The Les He Knows, The Better

More word zeppelins in today’s strip… Not as bad as yesterday, but still, get your bookmarks out, folks!

You know, this is actually one of TB’s tidiest retcons, probably because it is one of the very few intentional ones he’s ever undertaken. It takes the original scene and changes its context (slightly) by depicting a previously unseen scene. Tidy. The pieces actually fit together. There are no loose ends, deleted original context, or unresolved conflict with the originals scene. See? That’s not so hard.

Heck, as a bonus it even (unnecessarily but adeptly) explains a silly detail from the original scene, why Les has a camcorder and this Hari Seldon story readily at hand as if he was waiting for Lisa to lament about all the things Summer she will never get to experience. Turns out, he pretty much was just waiting on the chance to whip that camera on out.

Tidy as it is, this retcon was no more entertaining or less irritating because of it. In fact, it makes the origin story of the Lisa tapes tremendously off-putting. The focus shifts away from the impending reality of Summer growing up without a mother seen in the original scene to the needs of Summer’s nogoodnik parents… First, Lisa wants to record the tapes so she can live vicariously through Summer’s adolescence in her imagination. Then, Crazy and Lisa hatch this cockamamie plan to let Les take credit for the idea to record the infamous tapes, which only soothes his ego and bolsters his hero complex. These people are awful and I hope I never wind up sitting next to any of them on an airplane.



Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

45 responses to “The Les He Knows, The Better

  1. Epicus Doomus

    Perhaps it could be construed as a “cruel” or a “mean” take, I suppose, but I genuinely HATE Cancer Lisa, with a passion. The hat, the sweater/robe thing, the weary, beaten countenance, the endless stream of wry, self-deprecating wisecracks…it’s all too much. Doesn’t anyone remember anything about her from BEFORE she was (actively) dying? I mean, she was a main character for like twenty-whatever years and all.

    So they essentially tricked Les into believing that the tapes were his idea? Why couldn’t she have just said “let’s film some videos for Summer”? Why did it have to be a whole elaborate ruse? These people are sick, warped and depraved. And no amount of wryness can change that.

    • Yeah, “wry” was the one word I thought of when I read today’s strip. It’s pretty much all Batdick can muster nowadays, and he’s not very good at it.

      • Epicus Doomus

        I had a relative who never stopped with the self-deprecating wryness re: how miserable she was, to a point where it became impossible to communicate with her on any meaningful level.

        “Hey, happy birthday!”

        “Oh, ha ha, yeah…not for me. Who knows, this might be my last one, ha ha.”

        “Uh yeah, I gotta go now.”

        And Lisa is worse, because we all KNOW she’s gonna die. “Ha, ha! Better film these videos before I completely deteriorate into a demented dying shell!”…yeah, Lisa, sure. And it isn’t like it’s just one joke, it’s literally all she talks about.

        “Gee Harry, dying sucks. I’m so bummed about all the stuff I’ll miss when I die. Wait, I know! Let’s film some videos while I’m still alive! Hurry though, because I’m dying.”

        What a ray of light, a real beacon of hope and courage. “She’s so brave, being able to crack jokes like that even as she’s dying”…um no, Tom, actually she’s just unbearably maudlin and depressing.

        • Banana Jr. 6000

          Why does a person who’s chosen to die have so little acceptance of it?

          When my grandfather died, he had reached a point where either the disease or the treatment was eventually going to kill him. He decided not to bother with the treatment any more, and let nature do what it does. He never said another word about it. He spent his last days with his family, and enjoyed the time he had left. We all talked about it like it was an appointment. It was never awkward or sad. Everyone should go as well as he did.

          Lisa is the complete opposite of that. Despite her supposedly choosing to die, she’s still fighting it. Not fighting it in any useful way, but fighting the reality of it by sitting around being bitter and sorry for herself. And trying to manipulate everyone else into feeling sorry for her too. That’s all these damn tapes are for. They’re so Lisa can continue forcing herself on the world after she’s dead.

          • Rusty Shackleford

            My mom died of cancer. Eventually she reached a point where the treatments were worse than the disease and so we brought her home and hired a hospice nurse. She died in her bed with her dogs by her side.

            My mom, ever the beauty queen, continued to get her hair done and wear makeup up to the very end.

          • Rusty Shackleford

            Oh and unlike sad sack Funky, who bores everyone at his AA meetings, my mom and her husband opened a club for alcoholics. They rented space and would host activities on Friday and Saturday nights, this way alcoholics had a place to go and could stay away from bars.

