COVIDiot

Link To The New One

When I first saw this one I just stared at it for minutes on end, unable to decipher or make sense of it at all. For the first time ever, I seriously considered asking my fellow SoSF hosts for help with figuring out what the hell this is supposed to be. Was Mason saying “COVID 15” or was he saying “COVID is”? I had no clue.

But eventually I figured it out. “COVID 15” is one of those clever little turns of phrase BatYam makes up when he’s trying to capture the way people talk in “real life” and, as usual, it fails spectacularly on every conceivable level. What Mason needs to do now is to pack on another COVID-75 so he can play Funky in the movie adaptation of “Singed Hair”. After that, all he needs to do is play Crazy Harry, at which point his life’s work will be complete.

Obligatory artwork critique: check out that photo on Marianne’s wall. My, such attention to detail. I mean, why even bother drawing it at all?

54 Comments

Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

54 responses to “COVIDiot

  1. ComicBookHarriet

    I also enjoy having a child’s drawing of Slenderman on my wall.

  2. William Thompson

    Unmask the villains! Free the COVID 15!

  3. RudimentaryLathe?

    Maasoonne doesn’t actually look like he’s gained any weight but ok. A Hollywood A-lister packed some shelter-in-place pounds and a crappy pizzeria owner had to do some extra cleaning. That’s the entire toll the pandemic took on this universe. 😶
    I’m more concerned about whatever condition has stricken Marianne’s neck in P1.

    • Charles

      Besides, since Mason has frequently looked like Deitrich from Raiders of the Lost Ark after the Ark had been opened and God was “cleansing the area” he could probably use a few extra pounds.

  4. J.J. O'Malley

    With apologies to DC’s Darkseid…COVID IS.

    I assumed the Panel One wall artwork was salon floor sweepings from Marianne’s last haircut. I know it’s been discussed all week, but I cannot get over how in today’s strip this supposed screen sexpot goes through all three of her current looks: Mopey Pete’s Little Sister, Summer in High School, and Summer in Grade School, respectively. Being too cheap to pay for CK’s premium membership, I went back on this very site’s 1/6/2020 entry for an early look at Ms. Winters, and I could not believe how she has devolved over time from a glamorous Hollywood star to an insecure pre-makeover Laney Boggs.

    • Rusty Shackleford

      I read it the same way and assumed that Batty or whoever forgot to fill in the rest of the sentence and nobody noticed.

    • be ware of eve hill

      Judging by panel #2, Marianne cuts her own hair with a pair of child’s safety scissors. Her mommy won’t let her near the good shears. Marianne’s suicidal tendencies, like threatening to jump off the Hollywood Sign, and all.

      Marianne’s unkempt appearance and apparent isolation, make me wonder if her mother is keeping her hostage. Marianne, blink twice if you need help. Cough if your mother is in the room.

      You’re not being too cheap to pay for CK’s premium membership, you’re being smart. My membership went into effect a couple of weeks ago, and
      a couple of perks are not performing the way they were during the trial. Tech support mentioned something about a database update. I’d cancel if I thought I’d get my money back.

      • hitorque

        The sad part is you could have told me Marianne just spent $350 at the salon for the latest L.A. style or she’s preparing to film a biopic about Joan Jett’s early years and I wouldn’t have been any the wiser…

        But it’s that dingy, shapeless, college-freshman-who-just-rolled-out-of-bed-at-2pm oversized pink t-shit from Target and her lack of makeup that’s killing me… Like I said yesterday, the idea of Marianne suffering from ‘imposter syndrome’ or retreating into her shell or being ashamed of her natural beauty because she’s tired of the instant mega stardom and millions of teenage boys jerking off to her sex symbol status; or the idea of Marianne having issues with substance abuse or simply being addicted to the “PARTY ALL EVERY NIGHT!” -life is potentially fertile ground for a storyline… Plus we know Batiuk is no stranger to writing the “pretty young girls struggling to fight their personal demons” -angle…

        • be ware of eve hill

          I agree 1,000%. A storyline like that would be far superior to any of the schlock Batiuk has been serving up lately. The problem is, a storyline like that would have been written during Batiuk’s misery porn days of Act II. Those days are long gone. A microscopic dot in Batiuk’s rearview mirror. These days, it’s all wish-fulfillment via Les, an overdose of Dinkle, comic books and strips about getting old and fat. With a week of the pizza monster thrown in.

