Burning Man

One bad turn deserves another, I suppose. Today’s strip sees Les take his revenge on Funky for two strips’ worth of Crankshaft schtick with some ‘Shaft-level quote muddle-ment of his own. Where did you pull this piece of unwisdom from, Les, I Chong?

The master says: Piles of excrement comes out of both ends of Les, but only one pile can can be flushed.



Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

53 responses to “Burning Man

  1. Captain Gladys Stoatpamphlet

    “On fire like that bag of dog poop my students leave at my door every other day.”

  2. William Thompson

    Funky looks like hell and played a hell of a bad game, so in a sense he was on fire. But my interest has been deflected by the sight of an abandoned swimming pool in the middle of summer, not to mention that set of bagpipes, I guess, on the diving-board ladder. The story behind that can’t help but be more interesting than whatever Funky and Les are doing here.

    • billytheskink

      I’d be inclined to agree with you, but… the story behind the empty swimming pool would still be written by Tom Batiuk. I’m not sure “more interesting” is an attainable goal given the circumstances.

      • Epicus Doomus

        I have to believe the empty pool is a nod to the recent pandemic thing that BatHam has mentioned a few hundred times. I mean, it has to be, right? What other reason could there be to depict Westview as a dying deserted hellscape?

        • That is not the look of a pool that was simply shut down during the pandemic. That is the look of the pool that has been in disrepair for years, painstakingly rendered as a main feature in the foreground of the panel. It’s like the opposite of Chekhov’s gun. It will never be shown or discussed again.

    • be ware of eve hill

      A set of bagpipes?

      🎵Oh, Funky Boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling🎵

      I thought it was a chair, but why would it be wedged into the diving board ladder?

      Bagpipes make about as much sense. I guess they couldn’t find an accordion.

      • William Thompson

        A literal scapegoat, its legs and hooves jutting out after it had been beheaded and flung toward the Pool of Mammon? Perhaps it was the last sacrifice made by the Children of the Cornball before their cult was wiped out by the smirkoccocus bacteria carried in its blood. Now nothing remains of their temple but the crumbling sacrificial pool. Round the decay of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare, the lone and boring smirkers toddle away.”

        • be ware of eve hill

          Nice, William. Mammon, the sacrifice of goats, cults, curses, disease.

          I always likened Westview to Hellmouth. It explains so much.

          Les’s mysterious change of fortune, success, and near invulnerability can only be explained by a deal with the devil. As I mentioned the other day, Les feeds off of and is strengthened by the misery of others.

          Devil horns would not look out of place on Les.

  3. From the BattyBlog: “My spotlight panel [at San Diego Comic-Con 2022] was a blast aided and abetted by the gracious and erudite Maggie Thompson. Maggie’s knowledge of all things Funky seemed to exceed my own at times. If you want a stellar example of just what I’m talking about, seek out and download the Comic Con souvenir book where you’ll find the best and most authoritative piece ever written on Funky and friends” Well, the article certainly is positive in tone, but it appears the author’s research consisted of reading through the intros from the Complete FW books and the FW website. It’s doubtful she interviewed Batiuk, and pretty clear she hasn’t read the strip in years:

    “If the characters had aged in real time, Funky would be—what?—maybe 65. But Funky Winkerbean went from being frozen in time to two time jumps, and the characters are now in a designated “Act III.” Funky and the teens of “Act I” are now 46, and the adult Funky presides over Montoni’s restaurants in a variety of franchises. His 15-year-old son is Cory. Les Moore is the single parent (following the breast-cancer death of Lisa) of 15-year old daughter Summer. Crazy Harry Klinghorn is also the parent of a 15-year-old daughter; her name is Maddie. And there are more, more, more in a diverse cast with changing relationships. It’s a cast that has dealt with losses as well as additions—and society’s challenges as well as its norms.”

    • What? Does Maggie really think she’s describing present-day FW?

      • Epicus Doomus

        Yeah, this paragraph is straight from BatYam’s 2007 press release, and it couldn’t possibly be any more obvious, either. I mean, come on. There’s no way…no possible way…a die-hard FW reader wrote that puffery.

