Hey readers! As the Batiuk Retirement Watch continues, your friends here at SoSF are putting our heads together to figure out what happens to this blog after the 31st of December…look for updates soon. –TFH
A couple years ago, my older sister showed me something interesting that she’d found among our late mother’s personal belongings: a number of pocket size “junior diaries,” one for each year, spanning a number of years from the early days of her marriage to my father through my own childhood years. While we were a little curious about what these little books might contain, my sis and I both agreed that we just wouldn’t feel comfortable reading through them. Though I did ask my sis if I could keep the one from my birth year.
Nobody connected to St. Lisa seems to have any such qualms about perusing her most private writing. Summer’s already read through Lisa’s account of being raped and impregnated by Frankie (and was even prepared to blackmail him by reading it on YouTube). When Les was struggling to write the Lisa’s Story screenplay, Cayla helpfully fetched Lisa’s journal from the bookshelf. Though she’s been dead for fifteen years, no FW character has dispensed more wisdom, between her journal (presumably journals; that same book probably wouldn’t contain entries from high school through her cancer battle unless she wrote really, really small) and her hours upon hours of video messages.
128 responses to “Diary of a Dead Housewife”
Oh, wow, the full moon rose and Summer turned into her father!
With a work ethic like this, I’m shocked Summer doesn’t have a job at Atomik Komix. Yet…
“I was nominated for a prize, I will never let you forget that! Damn it, give me all the prizes now!”
Should’ve known this was coming. Logically speaking you can’t expect much a dead woman who grew up with a wealth of still-alive peers and actually moved away a lot between school changes, education and a lawyer career be able to contribute to a town’s oral history, but of course somehow the “saddest” story of Westview should have something in her private writings that’ll be a moving passage about the town.
The question is how likely is this thread of St. Lisa revisitation going to lead us through the final weeks, or at least take up 2 or more of them? Is she going to attend a holiday dinner in spectral form? You can’t weasel out of hiding her immortal reappearances as Les’s psychotic breaks Bautik, she saved a plane from exploding!
If we’re going to be getting a steady dose of this drivel until December 31, I think we should actively lobby Comics Kingdom to make Banana Jr 6000’s ending from yesterday the canonical one. Given what we’ve been seeing so far, it would be the most logically consistent one.
Hear hear! Motion to petition CK to make BJ6k’s ending the official seconded!
All in favor say “aye”!
The heck with CK. LET BJ6000 strip be our final “today’s strip” on New Year’s Day.
Not including this Monday strip, there are 40 FW strips to go. (Oddly, if the December 31st date is adhered to, the strip will end on a Saturday, and not go out with a final Sunday strip.)
Shall we get a pool going on how many of the remaining strips will reference Dead St. Lisa? Specific references only: named in dialogue or a thought balloon; her picture shown; a diary entry read or referenced; an on-screen appearance (or vocal cameo) in video, flashback, dream sequence or ghost form.
Not including today’s strip, I’ve got 17 in the pool. What number do you have?
I’ll say 12: six days this week and six at the end.
Does anyone move out of Westview?
Only 12 out of 40? You’re betting Batiuk will go ‘subtle’ — a bold choice!
Been spending more time than ever poring over FW strips from years past and am really struck by how little care is taken with Summer’s appearance in the most recent strips. Sure, she’s always been a “tomboy,” but Batiuk took care to soften her appearance by giving her tousled hair with Superman blue highlights. These days, Ayers draws her with hair that’s a shoe-polish black helmet, and you could cut cheese with her nose and jaw.
Wait, you’re expecting Batiuk to inject “quality” into his work?
Yes, he’s noticeably un-shaggy-ed her ever since that Cory wedding arc. And she’s all lean and angular and pointy now.
1. I was not following FW when this particular arc was current. I do not know how graphic TB wrote the episode of Lisa’s rape, as read by Summer. It highly offends me that he displays it like Summer is reading a novel. “Here. I will pull up a chair, and read how my bio-dad raped my mother. I am sure glad my mom wrote this for me.” This is not real. Look at her face. No trauma. No anger. No fury. “Gosh. Mom sure can write with suspense.”
If it happened to my mom, I could not read it. I do not believe anyone in real life could read it.
2. I am surprised that TB dropped the Dawn of Time story. I thought that would be a perfect way for TB to blow 2 of his final weeks: center the arc on 2 unused characters that we care nothing about. Yet having said that, can we get TB to end the strip earlier? It is SOSF I care about. Not TB.
To clarify a few things SP-come-lately. Frankie is the bio-dad of Darin, Lisa’s son she gave up for adoption in high school. That is why he is commonly referred to as Boy Lisa.
Unfortunately for Summer, as far as we know, Les Moore is her biological father.
In fact! Here are Les and Lisa immediately post conception. (They had to watch a rented ‘movie’ to get in the mood.)
I am not making this up. This is Act II Funky Winkerbean when the playground was still open.
You have heard that truth will set you free?
Well, not so much. And I had to look at Les arm pit hair!😩🥵🤮. Thank you ever so much. I thought we were friends? Perhaps now, you owe me a picture of you as Princess Leia?🤤🤪.
Common courtesy requires our gratitude to you for posting this strip, CHB-sensei. But..ewwww. Was this part of a Funky-Chickweed Lane crossover? Seriously, though, thanks for always having the evidence from the past, like a true historian. CBH= Comic Book Historian? 🙂
As Cheesy-kun notes, this approaches Chickweed Lane territory, which TomBa has recently also encroached upon in Crankshaft. I somehow missed this one when it appeared in Act 2.
Gee, I wonder what the movie was that our pre-coital couple were watching that got a reaction out of Les? I was thinking maybe “Dark Victory,” “Love Story,” “Sunshine,” or “Terms of Endearment.
Obviously, it was “The Phantom Empire.”
“Sunshine” briefly became a TV series, and I can still remember the synopsis of one episode:
“While Sam is working at several jobs to buy Jill a dollhouse, Jill gets lost at the zoo.”
Next time Film Forum JR. asks what movies I’d like them to show, I’m going to suggest “Dark Victory.”
And lest we forget, Cayla had to force Les to fornicate with her too. So it’s a recurring theme. The way the women of Westview just hurl themselves at Les is without a doubt the least realistic thing about the entire strip.
