56 responses to “The Role of a Lifetime

  1. My question is, why was there a pizza just waiting for the Monster to grab it and run? Is he stealing someone else’s order? Or did Funky put it out as “bait”?

    • Epicus Doomus

      The thing that annoys me most about Pizza Monster is the name. It’s just amazing how he can go off on these bizarre flights of whimsy and be so unbelievably unimaginative at the same time, which shouldn’t even be possible.

      • Rusty Shackleford

        Well it gets worse, he just copied this idea from a photo that hangs in Luigi’s.

        • Banana Jr. 6000

          That’s what irritates me the most. Batiuk isn’t even trying to tell a story. He’s trying to promote his favorite pizza restaurant. Which he does constantly. Like he’s 6 years old and Luigi’s is Chuck E. Cheese’s.

          The strip should be called The World According To Tom Batiuk.

          • Suicide Squirrel

            A children’s pizza place? That’s the opposite I’ve what I’ve always thought about Luigi’s. Linking Batyuk to the restaurant leads to a whole new perspective.

            Luigi’s is dark, dingy and their cash-only policy makes me think of the place as a front for the mob.

          • Banana Jr. 6000

            I didn’t mean in terms of ambiance. I meant, Tom Batiuk talks about Luigi’s like he’s a six-year-old talking about Chuck E. Cheese’s. It’s so much more than a pizza restaurant to him, for reasons I can’t fathom. I don’t want to know what he acts like in there.

  2. Epicus Doomus

    Whoever it is, he or she seems to genuinely dislike Funky, as evidenced by that hostile font. And “punking” (another word BatHam doesn’t quite understand) Funky implies that PM may have some reason to exact revenge upon the Funkman. The whole scenario really is sort of menacing when you think about it.

    I guess Khan merits some consideration as a suspect, as it’s not entirely out of the realm that he might know someone with a helicopter. But I don’t recall any sort of animosity there, although my Act III Khan memories are pretty hazy at best. So I suppose it’s possible. I know who I WANT it to be, but I have to assume that Zanzibar died years ago.

    • gleeb

      Well, Khan was completely ignored by both Funky and Wally after he opened his own place right next door. They didn’t know he was leaving the US until they noticed a sign in his window saying his coffee shop was going out of business. And as a former(?) arms dealer, he has connections that could get a helicopter for this stunt.

      But he left America to go back home to wherever Batiuk thinks he came from this week, so it can’t be him.

  3. William Thompson

    I have two thoughts on this, which is probably three more than Batiuk has had.

    One, if he’s going to identify the culprit, he’s going to wait until we’ve examined all the reasonable candidates. Then he would reveal that it’s someone nobody would have guessed, mainly because it would be a character he just made up, like Funky’s long-lost twin sister or Le Chat Bleu’s veterinarian. What better way to wrap up a mystery than with an utter surprise, even if he never gave any clues about the surprise?

    Two, it’s more likely he’ll never tell us who it is, leaving future generations to ponder one of the many unsolved riddles of this strip. Don’t ask me why future generations would care about this strip, but I think that’s how his mind works.

    (It would please me no end if Batiuk proves me wrong by naming the Pizza Monster this Sunday. Okay, I hate being wrong, but at least it would mean an end to this schtick.)

    • Anonymous Sparrow

      Alice never did learn why a raven is like a writing desk, remember.

    • Suicide Squirrel

      As Funky Winkerbean schticks go, this one isn’t too bad. I’d read and mock this over Funky bloviating at an AA meeting or Dinkle any day.

  4. Banana Jr. 6000

    I want to hear the planning for this prank.

    “Okay, PBM. Let’s go over the plot one more time. I’ll lower you to the building from the world’s loudest, most obvious vehicle. You’ll enter the rear door, because the entire back half of the restaurant will be empty, and there’s no possibility anyone could be making a pizza at that time. Then you just have make sure Funky doesn’t see you going through the same cramped area. Oh, and I forgot to tell you, he just had corrective eye surgery. When he heads back to the counter, sneak up behind him. He won’t even notice until you get within 3 feet of him, and everyone else will be too petrified to talk. Then grab the pizza off the counter, because it’ll be just sitting right there. Don’t worry about escaping, because by then it’ll be the Saturday strip and the arc will be over.”

  5. J.J. O'Malley

    Geez, Funky, it’s just some doofus in a pizza box costume stealing one of your inedible pies. You look like someone just told you Montoni’s was on fire.

    I’m holding out hope that Saturday’s anti-climax will show the PM tripping on Montoni’s new ADA-complianct sidewalk ramp; falling over a bent over Crazy Harry tying his shoelace; and having their head-protecting boxes fall off to reveal…Professor Hyde White? Harry the Hypnotist? Bigfoot? Don Knotts? Joe Barbera? The mind reels at the possibilites.