        • Y. Knott

          To be fair to Maggie Thompson, the article is for the Comic Con souvenir program. She had to write a puff piece — that’s the assignment. I mean, the official program isn’t going to print an article critical of one of their invited guests….

          And hey, does Ms. Thompson really think she’s writing about present-day FW? Well, she probably got thrown this assignment without too much knowledge of the strip, and probably not a lot of lead time … and Batiuk’s own website hasn’t given updates on the characters or their relationships, so that’s what she had to work with. Yes, sure, I suppose she could have tried to wade through the last 15 years of FW archives to see how the strip may have changed — but, seriously, is that something you’d wish on anyone?

          • newagepalimpsest

            Plus, she’s got thousands upon thousands of other words to write for the book, and she can’t audit everyone’s PR kits. At least, not anyone who isn’t currently the subject of a scandal or of gossip.

          • I’m really not picking on Maggie Thompson here; rather, I’m puzzled at how tickled TB is with this article that references characters and events from 15 years ago.

    • I accept that Funky is 46, as he does look seven years older than Jack Benny.

    • none

      Infuriating when mentioned yesterday, infuriating today.

      I think she’s @thompsonmaggie at Twitter. No mention of SDCC at all.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Every single press article about Funky Winkerbean was written by Tom Batiuk himself. It’s why every question is some softball about the characters aging, Lisa’s death, how deep and serious everything is, the strip’s Ohio-ness, comic books, or something else Batiuk wants to drone on about.

      Nobody ever asks Batiuk anything a reader of Funky Winkerbean would want to know, like “shouldn’t Les be over his wife’s death by now?” Or “what’s with all the comic books?” Or “Why do you have a cast of 100 people, two dozen of which are content creators of some sort?” Or “Could you please explain how the time skips work?”

      These aren’t even rude questions. They’re perfectly in bounds for a creator who hosts panels about his work at Comic-Con, and expects the public to attend them. I almost want to attend one of his panels, just to see how he handles a question he doesn’t like. I suspect they’re so tightly controlled that all questions are pre-screened.

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        “shouldn’t Les be over his wife’s death by now?”

        And, right on cue, look who shows up in the banner. Time to prop the corpse up for another milking.

        • Gerard Plourde

          I wonder what startlingly prescient comments she will have recorded. Could it be about dealing with the aftermath of a worldwide epidemic of a new strain of Coronavirus for which humans had not yet built up immunity?

    • Rusty Shackleford

      Yeah, it was another puff piece. Batty sure seemed giddy about having to wear a mask, even though he is vaccinated.

      • ComicBookHarriet

        Of course he did. Gotta stick it to those anti-maskers.

        • Rusty Shackleford

          I knew he was a mask Karen!

          • Banana Jr. 6000

            The little kiss-ass actually said “Once inside (Comic-Con), you had to be masked at all times, and I found that compliance with this was in the high nineties. I chalk this up to the fact that comics geeks are pretty bright people.” Well, they’re bright enough not to be interested in your self-serving comic book drivel.

            Serious question for Tom: for all the time you’ve spent on comic books, why doesn’t Funky Winkerbean have a fan base of comic book enthusiasts? You still have a fan base of band directors, for work you did 30+ years ago. But no discernible fan base in the comic book community. Why is that?

  4. be ware of eve hill

    Tomorrow, Funky and Les will have a joke off. The lameness of the strip will cause newspaper printing presses to jam, the Comics Kingdom servers to crash, and a black hole to form at the location where Batty wrote the word balloons. It will be a black hole where no humor can escape.

    There will be no survivors.

  5. I’m trying to parse Less’s “hottest…quickest” remark. It seems to suggest that Funkwad started out as a brilliant tennis player who burned out quickly. But that’s not true, right? He was always mediocre, and he’s now mediocre even by old man standards… because of all the old man injuries he has suffered. I don’t get it. Can somebody explain to me how this makes sense and is funny? TIA.

    • Charles

      It becomes incoherent because the metaphor states that everyone’s a candle; it’s just that some burn hotter and faster than others. So if Funky’s a faster and hotter burning candle than Les, that doesn’t make him any more “on fire” than Les.

