“What Did Come Up Was Lunch”

Link to today’s strip.

I have a slight bit of sympathy for Tom Batiuk regarding panel two–he does, after all, have to remind people who don’t read the strip what’s going on. It sure seems like an awkward word salad that no human being would ever say out loud, though.

Mainly, the idea I guess is to give Les a moment where he can be falsely humble. It doesn’t work; there is no way that Les Moore can even pretend he never thought he was awesome. Don’t even try to make him likeable, Batiuk; you’ve created the most loathsome character in all of fiction. Own it.

36 Comments

Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

36 responses to ““What Did Come Up Was Lunch”

  1. Gerard Plourde

    “You know…Oddly enough, Cindy, that never came up. I was too busy exercising my hall monitor power by threatening hall pass violators with my desk-mounted machine gun.” There. Fixed it.

  2. William Thompson

    I can only imagine Les Moore on a stage if he’s declaiming the final lines of A Tale Of Two Cities: “It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.”

    Then the executioner says “Give it a rest!” and beheads him.

  3. Epicus Doomus

    Fun Funky fact: Cayla has uttered exactly seven words over the last two weeks and six of them were in one sentence. Another fun Funky fact: a device (or a contraption, if you prefer) was developed and built to measure BatYam’s laziness, but it broke the first time they tried to use it and three technicians suffered third degree complacency burns over 99% of their bodies. And now they don’t feel like fixing it.

    Check out that weird word balloon in panel two, which doesn’t appear to have been constructed for that clumsy bit of needless premise rehashing he jammed in there and centered all awkwardly. I guess he just ran out of ideas there, which is certainly plausible and probably very likely. Or maybe he had no idea what the female character would say in this situation, which is likewise very plausible and probably very likely.

    Dick Facey’s intensely annoying and violently irritating expression in panel three doesn’t match up with the dialog either, unless he meant to have Les condescendingly talk to Cindy like she’s a complete childish imbecile, in which case he nailed it. I mean yeah, it’s definitely a sub-moronic question that merits a snide reply, but I don’t know, it just looks all out of sync somehow to me. That finger thing he’s doing is just enraging, I haven’t wanted to punch him this much in years.

  4. Charles

    Now we reach the obligatory “Cindy asks Les if he ever imagined in high school that he’d be as awesome as he is now” portion of the program.

    All it’s missing is a suggestion from Cindy that she’d have banged him if he asked.

    IOW, yes, this strip has happened before, almost exactly as it’s happening here.

    • Epicus Doomus

      Maybe he could do a flashback strip where Cindy makes out with Les in the janitor closet to prevent the “mean girls” from seeing that he peed his pants.

  5. billytheskink

    A better question is, did Les ever imagine he would NEVER leave high school? Beyond the fact that both he and his wife both work there, here he is on a movie set in dadgum Hollywood, California… and he’s being asked about high school by a former high school classmate. Why does Westview High even bother with reunions?

  6. J.J. O'Malley

    I’m sorry…where is the fourth panel, the one with an actual joke in it?

    Oh, and where is movie “Lisa” Marianne Winters?

  7. Banana Jr. 6000

    What a stupid, insulting, out-of-left-field question. Why would he? This was never an aspiration of his! And Les has done a lot more in Hollywood than stand on a soundstage. He acted in, co-produced, and helped pitch this movie, FFS. So why on earth would he thinking about high school right now? I can’t even fault Les for his smug, vacuous reply, because what the hell is he supposed to say here? And if Cindy was a journalist, she should know how to ask better questions than this.

  8. So, granting that I’m from a generation later than Tom Batiuk but … uh .. like, yeah, I certainly had high-school fantasies of being on the set of the movie I wrote. Doesn’t, like, everyone who enjoys writing at that age have roughly that fantasy? Also a similar fantasy about winning whatever your favorite writing prize is. Maybe with the most desirable person in high school expressing their awe.

    • Hannibal's Lectern

      Well of course he had that fantasy, as did I… the difference is, while most of us fantasized about writing a spy novel or a sci-fi story that got made into a movie, Less fantasized about giving his wife cancer and writing a best-selling tear-jerker about her death.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      That’s another reason Les’ achievement isn’t very moving. You know who else from Westview High School got to live their dream? EVERYBODY. Cindy got to be a major TV news anchor. Bull got to play major college football, and be on an NFL roster for year. Pete got to be the world’s greatest comic book writer. Funky got to be a massive local business success. Dinkle gets be in the Rose Parade for about the 11th time. Other characters like Holly and Crazy Harry found satisfying lives. Cindy’s talking to him like he’s finally a member of the cool clique in high school.

