It’s pathetic to call this week’s story a “mystery” because a mystery generally yields important information when solved. Here, Ghost Lisa was portrayed by someone we’ve never seen before and, no doubt, will never see again. And this is called “writing”?
What this episode seems to say is this: Les never filled the bird feeder. This newly minted character did, and continued to do so for (I guess) decades, because oh god, everyone was so affected by
Lisa Les’ suffering that they had to do everything in their power to make sure his illusions were catered to.
And–get this–this is supposed to make Les a sympathetic character. One we’re supposed to stand behind and cheer, as he confronts his Lisa-less future alone.
And now that Summer is filling the bird feeder, Purple Hat Lady can finally rest. I’ve done my duty for Les, by God, and finally I can see the sunset. Thank the lord above I was able to help Les Moore cope for these twenty-some years.
Here’s what I think we’re seeing. Mrs. Ewing is actually Lisa, who never died but faked her death to be rid of Les. Les was always so cloying, and so clingy, that she felt she couldn’t breathe–she had to get out. And what would Lisa look like if she’d remained alive? Another fat, doughy blonde. She moved into the house next door just so she could enjoy watching Les moan and agonize over how much he suffers.
Summer wouldn’t recognize her, and Les…he only has eyes for himself.
According to Phil Holt, it’s the easiest thing in the world to fake your own death. All you need is a sympathetic lawyer. And what was Lisa’s profession again?
71 responses to “The Needs of the Ninny Outweigh the Needs of the Fool”
Every morning?! I think Styx wrote a song about Mrs. Ewing…
So apparently Les saw this happening again and again and really did believe it was Lisa, despite all the evidence that it was in fact actually happening. And Summer, who lived there while this was going on, never noticed anything. And Les never mentioned it for twenty-five years, until it suddenly occurred to him out of nowhere. This is bad storytelling even by TB standards. We all know what he’s trying to do here, but he’s failing on every possible level. Anyone could have strung this premise into a semi-coherent little story in a few minutes, but as always BatHam took the most bizarre and convoluted path possible. In fact, he once again redefines what “possible” is.
It would be a better story, I think, if it was following a Tom Leher song instead of a Styx song…
There will never be enough thumbs up for Mr. Lehrer.
Tom Lehrer is a name I have heard, but I did not know. Thank you for posting. I found his biography on Wiki. I found his work on mathematics to be the most fascinating part of his life. I do not understand the actual math by any author, but I do understand the results. Thank you for posting. I come to SOSF for all my educational needs!
This dialog is just atrocious and lazy beyond belief. First, you have Summer using the worst euphemism for “died” I’ve ever seen, then you have the neighbor replying with a statement that makes no sense, as it appears she’s saying she hated to see the birds returning after Lisa ascended into sainthood. If he’s not paying any attention to the previous panel, why should anyone else? Just write the f*cking dialog like people speak, you silly nit.
And once again we see Les’ profound issues with women coming to the fore. Apparently they all look alike to Les, who mistook his rather matronly and somewhat portly neighbor for his cancer-stricken dead wife. He sees a hooded, vaguely female figure filling his bird feeder and he instantly assumes it’s Lisa? Uh yeah, that’s real normal.
To be fair, if she’s been doing it for 25 years, she probably wasn’t so matronly when she started. However, it’s hard to believe that she always manages to stand to that the back of her hoodie faces the house, or that she even has a hoodie in the summer months, so at some point, Les would realize it is his neighbor and not ghost Lisa.
Primo post title today, BC. *chef’s kiss*
This arc is stupid and insufferable for so many reasons. And one is highlighting how anemic Batiuk’s character building is.
As far as I can remember, Lisa was never shown feeding the birds. In the years and years since she’s been gone, they’ve never mentioned her enjoying bird feeding or watching. And yet now he’s trying to tack it onto the past retroactively.
Pick something Lisa was actually shown to enjoy or care about in prior strips, Tom! Or are you so boring that you’ve neglected to give the patron saint of your entire universe a single hobby, interest, or affinity?
You know who should have had this bird feeding plot? Mindy. Mopey Pete’s girlfriend. Because Crankshaft and Lillian have an established history of bird feeding. You could craft a sweet story around Mindy taking over bird feeding duties for her Grandpa. Or maybe even her setting up bird feeders outside Bedside Manor.
