How Not To Be A Cartoonist

Link to today’s strip.

You know, I was genuinely enjoying Les’ hapless, morose expression in panel three (“Twenty or thirty years? Oh, I only waited about twelve. How I have shamed her, and myself”). It’s the perfect way to undercut your own joke.

But then I realized…that’s not Les in panel three. That’s the Editor Guy we saw seated behind the console in Tuesday’s strip. (The clue is the console.)

The thing is, the guy has an identical hairstyle, identical hair color, the same beard, he’s in the same position on screen and he’s facing the same way. He even has the same glasses. It would be natural, almost automatic for a reader to conclude that this is Les. Only it ain’t.

How the heck did this slip past Batiuk, Ayers, the Phantom Editors, everyone involved in this strip? I would count this as a huge gaff, akin to spelling the co-creator of Superman as “Joe Schuster.” Especially since the guy’s expression seems to be the “point” of this particular episode. If it was Les, it would be the point; as Random Guy, morose self-pity changes into bored resignation.

It’s certainly one more bit of evidence that no one cares what goes in, as long as it does go in.

Not going in: a timecode.

69 Comments

Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

69 responses to “How Not To Be A Cartoonist

  1. Epicus Doomus

    Q: Why is Les so blue?

    A: Because Lisa died!

    The joke’s on Lisa this time around, as it only took Les around fifteen or sixteen years (in strip time) to “find someone else” he’s kind of interested in. Cayla, I mean. You know, the African-American woman he’s occasionally seen with. Sure, she’s no Lisa but then again who is, you know?

    Coming tomorrow: a mysterious woman wearing a Darth Vader helmet shows up and begins heckling Les, who she refers to as “Spanky”, oddly enough. Her identity remains a mystery…for now!

    • William Thompson

      I was going to say something about the sloppy blue hair-blotches, and the way that no one laughs at the “twenty or thirty years” absurdity, but I’m too absorbed by the resemblance between Les and Tech Guy. Clearly these two were separated at birth–but which one is the evil twin? Is it Les, who wrote “Lisa’s Story,” or is it Tech Guy who is helping to unleash the movie on an unsuspecting world?

      • Sourbelly

        Not sure, but I do know that the evil SIAMESE twin is ALWAYS the one on the left side.

      • Epicus Doomus

        That’s Noah Moore, Mr. and Mrs. Moore’s youngest.

      • be ware of eve hill

        A tip of the Funky Felt Tip to little 5-year-old Mary Beth Martin for coloring parts of today’s strip. Thanks, Mary Beth. I hope you’re looking forward to kindergarten next year and learning how to color within the lines.

        Mary Beth is helping out while Chuck Ayers is getting treatment at the Betty Ford Clinic for his Screentone addiction.

        You can always tell the evil twin. Star Trek has taught us that the evil counterpart is the one with a beard… um… er. Ah, screw it. Just shoot ’em both!

  2. Mr. A

    Batiuk, you know you didn’t need to put in this much effort to re-run your “greatest hits”, right? Take a sabbatical, and the papers will reprint your old strips while you’re away. Watterson did it.

    Then again, Watterson had the most popular strip of the era. For FW, it might be like the old joke about the person trying to get out of jury duty:
    “Can’t your boss do without you for a few days?”
    “Yes, but he doesn’t know that, and I don’t want him to find out!”

    • Epicus Doomus

      That’s a lot of work, though, First he’d have to call The Syndicate and arrange it, then go through all those old strips to choose which ones to run and before you know it it’s really cutting into your six day weekend. So it’s just easier to remind everyone about “Lisa’s Story’s” monumental impact and influence this way, by shoehorning it in wherever he can. The gazebo, the leaves, Lisa’s cancer smock…he could write this stuff in his sleep, and probably has many times over.

  3. Sourbelly

    Good lord, the coloring is hilariously awful in today’s strip. I suspect the colorist is on our side.

    Back in the 1990s, a coworker of mine predicted that the Internet would be the death of editors. I scoffed at the idea. He was right; I was wrong.

  4. Jimmy

    Nice catch on the third panel. I sure thought it was Les.

    Is this one of those trailers that reveals the whole movie so you don’t have to bother seeing it?

