A Dose of Clapboard

Link to today’s strip.

Look at Les in the masthead. He’s really punchable today. His expression seems to say “Hm, I sure hope everyone is noticing that I am a genius, and really super sensitive. Maybe if I stand like this…”

Oh, let’s just cut to the chase. Criswell Predicts: Lisa’s Story will open at the Valentine. (It’ll premier between stripper acts.) It’ll be a massive critical success, but only earn a mild box office return. Because no one can appreciate a story of this depth and breadth. It may ruin someone’s career–I’m betting Marianne Winters, because of the parallels. She might have to move in with Mason and Cindy! No, no, that would involve drama. More than likely she’ll hole up in a tiny terrible apartment for sixty or seventy years. Also, the Valentine will have to close again because pity-fest (“Say, people turned out for that Lisa movie. Maybe we should run another movie. How about Radio Ranch?”)

Blah blah blah…these two weeks have been a slog. Les stories are almost always rough going, especially since “Lisa’s Story” can’t be far behind. And when it’s not just Les and his angst, but people fawning over him–ecch. Every day ends with a Tums festival.

Any time Batiuk thinks he’s heading into award bait, it gets ponderous. Look at this arc: it’s a party, for goodness sake, it should be light and fun, instead it’s like watching people rot into skeletons. I recognize that Batiuk feels “Lisa’s Story” should have won him acclaim, but it didn’t, and it’s time for him to stop congratulating himself, and stop demonizing the forces that (he thinks) didn’t “get it.”

Ahem, pardon me. As for today, the main thing that strikes me (since it’s front-and-center) is the clapboard in panel four. I think it’s supposed to be a clever allusion to the date of the strip–and it’s correct as far as month and day go. But what does “16” refer to? The film stock used to make this terrible, terrible movie?

Speaking of Marianne Winters, here she is, standing really close to Mason…and Cindy’s nowhere to be seen. Are we gonna get another jealous explosion? Ah, probably not, as that would detract from Lisa’s Story and, more importantly, Les.

And, that is it for me folks. Tune in tomorrow, when your host will be the lovely and gracious Epicus Doomus. See you then!

Links: cat in a dilemma (of its own making).

Cat is fascinated by straw.

Animation: an oldie but a goldie, Henry Eats.



Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

61 responses to “A Dose of Clapboard

  1. Epicus Doomus

    That weird self-effacing kind of humble-bragging topped with more slavish Lisa worship…I think I need a shower after seeing this one. So the movie is great and no one will see it, but that’s OK because Les got the opportunity to re-live Her death, again. In the Funkyverse that’s a downright happy ending.

    Cayla finally gets some dialog and surprise, it’s all about her husband’s first long-dead wife, again. Why, I remember when Cayla was struggling with Les’ inability to let it go, but apparently she’s OK with it now. I presume he just wore her down, like how BatYam does with his readers.

    • Jimmy

      Are we the only readers who see that last panel as sickening?

      • Sourbelly

        That last panel is disgusting. It makes Cayla look like she’s lower that a doormat. And Les seems pleased with that.

        • newagepalimpsest

          The only way that I can deal with it is by imagining her saying it in the most hateful and witheringly sarcastic tone possible.

          “At least you got to spend more time with Lisa… You sorry piece of shit.”

  2. William Thompson

    When has Les not spent time with Lisa? She’s like his personal Deity: first, last and always in his thoughts, which leaves no room for anyone else.

  3. billytheskink

    Translation: Pink Entertainment couldn’t even sell Lisa’s Story to the Roku Channel…

  4. Gerard Plourde

    Time for more TomBa tedium. It shouldn’t surprise me that he somehow misses the fact that a movie made (presumably) on a lower budget and with a targeted limited release can actually be more successful than a big-budget flop from a major studio (looking at you Lone Ranger and John Carter).

    • ComicBookHarriet

      This is a movie so cheap they didn’t even bother to film on location in a real park in a real state that has real winter.

      If this were 15 years ago, this thing would go straight to a bargain movie pack to be sold in a bin at Wal-Mart. ’10 Great Love Stories for 10 Dollars! Featuring the Rob Lowe in ‘The Christmas Shoes!’ What a Value!’

  5. Jimmy

    Isn’t Mason supposed to be some kind of Hollywood star now? Why does his fashion sense seem more like suburban dad going to the crab shack on a Friday night?

    • Charles

      Not just that, but he’s been shown frequently enough as he is in the first panel that we have to conclude that it’s at least part of the character design. He’s just this withered, sagging older man who’s losing weight in his old age such that he appears to be melting in front of our eyes.