But then again, getting to close to Bedside Manor may put her in danger from Mad Mort the Manor Molester.
He’s trying to do a cutesy story about Les’ kindly neighbor re-filling Lisa’s bird feeder, but he does it in a bizarre, nonsensical way that just creates dozens of unanswerable questions and leaves the reader bewildered and confused. When Mrs. Ewing says “every morning” does she mean every morning since Lisa died? Because that was twenty-five years ago in strip time. How could she possibly evaded detection for all that time? What about the other people who’ve lived there, didn’t they see anything? He takes these simple premises and bends them in all kinds of geometrically impossible shapes with all kinds of weird dead-ends and loose threads. I’ve never seen anything else quite like it. It’s almost sort of improvisational now, like free-form storytelling, like an avant-dumb kind of thing.
Everybody has already capably covered other infuriating aspects of this, but I have to point out one that bothers me: Does Mrs Ewing have any traits other than Catering to Les As He Mourns Lisa? They’ve apparently been next door neighbors for 25 years. This woman who has been filling the bird feeder for 25 years, spending considerable amounts of time and money, without ever being spoken to or thanked by Les, who sits inside and watches her work — what’s she like? What motivates this extraordinary largesse? Is she a member of some ornithological societies? Perhaps she works in animal rescue? Or perhaps she is a grief counselor? An eccentric millionaire?
Aw, fuck it. Who cares. She’s female, she exists to serve and coddle. That’s her “personality” and “motivation,” like all the other women in Westview.
Batiuk views all women the way a kindergartener views a teacher. It just doesn’t occur to a 4-year-old to ask, “What makes Miss Cathy tick? Why did she choose this profession? Where does she live, what are her hobbies?” At that age, for all you know, your teacher sleeps in the classroom, or vanishes into air like a TV character when you turn off the TV. She exists to care for you, and that’s all there is of her.
For a 4-year-old, that kind of thinking is normal. For a 74-year-old…. yikes.
That post wasn’t meant to be a reply…. oops.
Does any character have any traits other than Catering to Les As He Mourns Lisa? Every single Les appearance is a pity party for his not-so-recent loss. We barely even see him teach high school anymore.
As Hitorque said in a great rant yesterday, so many amazing things have happened to Les since we last saw Summer, but what’s their first topic of conversation in several years? I thought I saw Lisa! Who Summer would barely even remember, because she’s been absent for 25 years of Summer’s 30-year life. But she’s just as invested in Les’ mourning as Les is.
To answer your question: Sure, lots of characters have lives that don’t revolve around Catering to Les As He Mourns Lisa.
Funky, DSH, Mopey Pete, Wally, Crazy Harry, Masonne Jarre, Batton Thomas, Kablichnik, Owen, Princ’pal Nate, Harry Dinkle, even Boy Lisa…. and the list goes on. They all have lives and interests of their own, which they talk about, often ad nauseam.
They all seem to have one thing in common, though. Can you guess what it is? Answer below!
ǝɯosoɯoɹɥɔ ⅄ ɐ
Ordinarily, I would agree 100 percent. There’s just this bit of nagging dialogue, though: “I screwed up.” “Yes you did.”
I clearly must’ve been tuned out when the dialog you mention was uttered (assuming that’s what you’re referring to). Who said “I screwed up,” and when?
I believe it was November 6, 2011. I can’t seem to imbed the image. Funky groveling before Les.
I subscribe to CK so I looked up that 11/6/11 strip, and it’s a Sunday of Kablichnik blathering about some shite. The rest of the month is mostly dedicated to the school levy and raffle, and Les winning the trip to Kilimanjaro.
Sorry about that, I was going by the filename I saved it under. Anyway, Funky and Crazy were laughing about Les’ women troubles, and Les stalked off in a huff. Here’s what happened the next day.
I’ll be damned. Funky pussywhipped by Les. Somehow it all makes a sick kind of sense. Thanks for finding it.
I see my date mistake, it’s actually June 11th, 2011.
But if Mindy is feeding the birds, she can’t talk about comic books?
“Pete! Do we have any more issues of ‘Rip Tide’? I need to change the birdcage lining again.”
