Credibility Gap

It’s been a long time since I laughed out loud at Funky Winkerbean, but Les’ question in today’s strip cracked. Me. Up. It’s been ten whole years since Les and Cayla dropped off Summer and Keisha at Kent State. Even for someone doing “graduate work,” ten years is a stretch. Is she still on a basketball scholarship? I don’t recall even seeing her in a Kent State uniform. So has Les been paying her tuition? I doubt Summer is contributing anything, as the only job we’ve seen her doing is wrapping gifts at the mall two years ago (when the girls were “wrapping up [their] college careers,” according to Cayla).

For someone who’s always bragged about progressing his characters in “real time,” storyteller Tom Batiuk has always taken liberties with the timeline. In this, FW’s Jubilee Year, he’s finally given up trying, casting off any semblance of temporal continuity; most notably by aging his core characters by at least five years to have their fiftieth high school reunion coincide with the strip’s own fiftieth anniversary (pay no attention to Crazy Harry’s time travel arc from last spring which suggested the gang were still in high school in 1980).

You win, Tom Batiuk. This is the last time I’m going to bitch about your nonsensical time constructs, and the last post I’ll have to write for a while, as tomorrow, Banana Jr. 6000 starts a 2 week shift, and I just know he’s rarin’ to go!



Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

56 responses to “Credibility Gap

  1. Green Wave of Kanagawa

    It’s going to be a book about Lisa. It’ll win a Pulitzer and a National Book Award and she’ll give them both to her dad.

    Thank you for your wonderful posts, TFH!

  2. Epicus Doomus

    Ah yes, the traditional “gap year” between one’s tenth and eleventh year of college, a way for a stressed-out young-ish student to decompress, and prepare for that crucial second decade of school. I assume she’s tired from all those basketball games. She’s the Cal Ripken Jr. of women’s college basketball.

    But yeah, all of a sudden he’s dredging up long ignored and forgotten characters, like Roland(a), John Darling (Jessica’s father, BTW), Susan f*cking Smith and Summer, too. Maddie and even Keisha (!) have appeared this year, as well. Summer used to be a pretty major character, but after she graduated, BatYam just totally buried her, as he’s been known to do. Honestly, it was weird, as he very rarely even mentioned her, and only featured her as a supporting character is some awfully feeble and long-forgotten Les arcs. But there was a time when she was around all the time, even more than Flash and Phil are now. No, seriously.

    I’ll tell you this right now: if this “book” turns out to be a Lisa-related graphic novel illustrated by her bio-half brother, that might be the event that finally sends me over the edge.

    • sorialpromise

      I know a bridge in Ahia that has no waiting.

    • Paul Jones

      It won’t be a book about growing up without a mother, that’s for sure. Batiuk didn’t have the stones to write that. He also doesn’t have the imagination to write that.

    • Anonymous Sparrow

      It could be about the Mount Kilimanjaro climb. Who doesn’t love a good “Dr. Livingston, I presume” joke, eh, Stanley?

      • Anonymous Sparrow

        I meant “Dr. Livingstone, I presume.” Like some children, I must have been left behind…

  3. William Thompson

    Four years of undergraduate work, and six years of grad school? Has the bestest basketball player Westview ever produced been waiting for a professional team to draft her? Or has Batiuk replaced his time jumps with rubber time-lines? “Yeah, dad, it’s been ten years for you but only five for me. It’s like some inept puppetmaster is diddling with our lives. “

    • Anonymous Sparrow

      Hey, it can happen. In Ruth Rendell’s Inspector Wexford series, Mike Burden marries Jenny Ireland.

      He’s forty-four and she’s thirty-seven.

      When they have a son several years later, he’s forty-five…but she’s forty-one.

      The Sea Hag and her sister drank of the Pool of Never Die, so there must also be a Pool of Age Erratically, from which Les and Summer have drunk.

    • gleeb

      Moore on Foul Shot Theory has an amazing impact factor.

    • bad wolf

      tbh i did time in grad school myself and in some STEM categories a 6-year stint in grad school is not only the norm, but it’s a prelude to an indefinite postdoc. Not that Summer would be learning engineering or anything.

      “oh but there’s so much more to learn now” they tell us. Ask them why medical school has been the same three-year stint for generations and you get a blank stare.

