Disrupting the Timeline

Green Luthor
November 24, 2022 at 10:44 pm
But…Donna said she made the helmet herself? Is she also a time traveler? (Is that how she played Defender in 1980?) Or did she just somehow accidentally create a “temporal phase shifter” without realizing it?

November 26, 2022 at 12:16 am
1. So Donna lied her ass off when she said she constructed the helmet herself?

1a. So Batiuk lied his ass off when he showed us Donna being “inspired” by that bullshit comic book cover and actually making the helmet herself?!?

So not only is Harley a time traveler; today we learn that he’s a toucher of minds. If he has that ability, couldn’t he just influence Donna’s mind to return the helmet? Why do that when he can just inspire a fantasy illustrator to put it on the cover of Eerie #57 for her to find? The end of Funky’s 50-year run would be the perfect opportunity for Tom Batiuk to tie up at least a few of his myriad loose plot ends, and even revisit a few of the people and places who have played a role in this strip’s history. Instead, we’re given a week (or, likely, more) of these two mopes sitting in the janitor’s closet, discussing this hokey time travel retcon.

The Duck of Death
November 23, 2022 at 10:35 pm Edit
Kudos to Tom Batiuk for ensuring that none of his readers will be sorry when his strip ends, or miss it when it’s gone.

I’m with ya, DoD.

Great Moments In SoSF Arc Recap History: March 12-19, 2017
Funky wanders around an abandoned house in the woods.

While jogging with Les, the Funkman notices a derelict house on a hill, and he returns later, by himself, to explore. This week long, standalone arc accomplished nothing in the way of plot or character development. But it exemplifies a couple hallmarks of post-Act I Funky Winkerbean: glacial pacing and the futility of human existence. The strips from Monday to Friday are almost completely void of verbiage: Funky pulls his car over, treks up the hill, and wanders through the abandoned house. Read the entire arc here.





Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

110 responses to “Disrupting the Timeline

  1. The Duck of Death

    Oh, it’s a tale as old as time. How will Tom wrap up all his loose ends? With a dreary magic helmet! Dreary magic helmet? DREARY MAGIC HELMET!

  2. Cheesy-kun

    And we haven’t even gotten to his “watching” Lisa.

    Batiuk is touched in the head.

  3. William Thompson

    Batiuk gets more absurd every day. Seriously, who would have imagined minds, touchable or not, in Westview?

  4. Cheesy-kun

    Thanks very much for sharing the link to the empty-house arc. TFH. I’d never seen it and boyhowdy is it bleak. And dull. Dull as the dust that gets swept away by time, Batiuk might say if he had any self-awareness.

  5. Ah. The penny drops. You see, Donna didn’t achieve her video game victories by herself. Of course not, she’s a (ha ha) girl.

    No, her victories and achievements were because of MEN, behind the scenes. Because of course they were. Nothing in this world is ever done except by men.

    Oh, Tom Batiuk, you old sexist you!

    • Epicus Doomus

      Oh, we’ll be touching on THAT Batiukian quirk before it’s all over, you can bet on that. BatYam and women…hoo boy, that’s a corroded drum of mustard gas waiting to be opened, I’ll tell you what.

      Just look at this story, where the female protagonist is sitting there expressionless as a man spins a wild yarn. She was supposedly writing a book as recently as a few days ago, but now she’s just listening to some guy talk. And on top of that, the female character in question is a once-major character he essentially abandoned for ten years. So yeah, issues.

      • batgirl

        This is reminding me of the strip where Kitsch Swoon sat listening to Phil Holt’s ‘tall tale’ of pulling Excalibur-equivalent out of the bar, completely accepting it.
        TB’s feminine ideal – a silent listener, devoid even of smirks.

        Okay, maybe taking the helmet back at the time might have been noticed. But for decades it sat in an attic, and then got thrown out. Harley never tried to ‘nudge’ Donna into taking it back, or putting it out on the curb so he could snag it back? And what about Harry going on a jaunt with it? That didn’t disrupt any timelines or draw notice?

        Do we find out next that Donna’s gaming skill was a product of the helmet and not her own at all?

        • Gerard Plourde

          “Do we find out next that Donna’s gaming skill was a product of the helmet and not her own at all?”

          I suspect this is where we’re going.

    • Cheesy-kun

      I’m sorry beckoningchasm. I was making the same point as you- and a lot less eloquently. I did not see your comment.

    • Rusty Shackleford

      Yep, that checks out. For all his fake female empowerment and white knighting, his true beliefs are revealed by the way he writes.

  6. Green Luthor

    Hey, I got quoted! I feel so accomplished! 🙂

    And, hey, I guessed that if Batiuk bothered to explain anything, it would be unbelievably idiotic, and looks like that was right, too! (Though in fairness, that one was pretty much a given. And honestly, I didn’t expect it to be quite THIS idiotic.) (Tom Batiuk: defying your lowest expectations since 1972.)

