Pennies Dreadful

Funky, Cory, and the Force Ghost of Tony head on into one of Montoni’s many expansive and infuriatingly unorganized storage areas in today’s strip. People were joking about department stores putting up their Christmas decorations in August decades before I was born… but what can be said about decorating for Christmas less than a week before Santa slides down Montoni’s pizza oven chimney?

This is one of the most flabbergasting Funky Winkerbean strips I’ve ever read. Not because of penny socks, or laughably late Christmas decorating, or hologram Tony… but because Funky is apparently capable of feeling shame. Never would have guessed.



Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

66 responses to “Pennies Dreadful

  1. Epicus Doomus

    Phil is dead, yet he’s a regular now. Tony is not dead, but he’s a ghost. And Lisa is both dead AND a ghost. Forget the timeline, now the entire strip is just flickering in and out of reality at random.

    Ya know, Funky could have taken the pennies out of the old sock and put them in something else, but that might ruin the gag, I suppose. I don’t even want to know what inspired this one, as it’s just too weird and stupid.

    • Gerard Plourde

      I think the reference is to Crankshaft paying for the lunch he had with the one armed reporter from the Centerville paper at Montoni’s a few months back. So it appears that the ten year time gap is a thing again.

      • Sourbelly

        That was my first thought too, GP. It’s fanservice for all of us who appreciate Batdick’s oeuvre on a deeper level. And it makes today’s offering so, so much funnier!

        As for the time gap…I can’t.

      • Epicus Doomus

        I guess that makes sense. I never, ever read “Crankshaft” so he just totally loses me with the Crankshaft references.

    • Rusty Shackleford

      Yeah, was thinking to myself, “When did Tony die and how come there was no funeral?”

      At least Bull got a funeral…

  2. Phil

    I’m not sure. I think there’s a difference between feeling shame and feigning shame.

  3. Gerard Plourde

    I’m confused by the presence of the ghost of Tony. Did TomBa kill him off and not include that tidbit? Did he feel that resurrecting Phil Holt created an imbalance in the universe which required a propitiative sacrifice?

  4. William Thompson

    So Cootie opens the old sock and examines the pennies. The good news it, he finds all sorts of rare pennies in there, and a business card which says that the old man was a dedicated numismatist. The bad news is that the pennies are so badly corroded from decades of exposure to the winter weather that they’re now worthless. If only he had offered comic books in trade!

  5. none

    For those not aware, this is a call back to the recent Craskshaft arc where Ed and One Armed Skip went to dine there.

    BTW Funky, that random old geezer you refer to is someone who you played bowling against some time ago.

    The strips are years apart, except when they’re not. The strips have a rich history which can be forgotten at any time. Phil is dead. Phil is alive. Tony is alive. Tony is dead. Fuck you, pay me.

    • gleeb

      What is Pete’s surname?

    • ComicBookHarriet

      BTW Funky, that random old geezer is someone you literally hired to play Santa in your store once.

      • Charles

        BTW, Funky, you bring that random old geezer up, apropos of literally nothing, several times a year.

        BTW, Funky, your addled father paid a ludicrous amount out of his retirement account for an old seed catalog for that random old geezer, whose name he also curiously didn’t know.

        BTW, Funky, one of your favorite customers, Pete Noofengoofendoofen, has brought that random old geezer’s granddaughter to your place every single time they have a date/outing. And he’s marrying her! Pete also curiously doesn’t know his name.

  6. I cannot for the life of me understand why Tony is depicted here as a ghost.

    Gerard Plourde: I think the reference is to Crankshaft paying for the lunch he had with the one armed reporter from the Centerville paper at Montoni’s a few months back.

    Yeah, when TB has his characters cryptically refer to “an old geezer,” you know he’s being cute: after his car accident, Funky (the old geezer) encounters his teenage self and persuades him to buy the Starbuck Jones issue that years later he will pull out of the safe to keep the Komix Korner afloat.

    I tried to search for the recent Crankshaft arc about the pennies, and instead found a strip from five years ago where Shaft is headed to the bank to cash in a sock of pennies. Maybe his house is full of penny socks.