As far as Boy Lisa goes, I’ve been calling him that since he first came back, in 2011 or so. Boy Lisa’s “missing years” will always be a mystery, I suppose. The story was that Boy Lisa and Jessica had a whole other life, where Boy Lisa was a hotshot MBA who lived in the Big City, but that’s as far as he ever went with it. Then they slowly morphed back into a “young couple just starting out”, even though they’d been together for fourteen, fifteen years AND were already married, too.
It offends me too, how casual it is. Summer’s just curled up in the chair, having a nice read of her own mother’s rape journal.
It’s not as offensive as Les making her read it in the first place, but it’s close.
Crap! Damn! He made her read it?
Oh, yeah. This was just before the strips included in the original post. Frankie was going to ruin Lisa’s reputation with a salacious TV show. (Because, you know, Hollywood gives a TV show to anybody with an axe to grind. And rapists love attracting national attention to their own victims.)
Les called a town meeting and started handing out assignments to everyone, on what they needed to do to “protect Lisa.” Somebody brought up the diary as a possible source of information, and Les just said “No, I can’t.” So Summer fell on that particular grenade. Not that it had any emotional impact on anyone.
Les wrote Lisa’s Story? He couldn’t even read Lisa’s story.
When the diary showed up, Les didn’t want to read it, and Summer spent an entire strip with that diary on her bed, contemplating reading it. He never told her to read it, she took that responsibility on her own when he refused to do it himself.
The thing that’s strange about that entire sequence is that the only evidence we have that the encounter between Lisa and Frankie was nonconsensual was Batiuk’s preview of it several months earlier. He called it a “coda” to Lisa’s Story, mentioned how she had gotten pregnant and said that “there was some coercion involved” or something. That was literally all the evidence that it was a sexual assault.
What the strip seemed to show is that Lisa and Frankie dismally boinked. Lisa got pregnant, and when she told Frankie about it, he got violent. His violence was stopped before it started by the timely arrival of Pm and Jfff. And that was it.
Am I misremembering? Because honestly, I don’t remember a single strip where Lisa’s consent was ever mentioned. She regretted it, sure, especially after Frankie threatened her with violence, but there was never anything to suggest he forced himself on her prior to that.
Thank you, Charles
How often does Batiuk have a woman do any meaningful work on her own? There’s Ruby Lith, and Funky’s ineffectual gym trainer. Anything else? It’s like he has to masculinize Summer to make her worthy of writing about her mother. I’m betting she gets cufflinks and a bottle of Old Spice cologne for Christmas.
The hardest work I think he had a woman do in Act III was Holly collecting the entire Starbuck Jones run. I’m not joking.
I remember that! I’m still astonished she could find the strength to lift one of those weighty comic tomes. And years of therapy helped me deal with watching her encounter with Chester the Chiseler.
Oh, yeah, I recall that. And you’re right.
Well, Holly also trained to do her flaming baton trick again, in what the Funkiverse considers middle-age, i.e. late-60s. That took a lot of work. Cuz, you know, ladies have to practice to do those pretty tricks…
Donna’s achievement was ret-conned but happened when she was a kid. The new band director was never allowed to develop her own independent career, Cayla was barely more than an extra on set, Funky’s ex-wife moved up in the world by marrying a rich celebrity, and the Saint’s own daughter has made her name not in basketball or by earning a graduate degree (in whatever) but by moving back home to write the same stuff her dad wrote.
what about the travails of the one armed band director who replaced Harry Dinkle?
I’ll bet Rachel had to work really hard to not lock Funky and Tony in the walk-in freezer and burn Montoni’s to the ground after getting passed over for a management position by… take your pick of Khahn, Les, Holly, Wally, Cory and Rocky, Adeela, or Wally again.
Right, it’s awful! Now that Summer’s “all grown up”, she has supposedly inherited the physique, angular facial features, and “eye wrinkles of wisdom” from her mother – never mind that Lisa looked like that only AFTER becoming deathly sick – and the now-neat black hair from her father. Hmm. I know things change, but at least during her tomboy stage, she was a more passable conglomeration of both parents.
I think Batiuk’s really killed her after all these years. Before, Summer would have been the kind of person who came at this with a great deal of determination, with an idea of how to proceed and the initiative to do it. This Summer just seems to be blowing in the wind, with no solid idea of what she was going to accomplish with this thing. Hell, all the work she’s done regarding this is to interview people who were suggested to her in a very dubious fashion. There’s not a single interview she would have done if someone hadn’t told her to do it.
I didn’t like the old Summer either, but going back over her high school strips, the contrast is striking.
With the tens of thousands of vidoetapes Dead Lisa left to her family, is reading her diary going to reveal much more? How the hell much do we need to know about her? She was an unremarkable woman who died. Can we never move on from that?
The answer, of course, is No. Batdick considers her death his World Series winning home run. He can’t stop running those bases. That’s sad.
Thousands of video tapes, an entire book series, and an entire Oscar-winning movie. The trophy for which is sitting in their living room. Also, Lisa was her own mother.
And Summer’s supposed to be writing the history of Westview, not Lisa. If the tsunami of mass media information about Lisa isn’t enough to fully understand her role in Westview’s history, then Summer’s book is just another Lisa’s Story.
Hell, Lisa is the person Summer needs to research the least.
In the Moore household, Lisa’s diaries and videos are like reference materials, used to settle arguments and such.
“No Summer, it was the county fair on August 16th. I remember because your mom had her chemo two days before.”
“I think you’re mistaken, dad. It was the 17th, and it poured that day.”
“Cayla, grab me volume 14, July Through August please?”
“Well, I’ll be damned. It WAS the 17th! And it did rain, at 6:45 PM!”
It’s really kind of creepy and disturbing how Summer is still doing this. She’s drifted through ten years of college and hasn’t even chosen a major yet, she appears to have no friends or romantic interests of any kind, and on a weekday in November she’s just hanging out at her father’s house, casually reading her dead mother’s diaries again. It’s kind of strange, to say the least.
