Excuse Me, Have You Seen the Bridge?

Several years ago…? Could “several” equal eleven years ago? Because this gal looks a lot like Susan Smith. Her hair and attire even match Susan’s when she said her goodbyes to Les and Westview in late June of ’11.

For anyone who’s just picked up reading Funky Winkerbean (or this blog) within the last decade, here’s a quick recap: Susan Smith was one of Les’ students. Susan quite understandably developed an insane crush on Mr. Moore, and her suicide attempt was thwarted by Les himself. Susan surfaced again in Act II, as the abused girlfriend of Matt Miller (again to be rescued by Sir Les-a-lot); seven years after that she showed up at Westview High as a student teacher.  Early in Act III, she returned to the WHS faculty. She was greeted there by school secretary Cayla, who would become her rival over, who else, Les.  Susan bestowed on Les an impulsive kiss that led to a small scandal that led to, as we see here,  her boxing up her belongings as smug Les looked on. So yeah, I’m guessing that this is the same woman. And given her past, the fact that she’s parked her car on a bridge does not bode well.

A tip of the SoSF fedora to “anita the last vcr” (@saleintothe90s) from whose tumblr I cribbed my knowledge of Susan Smith’s background!



Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

54 responses to “Excuse Me, Have You Seen the Bridge?

  1. William Thompson

    I don’t get it. Getting away from Westview and Les Moore is the perfect ending to any day, so what’s the problem?

  2. Epicus Doomus

    June of 2011. If I recall correctly, Susan was congratulating Les re: the cancer book (or maybe the movie option) in her typically overly-exuberant style. A student filmed her (gak) kissing Les, and the video went Westviewian viral, which led to the spectacle of an unbelievably smug Les forever banishing Susan from WHS, Westview, and his life. The strip was somewhat more eventful back then.

    Now why on Earth would he revisit this? What sort of tepid contrivance could he be cooking up here? Les is married now, and there are no single male characters anymore now that Pete’s engaged. So it can’t be that.

    • Epicus Doomus

      I also recall Les complaining to Funky and Harry about the multiple women who were throwing themselves at him during that time, which led to Funky and Harry goofing on what a total tool Les was in high school, which led to Les storming off in a rage, which led to Funky being forced to grovel for Les’ forgiveness, with hat in hand, on bended knee. Oh, that was peak Les Moore all right. You don’t even wanna know.

      • billytheskink

        Here you are, three of the top tracks on Les Moore’s greatest hits album:

        • Hitorque

          Christ, what an asshole this Lester guy is….

        • Rusty Shackleford

          Oh man, this arc really pushed the bile to the tip of my tongue.

          That and Les’ white knighting over the supposed domestic abuse. What a terribly written story. But hey, Batty wanted to show everyone that he is one of the good guys.

          • Epicus Doomus

            Back in 2011, Les just dominated the strip for months and months at a time. The book launch tour, the movie option, the women begging for his affection, it was totally unbearable. And you still had Lisa popping up all the time, too, plus Summer. It was relentless.

        • Banana Jr. 6000

          “Heck of a kiss?” Uggggggggh, that is vile. Is this how you let someone down easy in the Funkyverse? By giving them mixed signals and false hopes? My lord, is there a single human interaction Tom Batiuk can portray correctly?

      • Mel White

        Yeah, I remember this too, only it came off to me more like Les was boasting about women practically fighting over him. Peak Les Moore, as you say.

    • William Thompson

      Maybe we’ll see another suicide attempt shoehorned into Susan Smith’s story. After all, she had to do something to fill her time after leaving Westview. I’ll get the popcorn.

    • gleeb

      Excuse me, you’re forgetting local stud Bernie Silver.

    • Anonymous Sparrow

      Aren’t you forgetting the men who make comic-book covers, Phil and Flash? (Kirby and Lee had long and happy marriages, but their counterparts seem to have no women in their present lives, and only a sister in the past who colored word balloons.)

      Not to mention Chester.

      And what about…

      (uttered in my best “Electric Company” voice for “Love of Chair”)…


      Roland becoming Rolanda may have opened a lot of doors (not as many as you, of course, Lisa) and since I’m reading about Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, perhaps we’re going to see Susan fall in love with Ms. Lith or with someone who was hiding behind a castle at the Gay Prom?

      Good Atoms, Great Stars and Sapphic Sockamagees!

  3. Y. Knott

    Thanks for the recap, TFH!

    I can only imagine that this sensitive topic will be handled with Tom Batiuk’s, ahem, usual mix of insight and believability, bolstered by his, oh let’s call it ‘trademark approach’ to pacing and plot mechanics.

