The Phantom Menace

Link to today’s strip.

So, Day Two of “Lisa Loved to Feed The Birds.” It’s a nice enough thing to do, sure, but it’s very low cost in terms of time and effort. You put out bird seed. Later, the birds eat it. It’s not like rescuing stray dogs, where you have to open up your home and take actual care of another creature.

Which is the obvious answer to Summer’s question in panel one. “Me? Give a damn about someone other than myself? Not likely! You screwed up, Summer–yes, you did.”

And of course his dialog in the third panel is stupid extraordinaire. “Oh my goodness, there’s a human-shaped form out there feeding the birds! It must be Lisa’s g-g-g-g-ghost!”

At least Summer looks like Summer this time. Not sure if that’s a good thing or not. I mean, she’s still Summer and will have to live with that.


Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

61 responses to “The Phantom Menace

  1. William R Thompson

    Aw, Jeeze, is it going to be Caucayla feeding the birds? Is this going to be how Les knew she was the one? Why couldn’t it have been Les feeding the fishes?

  2. It’s a nice enough thing to do, sure, but it’s very low cost in terms of time and effort.

    I picked up my birdfeeding habit from my Dad, and a “Squirrel-B-Gone™” feeder can be seen out the window of my home office. It’s a wonderfully relaxing and entertaining hobby, but I wouldn’t call it “low cost…” I buy the good stuff for my birbs. The generic “wild bird seed” is mostly filler in the form of millet and milo which the birds scatter as they dig for the sunflower seeds.

    • Sourbelly

      Wait, are you saying you actually found a squirrel-proof birdfeeder? We’ve tried several, and those cute li’l fur-bastards have foiled every single one. Except for the hummingbird feeder. I guess squirrels don’t care about pure glucose.

      I feel like this comment is inappropriate for this blog. Sorry.

    • Epicus Doomus

      “And then I realized I’d probably have to bury her after all. I was just crestfallen”.

    • I meant “low cost” in terms of effort, not money. I think it’s more labor intensive to rescue stray dogs, find homes for kittens abandoned by their mother (like Summer!) or help injured deer, or even stand there while a crayfish finds its way back to the pond, but helping needy animals is always a great thing to do.

    • The Nelson Puppet

      If Les Moore had Tom Batiuk’s work ethic…

    • Rusty Shackleford

      Yep I buy the good stuff too. And now that I work from home, I can sit at my desk and watch them.

      We had a Westview level snowstorm on Sunday and Monday and so the birds have been eating me out of house and home this week.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      I appreciate the time and effort you put into that comic. Very funny.

  3. Dick Johnson

    I think I’ve found the winner of next years award for most punchable Les face

  4. Epicus Doomus

    (Looks out window) “Sigh. Not a lot going on out there today. Hey! Of course! The bird feeder!”.

    (Glances around room, sees “Lisa’s Story” sculpture on shelf) “Lisa! What if…LISA used to like feeding the birds! Les could wistfully reflect on it, and…hmmm, why would he be reflecting on that, though? Oh, yeah! Summer! Lisa’s daughter! It’s all really coming together now!”.

    At one time I remember thinking that maybe he finally got tired of doing these Golden Lisa Memories arcs, but it turned out that he was merely resting. This is probably the thinnest Les & Lisa premise yet, at least as of today. I mean, Summer is back for the first time in years and Les is reminiscing about twenty-five year old hallucinations he had, it’s just such a desperate reach.

    • Sourbelly

      In recent months, most of us SOSF snarkers figured that the Les story was completely played out. He got his movie made, it sucked, and Les could fully, peacefully (and SILENTLY) ruminate in his misery. There was nothing else to say about him. And there was much rejoicing.

      So much for that. Perhaps Batdick is reviving this Lisa Death Cult with some supernaturalism? We’ve witnessed her ghost’s impact on the real world before. Why not ramp it up a few notches?

      I’d like to think that’s not where this is going, but optimism has always been a fool’s game in this strip.*

      *Also see: Wilbur Weston’s undeath.

      • Y. Knott

        One of the reasons this community keeps returning to this strip is that we know that any given storyline will be badly written and stupid … but we can never accurately predict the specific way it will be badly written and stupid.

        The entertainment value of Funky Winkerbean remains its ability to surprise. We know this story will suck … but in what way will it fulfill our expectations, while somehow still going beyond them to suck in a way we hadn’t even considered?

      • Epicus Doomus

        I genuinely believe he was just looking out his studio window and saw his bird feeder. He made Lisa the center of the story because he couldn’t think of any other way to work the bird feeder into it. And Summer is only there to give Les a reason to bring up Lisa in the first place, as if he did that with Cayla it’d be too weird.

