Kiss of Death

I’m not entirely sure why Funky is smirking, since yelling to someone that you hope they break a leg when they’re going into surgery (I’m guessing, Batiuk hasn’t specified) for a broken ankle (again, we don’t know because it hasn’t been specified) seems kind of like a jerk move and not really at all funny. It’s definitely not worth the “aren’t I clever” smirk we’re getting in panel three. Funky sure isn’t acting like someone would if a loved one just suffered a painful injury and is going in to be operated on. Given how the week started with Holly being questioned about if her home is safe, Funky shouldn’t act like he’s having so much fun.
And it is me, or is it kind of odd how we’re almost through an entire week in the hospital and haven’t been told a single thing about Holly’s injury or what the treatment will be? All it would have taken is one world bubble of “We’ll have to perform surgery to repair the torn ligament”, or whatever. But I guess that would’ve taken space that was better used on Funky joking about carrying a purse, or this hospital employee telling Funky to kiss his wife, which is kind of disturbing to me.


Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

62 responses to “Kiss of Death

  1. The Duck of Death

    Since you use “break a leg” to wish a performer a successful performance, I can’t help but read this as wishing that the surgeon “break a leg,” since the medical team are the only ones “performing” in this context, and Holly will likely be unconscious for the duration.

    In any case, “good luck” or “hope it goes well” would be the traditional good wishes in a non-theatrical context. But it would be too much to expect that level of nuanced understanding from the glitchy AI that writes this strip.

  2. Epicus Doomus

    Wife being wheeled away into surgery? Why, that’s the PERFECT time to drop a wry, witty wisecrack. “Break a leg” is literally the only plausible dialog there, as anything else would just be disingenuous.

    That’s why Holly freaking out is so implausible. Being a Westviewian, she would be EXPECTING a dumb wise-ass remark, as anything less would be poor Westviewian etiquette. Now, if Funky had said something like “love you, you’ll do terrific, I know it”, it’d be understandable if Holly wigged out, as that’d be really weird.

    And WTF is up with Holly’s bizarre Mason Jarre cowlick thing? Someone get some scissors, please?

    • ComicBookHarriet

      “Now, if Funky had said something like “love you, you’ll do terrific, I know it”, it’d be understandable if Holly wigged out, as that’d be really weird.”

      It would be more than really weird, it would be a sure sign that Holly will die of some freak blood clot or embolism on the operating table. Can we forget the time Darin gave his father a stroke by cuddling on the couch with his wife.

  3. Sourbelly

    I always thought of Funky as being kind of a regular, decent guy, overall. Sure, he could bloviate for weeks on end at AA meetings, but he seemed to be one of the few non-assholes in the strip. But apparently, Batdick has made it a priority to ensure that every single character in this comic is a raging, despicable, smirking shitbag. Bold choice.

    • Rusty Shackleford

      I agree. Funky has become a real jerk.

      But this horrid dialogue, the bad jokes and puns. Does Batty speak like this at home?

  4. Banana Jr. 6000

    Oh FFS Holly, is it really that upsetting? You know who you’re married to. You’re pumped full of drugs. The quip was so misaimed, you should be more confused than upset. He might as well have told you to avoid the whammy.

    This is one of Batiuk’s most annoying traits: using his characters to laugh at his own jokes, and give him the reaction he wants. It’s like a real-life version of this Simpsons scene, where Homer is saying all his usual lame things and everyone is just laughing uproariously at it:

    • Gerard Plourde

      To confirm your theory, this was reprinted from the into to volume 11 of TCFW on TomBa’s blog today (Oct 7) – “By breaking the fourth wall, I inject myself into the story to wink at the reader as we share the joke.”

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        That blog post actually confused me, because the example strip was in such bad quality that I thought panel 2 was “breaking the fourth wall.” I figured out it he meant he last panel, because the strip did do that a lot in Act I.

        But yeah, Batiuk’s list of all the bad things he doesn’t do is just hilarious. My favorite was “I began telling stories where my presence was less intrusive.” Which of the 200 stories about silver age comic books were those, Tom?

        • billytheskink

          Zounds! That’s the best scan he has of that strip? It looks like it was traced in an original copy of MacPaint after being converted from an Apple IIgs.

