Well, I’m Convinced (But How to Prove It?)

Link to today’s strip.

Yeah, Les, it has to be Lisa’s ghost. To paraphrase Peter Venkman, no human being would be able to fill the bird feeder like that.

We all have our pet peeves about what we hate in this strip. I, like many of you, hate the restatement of the previous strip as a question. I know it’s a holdover from when comic strips were exclusive to newspapers, thus someone might miss an episode and need to be brought up to speed, but to quote John Howard’s clumsy phrase, “Those days are long gone in the rear view mirror.”

Still, the zeppelins have to be filled somehow.

68 Comments

Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

68 responses to “Well, I’m Convinced (But How to Prove It?)

  1. Epicus Doomus

    Check out Summer in panel one. She looks like every FW reader upon seeing today’s strip…weary, beaten, defeated, lifeless. I’ve been reading this thing long enough to know that it very well could have been Lisa filling that bird feeder, as she was still popping up all the freaking time during early Act III. But it probably wasn’t.

    It’s already Wednesday and there’s still been no explanation as to why Summer is suddenly around. Is she still in school? She’s in her ninth year (aka a “triple freshman”) at KSU and she’s already pushing thirty, so what gives? Is her smart, sassy business attire indicative of anything and if so, what? The always miserable Les is droning on about his bird feeder and his dead wife, meanwhile a once-major character who hasn’t had a line of dialog in years is standing there doing nothing but feeding Les dialog cues.

    • Charles

      She also looks as though someone’s been beating her with a 2×4. Her eyes are looking in different directions and one’s half-closed!

      She’s also touching her face in concern, which is another adult woman move. There must be a constant hushed woman’s voice saying “ohhhh” in the Funkyverse considering how often that shows up.

  2. William R Thompson

    The bird feeder was half-full? How appropriate! This strip is half-assed and the characters are half-wits

  3. William R Thompson

    “Yeah, dad, it must have been mom’s ghost. It couldn’t have been a neighbor who didn’t want to see the birds stay well-fed, or one of those eager women who hounded you while mom was dying. That wouldn’t be special enough for you!”

    • Rusty Shackleford

      Panel 4 should be Cayla standing to the side with her arms crossed saying “There’s only one lady around here that does everything for your father, including filling that damn bird feeder, and her name ain’t Lisa!”

  4. billytheskink

    Well that just proves it wasn’t Lisa. Had she been filling the bird feeder it would have always wound up half-empty…

    • Hannibal's Lectern

      I made a comment over at CK yesterday, which seems more appropriate to the bird feeder situation today:

      The OPTIMIST says the bird feeder is half full.
      The PESSIMIST says the bird feeder is half empty.
      The “Funky Winkerbean” reader says “what’s it matter; there’s nothing but crap* in there anyway.”

      *OK, I used the “poop” emoji to get around the CK nannybot.

  5. erdmann

    Today the role of Summer is being played by Mopey Pete.

    “And then one day I went out to check the feeder and there was a note.”
    “A note?”
    “Yes. A note signed with an ‘L.'”
    “What did the note say?”
    “It said ‘Dear Les, as long as you’re going to check the feeder every day, why don’t YOU just fill the damn thing so I can finally, permanently retire to a warmer clime? A much, much warmer clime that is still less awful than Westview.'”

    • Epicus Doomus

      Summer = Mopey Pete was a running gag around here way, way back in the day, back when Summer was a major character. Gritty, yet unbearably twee, just like her mom. Although in fairness, Summer was definitely grittier than Lisa ever was. Now I could be imagining this, but I seem to remember something about Pete flirting with Summer, although I hope I’m mistaken.

      • erdmann

        Gah! Not sure which fills me with more revulsion; the idea that Pete and Summer might actually be the same person, or the thought of Pete and Summer hooking up (and possibly *shudder* spawning young).

        • Epicus Doomus

          I seem to remember them flirting in Montoni’s and the general sense that it was kind of creepy, but I’m pretty sure it never went beyond that. Summer has never been “romantically linked” to anyone as far as I can recall. I think Cory took her out on a pity date once, and Owen and Cody were swooning over her at least once, but that’s it. It’s kind of odd, as Batiuk never misses an opportunity to pair up his characters. There’s always been speculation re: Keisha, but that’s just hearsay. I’ve always held out hope that Summer was the Gay Prom Scenery Mystery Character Who Wasn’t Sure If They Were Gay Or Not Yet But Wanted To Feel Included If It So Happened That They Were, aka the most noncommittal character ever. But it’ll never happen.

