Signal the Virtues! Strike up the Bandwagon!

Link To Today’s Pulse Pounding Drama!

Blatant theft of idea and art! Done with love, respect, and admiration for Blog Host Emeritus, Beckoning Chasm.

‘Member Roland?

Oh, I ‘member.

I imagine this was also Batiuk’s thought process writing this arc.

I’m starting to get kinda paranoid, guys. I’m starting to feel like Batiuk IS reading this blog. That he reads it, and then changes continuity or characters just to troll us. He saw my jokey headcanon that Roland became a conservative hardware store owner, and had to kick back against my fantasy of responsible small business success and respect for the establishment by inserting the character into a hot button political issue.

I had to fumigate and dissect a political hornets’ nest on my last shift. I’m in no mood to kick this one. I eagerly look forward to all of you in the comments respectfully discussing with each other the artistic merits of this decision and tearing Batiuk a new one. Remember the site rules.

Whatever our diverse views, we can all agree that Batiuk is mostly doing this because he lazily looked through the Overton Window and realized he could bring up a topic that would get him possible cheers from the people he loves to get cheered by and maybe even jeers from the people he gets off on hating.

Some context for your discussion. I don’t have anything concrete I’m trying to say with these. Just some stuff that’s weird to read with the new retcon in mind.

Okay, now imagine 50 years!
So, not ace?
But bikini’s irrelevant?
History and Etymology for chauvinism
French chauvinisme, from Nicolas Chauvin, character noted for his excessive patriotism and devotion to Napoleon in Théodore and Hippolyte Cogniard’s play La Cocarde tricolore (1831)
Life-style? Mom?
Misogynist Transphobic Dad?
I mean, no argument there…
Projection? Jealousy?
Denigrating Roller Derby reference, learned from dad?


Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

74 responses to “Signal the Virtues! Strike up the Bandwagon!

  1. billytheskink

    So this is EXACTLY how I would imagine Tom Batiuk would handle this… and I don’t even actively imagine Tom Batiuk handling anything.

    “Roland-a”? That’s the name you’re going with, TB? Good grief!

    • gleeb

      Rhonda, Rowena, Rebecca, Rita, and these are all assuming ownership of monogrammed luggage.

      • billytheskink

        I’m not an expert in this, granted, but in my limited experience folks choose new names that are:

        1. At least somewhat common.
        2. Recognizably associated with their gender.
        3. Have some level of meaning to them as an individual.

        I have a cousin who chose to take the nickname of our late grandfather. This was pretty hard on his father, as our grandfather had quite recently passed away… but there is no denying that it was a fairly common name and that it clearly had meaning to my cousin.

    • Anonymous Sparrow

      The feminine form of “Roland” is usually “Rolande.”

      That son of a bitch Van Owen must have given Mr. Mathews some erroneous information before he met his fate in Mombasa drinking gin.

  2. Epicus Doomus

    Obviously, the sad thing here is that Roland is now a Westviewian woman. Which means that while she may be happier, she’s way, way, way less relevant now. I’d imagine that learning how to stand there wryly without contributing anything was probably the hardest part.

    But seriously, folks, get ready for around a billion (actually maybe two, at most) puff pieces re: FW tackling yet another timely, topical issue, when it did nothing of the kind. He should have had a real character transition, instead of an ancient, long-buried one like Roland. Like Harry becomes Harriet, and Harriet becomes Harry, thus causing all SORTS of hilarious mix-ups, goofs, and general silliness. Or perhaps Cayla could have become Carl, and finally given Les the ass kicking he merits, although she could probably take him right now, as is.

    Of course now that I think about it, Summer is the most obvious candidate, as that would go a long way toward explaining a lot of things. Then again, who really knows in this crazy mixed-up world of ours, eh? Sigh.

  3. One last Hail Mary for a Pulitzer.

    One question, Batdick: What took you so long?

