TB goes full on meta in today’s strip… could this be a preview of what we’ll see over the next few weeks? Is everything else from here on going to be bizarrely (and blandly) self-referential? Are we in for even more unnecessary acknowledgements that these characters all of a sudden know they are in a comic strip? I suppose we will have to wait and see, though the wait won’t be too long now.
Meta references can certainly work, but are not inherently interesting or funny, nor are they funny in the context of this strip and story arc, or in the context of TB’s real life partial retirement for that matter. What is funny, however, is that Ruby joined Atomik Komix over 3 years ago to much fanfare, specifically to draw Wayback Wendy I might add, and she’s peacing out after drawing the cover of issue #4! And we all thought Phil Holt was a slow worker…
And that’s a wrap for my latest and possibly last time blogging here at Son Of Stuck Funky. No goodbyes here, but I do want to thank some folks. Thank you to TFH and Epicus for running this place for the past 12 and a half years and for trusting me as a guest writer here over the past 8 years. Thanks to my fellow guest writers for keeping this site reliably humming for years and much thanks to all of you SOSFers for coming back and reading day after day in spite of my silly wonderings and regular typos. I’ve written over 500 of these things, believe it or not! But for me these posts are mostly a glorified header, the best content generally comes from you all in the comments. I can only hope that you have enjoyed reading some of my words even 1/100th as much as I have enjoyed being a part of this community.
And so, I will close this post the same way I wrote my entire first week of posts…
120 responses to “Meta-mucil”
Was this supposed to be last Sunday’s cover? It’s far more feminine and positive.
And has as much to do with climage damate as that one did.
Alas, it is still terrible. And does not get better with thought or indulgence.
Panel Two: Everyone shouts in unison, “Get back here, you senile old cow! SOMEBODY still has to draw the book’s interior art!!!”
What the hell is Batton Thomas, Creator of the Nationally Syndicated Comic Strip “Three O’Clock High,” STILL doing there!?
Fear not, Ruby, if I see you or the others in the pasture I’ll take great care not to step on you.
A few days ago, I had a random thought about Atomik Komix, and about a long-defunct minor comics publisher commonly known as Atlas/Seaboard. (Dunno if this was ever covered here before, and apologies if it has been.)
A little comics history lesson: Martin Goodman was the founder and publisher of Marvel Comics. Actually, he had founded Timely Publications, which went through several name changes over the years, including becoming Atlas Comics, before it took on the name Marvel Comics. Anyhoo, Goodman wound up selling the company, although he remained as publisher for a few years. After leaving Marvel, he eventually formed a new company, Seaboard Periodicals, which published under the imprint of Atlas Comics; hence the company is usually called “Atlas/Seaboard”, to differentiate from the earlier Atlas Comics.
Goodman’s plan was to offer higher page rates for creators, as well as allowing creators to retain some of the ownership of their creations. Which sounds awfully similar to Chester Hagglemore’s methods at Atomik, no?
So it probably wouldn’t be unreasonable to look at how Atlas/Seaboard performed, sales-wise, to guess how well Atomik should realistically perform as well. And how did A/S perform?
In all, they published 23 comics titles, and 5 magazines. Of those, 6 comics and 1 magazine lasted only a single issue. 1 comic and 3 magazines got two issues. 11 comics had three issues, and the remaining 5 comics and 1 magazine got four issues. And of those titles that managed to get three or four issues, none of them had the same creative team for all their issues. Goodman founded A/S in 1974, and the comics starting hitting the stands in 1975. By the end of 1975, they were already done.
(Okay, I started writing this earlier today, and now with Wayback Wendy only hitting its own fourth issue, and no other Atomik titles seemingly putting out that many issues… it would seem that the biggest difference between A/S and Atomik is that A/S managed to get all those comics out in under a year, whereas Atomik has only put out a fraction of that (assuming they even produce full comics and not just covers) over a significantly longer time period. That’s not a point in Atomik’s favor, at all.)
So basically, if we use Atlas/Seaboard as a guide as to how Atomik Komix might sell in the real world… yeah, they’d have been deader than Phil Holt used to be. Especially given that we’ve only ever seen evidence that they produce covers, and not even good ones at that. Atlas/Seaboard put out comics from Steve Ditko, Neal Adams, Alex Toth, Wally Wood, Russ Heath, Howard Chaykin, Rich Buckler… some people who were already established as top-tier names in comics, and some who would become so soon after. And they still crashed and burned. Batiuk might tell us that Mopey Pete and Boy Lisa were somehow top creators, but he’s provided absolutely no evidence of any actual talent there.
Long story short (too late!), Atomik Komix probably would be the abject failure he all know it would be, if we use the history of the real company it most resembled.
(Sorry for the overly long post.)
Funny, I just bought issues 2 and 3 of the Atlas title “Planet of Vampires” for 2 dollars each at a comic book show in North Jersey today. Small World.