          I know you don’t care for my Marianne-is-grounded theory, but suppose Ma Winter confiscated all of Marianne’s good clothes and make-up. Marianne is stuck wearing the baggy pink t-shirt she sleeps in and a pair of undies reserved for visits from Auntie Flo. Undies that have holes in them and a smiling panda bear or something equally embarrassing on the fanny. No decent clothes or make-up? Can’t leave the house looking like that!

  5. Epicus Doomus

    Who’s worse? Fragile and unbearably humble homespun waif Marianne, or self-deprecating fatso Mason? Mason’s never really bothered me all that much, relatively speaking, but all this well-grounded humility is really getting on my nerves. One of FW biggest failings is how there’s never even a hint of conflict going on, ever. I mean, why couldn’t he have Mason make some sort of semi-snide comment about his Oscar snub? He is supposed to be a huge Hollywood mega-star, after all. But, as always, the characters are in a weird zen-like state of perpetually humble wryness, never really bothered or concerned about anything at all.

    • hitorque

      Nevermind the fact that Masone was pretty transparent from the start that he was only doing Lisa’s Movie because he saw it as something sappy and sentimental to win over the Oscars voters… Masone never actually gave a shit about Les and his St. Lisa obsession, they were merely a means to an end. IIRC, I don’t even think Masone had *read* the book back when they were about to shoot that cancelled Lisa’s Movie 1.0 for some cable network, and when a more lucrative role popped up, Masone dropped out of the Lisa’s Movie project at light speed…

      If nothing else, I’d have thought Masone would be royally pissed off even if he’s good at not showing it to Marianne… I mean, look at all the time, effort and money Masone put into this:

      1. First of all, Les never wanted a second movie project in the first place, so Masone had fly him and Cayla out to Malibu and *endlessly* kiss his ass and sweet talk him, tell Les that he’s the most specialest writer on the planet with the bestest book since whenever, pat him on the head, hold his hand, and tell him everything is going to be all right…

      2. Secondly, he had to make Les co-producer (because the “Lord of Language” damn sure can’t write a script to save his life) and setup a half-assed charade that at least made Les *think* his input and decision making were actually contributing to the project.

      3. If that wasn’t enough, Masone had to prove he was truly interested in Lisa’s life and all the insignificant minor details about her marriage that were only important to Les… Case in Point: Lester’s guided tour of the “Lisa Moore National Historic Trail” through Midtown Manhattan and Central Park… And Masone had to listen intently to EVERY boring mopey story and pretend to be touched and act compassionately. (For my money, THIS was the best ‘acting’ job that Masone ever pulled off)…

      3a. Oh, I forgot Masone flew back to Westview and rented a car to follow Les around (including spending an entire day waiting in the Westview High parking lot with his thumb up his ass) because that’s how Batiuk thinks method actors “get into character” or something (But then again this is the same Masone Jarre who also flew out to Westview just to read fucking comic books for two weeks to “get into character”… It is here that Masone officially learns about the Blessed Most Holy Archive of St. Lisa VHS Recordings and despite spending all this time building up trust, Masone is instantly denied access to viewing them — At this point he probably wants to scream, because the videotape angle to the story is the perfect gimmick to make Lisa’s Movie 2.0 truly special and unique from all the other hundreds of sad “dying lover/spouse” movies…

      4. Then he had to fly Les out to L.A. (again) and put him up in a five-star hotel (again) and bring him along to all the pitch meetings so he could feel involved… And Les of course treated these meetings with the smug disdain, indifference and ignorance which he treats everything.

      5. THEN, Masone had to set up three days of sham auditions just to make Les believe *HE* was the one who chose Marianne Winters to play St. Lisa when that’s who Masone was always going to go with (since Batiuk can’t be bothered to create another young cute actress easy to distinguish from Marianne, and to be honest I don’t blame him).

