Hey Look Derek and Junebug!
Did you guys enjoy this gripping, emotional, and politically charged tale which really challenged our main characters leading to growth and change that will really shake things up going forward?
(Seriously, tomorrow is Cindy and Holly.)
Filed under Son of Stuck Funky
Tagged as Barry Balderman, believable friendships, Derek, Funky, Funky Winkerbean, gym, Junebug, knowing smirks, Les, Les Moore, Linda Bushka, reunions, Roland, Rolanda, virtue signaling, Westview High School
“Friend fluid” = “My friends drove me to drink.”
In a similar vein, I can remember a college party where my roommate passed out on my shoulder and drooled on my shirt.
Friend fluid. Yuck.
Roland-a is quite the appropriate character to use for this story. Back in early Act I, Roland’s involvement in counterculture was generally vapid and self-serving… subscribed to when it was convenient or trendy, not due to deeply-considered or genuine belief.
Sounds familiar, no?
You see, way back in olden times, earrings on men were considered wild, shocking, rebellious and dangerously subversive. Long hair on men was too, but by the early 70s, The Beatles had popularized it enough to a point where it was grudgingly accepted. Then everyone (mainly Black Sabbath, Kansas, and Kiss) took it way too far, so punk rock was invented to popularize haircuts again. But then the punks started sticking things in their earlobes that weren’t earrings, and everyone was outraged again. Then Michael Jackson arrived on the scene, and finally we had a wholesome role model to dictate the style of the time. But later in the decade, Aerosmith returned from rehab and long hair began coming back again. Scott Weiland and Fred Durst took care of that, though, but unfortunately everyone started wearing comically oversized pants. Then that died down just as Lil Peep popularized face tattoos. And yadda yadda yadda, present day. Just a little context to explain today’s retro strip.
“Friend fluid”…sounds kind of disgusting when Funky/TomBan says it, you know? Ewww. And of course, everyone is all wry about it all, because why wouldn’t they be? This really is one of the low points of 2022 thus far.
WHAT THE RED FUCK DOES FRIEND FLUID MEAN??????
Don’t answer. As long as this Virtue Signal ends today, I couldn’t care less.
Of course I knew exactly what he was going for with “friend fluid”, yet, remarkably, it still really grossed me out. I mean, my God, who would say such a thing to another human, in public? He really needs to stop this and focus on what he does best, like arthritic knees and Lisa tapes.
Nothing. It means nothing.
Right? If someone asked me, I might volunteer (or hope it to be said of me) that I be described as a ‘solid’ friend. That is idiomatic English that people would casually speak to each other.
It’s called writing, Pulitzer writing. Let the puff pieces be written!
Let’s not forget that 1980 Crazy described himself as “time period fluid” during that month of the time travel dream.
Swapping the word “gender” out of “gender fluid” and replacing it with something else is seemingly uproariously funny to him.
“Friend fluid” would imply that any friendship he has is fickle, undefined, and not solidified, wouldn’t it?
But yeah, sure, fuck it, Roland was strait-laced male in the 2008 reunion picture and is female in 2022, but now let’s say that he threw hints about it back in the 70s. Sure, whatever. Who cares. All you need to know about Roland’s past is what I tell you right now. Buy my books.
As an aside, I do find it genuinely intriguing that he took the time to letter the Act 1 panels in his old writing style, complete with the distinctly elongated punctuation marks. But he didn’t keep Holtron’s font. Huh.
There are no lengths to which Tom Batiuk will not go in order to do a half-assed job. (Ironically, being half-assed is the one thing he won’t half-ass.)
Cheers to beware of eve hill. She saw today’s story continuing. I did not. I thought we would have a group reunion shot today with Rolanda in the back. I am so naive. To quote Bugs Bunny: “What a maroon!”
Mr. Batiuk has the knack to break glass ceilings in the most nothingburger way. He could write about universal peace breaking out, and you would sigh, “Ho hum.” He has the gift!
Side note: Does Rolanda possess the absolute worst smirk in FW history? Does anyone know if it is identical to the Roland smirk?
