I’ve seen that look before…

So many of you yesterday were baffled at the nothingness of this week. You figured, maybe hoped, that after Malcolm and Logan’s embarrassing date, that they would slide down the memory hole and out of this strip forever.

But today’s strip silently forebodes something much more sinister. That bitter and sour expression on Miss Cashier Lady’s face. It’s almost… as if…

The face of meddlesome woe.

Batiuk. No. Stop. Please. You’re not equipped to handle this. You’ve really never been that great at handling these things, and the modern cultural climate is much less forgiving of the sort of bungled virtue signaling you got away with in the past.

No one wants this.

Having said that, I truly, unironically feel blessed that he doesn’t offer much in the way of political takes. I don’t recall any commentary about the last president; I don’t recall any lectures about vaccines or masks, or opinions on whether or not the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were just, or really anything other than the most anodyne of mainstream thoughts, viz. Bill Clinton’s a nice, regular guy; climate “damage” (his expression) is bad; availability of guns causes school shootings, etc.

I applaud his generally nonpolitical stance and hope never to hear his opinions on Ukraine or Russia, no matter what they are. All of us are pelted with political opinions every time we turn on a screen. I like having FW, and this comment section, as a respite. Mental rest is important.

The Duck of Death, May 30, 2022.

DOD, I hear you. No Politics is one of the very few site rules here. But it becomes a tricky rule when it’s Batiuk himself bringing politics into the conversation with his strip.

And so I’m wondering what you guys think. In the week to come, it gets a little political. (Of course in a very Batiuky bland way.) I’ve done some reading and thinking. Some preliminary archive browsing. I’ve got a few things I could bring up and examine regarding how Batuik has dealt (or not dealt) with racial issues in the past.

Or not. I could also just find something really random in the background of each strip, and tell you all about the history of linoleum or Styrofoam.

Not sure which way to go here.


Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

71 responses to “I’ve seen that look before…

  1. Banana Jr. 6000

    See, now, this should have been a comic book cover:

    • Epicus Doomus

      You’ve really outdone yourself this time, Banana! Top-notch!

      • ComicBookHarriet

        BRAVO BJ6K! This is a work of ART.

        • Epicus Doomus

          It’s been a while since he’s done a true “prestige arc”. I guess the Adeela/ICE thing was technically a prestige arc, and that was a few years ago (wasn’t it?). Then there was the Morton/Lillian elderly date rape arc, but I think he was playing that one for laughs. And a true prestige arc is never, ever funny.

          • billytheskink

            I have to admit that the fact that TB thinks a Forever 21 cashier cares enough about anything to glare at anyone made me chuckle a little. 1/4″ from reality…

      • Y. Knott

        I genuinely laughed out loud. Excellent job, BJr6K!

  2. Captain Gladys Stoatpamphlet

    Did the link to the comic get lost?

    • Sourbelly

      Same question. Comics Kingdumb is, as always, no help.

    • Epicus Doomus


      • Sourbelly

        Thanks, ED, I guess. My hope is that this random mall worker is just offended by the idea that two vision-impaired kids might reproduce even more of their near-sighted kind. Otherwise…I agree with CBH. I’m pretty sure none of us wants to see Batdick venture out of his very shallow depth.

        • Margaret

          I was really really hoping that she’s glaring at them because she went out with Malcolm (she looks like she could be a teenager) and she hoped they would keep dating. Maybe she thinking “who is SHE?!”

          I knew it was a long shot.

  3. William Thompson

    Deep and meaningful questions arise here. Will the two gay kids receive names? Which beloved character will deliver the devastating “Oh, dry up!” command to the leader of the angry homophobes? (I’m guessing it will be the kid who wore the Stonewall costume at the earlier prom, now grown up and teaching at WHS.) What bland non-statement will Principal Nate make? How will we stay awake through the excitement?

  4. Epicus Doomus

    Holy shit CBH, Roberta glaring at the same-sex prom couple was the first thing I thought of when I saw this one. To be honest, we all should have seen this coming as soon as BatYam trotted out a gimmick couple for no apparent reason. I’ve been reading this thing since the dawn of modern man, and he NEVER just does a casual, throwaway arc featuring two obscure fringe characters like this…unless there’s an agenda. And apparently, there is.

    The trick is to focus less on the issue he’s trying to address and more on how shittily he’s doing it. Because it’d be a real shame if the comment section devolved into a “political” tetherball fight, only to have the arc itself end with a series of flaccid yawn-inducing platitudes, which it most assuredly will. This arc will surely force everyone to think, but what we’ll be thinking is “good God, man, this BatYam guy is the worst writer who’s ever lived”. Bet on it.