      6. Then Masone decided to toss Les a bone and let him have a cameo role as a waiter and instantly regretted it….

      7. Yeah, yeah, COVID wildfire and all that dumb stuff…

      8. Still pretending to give a shit, and desperate for some easy positive PR and movie cross-promotion, Masone and Marianne fly out to Westview (again) to participate in the Lisa’s Legacy 10k Fun Run which was conveniently being held during the summertime this year instead of its usual October…

      9. Then fly Les + Cayla out to L.A. (again) and put them up in a five-star hotel (again) for the wrap party, and Les is his usual indifferent mopey self. Oh yeah Lester is such a killjoy he couldn’t be bothered to smile or look happy in a selfie for Masone’s instagram account… Because god forbid Les try to promote his own movie to millions of Masone’s followers or some shit… I have no doubt Masone deleted that selfie and just posted one of himself instead.

      10. Even though the writing was on the wall for a few months, Masone learns that the distributor isn’t enthusiastic about putting all their promotional weight behind it, so the movie was relegated to the “Indie/Arthouse Theater Circuit” as if all the independent movie theaters across the nation are part of some grand interconnected network, and because if there’s one thing indie/arthouse theaters love, it’s mainstream suburban white bread sentimentalist saccharine schlock…

      11. And if that wasn’t enough, with ALL the ass-kissing, with ALL the hand-holding, ALL the kid glove treatment, ALL the tiptoeing on eggshells, with EVERYBODY bending themselves into pretzels to cater to Lester’s whims and keep him satisfied so he doesn’t pull a “kill fee” again, LESTER MOTHERFUCKING MOORE DOESN’T CARE ENOUGH ABOUT HIS OWN $100 MILLION DOLLAR MOVIE THAT HE CO-PRODUCED ADAPTED FROM HIS OWN BESTSELLING BOOK TO ARRANGE FOR SOME SCREENINGS IN WESTVIEW AND PRESUMABLY THE GREATER CLEVELAND AREA… HELL HE DIDN’T EVEN LIFT A FINGER TO TRY AND PROMOTE HIS OWN MOVIE… GOD DAMN IT TO HELL FUCK SHIT PISS TITS BALLS HE DIDN’T EVEN COMPEL HIS ENGLISH STUDENTS TO WATCH IT!!

      • hitorque

        12. I’m just saying… Masone toiled as a C-lister for a decade or more before finally landing that billion-dollar breakthrough hit that made him a global name… Masone’s agent should be screaming in his ear daily that his film career will NEVER be as big and bright as it is right now and he’s got to make the most of it while that window is open (and his wife Cindye can tell him firsthand what it’s like to be at the top of an industry one day and left out in the cold the next)… I guess my point is in the 18 months wasted fighting and grinding to make a shit movie that Les never wanted to make in the first place, Masone could have been doing other big-budget big-action blockbusters and making HUGE bank, either through a comedy or an Indiana Jones type of vehicle or a gritty war movie or a sports hero movie or even a cop/detective movie, which every American leading male is required BY LAW to make at least once in their career…

  6. Sourbelly

    ED, thanks for explaining the “joke.” I had no clue.

    Speaking of explanations, maybe the extra 15 explains Masonne’s new hatchet face. Or maybe laziness and resignation to illustrating a pointless legacy strip by an author who stopped caring long ago explains it.

    • Epicus Doomus

      It took me longer to figure this one out than any strip in recent memory. I actually had to give up and come back to it later, at which point (being as familiar with BatYam’s bizarre machinations as I am) it finally clicked. This gag is a real reach, even by Batiukian standards, although I’m sure he thought it was quite clever at the time.

      • Bad wolf

        TFW i have no idea what a mass-market strip is trying to say.

        If there had been some reference to the ‘freshman 15’ in the first panel, or even earlier in the week, I’d have had a shot at it. But in a strip that restates the premise 8 times in a week, outside references are real hit or miss.

      • Charles

        And it’s doubly dumb because it’s not even the joke! The punchline isn’t the “cleverness” of the conflation of Covid-19 and Freshman 15, it’s that Mason’s glad he didn’t get an Oscar nom because he got fat. So the use of Covid-15 wasn’t even necessary for the joke and its clumsiness completely cripples the actual joke.

        It’s a perfect encapsulation of Batiuk as a writer: he inserts something that he thinks will make him look clever but instead it disrupts his writing from communicating its point.

  7. billytheskink

    There’s a missing panel between 1 and 2 where the universe says “hahaha… nope!”

