Closing Ceremony

Why would a deaf man need a mute button?

And so we conclude The 2021 Funky Winkerbean Awards. The first ever year-end awards event in Son of Stuck Funky history! But will it be the last?

Years ago, many of us hypothesized that Batiuk may end his strip at the 50th Anniversary; go out with a major milestone achieved and draw a line under half a century of storytelling. The counter still sits at the very bottom of the right of the blog, expressing this hope.

64 days from the 50th, I think it’s safe to say he has no plans to retire this year, or even relatively soon.

And to that I say, good. Judging by the comments, the 2021 Funky Awards were a smashing success. If he wants to continue, then maybe we’ll be here again next year, with a new set of punchable Les Moore faces to choose from.

btw, this strip was Principal Nate’s only appearance for 2021.

But before we close this first one out, I have some people to thank, ANOTHER SPREADSHEET (yay!) and a final arc I’d like to recognize.

First of all, I want to thank those of you who comment almost daily! Some of you are relative newcomers, some of you have been at this for longer than I’ve been lurking around. You are ALL awesome.

A few years ago this blog was averaging 15 to 25 comments a day, often less. This year, as boring and inane as the stories seemed to be, we regularly hit 40, 50, sometimes more. There are a lot of great places to go on the internet to post snark on Funky Winkerbean, but people here were also discussing, debating, analyzing. They were posting photoshop edits, strip rewrites, and song parodies. This isn’t just a place to get some great sarcastic quips whipped up by clever minds, it’s also a place to vivisect the very concept of humor itself. So thank you!

Secondly, to the lurkers or occasional posters, thank you. Even if you’re just upvoting or downvoting comments, or chuckling at the banter as you scroll through, we’re glad you stopped by. You are always welcome to comment (provided it’s blog kosher), and should never feel pressured to.

A big thanks, and a tip of the CBH keyboard, to my fellow guest writers:

Thanks to Beckoning Chasm, for the hilarious post titles, the cheeky pop-culture references, and your dark artistic flair. Thanks for creating the hilarious gif of Les getting pummeled by an Eisner. Hope you don’t mind I wanted it front and center for these awards.

Thanks to SpacemanSpiff85 for being able to methodically shred the logical and humor failings of strip after strip after strip with Socratic insight. Every post from you asks how? why? when? and nails Tom to the wall for his lack of answers.

Thanks for Billy the Skink, our resident Batiukstorian, and poet laureate. We can always count on you to educate us on 50 years of Westview history; or spin a pointless strip into a golden bundle of haiku, and to tag the ever living HECK out of it. If we were the Starship Enterprise, (TNG, of course,) you would be Data. (I would be Wesley.)

A huge thank you to Epicus Doomus, the power behind the throne. He not only writes his two week shift, he moderates, he schedules everyone else, he subs if someone can’t complete a shift. I may go off on a tear and spend two weeks playing ‘try-hard’, but then I get to hibernate for a couple months. For Epicus, the work doesn’t stop. He carries the burden of a lot of the behind the scenes minutiae. Thank you.

Another huge thank you to TFHackett, Blogmeister-In-Chief, not only for creating this blog and keeping it trucking along, but for your posts, your humor, and your hilarious panel edits. Without you, this blog wouldn’t exist, and none of us would have this great place to voice our opinions on a single syndicated comic strip read by almost no one else.

And a final thank you to the mysterious ‘Stuck Funky’ writer, the progenitor of the original blog from which we are descended. Wherever our primordial ancestor is, I wish him or her happiness, humor, and health.

Speaking of voices….

SPREADSHEET TIME!

Since you enjoyed the appearance spreadsheet, I thought I’d also share the OTHER spreadsheet I generated this week. See, appearances are nothing, especially when women be tiny and disappearing into the background. So I decided to see how often various named characters actually SPOKE this year, so we could figure out which characters were actually characters, and which were just props.

Below is a list of the number of PANELS named characters SPOKE in for 2021.