The worst thing about this story is: it’s happening in 2022. A neighbor quietly taking over Lisa’s birdfeeding duties, so Les wouldn’t have to do them so soon after she died, might have been a nice gesture. But it’s waaaaay too late for that. It’s just enabling Les’ mental illness now.
Then there’s the problem with Les having perfectly raised Summer as a single parent, off-camera. He took over all of Lisa’s parenting duties, and wrote the most touching memoir of love and loss in the history of the English language, but he’s too emotional to look at a damn bird feeder?
The birds started showing up after Lisa croaked? So they weren’t showing up while she was still alive? Makes you wonder why “bird-brain” is an old slang term for “stupid.”
And why should Mrs. Ewing’s care for the birds have anything to do with Dead Fucking Lisa? She sounds like someone who cared for the birds, which is a simple and humane attitude.
Would you want to around Lisa, especially when you are trying to eat? I didn’t think so.
Batty is so lazy he may as well run the same story in both of his strips. I do like how all the old people have these big knobby chins (see yesterday’s strip for a fine example)
We’ve had a week of Lena getting picked on in Crankshaft, would love to see a week in FW where everyone picks on Les.
Oh for the love of God, the birds weren’t looking for Lisa they were looking for FOOD! And Les, the only reason you had an opportunity to see a ghost was because you couldn’t be bothered to feed them yourself-not even with your young daughter as a small gesture to honor her mother’s memory.
“That mysterious hooded figure has been re-filling the bird feeder for the last few decades. I’d better not go out there, as what if it’s the ghost of my dead wife?”. It doesn’t even fit into Funkyverse logic, as Les used to hang out with his dead wife ALL THE TIME. So why wouldn’t he go outside and say “hey Leese, what gives?”. The only conclusion one can reach is that Dick Facey is a coward beyond all human comprehension.
Very true, but there’s a more-than-equal chance that creepy Les would have called his wife “Kiddo”.
Remember, she called him “Spanky.” (Her ghost still does.)
I think I don’t want to know how Les got that nickname.
Did Batiuk, knowing that his story was completely suspenseless and uninvolving, somehow come to the conclusion that there was no sense in prolonging it any further?
Nah. It’s only Thursday, meaning that this story will still somehow continue for at least two more days. Maybe Summer and Mrs. Ewing will talk about comic books!
Robin, the Boy Wonder? Black Canary? Hawkman and Hawkwoman? Hawk and Dove? The Falcon? Red Raven? There’s a flock of ornithological-themed superheroes for the gals to discuss.
Yeah so anyway, daughter or the one-armed band lady or whoever you are, after Lisa died I didn’t bother feeding the birds, because I don’t care about any living creatures who can’t add to my miserable back story. I guess some shapeless female took over feeding the birds at some point. Might have been Lisa’s ghost, or it might have been the next door neighbor. Whatever. So as long as you’re here, go ahead and…yeah.
Oh for drying out loud. Mrs. Ewing is an idiot too. See how she’s filling the bird feeder in panel #3?
IT’S A LOT EASIER TO FILL THE FEEDER WHEN YOU LIFT THE DAMN LID! IT’S NOT ROCKET SCIENCE! MORON!!
Has Mrs. Ewing been filling the bird feeder that way for decades? (face palm)
“crying out loud,” not “drying out loud.”
Stupid puny keyboard.
Stop typing to yourself and go to bed, Eve.
Well, now that the jig is up. I hope Mrs. Ewing sends Les a bill.
You owe me $826.65 for the birdseed.
Meant to type…
You owe me $826.65 for 25 years’ worth of birdseed.
It’s funny because Les evidently doesn’t know his next door neighbor, nor has he ever thanked her for the courtesy…
Why didn’t she just get her own birdfeeder? Lisa isn’t the Queen of England, she doesn’t own every unclaimed bird in Ohio!
Mrs. Evin in the next panel:
” I decided to dress up as Lisa to mess with Les, but that was not very wise in the hindsight, since it drove him insane and he started to speak to Lisa’s ghost and has been babbling about her all the time for the last 25 years”
I’ve been a backyard birder for 30 years. Birds don’t “show up” at an empty bird feeder. If I forget to refill the feeder there are zero birds. They don’t hang out until I fill it. They come back when its full.