  8. Hitorque

    Poor Masone… If ONLY there was a personal trainer+dietitian in the greater Los Angeles region who specializes in actors who need to get that “Brad Pitt body” in the shortest amount of time…

    Oh well… Even if such a person did exist, I seriously doubt someone like Masone could afford their services…

    But seriously… Hey Masone — If you’re not working during the pandemic, how about getting your lazy flabby ass off that deck chair you sit on all day long and start jogging up and down your private beach? Or better yet, go for an occasional swim? Oh yeah, and try to work in a salad or two…

    • batgirl

      I absolutely REFUSE to believe that a house owned by an action-movie star and a media personality obsessed with her appearance does not have a well-used personal gym with all the equipment and a sauna. No way did either of those people skip a daily workout and a protein shake.

      For someone who hates the shallow appearance-obsessed denizens of Tinsel Town, TB sure works hard to present them as being Just Like Us Plain Folks.

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        Funny how that works. For all Cindy’s worrying about her aging and loss of good looks, she never lifts a finger to to anything about it. You never see her working out, watching what she eats, or acquiring any career skills that don’t depend on her looks. Which you think would make her a Botox junkie, a cosmetic surgery case, or a permanent resident of the casting couch. But she’s none of those things either.

        Cindy is basically still in high school. But the seas parted to give her the superstardom she was entitled to in life because high school. Ditto for Les the writer, Pete the comic book maker, Mason the actor, Bull the football player, Becky the music prodigy, Dinkle the world’s greatest everything, and the 50 other published authors in Westview and/or Centerville.

        Tom Batiuk seems to have no clue that when you grow up and leave high school, the competition gets tougher. Sure, Cindy can move to L.A. if she wants to. But every other girl that auditions against her was also the beauty queen of their high school. A lot of whom have actual talent and ambition, which Cindy doesn’t have a shred of. How she even became a local TV news talking head is totally beyond me.

        And the idea that a woman as mediocre as Cindy Summers landed a 25-years-younger hunk movie star husband is too stupid for words. Ditto for Les and his maudlin cancer book, Lillian and her sub-NaNoWriMo bullshit, Funky and his failing overstaffed restaurant, Atomik Komix and their blatant ripoffs, and so on.

        • hitorque

          I’m pretty sure Cindye is out of the news business for good… Remember, she’s supposed to be working for “buddyblog.com” which is an online news startup analogous I guess to Buzzfeed News. Of course she hated being around her Gen Z “new media” co-workers the only time we saw her there and it has to be said she never really wanted the job to begin with – She only accepted it as an excuse to move out to L.A. and casually, matter-of-factly contact Masone like her ending up out there was all a happy coincidence so she could get her hooks into him… (Seriously – To understand how sick and demented her behavior was, just switch the genders in this situation and then see how the story reads)… And yes, although it sounds weird to say, Masone is 100% Cindye’s “trophy husband”…

          These days Cindye seems relegated to suntanning, lounging around their Malibu mansion all day long, and picking up Les from LAX whenever he visits… The fact that the single biggest wildfire in history hit Greater Los Angeles and Cindye wasn’t covering it in any shape or form (she could literally see the fire approaching from her condo balcony and it didn’t even occur to her to whip out her phone and take some pictures) means she’s retired for good….

          But naturally Batiuk will retcon this too sooner or later…

          • Banana Jr. 6000

            it didn’t even occur to Cindy to whip out her phone and take some pictures (of the LA wildfire)

            Hell, ordinary people know to do that now. For a trained journalist not to in the 2020s is a testament to how useless and lazy Cindy Summers is.

        • be ware of eve hill

          Many people would opine that Batiuk has been more fortunate than he deserves to be. In a way, he’s just writing from experience. As I said the other day, the man was born with a four-leaf clover up his butt.

          … or would a golden horseshoe be more appropriate? Tom Batiuk, the man with a golden horseshoe up his butt. There’s your trophy, Tom. Just pull it out and put that in your trophy case. Enjoy!

  9. Ohhhhh…so he gained 15 pounds because of COVID. Damn, that took so long for me to “get” that I drank at least Batiuk 6.