          • Charles

            Summer’s just too special for any man to be good enough for her. The only question I have is if Batiuk will once again have dudes inexplicably express interest in her before it peters off to nothing, or if he doesn’t have the stamina for even that story.

            I think the strip featuring Mopey seeming to hit on Summer was the one where he said he thought his life or summer or something was looking up because she was waitressing at his one hangout. (Montoni’s, inevitably) It may have ultimately been harmless, but it certainly looked at the time as if he was planning on going after her romantically. I don’t think they had any relationship prior to that.

          • Banana Jr. 6000

            I think Batiuk abandoned the story when remembered that Pete was about 35 at the time.

      • gleeb

        Yes, when she was a high-school-aged waitress and he had returned from New York and was still failing to write Superman.

    • Anonymous Sparrow

      “A much, much warmer clime” has me imagining a comedic and philosophical dialogue along the lines of Shaw’s “Don Juan in Hell” sequence in *Man and Superman.*

      Naturally, the “Lisa in Hell” segment (four characters: Lisa, Les, Frankie and Bull?) would come from a longer work called *Les and Unless.*

      A penny for the Old Starbuck, Mahatma Kane Jeeves!

  6. erdmann

    Oh, and as for filling the zeppelins, might I suggest hydrogen? It burns ever so brightly and thoroughly.

  7. RudimentaryLathe?

    Les is so repulsive. As I mentioned before my mom died from cancer, and honestly my dad never really recovered from the loss very well. But I can tell you two things:
    Dad has dated a few women but has not remarried, because he knows better than to treat another woman like a consolation prize if he doesn’t have the same feelings he had with Mom.
    He has always been available to support my sister and me. ( Also he calls Mom “your mom” when he talks about her instead of that weird first name thing Les insists on).
    That’s why I hate Les. Nothing matters but him. He’s a shit father, a shit friend, and certainly a shit husband.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      It makes no sense from Summer’s perspective. Summer was only 5 or 6 years old when her mother died. She’d have almost no memory of Lisa. Being raised only by her clueless father would largely define who she is. This was a plot point in A League Of Their Own, where an especially un-feminine gal (no, not Rosie O’Donnell) had this upbringing, and struggled with the charm school classes the team had to go through.

      Tom Batiuk’s writing is so poor that he can’t even imagine the perspective of anyone other than his Mary Sue character. Hell, might Summer be a little bitter at her mom, now that she’s an adult and can understand the choice Lisa made to opt out of Summer’s life? Does Summer even know Lisa declined treatment, considering how the myth of Lisa is told in Westview? What’s her relationship with Cayla? As others have asked, what’s the role of the book and the still-new movie in this? How much did those damn video tapes mess with her head?

      There are so many storytelling angles Batiuk could have pursued here. But he’s amazingly uninterested in anything but propping his cow up for another milking.

  8. Sourbelly

    Yesterstrip, I assumed that after he saw Undead Lisa feed the birds, he was inspired to start feeding them himself. But if that were the case, the half-full bird feeder wouldn’t be mysterious at all. So I guess this means that he NEVER fed the birds, and just left it up to Zombie Lisa. And he’s just now telling his long-lost acquaintance about this?

    I’m confused. It’s almost like Batdick didn’t put much thought into this story.

    Also, is there a terrifying flock of birds swarming toward the Moore windows in panels 2 and 3? That could turn out to be interesting.

    • Y. Knott

      That could turn out to be interesting.

      This line of thought is virtually always a mistake when pondering potential future Funky Winkerbean plot developments.

    • J.J. O'Malley

      Also, is there a terrifying flock of birds swarming toward the Moore windows in panels 2 and 3? That could turn out to be interesting.

      Clearly you’ve never seen “Birdemic: Shock and Terror.” Although, now that I think about it, the image of the Moores going out to replenish the bird feeder and having to wave coat hangers in the air to protect themselves from hovering-in-place eagles would be something to see. Maybe Batiuk is setting this up as his definitive statement on the perils of climate change and global warming. Maybe Les, Summer, and Les’s current wife who isn’t Dead St. Lisa could drive to Lake Erie and catch fish and seaweed (lakeweed?) for a picnic. Aaaaah…I hear a mountain lion! I gotta get back to my house and you better get to your comments!

    • Hannibal's Lectern

      “It’s almost like Batdick didn’t put much thought into this story.”