  4. erdmann

    Rolanda had their hair straightened? I think we can all be happy about that.

  5. RudimentaryLathe?

    No. Nonononono. You do not get to trot out a character nobody’s seen in 40 years and make them LGBTQ+ (draw your identity from a hat) and run the bases for your “wokeness” .This is not how inclusivity works, Batiuk.You suck. You SUCK!

  6. William Thompson

    “I know it’s a lot.” — “So? I’m happy for you.” That isn’t a conversation. If anything, it sounds like Funky is trying to avoid a conversation. Or maybe it’s Batiuk doing the avoidance.

    • Epicus Doomus

      No one…NO ONE…avoids the very topic they’re writing about as deftly as BatYam does. It’s really something to see. He dodges those tough and timely issues like a lanternfly avoiding being stomped. Gracelessly, randomly, but effectively.

      • Charles

        Seriously, one line and he decides he’ll never have to address it again. Use as few words as possible to try to show Funky as not a bigot and get the hell out of there.

        This is substantially more cynical than the Gay Prom storyline, which was pretty God damn cynical. He’s using an oppressed minority to self-aggrandize, a minority that he really doesn’t give a shit about, and it’s so palpably obvious that it’s disgusting.

        • Epicus Doomus

          Great example. The Gay Prom arc stopped being about same sex prom couples within seconds. “Look! I am acknowledging our ever changing world! Now let’s get back to the funny stuff, like old bigots and henpecked husbands!”. I mean yes, he technically did “address” it, kind of, but just enough so gloating about it wouldn’t be a lie. He’s terrific at that.

          • Charles

            Yeah, if that story had been the even more out of date “They’re letting black kids attend the prom! Let’s protest!”, how many strips would have had to be changed? Surprisingly few, and most of those changes would have been minor. In fact, I don’t think any of them would have had to be completely rewritten or redrawn.

        • Banana Jr. 6000

          I would include the mall racism storyline in that level of cynical. Another oppressed minority Batiuk doesn’t actually give a shit about, but uses as props so he can be smug about his progressiveness and daring narrative choices. Then he can’t even write a basic racism story.

          • William Thompson

            Batiuk is the kind of “ally” that Reverend King castigated in his “Letter From A Birmingham Jail.” Eager to look good, but too spineless to stand up when it counts.

  7. newagepalimpsest

    Well, I’m happy for Rolanda!

    But we all know by now that Batiuk doesn’t do research on anything he thinks he knows “enough” about, so this is going to be one hell of a week. (How many more times do you think she’s going to casually use her “dead name” during this storyline?)

  8. I didn’t think I’d get to repurpose Les’ lame punchline so soon!

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      See, now, that’s genuinely funny. And actually kind of sweet. Funky doesn’t just say “so?” He shows how unbothered he is by being comfortable enough to crack wise about the situation. It defuses the awkwardness. It evokes a much better comic strip story than Tom Batiuk has ever told:

      Mike shows Lawrence that he’ll treat him the same, by messing with him a little. Funky just says “whatever.” I get the sentiment Batiuk is aiming for, but I don’t think it works in this situation. It’s too downplayed and dismissive for such a profound change in someone.

  9. sorialpromise

    Sometimes I think Mr. Batiuk baits us to all get banned from the internet. RudimentaryLathe? says it so well: “you do not trot…” Mr. Batiuk will have his people enter him in some award categories, and we will never see Roland’s ever again.
    I worked in an Acute Behavioral Health Hospital for 27 years until 2020. The last 5 of those years, I helped treat both adolescent and adult transgenders for suicidal ideation. Not many patients. Maybe 20? We never spoke of politics or issues. Certain ones were quite open for questions. I asked hundreds. What made them trust me: I was always therapeutic. I only asked informational questions. I let them know ahead of time, that if I called them by the wrong gender, I was not being judgmental. I was just making a mistake. I saw most get better. I tried to always treat them as a person, and not a mental problem.
    I am afraid that Mr. Batiuk is way over his head in trying to be trendy.
    Now on to happier things:

    The penultimate strip (Ooh! Don’t you just get chills when I use fancy words?) of Les and Funky’s Golf week! [You mean this lasts only one more day? Good things happen in our world!]