      • The Nelson Puppet

        Phil Holt was a stalking horse for the inevitable RES-ERECTION of Lisa Moore: “Phil and Lisa weren’t really dead…they were just in purgatory.”

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        most of us SOSF snarkers figured that the Les story was completely played out.

        It is completely played out. But that’s no obstacle to Tom Batiuk revisiting it again.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Les is now reminiscing about reminiscing about Lisa.

    • J.J. O'Malley

      So, does this mean that Batiuk can write off sunflower seeds and suet cakes on his 2021 income tax forms as legitimate business-related expenses (notice I didn’t say “work-related,” because there’s no work involved in writing this series of strips)?

    • Rusty Shackleford

      It couldn’t simply have Cayla feed the birds, only Lisa can do that.

  5. billytheskink

    Obviously, it was Phil Holt who fed the birds. Lisa must have mentioned it to him.

    • Anonymous Sparrow

      Are you sure that it wasn’t the Bird Woman from “Mary Poppins”?

      Early each day to the steps of St. Paul’s
      The little old bird woman comes
      In her own special way to the people she calls
      Come, buy my bags full of crumbs

      Come feed the little birds, show them you care
      And you’ll be glad if you do
      Their young ones are hungry
      Their nests are so bare
      All it takes is tuppence from you

      Feed the birds, tuppence a bag
      Tuppence, tuppence, tuppence a bag
      Feed the birds, that’s what she cries
      While overhead, her birds fill the skies

      All around the cathedral the saints and apostles
      Look down as she sells her wares
      Although you can’t see it, you know they are smiling
      Each time someone shows that he cares

      Though her words are simple and few
      Listen, listen, she’s calling to you
      Feed the birds, tuppence a bag
      Tuppence, tuppence, tuppence a bag

  6. be ware of eve hill

    Yet another Funky Winkerbean strip I don’t understand. Les didn’t fill the bird feeder because he thought he saw Lisa’s ghost do it? Couldn’t Les see that the birdfeeder was still empty? Did Les believe that the birdfeeder was full of ghost birdseed?

    Sounds like a flimsy excuse not to do it.

    • The Duck of Death

      “Dad, did you leave all the dirty dishes in the sink again?”

      “It’s okay, Summer, Ghost St. Lisa washed them.”

      “Huh? The sink is still full of rancid –”


      • be ware of eve hill


        Of course, we all know Not-Ghost Cayla will end up washing the dishes. Anything to please the sorrowful one. Cayla always bends over backward to please Les but receives little in return.

        What did Lisa do that was so great except die? Did Lisa ever serve Les cocoa, served lovingly in a white mug? I don’t recall ever seeing that.

  7. Gerard Plourde

    “So after Mom died…did you start feeding the birds yourself?”

    Summer wasn’t an infant when Lisa died. Doesn’t she have any memory of how the birds got fed? And wouldn’t sharing an activity like that be a natural way for a widowed parent and his daughter to remember mom and to bond with each other?

    This is written like it is being spoken by someone who wasn’t present for these events.

    Are we going to find out that the Queen of Murania was doing the feeding? That makes about as much sense. Or perhaps the ghost of Zanzibar The Murder Chimp’s victim, Valerie. That would make just as much sense.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Speaking of not being present for these events: Lisa was bed-ridden at the end of her life, and then died in the hospital. She couldn’t even feed the birds when she was alive! Did Les forget that too?

  8. ComicTrek

    Wait, what? Time out! Summer and her dad were inseparable after Lisa’s death and did everything together. How wouldn’t she know that?

  9. Banana Jr. 6000

    That’s great, Les. Take your thorazine.

  10. Hitorque

    1. Just your daily reminder that Lester holds everything St. Lisa ever touched or owned or even interacted with right down to the stale oxygen in their house SACRED AND ETERNAL BECAUSE EVERYTHING ASSOCIATED WITH ST. LISA MUST BE PRESERVED IN TRIBUTE NO MATTER HOW SMALL OR MUNDANE…

    1a. Yet Lisa and Lester’s only daughter is treated like a 100% afterthought by Batiuk because reasons… God forbid he try to develop Summer into a moderately interesting character or something since she’s literally an adult now…

    1b. God help us, Les is about to work this whole bird feeder thing into another bestselling Lisa book, isn’t he?

    2. And where pray tell is Cayla in all this? If Les is home from work that means she is too, right? Why does Les refuse to find solace in his LIVING wife, who in spite of all rational logic seems to actually love him?