    And also somehow, comic book references.

  4. The Dreamer

    That storyline made no sense, because Susan got in trouble for kissing Les, because faculty members shouldn’t date. So Les can’t date another teacher, but *can* date the school secretary (Cayla)?

    • Yeah, this nudged me to go re-read the story and while it’s better-paced than the modern equivalent might be it’s no less baffling. And, from the text, even Principal Rulebook doesn’t say anything about their relationship being against the rules or anything. Susan just resigns out of the shame of kissing and proclaiming her love to Les, which, all right, that makes sense.

  5. Gerard Plourde

    I know Epicus warned us that we’d be encountering increasing weirdness but I didn’t think that we’d see the return of Susan Smith and certainly not under these circumstances. What is wrong with TomBa? Does he like to pull wings off of flies as well?

  6. J.J. O'Malley

    Meh, “Carnival of Souls” did it better.

  7. erdmann

    Will Blessed St. Lisa appear before her with a tape (LISA Talk #3,017: What to do if Your Life has been Ruined by Kissing my Husband) that shows Susan really had a wonderful life, thus earning Lisa her wings?
    Or, will the scene flash forward 11 years to a time when historic low water levels reveal Susan’s remains in the mud of the Centerville River? Sure, to the authorities it seems an open and shut case of suicide, but an ambitious true crime podcaster (and former WHS student) isn’t so sure. Maybe, at long last, she will have what she needs to bring down the so-called Lord of Language.

  8. be ware of eve hill

    It’s too bad Batiuk has already introduced a transgender character into Funky Winkerbean. He could have used Susan Smith in that role instead. The joke writes itself. Susan could return to Westview as “A Boy Named Sue.”

    I mean Roland/Rolanda? Really TB? Is that the best you could come up with? SMH

    • Rusty Shackleford

      That Rolanda ark was so bad I already forgot about it.

      Ah, Tom with his cutting edge close to reality strips. Memorable stuff.

      • be ware of eve hill

        People who complain about not fitting in when they were in high school don’t go to reunions. They avoid them.

        People attend high school reunions to reminisce the good times and catch up with one another. Not commiserate how terrible it was.
        Reunioneer #1: Oh, thank god somebody organized this reunion. I’ve been waiting for years to tell classmates how terrible it was for me.
        Reunioneer #2: It’s been great digging up painful feelings and experiences that I’ve almost been able to forget.

        Dreadful stuff

  9. be ware of eve hill

    Here’s a nauseating theory. Susan got out of the car and noticed how polluted the river was. Disgusted, Susan found a new meaning in life. She decided to go back to school and earn a PhD in Ecological studies.

    Susan has returned to Westview to give the man who made it all possible what he deserves (in Batiuk’s fevered imagination).
    Dr. Susan Smith, PhD: Les, I couldn’t have done it without you. Will you please accept my Crafoord Prize for Biosciences.
    Les: Why, yes, of course. I’ll put it right next to my Academy Award for Best Actress.

    Where’s the ‘banging my head on the wall’ emoji?

    • Rusty Shackleford

      Well with Batty constantly saying “ climate damage”, I could see this story taking shape.

      Of course Batty has to use a phrase nobody else uses, probably because climate change could imply that some change is positive.

      But Batty gets all his info from the NYT’s and so believes he holds all the correct opinions on everything. Anyone who disagrees, however slightly, is worse than Bull Bushka or Frankie.

      • be ware of eve hill

        “Climate damage” doesn’t make sense by itself. Climate is a certain weather pattern in an area. How can you damage weather? Weather is a force of nature.

        He blogged about losing a tree a couple of weeks ago because an invasive species allegedly migrated into his home area due to “climate damage.” The tree was part of his environment that was irreparably damaged.

        Does Batiuk mean environmental damage brought forth by climate change? Is he fusing the two terms together?

        climate change + environmental damage = climate damage?

        I’m most likely giving Batiuk too much credit.

        • Perfect Tommy

          Yeah, that one chafed me as well. He was equating climate change and invasive species. Sure, a Venn diagram might have some overlap, (warmer temps extending a territory for example), but it’s another instance of his poor grasp of how things actually work.

    • Hannibal’s Lectern

      In the third panel of today’s strip, “Susan” looks like she’s just stepped in dog doo. Except Ayers shows us (in the first panel) that the road’s so clean you could eat off it. Therefore, I assume she’s looking down at the Cuyahoga and seeing a horrible, terrible, awful act of pollution: trucks dumping unsold copies of “Dead St. Lisa’s Story” into the river.

