The 2021 Funky Awards Week! Day 3

This seems like a weird question to be asking John now. Batton has multiple times this past year been, as Epicus put it, ‘schlepping up that dingy, creaky old KK staircase’ to wax eloquent on the naissance of his funny pages obsession. You’d think this would have been one of the first things they chatted about.

I described DSH John once as a bartender in a town full of drunks. He slumps behind his counter dispensing the Westview drug of choice and getting high off his own supply. Character-wise, he has nothing going on for himself. He’s simply a springboard for other people to launch off of. He hasn’t had an arc to himself since the aborted plotline where he was going to be a consultant on the Starbuck Jones movie.

I thought a lot about the subject of ‘arcs’ when preparing these awards. For the Worthy Awards, picking nominees for Outstanding Story of the Year seems easy. The Worthyverse has months long super arcs, usually between three and five a year. However, in Funky Winkerbean, anywhere from a week to a month may be spent on a group of characters before he moves on to another group, and then often back again to an earlier thread, weaving together like a messy braid of nonsense. And then there are one-off weeks spent on plotless gag concepts. Was Dinkle suffering through a series of anemic high school pranks an arc? Was the Pizza Box Monster an arc?

What constitutes an ‘arc’? I thought about it a couple different ways.

One way was looking at what seemed like major events; high points where long running plot points had new developments, or where the status quo changed. It was easy to catagorise the Comic Con trip or the flopping of Lisa’s Story as an arc.

But another way I analyzed the year was by breaking it down by location. Where did the comic spend most of it’s time? This is how Funky and Holly got an ‘arc’ nomination that encapsulated all their banal medical and reno stories. We also spent way too long poking around St. Spires with the choir in a number of mini arcs that begged to be rolled together.

Number Of Strips Taking Place at Each Location.

In the end, I simply went with my gut. I felt bad about it, because it felt like something Batiuk would do.

So, the nominees for The 2021 Story Arc of the Year

1.) Dinkle Joins the Choir

2.) ‘Lisa’s Story: The Movie’ Wraps and Flops

3.) Phil Holt: Resurrections

4.) The Winkerbeans Rehab, Reno, and Recover

5.) Tom Worships Idols of Silver

And the winner of The 2021 Story Arc of the year is…


iT tUrnS BaAck iNTo A pUmPKIn.

For most of last week I was sure Phil Holt’s Resurrection was going to maintain its narrow lead. But at the very end Lisa’s Story swooped in to steal the prize. Congratulations to the cast. It will likely be the only accolade this cinematic turkey receives.

Come back tomorrow, when we’ll announce The Panel of the Year, I’ll show you another ridiculous spreadsheet that proves I have too much time on my hands, and we’ll go on an archive deep dive that will leave you scratching your head.


Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

41 responses to “The 2021 Funky Awards Week! Day 3

  1. Banana Jr. 6000

    Today’s strip doesn’t make any sense. Seriously, DSH John laments owning a store forced him to give up reading comic books? That’s all we ever see him doing! Or at least talking about comic books as if he read them recently.

    • billytheskink

      I think he’s lamenting that his store can’t be successful while he reads comic books all day. Which checks out, because the peak of Komix Korner’s success depicted in Act III is simply continuing to exist despite financial trouble.

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        John has never seemed very interested in his store being successful.

        • billytheskink

          Well, that would require work… which no one in this strip has really done since Tony staged the “pizza intervention” that smacked down the brief early Act III character of workaholic Funky.

      • Epicus Doomus

        There’s an awful lot of sad-sackery going on here this week. You have downtrodden old comic strip writer Batton Thomas meandering up that rickety firetrap staircase and defeatedly sighing over his hopelessly obsolete tastes, and today John counters that sad-sackery with some pathetic haplessness of his own. Batton is a failure, John is a failure, no one ever gets what they want and it’s just the way it is. Not even comic books are capable of penetrating the misery and bringing a little light into their dark, miserable world. And this is supposed to be light-hearted FW fare.

        • Batton is a failure, John is a failure, no one ever gets what they want and it’s just the way it is.

          No one gets what they want except Les, who then shrugs and pisses all over it.

