Oh, Les. I think the book agent will know exactly what’s coming their way, when you call Ann Apple and tell her your directionless 29-year-old daughter wants to write a book.
The “make Summer a famous author” train is steaming ahead, folks. It’s Wednesday, and Les is already talking about getting an agent for his no-talent sprog. For someone who hates Hollywood people, he sure does act like one.
“Westview is changing?” How would Summer know? She’s been away for ten years. Having Summer make an occasional visit to foreshadow this observation – or anything at all about this complete rewriting of her personality and interests – would have been helpful.
The town in M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village is more receptive to change than Westview. These people all have the same high school social structure, the same friends, eat the same pizza, read the same comic books, mourn the same dead person, hate the Internet, and think The Phantom Empire is the greatest movie ever made. And don’t you dare suggest anything otherwise.
Summer says her book will be “an oral history, but also about social dynamics on a micro scale.” Did she change her major again in the middle of that sentence?
49 responses to “Turn And Face The Lame”
“Social dynamics on a micro scale”…f*ck you, Summer. And f*ck you too, TomBan.
“Well, Summer, my great-great grandpa Otis Winkerbean settled in Westview back in 1861, after Jeremiah Montoni struck pepperoni over by Mozzarella Point, which started the Great Toppings Rush of ’61. He opened the town’s first whorehouse, located directly above the present day Montoni’s”. Sounds like it’ll be quite gripping, all right. I sure hope BatYam doesn’t run out of sepia or photo album corners, as this one sounds like it’ll be a real corker.
“Struck pepperoni”, “Great Toppings Rush of ’61”. That’s comment of the year material, ED!
With its vast wheat and tomato fields, abundant dairy farms, and rich pepperoni deposits, the area surrounding Westview became known as the Pizza Belt. Disposing of empty pizza boxes became a huge problem for early settlers, to a point where the town’s pizza box landfill grew so large that it blotted out the sun in every direction except west, hence “Westview”. This changed in 1901, when Adolf “Moe” Klinghorn developed a process to recycle the pizza boxes and turn them into a very low-grade newsprint, suitable for little more than comic books, thus forever altering the trajectory of the town forever. These two industries still fuel 100% of Westview’s economy to this very day.
And sadly, what Moe Klinghorn didn’t know was that the solvent he used in the recycling process reacted with the cheese stuck to the boxes, resulting in a highly carcinogenic pollutant, 2-4-6-8 oreganoic acid, known colloquially as “cheese crud”. Most of this “cheese crud” was disposed of in what is now Gazebo Park, and, well, you know how the rest of that story goes. So it really has come around full circle, historically speaking.
Clearly, the cheese crud was subject to “out-gassing”, putting the whole town in a hazy limbo where time has no meaning.
Violent contact with the ground in Gazebo Park, through say…being tackled in a game of football, have been known to propel tiny particles of ‘cheese crud’ deep under the skin, where they grow into cancerous tumors…
Of course, sometimes that “cheese crud”… mutates. Like red kryptonite in a Silver Age Superman comic, it can have wildly different effects. Normally a carcinogen, this “red cheese crud” (for lack of a better term) has been known to, say, reverse hearing loss in obnoxious band leaders. Reverse the ravages of dementia. Spawn an endless horde of clones, all Generic Blonde Women of Indeterminate Age. There’s even rumors that it once raised a comic book artist from the dead!
(It’s also believed that it can affect the very passage of time itself, such that people who graduated high school 50 years ago were still in high school 40 years ago, playing video games that weren’t created yet and putting 18-year-old comic books on spinner racks. Experts are skeptical, however. “That sounds like something a hack writer threw into a comic strip to fill up a few weeks” said one source who wishes to remain anonymous.)
Moe Klinghorn also couldn’t predict what other effect his recycling process would cause. It turns out that it… somehow… turned some of those pizza boxes sentient. They joined together into an ambulatory mass, that now terrorizes the successor of Jeremiah Montoni’s empire every Halloween.
I see I’m not the only one here who has experience with taking oral histories. (I only did it once, for an anthro class. It was fun to watch my grandmother and aunt bicker over our why our German ancestors came to America, but otherwise–well, I’m sure the statute of limitations has expired on a lot of things, and the DNA tests cast serious doubts on the family tree’s accuracy.)
“Partly an oral history, but also about social dynamics on a micro scale.”
That’ll shift some units! Lead with that in your pitch to agents and publishers! Maybe also include something about book’s “artistic purity” and “having the pulse of the zeitgeist right under its finger”!