  5. billytheskink

    Here’s the original strip being recreated here. Pretty much the same thing: all in the park, Lisa dressed like Crankshaft. No wonder Masone didn’t ask Les to write the screenplay, the script is just pieces from Les’ book lifted wholesale. Yes, Les has a line here that he didn’t in the original strip. You don’t think he added that to the book?

    And never forget the Joe “Schuster” strip. Never forget.

    • Epicus Doomus

      That was back when he drew the strip too. He just reveled in drawing Sick Lisa, didn’t he? I was just looking through those last few weeks of the Lisa’s Story arc. Man, how depressing. He really did pull out the stops with that one, no wonder he keeps gloating about it.

    • J.J. O'Malley

      Was it ever pointed out that the artwork is question is said to be “a page from an unpublished Superman story,” yet Durwood calls it a “cover”? If it’s interior art it might be an introductory “splash page,” but that’s not the same as a cover! The number of things Battyuk gets wrong about his beloved comic books never ceases to amaze me.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Overrated: Tom Batiuk misspelling Joe Shuster’s name.

      Underrated: Tom Batiuk misspelling “Christmas” on a Christmas card.

      • billytheskink

        Considering where TB’s religious devotion appears to lie, I think the Shuster misspelling is more surprising, actually.

        • Banana Jr. 6000

          Fair point.

          • In both cases, they are mistakes that a single re-reading should have caught.

          • Banana Jr. 6000

            As part of my job, I help programmers troubleshoot their own non-working code. And it is very common to overlook things like transposed letters. They’re trying to solve the problem at a deeper level, so they just see the word “Christmas” as a whole and don’t even notice that it’s misspelled. Happens to me too in my own work. So I don’t rag people for making that kind of mistake.

            What I do rag people for is thinking they’re too good for an editorial/oversight process that would catch these errors. And for reviewing their own work so infrequently that an 11-month lead time doesn’t help catch them. And for not even correcting these errors when they happen. “Christams” stayed on the front page of funkywinkerbean.com for a very long time. Unfortunately, I can’t prove it, because web.archive.org didn’t capture the website between November 2 and April of that year.

    • The Duck of Death

      I’m a hard agnostic/functional atheist, always have been. But even I really bridle at the way Funkyversians treat comics as literal holy objects. Here, as many times before, we see Dumb and Dumber literally prostrating themselves and actually praying(?) to a drawing.

      Isn’t Batiuk nominally a Christian? From the frequent appearances of churches in his work, and from his midwestern white-bread upbringing, I assume so. Whatever he is, I wish he would get a regular religion and stop humiliating himself. Why not try Judaism, Tom, since most of your heroes were Jewish? Not to your liking? Too much work to convert? I hear the Maharishi still has some followers in Iowa. No? Your obsession with movies could mesh well with Sçïentølögy. Pick a god, any god, and spare us the anus-puckering embarrassment-by-proxy of an old man literally worshipping children’s pulp comix.

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        The Funkyverse isn’t just obsessed with comic books. All characters share Tom Batiuk’s obsession with a very narrow subset of comic books. FW only depicts comic books from a certain era (silver age), and of a certain type (superheroes), and is only interested in concepts and covers (there is never a comic book story in Funky Winkerbean), and only by a certain publisher (DC), and multiple universes are bad, and modern “dark and gritty” superheroes are bad, and the Comics Code is bad even though it hasn’t been in effect since at least 2010. There is never any in-universe discussion or disagreement; they all sit around and agree with Batiuk’s “correct” positions on things.

      • William Thompson

        Batty would worship Narcissus, but he’s too self-absorbed for that.

      • ComicBookHarriet

        If I had to guess, I would say that Baituk is so blandly Protestant, that it isn’t much different than agnosticism. Though I also have a suspicion that he might be like Garrison Keillor: not religious himself, but aware that the people he is writing about and the audience he’s writing for likely would be.

        Also, might be doxxing myself a bit, but I can confirm that the Maharishi does still have followers in Iowa, though the population is aging, and most of the kids of the followers just became generic new-agers while being suspicious of ‘The Movement’.

