(We Are) The Depressed Derek Appreciation Society.

The Minority Characters Speak Out!

Roland was an anti-establishment activist. Of course he didn’t feel a part of things in high school. I suppose we can read this as Roland feeling alienated even before, and choosing an identity in the counter-culture that justified those feelings.

At least by talking about prior ‘protests’ and ‘anger’ Rolanda has made her line specific to her, so she’s leaps and bounds ahead of Crazy and Funky this week. But Batiuk is just writing her saying this because he wants to let his new trans character talk one more time before this arc ends and she disappears forever.

It’s Derek who’s giving me a chuckle today. He gets one word. One word this whole year. “Seriously?”

I’m guessing that this was intended by the author to reference the one or two strips where he felt ‘alienated’ by his race. He was one of a few black students in a mostly white school. So obviously (sarcasm) asking him if he felt left out is silly.

The Cringe Echoes Through the Ages.

But I am invoking Death of the Author.

Because Derek is the embodiment of ‘Seriously?’ As in, “Why do I exist in this asinine universe surrounded by stupid, unfunny, jokes?”

Every time he would stare out at the audience, it was like a cry for help through the crack in the Fourth Wall. He had this air of resigned desperation. I imagine you would get a similar expression if Charles Dance was sent to a hell populated entirely by Teletubbies.


And so when Derek today says, “Seriously?” I don’t hear, “Yes, of course I felt like an outsider.”

I hear, “Seriously? Seriously? It’s been 50 years! I hardly even remember high school. Why did I even come to this? Why did I bother to bring the ultrasound picture of my great-grandson? Or the photos of my granddaughter getting her doctorate? Why did I bother looking any of these chucklefucks up on Facebook to see what they’ve been up to. I came all prepared to talk about Les’ movie getting an Oscar. Cindy’s work on BuddyBlog. What it was like being stuck in LA for the fires. Funky’s punk son finally making an honest woman of that poor pretty army chick. Holly’s biography on being a majorette. Rolanda’s work counselling the families of senior gender transitioners. Maybe share some memories of Bull and Mary Sue, since this is our first reunion without them. But naw, I shoulda known better. These assholes are just gonna stand in a row all facing the same way, like they’re posing for a picture no one is gonna take, and pass the same damn sentence down the line in the world’s most half-assed game of telephone. Fuck these cookie-cutter punch-outs all thinking they’re a special snowflake. If they’re not all dead by the next reunion, I’m not coming. I was hoping to talk to Barry Balderman and Carrie and Melissa, maybe catch up with Wanda, but naw. They were too smart for this shit. I mean. Seriously?”

“At least Les didn’t have a pity party over his dead wife again.”

Speaking of Les! Here’s some more writing advice from the past! Brought to you by the world’s least prolific biographer.

Past, Present, and Future can all be thrown out without explanation if you suddenly decide that Crankshaft and Funky are no longer separated by 10 years.
Good pacing is spending five days on a woman being impotently worried, two days introducing a transgender character you haven’t seen in 40 years, and five days on characters all agreeing they have the exact same feelings using the exact same words.

We Are The Son of Stuck Funky Admiration Affiliate

Preserving the old strips from being abused
Protesting the new ways for me and for you
What more can we do


Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

60 responses to “(We Are) The Depressed Derek Appreciation Society.

  1. Epicus Doomus

    “The protests, the activism, the strongly-held beliefs, they were all just bullshit. It was always all about me.”

    “Fascinating! Hey, African-American guy! How about you, did you feel alienated and excluded in high school too?”


    Boy, he really does make these people awfully tough to like, doesn’t he? Past hi-jinx, current accomplishments…these weirdos aren’t happy about ANYTHING, ever. They might as well toss some cyanide into the punch bowl and be done with it. It’s dreariness smothered in misery, and it never ends.

    • billytheskink

      Rolanda’s awkwardly-worded lines are just terrible. The insincerity of Roland’s high school activism was the whole joke. Admitting this behavior was a mask for insecurity at the age of 68 isn’t poignant, it’s pathetic.

  2. J.J. O'Malley

    Oh, goody, one of the black classmates finally gets to speak (not Junebug, though. She’s still just a girl)! Will Derek share the story of how a Robert Hall store clerk at the brand-new Westview shopping mall once followed him around in the early ’70s because she thought he was shoplifting a sweater stuffed inside his dashiki?

    Kudos to CBH for the wonderful “Seriously?” soliloquy she composed for Derek.

