K, Have You Ever Flashy-Thinged Me?

Greetings, Funkynauts! Banana Jr. 6000 here. In today’s strip, Summer asks the obvious question of whether Harley ever “nudged” her mind. It’s a valid question: he clearly has no qualms about nudging every person in town over the tiniest thing that might make Lisa hook up with Les faster. He’s basically a guardian angel for incels.

It reminds me of a moment in the first Men in Black movie, where Will Smith angrily asks Tommy Lee Jones if he ever used the memory-erasing “neuralizer” tool on him:

Agent “K” denies it, but we saw him do it earlier in the movie. It’s a fun little moment that fits the movie’s goofy tone, and underscores the MIB’s hilarious disregard for the safety of other human beings.

But fun and continuity have no place in Funky Winkerbean. No no no noooooo, Girl Les’ book about friggin’ Westview is of such grand importance that the time-traveling janitor couldn’t possibly influence it in any way! Because only Summer’s pure, uninfluenced mind could… do something, I guess. After 16 days of talking in a janitor’s office, we still don’t know why only Summer could write this book. This setup was dying to be a joke, like “yeah, I had to nudge your lazy ass out of going back for your 12th year at Kent State.” But like I said when this started, Summer is now officially a writer. Jokes at her expense are no longer permissible.

Then, Tom Batiuk tries to flashy-thing us all. He tries to handwave fifteen years of continuity problems with one panel of sci-fi mumbo-jumbo. Apparently, nudging (which is just influencing people) causes localized out-of-sync time bubbles (huh?), which means that Westview “sped ahead of other localities for a bit.” But now that Harley is sure Summer’s book will be written (something he has no more reason to be sure of then when he started), he’ll “see to it that the bubble is absorbed back into the timestream.”

And this man wonders why he never got hired to write comic books. This wouldn’t pass muster in the dopiest issue of Fantastic Four.

Yes, this is the only explanation we’re ever going to get for the massive timeline problems in the Funkyverse. Yes, “timestream” is one word. Yes, there is going to be a newspaper story where today’s strip will be described as “Batiuk deftly tied up loose ends.”

Here’s my choice for Great Moments in FW Arc Recap History: September 16-21, 2019: Linda Bushka spends a week opening an envelope.

I’m not kidding. That took an entire week. We got the see the mailman deliver it on Monday, and Linda regard it on Tuesday. The rest of the week was this:

Mind you, this was Funky Winkerbean‘s final “prestige arc”, about the death of Bull Bushka from football-induced CTE. A too-minor and yet too-major subplot was about Linda seeking payment under the NFL’s real-life settlement plan for CTE sufferers, without Bull ever knowing about it. It was never explained why she needed this money; we saw the Bushkas do things like travel long distance for health care they could have gotten locally. Nor was it spoken of again after this.

On top of that, it was a waste of a potentially good story. The NFL has been accused of dragging its feet about meeting its obligations to former players who were found to have CTE. And these stories were at a peak from 2018-19. Funky Winkerbean could have told a powerful story about how one man suffered, when the NFL failed to fulfill its promises. This is what Tom Batiuk did with it. He spent a week watching someone open their mail, then dropped it entirely. Then he had Linda say Bull wasn’t eligible because he was only on the practice squad, which (a) defeats the purpose of her applying for it in the first place, and (b) isn’t true.

Besides, everybody knows that receiving a letter for something you’ve applied for isn’t good news. Did she think there was going to be a check in there? Did Batiuk think he was building drama by revealing this obvious outcome so slowly, and then making it moot later in the story anyway? Abysmal. Just abysmal.

The CTE arc was an absolute disgrace. It played Bull’s dementia for laughs, killed him a way that made no sense, mocked him at his funeral, and then made it all about Les. Someday, when people are remembering Funky Winkerbean and what was so bad about it, this arc is going to be front and center. Tom Batiuk simply cannot write drama, or any realistic human characters or emotion. And this arc proves it. It’s aged badly in the three years since it happened, and it’s only going to get uglier.

This may be my last guest blog post, so I have some final thoughts about it all.

Since Funky Winkerbean announced its end, I haven’t had much to say about it. That’s because the strip is very loudly speaking for itself. The end of the strip came out of nowhere; most of us have concluded that it was not Batiuk’s decision or timeframe. Presented with only a few weeks to wrap up a 50-year comic strip, what does he do? He doubles down on all the worst aspects of Act III.

Another book publishing story. Another deification of Les by proxy. Another unnecessary character introduced. Another revisiting of that dumb space helmet. Another three weeks of needless exposition. Another plot ripped off from more competent works. Another comic book angle. Another tacky, demeaning usage of a real person in the story. Another clunky, pointless idiot plot. Another rat’s nest of loose ends, plot holes, and sloppy retcons. And above all else, another way to escalate Les and Lisa’s importance to the world. Apparently giving them an Oscar wasn’t nearly big enough.

If the current story is to be believed – that Summer’s amateur book about Westview will “create a science that allows us to recognize humanity as our nation”, to the point where interdimensional time travelers watch over her and make sure it was created – then Summer Moore is the most important person who ever lived. And despite that, she seems incidental to Harley’s story. He’s far more concerned with making sure Les and Lisa hook up, isn’t he?

So it ends up checking off two more boxes on the list of tired Act III tropes. It’s another phony female-empowerment story that’s really just Batiuk’s hateful sexism bubbling to the surface. And we all know Summer’s book is just a stand-in for Funky Winkerbean itself. We’re seeing how important Batiuk wishes it was, and/or thinks it should be. The strip’s last act was to indulge its author’s self-importance. I just wonder how any genuine fans, who probably wanted some kind of resolution or at least a few happy flashbacks, feel about how the strip ended.

I’m sad to see this community coming to an end, as it became a daily source of fun for me. I consider it an honor to have had a turn in the lead snarking chair. I thank TFH and ED for adding me to the team. And I thank the entire community for accepting me when I was a new and not-so-clever commenter. I hope I made everyone’s visits to this blog as bright as you made mine. This is one of the most knowledgeable and positive communities I’ve ever been involved with, and a shining example of how Bile Fascination can be a good thing.

I want to leave you with something that I found comforting, and you might too. It’s Episode 500 of the Dysfunctional Family Circus. The DFC was an early web feature with a simple premise: a blank Family Circus panel was displayed, and readers were invited to submit their own alternate captions. Which were hilarious, and not all in keeping with the family-friendly vibe of the original comic strip. As such, it was probably the only other community like this one that has ever existed: a long-running snark community devoted to a single newspaper comic.