      And Marianne appears to have simply rolled out of bed and put on whatever clothes were on the floor from a couple nights earlier. She doesn’t own a hairbrush and the size and shape of her head, neck and shoulders suggest that she hasn’t had an adequate meal in months. At least she’s not showing eyebags in today’s strip. Save those for the weekdays. Sundays are where Ayers goes all out!

      Hottest two people in Hollywood right there, folks.

      Let’s also admire Martin Johns’ outfit that he apparently got from the costume department, the “old single retired guy who goes mall walking because he has nothing else to do” costume, purchased from the remainder bin in Old Navy. He’s even wearing white sneakers to go with his badly-fitting faded orange shirt with the sleeves pulled up.

      There’s the glamor that Hollywood’s famous for!

  6. Banana Jr. 6000

    ART HOUSE???!!! Does Tom Batiuk even know what an art house movie is? Because it’s not this! Art house movies are formal, experimental, artistic, or appeal to very niche audiences. I know that’s just what the Wikipedia page says, but it’s more than Funky Winkerbean knows. I live near an art theater, I go by it almost every day, and I’ve never seen Amateur Cancer Porn on the marquee.

    Lisa’s Story, is cheap, formulaic, lowest common denominator, emotionally manipulative daytime TV dreck. In fact, “male doctor screws up woman’s diagnosis and male husband tells her to die” is straight off the Lifetime Movie of the Week cookie cutter. Except those movies have a better grasp on who the villains are.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      In fact, I just remembered where I’ve seen this before:

    • J.J. O'Malley

      I’m pretty sure Battyuk is about to conflate “art house” cinemas (foreign, indy and auteur fare) with “repertoire” cinemas (places that ran classic films for one- to three-night stints, usually in twinbills) so that he can somehow work his beloved Valentine theater–which, last anyone heard, was out of business in a post-Pandemic world and about to become a gentleman’s club) because a.) he has no idea how non-chain movie theaters work in the 231st century and b.) he wants a treacly “happy ending” over in his other strip (Ironically, had he let the Valentine stay a strip club there would have been plenty of “happy endings” occurring, if you know what I mean and I think you do).

      In the meantime…look who finally showed up to the party, gang! It’s Marianne Winters, everyone’s favorite A-list ingenue!

    • ComicBookHarriet

      I can imagine the horror and confusion on normal Art House movie patrons?

      “What is this movie? What is it even trying to say? Where’s the vague supernatural elements and tortured homoerotic subtext serving as a front for even deeper themes about the dangers of capitalism?”

    • Charles

      Great point about how this isn’t an art house film. Art house films aren’t simply films that have a lot of talking and no explosions, but Batiuk appears to be unable to tell the difference.

      But anyway, one quibble: Lisa’s doctor who screwed up her diagnosis was a woman. I believe, looking back, that part of Lisa and Les’s motivation in not pursuing legal remedies for her screwup was due to her being a woman. They wouldn’t have been so forgiving and understanding if the doctor had been a man.

      • Professor Fate

        If I remember correctly it wasn’t that she was a woman but because Les was simply too lazy to do so – but it was a baffling strip. I remain convinced that the editor for once put their foot down and made him do that strip. “you have to explain why they aren’t suing this doctor seven ways to sunday” and that was what he came up with.

        • Charles

          Not sure if it was ever addressed in a later strip, but the May 14, 2007 strip has Lisa tell Les that she doesn’t want to change doctors because it wasn’t her doctor’s fault (!!!) and she got Lisa into a clinical trial as sort of an apology for fucking up her charts.

          I have difficulty believing that Les would take an action that Lisa wouldn’t have approved of.

  7. Sourbelly

    Oh, no! Lisa’s Story will not be a Hollywood blockbuster because of that “plague” thing, which happened only when it was convenient for the “plot”. Well, this will just make it more of a superhuman triumph for LES (and no one else) when it sweeps the Oscars!

    • William Thompson

      Or when it is kept alive only by those special few people who appreciate the uniquely special story of Les and his uniquely special agonies. Seriously, does “Pink” Entertainment specialize in a highly selective brand of misery porn? “Watch two equally loathsome people refuse to let death separate them! Watch Him mope about like Hamlet while She records videotapes to extend her grasp beyond the grave!”

    • Jimmy

      Yeah, I also think it’s still going to win an Oscar and become The Greatest Movie Ever Made.

  8. Lord Flatulence

    The boxes on the clapperboard are labeled “scene,” “take,” and “roll.”

  9. Banana Jr. 6000

    “Not to be a buzzkill, but…” Mason, you brought Les Moore to a party. It’s a little late to be apologizing for that.