      Which is another thing that really, really bothers me about the Funkyverse. Tom Batiuk has no concept of anything between high school and A-list mass media. He thinks “Well, Cindy was the high school bee, so she’s obviously going to become a major media start and the wife of an A-list actor! Les was a writer so he’s going to win a Pulitzer!” I thought this way about my classmates when I graduated high school. But I quickly turned after leaving high school that the competition gets a lot tougher. Everybody else who wants to pursue these things was also the star of their high school. And it quickly becomes apparent that you’re not the only talented person in the world.

      And these characters never show that they have a shred of talent at. We know Les’ atrocious dialog. It’s worse than the novels Snoopy wrote, and he was SUPPOSED to be bad. We’ve seen the derivative mockbuster garbage Atomik Komix puts out. Today we see the alleged news reporter asking a question that would get her laughed out of a press room. And none of them ever work at it either. For all Cindy’s whining about losing her looks, do you ever see her working out? Do you ever see her acquiring any other skills? Cindy is just as much an empty shell as Les is.

      There is simply no reason to believe these characters deserve anything that the strip routinely hands to them. Certainly not national-level accolades.

      • Charles

        You kind of touch on it, but it really does need to be underscored. Batiuk simply has no idea how much work needs to be done to accomplish what these people achieve effortlessly.

        In both of Cindy’s Cliff Anger documentaries, we just see her interviewing Cliff once on the fly. It’s evident on both occasions that Cindy has done no research whatsoever and has no idea what Cliff is going to say next. Keep in mind that Batiuk claimed at least one of these documentaries won an Emmy. At the end of them, she doesn’t do any reshoots. She doesn’t conduct any follow-up interviews, and she doesn’t do anything to suggest that she took one step in verifying anything Cliff said. This isn’t how documentaries are made.

        In actuality, Cindy would have lived, breathed, slept and eaten The Cliff Anger and Butter Brinkel Stories while she was making them. There wouldn’t have been anything Cliff would have said on camera that Cindy didn’t already know intimately and hadn’t already confirmed from various sources. There would have been plenty of interviews, with Cliff himself in addition to other people like historians or friends or witnesses who could supply further elaboration of whatever point was being made. Cindy would have had a wealth of information and footage to draw from such that she would have had to throw plenty of it out as unideal. And every interview would have been shot with more than one camera on set, done by someone with more professional qualifications than “the wife of some guy my high school classmate knows”.

        In fact, explaining further would just exhaust me, but suffice to say, there’s so much more that Batiuk was ignorant of based on the strips he’s published. And again, he’s claiming that these things were not only professional, but they were among the best things television news produced over the course of a year.

        As for Bull, Batiuk similarly shows little understanding of what it takes to become a professional athlete. I have a cousin who was the best baseball pitcher in his state when he was a senior in high school. He got a scholarship to play baseball at a university. If you and I watched him, to our untrained eyes, we might think he’s a surefire MLB pitcher. After all, he could throw just as hard as professionals. He had the control that professionals need. He had no problems hitting the strike zone from the mound with a 96 mph fastball. And he could mix it up with an assortment of other pitches that had astonishing movement, again, all of which he could throw in ways indistinguishable to-the-untrained-eye from actual MLB professionals.

        And when he got drafted in the late rounds of the MLB draft, he didn’t even bother to contact the team, because he knew there was no way he’d make the majors. He runs an agency that plans Hollywood events with his wife now. Actually, his wife runs it. He helps her. That’s probably something else Batiuk wouldn’t think possible.

        Bull, on the other hand, actually gets invited to a professional team’s training camp, goes and gets cut, and we’re supposed to laugh at what a failure he is. He comes back a failure to coach at his old high school and leads teams in two disparate sports to state titles. (Although let’s be honest, again Batiuk shows unremarkable kids possessing unusual natural skill in order to accomplish this, at least insofar as Girls’ basketball is concerned) He ends up dying of suicide and of the few people who come to his funeral, most of them make fun of what an idiot he was. Not only did no one appreciate the things he accomplished in his life, they also didn’t appreciate the things he helped them accomplish in theirs.