J.J., was that the Collectorfest in Wayne? Did you see Uncle Floyd there?
Saw him, talked to him, bought a button from him, and got my vintage ’80s “Uncle Floyd Show Album” Lp signed by him. A really nice guy.
Love his rendition of “Deep in the Heart of Jersey”!
Uncle Floyd! That’s a New Jersey reference right there.
Batty won’t let reality spoil his dreams. When it comes to comics, he acts like he has all the answers…unlike those greedy publishers who don’t know quality comics when the see them.
If you think about comics today, all the third party companies: Image, IDW, Dark Horse, seem to live and die by their licensed comics. With the faint hope that the money made by whipping out Ninja Turtles vs Army of Darkness vs My Little Pony might fund an original IP rising above the noise and really catching on ala The Boys or Invincible.
So much so that IDW losing Transformers and GI Joe has people wondering if it’s the beginning of the end for the company.
On a separate note, a conversation with my brother, who hasn’t read the funny pages on a regular basis for quite a while now.
Me: Funky Winkerbean is ending this year.
Him: Will the last strip be Les finally eating a bullet?
We should be so lucky.
The first of many farewell to arms, I’m sure.
Also Ruby’s retirement is much of the same vein as Montoni’s closure: Just randomly goes “hey I’m out” and so they are (granted, rereading the closure/history showoff/auctions strips again seems like they could technically still be open for a few days, they just decided to sell all the decor before so. They did still seat Les & Summer after all). I’m sure we can nitpick and say retirements are more drawn out with a formal letter and a chance to set up a party some weeks later, but of course in a Funkyverse that’s spinning down the drain she just announces it and is immediately out the building, of course.
There’s zero emotional impact to anything, because Batiuk doesn’t do that. It’s just shock, complete the procedure, comic book cover, move on to the next shock.
One would think we would see Cindy getting a text saying “ Montoni’s is closing!” Then her and the rest of gang head back to Westview for the closing. Maybe some flashbacks and reminiscences along the way.
But what do I know, I’m not a Pulitzer nominated writer. I also don’t hold a grudge against my readers, nor am I angry at my syndicate for kicking me out.
Imagine, we hears from a distraught Cindy that their 50th reunion has been cancelled due to too many people not wanting to go for covid/hassle/hate/being dead reasons. Many cynical jokes abound.
Funky is just closing up Montoni’s for one of the last nights. It’s only a few days before his grand finale pizzastravaganza where he will use up all his remaining ingredients and offer free food to the community who has supported him for so long.
But he just can’t bring himself to turn off the sign, lock the door, put up the chairs. He sits in the empty restaurant in an homage to James Dean’s Nighthawks painting.
Les arrives at the reunion, the high school is black, the doors are locked. The janitor peeks through the glass, and lets them know that the reunion was cancelled. No one had bothered to tell Les.
Holly realizes Funky hasn’t come home, and goes to the restaurant. She sits next to Funky, puts her arm around his shoulder, and he smiles.
While Les and Cayla are driving home, they notice Montoni’s still open late. Curious they stop in. Les and Funky, Holly and Cayla begin to joke and reminisce. Funky offers to make a pizza. Wally and Rachel hear the racket and come downstairs.
One by one, the cast trickles in, until Montoni’s is full. People are making pizzas, eating, joking, reminiscing, striking up the jukebox and watching the band box dance.
The last to arrive is Tony himself.
Darin smiles, “Tony, what are you doing out so late?”
“Late?” Tony scoffs, “It’s 6:30 AM!” He grins.
“Now how much for the early-bird senior special?”
That evening Funky finally wakes up, smiling wistfully, heart full of fond memories.
Until he realizes he used up half his ingredients making pizzas for his friends. And his Pizzastravaganza is in two days. He calls up his suppliers.
“Uh, yeah, yeah I know I said I was closing. No, no I still am, but listen, I need to place another last last order for mozzarella. And how much for a rush delivery?”
He hears the price, and his face falls.
But will we get a “farewell to arms” for Becky?
(Oh, come on, SOMEONE had to say it, we were all thinking it.)
I’m sort of hoping that, for the very last day, all the amputated body parts of all the living and dead characters, including Skip and Becky’s arms, Lisa and Holly’s breasts, and Bull’s head, can be stitched together into one eldritch horror that will kill, maim, and burn its way through the town, leaving nothing but a smoldering ruin strewn with bodies.
ubbaThe, ubba The, ubbaThe, THAT’S ALL, FOLKS!
And all the severed body parts are held together by… pizza boxes! That’s right, the Pizza Monster is really everyone’s lost body parts, come to exact vengeance for years of terrible puns.
*Sigh* I’m gonna miss you most of all, Pizza Monster.
And every body part gets its own park bench dedication.
Comment of the day. Those Becky arm gags never, ever get old.
