Unnecessary Procedure

Hey, we got an appropriate Halloween visitor after all! The undead.

Tony Montoni is suddenly back from the dead and/or Florida. Or maybe he was just covered in flour the last time we saw him.

He recites the banal details of how the restaurant started, in classic Batiukian style: by listing all the steps in the process. “How did Montoni’s come to be? My father bought an Italian restaurant and renamed it. He smelled like pizza ingredients a lot.” That’s the kind of amazing insight into the human condition that will make Summer’s book an immediate best seller!

Tom Batiuk does not tell stories. He describes procedures. Think about any storyline you’ve ever seen in Funky Winkerbean. Everything is a rote description of the steps involved. Especially when it’s one of his precious publishing stories, where the whole point is to indulge his fantasy that’s the one being praised and fussed over.

What was Lisa’s Story? Fly to Westview. Ask Les to make the movie. Have Les sign the shopping agreement. Fly Les to Hollywood for the pitch meetings. Go to three different production companies. Find one you like. Go to lunch with them. Reach an agreement. Choose a director. Audition actresses. Begin filming. On and on it goes. Lisa’s Procedure was mercifully interrupted by the Point Dume fire procedure: unknown golfers accidentally start fire, fire spreads, Jeff announces plans to visit Bronson Cave, Jeff flies to Los Angeles, Jeff goes to Bronson Cave, Jeff ignores wildfire, Jeff has to be saved from wildfire, etc.

This strip loves to tell you what the procedure is going to be, describe or show every step of the procedure, negotiate irrelevant details, and perform formalities.

Not only is this going to be a boring rehash of unimportant trivia, it’s going to be done in the most tedious way possible. And no pizza box monster.

This week is going to be painful.



Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

46 responses to “Unnecessary Procedure

  1. Epicus Doomus

    “Smelled like garlic”. Did he have a little pet monkey playing a barrel organ too? Did he-a talk-a like-a this? Did they change his name from “Montovani” to “Montoni” at Ellis Island? I realize he didn’t intend for this to come across so tone-deaf, as he never does, but jeepers, man. The Italian Anti-Defamation League better not catch wind of this one, or there’s gonna be hell to pay.

    • Y. Knott

      Lawyers are already preparing the defense. “There’s no anti-Italian animus here! Just read through these strips — Batiuk’s work defames everyone he depicts! As well as the entire concept of storytelling!”

      • Green Luthor

        “It’s-a called a-writing!”

      • Anonymous Sparrow

        It’s like Henry Higgins excusing himself in front of Eliza Doolittle: he treated her as he treated everyone else, which was rudely.

        Where’s Colonel Pickering when you need him?

    • “And did I-ah mention his membership in La Cosa Nostra? Mama mia, so many assassinios! But he never let-a those hijinx-as interfere with-a his mission to create the crappiest ketchup-on-cardboard pizza in the Northeastern Ohio market!”

      • Green Wave of Kanagawa

        Holy macaroni! ED’s comment and the replies to it made me laugh out loud. (I’m on a train so that got me a few looks.) Thank you, sincerely. 👍🏻🤣

    • Rusty Shackleford

      Oh it has been reported! The old garlic stereotype.

      Ok, full disclosure, I roasted some yesterday to put in a Tuscan bean soup I made. My wife eats them like candy.

      And yes we had pasta for dinner!

    • Westview Radiology

      We a gonna make this tomasino Battiani an offer he no refuse a

  2. Green Wave of Kanagawa

    Guess I was too busy reading comments the past week and missed Montoni’s arrival. Maybe we had been keeping a low profile downstairs with the reindeer to make sure Papa and Daughter Author were at the center of attention.
    “Tom Batiuk does not tell stories. He describes procedures. “–> Exactly this.
    “This week is going to be painful.”–> Thanks for taking one for the team, Banana, Jr.

    • Green Luthor

      Tony didn’t “arrive” so much as “appeared without comment in the background of a panel”.

      Of course, that means we didn’t get to see Funky explain how his incompetence ruined both of their lives’ work. (And Tony’s father’s life’s work, too.) I’m sure it was hilarious, given how cheerful everyone looks.

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        Yeah, they’re both in a chipper mood, considering they’re both going through a life-damaging restaurant closure. They’re not even sad to go through these old pictures of better times.

        Which raises another question: who lost money on this? It has to be one of them. The New York closure didn’t cause anyone any apparent pain, and this doesn’t seem to either.

    • Rusty Shackleford

      I remember ghost Tony, but ghost Lisa is still my favorite. I think Batty forgot that he was supposed to kill off Tony. He killed Bull instead.