(I excluded Marianne and Masone’s lines from the Lisa’s Story Trailer.)

It’s less an award, and more an arc this year that was lambasted in the comments, but that resonated with me. For very personal reasons.

So, The 2021 ComicBookHarriet Special Recognition Certificate goes to.

HOLLY AND MELINDA

Many in the comments criticized the early part of this arc; where Holly and Melinda reminisce, decide to arrange an alumni event, and then Holly breaks her ankle trying to impress her mom. They felt the relationship was regressive and borderline abusive. And, given the exaggerated characters on display, and everyone bringing their own personal histories to the table, that is a perfectly valid interpretation.

Nothing in Funky Winkerbean this year hit me harder or touched me more.

At the very end of September, I lost my 98-year-old grandma. She’d been declining physically for years, though maintained most of her cognitive function to the very end. Still, her death was a surprise.

My grandma was very much a softer Melinda Budd type. She was Olenna Tyrell from Game of Thrones. She was Violet Crawley from Downton Abbey. Propriety focused, status conscious, but practical. Very particular in the way she wanted things done, but generous to a fault. Occasionally prickly, but devoted to her family.

I adored her.

My mother, on the other hand, is gregarious, and laid-back almost to the point of laziness. Anti-conflict, comfort seeking and giving, a people pleaser. In high-school she’d been a cheerleader and homecoming queen and class president, but as an adult she morphed into a Holly Winkerbean type: warm, soft, and maternal.

For the last fifteen years of my life, I watched my mom and my grandma navigate the difficult transition where child becomes caretaker. They handled it better than many, mostly because my mother left my grandmother as much agency as possible, and my grandmother had the grace and intelligence to admit when she needed to cede some control. But what struck me was that, until the very end, my mom worried what her mom would think, and my grandma worried what my mom was doing.

How many times when I was visiting Grandma in the nursing home in this last year, when she was unable to walk, unable to care for herself, would Grandma ask me how my mom was doing? If she was alright? Because she, of course, didn’t trust my mom to tell her.

How many times would Mom say, ‘don’t tell Grandma this,’ or ‘why did you tell Grandma that?’ Always about something inconsequential, like Mom having a routine doctor’s appointment, or the state of the house, or a story I thought was funny but Mom found embarrassing.

This time last year I hugged her while she choked up; this woman in her 60’s, months away from being a grandma herself. And my mom told me, “I don’t want to lose my mom.” And she said it in a voice like a little girl, and I, her daughter, comforted her like a friend.

The beginning of this arc tapped into that for me. The dynamic between mother and daughter that sometimes you can’t get away from, and sometimes you don’t want to. Such a weird moment to find a connection in, for a strip that usually portrays women with all the nuance and depth of cheap paper dolls.

Maybe it really is as bad as the comments thought, and I was just looking at it through a rosy tear-blurred lens. But before we shut the door on 2021, even if I’m the only one who enjoyed it, I wanted to thank Tom Batiuk for this arc, for showing me a middle-aged woman and her elderly mother bickering and bonding, and reminding me that mother birds are mother birds forever.

Until next time, CBH out.

40 Comments

Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

40 responses to “Closing Ceremony

  1. William R Thompson

    What we’re seeing here is just one more step in Batiuk’s master plan. After he retires he will reveal that there have never been any continuity errors in Funky Winkerbean because each day’s strip represents an event in a slightly different, parallel Funkyverse. Dinkle can be deaf or have perfect hearing; Schroedinger’s Cartoonist can be dead or alive; Mort can be senile or alert; Les can be a schmuck or an asshole. When the strip ends Batiuk will publish his omnibus collection, Crisis on Infantile Westviews.

    • Anonymous Sparrow

      Lisas will live! Lisas will die!

      Unless Lisa will join Ben Parker in the “stays dead” category, which Jason Todd and James Buchanan (Bucky to you) Barnes escaped…

  2. Epicus Doomus

    So are his students just inept losers, or is he a really, really shitty teacher? They all complain about “these kids today”, yet they never DO anything about it. Sigh.

