The 2021 Funky Awards Week! Day 6

The wistful way John and Batton are looking at each other today, you’d think these two were carrying on some kind of illicit love affair. And in a way, they are. Talking about comic book memories is the ultimate form of intimacy two Funkyverse males can achieve. I wonder how Crazy Harry feels about John cheating on him like that.

Yesterday, we examined the few wisps of hay we found in the 2021 needlestack. Today a more onerous chore: to find out which of the innumerable rusty, tainted, twisted barbs hurt the most when it got under our skin.

The following are your nominees for The Worst Funky Winkerbean Strip of 2021.

1.) War of the Word Zeppelins

2.) Post Pandemic Doom Posting

3.) ‘Disappointed a Lot of Fans’

4.) Feeling Blue

5.) Randy Old Man

6.) Gross Randy Old Man

7.) Just Gross

And the winner for The Worst Funky Winkerbean Strip of 2021 is…

GROSS RANDY OLD MAN

Though other strips certainly made a strong case, only one strip this year had seasoned Son of Stuck Funky commenters saying things like:

The tonal shifts in this comic are several parsecs in length.

beckoningchasm

Looking at this offering is like playing “How many impending accidents and lawsuits can you count?”

William Thompson

The fact that I’m concerned about Lillian, who is utterly despicable, is kind of impressive.

RudimentaryLathe?

I don’t want to overreact, but I can’t help thinking this is just plain evil. 

Sourbelly

Can we nominate Batiuk for the Golden Crackpipe award? He can only be high if he thinks this was a good idea.

be ware of eve hill

 But never have I seen such a tone-deaf display as where today’s strip is leading this storyline.

J.J. O’Malley

I find it hard to believe that TomBa is this clueless but I also find it hard to believe that he could be so offensive intentionally.

Gerard Plourde

I can feel my sense of humor evaporating the moment my eyes fall on the strip.

The Duck of Death

Jesus, this is bad.

Rusty Shackleford

That’s it for the awards to hand out! Join us tomorrow for closing remarks as we wrap up the first ever Funky Winkerbean Awards, and I wrap up my shift.

48 Comments

Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

48 responses to “The 2021 Funky Awards Week! Day 6

  1. William R Thompson

    Is buying comic books for “variant covers” a real thing? If it is, is it a common thing among comic-book readers, or is it considered a symptom of “more money than sense”?

    • J.J. O'Malley

      William, I’m afraid the variant cover plague has been afflicting the comics industry for over 35 years, ever since DC put out the first issue of former FW contributor John Byrne’s Superman revamp with two different cover options. A 1989 Batman solo title had four color schemes over the same basic cover design, then a Marvel’s X-Men release had five interlocking cover illustrations, and since then it’s grown into a buying frenzy unto itself, with collectors searching for rare (only 100 issued, only 10 issued, special sketches, blank covers for you to get an artist to sketch on, themed covers for new movie/TV releases, etc.) releases that only a few stores can get access to. For traditional-bound Silver Age farts like me who simply want the “actual” cover, it’s annoying to have to wade through upwards of 10-18 different variants per title to fins what we want.

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        Again, this is exactly what trading cards went through in the 1990s. Variants, rare inserts, holograms, refractors, autographs, jersey relics. Too many products, too many manufacturers, too little quality, and all overproduced. Maybe comic books are entering their own junk wax era.

        • billytheskink

          Too little quality is especially right! It got to a point where everything was about making the cards for players people actually wanted hard to find and filling most packs with benchwarmers and role players.

          I was a big trading card guy into the mid-90s (especially basketball and hockey) and one day I just stopped buying them cold turkey, furious that I had just spent hard-earned money on a pack of basketball cards where the top players were Blue Edwards, Adam Keefe, and Rony Seikaly. I think I had 3-4 Blue Edwards already from other companies… guess how many Shawn Kemp cards I had, though? At least give me a Nick Van Excel or something, sheesh.

          Maybe its better now, but I’m in no hurry to find out.

