Life At The Carousel

Link To Sunday’s Strip

Meh. This is exactly the kind of trite, sappy drivel you’d expect from such an arc. Time keeps on slipping slipping into the future and all. Very cute and very observant. I was unaware that Westview had a merry-go-round. I assume it’s right next to a roller coaster that only has drops and a waterslide slickened with the tears of Westviewians, but an assumption is all it is.

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42 Comments

Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

42 responses to “Life At The Carousel

  1. William Thompson

    Why are Cooty and Rocky still here in their wedding costumes? Didn’t they leave for their honeymoon . . . oh. They’re honeymooning in Westview, because where else can they be perfectly miserable?

    • Hitorque

      I’m guessing Cory+Roxanne on the amusement park ride (still in their wedding outfits) is some sort of metaphor for coitus and soon they’ll have an offspring of their own?

      • William Thompson

        Or that Roxanne was so unhinged by the sight of naked Funky that she has regressed to childhood and believes her marriage is a game of pretend. Which is probably a common thing in Westview.

  2. sorialpromise

    I have stated before that I have high hopes for Mr. Batiuk’s writing. I see potential plots and points of conflict that could make for strong stories. While I am an optimist, I am also a realist. He keeps his characters about age 8, so they can read comics, play with toy soldiers, have a best man whose only criteria is that he draw cartoons, and ride a merry go round with his wife in a bridal gown.
    I would like to be wrong, but the adult has seemingly left the building. I hope at age 75, Mr. Batiuk can still make an attempt to change.

    • Rusty Shackleford

      He won’t change as he thinks he is doing everything correctly.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Funky Winkerbean occasionally hits on an interesting premise, but always drops it like a hot potato. Holly’s conflict with her mother is a great example. Melinda bullied Holly into participating in a dumb baton-twirling show, they came to a shouting match over practicing for it, Holly got seriously injured doing it, and… the conflict never came up again. It was completely forgotten, replaced with three weeks of dumb hospital jokes. Nobody ever reacted to it or even commented on it.

      During this arc, it would have been interesting to resolve the past story where Cory stole the Lisa’s Legacy money from Les. Funky just replaced the missing money without ever telling Les what happened, and with Cory facing no repercussions for it. It’s implied Cory had to join the army to get straight, which he apparently did, but Funky Winkerbean never tells you anything. It just implies that everything resolved itself off-camera.

      Go read any article about the basic elements of storytelling. Tom Batiuk fastidiously avoids every single one. There is no conflict. There is no action. The characters have no goals. There is no escalation. There is no deadline. There is no window into what the characters are thinking.

      Batiuk’s problem isn’t his age. It’s that he’s been left without direction for so long that he doesn’t know how to tell a story anymore. Which he was never any good at, but that damned Pulitzer nomination made him think he was.

      • sorialpromise

        Banana Jr. 6000,
        That is a great post. I do not understand what Mr. Batiuk gets out of FW. He certainly gets his money. I have compared him previously to Charles Schultz. Similar age and similar career, but Mr. Schultz wrote gag a day strips and continuing storylines that didn’t need to end on a Sunday. There were many opportunities to extend this story that would have enhanced the arc. Some were silly, like the aftermath of Rocky walking in on Funky. (I am glad that was a missed opportunity, but it could have been funny.) But you mentioned Cory’s maturing. He could have come clean to Les, (Ack! I mentioned his name in a positive way. Forgive me ComicBookHarriet!) That could have taken about a week’s worth of strips, but it could have been rewarding. Others have mentioned Rocky’s Dad, or even Cory’s bio-dad, and that would have added another week or 10 days of good writing. The lack of friends for Rocky and Cory could have been addressed and eliminated Darin as the best man. This might have added another week.
        Mr. Batiuk has no time limit for his stories, so he could have easily taken more time, like the plotline of Mary Worth is never in a hurry. (Darn it!) Yet FW only wants to focus on comics, pizza, toys, and childishness. That will never get Mr. Batiuk his Pulitzer. This arc could have been good practice to head him in that direction. Yet it was not because he could not. (Saddest literary words ever!)
        BJ6000, you are appreciated!

        • be ware of eve hill

          When the Rocky and Cory wedding arc started, I thought perhaps this story arc wouldn’t be too bad. Perhaps we might get to learn about them a little. Maybe a few questions about them would be answered.

          Ha! Instead of answering any questions, Batty has added several more.
          Where’s Rocky’s father? Who walked her down the aisle? He must be dead to pass on his little girl’s wedding. Is Rocky the product of artificial insemination from some anonymous donor?
          Where is Cory’s birth father? Dead? Serving 5 to 10 in the local state penitentiary? Persona non grata?
          Where is Cory’s grandmother, Melinda? In previous strips, the two were shown to have a good relationship. Doesn’t Melinda live with Holly and Funky? Where did she go? Have we seen Melinda since the baton incident? Did Melinda move back to Florida? Did she die?
          Where are all of Rocky’s and Cory’s friends? Don’t hey have any? No friends from their military unit?
          Why is the wedding party so small? Why have Darin as best man? So Batty could make that Lichtenstein art gag? Before yesterday, I had no idea who Lichtenstein even was.
          Who is the Maid/Matron of Honor? That poor girl. We never got to meet her all. Not even a name!

