Tears of a Clod

Link to today’s strip.

I find it very difficult to feel any sympathy for Cayla. She has chosen a life of slavery, and if you think saying that is in bad taste, sorry, but that is exactly what she is in this strip. She’s the third partner in a menage a trois.

The whole relationship (I can’t call it a “marriage”) between Les and Cayla is in very poor taste. Believe it or not, women happen to be people too, and they have wants and desires that have nothing to do with making sure the husband is an object of worship.

This is just bad, all around. This isn’t how human beings act. This is how monsters act.


Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

49 responses to “Tears of a Clod

  1. William Thompson

    If it were anyone but Les I’d say “anaphylactic shock.” But of course he’s just overawed by the perfect form of his artistic creation.

  2. Epicus Doomus

    Cayla learned very early on that she’d always be number three in this relationship. And apparently she’s OK with that, which says something about her self-esteem, although what that something is I don’t know. But rest assured, it’s nothing positive.

    • Rusty Shackleford

      What chance did Cayla even have? Bull was made into a non-person and he was a FW original.

      • gleeb

        Bull was a football player, a dolt, and a high school bully, no matter what lies he told his daughter later on. In Batiuk’s head, this means he earned his ending.

        • Banana Jr. 6000

          And nothing he did after high school matters. As an adult, Bull went to great lengths to atone for his misdeeds, face his own demons, and become Les’ friend. He also was also a respected teacher and coach who had on-field success never seen before at Westview HS.

          Les would never let go of the high school stuff, even bringing it up at Bull’s funeral to trash him. But he sure took everything Bull was willing to give.

          • Rusty Shackleford

            Meanwhile we get endless Lisa-porn. Do you think Les “pitched a tent” while watching this?

  3. ComicBookHarriet

    There is a trope called, “Single Manly Tear.”

    This is not that.

    • batgirl

      Welllll…. It does follow the trope of the Fridged Woman who has value only because she provides motivation for the Manly Tear.
      Though being the Inciting Incident for a decade-plus of moping, rather than a bloody trail of revenge is kind of letdown.

      • ComicBookHarriet


        At least Alexandra DeWitt, the original fridged woman, didn’t willingly climb into the refrigerator and slam the door on herself.

  4. J.J. O'Malley

    Unseen Panel Four: Masonne is about to turn off the monitor, but Lester stops him and yells, “Wait! I want to see how it ends!” The joke, of course, is that it never does. And how lovely that Cayla’s first line of dialogue since Sunday isn’t to convey her own feelings about the trailer, but to tell how moved Lester is. Can’t wait to see the (sideways?) Sunday wrap party panorama.

  5. Charles

    Jesus, if you gave Cayla blonde hair, lost the zip-a-tone and colored her a little lighter, she’d be Cindy. Ayers draws Cindy herself with less consistency than he drew Cayla here.

    Anyway, while yes, it’s undoubtedly because Batiuk doesn’t even bother to imagine what her reaction would be because he’s too concerned with Les, I’m much more amused by the idea that she didn’t give a shit. She saw this stupid scene with him and was completely unmoved.

    • billytheskink

      After building toward it for many years, Cayla fully completed her transition into palette swap Cindy back in January 2020.

      This development superseded the previous theory that original Cayla Willians swapped places with (possible relative?) Pizza World magazine reporter Darcy Williams in the dumbest Parent Trap rip-off in history.

      • Charles

        Yep. It’s as if Batiuk wanted Les to marry Cindy because it would complete his whole “worthless dork gets the hottest girl in the school” plot that he’s got a hard-on for. But since Les couldn’t marry Cindy, Batiuk instead turns around and redesigns his current girlfriend to look just like her. And what do you know, they immediately get engaged, when before Les couldn’t even tell her he loved her.

        It’s not perfect, however, which is why we still get the occasional “Cindy admits she would have done it with Les if he had asked” sequence. She even tells Les’s wife this!

        • Rusty Shackleford

          That whole Cindy wanted Les was such BS. Total garbage.

          I wanted to slap Batty with a rolled up newspaper and yell NO, NO!

          • Banana Jr. 6000

            It’s amazing how quickly Batiuk will throw away his own decades-long canon for whatever he wants to do this nanosecond.