    • Rusty Shackleford

      Act 1 was fine, it was only when he got all serious and started pushing misery 24×7 that things started falling apart. People complained, but that just made matters worse because it made him think he was a true artist with an important message. That Pulitzer nomination created a monster.

      Things are so bad now that my only reaction when reading FW is to shout: GET OFF THE STAGE!

  7. Epicus Doomus

    Perhaps bagging FW is a good thing, as five or ten more years of stories this convoluted and stupid would have tried everyone’s patience to the breaking point. It already makes so sense whatsoever on multiple levels, to a point where analyzing it in any sort of coherent way is totally impossible. What does “blipping” Donna, of all people, in and out of time have to do with anything? Beats me. They didn’t legalize recreational weed in Ohio, as far as I know. So the thought process involved here is, at the moment, eluding me, if there even was one in the first place.

    I remember that “Funky walks around an old house” arc. You wade through the archives and you find some pretty weird ones. Like that one about squirrels, or the time Wedgeman stole Alex’s Metamucil. Just the totally oddball ones that you instantly forgot about. I don’t know about anyone else, but those silent strips were always tough to snark on for me. Great for parodies, though.

    • billytheskink

      I remember Funky in the old abandoned house week very well because I was the guest author that week. “Tough to snark on” was an understatement. I think I resorted to comparing the church steeple in that Dakota wheat fields to the space ship in Asteroids out of pure desperation.

      • Epicus Doomus

        Ouch. That ol’ SoSF guest host luck of the draw. It backfires horribly more often than not. Trying to do titles for silent strips is a real challenge, as they’re almost always dialog-based, unless there’s some obvious visual element, like a post office exploding or something. But that one…wow. We’ve all paid our dues here but damn.

        • billytheskink

          It was especially wild as it followed a week that gave me a lot of material, where Durwood showed Les his artwork for the Lisa books and the two reminisced through some of Lisa’s greatest hits.

          The empty house week was apparently based on something TB did in real life. In that blog post, TB keeps talking about how there must be a story in the walls of that abandoned house. Not a hypothesis he was able to prove.

          • Epicus Doomus

            He’s always had an eye for the mundane. Remember when he visited Hollywood and took a picture of the outside of a nondescript studio building, then did an arc featuring lots of exterior shots of that nondescript building? Or how he regularly ignored time, history and etc, yet never failed to depict the green pitcher properly.

  8. RudimentaryLathe?

    The artwork on Summer the last few days is pretty telling. I keep waiting for her to don a pair of coke-bottle glasses and complete her transition to Les Junior.

  9. At first, I was confused.

    Then, I became frustrated.

    Now, I’m just bored. Who cares about this freaking helmet? What are the stakes? What is the point?

    Why, Batdick? Why?

  10. Cheesy-kun

    Yet again Batiuk manages to take away agency from a female character. Donna’s Act I story is now at least partly the result of a guy controlling her mind.

  11. …and now I see Less, plus “and there’s more” in the masthead. *Shudder*

    • Epicus Doomus

      Those are on a rotating, random basis now, so rest assured, they are not indicative of anything right now. They’re funny as hell though. So are the Act III arc archives. Man, there’s some amazing, long-forgotten stuff in there.

      • William Thompson

        The quote that puzzles me is the one where Batiuk compares internet comments to the writing on the walls of an asylum’s bathroom. What makes him think they’re comparable? Has he ever been in a mental institution? If not, why not?

        • Epicus Doomus

          So to him, we are that bathroom wall. I take it as a great honor.

        • Hannibal's Lectern

          Like most things Batiukian, it’s an attempt to take a common cliche (“the internet is an electronic bathroom wall” is pretty much as old as the internet itself) and assert ownership by adding a little something (in this case, the reference to an asylum). Rather like a dog marking territory by lifting its leg.

          Only thing is, Batty’s “improved” cliches stink a lot worse than dog pee.

          • Hannibal's Lectern

            Don’t usually comment on my comments, but… it’s worth noting that bathroom walls can be a source of great wisdom, both in art and in real life. Remember how Simon & Garfunkel sang “The words of the prophets are written on subway walls, and tenement halls,” and how Plato’s lengthy philosophical dissertations on the wall used to be a regular trope in “Beetle Bailey.” My own experience backed this up–in my college days, I’d look forward to visiting the bathroom in one of our classroom buildings (aptly named “Crapo Hall.” I am not making this up). The three stalls were labeled by subject: anti [fraternity name redacted; just figure it was the jock fraternity at an engineering school], religion, and politics. I don’t know if anybody actually used those stalls for their intended purpose (given that they had “mini-towel” single-sheet paper dispensers, probably not); I know I just went in there to read and contribute to the discussion.