  4. Wow, Summer has really turned ugly. And smug. I really, really hate those Sunday “floating heads” that appear in the title graphic, because they always look like they need several swift punches.

    I saw “Animal House” in the theater, when I was in college, and absolutely everyone laughed at Bluto’s line “Seven years of college …down the drain!”

    No one laughs at anything Tom Batiuk writes.

    • Rusty Shackleford

      This has always bothered me too. Why must she always look so ugly? And why must every character share Batty’s interests?

      I think both Summer and Lefty are based on Batty’s sister.

      • ComicBookHarriet

        Now she has to look ugly to differentiate herself from Marianne Winters. This could be fixed by giving one of them a different haircut, but if Summer didn’t have a bob how would we know she’s the scion of Dead St. Lisa?

      • Rusty Shackleford

        By the way, please don’t take my comment the wrong way. I am not criticizing Batty’s sister, I just remember reading a blog post or something where it was mentioned that she has a partner and so I assumed she was the inspiration for Summer and Lefty.

        Instead of thinking about how to make a story more interesting for his readers, he instead always tries to shoehorn in things from his life. Contrast this with Watterson who is also from NE Ohio and lived in Chagrin Falls during the golden age of that strip. He didn’t shoehorn in local places or people, he only casually remarked in interviews that the winter scenes were based on the local scenery of Chagrin Falls.

        I guess I focus on these trivial details of FW only because the stories are so dull and unfulfilling.

    • Perfect Tommy

      Summer looks like she and a close friend will be vacationing at the LPGA Dinah Shore Classic, if you know what I mean and I think you do.

  5. Mela

    If Les just went to his 50th class reunion, wouldn’t Summer be pushing 40 by now? Oh, never mind…

    • Epicus Doomus

      Summer began attending KSU in 2012, so she has to be at least 27-28 by now. And now she’s taking a “gap year”, so she probably won’t actually graduate until she’s over 30. Life just moves slower in Westview, except when it speeds up rapidly. It depends, really.

  6. Andrew

    Besides the fact that the glorious “HD” Sunday strips shows that this is how Ayers and Bautik have agreed Summer should graciously age, I think we can read a lot out of the fact that yet another character is deciding to pursue a career endeavor in writing. Glorious.

    And of course I expect it has nothing to do with the basketball ambitions she seemed to enter KSU to follow through out. But if this does turn around into involving Susan and give us a reason for the flashback we got through the recent week, that at least will be interesting.

    • Epicus Doomus

      “Here’s the premise. After Mom dies, she returns in ghost form. You talk to her about your problems, and she helps solve them. In the climactic chapter, she warns you about a problem with an airplane you’re about to board, and you save the day.”

      “Summer, that’s ridiculous. No one in their right mind would ever read something that stupid.”

  7. Epicus Doomus

    So what, pray tell, was Les going to say there in panel six? “It might be difficult to…”, what? Resume her second decade of schooling? Find a job at age 28 with nothing but “college” on her resume? Continue the charade?

    Surely everyone remembers how during her early Act III heyday, Summer was nearly as annoying and detestable as Les is, only way grittier. You might also remember that Summer was typically one of the most inconsistently-drawn characters in the strip, and would frequently morph into an indistinguishable, hoodie-clad blob with no real “facial features” to speak of. But even that was preferable to this new, sleek, pointy and nearly grit-free Summer. It’s interesting how the only truly gritty remaining female character is the most boyish of the lot too. It’s almost like he’s trying to subliminally tell us something.

    • billytheskink

      That’s a good point, what exactly is Les going to say before Summer stops him dead in his tracks by pitching the idea of writing a book at him?

      Furthermore, what is this strip even going for? It seems like we’re supposed to view Summer as a dithering and foolish young person, extending her academic career because she has no idea what to do with her life and has no one willing to finally push her into the adult world. But then all of the sudden we’re… not supposed to think that? We’re supposed to view Summer’s desire to write a book as a noble and worthwhile endeavor that justifies her decision to continue arresting her development. Is that right? I think that’s right.

      I’m questioning it only because I don’t think most real life folks would find Summer’s desire to take a year off from her absurdly overlong schooling any more or less insufferable and entitled if it was for partying/traveling/”finding myself” instead of writing a book.

