Wheelhouse of Pain

Link to today’s strip.

Author: What is the law?

Mason Jarr: Les Moore is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I’ve ever known in my life, that is the law. Are we not men?

FW Cast (in unison): Are we not men?

Author: What is the law?

Mason Jarr: No Tom Batiuk has ever made a mistake or distorted information. He is, by any practical definition of the words, foolproof and incapable of error, that is the law. Are we not men?

FW Cast (in unison): Are we not men?

Author: What is the law?

Mason Jarr: Research? We ain’t got no research. We don’t need no research. I don’t have to show you any stinkin’ research, that is the law. Are we not men?

FW Cast (in unison): Are we not men? We sure aren’t Devo.



Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

53 responses to “Wheelhouse of Pain

  1. Epicus Doomus

    Self-deprecation is the engine that powers the Funkyverse and wry false humility is the fuel that runs that engine. Everyone and everything in the Funkyverse is kind of shitty and half-assed, which is exactly how Westviewians like it. The pizza, the comic books store (and comic book company), the school, the people, it’s all the same…kind of shitty and really half-assed. Everyone is sort of a fraud just going through the motions, but in a cute wry kind of way and everyone is always exchanging those annoying wry smirks because they all inherently understand this.

    Mason got a little too full of himself there, so he had to take a moment to remind everyone that he’s really just a shitty half-assed hack who usually makes garbage movies for drooling morons. And, of course, everyone laughed, as they all totally relate. It’s a warped perspective that only really makes sense to BatYam and his regular readers, who understand it all too well.

    • Hannibal's Lectern

      “The pizza, the comic books store (and comic book company), the school, the people, it’s all the same…kind of shitty and really half-assed.”

      When you describe it this way, it’s a perfect match to the description of hell in C. S. Lewis’s theological “dream” book “The Great Divorce.” No fire, no brimstone, just an endless drab British suburb in which everything is kinda shitty and half-assed, where you can wish into existence anything you want, but the quality will be lousy (raindrops just pass through the roof) and everybody is sullen and irritable.

      And if (as happens in Lewis’s book) a bus were to come along offering day trips to heaven, the people would board, go up to have a look around, and then decide they like Worstview better.

      • Gerard Plourde

        You’re absolutely right. Westview (and the FW universe in general) precisely matches the Great Divorce’s Hell (though the rate ones who decide not to return from the day trip can call it part of Purgatory).

  2. Banana Jr. 6000

    “This was the film in which I made the fewest mistakes as an actor. Seriously, all I had to do was act like an arrogant, insufferable douchebag, and I was immediately in character! Hey, I’m even doing it now!”

    • Anonymous Sparrow

      Mason seems to be channeling writer/director Preston Sturges, who said something to the effect that his “Hail the Conquering Hero” was the film which had the fewest things wrong with it.

      What do Preston Sturges and Mason Jarre have in common?

      Both have first names ending in “on.”

      Both have surnames including an “r.”

      Mason speaks of a “wheelhouse” in a colloquial manner.

      Sturges shows an actual wheelhouse in “The Palm Beach Story.”

      Other than that, I’m stumped. Perhaps the Wienie King has some thoughts:

      Cold are the hands of time that creep along relentlessly, destroying slowly but without pity that which yesterday was young. Alone our memories resist this disintegration and grow more lovely with the passing years. Heh! That’s hard to say with false teeth!

      Not much help there. Sgt. Heffelfinger?

      You gotta be Smitty, and he’s gotta be you, and you both gotta come out alive!

      And not Susan Smith, either!

  3. louder

    How can you be outside your comfort zone as an actor, and make your fewest mistakes? That whole sentence tells us that JarrHead just mailed in the part. That’s okay, it must be the seventh circle of hell to portray Less, the gamut of emotions must run from wry, to cynical, to smug self-righteousness, all in the same scene!

    • Nah, that’s a reasonable thing to say. For Jarre to find that a role outside his comfort zone, getting a real challenge, forced him to focus on how to act more precisely and how to make his performance more what he-and-the-director intended? That he took the challenge and (he thinks) succeeded? That makes sense to me.

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        And “leaving his comfort zone” is exactly what Mason said he wanted. He was complaining about being “typecast” as a sci-fi action hero (even though he’s only done one such role as far as we know), and he wanted to do something different. So he’s basically complaining about getting exactly what he wanted, and congratulating himself for his resilience in taking it. This is a common theme in Funky Winkerbean.

    • Hannibal's Lectern

      Actually, he didn’t say he was outside his comfort zone, he said he was outside his wheelhouse. Which I took to mean nobody was steering the good ship “Dead St. Lisa’s Story” as it careened onto the rocks.

      But… a role can be outside an actor’s comfort zone and still not be a terribly difficult one to play. As you said, the gamut of Les’s emotions “run from wry, to cynical, to smug self-righteousness.” Pretty easy role to learn, I would say. As long as he plays Les as a douche, he’s pretty much dead on.

  4. William Thompson

    But what will Les say when he grows enraged at not being the center of attention?” “You think to baffle me, you–with your pale faces all in a row, like sheep at a butcher’s! You shall be sorry yet, each one of you! My revenge is just begun! I spread it over centuries, and time is on my side!”