            Bathroom walls are a rich, deep part of our communal literary heritage. Not that Batty would know that.

          • ComicBookHarriet

            There’s a great Stephen King short story about a depressed travelling salesman who becomes obsessed with bathroom wall scribbling. He considers suicide, and the final thing that prevents him from ending things is his notebook of bathroom wall scribblings, the fact that would be hard to explain, and ultimately his desire to write a book about it.

        • The Duck of Death

          See, something tells me that, despite this categorical condemnation, he doesn’t regard all internet comments as bathroom wall scribblings.

          “FW started off okay, but jumped the shark when Lisa’s x-rays were mixed up” = bathroom wall scribblings

          “FW has gone from strength to strength” = betcha he wouldn’t think of this as a bathroom wall scribbling

          It would be more honest to say that the internet allows the very best and the very worst of humanity — both aspects that exist in each individual as well — to come out and play.

          The fact that he categorically condemns the whole thing tells you that there’s virtually no praise of FW to be found on the whole of the Interwebs. Doesn’t he ever ask himself why that is? Doesn’t he wonder why someone (IMO) self-admittedly creepy and unlikeable like Robert Crumb is praised to the skies? Why the reclusive Allie Brosh, with her utter lack of drawing skills and extremely sparse output, is adored by millions and her last book shot to the top of the Amazon sales chart the moment it was announced? These artists aren’t making it on their personal charisma. So why do people love them and heap scorn on him?

          He has NEVER asked himself that question even once, I guarantee it. He was standing behind the door when they were handing out inquisitiveness and insight. Why analyze when you can nurse a self-righteous resentment?

          • Banana Jr. 6000

            It’s amazing how the scribbles in Hyperbole and a Half manage to convey real emotion in their characters. Chuck Ayers’ drawings are very good, but no one’s ever expressing a feeling other than wry smirking. Especially when they should be!

          • Anonymous Sparrow

            Paul Simon also wrote of a “crayon rosary” in “A Poem on the Underground Wall.”

            Today I didn’t see a Taiwanese movie called “A Brighter Summer Day” (it was sold out) and watched “The Last Waltz” instead. Van Morrison sings “Caravan” with the Band and as he performed, I forgot about his reaction to the pandemic precautions and recalled the wonderful versions of Dylan’s “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue” and Simon’s “Richard Cory” with Them.

            Les’s students probably got a greater appreciation of Edwin Arlington Robinson’s poem from Them and Simon and Garfunkel than they did from the Lord of Language.

            Pass the booze, Miniver Cheevy.

      • Thanks so much for the explanation. It’s at least… slightly comforting.

    • I hit a string of black panels, myself.

  12. Andrew

    Sunday-only readers/inattentive strip readers must be in for a treat, as they usually are when the story arcs are part of the Sunday strips without context. And ok, that does address one contradiction in the form of Yet Another Retcon (tm pending), but it still doesn’t explain how the kid got into the high school, or why she looks like a teen in yesterday’s strip (assuming that explanation isn’t coming tomorrow with a “actually she started playing those games in high school” line)

    As far as where this is going, if this doesn’t go the “I was kidding… or was I?” route, I’ll guess that the janitor’s mop to turn out to be a Men-In-Black style neuralyzer as he wipe’s Summer’s memory and then erases her notes, resulting in the story having no real effect on the end of the strip aside from some last-minute “fun” and just leaving us with further bewildered questions. Despite everything I doubt Bautik will actually run with this madness to the final day, but I’d like to be surprised.

    Also, today’s Great Moment gives me too immediate thoughts of better properties: 1 that fucking Garfield did it better with the Halloween ’89 storyline, and 2 that it’s ripe for a parody edit based on The Blair Witch Project (Funky finds Les in a corner in the basement and whatnot)

    • billytheskink

      The 1989 Halloween Garfield arc is no masterpiece, but it was perfectly executed, which is why a good many folks still remember it and talk about it to this day. It came out of nowhere and grabbed your attention by breaking hard from the strip’s conventions. Then it ended tidily and was never mentioned again as Garfield went back to doing Garfield things. Jim Davis neither ran the idea into the ground nor did he pat himself on the back for his boldness.

      TB’s attempt was odd in the blandest possible way, fading quickly into the sea of ennui that permeates even FW‘s peppy wish fulfillment strips.

      • I don’t recall that Garfield arc, but it’s pretty well done and a nice little Hallloween treat. I must say too that it’s mighty nice of gocomics to have strips from 30 years ago for readers to enjoy for free. Comics Kingdom is so locked down it’s ridiculous.

        “Garfield Alone”: http://www.gocomics.com/garfield/1989/10/23

      • Rusty Shackleford

        A true artist takes risks, but Batty is risk averse that he ends up doing nothing. Not that it stops him from patting himself on the back for artistic greatness, nor does it stop him from writing long blog posts explaining his secret sauce.