      • Rusty Shackleford

        Ol’Tom talks like a politician. That blog post is rough reading.

        This is what happens when you have nobody to call you on your BS. It also comes from living in your criticism-free safe space before this site came online.

        • Banana Jr. 6000

          Tom Batiuk is such an atrocious writer that it’s difficult to (paraphrase) anything he (says) without lots of (explanatory parentheticals) and… ellipses to skip over random… tangents.

  5. Gerard Plourde

    This being Westview, maybe the logic of the Superman Comics’ Bizarro World applies.

    Maybe the hospital has a two-for-one sale treatment policy in effect and in order to qualify the hospital has to break Holly’s left appendage (speaking broadly since we don’t know if it’s her ankle or her leg).

    In which case Funky is merely being descriptive of the procedure at hand.

    It would make about as much sense as anything else that’s been going on the last few weeks.

  6. Question: Why is she going into surgery? Seems like it just needs to be set and have a cast put on it.

    Answer: Tom Batiuk is a self-important idiot.

  7. ComicBookHarriet

    I know all of you are complaining that this makes Funky look like an asshole. And you’re right. But it also is something I would totally see my Dad doing to my Mom. Sometimes, someone being an asshole is funny, see for example Archie Bunker.

    I wouldn’t call this FUNNY funny…but it comes within sighting distance of comedy.

    • The problem isn’t the joke (which I agree is fine), it’s the atmosphere–specifically, the toxic atmosphere of the strip, its characters and its author.

      It’s like if, in a “Friday the 13th” movie, the heroine comes across one of her friends who’s been beheaded, and in between screaming she says “Oh Jillian, now’s not the time to lose your head!” and then back to running and screaming. It’s jarring because it just doesn’t fit.

    • I confess this is in the range of jokes I might tell a loved one going off to surgery. If I felt they were in basically good enough spirits to appreciate it, anyway.

      At the risk of bragging about my own jokes, I got some good mileage this time my father was having eye surgery by quipping that the hard part was going to be his going the twelve hours before the operation without looking at anything. The joke makes no sense but a nonzero number of people worried he was going to have to go to the hospital blindfolded.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      The problem isn’t the joke; it’s how much it oversells itself. The joke itself is like all the “let’s give Skip a big hand, haha” jokes we make about the one-armed people in the Funkyverse. It has its place, but it’s a minor quip, not the centerpiece of the massive comedy extravaganza today’s strip thinks it is. Holly is way too angry, and Funky is way too proud, for something so minor. It’s the comic strip poking you in the ribs and saying “get it?” Or CGI Alvin and the Chipmunks explaining wordplay to you.

  8. J.J. O'Malley

    Funny thing: It turns out Holly just sprained her ankle, but while she’s there the doctors want to do some scans of her cutaneous horn, a la 1800s France’s Madame Dimanche (see the illustration here:

  9. billytheskink

    As someone who has broken their leg twice, I’ve heard this bit a million times. But I’ve no sympathy for Holly here, because it is actually pretty easy to get out ahead of the yucksters and beat them to the gag or to disarm them with one of your own.

    When I was being wheeled into surgery for the second break I told my father “I feel pert as a rutting buck”, referencing the line in The Outlaw Josey Wales (one of his favorite movies) given by Josey’s wounded young companion early in the film just before he dies. I’m not generally someone with a morbid sense of humor and I don’t think my dad found it too funny, but it made me laugh just before I was knocked out and cut open.

    • ComicBookHarriet

      “No, ’tis not so deep as a well, nor so wide as a church
      door; but ’tis enough, ’twill serve. Ask for me tomorrow,
      and you shall find me a grave man.”

      • Anonymous Sparrow

        Brush up your Shakespeare though you may, the Downvoter shall be everywhere, like Savoir Faire. (Wherefore art thou, Klondike Kat?)

    • Suicide Squirrel

      The Outlaw Josey Wales, one of the most quotable movies ever. 👍

      I can remember many nights in a bar trading Josey Wales quotes.

      “Are you gonna pull those pistols drink that beer or whistle Dixie?”

      • be ware of eve hill

        “Isn’t it your turn to buy a round?”

        “Buyin’ ain’t much of a living, boy.”

