Were you looking forward to a light-hearted week with the Pizza Box Monster? Well, you’re not getting it. It’s time for Summer’s Story! We might as well start calling it that, because Tom Batiuk couldn’t telegraph his intentions any harder.
I realize that Batiuk uses Funky Winkerbean to indulge his frustration that he hasn’t won the praise he thinks he deserves, by lavishing it on his many self-insertion characters. But how many times does he need to do this? We’ve already seen Les and Lillian McKenzie get the deluxe treatment. The Atomik Komix team gets a ton of it as well. Several other characters, like Dinkle and Holly, have written books. Why do we need another story where someone becomes an author? Why does he need another story where someone becomes an author?
And it’ll be the same story we’ve seen before. Summer meets the Lord of the Late, Summer writes a book, Summer gets an agent, Summer gets a book deal, Summer gets interviewed, Summer does a book tour, Summer signs autographs, Summer is annoyed by her fans, Summer gets a movie deal, Summer doesn’t like the movie, Summer doesn’t like Hollywood, Summer wins awards. Rinse and repeat. All while Les and VHS Lisa beam smugly from the sidelines. Ugh.
Today’s strip gives us another clear sign that Summer is going to be the new Les: it’s not OK to make fun of her anymore. “Summer changed her major again” jokes have been a staple of Act III. But Les passes on an easy one here, even after Summer set him up for it. Nope, she’s a writer now, and writers are not to be questioned or criticized in the Funkyverse.
But there’s a lot to question here. Summer has never even shown any interest in writing. Did she acquire it in college? No, the only thing we’ve ever seen her do is change her major. Did she get the writing bug from recording her feelings after her mother died? No, Funky Winkerbean skipped that whole decade. In early Act III, Summer’s defining trait was being different from Les: she was a jock, which he decidedly was not. Now she’s going to become his Mini-Me.
It’s also fair to point out Summer’s poor academic history. Her inability to stick to a major is the only thing we know about her. Is she even capable of completing a year-long task? Is it wise to delay graduation another year when she’s already pushing 30? How’s she going to support herself? (Oh, who am I kidding? Les will get her a six-figure advance before March.)
I do like the way Summer is drawn in today’s strip. She very much looks like the offspring of Les and Lisa. I can imagine Batiuk gave Ayers a note to emphasize Summer’s similarity to her saintly parents.
In Panel 1, Summer has the gigantic, self-satisfied smirk that Les has when he’s way too proud of himself. In Panel 2, Summer’s got her mother’s phony sincerity and lacquered 1980s hair. In the last panel, Summer has just eaten a power pellet and is pursuing Blinky into a corner. Okay, two of the three drawings are good.
If anything, they’re too good. These drawings capture Les’ and Lisa’s most obnoxious traits a little too well. Sometimes, I wonder if Chuck Ayers hates Funky Winkerbean as much as we do, and gets in little digs when he can. If so, this is a good one.