      • Epicus Doomus

        “And Of Course You End Up Becoming Smug: My Summer With Les Moore, Author Of Lisa’s Story”, by Summer Moore, who details her first summer at home in ten years and her relationship with Ohio’s greatest living author.

        It’s also pretty funny how he’s asking her this question now, in late October, instead of, you know, two months ago. I mean, the guy is a high school teacher and all, so you have to wonder how he overlooked this until now.

      • Anonymous Sparrow

        Which brings up the question of stepsister Keisha: has she gone back to school?

        Or changed her major repeatedly?

        In *The Fantastic Four,* Johnny Storm briefly attended Metro College, rooming with Wyatt Wingfoot. Johnny never graduated, but Wyatt did.

        Could Summer secretly be…the Scorch?

        Must close before I start thinking about whatever happened to Whitey Mullins and Coach Thorne.

        Help me, Aunt Petunia…

  8. By “book”, she means a comic book. Less and every other citizen of Westview will back her all the way! Maybe she’ll even get some time on the stationary bike when Batton Thomas isn’t around. With Ruby Lith missing/presumed dead, she’ll fill the need for a token female.

  9. Banana Jr. 6000

    She’s taking a gap year? Between what and what?

  10. billytheskink

    I have an uncle whose path to a college degree took 12 years (at 4 different schools, I believe). My mother regularly brought him up as a cautionary tale as I approached college age.

    “Cautionary tale” seems like an apt path for Summer at this point. I mean, even if the timeline isn’t exactly 1 year:1 year, she’s STILL in college while Cory, her high school classmate and Act III’s original nogoodnik with no future, has served multiple tours overseas, managed Montoni’s, and gotten married. I mean, dang.

  11. erdmann

    When I was in college I knew a guy who was a ninth year junior. I don’t know if he ever graduated.

    • Anonymous Sparrow

      You reminded me of this conversation in the movie “Easy A”:

      Olive Penderghast: Don’t you think it’s a little strange that your boyfriend is 22 years old and still in high school?

      Marianne: Not that it’s any of your busniess, trollop, but he is here by choice.

      Olive Penderghast: So it’s his choice that he’s a fourth year senior who can’t pass any test he takes?

      Marianne: No, silly,

      [points up]

      Marianne: His. His, with a capital H. If God wanted him to graduate, then God would have given him the right answers.

      Olive Penderghast: [laughs] I’m sorry, but you gotta be shittin’ me, woman.

  12. Banana Jr. 6000

    The NCAA normally gives you a maximum of 5 years (4 years plus one redshirt year) to complete your athletic career. No school is going to keep you on an athletic scholarship beyond that. There are exceptions because of the pandemic, but Keisha and Summer’s careers would have ended at least 2 years before that.

    • Green Luthor

      Ah, but Summer has a gimmick: she plays basketball in a homemade costume comprised entirely of pizza boxes! (Although, of course, she has to take every Halloween off to steal another godawful pizza. She’s, like, the lamest Batman villain ever.)

      (I mean, if “quarter inch from reality” means “win football game by giving the ball to the mascot”, I think “extend basketball scholarship for Pizza Monster” isn’t outside the realm of possibility…)

  13. J.J. O'Malley

    I’m sorry, can someone please remind me who this fresh-faced young man is that Les seems to have taken such a paternal interest in?

    • Rusty Shackleford

      Not sure, but I bet he lands a sweetheart publishing deal despite him having never written a book before.

  14. Paul Jones

    From not knowing what to do with her at Can’t State to not knowing what to do with Summer at home in Cancerview. A lateral move for Batiuk.

    • Rusty Shackleford

      And it all ends with her getting a job as a barista.

      I didn’t know the “Can’t State” joke existed outside of NE Ohio. The joke is rooted in KSU’s history as a teacher’s college.

  15. ian'sdrunkenbeard

  16. ian'sdrunkenbeard

  17. gleeb

    Please, tfhackett, don’t let Batiuck off the hook on the time thing. It’s the thing he’s both most smug about and most incompetant at.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      The Funkyverse timeline has reached the level of “not even wrong.” It’s become so random you can’t even point out mistakes, because it’s become impossible to know what it SHOULD be.