    Thanks to you too, Harriet! Awards week was a blast. And I personally believe BatYip will keep it going indefinitely, I mean Lord knows it’s easy work. I could see FW going on for another ten years, easy.

    • Rusty Shackleford

      It seems like all of the teachers in Westview have a habit of insulting their students. Nice teaching strategy.

  3. Banana Jr. 6000

    “I enjoy having a mute button!” Yeah, Dinkle, because OTHER PEOPLE talk too much around YOU.

  4. sorialpromise

    Give three cheers to Harriet under the gun
    For seven times two days in her hunt for truth
    Mort speaks nine panels for this year
    One single writer on his dark throne.
    In the land of Winkerbean where torments lie.

    One strip to rule them all, one strip to grind them
    One strip to hate them all, and in the darkness drive them
    In the land of Winkerbean where torments lie.

    We salute Stuck Funky
    We thank you TF Hackett
    We appreciate you Epicus Doomus
    We recognize Billy the Skink. Thank you
    WE value the wisdom of SpacemanSpiff85
    We share the joy and laughter from Beckoning Chasm
    We are grateful for the love Harriet has for her grandmother and her mother.
    They love you!

  5. billytheskink

    Fortunately for Dinkle’s students, the mute button works both ways…

    I don’t think I can be Data when you’ve done such a magnificent job on these spreadsheets, CBH. Truly this was the year Funky decided to retake the strip that bears his name. Thank you for running a fantastic awards week. The awards were more fun than I thought they’d be… and I thought they would be quite a lot of fun.

    • I wanted to reinforce the thanks and congratulations for these spreadsheets. It’s amazing to have such data laid out and to compare the impressions we have of the strip versus the actual content.

      Also how the heck was Chester Hagglemore, owner of a comic book company and employer of the upwards of 48 regular characters who make comic books, only able to speak in four panels? I’ve had dialogue in more Funky Winkerbean panels and I’m not even in the strip! The heck?

  6. Epicus Doomus

    Once again I was amazed to see Flash Freeman so high on the list. Somehow Flash became a major FW character without anyone even noticing. I mean, I read this thing every day and if you just asked me to start randomly naming FW characters it’d take me a while before I remembered that Flash even existed, yet he’s in the strip all the freaking time. Based on the numbers above, one can conclude that the Atomik Komix staff never shuts the f*ck up.

  7. ian'sdrunkenbeard

    The reason Dingle has to teach online.


  8. robertodobbs

    The punchline is a whiff because there really isn’t a “mute button” in Zoom or Teams. In a group the person running the meeting can “mute all,” if you did this in a one-on-one meeting the other person would see an icon popping up that they had been muted. Of course there is a button to mute yourself, in case you’re coughing or whatever. What Dinkle would be doing to a student playing unpleasantly would simply be turning his computer’s volume down.

    • gleeb

      I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one who mutes his coughs. Will this lead to a different view of coughing in public? I already feel weird hen I do.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Also, if Dinkle is conducting a remote music lesson, doesn’t he need to be able to hear the student play? A music “lesson” implies it’s for one student at a time. So what’s he “muting” exactly? Who’s the student even talking to? A single music student wouldn’t be talking at all, unless they’re asking the teacher a question, or they’ve got an imaginary friend.

      A music “class” would have made more sense for this gag, since that implies a room full of unruly people.

  9. Maddest of mad props to you, ComicBookHarriet, for your kind words, terrific analysis, and for putting so much of yourself into the often daunting task of comix critique!

  10. Rusty Shackleford

    I wonder if Batty stopped by this week? He certainly would have liked CBH’s post today. He might even enjoy the spreadsheet analysis.

    He should send you guys a little gift for all you do to keep readers coming back day after day. I recall Moy/Brigman sending wanders a little gift a few years back, but maybe Batty is mad we don’t revere his strip the way he wants us to.