    Well, Les does suck as much as Dracula, doesn’t he?

  5. Mr. A

    Is this whole week going to be nothing but Mason’s speech? Lisa help us.

    Then again, it could be worse. It could be Les’s speech.

    (Oh no, I’ve jinxed it, haven’t I?)

  6. Sourbelly

    The thing that Mason says in the third panel is funny because we can see people in the audience smirking and, in some cases, displaying their teeth. This weakly indicates that they are sort of politely laughing. That means that we must chortle heartily at this winsome jape.


  7. Charles

    So his speech is just three random statements that have little if anything to do with one another. It’s as if he removed all the paragraphs in his speech and just left the topic sentences.

    Plus, what the hell kind of joke is that? It is informed by the character or the story? Of course not. It’s just a one-liner that fails at being a one-liner.

    But the worst is the second panel.

    “This film (which consists of nothing but repeats of comic strips I wrote over a decade ago) is smart, real, raw and something [Faulty parallelism, btw] that will resonate with people on an emotional level for years to come.”

    I mean, come ON. That is nauseating. It’s Batiuk just praising himself for something he wrote fifteen years ago that he’s been grinding his dick over ever since. He can’t get anyone else to say it, so he’s going to have one of his characters say it instead. If he had any shame, he’d be embarrassed by this whole thing. It’s so beneath the artist he thinks he is.

    But not beneath him.

    • Jeff M.

      “It’s Batiuk just praising himself for something he wrote fifteen years ago that he’s been grinding his dick over ever since. He can’t get anyone else to say it, so he’s going to have one of his characters say it instead.”

      Can’t think of a better way to describe this ongoing torture. All I can think of is how Carol Channing toured in “Hello, Dolly!” for DECADES after it was on Broadway, practically until she was in her grave. Admittedly, in that case it actually started as something good, but the thought of only having one thing to drag out over and over and over and over…just one thing… and that’s your career…. Oh my God, I’m so depressed now. I guess the TB magic has worked.

      • Anonymous Sparrow

        You remind me of Eugene O’Neill’s actor father who perpetually returned to *The Count of Monte Cristo.* O’Neill made him James Tyrone, Sr. in *Long Day’s Journey into Night* and his comments about “that damned play” and what it cost him (his gift of playing Shakespeare evaporated in the years of portraying Edmond Dantes) are heartbreaking.

        *Long Day’s Journey into Night* won O’Neill a posthumous Pulitzer Prize. During his lifetime he won three Pulitzers.

        He also won the Nobel Prize for Literature, and proved Ernest Hemingway wrong, writing some of his greatest plays afterwards. (Hemingway felt that no one ever wrote anything worth a damn after winning the Nobel. He may not have, but O’Neill certainly did.)

  8. Gerard Plourde

    In TomBa world a wrap party appears to be a gathering at the soundstage with no food, no music, minimal beverages to listen to the star/producer talk ad nauseam. What a great time! (sarcasm font)

    • J.J. O'Malley

      Why do you think Cindy brought her own wine glass (the bottle’s in her purse). She knows what a cheap MoFo Masonne is.

    • Hitorque

      The only thing missing is Masone telling some dumbass story about a treadmill and the last Sony Discman in existence

  9. J.J. O'Malley

    Truly this party looks like an “Island of Lost Souls.” And what happened to Lisa reincarnated, Marianne Winters? None of the four females depicted look anything like her.

    “…something that will resonate with people on an emotional level for years to come,” Masonne? Compared to WHAT? “Ikiru”? “Cleo from 5 to 7″? Steel Magnolias”? “The Bucket List”? “The Fault in Our Stars”? There have been films about people coping with cancer for decades, and the majority of them are about more than just the disease, about some aspect of the person’s life. Even a formulaic melodrama like “Stepmom” examined the conflict between an ailing Susan Sarandon and Julia Roberts, the new woman in her family’s lives. What conflict or resolution will there be in “Lisa’s Story”? Is the retconned date rape an element? Is someone playing Young Durwood or Baby Summer? Does Zach Galifianakis cameo as the goofy x-ray tech who mixes up the photos? All we’ve seen is an ailing Lisa and the ever-supportive Lester. That’s not an emotional drama; I’m not even sure it’s drama.

    • erdmann

      Marianne left early for the REAL wrap party. Even now she’s back at Chapeau Marmoset snorting mountains of coke.

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        And Mason has been tasked with ditching Les at this lame party, so the stars can enjoy the real wrap party without him. Notice that Martin Johns and Cassidy Kerr aren’t here either. Neither is any other actor from the movie. These people look like a bunch of low-end crew members.

        • Actually, I think Johns was in yesterday’s strip–he was at the extreme left, near Mason. Of course, with this level of artwork, it could have been Zippy the Pinhead with a mustache.

          • Banana Jr. 6000

            Eh, I could have missed it. But I still like my head canon that Les is being intentionally ditched.