          • Epicus Doomus

            I was just thinking the very same thing. Les went to Hollywood, saw his beloved book turned into a Lisa-approved movie AND he saved Marianne Winter’s life TWICE, once by carrying her away from a raging fire and then, in one of the most incredible coincidences of all-time, by educating her about the early warning signs of impending breast cancer via the very same book he was there to adapt into a movie. These are absolutely incredible events that a normal person would be blathering about for months, at a minimum. But Les just shrugs, says something cynical and continues raking leaves, forever the martyr.

          • “No one in the world ever gets what they want and that is beautiful.
            “Everybody dies frustrated and sad, and that is beautiful.”

        • Rusty Shackleford

          This is how I saw it: Even when you get to what you like, you are miserable.

          Why does Batty feel this way? Why so much misery? It seems like he has a great life, so WTF?

  2. Banana Jr. 6000

    And I think Lisa’s Non-Story was the arc of the year, just because it was an ending to something that had limped on for 15 years. Les devoted his life to “protecting Lisa”, and then it just stop mattering.

  3. Epicus Doomus

    The “Lisa’s Story: The Movie” arc really did spawn a whole shitload of sub-arcs, some of which had nothing to do with “Lisa’s Story” at all, like when the guy from “Crankshaft” got trapped in that cave with the magic robots. The whole fire arc was a spinoff from the original “LS” arc and the magic robot arc was a spinoff from THAT sub-arc, making it a sub-sub arc. None of it happens if Les doesn’t go off to Hollywood. So that’s how I define a sub-arc, it’s a story arc that couldn’t exist without the original premise.

    I voted for Phil Holt. I mean, he came back from the dead and traditionally, that’s a tough thing to really top. But the “Lisa’s Story: The Movie” arc dying with a weak plop is a worthy choice too, as it illustrates a common FW phenomenon, that being how BatYam often loses interest halfway through and wraps his stories up in the most anti-climactic way possible.

    • It’s kind of like watching a toddler play. He’ll stack a couple of blocks, then knock them over, and then go play with the popcorn thing. Or he might start chewing on one of those books with the thick cardboard pages. Never a pattern except “What will hold my interest for fifteen seconds.”

      • billytheskink

        That is a great comparison… with one key difference. When toddlers play, they learn. Even if all they learn is something simple like “cardboard books don’t taste like chicken nuggets” and even if they forget most of that in 10 minutes, they still learn something and come back and play in a new way the next time. When TB writes, he doesn’t learn, he doesn’t improve, he doesn’t retain anything he wrote prior to add to in a meaningful or different way.

  4. Sourbelly

    Good gravy, the AA story arc lasted 21 days? All I remember of the entire thing is the flying Discman. That, and catatonic stares.

    As for the current dogshit, Batton continues to spew sentences that no biological humanoid would utter:

    “Are there any new collections of old comic strips to be found?”
    “So what led to your opening a comics shop, John?”

    I’m guessing this is how Batdick thinks smart people talk. He’s way off, as always.

  5. I cannot remember what I voted for, and it was only a couple of days ago. That should be the motto over the Funky Winkerbean Commentator class picture.

  6. be ware of eve hill

    Today’s comic comment.
    DSH stopped reading comics when he opened Komix Korner? Right, and I stopped balancing my checkbook and creating a household budget when I became an accountant. Yeah, I enjoy those things. Sue me.

    Today’s blog comment.
    It’s sometimes difficult determining what is a story arc in Funky Winkerbean. Story arcs often end abruptly in an unresolved and unsatisfactory manner. Frequently we’re left wondering if that’s the end of the arc. Especially when Batty submits a Sunday strip that has absolutely nothing to do with the preceding week. Will the story pick up again Monday? Sometimes yes, sometimes no.

    • I think that’s what makes “Beck’s mother on the scissors-lift” the ultimate Funky WInkerbean story.

      • Epicus Doomus

        That’s the oldest unresolved plot thread that I know of, although I’m sure there are other, even more obscure ones I’ve long since forgotten about. A few others from the last 10-12 years: Boy Lisa’s weird half-sister (WTF was that about?) really stands out. Nor have we gotten any Fred Fairgood updates lately. We never did learn what happened to Frankie’s Film Food scheme, as that abruptly ended when Marianne climbed down from the Hollywood sign. Owen and Cody were regular mainstay characters there for a while, but they haven’t been around since the Starbuck Jones graduation fiasco. Buddy the dog has been conspicuous by his absence over the last five years or so. And of course, there’s Summer vanishing into the college protection plan.