  10. Cloud Rains

    In my dreams this is a REAL wrap party, and we never have to hear about “Lisa’s Story” ever ever ever again.


  11. The Dreamer

    Lisa’s Story will get sold to the Lifetime Channel to be included in its annual month long arc of cheaply made bad love story tv movies And since Lifetime insists on happy endings, they will reshoot the ending so Lisa lives…

    • A really happy ending would be Less (the real one) getting crushed under a thousand park benches. Maybe underwater. They would definitely earn a return on that one.

  12. Hitorque


    1. So-called “art house theaters” are for cult movies, foreign movies, edgy documentaries, highly controversial movies, and small time independent movies… Lisa’s Movie IS AS HOLLYWOOD MAINSTREAM CHICK FLICK AS IT GETS!!

    1a. But let’s be honest here — In real life this movie would be going straight to whatever major streaming service they can find to take it. But we all know as far as the Funkyverse goes, the “internet age” calendar is perpetually stuck in the year 1996…

    2. Nobody says this shit after the movie wraps… Distribution deals ARE WORKED OUT WELL IN ADVANCE! How is it I know this and Batiuk doesn’t? And “Pink Entertainment” totally sounds like an outfit that makes low-grade homemade girl-on-girl videos…

    3. “Lisa’s Story” was a national bestseller, so god knows how much Les sold the rights for… After Starburst Jack made billions at the box office, the absolute minimum Masone Jarre gets per movie now is $20 million. The absolute minimum Marianne gets per movie is $15 million. And the absolute minimum the director gets is $3-$4 million — And these are my most conservative estimates. So figure a total operating budget of what, $80-$100 million? And the studio and investors think there going to make this fucking money back with very limited art house theater distribution?? Even if the studio is fucking around and thinking if they do limited distribution the public would be fooled into thinking this is the movie of the year and Best Picture candidate, they’re taking a monumental gamble… They should be force-feeding this movie to every major theater chain…

    4. Nice to know all that time we wasted last year reading about the merits of releasing Lisa’s Story in Red China amounted to absolutely nothing..

    5. So if the best they can do is art house release with a bestselling book, the biggest actor and actress in the industry and a top notch director, Les would have been better off filming this shit in his house on his own iPad using a cast of drama students from the local community college.

    6. I’d like to think this complete clusterfuck of the distribution deal falling apart is directly related to “co-producer” Lester Moore sitting on his ass and doing nothing for a year back in Westview… And what the hell happened to that slick talking producer lady?

    7. Maybe Cayla needs to go back to not speaking if she’s going to spew sappy bullshit like this… I feel sick to my stomach.

  13. ComicBookHarriet

    BC, I really really REALLY feel for you being stuck with Les Moore AND Lisa’s Story nonsense for two weeks. That isn’t just a slog, it’s a full of Slough of Despond. You bore it bravely.

    I hope you enjoyed your Tums Festival. The cult of dead St. Cameron defeats the Cult of St. Lisa.

  14. Bad wolf

    I hoped to crack the code of 8/22/16–maybe the first time Les went to Hollywood?—but according to the archives here, that week (month!) was early in Bull’s dementia arc.

  15. Rusty Shackleford

    Too disgusted to say anything about this crap. Instead I encourage everyone to enjoy today’s Mary Worth. Go Libby!

  16. Professor Fate

    Although one does share the anger with everyone about the whole ‘release it to arthouses plot’ – it really shouldn’t come as surprise – the Author has proven over and over again that he really knows very little about anything – even the things he claims interest in, like comic books so his abysmal lack of knowledge here should come as no shock.
    It is disgusting how the wrap party has decayed into a kiss Les Moore’s ass contest.
    And speaking of Art houses no, I don’t see the Film Forum showing this film and they’ve shown Godzilla films from time to time.
    Still i would like to think they are just blowing smoke up Les’s butt that the early word is that this film is a turkey so they will have a limited release in Feb – a traditional month to dump bad films, get whatever money they can and who knows maybe they might get some award buzz for say editing or score and then after a week yank it. They are lying to Less because well wouldn’t you?

    • Anonymous Sparrow

      Professor, if the Film Forum you mention is the one on West Houston Street in New York City. I think they would show “Lisa’s Story” as they showed “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls,” some forty years after its release when it had acquired a certain quirk factor akin to Roger Ebert co-writing the screenplay. Martin Johns isn’t Russ Meyer, is he?

      Let’s do the time jump again! Move over, Brad and Janet! Continue to eat your heart out, Ann Miller!

