Oh, so Melinda wasn’t thinking of entering Holly in a pageant! No, as we learn in today’s strip, she was thinking about hijacking Westview High School’s homecoming and subjecting the crowd to Holly’s flaming baton trick and its subsequent collateral damage. Duh. I don’t know where Holly got the idea that her mother was trying to get her to enter a pageant, it’s not like Melinda led into this homecoming performance idea by talking about pageants or anything…
It was smart of Holly to suggest inviting a bunch of band alumni into this scheme. Not because making this an actual alumni event rather than a single woman’s vainglorious showcase means the school would likely be more accommodating. Not because it will place anyone not related to her who might be interested in seeing her performance out on the field instead of up in the grandstands. Not because it will give Wally a chance to break out his trombone again. Not even because it seems to deflate her conniving mother.
No, it was smart because Holly knows as well as anyone that misery loves company.
39 responses to “By Invitation Lonely”
Didn’t he do a band camp reunion arc just a few years ago? I remember typing “band reunion” a lot and I’m pretty sure the whole thing just sort of died on the vine, as FW arcs are known to do. Then again it’s totally possible that I’m just imagining it. But I’m pretty sure (guffaw) that this vein has been mined before.
I realize I’m late to the party with this, but the original band reunion was supposed to take place in the fall of ’18. In fact, it was the impetus for Melinda moving up from Florida:
Sure, let’s get the band back together and have Dinkle direct. Maybe this time, the flaming baton trick will finally go right and the insufferable old fart will go up in smoke like all the hopes and dreams of everyone in Westfield.
By the way, Melinda, I don’t know how they do things in Ohio, but in other states schools organize their own homecoming events. And half-time events at football games are kept on a tight schedule because delaying the second half is a big no-no.
The idea that a school would turn a high school football game homecoming halftime show over to a former student just to satisfy that former student’s mother’s whims does seem sort of implausible. I mean, I would assume that they’d probably devote it to the students who, you know, go to school there now, as opposed to the ones who graduated in 1988 or whatever. But this is Westview, so who knows?
It’s just like Atomik Komix, and the Dead Lisa movie. Any major character in Funky Winkerbean is allowed to show up anywhere they want, and immediately become the director, whose whims must be obeyed. It’s a little known-concession Ohio gained in the Toledo War.
Westfield? Of course I meant WestVIEW. Westfield is a sad, depressing place, but it’s Disneyland compared to Westview.
We have a Westfield too, it’s right around where Central NJ becomes North NJ. It’s alright, I guess. It’s one of those NJ towns I’ve never been to nor have any particular animosity towards.
“By the way, Melinda, I don’t know how they do things in Ohio, but in other states schools organize their own homecoming events.”
That’s why she’s going to “suggest” it to the Westview Powers That Be.
“And half-time events at football games are kept on a tight schedule because delaying the second half is a big no-no.”
So is having a mascot enter the game without a helmet or any required pads (and make the winning touchdown catch, no less). You are making the assumption that they’re using the same rules that the real world does.
Now watch the twist be, the “homecoming game” is girls’ soccer, because the school’s new athletic director dropped the football program for being too expensive and too dangerous. Oh, did TB forget to mention that Summer not only finally decided on a major, but graduated and got a job?
Summer can’t get a coaching job at Westview HS until a man is hired to be the head coach. As a mere Funkyverse woman she cannot work without a man to supervise her every move.
Keep pushing it, Holly. Keep talking about how you should include other people in your mom’s performance. Her temper tantrum will make a more spectacular explosion than any flaming-baton cataclysm. (Seriously, is Batiuk going for a story about egomania, or has he just got some new flaming-baton jokes to display?)
Good ol’ Becky can also break out her trusty trombone. Oops! Sorry, Becky!
Poor Becks would also most likely have to watch Dinkle direct the alumni band.
I’m not sure if it happened last year due to the pandemic, but my high school always featured an alumni band performance during the football season.