    • Hannibal's Lectern

      Of course, we will never be permitted to see the Great Masterpiece Movie, because (a) TomBa still thinks we’ll all get so fascinated by this “story” that we’ll rush out and buy the “Dead St. Lisa Trilogy Boxed Set,” and (b) he isn’t actually interested in the content of the movie. Just like in “Starsuck Jones” and all the AtomiK KomiX crap, he’s trying to operate at a “meta” level, going behind the scenes like the classic “Dick Van Dyke* Show.” Unfortunately, he seems to lack both the comedic talent of that show’s cast, and the deep knowledge of the subject matter that informed Carl Reiner and the writing staff.

      *It feels so good to just write that name, rather than needing to say something like “Richard Van Levee” to get past a censorbot…

    • Anonymous Sparrow

      J.J. O’Malley, you not only have a cool name, but your cinematic references are impeccable, especially “Ikiru” and “Cleo from 5 to 7.”

      You should be President of the Elves, Leprechauns, Gnomes, and Little Men’s Chowder & Marching Society.

      May you never run out of fine Havana magic wands.

      Be sure to give my best regards to brother Orville when next you see him!

  10. billytheskink

    An “emotional level”? OK, I’ll agree with that. I’ve seen Inside Out, disgust is an emotion.

  11. be ware of eve hill

    In the last panel, Les’s head is drawn larger than anybody else’s. Please don’t feed the insufferable douchebag’s ego.

    Narrator: And what happened then? Well, in Hollywood they say that Les’s head grew three sizes that day.

  12. The Dreamer

    Never mind that Mason is at least 20 years too old to be playing Les in his late 20’s

  13. be ware of eve hill

    Oh Masone, the fewest mistakes as an actor, maybe. But the other mistakes you made were countless.

    1.) Having Les as a hero.
    2.) Believing Lisa’s Story would make a good movie.
    3.) Talking Les into “allowing” you to make the movie.
    4.) Casting yourself as Les.
    5.) Traveling to New York with Les to research locations.
    6.) Studying Les too closely. You seem to have absorbed some of his worst qualities.
    7.) Taking Les with you while searching for an Executive Producer.
    8.) Allowing Les to have input on the casting of Lisa.
    9.) Giving Les a cameo role.
    10.) Continuing to make the movie after the Great Los Angeles Fire.
    11.) Continually feeding his Les’s ego.
    ∞.) Inviting Les to the wrap party.
    ∞+1.) Hosting a shitty wrap party.
    ∞+2.) This speech.

  14. ComicBookHarriet

    The guy partially obscured by Masone’s nose in panel 3looks like a Wooly Willie magnet toy face.

    That’s really all I got out of today’s strip.

  15. Moovie Phony

    Synopsis: a man whose wife is dying of cancer spends the last months they have together screaming, “Why is this happening to ME?”

  16. Hitorque

    “Out of his wheelhouse”?! Did Masone forget his pre-Starbucke resume was nothing but soap operas and the type of standard fare melodramas you can find any hour of the day on The Lifetime or Hallmark Channels?


    Or is this yet another one of Batiuk’s secret retcons and the first Lisa Movie never happened?

    • Actually, I think the only item mentioned from Mason’s filmography was “Dino Deer.” Which sounds like the kind of thing the SyFy Channel would turn down while holding its nose.

      • billytheskink

        There was also My Dog Pookie, but I think that is it.

        • Banana Jr. 6000

          Well, I see why Mason and Les get along so well. “Oh, this role was so beneath me, I only took it to keep my health insurance.” Your face and name are on the poster, you egomaniac! And you “took” the role? You didn’t “win” or “earn” it from somebody else? Because your talent was just so unmistakable they didn’t even bother with an audition? And somehow no bigger movie wanted you?

          I looked up the SAG-AFTRA health insurance requirements. It’s 100 working days, or $26,000 acting income, in a year. How was Mason so awesome that he gets handed the lead role in a low-end but legitimate Hollywood movie, yet unable to find enough work to meet those low requirements? I guess he was too good for that too.

          The arrogance of these small-town nobodies!

        • hitorque

          That strip is still personally triggering to me, since I lost a beloved Maltese who looked just like that only a few months before…

          Rest in Power, Mimmersma….

    • Jimmy

      And wasn’t the original movie for the Cable Movie Channel or something like that? It’s not like this was some masterpiece everyone wanted.

  17. Dood

    So, is “Lisa’s Story” Mason’s “Leonard Part 6” or “The Day the Clown Cried”? Just wondering.

    • Hannibal's Lectern

      It’s his “Plan 9 From Outer Space.” As Ed Wood proudly said (at least in Tim Burton’s movie, which claimed to be over 90% documented actual events) when leaving the premiere, “This is the one I’ll be remembered for.”

      Yep. This is the one Masoné will be remembered for, all right…

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      It’s his Corvette Summer.

  18. Rusty Shackleford

    New BattyBlog post is up today. Lots of words, but little is actually said.

  19. I have to agree that the word “raw” did cross my mind when watching the trailer, but it was as an adjective applied to “sewage”.

  20. TimP

    Mason’s innovation was to make the emotional pivot point of Lisa’s Story, a smash cut to the talking murder chimp right after she found out she was gonna die after all.