And this other lady also doesn’t understand that one side of the feeder roof flips up so you can fill it.
Inevitable inference: Tom Batiuk enjoys watching birds at the feeder, but neither he nor Chuck Ayers have ever gotten off their duffs to actually fill a feeder themselves.
Exhibit #965 in the file of “Things you could have gotten right with a cursory web search, but you didn’t care enough to bother.”
How hard would it be to talk to a neighbor or call a friend who you know feeds birds/is a birdwatcher? A 5 minute discussion. Maybe learn something. What does feeding birds involve? How do you fill a feeder? Do birds ever come to an empty feeder? Then your art is realistic, and people involved in the activity are included when they read the trip, not annoyed.
The exact same thing he does with Crankshaft’s gardening: He gets every single thing wrong 100% of the time. Despite no doubt having gardening hobbyists a stone’s throw from his suburban house. Despite the thousands of gardening websites he could glance at. “Let’s see. It’s May. That’s probably when all the gardening catalogs come in. And…. that’s that strip wrapped! First thought, best thought, I always say! And now to reread Flash #123!”
In all of FW’s run has Les ever spoken to the people who live next door to the Taj Moore-hall? Or across the street? That dipshit lives in a social vacuum, either because he’s scared to meet new people or because nobody wants to acknowledge his presence. Seriously, how many people does he know and like who he didn’t meet at WHS, either as a student or as a faculty parasite? There’s his long-unseen literary agent, and two actors (both of who he despised at first), and that’s all I can think of. (He hated everyone else he met in Hollywood, and he only interacts with his fans at book signings).
To paraphrase Seth Rogen in The 40-Year Old Virgin: I think this is the second of three arcs that leads to Lisa being alive. First was Phil Holt coming back from the dead, and then this, and then oh, look, Lisa’s alive.
Phil came back because there was something Batiuk wanted him to do, that he couldn’t do dead. Join the dumb Atomik Komix crew and create dumb superheroes.
Lisa will never come back from the dead, because she is more useful to Batiuk dead then she ever was alive.
From the very beginning, she was created to suffer so that Les would ‘suffer’. Teen pregnancy, post office bombing, preterm labor, breast cancer twice. If she came back from the dead, her suffering would be over. But dead, her suffering death is crystalized forever into an angst amulet Les can wear.
Yes, reviving Lisa would destroy the Funky Winkerbean property for the syndicate or for any later cartoonist… which is exactly what Tom Batiuk did with John Darling.
It’s the 50th anniversary year. TB has to be thinking about retirement, or at least a reduction in workload. He hasn’t put any effort into FW in decades. What greater finale could TB’s warped mind imagine for FW than giving his Byronic hero the one thing he really wants in life?
The Funkyblog has mentioned a future comic book publishing story, but that sounds like a red herring. Comic book publishing stories happen all the time and are usually beneath mention. I know TB usually tips his hand, but this one’s too big. He’ll keep his mouth shut and bask in the media attention later.
Lisa is coming back. I’d bet money on it.
I would put a 75 shiny Quatloos on a slightly different outcome: Les dies heroically saving someone from something and we see Masky McDeath bringing him into the afterlife to join a waiting Lisa.
None of this explains how the feeder was always half full when Les checked. Were the birds in on this too? “Guys — guys — I know we’re all hungry, but it’s important we never eat more than half of the food in the feeder. Les has to experience that Ghost Lisa Magic™️. That’s more important than our survival!”
Maybe it was also Mrs Ewing who called the airport white courtesy phone to warn Les about the defective airplane.
“Father, have you not heard? It was my understanding that everyone had heard.”
SO LET ME GET THIS STRAIGHT…
1. Les tells his daughter that he thinks he keeps seeing the ghost of her long-dead mother regularly refilling the bird feeder as if ghosts feeding birds or grown-ass men seeing ghosts is a totally normal and routine occurrence. Les is also convinced that the birds keep coming back to the feeder only because they miss Lisa.