  3. The Dreamer

    Was it ever explained how Funky, whose only job ever was delivering pizza for Montoni’s suddenly had enough money to buy 50% ownership in the place? Delivering pizzas for tips, he saved up six figures to buy into Montonis?

    • William Thompson

      Funky made His Father Who Smelled Like Garlic an offer he couldn’t refuse. (Does the man have a name?)

  4. billytheskink

    That’s what you remember about your father, Tony?! Garlic and laughter? Leia Organa had a more descriptive memory of her mother…

    I do have to give kudos to Ayers, though, who I’m half sure is intentionally trolling here. “I remember my father laughing a lot…” = two photos of a completely humorless-looking thumb-headed man. I was gonna say “chef’s kiss”, but that seems kinda offensive in this context. Not as offensive as the garlic thing, but still.

    • Green Luthor

      Tom: “Draw Tony’s father laughing a lot.”
      Chuck: “What does someone laughing look like?”
      Tom: “Just draw the facial expression of someone reading our comic.”

      • Y. Knott

        Chuck: “Ah! Draw someone in a sort of vaguely annoyed state, who has just been entertained only in an ironic way. Got it.”

    • Anonymous Sparrow

      It could be a homage to DC’s Firehawk: Lorraine Reilly admits to Wonder Girl in *Fury of Firestorm* #42 that she lost her mother at a young age, and doesn’t remember much of her, beyond a few small details, one of which is the smell of soil from her work in the family garden.

      Could Mrs. Reilly have been growing garlic? It is known as the stinking rose, after all.

  5. Tony’s father also looks appropriately miserable. I assume that when he acquired the restaurant, he thought, “Oh God, now I have to do taxes and pay employees and all that…why did the good lord not kill me as I slept. Life is nothing but a preview of Hell.”

  6. William Thompson

    Garlic is a traditional vampire repellent, which kills one of my personal theories about Les Moore and his eternal presence at Montoni’s.

  7. Andrew

    Was the ghost of Tony past relate to his death being implied or shown before that Christmas comic, or might it have just been Bautik writing that on a whim before remembering he never actually killed Tony to begin with?

    Anyways, either he’s alive and just popped back in typical Bautikian energy (or just repeating the Phil Holt clause) or it’s just that Montoni narrating for the reader’s convenience and he really is a ghost, just looks normal for a trick (as the holy spirit Lisa appeared when Les “talked” to her in “oh what do i do” moments, or in a better context, the Screw Up episode from Scrubs).

    Though if it is just he is as alive as ever, it just hammers in that this current era of Funky is weirdly glass-half-full in regards to the potential closure of Montoni’s that even its owner just popped in to smirk and talk history. This isn’t the sort of story we should just stumble into midway through being introduced to Summer wanting to write a book. Makes me wonder if things are being rushed or something.

    • Mela

      The My Screw Up episode of Scrubs is still a gut punch for me, even when I know what’s coming. And the twist was so subtle I had to go back and rewatch. Scrubs was a brilliantly written show with well-defined characters. Even Bob Kelso showed some decency every now and then.

  8. Professor Fate

    I don’t know why, maybe my mind goes dark places, but this strip reminds me of a Short Rifftrax ragged on called Know for Sure. It’s about syphilis and has three stories. In the first, we meet a painfully broad Italian stereotype named Tony who is waxing about his soon to be born bambino. He is painting “and son” on the front window of his shop and being a broad stereotype when the doctor comes and tells in, in twist that I’m honesty shocked FW never did, that the baby is dead and it’s Tony’s fault because he has syphilis. Tony then overacts even more yelling “I killed my bambino!” and trying to stab himself. It gets a bit boring after that as we find out there are treatments for syphilis but there is a last FW moment there the sad faced Tony is erasing ‘and son’ from his store window.
    That’s what this strip reminded me of. I read Batiuk’s dialogue and in my head I’m hearing “I killed my bambino!” in the fakest Italian accent ever. Who knows maybe that was Tony’s father. It would explain the expression on his face in the pictures.

  9. J.J. O'Malley

    How popular, I wonder, were Montoni pere’s garlic-smothered pizzas?

    You know, if each photo on the “Wall of Fame” is going to get its own daily strip backstory, that auction that Funky wanted Les and Summer to “stick around for” won’t be taking place until Thanksgiving.

  10. J.J. O'Malley

    Sorry to bore everyone with my Lt. Columbo impression, but there’s just one more thing that’s been bothering me: What’s up with that photo Montoni fils is looking at in Panel Two? His papa appears to be putting a sign in the front window, but there’s part of the entrance door to the left, so that can’t be the storefront. Is that supposed to be a photo of a photo?

