Debts to Pay.

Click here to see Funky do a B&E.

It’s not Wally. (Sobs and takes down the thumbtacks and string)

But who is left?

Darin? Fat chance. The only time Boy Lisa ever risks his life is in his dreams.

But I don’t know if Mason knows Montoni’s layout intimately enough for this stunt… We’ve never seen the action star on the roof, or in the back room.

But then again, who does that leave?

Only one man.

This Man.

Suspect: ‘Kahn/ Khan’ (Possibly an alias?)

Background: Khan hails from the wild hills of Afghanistan. He was a bandit leader, drug dealer, and gun runner, who held Wally captive for months hoping to sell him to anyone willing to pay, even presumably American enemies, so the buyer could in turn make ransom demands.

Wally charmed Khan with chess and pictures of American women, stalling for enough time to signal allies and escape. Rana’s older sister found Wally and helped to hide him from the desperately searching Khan, and eventually led him to an American airfield.

When Wally and Becky returned to Afghanistan with an NGO mine clearing organization, they hired a local liaison to work as their guide and driver, and he turned out to be Khan.

Khan seemed overjoyed to be reunited with Wally, and Wally was pretty gracious to a man who had intended to sell him for cash.

On one of their last days in Afghanistan, Wally stepped on a landmine. Knowing it might trigger when he stepped off, he told Khan to leave him and drive a safe distance away.

Instead Kahn attempted to defuse it,

And when he couldn’t decided that he would bat the mine right out of the air in a stunt more nonsensical and ballsy than anything Crankshaft has ever rigged up with Bean’s End Merchandise and lighter fluid.

They return to the city to find that the Afghan family that’d helped Wally escape from Kahn before had exploded in a car bomb attack, leaving only Rana, the orphan Becky and Wally immediately decided to adopt.

A few months after the family returns to the US, Kahn walks into Montoni’s asking for Wally.

And like anyone who ever walks into Montoni’s, this murderer, drug dealer, and former terrorist is offered a job there on the spot.

 

Kahn arrived mere moments before the fateful letter that Wally was to be redeployed to Iraq, where he is blown up and captured again.

Post-time skip. Kahn is still working at Montoni’s.

Wally returns home in summer 2009 and takes a job at Montoni’s February the next year, but we get no strips of Wally and Kahn in a panel together because Batiuk is boring and unimaginative and I hate him.

In 2011, we are informed that Kahn has received American citizenship and has opened a Deli next door to Montoni’s

In 2014, Wally and Funky notice a ‘Going out of Business’ sign on the door and go in to talk to Kahn. He says he intends to move back to Afghanistan.

Spelling change why?

And that’s it. That’s the last time we’ve ever seen or heard of Kahn.

Until now.

Observations:

1.) Khan is tall, male, slim and, while darker complected than other characters, light skinned enough.

2.) Khan is a former bandit leader who was allowed American citizenship. This implies that he must have turncloaked and aided the Americans enough to receive some significant favors.

3.) Khan was an employee, and manager of Montoni’s for years, he would be very familiar with the building.

4.) Khan once batted a landmine away with a wooden board. The man has no fear.

Motive:

Why would Khan do this?

To figure this out, I had to archive dive and see what was happening in the Funkyverse, and specifically Montoni’s, in the time leading up to the first appearance of the Pizza Monster. And, in the year before, Wally finished college and was made not only a manager, but seemingly a part owner of Montoni’s.

In his final semester of college, he also befriended Iraqi immigrant Adeela, and reconnected with his adopted Afghan daughter Rana. Rana told him that following graduation she intended go back to Afghanistan to teach in a girl’s school.

And, who may have Rana looked up in Afghanistan to help her get the lay of the land? Mayhaps her old family friend Khan?

So Khan hears that Wally is now in line to inherit the Montoni’s pizza fortune. So what?

So. We know two things about Khan. He admires Wally Winkerbean. And he didn’t think all that highly of Funky.

I think it all boils down to the landmine incident. Wally had every reason in the world not to value Khan’s life, and to hate him. Khan was a murderer who had indirectly killed his friends. And the only comeuppance Wally sees fit to give him is a black eye.

