This Strip is For the Birds

Link to today’s strip.

First and foremost, a huge shout-out to Comic Book Harriet, for her incredible work over the last two weeks. Lots of thought and effort put into those Funky-award strips. Much more thought and effort than have been used by the strip’s author…and more than I can muster, for sure! I salute you, CBH. The rest of you can look forward to dull entries almost equal in blandness to the actual strips themselves.

As for today’s strip, well, you’ll never guess, but Les has been thinking about Lisa again. “No!” you’re probably all gasping, “Why, he never does that! He totally loves Cayla now and has moved on!”

Well, ha ha to you, totally fictional reader! Les is dwelling on Lisa again.

The thing is, that’s all he does. Why? Because it’s the only thing that makes him special. His eternal flame for Lisa is Les’ only characteristic. And that flame has to be kept alight at all times, because it shines on the only moment that, apparently, means anything to Tom Batiuk: that Pilitzer nomination. That moment has haunted Tom way more than Lisa haunts Les.

Nice artwork in panel one, Ayers. Is that supposed to be Summer? Because it looks like someone from a Hanna-Barbera cartoon. Like, someone who would hang around with Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm when they were teenagers, while Fred hasn’t aged a day. Say, do you suppose…?

51 Comments

Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

51 responses to “This Strip is For the Birds

  1. Epicus Doomus

    Whoa, looks who’s back, all spruced up in a fashionable sweater and jaunty blazer. It’s none other than freaking Summer, one of FW’s most inconsistently drawn characters of all time. She’s essentially Becky with two arms now.

    But yeah, those birds Lisa last fed twenty-five years ago are all long dead by now, Les. And they kept coming back for the bird food, not Lisa. He didn’t bring Summer back out of mothballs for a lousy “Les misses Lisa” arc, did he? Because that ground has already been well, well, well, well covered. “Les looks out the window”…”Les misses Lisa”…if he’s this short on ideas in January, imagine what June will look like.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      >He didn’t bring Summer back out of mothballs for a lousy “Les misses Lisa” arc, did he?

      Yes. Yes he did. Even though Lisa’s been dead for 80% of Summer’s life by now, she’s still sitting there listening to Les whine about Objects Lisa Interacted With. It’s like this comic strip has no theory of mind.

      • Epicus Doomus

        I wonder what Cayla has against birds? I mean, can’t she fill the bird feeder now? They’ve only been married for like ten years, I think at this point it’d probably be OK for her to assume more of Lisa’s former household duties.

        • J.J. O'Malley

          No, no, NO, Epicus! The Sacred Bird Feeder was St. Lisa’s domain, and hers alone! Just like the Holy Videotape Reliquary, no one else save Les– a la Mrs. Danvers in “Rebecca”–can touch these items…certainly not the interloper who dares consider herself the second Mrs. Moore!

          Seriously, though: Between this strip and “Crankshaft,” Batiuk sure puts a lot on energy into thinking up situations involving bird feeders. No jokes, mind you, just situations.

          • Banana Jr. 6000

            That’s really it. Les’ motivation is to run around everywhere and preserve the integrity of Lisa things, as if they need to stay untouched for when she comes back someday. There’s a bench in New York nobody can sit on, a collection of video tapes people need to take instructions from (if Les deems them worthy), and a movie that bombed because Les vetoed all attempts to make it entertaining in the name of “correctness.” And now there’s a friggin’ bird feeder.

            It’s too bad FW can’t be taken over by a better writer. All of this would be a great setup for Les being tortured about his own role in Lisa’s death, and having to confront it someday. Because unlike what Les infamously said to Lisa, it is not okay that she went.

    • Lord Flatulence

      I thought that WAS Becky.

  2. Phil

    Panel Four.
    Kitchen door. Sound effect SLAM
    Sound effect of tires sqealing as a car speeds away.

  3. billytheskink

    Didn’t the birds read the papers? TB was promoting Lisa’s death months before it got printed.

    I’m almost intrigued by this new walk-on from the Pebbles and Bamm Bamm Show, though. Maybe we’ll get a guest appearance from Schleprock tomorrow.

    • Epicus Doomus

      For some reason Summer has always been very poorly drawn but yikes, panel one today is just TERRIBLE. Also, in the pareidolia department, the sad face on Les’ ass really helps to drive the mood of today’s strip home, doesn’t it?

    • J.J. O'Malley

      “Wowzy wowzy woo woo, gang!”

      Get Les an oversize hat and sleeveless coat and I bet he’d be a dead ringer for Bad Luck Schleprock.

  4. Summer showing up after thirteen months’ absence.

  5. Sourbelly

    The birds all showed up, expecting the food to be there. And it was there. It’s like Lisa’s presence or absence didn’t matter at all, as long as we kept filling the food trough. So please weep for me, daughter or whoever you are. Mourning Lisa’s death is the only personality trait Batdick has left me.