            The Les-Cindy relationship in Act I had some thought put into it. The time they got stuck together at McArnold’s for New Year’s was honestly kind of cute. They discovered they had some things in common, and learned to respect each other despite their differing high school social circles, a la The Breakfast Club. But most of the time their relationship was realistic but zany. That was why Act I worked. It had a clear tone and a good balance.

            Unfortunately, after 20 years Batiuk decided he had to be a Thoughtful Writer Of Very Serious Things. But then he refused to adapt his tone to what serious subject matter calls for. For example, when a character dies, they’re supposed to stay dead.

          • Charles

            Absolutely, and even worse was when Cindy went on to tell Cayla. “There was that one night we spent together.” I mean, seriously.

            If I’d been married for about 7 years and took my wife to my high school reunion, whereupon a good friend of mine proceeded to tell my wife, once she got her alone, about how easily she would have slept with me in high school had I only asked, we wouldn’t be friends anymore.

            What’s the point in Cindy telling Cayla this story? Cindy’s insanely jealous, so if Batiuk’s consistent (unlikely), she did it to upset Cayla. Was it just for fun? Did Batiuk think that Cindy was… complimenting Cayla on being married to Les?

            And it was couched right in the middle of a Cindy pity party about how she’s not hot anymore. That Cayla is all right with Les even being around Cindy, much less staying at her house when he’s in LA by himself is absurd.

            It’s just more evidence that he doesn’t think about his characters and how they would feel being in the situations he puts them in. He wants the world to know that super hot super sexy Cindy was totally down with hooking up with Les, and who cares about the collateral damage that revelation causes.

        • gleeb

          And let’s not forget that Batiuk made Mary Sue Sweetwater, the original hottest girl in the school, fatter that Funky Winkerbean. Nasty little vicious streak he’s got there, isn’t in?

          • Banana Jr. 6000

            Barry Balderman, the smartest kid in the class, had a nervous breakdown.

            Livinia, one of the four characters in the first ever Funky Winkerbean strip, apparently died:

            But she’s not Lisa, so nobody cares about or even mentions her. Oh, and the dimensions of that plaque imply at least one more kid from that class died.

            Somewhere, Patty and Shermy are telling their grandchildren “Eh, I’m not bitter. My life could have been a lot worse.”

        • Epicus Doomus

          Les proposed to Cayla in the exact same spot where Lisa first discovered her cancer, an anecdote he rehashed DURING said proposal. Cayla is a gimmick character that BayYam was afraid to cut bait with after he wrote himself into a corner.

          • Charles

            I’m coming around to the idea that Batiuk was planning on hooking Les up with Cindy in early Act III. Their interactions in NYC early on seemed that way to me. But then Batiuk thwarted that plan when he wrote what he may have thought would be a throwaway story of Les messing with Summer by dating her rival’s mom.

            But then he realized that he couldn’t have Les break up with Cayla in a way that didn’t make Les look bad, or Batiuk look racist.

            I’m not sure if the weirdness of Les marrying Funky’s ex-wife entered into it at all. Hell, Funky marrying Cindy in the first place may have been to satisfy Batiuk’s “dork gets the most beautiful girl” fetish, seeing as how Les already had Lisa and thus wouldn’t hook up with Cindy himself.

      • Charles

        Cayla fully completed her transition into palette swap Cindy

        I call her Toasted Almond Cindy, but palette swap might be even better.

  6. Lord Flatulence

    Tears of a cod.

  7. Banana Jr. 6000

    Plot twist: Lisa’s death is only 15 minutes into the movie. The bulk of the movie is about Les’ efforts to create the movie. Next week, Les will be watching himself watch the movie in the movie, a la Spaceballs:

  8. Hitorque

    God damnit, Les… If you can’t find any emotional separation from “your” story during the SECOND attempt to make it into a movie and 15+ years after you told Lisa it’s okay to die, maybe you should have stayed your ass at home… You do realize that isn’t Lisa on the screen, right? I’d presume you’d know a thousand nuances and voice inflections and subtle mannerisms that Marianne missed because those are the kinds of things you only learn after years of living with someone…

    Now I know why Darrin and Summer weren’t invited. Because I promise you they wouldn’t have cried during a fucking trailer, making Les look all the worse by comparison. Can you imagine Roman Polanski speechless blubbering and crying like a baby seeing Margot Robbie on the screen??

