You know, the strip is drawing to a close, as is my beloved SoSF blog, and I really wish it didn’t have to be this way. It’d really be nice if we got a story that offered some kind of closure, or even a nostalgic “life goes on” clip show kind of thing, where we could chuckle at the gang and their various pitiful antics over the years. But, unfortunately, he threw whatever this is supposed to be together, so there’s nothing you can really do but marvel over how unbelievably terrible and stupid it is.
Impossible events (that they’re only talking about, mind you), wild incongruities, dialog that contradicts itself all over the place, awful artwork, it’s unquestionably one of the most terrible FW arcs I’ve ever seen. And it’s not even terrible in an astonishing way, like when Les saved Marianne from a fire. It’s just stupid. I mean sure, maybe this helmet nonsense will lead somewhere and we’ll all be like “wow, I can’t believe how that cat figured into the story!” but what are the odds?
My current guess is that the strip will end with Les asking Summer how her book is coming along. Summer will reply that it’s already finished. Then the last panel will show “The Complete FW” with a caption that says “Thanks For Reading…Stay Funky!”. This story isn’t going anywhere and nothing will happen, so right now that’s the most likely ending.
Great Moments In FW Arc Recap History
November 19-December 20, 2012
An extended Crazy Harry arc begins. Harry explains to Donna his love of old comic books. The next day he walks into Montoni’s to inform Funky that USPS is shutting down the Westview Post Office and he’s out of a job. Harry decides he must sell off his beloved library, spending a week sorting and packing his books and his comics before schlepping them off to John, who offers Crazy Harry a job at the Komix Korner.
Being a mailman was Crazy Harry’s entire post-high school identity, so OF COURSE Batiuk had to destroy it, as he’s often prone to do. I was shocked to discover that Crazy has been working as John’s Komix Korner lackey for TEN YEARS already, as I thought this happened far more recently than this. Time sure does fly. He just loved to torture these characters. He absolutely bludgeoned Funky and Wally for years on end, he had Dinkle go deaf, he had a trombone prodigy lose an arm, he had Bull lose his mind AND die, he crippled Fred Fairgood AND rectonned him into a philanderer for no reason whatsoever, and he stripped away whatever dignity Crazy had left (hint: not much), just for kicks. He’s a dark, dark character, that Batom. He obviously loves the idea of cruel fates befalling his characters, especially if they were popular or good at something in high school. It’s always been one of his weirdest traits.
70 responses to “I Know Where He Can Find A Mind Exactly Like That”
And precisely who in this strip has a uniquely abstract, detached and nonlinear mind? Les Moore, if your definitions of those words are also uniquely abstract, detached from reality and nonlinear. Otherwise, my money’s on Crazy Harry.
It sounds like it’s setting up Crazy Harry to be involved, but I bet it isn’t anything that sensible or useful to the narrative.
Abstract, detached and nonlinear sounds like Tom Batiuk to me.
Well, he’s definitely non-linear:
Ding ding ding! The great snarkers think alike.
Wouldn’t it just be amazing if he wrapped it up with a “Duck Amuck” kind of ending, where it’s acknowledged that they are living in a comic strip and Les or even Batiuk were shown at the drawing table in the final panel? If you’re going meta, then why not go all the way?
Oh, yeah. I forgot. That’d be interesting and/or amusing, so no go.
I think, for the last strip. We see a picture of somebody reading THE COMPLETE FUNKY WINKERBEAN. Then the pull back and see Starbuck Jones! We realiz Starbuck is “real,” and FUNKY WINKERBEAN is the cartoon character!
Upvoted not only for the “Duck Amuck” reference but for reminding me of Wally Wood’s “My World,” in which the artist reveals himself at the end…and he’s no stinker, unlike a certain happy-go-lucky hare, who shall remain nameless.
Squa tront and spa fon!
Maybe Creepy Janitor Guy is talking about Zippy the Pinhead.
We could’ve saved the weekend’s strips if Bautik didn’t need to detour to retcon the helmet’s origins into an arc he did a mere 8 months ago, so we’re back to where we were on Friday with “the helmet is missing”. But here we are, catching up with a “haha cats are weird little guys” punchline. What really would’ve been funny is if this cat was drawn like the Le Chat Bleu that’s been the weird psychic manifestation of Writer’s Block over the years, and the only thing that can get a leg on smug Les.