          • Perfect Tommy

            I cashed out my collection last year. Did OK but not the windfall I had hoped. I actually would of done better in the 80’s – early 90’s.
            Over production just killed the hobby.

          • The Duck of Death

            It’s likely that it was more than over-production alone.

            There’s a sweet spot for cashing out most collectibles. It’s when the little kids who longed for those items have grown up and made lots of money, and can now afford to buy what they couldn’t have as children (or did have, but lost along the way). So, say about 30-50 years from when the specific collectible was hot among children.

            As people enter their 70s and 80s, most of them (but not all, as we’ve seen) stop wanting to accumulate, and start wanting to get rid of all the excess stuff they’ve accumulated. Collecting for its own sake loses its luster. That’s when the bottom usually starts to fall out of the market for collectibles from 60 years earlier.

            Exceptions: Collectibles (like a gem mint Action #1) that are used solely as speculation/portfolio diversification for the extremely wealthy. And collectibles that intrinsically are attractive to future generations because they’re associated with something truly enduring (like, for example, a Casablanca production still signed by the entire cast).

          • The Duck of Death

            Meant to add… I have a teenage son and he and his friends live almost entirely digitally. They care nothing for physical collectibles. I wonder what will be collectible when his generation is in their peak earning years? Who knows — maybe it’ll be NFTs. Someone will have to find a way to monetize their no$talgia somehow.

          • Banana Jr. 6000

            There also the question of whether sports cards serve any purpose anymore. When I was a kid in the 1980s, it was how you learned statistics and whatnot. The Internet makes massive amounts of sports information and images available. It even offers ways to have personal contact with the athletes and teams if you want, like Twitter. I wonder why modern kids would them appealing at all.

          • Hitorque

            Don’t sleep on Rony Seikaly… Did you know he’s a big-time club DJ down in Miami these days?

          • Hitorque

            I was collecting MLB/NFL/NBA cards from the mid-80s to the early 90s and I got Jack Shit to show for it… I ended up just giving the whole collection to a friend from grad school in Kansas City

          • Suicide Squirrel

            To Banana Jr. 6000:

            As a kid in fourth and fifth grade, I can remember lying on my bed and looking at my sports cards for hours. Looking at the portraits and flipping them over to read the stats and comments about each player. Baseball cards were a great way to learn each team’s players.

            I only collected sports cards for a few years. All Topps. In 1971 they included player coins. I remember the bubble gum that was sometimes as hard as a slate roof shingle. I loved the smell of it, anyway. I still have my cards in a box on a shelf in a box in my bedroom closet. I’m not going to delude myself into believing they’re worth anything except kindling. I also still have an Avalon Hill baseball game from 1979. I doubt I’ve looked at either of them in a decade.

            Watching baseball in the 1970s and 1980s was fun. I lost interest at about the time of the baseball strike in 1992 or thereabouts. After that point, baseball was all about steroids, the ‘lively ball’ and ‘chicks dig the long ball’. I watched a game last year where all of the runs were scored on home runs. I like watching runners sprint around the bases, not jog around them. Modern MLB baseball is all home runs and strikeouts.

            My onetime favorite team is now the ‘Cleveland Guardians’. It sounds like the name of a newspaper.

          • Epicus Doomus

            I was involved in the “collectibles” racket for a while, mostly in the early ’10s (that’s never not weird to type). Records, coins, sports cards, magazines, you name it. I still have a small mountain of sports cards from roughly the very late 1980s through 2000 and the vast majority of them are completely worthless. Even if you have something worthwhile, like say a Rickey Henderson rookie card, it’s worth surprisingly little unless it’s graded, which is an expensive pain in the ass to do. And if your seemingly pristine Rickey Henderson card comes back with a 7.5 instead of the 9 you anticipated, almost no one wants it. I’ve posted a huge stack of Michael Jordan 90s cards on Ebay for less than two bucks a card and got no takers.