Interestingly, creator Greg Galcik and cartoonist Bil Keane came to see each other’s points of view, and the party ended after the 500th such strip had been posted. A lot of fans wrote final captions that said goodbye, or celebrated what the DFC was, or talked about how much this silly community meant to them. A lot of them hit the same notes we have: the St. Elsewhere finale; variations on “it was all a dream”; ways to keep it going; retrospective haiku; jokes based on long-running memes. If I only have one thing left to say here, I will borrow this caption from DFC #500 (who borrowed it from Carol Burnett):

I’m so glad we had this time together, just to tell a joke or sing a song. Seems we just got started and before you know it, comes the time we have to say, “so long”.



Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

111 responses to “K, Have You Ever Flashy-Thinged Me?

  1. The Duck of Death

    More word zeppelins?

    Isn’t there an overflowing terlit, dropped school lunch, or stairwell barf emergency somewhere that the Nudgepacker needs to mop up?

    “Put down the snow mats at the entrance? Well, you know I’d love to, Principal, but I have to sit on my duff all day in this closet flapping my gums because I’m the only thing between humanity and certain doom. Besides, you know I have a bad back.”

  2. As has been said by many (including myself) this arc is so terrible it really beggars belief.

    It’s like the last few weeks of FW were just random drawings of shovels, balls of twine, soap dispensers and carrots. Over and over and over again, week after week until the end.

  3. Epicus Doomus

    And you know, that was the SECOND time a FW character needed a week to open a piece of mail. Think about that for a moment.

    Obviously he was just making this up as he went along. As someone mentioned a few days or weeks ago, this story, as with so, so many others, reads like a child just made it up on the spot. “And he had a helmet he used to travel through time and he followed Summer’s mom and dad around to make sure they would get together and so Summer would write her book and he helped the people but he could help Summer by herself and then the time was faster so it didn’t always match up”. Yes Tom, very good. I’ve been reading this comic strip for decades and I can usually discern what, if anything, BatYam is trying to do, but I’ll be damned if I know what the hell is going on here.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Funny thing is, I didn’t mind it when it happened over the “Darrin finds out who his bio-mom is” story. I can imagine an orphan having some trepidation about learning who their real parents were, and going through a “do I really want to know this?” phase.

      The lost letter plot, and it being yet another Lisa story, were still hackneyed as hell though.

  4. The Duck of Death

    We’ll miss you terribly too, BJr6K. And I’m not so sure that Crankshaft won’t morph slowly into Westview Lite. Perhaps the Snarksignal will flash once again in the skies over Centerville and the SoSF crew will once more be called into action.

    • Epicus Doomus

      If FW wasn’t ending, I have to believe that BJr6K would have been here for a long, long time. That kid was no flash in the pan, I’ll tell you what. And goofing on FW characters needing weeks to open mail is a sure path to my heart, as that will never not be funny to me.

  5. Oh, and I guess today’s strip explains why the “time jump” was so shoddily maintained. It’s not that Batiuk can’t follow continuity, it’s that darned janitor messing things up.

    • Epicus Doomus

      He would have gotten away with it, too, if not for that meddling Moore. It’s interesting how Summer is suddenly front and center in a time-tampering arc, as BatYam pretty much totally abandoned the timeline (and her) after she graduated in 2012. It was pretty fast and loose before, mind you, but from around 2013 on it just became farcical. Characters in school for way, way too long, other characters being impossibly old, it all just went haywire.

  6. William Thompson

    But, Hardly A. Thought, Summer hasn’t written the book yet, so you’re corrupting her uninfluenced mind, which means she may not write the book after all, unless you’re saying you knew her mind would be corrupted when she wrote it, all of which proves that corruption is rife in Westview.

  7. billytheskink

    Even though TB has been talking about how he was bringing the FW and Crankshaft timelines back together over the past year, I didn’t think he actually had it in him to try and explain it in either strip. Credit where credit is due there.

    That out of the way… this explanation is laughable and riddled with as many holes (if not more) as simply not bringing up the once non-synced timelines at all. On the bright side, both the absorption of the time bubble and the end of Funky Winkerbean will see to it that there will never again be a “remember that cranky old bus driver from Centerville… ole what’s-his-name?” gag in the newspaper.

    • Epicus Doomus

      Yeah, he had no qualms about using FW to promote Crankshaft, but he tried to be all coy about it with those “remember our cranky old bus driver?” gags he always insisted on using. These people remember EVERYTHING about high school, except that.

      IMO the Act III time skip was just way, way too ambitious for BatHam. When Act II ended, he was at his (perceived) creative apex, and he’d just wrapped up the prestige arc to end all prestige arcs. He went into Act III with all kinds of grandiose plans, and created a bunch of essentially new characters, each with their own complicated back stories and etc. But by 2012 he was slowing down, and you saw a lot less of that early Act III ambition after that.

      And Summer illustrates that perfectly. In early Act III, Summer was a central character, but then he just totally lost the thread and began to focus more on comic books and his grudge against “Hollywood” as opposed to Les and Summer’s relationship.

  8. The Duck of Death

    So Harley had to completely change the history of Westview so that Summer would write the history of Westview, uninfluenced by those changes?

    And this whole 3-hour exposition isn’t influencing her in any way?

    Makes perfect sense. Carry on!

  9. Lord Flatulence

    Did you know? Whenever a bell rings, a Westview resident gets their tumor!

  10. Y. Knott

    “Must … preserve … integrity … of … life’s work …! Must … tie up … all loose ends … in the stupidest … most static … and half-assed … way possible …! “

    • sorialpromise

      Batty likes to call it writing, but he has to pass 2 tests: 1) why is the writer writing this arc? What is TB’s purpose? Heck if I know. I yield to Y. Knott. It’s like TB has forgotten all of his skills in the last 3 years. It’s clear in earlier arcs that he was trying. As far as my answer to #1, it’s just to get it over with.
      2) What should the reader get out of this story? Why should the reader care? It is like TB is playing Russian roulette without the gun. There are no stakes to the story. We know Summer is going to write the book. We know somewhen after 12/31 a book will exist in the fictional Westview archives. But that would have taken 2 panels in day 1 to establish that fact. He is wasting his last month.
      SOSF spinning gold out of flotsam and jetsam!

  11. William Thompson

    Worstview was out of sync with the world by a decade or so. It’s amazing that nobody noticed this when they were moving between the Twilight Time Zone and the rest of the world. Or it would be amazing if all these people weren’t such dolts. So have all the disasters that happened in the Westview time-bubble been averted by this chronosynclastic retconning, or must the rest of the world wait with dread for the Great Los Angeles Fire, the Starsux Jones franchise and Summer’s book? Incidentally, what will getting back in synch do to the past decade of Worstview’s history? How will Summer write about that without revealing the influence of time travelers?

    • billytheskink

      I’m picturing those dang twins from Crankshaft moving to Westview with their mother and instantly aging into teenagers. “Welp…” their mother said, “I guess we’ll have to go enroll you in the high school… I don’t see an elementary school here anyways.”