Also with this framing, half expect the cat to pop out of thin air into the Janitor’s closet here. About as likely as Summer getting mind-wiped for the timeline’s sake.
Funny enough whoever’s been maintaining the Funky Winkerbean page on TV tropes wrote about Harry losing the postman job as “…by this universe’s standards is a slap on the wrist.” So it could’ve been worse, especially since now his livelihood revolves around the most valuable medium in the Funkyverse.
Is the last month of Funky Winkerbean going to be them sitting in the janitor’s closet talking about that dumb space helmet?
My instinct is to ask “what the hell still needs to be talked about?” but my real question is “what the hell have they said so far?” This story is lost in its own pointlessness.
But that’s Batiuk’s pretense to realism, at its fineat. He just pulled a time-traveling janitor out of his ass so he could quickly make Summer’s book a worldwide smash hit before the strip ends (because that’s the most important thing to tie up, apparently), and now he feels the needs to explain the workings of the time helmet.
Batiuk is so wrapped up in his comic-book mentality that he can’t help but dorksplain his time-travel ideas. He really needs to rewatch that Twilight Zone episode where Buster Keaton used a time-helmet to bring Kurt Kasznar’s scientist back to the era of silent movies. You don’t need technobabble to explain time travel; just say it works and get on with the story. If there is one.
Apologies, friend Thompson, if it appears boorish of me to mention that it was Stanley Adams (Cyrano Jones in “Star Trek’s” “The Trouble with Tribbles”), not Kurt Kasznar (whom I got to see onstage as Moriarty in a 1977 touring production of William Gillette’s “Sherlock Holmes”), who played the time traveling scientist in the TZ episode “Once Upon a Time.” Oh, well, this whole helmet arc is boring me, so I guess I’ll be boorish.
Look, we’re talking Funky Winkerbean here. If you’re going to mention Stanley Adams, it has to be in the context of the “Lost in Space” episode where he played an intellectual carrot.
Okay, let’s do deep cuts, then: “An intellectual carrot! The mind boggles!”
“The Great Vegetable Rebellion” ranks higher in *TV Guide’s* list of Great Television episodes (#76) than “Star Trek’s” Hugo-winning “City on the Edge of Forever” (#92).
Harcourt Fenton Mudd, someone has been drinking, let me smell everyone’s breath…
Tybo was the characters name.
Of course! Thanks for correcting my error. Maybe the problem was that Kasznar appeared on “Land of the Giants,” a show almost as preposterous as Funky Winkerbean.
Funky Winkerbean really is told in a comic book style. It has to put a veneer on the technobabble, and the 32-page format requires you to expand on the story more anyway.
I wonder if that’s why Batiuk is so attached to his week-long arcs; so he can mimic the comic book experience of always having to fill a pre-set amount of space. With strips like today’s you can see how well it works.
The biggest takeaway I have from today’s and yesterday’s strips are that the most recent Eliminator arc with Harry are now presented to be understood as having been 100% real occurrences.
All the anachronisms that were pointed out in that month, among which was Defender existing in 1980 and that Spiderman comic having sat in a spinner rack for 20 years, were 100% real, according to this arc now.
What if….a time helmet did it!
It’s going to be the ‘a wizard did it’ explanation for all continuity errors from now on.
This pointless arc continues as FW gets ready to shuffle off into the sunset. Leave it to TB to end with a dull, pointless and absurd conversation. Part of me hopes TB decides to give his characters a final lesson in pain. Donna could be using the helmet to mess with everyone. She uses the helmet to live her double life as Holly and a triple life as Lisa which she ended because she hates Les. After the truth is revealed, unable to live with the idea of being Eskimo brothers with Les, Funky and Crazy Harry exercise their Second Amendment rights and walk into Montoni”s armed to the teeth. The last strip is a grizzled old cop looking at the corpses of Funky, Les and Crazy Harry who smirks and declares, “Two murders. One suicide. And we should take all this evidence and give it to that dweeb who writes comics so he can turn the guns into your for his brat son.” Sure it’s a nightmarish ending but at least it could possibly be entertaining which is more than I can say about the rambling janitor.
