Here it is Wednesday and we’re still all glabbering about replacing the organist. I realize that this is all supposed to be happening on the same day, strip-wise, but it makes it excruciatingly slow for the reader.
I know Batiuk doesn’t give a cusser’s tink for his readers, but he needn’t be so blatant about it.
This week’s strips together make the most desolate wasteland I’ve seen in this strip for a long while. If he really needs to stretch this sort of stuff out, he should give serious thought to retiring. Yeah, I know there’s some Golden Something award if he makes it to 50 years, but give the world a break.
This reminds me of people who talk constantly, who never shut up, and who also never say anything. It’s like they have to fill the world with noise, but it’s never interesting noise.
33 responses to “Let’s All Gather in the Gathering Room”
Did you ever try to explain a FW story arc to someone who doesn’t read it?
“Well, there’s this other comic strip, Crankshaft, and one of the characters in it plays the organ at her church, after replacing another organist who died. Anyhow, she’s old and wants to retire so the congregation is deciding how to best go about finding a replacement and they can’t decide what medium to use”.
That’s exactly why I never talk about FW with people who don’t read it. The whole thing sounds made up, like I just free associated and improvised it out of thin air. 2021 has been a very strange year so far.
I’ve tried to write “Why Funky Winkerbean Is The Worst Thing Ever” type articles, but it’s hard to do. By the time I get to the third paragraph, I’m saying to myself “if it takes this much effort to hate, it’s probably not worth hating.” But it absolutely is.
I mentioned my guest-hosting stint for FW on another forum. Hilariously, the strip was immediately dismissed as worthless, and I kind of got some angle-eye for bothering with it. I laughed, then.
It’s why we’re the niche-i-est of all niche websites on the internet. I often think we’re the ONLY people reading it every day and really, I haven’t seen much evidence to refute that thought.
Oh no, I’m sure that Batiuk has tens of fans out there!
There are dozens of us–dozens! (Seeing how much Arrested Development crossover there is.)
Tom Batiuk is president of the local chapter of NeverFunny.
Nonsense! I am certain FWHQ receives a slew of card and letter about its twists and turns. To say nothing of countless phone call.
There are actually some comic possibilities of St. Spires soliciting a new organist with a bigger version of a bulletin board notice, like a billboard by the highway or on a digital marquee in Times Square.
So we know none of that is going to happen.
Skywriter…good potential for disaster right there. Or maybe they could rig up a loudspeaker on top of Ed’s bus, like the Bluesmobile. Then it stalls on the train tracks with hilarious consequences. Or maybe a blimp, which they fill with hydrogen to save money, then launch during a thunderstorm. Or maybe sign spinners, namely Owen and Cody, who almost surely need the work.
Bet it’ll be something really, really boring, though. Why is this Lillian character even here? FW already has a cast of hundreds and there are dozens of characters no one has seen in years. Let’s get Jarod or Vera some screen time already and get these f*cking Crankshaft posers the hell out of here.
“I know! We could put an ad in all the local newspapers!”
“Yes, if any were still being published.”
Panel 1: “I know! A competition! Let’s have an organ recital!”
Panel 2: An imagined scene in which a bored imbecile stands there muttering “Kidney, thymus, stomach, liver, pancreas, gall bladder . . . ”
Panel 3: (see today’s panel 3)
When does Crankshaft get trapped in burning Hollywood?
He needs an actual editor for several reasons. First, to help him weed out this interest-killing minutiae. Second, to prevent him from using terms that may be unfamiliar to many readers. “Gathering room” is a prime example. It appeared in church design in the 1970’s when churches realized that they needed larger informal spaces outside the sanctuary where the congregation could assemble before and after services. (Not to be confused with the church hall where post-service coffee and donuts are usually available.) The old church foyer was too small for that purpose. (And I’m curious whether St. Martin of Tours, the apparent model for St. Spires, was able to create one in the space it has.)
The thing is, an editor for this strip is probably like a story editor for (work with me here) Steven Spielberg. A very low level employee, assigned to one of the superstars (work with me here) who basically has the job of telling the main focus, “Oh, that is so awesome! And it’s so true and relatable!”
This strip will never be brought into line. And Batiuk knows it.
If his “editor’s” job consists of anything more than going to the post office once a year I for one would be stunned. I have long believed that not only doesn’t he care that no one reads it, he actively tries to discourage people from reading it, on purpose. Without those meddlesome beady-eyed nitpickers the whole scam can continue indefinitely, so he deliberately aims to make the strip as boring and painful to read as possible without being totally obvious about it.
If only there were some way for a publishing company to rid itself of underperforming creators. Or force them to meet minimum standards of quality. But as we all know, Tom Batiuk has to be kept on the King Features Syndicate payroll for life, and allowed to draw whatever he wants at all times. Shame, that.
I know what you mean because I remember Spielberg’s “Amazing Stories,” which was neither.
I thought “Amazing Stories” was good? Then again I was like nine years old when they first came on… And I also guess there’s a reason why I haven’t really heard anyone talk about that series since the 1980s…
How is this happening if these strips are supposed to be 10 years or so apart timewise??? Did Lillian play the organ for ten years and is now unable, or did she really agree to be the organist immediately after the first one expired mid-hymn without even practicing to see if she still had the ability? And if Dinkle gets hired in a Funky strip in a scene that happened 10 years earlier in Crankshaft does that mean he might run into himself somewhere later on (most likely in the band room following Becky around)?