  18. Merry Pookster

    There’s a job openning over at Batom Comics for a writier

  19. Don

    “Graduate studies”? Doesn’t that imply that she got her bachelor’s degree at some point? Why wasn’t Les there (with the obligatory drawing of Lisa looking down on it, of course) to see it? For that matter, when did Summer even decide on a major? And where is Keisha in all of this? I still think one of them ends up as the AD at Westview (first order of business: handle a situation where a transgender female wants to play girls’ basketball – something like this has TB’s name written all over it).

    BTW, in the real universe, once an athlete starts school or practice at a Division I school like Kent State, their “five year clock” starts (well, it’s six years at the moment, because everybody’s clock stopped for a year to account for COVID-19); when it runs out, their eligibility ends. There are only two ways to extend it; through being in the active armed forces, or in a bona fide religious mission (what I call the “BYU rule”). This is why you never hear of anybody taking a “second redshirt year.”

    • Gerard Plourde

      “For that matter, when did Summer even decide on a major?”

      An excellent question. The last time Summer’s academic career was mentioned in the strip, Les and Cayla were discussing that she was again changing majors. How she managed to accumulate enough qualifying credits to graduate and enter a post-graduate program is obviously not a consideration for TomBa.

  20. Will

    Since when did she graduate college? You don’t exactly have to be a beady-eyed nitpicker to wonder why that was never once mentioned in the strip, do you?

    • bad wolf

      I’ve said it before and i’ll say it again, he could have built Summer up over the decade to have her own life and family by this point, and Grandpa Les would have been a lot more relatable than anything we’ve seen in ages. Also a better way to end the strip. Sure, it all sounds very For Better or For Worse, but you see how easy it would have been to top that one.

    • Charles

      Batiuk was too busy writing about Crazy complaining about playlists, Funky complaining about discmans, Crazy giving his wife salad dressing for their anniversary, Bull being told again and again that he actually won a game that he lost, Dinkle writing about Claude Barlow incessantly, Buck showing up and smirking at Bull a ton and a whole lot of other unnecessary shit.

      When he realized that Summer really should be done with college, it was far too late to actually address it. He missed the chance, BUT WHICH OF THOSE DYNAMITE STORIES WOULD YOU HAVE EXCISED TO MAKE ROOM?

  21. Y. Knott

    billytheskink wrote: We’re supposed to view Summer’s desire to write a book as a noble and worthwhile endeavor that justifies her decision to continue arresting her development. Is that right?

    Yes! Absolutely! Beyond question! Creating the right kind of art is the single most admirable act a human being can ever even hope to accomplish! Artists pursuing art for the right reasons deserve to be worshiped as living gods, and all glory and recognition they receive can only ever be a meager fraction of the obsequiously fawning adoration they so richly deserve at all times, just for deigning to co-exist with the rest of us!

    And, yes — you are also supposed to think the same thing about Tom Batiuk’s work, and his arrested development!

  22. Charles

    Why does he break Summer’s line up among the last three panels? What a cumbersome and pointless conceit. Is she awkwardly pausing after each word or is Les just talking so fast that she can’t get a sentence in edgewise? If it’s the latter, it’s certainly not an essential part of this dumb narrative, and throwing an ellipsis in Les’s speech balloon defeats it.

    It’s like he can’t write even one damn sentence like a normal person.

  23. Hitorque

    Summer is smart… She knows that she’ll never really have to finish grad school or work for a living because her father has a jillion dollars from Lisa’s Story being on the NYT bestseller list multiple times, and selling the movie rights to Hollywood TWICE…

    And if she gets bored, there’s always a job at Channel One or Montoni’s or Atomikkk Komixxx waiting for her… Hell, Westview High never did hire another football/girl’s basketball coach after Bushka offed himself so there’s that, too

  24. Hitorque

    One word, Summer — “PLASTICS”

  25. Hitorque

    “So, when are you heading back to school?”

    Isn’t this a question that’s supposed to be asked during the, you know, fucking summertime instead of goddamned Halloween? I guess we’re lucky Lester didn’t wait until Thanksgiving dinner to pop the question…

    It’s funny because Lester has spent his entire life working in education yet he somehow doesn’t know college starts in August