Well, to be fair, it is a logical possibility that the helmet can transport its wearer to another time and also that Crazy Harry was hallucinating from off-gassing plastic. It would not be above TB to make such a boring possibility a reality.
On a related note, I might say that TB has gone beyond being a pretentious gasbag to being a pretentious off-gasbag.
I’m still waiting for an explanation of what the stakes are. Why does any of this seeming non-content matter?
“Les, you can go back in time. you can save Lisa from a cancerous death!”
“But–but that means I’ll never write Lisa’s Story! Or the sequels that made me the most famous and successful victim, er, author in the whole field of misery porn!”
“Yes. Les, that is your choice. Which shall it be?”
“Come on, Les, even a time traveler doesn’t have all day!”
“I’m thinking! I’m thinking!”
Jack Benny in a time helmet pops up and shoots Les.
Jack Benny turns to the time traveler and says “I know you said you’d distract him so I could shoot him, but man… that was just cold.”
As I get older, I come to appreciate comics like Jack Benny. Of course, I did enjoy the cartoon mouse version of Jack Benny when I was a kid.
And then Ronald Colman reveals to his wife Benita that he arranged the whole robbery scene and his Oscar for “A Double Life” was never stolen at all!
“Lost Horizon” must be playing somewhere…
Ot even “The Horn Blows at Midnight”…
FUNKY WINKERBEAN TO END A MONTH EARLIER THAN EXPECTED
New York (AP) — King Features has announced that the long-running comic strip Funky Winkerbean will end a month earlier than planned, due to its “extreme terribleness”.
“Our regular comics editor is on a vacation or something,” explained King Features assistant sub-editor Random Lackey, “so we accidentally got a look at this thing for the first time. P.U.! What the hell is this? It’s like the dullest Duplex Planet contributor’s rejected art therapy. No thanks!”
The editorial staff are considering replacing the submitted strips with blank panels, which has already been widely hailed as an improvement.
“Seriously, we’re pretty sure it’s never coming back,” continued Lackey, “but maybe we’ll have to post the last month of original strips for some sort of contractual reason?”
“Or like, if what’s-her-name comes back to the office next week, she’ll probably notice the blank posts and change them back,” noted regional deputy under-assistant Comics Kingdom Branded Merchandise mail tube stuffer Other Lackey (no relation). “But, like, as far as those of us who had to work here over the Thanksgiving weekend are concerned? This Winklebeam (sic) thing is garbage. Total trash. El stinko. Good riddance.”
Reached for comment in his Ohio studio, Funky Winkerbean creator Tom Batiuk talked about “The Flash” for nearly half an hour before we finally hung up on him.
Brilliant! And let’s be glad FW is in its death throes, or Batiuk would steal the hell out of those names.
Excellent, YK. I wish it were real and not as I’d hate to lose this final month of SoSF.
I wish this were true as we have over 30 days to go with this crappy strip.
Y. Knott’s story has been picked up by the mainstream press!
(this is a parody, of course)
An awesome bit of work, BJr6K! I’m genuinely deeply honoured. Thanks so much!
My pleasure! In the last days of FW, want to PhotoShop as much of the good stuff as I can.
If you had told me a few years ago that this strip would end with a story arc about the school janitor stalking a pre-teen Donna for her Eliminator helmet, I… yeah, I would probably have believed that. I would have thought it would be more interesting than it thus far has been, though. Shame on me for underestimating TB’s flair for terminal mundanity.
Epicus, you and CBH warned me to be careful what I wished for, but never in my wildest, most twisted dreams could I have envisioned this! And believe me, I’ve had some doozies! Seriously, I’ve dreamed of walking, talking Jell-O molds and making prank calls with the help of “guest stars” Bryan Cranston and Kristen Bell, but I digress.
We’re a week into this comic cluster and we still haven’t circled back to why The Janitor was watching Lisa. Will we? And if we do, will it make a lick of sense?
I hesitate to make any more predictions, but my Magic 8 Ball says “All signs point to no.”
The janitor is in his seventy-ninth year at college. He’s majoring in history, and he ‘s doing his graduate thesis on the topic of overwhelming dumbshittery. He’s been keeping a low profile because Westview is the mother lode for material on that subject and he doesn’t want other grad students to steal his material.
He’ll no doubt “explain” it via a whole shit load of bloated word balloons full of gibberish. Or a series of silent panels. Or both.