          • Banana Jr. 6000

            @Suicide Squirrel: I grew up in the early 1980s, and I had APBA instead of Avalon Hill, but otherwise I share most of your experiences. My pack-buying prime was 1979 to 1983. The 1971 Topps set is before my time, but it’s one of my favorite years to collect (along with 1959 and 1983).

            I don’t think the 1994 strike is hurting baseball as much now as much as the steroid era did. More accurately, baseball’s phony self-righteousness over the steroid era. Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens not being in the Hall of Fame is a stupid joke. Yeah, they juiced, but so did everybody else. And the Tim Kurkjians of the world who were looking the other way in 1998 were the first ones to get on their moral high horses about it. Kids from the 1990s have their own kids now, and they’re not taking those kids to ballgames like our fathers did. Because all anyone ever learned about baseball this millennium is that they’re a bunch of cheaters. The sport is in a demographic death spiral. On top of MLB’s usual stupidity, like the delays in starting the 2021 season when we all desperately needed it, the current labor problems, and this Tampa Bay half-moving to Montreal nonsense.

            I grew up a Braves fan, though they’re resisting pressure to get away from the Native American-themed symbols. I even remember Chief Nokahoma from the early 1980s “Launching Pad” era. I like to think baseball is a long-running constant in American life, but I wonder how much longer that will be the case.

      • Don

        Or worse, discovering that the store is out of the regular cover, and now your collection includes some variant that sticks out like a store thumb. (And this isn’t some small store in the middle of nowhere; it’s the one that came up with the idea for Free Comic Book Day.)

    • ComicBookHarriet

      I had a friend who would let the comic shop know which variant of the cover she wanted. It wasn’t for comic speculation purposes though, she was just massively into the art.

  2. Epicus Doomus

    Ah yes, the ol’ neighborhood drugstore. The spinner racks, over-the-counter codeine, buying my dad’s cigarettes…(sniff)…truly a bygone era. Every comic book arc has the same theme…”it used to be better”. An interesting take, considering the source.

    Yeah, I thought Gross Randy Old Man really stood out in a jam-packed field. A leering pervert luring an unsuspecting woman into a parked van is fairly familiar FW territory, but playing it for laughs left an oily sheen of ickyness over the whole thing. He’s taken this “Morton Winkerbean, adorable frisky old coot” thing way too far.

    • Rusty Shackleford

      Yeah I was waiting for Batty to retcon Mort as having raped Lisa. What’s wrong with Batty?

  3. billytheskink

    Those days aren’t gone, DSH, it’s just that your options at the drug and grocery stores are limited to Archie Digest or Archie Double Digest.

    Mort and the van as the worst strip of the year was probably the vote I had the strongest opinion on. I mean, they were all worthy contenders but the Mort bit was a new low for this strip, not in the depths of its terribleness but in its direction. TB has done squick before, but never this disgustingly.

    • Epicus Doomus

      IMO Morton’s character arc has been Act III’s most inexplicable turn of events, even more so than Summer going away to college for nine years and counting or Cory returning home from the army as a ramrod-straight model citizen or Boy Lisa supporting a wife and child on a pizza app designer’s salary. Not only did he have Morton fully recover from advanced dementia and not only did he reinvent him as an adorable, frisky old coot, but then, completely out of nowhere, he turned him into an insatiable, incorrigible horndog, just for laughs. Now why he thinks a malevolently leering ninety year old man is funny is a different issue entirely.

  4. Sourbelly

    Mort the Rapist has to be the worst strip in the history of FW, comic strips in general, the universe, the multiverse, or whatever cheaply rendered simulation we’re living in.

    As for this week’s strips, I didn’t detect a single punchline. Like, not even an attempt at one. I guess the subject matter was just too sacred for jocularity.

    And CBH, I stand in line. So much fun!

  5. Banana Jr. 6000

    These two bozos sound like a couple of hipsters complaining that the kombucha aisle at Whole Foods has gotten too complicated.

    “Remember when we used to just find buy what we found on the spinner rack in the drugstore?” I don’t know, Batton, remember five minutes ago when you came into the comic book store wanting to buy a list of obscure reprint volumes that don’t exist? You’re exactly who John is talking about!