    • Hannibal’s Lectern

      Exactly. We come from all over the political spectrum, but we are united in our joyous loathing of this strip and its creator!

      • Epicus Doomus

        No matter what the issue may be, you can always be sure that good ol’ BatYarn will address it in the most ham-fisted, generic way possible, and resolve it in a way that satisfies absolutely no one. And there’s an excellent chance the story will suddenly just veer off in some wild unexpected direction, like when the same-sex prom arc ended up being about Becky’s issues with her mother, or when Adeela being deported somehow became about Funky’s shadowy political ties, or when Frankie harassing Boy Lisa somehow led to Marianne climbing the Hollywood sign.

        Coming next week: Nate saves the day by finding a copy of the mall’s official code of conduct, which does not include anything that would preclude a young African-American couple from walking through the mall. A young African-American character disguised as a shoe display thanks Nate for enabling him and/or her to walk through the mall, if in fact he/she decides that walking through the mall is something he or she might consider doing sometime in the future, perhaps.

        • William Thompson

          Shopping While Black. Somehow it will be resolved by comic books and Starbuck Jones. “Hey, weren’t you two kids on that school bus in the first SJ movie? Can you autograph my Jupiter Moon baton?”

        • Rusty Shackleford

          Oh I thought Batty was going for the Asian racist Karen angle here.

          Either way, I don’t like it.

          • be ware of eve hill

            I thought the cashier was Asian too. It would have been a strange detail to include.

            Asian Racist Karen: I’m not an Asian Racist Karen. I’m just drawn that way.

    • Yep, My focus for the next week or two is going to be critiiczing how awfully Batiuk handles this issue.

  5. erdmann

    Is the clerk’s name Karen?

  6. billytheskink

    Cameo from Davey Lopes in panel 1. Not a Cleveland guy, but I guess he wasn’t busy today…

  7. Y. Knott

    I can only imagine that no matter what party you support, in the forthcoming arc you’ll find Tom Batiuk’s political opinions, whatever they may be, are presented in the most lazy, boring, and unmemorable way possible. In this way — and only in this way — Funky Winkerbean is truly a force that can bring us all together.

    (Well, at least bring together all twenty-six of us who actually bother to read Funky Winkerbean…)

  8. Captain Gladys Stoatpamphlet

    I’m sure that whether or not each of us agree with the message Batiuk tries to convey, we will all find it poorly conveyed. Remember the Adeela deportation storyline. Hope that helps.

  9. J.J. O'Malley

    Now, now, everyone. Why are we jumping the gun and assuming that Countergirl Karen has some sinister racial baggage she’s about to unload on our non-dating duo? Maybe she’s just offended that a guy who appears to be in his mid-30s is hanging out in the mall with a teenager.

    Seriously, we all better fasten our seat belts. Next week is shaping up to be a real slough.

    • Epicus Doomus

      Coming next week: Nate saves the day by finding a copy of the mall’s official code of conduct, which does not include anything that would preclude an eighteen-year-old female from walking through the mall with a man twice her age. An eighteen-year-old character disguised as a shoe display thanks Nate for enabling him and/or her to walk through the mall with someone twice his/her age, if in fact he/she decides that walking through the mall with someone twice his or her age is something he or she might consider doing sometime in the future, perhaps.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Because it’s that obvious. A wordless strip, where a character we’ve never seen before casts aspersions at our designated protagonists. Minority protagonists who got a weeklong arc out of nowhere, despite being so irrelevant that one of them didn’t even have a name until this week. Batiuk couldn’t telegraph this any harder if bought a telegraph and sent a message to the Pulitzer selection committee that read FUNKY WINKERBEAN PRESTIGE ARC NEXT WEEK STOP PLEASE GIVE ME AN AWARD STOP.

      • The Duck of Death

        It was clear to me as soon as we saw a young black couple that they were gonna be cast as victims of racism. What, you expected them to be fully fleshed out characters with families, lives, personalities, wants, needs, triumphs and tragedies all their own? PSHAW! That’s for Les and Funky and the rest of the gang. This couple will be Victims of (White) Perfidy. Isn’t that enough of a character trait for them?

        I was wrong, though, when I thought the point would be that black students are uniquely victimized by usurious student loans, because racism. I should say the apparent point, because TB can never stick the landing well enough for readers to really understand the point he’s trying to make.

        Batiuk has a truly unique, oxymoronic talent: The ability to drive his point home with the subtlety of a sledgehammer, and yet leave his point completely head-scratchingly vague.

