Dunno why Tom Batiuk feels the need to censor himself–I guess having a character say “ass” in a comic strip is a horror beyond imagining. Hundreds of readers would demand that the strip be pulled from newspapers across the country.
I mean, I guess that’s the thinking. The problem is, it reduces a decent punchline into a complete non-punchline. The reader (by which I mean me) is brought up short by the omission, making me pivot from contemplating the joke to wondering why he felt the need to censor it. “Butt” would be acceptable, and if that’s considered too risque, how about “rear”?
Oh well, this seems to be Tom Batiuk’s working method for several years now, making sure no humor gets into the strip. Because “funny” doesn’t win awards.
Including “ass” would have made Funky’s panel two expression work much better. Ha ha, he would think. She means me.
A thing I like: the cabinet handles in panel one make it look like Funky has antennae.
36 responses to “Ellipsis Sweet as Candy”
“So, Mrs. Winkerbean, exactly where is the pain your husband?”
“the pain in your husband?”
I don’t get it. If the ankle isn’t causing any physical pain (miraculous recovery, that) then what’s a pain in the ass about it?
This is Tombat competing with the bleeding edge domestic humor of The Lockhorns. They Hate Each Other!!! And he doesn’t care whose toes he steps on in the process.
Speaking of which, Holly appears to have 6 toes in panel two. Do random meat stubs appear after an ankle sprain is overtreated with unnecessary surgery?
Implying that “ass” is the next thing she says is the entire gag, so I suppose he figured it didn’t matter if it made no sense at all, as long as he worked “pain in the …” in there somehow.
Now why he felt that implying that Holly said “ass” constitutes a “joke” is another question entirely. I guess this is BatHam being daring, edgy, playful and subversive, at least by his standards. He could have used those stupid curse word squiggles…”pain in the @#%”…but why risk offending anyone when you can just leave it to the reader’s imagination?
This isn’t even the best “pain” joke he could have made. “Holly, where is the pain?” “He’s sitting in that chair over there.”
Being in a cast or immobilizer is a pain, speaking from my 6 weeks in an immobilizer after cracking my tibial plateau (such a tiny bone! why so awkward?) so I would accept that.
I wanted to say “pain in the patoot.” I think that would be funnier than an ellipsis. Patoot, like potato, is inherently funny.
Obviously we all know what he was trying to go for here, but what makes it weird is how Funky and the doctor react. The doctor apparently finds Holly’s travails very humorous in some sick wry way, while Funky appears to be totally lost in some sort of zen-like state and/or tripping his balls off.
Of course what he was “going for” here is a gag about the word “ass” that had to be suitable for the many seven year olds who read the strip, lest they become corrupted by Holly’s salty obscene language. And on that level he succeeded, as a few seven-year-olds might actually giggle at this one, especially if they were sick, feverish, drugged or “slow”, as they say. Because the word “ass” is implied at the end, see? Sigh.
Just look at the doctor. “Wadda ya gonna say, huh? Heh heh.”
Upon the first read, I misinterpreted the strip. When Holly mentioned a “pain in the… ” I assumed she was referring to Funky.
BTW, what is Funky doing in the examination room? Isn’t there a waiting room? Holly is a big girl. I’m sure she can handle the doctor’s questions on her own.
I assume Funky is there strictly to react, yet he’s just sort of zoning out and staring into space with a weird blissed-out look on his face that doesn’t match the gag at all. It’s almost like this was originally meant to be a gag about Funky swiping Holly’s pain meds.
Upon the third read, I now realize Holly is about to backtrack on her statement about the lack of physical pain. Holly noticed Funky’s evil grin and stopped talking mid-sentence.
The look on Funky’s face says to ask the doctor for more oxycodone, as they discussed, or it’s hot dogs and peas for another week. Or worse yet, another week of experimental pizzas of the day. The thought of another rutabaga and limbèrger pizza makes Holly gag.
Funky has been stealing Holly’s painkillers like a parent stealing from their kid’s Halloween stash. The former alcoholic is now hooked on opioids.
I mean, if I was going to the doctor with someone, I would want them in the examination room with me, if for no other reason to talk with and keep me amused when the doctor wanders off for half an hour looking for something, getting caught in conversation with a nurse, playing a game of minesweeper. There’s only so many times you can read the “Warning Signs of Diabetes” chart.
I usually take a book or a magazine to the doctor’s office. If I took my husband with me, he’d start playing around with things in the examination room, trying to make me laugh. Drumming with the tongue depressors or building things out of them. Blowing up rubber gloves, etc. He’s just a big goof ball.