    Now I’m wondering how Les wrote the original book, the sequel, the prequel and the graphic novel(!) in the first place through all that constant crying.

    • be ware of eve hill

      In Les’s mind, Darrin and Summer weren’t invited because they never really knew Lisa the way he did. Les, and only Les, is entitled to have these feelings. In Les’s mind, no one else is qualified to suffer the way he has.

      Lisa is only sainted, or even important, in that her death allows Less to be a martyr and a “hero” (I gag every time I see that overblown appellation). Darin is actually unimportant and at a far remove from Les because he wasn’t the baby daddy.

      Summer is even easier to explain, since everyone in Les’s sociopathic universe is only marginally defined in terms of their importance to his image, not as actual humans who exist in their own right. Summer’s only purpose was to be a “lifeline” to pull Less back from the brink after “His Bereavement,” not as an actual child who needed her sole surviving parent to grow a set and be there for her. Ever wonder why Batiuk did a time jump that also ever-so-conveniently skipped over showing Les having to actually raise his daughter? It would’ve required an emotional investment in character development, and as Batty’s author surrogate, Les did what Batiuk does today – namely, never, ever deliver.

      We’re told Les did it, just as Batty’s blog constantly spoon-feeds us reviews in which he tells us how brilliant he is, but pesky reality informs against him, every time.

      Sorry Beckoningchasm, I’m blotto on wine. It doesn’t work as a prescribed treatment for reading Funky Winkerbean. (Mentioned in your reply to me on 8/11)

      • Bad wolf

        Extrapolating out a little farther from your point here, maybe Summer was just another aspect of Le Chat Bleu all along; a phantom that never really existed in the first place? Now that Les doesn’t “need” her she drifts off into the ether…

    • newagepalimpsest

      Darrin and Summer are also not allowed to attend because a moment in the movie might remind them of something about Lisa that did not involve Les.

      “Hey Summer, do you actually remember that day that I told Lisa that I was her son? I mean, do you remember it in real life?”
      “… Not really. I just remember that everybody in town was visiting a lot and being really nice to Mom and Dad. I don’t think I really understood what was going on until-“
      “Dad, there’s no way that was the same-“
      “… Hey Les, Cayla told me that she thinks she might have a lump under her collarbone.”

      • Charles


        I feel sad that I’m going to reveal the depths of Les’s pathology that you’re unaware of, but Les had that quarter made into a necklace that he wore around like the most pathetic monument in existence.


        Scroll down to Funky Winkerbean for the damage.

        And yes, apparently you could call Akron from NYC with a quarter.

  9. be ware of eve hill

    Worked on me too. Just not in the same manner.

    (Baby talk) Aw wook at wittle Wes. He’s awwllll upset. He’s cwying!

    I like to believe Les is crying because Cayla has a death grip on his hand or has her nails dug into his thigh.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      That’s a good point. We don’t even know why he’s crying, do we?

      This is something that bad Oscar Bait movies do. They shove the emotional scene into your face, when they’ve completely failed to establish why the audience should be invested in it. Or worse, that the character has been a complete jackass the entire movie. Even worse than that is when the character’s emotion is confusing and just seems forced for the narrative. Batiuk manages to accomplish all three of these.

      Try to imagine a positive audience reaction to this moment. I dare you. Is Les happy that all his hard work has come to fruition? No, because he didn’t do any. All he did was pout and complain, and he skipped (or was intentionally left out of) the last 98% of filming. Is he brought to tears by seeing his lost Lenore again? He shouldn’t be, because his current wife is sitting right next to him! Is he moved that his artistic vision has come to life? I can’t feel happy for him, because his artistic vision is a selfish, egotistical exploitation of another person’s life. Was he taught off-guard by a particularly touching part? No, because all we’ve seen in the movie is banal conversation. What’s driving the emotion here and why should the audience be behind it?

      The only positive audience reaction this will ever generate is “oh good, it’s finally almost over.”

  10. be ware of eve hill

    Jay Sherman from the cartoon The Critic: “It stinks!!!”

  11. Hitorque

    And can Masone please stop pretending to placate Les by running everything by his approval? This movie is DONE and his only concern now should be box office revenues and sweet-talking the prominent film critics along with the Oscar committee.