  17. This has “Lisa’s Story saves the Valentine” written all over it. Never mind that in Crankshaft, which happened 10 years ago even though the pandemic is depicted as occurring at the same time that it happened in FW, we already saw the closing of the deal to sell the theatre to the strip club. This kind of revisionist story telling is just another day at work for TB.

    • The thing is, we also saw the Starbuck Jones movie premier at the Valentine. So who knows?

      • Anonymous Sparrow

        This reminds me of a soap opera story.

        A new writer came aboard a long-established series. The leading actress met with her and said: “So what do you plan to do?”

        “Well,” said the new writer, “I thought I’d start with a sure fire attention-getter: a mastectomy. for your character.”

        “Oh,” said the leading actress, “our audience should find that interesting…considering that it will be my third.”

  18. Epicus Doomus

    Consider this: if the cancer movie was a huge success everything would change for Dick Facey, which would mean Batiuk would have to depict those changes, which would mean he’d have to put more work in. So to avoid that prospect, he’s already resorted to explaining why LS won’t be a big success, thereby negating the need to depict any changes taking place at all. Les will go home to Westview and everything will be exactly the same as it was before.

    • Mr. A

      I wouldn’t assume that level of consistency. It’s possible that the movie will be a huge success, but everything will be exactly the same anyway.

    • Hitorque

      I’m surprised Les still bothers to teach high school when the first time he sold the movie rights (and collected his “kill fee”) should have allowed him to take early retirement (and don’t get me started on Kayla still being a school receptionist 15 years later or whatever)…

    • newagepalimpsest

      That’s it, 100%. If “Lisa’s Story” was a mainstream success (in-world,) people would start pointing out that Les should logically pivot to a Nicholas Sparks-type career, churning out stories about adorable couples being torn apart by not-adorable cancer.

      Which would be fine, except that he’d probably become Montoni’s “Writer in Residence” and I just threw up in my mouth a little.

    • Charles

      I agree with what Mr. A mentions in that it doesn’t matter how successful it is, because nothing will change anyway. We see how little changed for the characters involved in Starbuck Jones despite that being a runaway success.

      What I think Batiuk’s doing here is tempering expectations in order for the movie to exceed them without going into the realm of the ridiculous. Funky Winkerbean doesn’t get talked about a lot, but I suspect Batiuk wouldn’t want the strip getting more attention than it has in nearly 15 years because his bloated ego was ludicrous enough to think that his cancer porn story (which again, is identical to a book he’s selling in real life) would gross 800 million domestically.

      So they temper those expectations, and Lisa’s Story exceeds them. “We thought it would only gross 40 million, but it in fact grossed 150 million!” And this would lead to Pink Entertainment buying the rights to both Lisa’s Story Begins and Lisa’s Story Omelettes and immediately putting them both in development. The only question is whether Mason somehow plays Les in both of them.

      Because, of course, Les’s life is such a fascinating study that it’s worth producing three films around. The guy’s life as a dipshit student turned dickhead English teacher in a shithole Ohio town whose smarmy shithead wife died of cancer – WHO COULD RESIST A STORY THIS UNIVERSAL AND COMPELLING?

      • Charles

        I also think that this plan will lead to Mason/Marianne/Cassidy-if-we-ever-see-her-again suggesting that Lisa’s Story isn’t going to get any Oscar buzz, so that when it gets nominated for a ton but doesn’t sweep them, it’s a huge unexpected success rather than expected, if not a mild disappointment. Again, because Batiuk has realized that showing that his bloated ego is completely out of control calls attention to himself that he doesn’t want. Having Lisa’s Story be nominated but losing would be enough to ward off the worst of that reaction, he may think.

      • Anonymous Sparrow

        You mean “Lisa’s Story” is supposed to be what “Marty” was in 1955? A tax write-off that became an Oscar-winner?

        That may only be a rumor; however, it’s a fact that the producers of “Marty” spent more on the award campaign than they did on making the movie.

        As someone doesn’t say in “Marty”:

        “That Les Moore, he sure can write. Almost as good as Mickey Spillane!”

  19. be ware of eve hill

    Yeah, I’m glad I didn’t read today’s strip on my phone. It’s hard to throw a desktop computer against a wall. I had to settle for resting my head on the desk for a couple of minutes.

    Cayla: And it was nice that you got to spend some time with Lisa again.

    Where is your pride, woman?!

    I have a theory. Cayla is a robot. Notice the way she is vacuously staring off into space in the second and fourth panels. Les hits the switch thereby activating Cayla a.k.a. Praisebot 6000 in the final panel.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Harriet’s “ManipuCayla” theory makes more and more sense everyday. Cayla married Les for his wealth, and she knows what she has to do to keep it. I figure she’s made her peace with it, and rationalizes to herself that she could things a lot worse. The blank stare gives away how dead she is inside.

