The Old Rugged Crossover

Link to today’s strip.

So, if you’re lucky enough that you don’t follow Crankshaft, you’ll have no idea who these people are or what’s going on.

I rarely look at it; Batiuk is insufferable enough when he’s trying to be serious, but he’s unbearable when he tries to be funny. The short version is that a church organist died right in the middle of a service, and the much-loathed Lillian was drafted as a replacement. Although based on today’s thing, it looks like she’s not so much a replacement as a downgrade.

My question is this: when we see Crankshaft in Funky Winkerbean, he’s a barely sentient pile fastened to a wheelchair in the assisted living home. In Crankshaft, he and Lillian appear to be roughly the same age (if anything I’d say she’s older). So why isn’t she in Bedside Manor in a similar condition? “Well, we’d have no story.” That’s no excuse, we haven’t had a story in years.

Let me say, too, that the timeline is very confusing here. The “organist dies” bit just happened in Crankshaft. I suppose it’s possible that today’s strip is happening years later, but the scheduling of the two strips makes it seem like it’s all happening at the same time. Not even a fig leaf of dialogue, “Well, I’ve been the organist now for ten years” or something (I don’t claim to be a writer). If you’re going to be confusing, it’s a good idea to have something of substance to make it worthwhile to unravel.

“Lillian” sure does have a lot of squiggly L’s. Good thing her last name isn’t Llewellyn.


Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

33 responses to “The Old Rugged Crossover

  1. Epicus Doomus

    Oh no. When he starts trotting out these stupid “Crankshaft” characters I am just lost, as I don’t read it, never have and never will. I realize that “Crankshaft” is mostly aimed squarely at the prized age 88-101 demographic and all, but nonetheless, I’m in no mood for six days of gags about arthritis and osteoporosis.

    So, what sort of church might this particular house of worship be? I’m assuming it’s some sort of fringe sect, the Defeatists, who believe you’re damned no matter what you do so what’s the difference anyhow. I likewise assume that the services themselves consist entirely of announcements about bake sales and tricky trays and involve all kinds of wry wordplay and stupid puns. And every service concludes with the pastor saying “meh, that could have been worse, I guess…go in peace and remember that any moment might very well be your last”.

  2. Mela

    Agreed, it is confusing. Did we miss a Crankshaft time jump or is Lillian still a bad organist years after Elenor face planted on the organ?

  3. Banana Jr. 6000

    “I heard a couple of clunkers in there. Lillian.”
    “Fine. I quit. Play it yourself, you snotty bitch.”

    Seriously, Tom Batiuk, you think it’s okay to talk to church volunteers like that?

    • billytheskink

      Not to mention that this already inappropriate exchange is happening during an actual church service! At first glance I thought Lillian was practicing with the choir, not noticing the congregation in the background of panels 2 and 3, obscured by Zip-A-Tone and tapioca pudding.

  4. Charles

    So NOW he’s going to start aging Lillian after having her look the same for literally 40 years now, including the last several years where she appeared often in this strip?

    Why start now?

    (I mean, I figure she’s about 127 years old at this point, but the last time she appeared, she looked exactly like she did 25 years ago, and that’s not including the damn 10 year time jump)

    • saturnino

      “she looked exactly like she did 25 years ago, and that’s not including the damn 10 year time jump”

      I suspect that karma got her after the Lucy-Eugene episode and aged her at that moment, to remain an ugly witch for the rest of her time on earth.

      • Charles

        Nah, this is the first day that Lillian has been shown as having appreciably aged. She showed up at Les’s damn Lisa’s Story Omelettes signing at the Big League Columbus Museum of Art in 2017. And there was a flashback in that sequence from well before Lisa died when Les had a signing at Lillian’s used book attic. (about a 25 year difference, by my reckoning) Lillian looked the same in both the current sequence and in the flashback, right down to clutching a random book in both panels.

        Basically, Lillian’s looked about the same since she first showed up on the scene as an old lady about 40 years ago. Today was the first time her appearance changed apparently due to aging.