        Which isn’t as shocking as it should be, because after all, none of them had to work for it. They wanted to be state champions, so they were state champions. That’s all it took. Cindy wanted to make documentaries, so she becomes the best at it.

        • Banana Jr. 6000

          Great take. And I think Batiuk’s own career arc fuels this conceit. He got to write a newspaper comic at age 25, and never had to put any effort into making it better. So why should he think anyone else has to?

          These damned publishing stories of his just drone forever about contracts and rights, and yet they’re so shallow. You never see any actual work being done. I produced one segment of a 30-minute PBS show for a college class, and holy cow, it was a lot of work. Even in that environment, we couldn’t interview just one person. And it couldn’t be somebody we knew; we had to go out and find a subject. The Butter Brinkel crap that won an Emmy on Planet Batiuk would have gotten an F in a college class I took 25 years ago, for two different reasons.

          And what’s the only part of the process you do see? Where the “artist” is getting their ass kissed. “Oh, Les, please make Lisa’s Story, it’s so powerful and moving!” No, it fucking isn’t. Tom Batiuk can’t even write one panel that looks like it could be part of a good movie. Or even a complete movie. It’s the same tired-ass glurge, over and over again, after the strip already beat us to death with it. We’re supposed to be happy for a universally despised character whose creative vision is coming to life, when they did nothing to help and never wanted it to in the first place. So…. yay, I guess?

          And somehow, all of this isn’t even unintentionally funny. It’s so bizarre that it defies irony. Something this misguided, that takes itself this seriously, should be a laugh riot. This should be The Room levels of funny. But a straightforward plot of Wilbur Weston being an asshole to his girlfriend’s cat is somehow infinitely more fun than this.

          • be ware of eve hill

            That was cruel. I am so waiting for Libby’s revenge.

            As horrible as Wilbur is, Les makes him look like a Sunday school teacher.

          • Charles

            I think Mary Worth works because Wilbur’s a bozo and Moy seems to be okay with you thinking so. Les is awful in tedious and appalling ways and yet Batiuk thinks he’s a great man. More than that, he wants you to think he’s a great man who doesn’t get the recognition he deserves. And he does it with all his “unwaveringly good” characters like Dinkle, Mopey and Darin. Bull, Cindy and Mason are a little different because at times we’re supposed to see their foolishness. But even then, they’re wonderful people who we should celebrate.

            I have to admit not liking the last Mary Worth story, because for the entire time I got the impression that we were supposed to feel sympathy for Drew. That he was a generous if naive man who was only trying to help these two trash-ass, irredeemable lower class women. He bore no responsibility for the situation he found himself in, even as these two women would come to his rundown clinic for their daily chlamydia shots and start fist fighting in the lobby as he would stand by doing nothing but get punched accidentally. I’m genuinely shocked that the resolution wasn’t Mary helping Drew find a nice proper bourgeois woman who he could hook up with as he was supposed to. Leave those trash-ass bitches to their chlamydia and their comically rundown trailers that are in worse condition than if they had been abandoned five years ago, because you’re better than that, Drew.

  9. Lord Flatulence

    In P3, Les looks like he just finished picking his nose.

    • ComicBookHarriet

      He’ll never reach his tiny brain that way. Not unless he has one of those terrifyingly long and thin fingers aye-ayes use to dig termites out of tree limbs.

  10. Professor Fate

    The smarmy look he has in the last panel suggests that what he wanted to say was something about threesomes. Still knowing Les well of course he was dreaming of being huge. Of course it all depends on Lisa dying which has to eat him away inside.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Yeah really. We all know what Les dreamed about doing with Cindy in high school, and wasn’t an interview.

      You make an interesting point about this eating Les away inside. At first I thought you meant “his beloved wife had to die for him to find success,” but deep down Les doesn’t give a shit about Lisa. He told her to die. She’s more valuable to him dead.

      But then I realized you meant “Les knows he can’t replicate his success.” That would be eating him up, all right. He’s a one-hit wonder, and he knows it. He even told Cayla “don’t get too used to this,” meaning Hollywood. I like to think this was a rare bit of self-awareness, but I’m sure it’s just his usual woe-is-me act.

  11. be ware of eve hill

    Is that heavy-lidded contempt from Les in panel #1?
    Les: (thinking to himself) Ask your question if you must, you prattling female. I have little time for lesser people.