      • William Thompson

        Cayla knows that for Les, “Dead Inside” is the ultimate turn-on. If he were the sort of man to give his wife romantic gifts, he’d give her “Eau d’ Embalming Fluid” perfume.

      • be ware of eve hill

        ManipuCayla. I like that. Perhaps Cayla is not just staring off into space. She’s plotting what asskissery to drop on Les.

        I imagine Cayla takes a lot of showers and uses a lot of Listerine.

      • Hitorque

        Cayla is going to feel really stupid when Les finally dies and she discovers he willed all his worldly wealth and possessions to the Lisa Legacy Foundation…

  20. be ware of eve hill

    I’ve seen Les’s expression in the masthead before. The mom/wife in me is well familiar with it. It’s the expression people have just before I ask, “What did you do now?”

    My son would have that face just before he told me he was arrested by the police for drag racing in the mall parking lot or throwing rocks at the windows of the abandoned building down the street. My husband would have that face just before he would tell me he burned an expensive dinner or his dog ruined my favorite shoes. It’s the “I love you. Please don’t kill me” smile.

    In Les’s case, he probably just let loose a killer fart and blamed it on Cayla. Cayla gladly jumps on the grenade for Les and takes the blame.

  21. newagepalimpsest

    Hi Marianne! I’m sorry that the cool party you were at last week got raided by the cops!

    I love how the co-producer is only quietly sharing this tidbit about limited release with his inner circle. And I love how the other producer/owner of “Pink Entertainment” has already skipped town.

    I assume that Valentine’s Gentleman’s Club saw a spam e-mail from “Pink Entertainment” and just assumed that they were being offered an adult movie. (And everyone in Centerville has already gotten wise to the “Bambi” prank.)

  22. be ware of eve hill

    Hunh. Marianne Winters is present, but Cindy has disappeared. Is that a coincidence, or is there a restraining order involved?

    Can’t have Summers and Winters together at the same time and place?

    • none

      No, that’s only allowed when Marianne personally visits Cindy so that the two of them can go sunbathe together. This is permissible because all of the childish jealousy which the sixty year old has can be flipped on and off like a switch, and because Marianne is so incapable of perceiving human emotion that she has no idea how nor why Cindy would ever harbor such negative feelings about her.

      Marianne is also shown to have such incapability by allowing Les Fucking Moore to coach her about how to act.

      Cindy probably just went to the bathroom to purge her lunch. She has to keep that svelte figure somehow, and we know it isn’t from any kind of physical work she does.

  23. Merry Pookster

    Not even the late-night Hallmark channel?

  24. Perfect Tommy

    Maybe the movie will be a cult midnight showing deal like Rocky Horror.
    Fans will dress up as doctors, patients and pizza cooks and throw chemo and mozzarella cheese at the screen.

    • J.J. O'Malley

      After reading a few bits of trailer dialogue two weeks ago, I have a feeling there’ll already be plenty of cheese on the screen.

  25. Jeff M.

    On the calendar at Chicago’s largest theater, Music Box:
    “Ema”: “After a shocking incident upends her family life and marriage to a tempestuous choreographer, Ema, a reggaeton dancer, sets out on an odyssey of personal liberation, in this incendiary drama about art, desire, and the modern family from director Pablo Larraín.”

    Upcoming, a series devoted to British and European Film Noir. Midnight movies: “Rocky Horror,” “The Room,” and “Cats (!)”

    Chicago’s Siskel Film Center: Fellini retrospective. Series “Chicago Favorites,” with everything from “Daughters of the Dust” to “Nashville.” Documentary on Black activism in Chicago. “Annette” “(A rock opera from the mind of auteur Leos Carax (HOLY MOTORS, THE LOVERS ON THE BRIDGE, BAD BLOOD), and soundtracked by the pop duo Sparks,)”

    And “Lisa’s Story” – coming soon as the Midnight Movie at the Music Box, double billed with “The Room.”

    • Jeff M.

      Should be “Chicago’s largest *art* theater, sorry. Although it is large!

    • J.J. O'Malley

      Do you think the Music Box will synch up “Lisa’s Story” and “The Room” so that someone in each film yells “You’re tearing me ah-paat, Lisa!” at the same time?

  26. Lord Flatulence

    There’s something happening here
    But what it is ain’t exactly clear
    There’s a man with a smirk over there
    Telling Les he’s extraordinaire