Cheaper By The Gram


Bernie is already graduating? Alas, we hardly knew him. This generation of Act III WHS students made even less of an impact than Owen and Cody did. At least they, you know, did stuff sometimes.

Why would Bernie need actual photos for his Instagram page? I mean I’m no Insta-whiz or anything, but it’s not like you have to mail your photos in. Thus the gag makes no sense and fails on every possible level. Which sounds about right.

And on that note, I’m passing off to Billytheskink, our Senior Funkstorian. No spoilers, but man, 2022 just keeps getting weirder. At this rate, it’ll devolve into total surrealism by September at the latest.



Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

36 responses to “Cheaper By The Gram

  1. William Thompson

    Does graduation mean we’ll never see Bernie again? Or did he obsess over comic books enough to justify keeping him around, like Dullard and Mopey Pete?

  2. Captain Gladys Stoatpamphlet

    School photos are generally taken in the fall, not just before the school year ends.

    Is he selling NFTs? I do like the idea that he is bilking the kid for each unique view, but he can’t pass up a burn about his unpopularity.

    • Oh man it is going to be hilarious when the strip gets to doing NFT jokes around about … what, November? December? Anyway some time when, if we’re lucky, we’d be able to buy all the NFTs ever and still have change from a dollar to use the vendos.

  3. Gerard Plourde

    I wonder what friend of TomBa’s is cast as the photographer. The artwork is much more detailed than usual.

  4. Banana Jr. 6000

    Nobody calls Instagram “Gram.” Nobody calls their grandmother “Gram.”

    • Mrvy

      My 20-somethings call my mother “Grammy,” and sometimes shorten it to “Gram.” In fact, they wanted to create an Instgram page of her adventures called “Gram on the Gram.” She said a hard no to that.

      So there are folks who call both grandmothers and Instagram “Gram.” I agree it’s a bad idea though.

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        I knew someone would call me on that. I’ll amend it to “Nobody calls Instagram or their grandmother ‘Gram’ the first time they mention it in a business transaction with a stranger.”

        And another thing: Bernie only needs one copy of the picture no matter how many or few Instagram followers he has.

        So this strip is a doubly botched premise and a botched punchline.

        • Green Luthor

          “So this strip is a doubly botched premise and a botched punchline.”

          Tom Batiuk’s mission statement?

        • Epicus Doomus

          Yes, it doesn’t just fail on multiple levels, it fails on every possible level. He wanted to do a gag about Bernie’s lack of Instagram followers, which would seem to indicate that he has at least a passing familiarity with how Instagram works. But the gag itself seems to indicate he doesn’t understand Instagram at all, to a totally impossible degree, no less. Obviously he knows that Bernie wouldn’t need to send physical copies of his school pictures to each of his Instagram followers…doesn’t he? I mean, he HAS to know that, right?

  5. J.J. O'Malley

    Frankly, I thought the photographer called them “senior pictures” because he thought Bernie was eligible for AARP membership.

    Also, nice way to talk smack about your potential customers to their face. This would have worked so much better if Frank Nelson (“Yeesssss?”) from Jack Benny’s TV show was playing the part of the wisecracking salesman.

    • Cabbage Jack

      Unfortunately, Frank Nelson appears to have been consigned to the lowest level of Hell (recurring guest in Gasoline Alley) for some unknown but clearly horrific crime.

      • billytheskink

        Hell, you say?

        • Banana Jr. 6000

          In the name of all things holy, please just let Walt Wallet die.

          • Count of Tower Grove

            Not to mention Rufus and Joel, who were already old when Walt returned form Over There!

        • Epicus Doomus

          Man, comic strips are such a weird little alcove of the pop-culture universe. This one has been running since 1918, which just totally boggles the mind. And I don’t remember reading it even once. Not getting in on the whole comic strip scam is one of my biggest regrets.

  6. Sourbelly

    This feels inauthentic. A true Westviewian would refer to Instagram as Insto, not Gram.

  7. billytheskink


  8. ComicBookHarriet

    So is Bernie finally graduating? He’s only been in high school since August 2015. (Which gives us a vague notion of the ‘comic book time’ at play here? The last seven years of real time has been about four years of Funky time?)

    • Epicus Doomus

      Wow, I had no idea it’d been that long. Other than The Bleat arcs and the occasional one-off school-centric gag here and there, I don’t think Bernie ever got a real weekly arc of his own. Owen and Cody had a bunch back in their heyday, but Bernie and Co. were strictly supporting cast.

      • ComicBookHarriet

        Only arc I can think of for Bernie was the “buying food from a vendo is dangerous!” and “Guns r bad”

        • be ware of eve hill

          “Guns r bad” or, as Batty would put it, “The walk out of school on the anniversary of last year’s national walkout urging action to stop gun violence.”

          I thought it was odd that Batty had to use that statement, or something similar, every time he mentioned the walkout. Sometimes I could swear he gets paid by the word.

          Student #1: Are you going on the walk out of school on the anniversary of last year’s national walkout urging action to stop gun violence?
          Student #2: I’m not sure if I’m going on the walk out of school on the anniversary of last year’s national walkout urging action to stop gun violence because I may get in trouble with my parents if they found out I went on the walk out of school on the anniversary of last year’s national walkout urging action to stop gun violence.