  10. Mr. A

    I realize that Holly is under a lot of stress right now, but that joke did not deserve that loud of a reaction. And Funky looking pleased about making her yell leaves a sour taste in my mouth.

  11. Brim Stone

    Someone with real talent could have of us laughing, shedding a couple tears, and caring for these characters over a colonoscopy or a wart removal rather than making us suffer through this fire-baton bullshit.

  12. Suicide Squirrel

    Holly’s hair fweep… it… is… alive!

    Not only that but the fweep appears to be yelling at Funky in the third panel.


  13. Dood

    Is Holly’s fwip priapic?

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      I’m amused that the drive-by downvoter *didn’t* downvote this one comment.

      • Suicide Squirrel

        I’m amused that my comment with the phrase “hair fweep” was downvoted twice. I borrowed the phrase from a certain commentor on Comics Kingdom. They claimed to be flattered when I used it while commenting on CK.

        It wouldn’t surprise me if this individual was the drive-by down voter.

  14. be ware of eve hill

    There’s Funky still firing off one-liners like he thinks he’s Groucho Marx.

    He’ll be here for the rest of the week, folks. There’s a two-drink minimum. Don’t forget to tip your waitress.

    Quite a few readers have said they would like to see Funky Winkerbean return to the old gag-a-day format from the early days of the strip. Well, here you go. Enjoy!

    Yuck. 😝

    • Gerard Plourde

      “Quite a few readers have said they would like to see Funky Winkerbean return to the old gag-a-day format from the early days of the strip. Well, here you go.”

      Sadly, you’re right. This week has featured several gag-a-day attempts, unified only by the locale and ostensibly by Holly’s injury.

    • Mela

      For those interested in seeing both Groucho and a funny scene in a (sort of) doctor’s office, look no further than this classic. I couldn’t find the entire bit, so forward to 1:15 in.

      • be ware of eve hill

        Thank you for posting the video. I wish I could remember which Marx Brothers comedy it was, but Groucho was pitching one-liners like they were snowballs. Probably A Night at the Opera. I had to pause several times to go back because I was laughing so hard I missed some of the jokes.

        Here’s a joke. Have another, How about this one? And this. Not funny? How about this one. Bam bam bam bam.

  15. Gerard Plourde

    Over at Crankshaft, the “Sentinel” story drifts toward its illogical conclusion. Skip is cleaning out his desk, killing the paper. Over what? Not editorial interference by Mordor Financial – Daddy “Hagglemore” Warbucks didn’t care what Skip put in the paper. Quitting over editorial interference would be a principled move (and topical given the debates about biased reporting and punditry becoming more and more common). But apparently it didn’t occur to TomBa to go there.

    • “Rich people are jerks. You should hate them, because they are always bad, and always doing bad things. Oh, and buy my books so I can become one of them.”

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Yesterday, J.J. O’Malley mentioned Frank Capra, and Tom Batiuk’s miserable attempts to mimic him.

      Today’s Crankshaft is kind of an amazing parallel to the end of It’s A Wonderful Life. At the end of the movie, the entire town showed up to pay off George Bailey’s debt to Mr. Potter, because he had done so much for all of them. At the end of the Centerville Sentinel arc, all the help Skip got was Ed Crankshaft and his penny sock. And Ed Crankshaft had previously paid for some kids to go to college! It’s a very fitting ending to how empty and uninspiring Skip’s story was.

      • J.J. O'Malley

        Every time a bell rings, Battyuk wraps up one of his “epic, oh so meaningful and award-worthy” storylines with a soggy washcloth of a conclusion. Skip Bittman managed to write and publish an editorial about his quitting the Sentinel and is only now cleaning out his desk, and Cranky decides the thing to do is come by and offer a sock full of pennies? Are you planning to give the money to Mordor, Ed, or did you think Skippy would need coins to live on? Lord only knows what tomorrow’s climax will contain.

        • Banana Jr. 6000

          And why is Crankshaft offering to help save the newspaper? If Skip published his screed in this morning’s edition of the paper, and the last employee is packing up to leave now, the paper is already dead. Did Skip’s article forget to mention the imminent closure of the newspaper? Ugh.

      • The Duck of Death

        You’re quite the optimist, assuming as you are that this is the end of Skip’s story.