          Addressing any of the above could have improved the story, but instead Batty decided to fire off lousy gag-a-day strips like some wannabe comic throwing out one-liners and bombing on open-mic night.

          What’s up with the single strip featuring Keisha and Maddie? It was bizarre. It wasn’t funny and didn’t go anywhere afterwards. More questions. No answers.

          This story arc was dreadful, capped off with a Sunday strip that doesn’t make much sense. Most of us generally expect a Funky Winkerbean story arc to be bad. I expected the wedding story arc to be a disappointment, but as usual, Batiuk fails to meet my lowered expectations. There’s “Bad”, then there’s “Batiuk Bad”.

          Banana Jr. 6000 is right. Present-day Tom Batiuk couldn’t tell a story to save his life.

          • sorialpromise

            🎵Where have all the family gone?
            Rocky and C-C-Cory’s?🎶
            Where have all their friends gone?🎶
            Batiuk dropped them everyone!🎶
            When will we ever learn?
            When will we ever learn. 🎵

            Be aware of Eve Hill, you may serenade your sweet husband with this ditty.

          • be ware of eve hill

            @Sorial Promise
            Bravo. LOL. Sorial Promise, you made me laugh out loud with this one.

            My husband has good taste. He recently gave up reading Funky Winkerbean.

  3. Captain Gladys Stoatpamphlet

    I’m not sure who I’m supposed to recognize. Who is the kid in the Batman t-shirt with the receding hairline?

    • I had the same question, CGS. Is it Skunk Head John, meaning the black blob of fur on his head today a toupee? A prematurely balding Funky, who grew his hair back somehow in his high school years?

      Luckily, shitty premise + shitty artwork = I can’t care. On to the next feces-tossing arc.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Tom Batiuk’s pathological need to insert his comic books into everything makes a muddled strip even more muddled.

  4. billytheskink

    Mort Winkerbean used to be Mr. Incredible?

  5. J.J. O'Malley

    Seriously, nothing about this makes sense. At first I thought the boy on the merry-go-round in panels two, three and four was supposed to be Cory growing up (out of chronological order), but that’s apparently not Holly and Funky (or Cory’s biodad) watching, is it? Why focus on unknown children and then the newlyweds, who were apparently followed on their honeymoon by the groom’s parents?

    Rod Serling and Ray Bradbury, among others, were able to craft “carousels as a metaphor for life’s changes” stories that worked, but here TB misses the brass ring and gives us–fittingly–a ride that goes in circles and ultimately winds up back where it started.

    • Y. Knott

      Yes, this is totally botched on any kind of level related to comprehensible storytelling. Following the SAME growing child on the merry-go-round, and the SAME aging parents, would have made sense.

      This? This is nothing. Any kind of editor with the requisite number of brain cells to read the material — and possessed of even the faintest trappings of a sense of responsibility — would have immediately sent this strip back with notes for a rewrite.

      And also perhaps a recommendation that the strip’s writer investigate the possibility of a complete neurological work-up.

    • ComicBookHarriet

      I think that Panels 1 and 2 are supposed to be Funky riding the carousel first while Mort and Mom watch, and second with a random girl he’s crushing over.

      I will say this, the art is miles better than we’ve seen on weekdays. So Ayers hasn’t completely lost it, and seems to be getting lazy rather than having a full-on A3G old-age meltdown.

      • Rusty Shackleford

        I thought that was a young Cindy.

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        I think you’re right, but it fails for a lot of reasons:

        1. There’s so little difference in any of the characters in Funky Winkerbean that you can’t tell who each one’s supposed to be.

        2. Too many unnecessary and confusing details: Random brunette girl doesn’t need to be there, or it needs to be clearer who she is. Childhood Cory should not be wearing a t-shirt that is a symbol of a different character.

        3. People who should be there are missing. Mort Winkerbean isn’t dead, and still lives in Westview. Why isn’t he in the family scene now? At least The Simpsons made a joke out of the fact that they stuck Grandpa in a home and more or less forget he exists. Here it’s done so matter-of-factly. And where’s Act I Funky? Where are Cory and Rocky in their Army uniforms? Where’s anyone else from the strip’s past? I can’t believe I’m saying this, but seeing Lisa before she died would have actually been useful here.

        4. Why do so many things change? Why do the horses change? Why does the sky change from blue to yellow? Why don’t the characters wear the same clothes, which would also help with #1? For the carousel metaphor to work, some things have to stay the same while life changes you.

        5. Pizza! Comic books! Pizza! Comic books! Pizza! Comic books! Life in Westview sure does go in circles, all right.

        6. Why are they still dressed in their wedding clothes? It’s a fantasy sequence. It doesn’t need to continue logically from yesterday, But Mr. Realism gotta realism. The strip has constant continuity errors, but this is the thing it makes the effort to get right.

        7. Why are we supposed to care about a character’s past that wasn’t important enough to show on-panel when it was happening?

        • gleeb

          Would you want to spend any time with Mort Winkerbean?