      Well, some comic writers work very quickly, knocking off a week’s worth of strips in a morning and still hitting the links before lunch (as Bill Watterson once described an un-named cartoonist). Others work at a glacial pace, laboring over each and every word.

      Battocks neither rushes nor drags in his “it’s called writing” process. He is neither fast nor slow, but in the middle. Yes, he is…

      wait for it…

      hold on, it’s coming…

      “half-fast.”

      I’ll let myself out.

  9. ComicBookHarriet

    “Zeppelins need to be filled somehow…”

    May I suggest hydrogen?

  10. Gerard Plourde

    I’m convinced that there’s a supernatural aspect to this story – TomBa resorted to the technique of automatic writing in putting it on paper. It’s certainly sufficiently disjointed and half baked.

    • Automatic writing produced much better results. Have you played the Exquisite Corpse game? Funky Winkerbean would be much improved.

      • Gerard Plourde

        True. I haven’t played Exquisite Corpse but French Surrealist André Breton was a practitioner of automatic writing and his work holds together better than TomBa’s.

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        It’s from Ghostbusters:

        Off topic: we’ve all mentioned Eddie Deezen as the actor we’d love to see play Les Moore in a movie. But I want to see Rick Moranis’ take on the character.

        • billytheskink

          The fact that no Funky Winkerbean character deserves a talent like Rick Moranis aside, Moranis would be a great choice for making a Les Moore movie character bearable in that he would surely bring both humor and humanity to him. He would be a terrible choice for capturing the character of Les as TB has written him, which is why Eddie Deezen’s gift for playing insufferable characters in a shallow way is so often pointed to around here.

        • The Duck of Death

          Moranis would be an interesting choice for other reasons. He took a nearly 25-year break from acting after his wife died of breast cancer in February 1991. From a People profile:
          ————
          … The couple shared two children — Rachel and Mitchell.

          Moranis slowly left public life after her death to focus on being a single father, but he’s never retired from the business, as he told The Hollywood Reporter in 2015.

          “I took a break, which turned into a longer break… Stuff happens to people all the time, and people make adjustments, change careers, move to another city,” he told THR. “Really, that’s all I did.”

          While Moranis left Hollywood to focus on being present for his children, he didn’t express regret at his decision.

          “I was working with really interesting people, wonderful people,” he said. “I went from that to being at home with a couple of little kids, which is a very different lifestyle. But it was important to me.”
          ———-
          What I’m trying to say here is that Rick Moranis is who Les wants to be. Talented, creative, but also capable of deep introspection and caring. And a real mensch. In other words, the diametric opposite of Les.

          • The Duck of Death

            I have to add: Here’s a guy who went from a movie star, working with the best in the business, to being a househusband and single dad. And instead of beating his breast about how deep his grief was, he downplays it.

            “Stuff happens to people all the time, and people make adjustments, change careers, move to another city. Really, that’s all I did.”

            It’s not because his grief was minor. It’s because he realizes that illness, death, and loss are part of the human condition and everyone suffers from them. And his suffering is no more or less privileged than anyone else’s. And he had children, and he had a responsibility to pick himself and get on with it.

            As I said, everything Batiuk thinks Les is — and everything that, in reality, he isn’t.

          • Banana Jr. 6000

            That’s a really good point. Moranis could bring some real insight to the role. Your post also reminded me of Patton Oswalt, whose wife suddenly died as well (to an undiagnosed heart condition) and would make an interesting choice to play Les. He’s the right age, for one thing.

            Of course, this all depends on who the director is, how much leeway the actors would have, and how much Batiuk will be allowed to impose his will on things. Any movie of Act III FW or Crankshaft is unfilmable, because the script can’t lecture the audience on what they’re supposed to like. Les is an abhorrent character, and I don’t know how you get around that. Unless you go “Sharknado” with it and turn into a self-parody. Or you pull off whatever the hell “Napoleon Dynamite” did with its title character.

    • Dood

      See? This is funny! Thank you, Banana Jr.

  11. Zwinn Zwigg

    I can’t help but think some squirrel in that yard is rolling its eyes.

  12. Hannibal's Lectern

    Possible reasons the bird feeder was half full when Les checked it at the end of the day:

    1) Dead St. Lisa’s Ghost’s ectoplasmic muscles can only lift half as much as a living person’s muscles. This is a major finding, and Professor Venkman finally earned tenure at Miskatonic University when he published it.
    2) Dead St. Lisa’s Ghost poisoned the bird seed, so that by the time the birds had eaten half of it they were dead. Hey, she was lonely.
    3) After seeing the Miraculous Apparition of Dead St. Lisa’s Ghost at the bird feeder (a sight only slightly less popular with Ahia artists than “Virgin and Child”), Less closed the openings on the feeder. Don’t want those filthy birds consuming seeds that are now Sacred Relics.