Khan also seems touched and impressed that Becky and Wally would adopt Rana with no reservations.

When they first met, Khan had only seen Wally’s life in terms of how much money he could make. But when his own life is in danger, Wally tells Khan to leave and save himself. Khan makes a daring gamble, puts both their lives on the line, and miraculously they both walk away. But is that enough to make up for the months and months Khan held him captive?

Kahn follows this admirable man to America. When Wally is presumed KIA, Kahn stays working at Montoni’s for years, ragging on Funky for neglecting the restaurant Wally had so loved.

When Wally returns from a traumatic captivity, so similar to what he had already been subjected to, maybe Kahn keeps his distance so as to not remind him? Maybe Khan leaves Montoni’s to make space for Wally’s advancement? Maybe he only leaves Westview once Wally seems stable and secure: newly engaged to Rachel, going back to school etc.

And now, Wally’s daughter tells him that, once Funky retires, Wally will have the whole restaurant. The entire pizza empire of Westview. The only thing standing in the way of his hero is the fat aging blowhard he never respected.

So, Kahn uses his US Citizenship to return to the states, and plans a series of drastically escalating pranks designed to drive Funky crazy and send him into an early retirement.

Still not convinced?

Remember last year, when the Pizza Monster was able to keep Mr. Monster from unmasking him by suggesting he was a woman?

Well, during Wally’s daring escape from Khan, Wally used the exact same ploy. Completely covered in head to toe, and using Khan’s people’s reluctance at revealing the female form to maintain his disguise. Khan had learned from the tricks of his friend.

So, Kahn is the Pizza Monster. Canon.

But why does Rachel look so enamoured with the PBM today? Does he remind her of someone?

Hmmmmm?

It’s been a fun two weeks! Beckoning Chasm takes over tomorrow. Happy Halloween everyone!

41 Comments

Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

41 responses to “Debts to Pay.

  1. Epicus Doomus

    Fantastic Khan (or Kahn) retrospective, CBH! Those old Act II arcs were really something else, man. FW was just as ludicrous as it is now, but in an entirely different way. That landmine couldn’t take him out, but he was no match for This Economy, I’ll tell you what.

    So the staircase leads to Wally’s apartment but not the roof? I could have sworn there was a doorway up there, but there’s no evidence of it today. But if that’s the case, are we to believe they all climbed up there via that window? It’s vexing.

    • Y. Knott

      A real education for this Funky-reader-come-lately. Wow! This comic has been exploring different flavours of crappiness for a long, long time.

      Anyway, CBH, that is one impressive case you’ve built. It’d be virtually bulletproof if it weren’t for the fact that Batiuk has actually ended a long mystery arc with “aaand, uhhhh…. a talking chimp did it. The End.”

      But still, I vote yes on Kahahnh being the canon Pizza Monster! On the grounds that this is better written than whatever TB will eventually come up with.

    • be ware of eve hill

      There’s a funkywinkerbean.com blog, “Match to Flame 135”, that includes a drawing of the exterior of Montoni’s block. The stairs on the side of the building only go up to the apartment. Inconveniently, the roof is not drawn.

      In the Wednesday, December 16th 2020 strip, Funky and Tony Montoni are leaving live reindeer on the roof because the plastic ones are too shabby. There are stairs on the roof in the background.

      • Suicide Squirrel

        Where’s the Komix Korner in the drawing? How do you get up there? Stairs in the back of the building? From the alley? I guess that makes sense because it fits creepy DeadSkunkhead.
        DeadSkunkhead: “Hi boys and girls! Please visit my store. Watch out for the rabid animals, pedophiles and drug sales occurring in the alley.”

      • Y. Knott

        Astounding! Although as Batiuk admits that every single thing about Montoni’s “down to the nails in the floor” is ripped off from Luigi’s, I wonder if a Google Street View of Luigi’s would also help to answer some questions?

