I remember that arc. It went something like this:
“Dad, I’m really sorry but I simply can’t allow you to drive anymore. It’s just not safe.”
“Beer nuts! Mom? Happy Arbor Day! Huh?”
“Now dad, don’t be that way. You know I’m only looking out for your best interests.”
(Morton lights up a Marlboro Light)
“Ah, that’s better. While I respect and appreciate your concern, I am also offended, as I obviously still have the cognitive and physical abilities required to operate a motor carriage.”
Although perhaps my memories are a bit hazy, as there was a lot going on in the strip at that time. Good thing Funky didn’t entrust Linda with Morton’s keys, as he would have easily found them while Linda was on the phone complaining, then driven himself into Westview Gorge like how Bull did. And right now Morton is WAY sharper than Bull was near the end of his run.
26 responses to “It’s A Privilege, Not A Right”
“Plus, I live in a nursing home and no longer own a car!”
“Also, Louise…is that your name? I have no idea of where I am, or what I am, or why I’m talking to you. Something about a dog, right? I’m really, really scared right now. Who put me here, and why? WHY? This isn’t funny at all! Why are you looking at me like I did something wrong? Did I do something wrong?”
At some point, Batiuk must have realized that Lynn Johnston had already milked senior dementia for all it was worth, and turned senile Mort into a ladies’ man (albeit one whom they won’t let drive).
Now THAT’S funny! FW and FBOFW were like Affirmed and Alydar, or McGwire and Sosa, going at it neck-and-neck to see who could out-do the other. It was kind of glorious in an annoying, sickening way.
Oh dear lord. When I looked at today’s strip some perverse back-of-the-head voice actually did go “Boxcar!” Such a weird pathos-grabbing moment in comics history.
I will say this: Johnstone at least tried to give Jim some agency with that arc; we were often shown his actual thoughts, and how they contrasted what he was able to say vs. how others interpreted him. And I remember some relatable moments with April worrying that she’d only remember him as the end-of-life shell and not the fun, loving grandpa from her early childhood.
Here nothing seems to matter besides what Batiuk thinks is funny or accolade-worthy at any given moment.
Even though Johnston milked the misery like Batty, it wasn’t as offensive and the misery seemed more in place in her strip.
She also didn’t seem as pompous in her interviews as Batty does. Sure, she was a bit preachy at times, but still less annoying than Batty.
I read FBoFW for years. From what I recall:
— Characters aged in a linear manner
— Characters’ personalities were consistent throughout, changing slightly as they aged/matured
— There was no retconning (ie, Farley wasn’t suddenly alive again, April didn’t lose years off her age while Elizabeth remained apparently the same, etc)
In other words, FBoFW was actually good, and very good at times. No comparison with FW.
FBoFW is what FW thinks it is. As horribly as FBoFW ended, it handled serious stories with much more skill and dignity. Look no further than the “coming out” stories they did.
Tom Batiuk is a lot like Spinal Tap, in the sense that the band jumped onto whatever was trendy. And rarely did anything very well. They evolved from flower power 60s folk into pretentious 70’s prog rock, into cheesy, theatrical hair metal. (And if real life counts, they later became an overproduced pre-Nirvana metal band.) They never really had their own identity. Nor did they even want one, beyond “we’re rock stars.”
I want to agree with you about FBoFW, but:
Granthony whining “I have no HOOOOOOOME”.
The most loathsome Funky Winkerbean plot can’t hold a match to that development.
So Mort went from leering at a woman. to bullying her into the back of a van, to asking her out after the rehearsal. What’s next, is he going to invite her to the sock hop, and maybe hold her hand?
Also, the fact that Mort lives in an old folks’ home, and came here in a van from that old folks’ home, is pretty clear evidence that he can’t drive anymore. And he was so confident five minutes ago. Didn’t Lillian just shoot him down ago anyway, when he was bragging of his past conquests? What is even going on here? This doesn’t make any sense!
I think the overall gag here is supposed to be that nonagenarians are exactly like teenagers, totally hormone-driven and constantly having their fun squelched by killjoy authority figures. It’s quite an optimistic take by FW standards, but I would imagine it’d just baffle unaware readers who aren’t as familiar with the “thought process” that goes into this thing as we are.