      Now in the case of Skyler, moving from Westview to LA back to Westview probably explains a lot about his ever-fluctuating age.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      It makes me wonder how high school sports work. Westview plays against schools from other cities, why are presumably outside the time bubble. Does Westview drive the team and band to tonight’s football game, and when they get there, the game is three years from now?

      That would be a novel reason for one of Dinkle’s performances to get cancelled.

      • Y. Knott

        “Shut up! Shut up! Shut up! I fixed all the time stuff! The janitor explains everything! I was nominated for a Pulitzer, you know! So shut up! I can’t hear you! La-la-la LA-LA-LA-LA-LA-LA-LA-LA-LA-LA-LA-LA-LA-LALALALA!

    • Anonymous Sparrow

      “I took thee for thy better,” says Hamlet when he murders Polonius (always wanted Polonius then to say: “Is’t not enough that thou hast slain me? Must you insult me as well?”), and this made me think of Grant Morrison’s treatment of the “Flash of Two Worlds” storyline in a universe in which there were no Infinite Earths in the final issue of *Secret Origins.”

      There’s a barrier around Keystone City, and when it comes down, the Golden Age Flash returns…and the identity of our narrator is a surprise, too.

      Morrison could have made this work, because he understood Coyote Gospels and Clockwork Crimes of Time Commanders…and, based on his work on *The Invisibles,* what John Milton meant when he wrote that “they also serve who only stand and wait.” (Namely, that some do more than that, even if some do not…, if I may make a Ford Madox Ford reference.)

      • Green Luthor

        Really, the important difference between Morrison’s “Flash of Two Worlds” and Batiuk’s nonsense is that Morrison understood that there had to be an explanation for why no one could enter or leave Keystone, and why they didn’t realize they couldn’t. Which there was. There may be gaps in the logic (i.e., how the “no one noticed” effect must have applied essentially across the entire world), but the story was good enough that we can forgive that since it basically works for what it needed to do. Batiuk had characters going in and out of Westview all the time (including two of the biggest movie stars in the Funkyverse), with no explanation (at least yet) of how no one could have noticed the time difference. (And if such an explanation is forthcoming, there’s virtually no chance it’ll be satisfactory, but it’s more likely that Batiuk is currently sitting around thinking “nudge nudge nudge, you’re not noticing the continuity errors, nudge nudge nudge”.) (It’s not working.)

        Morrison gave us an explanation that COULD work, even if we the readers had to give it a LOT of leeway. Batiuk is giving us an explanation that really CAN’T work, both in general and based on his own previously established continuity, yet is expecting us to just accept it at face value.

        • Anonymous Sparrow

          Green Luthor, thank you for your comments. It made me think a little bit harder on why some things work and why some don’t.

          And you also reminded me that among the things I love in comic-books are team-ups, tales with morals and, above all, origins!

  12. RudimentaryLathe?

    “Your mind had to remain free of my influence……that’s why I’m blabbing all my time-travel mind-r*pe actions that ensured you’d write the book that already existed in my timeline, before you’ve written said book. Also I sat back and watched your mother get date-r*ped and die of cancer.”

  13. The Duck of Death

    The saddest thing about this crazy-ass mess is that I really think Batiuk is proud of it. I think he believes he’s breaking new ground in comix. In his mind, I am sure he’s once again writing his own blurbs. In fact, I suspect he spends a lot of time dreaming up self-blurbs.

    “Batiuk once again surprised and delighted his devoted readers with an arc that changed the history of comic strips, the work that has been enshrined in comic history as ‘The Harley Arc.’ Spoken of in hushed tones from comic book stores to the halls of academe, The Harley Arc disposed with stale narrative tropes and traveled back in forth in time with wild abandon. ‘One day,’ says Batiuk, ‘I just had the wildest idea: What if people could travel back and forth in time? And what if the traveler was some kind of special watcher with incredible powers? It was such a fresh, novel concept that I knew I had to try it.’

    Batiuk’s Custodian, of course, became a figure of cult fascination, soon spawning merchandising, Funko Pops, and fanfic. In short order, the Custodian TV show, now in its 13th season, followed, along with the movies — the Custodian Trilogy, created by Steven Spielberg and Batiuk himself. ‘Steve’s a nice guy,’ Batiuk chuckles. ‘He was a little overawed when he met me, but I think I was able to put him at ease. And he asked me how to make a movie based on a comic, which no one had ever managed to do correctly before.’

    When asked if his Pulitzer win surprised him, Batiuk replies, ‘Not really. They admitted themselves that it was long overdue. And I was gratified, though not surprised, by the Emmys and Oscars. But it’s the Eisner and Harvey awards that have pride of place on my mantel. Along with the Action #1 and Amazing Fantasy #15, mint slabbed, that Steve [Spielberg] gave me after Custodians 3 wrapped.’

    Batiuk says he had to decline recent invitations to become Editor-in-Chief at Marvel and DC. ‘Marvel called me, begging. They said they’d pay me anything I asked, and they’d give me total creative freedom. I just laughed, said, “You should’ve snapped me up when you had the chance,” and hung up the phone. I’m a successful artist. I don’t have time for losers.'”

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      You’re good at that.

    • Anonymous Sparrow

      This reminds me of Stephenie Meyer thinking that she’d changed the nature of the romantic triangle by having both guys worthy of the women in the*Twilight Saga.*

      I don’t think Edgar Rice Burroughs thought it was a new idea when he had Thuvia deal with Carthoris and Kulan Tith.

      Nor that Scott McCloud, when having Zot say that “Woody sure deserves someone,” in the Zot/Jenny/Woody triangle thought that he’d written something no one else had ever written before.

      “The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.”

      Vanitas vanitatum to those who think otherwise, even if I don’t go along with the “omnia vanitas” part.

      • The Duck of Death

        He truly doesn’t get it. “Firsts” aren’t important. I could sit down now and write the first short story about a 3-foot-long pencil named Xixax Benivento marrying a fluorescent red casque-head chameleon who is president of the planet ℇ⩞⨘∄. No one cares unless it’s a good story. Anyone would rather read a brilliant story about a boy meeting a girl, no matter how many times it’s been done.

        As Ella Fitzgerald sang,

        ‘Tain’t what ‘cha do, it’s that way that ‘cha do it,
        That’s what gets results.
        You can try hard, don’t mean a thing.
        Take it easy, breezy, then your jive will swing.

        • J.J. O'Malley

          Great. Now I have the Fun Boy Three/Bananarama version of that song playing on a loop in my cerebrum.

        • Anonymous Sparrow

          A good story should be like the House of Lords in Gilbert & Sullivan’s *Iolanthe”: it may not do anything in particular, and it may do anything innovative, but whatever it does, it does it very well.

