I think Batiuk uses “So…” as a way of saying “It has been established in the previous strip, and agreed upon that…” He’s trying to bring his readers up to speed on what’s going on. The fact that nothing is usually going on (other than endless talk) doesn’t seem to be a factor. I know it bothers a lot of folks; it doesn’t really affect me either way.
It reminds me of the old intro narration on Lost In Space to set the scene for the episode: “Last week, as you recall, Will, Dr. Smith and The Robot…” etc. (You just have to add “unaware,” “incredible,” and “alien” and there you go.)
As for the content of today’s strip, I ask, “What content?” One could cut out every strip this week except Wednesday and Thursday, and you’d have the complete story.
You could cut out all of them and improve the comics page greatly. Especially since this seems to be little more than an ad for a real-world event that just happens to highlight one of his characters. Which begs the question…I wonder who reached out to who?
Another question: now that Batiuk has tied himself to this “salute to band directors,” and, in his eyes, gained a whole new slew of new readers…how long do you think it will be before he pivots to “Lisa’s Story”?
31 responses to “So, a Needle Pulling Thread”
So after having Dinkle shadow her every move for many, many years, apparently Becky is suddenly out of the Dinkle loop and needs clumsy expository dialog to get back up to speed re: all things Dinkle. Yeah, sure, that seems believable. It’s like BatYam suddenly remembered that Dinkle retired in 2007 or whenever. Sure, the last fourteen years of Dinkle arcs make no sense whatsoever anymore, but hey, band candy! Parades!
Don’t forget the OMEA convention!
“And the reason he didn’t mention any of this to ME, the current Westview High band director and his successor since his ‘retirement,’ in case I was interested in going IS…”
“Oh, my stars, is THAT the time? I have to finish pruning my roses and then pop tonight’s band candy casserole in the oven to time for Harry’s dinner! Nice chatting with you, Bucky! Ta ta!”
For a moment there I thought Summer lost an arm and shoulder.
You see? Becky was never interested in going! She knows that if Dinkle wants something, she’d better juat stay out of his way and let him have it! She’s almost as broken as Harriet now.
BC, your final question today had me imagining Tom’s Lisa’s Story pitch to all his ‘new’ readers gained by the Rose parade publicity.
“If you enjoyed band directors, then you’re sure to love DYING OF CANCER.”
I’m sure he’s waiting for someone to compose a tragic Symphony to Lisa. And he’s been waiting a long time.
Or maybe he wrote a song in honor of her, but the Kent State music students he forced to sing it couldn’t get through a single line without laughing. And they sang the chorus as “USA! USA!” because Batiuk wrote it just like he does his comic.
Here’s his pitch every year at the OMEA Conference:
“You know how everyone keeps performing that boring, tired ‘Handel’s Messiah’ every year? Wouldn’t you love to be the first to perform ‘Batiuk’s Lisa’? Hey, where are you going?”
Before you go, please buy some of my books….please!
I never considered that Dinkle might need to do physical training. This sounds like a good start, but I’m not sure that pausing at every doorstep is equivalent to marching continuously while blowing into an instrument.
Dinkle isn’t going to play an instrument, is he. He’s going to lead the entire band, isn’t he? Because he’s the most special-est band director of them all?
Even by the prevailing standards of meaningless FW strips one has to ask what the hell is this doing here? Honesty 3 blank spaces with a note saying “Do it yourself – i’m tired” would be better.
I suspect that the Tournament of Roses people he’s working with gave him a list of facts about this march, and asked him to disseminate them via this Dinkle arc. One of the facts was that the route is exactly 5.5 miles long.
In the hands of a skilled cartoonist, this could be conveyed in a funny way, or at least an interesting way.
Or it could be conveyed the way Tom’s done it.
Things I don’t understand:
1. Why must the Dinkles — a semi-retired couple living in seeming comfort — need to fund-raise for this trip to Pasadena?
2. As noted yesterday, how is Dinkle’s door-to-door soliciting not a grift?
I know. Teachers have an excellent retirement plan.
There are very few things which he manages to keep consistent throughout this strip, both for dialogue and for character development. Everything else is at the whim of whatever the day’s strip dictates for purposes of its singular plot.
To my knowledge, there are exactly three people who he always depicts as being wealthy and never having to question expenditures or budgets: Chester, Cindy, and Mason. Everyone else, regardless of where they live and what possessions they may have, will be deemed as if they live paycheck-to-paycheck if necessary for that day.