            After my mom’s death, so many people came up to me at her funeral to tell me how my mom motivated and helped them stay sober. She led by example and stayed joyful and friendly and showed that you didn’t need to drink to cope with life.

            This Lisa crap is total BS.

          • Banana Jr. 6000

            Olivia Newton-John died earlier this month. She went through three rounds of breast cancer, and was active, accomplished, beautiful, gracious, well-liked, tenacious, and never once bemoaned her fate. She raised money for cancer research, and for other causes that didn’t affect her personally. She died at age 73, and seems to have been beloved by everyone she met. The opposite of Lisa in every way.

          • sorialpromise

            The world suffers because it no longer has BJ’s grandfather. The world is worse off because it no longer has Rusty’s Mom bringing life to others. Both of them make me a better person today.

          • William Thompson

            A friend of mine has spent the past several years successfully battling breast cancer. If she had any down moments. they would have been between her and her husband. When she lost her hair to chemo, she decided to rock the new look. Lisa’s attitude and Dachau-frump look would bewilder her.

          • Banana Jr. 6000

            My grandfather was born in 1913, so it’s unlikely he’d still be here in any case. But I appreciate the sentiment.

            He still influences me, because he set an example for how to live a good life, and how to end it with grace and dignity when it’s your time. He was a cantankerous, bulletproof, tall tale-telling old cuss, but kind and loving to his family. He was also a renowned card player, and hadn’t lost a drop of skill at age 86. He still had all his marbles at the very end. Even in my 20s, I thought “this is how I want to go.” Life doesn’t always give you a good ending.

            It’s fun to think about him again. And since I’m still sharing his life story with everyone here, he still lives on in some way. So thank you for indulging me in that.

    • ComicTrek

      I actually do genuinely miss the Lisa that she was before she became the Funkyverse’s poster child for cancer and death. Even her own friends aren’t portrayed as trying to remember the good times they shared with her. When they do reminisce, it’s ALWAYS about either her last days or her terrorized-by-Frankie days! And with him not being around much anymore, guess what’s left. It’s just awful.

    • Rusty Shackleford

      Everyone has always got to fellate Les all of the time.

    • be ware of eve hill

      In a way, I’m kind of glad to read this. I felt bad after calling Lisa “Baldy McBallcap” the other day. I don’t have anything at all against people undergoing chemotherapy wearing ball caps to hide their hair loss, just Lisa. It’s like she’s trying to be the poster child for people with cancer and milking it for all she’s worth.

      Dying Saint Lisa: Behold my weak and weary body. I have to wear a baseball cap to hide my hair loss. I wear a sweater because I constantly have the chills. Look upon me and feel pity. I am the patron saint of breast cancer.

      Don’t mind me. I’ll just be sitting out here all alone on the porch swing, suffering.

      Oh, shut up. You’re the one who refused treatment.

      • be ware of eve hill

        I’m confused. When Lisa’s cancer recurred, she refused treatment, right? That means she’s not undergoing chemo. So why did she lose her hair?

        Or am I wrong? Did Lisa quit fighting in the midst of her treatment?

        • sorialpromise

          I believe you are correct. She got cancer. Was treated. Then several years later, the cancer returned. She refused treatment. If we are right, did she shaved her hair for the sympathy?
          (On a personal note: Are you do a video grandma call?)
          [I went across town and visited my daughter and her baby Corgi. She just got back from visiting NYC for the first time. She said every New Yorker she met was friendly. She visited the Guggenheim and MoMA museums, and a Broadway play. Surprisingly, she said Van Gogh’s Starry Night, is much smaller than she expected.]

          • be ware of eve hill

            Lisa shaved her hair for sympathy? That act would certainly fit in with her martyr complex.

            One of my friends died from pancreatic cancer. He went through chemo and never lost his hair. I guess it doesn’t affect everyone the same way.

            He was a very nice man who had a lot of faith. He posted a video on Facebook before he passed. Not because he wanted to tell people what to do. He wanted a chance to tell all his friends how special they were to him. I’m tearing up thinking about him and that video.

            The next video call day to my son’s family will be on August 28. I’m going to call my big brother tomorrow. It was his birthday this week.

            It’s nice that you were able to visit your daughter. Corgis are so cute!