This could be the last faux comic cover ever and this the best Batty and Company could concoct? It’s just so…. uh…. there, I guess.
C’mon, Puff Batty. Give us one last magnificent mess of an arc to sink our teeth into before you go.
*the finger of the monkey’s paw curls*
Oooh, can it instead be the finger of the chimp’s paw curling around the trigger of a gun?
And doing it while taking aim at Les would be the icing on the cake.
Wayward Wendy travels back to . . . the beginning of Funky Winkerbean? On a cover drawn by a Funky Winkerbean character? Is this the first time these characters have shown any awareness of being fictional characters? Is Batiuk setting himself up as Manic in the High Tower?
Yeah, this meta thing didn’t work at all. I have a feeling we’re due for a flaming dumpster full of nonworking meta things.
I get the sense that DAWN of time is supposed to be some kind of pun, but I’ll be danged if I can figure it out.
As always, BTS, thanks for the brilliant post and the usual cornucopia of tags. Currently, “seldom-seen characters wearing hats” and “wry weary snideness” are my new favorites.
“Dawn” is a woman’s name, and “dawn of time” is used to refer to the beginning of time (or the start of a particular period of time, usually a long period).
So the beginning of the universe could be the “dawn of time”, or the formation of the Earth, or when life began on Earth, or the first humans appeared, or anything like that. So Wendy is meeting someone NAMED “Dawn of Time” AT the “dawn of time”.
It’s not a very good joke, but if anyone was expecting a good one, that’s on them at this point.
I took it to refer to the beginning of time in the Funkiverse. In any case, it’s another badly contrived set up in the service of a bad joke.
A few days ago Crankshaft went to the basement to check the break tripper. He tripped coming back up the steps. That was the joke.
Batiuk is proving to the bitter end that comics don’t have to be funny.
Digging through the tags and occasionally creating new ones is usually more fun for me than writing the post itself. There are some really funny tags our guest authors have created over the years.
Haiku from snark? Art
Just met you, Billytheskink
Miss you, already
Being here for years
15 if you count old site
Is not easier
What? Who writes like this?
Haiku in digital age.
Poet King Billy
Deep dive content, clever tags, revival of an ancient poetry form- you’re the whole package, bts.
“What is funny, however, is that Ruby joined Atomik Komix over 3 years ago to much fanfare, specifically to draw Wayback Wendy I might add, and she’s peacing out after drawing the cover of issue #4! And we all thought Phil Holt was a slow worker…”
Goddamned right it’s funny. A whole FOUR issues. Enjoy that retirement, Ruby, as you’ve really earned it. “Wayback Wendy”…sigh. Things are only going to get even more surreal and weird from here on out, bet on it.
I read Mister Kitty’s Stupid Comics every week and there have been some truly appallingly execrably awful comic books printed and distributed over the years. Back in the 80s, anyone with a pen and paper seemingly published a wordy, hard-edged antihero comic book in gloriously inexpensive black-and-white and so so so many of these wind up on Stupid Comics. There is really no reason TB couldn’t do the same thing, even once, and show the public. He clearly wants us all to think he wants to and the barrier of distribution is lower than ever with the existence of the internet.
This past week on Stupid Comics featured something called Humants. I mean, I know it’s our job to rag on the guy… but read this ludicrous introduction to Humants and tell me TB couldn’t do at least as well as this mess.
Or moving back to side projects in the comic strip world, Greg Evans’ Luann did a story arc back in 2010 where Luann and her Australian friend with the rictus grin wrote and recorded a song. Evans then arranged for the song to be actually recorded and made available online. It’s about as good as you imagine…
But unlike these folks and their dreadful efforts, TB is not even willing to try, only to give the illusion of trying. In that way, these comic covers are so much sadder than “Hey Boy” or Humants.
I’ve never understood this. Batiuk created an entire fictional sub-universe (Starbuck Jones), then, instead of going anywhere with it, just kept creating more and more fictional comic book sub-universes, and even entire fictional comic book companies, and never did anything with those, either. It could have been a lengthy series of running gags, poking fun at and paying homage to the crappy comic books of his youth. But he was just too lazy or too distracted, and squandered it all.
I really think Batiuk meant SJ to be taken seriously, and he meant all those arcs as an advertising gimmick. “Look, Hollywood, here’s how to do space opera right and make big money!” And never mind that Flash Gordon did it first, and better, in 1936.
Well, when he first created “Starbuck Jones”, it was just an obscure old fictional comic book title that was the centerpiece of an arc about something else entirely. Then he retconned SJ during the Holly collection arc, and he developed a whole SJ mythology where it was a long-running comic book title, then a series of movie serials that were created decades before the original SJ #1 even existed. But through it all, he never really explored who or what SJ really was. Was he a superhero? Was he an anti-hero? Was he just a regular guy who became a space buckaroo? What exactly was he doing during his various adventures? What was his goal? He gave us no insight into any of that at all, it was all just about the trappings of Batiuk’s comic book youth…spaceships, sidekicks, Saturday matinees, and the rest. And it might have been semi-interesting (or hilariously disastrous) if he’d have maybe given us a little SJ, instead of always just talking about SJ.