  6. Hitorque

    Damn, is there anything happy or funny in this trailer that reaffirms what we find worthwhile about life?? Isn’t 5-year-old Summer supposed to say something to lighten the mood? Did Lisa not have a wildass straight talking blunt best friend or neighbor or sister or mother or co-worker? Even if she didn’t in real life, the writers should have created a composite (female or gay male) character out of people she knew… Does anyone in Hollywood know how to make an old fashioned by-the-numbers formulaic melodramatic tearjerker these days? Because I see absolutely nothing in this trailer that would draw an audience outside of Westview.

    • J.J. O'Malley

      “Dark Victory” had Bette Davis’s cancer-stricken socialite falling for and marrying the doctor (George Brent) treating her and a symbolic subplot about horses. In “Love Story” there was the additional conflict between Oliver (Ryan O’Neal) and his wealthy father (Ray Milland). The TV movie “Griffin and Phoenix” had the novel approach of lovers (Peter Falk and Jill Clayburgh) who were both terminally ill but afraid to tell each other. Even “Dying Young” turned on cancer patient Campbell Scott’s decision to stop chemo treatments so he could be with caretaker Julia Roberts. What exactly is the conflict in “Lisa’s Story”? When the first leaf will fall? Whether she’ll finish making videotapes? Will the “where are they now?” epilogue mention that Less only waited 15 years or so, or will they save that for the sequel? In other words, where is the dramatic tension that could make this story interesting for ANY audience other than Mr, Moore and Mrs. Not Lisa, whom we haven’t seen reacting to witnessing this saga yet again?..

      • Hitorque

        And my paper wasn’t carrying FW at the time but I’m still utterly shocked that TomBa didn’t set up the old “everyday American getting screwed over by Big Insurance or a bumbling indifferent healthcare system only concerned about profits” storyline or something, ANYTHING!

        Yeah it would have been cliche as hell but at least it would have had some tangible substance to Lisa’s pathos… And it’s not like Batiuk hasn’t had his characters totally screwed on multiple occasions by their jobs, government bureaucracy, obscure regulations, mistaken identity, etc.

        • Rusty Shackleford

          Oh he loves those kinds of stories….just say the word greed and you are done. No facts or further explanation is needed. That’s just his KSU education/ indoctrination coming through.

          Then again, it’s probably just incompetence as he treats things he loves with the same ham-fisted, dopey approach.

        • Banana Jr. 6000

          It says a lot about Funky Winkerbean that using more cliches would actually make it better.

    • Maxine of Arc

      It occurred to me yesterday, because now “Funky Winkerbean” actually occupies parts of my waking mind, thanks, I hate it, that in all of his rehashes of Lisa’s Effing Story, Lisa is already sick. She suffers nobly so that Les may suffer nobly. There is absolutely no hint of who she was before cancer. No suggestion of her long friendship with Les, nothing about her life as a mother or her career as an attorney.

      For a character TomBat venerates so highly, he doesn’t allow her to have any character left. She exists only as the Ill Girl. We have always been at war with Eastasia, and Lisa has always had cancer.

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        It’s just like the Sunday comic books. Batiuk just wants to show off the cover. There is no actual story, and he has no interest in developing one. All we ever see is what Batiuk thinks is the money shot. We’ll get an explanation of who The Subterranean is sooner than we’ll get a shot of Lisa’s Story that’s anything other than stupid Les pushing stupid Lisa in her stupid wig and her stupid wheelchair past the stupid bench while they repeat the same stupid dialog.

        • The Duck of Death

          Good comment, Banana Jr 6000, but I think you left off a few well-deserved “stupid”s. Here: STUPID STUPID stupidstupid STUPID!

          • Banana Jr. 6000

            Stupid Les and stupid Cayla are in the stupid editing trailer, watching stupid scenes from the stupid movie before they go to the stupid wrap party. Stupid Mason, who is playing stupid Les, makes that stupid smug face while stupid Marianne Winters is wearing Lisa’s stupid wig and stupid shawl, and stupid Les pushes her around the stupid park in her stupid wheelchair. Stupid Marianne’s stupid portrayal of stupid Lisa is based on those stupid tapes that stupid Lisa made before she stupidly died, and which stupid Les wouldn’t share until she rescued stupid Marianne from the stupid fire and they ended up on a stupid houseboat. Anyway, they go to the stupid fountain next to the stupid bench. This is the same stupid place where stupid Lisa found the stupid quarter that stupid Les used to call stupid Funky to make him drive his stupid car all the way from stupid Ohio to rescue his stupid ass after he got stupidly mugged. But stupid Lisa doesn’t want her stupid death from stupid cancer to interfere with stupid Les’ stupid sex life, so she makes a stupid joke out of giving her stupid permission to find a new stupid partner. And we all know stupid Les chose stupid Cayla over stupid Susan even as he made out with Lisa’s stupid ghost at the stupid New Year’s party.

