Okay, so it wasn’t a fall, it was an accident. How is that better? And honestly, what is the difference? Are falls somehow on purpose, and not accidental? I feel like it’s not too much to ask, but if Batiuk insists on not being funny, I really wish he could at least make sense with his writing.
Oh, and wasn’t it literally just yesterday that Holly was a sarcastic jerk when someone asked if she fell, because it was obvious that she did fall? And now she’s saying she didn’t fall? Maybe they need someone to come in and do a cognitive evaluation.
40 responses to “Fall of the House of Winkerbean”
As I pointed out yesterday, BatYam sure does love doing gags about tactless medical professionals asking tactless questions. He must have some really shitty doctors. Or maybe his wry sense of humor doesn’t play well in a professional setting. I’m sure it has to be one of those two things.
But BatHam’s many issues with the medical profession aside, this is one of the most boring and pointless FW injury arcs ever. Even Summer’s exploded knee was more entertaining than this slop is. Maybe it’ll turn out that Holly has osteoporosis, as I don’t think FW has covered that one yet. Although I’m sure “Crankshaft” has, probably multiple times.
The Summer’s knee arc had stakes (her basketball team lost without her and she wanted to fully recover so she could lead them in her senior season), which makes it better than this by default. Giving a story some stakes is elementary stuff, its an extremely basic storytelling technique… and TB seems to have completely abandoned it in the last half-decade.
My impression is that Tom Batiuk is a guy who is easily offended, and never forgets a slight. He’s still nursing grudges from high school, for Christ’s sake! Clearly someone at some medical office wasn’t as clever as he thought they should be, or a doctor didn’t laugh enough at his joke, or the receptionist wasn’t impressed that he was Northeast Ohio’s Leading Pulitzer-Nominated Cartoonist, or something. Again and again, interacting with medical personnel — including physical therapists — fills Funkyverse characters with condescension and rage.
Who hurt you, Tom?
The worst part of it is: nobody hurt him. These are all just vague, petty grudges. Like towards jocks and popular girls and people who don’t enjoy comic books correctly. I can’t identify a real source of angst in any of this.
Remember the “full speed ahead” Star Trek joke from a few years back? (I feel like that was used more than once). I’m almost positive strips like that came from when Batiuk tried making a joke in real life and nobody laughed. Like, I would bet money he’s used the “It looks like some children were left behind” line multiple times in real life.
That is some straight-up “Venom” shenanigans going on in Panel Two. I’m waiting for Holly’s hair horn to reach out like one of Eddie Brock’s symbiote tendrils and grab the poor ER tech out of her seat for asking such impertinent questions.
What exactly is it about being treated in medical offices that turns the Winkerbeans into razor-tongued jerks with zero patience for being patients?
This arc is going nowhere slowly.
Holly, quit trying to be…whatever it is you’re trying to be. Sarcastic? No. Clever? No. Funny? Hell no. And that goes double for you, Batdick.
“Oh, hi Mr. Batiuk (sigh). Right this way, the doctor will be with you shortly.”
“Great! I’d really like to get this colonoscopy behind me (smirk)!”
“Sigh. Good one, Mr. B.”
Did Batty announce another mental issue prestige arc and we somehow missed the puff piece article in the New York Times?
Is Holly suffering from some form of PTSD? Out of nowhere, she seems to have developed a hair-trigger temper.
First, after decades of abuse, Holly snapped and lashed out at her mother for criticizing her high kicks.
Now, Holly is about ready to snap the nurse over her knee for asking routine questions.
Holly appears to be angry and confused.
She could be angry over a perceived implication that she “fell down and couldn’t get up” like the very elderly on those TV spots or perhaps that the fall was the result of elder abuse per yesterday’s strip. She could still be pretty angry at her mother, or maybe she’s just snippy because her ankle hurts like hell. Either way, she needs some pain meds or therapy-maybe both.
A hospital bed would be kind of nice too.
Hospital wheelchairs are built for transport, not comfort. That’s my experience anyway.
That’s definitely how I read the “joke”.
We all thought this was an arc about Holly’s relationship with her mother, but that was just a red herring. I now believe that the unifying theme Batiuk had in mind was “Holly ain’t as young as she used to be, and she’s not happy about it.”
I think the “unifying theme” is “How can I stretch out three days of material into six weeks of strips?”