      I’m sure there’s a joke to be made about how Funky is “hotter” than Les following that metaphor, but it’ll take way too long to establish that metaphor in order to set up the punchline. And Batiuk can’t help but be cumbersome even when describing the simplest figurative language.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      I can explain why it doesn’t work and isn’t funny. Les and Funky are having at least three different conversations. Funky is talking about his desire to keep playing tennis instead of pickleball, a choice he’s not being forced to make. Les is trying to show off how erudite he is, by citing an 4th Grade aphorism that’s a poor fit for this already-dubious scenario. Funky interprets this as a compliment, which makes even less sense in this context. “On fire” would something like “played well,” when we saw Funky playing poorly. In the last panel, Les is too cool to appear confused by this baffling exchange of words, so he gives a “yeah, whatever” response.

      Again, it’s like a bot wrote this. Four word balloons, and none of them makes sense as a reaction to the prior one.

      • ComicBookHarriet

        “I can explain why it doesn’t work and isn’t funny.”

        I’m guessing it’s comments like this that got you Shanghaied into being a on the writer rotation.

        • Gerard Plourde

          Having both of you added to the rotation is a great supplement to an already strong bench.

        • Banana Jr. 6000

          I think “why it doesn’t work” is the best way to analyze Funky Winkerbean. You can see what it’s going for, but it’s so off-target there’s nothing positive, or even coherent, to work with. Framing it in terms of what it does wrong makes a lot more sense. Especially when Batiuk’s writing style is to mimic drama and human conversation, without having a clue about what makes either work.

    • annekillheffer

      I can’t believe I’m defending Batiuk’s writing, but I can see a way that this strip can be read as coherent.
      1. Funky says he doesn’t want to switch to Pickleball if he can still manage to play tennis. (Pickleball is generally thought to require less exertion than singles tennis.)
      2. Les advises him that if he keeps up with the tennis, the greater exertion will force him to give up sports sooner than if he switched to the easier-going Pickleball.
      3. Funky pretends to misunderstand Les so he can insert his own joke — that he was “on fire” (played very well) today. They both know that isn’t true — it’s one friend ribbing another. Les just goes along with it because they’re joshing; he doesn’t need to correct Funky on something so obvious.

      Is it funny? No. Is there any such maxim as the one Les quotes? No.

  6. billytheskink

    I do like the background of today’s strip. With the incessant fencing and the spartan red brick buildings, it looks like these two are locked up at a southern prison farm, which is a pleasant thought.

  7. newagepalimpsest

    If this had run last week, and then led into the estate planning thing, at least that would have explained why Funky was being an asshole there.

    Or maybe, in a fantastic tribute to Silver Age comics, Les will discover that Phil has been resurrecting himself from the dead by stealing Funky’s life force and turning him thrall.

    • Anonymous Sparrow

      You remind me of a 1972 Marvel horror story called “More than Blood,” in which an energy vampire does just that. They don’t all have long white fangs, it turns out.

      You’ll find it in *Journey into Mystery* #2, along with a fine adaption of Robert Bloch’s “Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper.”

      • newagepalimpsest

        You’re very brave if you can still appreciate comics after any given “Phil and Flash” story arc!

        (Thanks for the tip, I’ll check it out if I can find it at the library.)

  8. Banana Jr. 6000

    Did Funky have a stroke between panels 2 and 3? Les was responding to what Funky just said, so I don’t get why Funky’s so confused about it. It was just some elementary school metaphor anyway. “You’re saying I was on fire today?” No, you idiot, he didn’t even say anything that could be confused with that.

    We say this all the time, but this reads like a bot wrote it. This isn’t something a real person would say, how a real person would react to it, how a person would be confused by that reaction, or how a person would react to that confusion. It mimics a conversation without conveying a gram of meaning.

    • Sourbelly

      Are we certain that a bot ISN’T writing this? Can Batdick really keep up with two strips nowadays?