          • Charles

            Wow, the repetition of stupid in Banana’s second post actually made me experience semantic satiation. That’s hilarious.

      • Sometimes she’s allowed to be Formerly Teen Pregnant Girl, which is like, TWICE as tragic and classy and awardable.

      • batgirl

        I suspect that Lisa is only represented in the movie as Les’s Great Tragedy. Not as Summer’s mother, or as the pregnant teen who gave up Darin – maybe not even the part where she meets him again in full knowledge, because it would divert attention from Les.
        Didn’t Les get all snarly when Mason expressed interest in Darin’s part of the story? Not surprising that Summer and Darin don’t get an invite – I bet any actors portraying them don’t have speaking parts.

  7. William Thompson

    This strip is turning into an updated Stations of the Cross, where we retrace Lisa’s miserable slog toward death and Les’s sorrows through every agonizing stage. What next? Will the soundtrack be endless riffs on the “Stabat Mater?” Will Cayla press a veil over Les’s weeping face, preserving his tears for eternity? Will the critics shout “Give us barf baggus!”?

  8. Jailhouse Schlock

    Panel 2 looks like a prison. Apropos.

  9. erdmann

    I stand in line for Les’ uncanny ability to recall almost word for word every conversation he ever had with Glorious Dead St. Lisa Who Died years after they occurred. How wonderful that he was able to write them all down and now, thanks to Masone’s faithfulness to holy writ, those words live again on the big screen.
    Hooey. Is anyone’s memory that good? Mine never has been and, as I draw nearer and nearly to retirement age, it ain’t getting any better.
    But I do remember an autumn day, now 40 years past. I don’t remember a word that was said as we stood there on campus, but I remember the sunlight reflected in her eyes and the breeze in her hair. I remember the shock I felt when I realized how deeply I cared for her. The diagnosis and the start of the long, hard-fought, ultimately unsuccessful battle was still a few weeks away, but I’d rather not dwell on that. I’d rather remember her smile, her intelligence, her lovely singing voice, her quirky personality and even her terrible temper.
    I’d rather remember her as she was that perfect afternoon, full of life and promise in the sunshine and breeze.

    • Charles

      It’s just an indication that Batiuk goes back to the strip in question and copies it word for word. Adjusting it would take too much work. And while any changes could conceivably represent Les’s reflection on the meaning of the incident being shown, that’s subtle way beyond Batiuk’s pay grade.

      The one thing I’m waiting for is a word-for-word recounting of a scene that Les wasn’t present for. I figure if Batiuk does enough of these, he’ll eventually hit on one of those.

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        I doubt that Lisa Story contains any scenes that Les isn’t in.

        • Charles

          If Lisa’s Story was an actual book, I’d totally agree with you.

          But seeing as how this “movie” is going to consist of nothing but Batiuk rerunning strips that he thinks are dramatic, rather than something he thinks Les would have written, I wouldn’t be shocked to see, for instance, the strip where Holly flashes her mastectomy scar at Lisa copied word for word.

          Which would mean that Lisa immediately ran out after that happened and told Les everything about such a private vulnerable moment concerning one of her friends in such great detail that he was able to recount it word-for-word.

          I’d say that’s just as likely as Les being present in every scene.

      • spacelysprocket

        I think he can set up a take on The Conversation, and have the Lisa scene replayed endlessly until different emphasis is put on different words, and Les finally realizes he is an asshat.

  10. ComicBookHarriet

    Holy cow! The double Leses (right across the strip) totally went over my head until you pointed it out BC! Seems like Baituk and Colorist could learn something from anime. When you can only draw three faces, you have to make sure the HAIR is really different from character to character.