All good questions. In FW Ed Crankshaft is already confined to Bedside Manor, so what happens if “Crankshaft” runs for (ugh) another ten years? Will it catch up? Will “Crankshaft” document Ed’s decline in “real time” or will he remain forever old? When Lillian returns to “CS” will she remember any of this or will it be like a “Twin Peaks” kind of thing where no one knows what year it is?
Fortunately for me, though, I wouldn’t read “CS” on a dare, so I’ll never know. My local newspaper never carried “CS” so I didn’t even know it existed until I landed here at SoSF. And I was plenty astonished, believe you me.
It’s the “Time Cop” sequel we never asked for.
Yeah sure, put it in the want ads on Craigslist, which I’m certain is still insanely popular in the Funkyverse timeline…
This is a paid position, right? Because I already have a real life friend who busts her ass 20+ hours a week coordinating and directing her church choir (in addition to the 50+ hours she works at her real job) and not only does she not get a penny, she gets constantly criticized and berated by her pastor if things aren’t 100 percent perfect
Depends on the church. Smaller churches rely on volunteer choir leaders and organists. Bigger or wealthier ones (especially high-church Protestants) pay them.Based on the fact that they worked the previous organist to death and then drafted Lilian, I’m sure this is a volunteer thing.
Is there some reason that Nameless Choir Biddy #4 and Lillian the Lizard’s dialogue couldn’t have been done in panel two, and then move tomorrow’s presumably hilarious ad effort over to panel three. thus moving the storyline along and giving loyal fans an actual joke today?
At this point in “Organ Crisis in Finite Funkyverses,” my main question is…what exactly is the purpose of this melding of worlds? Fine, so Dinkleberg will apparently become a church organist in whatever town “Crankshaft” takes place. Who cares? One would think that, since he’ll be the only FW character over there, the times this setting will be used in the course of a year would be minimal at best. And it doesn’t sound as if Lizard Lil will be a recurring blight on the goings on in Westview, so why have her pop up again? Does TB think this will get casual, non-snarky readers to demand that their daily newspaper start carrying both strips?
This dialog doesn’t need to exist at all, except to show that these people are profoundly stupid. Lillian asks “how do we run an advertisement”, and six other adults have no clue. Look at their faces in panel two; they look like they’ve all been asked to solve a differential equation.
What gets me is, Batiuk spent a week in Crankshaft making Lillian the chuch organist, for the sole purpose of having her retire from being the church organist in FW. Why was that necessary? It’s superficially similar to the old crossover trick of putting half the story in one comic and half in another, but these two halves do not form a single story in anything but the loosest sense. Would anything be lost if Lillian was still a choir member in FW, and the organist was a random person? No.
And now he’s going to spend at least two weeks making Dinkle the church organist for no reason either. The church will run the classified ad, Dinkle will see the classified ad, he’ll apply for the job, go down there to interview for it, be told the irrelevant fact that they haven’t had a man in ten years, get the job, triumphantly sit at the organ, say something wry like “band directors aren’t the retiring type”, and then it’ll never be spoken of again. Then one Sunday morning he’ll just turn up in Westview.
Tom Batiuk doesn’t tell stories; he documents processes. His movie arcs go on for weeks and weeks and weeks about the tinitest minutiae. Mason Jarre has to approach Les. Les has to sign the shopping agreement. Les has to meet his agent. Les and Mason have to take the shopping agreement to four different companies. They have to meet with the producer. She has to hire a director. They have to go through make up. Les has to learn his line. Les has to come to terms with let Marianne Winters view the goddam Lisa tapes – something she never expressed any interest in anyway. On and on and on and on it goes. Then the whole thing just stops with no resolution of the most basic story points.
And there’s nothing else going on in this story either. There’s no conflict, themes, emotions, personal growth, or anything that happens tangential to the process. Dinkle will not have to learn anything, overcome any obstacles, face any enemies, or make any sacrifices. Or explain how he got his hearing back. Or explain if he time traveled to Centerville. Or balance his three other music jobs. Because, despite being this banal, Funky Winkerbean still manages to have massive plot holes!
Tom Batiuk really is in the Tommy Wiseau/The Shaggs/Amanda McKittrick Ross class of anti-geniuses. I daresay we’re the only ones who truly appreciate his regression as an artist.
“Tom Batiuk doesn’t tell stories; he documents processes.”
Yes! This! An outline has more substance than his strips.
I got to see Dot Wiggin of The Shaggs perform live in Cambridge, MA a few years ago, and got a high-five from Tommy Wiseau at a midnight screening of “The Room” around the same time. Those were memorable experiences, and Battyuk only wishes he were in their class.
These could very well be the stupidest people on the face of the earth.
Perhaps we should shoot them.
Talk about crappy artwork. Panel two there is a real showcase of blobs of dough and melted plastic with some facial features attached.
There is absolutely zero reason why this week’s arc is in FW, and not a continuation of the arc in Crankshaft (which this week started with a weak joke about Cranky being literally “glued to the TV set”, and completely fucks up the joke by continuing with a week long flashback to show how he got in the situation). Seriously, I’d take a “Durwood gets Lasik Surgery” arc over this.
At our Temple, we have a “gathering room,” but we call it by its proper name — The Social Hall.
Does the term “gathering room” even exist, or is this one of Shithead Batiuk’s inventions?