    • Y. Knott

      That can’t be right. Surely Tom Batiuk is so full of creativity he wouldn’t just reuse a trope like this.

    • Epicus Doomus

      Is it definitely Tony? I mean, it certainly appears to be, but is it possible that he’s the geezer they’re talking about? Because a Ghost Tony makes no sense whatsoever.

    • Bad wolf

      I briefly considered it was a colorists mistake but since he isn’t seen from any other angle, I’ll just go with the ‘in spirit’ suggestion

  7. Banana Jr. 6000

    So Cory’s never seen the legendary Montoni’s Christmas decorations in storage even though he’s worked there for years, Tony’s a ghost when he isn’t dead as far as we know, and Funky’s embarrassed by pennies but apparently not embarrassed about collecting, keeping, and letting other people handle Ed Crankshaft’s crusty old sock.

    I also like how bored Tony looks in the next-to-last panel. “I came back from the dead for this? This is how I spent my life? Oy veh, I deserve to be dead.”

    Yeah, this one really hits the sweet spot of illogical, stupid, tortured, wordy, self-mocking, and incongruous.

  8. This is what you get when you have terrible, unlikeable characters and yet you have to position them across a few frames in a comic strip. This is what happens when a cartoonist chases awards, but feels that he has to “put some common things in” so that his award-chasing readers can catch their breath.

    I assume that both of those readers have caught their breath and are ready to move on.

  9. J.J. O'Malley

    Umm, Funky, I hate to pick apart your description of one of Montoni’s few paying customers as “some old geezer,” but…have you taken a glance in the mirror lately? “Oh, kettle! Thou art black, the pot exclaims!”

    Also, how does putting one sockload of pennies on one plastic reindeer keep the rest of them from falling over? And doesn’t putting said sock on Donner’s head (why, yes, I can tell which reindeer is which!) just make him top-heavy? As for that astral form hovering near the Winkebeans, I assumed Tony skipped his annual Yuletide trip to Ohio and traveled to Nepal to study the mystic arts a la Dr. Strange.

    Can’t wait to see what Blondie in the masthead signifies. I’m guessing she’s a St. Spires choir member because we need more Dinkle before New Year’s Day, but who knows?

  10. Hitorque

    “Too embarrassed to walk into the bank with it?”

    Does Funkensteiger (who is President of the Westview Chamber of Commerce, don’t forget) really not know he can’t just waltz into Bank of America with a shitload of pennies? I don’t care how much of an ignorant small town Midwest yokel he is, even he must know banks only accept rolled coins! For God’s sake, was he going to try and stuff them in the ATM as a deposit? Well I guess that’s more of a Krankenschaaften gag.

    I am amused that Funkenstein can find no better use for what I guesstimate to be 2000 pennies than ballast weight for Christmas decorations.

    Oh and just your daily reminder that Krankenschaaften totally stiffed his server on the tip because he’s the biggest insufferable douchebag in the Funkyverse not named Lester Moore.

    • ComicBookHarriet

      Most banks I know do accept big old jars of change if you have an account there. They have a machine to count it and roll it to give out to business who need change for the till. I usually empty out my Darth Vader piggy bank once a year before Christmas and haul it off to the bank.

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        Hell, most grocery stores where I live have those public-facing change machines that make you pay 7.5% unless you’re converting the to an Amazon gift card. But that wouldn’t exist in Westview, because Amazon is from the awful Internet. The only store credit anybody wants is for Montoni’s, Komix Korner, or for more copies of Lisa’s Story.

        • Banana Jr. 6000

          I should have read Rusty’s comment more closely first. Sorry about that.

        • Hitorque

          Coinstar machines were cool back when they only charged 7 or 8 percent… Now the one at my supermarket is charging like 12-13 percent and I say bollocks to that…

      • Hitorque

        Okay so the old ways I knew in the 80s and 90s are over which means Funkensteiger’s comment makes even less sense, given his predilection for always living in the past…

    • Rusty Shackleford

      Here in NE Ohio, most grocery stores have a coin machine. Just dump your change in and get cash on the spot, less a small fee.

      • The Duck of Death

        Apart from the ridiculous idea that a restaurant would accept 8 lb of change wrapped in a used undergarment….