        I’m hoping he gets booted early from the comics page.

    • Maybe she went from high school to being 11 because the Time Helmet was leaking? … I don’t know.

  13. Y. Knott

    Shout out to Chuck Ayers! In panel 2, he perfectly captures the bored, resigned, beaten-down expression of someone forced to listen to this dreck.

    Or to read — and very probably to draw — a comic strip about it.

    • Heck, for all we know, Creepy Janitor Guys is manipulating Daughter of Dead St. Lisa’s mind.

      Heck, he may be manipulating the whole Funkyverse!

      • Mela

        That could be where he is going with this. Preserver of the time-line, manipulating characters, sort of makes him another author avatar along with Batton Thomas, Ruby the reluctant retiree, & Les the author.

  14. Green Luthor

    In addition to taking away Donna’s agency, Batiuk is also diminishing the work of Ken Kelly… who was, y’know, a REAL PERSON. Whose work Batiuk allegedly admired. (And who only passed away less than six months ago, so bonus points for going after the recently deceased.)

    (On the other hand, Kelly still wasn’t libeled nearly as horribly as Hal Foster was, but that’s not really anything to be proud of…)

    • Cheesy-kun

      Great point, Green Luthor.

      Either he’s tone-deaf to how his references to these highly successful and admired artists sound or he’s petty and passive-aggressive.

      Since this is TB, I suppose “all of the above” is the correct answer.

    • William Thompson

      It’s just one more flaw in Batiuk’s habit of preparing a strip one year ahead of publication. People have an annoying way of dying without advance notice. If only there had been enough time to change that! But Batiuk forgets what he wrote the moment he caps his Sharpie, doesn’t he?

  15. Banana Jr. 6000

    Are you not entertained?

    Admit it: this is the ending we all wanted to Funky Winkerbean. It’s dull, insane, incoherent, self-indulgent, and uniquely Batiukian. And he’s found another way to ram comic books into the story. I don’t even have any snark for it. It’s a work of anti-genius. There’s something kind of Henry Darger about it. It’s not good, but it’s compelling somehow, and certainly one of a kind.

    • billytheskink

      Agreed. I’m not prone to swear much, but I’m not sure this ending story arc can be described any better than using the term “batshit”. It’s completely batshit… and yet it is also somehow incredibly boring. The story concept is ludicrous and infuriatingly stupid, and it is being told in such a wordy and inert way by characters we couldn’t be bothered to care about if we were paid to that it is also duller than a perfect sphere.

      This is batshit in the most boring way that batshit can possibly be. I don’t understand how this is even possible. It really is remarkable.

      • Epicus Doomus

        I have to assume that ridiculous helmet fumes arc from a few months back was still fresh in his mind when he started spewing this drivel, as there’s just no reason why that dumb helmet and Donna, of all people, would suddenly become integral to anything, much less the end of the strip. But the whole Summer interviewing the janitor with magical powers thing, who the hell knows how he cooked that up. If he wanted to give SoSF something to remember by doing the most totally insane FW arc ever before he called it a day, well done so far, man.

    • Y. Knott

      Henry Darger was completely unknown to me until this post … but having read up a little on it, I can see the parallel! FW is kind of the privileged, entitled suburban version of Darger — with the admirable quality of wanting to protect children being replaced by an obsession with protecting the author’s own nostalgic vision of his (and no-one else’s) childhood.

      Always a blast reading these threads and finding out completely new things. Thanks, BJr6K!

    • Fan Fan

      (Long Time First Time)

      I agree. We could be seeing (and still might see) a bunch of nothing, like the “Funky Walks Around an Old House” arc. But this arc is worse than nothing. (Does that make it better?)

      Will the strip go out with a “BLIP!” or swept away like an old wheat field? I’m hoping for the BLIP!

      • Mela

        Oh, I think we’re in for a “Blip” of some sort. I’m not sure if he’s going to completely Blip out Acts 2 and 3 so he can allow Lisa to live and thus do what he wants in Crankshaft, or if he’s going to blip all the way back to the beginning of the strip, or to an alternate timeline (heaven help us all). Or maybe he’ll blip it out of existence completely, similar to what he did with John Darling.

        If he’s going to go all timey wimey and meta, I’d like to see Summer end up being the one who creates FW. Yeah, it wouldn’t make much sense, but it would effectively end the strip yet allow Summer to truly be Lisa’s legacy. And it would allow a female to finally have some accomplishment.

    • ComicBookHarriet

      Utterly Compelling.

    • Anonymous Sparrow

      There are two documentaries about Darger. I haven’t seen “Revolutions of the Night,” but I found “In the Realms of the Unreal” fascinating.

      Boy, those Vivian Girls…

  16. be ware of eve hill

    Here’s a comic strip crossover (sort of) with Monty by Jim Meddick back in 2001. This comic came out the same month the feature’s name was changed from Robotman.