  5. J.J. O'Malley

    “After 10 years of playing this organ, it’s these old fingers of mine that are the clinkers!” There, was that so hard?

    So, Lillian the Lizard is experiencing pain? Good.

    As for Epicus’s question regarding St. Spires’ denomination, I assumed they’re Reformed Roman Presbylutherist.

  6. William Thompson

    They can’t find another organist anywhere? Doesn’t Westview High have a music department where all sorts of people can handle a keyboard? Or where they can contact an organist? And if not Westview High, why not contact another church and ask for help?

    • Mr. A

      We already know from the official blog that they’re going to call Dinkle in.

      • Charles

        Because there certainly isn’t enough pointless Dinkle pap in this strip already.

        They should bring in Mary Henry and all that comes with her.

      • William Thompson

        Good. I want to see what happens when Dinkle steps on consecrated ground . . . oh No telling which deity it’s consecrated to in the Funkyverse.

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        Now that we’ve seen the beginning of this arc, that blog post makes… not much more sense, actually:

        So I had this story arc coming up in Funky that needed a church. So rather than make one up out of whole shroud, I just thought I’d borrow the little small town church from Crankshaft, St. Spires.

        Whaaaaaaaat? You wrote a story that takes place in that location! You’re not “borrowing” a church, any more than Charles Schulz borrowed a doghouse for the Red Baron scenes. “Rather than make one up”? How were you going to make up a location that already exists in your world?

        But then, as in any good Star Trek episode, an anomaly occurred.

        Do you mean a continuity error? Because that’s not what “anomaly” means. Especially not in Star Trek, where it usually means some plot-related space-time problem that Geordi and Data have to solve by reconfiguring something or other.

        This is why word choice matters. In writing, you pick the word that most clearly expresses what you’re trying to say. Tom Batiuk seems to do the opposite; he tries to be as ambiguous as possible, thinking it adds all this hidden subtext. It just makes him impossible to understand.

        In Funky, in a sort of quasi-crossover

        If a character from one continuity appears in another continuity, it’s a crossover. Period. Not sort of an apparently quasi some people say might possibly be virtually a semi crossover. Batiuk’s banquet of weasel words is bad enough, but he employs them about a widely understood term. He writes like he has no confidence in anything he’s saying.

        I had one of the St. Spires choir members make reference to the fact that there hadn’t been a man in the choir in years

        Then we see a panel where a woman says to Harry Dinkle “there was one gentleman in the choir, but he quit years ago.”

        Is this really an important plot point? You couldn’t just change the line so she said something else? I cannot imagine why this line is important to an arc of “Dinkle becomes the new church organist.”. I also can’t imagine this arc taking the month it’ll probably take, so I guess I’ll wait and see.

        while in this week’s Crankshaft there quite clearly was a man in the choir. But wait, you say… there was no man in the choir in this week’s Crankshaft. Well, there was, and then thanks to the magic of Photoshop, there wasn’t.

        How can we have seen the man if you edited him out before the comic strip was printed? Where do you get off mocking your readers for making an observation we can’t possibly have made?

        This is a real insight into how Tom Batiuk’s mind works. He makes this huge blog post about fixing this incredibly minor error, and lectures the people he thinks would have pointed it out. This is what he thinks we are. He thinks we’re all sitting around nitpicking trivial mistakes. We’re not. The stuff Batiuk gets wrong, and the stuff we talk about on this blog, are massive writing problems.

        If Batiuk wants to fix some continuity errors, I’ve got a couple for him:

        – How did Dinkle get his hearing back?
        – Why does Dinkle need another music job when he’s already a substitute teacher, private piano teacher, and constantly hangs around Westview High?
        – Why did Crankshaft spend a week giving Lillian the organist job just to take it away from her?
        – Why would St. Spires church be so critical of Lillian when they desperately need her to fill this role? You just showed this!
        – How does this crossover make any sense in light of the 10-year time difference that exists between these two worlds?
        – If “a man in the choir” really was a problem, why couldn’t it be fixed much more simply?