He’s said in the past on his blog that he came up with most of these comix ideas when he was about 10. Yes, he bragged about that. He doesn’t realize he’s tacitly admitting that his creative powers peaked before puberty.
But that’s not the sad part. The sad part is that he simply isn’t even interested in his own creations. He doesn’t have the slightest desire to create adventures for The Inedible Pulp (a 10-year old’s witticism if there ever was one) or The Amazing Mr. Sponge and Absorbing Jr (ha ha. For any non-US readers, there’s an ointment called “Absorbine Jr” that used to be very popular and widely advertised. Another “joke” that clearly came from the brain of a 5th grader).
He doesn’t even have any interest in creating a space opera for Starsuck Jones.
What interested him was simply the idea of being a creator, of getting the acclaim. He wanted to be in the ‘bullpen’ and be one of the cool kids. It’s the equivalent of growing up watching Perry Mason and having your heart set on being a lawyer — but refusing to crack open a boring ol’ law book. Nope, you want to skip right to the part where all eyes are you in court as you reveal the sudden shocking evidence to a collective gasp.
It’s simply a fundamental misunderstanding of how the world works. The acclaim follows the body of work; the work isn’t an incidental annoyance.
Possibly Batiuk’s biggest failing with the SJ rubbish (and the rest of his comic-book-creating rubbish) is that he failed to tell stories that involved his main characters. Suppose Mopey Pete the writer creates yet another boring white-bread superduperhero. Dullard the artist wants Mopey to flesh out the character’s background. “Okay, he lives in a cavern in the Andes and he works for NICE and his skin-tight costume lets him turn invisible, but what makes him different from other heros? Has he got a family?” “A what?” “Jeeze, Pete, has he got a girlfriend?” “I suppose.” “What’s she like?” “Oh, blonde, I guess. Stacked. Always needs to get rescued.” “But what makes her special, like the way you feel about Lindy?” “Beats me.” Pete shrugs. “What makes Tessa special to you?”
Dullard realizes that Mopey Pete is describing himself. And Dullard realizes he’s as big a loser as his buddy. He goes home to Jessica and Skyler, resolving to be a better husband and father. (Too bad Jessica and Skyler are still driving cross-country to Hollywood.)
Something like that would make a story. It would make use of the little Batiuk has shown us of Pete and Repete’s characters. But Batiuk has always settled for “Congratulations, we just birthed another comic book!” Just like he settled for skipping over Les raising Summer after Lisa died, or making Cayla anything more than a nagging hausfrau.
Some mind-bending weirdness at Stupid Comics.
I meant to tap on Nazombies Fuck Off but inadvertently clicked Nippos Erect. Oof.
Thanks for the link, bts.
Earlier this year, I stumbled onto a fan-made recording of
“Your So Party Let’s Go Dancey”. It was …..something.
Thanks billy. I’ve always appreciated your blog posts. I’m not crying, you are. (lie)
😭 A tissue for Mrs. bwoeh, please.
Between 2016 and July 2021, I read SOSF sporadically. After that point, I read the blog daily and contributed to the comments almost as often. Some might say too often (sorry).
I am going to take the next month+ hard. I can’t imagine what the bloggers and long-time contributors are going through.
I’d like to start over SOSF from the beginning, but what am I going to do when Batiuk pulls the FW archive from the Comics Kingdom? How can I appreciate the SOSF blog when that day’s associated comic is no longer available to view?
We all know on 01/01/2023 Batiuk is going to pull Funky Winkerbean from the Comics Kingdom archive in a misguided attempt to boost his fledgling Complete Funky Winkerbean volume sales.
I’d bet my bottom dollar Batty would blame the unavailable FW archive on CK.
Batiuk: It was out of my hands. My contract for Funky Winkerbean ended. It was their choice to remove the Funky Winkerbean archive.
Yes, and there’ve been some great discussions on CK over the years, despite the nannybot’s best efforts to censor the most innocuous words and render commenting unusable. I was just rereading some of the high points last night.
All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain….
Looking on the bright side, there’s a chance they could just freeze FW. They’ve done it for other comix — just leaving the last strip up for years. For example, Johnny Hazard Sundays and the Thimble Theatre revival featuring guest artists. We can hope. In the meantime, bookmark some URLs, because there’s also a chance that the files will remain up even if they no longer have a live link to them on their home page. Let’s face it, CK is not the kind of place where the servers and files are maintained and culled very rigorously.
I stumbled upon SOSF around the same time. I share your sadness. Let’s all make the most of the next month here.
