Later On We’ll Inquire, While We Sing At St. Spires

Today’s strip might not quite be at the “Somehow Palpatine returned”-level, but “Luckily, one of the residents at Bedside Manor overheard that the band was playing here at St. Spires” is certainly on the list of history’s worst narrative solutions via exposition.

I think Funky and Holly must have gotten turned around driving on those snowy roads. Judging by the looks of this lady waving sheet music at them, I’d say they shot clear past Centerville, through a multiverse portal, and straight into Whoville. Specifically, the Whoville from the live-action Grinch movie. Fitting for this strip, I suppose.


Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

49 responses to “Later On We’ll Inquire, While We Sing At St. Spires

  1. Epicus Doomus

    You have your dumb FW strips, you have your lazy ones, you have your baffling ones, you have your annoying ones. Then every so often you have one that just plain stinks, like this one. The thought that this somehow represents “work” that someone was duly paid for just blows my mind. It just quite frankly doesn’t even seem possible.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      It really is the laziest thing you’ve ever seen. Mort didn’t tell his family about this event, Dinkle didn’t tell anyone about the event, the assisted living home doesn’t know where they went, but “somebody overheard” so here we are. Throwing up pointless obstacles and then not addressing them is writing, I guess.

      • Epicus Doomus

        It’s not even about the idiotic premise today, it’s about that truly awful gag. “Our Father”…seriously? This is just as low as it gets, even by FW standards.

  2. William Thompson

    And Holly says “Our father? How does incest enter into this?”
    Or Holly says “He’ll be wholely ghost when I catch him!”

  3. The big question I have is, now that Batiuk has (mostly) surrendered the art chores so he can concentrate on the writing…who is he writing for?

    It can’t be the readers, because they’re long gone. It can’t be the award committees, because they’re also long gone. It can’t be for himself, because I can not, in (what I consider a pretty good imagination) imagine why this would be considered “good work” before Ovaltine and Flash comics.

    Is there anyone else who might appreciate this? If so, can we email that person to stop?

    • Y. Knott

      This is what I continually wonder….

      – Who is out there, quivering with unironic anticipation for the next exciting installment of Funky Winkerbean?

      – What have their lives been like? Obviously, they clearly have been deprived of any other form of narrative entertainment … and they also lack the imaginative tools to develop their own. But how did they get that way?

      – How do they cope with their crippling short-term memory loss? Sure, it allows them to freely enjoy each new Funky strip in a way that’s unconnected to any previously established continuity … but the sort of traumatic brain injury that would cause such a malfunction must otherwise make the rest of their lives a real trial.

      – Or, possibly …. and hear me out here … is the inertia of the comic strip page simply so great that a given comic can continue on unread, unregarded and unchecked for decades, with the only hope of stopping it lying in the author’s death (or finally unignorable dementia)?

      Grim thoughts indeed. But, of course, there seldom are any other type of thoughts when one contemplates … Funky Winkerbean.

      • none

        Your last point has the greatest amount of credence, really.

        We’re all familiar with how Apartment 3G ended, but it’s elucidating to contemplate the legacies of other legacy strips.

        Gasoline Alley still has good art but its own adherence to aging has long left. Walt should have been dead thirty years ago by now.

        Blondie, Family Circus, and Herb & Jamaal are some strips (among what I’m sure are many others) which will rerun decades old content, sometimes without so much as editing the content.

        Momma was poorly drawn and unfunny in the 1980s and its quality had as much of a downward spiral as Apartment 3G, but thankfully that strip has been allowed to die.

        For Better Or Worse tried to tie things up but Lynn couldn’t help herself from making that half-assed retro revival until the strip’s reputation shriveled up and died.

        Crock was supposed to die when Bill died, and his son made a public statement about not wanting to continue the strip, but it just … didn’t die. And it’s still there.

        Marmaduke, Dennis the Menace, Pluggers, Barney Google, and Shoe are some strips which have never really elevated above gag-a-day status but have been allowed to stay alive with predecessors, as if they’re family heirlooms and need to be honored, for some reason. At least Dick Tracy had the decency to get an improvement in quality after Locher left.