2. Upon hearing the possibility that her dead mother’s ghost might be roaming, Summer seems shockingly indifferent — Probably because all her life she’s had to deal with her father seeing Lisa ghosts every hour of every day…
3. Les is too scared or too dumb or too racked by grief to get off his ass and investigate the bird feeder phenomenon himself and for 16 years decides to let his imagination figure out this “mystery”… Which is odd because as others have noted, Les has had not problems meeting and talking to Ghost Lisa on numerous other occasions…
4. While filling the bird feeder herself (since her father never did it), Summer discovers that the “ghost” is just the next door neighbor who had been filling the feeder all these years out of common courtesy. Mystery solved in all of five minutes. Nevermind the fact that Mrs. Ewing even as a younger woman HAS ABSOLUTELY ZERO FUCKING RESEMBLANCE TO LISA MOORE(!)
5. It’s funny because Mrs. Ewing I presume sent flowers after Lisa’s death, attended the funeral, sent over a bunch of homecooked meals, almost certainly babysat for Summer a few times and also got her toys for Christmas and her birthday, AND LES IS GOING TO STAND AT THAT WINDOW MOPING LIKE A SAD SACK AND TELL US WITH A STRAIGHT FACE HE NEVER FUCKING RECOGNIZED ONCE HER AT THAT BIRD FEEDER IN 16 YEARS? “OH DAUGHTER DEAREST THERE’S SOME STRANGE FIGURE FEEDING THE BIRDS! IT CAN ONLY BE THE ROAMING SPIRIT OF YOUR DEPARTED MOTHER!”
A. Les really hates his daughter, I presume for not being a 100% Lisa clone. Actually, Les has toxic relationships with EVERYONE he has ever met for not being Lisa…
B. Les has long ago lost the grip on whatever sanity he has left, but nobody likes him enough to suggest he get a psychiatric evaluation. On the flipside, nobody hates him enough to call him out on or humiliate him for his shameless self-serving misery masturbation…
C. Les should be gently encouraged behind closed door to “retire” from the Westview Public Schools System. Because a dude this unstable should not be allowed around schoolkids…
D. Les needs to get his fucking eyes checked…
E. Les at the very least owes Mrs. Ewing a thank-you card, but we all know he isn’t even going to do THAT…
F. Cayla should file for divorce and run far, far away.
Where did Summer get the birdseed from? If Les wasn’t feeding the birds, why would there be birdseed at their house?
I cannot help but imagine the arguments chez Batiuk.
“Tom, for God’s sake, stop leaving your socks and underwear on the floor! I do all the washing and folding — the least you can do is toss them in the hamper! It’s only two feet away! Who do you think is gonna pick up your dirty undies? The underwear fairy?”
“Uh…. ghost Lisa?”
oh for. Lisa’s been dead for TWENTY FIVE YEARS. Summer was just a little kid when she died, and she’d be well into “oh, my mom died of cancer when I was young” territory, but her awful father has been exalting the memory of her dead mother for so long that she’s unable to remove herself from his bizarre fantasy of Lisa The Most Perfect Of All Saintly Women. Summer needs a good therapist more than anybody else in this strip.
Quick: name a personality trait Lisa had, besides “saintly suffering!”
Infantilzing her husband (Spanky) and neglecting her daughter. There’s two!
Thinking back on Les’s memories of Lisa’s last years, as shown during the Hollywood and book tour arcs – where was Summer?
Les and Lisa make snow angels – where’s Summer, who should be at the perfect age for snow angels?
The horrible ‘playground closed’ scene – was Summer safely asleep? Parents of a toddler know that sexy-times require a thorough perimeter check beforehand.
It’s all about providing cherished memories for Les, while Summer is only pulled out of storage to be a poignant plot moppet about stuff like Lisa’s wig.
We’re supposed to assume that Les was a devoted single father during the time jump, but every clue says Summer was neglected since she got out of the NICU. Summer exists as a brushstroke on the portrait of Hero Dead Sainted Lisa.
From the Battyblog: “It was the story of the birth of Les and Lisa’s daughter Summer. It followed Lisa through the ups and downs of her pregnancy to Summer’s birth as a preemie and her battle for life in the neonatal intensive care unit, and, as such, it adds the final brush stroke to the picture I’ve been painting of Lisa. Once again we see Lisa’s courage in the face of adversity on display. And it makes clear why in The Last Leaf we see Summer going to her sweet sixteen NICU reunion at the hospital.”