When it would easier to dodge questions with something like “How do you prevent a paradox when you change the past?” “Wow, somebody never took introductory temporal mechanics!” or “How does the time helmet work?” “Pretty well, most of the time.”
Although we’d have him with “Why wasn’t your time helmet password protected or something, to prevent theft?”
Aw, I don’t know if we need to shed any tears for Crazy. He seems to be one of the few characters in the strip who’s always been more or less happy with his lot. Remember, he’s the one who went back in time and gushed to his past self about how awesome his life was going to be.
Kind of makes for a marked contrast. Les can be bombarded with improbable good fortune and still feel sorry for himself, but Crazy? He gets to sort comic books all day and he’s had SEX with a WOMAN! He envies no man!
I’ve often felt that minor second-generation characters like Maddie and Skyler exist only to prove that any of these men ever got laid in their lives.
Considering Batiuk’s talents for writing sexy dialog, it’s probably for the best.
I don’t know, back in the day Crazy was funny and easy-going, Darin was friendly and helpful, Funky was driven and strong-willed… Even Les had a sort of haphazard good-naturedness going for him before Act 3 turned him simultaneously bitter and arrogant. While they all kind of scored out of their league, I don’t think they were entirely lacking in attractive qualities back during their reproducin’ years.
Now, Pete I’ll grant you. I really can find see reason why any sane woman would want to be with Pete.
Batiuk is proving Chuck Klostermann right with this loud of ordure. Science fiction is, as he said, philosophy for stupid people. Only an idiot whose brain got turned into mush by sitting on his fat little ass reading about the insane adventures of a jogger who runs at implausible speed so he can punch a trade union of petty felons with destroyer rays would think this shlock makes perfect sense.
That is the weirdest description of the Flash that I have ever read. Kudos.
“Operating the helmet requires a uniquely abstract, detached and nonlinear type of mind to make it work.”
I don’t know what he’s describing here but I am beginning to wonder whether the cat with the helmet is supposed to be Le Chat Bleu.
And I have no idea where this is supposed to be heading.
That was what i got out of this—Le Chat Bleu sightings were also the work of the Deus Ex Helmet. Um, okay? Seemed like a pretty simple metaphor for, i don’t know, middle aged regret or something.
I was thinking this was the death cat, too. It came down from Kilimanjaro to reverse cancer.
Is Funky Winkerbean’s sister strip Crankshaft ending too?
Unfortunately, no. Crankshaft lives on to bore another day.
And Batiuk has threatened to have characters from Funky appear in Crankshaft.
Considering TB’s attention span, I am surprised that this arc is continuing for another week. We all assume that Mr. Batiuk has plans to change the past: Lisa’s cancer. I do not think that he has any plans to change anything. The helmet just gives him a week or 2 to fill in before December 31.
Other than this year’s football classic with Les’s tackle and the gun that murdered John Darling who was murdered, when has TB shown any effort to plan any other arc with a beginning, middle, and climax?
To quote the illustrious bwoeh, “Oh December 31, so near, and yet so far.”
or do you prefer the bard: “Funky Winkerbean, where is thy sting? December 31, where is thy glory?”
Forgive me if I missed this, but has Harley stated that he has a specific mission? You don’t go to all the trouble of going back in time to Bumfuck Ohio just to eat pizza, clean toilets, and leer at teenage girls unless you’re some kind of interdimensional fugitive sex offender.
My theory is that Lisa, had she not died of cancer, would some day be (directly or indirectly) responsible for the end of the Earth, and it was Harley’s job to make sure that her medical records got switched, so she would die before the event could take place. Having fulfilled his mission, he couldn’t return to his origin because of the misplaced helmet.
My theory is that Lisa, had she not died of cancer, would some day be (directly or indirectly) responsible for the end of the Earth
I like this idea. It inflates Lisa’s importance to even more ridiculous levels. But it requires her to be a villain, if only an unintentional one. Batiuk would never allow that.
And even though Harley succeeded, the world should end anyway. Because this is Funky Winkerbean, and because going back in time to kill Hitler never works.
Lisa as Edith Keeler?
As I recall, when Joan Collins got the call that “Star Trek” wanted her, she thought she’d be playing an alien femme fatale, and was surprised to learn that the role was for a mission worker.