    Funky day 6:
    Panel 1: Funky asks Les about his score. Les replies “Par 4.”
    Panel 2: Funky says, I counted 7.
    Panel 3: Les answers, You can’t count those 3 girls. Their last name is Mulligan.

    • @sorialpromise, I preferred your Les+Funky+golf arc to Batiuk’s Les+Funky+tennis arc by a mile! You could be the Phil Holt to Batiuk’s Hal Foster. I hope you have a Sunday extravaganza in store for us…

      • sorialpromise

        Thank you for these kind words. Sometimes I feel as old as Phil Holt. Other times I feel resurrected!
        All I will say about Sunday’s golf story, I will get a lot of praise for stopping. (Thank goodness that’s over!) But it will be satisfying!😜

    • be ware of eve hill

      You really have a good heart. That hospital must really miss you.

      I’m enjoying your FW strip. It’s better than the one I’m actually paying for.

      After reading today’s strip, are you sure you want to skip your 50th class reunion? There might be a “Rolanda Matthews” type revelation.

      • sorialpromise

        I am just glad that I am not the Rolanda Matthews character. (Not that there is anything wrong with that!)
        Eve, I have had fun with the strips. One has to have a central idea. I see why the creator goes for 7 day stories. Everything else is spokes off of the main idea, like golf.
        The 6 day, 3 panel setup is perfect for the writer. The first panel starts the story. The middle panel creates the crisis. Third panel is all climax.
        Mr. Batiuk grasps the long telling part, but he hasn’t had a feel for story and climax for the 2 years that I have been reading. Even in the long tell, he forgets what he did yesterday or the day before. The sad part is: he could even get away with that if he moved strongly to the joke or the point of the story.
        Right now, you are making me think of “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles” Have a point, Dell. Have a point!
        One more thing. I write: so far 3 kids stories and 3 biblical fantasy stories. You have to love your characters to make the stories work. Mr. Batiuk no longer seems to love his characters. They have been reduced to a paycheck and prestigious awards. Sad. He would be better off letting groups of writers doing FW like the publishers of the Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew.
        Wow! Sorry for being so long winded. I guess you inspire my thought process!

  10. I read Act I Funky Winkerbean as a high school kid. I don’t think I really recall Roland, but I remember his creepy dad. You only ever saw him seated in that chair, clutching a beer.

    • ComicBookHarriet

      Mr. Mathews lingering in the strip longer than his son is just weird. He last showed up in the vintage strips on May 30, a reprint of 7/29/76. With Roland having disappeared more than a year earlier.

      He is like proto-crankshaft, grumpy, old, and sports obsessed. Someday the traits seen here will evolve the ability to stand, walk, drive, and be seen straight on from the front.

    • Bad wolf

      I think Funky was meant to have a character that everyone could relate to and here, at last in Mr Matthews, i feel seen

    • Epicus Doomus

      Same here. I don’t remember Roland at all, as I started reading FW in maybe 1977-78 or thereabouts. The way I remember it, Act I was composed of three distinct phases. You had early Act I, which was sort of more “Doonesbury”-ish (but lamer), then you had mid Act I, which focused more on the archetypical characters, like “the nerd”, “the jock”, “the stoner”, “the hot girl” and etc. That was the wacky, gag-a-day Act I most people think of when they talk about Act I. But there was that weird late Act I period too, the Lisa years, when Batty first began to dip his toes into topical, timely issues, like the ones you and I face every day. Then Act II came along and the descent into total madness was complete.

  11. Andrew

    Well, guess this is the surprise I was wondering about. Though topical inclusiveness doesn’t really feel that fitting, even if feminism was a matter brought up back in strip #1.