        There must be a bunch of early Act III and even Act II anomalies I’m unaware of. On the “meet the cast” pic on the official FW site, there’s a women’s basketball coach who I don’t remember at all. And Mooch, who I very faintly remember from way, way back in the day. And there was once another comic book shop in town, although that’s the extent of what I remember about it. This is why I really need a complete bound volume of every single FW strip ever, so I can discover and properly document this stuff.

      • be ware of eve hill

        The way Becky angrily asked her father to stop filming led me to believe she killed her mother and buried her somewhere under the grandstand.

        Maybe Roberta is still stuck up there in the scissors-lift. Lefty throws up a sandwich to her once in a while. I hope Becky threw with her left hand before the accident. The image of her making lame throw after lame throw with her opposite hand cracks me up.

        Becky: Oops! Too short. Damn! Too short. Oh, that one got away from me. Sorry, ma! I’m trying!

        Meanwhile, there’s a skeleton with Roberta’s trademark hairstyle and clothing slumped over the rail.

  7. J.J. O'Malley

    Gosh, what a coinkydink, John. Becky considers you her biggest disappointment, as well.

  8. Hitorque

    What in the fuck makes Batton think KK is “successful”?? Is it the invisible customers? Or the fact that the average age of his actual customer base is 57? Is it KK’s convenient, easy-to-find location? Is it the alluring aroma of decades of layered dust, rat turds, newsprint, cheap pizza grease, halitosis and nerd sweat? Is it John’s charisma and his relentless dedication to customer service? Is it John’s total indifference to his celebrity regulars like Batton and Pete? Is it the fact that despite having zero market competition and literally being the only old fashioned comic book shack in a 30 mile radius, KK hasn’t expanded ONCE in 50 years and is still a small time amateur two-employee operation?

  9. erdmann

    Later that night, at Batton Thomas’ decaying home on the outskirts of town, voices are heard coming from a closed room.
    Batton: Oh, mother. You should have seen that John Howard. He was so happy…
    Mother (interrupting in a harsh, strangely familiar voice): Happiness is the greatest sin!
    Batton: His eyes were closed. He was doing jazz hands…
    Mother: Jazz hands! He sounds like a common dance hall slut!
    Batton: But don’t worry, mother. I reminded him what a failure he is. By the time I left he was properly depressed, almost in tears.
    Mother: And what about you, Batton? Did that make you happy?
    Batton: What? Mother, no! I… I mean, I felt the righteous satisfaction of correcting him, but I wasn’t happy! I swear!
    Mother: You are a bad boy, Batton, and a bad liar! You disappoint your mother!
    Batton: Mother, no! I promise you… Wait! I only bought that facsimile edition of Flash #123 recently! Please, mother, no! Please put down that butcher knife…!

  10. The Duck of Death

    As usual, both nonsensical and ambiguous.

    I’d argue that reading lots of comic books is essential to running a successful comic store. Customers will expect you to make intelligent recommendations and understand what they’re talking about when they mention comics and characters. You need to know your stock and understand what’s going on in the field.


    Is DSH saying that sadly, he is unsuccessful because he reads comic books all day? Or is he saying that, sadly, he’s had to give up reading comic books all day to become successful?

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      It’s a false dichotomy, isn’t it? Reading comic books and running a comic book store aren’t mutually exclusive. One doesn’t prevent you from doing the other. Unless John is failing to do his job on such a basic level that he’s not keeping financial records, ordering stock, tending to customers, things like that.

      But the KK stories show us that John is comic book-obsessed even by Westview standards. And also isn’t very good at his job. So this could actually be the case. But if it is, it should have larger story consequences. We know John has a wife to support, and she has complained about him making too little money at his job. (“Please don’t fire me, my husband runs a comic book store!” A joke only TB could write,)

      Nothing in FW is ever given the proper weight. Situations that would cause serious problems in life are treated flippantly, while the Pizza Box Monster is a world-altering crisis. But it’s not a “Rape of the Lock” situation either, where the exaggerated seriousness is what drives the humor. Every story is a confusing mess of emotions we’re never sure how we’re supposed to react to.