            I’ve never been to NYC. The closest I’ve been was back in 1984. My brothers and I were meeting the parents at Hampton Beach in New Hampshire for vacay. Our connecting flight to the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport took off from Newark, NJ. We had a nice view of the Statue of Liberty and Manhattan. The Statue of Liberty was covered with scaffolding. Bummer.

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        It’s really showy, isn’t it? Like Becky’s missing arm, every single drawing of Dead Lisa has to emphasize her advanced sickness. Batiuk parades these women around like sick orphans at a telethon. It’s very exploitative. And Batiuk combines that with the obnoxious cross-promotion he does for his Dead Lisa books.

  2. William Thompson

    Finish the joke, Batiuk, it’s “Beam me up, Scotty, there’s no intelligent life down here.”

    • billytheskink

      “Finish the joke, Batiuk”

      That’d be a first…

      • William Thompson

        He’s finished plenty of jokes, in the sense of applying the coup de disgrace.

        • billytheskink

          It’s like that old Milton Berle-Sidney Shpritzer (Irving Benson) heckler bit.

          TB: You’re just jealous because I’ve got a way with a joke…
          SOSF: You’ve got away with a lot of jokes!

  3. J.J. O'Malley

    I wince at using the terms “fine art” and ‘Funky Winkerbean” in the same sentence, but here is what this past week reminds me of:

  4. Y. Knott

    So everyone knew the idea wasn’t Les’s. Everyone. But It was, for some reason, really important that everyone pretend the idea was Les’s.

    Why? “Because if we ever make a movie of this, it’s vital that the story be told the right way. We all must agree which lies are vital to the true spirit of Les’s — erm, I mean Lisa’s — Story!”

  5. billytheskink

    This plan is more complicated than the one ICE hatched to catch Adeela.

  6. I don’t get it. Tell Voldemoore to have Lisa record a bunch of videos, and also tell him to tell Lisa that it was his own idea, so that he will agree to tell Lisa to record a bunch of videos. What? Am I missing something?

    • Mela

      I don’t get it either. The tapes were meant for two people-Les and Summer. Even 20 years later, they’re the only ones who might still care about them. I’d count Marianne Winters, but she wasn’t part of the original intended audience. Why is it so important for this to be Les’s idea? Who cares whose idea it is?

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        Because it being Les’ idea will become a huge plot point when the tapes are turned into a Hollywood movie and that movie wins an Oscar. Oh, wait: that already happened and it wasn’t. Never mind.

  7. be ware of eve hill


    Sorry, I’m desperate for entertainment. Here we are in prime time settling down to watch a movie when suddenly the power goes out.

    Hubby and I went for a walk to see the extent of the outage. It’s our neighborhood and the next one over.

    We encountered our neighbor. He’s a nice Korean man, but he apparently doesn’t speak much English.
    Me: Hi! We reported the outage. We haven’t heard anything back yet, have you?
    Korean Man: No power. Eleven o’clock!
    Me: They told you the power will be back on by eleven o’clock?
    Korean Man: No power. Eleven o’clock!
    Me: That’s not too bad. Did they say what caused it?
    Korean Man: No power. Eleven o’clock!
    Me: Okay. Thank you. Good night.
    Korean Man: (nods, waves and goes back inside his home)

    Thanks to everyone who posted about the Foundation Trilogy yesterday. I’m not really into science fiction. Before yesterday, I knew two things about the Foundation Trilogy. Jack and shit.


    • be ware of eve hill

      FYI: We live in the Mountain time zone.

      • Y. Knott

        Sorry I missed this at the time. Hope by now you are both with power and comfortably asleep!

        • be ware of eve hill

          Thank you!

          The power returned about twenty minutes after I posted. An hour less than the power company’s estimate.

          It was pretty cool to be able to see more of the night sky with the power off.

          • Gerard Plourde

            Being able to see the complete range of visible stars is amazing. I’m glad you were treated to it by the tech failure. (And that the tech failure was only temporary.)

          • be ware of eve hill

            @Gerard Plourde

            It’s been about fifteen years since I’ve seen the Milky Way with the naked eye. Unfortunately, there was still some light pollution. Downtown is about 10 miles away and the big city is about 25.

            One of these days I’d like to view the nighttime sky in a big national park like Yellowstone.

  8. Banana Jr. 6000

    This strip needs the “Les being a giant smug douche” tag, despite Les not even appearing in it.