The article I read at Cleveland.com said TomBat plans to continue periodically doing FW strips at http://www.tombatiuk.com and continue some FW arcs at Crankshaft
This leads me to believe TomBat really doesn’t want to stop, but that the Syndicate decided to cancrl FW when Chuck Ayers said he was retiring The Syndicate may have decided that Funky Winkerbeam is fifty years old, all its characterd are old and it jumped the shark years ago So why hire a new artist and continue it?
At any rate, if TomBat contimues doing periodic Funky strips at his website and continues some Funky characters on Crankshaft, why couldnt this site continue on a less than daily basis?
I bet you’re right, Dreamer. Look at the other strips- the soap operas, Mark Trail, etc.- that (for good or for bad) have been around longer than some of us have been alive (and I graduated from high school in 1985!) Their artists and writers changed, but the syndicate kept them on.
If FW were “all that” then we’d expect TB to be announcing a new artist.
Thanks for the link.
I do think that Ayers’ retirement and the inability to replace him forced the issue more than any decision by the syndicate. I just found a 2013 interview on his web site where he says he works a year ahead but later mentions that Ayers only got a strip two weeks in advance of the submission date. TomBa originally drew the strip himself but hasn’t done so in years. He might be able to handle an occasional online post himself, probably using a drawing progam.
I can see how that time-jump would irritate Ayers. Batiuk writes a scenario that’s derived from something recent, and next year Ayers is dealing with an issue that’s been done to death elsewhere–and most likely with a Batiukian twist that makes the story pathetically dumb. Why waste your effort on trying to make that look good?
Wow, that’s kinda vicious, to give yourself 11 months of lead time and only give your artist 2 weeks.
I’ve probably been Ayers’ harshest critic here. I believe you should do your best even if your collaborators are asleep at the wheel. However, we’re all only human and I do admit that if I were in Ayers’ shoes, over 70 and slumped over a drawing table month after endless month, spending my golden years illustrating this utter crapola, I’d probably be a bit slapdash too.
Yeah, my impression is that he’s consolidating the two strips, which is probably why he realigned the timelines earlier this year. Why would he do that if he was only going to focus on the Crankshaft characters?
We’ll probably never know if it was his decision because he didn’t have the interest and/or stamina anymore to produce two strips, or if it was something the syndicate mandated. Do we know that Ayers is retiring and that that was the potential impetus for Batiuk to shut FW down?
But anyway, now that the two strips’ timelines are aligned, I suspect he’ll alternate between the two strips in Crankshaft. He’ll run several sequences a year that never would have been in Crankshaft before, featuring Les or Mason or Atomik Comix and none of the classic Crankshaft characters. Funky will probably get dumped, due to Batiuk’s dislike of the character and the fact that Funky’s roles can easily be supplanted by Crankshaft himself. He’s got plenty of dumb wives he can write about between both strips.
Or maybe I’m completely wrong and nobody from Funky Winkerbean will ever show up in Crankshaft for more than a panel or two at a time. Batiuk did seem to have completely exhausted everything he wanted to say with these dorks, after all. What would he be eager to keep? Comics about damate climage? Comic book covers produced by his stable of ancients? Mindy and Pete’s wedding? He already gave himself an Academy Award for Lisa, so perhaps he’s done with that. Everything else was perfunctory.
Oh, I wouldn’t put it past TomBat to retcon Crankshaft and his son-in-law into comics fans. Masonne’s theater will play some long forgotten film from 1935 that will remind Crank and Jeff of a comic they loved as kids. They’ll be talking about it in the theater lobby and the AK krew will be there to overhear them. C & J will get invited to visit the bullpen.
Go out and buy lottery tickets.
you are a prophet!
No retcon needed. Crankshaft’s son-in-law, Jeff, is a huge comics fan.
Thanks, CBH-sensei. I’m proud that my record of successfully predicting things that have happened and are common knowledge – to everyone but me- remains intact! D’oh!
Jeff and Pam look older here, which would place Crankshaft at or in Death’s door, wouldn’t it?
Work. Of. Art. 🏆
Oh, for Mopey Pete’s sake! I do not know what I did to get the above comment (Work of art) placed here but it was an accident. I’m certainly NOT praising my own comment.
Batiuk’s right- this digital stuff is hard…
One funny thing about comics in relation to other comic strip artists, namely the oft-compared Bill Watterson. When you look through his words with both Calvin’s comic-reading escapades and what he wrote personally in some of the strip collections, he didn’t seem to look on the medium too strongly, calling them “incredibly stupid” no matter how they were presented and generally mocking things they were doing at the time (strong violence and sexuality, the hallmarks of the “Dark Age” post-Watchmen).
I don’t imagine he hates the medium, or even necessarily superheroes (though he may have a few choice words about Marvel under Disney knowing his commercialization views), but he certainly didn’t glorify them too much with his strip references, and I wonder if Bautik ever got rubbed the wrong way, and thinks showcasing the sort of tropes Gold/Silver Age comics went for is his way of showing newsie readers that they really should check out the medium, which is just preaching to the choir with both us as mostly snarky geeks, and talking to potentially literal choir members still regularly reading newspaper feeds who likely are too busy with Murder She Wrote reruns or western/romance novels to care for old Flash stories.
Batiuk is infamous for having an 11-month lead time. If the syndicate unexpectedly cancelled the strip, and that happened any later than January 31, then he’s got a backlog of strips that will now never appear in the newspaper. Rights issues aside, it would be trivial just to post them on his website.
The article says Ayers told him more than a year ago he was retiring More than enough time for TomBat to write all his final FW strips
Thanks for clarifying. I didn’t see Cleveland.com, just some other articles. That narrows some things down.
beckoningchasm (11/20/22): “I was nominated for a prize, I will never let you forget that!
Rusty Shackleford (earlier that same day): You know what I think really irks him? The fact that he will be largely forgotten by Jan 2023.
The truth is — and believe me, I take no joy in saying this — given the transitory nature of the mortally-wounded newspaper industry, most people have already forgotten him, if indeed they ever heard of him.
A couple days ago, I found one of my sons watching “Homer vs. Dignity,” a 2000 episode of “The Simpsons” that briefly shows a Funky Winkerbean balloon flying over the Costington’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. He turned to me and asked, “Who?”
Also recently, I mentioned the strip to another of my sons. His response was “What did you say it’s called?”
“No, bean. Winkerbean.”
“Winkerbeam? Like a beam of light?”
