Mr. Batiuk, Tear Down This Wall

Link to today’s strip.

Before we dive in, I just want to say that commentor Rusty Shackleford is absolutely not responsible for bringing back Dinkle. Because if he had that power, a kind of Doomsday Weapon, I’m certain he would never use it.

I think today’s entry has to be the most wall-o-text ever. I mean, look at that crap. “Possibly be selected to”? Why not just…”to”? If you want to drop a hint that maybe, just maybe this one time Dinkle won’t get everything handed to him, why not “to possibly march,” split infinitive and all? I can’t see a reason for the grotesque block presented here.

Except for the reason mentioned last week, and my own pet theory: the balloons are drawn and finished long before there’s dialogue to go in them. And they’ve got to be filled. Because the author has Important Things To Say, and (like here) Important Appeals to Make to Those Who Issue Rewards.

And as long as I’m making suggestions, Mr. Batiuk, here’s another one: drop Dinkle. No one likes him. In fact, people like Crankshaft more than they like Dinkle. Dinkle was a fine Act One character, back when you were trying to make something good. He’s no longer a character people want.

I go back and forth as to whether Dinkle is worse than Les. On the one hand, Les has a small sense of humility. It gives him a tiny sense of self-awareness. But he has these things only so he can gorge on his massive need to whine how life isn’t fair to him, and no one praises him for his suffering.

On the other hand, Dinkle is equally loathsome, without even the tiniest bit of humility. He waltzes in to every situation, takes his rewards, and gives out the most punchable hatchet-faces imaginable. Any time he’s surprised by events, they are always in his favor (why, it’s even easier to make money nowadays!).

I guess I hate them alternatively. Heaven help us if they ever have an arc together. (“Say, have you ever thought of making Lisa’s Story into a musical? Who could we get to write the music?”)


Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

45 responses to “Mr. Batiuk, Tear Down This Wall

  1. Banana Jr. 6000

    We interrupt this story of giving comic book writers undeserved praise, to give a band director undeserved praise.

    • Rusty Shackleford

      Don’t forget about yesterday’s praise of old people, Luigi’s, and a local Akron band.

  2. Charles

    Holy shit those word balloons. Did he ever stop to think that maybe he was writing too much for a two panel comic?

    I think Batiuk should go full Cerebus and have the strip be nothing but gigantic word balloons with little heads of the characters saying them drawn in the corner.

  3. Banana Jr. 6000

    So Harry wants to be in a parade that salutes “band directors and and their contributions to their student’s lives.”

    Name one.

    Seriously, Dinkle, name one thing you’ve done in 45 years that helped anybody but yourself. Even Les takes some interest in his “Bleat” students, and the loathsome Ed Crankshaft had that arc where he helped the “Roughriders” graduate. Not you.

    • Charles

      “Harry, I think they mean POSITIVE contributions to their students’ lives!”

      • William Thompson

        “When I heard them talk about how they longed to see me die screaming in pain from a horrible and incurable disease, I realized I gave them something you found nowhere else in Westview: hope!”

  4. Charles

    And I knew this week would belong the Dinkle the moment I saw that befuddled chinless elderly woman’s head in the masthead. That’s a Dinkle sequence character if there ever was one.

  5. William Thompson

    I just googled what it takes to legally change your name in Ohio. This came up first: “To petition for a legal name change in Ohio, contact your county’s probate court to find out what’s required. In short, you’ll have to fill out a Change of Name form explaining the reason for the name change, then get a judge to sign off on it and also take out an ad in your local paper announcing the intended change.”

    A competent writer could probably tell a good satirical tale about a weird name-change. But Batiuk isn’t going for that. In a strip that’s supposed to be just a quarter-inch from reality, I can’t imagine any judge indulging Dinkle’s egomania. Technically it appears to be legal (no criminal intent is involved) but how are you going to fit that name onto a variety of legal forms?

    Although it would be nice to see that full name on a tombstone, wouldn’t it?

    • Anything scratched into his tombstone would have to read “Harry L. Dinkle. The Worst. Be glad he’s dead.”