    They have to engineer this to make it look like Les’ idea? Why? And how? I can’t even parse Harry’s explanation for how this is supposed to work. “I’ll bring the video equipment (which I have no reason to even own) to Les (which I have no reason to do), and remind him of Asimov’s Hari Seldon (an incredibly forced conversation even for this comic strip), and let him think the idea was yours (what if he doesn’t get the idea right away?) and you could just play along (what would this even entail?)

    If we’re going to act like using a video camera to record video tapes is some next-level Einstein genius, why we depending on Les to still get the idea himself? Which makes this whole I Love Lucy scheme just another layer of pointless. And since when was it hard to get Les to take undeserved credit for something? Just say “Great idea, Les!” and let his ego do the rest of the work.

    On top of that, Look At Me I’m Dying Barbie has the absolute gall to say “oh, my slow, painful, self-induced death from stage 4 cancer has been so stressful for Les. It would really lift his spirits to get undeserved credit for something that doesn’t need credit at all! Look how selfless I am to think about Les when I’m so busy making video recordings for… that small, noisy girl who hangs around us for some reason.”

    Even when this story is bending itself into pretzels to make everything about Lisa, it still has to bend itself into pretzels to make everything about Les.

    • Charles

      They have to engineer this to make it look like Les’ idea? Why?

      This would be more believable if it was Crazy lying about this whole thing because he wanted to worm his way in to taking credit for such a beautiful and sentimental idea.

      “Hey, you know that thing your mom did that brings you solace and joy when you most miss her? Yeah, that was me.”

      It continues to amaze me that Batiuk thinks this scheme is totally worth extolling, especially after coming back to it so many times that it became far more deranged than celebratory.

  9. Anonymous Sparrow

    Here’s a horrible thought.

    (Read on if you dare!)

    There are two movies about Truman Capote’s creation of *In Cold Blood* (note to Les Moore, Capote slammed Jack Kerouac’s *On the Road,* declaring “that’s not writing, it’s typing!”), one with Truman Capote and one with Toby Jones.

    Could Tom Batiuk be setting up a second “Lisa’s Story” picture, in which “everything you thought you knew was wrong” (Mopee! How are you, you handsome hunk of Heavenly Helpmate?)

    This time, Crazy Harry will be the real hero, like Sam Gamgee in *The Lord of the Rings,* and the actor who plays him (Mason Jarre?) will win the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.

    For those who may be wondering: only two pairs of actors have won Oscars for playing the same role, Marlon Brando and Robert De Niro for Vito Corleone and Rita Moreno and Ariana DeBose for Anita

  10. The big question for me is, why did Batiuk figure this story had to be re-told? Is Isaac Asimov’s estate planning on establishing some awards?

    If that’s in the offing, his estate should be aware that being in Funky Winkerbean adds no honor to his name. It does the opposite, in fact.

    • Rusty Shackleford

      If this were Calvin and Hobbes we would be treated to Calvin running away from crazy robots, which would turn out to be Calvin’s dad on a riding lawnmower yelling at Calvin to get out of the way.

      Instead we have Batty trying show off some new bit of knowledge that he thinks is interesting.

  11. Lisa looks more like a ghost here than when she was a ghost.

  12. Banana Jr. 6000

    The new Tom Batiuk blog is in place:

    It’s at because that’s where redirects you if you try to visit it. I guess he wanted to rebrand his blog as a personal one rather than an official Funky Winkerbean blog, which is more appropriate for how he uses it. The old website remains as it was, with its woefully out-of-date group photo of the characters.

    Interestingly, he includes “Lisa’s Legacy” in “The Comic Strips” section, as if it were a fourth strip beside FW, CS, and John Darling. No material suggests any change from the status quo, though.

    Not much to say about the new site. It’s the same material, but it looks competent and a lot more modern. It’s probably a basic WordPress template, but that’s fine. It uses a Google Font I’m fond of, called Permanent Marker, for a faux handwriting effect.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      There is one neat feature I just found: a collection of FW Sunday comic books covers, organized into spinner racks you can click to look through, with a page of preliminary art and credits for each. The collection is clearly incomplete, though.

  13. I got to give TB props on this arc. 1) He started it with Summer and ended it with Summer. 2) He ended it in 6 days; he didn’t drag out a 4 day story into 14 days. 3) It didn’t involve Les complaining about the unfairness of life.
    It was the best scenario we were going to get under the circumstances.