“No, no, bean. Like those things you eat. Winkerbean.”
“Winkerbean? Sounds really stupid. Never heard of it.”
Out of the mouths of 26 year olds…
This March, I finally told my mom that I guest wrote for a blog. It was necessary since we were taking a family trip during one of my shifts, and I had to explain why I needed to duck away a few times to check that posts went up.
My mom, who started High School the same year Funky Winkerbean debuted, had no idea what I was talking about. She’s used to me being unbearably weird, travelling cross country to buy action figures and dress up as Donnie Finkleburg Robot Master. But she just stared like I was speaking in tongues while I tried to explain the strip.
But she recognized Crankshaft, because our local paper carried that. Because she isn’t ignorant of comics completely. She knows what the Des Moines Register carries. She knows Pickles, she remembers Rex Morgan, she recalls FOOB.
But Funky Winkerbean. Nada.
I’ve said this before, but I’ll repeat it. I worked in what was quite literally the world’s biggest bookstore. It had a section of comic strip collections that was probably as big as the first floor of my house.
There were zero Funky Winkerbean titles. There were zero customers asking for Funky Winkerbean titles. The property had absolutely no profile whatsoever. The only reason anyone would ever even have heard of Funky Winkerbean was a fleeting Simpsons reference — and Funky Winkerbean was referenced on The Simpsons only because the writers found it amusing to occasionally mention a terminally obscure third-rate newspaper cartoon. And when they did so (which also they did with Rex Morgan MD, and several times with Mary Worth) it was always made it clear that the cartoon they were referencing was something ONLY a complete, hopeless, clueless moron would actively (non-ironically) enjoy.
I’m confident that if I randomly surveyed 100 people, 100 of them would flatly state they have never heard of Funky Winkerbean. I’d have to get to 10,000 people before I’d be confident of finding 1 or 2 who knew what it was.
What does this mean? It means that we at SoSF are amongst the very few who noticed this stupid little non-entity of a comic strip. And amongst the even fewer who kept reading it, appalled, not believing something this meritless could possibly continue to be published. And finally, we are (almost against our will) amongst the tiny, tiny number of morbidly curious observers who then actually wanted to examine it …. to see if we could figure out how and why something so worthless, so instantly forgettable, so completely without reason to exist …. somehow kept on existing.
Frankly, I’m not sure we’ll completely figure it out before it stops.
I guess ultimately what I’m saying is … it’s a good thing your mother is used to her offspring being weird, CBH. (Mine is too.) Because what we do here? Is weird!
I also remember a “Drabble” reference. It was especially surprising because I only know of one small paper that has ever carried it.
And of course after all these years I still pray every time “Mary Worth” starts a new arc it will be the one where she tells a friend to commit suicide (and that the friend will be Wilbur). Best. Comic strip. Reference. Ever.
Oh, And I agree: we are likely Batty’s most devoted followers. Rather sad, really.
I’ve never spoken to anyone of my strange interest in Funky Winkerbean. Because I dread ever having to explain it.
I’ve tried writing it, but I get to about 100 words and think “no one’s going to read this far.” If I need a paragraph to explain why I hate something, it’s probably not worth hating. But it is!
You have to “get it” yourself. You almost *have* to like Funky Winkerbean before you can hate it. Because you have to understand its world before its perverseness comes to light. Today’s strip is fine, maybe even sweet, unless you know how sick the Moore family really is.
But that’s not really right either, because stuff like “the playground is closed for repairs” and that awful rape joke in Crankshaft were so self-evidently bad, they should have gotten Tom Batiuk some unwanted attention.
The flagship Barnes & Noble in NYC on 17th & 5th? I’m old enough that I was reading comic strips in the paper when FW premiered and I’m pretty confident that the strip never ran in any NYC paper. Perhaps because the whole milieu of football fields, marching bands, majorettes, etc, is completely foreign to virtually all NYC high school students, or maybe just because there were so many far better strips competing with it back in the day. If it was that B&N, then it’s likely no one shopping there had ever heard of the strip, let alone read it.
Like so many others here, I first learned of FW from the balloon on the Simpsons.
I’ve often thought of how interesting it is that certain names only survive vestigially due to pure chance — because they were inserted into a popular and enduring piece of pop culture. I was discussing this with a friend and we came up with a few examples. One was Wendell Willkie, who had a long political career and ran against FDR in 1940. Today, if he’s remembered at all, it’s from the 1943 Looney Tunes cartoon “Falling Hare,” in which a gremlin shouts to Bugs Bunny, “Well, it ain’t Vendell Villkie!”
FW will be one of those. I suspect that future generations who watch The Simpsons will assume that the name and character were made up by the Simpsons writers, like Itchy and Scratchy, because the name is just too dumb to be real.
One reason we hate Funky Winkerbean is because it’s so clueless. The first time I read it was almost twenty years ago, with that arc about Wally getting Buddy the Wonder Dog. Suddenly Wally’s mental health is fine. It doesn’t work that way. Everything else seems just as detached from reality. Creepy Les marries a black woman, and of course no racism pops up in any way, shape or form. A disguised student at the prom says he-or-she will come out of the closet, some day–and nobody recognizes this character by voice? Dullard gets married, has a son–and his role as a husband and father is reduced to leaving Skyper with his mom’s exhausted parents. Adeela gets arrested by ICE, but it all goes away because of pizza.
What I’m saying is, if there’s one thing Batiuk gets right, it’s cluelessness. And he’s clueless about being clueless. His characters don’t need a clue. It’s infuriating that this is about the only thing he does that’s within a quarter inch of reality.
I was in Toronto, not NYC. I believe B&N had a slightly larger bookstore in terms of floor space, but ours had more shelf space, more actual books, and more titles available. So we billed ourselves as the world’s biggest bookstore. B&N probably did too.
customers at your store would only know FW if the local paper there carried it If not there was no reason for your store to carry compilations
In 1964, Spider-Man fought the Sinister Six, and Doctor Octopus briefly held Aunt May Parker and Betty Brant hostage.
Aunt May didn’t register any terror at all while she was in his clutches…and, then, when she was back at her home in Forest Hills, she shrieked.
Had the ordeal finally gotten to her?
No, she was upset that she’d missed “The Beverly Hillbillies.”