    • Green Wave of Kanagawa

      Columbo impressions are very cool but let’s not give Tombo any ideas. He’s already injected Clinton into the Funkiverse. Exactly what you said about the photos, plus why are they all in color? Funky’s 68 years old so Montoni must be at least in his early 90s. Who was buying color film when he was a kid? We get sepia tone for memories of things that happened in the 80s and 90s and color photos of a business opening in the 40s.

  11. Tom from Finland

    Once again I don’t understand this. Why did Batiuk write two overlapping storylines that both are about remebering old stories?
    Why it was not enough for Summer to collect stories from the people of Westview, but he had to introduce also this Montoni’s memorabilia thing.
    Is it because Summer is a woman and therefore she can only introduce storylines and passively follow through them and a male is required to actively push the story forward?

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Why did the story introduce the “oral history of Westview” angle in the first place? Why couldn’t Summer have shown up, learned Montoni’s is closing, and been inspired to write a history book of the restaurant instead? That would have flowed better, and isn’t any less forced and conceited.

      Batiuk loves digging himself a round hole, and then jamming a a square peg into it.

  12. Paul Jones

    And again, Batiuk has no idea that he’s boring the crap out of people having his characters barber away about trivia. It’s like he’s the other Delicate Genius, Mike Patterson whose first story was “Sum kidz wuz lost an’then wus fownd.”

  13. KMD

    Thou hast triumphed pizza box monster! But know this. You did not kill Montoni’s. Montoni’s killed itself. Let us hope we don’t get a gory gift like Bull’s helmet.

  14. Gerard Plourde

    I’m beginning to wonder if he’s planning to merge the strips. It’s possible that Ayers is retiring and TomBa can’t find a replacement artist. He does have Davis to do the Crankshaft art. He could be planning to import some FW characters who’ve made crossovers into the strip.

    • Paul Jones

      That’s probably what’s going to happen.

    • Rusty Shackleford

      I can see this happening and it is long overdue.

      I’m with CBH in thinking that Crankshaft is more popular, however, from the way things are going, I think FW will remain and Crankshaft will go.

      • Well, if Crankshaft is more popular, that means it’s less meaningful and doesn’t truly convey the depth of life’s existence, and has nothing to say about true loss and sorrow. So that will have to go, so Funky Winkerbean can continue to teach us all.

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        I’m also on “Team Funky” in any putative merger if the merged strip/Davis as artist scenario plays out. FW or CS is just the name on the box. Batiuk is obsessed with his “legacy”, and will want to keep the older, more famous, longer-running trip going. Even if that’s not strategically the best move.

        35 years is still a good run, though. Plus 10 for John Darling. Maybe TB’s going for a century total.

        • Rusty Shackleford

          Yeah, your arguments make sense and have swayed my opinion. My results were based on a survey of the 5 old men at our local coffee shop who only read Crankshaft, and an old friend and longtime FW reader who stopped reading Funky and now only reads Crankshaft.

        • “Crankshaft” has never been nominated for a Pilitzer Prize. ‘Nuff said.

  15. Maxine of Arc

    oh my god nobody cares. Not even us.

  16. The Dreamer

    Actually Montoni’s closing and Summer doing a history of Westview does sound like a possible wrap up of FW Combine that with the sudden timeline retcon on Crankshaft Maybe TomBat at age 75 only wants to do one strip If so, he can send Funky and Holly to Florida to join Max Montoni on the golf course Cory and Sally disappear Lee and Cayla, being retired from Westview due to budget cuts, move to California to join Cindy and Mason on the back. Pete, Mindy, Boy Lisa and Jessica join Crankshaft along with John and Crazy who move the comic shop to a new location near the Crankshafts Dinkle has his church choir nearby It could be a seamless transition into one strip under the Crankshaft banner

    • William Thompson

      But what if Summer’s history becomes a best-seller? People could flock to Westview like the baseball fanatics at the end of “Field of Dreams.” The tourist influx could revive the town; local citizens could get jobs as re-enactors (“Watch Young Les machine-gun students in the hallway! Watch Young Funky break the fourth wall! Saint Lisa will record a VHS tape just for you, then die before your very eyes!”) and Dinkle could perform concerts every day. Les, of course, could whine about it all.

      It’s not much of an idea, but when I hear a suggestion that Batty will do something sensible, I immediately wonder how he’ll avoid that.

  17. Saneharry

    Here’s my fan theory that explains tony montoni and phil holt coming back after appearing as ghosts: Some FW characters are capable of astral projection. Phil and Tony were never dead, and their apparent ghosts were actually their “soul vehicles”.

    Does this mean Lisa is still alive?