        Me, I’m holding out for Lex Hagglemore, Titan of Industry, to make good on his threat: “I’ll see you in jail!” I’m looking forward to the new spinoff strip, in which Skip, the dreary, self-important old pinko, and Lex, the disgraced, rapacious plutocrat, have to share a cell.

        “This hilarious duo will have to learn to share a cell — and share themselves! — in the hilarious new syndicated strip, The Pinko and the Plutocrat! Coming soon to a newspaper in your area, if there are any left!”

        • William Thompson

          “Soon to be a major motion picture! Except your local theater went out of business, so you’ll have to drive twenty miles to CEM’s Megaplex Movie Module, where you can catch it between showings of Starsux Jones XLV: The Grumblers from Galaxy Geritol!”

      • Anonymous Sparrow

        One of the donors in “It’s a Wonderful Life” gave George the money she’d been saving up for a divorce if she ever got a husband.

        Hee haw and Merry Christmas and wedding bells, too!

    • hitorque

      In light of today’s Nobel Peace Prize announcement, from one (former) newspaper reporter to another I’d like to remind Skippy that if his fire for investigative journalism and speaking truth to power and the people’s right to know is still burning hot, then there are **PLENTY** of troubled spots around the globe lacking in press freedoms where he could make himself useful… Off the top of my head I can name: Taiwan, Hong Kong, Afghanistan, Philippines, Nigeria, Mexico, Russia, Brasil, Syria, hell, even Ireland…

      Maybe he’s just outgrown the cultural backwater of Centerville and needs a new, challenging journalistic mountain to climb?? Yeah, being an impassioned, dedicated journalist in those places will probably shorten Skippy’s lifespan, but if he wants to go down fighting for the “Battle of Mt. Principle,” this is the only true way.

      • The Duck of Death

        Per Tom, Skip covered Crankshaft’s brief career in the Toledo Mud Hens. Also per Tom, that career occurred at the same time as Joe DiMaggio’s famous hitting streak (1941). So Skip is at the very least in his late 90s, assuming he was writing professionally in his teens. All this to say: I don’t think anything much he could do at this point would shorten his lifespan by much.

        Side note: Isn’t it interesting that Tom didn’t see fit to show — or even mention — anything that Skip had done to “speak truth to power”? Or even to help support the citizens of Centerville in any way? Did the paper diligently cover issues around local school levies? Did they crusade for greater transparency in expenditures of road construction funds? Did they run an annual fund drive to feed the homeless? Did they lobby for rezoning to allow light industry that could hire unemployed locals? What exactly did they do?

        I ask because clearly the citizens of Centerville didn’t think the Sentinel was worth paying for. What did they know that Skip’s not telling us?

  16. hitorque

    I’d say Professor Funktopus is being a colossal douchebag here, but in the Funkyverse we’re so used to families and spouses being evil to each other it’s not even worth our attention anymore…

  17. newagepalimpsest

    I like today’s strip alright. I especially like the nurse in Panel 2, who is resisting the urge to just strangle both of the Winkerbeans.

    What I don’t like at all is knowing that Funky is thinking “Wait until the gang at AA hear about the totally awesome joke I made! I think I feel a several-week-long story about how much broken legs suck coming on!”

    • The Duck of Death

      If Funky’s gonna regale his dwindling AA audience with tales of the broken leg, it’s gonna be about how horribly unlucky and put-upon he is because he’s having to do his own laundry for a month or two, and how inutterably tragic it is that he has to do his own dishes, and the heartrending hardship of being forced to do his own grocery subject. Get your hankies ready, because no one on this planet has ever been as hard done by as poor, pathetic Funky.

  18. The Duck of Death

    The more I think about this, the more I just shake my head. A couple years ago, Funky ran a road race in the >65 category, so I’m assuming he’s at least 67. Holly would be the same age, give or take a year.

    It’s clear from what Holly’s wearing and the way she’s been tucked under a blanket and wheeled briskly into the OR that this is major orthopedic surgery we’re talking about. I don’t know how Tom, in his 70s, doesn’t understand this, but — a compound fracture, or whatever it is that requires emergency surgery, is a BIG DEAL when you’re in your late 60s. It can cause lifelong consequences. At the minimum, Holly’s looking at months of slow recovery and a very long stretch of physical therapy. Does he know she won’t be able to stand, even with crutches, for more than a couple minutes at a time before the pain becomes unbearable? Does he know she’s not going to be able to resume normal activity for months?