Now to complete our unfinished business. I just wish there was some better way to show my appreciation to ComicBookHarriet, well other than gifts, cash, or jewelry. (I guess she already has a LOTR ring.) But there is not. So, without further ado: (a slight echo is heard softly in the background: without further ado:)
CBH, should you ever illustrate another
*Harriet/promise* strip, this is the one, and it is specifically for you.
(As for illustrating, I’m not asking. I’m not begging. I’m just saying…)
Funky day 7 (the last one. YaY!!!)
Sunday NOT A SIDEWAYS STRIP!!!
a normal Sunday 5 panel strip
Panels 1 & 2 are larger, and take up the top row of the comic
Panel 1: Both Les and Funky on on the fairway. One is hitting.
Panel 2: Both are on the green. The other is putting.
Panels 3,4,5 are in a straight row
Panel 3: Funky drives. The ball ricochets off of a tree. It heads for Les.
Panel 4: it hits Les. He collapses to the ground.
Panel 5: In the background, Les lies unconscious. There is a closeup of Funky breaking the fourth wall, “Maybe the most satisfying shit of my life!”
Satisfying SHOT. SHOT. SHOT. SHOT!
Although your original still works!
It would explain why Les looks so smug all the time:
I don’t hate this entry by itself – Funky reflecting that he might have missed some signs about Roland(a)’s feelings is pretty normal and understandable- but it still really bothers me that Batiuk has trotted out an Act 1 character nobody really remembers and slapped a trans arc on them. He doesn’t want to deal with the challenge of a trans character appearing in the everyday of this strip so he’s outed. a character for the reunion for wokeness clout and we’ll never see them again after this week 😡
Whereas I’m thankful that it IS stopping here. Because you’re right — there’s no question Batiuk isn’t even remotely up to the challenge of depicting a believable, three-dimensional trans character amongst the every day ‘forefront’ characters of this strip. Even his attempt would truly be an absolute train wreck. (And perhaps even Batiuk himself, at least on some level, realizes this.)
Will Batiuk get some ‘wokeness clout’ from these last two strips? Yeah, maybe the reveal of ‘a recurring character is trans’ will get mentioned in a puff piece somewhere — without, of course, revealing the character hasn’t recurred since the Ford administration, and was brought back just for this cameo. But ultimately, even if there IS a puff piece somewhere, it will have as much effect on the national discourse as Bull’s CTE arc … i.e. none whatsoever.
That’s me, Y. Knott, above. Musta zigged when I shoulda zagged.
The good news is that Rolanda will be relegated to the back of the bus along with gay prom couple, Adeela, and other dog poo characters that were used in service of Batty’s quest for recognition.
But Funky doesn’t say “I should have seen the signs.” He makes a vague, meaningless statement and mopes. He mopes about himself. And trivializes the whole thing, by suggesting that his own cluelessness about high school (when he wasn’t very clueless at all) is equal to that of someone who was confused about their own gender.
You’ve heard of the banality of evil? Funky Winkerbean is the banality of rudeness. The characters are all selfish, dismissive, and insulting with every word that they say. But they’re so low-key about it that you barely notice.
That would require delving further into the subject instead of sticking with vague meaningless statements. And Rolanda’s response of “we all were” is as banal as it gets. Are we talking about being clueless on gender issues, homework, parents, or life in general? The conversation is so blah blah generic that it loses any potential significance.
This wasn’t great, but since it clears the deeply-buried bar that is “not the worst portrayal of trans people in comics,” it’s hard to do more than just shrug.
I do understand that they have to keep saying “Roland” for the sake of the 99.9% of the audience who have completely forgotten the character. But the bar for meaningful representation has risen over the years, and this is clearly not malicious, but it is dated.
Ah, the old “talking out of the corner of her mouth” trick.
Somehow this would seem more honest if one of Funky’s word balloons was replaced by a thought cloud of “Ew! Ew! Ew! Ew! Ew!”
It really would. It’s way too subdued a reaction for such a radical, out-of-nowhere change in someone you’ve known for a long time. It’s as if Funky is reacting to a random person, not someone he was once friends with.
Every reaction in this strip is subdued unless it directly refers to the misery of high school. Four days ago, Funky used six adjectives to describe those four years, yet his trans friend shows up at a reunion and his initial reaction is “So?” Pretty typical.