Here’s something about the GoComics problem:
One message on the board came from GoComics and said that “things were getting weird” at their headquarters.
Darn that gosh-darn Elon Musk! Is there any site he won’t meddle in?
“things were getting weird”
Probably a coding issue. Or some dumb computer thing.
But I’m preferring to imagine that everyone was infected with whatever made the crew go crazy in that TOS Star Trek episode ‘The Naked Time’.
Probably a ransomware attack.
Clearly the only solution would be to rerun old “John Darling” strips. (Wait, wrong site.)
I got the reference!
Bugger. No update at all from GoComics on Facebook or Twitter. What the hell is going on?
1.) There must have been one hell of a hack on their servers. Destroyed by ransomware?
2.) The servers need to be rebooted but GoComic’s tech support doesn’t work on weekends.
3.) Could GoComics have been sold? Operations have been shut down for some kind of asset audit?
4.) Labor dispute? I wouldn’t figure their IT department to be unionized.
Where’s my lawyer? Bummed to the max.
This message was just posted on the isitdownrightnow site; reposted from FB: “We’re sorry our systems are down! We’re working hard to fix the issue. We will provide a status update when available. Thank you for your patience.”
I’ve been reading GoComics for about a decade, and I can’t recall a major outage like this weekend’s in all that time. As a free reader, I don’t have the right to be too harsh. Hopefully, my comics will be available tomorrow. I haven’t read them since Friday.
As I said, I have an acquaintance who is a GoComics/Uclick! subscriber. The benefits and perks sound pretty good. It’s about $2 a month. Receiving all my favorite comics in a single email sounds very convenient. Perhaps I’ll join.
Part of me hopes I’m wrong, but based on this sideways cover I’m increasingly expecting a snow globe containing Westview to be the final single panel strip.
A snow globe with falling leaves, not snow.
Lisa’s tombstone will be at the center of the globe with Les looking tearfully upon it and Cayla looking admiringly at Les. Summer will be off to the side scribbling notes for her book.
A snowglobe that falls out of the hand of an elderly Les on his deathbed, and breaks, as he mutters, ‘Lisa.” To be followed by flashbacks back to the very beginning….
so does this website become SonofStuckCrankshaft next year?
What are the odds that St Lisa appears in the final week? Have it turn out that Lisa is *still alive* or appears as a ghost to save Les from ending it all
I do not read “Crankshaft”, nor will I start reading “Crankshaft”. I wasted decades of my life and countless brain cells on developing a semi-encyclopedic knowledge of FW and its characters’ elaborate back stories. And there’s no way I’m gonna go back and read decades worth of “Crankshaft” strips to find out why Lillian limps or why Ed is terrified of styrofoam. So strictly speaking for myself here, no f*cking way.
I genuinely think the final week of FW will be profoundly anti-climactic and dreary, to a point where everyone will be in stunned disbelief over how dumb it was. Old dogs don’t learn new tricks, particularly when they’re being taken out back behind the shed to be euthanized.
Why does Lillian limp? Because she permanently hurt her ankle when she stepped on and crushed her emotionally fragile sister’s romantic dreams, ruined her chance at happiness with the man she loved, and drove her to an early grave, that’s why!
As for Ed’s styrophobia, I have no idea.
Not sure why you have to be so averse to Crankshaft, it’s just more of Batty’s stupidity sans comic books.
Take today for example. Why is the Westview marching band selling turkeys in Centerville?
Rusty…don’t act so surprised, they’ve been “selling band turkeys for more than 50 years!”
Soon as I read that in the ABJ, I scurried over to comment. Glad you beat me to the punch!!
Probably because word got out in Westview that those turkeys have been in Dinkle’s basement for 50 years.
BTW-I can’t speak for everyone’s band experience, but neither my nor my daughter’s band director would have allowed us to wear our uniforms for door to door fundraising. They were worn for performances only because they’re expensive and needed to last as long as possible.
Not to mention that if someone comes to door dressed head to toe in a uniform that appears to be in perfect condition, and then says they’re fundraising for uniforms, it’s obviously a scam.
Not to mention that most likely the folks in Centerville support the local high school, which is probably rivals with Westview, so why would they want to contribute to Westview’s budget instead of their own.
*New Life Goal*
Make Epicus read a bunch of Crankshaft.
Picture, famous scene from Clockwork Orange.
Can’t stop repeating muddled aphorisms…..
I can guarantee that will never, ever happen. I didn’t even know “Crankshaft” existed until like ten years in, as my local paper didn’t carry it. I was STUNNED to discover that Batiuk has TWO daily comic strips, as opposed to the 1/3rd of one I thought he had. IMO, the Crankyverse is the tenth circle of Hell, and I can assure you there will be no SoSC now, or in the future, unless someone else dares to go there. If I start reading “Crankshaft”, Batiuk wins, and I simply cannot allow that to happen. FW has always been personal with me, it’s more than just a simple dislike.