    Between that image and the humblebrag gesturing in panel #3, I’m grateful I can’t see Less’s face in panel #2. Is there a more insufferable humble bragger than Les? You’re not believable, Les. Give it up.

    I did follow through with the idea a couple of weeks ago of printing a Les head and pinning it to the dartboard in the garage. It’s well-used, but I believe it’s still there. Stronger measures may be needed today. My husband has a little kerosene flamethrower he uses for weeds and hornet nests. *Giggle* burn, Les, burn!

    I wonder if I can find anyone on the internet to make a custom Les stress doll, complete with detachable limbs and removable, punt-able head?

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      There are a lot of custom figure companies on the Internet. But I don’t know of any who make ones that can be disassembled, beyond Lego figurines. Cheap foam stress toys only let you print a logo on them, not change their appearance. But it might be worth it to drop $75 on a custom Les action figure, and make a YouTube video of it meeting an inglorious end.

      • be ware of eve hill

        Hoo boy. Slowly backing away from my Les stress doll idea a bit. The first link I pulled up was a patent for a handicap doll with removable limbs. I found the concept to be somewhat distasteful, but I have to confess it’s not that much different from my Les doll idea. I also found some customizable dolls online. As you said, none with detachable heads.

        I created a couple of soft sculptures in high school. Perhaps I can create something with a head connected by Velcro.

        I wish Batiuk could see the marketing possibilities of a Les stress doll. I’d buy a dozen.

        The flamethrower idea has been nixed. No kerosene. Bummer. ☹

        I’m not getting too obsessive, am I?

        • William Thompson

          Check out eBay for some of the old Aurora monster kits. Combine their Guillotine kit with a head from their Dracula kit and you’ve got a good start on your dream. Or you could do what I did a couple of Halloweens ago, with a cheap plastic skull from the DollarStore:
          Halloween 2019 - birdfeeder - 1

          • be ware of eve hill

            Ha! You made a Les Moore Halloween decoration. A skull with Les’s beard. I love it! Those flamingos as vultures are sweet! 👍

            My brother built a lot of those Aurora monster kits. Glow in the dark etc. He converted a Godzilla and a prehistoric scenes pterodactyl kit into Rodan.

    • Maybe a custom cat or dog toy, with Les’ face as the logo.

  12. Sourbelly

    Panel 1: Cayla and Hatchetface Cincy are absolutely plastered. Les is wallowing in ennui and contempt for all the non-Les people he’s surrounded by. And Ayers has simply abandoned backgrounds.

    Panel 2: Cindy is drawn in a completely different style! Les is sporting a duck bill. Cayla is about to pass out.

    Panel 3: The two hatchetface women are smirking, not sure whether to commit to a full smile. Is Les trying to be funny? It’s so hard to tell. As for Les…words fail me.

  13. batgirl

    Les did write another book – the one about the murder of John Darling. I’ve never understood why it was canonically a flop. I mean, true crime nonfiction about a celebrity murder? Where the author not only solved the case, but almost fell victim to the murderer? Even if the writing was poor, that should have been a success. And he should have been able to sell film rights to one of those cable networks that churned out semi-fictionalized crime and scandal back in the day.
    Instead, Falling Star (? not gonna look it up) is long out of print, and the book about a small-town schoolteacher whose wife died of cancer is … well, I guess it’s still being printed, since Les is perpetually signing and giving readings for it. He could be selling copies from his garage, I guess, but most bookstores aren’t keen on hosting signings for books they don’t regularly stock.
    I wonder if there will be a movie edition of Lisa’s Story, with a photo cover of the stars?

    • be ware of Eve hill

      Plant Man, you were a dork but oh so close to killing Les. You could have been my hero.

    • I have no trouble believing the book about The Murder Of John Darling’s Daughter’s Father, John Darling, flopped. You’re right it should be a topic of at least some interest. But even so, most books muddle along, and not even because they’re bad. There’s just a lot of books and they can’t all be top-ten bestsellers. Maybe that book about the Hartford circus fire looked more interesting on the shelf, and if Les’s book had come out a year earlier or later it would’ve seemed more appetizing.

      I take it that the book did okay, about as the publisher expected, and Les interprets that as a ‘flop’ because Les expected it would be the most favorite-est book of everyone who ever touched a book that year.