        Really, it’s rare for a strip to retire, stay retired, and end without years of circling an abyss in quality. They’ll Do It Every Time could have continued for the same reasons that Barney Google did, but didnt. Cathy, for as much as that art was atrocious and the strip was a shrill single note, did have the decency to end in relatively good terms and hasn’t come back.

        TLDR: It seems like strips really are allowed to run as long as the creators and their hand picked heirs want them to run, quality and logic be damned. It’s a pretty posh career to have, as long as you can make the grade and consistently churn out crap every single day of your life.

        • gleeb

          I’d like to point out that while the new guys writing Dick Tracy started out well, they quickly ran out of material and became reliant on Lum and Abner and Daddy Warbucks (& Ted and Alice).

        • The Duck of Death

          It’s worth noting that the few modern-day strip creaters that retired their strips early are revered. Berke Breathed, Bill Watterson, and Gary Larson come to mind.

          • be ware of eve hill

            I still read Calvin and Hobbes, Bloom County and The Far Side reruns daily. The creators have been retired for decades, and I’ve read their work several times over. Their work is still more entertaining than the newly created spoo Batty serves up daily.

            Coincidence: Today’s Daily Dose of The Far Side Comics is up on my other monitor.

          • Not to mention Charles Schulz.

          • The Duck of Death

            Yeah, I was thinking of Schulz, but he’s an odd exception. His strip ran until one day after his death (he had drawn the final strip a couple weeks earlier).

            Peanuts had an odd arc, IMO. It started off slight, then developed into a surprisingly complex world with consistent and well-fleshed-out characters who evolved as they experienced life. Then there seemed to be a creative slump for about a decade, perhaps coinciding with the overwhelming overcommercialization of the strip. But by the last few years of his life, I felt “Sparky” regained his creative footing again, and kept doing quality work until he almost literally died with his pen in his hand.

            I can’t think of any other strip that went through a creative arc like that.

          • Banana Jr. 6000

            I think Peanuts was better at some times than others, but always of a high quality. It never got away from what it did best, which was the characters and how they interacted.

          • The Duck of Death

            Yes, I haven’t read all of them, but I can’t recall a single strip in Peanuts’ 50-year run where character was sacrificed for the sake of a cheap joke.

            In FW, and Crankshaft, it happens at least once a week.

          • Banana Jr. 6000

            Charles Schulz said “I think my humor has dignity.” And that’s what Tom Batiuk’s humor is so lacking in.

          • Y. Knott

            Within the past couple of years Rina Piccolo concluded Tina’s Groove and Norm Feuti closed up shop on Retail. Both authors did this voluntarily in order to pursue other artistic avenues, and maybe should have been shown a little more love for getting out before their work went stale. Personally, I thought both comics were consistently amusing — to be sure, not on quite the same level as C&H, Bloom County, or The Far Side, but hey, few things are. They were both fine, though, and I hope the authors are proud of their work … and also proud of their decision not to extend that work indefinitely.

        • Suicide Squirrel

          I believe we’ll be spared from Batiuk and Ayers: the next generation taking over ‘Funky Winkerbean’.

          Batiuk’s son, Brian, works in television production in Cincinnati. Apparently, Brian is just about as qualified as Batyuk to write the strip.

          Ayers has two kids. I don’t know their names. His daughter learned elementary education at the University of Akron. His son attended the Cleveland Institute of Art but does not appear to be interested in taking over the strip.

          • Banana Jr. 6000

            Batiuk has been adamant that he doesn’t want anyone else continuing the strip. Which is fine by me. There’s nothing worth salvaging anymore.

  4. billytheskink

    Close the door, Funky! Just because Jesus was born in a barn doesn’t mean you get to act like you were. Especially when its a blizzard out there.

  5. Sourbelly

    “Luckily…” An opening that is always followed by contrived bullshit. Another new low.

  6. J.J. O'Malley

    Why does Cindy Lou Who feel it’s necessary to say the name of the church and forthcoming prayer instead of just greeting them with–oh, I dunno–“Merry Christmas”?

