Wigged Out

It’s a hell of a mishap when a flying pole with burning rags wrapped around both ends gets away from the majorette. It might cause the football field to catch fire, as Buck Bedlow can tell-not-show you. Which is a funnier circumstance than that of a girl forced to spend her teenage years hiding hideous, painful deformity to please her twirler mom. Oh, and the spelling you want in panel 2 would be “trouper.”

47 Comments

Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

47 responses to “Wigged Out

  1. Epicus Doomus

    And her reward for all that stick-tuitiveness? She got to marry Funky and not young Funky, mind you, but old damaged-goods Funky. She’d have been better off playing the flute or something. As Funky Winkerbean has aptly taught me through the years, it simply never pays to try.

  2. William Thompson

    This wouldn’t be funny even if we were supposed to hate Holly with the heat of a thousand burning suns.

    • Anonymous Sparrow

      Thank you for reminding me of:

      Norman Spinrad’s “Big Flash” (the Four Horseman’s apocalyptic rock deals with things “brighter than a thousand suns”);

      Killing Joke’s 1986 album (*Brighter Than a Thousand Suns”); and

      Khaled Hosseini’s *Thousand Splendid Suns.*

      I will no longer have to Bug Jack Barron!

      • J.J. O'Malley

        Upvote for the BJB reference. Given today’s “radio/TV commentator as guru” environment, I’m amazed there hasn’t been more of an effort to turn Spinrad’s book into a film or TV mini-series (see Harlan Ellison’s unused 2012 screenplay “None of the Above”).

        And let’s not forget “neo-retro” Marvel Comics superhero The Sentry, whose body holds the power of “a MILLION exploding suns.” That automatically makes him 1000 times better!

        • Anonymous Sparrow

          Don’t forget when Roger Ramjet takes a proton energy pill it gives him the strength of twenty atom bombs for a period of twenty seconds.

          And it just hit me: Norman Spinrad’s contribution to Harlan Ellison’s *Dangerous Visions* anthology is “Carcinoma Angels,” which is, in Ellison’s words, “a funny story about cancer.”

          Harrison Wintergreen really did leave footprints in the sands of time…

  3. This is the very definition of “pathetically not funny.” It’s not just a badly-told joke, it’s just a stupid statement delivered with a grin that’s supposed to signal “I can tell your laughter is barely being contained, so go ahead and laugh.”

  4. DickJohnson

    What drugs is the mother on because (even though it s a carton) it looks like its impossible for her to blink

    • billytheskink

      She’s a big A Clockwork Orange fan…

    • J.J. O'Malley

      Oh, it’s possible, but because of her part-reptilian DNA, her eyelids blink vertically instead of horizontally (the lashes on the sides of her peepers are a dead giveaway).

      Holly’s Missing Questions from Unseen Panel Four: “Do you think anyone saw the scars on my upper thighs from skins grafts to hide my burns?” “Do you think anyone ever cared when I was screaming in agony as the baton melted the spangles on my uniforms into my flesh?” “Do you think you could ever show an ounce of sympathy for all the pain I had to endure, Mother, instead of simply smiling like a lobotomy patient?”

      One more day to go, I hope. Will Saturday be the day Funky sneaks up on Holly and inadvertently grabs her on her scar tissue?

  5. RudimentaryLathe?

    So literally all the “family” photos are of Holly as a majorette? Then why is sorting them such an arduous task?!?
    Also, dear God is Melinda a sociopath. Allison Janney could play her and win another Oscar if (heaven forfend) they made a FW movie.

    • William Thompson

      High-school Holly had nothing in her life except her existence as a majorette, so of course there can be no other photos of her. Batiuk’s imagination is so limited, he can’t even imagine fleshing out a mere girl’s past.

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        Nobody in Westview has anything in their life except whatever they were in high school.

      • Anonymous Sparrow

        In his essay on Charles Dickens, George Orwell notes that with Dickens’s characters, we always associate them with one specific action.

        Mrs. Squeers is always ladling out brimstone and treacle, Mrs. Gummidge is always weeping, Mrs. Gargery is always banging her husband’s head against the wall, Mrs. Jellyby is always scribbling tracts while her children fall into the area

        In light of Holly’s injuries, I should mention that Mr. Jaggers always seems to be washing his hands.