          • Banana Jr. 6000

            Of course not. But The Simpsons finds humor and stories in not wanting to spend time with Grandpa. Hell, it’s one of the show’s best moments. “You heard me! Pretending to cry! I can turn it on and off like a faucet!” And that wasn’t even the most memorable part of the episode, that being the marriage retreat/fishing trip/General Sherman story. Holy cow, The Simpsons was amazing in its early days.

      • Mela

        At first, I thought that they were all supposed to be Cory, but that puts the panels out of order. Then I realized that the kid with the pointy nose was supposed to be Funky and the kid in the last panels are Cory.

        As to the whereabouts of Cory’s biological father, it’s plausible that he completely abandoned his family and Cory doesn’t want him there. Or maybe they don’t know where he is, or maybe he’s in jail.

    • Anonymous Sparrow

      Don’t forget Don Draper!

  6. The Dreamer

    Why was Cory’s biological father, Holly’s first husband, not at the wedding? Are we supposed to forget that Cory was a juvenile delinquent who didnt know Funky until he was eight or nine?

    • Epicus Doomus

      A lot of things happened that didn’t happen. Cory came back from the bomb disposal unit a completely changed young man. In fact, he had no personality at all, which remains true to this day. And everyone just forgot all about his sordid past, too.

    • ComicBookHarriet

      Having subjected myself to the archives, it seems that Holly and Funky got together when Cory was very very young. Like between 2 and 4. Holly’s x-man has only been mentioned in passing a couple times. But like you said it is strange he didn’t show up.

      What is stranger is that MELINDA BUDD, Holly’s mother, who IS a character, and HAS appeared as recently as LAST YEAR, wasn’t there.

      • KMD

        After the arc featuring Holly and baton, I would have thought Melinda would have popped up. But why do I expect anything like consistency or continuity from TB?

  7. robertodobbs

    Joni Mitchell “Circle Game” 1966

  8. Jimmy

    Is the carousel some sort of cultural touchtone in Westview? From the first couple of panels, it looks like a county fair setup.

    Listen, I have deep redneck roots, but even I think going to the carnival on your wedding day is trashy.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      It’s a cultural touchstone in 1955. Which is basically the same thing.

      • Anonymous Sparrow

        Oscar Hammerstein II’s lyrics for “Soliloquy”:

        He can haul a scow along a canal
        Run a cow around a corral
        Or even bark for a carousel
        Of course, it takes talent to do that well

  9. Banana Jr. 6000

    They grow up so fast off-panel.

  10. The metaphor itself is not bad, but the fact that the only characters I recognize are the ones in the last panel kind of renders it meaningless. And of course it may have helped if I had any kind of emotional connection to Cory and Rocky. We know much more about Flash Freeman and Phil Holt and Zanzibar than we know about any of these major characters.

  11. Hitorque

    I don’t get it… Who is the raven haired girl teenage Funkytimes is crushing on?

  12. batgirl

    I think what’s meant to be going on here is that there’s a real carousel, and that the sight of it makes Funky think of the metaphor of time moving on, so he imagines Cory and Rocky riding it in their wedding clothes. The clue being (assuming the Sunday colourist EVER actually gets any notes) the different sky colour in the final panel.
    I grant you this would be a lot more plausible if panels 3 and 4 were swapped, so that the wedding-dress image is triggered by the blonde-woman & brown-haired man couple who could be read either as an actual couple who remind Funky and Holly of their younger selves, or as their imagined younger selves inspired by the parents & young kids on the carousel.
    That way the two teens(?) would be in the penultimate panel and we’d get a metaphor of Cory’s childhood, Cory and Rocky’s courtship, and finishing with the wedding. It would work whether the 3rd and 4th panels were read as real or imagined. And it would work for those newspapers who don’t print the splash and first panels.
    But as it stands it doesn’t work.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Or, the whole thing just needed to be of Cory, and exclude Funky’s own childhood.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      And you bring up another problem: the strip doesn’t reference anything from Cory’s actual past! It’s not like there’s so much of it. If Batiuk wanted to depict him with an earlier love interest, why not depict the failed prom date with Summer from 2008? They could be glaring at each other on the carousel, but it still makes the point. Where’s the wayward, shifty Cory who stole the Lisa’s Legacy money? This strip is so conflict-avoidant that it can’t even reference someone who used to be a bad person. And is so narrative-avoidant that it won’t even address it ten years later.

      This is a case where Funky Winkerbean‘s endless nostalgia for itself could have been useful. When Batiuk isn’t swinging for the fences, he’s taking strike three right down the middle.

  13. If this strip was half as funny as it still thinks it is, one of the “mem’ries” panels would have been that shot of Funky’s ass.

  14. Doghouse Reilly (Minneapolis)

    Why did Holly insist he text her if she and Sad Sack are going along on the honeymoo

  15. be ware of eve hill

    The man with the curly white hair in the SOSF banner reminds me of the man who discussed retirement from band directing with Harry Dinkle a while ago. Perhaps there’s a Dinkle story arc on deck. That’s fine with me, as long as it’s not yet another Atomik Komix story featuring Flash and Phil (with obligatory sideways comic book cover).

    Happy 4th of July, everyone!