          Your quotation from Ella Fitzgerald reminds me that I should revisit her collaborations with Louis Armstrong soon.

          • The Duck of Death

            Pure joy. You could tell they adored each other. And it sounds like they’re having fun. And it’s the perfect example of what I was saying about artists peeling away the inessential as they perfect their art. Louis’ and Ella’s collaborations are very airy and relaxed. They feel joyous; they feel roomy. Compare them with this cluttered, anxious mess. #yikes

      • ComicBookHarriet

        I have a weird condescending respect for Twilight. It was proof that if you were writing from a place of emotion, you might impact/entertain a lot of people even if you’re objectively bad at the artform.

        Stephanie Meyers really really really loved the characters in her stupid vampire book, and that bled through into the prose in a way our primitive brains could scent. It’s why she was the breakthrough when all of the ‘love triangle by algorithm’ books didn’t do quite as well.

        I wonder if Batiuk was more tapped into his emotions when writing The Passion of Dead St. Lisa? One thing I know about Batty is he does super duper love his wife who was his high school sweetheart. Maybe he was actually able to imagine what it would be like losing her. I wonder if that is why it is so much better (not good but better) than everything before or since?

        • Anonymous Sparrow


          When I was reading Gore Vidal’s *Lincoln,* my father was reading Doris Kearns Goodwin’s *Team of Rivals.*

          Both deal with our sixteenth President (“while Lincoln, who got mixed reviews, because of you, John, now gets only raves…”) and I looked forward to comparing notes with him when I was done. As he was a speed reader, I was sure he’d finish first.

          But when I wrapped up Vidal’s book, Dad hadn’t finished Goodwin’s. He’d put it on hold, because his twin granddaughters were reading Stephenie Meyer’s saga and, because he was such a fast reader, they thought it would be fun if he would read it along with them.

          (“No greater love…” said a friend when I told him this story.)

          Dad rather liked the books (he didn’t know Meyer’s story as he did J.K. Rowling’s: when I told him that she was a Mormon housewife, he said that she had a choice of two Republican candidates in Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman, as she did in 2012…whatever happened to Huntsman? Romney changed states and became a senator), but the only one I read was the first, which couldn’t overcome the criticism of those who were eloquent on why “Edward Is Not the Best Boyfriend Ever,” and to try the remaining volumes (plus the gender-flipped entry, Bree Tanner’s novella and Edward’s account of his romance) in the wake of Das Mervin Sporking’s takedown wouldn’t work at all.

          The “both suitors are worthy” thoughts come out of Meyer’s remarks online, where she ranks Edward over Romeo (hothead!), Rhett Butler (played around with hookers) and Gilbert Blythe (more of a Jacob than an Edward).

          In 1960s Marvel Comics, where romantic triangles abounded, you usually knew who to root for (Matt over Foggy for Karen; Scott over Warren for Jean), but you could be surprised, too: Ned Leeds married Betty Brant, not Peter Parker; Happy Hogan married Pepper Potts, not Tony Stark.

          And it didn’t work out for Jane Foster and Thor, did it, Lady Sif?

  14. Green Luthor

    But… but… Mason and Cindy went from the reunion right to the Valentine. Doesn’t that mean the bubble was already absorbed back into the timestream? Or did they somehow not notice that there was suddenly a ten-year difference from when they left Westview?

    And why was Channel One playing the “John Darling Before He Was Murdered Show” ten years removed from the ransomware attack, since Jessica Darling Whose Father John Darling Was Murdered was watching it in Westview but it was being broadcast from Centerville? Were the TV signals also being transmitted through time?

    Was Timemop nudging every single person who came to or left from Westview to not notice the sudden change in the year, and does his nudging work on TV signals as well? Did no one in Westview get ANY kind of information from outside that town (like, say, from the Internet) and notice something was really, really off? Does the nudging work on Internet traffic?

    And what about Atomik Komix? How were they shipping anything they published to outside locations? (Or did they not sell anything outside of Westview? That I could totally believe.) Did no one notice the cover dates and copyright notices?

    This may be the single stupidest thing Batiuk has ever written, and that includes thinking “the playground” constituted sexy talk.

  15. billytheskink

    The entire Bull CTE may have been TB’s most egregiously-constructed story in the entirety of Act III, if not the entire history of this strip. Yes, there have been plots that were more infuriating or just generally worse to read and perhaps even more of a mess, but the Bull arc was disastrously-executed in so many different ways. It was just so terribly researched, so ridiculously littered with retcons (not just going back to Act I, either, the status of Bull’s NFL tenure changed 2-3 times in Act III alone!), and so so so so so so so so so so long! It never had anything to say, and it seemingly never ended. And when it finally did end with Bull’s funeral, it wound up being used as the launchpad for Masone’s horrid Lisa movie. Ugh.

    • Epicus Doomus

      That really was an awful, awful arc on so many different levels. And it was just so unnecessarily cruel, too. He’d been doing Bull/Les redemption arcs for years by that point, and the fact that Bull and Les were friends now was driven home all the time. Then, for no reason at all, he had Les snark his way through Bull’s WHS farewell, then shrug his way through Bull’s dreary funeral. It was Les at his most despicable and contemptible.

      And those were just two of the countless indignities heaped upon Bull during that arc. The one where he spilled Coach Stropp’s ashes was just appalling. The indignities didn’t even stop after he died. And like I said above, the weird thing about it was that Bull had already been redeemed many times over, and he was mostly a sympathetic and comic relief-type character by that point. Then, out of nowhere, BatHam ended his career, stole his mind, killed him, let Les ruin his funeral, then had his new best friend try to bang his wife. Wow.

      And lest we forget (as much as we’d like to): Linda, possibly the dreariest Act III character of them all, who was frequently front and center in that dismal story. Linda, Westview’s patch of cold windy drizzle on an otherwise overcast day. Linda, the answer to the question: which came first, the sad or the sack? Just thinking about it leads me to believe you’re on the mark with this one, billy. Two weeks of Linda and you’re reaching for the poison.

      • The Duck of Death

        Well, those are some pretty perfect summaries of the myriad appalling things about the Bull arc.

        But to me, the most appalling thing of all was his staggering chutzpah.

        Taking on a sensitive and tragic subject about which he knew nothing? Check!

        Refusing to do any research about how CTE feels to its victims and to the families it devastates? Check!

        Being unnecessarily vicious to your characters, stripping them of their human dignity, and mocking them, all while you’re supposedly bravely raising awareness with your Very Special Arc? Check!

        Sadistically giving the afflicted character the unhappiest of unhappy endings? Check!

        Running away from the actual emotional fallout of suicide, unrealistically showing nothing but a bit of numbness and resignation in the widow and irritation among the friends? Check!