  3. Y. Knott

    I kept reading it as “Bull Bushka is trying to Beatles at his own game.”

    That wasn’t just me, right?

  4. The Panel One artwork really sums up this “reunion” thing. Especially Voldemoore’s expression. Self-pity and shame for all! Every single member of the Westview Class of 19?? was an alienated outsider who can’t move on from that traumatic high school experience, not even after 50 (?) years.

    I know it’s been said a thousand times before on this blog, but it seems like with each new story arc, I think “this is the worst one ever.” But without fail the next arc is somehow worse.

    • sorialpromise

      I saw Beatles also!
      “This is the worst arc ever.” until next week.
      What I notice: Mr. Batiuk hates ALL of his work. Act II had some pretty good stories, if the CBH summaries are accurate. Apparently, Act III just are the worst. But Act I, that I read from the 1970’s into the 80’s were very good. Mr. Batiuk had a good sense of humor There were klinkers e.g. school rock and anything Dinkle. But even Les was dependable. Mr. Batiuk’s Art fit the comic. He fit into a collection in the KCSTAR that included Peanuts, Pogo, Li’l Abner, Tumbleweeds, Blondie, and Alley Oop

      • sorialpromise

        (Never get near the REPLY!) …Mr. Batiuk held his own. I am sure that he was often a must-read each day. But as he looks back this week, he must hate his early work. That’s a shame. His humor and art worked well together. He could be proud of his Act I, but he is not. I hope that he is not jealous of his early efforts. Last week, I found humor in these older characters in my parody strip. Why can’t he?

        • Rusty Shackleford

          I agree, Batty’s strips were pretty good back in the day, I even liked John Darling.

          But then he and Lynn Johnston decided to bring misery to the comics page. Lynn at least did it with consistency and did not have awkward time jumps and retcons. Batty’s work devolved into the big mess we see today. Great job furthering the art form Batty!

          • Mela

            Les was even likeable. They all were. Dinkle was still full of himself, but the whole strip was lighter and more fun then.

  5. William Thompson

    “Did I feel like an outsider? Yeah. I studied hard. I didn’t whine about the unfairness of high school. I didn’t obsess over sports and the marching band. I had good relationships with my girlfriends. And yourselves?”

    • Rusty Shackleford

      Your experience mirrored mine. These clods are just insufferable.

      • William Thompson

        I was putting words into Derek’s mouth. My own high-school experiences were mild, considering I went to an all-boy’s parochial high school. I think the biggest clods there were the administrators, who encouraged hazings, bullying and rivalries with other schools (that last bit came to an end a few years after I graduated, when a confrontation between two groups of students ended with someone getting bleach thrown in his face.)

  6. RudimentaryLathe?

    Roland(a)’s little speech does not sit well with me. Are we really supposed to brush off Act I Roland’s frequent hypocrisy and misogynistic treatment of Wanda (noticably absent from this reunion, I guess she was the smart one after all) because “oh I was confused! 🥺” That does the trans community zero favors. And now Roland(a) has joined Cindy and Harry in the “I actively alienated others but feel sorry for me because I felt left out” club.
    Batty apparently thinks he’s speaking big truth to power and it’s so gross. The only one whose attitude makes any sense so far (and is somewhat consistent) is Derek.

  7. billytheskink

    Of course it was Derek who realized this reunion was in desperate need of some Motor Ed…

  8. sorialpromise

    I would pay a lot of money to watch Charles Dance interact with the teletubbies.

    • Anonymous Sparrow

      Since my first awareness of Charles Dance was in “The Jewel in the Crown,” I’d pay as much as you if Geraldine James interacted along with him.

      Guy Perron and Sarah Layton — together again!

  9. Mela

    If I may riff on Charles Schultz for a moment: “Funky Winkerbean, you’re the only person I know who can take a wonderful thing like a class reunion and turn it into a problem.”

    No one is smiling. It’s a class reunion and everyone looks miserable. Even the laughter yesterday was sarcastic laughter over the fact that the world was just as unchanging and miserable after high school. It’s one thing to acknowledge that “yeah, we all felt awkward in our own way”, but there’s no counterpoint: no “hey, look how far we’ve come!” or “I’m happy for my kids, my grandkids, and the life I’ve had even with all of its struggles.” No wonder the spouses stayed home.

    I’d suggest that they all walk over to the “In Memoriam” table- because you know there’s going to be one-and perhaps be glad that after 50 years they’re all still around to have a reunion. But we all know that’s probably going Les’ turn to talk.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Counterpoint: this is the happiest these people ever get. They love nothing more in life than talking about how miserable life is. They’re all hating themselves and crying and sulking and whining and having the time of their lives.