Holly has CTE from the flaming baton trick.
So I’ll play along –
P.A. – “So you didn’t fall. Would you describe the accident. Mrs. Winkerbean.”
Holly – “Well, I was doing my majorette routine and went to to my high kick. My foot slipped out from under me and I broke my ankle when I fell down.”
Just lean into it full stop for once, Tom. Just take it as far as you can go. You know you want to.
Replace Funky with Melinda. Have her answer the question in panel 2. “It happened because she was a FAILURE! Because my DAUGHTER IS A MISERABLE WORTHLESS FAILURE!”
Give her face full photonegative contrast with a close up to every wrinkle on her scowl as the skin folds back to expose the half rotted teeth and spittle flies through the mask onto the orderly. “AT LEAST YOU’RE A MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL! AT LEAST YOU DID SOMETHING WITH YOUR LIFE! UNLIKE MY FAILURE OF A DAUGHTER!”
Go for it. You’re halfway there. Why stop now.
Funky Winkerbean occasionally walks right up to the edge of an interesting story. But it always retreats as fast as it can, back into zero-stakes banality. He couldn’t follow through on the mother-daughter conflict, or even the mother and daughter bonding despite the daughter’s continued suffering. So we’re back to describing rote processes. It’s like Batiuk has autism.
So I’ve sketched a comic strip with this same basic premise, but in my case it was a race car driver being interviewed after wrecking out and taking exception to the reporter saying his car was “tapped”. The over-the-top enraged driver then screams at the befuddled reporter that his car was “dumped” and not “tapped”… or any other word in a comically long list of synonyms for “hit”.
Now I’m not saying my sketched comic strip is especially good, but I am saying its better than this strip because I actually tried to make it funny.
I hope the long list includes “pranged.”
I remember a Shoe strip along these lines. The Perfesser was listing the football scores for the newspaper, and the verbs kept getting stranger and stranger. “The Bears beat the Lions, 21-17. The Patriots topped the Jets, 34-7. The Rams crushed the Dolphins, 41-10. The Vikings perplexed the Giants, 20-13. The 49ers discombobulated the Cardinals, 28-0. The Titans expunged the Bengals, 31-14. The Chiefs obfuscated the Chargers 35-21…”
Just look at Holly in the last panel: “Grrr, you stupid nurse! Even though you’re trying to help me, I hate you!
Holly Budd Winkerbean, breaking ankles and breaking hearts.
What a sweetheart! /s
I think I’ve got it. Tom B. caters to the small slice of the market that always finds sullen dickishness vastly entertaining. Every strip is calculated to amuse that infinitesimal segment of the populace whose synapses are hooked up incorrectly, so that happiness causes them pain, and smirking displays of pointless jerkiness cause them a few nanoseconds of a pleasantly unfamiliar sensation called ‘delight’ … at least until the darkness quickly returns and consumes them again.
I mean either that, or he just plain sucks.
Have a nice trip! See you next fall!
If you think this strip is bad, you should check out today’s Crankshaft.
Another bad story that goes nowhere.
Once again, the Batiuk strip to read is today’s John Darling.
Check out today’s BattyBlog entry. Now he is complaining about Star Wars.
Sound in space is an Acceptable Break From Reality. We know there’s no sound in space, but having it there in fiction makes the story more entertaining and less cumbersome. Ditto gravity in space. You’d think a guy who calls his own works “a quarter inch from reality” would understand this concept.
Then there’s this bit:
Asimov apparently (introduced the character “The Mule”) at the insistence of his then editor John Campbell. However it came about, the Mule becomes one of the very best SF characters ever.
Gee whiz, Tom, it’s almost like editors can make useful suggestions that actually make your story better! Especially when your story is going nowhere because it has no antagonists! Or when your story relies upon things that can’t exist, like sound in a comic strip! Do you see where I’m going with this?
And, just to renew my beedy-eyed nitpicker creds, I would point out that atmosphere and sound do exist in the environments the former Galactic Empire controlled (planets, the interior of space ships, etc.). So Harry Seldon’s plan COULD come to a screeching halt.
(Sorry. I couldn’t help it. It particularly annoys me when TomBa goes on one of these “I’m so clever riffs”.)
And the one-armed small-town news reporter goes straight to the CEO’s office for an immediate meeting, because of course he does.