Ohh nooo….what’s this….
Why it’s this Saturday’s CRANKSHAFT! WHO PUT THIS HERE!?
Boy I hope no unsuspecting poster accidently reads this and is forced to consume CRANKSHAFT.
Tom Batiuk’s take on Gift of the Magi: no turkey and no stove to cook it in.
Epicus, that’s the beauty of it! You don’t need to know anything! Every entry can be a variation on “This sucks,” and the commenters do the rest! Just set it and forget it!
Friend walks in: Why are you crying?
Me: The Skink drew a haiku…*sob*
I am NOT crying. It’s all the dust flying around in here. Someone dust this place once in a while, will ya? And bring in a box of tissues!
Tissues for all this dust….right… to dry all the dust running down my face.
I actually dithered over posting that drawn haiku because I thought it might come across as fairly self-indulgent (maybe it does anyways). But I’m glad to see my sentiment in posting it landed. This site has meant a lot to me and the folks commenting on here have given me far more than I could ever hope to give back.
The last week of FW, Les wakes up Its the end of Act II and he’s been sleeping in a chais next to the dying Lisa’s bed. ‘Lisa, I had this dream about what my life was going to be without you’ The phone rings Its the doctor saying that Lisa’s cancer is in remission She is going to recover and live. ‘So that dream’ Lisa says ‘will never come true!’ ‘Thano God’ Les says ‘it was awful!’
Yes, Act III turns out to be one long bad nightmare Les was having
Then Les realizes that he did not actually receive an Oscar from the A-list celebrity who was saved by his book, fight Hollywood on his own terms, or become the hero of the Great LA Fire.
The nightmare becomes a dream of a wonderful world where everyone appreciates Les the way he deserves.
In reality he has helped his soulmate beat cancer and with the support of genuine friends. It’s not enough for him.
He heaves a sigh as he wheels Lisa out of the hospital.
This is pretty similar to my desired finale. I also did a variation of the St. Elsewhere/Newhart “it was all a dream” ending. But with an assist from the Twilight Zone‘s hitchhiker episode. Here it is:
Lisa never died of cancer. Les died of cancer. All of Act III was Les’ mind processing it. As you can imagine, he doesn’t take it well. Dying at a young age, with the forgotten “Fallen Star” as his only accomplishment in life, and the world never getting to recognize his self-proclaimed genius.
This type of ending would work perfectly for Funky Winkerbean, because its explains away the absurdly Les-centric perspective of Act III. Everything revolves around him at all times. He hangs out with celebrities. He’s rude to his friends with no repercussions. He gets to imagine the surreal, self-indulgent dream life he never got to live. Lisa, despite being dead, is around every corner. The continuity makes zero sense. Dreams are like that.
The ludicrousness of it all is the biggest clue it was a dream. You know these videotapes of Lisa holding forth on things she can’t possibly have anticipated? That was Lisa talking to Les as he lay dying (a la “The Sting” episode of Futurama) It’s why he was so dependent on those dumb tapes: they were his mind’s last link to reality. Lisa telling him not to get on the doomed flight was her talking him into continuing the fight. Him telling Lisa “it’s okay for you to go” years later was him saying it was okay for himself to go. “Lisa” was the symbol of his own life, because it was the only thing ever found worth living for. When the personification of death arrived to take “Lisa” away, that was his mind letting go.
This ending explains away 15 years of nonsense, kills off a detestable character (at the expense of bringing back Lisa, but still a net gain), makes their relationship sweet again, gives Masky McDeath a little dignity (he’s silly because Les’ dying brain imagined him) and sets the stage for Act IV. All in one panel.
BJr6K, I stand in line, and also sniffle a little bit because this is a callback to one of the saddest Futurama episodes. Oh, where ARE those tissues?
If only he would do this. It corrects all of the Act 3 missteps (especially looking at you, second deployment and captivity of Wally) and allows for FW characters to fairly seamlessly integrate into Crankshaft. Heck, it even saves Montoni’s and the Green Pitcher.
Yes, the Green Pitcher! And The Rag, Cory’s rag! What will become of these two characters, some of the most interesting of Act III? What price did they fetch at the auction? Do they have a good home now?
Kind of a Jacob’s Ladder ending. Brilliant.
I was also thinking that Masky McDeath could come for Batton Thomas in the last strip.
It’s a beautiful retcon, much better than having Lisa just emerge from the shower.
This was brilliant. I wish TB would/could use it, but we know he won’t because it requires killing off his avatar and returning the strip back to Funky. But, man…what an ending this would be.
I only hope that this ending is somehow preserved so that either KSU or some other entity can use it as an alternate when the strip’s copyright expires.