    I mean it’s a step up from the subjects and truly relevant characters in the “gay old time” prom arc literally being extras we never see again (or at all), but “Hey I’m back and I’m trans” isn’t much of a story unless Tom’s got a week of flashbacks to dive in the tragic backstory CBH has shown could have been an interesting plot thread. There actually is something of intrigue about someone allegedly born and raised through the 70s/80s discovering their true selves in the nu-10s, but at the current rate of the strip’s writing it’s doubtful we’d see it done right.

    • Charles

      It is rather amusing to imagine Batiuk going back over his long neglected characters in an attempt to decide which one he was going to use for this strip, and it’s not the least bit surprising that it’s a character who hasn’t received any relevant character updates since 1975 or so.

      But it’s more amusing to imagine him trying to do this with a character who’s more recently been shown, both because of how obvious it makes this whole thing, along with how grotesque and offensive it is. Imagine:

      Summer shows up in a strip. Tells Les she’s trans and is now to be referred to as Sumner. Les tells Sumner he’s happy for him. Next day everything proceeds as if nothing happened.

      No different than this crap, but it just includes someone who hasn’t been effectively missing for ~45 years.

  12. Also: I’m wondering how today’s strip will scan for people unfamiliar with the term née, especially when it’s missing the acute accent over the first é. And then how many of those will wonder if in Rolanda’s case if would be more correct?

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Maybe it’s her married name. Rolanda Mathews Nee. Nee is a plausible surname.

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        Come to think of it, my version works a lot better:

        “I know it’s a lot” actually makes sense here, because information beyond their sex change is being revealed.

  13. Charles

    It sure was nice for Roland when he became Rolanda to shrink from the typical size of a man in this dumb strip to the typical size of a woman in this dumb strip. Wouldn’t want to cause any confusion!

    Rolanda apparently used all that excess body to give herself that dumpy, doughy woman body so common in middle age and elderly Westview women, which physically resembles Roland not at all.

    Christ, Rolanda’s going to be the new Adeela – that one character trotted out in the background occasionally to remind everyone just how uncompromising and progressive Batiuk is – right?

    • Rusty Shackleford

      Yep. Batty sure is sticking it to the stodgy newspaper publishers. What a maverick!

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        I wonder if any stodgy newspaper publishers are going to stick it back to Batiuk by dropping the strip over this. For once, he’s not 15 years too late to the cultural battle.

        • noahabaddi

          There are now visible transgender people in important positions in the current Administration. Years have passed since Caitlin Jenner was almost universally hailed as stunning and brave. Sports Illustrated has featured transgender women in its Swimsuit Issue. I have seen many ads prominently featuring trans people in all media. Criticizing trans people or failing to accept them is now anathema in the mainstream media and most middle class and above social circles.

          Puff Batty is breaking no boundaries, shattering no taboos, in the forefront of exactly nothing.

          He’s at the trailing edge. Bringing up the rear. And for this he expects a tickertape parade.

          • Banana Jr. 6000

            There are also dozens of legislative efforts to reverse, outlaw, or forbid the discussion of transgender status. It’s a major cultural flashpoint. If anything, it’s become more of one since today’s strip was written 11 months ago. I only compare its timeliness to how many decades late Tom Batiuk’s gay prom story was.

          • ComicBookHarriet

            True, but the people pushing for that legislation are the people Batiuk gets a lot of satisfaction for thumbing his nose at.

            And while it’s true that the people against have some legislative power in their own areas, they do all their talking from their own platforms because the mainstream corporate and media interests, as well most public institutions, are not on side with them. Any newspaper still carrying FW is not going to drop it over this anemic bit of posturing.

            He’s also picked the most anodyne version of this issue. This isn’t a transgender student participating in sports, or a transgender child seeking medical transition. Or even an adult man with seen wife and kids deciding to transition, and wrestling with the emotional repercussions, ala Transparent.