    It’s especially galling when you remember what an awful, paranoid, whiny asshat Funky was about his elective cataract surgery. He acted like Dr Mengele had chained him down and was gonna go to town on his eyeballs. Holly sustains a possibly life-changing injury — meh, roll out the weak “wisecracks,” even though you’re the only one laughing at your joke.

    For all the people who found the “I Get a Kick Out of You” redux of a couple weeks ago to be heartwarming: PSYCH!

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Supposedly, the main cast all graduated from high school in 1988. If you interpret the 10-year time skip as moving this back to 1978, then Holly and Funky are about 61 at most. There’s no way they’re over 65. I know what that “Lisa’s Legacy Run” strip said, but it made no sense. I think the joke was supposed to be that Funky lied about his age to win an age-group award. But as usual, the writing was so unclear that the truth couldn’t be determined. Typical work from Mr. “I use time to more fully resonate with my readers on a real and believable level.”

      • The Duck of Death

        Well, BJr6K, I think you’ve created a perfect response to any and every Batiuk strip. Just as “Christ, what an asshole” is the perfect caption to any New Yorker cartoon, “I know what that strip said, but it made no sense” is a comment that can work on any FW or Crankshaft. A real time-saver!

      • Mela

        My interpretation of the Lisa Legacy trophy was that someone in the over 65 age group didn’t show up so they gave the award to Funky, since he had complained during the event that he never got a medal in anything. The joke being “ha, ha Funky got an age 65 plus trophy when we all know he isn’t really that old.”

        • The Duck of Death

          You know what? That makes total sense. But as BJr6K said, Batiuk didn’t stick the landing by making it clear that Funky isn’t yet 65. The way he’s drawn, and the way he acts (especially when exercise or running is involved), he could easily be 65. I’m assuming that Batiuk thinks all his readers will know Funky’s age, somehow, despite the multiple retcons.

          The posters here are ironically just about the most avid readers FW has, and even many of us are confused. I don’t think the average reader has a clue.

          • Westview Radiology

            This strip debuted in the spring of 1972. The Funky gang were all in High School. At the latest they were the class of ‘75 so we are lookin at 64 ~ 65 year olds here.

          • Gerard Plourde

            Replying to Westview Radiology below:

            While the strip did debut in 1972, TomBa made it clear that they were graduating in 1988 when he decided to move from the gag-a-day to the “quarter-inch from reality” format. So even with the second time (or age jump) Funky would not be 65.

    • be ware of eve hill

      To witness how serious a compound fracture is, I submit the case of Alex Smith, a quarterback for the Washington Football Team of the NFL.

      During a game, Smith suffered a compound fracture that broke both the tibia and fibula in his right leg. Things were complicated for Smith as he worked on recovering from the injury due to an infection of flesh-eating bacteria after his initial surgery. Following that first procedure to address the compound fracture, Smith needed 16 more surgeries before his leg could be fully on the way to recovery.

      Two seasons later, Smith did recover well enough to return to the field, but watching him play was traumatizing. Even though Smith wore a protective brace, the injured leg was noticeably smaller than the other due to tissue loss. I feared the worst every time he was tackled. Dude, I’m sorry, but please retire for your own sake!

      The NFL made the retirement choice for Smith. His contact expired, and no team would sign him. I think everybody wanted him to retire for his own safety.

      There is an E:60 documentary on ESPN that covers Smith’s recovery. It is rather graphic, and I heartily endorse not eating when you watch.

  19. Rusty Shackleford

    I see the chronic down voter is back.

    How about telling us what you don’t like about our criticism, we can take it.

    • The Duck of Death

      I would love to see the downvoter leave a rebuttal instead of just a trail of clicks.

      Seriously. I would truly and honestly enjoy being on the receiving end of a smackdown in which someone takes apart my comments piece by piece and proves them to be feeble sophistry. I mean, we’re in an echo chamber here. Echo chambers don’t always encourage people to think carefully and do their best work — honest, stark criticism does.

      Have at it, Mr or Ms Downvoter.