The 2021 Funky Awards Week! Day 4

Batton, John, you two have known each other since at least May 2019. You already talked about Amazing Fantasy #15 back in June. There is no way in this entire multiverse of madness John selling a copy to Chester hasn’t been discussed to death yet. So what the heck is today about?

While I appreciate the irony of the author avatar attending awards week, nothing about this week makes sense or stands out. And NONE of these panels from this week are Panel of the Year contenders. Two doughy-faced men blathering at each other in a boring beige room is about as visually appealing as cellulitis.

Which is sort of a shame, last year’s lovingly rendered Rexall Drug that we managed to track down via Google Street View did make my short list for panel contenders. If only to honor a day when Batiuk’s obsessive weirdness so closely dovetailed with our own.

But ultimately the Imperious Holy Temple lost out to some, (in one case literally,) stiff competition.

The following are the nominees for The Panel of the Year 2021

1.) The Final Note

2.) Rare Flying Discman

3.) Take THAT History!

4.) Smoking Vader

5.) Les Waterboards Himself

6.) Eros Panoptes

7.) Stag Film

8.) Pizza Box Signal

And the Son of Stuck Funky winner for The Panel of the Year 2021 is….


Here’s a comparison with the ‘variant’ Davis cover of the crossover event.

Though we all enjoyed a flashback of Les Moore drenching himself with water while spouting grawlix, nothing can complete with, “You guys wanna go see a dead body?”

Mr. A had this picked out all the way back on June 19 . (Sorry your nominee didn’t make it Sourbelly.)

I promised you yesterday a ridiculous spreadsheet. See, when I was trying to figure out arcs of the year, it suddenly struck me that the ratio of Les to Funky this year was skewed Funky in a way I had never seen before. Then I realized how many previously integral characters, like Wally, Cindy, or Jessica had been shoved so far into the back seat, they may as well have been tied up in the the trunk. It made me curious. Who showed up the most this year?

Below is hours of my life I could have spent with loved ones or napping. But I found it interesting, and thought some of you might too.

Named Characters by Number of Strips Appearing In for 2021.

The most baffling development from this is that, believe it or not, many of Funky’s AA meeting attendees have names. This floored me.

In October, when I was going on an CK archives deep dive for my Wally Winkerbean Pizza Monster nonsense, something caught my eye.

January 15, 2001

January 20, 2001

January 23, 2001

April 22, 2021

Why? Why when Batiuk can’t even remember the names and number of the collective children of Wally, Rachel, Becky, and John; when he can’t be assed to check who the Dinkles had for Thanksgiving LAST YEAR, would he go back in time TWENTY YEARS to resurrect these characters?

When Funky was last at an AA meeting, in 2018, it was peopled by generics. So I can only assume that working on this era while preparing his massive omnibuses for Kent State jogged his memory, and he asked Ayers to recreate these important figures of Funky Lore.

But THIS is what I’m here for. THIS is what keeps me looking again, coming back, pondering, analyzing. Some kind of weird call-back, so obtuse and strange that, as far as I can tell, no one among Batiuk’s most dedicated and educated readers noticed for months.

Join me tomorrow as I attempt to convince you, despite all evidence, that modern Funky Winkerbean isn’t universally unbearable, as we award The Best Strip of 2021.


Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

58 responses to “The 2021 Funky Awards Week! Day 4

  1. Epicus Doomus

    Spectacular post, CBH. Few have ever dared to dig that deep. I just can’t believe Klabinchnik appeared FOUR times in 2021. And the fact that Flash and Lillian were in fifth and sixth place just blows my mind. This strip is just crying out for a full, comprehensive reference tome, a Funkopedia, if you will. Lists, chronologies, maps, bloopers, anomalies, everything. So if you have a few years to kill…no pressure, though.

    All the nominees were worthy, but I voted for the Hitler panel, as it was just so jarring and bizarre. Ponder this: Hitler made more appearances in 2021 than Summer did.

    • billytheskink

      I’m not shocked that Summer trailed anyone in appearances in 2021, Hitler or otherwise. She’s been sitting in TB’s circular file with Barry Balderman and the like for YEARS now.

      The big surprise for me was Linda, who got a whole lot of ink in the past several years, showing up only twice while Halle Dinkle, who was created simply so TB could get a plaque from the National Association for Music Education, got three appearances.

