I’d like to revisit Sunday’s strip, because there was a relevant bit of dialog:
She asked about the history of Westview, and he’s giving her the history of Montoni’s. These are not the same thing, even though the strip acts like they are.
It’s also not clear what narrative purpose this is supposed to serve. This week should be the comic strip equivalent of a clip show, where Summer’s “book research” is a framing device to setup a walkthrough of old stories. But it’s not even giving us that. It’s telling us trivia about old stories it assumes we already know, and doesn’t advance the current story of Summer writing her book. How do you get a clip show wrong? Funky Winkerbean found a way.
It almost feels like Summer is trolling here. Look at that big smirk as she dutifully writes down this useless information… about her own life. How does Summer not already know this story? Especially when there is a book series, a major motion picture, and a one-man fanatical cult devoted to her mother’s life.
64 responses to “His Story, Not Her Story”
Once again TomBa gives us “Tell, don’t show.”
Well, it is a bit unusual for people to be born in Worstview. Most of them were created from the thinnest possible cardboard, just moments before they entered the scene.
What’s wrong with “your mom and Donna”?
“That old van of ours took Lisa, who was Les Moore’s wife before she died and gave birth to you, and Crazy Harry’s wife Donna, mother of Maddie father of Tim, to the hospital when they went into labor here, on this spot, and when you go into labor, that’s prior to giving birth, which usually happens after labor day! Ha ha, I told a funny thing! Laugh, clown, laugh!”
Her full legal name is “Crazy Harry’s wife Donna, who used to play Defender[s] as The Eliminator when she was an 11-year-old boy named Donald (before Defender was released, somehow) when Crazy Harry was still in high school eight years after he graduated, who then revealed she was actually a Generic Blonde Woman named Donna who then married Crazy Harry and gave birth to Maddie, and is now a Generic Potato Person.”
But she Loves Montoni’s Salad Dressing!
No doubt it was the length of these names which contributed to Lisa simply being known as “Lisa.” Think of it as the Buckeye State equivalent of the story of Tikki Tikki Tembo-no Sa Rembo-chari Bari Ruchi-pip Peri Pembo and his little brother Chang.
Strange but true: Arlene Mosel, who wrote the story of Tikki Tiki Tembo, was born in Cleveland, Ohio.
Blair Lent, who illustrated it, was born in Boston.
Batiuk has a stunning capacity to forget what his story arc is supposed to be even a few sentences after establishing it. And then to not notice — or care — that he forgot.
Is someone going to drive him to Akron and back for this year’s ComicCon? Because I wouldn’t count on him making it otherwise.
Pretty cool how the photo in panel 1 bears only a vague resemblance to the same photo in panel 2. Ayers cares about this crap as much as we do.
Clearly Summer’s “book” won’t be the Westview Story. It will either be the “Montoni’s Story” or the “Summer Moore Story”. Each sounds equally fascinating.
You’ve been served thin gruel, Banana. Hard to say more about today’s strip than you already have. “Blah, blah, blah,” and “wrong” sum it up perfectly. There’s never been a Westview beyond Montoni’s, the high school, and Les and Lisa. A history of a small group of friends who’ve known each other since at least high school and have been there for each other’s highest and lowest points would at least be relatable. I wondered if TomBat was going to invent a town history but, nope. Just as the Party is the State in communist-ruled countries, the Gang is the Town.
PS Out of respect to Green Luthor who was here before me, I’m modifying my name. Apologies, GL, if my previous one stepped on your toes. It was inadvertent.
No toe-stepping here, so no worries. (Honestly, unless it was confusing to other people, feel free to use whichever name you want.)
I had no problems telling the 2 of you apart. He is the handsome one; the other is the smart one. (or vice versa)
Ha! Well-played sorialpromise! 😄👍🏻
Thank you, Green Luthor. I wasn’t worried about people telling us apart (though you’re certainly more articulate than me) so much as devaluing the Green brand, on which you already had dibs.
Anyway, I’m originally from Wisconsin so it makes sense for me to embrace the cheese! Thanks, again, for your note.
Oh, it’s not that bad at all. These two weeks’ strips have been bad in ways that give me plenty to talk about. I feel like I’m getting all the good arcs. I haven’t had to deal with a week of Dinkle blathering about nothing.
I guess one of the prerequisites to becoming a SoSF host is to be someone who always sees the glass as half full.
“Crazy Harry’s wife”…? What, Donna can’t be referred to by name? Didn’t she used to hang out there like all the freaking time? Now she’s merely “Crazy Harry’s wife”. My oh my, how far the stars of Act II have fallen. Hint: if you need to explain who the characters are, perhaps the cast is a tad bloated, as they say.