  6. William R Thompson

    That’s Summer? Okay, if everyone says so. I took her for Lisa in some flashback where Les said something nice about his mother-in-law. And come on, Summer (if that’s really her) shares Lia’s same exact lack of taste in clothing, hairstyle and innocuous dialog.

  7. robertodobbs

    Why didn’t Les continue to fill the feeder? It’s not that hard and would have been a nice gesture to both Lisa’s memory and the critters.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Because that would force Les to acknowledge that Lisa is gone. Which Tom Batiuk will never, ever let him do. Realizing that you have to handle daily life without someone you’ve lost is a normal and productive part of the grieving process. The time skip was a crutch that freed Les from that, and freed Tom Batiuk from having to write anything outside his comfort zone of moping, smirking, and fetish objects. We’re supposed to believe that Les raised Summer as a single parent, when she’s almost in her 30s now and Les is still driven to emotion by a bird feeder Lisa once touched.

    • Anonymous Sparrow

      He was too busy making wieners and legumes!

    • spacemanspiff85

      He was able to just stand and stare and all the birds coming daily to an empty feeder, somehow, but not able to actually take a few steps and feed them.

  8. ComicBookHarriet

    You bring up something I hadn’t considered, BC. Les is so strongly shackled to Lisa’s death, that Batiuk can hardly conceive of a story involving Les that DOESN’T also involve Lisa’s Story. Except for a absolutely anemic week of ‘school strips’, every time Les showed up last year was in conjunction with either Lisa’s Story the book or Lisa’s Story the movie.

    Is this why last year was the the year of Funky? Because Batiuk wanted to write about house renovations, cataract surgeries, and broken ankles, and he could no longer picture Les doing any of those?

  9. RudimentaryLathe?

    I lost my mom to cancer, and I wanted to like this strip.
    I really did want to. But it’s Les, and we’re going to get
    a lengthy diatribe on – it doesn’t even matter, nobody’s pain is pure like Les’ – something tropey and cringey.

  10. Suicide Squirrel

    Hey Les, do us all a favor. Drop dead and feed the vultures.

    You know, I think Lisa would’ve liked that!

    • be ware of eve hill

      Vulture: *spit* *retch* Nobody eat that! It’s awful! (vomits)

      • Anonymous Sparrow

        ‘T’ain’t the meat, it’s the humanity, as the nauseous cannibal said on a particularly hot day(thank you, Crypt-Keeper).

        Even vultures have standards.

  11. Hitorque

    1. I’m not National Geographic Explorer or Animal Planet, or the Audubon Society, but birds feeding in a typical 21-degree windy Cleveland January with a foot of snow on the ground doesn’t seem like a thing to me…?

    2. Isn’t Summer about that age when she can strongly suggest that her father finally move the hell on with life already?

    3. And since Lester brought up the topic of St. Lisa, now would be a damn good time for Summer to ask about that $100 million dollar budget movie made about her mom a few months back… Did she ever see it? Was she portrayed in the movie, and if so, what did she think?? Did Marianne Winterse and Masone Jarre bring her childhood back to life for a couple hours? How did the “arthouse indie theater” critics rate it? What did her friends and teammates back at Toledo think? Is it being optioned to Amazon Prime? And most importantly, when is daddy going to cut her off a slice of that sweet sweet “author/producer” money that Les got up front? Because Les sure as hell didn’t spend any of it improving his wardrobe or quality of living… Les didn’t think enough about his daughter to invite her input on the production, or even to drag her ass to the wrap party; so doesn’t he “owe” her for lack of a better term?
    Hell, whatever happened to the monies Les got the FIRST time he sold the rights to Lisa’s Story before he decided to pull that “kill fee” bullshittery? Oh don’t tell me — Ghost Lisa appeared to him in the night and said her final edict was that Les keep all the revenues, right? Why does Les worship at the altar of St. Lisa five times a day while the flesh and blood fruit of St. Lisa’s blessed holy uterus is treated like a total afterthought? Maybe Summer needs to dye her hair reddish brown for Les to get the picture?

    4. As an aside, is Summer about to come out of the closet? We all know she’s tomboyish and Batiuk only lets his female characters last so long before permanently attaching them to some random male who’ll probably work at either Montoni’s, Atomikkk Komixxx, Westview High School or the local TV news station…

    • Rusty Shackleford

      Summer sure is ugly, then again she came from ugly parents so…

      Why does Batty have so many ugly female characters? Is it to ensure Cindy looks better by comparison?

      I think he is too late for a very special coming out episode and I’m sure Batty realizes he won’t win any awards for such a story so it’s not going to happen.

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        After living together on campus for 10 years and never being seen with a man, I don’t think Summer and Keisha really need to come out at this point.

        • Rusty Shackleford

          Yeah, I mean I don’t care about that. It just intrigues me why these ladies have to be depicted with such ugly hairstyles. Why does Batty do this?

  12. The Duck of Death

    Hey, look! Summer’s back! The closest thing to St. Lisa herself now living on this planet! The fruit of St. Lisa’s loins! The light of St. Lisa’s life!

