Batting .500


It’s Day 10 of the arc, and this is the fifth strip that could have been omitted entirely. It does not advance the story, reveal any new information, or serve any other purpose.

When I was in high school, I was in a theater production of Rebel Without A Cause. There’s a scene where a character dies because his car goes off a cliff. We accomplished this by playing a sound effects audio clip on the PA system, and telling the actors to improvise some dialog to fill the time. They never got it right. It was either “He’s getting close to the edge! He’s going to go over the edge! Oh no, he’s at the edge! He’s really close to the edge now!” Or they just said random things, and were somehow surprised when the crash sound happened.

Funky Winkerbean reminds me of that. It has no idea what pacing it needs, or what direction it wants to go. It’s just slow, slow, slow, slow, slow, slow, slow, ohmygodIneedtowrapthisuphurryhurryhurryhurry. It’s either burying you under an avalanche of pointless exposition because it’s got all week, or skipping important story points to get finished because the week’s almost over. It’s like watching the first hour of a long. tedious movie, and then random bits of the rest of it.

I blame Tom Batiuk’s insistence on week-long story arcs. I think it’s one of the less-talked about reasons why Funky Winkerbean is as bad as it is. Batiuk seems far more interested in making his arcs exactly six days long than he is in making them any good. I would put an end to that, with the second of my Comics Suggestions:

Story arcs must start on a day other than Monday, or end on a day other than Saturday and Sunday.

No more week-long arcs. Stories will be the number of days they need to be, rather than filling an arbitrary length for no good reason. Hopefully, this will encourage the culling of unproductive strips (which this arc has a lot of), and let stories happen more naturally.

This also replaces the “three-week rule” Batiuk frequently mentions. There’s nothing wrong with long story arcs, if they are otherwise compelling. This is dreadful at any length.


Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

29 responses to “Batting .500

  1. How come young Phil Holt has a hair horn and old Phil does not?

    • billytheskink

      He sold it for desperately needed rent money when he moved out to California, where doctors later transplanted it on to Masone’s forehead.

  2. RudimentaryLathe?

    To paraphrase Mike Nelson, I really think there’s more nothing in this arc than in any FW we’ve seen.

  3. This entire arc should have been one strip: “I submitted something for the new Prince Valiant artist position, and it was rejected.” And in that one strip, Batdick could have shown what was rejected (and thus, why). Philled Hole is not a character that anyone can like or care about. And the Kitsch Swoon character doesn’t even rise to the level of pointlessness.

  4. William Thompson

    What did they call that fever? Dork Flu?

  5. billytheskink

    Dropped everything? What everything? Knocking over automats for dinner because you don’t have any money for food?

  6. Epicus Doomus

    Way back in the olden days, he based his six days worth of gags on a weekly premise. “Les is the hall monitor”, and you’d get six days of hall monitor jokes. But it didn’t matter, as there was no serialized story to it, and it wasn’t going anywhere. They were just jokes.

    Then FW evolved into a weird serialized drama-dy, but he stuck with the same “one week, one premise” format. But the way he writes, one premise means one part of a story, not the entire story. Thus when Kitch visits Atomik Komix, that visit has to go on for six days. Then going to Phil’s house requires six days. Then hearing about the time he tried to draw Prince Valiant is another six days. There’s almost never a genuine plot development on a Wednesday or a Thursday (or Tuesday or Friday and sometimes Monday and Saturday too). And Sundays are a whole different thing where anything could happen.

    So a fairly simple, lame premise (Kitch learns that Phil once tried out for Prince Valiant) gets hacked up into several individual premises, all of which require the full six days. Thus a story that could have easily been told in six days needs weeks and sometimes even months to fully play out, even though very, very little actually happens. Kitch visits AK. Phil invites her over. She finds his PV drawings. He tells her about the time he tried out for PV. He tells her why he failed. Wry wisecrack, story over in six days. With Batom’s demented method, this will trudge on for three or four weeks. No one else writes like this and I honestly believe no one else could, even if they wanted to.

    • ComicBookHarriet

      The only positive thing I’ll say about arcs, is that it makes things easier when you’re at the helm of the blog. Since he’s writing about the same thing for six days, you can too. Gradually building on what you’ve said before, each day taking everyone one layer deeper into the week’s particular flavor of hell.

      You know, use what you said yesterday as the jumping off point to say something new today…TOM.