            Batiuk risks nothing by this except maybe getting some hate mail that he will relish and frame and hang on his wall as a trophy of his activism.

          • Banana Jr. 6000

            I think its very dangerous to dismiss the places and people currently pushing anti-trans laws as irrelevant, not reflective of mainstream thinking, and not having any media pull. In the interest of remaining apolitical, that’s the last I’ll say on the subject.

  14. Rusty Shackleford

    Yessss, he finally went there! CBH, you should be honored that this happened on your watch. This is a strip that will be remembered.

    I can’t wait to see how Tom F’s this all up. I’m popping some corn now and will settle in to watch the show.

    • Rusty Shackleford

    • William Thompson

      Batiuk will resurrect another long-forgotten character to say something offensive, and make the reply worse:

      Old Dork: “Hey, Roland, I hear you weren’t cut out to be a man.”

      Rolandvowel: “I hear you had it cut out long ago.”

      • noahabaddi


        Of course you’re right. Straw progressive mavericks work best fighting straw bigoted villains.


        • William Thompson

          I hate it when I’m right; fortunately it doesn’t happen all that often. I suppose that Batiuk will drag in Crazy Harry to make some bad puns: “Roland? They said you turned into a radio?” “What makes you say that?” “They said you’re a trans-sister!”

  15. Rusty Shackleford

    I totally forgot about Roland as the conservative hardware store owner, but then saw the picture from the 2008 reunion that Josh posted on CC.

    I think Batty just forgot about how Roland was last portrayed and was just too lazy to look anything up. He got an idea and so he just grabbed the first tier 3 character he could think of and went with it.

    If he really wanted to make a meaningful arc, he would have used a familiar tier 1 character. The way Batty operates this could be the only strip featuring Rolanda and tomorrow we are back Dinkle and his crazy hijinks.

  16. Dood

    These are the nights we say, “Nee!”

  17. ian'sdrunkenbeard

  18. The Duck of Death

    IMO, Puff Batty’s thought process has two modes.

    1. “First thought, best thought! Geniuses never review their own work. And…. done! Three minutes… is that a new record? Damn, I’m good. To:… and… SEND.”

    2. Reverse-engineering from a feverishly-imagined puff piece, leading inexorably to a Pulitzer. “Tom Batiuk, the iconoclast who showed us that the ‘funny pages’ need not always be funny, has once again broken all the rules and shattered cultural boundaries. Roland Matthews, a character Batiuk has nurtured since the strip’s debut, ‘comes out’ as the transgender Rolanda Matthews, and is welcomed by the strip’s namesake. ‘I thought it was time someone tackled this issue,’ Batiuk explained from his Medina home. ‘Someone has to stand up for the oppressed minorities, and I guess it’s on me, as a heterosexual, upper middle class white male, to instruct the world on how to follow my tolerant lead.’ This reporter has been to war zones and combative White House briefings, and everywhere in between, but has never openly wept, even when surveying the wreckage of a bombed orphanage in Bosnia. But today, for the first time in my career, I shed a choked tear upon hearing Mr Batiuk’s words. Why can’t we all be so progressive, so tolerant, so… so… god-damn brilliant and virtuous?”

    Today it was a rare showing of #2. Tomorrow, I expect we’ll go back to #1.

    • be ware of eve hill

      Tomorrow, I expect we’ll go back to #1.

      Tomorrow will most likely be a one-off Sunday strip from Batty’s rainy day folder. Most comic creators reject some of their strips for being unfunny, too confusing or potentially offensive. Batty just uses these reject strips at a date to be determined later.

      The reunion story arc will continue Monday. It has to. Les hasn’t appeared yet. Batty will never pass up an opportunity to aggrandize his favorite character. 😩

      Les Moore. Oh, how I hate him. 😠

      • sorialpromise

        I see where you are coming from. I believe tomorrow will be a group picture only. Roland’s will be in the back row. You could be right about Monday. But Mr. Batiuk could just as easily drop the story entirely. For some odd reason, I picture Mr. bwoeh sitting at a table loading bullets. I don’t know where that vision comes from, but it started yesterday with strong feeling! Sometimes, I get these strange premonitions. Just like I am reading it off of a page.