        And let us all take a minute to appreciate the epic level of delusion in Batiuk’s statement: “Luigi’s would one day take on near mythical stature in the real world as well when it became the site of the Lisa’s Story book launch event…”

        Jeepers! I’m sure the Lisa’s Legacy tour buses that drive by Luigi’s every 15 minutes broadcast this riveting fact over the loudspeaker, right before announcing a 2-hour break for lunch and photo opportunities.

  2. Folks have mentioned in the comments, “Hey, it’s kind of whimsical, so I’m okay with that.”

    Which would ordinarily be fine, yeah, it’s a break from the bleak. But if you look over this week, no one in the strip is treating this as a fun romp.

    I mean, honestly, they’ve all been freaking out like this is Psycho Goreman coming to exact his revenge on the weak fleshlings who have dared to oppose him. It’s not Psycho Goreman. It’s not even Rich Evans as the garbage can full of body parts.

    It’s a guy (sorry ladies) in a stupid costume who steals a pizza. Lighten up, Francis.

  3. J.J. O'Malley

    From Rachel’s “Ooooh…now THERE’S a real man!” gaze to the Pizza Monster clinging onto what looks like a filmstrip more than a rope ladder to the truly ludicrous “PMSignal” off in the distance, yet another attempt of telling a suspenseful story arc peters out into nothingness. Much like the ever-prized Montoni’s pizza, it starts out hot and cheesy and rapidly cools off into something soggy and unappetizing.

    And thus a new month beckons. I can hardly wait.

  4. Mr. A

    OK, I have to admit: the Box Signal cracked me up. That’s the extra touch that tells us we’re dealing with a higher class of prankster.

    Also, Holly got up to the roof pretty fast for a woman on crutches.

    ***

    Reviewing the arc as a whole, I think this is a definite improvement on last year. The strip actually showed the Monster carrying the pizza this time, which answers one of my complaints about Years 1 and 2.

    On the other hand, we still haven’t explained why Funky gets a pizza ready for the Monster in the first place. Why doesn’t he just refuse service? I don’t need a bulletproof justification, just something I can hang my hat on.

    Somebody besides Funky: If you don’t like the Monster, why do you fill its order?

    Funky: The Monster always calls its order in under a fake name, and I never figure it out until it’s too late.

    – OR –

    Funky: The Montoni’s Pizza Code of Honor clearly states: “A guest who can pay, must not be turned away.”

    – OR –

    Funky: And miss my chance to unmask them? [I like this one the best.]

    • be ware of eve hill

      You’re not alone. The Box Signal tickled my funny bone too. It shows Batty can still write ’em if he’s a good boy. Kudos to Ayers if the idea was his.

      All three of your reasons make sense, but I like #3 the best too. Funky probably sees the pizza as bait.

  5. Sorial Promise

    I retired from working in mental health services in 2020. I have responsibilities each day, but a pleasant diversion is reading about 25 comic strips, one of which is FW. I picked it up when Dinkle joined the choir. Only kept with it because of SOSF. Fell in love with CBH’s prose and research. I enjoy the other posters too, but CBH is special. Today brings up a particular point. Wow! Batiuk could write! That Khan (sp) story obviously flowed over many years, and each strip was riveting. What happened to Batiuk that he quit caring, and only presents drivel each day, months on end? If he is soon to retire? Man up, Tom! Go out with a bang.

    • Rusty Shackleford

      No, he can’t write. It’s total crap. Cheap drama, nonsensical and implausible events. He can’t even be bothered to spell Khan consistently.

      Being nominated for awards only encourages him. He’s some kind of monster that feeds on awards and puff piece interviews and then vomits out weird prose. Aghhhhh, make it stop!

    • ComicBookHarriet

      Thanks so much Sorial! The common thread for all FW readers at this point is that they stay for the comments.

      To offer a respectful counterpoint to Rusty. I don’t think that Batiuk is or was always awful at storytelling. But the major problem with him is how much potential he wastes. During Act II he wasted less, but he still was leaving material on the table. He’s all set up, but no payoff. He hyper fixates on whatever he’s telling in the moment, but never considers the follow up, or deeper implications.