    Of course, TB needs no help at all nowadays. He’s doing a fine job crapping all over Funky Winkerbean by himself.

  17. be ware of eve hill

    I fear I have to join those of you who are concerned about TB’s mental acuity. Funky Winkerbean has gone off the rails and Crankshaft has been noticeably getting worse.

    This makes me wonder about Batiuk’s contract with GoComics for Crankshaft. Now that GoComics has the title, can Batiuk be forced out?

    Will the title be:
    Tom Batiuk’s Crankshaft, by Dan Davis and (some person not named Tom Batiuk)?

    A couple of years ago, the GoComics title Heart of the City changed cartoonists from Mark Tatulli to Steenz. One day in the comment section of his other comic strip Lio, Tatulli replied to a commenter asking about the decision to leave. Tatulli replied that the decision to leave Heart of the City wasn’t his. That was very surprising to read. Tatulli was quoted saying his workload was too much with Lio, ⁣Heart of the City, and a graphic novel he was working on. He heartily endorsed Steenz as his replacement in press releases and on Twitter.

    That made me wonder, does GoComics (Andrews McMeel Universal) have the power to remove a cartoonist from a title they created?

    I like Steenz’s version of Heart of the City, but I enjoyed Tatulli’s version a little more.

    • Gerard Plourde

      I’ve been wondering about his mental state off and on for a while (although he did participate in a sparsely attended panel at a convention this year). Earlier, when the Rose Bowl tribute was being promoted last fall, it struck me as odd that, while the other people involved did video interviews, his video consisted of a scrolled written statement.

      • Tom from Finland

        Batiuk’s Rose Bowl video could be just his normal halfassing. He wrote down what he would like to say, but then realized that why would he need to read it aloud, when he can ask someone to make a video that just scrolls the message through. It’s called video after all, not audio, so it should be good enough.
        It at least would be very similar to the structure of his comic strip arcs.

        I myself see him as a lazy version of the underpants gnomes: When he does something, he has a setup and he has a conclusion but everything in between is just insignificant and/or lazy filler that skips the real work.

        The abandoned house arc is a great example of this:
        Funky finds empty house – filler – Funky makes a depressing concluding remark.
        And his view of comic book creation:
        Draw cover – fill the pages with something or nothing – publish the book
        and the Rose bowl video:
        Write speech – ask someone to make a video that scrolls the speech – publish the video

        And while I’m here:
        Thanks to all the bloggers and commenters, it has been fun!

    • Y. Knott

      You’ll notice that Batiuk (through Batom) owns the copyright on both FW and Crankshaft. The syndicate is merely the distributor — i.e. the syndicate would have an agreement with Batom to distribute the strip for a certain period of time, subject to renewal with the consent of both parties. The syndicate may also request editorial changes if a proposed strip does not meet their defined editorial standards.

      But Batom, not the syndicate, has the control to employ whatever writers and artists they choose. (Note that it is extremely unlikely that a control freak like Batiuk would walk away from a deal with King Features that gives him control, to any sort of deal that would have him give up his copyright. So I think we can safely assume that his deal with Andrews/McMeel will echo his deal at King Features.)

      Now, if a syndicate feels a new artist or writer is necessary, the syndicate may threaten to decline renewal of their syndication deal. But they wouldn’t have to power to simply parachute someone new in to take over the strip. Which means that if anyone else takes over the writing of one of his strips — and Batiuk has made it clear that he does not want that to happen — it will be with Batiuk’s knowledge and consent.

      • Gerard Plourde

        The strips are also income-producing properties for him.

        Supposing there was a mental decline, but a need for the income from Crankshaft to help fund his care. I can conceive of a family intervention that would keep the strip going, “written” by him (but actually ghost-written) and illustrated by Davis. This could also explain the change of syndicate. Maybe the financial terms of Andrews/McNeel are more favorable to creators.

        I’ve also noticed a decrease in personal output on his web site. His blog consists of reprints from the Introductions to The Complete Funky Winkerbean. He hasn’t written a Flash Friday since early October. His October 27th Sneak Peak unveiling Volume 11 consisted of a picture and two sentences. He was doing a periodic blog focusing on Isaac Asimov which hasn’t had a post in a while.

        On the other hand, he did attend the Akron ComiCon earlier this month. If he were severely impaired, that wouldn’t have happened.

        It’s just puzzling.

        • Andrew

          Maybe one of us should’ve gone to that con after all to check up on him.

          There is one more chance to catch him this week though. He’ll be at KSU doing signings for Vol 12’s release this Wednesday: https://patch.com/ohio/kent/calendar/event/20221130/1996799/funky-book-signing-with-tom-batiuk

          If nothing else, the bookstore may have signed copies already for other books in the collection. That’s how I got his autograph on my copy of Vol. 1 without having to meet him.