  6. be ware of eve hill

    I know who it is! It’s Ashton Kutcher!

    He’s tall, slim, athletic, and goofy enough to pull off the prank. He even hosted a reality TV show called Punk’d that featured pulling pranks on people.

    In addition, Ashton was in a movie called The Guardian that featured stunts exiting a helicopter.

    Too many coincidences. Ashton Kutcher, you’re busted! Confess!

    • Y. Knott

      This is an excellent theory, but would it not have to be a Funkyverse *stand-in* for Ashton Kutcher?

      Y’know, a sitcom-star-turned-reality-prankster ‘amusingly’ named Aston Martin? Or Ascot Ketchup? Or Asteroid Clutcher?

      • be ware of eve hill

        Conan O’Brien has been featured in Funky Winksrbean so Ashton Kutcher appearing in the strip doesn’t seem too unreasonable to me.

        I wouldn’t put it past Batty to make a Funkyverse version of Ashton either.

        Say who is that man pictured In the masthead?

        • Banana Jr. 6000

          Ashton Kutcher didn’t become relevant until the early 2000s, so I doubt Tom Batiuk even knows who he is. The Pizza Box Monster could turn out to be Steve Guttenberg or Bronson Pinchot, though.

          • J.J. O'Malley

            The ’80s? Too contemporary. I was thinking maybe Rodney Allen Rippy, Charo, or Raymond J. Johnson, Jr. (“You can call me Pizza, or you can call me Monster, or you can call me P.M., or you can call me…”).

          • be ware of eve hill

            I know he passed away a few years ago, but I think we can safely rule out Adam West. His portrayal of Batman apparently ruined Batty’s life.

            How about the force ghost of Gene Autry?

            For @J.J. O’Malley (writing here because we ran out of replies)

            Rodney Allen Rippy. LOL.

            How about child actor Mason Reese? Yes, ComicBookHarriet, it was Mason, just not the one you were thinking of.
            (Nah, it can’t be present day Mason Reese. He appears to be as wide as he is tall).

            How about child actor Moosie Drier. He was on just about every television show in the 1970s. I never liked that kid. He had a raspy voice and was always mugging for the camera. Moosie 🙄

  7. be ware of eve hill

    You make a good case against Mason. I like a combination of all four of your motives. Mason and Cindy have possibly teamed up to prank Funky. Not in a spiteful way, but a playful way.

    With her newscaster connections, Cindy might even be able to wrangle a helicopter and pilot.

    The one thing I’m not sure about is Mason’s height. It’s been inconsistent. When Mason was first introduced he was tall and muscular like Chris Hemsworth. He has shrunk over time. Most recently Mason seems to have the same height and build as Les. Mason even appears frail at times.

    I’ll have to check that out tomorrow. It’s past my bedtime. 🥱

  8. Maxine of Arc

    What keeps giving me pause is that the PM getup must be nigh impossible to move in. Batty has thought of some of the issues with that as he provides spaces in the box stack for PM’s knees and other joints, but even so, the size of the boxes would still mean they’d have to hold their limbs at unnatural angles. Climbing down a helicopter ladder would be, as CBH says, a feat worthy of a Tom Cruise level of dedicated madness and highly likely to result in death.

    All that said, Mason is a pretty solid candidate! He has some stunt experience. But the motive is just super weak. Cindy doesn’t seem to pay any thought to Funky unless they’re in the same room, and Mason’s frankly bizarre fixation on Westview doesn’t seem like enough to prompt this kind of behavior… UNLESS he enters a prolonged manic phase every year around Halloween. I’d expect a rich person with a chronic condition to be properly overseen and medicated if only as an insurance measure (productions don’t want to hire unreliable people because it’s hard to get insurance… see the last few productions that have tried to work with Lindsay Lohan) but who knows, he sure seems to have a sketchily large amount of time on his hands. His way as an outsider of making a place for himself in this “idyllic” “community” he so fetishizes?

  9. Green Luthor

    At least we can conclusively say that the Pizza Monster is actually a man now. That’s WAY more dialogue than Batiuk would give to a female character.

  10. Hannibal's Lectern

    As usual, Batiuk’s… work… sends my brain off on tangents. This time, I’m wondering about what’s actually in the conveniently-located box the Pizza Monster grabbed in the first panel. In the real world, pizza comes in a nearly infinite variety of styles, and most people are fairly picky in their tastes. Yet the monster seems happy to grab the first box he sees. How might we explain this?

    a) the Pizza Monster has absolutely zero taste in pizza. Possible, as he’s stealing from Montoni’s.
    b) this is the pizza he ordered over the phone, so he knows what’s on it. Seems questionable, as a pizza joint should have more than one to-go pizza in process at any given time.
    c) Montoni’s only serves one style of pizza, the Worstview Supreme, whose primary ingredient is tears.
    d) the Monster has no intention of actually eating the pizza he steals, and will abandon it in the dumpster on his way back up the ladder to his waiting helicopter

    Alternative (d) seems most likely by far.