If that’s what Batiuk is aiming for, he missed by a mile. Mort’s countenance this whole week has been “leering rapist,” not “hormonal teenager.” And who’s squelching his fun? He wandered off and did whatever he wanted to, and telegraphed his intentions the whole time. He wasn’t hampered by having a job to do. Or any other trivialities, such as a woman having the right to decline such a sleazy invitation.
There’s another huge storytelling problem. The story has gotten smaller all week. Conflicts and plot points are supposed to escalate, not de-escalate, as the story goes on. Mort went from looking like a rapist to demurely asking for a lunch date. What was the point? Was it supposed to be “Mort’s perviness is all bark and no bite?” Because it doesn’t work. The whole thing is just framed wrong. And as usual, there’s no tone, or any hints of how seriously we’re supposed to take this story.
Funky Winkerbean is too understated, and devoid of any apparent narrative purpose. And when it’s not those things, it’s shoving its obnoxious agenda down your throat.
Asking someone to “head off somewhere” sounds less like you’re asking them out to a nice, possibly romantic dinner and more like you’re going to spend an hour at a cheap motel, or possibly in the alley behind that cheap motel.
Rehearsal hasn’t even started?! I’m already rueing next week’s strips…
These two are having a hell of a time staying on-model this week!
Isn’t “heading off somewhere” what they just did? This series of events feels backwards.
And I should have posted this on yesterday’s strip, but: why did Lillian get in the back of the van with this guy? What exactly was her thought process?
Women don’t have a thought process, Mr. A. Not in the Winkershaftiverse. They don’t have motivations, or an inner life, or a consistent personality, or a set of beliefs, or any form of agency (except Lisa, who was a Brave Warrior for the Downtrodden until she mousily folded like a cheap umbrella when she faced her own trials).
Women in the Crankerbeaniverse exist only as props to drive the men’s story. Think of them as Vaudeville straight men, just there to spout ridiculous dialogue so the real star can deliver the zingers and get the applause.
Batty just announced a 25% off sale on FW books. Stock up now!
W👀WEE!!!!! Thanks, Rusty! This is so timely with the holidays coming up, and fuel prices rising steeply. We’ll be keepin’ the ol’ wood stove fed for sure! Not to mention now I won’t have to worry about any toilet paper shortages! Also, I have a sofa with one too-short leg. I think Vol 7 wil do nicely.
Dinkle’s marathon rehearsals don’t end until well after midnight. They won’t be in any shape to head out anywhere.
Don’t be silly! Nonagenarians can get up with the dawn, rehearse all day, and then shag all night like bunnies! Their mutant healing powers can cure dementia and deafness! People pushing 100 — is there anything they can’t do?
I finally put my finger on what’s uniquely annoying about today’s strip in particular.
These people are canonically about 100 (at least in Lillian’s case) but let’s use Batiuk-time and charitably say about 80.
80-year-olds tend to be blunt. They don’t generally beat around the bush. If an 80-year-old wants to shag another 80-year-old, and thinks he has a willing partner, he’d ask if she wants to get a room, or go back to her place.
If he wanted to go on a proper date, he’d say, “Can I take you out to dinner after rehearsal?” or “I’d like to see you again. Would you like to go for a walk in the park on Saturday?”
When you’re very old, there isn’t time to be cutesy, and there isn’t patience for time-wasters.
Except in FW, where teenagers act like geriatrics, and geriatrics act like teenagers.
Does anybody else hear Mor(t)on actually saying the commas in that second panel? As in “because, comma, sadly, comma, my family took my keys away”?
As terrible as that punchline is in every single way, it still could have been improved by deleting words & reducing the size of the word Hindenburgs. <–(cut & paste, as it applies to everything Batiuk writes, prose included)
"Do you have a car?"
"Why don't we use yours?"
"My family took the keys away."
"My kid says I'm not allowed to drive."
Well, based on the masthead, it looks like Reed Richards is going to visit the Atomik Komix office. Probably to opine that he wishes Fantastic Four was an AK title by Pete and Dullard, rather than those Lee and Kirby losers.
Seems like a bit of a stretch to me.
I’ll see myself out, thank you very much.