Again, the story makes a joke of itself. If I wanted to mock Summer’s inability to choose a path in life, this is exactly what I’d have her say. “It’s an oral history and a sociological treatise and a basketball coaching manual and a comic book! But mostly its’s a comic book.”
It’s also a floor wax and a dessert topping!
Shimmer on when you can’t shine on, you crazy diamond.
Do I detect a Stan Freeberg reference?
Kudos for the David Bowie shout-out in the title.
David Bowie constantly reinvented himself, even when the world wanted more of what he was currently doing. Tom Batiuk is the opposite. He turns every single character in Westview into another copy of his boring, tedious, egotistical self.
Yeah this makes no sense. Westview isn’t changing, Summer has no insight to shed on the town’s day-to-day, and no reputable literary agent would touch this.
This kind of feels like Batty heard about how successful Jeanette McCurdy’s memoir was and thought “Well ANY 20-something white woman can just write a book” 🙄
I mean, slowly dying due to entropy is change…very slow…very boring change.
Summer’s flirty poses in the second and third panel are quite icky. Maybe the Cancer Bench is making her channel Lisa.
I don’t like to advocate physical violence but Summer’s face in the last panel is the most insufferable face in recent FW memory. So I merely wish that someone would just grab her by the shoulders until a stolen wallet falls out of her gown like Herbert Marshall did to Miriam Hopkins in Lubitsch’s “Trouble in Paradise.”
That needed to say “grab her by the shoulders and shake her.”
And that, as Billy Wilder would say, is how Lubitsch would do it!
(There’s a discussion of comic strips in Lubitsch’s “Heaven Can Wait,” but it’s of *The Katzenjammer Kids,* not *Three O’Clock High.*)
At Lubitsch’s funeral:
Billy Wilder: Well, no more Lubitsch.
William Wyler: Even worse, no more Lubitsch pictures.
“Well, no more ‘Funky Winkerbean.'”
“Let’s go see what Mary Worth is up to.” (S*** is going down over there this week, btw.)
Just clobber her!
Yeah, it’s yet another example of the art work not matching the dialog at all. Then again, Summer always has been unbearably twee, and now that her grit is gone, it’s ALL twee. Just seeing her again is bringing back all kinds of wildly unpleasant early Act III memories, memories I’d successfully repressed years ago. If Summer suddenly becomes a regular character again, you’ll all despise her within a few months, if you don’t already. You newer snarkers have no idea yet, just wait.
An oral history is a good first (and last) project for an aspiring writer with the apparent talent of Summer since, you know, you don’t have to actually write anything.
Yes, like Cindy’s Emmy-nominated Cliff Anger documentary, where he just sat there talking about the 1930s for two hours. Compelling stuff.
The prospect of following the creation process of a historical documentation reminds me; The last time we spent months following a character make such a thing, it was Jessica making a documentary about Her Father John Darling (who was murdered), and at the end of the damn arc she informed Darin and the audience that she wasn’t going to and never intended to release the thing publicly, it was just one big hobby project for her own coping’s sake.
Makes me wonder if this ends with Summer making her Westview book only to file it away in the town’s local equivalent of Hanger 51 from Indiana Jones… wait, no, we have a precedent for that, it’s how zillionaire Chester buys *all* the vintage comic books every damn time there’s a sale and people “ironically” think they were bought by various “happy customers”. Maybe he buys the one copy just because it covers local comic history, and only he gets to enjoy it, no one else!
A long, boring and pointless book about something no one cares about that no one will ever read. She’s Les’s little girl, alright. She even has the total unawareness of the subject matter at hand.
Yes, a long and pointless book about something no one cares about, but will inexplicably become a best seller, sending Summer on a nationwide book tour and the obligatory movie deal.
Local histories, such as those put out by Arcadia Publishing, can be fun and informative, a pair of qualities I’m already certain Summer’s book will lack. Of course, somewhere along the line it will morph into a masterpiece to rival “Winesburg, Ohio,” at least in Betty’s mind.
*Winesburg, Ohio* is the first book we think of when we think of Sherwood Anderson.
The second book we think of when we think of Sherwood Anderson (I must be channeling Raymond Carver, which is not necessarily a small, good thing) is *Dark Laughter,* and that largely because Ernest Hemingway satirized it in *The Torrents of Spring.*
If Summer is Anderson, I hope that there’s a Hemingway out there waiting to cut her down to size.
I think we all know that the sum total of snark Summer’s book will generate here…Hemingway will look like a piker.