    Bonus speculation: in an alternate universe, whose Tom Batiuk knows how to craft a setup and joke, tomorrow’s strip would start with Funky laughing hysterically. Second panel would have employees asking what’s so funny, to which he’d reply, “I punked HIM this time!” Third panel shows Pizza Monster at home, opening the box and finding it empty. Or a bare crust with no toppings. Or a pizza topped with dog food. You get the idea. An actual joke with a punch line. I’m not holding my breath.

    • We know the box can’t be empty, as we see steam coming out of it in both panels. Also, while there may be an infinite number of possible pizza styles, this being Ohio, there’s a 99% chance that any randomly selected pizza will be a pepperoni pizza or a cheese pizza.

      The thing that bothers me is that the annual Pizza Monster visit, which seemed to be a light hearted fun stunt that everybody should be having fun with (presumably that’s the way the event is treated at Luigi’s), has turned into some tension filled conflict, with lookouts on every corner, and the infiltrator going to the ridiculous act of arriving by helicopter from the roof to “avoid detection”. It’s a standard procedure in the Funkiverse (and the Crankiverse) to replay similar arcs every year (Pizza Monster, band fundraisers, Crankshaft barbecuing or cleaning up leaves), but every year he has to top what he did the year before, which leads to progressively more and more outlandish scenarios, and at some point the humor gets drained out.

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        I say this all the time about Funky Winkerbean, but: the tone is all wrong. There’s nothing even faux-terrifying about Pizza Box Monster. It’s not scary, it’s confusing. Even pretending to be scared, as part of a skit to amuse the store patrons, wouldn’t make sense. And if anyone really wanted to unmask the PBM, they need only give him a mild shove. Or Funky could outwit the PBM by… I dunno, almost anything. Impose a “you must show ID” requirement to pick up pizza. Build a human-sized pizza carrier to trap him in. Threaten to cut him into slices. Put him in the fridge. Send him to Bill Clinton. Or just follow him out of the story, because he can’t possibly run in that thing.

        And I really hate how much effort the artist puts into making Funky look scared here. It’s way out of proportion. He looks like he’s watching 9/11 happen. And it makes Funky look like even more of a shallow jackass than he already is. His wife being bullied by her own mother into a serious ankle injury was all yuk-yuks for Funky, but a man picking up a pizza in a strange costume is a multi-year trauma for him.

        • Banana Jr. 6000

          I meant to say “follow him out of the store”, but “follow him out of the story” works too.

        • Suicide Squirrel

          I, too, have wondered what’s so frickin’ scary about a monster made up of pizza boxes. Is it carrying a box cutter or something? If not, what’s it going to do? Fall on you or give you a paper cut?

          I like “follow him out of the story” better too. See you next Halloween, Funky.

          • Banana Jr. 6000

            I gave it a chance. I thought that some of the best horror villains were things that aren’t traditionally scary. I thought of HAL-9000, and the Hitchhiker from The Twilight Zone. They’re not scary, but they’re unnerving as hell. I also thought of more light-hearted examples, like a couple of James Rolfe’s board game episodes. He turned “Mr. Bucket” and “Dream Phone” into slasher villains, to good effect.

            I realized why those stories worked: because they spent a lot of time showing the audience why these things were scary. When the car-driving lady starts freaking out, you understand why. That’s what Batiuk doesn’t do. He just cuts to his main character being randomly terrified of this harmless, goofy, easily defeatable thing. I don’t know how I’m supposed to feel about it. Is it supposed to be funny? Is he losing his mind? Is he drinking again?

            Making matters worse is that no one else is reacting to Funky’s weirdness either. Which is a massive storytelling problem in the Funkyverse as a whole. No character is ever allowed to call out another character for being strange, rude, stupid, and so on. The audience never gets a clue how we’re supposed to react to anything.

      • Hannibal’s Lectern

        That’s steam? The way it’s drawn, I thought it was just some of the “cobweb” (TP?) “decoration” that got stuck in the box.

        BTW: “follow him out of the story” works better!

    • Suicide Squirrel

      Bonus speculation: Exploding dye packs.
      Funky: “Hi Mason, you’re looking a little blue today.” * smirk *

  11. hitorque

    1. Okay, now tell me how PM is supposed to escape – It’s not like his helo is still in a holding pattern waiting for him…

    2. I don’t get it… Why does PM even need a helo to begin with? Last year he presumably made his journey on foot, and literally walked in the front door of Montoni’s to swipe a pie and just walked out while everyone inside was paralyzed with fear…

    3. I mean, holy damn the PM didn’t even look at the pizza first… For all we know he could have swiped a bleu cheese/pomegranate/liverwurst/red beet supreme with extra sardines, right?