  11. The Duck of Death

    When people come in and carp, “If you don’t like the strip, why do you read it?”, I always politely ask them to explain why they like it, or give examples of what’s so good about it. They never, ever do.

    I never ever dreamed that the only intelligent defense of Batiuk I’ve ever seen would come from our own CBH. I guess it takes a harsh critic to dole out truthful praise.

    For the record, what I took from the Melinda/Holly thread was the diametric opposite, and I was one of those who let loose in the comments. But we always project our own life experiences onto fiction, which is one of the things that makes it fun to discuss interpretations. And I loved your story, CBH. It moved me far more than TB is capable of moving me. And I’m so happy that you got something good and uplifting from FW this year. You put more effort into the strip than TB does; I think it owed you something in return.

    • RudimentaryLathe?

      I went off on that arc too and I still hate it, but if it resonated with somebody then I can respect that.
      CBH, I’m sorry to hear of your loss. And this awards week has been awesome; thanks for all you do!

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Tom Batiuk is always trying to push emotional hot buttons that his stories don’t earn. “The mother bird flies with you” is a great example of that. Yes, your relationship to your parents stays with you your whole life, no matter how old you become. But a 60-year-old character being in a hospital with a broken leg because her mother bullied her into doing something stupid isn’t the right time to explore that sentiment.

      That whole story infantilized Holly. First by making her unable to say no to that stupid plan, and then by having Funky effectively side with Melinda by bringing that up. I don’t remember if I posted this, but here was how I thought that story should have ended:

      • ComicBookHarriet

        I don’t know if bullied is the right word for it. When Melinda suggests the alumni event, Holly is pretty gung ho about it right away. I mean, she’s already done Alumni band events in the past too. It’s only when Melinda starts critiquing her preparation and performance that Holly snaps at her.

        • Banana Jr. 6000

          I would say “nagged” at least. There were 2-3 days of Holly saying things like “my pageant days are over” before relenting. It wasn’t clear why Holly changed her mind, and the story flow suggested Holly was pressured into it. Melinda nagging Holly during practice further cemented that notion.

          And I’m sorry if I stepped on your personal story there. It’s great that something in the comic strip spoke to you, and in such a personal way. It shows that FW still has the power to reach people, and could still do that if it wanted to put in some effort.

          • ComicBookHarriet

            No worries! As I said, I’m looking at it through a certain lens. It’s definitely not the only lens you COULD look at it through.

    • Rusty Shackleford

      When our local donut shop was still open and I would see people reading the comics, I would always ask them if they read FW. The typical response was that they didn’t understand what was going on, didn’t like it, too much gloom, etc.

      That said, nearly everyone liked Crankshaft and were regular readers of it.

      We all know FW is nothing but a vanity project for Batty since act 2. A better writer might have been able to age the original characters while bringing in enough interesting new characters to keep things fresh and topical. If you are going to age characters in a strip that revolves around high schoolers, then you need new students! Instead, we get legacy characters awkwardly shoehorned in to implausible situations while the newer characters get pushed aside. It’s all so weird.

  12. The Duck of Death

    How many of you guys have been to the apparently official FW CafePress merch store featured on the sidebar of this site? I say “apparently official” because the images seem random and all appear to be from Act II, which is the kind of lazy set-it-and-forget-it merchandising I’d expect from TB, not from a fan site.

    I mention it because they have mug designs, but they don’t have by far the most iconic mug in the Funkyverse: Harry’s quarter-note mug, which ideally should be sold with it’s accompanying crimped-aluminum-wire 12″ stir-stick.

    Perhaps Tom could sell it in a set with The Green Pitcher from Montoni’s. Trufans would grab that combo up in a second.