        But here’s the icing on the Puff Batty cake, the finishing touch that just puts the whole crap-confection over the top:

        DARING to go to the media, give interviews, smugly puff yourself up as the truth-teller who goes where other comics writers dare not go, and shovel enough cow pats to fertilize every corn field in Iowa, KNOWING that all you had in your pocket was “… and Bull killed himself and his best friend who also had CTE tried to shag his wife before he was cold, the end.”

      • Anonymous Sparrow

        In case you’re wondering, “sad sack” is a contraction of army slang, in which a new soldier was deemed “a sad sack of shit.”

        • William Thompson

          A sad sack was nothing like the hapless, incompetent recruit in the old comic strip; a man who’d been a sad sack in basic could shape up. After basic training the nickname meant a goldbrick, a malingerer, a perpetual whiner, thief, liar and braggart. He was the guy who’d never do his part; would somehow get lost or never here a command; could quote regulations that excused him from doing anything. Was Les Moore ever in the Army?

  16. The Dreamer

    So Harley will probably nudge Funky to open the new Montonis in Centerville (cheaper than upscale Westview) And he will nudge Les to quit Westview High to take over the English Department at Centerville High One by one, the whole Funky gang takes over Centerville ‘Crankshaft’ becomes Funky Winkerbean Act IV: The Crankshaft Years

  17. Gerard Plourde

    Others have already called it out, but I have to add my reaction to the completely nonsensical explanation he’s given for the ten year time jump between Acts 2 and 3. I know that TomBa cited “Comic Book Rules” in justifying remerging the strips. While comics have had plots that strain credulity, I can’t imagine any title pulling anything this ridiculous. A temporal anomaly that just affects a single Ohio town while it remains in contact with the rest of the state and the country?

    I really have questions about his mental health.

    • The Duck of Death

      He doesn’t realize that the rules of narrative itself supersede “Comic Book Rules.”

      Rule #1: Don’t pee on your audience’s leg and tell them it’s raining.

  18. Andrew

    Thanks for the reflections, Banana Jr. This definitely is an end of an era that is weird to have to let go of.

    As for today’s strip, no, I don’t buy this excuse Bautik. This man lost his literal time machine because he, a high school staff member, couldn’t think of how to ask a student (presumably from a lower-level school since she was 11 and all) for his stolen property back, his power over time should be gone. Psychic powers being powerful enough to manipulate the fabric of time is a lot to ask us to accept, and the “gentle nudges” you’re trying to say to be thin enough to not actually be robbing people of free will still having this effect is just plain ridiculous.

    Furthermore, this “time bubble” explanation just doesn’t cut it. Not only is it walking back on what you said was intended to show realistic time passage and made effort to cameo the Crankshaft cast in fairly interesting “decade on” looks and situations (even if it was half-hearted anyway when you went ahead and had both strips react to everything from the ’08 recession to COVID lockdowns simultaneously), it doesn’t line up with the fact we nevertheless saw all these other locations at the later point in time, OUTSIDE this “time bubble”. Not just because we visited Centerville multiple times and saw the Murdochs at seniority age, but in seeing said Murdochs and their family/friends mingling about, witnessing Jeff and his grandson go to Hollywood and have a shared hallucination about a 30s sci-fi serial in the middle of a wildfire! Plus you had the actual Act 3 transition in 2007 happened in the middle of New York City where Anne Apple had climbed out of homelessness into a publishing role. This can’t just be called a problem to Westview exclusively.

    And this isn’t even getting into the sliding timescale relative to the past. I’ll preempt myself, I’m betting you have a clever explanation for how the Funky cast’s graduation has slid backwards from ’88 to ’72, or how the gang spent 20 years in high school in general, but even then you still leave yourself open to scrutiny as to how many years have passed from Act 2 onwards and if events like Summer’s birth and aging line up, the fact she spent a decade (IN KENT, not Westview!) in college to begin with, an entire year not acknowledging COVID until you felt like doing flashbacks to it, whatever age Chester was to be collecting Golden Age comics when Ed Crankshaft was a young father or whatever, and on that note, the fact your spinoff’s title Character is 100+ years old and not decrepit despite previously being envisioned as such as early as 2017, plus with current dating couldn’t even have been the driver during the era he originally premiered in!

    This stretching of Sci-Fi just isn’t a good explanation, at least as far as today’s revelations, and I’m not convinced tomorrow’s will be that helpful either, but feel free to challenge me. As it stands, you’d have been better off just breaking the fourth wall and have Harley tell Summer the truth of her existence as a comic character to explain this timey-wimey madness. That or blame the Lord of the Late, since he seems familiar with you anyways.

    Plus the fact that once again the characters are sardine-squished by blimp-sized word balloons are not helping this strip’s case. We’ve talked about this plenty, the more a cartoonist relies on this, the more it seems like their abilities are in question. Poor Summer, she doesn’t deserve this Girl-Lisa fate, she needs a new agent.

    • Andrew

      As an addendum, embracing the fact that Funky is a comic strip and use that meta angle as your explanation just plain works better when the Funkyverse has crossed over with two major, quirky long runners by way of Dick Tracy (wacko supervillains, one time implied to be in the same world as Batman himself, and a moon full of alien people) and Hi & Lois (literal decades of the same suburban family shit with a direct link to Beetle Bailey; when Lois appeared in Crankshaft the man even acknowledged her as a famous comic character). Really should’ve gone that route, Bautik, the time of calling the strip realistic long since passed considering what went down in Act 1 alone (which you call back to anyways and never fully shy away from retconning).

    • William Thompson

      Batiuk blew it again when he overlooked Summer’s ten years at Kent State. She could have come home after four years at Kent, then let her genius pattern-recognition skills discover that everyone thinks she’s been away for ten years. Then, well, uh, okay, Batiuk would never go that route with a mere girl because it would let her do something more than sit there and listen.

  19. Green Luthor

    Those “NFL letter” strips are truly abysmal just from a technical standpoint. The Monday strip has a lame joke, so we can… laugh at the Bushkas’ misfortune? (I mean, we didn’t know that’s what it was, but… opening your “serious” “prestige” story with a bad joke was certainly a choice.)

    And if you cut the Wednesday and Friday strips out completely, the story doesn’t change in the slightest. Did we need Linda walking around holding a letter, that the readers know nothing about? That Wednesday strip is just confusing on its own. It’s just a woman holding an envelope. It doesn’t mean a damn thing without context, and with context it’s just padding. And Friday is even worse, since, except for three unimportant words, the ENTIRE THING is repeated on Saturday. Skip from Thursday to Saturday, and the ONLY thing you lose is “Dear Mrs. Bushka”. And if we didn’t have the lame Monday strip, there wouldn’t be anyone questioning how Linda got mail, so that’s fully half the strips that are COMPLETELY unnecessary. They didn’t advance the story, they’re blatant padding.