    Even the church bricks are lazily drawn today. I could go into greater detail, but if Batiuk doesn’t feel it’s worth the effort, why should I?

    • none

      Well, you see, it’s important for her to say that in panel two, otherwise the reader might not know what the location is for panel one.

      … oh, wait, they say it in panel one. Huh. How about that.

  7. none

    Monday – We’re going to pick up Mort, but now we don’t know where Mort is.
    Tuesday – We still don’t know where Mort is.
    Wednesday – We still don’t know where Mort is.
    Thursday – It’s a good thing we always knew where Mort is.

    You mean to tell me that he couldn’t figure out a way to milk out Dinkle masturbation for a second week instead of doing this?

    What the hell has this month even been about?

    Week 1: Angry manchild nosies.
    Week 2: An eight year old toddler meets not-Santa.
    Week 3: This.

    The questions have already been asked today and bears repeating – Who is reading this? Who is paying for this? Why?

    • Rusty Shackleford

      Once you have tenure, you can do what you want. As long as the newspapers keep buying your strip, the syndicate will just kick back and cash the checks.

      • Rusty Shackleford

        Check out MaryWorthAndMe, they are discussing all the reused artwork in Mary Worth.

        I wonder how far this can go…maybe someone should try submitting three blank boxes.

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        My theory is that FW is part of some syndicate-level “must carry” list that newspapers have to print if they want to run any of their content at all. It is baffling that it never seems to occur to any newspaper that FW, and many other strips, are a complete waste of space.

        • The Duck of Death

          Without having access to newspapers’ and syndicates’ market research, I can pretty definitively say that

          1) Newspaper comics, as such (in other words, appearing in the paper vs in CK or GoComics), are purely vestigial now, and do not drive anyone to buy, or stop buying, a paper. In other words, individual strips are of effectively no financial consequence for a newspaper, and

          2) The average reader of newspaper comic strips is even older than the average reader of newspapers. In other words, old, old, OLD. Ed Crankshaft old. This is not a coveted demographic for advertisers.

          Anyone who actually cares about modern comics is reading some of the brilliant comics online, or printed compilations thereof, or graphic novels by younger artists with innovative art and storytelling styles. Nobody is looking to newspapers for anything other than snarkable dreck.

  8. Gerard Plourde

    What exactly is TomBa envisioning is happening here? While the “Our Father” AKA “The Lord’s Prayer” has musical settings it’s not a Christmas carol, so it’s not a Christmas Concert. Has the Bedside Manor band morphed into liturgical music? In Christian churches that have formal liturgies the prayer is usually recited toward the end of a church service. At that point the ushers/greeters (which I’m guessing the woman is supposed to be) would not be at the door welcoming people.

    • The Duck of Death

      Add churches, church services, and religion to the infinitely long list of things TomBa knows nothing about, yet insists upon featuring in his strips. As always, a bit of googling or asking the members of the local congregations would have helped immeasurably. He could probably even call the local pastors and I bet they’d be flatterred to explain how services and bands operate at their church.

      I’m not a churchgoer either. I gather that this is not a Catholic church by the vestments we’ve seen on the pastor (?), but I could be wrong. Does anyone have a take on the denomination of St Spires? Episcopal? Presbyterian? Lutheran? Or maybe I’m getting it wrong and it is Catholic?

      Let’s see, what denomination 1) allows choir members to choose their own organist/leader with no involvement from anyone else; 2) allows “New Orleans Jazz Funerals” to take place at their funeral services, complete with band members marching down the aisle and parasols twirling; 3) has “Our Father”s at the beginning of Christmas services?

      Should be a pretty small center in that Venn diagram.

      • Gerard Plourde


        You’re right that the minister at St. Spires isn’t wearing the right vestment for a Catholic service, but proving your point about lack of research or continuity, the church is modeled on a Catholic Church near him which he visited (I did look it up for an earlier post but can’t locate it now).

    • Charles

      I think Batiuk has only the vaguest idea about any of this. He knows there’s something called “Our Father” but has no idea of its importance or context within a service.

      It’s really incredible how he doesn’t do even a modicum of research involving what he writes about. What the hell drew him to these things if he isn’t interested enough to figure out how they work?