        Our male chorister was replaced by a woman who bears a striking resemblance to Hester Prynne.

        Hester Prynne is a fictional character from a novel. There is no definitive portrayal of her. Unless you only know her from the “Illustrated Classics” comic books… never mind, I answered my own question.

        And, thanks to the Secret Sauce, you now know the rest of the story.

        Thank you, Paul Harvey.

        Maybe now the nightmares will stop.

        Oh, screw you, Tom. You’re not a tortured artist, you’re an incredibly pampered one.

        • Hitorque

          That’s why I’ve never gone within ten miles of Batiuk’s blog… I’d be burning half my day writing hate screeds

          • Rusty Shackleford

            Yep, all that nonsense in an attempt to justify another Dinkle arc.

            The truth is,he made a mistake retiring him and killing off Lisa. Since he cannot create any new characters that are interesting, he has to look for more ways to keep Dinkle and Lisa front and center. The result is awkward and stupid.

        • billytheskink

          I actually think it is genuinely comical that TB cares so deeply about addressing this one continuity error that he caught before the strips made it to print while not caring one whit about the dozens (hundreds?) of continuity errors and retcons that SOSF has pointed out for over a decade now.

          He even used his blog to address an e-mail about one of his retcons (Les “saving” Lisa from the Montoni’s fire of ’97) from one of our own, basically saying “It’s my strip, I can retcon all I want even though what I just did isn’t a retcon because I used original artwork out of context and I don’t know what “retcon” actually means… but I can totally retcon things if I want to.”

          • Banana Jr. 6000

            Batiuk is just making a strawman out of his critics. He’s saying “oh, look how nitpicky my readers are, that I have to fix things like this.” And martyring himself, by showing off his photoshop work when the problem could have been solved much more easily. Look at the before picture:

            The man’s body wasn’t even drawn yet! It would have been easy to dress him as a non-choir member. And then “we don’t have a man in the choir” could be correct. The line he spoke, about God working through people, would have been better coming from a priest anyway. What a petulant, convoluted solution to a non-problem.

  7. Mr. A

    In an ideal world, we’d be able to tell from the artwork whether Lillian is ten years older or not. But here? No clue. Maybe we’ll have better luck tomorrow.

  8. Mr. A

    Had another thought. One of the reasons it’s hard to say “yes, this must be ten years later” is because the Crankshaft storyline never showed Lillian playing the organ. Here’s how it went: the old organist dropped dead in the middle of the service, Lillian got volun-told that she was the new organist, the end. If I had seen Lillian play the organ successfully, I could say, “ah, her arthritis must have gotten worse over the past ten years”. But as it stands, I can’t prove that Lillian has ever touched an organ before in her life.

    • J.J. O'Malley

      I don’t know if she has, but Lillian sure made certain that her sister would never touch a certain organ that she wanted to.

  9. ComicBookHarriet

    The Lilian/Cranky health difference doesn’t bother me too much. Old age is a crapshoot. There was an old guy at our church who lived on his own and drove his own car until he was 98, then he dropped dead. Meanwhile, one of my friend’s 75 year old mother is in a nursing home with dementia. It’s not the years, it’s the mileage.

  10. William Thompson

    Just think, Batiuk spent years imagining something more obnoxious than a guitar mass.

  11. Marcel Marsupial

    What the fucking goddam hell?????

  12. Gerard Plourde

    Can we expect to suddenly see Crankshaft de-age and begin blowing up the charcoal grill at Chez Moore? (The way DInkle’s deafness magically disappeared)

    So much for being “1/4 inch from reality”. The final episode of St. Elsewhere had more continuity.

  13. Charles

    I thought Lillian Llewellyn would be a name too silly to be used seriously, which means I had momentarily forgotten that I was reading Funky Winkerbean. It’d be one of the more normal names in the cast.