          • Banana Jr. 6000

            That is so tacky. I remember the first time I had to buy books at the school bookstore, my first semester in college. It was an overwhelming, intimidating experience. I can’t imagine also having to deal with some pathetic old man sitting there looking sad because nobody wants his autograph. And then being told he’s one of our school’s leading literary lights. Keep in mind these are now people who were born between 2000 and 2004, who’ve never cared about newspapers, much less the worst recurring feature in them.

        • ComicBookHarriet

          He did note that his son attended Akron ComiCon with him.

      • Hannibal's Lectern

        For which we can thank Garry Trudeau, Berkeley Breathed and of course Bill Watterson, the three who led the charge to give creators ownership of their strips. Shows that (as Carlin said long ago in his “Al Sleet” routine) outside every silver lining, there’s a dark cloud.

        BTW, in one of his annotated collections, Watterson says that during the great licensing showdown with his syndicate, he did not have ownership of the strip. They had a contractual right to license his characters whether he approved or not, and if he quit (his only recourse in the situation) they could have continued the strip with a new writer/artist. Unlike King George III, the syndicate was smart enough to realize that sometimes it’s best not to exercise a right that you legally have. Eventually the contract was re-negotiated and Watterson ended up with ownership of the strip, its characters, and its licensing rights.

      • be ware of eve hill

        If Batiuk is in mental decline, why would Andrews McMeel Universal be taking over his contract?

        I’m uncertain about Batiuk’s mental decline, but there’s a definite decline in effort. It’s like he wakes every morning and works for a measly half hour on FW before the caffeine kicks in. He puts the work in the can, never to be revisited. He doesn’t even refer back to those strips the following day. Would that explain the day-to-day disconnect between strips?

        Perhaps Andrews McMeel Universal believes Crankshaft is good enough… for now.

        In hindsight, I may have misinterpreted Mark Tatulli’s comment. There’s a good chance he meant he had no choice because his workload was just too much. He chose Lio and his graphic novels over Heart of the City. Something had to go.

        He did a commendable job setting up Heart of the City for Steenz by aging Heart from a child to an adolescent. Steenz had a slightly different tack in mind.

  18. erdmann

    Renegade Time Lord The Janitor manipulated Donna and Eerie cover artist Ken Kelly as part of his master plan? Did he also mess with the mind of interior artist Paul Neary, who I believe drew Hunter first? Oh, wait. I forgot in the Funkyverse comics are only covers.

  19. Rob

    what the fuck is going on in this story

  20. Paul Jones

    Anyone expecting AMU to remove a creator is doing so in vain. They let Brooke McElnazi ruin two strip for years abd he’s just as good at removing agency from women because, as his Jesuit teachers said, the Curse Of Eve renders them slaves to their base impulses. They indulge StaLynn Johnston as she goes just as senile as BatHack. They’ll let Batomic Comic Obsessive be Captain of the USS Make-shit-up.

  21. Charles

    So he touched her mind to make her think she had created it, and he touched the mind of a completely different older man to go to the trouble to create a comic book, that she would of course see at some point so she would get that idea. (Did he touch her mind again to “nudge” her to look for the comic book?) And perhaps he touched the minds of everyone in the pipeline who took part in the decision that that comic book would have that cover and would be written in the first place?

    But he couldn’t touch her mind to nudge her to give the helmet she had stolen back to the guy she had stolen it from?


    With this story being this slipshod and terrible so far, I can’t *wait* for Batiuk to reveal what ultimate goal all this stupidity is in service of.

    • Anonymous Sparrow

      Harley, Suzanne and Jesus can all touch your perfect body with their minds.

      Be afraid, be very afraid.

  22. Charles

    Also, if ” not disrupting the timeline” is so damn important, why is this moron telling Summer all about this, and why are they having this conversation right next to his wide open door, where anyone wandering by could overhear this conversation that “would disrupt the timeline”?

  23. Angusmac

    I’m so confused! Are all school janitors Gods? Is all reality simply a mental construct dreamed up in supply closet?

  24. KMD

    TB really wants to destroy what little legacy FW has left by wrapping it up with an idiotic bad scifi plot. The respect, affection and fans were driven off years ago of course. I will not mourn the passing of FW which frankly emotionally died many years ago. Now all we have is a shell of Funky wandering alone and wallowing in despair, making today’s “classic” look back a fitting metaphor for the decline of a once well regarded comic strip.

    • Paul Jones

      Whernever he’s about to lose control of something, he salts the earth so no one can take over and do better than he does. It’s why when his contract was up for John Darling, the man got shot in the face. Now that Winkerbean is no longer a thing, he’s going to make damned sure that no one can swoop in and make us wonder why the Syndicate didn’t get rid of him years ago. Hell, they had a back-up plan if Schulz wouldn’t play ball so it’s not as if there aren’t people who can actually do something with the setting and characters.