In my experiences books about a real small town come in three flavors.
1.) A ‘vanity’ book collecting what passes for history in a small town, “A state senator lived HERE in the 20’s” “This farm once had a horse that was the biggest in the COUNTRY” Only interesting to local people, and only sold locally. This book can be a random mish-mash of history tidbits, trivia, and stories.
2.) A biography, or history, that is really an attempt by the writer to skillfully/poignantly write about an aspect of the universal human condition or whatever by viewing it through the lens of the small town. This book has to actually SAY something of interest to an outsider.
3.) Some horrific salacious crime occurred here.
Well at least we know Summer has been attending classes. The phrase: “ social dynamics on a micro scale” is exactly how KSU students talk.
This should be great. Don’t quit that gift wrapping job.
An oral history means mouths for it to come out of. Here we have a set-up for more blathering by Crazy Harry about how Batiuk wants things to have been like. For example, the cardboard machine gun or Dinkle not being a megalomaniac who marches kids into a pond during a thunderstorm. This is going to be long, tedious, and for long-time readers, frustrating.
And it’s pretty much guaranteed that 90% of the strips will be:
Panel 1: Crazy Harry (or whoever) reminiscing about something inane.
Panel 2: Flashback to an Act I strip
Panel 3: Crazy Harry making some “wry” observation involving bad puns and phrases no human being would ever utter, while Summer smirks as if it’s the funniest and most insightful thing ever uttered.
This one’s gonna hurt. This one’s gonna hurt BAD.
Yeah, it’s going to make us wish that the book was about Lisa.
I knew this story arc would make me pull out my hair when I first saw the smirking Summer in the SOSF banner earlier this week. Oh, how I hate her.
Why does Summer feel compelled to write a book? Because Les is a successful writer (allegedly), it must be in her genes too? Is she trying to suck up to her dad by walking in his footsteps? Who the hell wants to pay good money to read about the history of a two-stoplight town in a stodgy book?
We know Batiuk is a “plugger” set in his venerable ways, but wouldn’t it be better for Summer to follow in Lisa’s footsteps? Why not create a vlog on the internet? She could cover a different Westview event or personality every week.
Summer: Today we’ll be discussing the reason why Westview no longer has a post office. Today’s vlog is about the post office bombing that almost killed my mother. (USA! USA!)
Summer: Today we’ll be discussing Harry Dinkle, the self-proclaimed World’s Greatest band director who destroyed the love of music for generations of Westview High School students. How did he make a fortune on band candy and frozen turkey sales?
Summer: Today we’ll be discussing local businessman Funky Winkerbean, the owner of Montoni’s. We’ll discuss how it feels to be the only surviving restaurant in Westview Square and the legend of The Pizza Monster.
Summer: Today we’ll be discussing my dad, Les Moore, the greatest man in… *click* (the sound of hundreds of devices getting turned off)
Does anybody here believe flighty Summer Moore has the personality, persistence, and charisma needed to carry off writing a book? Summer allegedly changes her major every time the wind shifts. How can this project hold her attention long enough to finish it?
♫Turn and face the strange
I didn’t intend for the last paragraph to be italicized. Sorry about that.
My editor is supposed to make sure my tags are balanced. They have been sacked.
Oh god, it’s going to be about Montoni’s.
‘channeling Lisa’ – yeah, that coy pose is making me really uncomfortable. Coupled with the ‘I’m a writer too, Dad! Notice me!’ dialogue, this feels like Summer’s desperate attempt to get some – any – acknowledgement from her father, the man who raised her on hot-dogs and frozen veg and talks to her mother’s ghost more often than he talks to her.
I’d love to believe this is a long-con revenge plan on Summer’s part, but of course it’s going to be another homage-to-Les arc.
Will Summer be the new Les? I say nope, because Les is still here, will never go away, and because Summer is a girl, and TB can’t sustain interest in a female character. My guess is that just as Phil Holt pushed Ruby Lith out of her job, Les will ‘help’ Summer with her project and end up taking it over.
this feels like Summer’s desperate attempt to get some – any – acknowledgement from her father, the man who raised her on hot-dogs and frozen veg and talks to her mother’s ghost more often than he talks to her.
This is a great interpretation. Summer adopted all of Les’ interests overnight, and seems to be reveling in him finally paying attention to her for once. And she certainly has reason to feel neglected.