Beat me to it. Of course, with all of the name fluctuation we’ve seen in this strip over the past few years TB may well have just forgotten Donna’s name and couldn’t bothered to look it up.
“Crazy Harry’s wife”?
Hahahahaha, TB doesn’t trust the readers to remember who “Donna” is and in the process makes Tony look like he can’t remember Donna’s name. This is fantastic.
“You know who I mean, the one who married your father, what’s his name, the one with the beard. You know, the dead one, the woman who birthed you. Mousy, short hair, real pious.”
“Always preachy, ugly haircut, thought she was better than everyone…ah, anyways…”
Say, is that a picture of beloved Cleveland TV kids’ show host Barnaby the elf behind Mopey Summer’s head in Panel Two? Somebody had better call Mitchell Knox; he may want to purchase a spare photo in case something ever happens to his.
Also, did Tony ever stop to consider that if he altered his papa’s recipe and cut down on the garlic fewer women would spontaneously go into labor while on the premises (which is kind of ironic, seeing as how this “I’m writing a book/We’re closing our doors” arc seems to be turning into a miscarriage of storytelling)?
I think that’s a picture of Spock from the episode when they went to the gangster planet. Leonard Nimoy never set foot in Montoni’s, Tony bought the picture because of the hat.
Oh for pete’s sake. How many arcs this yeah have just been one character recounting the past to another character, completely divorced from any real goals or stakes?
You remember those things? Goals? Stakes? This strip used to have them. It still wasn’t good, but at least it was telling a story.
I’m 100% on board with your theory that Batiuk’s re-reading his collected works (in order to write intros to The Collected FW.) And — either because Batiuk is a lazy hack who can’t be bothered to think up new plots, or because slowly enroaching dementia is making it impossible for him to think of new plots — what we’re getting as a result is re-hashed recaps of re-recounted plots of years past.
Which means at some point, around volume 17 or 18, his contemporary strips — referencing these strips — will have to be “Hey, remember the time we all sat around and talked about a thing that happened several years before that time we sat around talking about it? Wouldn’t it be a great idea to write a book about the book someone wrote about that glorious time?”
It’s a clip show, “The Very Best (?) Of”. And, if history is any indication, it will culminate with “Lisa’s Story”, just like it always does.
Well, the “history of Westview” is about 70% Lisa. And I mean that in all seriousness. It seems like a trojan horse that’s going to turn into yet another exploration of Lisa.
In a recounting of the history of Westview, the founding of Montoni’s and Funky’s buy-in are more important than the founding of…. Westview. The high school will also feature much more prominently than any other public work or figure.
“You thought this was going to be about you? It’s been about me all along!”
For those too scared to click the SCARY LINK.
Just look at Summer vigorously taking notes. “Pulitzer, here I come!”
Yep, it will just fall into her lap. I’m surprised Apple Annie isn’t here showering her with unearned praise.
I’m pretty sure that’s coming up.
1. Do any of you remember what Funky majored in college? I am guessing that he did not start out at Montoni’s as the manager. What was the point of going to college if he ended up at a locally run pizza shop? And as someone mentioned yesterday, where did his money come from to buy out Tony?
For some reason this arc reminds me of Mr. Batiuk and Tywin Lannister:
“And this is the one I’ll be remembered for. ‘The War of Five Kings, they’re calling it. My legacy will be determined in the
coming months. You know what “legacy” means? It’s what you pass down to your children, and your children’s children. It’s what remains of you when you’re gone.
Harren the Black thought this castle would be his legacy. Greatest fortress ever built. Tallest towers, the strongest walls. The Great Hall had thirty-five hearths. Thirty-five, can you imagine? Look at it now. A blasted ruin.”
Does Mr. Batiuk have a legacy? His Act I was good. He did pretty well in Act II. Lots of good arcs and characters. Until Dead Saint Lisa. He bet everything on her. Initially, it paid off, but he went to the well too many times, and everybody began hating her and that husband.
I think FW ends up like Tywin. He’s not remembered for the battle of 5 armies, he’s remembered for being killed on the crapper. That is the comparison to Act III. Either BJ6k or JJO’M stated Batiuk lost his editor and has been winging it. Coasting. The main problem: Batiuk’s favorite characters are not anyone else’s. Although to be honest, who do we like in Westview? Can we name anyone we want to spend a 2 week arc with?
It’s not like Batiuk doesn’t have examples. Schulz, Watterson, Conley, Al Capp, and Breathed finished strong. Heck! Even Crankshaft has punchlines. At 75, will he pick up the pace? It’s probably too late. These characters are too far gone to rebuild. Mr. Batiuk would have to bring 5 new families into the strip and build off of only them. He would have to ignore all the others. I do not think he has it in him. If this week is an example, he won’t even try.