    But I guess that’s when Batiuk didn’t have an editor who actually did anything, because SOMEONE should have told him how awful the story structure was there. (Kinda feel sorry for Ayers for having to draw that. And for not being able to retire years earlier.)

  20. Nice word supercontinent, Batdick. Thanks for rectifying that whole Crankshaft/Funky time thing for us. That’s a relief.

    GREAT post, Banana 6K. “Guardian Angel for Incels.” Ah, le mot juste!

    And the Carol Burnett ending was perfect. Her performance on Better Call Saul just cemented her genius status!

  21. be ware of eve hill

    As BJR6K says, this is day 16 of Harley bloviating.

    He’s talking again. Reminds me of a song.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      The man talking through the entire 3 1/2-minute song is a nice touch.

      • be ware of eve hill

        If I’m not mistaken, the man is Henry Phillips. The person who wrote the song, “She’s Talking Again.”

        The video I posted above is a cover from a woman’s perspective.

  22. ComicBookHarriet

    BJ6K, one of the things that made me so sad when I heard that the strip was coming to an end is that you got so few turns in the driver’s seat.

    I feel like I want to keep a braindead patient on life support in the ICU for a few more months because the doctors diagnosing it have great dad jokes.

  23. be ware of eve hill

    Thanks, BJr6K. Lovely post. I’m crying again. The Carol Burnett closing had me breaking down like Carol. It’s been an emotional day.

    I remember watching Carol’s show. It was the highlight of my family’s Saturday evening. One of the few shows my family wanted to watch together.

  24. Smirks’R Us

    imo, todays load of dung is proof positive that BatHack does indeed read this site. There is no way he would have offered this lame “explanation” of the time jump if this wonderful collection of beady-eyes nitpickers and hidebound literalists here at SOSF hadn’t called him out over every one of the many, many inconsistencies over the past years (or is it decades?).

    So Tom, if I am right and you are seeing this, please accept my final rumination on this farewell arc. It sucked.

  25. J.J. O'Malley

    “This wouldn’t pass muster in the dopiest issue of Fantastic Four“? Banana Jr., old chum, what Batiuk’s been foisting on readers with this arc wouldn’t pass muster in an issue of Inferior Five!

    I am amazed that at this point in the storyline TB thinks there are enough non-ironic readers out there paying enough attention to the FW/C’Shaft time differential that he feels he has to explain it away with a sprinkling of fairy dust from Harley’s magical mop. To continue with comic book analogies, it brings to my mind when one-time Funky contributor John Byrne took over Superman in DC’s post-Crisis universe and did away with Clark’s teen career as Superboy, which necessitated explaining away 25 years of his appearing in Legion of Super-Heroes stories with the creation of a “pocket universe” where said tales occurred. This, of course, angered longtime LSH fans and has been altered, retconned, and “just put Clark’s son Jon in there instead” countless time in the decades since. Does Batiuk really think people outside the snarkverse pay any attention to those details?

    • Epicus Doomus

      This is a good point too. Who is this even for? If BatNard has any non-ironic readers left at this point, I seriously doubt they’re aware of or give a shit about the timeline discrepancies. In fact, assuming that non-ironic, daily FW readers do exist, I would bet that at least some of them have no idea that FW is coming to an end, and those readers are quite likely confused as hell right now.

      And another thing: she hasn’t written the book yet, so he’s influencing what she’ll write right now. He has the timeline all screwed up in the arc itself. The explanations only serve to obfuscate things even more. And no one’s mentioned the helmet, at one point the centerpiece of this arc, in days.

      • Paul Jones

        The lunatic thinks that since the incompetent fuck-up said he fixed everything, everything is fixed. He can look at the album cover to “Crisis? What Crisis?” and wonder where the crisis is because Supertramp ‘said’ there wasn’t one.

  26. ian'sdrunkenbeard

    Heeeere’s Linda!

    • The Duck of Death

      Gee, I’ll sure miss these idb strips — each and every one a vast improvement over the originals.

  27. Paul Jones

    This is unholy. We’re expected to like trying to fix lazy, unfocused and disjointed non-storytelling with another pea-brain deus ex machina. No wonder he doesn’t want another person writing this: they might do a better job than he could and he knows it.

  28. ian'sdrunkenbeard

    See, all you beady-eyed nitpickers!

    (To be read in a very snotty voice) “If so-and-so graduated in such-and-such. they would be whozitz years old, blah blah blah…”

    It doesn’t matter now! There was a clog in the torso chute of time! There was a bubble! A fart in the time stream! It all makes sense now! Oh you fools, don’t you see?

  29. Could have done without the “incels” dig. :p But okay, I’ll use that as an excuse to talk about what bugs me the most with Batiuk.

    The thing with Batiuk is, he likes to act as the champion of feeble, sensitive nerd-boys. And I am for that, in theory. Because I am a feeble, sensitive nerd-boy, and these days it’s the done thing to bash us and accuse us of having every mortal flaw. If he could be at least not completely terrible at it, I’d probably be the first to defend him, just for the novelty of having one (1) franchise in the universe that didn’t go out of its way to hate on me.

    But boy howdy. Batiuk’s way of glorifying me is so incompetent that it’s embarrassing. The most jaw-dropping example I can think of is Comic Book John claiming that people villainise gamers because that always happens to “the most vulnerable people in a society.” Like… really? The most vulnerable? Not the heavily disabled, the financially destitute or those serving prison sentences? Not the victims of human trafficking? People who like video games are the most vulnerable people in our society?

    Even to someone like me, who tends to complain that gamers get slammed less because they deserve it and more because they’re such easy targets, that piece of blithe hyperbole was a bit much, especially when it was delivered in the strip’s customary tone of world-weary cynicism. Oh, and then he compared it to the Salem Witch Trials, just to really raise the self-pity levels into orbit.

    It’s like… “get off our side, Batiuk. You’re making us look stupid. And frankly, we’re grown men who obsess about games – we don’t need any help in that regard!” :p

    And it’s like that with everything. He’s so tonedeaf and so clueless that whenever he tries to prop you up, he ends up tripping you instead. He’s like the Jack Chick of timid man-children: someone who in supposedly arguing for a cause provides the perfect argument against it!

    • Gerard Plourde


      “The thing with Batiuk is, he likes to act as the champion of feeble, sensitive nerd-boys. . . Batiuk’s way of glorifying me is so incompetent that it’s embarrassing.”

      True. Because when it comes down to it, the strip has not allowed its quirky, nerdy characters to develop beyond being mouthpieces for The Author. Back in Act 1, before he embarked on his quest to be “a 1/4 inch from reality”, his nerdy characters actually exhibited more relatability. Even when he started becoming more serious at the beginning of Act 2, he showed some promise (probably due to editorial guidance, which isn’t a bad thing). There were stores about Funky dealing with alcoholism and a marital breakup that, while not perfect, at least permitted his characters some depth, if not complexity. But I think his need to have total control over the shape and endpoint of the stories brought us to where we now stand, with the Les and Lisa saga again taking center stage in all its bathos.