        How the hell does he do it?

        • Banana Jr. 6000

          It’s a combination of four factors:

          1. Tom Batiuk’s atrocious writing and research skills;
          2. his desire for Funky Winkerbean to be socially relevant so he can win awards;
          3. his condescending attitude towards women and minorities; and
          4. his complete aversion to conflict.

          So you end up with pointless, issues-adjacent stories where unimportant characters have to be rescued from zero-stakes situations.

        • Epicus Doomus

          I honestly didn’t see it coming, although I should have. He NEVER features characters this obscure for no reason.

          • Banana Jr. 6000

            Naming the character “Malcolm” should have been a hint. Bit on the nose, don’t you think?

  10. sorialpromise

    I vote that CBH gets a little bit political, and Mr. Batiuk stick to linoleum.

    • Epicus Doomus

      The “no politics” rule is non-negotiable. It’s up to TFH and I to determine what “political” is. Obviously there is leeway given, but if something veers too far off topic, it will be handled appropriately. This policy is based on experience, it’s not arbitrary or anything.

      • Y. Knott

        I’ve seen a couple of posts that were up for maybe a few minutes before they were zapped by either you or TFH — and I’ve had absolutely no issue with the removal of the posts you removed. I have every faith you will continue to keep this an environment that’s fun and interesting, and one where the conversation can be spirited and snarky… but never ugly.

        • Epicus Doomus

          I know the ones you mean. While I feel that fan fiction posts are kind of annoying, that’s just a subjective opinion. Anal sex fan fiction featuring sound effects, though…uh, no. Over the last twelve years we have removed a very, very small number of posts, which is a credit to everyone here, past and present.

  11. none

    Lean into the politics. If that’s the way he wants to go, let him reap every atom of what he sows.

    There was a tiny bit of angered response on Twitter to the last Sunday of Adeela Wasn’t Deported arc because it didn’t paint the ICE POLICE workers as sinister as others would like, earning a few responses to the strip being “Fashy Winkerbean”. With Buffalo still fresh in the social conscious, now is exactly the worst time for this kind of subject to be focus here.

    This is the latest opportunity “we” have to present the case on precisely what makes this strip so unfathomably bad. It should not be squandered. Rather, a succinct compilation on the violations of taste and human interaction this arc will surely make, and a comparison to previous transgressions, would well serve as a citation to any response that could otherwise be written off as mere “trolling” or a “drive by post”. No, people, this strip really is that bad, and has been that bad for years: here’s why.

    Let’s have everyone mention @teaberryblue and see if there’s enough to finally get her to do something other than ignore the strip and her duties as an editor. Let’s have someone from NYT or some press figure ask TB some real questions and not give him a reach around for once in his charmed and stress-free life.

    • Bad wolf

      Now i kinda wish “Fashy Winkerbean” becomes a thing. Tom’s great legacy, a next gen ‘Pepe the frog’. (I just saw a fantasy author canceled a decade after his death so there is never a time limit for these things.)

      Go for it with the history lesson CBH, those old strips are usually fun and i think we can all imagine the angle of them pretty easily already.

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        Yes, some insight from CBH into Batiuk’s past handling of political hot topics would be a very productive angle for the upcoming week. I think all us commenters agree that we won’t let the discussion turn into partisan sniping. And I definitely agree with “none” that a botched racism story is a great opportunity to illustrate why Funky Winkerbean is so loathsome. Which is surprisingly hard to nail down.

        • Margaret

          Really, how could this turn into partisan sniping? Is there actually a party whose platform is openly that racism is good and that black people shouldn’t be allowed to go into stores? It’s going to be an awful story arc, but I just don’t see how anyone, regardless of their political affiliation, is going to argue that either this never happens, or if it does it’s a good thing.

          • Banana Jr. 6000

            Is there actually a party whose platform is openly that racism is good and that black people shouldn’t be allowed to go into stores? I just don’t see how anyone, regardless of their political affiliation, is going to argue that either this never happens, or if it does it’s a good thing.

            It’s a lot more subtle than that. I’m gonna try not to open a can of worms here. but: “arguing that it never happens” seems to be the aim of the anti-Critical Race Theory movement. There are states that have new laws against teaching things like “an individual, by virtue of his or her race or sex, is inherently racist, sexist or oppressive, whether consciously or unconsciously.” I’ll just say that, for a social concept that’s illegal to teach in Oklahoma, there seems to be a lot of evidence it exists..

          • The Duck of Death

            Margaret, I say this with grief in my heart, but: How could this not turn into partisan sniping? How could anything not turn into partisan sniping?