I believe Funky was a business major, he showed up at the beginning of Act II unemployed and a bit bitter that the sputtering economy of mid-1992 had forced him and his new diploma to move back in with his parents. He has a long history of blaming his professional failures on the economy… he must know Mr. Harrington.
” This is the one I’ll be remembered for,” is also what Ed Wood said about Plan Nine from Outer Space, at least in Tim Burton’s movie. Of course, Plan Nine is memorable because while it’s inept, it’s entertainingly so.
Can’t say that about this strip.
I consider myself uneducated because I have not yet seen “Plan 9.” I must stream it. I have watched Johnny Depp as Ed Wood. It is marvelous. Perfect actors.
It’s not worth it unless you have a crowd and a stack of adult beverages. (If you do, go nuts.) In isolation, it’s just boring and inept; you need someone with you to marvel at it. Burton’s Ed Wood, however, is magnificent. Probably the only movie of his I continue to like now that I’m no longer a sullen teen.
Ed Wood is a great flick. My favorite line: “Worst picture you ever saw? My next one will be better!” How can you not root for a guy with that kind of spirit?
My friend Kevin prefers “Glen or Glenda”; however, he can’t praise too highly Martin Landau’s performance as Bela Lugosi in “Ed Wood.”
When I finally saw “Plan 9,” I felt disappointed. It was not “wonderfully bad” in the Leonard Pinth-Garnell sense of the term. As Huey Lewis would say, “cool is the rule/but sometimes bad is bad.”
And boring and inept, in the bargain.
For a great performance from Boris Karloff, the object of Lugosi’s disdain in “Ed Wood,” check out “Targets.”
Was just going to comment on the value of a KSU education. That Sociology degree will pay off one day.
Summer hasn’t even achieved a KSU sociology degree, in 10 years. Keep that in mind when the story starts handing her awards left and right.
One of the first awards will be an honorary doctorate in sociology, even if KSU doesn’t have a doctoral program.
“At 75, will he pick up the pace? It’s probably too late. These characters are too far gone to rebuild. Mr. Batiuk would have to bring 5 new families into the strip and build off of only them. He would have to ignore all the others. I do not think he has it in him. If this week is an example, he won’t even try.”
You’re right in that time is running out to fix this, and Batiuk probably doesn’t have the skills/energy. But given the raw material of the strip it could be made BETTER.
For one, stop reminiscing. I understand that this is the 50th anniversary year, but you need a PLOT.
For example. Montoni’s is (apparently) closing. This should be a month long arc centered around Funky and Wally being in conflict over the failing of the restaurant. One of them should be stubbornly insisting it can be saved the other should be realistic and ready to move on. One of them should have a wife that is on the same page as her husband, the other should have a wife that is contrary to what her husband thinks.
Both are emotionally invested in the business, so we have real emotional stakes. One wants to save it, another is planning the next phase of their life, we have goals. They are at odds, we have conflict.
BOOM, a story.
CBH, that is the bottom line, all we want is a story. A beginning. Middle. An end. Quoting you, we want goals, stakes, purpose. I think he could do that. With these characters. You have a perfect plot well within TB’s wheelhouse. The football story shows he can still write. He needs to pump himself up, and turn himself loose.
Bingo. Batiuk occasionally flirts with a compelling story, but he it’s as if he doesn’t realize it. Like when Holly and her mother had the conflict over that dumb majorette show, which ended in Holly being seriously injured. That was a great setup for a parent/adult child conflict, but it was never mentioned again. The strip did “chocks away!” jokes instead.
Montoni’s closing should be a massive, final arc to Funky Winkerbean. Do you remember how Bloom County ended, in its original 1980s incarnation? It was cancelled, they all had to get jobs at other comic strips, and say their goodbyes to each other. Maybe nobody’s leaving Westview, but the cultural center of this town is dying. And none of the characters seem to care.
At this point, I expect Funky to tell Summer who Lisa was.
“You mean . . . Lisa from ‘Lisa Story’ was my mom? And she died of cancer?!”
“Yes! She was the bird feeder-filler lady — the ORIGINAL bird feeder-filler lady! And just wait till you hear whose father was John Darling Jessica Darling’s Father Who Was Murdered!”
Funky was able to buy Montoni’s because Tony talked to the Licavoli family and got him a loan for vig and points. By keeping his mouth shut and doing a little bit of this and a little bit of that, Funky was able to keep up with the vig. Eventually the family even let him wet his beak, and soon the most popular late night order was a slice and an eight ball. Hell, you could even get it delivered!
How did you think Funky acquired Montoni’s?
Why do you think Tony makes so many trips to Florida?