    And today’s strip may be a new low for FW’s toxic comic book nostalgia: characters complaining that they themselves don’t do comic books correctly anymore. And not even noticing that they’ve become what they deride. If you want to buy your comic books off the rack, Batton, you can just do that. Hell, I’ve seen it:

    https://safr.kingfeatures.com/api/img.php?e=png&s=c&file=RnVua3lXaW5rZXJiZWFuLzIwMjEvMDQvRnVua3lfV2lua2VyYmVhbi4yMDIxMDQwNV8xNTM2LmdpZg==

    If anything, Komix Korner goes to great lengths to replicate the 1954 Akron Rexall experience. They offer a wide selection of moldy old racks he can pick his silver age comic books off of. Which they shouldn’t even do, because poor quality fixtures will damage the books’ condition. So we’ve got a guy complaining about how he himself buys things, to a store owner who’s damaging his own stock just to sell them the way he wants.

    Are the Westview comic book junkies starting to turn against each other? We can only hope.

    • Rusty Shackleford

      This reminds me of when I was into Model Railroading. All the old timers would constantly bitch about not being able to go to the local hobby shop and buy trains the proper way.

      I was an outcast because, not only was a not doing the hobby the way they had, but also because I actually liked going online and ordering exactly what I wanted.

    • The Duck of Death

      You’re so right, BJr6K. The very same spinner racks that Batty creams his jeans over are also the ones that ensured that very few comics survived in pristine condition, between the kids pawing through them and the comics themselves slumping through the steel supports. Gee whiz, ain’t that ironic.

  6. J.J. O'Malley

    Anyone notice how–during this lengthy lovefest between DSH John and Batton over the halcyon days of buying reprints of comics, lowballing little old ladies for comic hoards and selling valuable comics way before one should have, and searching for comics thrust into magazine racks at drug stores–not a single paying customer has entered the Komix Korner?

    • The Duck of Death

      Paying customers are icky! They might enjoy comics in the wrong way, which would be intolerable. Comics must be pored over reverently, then put in acid-free bags with cardboard backing and filed in a vault for future generations to enjoy profit from.

  7. Banana Jr. 6000

    As much as I hate “embouchere”, “Gross Randy Old Man” is certainly a deserving winner. I think it’s Lillian’s face that brings it home. She looks absolutely terrified, like she’s resigned to becoming a rape victim. And is wondering out loud what she’ll have to do to save her soul. Mort’s facial expression hardly needs comment. Dinkle doesn’t even notice she’s missing, because he’s too busy conducting a bunch of senior musicians who look like they should all be on ventilators. In preparation for someone’s funeral, which Dinkle has hijacked into yet another monument to his own ego. All of this in a church! Good Lord, this is awful.

    • be ware of eve hill

      Agree with everything you typed.

      Why was Lillian even willing to go with Mort in the first place? Was she trying to lose her virginity in her nineties? Was Lillian that enraptured by anyone making sexual advances on her?

      It. Makes. No. Sense.

      • Hitorque

        But that’s exactly how predators operate… They identify the weakest or most vulnerable and isolate them from the safety of the herd for an easy kill…

        It’s not like Morton is in love or even in lust with Lillian. He just fully expects that through mere suggestion and the power of his will, he can make susceptible women meekly submit to his primal urges…

  8. Mela

    Oh yes. It’s how you get readers to buy the same comic more than once. Different artist draw the covers, so if you’re looking for a particular artist you can look for that one. But there are some collectors out there-the “more money than sense” ones perhaps-that will buy every single version well, just because. Which also means that John shouldn’t be lamenting too much about having to keep track of them or any of his customers’ books. It’s called customer service, which might actually create loyalty and revenue for his shop.

    • Mela

      This was a reply to William R up top…

    • Rusty Shackleford

      Right because people can more easily just go online and order directly. Nice way to keep your business going idiot.

      That jackass probably doesn’t even have an online store….because that is not the proper way to purchase comics.