  13. Dood

    I always thought the number of comments on a particular day correlated to the overall shittiness of that day’s strip.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      It depends on the kind of shittiness. A lot of FW strips are bad but here’s no much to say about them. If it weren’t for the awards going on, I think this week’s FW strips wouldn’t have attracted much comment, because it’s basically a repeat of comic book store wankery we’ve seen many times in the past. On the other hand, arcs like Funky hijacking an AA meeting for three weeks to talk about his stupid Walkman like it’s a holy relic, are easy to vent at. Les and Dinkle are both deeply horrible people whose mere presence is enough to get the haters talking.

  14. Gerard Plourde

    CBH,

    Thanks for the truly impressive and successful awards program. Most of all, thank you for your insight regarding the Holly/Melinda arc. Because all of my grandparents had died years before I was born, I never had first-hand experience observing my parents navigating the complex parent/grown child relationship.

    Your personal experience filled in the spaces that The Author left in the story he was telling. (I’m tempted to compare it to the way it’s said a poet and reader co-create a haiku, but I think what you brought into the equation to find meaning provided the larger contribution in this case.)

    You, your mom, and the rest of your family are in my thoughts and prayers as you continue to deal with your loss.

  15. To ComicBookHarriet,
    You continue to amaze me with your stellar commentary. It’s always so well researched and coherent. Showing me that, indeed, Funky had 3 times as many speaking panels than TB’s avatar, Les, was an amazing stat. Off hand, I would have never have guessed that.
    Secondly, your commentary relative to mother/daughter relationships struck a chord with me. I was initially critical of Holly and her mother’s relationship and spouted my share of venom toward TB for it. However, your post made me realize I was being short-sighted then and now. It’s not just mother-daughter, it’s also father-son. My Dad passed away 60+ years ago and yet, every day since, every action I’ve taken in my life has been motivated by “would this make my father proud.” We never stop seeking parental love/praise and your post today made me realize I owe TB an apology for my comments on that arc. Thank you in particular (and all who post here in general) for making this site worth visiting. You have my most sincere condolences on the loss of your grandmother.

  16. Outstanding job with the Funky awards this week. I enjoyed the commentary and in depth analysis. I am a sucker for a good spreadsheet. I also appreciate your assessment of the Holly/Melinda arc, reminding us that there are some pearls to be found among the sludge. This web site is the only reason that I continue to read FW every day, and I salute all the hosts and commenters for performing this thankless job.

  17. Perfect Tommy

    What does it say when a fan site is more humorous and gives me more of an emotional response than the source material?

  18. ComicBookHarriet

    Thanks to everyone for enjoying the awards! And for the kind words about my grandma. I debated for a while whether to share it or not, but I always want to give Batiuk the credit I can, if only so I know that when I’m criticizing him that it’s not out of thoughtless habit.

    • be ware of eve hill

      Thank you for creating the awards! I loved them. You had a remarkable stint. I just worry that it was too much of an undertaking to ever do again.

      Your story about your grandma and mother brought a tear to my eye. Your grandma sounds a lot like my mother. Mom was always sacrificing her own interests and putting the family first. She was always busy being “mom.” She never owned a cell phone or logged onto a computer, and always needed help with the VCR or DVR. Mom was the glue that held the family together, and we’ve kind of fallen apart in her absence. My little brother had to take a similar role as your mother with our father. Someone had to take care of Dad, who was declining from Alzheimer’s. As the only child in the state, the duties fell on him. My older brother and I should have been more supportive in our father’s care after mom passed.

      It’s nice that you can find something positive in Funky Winkerbean. One of my mom’s favorite sayings was, “It’s an ill wind that blows no one any good.” ACT III Funky Winkerbean is meandering and self-serving, but positives can be found.

      I, too, would like to thank the hosts of this most enjoyable website. You’ve created a friendly blog where everyone feels welcome. There’s no sniping about politics or name-calling. I probably get more laughs here than anywhere else during my daily comic strip travels.

      Before last summer, I would only occasionally visit the SOSF website. Usually when I was looking for an expert opinion that I couldn’t find in another discussion. I just wish I made it a daily habit earlier.