Seriously, I can’t take him anywhere.
I’ll go ahead and tempt the Fates and announce here that I’ve yet to break a bone (one of the benefits of a life bereft of physical exercise), but it seems to me that when a doctor starts touching and moving a leg you just broke about four or five weeks earlier, there would be a little pain? Am I crazy?
On to today’s ass-tronomically laugh-free vignette: With a “Dad Joke” about parking spaces on Monday and this “Ooh, we almost said ‘a$$’ in the funny pages!” (Why couldn’t they just use grawlix symbols?) rib-tickler, the week is shaping up to be a mind-numbing exercise in “phoning it in,” even by Batiukian standards.
I don’t know if the pain would come from the break per se, but I agree there would be pain. When I broke my pinky (mallet finger) and had to wear a splint for several weeks, the joint was very stiff afterwards from lack of use. It definitely hurt to try and bend it, and it took another few weeks of straining to regain my full range of motion. I imagine that if you couldn’t bend your ankle for several weeks, the effect would be similar.
Both times I broke my arm, much of the healing process was about regaining full motion of the broken bone. The probing that the doctor does, like in today’s strip, is to gauge how much movement the affected area can take. So Holly *should* have pain, because this injury can’t be fully healed yet. It’s barely been a month.
I glanced at the second panel and thought “That is either a big doctor, or a small Funky.” It took me a minute to grasp that Funky is sitting down, not standing up.
No pain a month after breaking a bone AND what appears to be decent health insurance? Cry me a river, Holly.
Hm! This unpublished work would appear to be a premise that was abandoned by the comic strip author part way through: “A pain in the a … aw, c’mon, that’s too hacky and trite, even for me. Jeez, I can do better than that. Okay, let’s crumple this one up and start over….”
Wait….it was published?
I see that even the doctor/surgeon has no idea where the break was. What a comfort to those of us who couldn’t figure out whether it was a leg or ankle or foot break.
“People said he was a pain in the neck. I had a somewhat lower opinion.” —Benny Hill
Yes, even a second-tier British comedian (best known for running around in sped-up motion to the tune of “Yakety Sax”) does the “don’t say ‘ass’” joke better than Battocks.
“The Super Bowl Shuffle” does the don’t-say-ass joke better than TB does as well.
So does “Heart of Rock And Roll.”
Hey, remember when Funky spent like three weeks getting his cataract surgery? Did Holly follow him into every single examining room? No! She was only seen visiting him in a hospital room. So why must Funky be in every single panel of Holly’s injuring being treated, when he’s not even necessary to the gag?
The chauvinism never ends.
I wonder if Batty lets Mrs. Batiuk attend his doctor’s office visits, and vice versa.
I think Funky hasn’t gotten over the Pizza Monster yet. He appears to be sizing up the doc as a suspect. Check out the knowing smirk.
Funky (thinking to himself): “Yeah, doc, you’re about the right height and weight. You have access to the hospital’s helicopter, don’tcha? You’re busted, buddy boy!”
Holly stops midsentence because she notices Funky and remembers him accusing a random passerby in the parking lot.
Holly (thinking to herself): “Oh no! Not again.”
Uh-oh, Holly stopped talking because the doc has an evil smirk on his face and it looks like he’s about to give Holly’s foot a twist.
Doctor DeSade: “Does it hurt when I do this?”
Dr. Marky DeSade?
The Queen of Marksbury, as Les Moore would say.
Less Moore was referring to a different person, the Marquis of Queensbury. He created a set of boxing rules.
Oh, bugger. I knew I goofed right after I hit ‘post comment’. I was hoping nobody noticed. 🤫
A delete/edit function would be kind of nifty.
Here’s what appeared today on the FW blog concerning dialogue:
“So, I began making calculated choices that would place the work on a more real-life footing. I started to eschew naked witticism for a more natural behavioral dialog. Instead of me being witty, the characters could be witty.”
From the introduction to The Complete Funky Winkerbean Volume 10
To quote David C. Pumpkins, “Any questions?”
And here’s the strip he uses as the example:
This was right after the touch football game where Lisa found the breast lump that would define Funky Winkerbean for the next 20+ years.
What do you even say to this?
He was half right … he isn’t being witty.
ALSO: David S. Pumpkins. The creators of the sketch also emphatically insist that the “S” isn’t for Scary or Spooky or anything like that … it’s for Simon.
Thanks for the correction. Don’t know what made me type “C”.
“He’s his own thing.”
Everything is terrible…