      • The Duck of Death

        I ask the same thing every time I see a gardening arc in Crankshaft. There are so many ways to approach gardening, and he consistently lands on none of them. He gets everything wrong, every time. Even though I’m sure there are talented amateur gardens within hollering distance of his home in lovely Medina, Ohio, who could give him tons of information and ideas.

  9. The Duck of Death

    Funky & Holly set out this Monday to “bring Dad home for Christmas dinner.”

    Presumably this whole week is set on Christmas Day. So… what about dinner, then? They’re just going to attend Christmas services at this church, spontaneously, and after that… ? Take Mort to their house?

    But who’s cooking dinner? Melinda? She doesn’t seem like the type. Are Rocky and Cory there this year?

    Or is it early morning? If so, why didn’t they say, “bring Dad home for Christmas”?

    This has been Part 2,314 of an ongoing series, “Random Readers Put More Thought Into Funky Winkerbean Than Anyone Involved In Its Creation.”

    • be ware of eve hill

      Bizarre, isn’t it? Batty claims he writes his strips a year in advance, but his “stories” have all the coherency of a large group of people playing the telephone game. Batty’s creative process is… weird. It seems like he’s creating the comic strip one day at a time, making it up as he goes along.

      Does Batty write the strip one year in advance… one day at a time?
      Batty: Let’s see. Where was I yesterday? Slapdash, I’m done. See ya tomorrow.

      Why is Batty bragging about writing his strip a year in advance? What is the advantage? That the strip will twaddle on for another year after he retires or takes his last breath?

      I’ve read several comic creators explaining their creative process. Nobody besides Batty claims to work a year in advance.

    • batgirl

      Dinner is cold turkey cooked by the same gnomes that cooked the dozen turkeys that fed Dinkle’s unexpected houseguests.

  10. Suicide Squirrel

    I didn’t get the Whoville quip right away. She does look like a Who. What a bizarre looking woman. It looks like somebody dropped a boulder on her head and pulled her nose out with a tow chain.

  11. Suicide Squirrel

    Aren’t those vehicles parked kind of close together? It must be a real bitch crawling through the trunk to get in and out of the car.

    • The Duck of Death

      All the vehicles appear to be subcompacts (apparently the only type of vehicle allowed in Westview), so I’m guessing the occupants are adept at contorting themselves into pretzels.

      • Gerard Plourde

        I believe the Batiukmobile is manufactured in Westview by former East German expatriates using plans and materials that are left over from Trabant.

      • Suicide Squirrel

        Contorting themselves like pretzels? I have the mental image of the fat schlubs Holly and Funky getting stuck with their posteriors hanging out in the breeze. Kind of like Winnie the Pooh when he ate too much honey and got stuck in the doorway of Rabbit’s house. Hopefully, a passerby will decorate their backsides as Rabbit did.

        Funky: “Oh bother. I’m stuck!”

  12. Suicide Squirrel

    That was weird. I guess senior living choirs/bands really are a thing. A senior living facility I checked out for my dad sent me an email today wishing me happy holidays. There’s a link to a YouTube video where the residents are singing ‘I want a Hippopotamus for Christmas.’ I seriously doubt they’re going on tour. No real instruments are being played. The only “instrument” the residents are shown playing are kazoos.

    Welp, I’m going to have that earworm for the rest of the day.

    • The Duck of Death

      No you’re not. 867-5-3-0-ni-ee-ine! (867-5-3-0-ni-ee-ine!)

      You’re welcome. Merry Christmas.

      • be ware of eve hill

        Could be worse. How about that goddamn Kars4Kids jingle.

        Ack! I just gave myself an earworm!

        • Gerard Plourde

          The Kars4Kids has to be the worst jingle ever. I have an earworm now too! I’ll need some Vince Guaraldi to exorcize it.

          • be ware of eve hill

            The Kars4Kids jingle is so awful it actually causes issues with my DVR.

            It’s true. If I try to skip over the Kars4Kids ad my DVR loses its place. I have to reboot sometimes.

            Thanks for mentioning Vince Guaraldi. I’ve heard some of his work.