Five years later, Marvel reprinted the story, and it still referenced “The Beverly Hillbillies.”
But a decade or so later, when the Clampetts had moved away from prime-time (the series was cancelled in 1971) and Beverly (Hills, that is…swimming pools*…movie stars…”), Aunt May’s shriek was over missing “The Dukes of Hazzard.”
So if comics can try to be contemporary, maybe cartoons can be the same, and one day “Homer vs. Dignity” will reference some other minor comic strip.
Major Kong said a fella could have a pretty good weekend in Dallas in “Dr. Strangelove,” originally, and it became Vegas after the Kennedy assassination. Watch Slim Pickens’s lips and you can see that he’s still saying “Dallas.”
If you’re familiar with “Degrassi Junior High,” you are welcome to make that “pimming swools.”
I’ve mentioned SoSF a few times in conversation, usually in the context of something cool I learned from another commenter. “So I read this snark blog about Funky Winkerbean, and…” “About…. the old comic strip?” “Yeah actually it’s still running, can you believe it, but I think the only people who read it are me and the universally interesting people on this snark site, so…”
My totally scientific study of a few people at our local donut shop and a good friend of mine show they all read Crankshaft and all gave up on FW years ago. Too much misery and comic books.
The truth is that Funky Winkerbean should have ended at the end of Act II Lisa finally dies, the Grim Reaper comes and takes her to Heaven A suicidal Les goes to NYC after the funeral to spread her ashes gets mugged and Funky comes up to save him and take him back to Westview Where Summer helps him regain his will to live.
Curtain should have fallen right there The characters all grew up and finally one of them died. That was the end of the part of life (high school to mid life) that FW chronicled There didn’t need to be an Act III at all Act III was painful TomBat should have taken his Pulitzer Prize nomination and rode off into the sunset The Godfather didnt need a part 3 either
Spot. On. (But then there’d be no SoSF, no Phoenix from the ashes that were Act III.) But, true. Act III was as unnecessary as it was awful.
I agree. FW could have gone out on a strong note if it had ended with Lisa’s funeral, the Sunday after she died.
You’re right about The Godfather too. Toy Story didn’t need a 4, Star Wars didn’t need a 7, Star Trek didn’t need any odd numbers, and Police Academy didn’t need to exist at all.
It took me a long time to see the third “Godfather” movie, and when I was trying to assess why I hadn’t liked it, this came to mind:
In the first installment, Michael has Sonny, Fredo and Tom.
In the second installment, Michael has Fredo and Tom.
In the third installment, Michael has neither a brother nor “my other brother.” (Mario Puzo on my mind: I still recall Kay Adams’s appreciation of Vito Corleone taking in Tom Hagen when he already had such a big family of his own…and Michael not telling her that in Italian families, four children is not considered “a big family.”)
Coppola was wise to resist the third part for as long as he did.
Do business with Hyman Roth, respect Hyman Roth, but never trust Hyman Roth!
I saw both versions of Godfather 3. I liked Coda much better. (truth telling: any scene with Diane Keaton makes me cringe in any of the 3 movies.) We live in an age that directors can go back and fix the original movie, and usually improve it. The Snyder cut is better. Coda is better. There is one notable exception. Han still fired first.
I personally feel that Act II is what killed the strip. In Act I, the entire Funky Winkerbean universe was based on absurdity. Everything was a caricature, and because it was not meant to be real, you could have things like sentient computers, machine guns for the hall monitor, and sadistic band directors. Once he decided to age the characters and represent Westview as a (1/4 inch from) real place the absurdity didn’t work, and the absurdity was the heart of what made the strip appealing. Without that it was just another soap opera strip, and in Act III he was constantly trying to reclaim that magic via flashbacks and such, but the efforts pretty much fell flat.
I agree with you, bobanero, but I think Act II could have rescued itself from unredeemability if it had ended with the strip of Les & Summer on the park bench, where they age 10 years between P1 and P3. Les’ words are something like, “….And I think your mother would be so proud of what you’ve become.”
AAAAAND…. Scene! The end. Like many classic endings, it wraps up one adventure and hints at more adventures in the future, even if we won’t be there to read them. Not too cloying, not too depressing, and a vaguely clever way to propel your characters in the future.
Ah but the problem is that Batty got what he craved most: recognition. That Pulitzer nomination set him on a path that destroyed this strip and brought it to the mess it is now.
He became like Lisa: preachy, self-centered and unable to see anyone else’s views on anything. It came out in his “ it’s called writing “ and his lectures on the unwritten rules of comic strips. Because of that nomination he felt superior to his readers.
This strip died of cancer a long time ago. With Act 1 he was able to create some memorable characters like Dinkle and Crankshaft—characters that are still known today. But Act 2 is already forgotten and there were no memorable characters, in fact, most of the existing characters were destroyed and made likable.
My dream was to see someone else take over FW and make it enjoyable again. That would be the ultimate smack in the face to Batty as we would fade away and he would be running a snark blog!
Having read the second half of Act II, it was just as preachy…if not more so…than Act III. The real start of darkness wasn’t Lisa’s death, it was Lisa’s pregnancy all the way back in Act I. That arc got him a ton of attention for tackling a serious issue. Kings Features even did a bunch of press, basically trying to sell it as After School Special.
And early Act II is nothing but these, press releases, news articles, arcs on racism, terrorism, domestic abuse, alcoholism, suicide, all with little press releases to go with. Lisa’s first bout with cancer was all about this. Lisa’s second bout was allowed to be a little more ‘real’ and hence hit better/harder for the general public.
He tried a few of these in Act III, but often didn’t get the same attention. Exceptions would be Big Gay Prom and the CTE arcs.
Batiuk talks about how his wife Cathy would bring current events to his attention. “Cathy was always there as a sounding board, and she also affected the work in more subtle ways. Countless times over the years an article would slide across the breakfast table accompanied by the words, “You should read this.” She never let me get away with anything too easy for too long, and her gentle influence over the years has been profound.”
Cathy and Tom have been married since BEFORE he started cartooning, and he seems to genuinely adore her. Maybe Cathy wanted her husband to do more than just entertain, maybe she wanted him to use his platform to speak on issues. maybe for clout, maybe because she thought tackling this stuff made the strip better, maybe from an honest desire to change things.