      • The Duck of Death

        One of these days, BJr6K, I am going to write an essay about this topic, perhaps the third in the trilogy of dissertations dissecting the important topics:

        1. What personality disorder exactly does Les have?
        2. Why and how does a married man living in the 21st Century have so very little understanding of, and interest in, the inner lives of women?

        and, completing the trilogy:

        3. How does TB determine how his characters will react to things? Does he have a hat full of reactions (“terrified,” “furious,” “side-eye,” etc) that he draws from randomly? Does he toss darts at a board, blindfolded? Why, for example, would there be no discernable reaction — not even “wow” — when the subject of your documentary says that a legendary murder was actually committed by a talking, sharpshooting chimpanzee?

        • J.J. O'Malley

          In regard to number three, TDoD, there is a B-list Fantastic Four villain–cooked up by Flash Freeman and Phil Holt…er, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in the late ’60s–called Psycho Man. The ruler of a microverse-based realm, he manipulates people’s emotions with a large box-like device he carries around. On it are buttons for what he considers the three most powerful emotions: Fear, Doubt and Hate. I assume Batiuk has a working replica in his office (perhaps next to his Cosmic Treadmill), and picks one of those at random.

        • Banana Jr. 6000

          These are all questions that need answers. Put me down for an advance copy of your essays. I shared my feelings on Les the other day; I still think he’s more or less a non-violent sociopath.

          There could easily be an entire critical book about Funky Winkerbean, full of such essays. The whole trajectory of FW’s existence is so strange that it demands analysis. It went from decent mid-tier gag strip to hackneyed, overwrought soap opera to whatever the hell it is now. In fact, that’s what I’d title the book: What The Hell Is Funky Winkerbean?

          Most people know FW exists if they know about newspaper comics at all, but it may be the most benign media property of the last 30 years. It’s aggressively bad and self-indulgent now, but it invokes so little reaction in anyone. It’s not even Judge Parker or Gil Thorp on the Q-rating. Outside of us, it doesn’t even get much stick for being bad. It aggressively exists.

  11. Banana Jr. 6000

    How about the fact that they’re constantly giving away products they should be selling, to the wealthiest people in town?

  12. Don

    I have a feeling the movie story arc will come back on February 8…when the Oscar Nominations are announced (“The nominations for Outstanding Writing Based On Material From Another Source are…’Lisa’s Story,’ screenplay by {whoever}, based on the book by Lee Smore”)

  13. Mela

    I think he means he had to put the comic books down and actually run the business: paying rent, ordering product, taking inventory, interacting with customers-things a normal adult would do in a retail business. Not that we’ve actually seen him doing much of this, mind you, but I think that’s what he was going for.

    • ComicBookHarriet

      I agree. There is a grain of a workable joke somewhere in there, about how starting a business around your ‘passion’ comes with a lot of leg-work that isn’t directly interacting with your passion.

      • That’s absolutely how I read it. Along with a side of, well, he may be making rent most months and middling along, but in everybody’s dream job they aren’t just middling along; they’re doing fabulous. Even if the comic book shop is doing fine by any reasonable standard, it’s also a normal human reaction to feel like this all would be ten times more successful if I were just a little more on top of things.

  14. Maxine of Arc

    I sort of get it. In my former life as a librarian, it was a well known truism that nobody has time to read books. However, one is expected to at least skim the Publisher’s Weekly to have a rough idea of what is coming out, and the reason nobody has time to read books is because they’re busy circulating, shelving, cataloging, cleaning up pizza boxes in the study rooms (I was in academia), finding books for patrons who don’t know what they want but know it was green, and that isn’t even touching the many, MANY unacknowledged social services provided by my eternally underpaid colleagues in the public sector, I salute them all. DSJ, on the other hand, seems to have plenty of time on his hands, so what the hell is his excuse? The staff at my local comic shop is always up on what’s happening in the industry.

  15. Perfect Tommy

    P3 might be the greatest summation of this strip. The disappointment.
    The despair. The realization that ones life work is just another step toward the abyss. Well done John. Well done.

  16. Suicide Squirrel

    The same number of days (27) featured in a medical facility as Montoni’s? Golly!

    That number alone highlights the shift in focus for this strip.
    Funky: “Pizza is our life, but we spend just as much time in doctors’ offices.”
    Holly: “Let’s just move Montoni’s into a medical complex.”

    Hats off to ComicBookHarriet for having the courage and intestinal fortitude to classify location for an entire year of Winkerbean strips. (salute!)