      Becky and Wally adopt a young girl who presumably does not speak English and take her thousands of miles from the only home she’s ever known. And that’s it. No adjustment, no showing them getting ready, they’ve never been parents before. But it doesn’t matter because little Rana is as pliable as an elderly lapdog. The toddler showed up in the background off and on prior to the time skip, and teen Rana dropped off the map early in Act III until her inexplicable return.

      I had a lot of fun going into Khan yesterday, but really, he shouldn’t exist. Early on Tom overloaded his plot with way to many unnecessary characters, and it meant that he couldn’t follow through with any of them. The world he built is full of dramatic potential, but he almost can’t help but waste it as a consequence of the medium he chose. Three panels a day isn’t a lot of time when the cast is like forty active characters a year.

      Another reason that Crankshaft is a better strip IMO. I’m not saying it’s good. But it’s better. The characters and their relationships feel more real, because most of the emotional weight is carried by a much smaller cast.

      • Rusty Shackleford

        Previously I remarked that I have enjoyed some of Batty’s work. The act 1 stuff was fun and light. I was a band geek and so I liked the early Dinkle strips. I also liked the John Darling strips and visit Batty’s blog weekly just to read the reprints.

        100%agree with you on the character overload. He took the easy way out when he wanted to explore new things. Instead of finding a creative way to extend a current character, he just invents a new one that has the desired characteristics.

      • Gerard Plourde

        Good points, CBH. The stories he handles better are the plot-driven ones, which, as a genre, can also produce good literature (usually mystery or adventure stories, or early Silver Age comics). The mine-clearing incident you examined is a good example of this.

        But, as you and others point out, once he has to deal with actual character development he’s lost. I don’t know why he consistently sets up interesting premises (adoption of an Afghan orphan, raising a child as a single parent while coping with the death of a spouse) and summarily drops them as if they were radioactive, but I suspect it’s because he never sees his characters as more than vehicles for whatever agenda he’s set up.

        • Banana Jr. 6000

          Tom Batiuk is better at plot-driven stories. They’re what he knows, because of his obsession with Silver Age comic books. So why the hell does he write everything but that?

          And we all know the answer: because serious stories are the pathway to awards and recognition. Tom Batiuk’s ego and his closed-mindedness will never let him stop trying for them, no matter times he’s proven he’s not up to snuff.

          This is another reason artists need editors. Batiuk needs someone to tell him he’s working against his strengths. And has the authority to reject his submissions.

  6. billytheskink

    TB’s gone back and forth on Khan and Kahn so much I’m tempted to think that they are actually parallel universe versions of the same guy and that the strip switches between universes every time the spelling changes. It would explain how Starbuck Jones has become such a big deal since the last time Khan/Kahn appeared.

    Funky in panel 2 is a tribute to Mad‘s Don Martin, right? No tip of the Funky felt tip?

    • Rusty Shackleford

      I suspect Batty hated MAD Magazine…but maybe I am wrong.

      Last winter I bought a used copy of Dave Berg’s The Lighter Side collection. It was a fun read.

  7. Gerard Plourde

    I’m confused by the building’s layout. I thought that DSH’s store occupied the apartment above Montoni’s. Is the building big enough to accommodate both Wally’s and Rachel’s apartment and the comic book store?

    • be ware of eve hill

      I believe the building is big enough for both the apartment and the store on the second floor. The Komix Korner doesn’t appear to be very big.

      Batty included a drawing of the Montoni’s fortress in his blog. I hope the link below works. No idea where Komix Korner is located in the building or how you access it. Maybe from the back of the building, as @Suicide Squirrel mentioned above.

      https://funkywinkerbean.com/wpblog/?s=match+to+flame+135

      • Gerard Plourde

        Thanks. That does clear things up. The Komix Korner space looks like it gives new meaning to the term “hole in the wall.”

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        The entrance to Komix Korner has been depicted as a door at the very top of a flight of stairs. It looks like it’s housed in an apartment, not a public-facing business space. With that in mind, it’s not hard to imagine that two apartments could fit in that second-floor space. Furthermore, mixed-use buildings of this type tend to restrict businesses to the first floor.