My college alma mater does the same at every homecoming, the alumni band joins the real band for a cursive spell out of the university’s name. There are actually also 3-4 baton twirlers who join in, often ladies who graduated 40-50 years ago. They even get silly, sparkly majorette outfits made for the occasion.
It is actually kind of adorable, in a way that TB is completely incapable of depicting.
Ohio State? YaY!
No, Enormous Midwestern University.
My high school used to do that. They had it during the Christmas parade.
Later, all 3 high schools in our city had a combined alumni band. There were never any majorettes that performed though.
It was a fun event, unlike what is being proposed in today’s strip. Is Holly really going to squeeze into her uniform and look like a summer sausage?
Becky’s going to break out her rusty trombone? Oh… “TRUSTY”. Sorry, misread that. That would make for a… very different halftime show, that’s for sure.
This is too boring. I want to highlight a couple of sentences from Batiuk’s blog.
“Without the element of time moving forward, omnipresent predictability is a constant in a comic strip. Every day the comic strip returns to “go” and starts anew.”
I would consider the three greatest comic strips to be Peanuts, Calvin and Hobbes, and The Far Side. The first two take place in an eternal present, and time is irrelevant in the third. (I would add Nancy because I love Ernie Bushmiller’s work.)
Batiuk, you are nowhere in that company. You’re a talentless hack.
As I’ve blathered on about many times, having to write a new gag every day is far more difficult than BatYam’s serialized approach is, as you can’t rely on premise rehashing, gimmicks and expository dialog to pad the stories like you can in a strip that’s trying to use “real time”. He’ll never cop to this, of course, and he’ll never stop pretending that it represented some sort of newfound “maturity” and etc. But it doesn’t make it any less true. He took the easier path, no doubt about it.
I have a ton of respect for cartoonists who try to do a gag every day. And many of them can actually do it while telling a story.
And then you have Batiuk, who spends multiple weeks having a character open a letter, or watch a trailer for a movie, or ramble on about how Covid-19 really didn’t affect them that much, or walk silently through a house, or come back from the dead, or steal pens from an imaginary ship and get imaginary murdered, all without telling a gag or a coherent story.
Amen. Schulz, Watterson, Larson, Kelly, Herriman, Segar and a host of others never had ANY of the problems TB rails against and all produced strips far superior to his.
I suspect his blog entries, like his comics, are written for an audience consisting entirely of Tom Batiuk, whom he desperately wants to convince of his own greatness.
“See? It says right there in the blog that I’m totally awesome and super cool, so it has to be true. They can’t put it on the internet if it isn’t true.”
I also loved Bushmiller’s work!
Note too all those other cartoonists never talked about writing goos strips, they just did it.
Act 1 had some cute gags, but once Batty got a whiff of that Pulitzer, he went off the deep end. Those NYT’s interviews didn’t help either.
Bringing unnecessary misery to the comic pages is neither original nor interesting.
That first Pulitzer nomination really was the worst thing that ever happened to Funky Winkerbean. It validated Tom Batiiuk’s conceit that gag-a-day writing was beneath him, and that he was a Serious Artist who could tell Serious Stories. It worked about as well as the Spin Doctors’ and Mr. Mister’s second albums.
In Funky Winkerbean, time moves forward, so everyone can live in the past.
Organize a performance of what? Who cares? The artwork:
Panel 1: This image of Melinda will scare off my nightmares..
Panel 2: Funky checks in with an opinion. Apparently he hasn’t gotten a haircut since his month-long residency at that heavily publicized AA meeting.
Panel 3: Melinda’s earring is crawling into her right nostril. Maybe because she’s decaying from the inside out.
I like the two black holes hanging from mom’s ears.
Former band members OVER THE YEARS because “former” alone doesn’t convey that these band members were in the band in the past and therefore in previous years when they played in the band, formally and formerly.
Batty thinks that using lots of words and arranging them in an awkward fashion, makes his work look deep and sophisticated.
Yep. This is the essence of what is going on here, condensed to one day.