      Which raises the question of why anyone on earth would enjoy this dumb strip anymore. It is an endless cycle of self-loathing, without having a drop of humor or insight or being likeable or relatable in any way.

      • Rusty Shackleford

        Don’t forget the aging Boomer gripes:

        Kids today are stupid, technology is bad and confusing, where is my newspaper, why aren’t things done the way they were thirty years ago, my joints hurt, remember when….

  10. J.J. O'Malley

    Umm, I really hate to be the one who brings it up, gang, but I was just perusing today’s “C-Shaft” entry, and guess what murdered TV host who was murdered Batiuk is dredging up thanks to the miracle of–of all things–videotapes?

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Jesus H. Christ.

    • anneki

      Can you tell me who the young couple are who discovered the tapes? Can you tell me why that young woman knows a Beta tape when she sees it? No? Never mind.

      • LTPFTR

        The young man is Crankshaft’s grandson and the young woman is his wife, and I’m sure she springs from one of the finer families of the Battyverse but I can’t be assed to look up which one. They worked at Channel 1 before they went on to run The Valentine into the ground and just got hired back. So it’s believable that she knows a Beta format tape but inconceivable that she does not know about John Darling, who was murdered.

        • billytheskink

          I am not sure Hannah is from an established Batiukverse family. Max, however, is not just Crankshaft’s grandson, he’s the nephew of John freaking Darling himself (Darling’s widow Jan is Max’s dad Jeff Murdoch’s sister).

          There are several issues with those “Beta” tapes. For one thing, they’re too tall/narrow to be squat Betamax cassettes, they look more like VHS or U-Matic tapes. For another, while Betamax did see some usage in professional settings like television stations, it was the 1982 Betacam format that really supplanted U-Matic in professional settings. Those narrow tapes do look like one of the many higher-resolution Betacam tape formats (which were taller than the original Betamax-sized Betacam tapes) introduced in the late 80s and early 90s (SP, Digital Betacam, and SX).

          I suppose those tapes labeled as being from the 70s could have been converted to one of the post-1982 Betacam formats… more likely neither TB nor Davis bothered looking up what a “Beta” tape looks like, knowing only that “Beta” worked as a substitute for “old”.

          • Banana Jr. 6000

            Why doesn’t the TV station just pay the $1,000 ransomware demand? That’s petty cash, for a TV station was big as this one pretends to be. They’re forfeiting much greater amounts in lost ad revenue from being off the air this long. They even joked about how little money the ransomers wanted! And we just saw this manager throwing piles of money and benefits at these two non-talents who were begging for their jobs back, so it’s not like the station is broke.

            There is enough stupid in this Crankshaft arc to write a book about, but that’s the linchpin of it. It’s a problem that could be solved painlessly in five minutes. It’s Dr. Evil demanding ONE MILLLLLLLLLION DOLLARS and Number One having to explain that isn’t a big enough amount to threaten anyone anymore.

            It’s the same as the Life of Brian thing. Tom Batiuk memes himself, by inadvertently re-creating a silly movie scenario that he expects the audience to take 100% seriously. And he’s done this in both of his strips today! Wow.

    • Rusty Shackleford

      I was expecting some old sci-fi show that Batty loves, only because it is obscure and nobody else likes it.

      • J.J. O'Malley

        An all-day marathon of “Phantom Empire,” perhaps?

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        Batiuk doesn’t like things just because they’re old and obscure. He likes things because they’re the best thing ever made, and everyone else is wrong for not seeing it the way he does. I can’t find it on his new website, but he gushes about Phantom Empire like it was Gone With The Wind, Star Wars and Ghostbusters combined. It’s the polar opposite of his Batman TV show rant.

  11. Banana Jr. 6000

    Anybody reminded of this?

    • William Thompson

      No, Batiuk never reminds me of humor.

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        Valid point. But this scene illustrates how Funky Winkerbean satirizes itself. Tom Batiuk is so out of touch that he’s inadvertently re-created a famous movie moment designed to mock what he wants us to take seriously.

        Brian’s followers all call themselves individuals, despite being a mindless herd that’s just repeating whatever they’re told. This week’s FW arc is about a group that’s complaining about how left out of groups they are. Which they both do without a drop of irony or self-awareness. It’s stunning to me how similar they are. The only difference is that Batiuk doesn’t deliver the punchline. Because he doesn’t know it’s a joke.