“The City on the Edge of Forever” is my favorite episode of the original series, though I can understand why a good friend doesn’t like it. (Keep your objections to yourself, Mr. Ellison, or I’ll give Cordwainer the Bird, with a little help from Sylvester the Puddy Tat. Yes, I know, no one would talk about “a Clark Gable picture” in 1930…)
I love the idea of Lisa as Edith Keeler. A woman so insufferably good that she had to die, or Hitler wins.
I mean, what would Westview have become if Lisa had lived? What sort of nightmare fascist regime would rule Ohio then?
I mean, what would Westview have become if Lisa had lived?
As a result of her failed but righteous death penalty defense, her successful defense of DSH John against a corruption of minors charge (while incidentally supporting the rights of the vertically challenged), Lisa would ride her reputation as a crusading attorney to become mayor of Westview, Governor of Ohio and a serious contender for the Presidency. Westview would retain its role as the epicenter of the Cult of Lisa but the cult’s reach would expand exponentially.
Was Harley’s job to prevent or to ensure that result? We’ll never know (unless TomBa tells us in a word zeppelin).
Probably Peaksville under the dominance of Anthony Fremont.
It was good that you did that, Summer! We bow before you, Darin! Turn me into a rocket ship, Skyler!
And now Les will find the helmet, go back in time with Funky, and be forced to choose between saving humanity or stopping Lisa from dying. It’s just like Harlan Ellison’s “Star Trek” episode, only this arc would be called “Sh*tty on the Edge of Forever.”
Funky Winkerbean: Forever on the Edge of Sh*tty
I see you’re way ahead of me, as usual, Mr. O’Malley! Is it the benefit of your Havana Magic Wand?
I would love to say it all comes down to magic, dear Sparrow, but in truth I owe it all to this stray cat that I found dragging a mysterious helmet across the front yard one day .
“Le Chat Bleu: Origins”
Batiuk promotes his Kent State bookstore signing on his “Komix Thoughts” blog today:
“It’s a chance to pick up something for the Funky reader on your Christmas list. And it’s a chance for me to chat with some Funky fans before the holidays are upon us and before I go into my winter hibernation with snowy evenings spent with a book, and a hot chocolate in front of the fireplace. ”
You mean, before Funky Winkerbean shuts down permanently after 50 years?
I don’t know if he’s downplaying the strip’s imminent end, or if he’s so bad at storytelling that he doesn’t realize it’s relevant to whatever non-ironic fans he has left.
Be accurate, sir: what you meant write was “with a stack of comic-books, and a hot chocolate in front of the fireplace.”
Unless you’re like Onslow on “Keeping Up Appearances,” and you plan to read “The Principles of Condensed Matter Physics,* *Life Among The Primitives,* *A Brief History of Time,* *The Financial Times* and *The Racing Post.*
This may be more evidence that the end of the FW strip was unplanned. I remember that recently (last Spring?) a glitch occurred on his old web site and months worth’s of future posts went up briefly. It was commented on here.
Based on that, I suspect that the Komix Thoughts post may have been written a while ago and scheduled to go up today. This is a guy who prides himself on being a year ahead in his work.
A cat in an alien hat
Brought Les teleporting right back
To name Funky’s auto
And that fin’lly explains all that!
I couldn’t find instructions on images in comments, so if this attempt at embedding fails, please forgive and reply with merciful instructions.
I have so many memories from this community, and it was especially cool to find a friend on here from the physical world, former colleague Jeff M, one whom in the alternate FW universe I might have nominated for the on-deck roster of new guest hosts. Sadly, like John Darling’s career or Tom’s latest, so much turns to What Might Have Been.
Thanks to all for fantastic learned discussions, the Japan references, the parody strips and wicked wit: from just-peeking lurkers like me to the founders and other hosts, this is a caring bunch privileged to partake of something wonderful. Les had it wrong when he learned Montoni’s was closing: SOSF is a place that proves good things always last.
I can’t wait for the next phase of revealing and reviling. On a personal aside, if someone out there knows the former frequent commenter who took the name Allie Cat, please tell them we went to the same high school in Atlanta, and pass along this email prince dot george35 at “gee-mayle” dot com.
Put any URL ending in .png .gif or .jpg in your message and the image it contains will be shown instead.