Fortune Dweller

Uh… Cayla, had you met your husband before today’s strip?! Good feeling… ha! You’d get a “ha ha” if that was genuinely funny.

THIS, by the way, is why Les is (rightfully) not allowed to speak at graduations…

Where were you when Lisa was recording, Marge’s significant other?
Note: Barry Balderman didn’t leave WHS because he was bullied or ignored, he left because he was obsessed with being valedictorian and had a nervous breakdown after he overheard Principal Fred Fairgood say that Cindy had the highest GPA in the class. What he did not overhear was that Fred was making a dumb joke that GPA stood for “Greatest Popularity of All”. Les earned those boos and then some.

Lest you think that WHS might make the mistake of letting Les speak at graduation again because everyone who was in the administration when he was a student is retired… They aren’t.

I’m half certain that (then vice-) principal Nate has committed to work at the high school until he (or Les) dies in order to make sure that Les never steps in front of a graduation ceremony microphone ever again.



Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

45 responses to “Fortune Dweller

  1. William Thompson

    With the assortment of deranged, anti-social, personality-free losers in this graduating class, wouldn’t some of them be far more likely to take hostages?

  2. Epicus Doomus

    No matter what you do, it just doesn’t matter, as misery and woe is preordained and totally out of your hands. Now THERE’S the FW I remember.

    So if Nate was already principal back then, he must be like ninety years old by now. In Westview, if you don’t die young, you don’t die at all.

    • billytheskink

      Nate was vice principal, but the point still stands. It’s almost humorous how much guff he’s had to take dealing with Les over the years given that he was dodging booby traps in Viet Cong tunnels while Les was copying Funky’s math homework and harassing Mary Sue Sweetwater.

  3. Sourbelly

    At first, I thought “hostages to fortune” might be just another entry in the Batiuktionary. But Grandpa Google told me that it is in fact a cliched term that doesn’t really apply in this context. Unless Batdick is saying that graduating from high school is just setting yourself up for future disaster. Is that the joke? Does this mean being a high school dropout is a superior choice? In other words: WTF?

    • Epicus Doomus

      It doesn’t matter, because regardless of what you do, the hand of fate will inevitably snatch away whatever faint glimmer of fulfillment or happiness you may find and there’s not a damn thing you can do about it. That’s why they’re always smirking, because life is just an awful cosmic prank and the quicker you accept it, the better off you’ll be when The Universe taps you on the shoulder. They’ve given up and now they’re doomed to go through the motions, just checking off the days until they die on their 111th birthday.

      • Sourbelly

        Damn. You’re right, ED. That’s Batiukosophy in a nutshell! [And thanks for fixing my typo.]

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        What’s most annoying about the Funkyverse is how much of being a “hostage to fortune” is the characters’ own damn fault.

        I remember an Act I arc where Les was pining after some unseen girl and didn’t have the nerve to approach her. It ended with her saying “oh, I’m too nervous to talk to that guy.” Even 14-year-old me called bullshit on that. One, you’re not going to get the girl if you don’t try; two, boys are expected to do the approaching (especially 35 years ago) so this missed connection wasn’t equally her fault as the story implied; and three, Les didn’t have one quality that any girl on earth would find attractive. Les Moore was no Charlie Brown, not even in Act I.

        And Funky Winkerbean is completely blind to this. Batiuk continues to spin his characters, especially Les and Lisa, as noble suffering heroes in a cruel universe. They’re just not. They’re passive, lazy, unsympathetic, incompetent, defeatist people who mostly get what they deserve. No matter how hard the strip tries to convince us otherwise.

      • J.J. O'Malley

        “Once you realize what a joke everything is, being the Comedian is the only thing that makes sense,” as a much better comics writer than Batiuk once summed up similar thoughts with one sentence in “Wacthmen.”

  4. RudimentaryLathe?

    As if Less actually cares about his students’ unfortunate real-world wake-up calls 😤

    • billytheskink

      And they don’t care about him either. TB has never shown a single one of them (other than the dangerously obsessed Susan Smith) to be inspired or impacted in any way by having been taught by Les. Not shocking given how he’s always depicted as treating them.