  9. The Duck of Death

    AGAIN with the spinner rack! The fetishization of this object by author avatars is beyond anything I’ve ever seen on the comics pages.

    Poor TB just doesn’t get it. It wasn’t the spinner rack, Tom. It was nothing to do with the spinner rack. It was childhood, the magical state of being a child. That’s what made the ‘Imperious Rexall’ so exciting and the spinner rack so alluring.

    We all have ‘spinner racks’ of our own, Tom; objects that evoke the happy discoveries of childhood. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying nostalgia and collecting a few things that “spark joy,” but making a single-minded fetish out of it serves no purpose. It doesn’t return you to the prelapsarian innocence of childhood. All it does is stunt your adulthood.

    • Rusty Shackleford

      Right. I mentioned Model Railroading above. I enjoyed this as a kid and I enjoy it now, but I enjoy it differently.

      As a kid it was like my own miniature world. As an adult it’s just simply a way to relax and do something creative after a long day at work. I also don’t badger people or talk endlessly about my hobby, nor do I take it very seriously. I just enjoy it when I can

      Why can’t Batty grow up already and chill out about all of this stuff?

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      And Tom Batiuk does this with EVERYTHING. He wants Funky Winkerbean to be about longing for an idyllic past. But this always manifests itself as object fetishism.

      How many times in that stupid Lisa movie did we see the “wheelchair and the shawl and the fountain” scene, where nothing but banal dialog evef happened. Why did Les force Mason Jarre to take a special trip to New York City to genuflect over a bench’s Lisa’s ass once sat on? What was Mason supposed to learn from that? Why was it relevant?

      I don’t know, Tom Batiuk doesn’t know, and Les Moore sure as hell doesn’t know. All Les knows is that anything associated with Lisa can’t be touched ever, like Nigel Tufnel’s guitar collection.

      • The Duck of Death

        Yes, yes, yes. And ditto for “Radio Ranch.” If he just holds these things tightly enough, Tom believes, he might be as happy and carefree as he was when he was a kid. But first, he must make the whole world love them as he does!

        • Banana Jr. 6000

          Which is another dimension of TB’s fetishism. When he decides he likes something, he’ll never even look at anything else. Especially not other stories they should introduce him to. He has no interest in serials or Gene Autry – just Radio Ranch. Most of his comic book wankery is about The Flash. His science fiction reading is nothing but Asimov. Reading things over and over is a common theme. How boring and closed-minded can you get?

          • The Duck of Death

            Exactly, and the weirdest thing is: If you’d spent your entire life reading (say) Asimov, it’d be normal to start seeing overarching themes and stylistic hallmarks. I’ve been on kind of a Graham Greene kick, and if I were to write about him, even as an absolute, utter non-expert, I’d have lots to say about, for example, the role of Catholic morality in Greene’s life and work and the tormented, fallen state of many of his characters. I could talk about his attitude toward Americans and the remnants of the British Empire. I could rhapsodize about how well he can sketch a character in just a few sentences, and show examples of how he does it.

            What I would not do, if you asked me to write an essay about “Brighton Rock,” is recount the plot chapter by chapter while adding nothing about my reaction to it, or symbolism or allusions that I found, or what I think it all means. In that case, why write at all? Why not just direct readers to the Wikipedia page?

      • The Duck of Death

        Fun Facts about the NYC Parks Department!

        Did you know…. that it costs $10,000 to “endow” a bench, which allows you to put a plaque on it? Let’s all have fun imagining where that ten grand came from. Say, does anyone have the books for the first few “Lisa’s Legacy” runs?

        • Mela

          And of course only Les is arrogant enough to put a plaque on a bench and then tell people not to use it for it’s given purpose.

          • Banana Jr. 6000

            I’d pay real money to watch Les Moore tell a New Yorker not to sit on a New York park bench because it’s “Lisa’s” bench. He’d get his torso bent a lot more severely than he is in that banner shot.