While I appreciate that Funky asked Rolanda if she is happy, the question comes with little to no acknowledgment of any struggle or uncertainty from either of them. I’m curious as to how Roland’s overbearing father reacted to the news that his son is trans. It’s all just glossed over, and we go straight to the fluid friend joke.
And we get Holly and Cindy tomorrow. Can’t wait for the puffery, gushing, and insecurities of 70 year old women.
I’m just waiting for the Warren Zevon parody, “Roland the Backstoryless Pulitzer Gunner.”
In Ireland…in Lebanon…In Palestine…and Berkeley…look out, Patty Hearst! Someone may rub pot roast all over your chest!
The song “Excitable Boy” really needs to be re-discovered. It is so on point for the present day.
Is this the shortest ComicBookHarriet blog ever? Did the cows attempt to have another road trip?
Just kidding. I’m spoiled. The comic is hilarious and the poster is great. They obviously took a while to create.
🤟 Luv ya
Cows are still in, but it is my weekend to work at the gas station. And I also have a friend that flew in from out of state to hang for a week.
But mostly, I thought the comic edit spoke for itself. I was worried padding it with analysis would lessen the impact.
I used to be a lot shorter in my posts, before I started falling down the archives hole constantly. The first Ruby Lith arc turned me into a rambling research monster. Lately I’ve been mulling over trying to reign it in somewhat.
CBH, always do what makes you comfortable as the poster. BUT…as a reader, I love the CBH rambling research monster. Months ago, it may have been my very first comment, I wanted to know where else you have written (books, magazines, blogs). You have a gift for writing. Your readers recognize and love it.
No worries CBH. Enjoy the week with your friend. You’ve more than earned the right to do shorter posts.
I know I appreciate the work you do to make sense of Batty’s work and to fill in the back story. Batty should be paying you for this. He sure needs the help.
Your very thorough research on Roland that you presented a while back more than made up for the brevity of today’s post. The alternate strip today is pure genius.
Okay. So I won’t rein it in too much. 😉 I’ll just try to keep myself from BattyBlog levels of blathering.
It’s odd that Rolanda now appears to be marginally shorter than Funky, considering they used to be the same height.
Rolanda is taller than average for a woman and really doesn’t need to wear high heels. That’s a good thing. Amirite ladies?
Batiuk went with the “thought bubble” outline for the Act I throwback strip instead of the usual “sepia-toned photo album” shorthand. Doesn’t he normally use the bubble outline for things happening concurrently in another place? Very strange for him to suddenly use it properly, to express someone’s flashback/thoughts.
The photo album corners seem to have been inexplicably phased out last year. They were last seen on September 18, 2021. There’s been plenty of flashbacks since then, many in prime ‘photo corner’ age, but instead they had the new ‘bubbly corner’ effect.
My self-centered ego has a conspiracy theory that he was tired of how easy those corners were to photoshop around in our cheeky little edits.
But probably he inexplicably just decided his readers wouldn’t recognize what he was going for any more.
So any man who had long hair and earrings in the 1970s was confused about their gender identity? Is that really the point Batiuk is trying to make here?
I can’t wait for Derek and Junebug to show up and tell a smirking story about how their innocent son was doing nothing but walking through a store acting bizarre with his face twisted in a mask of rage and then a Personification of Typical Evil White People accused him of stealing when he’d only moved some stuff to another part of the store. Then Funky can smile benevolently and say he would never do that, and he’s glad Derek and Junebug are his friends. Next week: Dinkle’s selling band candy shaped like turkeys reclining on mattresses! Oh, that Dinkle!
Attention Pulitzer Committee: Please mail the prize to: Thomas Batiuk, P.O. Box 643, Medina OH 44233.
That last panel sure slendered Funky up.
Earrings? Naw, it was the slinky backless number that gave it away.
Thank God we didn’t get a cringeworthy sideways superhero cover featuring “The Reunioneers”. 😩
Funky Winkerbean as “Awkward Man”
Holly Winkerbean as “The Worrier”
Cindy Winkerbean-Jarre as “The Immortal”
Masone Jarre as “Mister Hollywood”
Rolanda Matthews as “Gender Bender”
Les Moore as “Captain Obnoxio”
Cayla Moore as “The Living Doormat”
And special guest Bull Bushka’s helmet as “Punchbowl”.