You try showing up at the New York City office of an investment company, demanding to talk about their business practices. You won’t get past the receptionist. These business all have modern security, and some small-town hick how shows up uninvited with a grudge is a strong candidate to be an active shooter.
To be fair to the strip, though, they made sure he was unarmed.
As I wrote on the CK comments a few days ago, anyone who’s actually tried to get into a NYC office building since Sept. 11, and especially in the last few years, will laugh uproariously at the whole idea of waltzing into an office building, let alone into an office. In any office or medical building now, you typically need a picture ID, and they will often take your picture at the desk in addition to that. Then you need to state which floor you’re going to, which company you’re visiting, and the specific person you have an appointment with. Then they print out a sticker or card with a bar code that you use to beep yourself in through the turnstiles to get to the elevator bank. I’ve had to do this every single time I’ve gone into a building for years, even to see my haircutter.
In a 30-story building I frequent, you need an additional permission to take the elevator higher than the 5th floor. And only gets you onto that floor, not even into a business or an office within a business. Information security is serious business nowadays. We were even trained to keep an eye out for unexpected individuals walking around. Because data thieves will do that.
Yes, the permissions to get to a certain floor, or use a certain elevator bank, are a thing too. Many buildings call the business to make sure you’re expected before they give you the card that allows you access to the elevators. And some businesses actually require that someone come down and escort you on the elevator and into the business, to the room where you’re expected.
All this to confirm: Tommy is full of it, as usual.
The saddest part of it all is: one-armed guy *not* getting to meet with the hedge fund manager would have been a better story. He could have gone all the way to New York, and been coldly met by an indifferent company that views him as a potential threat, and doesn’t know or care that he’s part of what they own. Michael Moore made a whole movie on that premise, Roger And Me. But no, Batiuk once again walks up to the edge of interesting, and then backs away from it so his strawman villains can lecture the audience.
Behind the mask, Nurse Anne Waters grits her teeth. She doesn’t enjoy asking these questions anymore than the patient enjoys answering them, but hospital regs, state and federal laws and insurance company requirements give her no choice. Remember, Anne tells herself, the patient has had a long, long wait to see anyone. She’s upset, in pain and maybe a bit embarrassed. She thinks she’s having a bad night.
She doesn’t know what a bad night is.
She doesn’t know that Anne is three-quarters of the way through the 15th hour of a 12-hour shift. She doesn’t know the hospital is overflowing with patients and desperately understaffed. She doesn’t know Anne is only working tonight because another nurse called in and that she’s still there because a different nurse didn’t bother to show for her shift without calling in. She doesn’t know earlier tonight Anne assisted the Code Team with an 29-year-old woman who threw a clot. She doesn’t know there are three kids, all younger than Diego, who will never see their mommy again.
Oh, God. Diego. This is the third birthday in a row I’ve has missed, dammit, Anne thinks. I’ll make it up somehow, baby, I swear it. Maybe it’s time to get out of this job. I’m so very, very tired. I don’t need this.
Anne wants to scream. She wants to grab this stupid woman by her shoulders and shake her and shout about how idiotic it was for a woman her age to be out in the middle of a thunderstorm doing something she was too old for 20 years ago. She wants to tell her she’s god-damned lucky to only have a broken ankle.
Anne grits her teeth, focuses and soldiers on. “Mrs. Winkerbean, do you use any tobacco products…?”
Today is national “get funky” day.
“Funky” means something totally different to us.
“Fall” and “Accident” are not mutually exclusive things. Accident or not, there is no disputing that Holly’s injury came from some sort of a fall, unless it was some sort of Misery-esque injury inflicted by Melinda with a sledgehammer. Whatever the case, Holly, STFU and just answer the question.
Back in the day, the strip had a few OTT running gags (non-OTT included Les stuck on the rope, band rained out) like Les-the-hall-monitor hunkered down with his machine gun, Holly’s baton performance being an off-panel WOOF! of flame, the school computer being sentient, talking leaves…
The leaves and computer don’t talk anymore – too whimsical for the Serious Artist?
While Les’s machine gun was retconned to a harmless cardboard cut-out, Holly’s baton flame-out has been retconned to something that did her actual harm, both physical and emotional. I feel there’s a gender disparity aspect to that, but it may just be that Les is the Author’s Darling, and Holly is a tertiary character.