      • The Duck of Death

        Bad wolf, you are a genius. Matt Furie has been driven nearly round the bend by 4chan’s appropriation of his peace-love-&-granola Pepe the Frog. Imagine TB’s reaction to Fashy.

  12. newagepalimpsest

    You Can Not (Escape Westview High Without A Very Special Episode)

  13. ian'sdrunkenbeard

  14. Rusty Shackleford

    I hope Batty bungles this so bad that the cancel crowd comes for his head. He loses both strips and the Pulitzer committee forbids him from ever saying he was nominated.

    He is hauled off kicking and screaming “ but I’m one of the good guys, I hold all the right opinions, why…aggghhh”

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      If that Crankshaft “too old and ugly to rape” strip didn’t get him in trouble, it’s hard to imagine what will. That was only in 2009, and you can’t even find any information online about it anymore. But there’s plenty of documentation of people whose careers were ended or damaged 20 years before that over similar comments.

      As others have said, Batiuk will make this story too incoherent to be insulting. It’s the closest thing he has to a talent.

      • Rusty Shackleford

        Oh gosh I forgot about that horrid strip, thanks for the reminder.

        I still want to see him get some backlash, but you are right, nobody reads this strip and the writing is so poor that nobody will know what he is talking about anyways.

        I wonder if the idea for this strip was taken from an incident last year here in NE Ohio where inner city youths brawled at a local shopping area. A curfew was imposed on all teens but of course the media spun it as being racist.

        • The Duck of Death

          Of course, that’s gotta be it. As I mentioned last week, Tom’s not a deep thinker. If TV man says something’s evil, then it’s evil. And it’s an opportunity for TB to take another shot at that Pulitzer by placing himself firmly in the Not Evil camp.

        • Remember when he had Les call his Black wife a macaque (monkey)? That got a little blowback, and most of it came from us snarkers here and on CK.

          • Rusty Shackleford

            Well he got enough flak that he posted about it on his blog.

          • Epicus Doomus

            Oh God, that was bad. Cayla’s various hairdos were pretty damn tasteless too. Fortunately, Batiuk quickly discovered that he has no ability to draw dreadlocks at all. And we can all be thankful for that.

  15. The Duck of Death

    Me? As I mentioned a few days ago, and as CBH quoted kindly above, I would rather not see politics discussed on the site. The vituperation around politics and race now suffuses the air like oxygen itself. This site is one of the few respites from it.

    Now, the topic of how utterly ham-fisted TB is at handling his pathetic “prestige” arcs — that’s a perennial. You can’t go wrong with it.

    But I am also personally allergic to sanctimonious lectures in any form. I always wonder: What exactly makes this person some kind of moral authority whose ethics are so far superior to mine that they have the right to deliver a scolding lecture, condescendingly correcting my supposed sins? Nine times out of ten, the biggest scolds turn out not to be moral paragons themselves.

    As you can imagine, not wanting secular sermons with my entertainment (or even my news) means that I consume very little current media. FW and SOSF is one of those few.

    So my own vote is: Focus on the crappy quality of the work and not on the ham-fisted message. But either way, if it gets annoying, I’ll just dip out for the duration. I’ve learned that it’s my own responsibility to protect my blood pressure, adrenal glands, and mental health by avoiding useless aggravation.

    • Rusty Shackleford

      I’m with you 100% on this though I admit I have occasionally slipped in a bit of politics over the years.

      It seems like everyone is complaining all the time about some thing, from Covid to politics, and it is all so divisive no matter which side you are on. There is no middle ground, just opposing forces constantly trolling each other.

      I’m glad we can all get along here. I wish all of my snarkers a wonderful weekend. Enjoy the day!

      • Mela

        I second that. Middle ground apparently collapsed a long time ago. Everyone is respectful to one another here, which is one of the reasons why I hang around! And CBH-I have no doubt that you will provide thoughtful, insightful commentary no matter how you go with it.

        I fully expect this arc to address the topic in the same way the others have-by not really addressing it at all.

  16. Green Luthor

    So, anyone else hearing Tim Negoda talking about tackling the controversial subject of racial integration in schools? (The phrase “a huge slap in the face to the African-American community” in particular.)

  17. Ray

    Come on gang…this is Occam’s Razor at it finest.

    Given the decisiveness that the Cleveland Baseball Team’s new name was greeted with, the fact that Malcolm is sporting a “Guardians” t-shirt, the cashier obviously falls into the camp of “Chief Wahoo”.