    And she’s got a line! Finally, after all these years, I’m sure she’ll have something to say about what it’s like to grow up without a mother. And I’m sure she’ll have opinions on the new Hollywood movie that depicts the mother she barely remembers! Plus, she must have been very busy since we saw her last! Perhaps romance has entered her life? Let’s listen…

    Oh.

    That was unexpected. A woman, in the Funkyverse, serving only as a prompt or echo for a man’s random ruminations? A female existing as a mere appurtenance to a MAN?

    GASP, who would have expected this turn of events. I am shocked.

    • Rusty Shackleford

      Nah, Summer is still just a cheap prop. I wouldn’t be surprised if Batty gives her cancer too, then Les can really gloat about his situation.

      • Gerard Plourde

        When it comes down to it, every character is a “cheap prop” for whatever issue TomBa is highlighting on a given day.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Yeah, it’s kind of strange how little Les values Summer. Or even Darrin, who is also royalty by the rules of succession in Westviewros.

    • be ware of eve hill

      I’m kind of surprised Summer didn’t steal a line from Pam Murdoch and say, “What are you doing, dad?”

  13. Rusty Shackleford

    Crankshaft, go F yourself. Do you ever bring homemade treats in for your team to enjoy? Then STFU .

    My birthday was last week and I used to always bring in treats from a Polish bakery near my house. My team replied last week that they wish we were still going in to the office so that they could have those treats!

    • be ware of eve hill

      I feel sorry for Lena. She’s just trying to be nice but has her kindness thrown back in her face.

      OTOH, she should realize by now that the guys don’t like or appreciate what she is bringing in for them.

      I remember my first job out of college. One morning during my first week, everyone kept peeking into my cubicle. It was my birthday. Everyone I met in the hiring process neglected to inform me that it was customary to bring a couple dozen donuts into the office on your birthday. I brought in donuts the following morning. Making me buy donuts before my first paycheck. Ugh.

  14. Rusty Shackleford

    Aggghhhh, the comics today are getting on my nerves. Over on Mary Worth they are crying about Wilbur and a whole week has passed by.

    Come on. As soon as Wilbur saw that buffet and those bars he moved faster than he ever has! That drunken sunburned whale has been stuffing himself for a week. He thinks he died and went to heaven. And look Dawn is back from school too….hmmm, you think her and Summer have been hooking up?

    • Apparently, just like in Funky Winkerbean, cell phones don’t exist in Mary Worth.

    • gleeb

      When Wilbur washed up alive, I stopped reading.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Wilbur better have one hell of a redemption story after this.

      • ComicBookHarriet

        Exactly. I will give the writers credit if they’re doing this because they realized that they’d made Wilbur so aggressively unlikeable and toxic that the only way to justify giving him any happy ending at all would be to first put him through a purgatorial journey where he must metaphorically smother his old self in order to survive.

        It really was either this, or flat out kill him at this point.

        • But look at his current behavior. He found a resort full of people…and after a week he couldn’t be bothered to call anyone and tell them he’s okay? That tells me he hasn’t changed at all.

          Les almost looks good in comparison.

          • Banana Jr. 6000

            If someone really fell off a cruise ship and washed up on its corporate-owned party island, word would have gotten around the ship before it even returned to port. And a cruise ship on its usual course (i.e., very deep water) would have been too far from any shore for someone in Wilbur’s shape to swim it. To say nothing of the police investigation that would await them upon returning to the mainland. Come on, Mary Worth, you’re better than this.

          • be ware of eve hill

            Hopefully, the people at the resort threw him back in the ocean for the sharks.

            Or that Wilbur’s been shot for trespassing.

        • Rusty Shackleford

          I prefer the latter option.

  15. be ware of eve hill

    Summer: Uh-huh. Wow, thanks for sharing, dad. Can I have my penny back?

    No “Can I get you something to drink?” or “Would you like something to eat?”
    Les appears to be more concerned about the birds eating than his own daughter. Hello! College student on a limited budget.

    No “nice to see you” or “how are your classes?”

  16. be ware of eve hill

    As others have mentioned, that is one unusual looking Summer in panel #1. It’s like Ayers forgot what she looked like. Then while drawing panel #3 he remembered but didn’t bother going back and fixing panel #1 to match.

    Summer’s appearance in panel #1 reminds me of when Rick Burchett drew Funky Winkerbean. I guess Burchett never checked out Mindy Murdoch’s appearance in Crankshaft because he decided to make her look like a blonde department store mannequin. That’s why I called her Mannequin Mindy in the comments. Burchett’s facial expressions for Mindy, especially her laughing face, were downright creepy.

  17. spacemanspiff85

    Just a few days about we were talking about how badly Batiuk writes women, and here we have Summer, whose only purpose is to allow Les to ramble on about how he’s still paralyzed in mourning for his dead Lisa, while his living wife Cayla is nowhere to be found. I wonder if Cayla was originally supposed to fill Summer’s role, but Batiuk realized substituting “your mother” for “my one and only true wife” was better.