    3. I’m sorry because I wasn’t reading during the full Lisa Saga, but were there ANY genuinely happy memories that Les has from the Lisa years? Because all I’ve ever seen is “SAD BECAUSE ME AND FIRST WIFE USED TO DO STUFF BUT NOW SHE’S DEAD” and even in the flashbacks I’ve never seen anything much besides “SAD BECAUSE WIFE DYING”…

    3a. I was foolishly hoping that Les was going to finally snap out his misery porn once and for all during the $100 million Lisa Movie Production (or at the bare minimum, either Masone, Marianne or Cindye would bludgeon him with a Clue Bat and truth bomb him into submission), but Batiuk wasn’t ever going to let that happen.

    3b. But at some point in this Funkyverse timeline, one or more legacy characters will have to scream at Les that he isn’t the only person in the fucking world to have lost a loved one, and losing things we love is a part of life… Instead of bitching and moaning for 17 years, just be thankful for the time you DID have together…

    4. I know I’ve asked this before, but has anyone suggested Les consult an emotional health professional? Because he’s been stuck on Stage 4 of the grief scale every day for the past what, 16-18 years? And seriously — How long were he and Lisa married? 6-7 years maybe? Certainly he’s been married to Cayla for longer than that, right? He just doesn’t seem of sound mind right now… Nevermind the fact that he can’t let go of St. Lisa if he wanted to because his little cottage industry of Lisa books movies and videotapes has made him wealthy and famous. Anybody else seeing the disconnect here?

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Yes, it’s all a massive disconnect. But Funky Winkerbean has no theory of mind. Tom Batiuk is blind to everything except what he wants for his self-insertion characters. He can’t even imagine that other people in Westview might find Les a little tiresome. Or that they wouldn’t let a friend wallow in self-pity for this many decades. But you’re absolutely right: Lisa is a constant elephant in the room, Les desperately needs counseling, and his friends should be pressing him to move on by now.

      And there’s another elephant in the room that always gets glossed over: Lisa chose to die. And Les didn’t do jack squat to try and keep her alive. Even if she had terminal cancer, it could have been managed for a while. But that was too much work, apparently, so she lectured Congress that they weren’t doing enough to save her. So I fail to see why her death is such a grand tragedy we should weep over constantly.

      • hitorque

        She actually lectured congress?? I’m so very happy I missed that.

        Where in the hell does Lisa Freaking Moore get off grandstanding in front of congress complaining that they haven’t waved a magic wand and eradicated all cancer?

        Did she give a piece of her mind to the National Institutes of Health, too?

        • Banana Jr. 6000

          Yeah, that’s more or less what she did. Holly was part of some breast cancer group that was making a trip to testify before Congress. Of course, Lisa hijacked the whole thing and made it about herself, while everyone else applauded. Some senator really should have grilled her “then why did you decline treatment?” (Or maybe the story hand-waved that some way that I don’t remember.) Imagine her trying to pull her crappy sob story on Mitch McConnell or Charles Schumer.

        • billytheskink

          The worst/best part of that story was that Holly and the cancer awareness organization she was a part of organized the trip and the testimony before congress… for Holly. Lisa invited herself along (Miss Manners gasped audibly) and then completely hogged the microphone like the whole thing was her idea.

          • Smirks 'R Us

            I just LOVE how Holly looks exactly like Cindy who looks exactly like Mindy. BatHack has the Anon-O-Blonde look down pat.

            As Sir Charles Barkley would say, turrible.

          • spacemanspiff85

            It’s kind of funny how old Holly used to be depicted as hot, and basically on the same level as Cindy in attractiveness. Now she’s got the horrible potato-faced look most of the female characters have.

          • Hitorque

            1. Wow it’s even worse than I thought it would be.

            2. Help me out, exactly what the hell does Holly Budd do for a living? It’s cool that she’s giving her time and effort to advocate for a righteous cause; I’m just wondering how she got involved since she has no personal stake in cancer research funding…

            3. The stupid part is maybe the Lisa Movie is a hell of a lot more interesting and successful when you toss in stuff like her library of hidden VHS tapes from beyond the grave and testifying before a Senate committee… But no way in hell would Les allow that in the screenplay…

            4. Sorry but I have to ask: What in the name of hell happened to Hottie I mean Holly Budd between the ages of 33 and 53?? Because she clearly stopped giving a shit about life and let herself go…

            4a. Just your daily reminder that Cindye Sommerse-Winkerbeane-Jarre is Holly’s age YET AT AGE 59 SHE LITERALLY LOOKS THE EXACT SAME NOW AS HOLLY DID WHEN SHE WAS 28(!)