      • Epicus Doomus

        It’s fascinating, isn’t it? Crazy Harry was in eight more strips than Morton was, and I don’t remember any of them. Seeing Pete coming in at number four is pretty alarming too. Or how about Boy Lisa 38, Jessica 8? Sounds about right. And check out some of the names in the ones…Cliff, Vera, Adeela, Rocky, Nate…it’s a “Who’s Who?” of “who?”.

  2. RudimentaryLathe?

    Iirc my vote on this one was for “Eros panoptes” just for the sheer wrongness of it.
    As for today’s strip, I don’t understand Batiuk’s endgame when it comes to Chester Hagglemore. He’s frequently cast up as this greedy shallow creature who doesn’t appreciate that Comics 👏 Are👏 Art👏. Yet in practice he’s a basically magical benevolent force, giving Lisaspawn and Eyebags fantasy jobs, returning Rubylith’s IPs to her, and just generally being a nice person. It makes no sense.

  3. erdmann

    Loathsome Lillian appeared in 50 FW strips? That’s on top of her “Crankshaft” appearances? Lord, is it possible that wretched old bat could have appeared in more strips than any other Batiuk character last year?

    • Epicus Doomus

      This was just astounding to me. And Flash Freeman was in FIFTY-TWO strips in 2021! If I’d been forced to guess I would have said maybe ten. And Wally only appeared eight times, I would have guessed higher than that. Jessica also appeared eight times, and I would have guessed way lower there. I can’t thank CBH enough for this, as I could pore over that list all day.

    • RudimentaryLathe?

      And in that Creeper Mort mini-arc she was actually kind of sympathetic. Batiuk really had a banner run with his loathsome characters last year.

  4. Sourbelly

    Lesson learned: Never nominate a Funky panel of the year in June. That gives Batdick way too much time to out-undo himself.

    But I voted for the winner: dead organ player panel. An exquisite pastiche of unfunny* and tasteless.

    *I actually found it hilarious, though not necessarily the way Batdick intended it to be.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      I voted for “dead organ player” too. It’s a horrible moment, but it was portrayed so flippantly that it achieved unintentional greatness. She died in church (which is horrible enough), then her corpse slumped over and played a discordant note on the keyboard? That’s horrible. And hilarious! It’s how Terry Jones’ Nude Organist character from Monty Python should have died.

  5. William R Thompson

    Why would Skunkhead use the Botanical Gardens as a standard of monetary value? Why would he even think of a garden, unless he’s growing pot in it? Why not say “Now I could open a nationwide chain of Komix Korner shops! Why, I could corner the market on them!”

    • Dood

      This value comparison is so bizarre. Is Batiuk writing off another one of his vacations?

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        Maybe it’s another one of TB’s product placements. Maybe DSH John will turn to the reader and say “And if you want your vacation to have great value, visit the Washington D.C. Botanical Museum!” Open during COVID! Tell the ticket booth Funky sent you!”

      • William R Thompson

        I like the idea of Batiuk taking vacations, for whatever purpose. He should take fifty-two week long vacations every year. He can write them off as charitable deductions–“I’m never in my studio any more, so I spare my readers the agony of seeing my creations!”

        (For some reason I can no longer post through FaceBook.)

  6. none

    Maybe Batty Sue and Skunky held the exact same issue at different times! .. wait, are they the same age? They’re not supposed to be, are they?

    That this is the subject of today’s strip, which comes without any kind of prior justification or context, shows that this is a sore point with the author. He is truly bitter over the fact that he once had original comics which now potentially sell for ridiculous amounts.

    Never mind, as mentioned repeatedly here, those prices are for a state of pristine condition for the comics which is nearly impossible to have even if they were originally freshly purchased from a store and stored away forever.

    Never mind that for every sale of some crap like Detective Comics #whatever that first featured Batman and whatever else, or baseball cards, or lunchboxes, or other ephemera from nearly a century ago, there is a million pounds of junk stored away by people like him who think that they’re sitting on their retirement fund in the form of some pop culture trash (which, since so many more people now have the same mentality, therefore means that the value of those items goes down…).