      I’m sorry that the “incel” comment stung you. I’m pretty certain that its use by BJ6000 was not exclusionary and the intent not derogatory. I’m certain, based on the incredible richness and knowledge of minutiae revealed in the comments posted by our community, by both contributors and commenters, that the majority of us here definitely were or would have been tagged as “feeble, sensitive nerd-boys (and girls)”. I know I was. Most of us grew up in a time before game consoles, computer games, or even PCs, so our nerdiness exhibited itself as getting immersed in comics, fantasy, science fiction and possibly going to Star Trek or Star Wars conventions (some even cosplaying). But it did single us out as targets for bullying, so I can understand and sympathize with the hurt seeing that word caused.

      • Yeah, agreed… I mean, in contrast to most posters here, I actually liked Act 2 Les. He came across as a lovable semi-loser, someone who’d worked himself up from being a complete non-entity as a teenager to building an unimpressive but decent life for himself as an adult. He didn’t marry the prom queen, he didn’t make a million, but he settled down with an equally non-too-stellar woman and started a family and worked a steady unglamorous job. And as someone who also never achieved much in objective terms but who did manage to get pretty far, relatively speaking, from where I started… well, that made him powerfully relatable to me.

        But then cue Act 3, where he was suddenly presented as the greatest human being who ever lived and showered with success and fortune at every turn… *siiiiiiiiighs*

        • The Duck of Death

          I think incels are quite distinct from nerds. Incels are a subculture based on resentment and a strange combined longing for/hatred of women. I’ve been following the subculture since before the name “incel” was coined, and it’s gotten markedly more toxic over the years. I believe that most of the self-proclaimed “incels” are men with autism, or on the spectrum, who don’t understand how to interpret popular images of courtship (ie, as fantasies) and can’t understand the oblique messages that “normies” send each other.

          The result is behavior like we see in Les: Women are vending machines — sorry, vendos. You insert “nice guy” behaviors, and out comes sex/mating. “Females” don’t have agency; they don’t have quirks, needs, desires, nerdy interests, neuroses of their own. They are like fancy sports cars: Objects of desire for men, which can be acquired when sufficient currency is exchanged.

          • Mmm-hmm, except of course Les isn’t associated with that subculture, and anyway isn’t celibate, involuntarily or otherwise – he’s been married twice and has a daughter. But that didn’t stop BJ6000 calling him one, did it?

            And anyway, I am an autistic man who could never figure out courtship (it took me until I was something like 25 before I figured out having a conversation, to tell you the truth). Now, that doesn’t really bother me anymore in itself, because it turns out that as you get older your hormones dry out and, well, the “in” kinda falls off your “cel,” as it were. :p But I still feel stung by the way the term gets thrown around, because I feel like it’s shaming me for limitations that I didn’t choose and that I have spent my whole life working hard at overcoming. That’s all.

          • The Duck of Death

            Hey, baraad, allow me to apologize sincerely if my comment came off sounding critical of people with autism. Only a tiny percentage of people with autism are “incels,” and from my observation there are plenty of “incels” who are neurotypical but have psychological or personality disturbances.

            There’s no crime or shame in trying to understand how social interactions work and being frequently baffled. I can certainly say I’ve done more than my share of it and I’ll bet virtually all the commenters here have too.

            The distinguishing factor of incels is not that they have autism, or that they struggle with social cues, or that they don’t have a mate. The distinguishing factor is that they hate and resent women, while at the same time being utterly consumed by longing for and obsession with them.

            Most heterosexual men long for women. Incels take that a step further to pure obsession, and then add a raging resentment and loathing for them.

            I’ll try to parse why Les comes off as an incel’s dream: From Act I, he was what an incel might refer to as a “beta.” Lisa was seduced (retconned to raped) by an “alpha” (these are stupid terms but bear with me), but her “beta” best friend saw her through the pregnancy and turmoil, and was ultimately rewarded with the prize: Sex and marriage.

            The original Les was lovable. The Act II Les was getting a bit heavy on the heroics and the women falling all over him. Act III Les morphed into someone who won everything effortlessly and churlishly disdained it as somehow beneath him.

            Again, please accept my apologies if it seemed like I was conflating autism with incel-ism. They are two distinct things with a Venn diagram that overlaps in a small sliver.

          • Banana Jr. 6000

            I’m in the same boat as you, man. I had to deal with crippling shyness, being on the spectrum, and never getting any useful advice on dating. It’s a frustrating puzzle, and I get why some people become angry about it. That doesn’t make it right, though.

            I call Les an incel because that’s what he’d be in a realistic world. Imagine how Les would react if Lisa rejected him, after he escorted her to all those lamaze classes (which his parents should have never let him do anyway). It’s obvious what he was after the whole time.

          • The Duck of Death

            First, BJr6K, isn’t it interesting that we both spontaneously, simultaneously came up with the same term to describe Act III Les?: Churlish.

            Second, I think I may understand the source of some of the confusion. Les himself is not an incel, nor did he ever act like one. He didn’t hate or resent women, or look at them as some malevolent other species sent to torment men.

            The incel mentality is coming from Batiuk himself, and manifesting in his characters. Women always exist only to support men, to cheer them on, to affect their fates, or to be prizes. Even if there appear to be exceptions who achieve escape velocity — Cindy went to New York and made a career as a news anchor, Lisa went to law school and became a moderately successful lawyer — they always come crashing right back into the orbit of a man. Cindy ended up as arm candy for a movie star, so that Les’ passion project could get made. Lisa ended up as the fulcrum of Les’ writing and Hollywood careers, and he got to be the mopey grieving husband for all time. How did Lisa feel about motherhood, about the prospect of leaving her young child behind, about finally meeting the child she gave up in high school, just as she was dying? Uh, I dunno. Sad, I guess. Anyway, let’s get back to the part of the story that really matters: here’s Les with his “Le Chat Bleu” writer’s block!

          • Banana Jr. 6000

            Yeah, you said it better than I did. It’s not so much Les’ personality as it is the overall tone of FW.

    • Banana Jr. 6000


      I’m sorry if that remark offended you personally; this was not my intent. But I think we’re working with different meanings here. I don’t know how you define the word “incel”, but I reserve that term for the angry, bitter, and self-entitled attitudes that some men develop about it. The Elliot Rodger types. Hell, if we’re going by the literal definition, I myself am an “incel.” Was never very skilled with women, and didn’t get any better at it until I was too old. I wouldn’t rag anybody for that.