Somehow, stretching it out for days on end makes it seem less stupid.
And what convinces Holly this is a good idea? She just spent a week telling us about fireproof garments, recovering from burns, having to conceal her baldness, and being forced into it all as a baby. But Batiuk has decided it’s time for the plot to move forward, so now she’s totally fine with it all. There’s not so much as an aside glance to the reader, a thought bubble, or a worried face. Just no emotion at all!
This why Tom Batiuk’s work doesn’t resonate with anyone. There’s nothing human about it. He’s set up a good antagonist, but the protagonist doesn’t do anything. The story should be about the conflict between them, but Funky Winkerbean refuses to have any conflict. Probably because Batiuk knows that writing conflict is beyond his ability. It would explain why he’s always cutting around what should be the interesting part of the story.
The obvious comparison is the time-honored “Charlie Brown, Lucy, and the football” bit. Every time it appeared, it was a Shakespearean tale of psychological warfare, hope, and betrayal. That’s why it was so good, and why we remember is so fondly.
That pretty much sums up (and highlights) the unreal trajectory of this storyline.
I think the final storylines of “Apartment 3-G” were more coherent.
As I read today’s strip, I thought, “Good lord, how utterly depressing — seeing a bunch of people, totally out of practice, broken down by age and long past their prime, trying to recapture past glories by just going through the motions.”
And then I realized that’s exactly what Tommy does every single day.
And then I was even more depressed.
Meanwhile, over in Crankshaft the one-armed (Really?!) newspaper columnist appears to be taking a week to write the Centerville Sentinel’s obituary.
I wonder what fascinates TomBa about amputations.
Just like Becky, it’s his left arm. The sleeve is also pinned up the same way.
Is it some kind of fetish? Strange.
Is Batty awkwardly saluting an amputee friend?
Batty: I mentioned you in my comic strip today. * smirk *
Wow, that looks like Chuck Ayers. And is he really criticizing newspapers? He doesn’t like the NYT’s opinion page?
Two weeks. He has TWO WEEKS of this.
I just want to make sure I understand this. We’re going to have 50/60 year old people (I hesitate to call them adults) throw flaming sticks at each other in skimpy costumes at a high school football game for entertainment because they want to re-live their lost youth. I’m sure that will end well.
1. I’m beginning to wonder why any of these characters even left high school at all since their *entire* lives revolve around constantly trying to re-capture their high school/childhood glory… And even though she said “over the years”, which in theory would include recent graduates, we know damn well Batiuk is only going to show us 60-70-80 year-olds… Get ready for a entire month of geezers dropping lame Plugger jokes about not fitting into their uniforms anymore or not being able to march ten yards without needing oxygen, including those golden oldies about Social Security, AARP, walkers, wheelchairs, Metamucil, wrinkles, bifocals, arthritis, newfangled technology, paramedics, “back in my day…” etc…
2. It’s clear by now that this comic strip is nothing but a bunch of senior citizens having their dreams come true… Dinkle, Dinkle and his choir, Holly, Holly’s mom, Les, Funkensteiger, Funkensteiger’s dad and his jazz band at the old folks home, Jff, Crazy Harold, Batton Thomas beating his meat all over a vintage Flash Comic Book, Cliff Angere and Vera, Phillip Holt and Frankie Freeman, Ruby Lith, Bull, the list is endless…
Hopefully this plot line will end with Holly ceremonially lighting the current cheerleaders flaming baton with hers. Then of course the current cheerleader goes up in flames.
Watching from the stands Les observes “The torch has been passed” to the usual round of smirks.
But the fire spreads to the stands and dozens die and hundreds are injured in the panic and then the fire burns down the high school and most of the town including the band stand and that pizza place and the comic book shop above it. “We almost got it under control but when the fire it hit the comic book shop it just exploded like they had been making meth in there and the flaming pages scattered by the wind and ignited the rest of the town” – a fireman noted.
Again it’s the romantic in me.