  6. Sourbelly

    So a whole week of “Holly th’ Hapless Burn Victim” jokes? OK. Good stuff, Batdick. But why does Holly’s mom have eyelashes on the sides of her eyes? Just curious.

  7. Epicus Doomus

    I can’t believe I’m saying this, but these gags might play better if she was reminiscing with Dinkle instead of with a character that didn’t even exist in Act I. It makes no sense for Holly to be reminiscing about high school with her mother, as who the f*ck DOES that? She sat on the bleachers and cheered her daughter on as she was set ablaze? That’s messed up.

  8. ComicBookHarriet

    Speaking of wigs, today the part of Holly’s Mother will be played by the Pale Man from Pan’s Labyrinth wearing the hide of a Maltese dog on it’s head.

  9. I get that this is supposed to be a throwback to the more zany and cartoony days of the strip, but imagine how weird it would be to read this one without knowing that FW used to be a comedy.

  10. Wordy Wordpecker

    It’s TROUPER, not trooper! ARRRRRGGGHHH

  11. Ralph the Wonder Llama 🦙

    It seems as if Batyuk enjoys making fun of the misfortunes of others. I bet Batyuk likes pausing at car wrecks and laughing himself silly.

    That’s somewhat ironic. We like pausing at his car wreck of a comic strip and laughing ourselves silly.

  12. Gerard Plourde

    Of all of the surreal Act 1 gags to choose from and try to make realistic, TomBa had to pick the one that featured serious, life-threatening injury and child abuse.

    Is he actually clever enough to realize that his most dedicated readership at this point consists of people critiquing his work and he’s decided to provide us with copious amounts of fodder?

    • J.J. O'Malley

      Speaking of “fodder” (sorry), have we ever seen Holly’s dad or has anyone ever made mention of him? How did Mr. Budd feel about this casual child abuse, and did it send him away from Westview in disgust?

  13. Doghouse Reilly (Minneapolis)

    Oh for cryin’ outside! It’s TROUPER!

  14. William Thompson

    Richard Pryor did some stand-up comedy about setting himself on fire while freebasing. Julia Sweeney did an entire one-woman show (“God Said ‘Hah!'”) about her battle with cancer and her brother’s death. They managed to find humor in their tragedies, but they did it by acknowledging their pain. Batiuk seems unaware that other people can feel pain, much less feel sympathy for the pain of others.

    But you can imagine how much I’d laugh if someone gave Les Moore a hotfoot.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Much of Richard Pryor’s material was about the horrible things he experienced in life: racism, poverty, gang life, drug abuse, womanizing, and so on. But he made it all hilarious. More importantly, he never diminished or trivialized it. There was real humanity being at the core of it all.

      But this week’s arc is exactly how Tom Batiuk would tell that story. “Oops, I set myself on fire! I needed skin grafts! I needed fireproof clothes! I needed a wig! I had to do… something else related to being a burn victim!” The actual pain is never acknowledged. There’s no “washing” or “whatcha gonna do” parts of the story.

      To say nothing of the further awfulness this story implies: that all this pain and suffering was forced on Holly by a toxic stage mom. Up to and including cancer! Because asbestos doesn’t protect cheerleaders from fire, Tom Batiuk, it gives them goddam cancer! How the hell do you not know this? Why would you even try to make a joke out of a cancer victim being exposed to the world’s most cancer-causing material, while constantly telling us we’re supposed take this seriously?

      And that’s why Tom Batiuk is such a goddam talentless hack who needs to retire 20 years ago. He loves suffering and misery and demands attention for it, but it’s all an empty bunch of yukyuks. There is no humanity anywhere in Funky Winkerbean. Everything is either overplayed drama, underplayed tragedy, poorly conceived humor, or all three at the same time.

      • William Thompson

        Looking at today’s strip as a display of an abusive relationship gives a new meaning to Holly’s words about the wig. She isn’t being shallow and vain; now she’s asking her mother “I didn’t make you look bad, did I, mommy? People didn’t realize you had a careless daughter, did they?”

        • Banana Jr. 6000

          And look at Holly’s face in Act One. What is that face? It looks like she’s about to sob from getting a once-in-a-lifetime compliment from her unpleasable mother. There’s no other reason for her to be making that face. And keep in mind, Holly is canonically in her early 50s! This is sick.