Funky Winkerbean was more realistic when it was less realistic.
Because archetypes contain a tremendous amount of truth.
The more specific you get, the more precise you have to be to capture truth. Batiuk’s archetypes (nerd, dumb jock, ditzy cheerleader, etc ) were funny because they contained truth. Nothing in Act III is funny because there’s no truth in any of it.
Example: The restaurant owner who can only cook hot dogs and peas. That could be funny if it was a consistent character trait, or had a funny explanation. But it isn’t and it doesn’t. It’s just there, and no one seems to find it remarkable, and it’s not explained, and then it’s forgotten. The very definition of unrealistic and unfunny.
Especially when Les has an identical flaw. And it’s also way too specific. What is it about hot dogs and peas that Batiuk thinks is so relevant or funny? They’re not the only things bad cooks can make.
It sounds like a level in The Sims. Florida Man has Level 2 cooking, so all he can make is hot dogs and peas. At Level 1, he could only microwave things. At Level 3 he’ll be able to make spaghetti.
We’ve heard of organ harvesting. Les and Summer, and everyone who enables them, commit soul harvesting. The ultimate purpose of Lisa’s life was to provide raw material for the writings- and egos- of her husband and daughter.
And we’re so supposed to respect and admire these cretins?
Disgusting. These people have no shame. TB’s moral compass is broken. For the reasons you mention, TFH, I cannot imagine disrespecting a deceased loved one in such a manner.
Shame on you, Batiuk.
Thank you for sharing that photo, TF Hackett. What a precious memento, made all the more so by your integrity toward the memory of your mother.
As the unnecessary Act 3 comes to its boring end, let’s remind ourselves of why Batiuk cheated us out of something good for something flashy and useless. We should have not jumped ahead in time at all. We should only now be watching her go off to college int he first place.
With parents like Les and Lisa, I think we’d be watching her in therapy. At best.
MASSIVE CBH TLDR ALMOST BATIUKIAN RANT INCOMING
I have a different view toward the journal situation, of Lisa at least. That is, if she didn’t want the journals read by at least close family, then it was her job to inform them and/or dispose of them.
And it’s good she didn’t. I won’t be burning my journals and letters either. Not even my three ring binder of middle school Star Wars fanfiction.
I’m currently moving into my grandmother’s old house. It’s a big old folk Victorian from the 1890’s, all decorated from 1980. And as we’ve been cleaning out the house we’ve found SO MUCH stuff of my great-grandmother’s that will be hanging around in my care.
I found a pair of tiny leather baby shoes, at least 100, if not older, and as I was conditioning them with a special restoring cream, I pulled out what they’d been stuffed with. At the very bottom, crumpled newsprint from 1960 from the town my great-grandma lived in.
I ask my mom and my aunts about her. But they can only give me the vague reminiscences of childhood trips to visit her. They were not as close to her as I was to my own grandma that just passed.
And I’m craving WORDS, letters, messages. I want a little snapshot of her mind preserved somewhere to make her real and distinct.
All I have of this long dead woman is a collection of things, objects with mostly forgotten stories that hint at a person I can never know.
Cleaning Grandma’s house we found not only stuff of her mother’s but a few boxes of stuff from my great-great-grandparents. And I got the sense that these boxes had just been moved from one attic to another for 100 years. And all we can say when we open them is, “What is this? It seems important?” and we close them.
When I was moving stuff into the house, one of Grandma’s old neighbors stopped by to chat. I groaned as I lifted a huge tub half full of books and half full of the saved packaging of limited run action figures.
“You can’t take it with you.” He joked.
“Yeah,” I said, “But it’ll be around long after you’re gone.”
We all create these webs of objects around ourselves in life, and when we die those objects start to scatter. That’s what ached about cleaning out my Grandma’s house, it was like bit by bit unravelling the life she’d knit together.
And for most of people, the un-famous, a weird box in the back of an attic full of the remnants of their possessions is the last thing remaining on this Earth that could hint at who they were personally. The last little thing that makes them more than a name on a genealogy sheet, a stoic face in a black and white photograph. Unless something was preserved in words.
Of course, the addendum to this is that Lisa left NO SHORTAGE OF WORDS. Which Les has been sure to pass around as much as possible.
Thanks for writing this counterpoint. I do understand the reluctance that people naturally have about reading the private thoughts of a parent or grandparent. The fact that the person wrote down and kept these thoughts might indicate a desire to communicate with generations they knew they’d never see. Maybe the take away is – if you feel a need to respect the privacy of a relative, that’s fine, but don’t destroy personal writings without instructions from the individual to do so. They may want the opportunity to have their memory preserved.
I’ve been going through stuff from my parents’ estates. I just this week found my father’s dream diary from 1957. It’s quite interesting — nightmares of anxiety about starting his business (which was quite successful at its peak) and about being confronted by Nazis with Lugers (he was a WWII vet). I have no qualms about reading any of this, personally; my parents are dead and the dead don’t get privacy. I expect the same when I die. I also respect the views of others who can’t bring themselves to read the private memoirs of the deceased.
When I’m dead, I expect the same treatment. So I don’t mind Summer’s actions here. I do agree that strips where she’s poring over the rape diaries were terribly distasteful. And also insulting to readers who remembered that she wasn’t raped, but went along willingly. That made her character more interesting; she wanted so badly to be someone other than mousy Lisa that she let a “bad boy” take advantage of her in hopes that she could be part of some group and shed her dorky image. But if she had regular human motivations, then she wouldn’t be a plaster statue of a saint, so human aspects had to go.
Your counterpoint, like everything you write here, is well-organized, logical, and thoughtful. So, right of the gate, you wrong on two points: What you wrote is neither a rant nor Batiukian. 😀 It is long, but not long-winded. It is the right length for what you want to say.
My commitment to privacy assumes as a default that the right to it extends beyond death, particularly within a family. The alternative view places an undue burden upon the diary writer to tell her loved one’s not to read her diary when she dies. The caveat is that this view is family dependent: If your family shares your view, then a different default has been established and that is fine, of course.
What bothers me about the Moore family is that neither he nor Lisa ever paused to check their consciences. “Dad, do you think mom would mind if we read a journal that was private while she was alive?” They blithely assumed that they could not only read it but use it as material for profit, and thereby open part of Lisa’s private-most thoughts to the public-at-large.