    Never mind that there are dozens of new #1 or character introducing comic books now being printed every – what, month? week? and if he truly regrets not keeping Amazing Fantasy #15 back then, there’s nothing stopping him from getting what may become the next equivalent book 50 years in the future right now. Go for it, asshole. Pick one. Hell, pick all of them. Let us know how that works out for you.

    Never mind that the person who spends $1 million on a comic book or a sealed NES Super Mario Brothers cartridge or the like is not buying it for the purpose of its originally intended use, which, according to the author, we know is not The Proper Way in which those items are meant to be used. Curiously enough, there’s never any anger vented through this strip about that, though.

    What a sad, pitiful man he is. Far from the only one, mind.

    • J.J. O'Malley

      27! Detective Comics #27, from 1939, the first appearance of Batman!

      Dang it, I feel into your nerd trap, didn’t I, none? I just couldn’t resist blurting out the answer!

      Seriously, though, you’re right about selective hoarding vs. treasuring, along with the speculator’s mentality that nearly ruined the comic book market in the 1990s (folks buying up “Death of Superman” comics thinking they’ll pay for their kids’ college educations) and seems to be resurfacing during the Pandemic. Surely Skunky has had chances to pick up multiple copies of 1974’s Incredible Hulk #180-82 (Wolverine’s debut), 1991’s New Mutants #98 (first Deadpool) or 1993’s Batman Adventures #12 (first Harley Quinn in comics) in all the years he’s run his comics shop.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Never mind that there are dozens of new #1 or character introducing comic books now being printed every – what, month? week?

      And at least 20 of those are published by Atomik Komix alone!

      Which is another obnoxious thing about this “valuable comic books” crap. TB’s ideal comic book publisher AK does business in a way that absolutely ensures they will never have any future collectible value. They saturate the market with overpriced low-quality junk that has “#1 special edition” stamped all over it. This is what ruined baseball cards in the 1990s.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      That comic book is from 1962. If John Howard acquired it in childhood, he’s at least 65 years old now. Probably 70.

      • J.J. O'Malley

        Now, to be fair, the book could have been passed down from an older relative or a yard sale find years or decades later.

        • Banana Jr. 6000

          True. But Amazing Fantasy #15 says “Introducing Spider-Man” right on the cover. It’s hard to believe that even in the 1960s, someone would have just given it away. There was a Spider-Man cartoon show as early as 1967. So there isn’t much of a window for John to have made this fortuitous find.

          • Anonymous Sparrow

            The closest I came to such a moment was with *Spider-Man* #14 (first Green Goblin) at a doctor’s office.

  7. sorialpromise

    Sweet Harriet, open a window, breathe deeply. Let the cold winter sun strike your youthful face. Reality beckons. Push the omnibus of FW away from your lovely fingers. I hear family members begging you to come to dinner, but your only response, “I have just one more AA character to name!” Alas, please take no offense. Your dedication to exploring FW, is the driving force for readers of SOSF. It is irresistible: snark + research! You hit a grand slam home run. We love you. We respect you. (But seriously, go on a date.)

    • ComicBookHarriet

      Lol! Look, there’s a reason we do things in two week shifts here. So we spread the madness around and have time to recoup for the next battle.

      (And as a farmer in winter I actually have extra time on my hands right now. Once the cows are fed and bedded down I’d rather curl up with a spreadsheet than venture out into the snowpocalypse.)

      • billytheskink

        Even so, you’ve gone above and beyond the call of duty and I stand and applaud. Which my wife is finding both weird and annoying as she is trying to sleep…

      • Epicus Doomus

        TFH hosted this blog for years at a time, which is like swimming the English Channel with an anvil tied to your ankle. It nearly drove him mad. I’ve done a few three week runs and even a four week stint and by Tuesday of that third week I’m already seriously regretting it. It doesn’t even matter what the subject matter is. You could get a big spectacular mega-arc, like “Frankie rescues Summer from a dorm room fire and reveals that he’s her real father” or you could get “Wally installs a wheelchair ramp”, it doesn’t matter. After two weeks you just have to stop.

        • Yes, Team SoSF is all about sharing the pain while keeping one another sane. While we’re at it, let’s not forget the “blogfather,” the original Stuck Funky, whose mysterious author kept going singlehandedly from 2007 to 2010.

  8. Now in this category, not only do I remember how I voted, I’m actually upset that Les Waterboards Himself didn’t win. Snarker Sourbelly declared that it “just might be one of the funniest/most disgusting panels in FW history.”