    It’s ironic in a way that Masone Jarre is getting paid $20+ million to pretend to be Les while the real Les gets ugatz for being himself…

  12. Sourbelly

    “I think he thought it worked.” Nice, Cayla, Michael Stipe would be proud. So to update Cayla’s personality profile:
    1. REM fan
    2. Doormat
    3. Voldemoore’s replacement-level wife
    4. Shopaholic broad/chick.

    At least we got ____’s single tear out of the way. Well worth the wait. Like, this screening is over, right?

  13. Fiero Burnside

    It’s pretty awesome that they achieved all this while Hollywood was engulfed in flames.

    • Hitorque

      That wildfire from last summer which destroyed a third of Metro Los Angeles, killing tens of thousands, displacing hundreds of thousands and putting millions out of work was retconned away — Never happened, just like Phillip Holt’s “death”…

      • gleeb

        Nah, Phil Holt is dead. His ghost appeared next to Lisa’s. Are you questioning the holy Saint Deadwife?

  14. So, we’ve spent a week re-re-re-re-re-hashing Lisa death porn, and we haven’t even started the wrap party yet (I’m frankly shocked that he left out the playground scene this time). Are we going to spend the next week at the wrap party (from the face in the masthead, it appears that Cliff will be a distinguished guest)? Do I care?

  15. Gerard Plourde

    Lisa has been dead for either thirteen years or nearly a quarter century, depending whether there was a time jump TomBa just aged his characters ten years to avoid a potentially fruitful examination of the consequences of Lisa’s death on her family and community, not least of all on her widower and her preschool-age daughter (Nice bit of avoidance there, TomBa).

    So what are to make of Les’s reaction? I’m guessing TomBa wants us to believe that Mason’s and Marianne’s acting was so masterful that it totally recreated the Les and Lisa that exist in Les’s mind and moved him to tears, removing any possible objection he might still have harbored. The fact is that no hint of any of this was at all evident. The last interaction between Les, Mason and Marianne appeared to erase those.

    The reaction it elicits from me is – Who cares? Presenting a rehash of TomBa’s favorite hits (falling leaves and bathos) as viewed by us watching Les (and his doppelganer editor) isn’t a story.

    Bring on Cliff Anger. Maybe he and Vera are bringing their friend Zanzibar the talking alcoholic murder chimp to the wrap party. (I know I’m hoping for too much, but I can dream.)

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      It’s cheap, shitty awards bait. Batiuk thinks he’s set up an emotional moment when he hasn’t even written a plot. It’s unclear what’s going on, and why Les should have an emotional reaction to it.

      I mean, is the first time Les is seeing this? In real life, the COVID quarantine led to a lot of remote collaboration. Couldn’t he have viewed dailies from Westview via the Internet? Couldn’t the comic strip have acknowledged that filming of Lisa’s Story was at least continuing, instead of burning down Los Angeles and then ignoring it for a year plus?

      This also would have been a much better way to bring COVID into the Funkyverse than the stupid fire plot and Funky’s even stupider AA meetings. COVID could have been the impetus for the resumption and continuation of Lisa’s Story, and a way to keep Les involved. Never mind that Les never tried to keep himself involved, even after all the bitching he did. And if Les’ ongoing presence isn’t important to making the movie, why did the story spend so much time telling us it was?

      It’s all so incompetent, and yet has such a high opinion of itself. It’s Big Rigs: Over The Road Racing, if that game thought it was Forza Horizon 4.

  16. spacemanspiff85

    Cayla exists entirely because Batiuk realized it was a bit much even by his low standards to have Les talking out loud to himself about Lisa all the time. Her whole purpose is just to give Les someone to talk to about Dead Lisa.

  17. William Thompson

    Look, Les sheds a single tear! Just like Louis did in “Interview With A Vampire” when he recalled Claudia’s death. It’s like he’s following the secret code of lifeless, soul-sucking monsters in respecting another of his kind.

  18. newagepalimpsest

    Mason is such a dumbass. Les was already in a pissy mood about the trip, the party, and having to endure Not-Lisa’s attempts to enjoy herself in spite of him.

    So apparently now is the perfect time to activate his Martyr Mode, so that he’ll really ruin the wrap party for everybody else.

    I mean, in a different strip, that would be weeks of entertainment and drama. But in this strip, everyone that Les is about to offend and annoy will just make boo-boo eyes and curse themselves for having failed Lisa so very badly.