Good luck with your move. It sounds like a demanding time -moves always are – as well as a time of discovery.
Warm wishes to you and your family for an uneventful move and happy trip to your past! (And you don’t even need to inhale outgassed plastic fumes to get there!)
What bothers me about the Moore family is that neither he nor Lisa ever paused to check their consciences.
They don’t have consciences. Simple as that. They are the most shallow, selfish, codependent couple you’ve ever met. If Les had died, do you think Lisa would have waited five minutes before cashing in his private writings any way she could?
As a writer and history buff, I share your love of all things that bring the past back to life. History isn’t just Big Events, it’s how ordinary folk lived their lives on a daily basis. Old newspapers, photos, letters, postcards, birth, marriage and death records, ledgers, bank books, deeds and yes, diaries and journals can give insights to history in a way a high school U.S. History book can never do. And they can be a load of fun. I can — and often do — spend hours digging into that stuff.
One must be careful, however. Not every word set down on paper is intended for other eyes; some are only meant as an aid to writers struggling to organize difficult thoughts and feelings. The researcher needs to bear this in mind and tread lightly.
My great-aunt died when I was 11. A couple months later, I found a diary of hers from decades before I was born and, being a kid, I dove right in.
I opened to the page where she recorded her feelings about losing her unborn son, the only child she would ever carry, and her husband’s cruel dismissal of her for her failure. It hit like a fist.
The past is a foreign country and travel advisories have been posted.
That was beautiful. Thank you for posting it.
“September 4th. Our baby boy was born. We’ll try to raise him as a girl. I’m hoping this helps him excel at girls high school basketball. Maybe get a full ride to Kent State and spend 14 years there seeking a worthless degree.”
“…and never getting it.”
Summer’s taking a year off school and the strip will end before she can return, so she’s never graduating from Kent State.
True confession time. FW helped me survive the perils, trials, and tribulations of junior high and high school. It was often funny, fairly relevant for a comic strip, and showed some awareness that high school could be a strange realm. For a young man who took books and himself far too seriously, it was refreshing, especially compared to how teens were presented in most comic strips. Still, come the end of next month, I will not mourn FW’s demise thanks largely to what has been showcased in recent strips: flogging Lisa’s diaries yet again, Les and the Atomix Comics team hogging the spotlight, a complete disregard for humor, I can go on here. Based on what I have seen in most of the 2022 run, FW is ending with a whimper and not a bang.
As a 70s kid and 80s teen I enjoyed FW and read it everyday. The air guitar arcs were a hoot. Now they’re a reminder of how far Batiuk has fallen: Crazy Harry gave up
rock-n-roll for comics and coffee at Montoni’s?!
By the time I was in college I saw that the art was not as good as most of what else was on the comics pages but that was part of the charm.
Side note for GoComics users: The Daily Cartoonist has posted a list of other places you can get the strips you’d normally get there.
Thank you!! I’m also having trouble with CK today. It still has the Sunday strips up, and I can’t get to Monday.
Tragically, my favorite, Super Fun-Pak Comix, appears to be MIA. On the bright side, I guess I’ll have a bunch of strips to catch up on when and if it reappears.
Thank you. The only one I was really missing was Arlo and Janis, and MSN seems to have the recent entries.
In maintaining the SoSF Twitter feed, I use Hootsuite to monitor the platform for FW references. That Simpsons riff is by far the number one FW-related Tweet (and with Thanksgiving coming up this week, I’m sure to see it a bunch more times).
A lot of other Tweets are from people who have no idea who or what Funky Winkerbean is, but think the name sounds funny and/or dirty. Lastly, Dilbert cartoonist Scott Adams has a lot of haters on Twitter (let’s not get into why that is, please), and they make sport of him by pretending to confuse him with “the guy that draws Funky Winkerbean.”
Enough of this hating!
SOSF itself, might not survive after December 31.
Let’s take a moment and list our favorite panel, strip, or arc from this year.
I will go first:
Wait! Wait! I got it it. Back in the summer, Les and Funky were playing golf. Funky hit Les on the head with a ricochet ball and knocked him out.
The football arc where Les got pounded by a bunch of teenagers was pretty sweet too.
It absolutely was. Great choice!
Another good way FW could have ended:
I have to say that the year started off with a strong contender: Harry Dinkle marches in the Rose Parade. This, like the 50th Reunion arc, would have been a great place for Puff Batty to close the circle on his characters. Dinkle is certainly his best-liked and most enduring character, and the post-retirement Rose Parade should have been his moment of triumph, the capper on a long and distinguished career. But Batty made nothing of it; Dinkle didn’t even have any interesting thoughts. It just sort of … happened. The only one who even seemed to get a kick out of it was the perpetually overexcited Bullfrog in an Andy Warhol Fright Wig, aka Harriet Dinkle.
Favorite strip of that arc? Harriet and some random spectator are on the sidelines as the parade goes by. The spectator for some reason asks her if he can walk across Colorado Boulevard. (I remind you, the Rose Parade is passing by as he asks this and in reality, no one would have been audible, even with a bullhorn, over the deafening sound of brass bands. But okay, he asks.)
Harriet replies, “Colorado Boulevards are for Rose Parades!”
1. Incoherent and nonsensical. Both the question and answer make no sense in any context, let alone the context they were in.
2. Grammatically ramshackle. She’s not talking categorically about every Colorado Boulevard in existence. Why the plural?
3. Tangential to the interesting action the arc is supposed to be about. We don’t care about this spectator we’ll never see again. We want to see what this beloved (by some) character does as he marches triumphantly in this parade, the capper to his 50 years as a band leader. How does he feel? What does it mean to him? Nope, no dice. We have to see this conversation instead.
4. A pathetic attempt to call back to something that was once successful for Batiuk, but which makes no sense in today’s context, and which is forgotten by 99% of the strip’s readers (the remaining 1% being the obsessives here). In this case, he was attempting to revisit Dinkle’s famous Act I dictum, “Football fields are for band practice!”
Thank you Duck!
I think that is the perfect depiction of Mr. Batiuk. He gets a tremendous honor: the Rose Bowl Parade. He does not even know how to celebrate it. He deflects it with never to be seen again characters and conversation.