Now add a fourth panel in which Batiuk wakes up, cringes in self-disgust and says “That is how I should have ended it!”
A final Sunday strip, Photoshopped with actual photos for references.
A middle-aged woman with 50s hair and a 50s housewife dress is in an upstairs room of a suburban house. Dust motes drift in the late afternoon sunlight that streams through a window, dappled by the leaves of a chestnut tree outside.
The housewife is leaning over a bed. In the bed is a boy sleeping in a striped t-shirt and jeans with rolled-up cuffs. A toy cap pistol lies on the floor. The boy’s hand rests on a rather crumpled “Flash” comic.
“Wake up, Tommy. Wake up, honey. I made you some hot cocoa. Isn’t today the day they get the weekly comic shipment at the Rexall? You’d better get over there before they sell out of the good stuff!” She smiles indulgently.
“Gee whiz, ma!” says the boy sleepily. “Gee whiz, I had the craziest dream! I was an old man and I’d been drawing comics for 50 years, see, but they weren’t real comics, it was newspaper stuff, and I was about to retire and people said mean stuff like ‘about time,” and, and, and –”
“Oh, there, there, Tommy. It was just a bad dream. Now drink your cocoa, then off you go to get your comics.” She tousles his hair lovingly. “Someday I’ll have my name on the cover of The Flash, ma!” the boy says. “Of course you will, Tommy,” his mother smiles. “I know you will.”
DC Comics covers back then didn’t credit the people working inside. (That started in the 1980s.) Nor did the artists who drew the covers necessarily sign their work.
But it’s a beautiful scenario nevertheless. Jay was there, and Barry was there, and Wally was there, and the Mirror Master was still Joe Scudder, because Marty Pasko hadn’t goofed in the Injustice Gang data in *JLA* 111 and called him Sam…
(I’m Robert Bruce Banner and I can relate!)
There is, of course, zero chance that Batiuk would ever do this.
And by “this”, I mean expend this much effort in writing a coherent, multi-layered piece of narrative art. With Batiuk, first idea = best idea.
Ah yes. The Stephen King technique.
Awesome. Maybe a little “Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” perspective distortion and time compression as well.
The irritating thing about the next six weeks is that they’re bound to make the previous six weeks look good in comparison. What will he rush through next? Will they bulldoze the high school? Will Dinkle have his book published? What dumb thing will we see next?
Anything is possible at this point. Retirement was thrust upon him and so it’s anything goes.
Maybe Buddy will bite Adeela. Maybe Mason will bulldoze The Valentine, Bull will arise from the dead.
I expect that the Valentine (and the new owners) will figure prominently in future Crankshaft strips, and will be a big source of FW crossovers.
No way on earth Wayback Wendy only has four issues…Maybe they renumber every year, or for every new arc?
Especially since THIS was issue four.
Isn’t it interesting that, with her power to go back in time, Wayback Wendy still chose to age into an old lady?
No, I guess you’re right. I guess it’s not. I guess nothing about this book, or anything AK has ever produced, is interesting.
Great catch CBH. And it appears someone didn’t like your beedy-eyed nit-picking.
It’s so fitting that even the very last sideways Sunday has a continuity error.
I think I speak for many of us when I say that the character I’d most like to see revisited for the finale is Zanzibar.
Zanzibar walks into the mostly dismantled Montoni’s. He stands at the counter (stools have all been sold) and orders a slice. “We don’t see many hard-drinkin’, sharp-shootin’, talking chimps at Montoni’s,” Funky says.
“And with pizza this shitty, you’re not likely to see many more,” Zanzibar snaps. “What’s with the missing fixtures and dust?” “Well, the pandemic wiped out our thin-crust profit margin –” Funky begins.
“Thin crust? This thing is like a pound of white bread with ketchup and Cheez Whiz on it! Was that some kind of attempted pun? That’s it, pal. I’m gonna do you all a big favor and put you out of your misery.” Whipping out his pistol, he shoots up the place.
Funky, Cory, Adeela, Crazy Harry, Les, Holly, and the entire Atomik Comix crew, all of whom had been picking up to-go pizzas, lie dead on the floor.
Jan 1, 2023: The first strip of “Zanzibar, the Westview Years.”
Except Batiuk would immediately ruin that, too.
Wait…assuming all this happens on the same day and within a couple of hours; Ruby tell her boss she retiring and walks away? I don’t think it works like that. I don’t think any of it works like that.
” I don’t think it works like that. I don’t think any of it works like that.”
The answer to the question: Please describe Funky Winkerbean in two sentences.