          • Epicus Doomus

            Oh yeah, forgot about that one. It’s hard to believe that Bernie has been in high school for as long as Owen and Cody were. Time sure flies. Owen and Cody have been missing in action for quite a while now, and something tells me we won’t be seeing them anytime soon. But for a while there, Owen was the unlikely lead character in a bunch of stupid, long-forgotten arcs, and Bernie never had that kind of traction. Maybe he should have worn a wacky hat.

      • be ware of eve hill

        That probably means Logan Church, Thatsnaught Hewmore, and the Doublemint Twins will be graduating too.

        I don’t think Batty has it in him to create a new class of students. He’ll most likely feature rando students from here on out. Nameless one-offs like Becky’s band students.

        • Yeah, this is the last Westview HS class of students who actually had names and personalities. You’d think he would at least use today’s strip to begin a week long arc that features these kids one more time before they graduate, but of course, if he does, it will just be the kids sitting in a room listening to Less bloviate all week.

  9. The Duck of Death

    1. High school kids, at least the ones in NYC, call Instagram “Insta.”

    2. Bernie would ask for a digital copy of the photo. Most HS kids don’t have the equipment to scan physical photos.

    3. Most importantly, NO HS kid would EVER put a copy of their cheesy, dorky, 1970s-looking school photo on their Insta. It’s selfies, often presented “ironically,” or memes.

    4. All I can think of is the old commercial where old ladies “share” photos on a physical wall.

    via GIPHY

  10. Count of Tower Grove

    I’ve not been spending much of my retirement hanging out in the Fungyverse, but for a guy who actually worked in a high school while I was in said institution, Todd seems to have forgotten that senior portraits aren’t taken in May. Mine was taken in the summer before. I am taken aback in that Todd allowed Bernie to age in nearly real time. Bernie looks like he hit puberty.

  11. The Duck of Death

    I just realized: This is probably not about Bernie at all. It’s not about HS graduation. It’s not the start of, end of, or continuation of any plotline.

    It’s because Tom thought of a joke about Gram/Instagram. And, typically, had to create a whole plotline to accommodate it. Which, like Holly’s “Singed Hair” memoir, will never be seen or mentioned again.

    A normal cartoonist would have characters make this lame throwaway pun while strolling, and use it as midweek filler. Inventing a one-off context for it doesn’t make it any funnier.

  12. Don

    Somebody refresh my memory: does the strip use other actual names (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) or fake names like “Facepage”? I was a little surprised the strip used “Instagram.”

    And am I the only one to notice the “joke” at the end – the photographer thinks Bernie has only six followers?

  13. Banana Jr. 6000

    If this joke was any more forced it would be at gunpoint. It’s the kind of joke I hate for several different reasons:

    1. The stilted usage of the word “gram” because the joke needs it, which I ranted about earlier.

    2. It’s a response to something the person didn’t say. Bernie says, however awkwardly, “I would like a digital copy of my photo to use on Instagram.” This is a common and reasonable request. Most photographers will include this as a courtesy, or for a small add-on fee.

    3. It ignores the relationship between the characters. “Rick” is rude to this teenager for absolutely no reason. When you’re a photographer and you have the lucrative local high school senior picture account, shitting on your customers like this is bad for business.

    4. It requires a character to be ignorant of his own profession. The “one for each follower” joke doesn’t work, because you only need one digital copy, no matter how many followers you do or don’t have. And he would not be surprised at a request for a digital copy, or think it’s something to joke about.

    5. The scene feels artificial at every turn. Senior photographs aren’t taken this time of year. We haven’t seen Bernie or any high schooler for months. It also introduces a new character into a strip that already has way too many. And it looks like an homage to some buddy/customer of Batiuk’s.

  14. The Merry Pookster

    Oh I get it… 7 years real world time = 4 years comic time? And then we have kiesha and Summer have been in college , what 10 years on a scholarship..
    Fred feelgood has been on life support for how many years?

  15. Suicide Squirrel

    I guess Bernie Silver is a late, late, late bloomer. His appearance during his existence in this strip has never changed.

    One of my best friends had a sizable growth spurt during our senior year. When the school year started, his eyes were at the level of my mouth. By the end of the school year, my eyes were at the level of his mouth. He had a growth spurt of about 6 inches. I remember his mother complaining about him constantly outgrowing his shoes. Apparently, she didn’t want to spend money on new jeans because he had a major league case of “flood pants.”

    Our senior portraits were taken in the late summer before the school year started, so he is stuck forever looking like a freshman in his picture.

  16. Y. Knott

    Over on the Battyblog, TB’s posted a “John Darling” that’s utterly without merit … a painful nothingburger that goes nowhere and takes a depressingly long time to get there.

    Which leads me to wonder…is today’s attempt at entertainment better or worse than the John Darling entry of 35 years ago? I can’t decide. I mean, they’re both totally worthless — but they’re both complete botches in sharply different ways. The John Darling strip takes a single quarter-assed idea and hopes that repeating it endlessly (and changing the camera angle) will somehow make it amusing. Today’s FW, meanwhile, takes several one-sixteenth-assed ideas and hopes that maybe putting them all in a row will, uh … will somehow maybe equal something?

    It’s interesting that in a 50-year career, Tom Batiuk keeps finding new ways to suck.

    • Gerard Plourde

      The Norman Rockwell “homage” (if anything so dystopian can be called that) shared in his “Cover Me” caught my attention. I have no idea if there’s actually a story that the image is teasing or if it’s just a one-off. And, of course Tomba’s comment doesn’t provide any clarity.