    Or maybe I’m totally wrong here. 🤔

  18. robertodobbs

    I’m reminded of how Dan Ronan pointed out that in the Smurfs, Smurfette is simply “the girl.” Same kind of thing going on here unfortunately.

  19. be ware of eve hill

    CBH, I’m not sure if your question of whether to go political or not is rhetorical. I’m going to vote ‘go political’ anyway.

    Yesterday there were a whole 25 comments. Today’s comment total is already almost twice that.

    Batty’s prestige arcs are always a good source of snark fodder. People who don’t ordinarily post comments will get off the bench and contribute. Readers who don’t ordinarily visit this website will venture here. Hopefully, their posts will be moderated if they get out of control and break SOSF rule #1.

    What was the old Comics Kingdom FUNKY WINKERBEAN tagline? Covering contemporary issues concerning young adults handled in a thought-provoking, sensitive manner?

    More like covering contemporary events concerning young adults handled in a clumsy, ham-fisted manner.

    I can appreciate Batty’s courage covering a story on racism and questioning his intelligence, at the same time.

    Sorry. I really don’t really want to read about the history of linoleum or Styrofoam next week. That would remind me of the horrifying days of elementary school when my regular teacher called off sick. They’d be replaced by the world’s lamest substitute teacher. Rather than use the teacher’s lesson plan, the sub would wheel in a film projector and play incredibly boring movies. The titles would be like, The History of Industrial Adhesives, Our Friend Top Soil, and The Amazing World of Tin. Ten minutes into the movie, I’d be begging for my math book.

    So, as I said, please go political. I trust the people here. The snark is going to be great. Excuse me, I’m going to get my popcorn ready.

    • sorialpromise

      I am going to firmly come down on the side of politics. I wholeheartedly support a Bernie/Beware of Eve Hill ticket.

      • be ware of eve hill

        YaY! Hooray for Bernie! He’d win in a landslide.

        Three cheers and a bottle of Yoohoo to the little man whose feet barely touch the floor.

        • Epicus Doomus

          There is a reason we have a “no politics” policy, and I myself am partially responsible for it. Many, MANY years ago, I made a snarky remark that gravely offended a regular. I realized it was rather tasteless and poorly thought out, and I apologized to that commenter, but after that he stopped coming around. And I felt terrible about it.

          As others have pointed out, it’s highly unlikely that anyone here is actually pro-racism and any such individual wouldn’t be welcome regardless of the topic. I’m just asking that everyone stays on topic is all. Infighting and lengthy argument threads won’t be tolerated. Never have been, never will be. But I honestly doubt it’ll be a problem, as everyone here seems to be a good egg in general.

          • be ware of eve hill

            Just the same, if this story arc goes where we all think it’s going, I really don’t mind if I sit this one out.

            A few years ago, a friend and I had a kerfuffle in the CK discussion over the rapper name “Hershey Barr.” A couple of months passed before we patched things up. Once bitten, twice shy.

    • Rusty Shackleford

      I’m ready!

      • be ware of eve hill

        Rusty Shackleford posting a King of the Hill picture?

        I got the reference connection!

  20. Jim in Wisc.

    Oh, goody! Another hamfisted attempt by Le Auteur Glorieux to deal with a serious social issue. And only two years late to the table.

  21. Suicide Squirrel

    Place your bets!

    My prediction is the kids get arrested for shoplifting. Instead of calling their parents, they call the most important adult in their lives, teacher and mentor, Les Moore. Due to his mixed-race marriage, Les is instantly viewed as the person best equipped to handle the dispute. Due to his superior intellect and overall magnificence, Les’s soliloquy on racism swiftly gets the charges dropped.

    Afterward, Les, the two kids, the police, and the shifty-eyed sales clerk, convene at Montoni’s for a massive pizza party.

  22. be ware of eve hill

    I’ve had the (dis)pleasure of working in retail. It is possible that the sales clerk is miffed because:

    1.) A coworker just called off or quit, and she just got stuck working until closing time. A double shift on a weekend.
    2.) I’m trying to interpret her gaze. Perhaps she’s not seething at Logan and Malcolm at all, but at the blonde messing up a display. The display counter she just straightened up five minutes ago.
    3.) Logan and Malcolm are waltzing into the store five minutes before closing.
    4.) She recognizes Logan’s bag as one sold by a mall competitor.

    And I’ll throw in an extra. She doesn’t approve of the Cleveland baseball franchise’s new name and logo on Malcolm’s shirt. As a person who grew up with the Indians, I have a certain lack of enthusiasm for ‘The Guardians’. I guess my Kansas City Chiefs are next.