Erk. Typical of TB ever so impressed with his own cleverness which was one of the most irksome things about this strip – that and Les being an insufferable self pitying jerk and his condescending attitude towards his readers – (witness Les being a jerk at the book signings and his other lectures on serious storylines in comics) which always made me rather angry Dude these people are the reason you get a salary to do what you do
Anyway I find myself being caught out by the news that FW is ending. While I expected it to end at some point (maybe) the abruptness of the news is a surprise. I do agree with the folks who suspect that the syndicate told him to shut it down – the snippy tone he has taken telling us the news is a clue. Maybe – you were what happened was the Syndicate was “We gave you your 50th anniversary – we were expecting you to wrap things up but no So time to close up shop Tom.”
I think he expected to pretty much die in harness like Schultz and Kelly and George Herriman (who left an unfinished strip on his drawing board) which fits.
Anyway personally, it was his instance that he and he alone was willing to handle ‘serious’ topics in the comics that angered me – completely ignoring the rich history of comics because well it didn’t fit his self aggrandizing narrative. Well that’s over – there will be a story to two in the paper and he’ll lie to a reporter who write a profile with out checking thing and that will be it. He’ll be remembered for his obsession with misery and little else.
While I won’t miss the strip, I’ll miss here – there so many folks posting here who I am in awe of their ability to put words in row and the depth of their knowledge of well everything.
And for giving me a place to be as pompous as I can be (I did not pick Professor Fate as a nom de internet because I admire the character )
thank you all.
Yeah Batty is quite pompous and arrogant if readers show anything but adoration for his work.
Remember the “it’s called writing” response he gave to critical readers. Then his endless diatribes about comics not having to be funny, that the systems are rigged against talented writers in favor of cheap gags that make money.
You know what I think really irks him? The fact that he will be largely forgotten by Jan 2023. Oh, Todd Batiuk, the guy that writes the gag a day strip about old people? Oh his name is Tom? Whatever.
The most galling thing about Batiuk thinking he’s the only person qualified to tackle “serious” subjects on the comics page is that Doonesbury started two years BEFORE Funky did. And was doing more “serious” stories while Funky was still in the gag-a-day format. And then when Trudeau famously took an almost two-year break, it acted as a time skip for the characters as well; they had spent the first ~12 years as college students, but when he returned to the comic, the characters had all graduated, moved into their adult lives, and started aging in almost real time. That was 1984, eight years before Funky did its own time skip.
So not only was Batiuk not the only person who could or would do more “serious” stories, and only was he not the first, he wasn’t even the only or first person to do them AT THE TIME HE WAS DOING THEM.
Was Batiuk intentionally following Trudeau? I have no idea. It’s certainly possible, but it’s also possible neither paid any attention to the other and thus had no idea they were going down similar paths.
But Doonesbury got a Pulitzer in 1975, whereas Funky… didn’t.
In 1980, Art Spiegelman’s Maus began running in Raw, his anthology of experimental comics. It won the Pulitzer in 1992, the same year of the first FW time skip.
I’m just not buying that TB didn’t notice that other cartoon series won Pulitzers. I’m not buying that he wasn’t aware of the financial and artistic success of Garry Trudeau and Art Spiegelman. I’m not buying that he didn’t know that Maus was about the Holocaust and contained no jokes at all. What I’m saying is that I think he’s flat out boldfaced lying when he acts like he invented the idea of telling serious stories with comics. I know that’s a harsh thing to say but it’s just not credible, with what we know of him, that he paid no attention to which cartoonists were winning acclaim and Pulitzers.
Berke Breathed admits Bloom County took a lot of inspiration from Doonesbury. It’s apparent in the very early strips.
And in a parenthesis, we’ll learn that the reporter’s paper did not, has not and now never will run *Funky Winkerbean.*
So, uh, we’ve traveled back to the beginning of Funky Winkerbean? And we can tell this because … um, because “Funky Winkerbean” was famously originally just a bunch of psychedelic acid-trip patterns that appeared in the comics section day after day? With no character called Funky Winkerbean there?
In fact, with no characters at all except a groovy floating Purple Pope called Dawn, as played by Janis from The Muppet Show?
CBH, I’m amazed your deep dives into FW lore didn’t touch on this important early incarnation of the strip!
You’re right! I must have completely passed over that! Maybe it’s in one of the few early FW strips missing from the CK archives.
Or maybe psychedelic Dawn of Time is what the ODed tweaker in this strip was looking at.
So was Les smoking dried banana peels or popping aspirin with his Coke?
“Quite rightly,” sings Donovan, while hastening to point out that he name-drops Superman and Batman in the lyrics for “Sunshine Superman.”
Correction: “he name-drops Superman and Green Lantern in the lyrics for ‘Sunshine Superman.'”
Alan Scott or Hal Jordan?
I’ll tell you after you tell me what is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow…
Or possibly he was hanging out with Milo and Opus: https://imgur.com/XDrjyYZ
This entire week has been dumb…
Well anyways I gotta get ready to hit the road for Thanksgiving early tomorrow so you might not see me for a few days…
Wendy is on LSD, it appears. Well, she’s not “wayback Wendy” for nothing I guess.