  11. sgtsaunders

    That’s Les in P3. I can see the stray Grapette smeared all around his mouth and head in both P1 and P3.

  12. Banana Jr. 6000

    And yet, I still want to believe that’s Les in the final panel. I want to think this is Les hanging his head in shame as he hears Lisa say “20 or 30 years”, knowing the truth that he barely waited a year. And don’t tell me the time skip means he actually waited 11 years; this has never been consistently portrayed.

  13. Rusty Shackleford

    I can relate to this week’s Crankshaft. I have elderly neighbors that run that dang leaf blower every day for at least half an hour. They blow stuff off their driveway, the sidewalk, they walk around chasing a single leaf. Of course, all this crap blows back a minute later. But blow they do, with a dumb look on their face, accomplishing nothing but making a lot of noise. Idiots!

  14. Gerard Plourde

    The resemblance is just too identical. At risk of saying TomBa is being clever, I wonder if it’s an intentional “Easter Egg” that says “Les, like me, is his own editor”.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      “Who is Number One? You are, Les!”

    • Rusty Shackleford

      I was thinking that too…that he wants to make his readers work for it, like his writing is so deep or something.

    • The Duck of Death

      I think we can surmise that virtually nothing, at this point, is intentional on ToBa’s part, other than gunning for an award — any award — and cashing his check. Anything else? Well, slosh it on the page, first thought best thought, good enough for government work, it’s 9:12 AM, quittin’ time!

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        Tom Batiuk loves his pseudo profundity. He’s good at writing things that sound deep and meaningful, but aren’t. So I think he does try to do things like this sometimes. He just sucks at it.

        Mason mentioned the “dry trailer” on Tuesday, which as far as I can tell means “an editing suite rented for the equipment only, in which you have to provide your own personnel to do the editing.” The trailer is the physical building they’re in, not “trailer” in the sense of a promotional video for a forthcoming movie.

        This seemed a very strange detail to mention, but maybe Batiuk was trying to set up today’s moment. (Keep in mind, he sucks at this.) Mason dropped some industry dialog to imply that the editor of the movie is a full-time employee. Which further implies that this person would be on board with Les’ vision, and not some dispassionate temp who wouldn’t cater to his ridiculous demands. Today Les, who has been worried this whole time about the movie’s contents, looks at the editor’s chair and literally sees himself.

        I mean, it would work a lot better if both Les and this other person were in the shot, and if Mason’s foreshadowing didn’t use a word that’s very easy to misinterpret in this scenario.

        Yes, I know I proposed this as a joke a couple days ago, but maybe it’s the author’s intent? I don’t have a better theory at the moment. How else would you explain “dry trailer” and the needless presence of a Les lookalike?

        • Y. Knott

          Well, I’d attribute it to a combination of laziness and authorial incompetence.

          I mean, okay, it’s just a theory, but I’m pretty proud of it!

  15. You know what the mark of a great movie is? A trailer that’s just a random uncut scene where the two leads talk about what happens at the end.

    Why did Cayla get up and leave? This can’t be the first time she’s heard this anecdote, and it’s not even the worst thing that Lisa has ever said about Not-Lisa. (Please tell me that The Other Woman tape made it into the film somehow. It would go from being a cancer weepie to gothic horror in a snap.)

  16. erdmann

    From the director of “Phantasm” & “Bubba Ho-Tep”
    LISA DIES AT THE END
    Just so you know… Batiuk should be sorry for everything that he’s ever done.

  17. batgirl

    Okay, given that we’ve painstakingly established that it’s the editor and not Les in the final panel: why? What’s the point of showing him looking down at his control board? Is he crying? Is Les crying? Are we giving Les some space while he deals with his emotional turmoil or disgust?
    I feel like the ‘point’ is to re-use Lisa’s original quip/punchline, but if so, why not just show the full screen, instead of part of the head of a nameless tertiary character?
    Also, if they’d just shown all his head, it would be a lot clearer that he wasn’t Les (beard is different).

  18. Charles

    I see that crime covering-up fuckhole Cliff is coming back for some inevitably stupid reason. And he’s going to be smug about something based on his facial expression. What now? Is he recalling the time he covered for one of his friends when he got in trouble with the law for raping a woman?