    • Mr. A

      It’s possible that Dinkle and…what’s-her-name are joking around, as married couples do. But Dinkle’s ego is so cartoonishly massive that there’s no way to know for sure.

  6. Epicus Doomus

    F*cking Dinkle. F*cking Dinkle, again. Sigh. You know, in a way the Dinkle character represents a real artistic success story for ol’ BatWrite, as Dinkle was never created or originally written to be liked. And here, many centuries later, he’s totally loathed and despised, so job well done.

    The thing is, though, he used to represent the trials and tribulations of being a high school marching band member, but now he represents the trails and tribulations of being a band director, so the entire perspective of the character changed. And he’s still as un-likeable as he’s ever been, presumably deliberately so. So in effect you get these stories where this detestable jerk is doing something nutty pertaining to band directing, a topic no one could possible care about, aside from the handful of real-life band directors who’ve told him what a kick they get out of his marching band strips. I assume that’s who this is for.

    It sure isn’t for me, I can tell you that, comrades. Like 100% of the population I don’t give a flying f*ck about band directing and seeing the words “band director” three times in one strip nearly made me plotz myself. He just did a lengthy Dinkle arc that never went anywhere and was never really resolved and he’s already back with a new one? I guess he’s going to be rejected then enter St. Spires in the parade, but seeing it written out like that makes it seems a little too ambitious for BatWaffle at this stage of the Act III game.

  7. erdmann

    “Lisa’s Story: The Musical”
    “Don’t you put that evil on me, Ricky Bobby! Don’t you put that on us!”

  8. Mr. A

    “And I can’t seem to be able to squeeze all this dialogue into my strip!”
    “You could change ‘seem to be able to squeeze’ to ‘squeeze’, for starters.”
    “Nah, I’ll just tell Ayers to draw the characters smaller.”
    “I’m telling you, there’s a lot you could—”
    “OK, fine, I’ll leave out the quotation marks too. That’ll save some space.”
    “What? No, that just makes it harder to read.”
    “First you tell me to make it shorter, now you want me to make it clearer? Make up your mind!”
    “Shorter and clearer aren’t opposites!”
    “Of course they are! Hot and cold, up and down, short and clear…”

    • Epicus Doomus

      I obtained some very rare outtakes containing the original and later rejected dialog for this strip. I’ll transcribe them as best as possible…

      “Band director. Band director band. Director band, director band director. Band.

      “BAND DIRECTOR??? Band director band!”

      “Band. Director. Band director.”

      (wry smirk)

  9. billytheskink

    This is just execrable, of course, but I am a bit relieved that we’re getting it over in one strip… word zeppelins and all. You know TB was tempted to make Dinkle changing his name into a week-long thing. Dinkle spending a week annoying poor people who already had the misfortune of having to stand in line at the DMV and the Social Security office… *shudder*

  10. Hitorque

    1. How exclusive and special is this celebration “honoring” high school band directors if any random mook can apply online to be chosen? Lemme guess, they’ll also request Dinkle submit a $2,800 deposit for fees and to “reserve” his spot in the parade, but the organizers will refund his deposit after the Rose Bowl if Dinkle can just get two other band directors to sign up and submit their $2,800…

    2. Dinkle jizzes himself so hard over the Rose Bowl parade I’m surprised he hasn’t moved out to Pasadena…

    2a. And I hope Mrs. Dinkle is ready because I can tell by his face that Harry is fixing to mercilessly pound her holes the rest of today and all of tonight.

    3. Besides, hasn’t Dinkle already done the Rose Bowl multiple times already? How about giving some other band leaders some time in the limelight? And can Dinkle even call himself a high school band director when we’re what, a good 15+ years since his retirement?