  5. spacemanspiff85

    Yeah, because the creepy teacher who’s leered at cute blonde students for generations and has literally never moved on from high school is exactly who they’d want speaking at a graduation.

  6. Hitorque

    1. Wait, so this “Barry Balderman” left school with a few weeks to go in his senior year all because he mistakenly believed he wasn’t going to graduate on top? What an asshole… This is like Peter Parker fucking up his entire reality all because he didn’t get accepted into MIT as if he couldn’t have gotten the exact same education at Cornell, Purdue, Georgia Tech, Cal Tech, Princeton, Cal Berkeley, Illinois, RIT, Rensselaer, etc…

    2. I see Lester’s penchant for delivering a shitty speech while low-key grandstanding has a very long and illustrious history… And what about Lester? Did he try to make friends with Barry or did he ignore him as well??

    • Hitorque

      3. “We’re all hostages to the fickle mistress of fortune!” Said the dude who just had the 2022 Best Actress Academy Award (which he did jack fucking shit to earn) hand-delivered to his doorstep by the winner… Can Les just quit with the existential dread already and admit to himself the fickle mistress of fortune has been pretty goddamned benevolent to him??

    • ComicBookHarriet

      Pretty sure that Barry ended up graduating. I think school was pretty much done by the time he had his nervous breakdown and locked himself away.
      I mean he showed up for the Time Pool Arc reunion.

      • gleeb

        The Time Pool was all just a dream. Again.

        • ComicBookHarriet

          Unfortunately the nightmare of the lead up to the Time Pool arc, where Les gets together with Junebug, Mary Sue, and Barry, to plan the reunion, and somehow makes it all about his dead wife again, was very much real.

    • billytheskink

      1. Barry had a nervous breakdown when he thought he wasn’t going to be valedictorian (he claimed that he started writing that speech Les refused to read in the 7th grade) and locked himself in the yearbook office. Search me as to why the whole thing wasn’t resolved by telling him he actually was at the top of the class… or why his parents pulled him out of school after the unfortunate but not criminal or expulsion-worthy incident so he couldn’t be valedictorian.

      2. Les was no more or less friendly with Barry Balderman than anyone else. I think Funky interacted with Barry as often as Les did, if not more often.

      And speaking of Barry, that sure does look like the back of his head in front of Les today…

      • Rusty Shackleford

        I know. Isn’t it rich that Les calls out others. Is he (Batty) open to others that think differently than him? I think not.

        If anything, in today’s world, things are more polarized than ever. There is no middle ground. It’s always one side versus the other and all they do is endlessly troll and criticize the other side.

        Sorry for the homily. It’s been rough at work and I’m stressed out. Glad we have a long weekend coming up.

        • ComicBookHarriet

          Not here, buddy. Here, all of us, Christian, atheist, agnostic, liberal, conservative, urban, rural, male, female, are united in the same beautiful mission…

          Hating Les Moore.

          On everything else we can respectfully, even if passionately, disagree. All the while acknowledging the fundamental humanity and basic decency of those so different from us…because we have Les Moore to point to, and say, “Here is what a garbage human REALLY looks like.”

        • sorialpromise

          Dear Rusty Shackleford,
          Please homilyze whenever you wish! Enjoy the long weekend. We will help carry your stress.

  7. be ware of eve hill

    BTS, your last paragraph cracked me up. We must all band together to stop the plague that is Les Moore.

    If anybody in real-life had made a graduation speech like Les in the vintage FW trip, they’d be a class pariah for life.
    Class Reunioneer #1: Do I have to send an invitation to the class reunion to Les Moore?
    Class Reunioneer #2: Oh hell, no! Do you remember his speech at our graduation ceremony? He hijacked Barry Balderman’s speech. What a self-serving jackass. I wouldn’t send an invitation to Les Moore if it meant world peace.