    Hey… like all of us, I’m just trying to make some sense of this strip.

  13. Dood

    Would it kill these characters to simply say, “died” rather than “gone”?

  14. Smirks 'R Us

    kudos to BatHack if this is some sort of Sixth Sense “I see dead people twist”.

    Mind you, none of it would be original or require actual talent but, ya know, Less would be dead.

    And there would be great rejoicing!

  15. be ware of eve hill

    Dear Pontificating Idiot Les,

    Perhaps the bird feeder was always half full because you’re a cheap-ass who bought a particularly crappy brand of birdseed. The birdfeeder was always half full because the birds weren’t eating it. Didn’t you notice the amount in the birdseed bag wasn’t going down?

    Mystery solved, dumbass. You’re welcome.

    • That, or the birdseed that Lisa bought in 1992 has gone just a tad rotten.

      • I replied to the wrong comment again. Just pretend that everything in this strip is crappy because of rotten birdseed!

      • be ware of eve hill

        I also wouldn’t rule out the birds refusing to eat the birdseed because Les put it out.

        Bird #1: Don’t eat that birdseed. The bearded dick with ears put it out.
        Bird #2: Oh, hell no! Not that guy. Always talking about his dead wife. What a creepy bastard. Let’s go poop on his car.

  16. The Duck of Death

    If Ghost Lisa is somehow filling the bird feeder with actual, physical bird seed, then why isn’t the feeder ever full, or three-quarters full? Why is it always half full?

    Oh, right, right. It’s More Poignant This Way.™️

  17. The Duck of Death

    Why does’t Ghost Lisa show any interest in her two living children or her grandchild? Why is she obsessed with performing mundane household tasks that Les used to watch her do?

    Oh, sorry, I forgot. It’s More Poignant This Way.™️

    • batgirl

      Yes, this. But it fits perfectly with Lisa’s character. Remember in the videotape for The Next Wife, she basically says – Summer’s a tough little kid, she’ll be fine, but if you aren’t good to my Les-baby, I will come back and HAUNT YOU!!!
      Trying to remember whether any of the tapes she made for Summer, full of wise maternal advice ™ included any mention of loving her.
      I feel that TB missed a trick in not having Lisa make tapes for Darin – I know she actually met him and Jess during her Bald Period (like Picasso’s Blue Period), but think how poignant if she’d made tapes for The Baby She Gave Up For Adoption.

      • The Duck of Death

        I’ve said before that I wish the best for TB the human being, and I still do. And I know CBH has defended him from time to time. But TB has at least one grown child, and he grew up with parents of his own — so he should understand something about the bond between a parent and a child.

        How could any parent consistently give such utterly short shrift to fictional relationships between parents and children? There just isn’t anything there. No interest in Summer or Boy Lisa from Les or Ghost Lisa. It’s unreal, and worse, from a drama standpoint, it’s utterly boring and dead. It reflects nothing of actual human life or experience.

        I know nothing about TB as a person. But how can you read this strip and not think there’s something… you know… missing there?

        • It’s a basic problem with all of Batiuk’s characters–they are all completely self-obsessed. Dead Lisa’s tapes basically boil down to “Look how caring and wise I am for making these tapes.”

          • The Duck of Death

            “And look at my brave, gaunt face as I bravely, gauntly make these tapes to keep you all in line after I’m dead! And by ‘you all,’ I mean Les, because who really gives a shit what happens to whatzername, the kid. Oh, and the other kid. Now Les, remember: Wear that yellow shirt every day in my brave, gaunt memory! And if you ever get remarried, remember not to love her or treat her like a wife! You’ve gotta do what I say because I’m so brave and gaunt!”

        • Banana Jr. 6000

          I’m with you. Everything about the Funkyverse is empty and insincere. Tom Batiuk conflates emotion and ritual. He’s always showing you Les’ performative mourning, but he never shows you that Les actually misses Lisa. And TB skipped over the part of the story where this would have been most evident.