        And apart from the repulsive sex-creep aspect of two disgusting old perverts who bleat smugly about social justice, but happily abuse and defraud a young woman earning a pittance at a menial job, while forcing her to handle an old man’s used underwear…

        Apart from that, a restaurant has plenty of use for pennies. Put them in the damn till! Luigi’s in Akron, the model for Montoni’s, is famously cash-only. Montoni’s should have no problem using the pennies up as change.

        • Rusty Shackleford

          Luigi’s also has a high fee ATM for those customers who are unaware of the cash only policy. They won’t pay the credit card fees but they easily do enough business to justify it. I wonder if Batty is a silent partner?

          • The Duck of Death

            It seems like every city has at least one of these cutesy businesses that “in the know” locals love and out-of-towners think is a puzzling ripoff. They typically have arcane and out-of-date rules, or unnecessary cash-only policies, or confusing ordering procedures, or no menu because you’re just supposed to “know,” or some other supposedly quaint quirks. The locals seem to find jumping through these hoops to be a badge of honor.

            From the reviews of Luigi’s, I gather that it’s extremely crowded and people have to wait outside in all kinds of weather, because god forbid they use buzzers to alert you so you can wait in your car. That’s technology that was invented after 1960, so just no. And reviewers also say that there’s usually a huge bolus of people waiting crowded just inside the front door, so tables near the front have the waiting patrons almost literally breathing down their necks.

            Of course, reviewers also say that the Italian food there is literally the best in the country. I haven’t tasted it, but I’ve looked at the pictures.

            Better than any Italian restaurant in Brooklyn? Or Philly? Or northern New Jersey, Manhattan, Boston, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Providence? Uh-huh. Sure it is.

          • Rusty Shackleford

            I grew up in the area and never understood all the excitement around Luigi’s. Sure, it has that old school pizzeria atmosphere, but that’s about it.

            I only went a couple times during off peak hours as I refuse to stand in line.

            I always liked Michael Trecaso’s restaurant that was near the University of Akron. Just a small, family run business that made good Italian-American food. No lines, no BS.

            Cleveland had a cash only Italian restaurant, the owner was from Napoli and the one page menu had a few standard dishes, but he would have a long list of specials and they were always great. He only took cash because the restaurant was very small. You come and you spend the evening eating slowly and enjoying your meals. Covid caused him to close and now he just does catering and he sells some of his food frozen at a local grocery store.

          • The Duck of Death

            Something tells me Tom Batiuk is not one of the world’s great epicures. He’s shown himself going to tourist traps like Ellen’s Stardust Diner when visiting NYC.

            My assumption is that any decent-sized, busy place that is cash-only is keeping two sets of books.

  11. Banana Jr. 6000

    Speaking of Les: is anyone else dreading his next appearance? Because LIsa’s Story is over. The movie was completed to Les’ satisfaction, which made him happy. The people who invested their time and money into making Les’ vision of Lisa’s memory come true lost out bigtime when the movie failed, but screw them because Les only cares about himself. He was downright happy the movie failed, after everything those people did for him.

    But we all know some Monday soon, Les will be standing in front of another crowd in another bookstore, droning on about Lisa this Lisa that. As if anyone on Earth would want to hear this non-story anymore, fresh after it’s been a box office failure, and when Les himself said he’s learned to start appreciating what he has. We’ll get to watch it all go out the window. Lisa is a “storytelling” crutch that Tom Batiuk can’t even fill panels without anymore.

    • The Duck of Death

      Yeah, I think Batiuk probably feels he’s written Les into a corner where it has to be all-Lisa, all the time.

      This bears no resemblance to real life, wherein widowers with kids in their 20s tend to be as busy as anyone else, with jobs, social lives, etc.

      Batiuk has turned Les into a modern-day Miss Havisham. He’s effectively frozen in time, unable to get over Lisa’s death, no matter how many books, movies, speaking tours, etc, he’s produced. He looks right through Cayla, and sees only Lisa. Lisa’s children, Lisa’s grandchild — they mean nothing, because they are Not Lisa. At least Dickens portrayed Miss Havisham as insane and controlling; readers are not expected to like her or be awed by her. Batiuk isn’t that self-aware. What is the way forward for a character like Les, whose tunnel-vision obsessions and neuroses are painted as noble?