  9. Banana Jr. 6000

    The last two weeks have been very off-putting. Last week Funky was inappropriately rude in public for no reason. Now he’s blurting out random names and struggling to follow conversations. Irritability, behavioral issues, memory loss, and confusion are all symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. All of which the strip plays for laughs, even though it’s tried to milk drama from dementia in the past. And dementia runs in Funky’s own family. Ugh, this is tacky!

  10. Rusty Shackleford

    Crankshaft: Wow, they just waltzed right back in and got their old jobs back. No hard feelings that we walked out to pursue a stupid dream, we can just pick up where we left off. And look, we can say stupid things just like Ed!

    Mary Worth: I’m relieved that Dawn has come back to her senses and is back to blaming others for her faults. She needs to march on over to Jared’s place and give his bed the Amber Heard treatment.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Screw whoever was doing those jobs yesterday, I guess. And the station’s budget. We’ve got to hire Dumb and Dumber back at any expense because They’re Just So Talented! Because Tom Batiuk says they are! I hope Channel 1 likes The Phantom Empire re-runs, because that’s what these people do when they’re given control of content.

      • billytheskink

        Channel 1 employed Phil the Forecaster for decades despite the fact that he was constantly slagged by co-workers and viewers alike for being bad at his job… and despite that incident where he held John darling at gunpoint.

        It’s not a well-run TV station, is what I’m saying.

        • Gerard Plourde

          Let’s not forget that they also employed Pete Moss, AKA Plantman, who in my personal head canon was framed by serial killer Les Moore AKA Cut-Rate Dexter, for the John Darling murder.

      • be ware of eve hill

        Over the past few days, we’ve discussed how the Crankshaft comic strip is devolving into Funky Winkerbean. Here’s yet another example.

        Max and Hannah pursue their careers while dumping off their child’s care to elderly family members. Yesterday, Ed retires to the couch for a nap because Mitch has worn him out. A tireless Mitch merrily plays on the floor nearby.

        Flashback to a few years ago in Funky Winkerbean. Darin and Jessica pursue their careers while dumping Skyler’s care to elderly family members. Ann Fairgood collapses on the couch in exhaustion for a nap because Skyler has worn her out. A spry Skyler happily plays on the floor nearby.

  11. The Duck of Death

    Uh-oh, the header portends The Return of Lisa: The Re- Re- Re- Deadening.

    INT. A vast warehouse reminiscent of the one at the end of “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” but instead of crates, it contains shelves of VHS tapes. Every sound echoes for a full second in the cavernous space.

    ZOOM IN on Summer as she cheerfully rummages through the tapes on one shelf.

    I know it’s here somewhere. Pickaxe, buying… Pickaxe, owning…. Pickaxe, maintaining and repairing… Pickaxe, selling… Pickerels, preparing and serving… AH! here it is. ‘Pickleball, Funky existential crisis about.’

    INT. Les’ living room. Summer slides the VHS tape into the player. A crowd of locals has gathered outside, pressing eagerly against the window, raptly watching Les execute his Greater Grief Hath No Man maneuver.

    GAUNT, GREY, DYING LISA (on TV screen)
    Les, if you’re watching this, it’s because Funky thinks he may have to switch from tennis to pickleball and it’s bringing him face to face with the frailty and ultimate mortality of the human body. If he’s contemplating racquetball, you’re watching the wrong tape, so please switch to Tape #53,614C.

    Okay. Ahem. This is me, Lisa, dying of cancer. Breast cancer. Dying very bravely, by not fighting it. Which is the bravest thing to do — the second bravest, because you, Les, are the Bravest Boy in the World. No one can grieve like you! I’m still alive right now and I’m already bowled over by your grieving superpowers! I hope someone’s watching you grieve right now as you watch this! Boy, I’ll bet you’re grieving up a storm, you grief machine, you. Oh, and about Funky — he’ll figure it out. Well, that’s all for today! I’ve got to move on to some tapes about what to do when the fuse blows and you have to reset the time on the microwave. See you in hell! Buh-bye now!

    FX: Old-fashioned visual of a screen being turned off and the picture shrinking to one glowing white dot in the middle.

    CLOSE-UP on Les’ grief-stricken face. A single tear rolls down his cheek.