  25. Hitorque

    1. It’s funny because pretty much all of my other questions from a couple days ago (and these should be Summer’s questions too) remain unanswered… Don’t worry because I’m going to keep on asking them.

    1a. I’m sorry, but exactly what the hell did teenage St. Lisa write in her diary to make Summer head straight to an interview with the school janitor, and what could have possibly have read that Lester didn’t know because he presumably knows the writings of St. Lisa better than anyone??

    2. At this point I’m only shocked that Summer is clearly taking this fantastical fairy tale at face value instead of asking if Hardly had been huffing too many fumes from his signature pine-sol/ammonia/bleach cleaning solvent cocktail…

    2a. I really can’t fuckin’ wait to see Summer try to pitch a publisher on this “nonfiction” oral history of some small town nobody gives a rat’s ass about.

    • Well, it was when she read St. Lisa say that she always felt like she was being watched. So Summer realized that could only mean one thing, the janitor was keeping tabs on her. Because, duh, what else could it be?

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        Who else could it be? Any of the creeps who showed up to talk to not-yet-dead Lisa in time travel arcs. Just this year we had Crazy Harry. The high school reunion with their older selves where nobody could be bothered to tell Lisa to get a breast exam, or even why her older self wasn’t present.

    • Rusty Shackleford

      I know a publishing house in Kent, Ohio that would be interested.

    • Mela

      I’d like to think Summer is just showing him some mercy because it’s obvious that 50 years of Mop N Glo has done some serious damage. But we know that’s not it…

  26. The Duck of Death

    I, and others, have speculated that this is some kind of salting-the-earth so no one else can take over the strip after Batiuk retires/dies/is raptured.

    The thing is, if a franchise is valuable, it’s trivial to revive it even if there was an apocalypse at the end. It was a dream/illusion/trick, or it was reversed by an All-Powerful Entity. Or go back in time, or forward in time.

    Anyone remember the Inspector Morse shows? The author, Colin Dexter, killed off the character. Soon after, the actor who portrayed the character died. Solution? Follow the plot onwards. The sergeant who had been Morse’s sidekick got his own show and his own sidekick. Then a prequel with a younger actor as Morse. Both of these shows were very successful, and ran about as long as the original.

    Or consider the case of Sherlock Holmes. The author was tired of writing the stories, and killed off Sherlock definitively. Stans freaked out, and eventually he brought Holmes back — skillfully, I might add, with a good explanation of how he faked his death and why it had to be convincing.

    The difference is that the Morse series and Holmes stories had everything FW does not. Consistent and well fleshed out characters; high stakes; plots that generally held together and made sense; and (in the case of Holmes) excellent writing from a prose style standpoint.

    TL;DR: Salting the earth in no way prevents characters from being brought back, and in any case no one is ever going to want to revive this train wreck, which has destroyed any nostalgic good will it ever had. It’s laughable that he thinks this franchise has some postmortem legs.

    • Anonymous Sparrow

      A frequent criticism of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories is that the American characters talk like they’re from another planet.

      In that sense, Tom Batiuk is like Doyle, as an examination of the Batiukionary will prove.

      Which reminds me of a story:

      When he was writing the very Australian Captain Boomerang (a Flash foe introduced in *Flash* #117!), John Ostrander had a visit from Dave de Vries (born in New Zealand, grew up in Australia). Ostrander asked de Vries to vet his dialogue for Boomerang, and de Vries returned his script with half the dialogue crossed out.

      “But, Dave,” protested Ostrander, “these are all Australian expressions! I’ve heard Australians use them!”

      “That’s right, John,” replied de Vries, “but not in the same five minutes.”

    • RudimentaryLathe?

      It’s interesting that you mention the Morse show because Inspector Lewis has some things in common with Les Moore. Like Les he was introduced as a gormless second- banana character who gradually took over MC duties, shortly after the death of his wife.
      UNLIKE Les, Lewis was a nuanced, likeable character played by a skilled actor.

  27. robertodobbs

    In the abandoned house arc Funky makes a rookie philosophical error in concluding that time distance (“No one will remember me in 200 years.”) causes one’s life to be futile. No one does this with space distance (“No one in Peru knows I exist.”) but it is the same thing. The realization that one is finite can give great meaning to one’s time on earth.

    • Rusty Shackleford

      Well said. Batty loves to whine and gripe about the world, yet he has had a great life and a wonderful career. What more does he want?

      Age has mellowed me and I no longer take the world so seriously. I feel good with my life and I appreciate all the good things I have. Sure I wish some things were different with world, but Batty paints the world as being rigged system where only bad people thrive.

      I’m glad he is finally retiring.

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        What more does he want?

        He wants to work in the comic book bullpen. Even though it doesn’t even exist the way he thinks it does.