      Although Les should be about at retirement age now, come to think of it… we’re overdue for a Disappearing Malady, like Dinkle’s deafness and Mort’s Alzheimer’s. Maybe Les will get one?

      • Anonymous Sparrow

        To be fair, Miss Havisham did add a codicil to her will leaving four thousand pounds to Matthew Pocket, on account of Pip’s high opinion of the aforesaid Matthew. (“And a cool four thousand it were, Pip,” said Joe Gargery, who pronounced “codicil” as “coddleshell.”)

        Les Moore, I fear, is incapable of Walworth sentiments. So is Funky, given his treatment of his Aged Parent. Gently pity them, Mr. Wemmick, and give them tickets to Mr. Waldengarver’s next performance of *Hamlet.*

    • Green Luthor

      Hm, the header image here has what appears to be a panel of Funky throttling Les, so that should be coming up soon(-ish)? (And let’s face it, we’d all like to see someone choke Les to death, right?)

  12. Maybe Tony really is dead, if Funky’s just getting around to putting up the decorations six days before Christmas. From November 29, 2009:

    • Margaret

      Alternatively to my previous comment, maybe Tony has died, but no one has heard yet. Maybe next week there will be a strip where they find out that he passed, and Funky says, “You know I didn’t say anything, but I had the strangest feeling when we were decorating that he was with us.”

      Or would that be coming too close to competent storytelling?

    • gleeb

      Eh, give him this. It’s nice to see a place that isn’t all ChristmasChistmasChristmas before it’s even Advent.

      But yeah, I guess he’s writing Toni dead.

  13. Gerard Plourde

    Over on the blog, TomBa has John Darling and Pete “Plantman” Moss at a Christmas Tree farm. Maybe there is a new Les story that someone (definitely not TomBa) could do. How about discovering that Cindy actually killed Darling and framed Pete?

  14. be ware of eve hill

    Huh? What’s the deal with Tony Montoni’s ghost? When did he die? What did he die from? He looks like he’s aged ten years since we last saw him last year. He looks gaunt and stooped over.

    Are we going to see the touching story of Tony’s death some time next year? What will Batty’s message be? Colorectal exams? Cholesterol screenings? COVID-19 vaccinations? A balanced diet?

    • gleeb

      After years and years of a very cheese-heavy diet, Tony finally excreted. Technically, he drowned. Leave the biffy door open, folks.

    • William Thompson

      I’m hoping that Tony Monotony has died, and his ghost will be there when the telegram arrives from his Florida residence. Then we can spend a festive Christmas week mourning his death! The best part of it is, Batiuk’s Christmas wreaths are already black, so there’s no need to redecorate.

  15. be ware of eve hill

    It’s been a long time since we’ve seen Adeela. Did her Visa expire? Was she deported? Did she go back to school to work on her master’s degree? Is she currently rampaging through the American southwest on a ‘Thelma and Louise’ style adventure with Chien?

  16. be ware of eve hill

    Man, Batty sure is hung up on that penny sock inanity.

    Shopper: I’d like to buy these groceries.
    Cashier: Yes, that will be three penny socks.

    Father: For your college fund, I’ll start by giving you a penny sock.

    Boss: Here’s your Christmas bonus. A penny sock.
    Worker: Hey! I thought socks came in pairs?

    Twas the night before Christmas when all through the house. Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse; The penny socks were hung by the chimney with care.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      I doubt anyone under the age of 70 even keeps pennies any more, due to how little they’re worth now. But Tom Batiuk must live in the past.

      • gleeb

        I’m closer to 70 than birth. I keep pennies and even pick them up from the ground. Hey, it’s free cash. Every year or so, I get a discount on my grocery bill for the week.

  17. newagepalimpsest

    The Fantasy: “Tee hee, remember that old geezer who paid for his meal with a sock full of pennies?”

    The Reality: “Yeah, that was the stunt that finally just made me ban the entire Crankshaft family from Montoni’s for life. If Mindy happens to wander in here at some point next week, call the cops.”