  15. Professor Fate

    Scared, in pain, with all her hair burned off, and hiding all of that, this is some childhood you’re talking about there Holly. This isn’t something for wry memory sharing, this is is something that would take years of therapy to deal with to keep her from either having a complete mental break down or savagely beating her mother to death with a baton before setting the body on fire….

  16. Gerard Plourde

    Somehow TomBa doesn’t realize that he can’t have it both ways in this strip. You can’t simultaneously have the same characters engage in cartoon violence (which is what’s being described in this series of strips) after having them be part of his self-described “inch from reality” stories. Even at their silliest, Silver Age DC characters honored this (for example the Superman/Mr. Mxyzptlk and Batman/Bat Mite stories).

    It really highlights the fact that he doesn’t understand that true literary characters come to have an existence of their own.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      It’s like Batiuk doesn’t even realize what story he’s inadvertently telling. If Holly really had to wear an asbestos outfit, that’s probably why she got cancer later. It’s really strange that he would introduce a detail like that, try to build a joke on it, and then never address it. While he brags on his blog about how serious he is.

      As for the Silver Age DC characters: keep in mind how Tom Batiuk reacted to 1960s TV Batman. It was a “horror show.” It wasn’t “serious.” It was “wrong.” They had “blown it.” In his very small, very closed mind, there’s only one correct way anything can be depicted. He can’t grasp the concept you suggest, that the same character can be in stories with different tones. Not even today, where countless, very different interpretations of Batman exist.

    • Charles

      It’s amazing to me that the pull to do this kind of reminiscence sequence is so strong for him that he can’t resist it even though it has the problems you cite. His current options for telling stories are so insufficient that not only does he have to go back to this “remember when” to have something to write about (and still not have anything happen with it, btw. This is just a story of people talking about old portraits. It’s not as if it’s leading to an elaborate flashback), but he also can’t do that without breaking the “gritty” reality he’s created.

      I wonder if this incongruity just doesn’t occur to him, or if it does and he doesn’t see it as enough of an impediment to work a little harder to come up with something else.

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        I don’t could Tom Batiuk could break his gritty reality any harder than an asbestos joke from a character who later got cancer.

    • Anonymous Sparrow

      Harvey Kurtzman riffed on this brilliantly over sixty years ago in a satire of *Bringing Up Father.* His story has two artists: Will Elder depicts the violence comically, while Bernard Krigstein depicts the violence realistically, showing us that “Jiggie” wouldn’t bounce back so readily from such assaults. (He’s not about to grow a new tooth at his age.)

      Sax Rohmer, the creator of Fu-Manchu, said that he once had a visit from the insidious doctor, who told him: “It is your belief that you created me. It is my belief that I shall exist when you are but smoke.”

      He was right. How many people here know that Sax Rohmer’s real name was Arthur Henry Ward (or Arthur Sarsfield Ward)?

  17. hitorque

    Well, this was a waste of a week…

  18. All Pete needs in the header is an area of stubble and he’d fit right in on The Flintstones.

  19. be ware of eve hill

    Sorry. Here we go again. I’m about to go off on a feminist rant against Batiuk again.

    Is Batty the local chairman for his chapter of the He-Man Woman-Haters Club or what?

    Here we are this week featuring Holly, who unbeknownst to most (all?) of us had to withstand disfiguring burns incurred during her majorette days. That’s on top of the scars from a double mastectomy to save her life from breast cancer (possibly caused by the asbestos uniform provided by mommy). Along with the physical trauma, Holly is portrayed as feeble-minded and has to rely on others to help her make it through the day. Holly is shown alternatively as a cocoa-fetching, abuse-taking doormat or a maneating ballbuster who wants something better than being tied to a pizzeria. Her main role is as an object of ridicule. Check her out this week, still looking for mommy’s approval after all of these years. It’s pathetic. It’s like Batiuk is punishing Holly for having the audacity to survive her breast cancer.