  12. KMD

    I’m surprised the whole gang hasn’t turned on Creepy Harry. Hey, Harry, SINCE WE GRADUATED IN 1972, why were you hanging out with a prepubescent girl who played an arcade game when you were in your late 20s and early 30s? Oh, you married her? Grooms are going to groom? I’m sorry. I’m simply not buying this latest retcon which blows up more than just Donna and Harry. The many protests? Funky and the gang never seemed impacted by Vietnam, the draft, etc. Even in the 70s, they were more “That 70s Show” then Woodstock. TB made yet another major mistake here as all the characters become smirking, comics obsessed reflections of himself.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Was Harry that much older than “the Eliminator”? I thought they were about 17 and 12.

      • William Thompson

        At those ages, that’s more than enough.

      • KMD

        But was the Eliminator playing arcade games in 1972? I could see her playing them a decade later.

        • Banana Jr. 6000

          When Harry and “The Eliminator” were both playing Defender, Harry was in high school, and she appeared to be about 12. We saw both characters in the most recent time travel arc, which was explicitly stated to be 1980. Yes, I know this week being a “50th” reunion contradicts this. But the whole Funkyverse timeline is such a mess there’s no point even trying to reconcile this kind of thing. Defender wasn’t even released until 1981.

          I just think accusing Harry of grooming is a little harsh, unless there’s some arc I’m forgetting where he romanced her during her helmet-wearing days.

          • billytheskink

            I don’t believe there was such an arc. TB himself didn’t even know the Eliminator was a “her” until he decided she should show up at Montoni’s on a motorcycle in the early 2000s.

          • KMD

            Point taken–but it’s the kind of possibility that TB has left us with his latest recon. It’s why I jabbed him for blowing things up with Harry and “The Eliminator,” which, admittedly, was one of my favorite themes he focused on when I was a kid.

          • Banana Jr. 6000

            Your interpretation is fair as well. The timelines are such a mess that what you suggest certainly *could* have happened. The Funkyverse is a ball of Unfortunate Implications, and this is another one.

          • William Thompson

            On an unrelated side-note, has anyone noticed the similarity between that time-helmet and the time-helmet in the Twilight Zone episode “Once Upon A Time”?

  13. Anonymous Sparrow

    God save Fu Manchu, Moriarty and Dracula…

    And may sweet Helena and Johnny Thunder join their voices in unison to praise CBH for her rewrite of “The Village Green Preservation Society.”

    Bingo may think he’s a Phenomenal Cat, but CBH is the real deal.

  14. Banana Jr. 6000

    five days on characters all agreeing they have the exact same feelings using the exact same words.

    And that feeling takes the exact same form for all of them. Feeling excluded can mean very different things to different people, depending on what each person wants out of life. It would have been interesting to hear why Cindy and Crazy felt left out, or what they wanted to be a part of but weren’t. But the story doesn’t care enough to go even that far. Tom Batiuk’s found the note he wants to play, and he’s going to keep playing it, like an infant with a wooden spoon and a metal pot.

  15. Perfect Tommy

    Hey gang! there’s a comet swinging around the sun in a few weeks. Let’s say we neuter ourselves and join a doomsday cult!
    Smirks all around.

    • none

      This week’s strip is rather similar to hearing Marshall Applewhite blather on about “recycling” for two straight hours, come to think of it.

      Puff piece. 50 year celebration. Class reunion. Old characters brought back. All for what?

      “I felt left out.”[skip]”I felt left out.”[skip]”I felt left out.”[skip]”I felt left out.”[skip]”I felt left out.”[skip]”I felt left out.”[skip]”I felt left out.”[skip]”I felt left out.”[skip]”I felt left out.”[skip]

  16. be ware of eve hill

    Yippee, this has been an absolute blast! Let’s do this again in five years! Why wait five years?! Let’s do it next year! /s

    Look at those faces in today’s strip. Is this a party or a funeral?

    This Westview 50th class reunion looks like a total drag. Nobody has a beer bottle or a wine glass. Couldn’t get a liquor permit for the gym? Did a DJ cancel, or was the Jukebox the original plan? Whoever planned this event should be banned from the activity for life. Sad and pathetic.

    Seriously, I thought my high school class threw lame reunions. Pictures of the 40th reunion on Facebook a few years ago show about two dozen people in attendance. That’s approximately 5% of the entire graduating class. At least the attendees were laughing and smiling.