Are we even aware of how much we were spared by TB not winning the Pulitzer?
The Pulitzer nomination was bad enough.
It’s kinda hard for any real panel to beat the picture of Funky throttling Les from the headers here.
Though I will admit to getting a lot of entertainment value out of the Mitchell Knox story; not for any reason Batiuk intended, but because of the sheer “what the hell is WRONG with you, Tom?”-ness of it all. (Seriously, I can’t even comprehend how someone thought of that idea at all, let alone thought it was a good idea to put into their comic.) (I mean, even Zanzibar The Talking Murder Chimp only rated a “that’s certainly a thing that happened”.)
If I remember correctly, that was the arc about John Darling who was murdered and the offending gun that murdered John Darling who was murdered being made into a toy so that it could no longer murder anyone other than John Darling who was murdered.
Do we know if it is the same murder weapon that Zanzibar the Talking Murder Chimp used on his victim? ( There is an unexplained joy in being able toy write: Zanzibar the Talking Murder Chimp.
Worst of all, one of the most egregious violations of Chekhov’s Gun in a career full of them: Mitchell Knox thinking fervently, “Don’t mention the autopsy photos!”
And then nothing more about the autopsy photos. Ever. But I know I’m not the only one who thought that line was the most interesting and intriguing thing in that entire arc.
It’s like he was trying to pull a “noodle incident” but it’s way off target. Watterson flat-out explained how the noodle incident worked: “anything the reader’s imagination can come up with is better than anything I could write.” It doesn’t work here because we don’t know this character, and we don’t want to imagine anything about the scenario being hinted at.
I’m not sure what to make of it, (A hat? A brooch? A pterodactyl?)
But my local fish wrap has eliminated all the King Feature titles in the Sunday edition. What role, if any, did economics play in all this? Did KFS decide to not renew a contract? I’ve started to research the history of the syndicates, but I’m a little nervous (First time? No, I’ve been nervous before.) about the reception.
“Oh, nothing much. Just digging into the backstory of Randolph Hearst and his relationship with newspaper comic strips.”
Got the reference!
I can’t believe Batiuk is seriously suggesting that one girl’s diary is somehow the key to understanding the entire history of Westview.
Note to future historians: I keep a diary. When writing a history of New York City, please keep my diary front and center as the linchpin of the city’s story. I’m just that fucking important.
TomBat didn’t know when to end FW Unlike his fellow NE Ohio artist Bill Watterson (from Chagrin Falls, up the highway from Akron) Watterson drew ‘Calvin and Hobbes’ Watterson knew Calvin couldn’t grow up and didn’t want to spend a lifetime rewriting the same gags So when he had exhausted the concept of a boy and his imaginary tiger he stopped writing it He preserved the integrity of his characters Which is why Calvin and Hobbes remain two of the best loved comic characters ever, while other comic characters (like the Funkyversers) became bad parodies of themselves.
And it will always be a magical world, inviting us to go exploring.
I just found out today that FW is ending, so I immediately came here. I’ve been lurking on and off since the days of Stuck Funky, forgetting sometimes for months or even years that FW exists, but always coming here to catch up on the absurd levels of utter Batiuk Batdickery that make FW the trainwreck you just can’t help but be fascinated with. From the bottom of my heart, a sincere THANK YOU to every single writer and commenter and supporter of Son of Stuck Funky. You have made me laugh so many times, and taught me so much about so many different topics, comic and non-comic related. No matter what the future holds, I just wanted to express my gratitude that this place exists, and existed, and made at least one lurker’s days a little bit funnier.
Again, Thank YOU.
Ugh, reading Lisa’s diary. Am of two minds because of two “diaries” in my life. I use the quotation marks because one is my late grandmother’s (late as in, 1961) scrapbook – which contains not only the usual delightful stuff you’d find from the years when she was first married though my mom’s birth – photos, newspaper clippings, congratulatory telegrams (!) but also long pages of prose, clearly written not to be personal contemplation but storytelling. My cousins and I were able to read it for the first time a few months ago, and most of it is simply charming (we learned that she went into labor with my aunt while in the gallery of the Pennsylvania state capitol, watching the proceedings.) Then we got to the page we knew was coming but were dreading – when my uncle died suddenly at 11 months. On that page was an envelope, and inside were a poem she’d written, and a sketch she’d made of him. Both were heartrending. And tucked inside an envelope, not pasted to the pages – I don’t regret that we read them, but it was a very different feeling. Not just sad, but a little uncomfortable. (The next entry was about the birth of my aunt – just under two weeks later.)
My mother only kept a diary very briefly, when she was first diagnosed with and being treated for MS. I still have it, and will always keep it but will never read it. Mom made that decision easy by writing “DO NOT READ!!!” in big letters on the cover.
I don’t know why I felt compelled to write something so long, but I’m too busy today to write something short.
Those who write
Those who read
And those that chose not to read.
It is human to care
Always our families.
But it is human to care about
Those we read about and with.
I will never meet you, know you, see you.
But I care about you.
Even on a sneaker’s blog.
Whether it is a diary marked, “Do not read!”
Or explaining to your Mom what you have been doing since 2017. An exceptional 2 week writer with respect and accolades.
Or suffering knowing your parents are in an urn on a dresser because 2 bitter brothers won’t live their lives in the right way.
You are not just an icon making witty comments
You are a person who thinks, acts, and loves.
You are respected.
We respect you
We accept you
Just the way you are.
Beautiful stuff SP.
You are loved and accepted.
I’ve been unusually inspired to PhotoShop lately:
Work. Of. Art. 🏆
“As many subscribers have noticed, the online comics, puzzles and columns provided by the Andrews McMeel syndicate went offline early Saturday and remains offline today on our website.
“The digital service provider is currently experiencing technical difficulties and working to resolve the situation. According to the company, the extended outage is due to apparent cybersecurity issues [emphasis added], and their team is working around the clock to restore operations.
“The company cannot estimate exactly when full access to comics, puzzles and columns will be restored. We will update this article as we receive more details.
“Thank you for your patience and understanding during this unfortunate event.”
There’s clearly one option: load up the John Darling archives and rerun those strips on the main page nonstop.