    • Rusty Shackleford

      I’m surprised to see that Funky appeared over two times that of Les. I would have thought that would be reversed.

      I guess that Les is just so annoying that any appearance he makes stays with you for days afterwards.

    • be ware of eve hill

      Agreed! I enjoy all strips where Les is portrayed as an idiot and harms himself.

      It is hilarious that Les almost drowned himself. Him dying as a Darwin Award winner has a definite appeal.

      Newscaster: Universally despised idiot Westview man drowns himself. Film at 11.

  9. be ware of eve hill

    All of my choices finished in second place except for the WAS PHIL HOLT REALLY A GHOST? winner. 😭

    It’s ironic, @ComicBookHarriet, that you counted the number of times Lillian appeared in a Funky Winkerbean strip. A couple of years ago, I got incredibly frustrated with Lillian hijacking the Crankshaft comic strip with her endless writing adventures. So sick and tired, the first time she was absent, I started and maintained a daily ‘Days without Lillian’ counter in the Crankshaft CK comments section. I believe the counter made it almost to thirty days before another commenter told me, “It’s getting a little old,” and convinced me to stop. Sure enough, Lillian reemerged a couple of days later like the plague of cockroaches she is. JINX!!!

    Lillian appeared more FW strips than Les this year? That is a shocker. Does Batty have a new crush?

    The choir members and the AA members have names? Who knew? Damn, you’re good.

  10. CBH, Awards Week is a hoot, I stand in line! Great job connecting the Funky’s fellow AA members over Acts II and III. One face we haven’t seen in a meeting is Wade, Funky’s sponsor. In fact the last we saw of Wade, he was chatting with a still-senile Mort ten Christmases ago.

    • The Duck of Death

      I miss Wade. He was one of the few characters that didn’t seem like he was speaking with Batiuk’s voice, if that makes sense.

      IIRC, he was a general handyman/fixit guy for Montoni’s. There was also a painter who was working on a magnum opus of a mural in the restaurant. I recall his name being Jim, and it was a running gag that he never seemed to finish the mural because he was putting so much into it. These characters, like so many others, seem to have been beamed onto the Island of Disappeared FW Characters.

      Not only do I miss Wade’s distinctive and somewhat “real” personality, I also miss the time when blue-collar workers — indeed, workers in general — were treated as valued within Funky’s orbit. Nowadays, every encounter with tradesmen or working people seems to result in Funky displaying exasperation, downright hostility, or “Snappy Answers to People Who Were Just Doing Their Job, For Fuck’s Sake.”

      Witness the recent portrayal of the workers doing Funky’s kitchen “reno”: Lazy, stupid, and sleazy.

      • billytheskink

        Wade Wallace quietly has one of the wildest and saddest histories in TB’s overpopulated cast. He first showed up in Funky Winkerbean in 1996 as a homeless man feeding himself by ordering a pizza for pick up at Montoni’s and then fishing it out of the dumpster when Funky would get tired of waiting for it to be picked up. But that’s not where his story begins… No, before all of that he was an anchorman and talk show host at Channel 1, replaced by John Darling after being deemed too old. Sure enough, Wade appeared as a former top anchorman-turned-homeless beggar (bottle in a brown bag and everything) in a December 1979 John Darling Sunday strip… meaning he had presumably been living on the street for at least 17 years by the time Funky met him. Given that he was considered “old” by 1970s male television personality standards in the 1970s, he’s got to be in his 90s at a minimum now if he’s even still alive.

        Jim the mural painter was a tribute to TB’s high school school art teacher, Jim Mateer, who would later let TB observe his classes to gather comic strip material during the early days of FW. Mateer passed away in 2011 but his estate still maintains his website, which has several of the strips where he’s painting the Montoni’s mural.

        • The Duck of Death

          Wow, bts, that’s wild! Thanks for the history. Odd that I don’t recall this precipitous fall from grace being mentioned in FW; it would have been relevant in the context of being Funky’s sponsor. It’s also interesting that “you got too old to be a newscaster” has twice been used in TB’s work; once for Wade and once for Cindy.

          Last time we saw Wade, he was using a walker, so apparently his health was in decline.