    4. I guess those clucking hens in the choir and the entire congregation at St. Spires can go piss off, eh? Yeah, forget about special Christmas and New Years church services and special choir concerts (showing off those new robes they kept bitching and moaning about) in front of a packed house. I guess since there won’t be any music the pastor will just wheel out a big TV screen and just show assorted YouTube vids of *other* church choirs… Yeah, celebrating the birth of our Lord Savior is important, but nothing is bigger than marching in the Rose Bowl parade amirite? Besides, St. Spires will get over it — Christmas is only the *second* most holy day on the Christian calendar, and it’s not like any of those bints in the choir were religious in the first place… Might as well put that “CHURCH ORGANIST WANTED” ad back in the newspaper because when the next shiny object catches Dinkle’s attention, you ain’t ever getting that back.

    • J.J. O'Malley

      Well, I think they missed Pentecost Sunday last month

      So, last week was honoring senior citizens who got overlooked in their chosen profession. This week is a senior citizen who can’t get enough of honoring himself, so much so that he changed his name to reflect same?

    • Mr. A

      As other commenters have mentioned on older posts (pardon me for not looking them up), this upcoming arc is a tie-in for a real-world project called “Saluting America’s Band Directors”, which is indeed gathering a band of band directors to march in the Rose Parade. So I don’t think Batiuk will take the pyramid-scheme angle…

  11. Gerard Plourde

    And that’s not the worst of it. To quote Margo Channing, “Hold on. It’s going to be a bumpy night.”

    • Gerard Plourde

      Apparently there are at least three weeks of Dinkle Rose Parade-related strips ahead.

      • Sourbelly

        Be wrong. Please, please be wrong!!!

        • Mr. A

          Semi-good news: we’re not getting all three weeks at once.

          “The first week of the arc is set for June 7, the second week for late December and the third week in early January.”

          • Banana Jr. 6000

            So you’re proud to be in Funky Winkerbean, are you, “Saluting America’s Band Directors”? Have you MET Harry Dinkle? He’s a child slaver with a conductor’s wand. He hardly reflects well on the profession you intend to promote. And of course Tom Batiuk is a friend of your project; he’s a friend of anything that pays him attention. I can’t believe people still fall for this.

            And I hope they let Batiuk do some stupid stunt like they did in 1989. I would laugh hysterically at that. It would be a Simpsons joke come to life. A Simpsons joke from 20 years ago.

          • billytheskink

            It’s funny because Marge cites the Noid as someone who ruins pizzas rather than Funky Winkerbean.

      • Charles

        there are at least three weeks of Dinkle Rose Parade-related strips ahead.

        Man oh man. We had no idea what was in store when Batiuk burned down all of Los Angeles, taking the Lisa’s Story movie project with it. We’re on a wheel of

        10 Dinkle has something stupid going on
        20 Funky has something stupid going on
        30 Atomik Komix has something stupid going on
        40 Dinkle has something else stupid going on
        50 Random Crankshaft-adjacent/Les/Wally/Adeela has something stupid going on
        60 GOTO 10

  12. ComicBookHarriet

    Drinking Game for the following week:
    Drink every time you see ‘Band Director’.
    Drink three times if it’s used twice in the same day.
    Drink every time you see ‘Tournament of Roses.’
    Drink every time Harriet Dinkle’s mouth is wider than her eyes.
    Drink every time characters tell each other things that they already know.
    Drink every time you want to punch Dinkle.

    By the end of the week, you’ll be ready for the nauseating conclusion of this arc.

  13. Satan

    Phenomenal. Just phenomenal. This clown produces a strip in which EVERY SINGLE CHARACTER is an insufferable asshole EVERY SINGLE DAY of the year.

    • ComicBookHarriet

      That’s not true.

      There have been a few strips where no characters appear at all.

  14. Rusty Shackleford

    OMG, this is worse than I ever imagined. But then you mentioned Lisa’s story, The Musical, with music composed by Dinkle.


  15. The Duck of Death

    As FW winds to a close — perhaps on its 50th anniversary next year? — expect Batiuk to focus more and more on his characters getting awards. Every miserable wretch will be given some supposedly long-deserved, well-earned award for their brilliant work.

    You can feel Batiuk’s frustration oozing through every strip. Why haven’t I been recognized for my brilliant contributions? Where are MY awards?

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Ruby Lith and Flash Freeman get some kind of Comic Con lifetime achievement award for existing.