  10. Hitorque

    Timeout… Just a minute here — For someone who is absolutely obsessed with winning an Oscar to validate his whole career (to the point where he officially changed the spelling of his last name to sound more ‘serious’, and gave Les a second chance to turn Lisa’s Story into a big budget movie), Masone Jarre is sounding awfully chipper and glib over not being nominated…

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Also, Mr. Hollywood Movie Star is about pretty nonchalant about gaining a significant amount of weight. “Oops, I gained 30 pounds because life is so wry and smirky!” But this must have happened during the filming of Lisa’s Story, which would be a huge problem for the movie. You can’t have a serious movie where a character is getting fat and thin in every other scene.

      Hollywood stars pay very close attention to their weight and body. Big stars, like Mason is supposed to be, would have a nutritionist, a chef, and a personal trainer to help them. But everyone in Funky Winkerbean is just a schlub from Westview. Even the people who are supposed to be celebrities. And aren’t from Westview.

      • be ware of eve hill

        Perhaps Masone can produce and star in a movie about overweight comedian Butter Bricknel (Brickell?)

        Bring back Zanzibar, the gun-shootin,’ the cigar-smokin,’ hard drinkin,’ car drivin’ murder chimp!

    • Green Luthor

      You mean Batiuk, who couldn’t even remember that the title character’s father has dementia, forgot a major attribute of one of his characters? That’s unpossible!

  11. Banana Jr. 6000

    What, nobody’s heard of the “freshman 15”? Supposedly, it’s the weight gain you get in your first year of college. It’s one of those college-isms you hear all the time when you’re in high school, but once you’re actually in college you never hear it again. Maybe it’s outdated by now.

    My large, public, football-playing university had another one along the lines of “when a virgin graduates, a brick will fall out of the bell tower.” I wouldn’t be surprised to hear variants exists at other schools.

    • be ware of eve hill

      I’ve heard of the term “freshman 15” but didn’t make the connection to today’s strip. You know how “square peg into a round hole” Batiuk can be with some punchlines.

      That’s at least the second time Waltzing Batilda has made a cutesy alteration to “freshman 15”. I don’t completely remember the previous alteration, but it landed with an equally loud thud. The commenters were equally baffled.

      • ComicBookHarriet

        I remember the freshman 15. In fact, I remember the 3 new pairs of jeans I bought over Christmas to DEAL with the freshman 15. The joke might have worked, if the letting didn’t make the 15 look like an is, and if there was more adjacent references to weight in the first few panels.

        If a virgin graduating made a brick fall out off the clock bell tower, then my family all attending the same school would have been the equivalent of a wrecking ball.

        • be ware of eve hill

          I think you meant to reply to Banana Jr. 6000, but here’s my two cents worth anyway.

          The joke might have worked, if the lettering didn’t make the ’15’ look like an ‘IS’…
          Poor Batty. Mediocre artist, writer and letterer. Keep up the faith, Tom. You’ll find your “niche” one of these days.

          …or does he prefer the term “wheelhouse?” 🤔

  12. Banana Jr. 6000

    This joke doesn’t work for a lot of reasons.

    COVID-related weight gain isn’t something people talk about. Largely because COVID still hasn’t had a clear end. If it stopped after six weeks and life just went back to normal like we all thought it would, then “we all put on a few pounds” might be a shared experience. But a lot of people are still isolated, and have no reason to confront their own health problems, much less talk to others about them.

    Second is the very strange way COVID exists in this world. Nobody in Funky Winkerbean ever stopped doing anything they normally do because of it. There was no reason for anyone to gain weight. These idiots all live at Montoni’s anyway. Even Mason went there when he visited from out of town.

    “Lisa’ s Story”, and, implicitly, “Starbuck Jones” were both filmed during the pandemic; Mason’s weight gain would have been a problem then. And there was a much bigger societal problem: the complete incineration of Los Angeles County. This would have had health impacts on millions, including Hollywood people. Probably not weight gain, but stress and bad air for sure.

    And “freshman 15” is probably an outmoded concept. It isn’t even assumed that high school graduates should go to college anymore, like it was when I was 18. And on a woke college campus, the concept probably runs afoul of “fat shaming” or some such thing. (Hell, college-age people can get so competitive over their looks that weight gain is probably the healthier option.)