          Interestingly, Wade faded away, but we didn’t see any replacement. Is Funky sponsorless?

          Seeing that strip reminded me that I actually like John Darling. It was well illustrated, though of course heavily derivative of Doonsbury. And it knew what it was doing, and stayed focused on that premise. It didn’t have characters change personalities at a whim. It didn’t step on its own punchlines. (And the punchline in the strip you linked was pretty good, if not exactly original.)

          • be ware of eve hill

            Seeing that strip reminded me that I actually like John Darling. It was well illustrated…

            John Darling was illustrated by Tom Armstrong. Tom Armstrong created Marvin, which is a current title on the CK (in case you didn’t already know.)

            I added Marvin to my reading list after I started my free trial. Too many strips cover Marvin’s bodily secretions. I know he’s a baby and all but… ewwww!

        • Hitorque

          Does Batiuk know that it’s perfectly legal and acceptable for “too old” news anchors to find new jobs afterwards? Hell a longtime mainstay local anchorwoman got forced out and now she’s working for the power company making the same if not more money….

  11. J.J. O'Malley

    Another amazing FW deep drive, CBH. The thing I have trouble getting my head around is how over the past 20 years (plus or minus time skips) since Funky’s first AA meeting he seems to have more than doubled in age into an Ed Crankshaft look-alike, but Bill, Gwen, Sally and Terry still look essentially the same.

    • ComicBookHarriet

      The restorative properties of cigarettes are well known in the Funkyverse. Look at what they’ve done to Morton!

  12. Hitorque

    1. By most Funkyverse timeline guesstimates, John is in his late forties… Which means he was a kid in the early 1980s… WHICH MEANS THERE’S NO WAY IN FUCKING HELL HE JUST “FOUND” THE MOST VALUABLE COMIC TO EVER EXIST AT A LOCAL FLEA MARKET!

    1a. And spare me the stories about some mook you saw in the newspaper who found The Mona Lisa or the Hope Diamond or a ton of lost Nazi gold bullion at a garage sale because we know while it can happen, the chances of someone finding something truly priceless among a junk sale are less than hitting the lottery…

    1b. It’s funny because Chester Hagglemore famously said himself that he low-balls his offering price for rare comics just to fleece suckers who may not know it’s true value.

    2. So… By my count at least three characters (John, Funkensteiger and Chester) have had their futures fundamentally changed for the better just because some 25-cent comic books they owned as kids or teenagers skyrocketed in value… Anybody else noticing a trend here? Of course all three men cashed out when their comics were only worth thousands instead of millions because Batiuk doesn’t want his readers to think they’re greedy or something…

    • Anonymous Sparrow

      Bruce Springsteen was wrong: you will not find the key to the universe in the engine of an old parked car.

  13. The reason that Les only appeared now and then, is because, in Batiuk’s opinion, having Les all the time would be like having a meal that was nothing but desert.

    Batiuk’s opinion, not mine.

    • batgirl

      Nope, TB’s opinion would be ‘nothing but dessert’. It’s for us poor readers that it’s nothing but desert.

      (sorry for being that guy!)

      • Whoops, another Freudian slip. I frequently get those mixed up. Thanks!

        • Anonymous Sparrow

          What is the proper dessert for wieners and legumes?

          Perhaps Stephen Crane knew:

          In the desert
          I saw a creature, naked, bestial,
          Who, squatting upon the ground,
          Held his heart in his hands,
          And ate of it.
          I said, “Is it good, friend?”
          “It is bitter—bitter,” he answered;

          “But I like it
          “Because it is bitter,
          “And because it is my heart.”

  14. Gerard Plourde

    CBH, your work in putting this together was nothing short of outstanding. The awards contest was a challenge for me. Aside from the “Phil Holt is a Ghost” and the Death of the Organist” panels, it was difficult for me to choose a “winner”.

    Your research revealing that TomBa initially named the members of the original AA group that he now inexplicably resurrected is another example of how much more work he put into Act 2 than he has with Act 3.

    And what is the purpose of Batton Thomas’ current visit with DSH? To show that TomBa didn’t bother to research that the U.S. Botanic Garden isn’t privately owned but belongs to the American People, since it was established by Congress and is administered by the office of the Architect of the Capitol?

  15. hitorque

    Wow I guess I’m the only person who voted for the “stag reel”?