      Thank you, SOSF! This website is the web’s premiere source of comic strip snark anywhere.

  19. I don’t normally double up on responding to the lead post, but ComicBookHarriet’s spreadsheet is a brilliant work of art. I hope TB notes the message the spreadsheet sends. Such as:
    Cayla Moore spoke less times than Lillian McKenzie (who live in another strip). She spoke half as many times as Les and fewer times than Batton Thomas who only shows up to buy comics. In fact, women don’t talk in this strip at all unless spoken to. Holly spoke less than half the time her husband did and she spoke twice as much as the next woman ion the list n the strip, Harriet.
    This tells you that women in this strip aren’t really spoken to; they’re spoken at and never get the last word. They are the setup for the joke which most of the time is on them. They are accessories on the stage.
    (deep sigh) I know TB won’t fix this eye opening disparity in my lifetime because he has no incentive to do so. But as Maya Angelou said, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” TB should now know better. Again CBH, great work.

  20. Hitorque

    You know how bad this week has been? Three different times (including today) I clicked on the comic link and honestly believed the daily blog author screwed up and linked us to a “rerun” comic from the past in the end-of-year recap…

    Between Batton Thomas and the Big Dink, you could have hung me upside down by my ballsack, put a loaded Beretta to my head and I still would have sworn I’d seen these strips in the paper before…

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      This week of FW has basically been a re-run of “Flash #123” week from last summer. It even hits some of the same notes, like “I had X comic book that is worth Y amount of money now.”

  21. Westview Radiology

    CBH Thanks for all your contributions to the snark I look forward to daily. My deepest condolences on the loss of your grandma. I’ve learned in life that the hurt is there because there was and is love there. Westview Radiology

  22. Suicide Squirrel

    Yet another odd offering from Batyuk. I think he’s attempting a joke but only succeeds in making Dinkle look like an asshole. I’m sure the parents paying Dinkle $50 an hour wouldn’t appreciate him muting their child’s playing. How can an instructor critique the performance if he’s not listening? It’s another example of what several people posted the other day. Why is being cruel funny? Am I being a hypocrite for not realizing that Batyuk is snarking in his own inimitable way?

    Well, ComicBookHarriet, I’m a little disappointed your shift isn’t one day longer. I was looking forward to your spreadsheet ranking the characters by spoken word.

    Seriously, even though I didn’t vote for many winners, the Funky Awards were a blast. Better than the Worthy Awards.

    The most shocking thing to me about today’s spreadsheet is the Atomik Komik staffer with the fewest spoken panels in 2021 was Darin? Fewer than Ruby Lith? A couple of years ago I criticized Darin for taking over Funky Winkerbean. The Spawn of the Sainted Dead Lisa relegated to the background? Say it ain’t so, Duh-Ruin!

    Who the hell is Maris Rogers and why are they saying all those terrible things about her?

  23. spacemanspiff85

    For me it seems weird, Dinkle giving online lessons. I know it’s just a Covid thing, but if you had access to piano instructors from all around the world, why on earth would you pick Dinkle over any of them (or over an app)? Also it’s kind of strange how just about every other time Batiuk depicts an older person using technology in this strip it’s to show them as being baffled and confused by it and to gripe about how things were better in the Roaring Twenties. And if it’s muted, is Dinkle just staring at the kids silently playing piano until they stop and then just telling them to run through it again? Batiuk is really bad at depicting characters who are supposed to be likable or sympathetic.
    Thank you for the nice works, CBH, and for sharing so much about your relationship with your mom and grandmother. I do think it’s great to point out the times when Batiuk’s writing is actually decent or moving. I actually did like a lot more of this strip than I expected I would when I went back a few years ago and read through the archives online. I do think Batiuk can tell a decent or even good story when he wants to, it’s just when he’s spending so much time writing about Atomik Komix, Dinkle, or Lisa, it’s really hard to believe he’s writing for anyone but himself.