        What a sad, wasted life. He’s bitter over a childish dream he should have put down when he was 12, or at least 50.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Here’s a relevant xkcd strip:

      That’s actually a very good question. Will a popular motion picture continue to be fondly remembered, and influential on how people speak in 2064, or will it look as corny and outdated as Phantom Empire does to us now?

      And that’s Star Wars, one of the most powerful entertainment and cultural forces of all time. Yet you can fairly ask how it will be remembered in even 100 years.

      Why on god’s green earth does a small town pizza store owner worry about how popular he is in Peru or 2177? Because he’s written by a raging egomaniac who’s worried about these ludicrous things himself. And who somehow thinks this is relatable.

      • robertodobbs

        Some things remain in the culture for a long time. High school students still read the Epic of Gilgamesh, parts of which are 4,000 years old. College students read Plato’s Republic, more than 2,000 years old. And of course religious texts, many of which are millennia old. Maybe Star Wars, with all of its mythological influences, will have staying power. I can’t imagine that Funky Winkerbean will.

  28. When Summer showed up at the janitor’s room at the beginning of the week, I was expecting a week of sepia toned Act I flashbacks, which lame as it is, it’s something I would expect for a strip that’s winding down. Instead, he veers off the cliff into Twin Peaks land. Are we going to find the entrance to the Black Lodge in the back of Crazy’s old locker?

  29. Rusty Shackleford

    Hey Batty, maybe you should have paid attention to what your fellow cartoonists did when they stepped off the stage:

    “It seemed a gesture of respect and gratitude toward my characters to leave them at top form,” Watterson later wrote in a foreword to The Complete Calvin and Hobbes box set. “I like to think that, now that I’m not recording everything they do, Calvin and Hobbes are out there having an even better time.”

    • The Duck of Death

      Yes, he should have paid attention, but for two small inconvenient facts:

      1. Although Watterson is a fellow cartoonist, I’m certain TB doesn’t view him as a peer. He was no bold iconoclast like Tom, you see. He wasn’t the first to show serious, adult events in his strip. He wasn’t the first to let characters age. He drew a cute little scribble about a boy and his dolly, so what?

      2. Puff Batty has neither respect nor gratitude for his characters, as he has made obvious time and time again.

  30. ComicBookHarriet

    Nice of Summer to dress up as Bruce Lee to celebrate the action star’s birthday! What a moving tribute!

  31. jp

    The dead-eyed boredom of both characters is even more annoying because it is so incongruous. Imagine you are Summer (ok, sorry, but try) discovering that TIME TRAVEL IS REAL and that you are a point of first contact with supernatural-ish beings who have mastered telepathy among other amazing powers. You are Amy Pond. And from your expression, your reaction is “meh, I’ve had hangnails more interesting.”

    • batgirl

      Placing bets on whether she will perk up at all when he finally gets to the part about Dead St. Lisa Her Mother Who Died.

      • William Thompson

        “Dad is going to change the past and save Mom’s life! Things will be different! I’ll have younger brothers and sisters . . . who will be raised by my indifferent father and control-freak mother.
        They’ll come out just like me–” And in horror she rushes out to keep Les from changing the past.

    • Andrew

      She did mention during the Thanksgiving word avalanche that she was “play[ing] along” with what the janitor said, at least at first. Dunno if that changed with her taking the initiative to connect Donna’s helmet to his missing time machine thing, but for now it does seem like you could read her just tolerating the senile man’s rambling to a point.

  32. sorialpromise

    1. Billy the Skink was the guest host for “Funky Walks Through an Old House.” Bummer. But let’s be honest Billy, it would be like playing Russian Roulette with 5 chambers loaded.
    2. Thank you for posting the abandoned house arc. I read all of the strips.
    3. If I was going to be TB for a week, this “abandoned house” arc is the one I would choose for the final week. It is pointless and lacks any redeeming value. It sums up nicely the last 20 years of FW. I am guessing that FW did mostly what TB wanted. It provided him with an income to take care of his family. He had higher hopes of being a transcending, award winning author and artist. He failed. One of the main reasons he failed: after Act 1, none of his characters had any visual identity. For example, on the Simpson clip, if you weren’t told that was a float of FW, would you automatically know it? If there is any global recognition of FW, it is the name itself, Funky Winkerbean. Visually, none of the characters stand out. Funky looks like Mort. Most of the women look identical. Except for hair color, none of the younger women can be identified. Summer looks like several of the women and guys. Les is the only uniquely drawn character, but no one thinks Les when Funky Winkerbean is mentioned.
    Compare that to Bucky Katt, Snoopy, Opus, Calvin, or any other strip. All the characters have their own look. But not FW. That fault goes on TB, but also Ayers and Davis. It is lazy writing and drawing.

  33. Jimmy

    That empty house arc…even Kierkegaard is saying, “Lighten up, Tom!”