  19. Perfect Tommy

    (Snort, giggle, wheeze, other sounds of suppressed laughter).
    I’m sorry, but “Shortened her stick” was funny AF.
    Hee! Hee! No, really, (gasp) I know that’s not fair but…
    Ha! Ha! Chortle, giggle, wipes tears…I’ll try to be…….

  20. That Washington Post article made me choke when the writer actually compared Gary Trudeau and hs brilliant Doonesbury, to Tom Batiuk and the godawful dreck that is Funky Winkerbean

    If Trudeau were to do a transgender storyline, he’d spend months building up to a moment like this. He’d explore the pros and cons of transitioning. He’d follow the transitioning character through all the steps of their journey. He’d have other characters react to the transitioning character, both positively and negatively. In short, Trudeau would explore all aspects of the story.

    But not Le Auteur Glorieux. Nope, in his ham-fisted laziness, he takes the path of least resistance. He explores none of the aspects of the character or their story. He just tosses the character out there, fully transitioned, with utterly no preamble.

    I can’t wait to see what he does with this storyline (if anything). But I think I can safely say it will be so terrible that it’ll offend everyone, including transgender people … especially transgender people. I swear to God, Tom Batiuk is probably one of the few people who could write a Holocaust story that both Jews and Nazis would find offensive.

  21. Anonymous Sparrow

    You can collect it with Harlan Ellison’s “Croatoan,” which is a story to make opponents and supporters of abortion uncomfortable.

  22. Welp, the people who subscribe to the Washington Post aren’t missing anything this week. That”s for sure.

  23. bigd1992

    Next year we’ll get a “Summer can’t get an abortion in Ohio and has to go to Michigan or Indiana” prestige arc.

    • ComicBookHarriet


      Les sits down next to a crying Summer, puts his arm around her shoulder. “You know what I told your mother, Lisa, when she was going through a similar thing? She told me that it really helped her. She told me that it was the best and most clever and most meaningful thing anyone had ever told her. She said he held onto those words through her entire journey, and they gave her strength for every step…”

      Summer cries harder. Les does not stop speaking.

  24. Hitorque

    God damnit there’s only ONE comic character called “Wicked Wanda” and she lives on the pages of Penthouse Magazine!!

  25. Gerard Plourde

    TomBa on the cutting edge? Meanwhile 19 years earlier.

    “In 2003, [George W.] Bush hosted a 25th reunion party for his Yale University classmates. When Bush had been at Yale in the late 1960’s, it had been an all-male school, but one of his classmates became a woman after sex change surgery. According to the story, the woman was not entirely sure how to introduce herself to the President, so nervously said: ‘You might remember me as Peter when we left Yale’…Without blinking, Bush interjected, ‘And now you’ve come back as yourself.’”

  26. ComicTrek

    (*Presses lips and says nothing*)

    (*Pops popcorn and pulls up folding chair*)

    This should be good.

  27. Y. Knott

    Not much to say about this one. But I do think Tom deserves some credit for introducing a trans character in a no-big-deal, nice-to-see-you-old-friend kinda way.

    Of course, that saves him work on researching and depicting what someone who’s trans actually goes through to get to this point. But hey — seeing as Batiuk would no doubt screw that up, as he does with everything he “researches”, probably best to keep it to the way it’s been done here. Short, and to-the-point: trans people are people you know, even if you don’t know it yet.

    Now, if next week is Rolanda’s sepia-toned back story, done with Batiuk’s usual grace, sensitivity, careful research, and attention to character detail and continuity? Then we’re probably gonna get into something awful, and everything I wrote in the first paragraph goes away.