            5. Sorry but I have to ask: Between Holly and Cindye, how in the name of hell did Funkmaster Flex not only score, but wife up the two most desired women in town? What kind of Archie Andrews voodoo witchcraft bullshittery is this?! Dude, TEACH ME THE WAYS OF WOMEN ALREADY!! I mean, it’s not like Funkensteiger is funny or intelligent ofgood looking or wealthy or influential or charismatic or has a winning personality.

            So the only possible explanation left is Dr. Funk is hung like a horse and really knows how to boink a lady’s brains out in the most depraved manner imaginable?

          • Charles


            Between Holly and Cindye, how in the name of hell did Funkmaster Flex not only score, but wife up the two most desired women in town?

            Lack of imagination on the part of his writer, along with the fact that no one can move on from their peer group after high school. Batiuk had Cindy and Holly while Funky was the only unpaired dude, so….

            And even Mason wasn’t available until Les got him to come to Westview and opened his home to him.

            (BTW, was there ever anything in Act I that would have suggested that Funky and Cindy would get together after high school?)

          • batgirl

            @ Hitorque – Holly’s personal stake in cancer treatment is that she had breast cancer and had a mastectomy. There’s a strip where she takes her shirt off and shows Lisa the scar. And no, I have no idea what that was supposed to accomplish in terms of reassurance.

    • Professor Fate

      Just to add to the suggestion that Les has a serious mental problem – not only has he seen Lisa (and danced with her) he also spoke to her on the phone as she warned him about taking a plane (which as far as we know did not cash) Add to that the fantasy/hallucinations he had when he was writing the Lisa’s Story screen play and that he has more than once interacted with a talking cat (who insults him) at moments of stress and you realize you are dealing with a very very ill human being which explains why everything EVERYTHING has to be just so – if not his hold on reality will shatter and he’s back with the talking cat. He’s still a dick though.

      • The Duck of Death

        Yes: you can be mentally unwell and ALSO an asshole. Two independent traits that can occur together. Les is a prime example.

    • be ware of eve hill

      Lisa was Batty’s favorite punching bag. She was never a strong character. She had life crap all over her then she died. Then her ghoul of a husband made a profitable industry out of her death. There is nothing compelling about Lisa at all.

      Lisa was coerced into having sex with Evil Frankie which resulted in her getting pregnant with Darin. Lisa was disowned by her parents when she became pregnant and they never spoke to her again. Later this was retconned into rape because Batty didn’t want Dead St. Lisa willingly getting sullied by an immoral cad.

      Further tragedies include almost getting killed in a post office bombing, being an indifferent attorney who frequently failed to serve her clients, and the improbable medical chart mixup. I’m sure I missed a few other unfortunate events.

      The strips @BillyTheSkink included today show where Lisa hijacked Holly’s trip to testify before congress. What did Lisa accomplish? That cancer is bad and there needs to be a cure? Wow, wish somebody else thought of that. Lisa was so brave! /s

      As BJr6K mentioned, Lisa had affordable healthcare but decided to forgo treatment. And she’s lecturing Congress that something needs to be done? Hello?! Talk about people living in glass houses.

      Lisa, the activist-testifying lawyer was so uninvolved she didn’t even file one lawsuit in her own case. A lawsuit that could have paid for much of Summer’s 10-year college career. What a difference she made to no one! You go, girl! /s

      Lisa rolled over and died when she had a young daughter who needed her. Instead of spending time with her daughter, she makes countless videotapes? Is there a tape on handling anger issues over a selfish mother? Unconscionable. I wouldn’t blame Summer if she has issues.

      Lisa’s death didn’t even serve in bringing Summer and Les closer together. Summer’s only purpose was to be a “lifeline” to pull Les back from the brink after HIS bereavement. Not serve as an actual child who needed her sole surviving parent to be a man and be there for her. It would have been a great story to show Les raising Summer but Batty lacks the emotional investment for character development. When has Batty ever delivered?

      Lisa was insecure, pathetic, and had terrible taste in men.

      Les is such a narcissist/sociopath that apart from him, there are no other real people in the world. Even Lisa didn’t exist in her own right. She was merely an extension of his ego. Batty is kidding himself. It’s not Lisa’s Story, it’s Les’s Story. It’s a twenty-year odyssey of narcissistic, egocentric, emotionally overwrought necrophilia that has become a cash cow for Les.

  11. Charles

    So much of what makes Les loathsome and makes Batiuk a terrible writer can be drawn from the fact that Les, when he is talking to his child, never calls her mother “Mom”, and instead calls her by her first name.