          When Calvin’ raccoon died, he said exactly how it made him feel, and it hit us right in the gut. Or when Peppermint Patty had an emotional breakdown in front of Linus about not being as pretty as the little red-haired girl. FW characters never show their feelings. They’re more interested in making a spectacle out of their emotions than in actually having any. If anything, they’re too cool to care, responding to everything with a smirk and an “oh well, life never goes my way” sigh.

  18. The Duck of Death

    I imagine most of us here have lost someone we dearly loved, someone who was an intimate part of our lives. How did you grieve, twenty or so years on? Did you read a book and think wistfully, “Dad would have loved this”? Did you hear a voice with a certain timbre and think, “Wow, that woman sounds just like Claire”? Did you find a handwritten recipe from Mom stuck in the leaves of a cookbook and feel a pang of sadness, but also happiness because it’s as if she were with you again for a moment?

    One thing I’ll bet you never experienced in your grief: An apparition of your loved one dragging the garbage to the curb, or pruning the hydrangeas (after which you see hydrangea clippings mysteriously surrounding the plant).

    Weren’t we supposed to be 1/4 inch from reality here? Does anyone’s grief process involve seeing a wraith of your loved one handling physical objects? It’s really not a thing. So why does Les choose to spend his limited time with his adult daughter not asking her about her life, but spouting schizophrenic mundanities about her apparition?

    Yes, yes, Tom. We know. It’s More Poignant This Way.™️

    • Gerard Plourde

      I can imagine TomBa watching one of those paranormal investigator shows on the Travel Channel or Discovery where an alleged apparition is reported to engage in some repetitive task (which in said show is never actually seen happening) and saying, “I think I’ll have Les experience that.”

      Who needs “1/4 inch from reality”, right?

      • The Duck of Death

        I feed birds myself. And I buy the good seed. It’s a hobby I enjoy. However, if there is an afterlife, I hope it does not consist of being alone, forever, filling a bird feeder to keep it always half-full, while my family watches, missing me, and I cannot walk into my house or hug them or talk to them or wave at them, only pour the seed. That sounds like Purgatory verging on Hell.

        Lisa is rightfully suffering the tortures of the damned, is what I’m saying. The Lord is just.

        • Rusty Shackleford

          Same here, and with the Westview like snowfall we have been having, the birds desperately need food. And now that I work from home, I can look out the window and enjoy them. In the summer I add the hummingbird feeders, I get so many of those little ones that I’m refilling them almost every day.

          • Suicide Squirrel

            Rusty, from past conversations it sounds like we live in the same area. I usually pick up a big bag from a local grocery store. At $10 for 20 lbs, it’s obviously the cheap stuff. Quite a bit of It ends up on the ground.

            What brands do you like? Do you buy suet?

            There is a wind chill advisory tonight. Poor little buggers.

          • Rusty Shackleford

            Yes, I have Suet blocks out. I purchase black sunflower seeds…they can be pricey. Typically online is cheaper but there is a store called Wild Birds Unlimited in Cuyahoga Falls that sells bird seed and many nice feeders.

          • Suicide Squirrel

            Just black sunflower seeds. Got it.

            Thanks

            I may need a new bird feeder too.

  19. At least they’re not talking about comic books.

    (My new Funkyverse headcanon is that Lisa is condemned to roam Westview and Area as a ghost because she rejected comic books in life.)

    • Y. Knott

      Hmmmm….is this week’s “two boring people talk boringly about the golden past” worse or better than last week’s “two boring people hang around an unappealing comic store and talk boringly about the golden past (in which comics and comic book spinners used to be something they enjoyed)?”

      Pros about this week’s story: At least there is an attempt at telling an actual story.

      Cons about this week’s story: It involves Les.

      A toss-up so far, then. But of course, the week isn’t over yet….

      • The Duck of Death

        Y. Knott, I’m not seeing an actual story. I guess it depends on what you define as a story, and admittedly, we’ve set the bar so low that it’s in danger of being melted by the molten core of the earth.

        • Y. Knott

          An attempt at a story. “I saw Ghost Lisa feeding the birds, and I tried to investigate” has story elements.

          Will these elements be handled in an interesting manner? Of course not. Will the actual story make a whole lot of sense? Again, sadly, no. But … is what we have here so far, at least in theory, possibly the very, very minimum of what could be classified as the beginnings of the start of an introduction to the opening of what could be considered as, if one were to be generous, an attempted story?

          I’m saying yes.

          But perhaps I’m just an old softie.

  20. Suicide Squirrel

    Well, I’m impressed. 64 comments on this comic?

    Nothing provokes comments like an appearance from the annoying Less whining about Lisa.