Then consider the perpetual inconsistencies for Dinkle’s door-to-door operations. His garage is loaded with unsold product. But he gets awards for his sales. But now there’s Bandigogo, so let’s repeat that goddamned word every day for a week straight. But then let’s make elderly choir singers peddle candle anyway. But then his sales are dwarfed by an OnlyFans cat video. But he’s soliciting candy for the Rose Bowl anyway. But now that solicitation is good enough this time.
It is truly astonishing how hes able to essentially chew and regurgitate everything he’s done over and over and over and over again and somehow ride on the fumes of this vomit for decades. That tweet by the @RoseParade which was currently retweeted encapsulates this entire point. If it wasn’t an ever greater waste of time that would lead to my being blocked and no questions answered, I would love to respond to that tweet and subsequent responses to determine why in the hell they want that endorsement. Dinkle’s character now, and by extension, the strip itself, should be something with which no professional organization would want any kind of association. Whatever positive qualities could be argued for the strip to have in Act I are completely absent now, and in its place is an endless befuddled illogical masturbation session set to print. But people remember Dinkle pictures posted in their band rooms 30 years ago, so that’s good enough I guess.
It’s just maddening. Purely infuriating.
This should be a special week for Funky Winkerbean, and it’s just as forced, lazy and circular as all the others. Even in what is supposed to be a real-world promotion for himself, Batiuk can’t put be bothered to write a story, have any drama or conflict, or even emphasize what he’s supposed to be promoting. It just talks in circles about itself, like Funky Winkerbean does every week. I wonder how many people even, after reading this week’s strips, that this is going to be a real-world event.
A rare “double SO” sighting this morning! SO is the first word in both FW and Crankshaft! According to legend, that means it’s a lucky day to play the scratch-off lottery and also a fruitful day to plant string beans and carrots, for all you gardeners!
Don’t forget that TomBat managed to squeeze two So’s into the first sentence of today’s FW. So it’s a So hat trick!
Crankshaft whining about his mortality this week is incredibly tiresome. Aww, you don’t feel you have a future any more? Well, that’s because you’re a hundred fucking years old, Ed.
Once again Becky is harmed by the whim of an arrogant man, just as she lost her arm because Funky drove drunk. Once again she accepts her fate with great cheer, wishing only the best for the narcissistic abuser.
She should be the one marching to represent Westview. She is the band director. Dinkle has been retired for ages. But Becky doesn’t mind. She doesn’t question it. Nope, Becky just wants the best for the users. who care nothing about her. Good old Becks.
There’s a dark, sadistic streak in Batiuk’s work that would frighten Steven King.
Sorry, I meant Wally, not Funky. But what’s the difference? Seen one self-pitying alcoholic, seen ’em all.
Look at Harriet, taunting Lefty with her gloved hand gestures. Disgusting!
Something just struck me about Becky’s opening balloon, aside from the ubiquitous “So”… I assume that pre-Panel One Harriet just told her that Harry is out selling band candy so they can afford their Tournament of Roses Parade trip. Why, then, does the Beckster feel the need to repeat every detail back to her, as though Frau Dinkle is unaware of it? I realize Battyuk is convinced he has to hammer home what’s going on a daily basis, but does he have to do it in such a heavy-handed fashion?
Yeah, it would make more sense if it was Harriet speaking in panel one. Eliminate the “So” in panel one, and the “yes” in panel two, and it works much better. As much as it works at all, that is.
I have a sincere question about Becky… Has it ever been explained (in-strip or otherwise) why she doesn’t use a prosthetic arm? She’d still be unable to play most instruments, but at least she could avoid strange/pitying/dirty looks in public (and terrify unruly students by ripping off her own arm and using it to conduct.)
She did have one–see “John Byrne steps in for Batiuk” in the Other Crap section–but I forget why she forwent it. Forgoed?
I know that DSH John saying he didn’t mind her without it was portrayed as a sweet moment.
From what I hear, prosthetics can be awkward and uncomfortable. Lots of amputees forgo them.
My take on it: Batiuk loves visible evidence that he is a Cruel God bent on destroying the lives of all his creations.
I think it’s just the author’s fetish, like all the long legs in 9 Chickweed Lane. Becky’s always drawn in a way that attracts attention to the missing arm, when there’s rarely any need for it. Like in panel 1 today.
I’d guess that Becky’s pinned-up sleeve is like Adeela’s head-covering. Not just performative diversity but a reminder that Dammit This Strip Covers Serious Award-Worthy Topics! If Becky adjusted to wearing a prosthetic arm, we might forget her Tragic Backstory.
Hey, what happened to Wally’s alcoholism that caused the crash? Why doesn’t he go to AA meetings with Funky?