  10. Green Luthor

    A lot of the contenders were annoying, or stupid, or unpleasant, but “Rapey Morton” is just… offensively gross, and bewildering that someone thought that was a good “joke”, then wrote it down and got it published, and no one in the process thought to say “wait… are we making rape jokes now?”. Truly astounding that it not only got printed, but Batiuk wasn’t immediately canned for it. Good a call on voting it the worst!

    And I think today’s “those days are long gone in the rear view mirror” is another contender for “things Batiuk writes that no human being would ever say”. Pretty sure most people would just say “those days are long gone”; no need to torture the sentence by adding the second part. (But then it wouldn’t be… funny? Is funny what Batiuk was going for here? I can’t even tell anymore.)

    (Seriously, Batiuk, every time you write a strip, read it out loud to someone. If they start saying “but… why???” or “what does that even mean?”, consider rewriting. I mean, I know you won’t, but… just puttin’ it out there.)

    • The Duck of Death

      Yep. He could have either left it at “Those days are long gone” or “Those days are far in the rearview mirror.”

      OR he could have exploited the rule of threes:

      “Those days are long gone, kaput, history.”

      But he chose neither. He chose unwisely.

  11. Perfect Tommy

    With all the glitz and glamor of the Funky awards, plus everyone losing their minds over at Mary Worth, this week has been a roller coaster of emotions.
    I might just swoon! CBH deserves her own red carpet ceremony.

  12. be ware of eve hill

    CBH, your first paragraph cracked me up. Upon reading today’s strip, my first thought was, “Geez, why don’t you two just kiss already? Maybe dinner and a movie later?”

    I apologize for my glibness to the comic book readers/collectors. You have a passion I don’t comprehend. It would be like you watching me talk about my Goodyear blimp collection. Photographs, models and knick-knacks, not actual blimps. 😄

    My husband collects firearms, knives and swords. He sometimes gets carried away while discussing them with me. I appreciate his passion, but it’s a fervor I’m not even close to matching.

    ——————————————
    Re: Today’s Funky Award winner. No surprise there. I felt as if Batty crossed a line with that one, and it wasn’t even award bait. Why do it? What as the purpose?

    As a longtime hater of Lillian, I thought I could take anything happening to her. You could stick a live grenade in her mouth and pull the pin, or drop a 16 ton weight on her. I was wrong. That strip was wrong.

  13. Hitorque

    Drugstore?! In my childhood you went to either 7-11 (which was also where all my baseball cards came from), or the supermarket which at the time was either Safeway, Giant or Farm Fresh…

  14. Hitorque

    On several occasions during my time on SOSF I’ve told you about a former coworker at an old summer job who at 16 years old was more obsessed about comic books than every Funkyverse character combined… He had every significant collectors issue or series from the mid 80s through 1998. He had crates and crates of properly preserved comics stacked up to the ceiling in his bedroom, you get the picture.

    Long story short, by the time I saw him the following summer, he’d given 90% of his collection away to his little cousins and his new full-time obsession understandably became girls. So there is zero excuse for these clowns to not grow the hell up…

  15. Hitorque

    Is Batton Thomas going to actually buy something? Or is John like the only person in his life who he feels like he can freely talk about the fuckin’ good old days with?

  16. Suicide Squirrel

    After reading all of your comments referring to ‘The Worst Funky Winkerbean Strip of 2021’ I feel as if I really dropped the ball on this one. Like, I just voted Adolf Schicklgruber into city council. You guys are right. Sometimes I forget these comic strips appear in a family newspaper.

    Batyuk should have been smacked with a rolled up newspaper. No, Batyuk! (smack) No! (smack) Bad comic creator! (smack)

    I voted for ‘War of the Word Zeppelins’ because I thought it was the most poorly executed strip of the year. The way the word balloons almost completely blocked the artwork. The really poorly written dialog. I really had to concentrate to read that one.

    Add Dinkle’s bragging and his face just begging to be beat like a piñata.

    My eighth grade grammar teacher would have had a field day diagramming the sentences in ‘War of the Word Zeppelins’.