Some, like the author of this strip, are still clueless.
So when does Les, the ultimate white knight, drop by to save the day and protect Rolanda from all those haters?
Honestly, guys, I can’t believe you haven’t picked up on the “friend fluid” thing. It’s obviously a typical Puff Batty allusion to a beloved DC comics character — in this case, Plastic Man, renowned for his ability to transform himself into an anvil, a puddle, or anything in between!
View post on imgur.com
(J/K! We all know Scott Batiuk would never have read Plastic Man, because it was zany and fun, and never took itself seriously!)
Leave it to TomBa to handle this topic in the most banal and ham-fisted manner possible. While it may occur, no transgender person of my acquaintance has subsequently used a variation of their dead name.
I imagine what we’re seeing is the result of TomBa seeing headlines around this time last year and quickly cranking out a series of strips without making any attempt to understand what he was writing about.
I deplore politics here, so I will try my best not to wade into them. But the #1 rule of storytelling is: there has to be something at stake. What’s at stake here?
As I believe has been pointed out, this is a straw controversy. “68-year-old trans person exists” is not grabbing the headlines. Remember the almost universal acclaim for Caitlin Jenner when she did the big reveal.
If Puff Batty wants his Pulitzer, why doesn’t he wade into the actual current controversies? For example, wouldn’t it be interesting if Summer or Keisha lost an athletic scholarship or championship to a trans woman? Or if Skyler came home from school and announced that he was a girl and wanted to start physically becoming one? Wouldn’t it be compelling to see Funky struggle in trying to balance the rights of all concerned, and find that a benign smirk and muddled aphorism just doesn’t cut it as the solution to all child-related and gender-related civil rights issues?
Yes. Yes, it would be interesting. That’s why we will never, ever, ever see it.
There are never any stakes in Funky Winkerbean. The characters constantly bemoan their fate, but it never matters if they succeed or fail.
It doesn’t matter if the school levy passes or not, at least not to any of the main characters. None of them even have to work harder as a result. It made no difference whether Linda got the NFL settlement money or not; we never saw or Bull her suffer as a result, or even know why they needed it. Dinkle and Becky constantly bash their students, but they’ve never failed in a performance, or in selling enough candy. Summer is on her 12th year of college, but is under no pressure from anyone to finish it up. Funky is an incompetent restaurant owner, and ran the New York franchise into the ground, but never suffered the slightest loss or inconvenience. Holly’s broken ankle should have been crippling given her age. The racism incident was mild compared to real-life incidents; they probably could gotten the clerk fired if they so much as told anyone what she did. And Rolanda here will face no pushback, rejection, or discrimination. It’s a zero-stakes world.
I once interviewed a restaurant owner who had achieved enough success to have several restaurants and numerous writeups, featured segments on Food Network shows, etc. However, he told me that he never stopped worrying. When I asked him about what, he said, “My biggest worry is when business shrinks, and I still have to make payroll. People are depending on me for their family’s livelihood. I worry that one day cash flow will dry up and I don’t want to let them down.”
Can you imagine Funky saying that? Can you imagine anyone in the Funkiverse caring enough about their employees — or anyone — to worry more about them than about themselves?
I certainly can’t imagine Funky trying to pay his suppliers and his staff as his restaurant goes bankrupt. I imagine him cabbing straight to LaGuardia in the middle of the night with a hastily stuffed suitcase and a “woe is me” spiel all ready for his AA meeting. We certainly didn’t see him grieving that he’d just put a bunch of people out of work with his own incompetence.
South Park addressed some of these issues, albeit in their usual brash manner, but at least they told a story. This strip is just stupid.
Ah those dark days of the 1970s, people were just so dumb, good thing Les/Batty are around to enlighten us rubes.
Cody and Owen
Dead Skunk Head
Les' yellow shirt
Old dying people
photo album corners
traveling green shirt
unnatural hand gestures
Westview High School
Westview HS Band