    Even though he still lives in Westview, it would be perfectly excusable for the reunion committee to claim they couldn’t locate Les.

    Who the hell attends a joyous graduation ceremony and makes a statement like Les in panel #2. The term ‘party pooper’ isn’t strong enough. What an asshole. Les Moore, what a Schleprock.

  8. be ware of eve hill

    Hey, there’s “Thatsnought Hewmoore” in the SOSF banner. With graduation on hand, he’s potentially on his way out the door.

    I wonder if Batty will finally grace the poor kid with an actual name?

  9. Rusty Shackleford

    Well I’m no Tom Batty. I have no nationally syndicated strip. The NYT’s does not call me up for interviews. I do not get to work from home and read comic books for my job and I am required to do actual work and not just do the bare minimum.

    So thanks Batty for the inspiring words in today’s strip.

  10. Charles

    Reading that graduation speech that Les gave… how does he have any friends at all? Dude’s a massive bummer, and he’s a god damn scold along with it. Here’s an event that for every single person present is a celebration, and Les has to scold them all. I was going to say that the event marked the end of high school, so Les’s message wouldn’t even have any value at all to his audience, but then, high school never ended for any of these dorks.

    Also, I wonder if his plan was to read Barry’s speech, and decided to adjust to what he did say upon reading it for the first time in front of this crowd, or if he made the decision to pull this stunt in advance. In either case, he’s an asshole and a fuckup, with the only question being how much he’s more of one than the other. And again, this is Batiuk’s genius character. This is the guy he thinks people would respect and admire.

    As for today’s strip, it’s amazing how oblivious Batiuk is to how this message comes across. If his students are ill-prepared for what’s to come, he had a hand in making them that way. His lethargic fatalism and his insulting cynicism didn’t serve anyone beyond his own sad sense of superiority.

    Which, of course, is the sort of thing that would have Les get up to give a graduation speech like that scolding his fellow graduates.

  11. Charles

    BTW, Billy, I hate to say this, but when I created the tag “Les’ Slob-ass tie”, it was specifically in reference to the tie he’d wear in class, which he would always loosen while unbuttoning his top yellow shirt button. I suspect Batiuk felt this made him look cool and unpretentious, but in actuality it just made him look like a slob.

    Not that I mind you repurposing it all that much.

    • billytheskink

      That makes sense. I’m really only using it here because Les is both wearing a tie and being an ass, so it felt appropriate even if not perfectly descriptive.

  12. Banana Jr. 6000

    Les is consistent, I’ll give him that. He made his high school graduation ceremony about himself, he made Bull Bushka’s funeral about himself, he made Lisa’s entire existence about himself, and he was last seen making Mary Sue Sweetwater’s funeral about himself. When he’s not doing that, he’s declaring everyone else as doomed to fail. As others have said, this guy should be an absolute pariah in Westview. Not much else to say.

  13. The Duck of Death

    I believe what Les is saying is,

    “I returned, and saw under the sun,
    that the race is not to the swift,
    nor the battle to the strong,
    neither yet bread to the wise,
    nor yet riches to men of understanding,
    nor yet favor to men of skill;
    but time and chance happeneth to them all.”

    But of course Les said it far more eloquently. Wow, what a fresh and novel observation, Les! Real original thinker, that guy.

    • ComicBookHarriet

      Les seems less Biblical and more pagan in his sensibilities. He knows the god of the Funkiverse is uncaring, petty, and capricious.

      “For once the careless follies of his youth
      have passed, what harsh affliction is he spared,
      what suffering does he not undergo?
      Envy and quarrels, murder, strife and war,
      until at last he reaches his old age,
      rejected and alone, unloved and weak,
      a state where every form of sadness dwells.”

      • sorialpromise

        Ok CBH,
        You got me! I will fulfill Proverbs 27:14 at 3 o’clock tomorrow morning proclaiming that you are better read than I am. I found quotes like this from Thomas Gray and Arthur Schopenhauer, but not this quote. Who is it from? and Bless your house.

