not as if Kent State makes money from the sport, so it uses money that could be spent on, oh, I don’t know, say, how about, women’s basketball. (And I still have the feeling either Keisha or Summer will end up as Westview’s AD, where the first order of business is, How About That, get rid of football.)

  18. My favourite part of every “Meet the Author” event is when the author angrily rants about all of the things that his dead wife told him that she hated.

  19. Hitorque

    He’s lucky his audience is 99% old ladies, because shitting on anything football related in America’s heartland of Ahia would normally get you tarred and feathered

  20. Eldon of Galt

    I wouldn’t have thought it possible, but “Funky Winkerbean” just seems to get worse and worse. These last four months or so just may be the worst we have ever seen. Not a spectacular, car-crash, jump-the-shark sort of terrible, but a slow, grinding push of laziness and incompetence in writing and art, layers and layers of ineptitude, pointless stories, failed puns, irredeemable jerk characters. We may be in the midst of a truly record-setting era.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      A new Funkyblog post is up, but it doesn’t address this week’s strips. In fact I think this one was up before, removed, and put back. I feel like I was going to comment on it a couple weeks ago. I’ll do it now:

      The Stars Like Dust is not my favorite of Asimov’s empire novels.

      A standard opening move from Batiuk: criticizing writers who are much better than him.

      Apparently, the book was not one of Asimov’s favorites either. Asimov’s problem with it was a conceit that was shoehorned into it over his better judgement.

      Tom Batiuk writes like the “before” sentence in a Grammarly commercial. His writing is full of indecisive, unnecessary words. Here he uses the word “apparently” twice in the same paragraph, to describe Asimov’s dislike of The Stars Like Dust. Which is also a research failure, because a quick web search turns up Asimov himself calling it his “least favorite novel.” On the first Google hit. Which was the Wikipedia page for the book.

      Batiuk goes on to say, in so many words that I can’t even paraphrase them well, that Asimov’s publisher forced him to add a unwanted plot element to the book. We’ll come back to that.

      My lack of strong enthusiasm for the book stems from the fact it’s Asimov’s closest veer towards the space opera type of writing that he eschewed.

      Oh, and Batiuk loves using big words for no good reason. “My disappointment with the book stems from it being Asimov’s closest flirtation with the ‘space opera’ genre he avoided” would have been fine. And “stems from” could probably be improved.

      The hero is handsome, muscled and viral

      I think you mean “virile.”

      the heroine is young, fair and beautiful, and the plot runs along the lines of the typical capture, escape, and chase stories of the day.

      Yeah, because nobody is entertained by attractive people doing amazing things. No, we want to watch 55-year-old schlubs drone on for days about their most banal life experiences!

      To be fair, the content does give its due to Asimov’s societal and political thoughts on possible galactic development, but not with the same passion and fascination as I recall in the Foundation books.

      Basically, at the end of the day, what I’m trying to say is, Asimov’s societal and political thoughts on society and politics failed to oscillate with this proletariat bibliophile due to the lack of, and especially because of, the dearth of perfervid, mesmerizing prose included in, and exemplified by, the Foundation series, which apparently includes “Second Foundation” and “Forward The Foundation.”

      The ironic thing for me is that I kind of liked the (editor’s) suggested element that Asimov rued adding to the work.

      Okay, now, this is interesting. An Asimov book has a plot element that Asimov himself didn’t want to include. But, an Asimov enthusiast thinks it was a worthwhile addition. I wonder… Batiuk’s not going to tell us what it was, is he?

      On to The Currents of Space.

      Nope!

      • ComicBookHarriet

        “The hero is handsome, muscled and viral”

        Well, that certainly doesn’t leave much to the imagination.

      • Gerard Plourde

        This was posted before. Semi-spoiler – the same plot device was similarly exploited in Star Trek (TOS) in the episode “The Omega Glory”.

        • Maxine of Arc

          And in “Starbuck Effing Jones.” I can’t tell if Batiuk likes space opera with the wide-eyed joy of a 9-year-old in 1950 or finds it beneath him, or is embarrassed to like it, or whatever.

  21. billytheskink

    Les just likes football because without it he wouldn’t have ever had a book published. Lisa found that lump on her breast after being tackled playing a pickup game of football.

  22. Charles

    He may be the only Westviewian who’s not enthralled with comic books

    You know, you’re not wrong, but I just have to say it’s amazing that you can say this about a guy who, with his bride, dressed up as Batman and Robin for their wedding.

    Les was also the only person in the school of comic book fans who recognized that Owen was not dressed up as Spiderman one Halloween, but the Spider Clone from some comic book sequence years earlier.

    • Fair enough, Charles!

      • Charles

        I just realized that you might read this as critical of you. That’s not what I meant at all.

        I just meant that it’s incredible that a guy who you can legitimately call “the only Westviewian who [might not be] enthralled with comic books” would nonetheless dress up as Batman for his wedding. Everyone else is so into comic books that Les and Lisa doing that doesn’t label them “obsessed with comic books” in this community. I mean, does he wear a Batman t-shirt every single day? Does he liquidate his daughter’s college fund to buy Tarzan comic book compilations? Has he been wearing a Starbuck Jones Decoder Ring every single day for the last sixty eight years? Does he talk reverently about superheroes as someone else might talk about Jesus, saying that they “saved” him? Did he pay 8 grand for a life-size doll of a superhero?

        No? Then he’s a lightweight. He and his wife need to dress up as Batman and Robin every anniversary, and then we might talk about what they can further do to become real comic enthusiasts in this community.