      • be ware of eve hill

        Dumping the unsold books into the Cuyahoga would indeed be a crime. Everyone knows those books need to be buried in a concrete vault in the middle of the desert.

        There’s a Barnes and Noble Booksellers a few miles away from where I work. I wonder if I could find any of Batiuk’s books there. I’d bet my wallet that the store wouldn’t, and the sales clerk would tell me to see if I could order it from their website.

        Kent State University Press: *gasp* Fire up the office printer. Somebody just ordered a copy of the “Dead St. Lisa’s Story”.

    • William Thompson

      What about the comic books? Why won’t you think of the all-important comic books? Susan Smith sees how polluted the Nobottom River has become, and in despair jumps off the bridge. But the polluted waters embrace her, soak her with radioactive enzymes and mutagenic toxins, and eleven years later she emerges as Slime Thing! (Or the Toxic Revenger, or the Creature From The Fracked Lagoon). Just imagine what she would do to environmental disasters like Montoni’s, the Pizza Box Monster and Les Moore, which is further than Batiuk Batiuk would take her story. The arc would end with her featured on an Atomik Komix first issue.

  10. Hitorque

    “Susan quite understandably developed an insane crush on Mr. Moore…”

    I think you wrote this sentence incorrectly?

  11. Leslie Walsh

    My sources say this IS Susan Smith, and she spends the week having a tedious conversation with Ed Crankshaft.

  12. Paul Jones

    Another boring week about the other side of dealing with that gavone Les. If I recall correctly, he’s the reality of what Lynn Johnston falsely claims Liz to be: someone who can’t see what’s in front of him. Actual history says that for the first three months, all Lizardbreath got to look at was the expression on the back of Anthony’s head.

  13. Green Luthor

    Ah, it all makes sense now. Now at her lowest point, Susan realizes the true source of all her misery: Montoni’s! Because, y’know, why not or something. She vows revenge, and thus was born… the PIZZA MONSTER.

    I’m just gonna go ahead and guess it’s no dumber than whatever Batiuk tries to serve up as “serious” drama in this story.

    • ComicBookHarriet

      If Susan becomes the Pizza Box monster, that will confirm to me that Batiuk reads this blog and plans future plot points to subvert our ironic head-canons.

  14. Banana Jr. 6000

    “Several years ago”? Shouldn’t Mr. Storyteller be showing us things that are happening now? Is Tom Batiuk so devoid of anything to say that now he’s showing us things from 2015 that weren’t important enough to show at the time? And for a story involving Ed Crankshaft, a guy who has his own strip that has nothing to say either? (Today’s Crankshaft: Ed cleans his gutters.)

    This is a clear sign that the strip is creatively spent and needs to retire.

  15. Gerard Plourde

    The more I see of this year’s storylines the more I believe that the final panel of the final Funky Winkerbean strip (whenever that occurs) will be a closeup of a snow globe with Montoni’s in it.

  16. Doghouse Reilly (Minneapolis)

    What fresh Hell is this?

  17. And given her past, the fact that she’s parked her car on a bridge does not bode well.

    Batiuk intends us to think that, yes. Just like Marianne Winters and the Hollywood sign. Remember how that ended?

  18. Banana Jr. 6000

    Les picked the right woman, I’ll give him that. Susan Smith wanted some passion in her life. Cayla just wants to sit on the sidelines and enable Les’ inability to move past Lisa’s death. No wonder he opted for Cayla.

  19. Mela

    Oh this could go so many ways:

    -Susan jumps, her car and body is just now discovered. The car is remolded into a toy car for Les.

    -Susan doesn’t jump because Les followed her as she drove away, talked her out of suicide, and carries her from the bridge as he did Marianne Winters thus saving another young woman from herself.

    -It’s a Wonderful Life rehash (that way Lisa can be brought in as the angel) , so she can revisit how important all these people in Westview were to her resulting in her returning to be with them.

    -Susan has a moment of clarity and opts to press on with life. She gets therapy for her self-esteem issues, earns a masters in school administration and is now returning to Westview as superintendent, congratulating the long-time staff on their upcoming mandatory retirement.

    Of course, it won’t be any of these, but regardless, Les will probably be involved somehow.

  20. The Dreamer

    Susan comes back and she has an eleven year old son, Les Jr. Les insists the kid isn’t his because there was just the one kiss. Susan is a gold digger, she wants 1/2 of Les’s school pension. his book and film royalties and his best Actress statuette (which she plans to sell on ebay)