        • ComicBookHarriet

          ‘Oedipus at Colonus’ by Sophocles.

          I went through a huge Ancient Greek lit kick during high school. I have no idea why. Most of my friends went from Tolkien to Harry Potter to Twilight. I went from Tolkien to Aristophanes.

          I wouldn’t say I’m terribly well read, more like the older something is, the more I want to read it. You tell me that this was translated from cuneiform clay tablets found in the ruins of Nineveh, I’m there.

          • sorialpromise

            Wow! You make want to read: Oedipus at Colonus’ by Sophocles. Thank you.
            You are loved.
            Light and Life.
            Some of my best reading comes from SOSF!

    • Y. Knott

      ‘The race is not always to the swift nor the battle to the strong — but that’s the way to bet.’ – Damon Runyon.

  14. The Duck of Death

    Batiuk appears stuck in an adolescent phase many of us went through. It’s that phase — today it might be called “emo” — when you realize that fairy tales are fake, Disney movies are not true, and life’s path is strewn with obstacles and always ends in death. For me, this happened around age 13.

    Most of us probably spent a couple years of feeling like we’d been lied to by the world and all the adults happily going about their business are insane and self-deceiving — don’t they know the TRUE nature of life? Then, hopefully by the age of 16, we realized that all the adults already know all this, but they choose to make the best of their lives anyway. That includes maintaining the most optimistic attitude possible to serve both themselves and those around them.

    Batiuk/Les is stuck in some kind of early-teen phase wherein he thinks no one else has noticed the difficulty and ultimate apparent futility of life. He’s utterly unaware that wrestling with this problem has been the driving force of all philosophy and religion in history.

    Batiuk truly believes he’s a deep thinker.

    It’s sad.

  15. Dood

    What would Baton Thomas say (as a “celebrity” commencement speaker)?

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      The same things Tom Batiuk says in Funky Winkerbean, or on his blog. Batiuk isn’t a deep man.

  16. The Duck of Death

    I was so weighed down by the dripping wet blanket of Les’ philosophy that I didn’t even notice the unpossible grammar.

    “It has to be a good feeling to see your students graduate.”

    “It does…”

    What the actual fork? How is it that TB is constantly making novel grammatical errors that no native speaker of Earth languages would make?

    No Earthling would confuse the verbs “to be” and “to do.” I stand by my assertion that TB is a poorly programmed AI. Was the old sentient WHS computer of the 70s a self-insertion? Was “Tom Batiuk” trying to tell us something?

  17. Don

    Something strange about today’s strip…I see it now: Batiuk remembered that, in yesterday’s strip, they were wearing round mortarboards! Yes, things like this do need to be pointed out, especially after Westview’s state girls’ basketball championship switched from Division 3 to Division 1 in a span of two days.

  18. The Duck of Death

    Great God, those vintage strips. Unbelievable.

    I’m starting to wonder whether TB was in some sense a feral child. Did he not have parents who explained the world to him? Did no one sit him down and say,

    “Son, there’s a time and place for everything. The time for a bitter reflection on divorce statistics is NOT when you’re delivering the toast at a wedding. The time for a searching and fearless inventory of someone’s faults is NOT when you’re delivering their eulogy.

    And the time for self-righteous whining and scolding about your own problems is NOT when you’re supposed to be delivering a commencement speech written by someone whose fragile mental health kept them from being at the ceremony.”

    Now go outside in the sunshine, for Cripes’ sake, and take a break from those comic books!”

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      By his own accounts, Tom Batiuk had a positive childhood. He also had a long-running marriage, and raised a child. And he’s nice enough in person.

      But his writing really does exhibit the mind of a bitter, stubborn, overrated 13-year-old. He nurses grudges he shouldn’t care about; he exacts petty revenge on people for perceived affronts; he tries to shut out anything he doesn’t like; and he expects the world to praise his genius with no effort or even basic courtesy on his part. And he will NOT take a break from those comic books. Not even 60 years after he should have outgrown them, and 20 years after they should have ruined his career.