    And Batiuk just doesn’t set the joke up at all. He needed to work “Freshman 15”, a term most people don’t know, into the conversation so he could reference it again. But the man who will draw panels sideways just to stuff more words in them couldn’t be bothered to make it make sense. No, Tom, everyone just automatically knows the things you know. Premises are for hacks. Just put the punchline in the third panel, and the first two panels can be whatever. And half the time you don’t even get that right.

    • Rusty Shackleford

      What is weird is that here in Ohio there have been minimal restrictions in place since last June. So nobody here has been cooped up in any way. Certainly someone as wealthy as Masone could easily go somewhere like Florida to avoid the lockdowns in CA.

  13. sgtsaunders

    Batcave also makes sure he gets his clever little Pineapple logo to the forefront.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      And like so much in the Funkyverse, it’s already been done much better by other cartoonists.

      • ComicBookHarriet

        I never knew the origin of your moniker until now. Hilarious.

        • Banana Jr. 6000

          As much as I love that strip, if my handle was inspired by any one moment, it was:

          In classic Bloom County, the BJ6K wasn’t just an ersatz Apple product; it was a full-on character. It was a walking, talking, existentialist little wiseass who gleefully joined in Oliver Wendell Jones’ hacking adventures, spit out his cheap software, and pondered his own obsolescence. And he faced death with a lot more dignity and emotional power than that tired-ass Lisa did.

          • be ware of eve hill

            It’s sooooooo cute!

            I really hope Banana Jr. 6000 makes it into the Bloom County animated series.

          • Banana Jr. 6000

            He played an important role in the Calvin crossover. And his whole character has aged interestingly, in light of what the personal computing world grew into it. It didn’t exactly envision the Internet, but a lot of the jokes work on different levels now. Like a short arc where Steve Dallas mistook the BJ6K for a woman he was in bed with.

      • Rusty Shackleford

        One of my favorites!

  14. sgtsaunders

    In addition, noting that these strips are supposedly prepared a year in advance, it’s possible that the actual strip said something else and “covid” was dropped in at the last minute, which might explain why is makes no sense whatsoever. On the other hand, it’s hard to imagine that sentence making sense with or without the word “covid”.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Usually, word balloons that are edited at the last minute have
      obvious
      spacing
      problems
      that give it away. And they read look like something Batiuk tried to “punch up”. They’re disjointed from the rest of the strip in the way Hannibal’s Lectern points out below.

  15. Hannibal’s Lectern

    About 14 months ago, when we’d been in quarantine/lockdown/whatever for about 8-9 months, people actually did use the term “Covid 19” to describe the weight everybody seemed to be putting on as they stared at Zoom screens all day. It was a sort-of joke, since that was also the official name for the disease. I remember late-night monologues (from Seth’s attic or Jimmy’s basement or Stephen’s spare bedroom) using the term… as did emails I got from Weight Watchers.

    If Battocks really does work a year in advance, it would make some sense for him to have this moderately-clever pun in his mind about the time he “wrote” today’s strip. And then, in his inimitable manner, he had to step on his own punch line by changing the “19” to “15” and throwing his “joke” into the Funkyverse Uncanny Valley.

    That’s our Batty!

  16. batgirl

    Epicus’s mention of Holly’s memoir reminds me how annoyed I was that TB didn’t even bother to give it a half-decent title like “Burning Ambition” or “Blaze of Glory”.
    Is “Singed Hair” some kind of pop-culture reference that I just didn’t get?

    • hitorque

      In Act I canon, Holly didn’t just burn herself, she’d sometimes burn up the band, Dinkle and I distinctly remember at least one time Holly burned up the football stadium bleachers, too (I guess they were the older wooden style back then?)…

      Yeah, I’m sure everyone’s laughing over the damage she caused and the classmates she sent to the hospital burn ward now that Holly’s written her autobiography…

    • The clue is in the subtitle that we didn’t see: “How a lazy cartoonist came up with a book title in the shortest possible amount of time, and with the least possible amount of thought.”

  17. hitorque

    APROPOS OF NOTHING: I was driving home Saturday night and I stumbled across a Vancouver Canucks game broadcast on Sirius Radio. And during the intermission there was this cheesy Canadian commercial playing about home improvement or plumbing or whatever and for the first time outside of the Funkyverse/SOSF I heard someone actually say the word “reno” as trendy shorthand for ‘renovation’ …

    So I guess I owe Thom Batiuk a retroactive half-point of credit??