The dialog in today’s comic suggests that this woman has been, at least periodically, filling the bird feeder at Château Moore since Lisa died. We know Les has seen Mrs. Ewing but has been fantasizing about her being Lisa for much of that time.
In all those years, neither Summer nor Cayla ever saw Mrs. Ewing fill the bird feeder?
No one ever noticed footprints in the snow leading away from the bird feeder to their neighbor’s home?
That bird feeder must be in one hell of a blind spot.
That bird feeder must be in one hell of a blind spot.
It is. It’s right in front of Les’ nose.
“ No one ever noticed footprints in the snow leading away from the bird feeder to their neighbor’s home?”
I thought the same thing. The plot holes are big enough that cruise ship would fit through them.
Les didn’t want to see the footprints. That would have spoiled his delusion that Ghost Lisa was tending the birdfeeder.
Writing an entertaining comic strip is in Batty’s blind spot.
“Wait … there’s footprints! Do you know what that means?”
“YES! IT MEANS GHOSTS HAVE FOOTPRINTS!”
“The footprints lead to your neighbour’s house!”
“THESE ARE LISA’S GHOSTLY FOOTPRINTS!”
“It looks like these footprints could belong to your neighb –”
“GHOSTLY FOOTPRINTS! OF LISA’S!”
Anybody check out Mary Worth today? Over 300 comments and over 200 ‘Hate’ votes in the What do You Think? Poll. Wilbur Weston was “dead” for less than three weeks worth of strips.
Could you imagine what the Funky Winkerbean discussion would be like if Lisa came back from the dead after 15 years (real-time)?
How about a deathmatch between Les Moore and Wilbur Weston? Two nebbish enter, one dweeb leaves. Nobody loses.
Yeah, I can imagine it, just by thinking of what my two very productive cats do with their litter box.
The Mary Worth ecosystem of response is a league above FW. joshreads essentially started as a different kind of MW&M with an allowance to discuss other strips, and while there are many strips for which he used to discuss regularly and today he can’t or won’t, MW has remained a constant on his page. The CK comments for MW are usually twice that for FW on any given day.
Contrary to what this may initially imply, I think this shows that MW is actually the higher quality strip. For as goofy as it gets, MW deals with more contemporaneous topics and, at least in comparison to FW, portrays humans acting and speaking like actual humans. FW keeps repeating the same themes, with the same people, with the same expressions, with the same tone, and only finds new ground on how to make his content even less logically plausible. This week featured one of his standard tropes by doing his now wrote “introduce something seemingly mysterious on Monday and give it away by Wednesday” and few to nobody here even bothered to publicly observe that particular aspect to it – mostly because of all of the other ways in which the story’s entire concept and delivery was flawed.
Given the fluff handjob pieces that the media was willing to write about FW in the past, Phil Holt’s resurrection should have fostered similar articles to call out the flagrant hypocrisy in how that happened with his endless flogging of Lisa’s corpse. It didn’t happen.
No. Much like everything else related to FW since Bull’s death, whatever happens in the future – including Lisa’s resurrection, should it occur – will be mostly ignored by all but those who only pay attention to this perpetually crashing trainwreck of a strip and scream into the void to decry its irredeemable quality. Lisa’s resurrection wouldn’t cause the strip to be dropped by the syndicate or any newspapers, so, as far as the author is concerned, there would be no consequences to worry about.
Well said, and it gives a new twist to David Bowie’s “Always Crashing in the Same Car.”
Yeah, you’re right. Les is a one-trick pony. If Batiuk resurrected Lisa, he wouldn’t be able to write any more stories about Les. Les can’t mourn Lisa if she is still alive. Batiuk doesn’t have the writing chops to resolve any Lisa vs Cayla conflict.
I’ve only been reading Mary Worth for a few months. Whether intentional or not the strip has generated some genuine laughs from me.
For example, Wilbur’s aggressive stance towards Estelle while he’s singing that boy band tune during the karaoke battle.
Also, Wilbur’s swan dive off the bow of the luxury liner.
I’ve never really been one for soap opera strips but Mary Worth has been better than expected. Also, I’ve witnessed the artist comment in the MW discussion on CK. She takes the criticism in stride. That’s not something I can imagine Batiuk ever doing.