Les ultimately pushing her out of the role is a good guess too. I hadn’t considered that. The question is, what does Tom Batiuk want from this arc? He wants to talk in circles about Westview, he wants to go through his book publishing ego fantasy for the 50th time, and he wants to keep hims… er, “Les” front and center. I think he can do all that and still let Summer be the star. This would have the added bonus of illustrating the superiority of Les and Lisa’s genes, giving them another way to lord over the town.
Early last year, many of us thought Batiuk was foisting a romance between Ruby and Flash on us. They were inseparable for a couple of months.
Then came the SDCC trip, where Flash and Ruby were to be inducted into their Hall of Fame. Cantankerous Phil rose from the grave and had a quick reconciliation with Flash, shoving Ruby out of the picture.
Phi Holt: Make way! Creating comic books is a man’s job, bitch! (pie face shove)
Since SDCC, Ruby has had a handful of mostly nonspeaking (smirking) appearances in the bullpen and has now completely disappeared from the strip. If I’m not mistaken, we haven’t seen her in over a year.
I don’t think Ruby is out of a job, but I imagine her workstation has been moved out to the loading dock area. It’s a good thing she likes scarves. It can get chilly out there.
For all Batiuk cares, she died of a broken heart and was unceremoniously buried in an unmarked pauper’s grave.
I think Batiuk created Ruby Lith so he could fish for awards with a sex discrimination story. But then he realized what he really wanted was a Jack Kirby action figure to go with his Stan Lee action figure (Flash) for his off-brand 1950s Comic Books Bullpen Play Set.
In addition to all the other problems that resurrecting Phil caused, he made Ruby redundant as a character, and as an Atomik Komix employee. Right after he made her a Hall of Famer. It’s shocking how little this man thinks ahead about anything, and how quickly he’ll throw away decades of history on a whim. He’s doing it again this week.
Back in 2018, I remember being somewhat impressed that Batiuk had Rana encounter Wally and Adeela at the campus Cultural Café. Rana shared that she had returned to Islam, and planned on returning to Afghanistan to teach young girls. It was an interesting plot development that went absolutely nowhere.
We never found out if Rana followed through on her plans. In 2020 the US troops pulled out of Afghanistan, and the Taliban swiftly retook the country. Was Rana forced to flee Afghanistan for her life? I would think the Taliban would take a dim view of an American Muslim woman teaching girls. How hard would it have been to include a short story arc where a relieved Wally, Becky, and Skunkhead John are at the airport to welcome back Rana on her safe return?
We never even saw Rana again until last year, when she was in the parade of auxiliary characters at the Dinkle Family Thanksgiving. A one panel, non-speaking role.
Instead, Batiuk gives us story arcs about the never-ending Dead St. Lisa saga, insipid tales from his imaginary comic book company, Funky’s moronic tales about the pandemic, and the constant pissing and moaning about aging.
To me, this is the difference between a competent writer and Batiuk. Calling Batiuk a hack is a compliment.
Maybe Summer will be the next Les. She’s morphing into a man-like entity, and in Westview you have to be a man to be taken seriously. No mere girl could face the deep, dork secrets of that town.
Hm. I’m envisioning a series opportunities for Summer to be “rescued” by Les, and the other “men-like entities” (brilliant) of Westview. Les will help her with writer’s block. Crazy will help her retrieve old documents from 3.5″ floppy discs. Harry Dinkle will have a trove of aging VHS-C tapes that will explain some critical questions for her (tapes of course digitized by Crazy…) And I would allocate approximately two weeks for Funky to talk about his journey to sobriety. Which of course, is objectively great, but will have nothing to do with her Westview oral history project. Bottom line: the men will take care of it. And of course COMIX ™ will eventually become the focal point of her oral history. The lore and legends of a small town aren’t all that different from that of the COMIX world, right? Her book’s title will have some COMIX reference. When she wins the National Book Award she will give it to Les.
(Related: are we laying odds on whether Ruby Lith will ever have another speaking role, btw? I’d go for 100:1 against…)
100-1? I’d take that bet. Because when Batiuk is assembling “The Complete Funky Winkerbean, Volume 18”, covering the years Ruby Lith appears, he’ll be reminded of the character. He’ll then write a week’s worth of strips that bring her back … to do absolutely nothing interesting, of course.
Westview is changing. Migrants from Mexico & Central America have been bussed there by the government. 100 year old Crankshaft taking them their final 50 miles. Chain migration has allowed Adeela to bring over her extended family. There are only so many counter wipers needed at Montoni’s. Perhaps the home of the ScapeGoats can use more additional custodians.