    People refer to Holly as “Wig Funky”. I always thought it was because Holly resembled Funky in a wig. Did Holly lose her hair due to burns incurred while developing the flaming baton trick? Does she have to wear a wig full-time now? Comedy gold! 🙄

    When I opened the link to view the Buck Bedlow strip, I couldn’t help but notice Becky in the background. Becky is shown standing on the track directing the marching band. Her omnipresent pinned-up left sleeve is there for everyone to see. “Hi everyone. Look at my pinned-up sleeve!” Alas, poor Becky, she was Dinkle’s prize pupil. A talented trombonist on her way to The Juilliard School of Music upon graduation from high school. Alas, it was not to be as an automobile accident ended her dreams. A drunk-driving Wally Winkerbean maimed her for life. She lost her left arm. Her response to Wally? No rage. No tears. Becky just said, “Ah, that’s okay. You didn’t mean it. You still wanna go out?” Say goodbye to Juilliard. Say goodbye to ever playing the trombone ever again. Say hello to enjoying your career as a band director under the thumb of an allegedly deaf band director who retired years ago but still runs the department. Say hello to marrying the man who maimed you. He’s also a chronic P.O.W. Say hello to marrying an overgrown child who runs a floundering comic book store. You were settling because you incorrectly thought Wally had died. We know poor Beck can’t do anything right. Er…left. Sorry, Becky.

    And then there’s the Dead St. Lisa Crawford-Moore, the poster child for comic strip character abuse. What other comic strip character has been date-raped, been an unwed mother, blown up (real good) in a post office bombing, developed cancer, had cancer go into remission, and then cruelly killed off by cancer after a record-keeping mishap. Instead of grappling with cancer and fighting to the end, DSL decides to record the Columbia House Lisa’s Legacy Tape collection. Lisa outlived her usefulness and had to die to help Les grow as a character. And then Batiuk failed to show Les grow by completely skipping over it. Les is still an over-entitled, selfish, lazy whiny douchebag. Sorry, Lisa, your sacrifice was for nothing. On the bright side, you’re the official patron saint of the strip.

    And then there’s Cayla. The best representation of a Stepford Wife there ever was. Totally selfless and almost never complains. She’s Les’s housekeeper, cook, and chauffeur, but her main purpose is to help Les protect anyone from harming the reputation and legacy of the Dead St. Lisa. Who can forget Cayla’s wedding to Les? Mr. Big Bucks had the ceremony performed in his front yard after forcing Cayla to partake in a Lisa’s Larceny Run event. Nothing but second-best for dear ol’ Cayla. Forevermore in second place to the Dead St. Lisa. Good girl, there’s a sweet macaque. 🙄 God help us.

    Don’t forget Susan Smith, who once tried to commit suicide over Les. Susan later had a loser-leave-town match with Cayla over who would “win” Les’s affection. I guess I can rephrase that to say Susan was Cayla’s rival for Les’s non-attention.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Good rant!

      • Gerard Plourde

        I’ll second that! Thanks BWOEH for highlighting a fundamental problem in TomBa’s work. (And possibly worldview?)

    • William Thompson

      You skipped over Summer Moore, the disappearing daughter of Dead Saint Lisa. Batiuk totally missed her childhood. Same goes for Keisha; we have no idea of the relationship she has with Cayla. Or what gives with Lefty & Skunkhead’s children (do they have personalities? Hell, do they even have names?) Are we going to see Skylark again before he’s old enough for high school? Didn’t Bull and Linda have a daughter, or something? Batiuk puts so much effort into not writing about children and childhood, you have to wonder why he’s avoiding the topic.

      Oh, yeah. Did Mopey Pete ever marry that generic blonde, or did he pull a fast one on Dullard and swap her with whatever it was he married? His idea of post-high-school life (what would be called adulthood in normal circles) seems to be “Just like high school, except there’s no homework, and you can have sex and beer legally. Just try to act happy when your girlfriend starts using your last name and somehow produces a baby.”

      • be ware of eve hill

        Oh dammit. I had a big answer in response but lost it due to fumble fingers and the screen refreshed. Please let me know if you want me to retype it. I’ve had a tough workweek and I’m blotto.

  20. be ware of eve hill

    Just an FYI. The Comics Kingdom Vintage Funky Winkerbean strip today features hall monitor Les Moore. Complete with a machine gun attached to the school desk.

    It’s okay, don’t worry. The machine gun is just a cardboard cutout. 🙄