        • Mr. A

          Looking closer at that drawing, it seems that Lisa’s law offices were on the second floor as well. I didn’t know that. I wonder what’s up there now?

  8. Dood

    Looks like the last chopper has left Saigon.

  9. gleeb

    I think it’s plain that Khan switched the spelling of the name of his deli at least because none of these thick-headed Buckeyes could get it right.

  10. Don

    Given that there are at least three people involved – the PM himself (assuming it’s a man), the helicopter pilot, and whoever it is giving the Pizza-Signal – I wouldn’t be surprised if it involves Cody, his fiancee (they haven’t gotten married yet, right? – I assume the wedding would take up a week of the strip, and don’t remember seeing it), and/or members of whatever unit they were/are in.

  11. Banana Jr. 6000

    I didn’t know all of Kahn/Khan’s backstory, but… really, Wally’s captor moved to his small town, and opened a competing business next door? No wonder the poor guy’s got PTSD; he sees his former tormentor constantly. I guess we can add Stockholm Syndrome to the list of horrible things Tom Batiuk has ham-handedly tried to portray in Funky Winkerbean. Another sick relationship in a town full of them. And how on earth did a guy with Khan’s background even gain entry to the United States?

    The other thing that annoys me about Khan, and the other Afghan refugees Adeela and Rana, is how little they differ from everyone who spent their whole lives in Westview. They’re all just the same bunch of smug, smirking, eye-rolling idiots, aren’t they?

  12. be ware of eve hill

    Well done, ComicBookHarriet. Yet another fun, compelling, and most enjoyable read. Your attestation against Khan/Khan has me convinced he’s, without a doubt, the Pizza Monster. Of course, yesterday, you convinced me the Pizza Monster’s identity was Wally. 🤷‍♀️

    Batty appeared to have a pretty good grip on the name “Khan” until he tried making the cutesy joke about the shop name “Khan’s Deli.” Kahn’s, as you probably know, is a manufacturer of lunch meats and hot dogs. Batty should never write on an empty stomach.

    Too bad your stint is over. I was going to ask you to investigate why Rachel is a blonde on Sundays and a redhead the rest of the week.

    Thanks for teaching me a new word today, “turncloak.”

    • be ware of eve hill

      It’s not Wally. (Sobs and takes down the thumbtacks and string)

      I neglected to mention that the above cracked me up. Not that I like seeing someone cry, but it’s one of those little touches you add that makes your writing so enjoyable.

      • ComicBookHarriet

        Thanks! 😀 I didn’t actually cry about it not being Wally, but after all that work I’d put in yesterday….

  13. Suicide Squirrel

    Holtron is the Pizza Monster. Skynet uploaded Holtron into a body with skin like Arnold. That’s my theory, and I’m sticking with it.

    Holtron: “I’ll be back.”

  14. Hitorque

    GOD DAMNIT THE HELL FUCK SHIT PISS TITS BALLS LANDMINES DON’T WORK THAT WAY!! Even if he had the superhuman ninja reflexes to bar away the detonating charge (and he doesn’t), he still wouldn’t have hit it far enough to save himself…

    As an aside, I’d be very interested in knowing Walter’s thoughts on the Taliban now running the show in Afghanistan…

    • be ware of eve hill

      I’d be very interested in knowing Walter’s thoughts about his adopted daughter Rana getting the hell out of Afghanistan.

      During the Adeela intro story arc, Adeela and Wally bumped into Rana at some kind of a diversity cafe. Rana told Wally she was leaving to teach in a girls school in Afghanistan.

      I fully expect Batty to drop the ball concerning this potential story arc.

  15. The Pizza Signal is funny!

    Wally’s apartment is not funny! Isn’t he supposed to be Husband/Management Material now? Or at least aware of how restaurants get mice and bugs?

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      I thought those were dropped pieces of the pizza monster costume, as if he had gone through Wally’s apartment and then out the window. There’s one more pizza box on the roof.

  16. Green Luthor

    Hm… so you’re saying that the Pizza Monster is because Funky incurred… the wrath of Khan?

  17. Maxine of Arc

    Huh. Khan was actually interesting. So it’s probably not him.