    4. Can he really call say “U G0T PUNKED!!!11!” when PM just stole ONE pizza? Didn’t PM punk himself given that he’s the one who paid god knows how much for some off-the-books helicopter charter? It’s not like he cleaned out the cash register, stole an entire stack of pies, along with two six-packs of Michelob Ultra, a carton of Swisher Sweets, a fistful of calzones, an order of garlic breadsticks, a couple of antipasto starter salads, a few wine coolers, 36 lemon pepper buffalo wings, a party-sized Italian hero sandwich, Funkenstein’s last remaining Sony Discman, Holly’s crutches, those four immigrants working in the kitchen with falsified work visas, two bags of grass, seventy-five pellets of mescaline, five sheets of high powered blotter acid, a salt shaker half-full of cocaine, and a whole galaxy of multi-colored uppers, downers, screamers, laughers with a quart of tequila, a quart of rum, a case of Budweiser, a pint of raw ether and two dozen amyls…

    5. The fact that those obscenely overpaid idiots over at Atomikkk Komixxx haven’t adapted the local legend of the PM into a new instant bestselling comic title really speaks volumes on just how utterly stupid the idea of a PM is…

    6. It’s funny because none of those mouth agape assholes have thought to even stop the PM, or call 911, or even snap a photo? FFS, Dr. Funk’s got his smartphone right there in his hands!!

    7. Why is anybody even scared of PM in the first place? Does he have any special powers or a reputation for immortality and mass murder? In that case, isn’t giving up ONE free pizza ONE day out of the year an infinitesimal price to pay to be left alone the rest of the time? Is he supposed to be a ghost or something? Giving up Why does this even have to be a “scary” storyline in the first place? Can’t PM’s annual taking of the pizza be more analogous to Santa Claus taking his milk and cookies?

    8. I still want to know if PM hits up all the pizza joints in the region or just Montoni’s… And if so, then why?

    • Anonymous Sparrow

      Why Montoni’s?

      Probably for the same reason Wile E. Coyote pursues the same Road Runner over and over again.

      Although he does occasionally match wits with Bugs Bunny, in which he announces himself as a Super Genius.

      Wile E. is the Pizza Monster! And he’s getting away with it this time! No longer will his name be muid, which is dum(b) spelled backwards!

      It might be an Acme helicopter…

  12. Banana Jr. 6000

    The pizza boxes in the costume all say “Montoni’s” on them, and they always face the same way. Ronald McDonald’s image isn’t so tightly managed. But how does a company-specific mascot become unknown to the owner of that company? What is he, a freelance corporate shill? Is he one of those creeps in Times Square who dress up in superhero costumes and try to sell people Polaroids?

    • hitorque

      Could Pizza Monster be a nod to Domino’s “The Noid” from 1980s advertising fame? Or is that too recent a pop culture reference for Batiuk?

      • billytheskink

        The Noid, of course, appears alongside Funky as parade balloons in what is definitely the most prominent pop culture moment that Funky Winkerbean has ever had, its mention and appearance in the 2000 Simpsons episode “Homer Vs. Dignity”.

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        I think it’s right on the sweet spot. The Funkyverse seems frozen in about 1989-1992, except that it acknowledges the existence of cell phones. And the Internet, but everyone hates that.

  13. Suicide Squirrel

    That’s a pizza BOX monster.

    This is a “pizza monster” (Pizza the Hut).

  14. Charles

    I’m pretty sure the Pizza Monster is the same person as the Castle Homosexual from the Gay Prom storyline.

    • Epicus Doomus

      The senior prom scenery coming out as possibly being gay (at some future date, maybe) was a development NO ONE saw coming.

  15. Suicide Squirrel

    There’s a new entry on the Batyuk Blog.

    New Arrival Batyuk just received his advance copy of Volume 11 of The Complete Funky Winkerbean.

    I’m confused. How can one book of eleven be “complete”? If you buy all the books, do they form Voltron or something?

    If you assemble all of the books, do they create a huge boring Funky Winkerbean that tells bad jokes and bloviates about the pandemic and the world’s last Sony Discman?

    • Epicus Doomus

      I agree. If there was actually a COMPLETE FW collection, with EVERY strip in order, I’d consider buying it. But who wants a hodgepodge collection of HIS favorites, curated by him? Blech.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Serious question: who is on the cover of Volume 11? I don’t even recognize that character.

      • Suicide Squirrel

        No clue. At first, I thought it was Becky. Is the hair too long? To be honest, I didn’t read Funky Winkerbean much in 2002-2004.

        Batty could have told us in his blog, but he’s too busy patting himself on the back and trying to push sales.