  16. The Duck of Death

    I had to vote for Elenor, who died in the church and was buried along with her name. (Nobody came.)

    It was one of the only Ayers panels I’ve ever seen where he got a little bit playful and actually used the vast palette of ways comics can express things. The quivering note lying prone was a great touch.

    It makes me wonder: Is it truly that Ayers lacks imagination, or is it that Batiuk is a hidebound literalist who discourages using the language of comics and insists on portrayals “1/4 inch from reality”?

    • The Duck of Death

      Replying to myself to add:

      You also have to love the contrast between Elenor’s death and other deaths in the strip.

      Lisa Dies: Masky McDeath kindly escorts her into heaven, and she spawns a massive perma-grief industry. Even today, she shows us the Path of Righteousness via lucky quarters, ghostly phone calls, sacred writings, and 13,452 VHS tapes.

      Bull Dies: Notify the NY Times! Page the Pulitzer committee! For the Great Tom Batiuk is Raising Awareness of CTE!

      Elenor Dies: LOL

      • The Duck of Death

        Replying again to add…. I just realized the more interesting panel was Davis’ art, not Ayers’. I find Davis a far superior artist in every respect, so I guess that’s not surprising. My point still stands about whether Batiuk is holding his artists back…

  17. be ware of eve hill

    Roberta Blackburn had an appearance last year? A few of us were just commenting about her decade long absence from the strip yesterday.

    Was Roberta in a Becky strip or a Dinkle strip? In a flashback? Was there a joke about a ‘choir mom?’ Was she still up on the scissor lift?

    • ComicBookHarriet

      I made the assumption that the woman appearing with Becky on the December 27 was Roberta. She didn’t look at all like she had when we left her on the scissor lift in 2012. But she did look close to her earlier appearances in Act II. Maybe she’s taken up smoking.

      • billytheskink

        I think that is a fair assumption. Before TB recast her as the strawman in every social commentary story arc, her personality was tied up pretty much entirely in being a nosy band booster (complete with the jacket she’s wearing in the 12-27 strip).

        This earned her husband, face always buried behind a camcorder, a spot on the cover of one of TB’s Dinkle-focused collections, Attack of the Band Moms.

      • be ware of eve hill

        That assumption makes sense. The band booster portrayed in that strip has Roberta’s trademark hairstyle. The booster’s hair is darker than the last time we saw Roberta. We can probably blame that on the CK staff colorist.😉

        Ah yes, smoking, the magical cure-all for all Westviewians. Westviewites?

  18. Banana Jr. 6000

    And TB’s blog is still prattling on about the Rose Parade – the last time he was invited. I like this bit:

    I opened my mail one morning to find a letter addressed to my band director character Harry L. Dinkle. It was an invitation for him to appear at the Tournament of Roses Parade that coming New Year’s Day. I kept the conceit going by responding for Harry and one thing led to another until it wasn’t long before Cathy and I were making plans to go to Pasadena and attend the parade.

    You were invited, you accepted, and you made plans to go. What exactly is the “one thing that led to another” in this scenario? Because that sounds like the whole story to me. Was there a tense negation where you had to explain that you were not, in fact Harry L. Dinkle? No, because you called it a “conceit” that both parties were both playing at. This just TB trying to make his adventures sound more interesting than they really are.

    I was on a much shorter deadline leash in those days so there was plenty of time…

    How does being on a shorter deadline leash give you MORE time? Does TB not know what “short leash” means?

    …for me to have Harry go there in the strip as well…

    Oh, I get it now. “Back then, when I had a shorter deadline, I could write a time-appropriate real-world story.” Well, that’s a hell of a thing to say, considering he JUST DID THAT for Dinkle’s 2021 trip. And the awkward, out-of-continuity strips around it prove he has no ability to juggle anything once it’s in the 11-month pipeline. This is a damning admission from Tom Batiuk himself that his long lead time is a hindrance to the strip.

    …and appear on the Elks float (a gentleman dressed as Harry actually marched with the float in the parade).

    Holy Run-On Sentence, Batman! It sounds like an actor played Dinkle in the comic strip! It’s even worse if you try to read the whole thing at once.

  19. Y. Knott

    “It’s Even Worse If You Try To Read The Whole Thing At Once: The Collected Works Of Tom Batiuk”