Did you think Montoni’s stayed afloat just by selling pizza?
The irritating thing about this is having to remember Batiuk’s disdain for paramedics. I remember back when Saint Dead Lisa was about to give birth to Durwood. Les drove her because like Batiuk, he was sure he could get her there faster than a real first responder.
What’s with that. It’s always “ I can get you there faster”.
Meh, it’s just a cheap and easy way to manufacture drama and he stole it from watching reruns of Happy Days. That’s also how he got the idea for Tony’s character.
“I can get you there faster—of course, if any complications develop along the way, I’m completely unequipped to do anything about them. Unlike, say, a real ambulance with trained EMTs and medical equipment. What I’m saying is, are your life insurance premiums up to date?
“But I can get you there faster.”
Or he just gets there too late because he doesn’t have a siren like ambulances do, and because hospitals don’t let just anyone drive up to the emergency entrance. Typical Batiuk storytelling: make Les the hero, and then edit around all the inherent problems with it.
His storytelling requires large doses of suspension of disbelief which, if he were writing science fiction, fantasy, or superhero stories, would be okay. All of these genres start with a “what if” premise that changes reality – Superman or The Flash could get Lisa, Susan Smith, or Donna to the hospital faster than an ambulance because of their superpowers.
But TomBa isn’t writing in any of those genres, as much as he’d probably like to. The most he can do is insert Murania into his Great Fire of Los Angeles arc or give us his most fun character in ages, Zanzibar The Murder Chimp (who deserves his own strip).
@Gerard You have to suspend even more than your disbelief. You have to pretend human interaction doesn’t work the way it really does.
Like when Harry was unable to finish his sentence telling Lisa to get a mammogram, even though nothing was stopping him from talking. Or when Les pouted about not being thrown the ball, just after Funky had told him they were joining the game for the sole reason of throwing him the ball.
When you read Calvin & Hobbes or Peanuts, you feel like the strip is part of a larger conversation. Funky Winkerbean is the opposite. To make each strip’s weak jokes and drama work, it has to be edited so disingenuously that everything feels artificial.
“ You have to pretend human interaction doesn’t work the way it really does.”
“I can get you there faster! I can’t guarantee you’ll be alive when I get you there, but I can get you, or your corpse, there faster!”
“No paramedics! They follow *their* rules, not ours!”
Anyhoo, with the way that Funky always acts like a complete chode every time he has to deal with a doctor for any reason, one has to wonder if Batiuk has some issues with any kind of medical professional.
(Oh, and it was, of course, the medical professionals who screwed up Lisa’s lab results, so there’s that, too. Probably other examples, too, I’m sure.)
I think it’s pretty evident that Batiuk has total disdain for the medical profession, from optometrists to obstetricians to orthopedic surgeons.
That’s not odd in itself. What’s odd is TB’s usual total adherence to whatever orthodoxy is being transmitted on CNN/the NY Times/Ohio Public Radio — with this quirk being a strange, rebellious exception.
Will the doctor-hatred subside now that the pandemic has elevated them to hero status, per NY Times et al?
Funky’s cataract surgery and Holly’s broken ankle were both in 2021. Those stories weren’t over-the-top hateful, but they were TB’s usual portrayal of medical professionals as indifferent, humorless, and primarily concerned with getting paid. (Though he’s far from the only person to make that portrayal.)
Tom Batiuk has total disdain for every profession that isn’t writing, comic book creation, or teaching.
Maybe you’re right about his only respecting those three professions. I’d add he has at least a sliver of respect for Funky’s profession — at least, he allows Funky to mope and moan about it.
(I’m sure everyone remembers that Funky groused, complained, moaned and kvetched endlessly for years, as his prosperous business paid for his McMansion — it’s only now that he’s going bankrupt that he’s positively giddy.)
Well we know that is where he gets his opinions from.
I don’t think he has total disdain for the medical profession specifically. I think he’s got broad disdain for other people, and it manifests itself toward the medical profession more often because having his idiot characters go to the doctor is a premise he can always go back to.
It’s not as if he had Funky treat lawyers or estate planners or accountants any better or with any greater respect. It’s just that you don’t have regular appointments with those professions where you get to complain about shit.
Compare that as well to the absolute lack of respect he shows people in the entertainment industry who aren’t immersed in comic books. Batiuk treats even his “hero” in those strips, Mason, with overt contempt.
What’s odd is TB’s usual total adherence to whatever orthodoxy is being transmitted on CNN/the NY Times/Ohio Public Radio
TB’s opinions seem more parroted than understood, except for the ones that stem from his own personal experiences. And those completely override any sense of decorum or restraint a person might have.
He definitely is a parrot.