    • Maxine of Arc

      All because of these “rules” he’s made up for himself. Just like “the Comics Commandments,” these rules do not exist and can be put aside at any time, and yet. AND YET.
      Prince Valiant, however, rules.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      This story should have been told in 0 days.

  7. Green Luthor

    …It took him a month just to make one page? Wow, can’t see how he possibly failed to get that job.

    • erdmann

      During that same month, Jack Kirby wrote and drew four issues of “Jimmy Olsen” and three issues each of “New Gods,” “Forever People” and “Mister Miracle,” started roughing out pages for “In the Days of the Mob” and hung out with Mark Evanier and Don Rickles. His wife Roz was happy to see him finally taking it a bit easier.

    • Tom from Finland

      Taking into account that Phil played dead for a couple of years to concentrate on developing THE SUBTERRANEAN and all he could produce was the cover and layout for the first issue, I’m not really surprised.
      If Phil was a superhero, he would be THE PROCRASTINATOR.

  8. Y. Knott

    PRO TIP: I understand someone wanting to create the best audition piece of which they are capable. However….if you completely clear your schedule and it still takes you a full, solid month to draw a Sunday panel — but the job requires you to come up with one every week — you may not be pursuing a realistic career option.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Phil’s also a toxic jerk with a history of stomping out when he doesn’t get his way. He wouldn’t be a productive member of any team. And Prince Valiant was a collaborative effort.

      This is Batiuk’s “talent trumps all” attitude again. Even if Phil were the best artist, he’s still the worst choice for the job.

      • Y. Knott

        “I left an artistic job in a moral high dudgeon, because they wouldn’t give me ownership of my work! Can you believe the gall of those bastards? I then saw a terrific opportunity to do contract artwork that I would never own … so I cleared a month of my life to draw in someone else’s style to show how well I could draw art that would never be owned by me! I didn’t get the gig. Can you believe the gall of those bastards?”

        • Banana Jr. 6000

          Which is problem #3 – Phil’s reputation would precede him anywhere he goes. I still want to know how he got to Times Square.

  9. Smirks 'R Us

    someone remind me what this tripe has to do with Roy Lichtenstein again?

    HaHaHaHaHa…just kidding, I don’t care.

  10. sorialpromise

    This week is a poor time to contrast Prince Valiant to FW. From experience I know that PV has solid characters, exciting plots, conflict, excellent art, good writing. Very little in this months story line. The currant arc has been introducing an African official and his family for the last 6 strips. You might think that is normal after reading FW, but PV is not FW. Prince Valiant is published weekly. The writers, Schultz and Yeates have been introducing this family since June 19! Let’s get it moving fellows, or you will lose a new reader. Do not imitate Tom Batiuk!

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      It’s clear the stories in PV have a lot of thought put into them. And the quality of the art speaks for itself. I find it a little impenetrable, but I get why it has fans.

  11. be ware of eve hill

    Ugh. 😩

    What’s going on here? What’s with all the ellipses? Is Phil having a stroke? Is Phil having trouble remembering the story and stopping to collect his thoughts? Is he stopping to catch his breath?

    Phil’s comment in panel #3 is incomplete. To be continued tomorrow? Yes? No? Maybe? Batty, this is not building suspense. It’s torture!🥺

    This story arc is moving so slow Batty couldn’t even fit today’s offering into three panels.

    This story arc is moving so slow I wouldn’t be surprised if it started moving backward tomorrow.

  12. be ware of eve hill

    Let me get this straight. Phil worked exclusively on the one Prince Valiant page for an entire month.

    1). Did Phil take more than one attempt to draw the page? And submitted the best one?

    2.) Was Phil’s work on the one page so slow and deliberate that it required the entire month?

    And Phil still didn’t pass the audition?! Is it possible Phil missed the audition deadline?

    And Flash Freeman called Turtle Thompson slow? 🤣

  13. Banana Jr. 6000

    FUNKYBLOG NEWS: The Eliminator helmet is coming back this fall. After we saw it disappear into the past due to “off gassing of the plastics,” and take a cat with it.

    No kidding.

    • Y. Knott

      Oh, boy! I’m on tenterhooks, just trying to imagine the stupidest, dullest, most pointless way it can be used. And yet I’m certain Batiuk will somehow find a way that’s even dumber!

    • ComicBookHarriet

      So sad to hear about Ken Kelley though. That cover art is pretty amazing.