      Atomik Komix sweeps the regular awards at Comic Con, for being the most correct comic book publisher in existence.

      Hollywood gives up on trying to make Lisa’s Story, because the book is far too brilliant for them to do justice.

      Dinkle gets to march in the Rose Parade, gets to do a stupid stunt, and is formally chosen World’s Greatest Band Director.

      The Valentine Theater is honored by the Phantom Empire Preservation Society, for their great work in introducing the movie to future generations. They use the six-figure grant money to re-open.

      Komix Korner is proclaimed World’s Best Comic Book Store.

      Montoni’s is proclaimed World’s Best Pizza Restaurant.

      The Bleat is proclaimed World’s Best High School Newspaper.

      Dead Lisa is proclaimed patron saint of Westview, and a 20-foot statue in the center of town is built in her honor.

      St. Spires church, with their newly found wealth, expands and becomes a megachurch.

      Bull Bushka is not mentioned even once.

      • Margaret

        Poor Crazy Harry ought to get something too. He may be a bit dumb sometimes, but he’s one of the least offensive folks in Westview.

        • World’s Best Tarzan Fan.

        • J.J. O'Malley

          I dunno; drinking coffee while eating pizza is pretty darn offensive.

        • Banana Jr. 6000

          The Westview Post Office gets reinstated, and Harry gets his mail delivery job back. Which he never should have lost anyway, because the town would still have mail delivery even without a local post office.

          Batton Thomas wins a Pulitzer Prize.

          Lisa’s Story wins the Man Booker Prize, even though it was written 10 years ago.

          The Starbuck Jones movie is chosen for the National Film Registry for being culturally, historically, and aesthetically significant..

          Dinkle gets flown back to Belgium to accept another chocolate selling award, even though he was just seen failing massively at this.

          St. Spires choir gets a Gold Play Button.

          Funky wins the Powerball, because of all the difficulty it will cause him.

        • Hitorque

          Goddamn salad dressing for an anniversary gift?

  16. The Duck of Death

    “Now that I’ve shown ’em how lousy Sammy Cahn’s lyrics are…. I’m gonna show ’em what real writing is.”

    Tom stretches out his arms, cracks his knuckles, and creates this masterpiece.

    We stand in line.

  17. Banana Jr. 6000

    Does this mean Jessica Darling legally changed her name too? To Jessica My Father John Darling Who Was Murdered?

  18. J.J. O'Malley

    Say, if TWGBD is legally the end of his full name, why didn’t he introduce himself that way to the St, Spires biddies back in March?

    Also, and I hate to belabor the obvious, but…”America’s band directors and their contributions to their students’ lives”? Exactly WHEN did ANYONE at Westview High benefit from being exposed to Harry L. Dinkle TWGBD? When did we ever see an alum who went on to any sort of career in music (rock star, symphony orchestra member, music store clerk, organ grinder, organ grinder’s monkey) or who learned anything from being under his baton? The closest to such an example might be his “successor,” Becky. And while you can’t blame Harry for the lost of her arm or her loveless marriage to a skunk-headed nerd who prefers discussing the minutiae of “Flash of Two Worlds” to spending time with his wife, that doesn’t seem like much of a contribution. All he does is drop in on her unannounced and tell her how HE would handle a situation.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      It’s even worse than that. He’s an outright detriment to anyone’s desire to enjoy music. He’s a much worse version of the Simpsons’ Mr. Largo.

  19. spacemanspiff85

    Dinkle is much, much worse in my opinion. At least Les actually has stories and arc and something might actually happen when he appears. With Dinkle it’s just band candy gags and him being the greatest person to ever exist.
    I’m kind of surprised he’s able to get that sentence out without passing out.

  20. Hitorque

    Dinkle legally changing his name and carrying around his Belgian Government Medal 24/7 has truly crossed over to some Idi Amin shit… And I don’t want to even think about what Dinkle makes his wife yell out when they’re in bed.

    You’d think the wifey would have him sent to a facility for the mentally unwell by now…