    Part of me thinks that he skipped ten years because he knew that if he showed Les behaving this way with a four year old child, it’d be a real bad look. That’s the part of me that’s apparently unaware of just how terrible a writer Batiuk is and doesn’t realize that he doesn’t consider these things at all.

    • Charles

      I also see that Batiuk has decided to let Summer become an adult, based on the fact that she’s wearing a black cardigan over a magenta top, which every adult woman in this stupid strip wears for over half their appearances.

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        Good eye. I wonder if Summer will soon have a small child, with no explanation of where it came from or who fathered it.

        • The Duck of Death

          Just wait for it. She comes home for the holiday with Billy. Uh, Buddy. Billy. …Benny? Whatever. People’s names change, okay? Stop being such a hidebound literalist.

          The point is that Les will glance at his and Lisa’s grandson morosely, then return to his bird feeding ruminations, or his vast catalogue of Lisa’s VHS Tapes Whereby She Commands All Live Their Lives to Her Glory.

          BTW, anyone check the Battyblog? It’s got a relevant entry about videotapes.

  12. Rusty Shackleford

    I love ghost Lisa as she encapsulates the stupidity of this strip.

    And wow, she feeds the birds, well so do I. Who cares. But unlike idiot Lisa who probably drove around to several stores in search of birdseed, I get mine online as I’m too lazy to go to a store. I guess I’m not a hero like Lisa.

  13. Perfect Tommy

    Incaseofanemergencybreakglass back up wife Cayla really needs to ghost Les.

  14. Smirks 'R Us

    Forgive me if this has been mentioned already but there is no way Less, in a conversation with their daughter, would say “I thought I saw Lisa…”, any functioning semi-normal person would say “I thought I saw your Mom…”. As usual BatHack makes this about his avatar, ignoring anyone else in the room.

    Run, Cayla, Run.

  15. The mystery Bird feeder Filler is… The Pizza Monster.

  16. Maxine of Arc

    Lisa is boring.

  17. none

    For once, I can sympathize with Les in a manner for today’s strip, as nobody would voluntarily want to be anywhere near his person or property. I’d be surprised too.

  18. spacemanspiff85

    He says he didn’t feed them “right away” because “one morning” he thought he saw Lisa. Meaning there was a decent amount of time after Lisa died and before he thought he saw her feeding them. Meaning he couldn’t be bothered to feed them for a while and then apparently Ghost Lisa showed up and did it herself. So the answer to Summer’s question is basically just “no”,
    Really, the answer to any question that starts “After Mom died did you start . . .” is just a flat out no, unless it ends with “milking her death for everything you possibly could”. Because he hasn’t done anything else.

  19. Dood

    Didn’t the “hero” and the “martyr” have an aquarium as well? Didn’t Lisa sleep with the fishes?

  20. The Duck of Death

    “And I can’t decide which one I love the most:
    The flesh and blood, or the pale, smiling ghost.
    My wife and my dead wife
    Am I the only one who sees her?
    My wife and my dead wife
    Doesn’t anybody see her at all?”

    Hey, if Mary Worth/Karen Moy can quote Robyn Hitchcock, so can I.

    Although it’s not entirely apropos, because we all know which one Les loves the most, and which one he gives not two shits about.

  21. Gerard Plourde

    Missing dialogue from Panel 2 that explains everything:

    Summer: So after Mom died…did you start feeding the birds yourself?

    Les: Not right away… after Children and Youth Services removed you into foster care because of my negligent parenting skills, which as you know lasted for a decade…

    • spacemanspiff85

      Oh yeah, there’s also that element, where Les apparently fed Summer a diet of nothing but hot dogs and Montoni’s pizza until he got married to Cayla and she did the cooking. Yet somehow Summer grew up into a basketball phenom.

      • Y. Knott

        Somehow? In a world where cigarettes cure Alzheimer’s….

      • Charles

        If Batiuk was willing to show what a turd Les was consistent with how he was actually portrayed in those 10 years between Acts II and III, he could have had Les basically pull his “Lisa’s Dead Poor Me I Have a Child But My Overwhelming Grief Prevents Me From Parenting Her” act on every woman he knew, to the point where Linda, Holly, Donna, etc, made him roughly 280 dinners each year because they felt so sorry for him. Show him making an industry out of it. The remaining 85 days he gets Montoni’s or “McArnold’s”. Summer gets lunch at school/camp/foraging at the neighbors and for breakfast? She can pour cereal in a bowl, can’t she?

        Totally wouldn’t have been out of character or out of place in this strip. At least then Les could be a compelling and obvious-to-even-Batiuk turd.

      • batgirl

        My theory is that she hung out at the Bushkas’ and they fed her and Bull shot baskets with her.