      And I totally agree with what you said about the strip, and how its attempts to champion men like Les and Pete are actually insulting and counterproductive. To me, the strip’s advocacy of “nice guys”, has one simple, underlying flaw: they’re not nice guys.

      Act III Les is one of the most selfish, petulant, churlish characters in all of fiction. Whatever goodwill he deserved for being Westview’s punching bad in Act I ran out long ago. Pete is more interested in comic books than he is in being an adult. He never did get Mindy a proper wedding ring, even though he makes enough money to do it easily. Don’t get me started on the “Stardusters” arc.

      So I think we’re on the same page here. I’ll try to be more careful in future.

      • Y. Knott

        What an interesting conversation this has been. And everyone remained thoughtful and civil, even about a emotionally sensitive topic! There’s the hallmark of a good online community….

        Yeah, we need to figure out how to not lose this place!

        • bad wolf

          Someone i read online predicted the demise (well, diminishing importance) of Facebook, Twitter etc are inevitable as the future would be folks retreating to smaller self-policing message boards built around a common interest. This place does sound like it fits the bill.

          It’s harder to be a jerk when you feel like you’re all in it together!

          • Banana Jr. 6000

            I think social media has already diminished in importance. It’s great for getting a message out to a large number of people, but not that good for personal interaction with people tou’re close to.

            I had the damnedest realization during the lockdown/social distancing. In 3 years of working from home, when I craved a little social interaction, I never once logged on to Facebook. It never occurred to me that social media was a way to fill that need. It’s useless for its intended purpose. I get much more fulfillment from communities like this one, that have a shared interest and a good vibe.

  30. The Duck of Death

    I think, as the strip flies off Nobottom road to its inevitable end, all efforts to write coherent, comic-friendly English have ceased.

    Look at this train wreck. “Your mind had to remain free of any influence from me directly…” You mean, “Your mind had to remain free of my influence”?

    “Once I’m assured that your book will happen… as I now am…” You mean “Now that I know you’ll write your book”?

    I could go on, but copyediting horsecrap like this just gives you neatly piled, condensed horsecrap.

    Most artists, over the years, improve their craft with practice. They learn to strip away the inessential. It’s rare to see a working artist or writer become remarkably more florid and less capable over a 50-year span.

    And yet, here we are.

  31. Professor Fate

    As this utterly perplexing train wreck of a well one is hesitant to call it a plot or story continues to get worse like a multi car accident in the freeway caused by fog where cars plow into the mass of wrecked vehicles one after the other, I’m getting a bit suspicious here. There is no logical reason to have this elaborate explanation of the end of the time gap between the strips. You end FW and move on. The only reason I can think of for this elaborate nonsense is to allow Les and the rest of the unpleasant cast to head over to Crankshaft where they will eventually take over the strip. “The Syndicate doesn’t want Funky Winkerbean? Well I’ll show them. “
    I’m probably off base but still I can’t think why he’s doing this otherwise.

  32. The Duck of Death

    Okay, I’m stuck on this.

    “That’s why there was always risk of me being discovered by you” — ignoring the tortured syntax, if he didn’t want to be discovered, why did he instantly start filibustering the moment he saw Summer?

    Why didn’t he just say, “Huh? Who are you? ‘Summer’? Sorry, do we know each other?…. ‘Lisa’? 1972? Doesn’t ring a bell. Thousands of kids have passed through this school in the last 50 years. I just mop the floors and maintain the boilers. I’m not making friends with the kids. In fact, we’re told not to fraternize, because it might look inappropriate. My break’s over. Nice meeting ya, Samantha.”

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Yeah really. What was the risk of her “discovering” him when he spilled the beans first chance he got anyway? He’s a bargain-basement Time Lord. Couldn’t he just nudge her into to not discovering him? What could she even do to him anyway?

    • William Thompson

      Remember that Hardly A. Thought is the product of a Westview-based society and culture. His training as a Custodian was probably handled by Leslie Moore XVII. It’s amazing that Hardly didn’t put the helmet on backward.

  33. I’ve got it! This whole story is being co-written by Tuesday Chick of Six Chix.

  34. Count of Tower Grove

    . . . and now we know what “The Traveler” had in mind for the precocious Wesley Crusher.

  35. Hannibal's Lectern

    Today’s strip gave me a lot to think about from the standpoint of technique (hey, there ain’t no content here; gotta think about something).

    First, a callback to BatYam’s rather insulting story about how one of his author avatars (can’t remember if it’s Philled Whole or Flush Foreman) was supposedly ripped off by Hal Foster. Looking at the word Pangaea in today’s strip, I am impressed at how Foster handled such big swathes of exposition every week: by simply telling the story in text boxes. Third person exposition, no awkward dialog needed. Of course, “Prince Valiant” dates back to the early days of comics, when a “comic” could still be a story told in words, accompanied by illustrations. But there is no Law of Comics forbidding Batty from just filling a panel with expository text, rather than having his characters vomit Hindenburgs full of awkward “dialogue.” Unless, of course, such a “Law” exists in his own head.

    Perhaps the slam at Foster comes from jealousy, that “PV” can get away with being an illustrated text story and (Batty believes) “FW” cannot. Discuss…

    On the subject of endless expository dialogue, I do want to offer my apologies for the excessive amounts of it in my own book. I feel that I should have cut at least a third of it, and this is after I had already cut at least half (you would not want to read the early drafts). Perhaps book writers have a privilege that Batty does not grant himself, permission to throw a lot of stuff away. I still have on my computer files and files full of dialog, scenes, background explanation, etc., that were written and then removed. I consider them scaffolding that had to be built to support the process of writing the finished story… and then had to be removed once the story supported itself. I don’t feel Batiuk allows himself to throw even one word away. My cynical self says this is because he believes every sentence he writes is a masterpiece; my more realistic self suspects it’s just a matter of time and fatigue.

  36. I’m starting to think that Harley is just a terrible time-lord who is not qualified for the job. Gallifrey sent him to Westview just to get him off the planet and stop bothering them.

    “Uh, hey Harley, say, there’s a very important book on Earth that we need to make certain gets written. It’s real important and everything. We’re finally going to give you a mission, Clarence, I mean Harley. What? Why are those guys over there giggling? Uh, well…they’re reading today’s Funky Winkerbean of course.”

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Gallifrey sent him to Westview just to get him off the planet and stop bothering them.

      Harley is Invader Zim? Well, that would make this arc a lot more fun.

      • ComicBookHarriet

        Cartoonist blood marches through my veins like Giant Radioactive Bewigged Lisas! The Lisas command me…you cannot ignore my veins.

  37. 1. It was great seeing some of you last night on the group online meet!!

    1a. And THANK YOU for bringing up the legendary DFC archive (especially the poignant focus on #500) because it’s always important to pay homage to those pioneers who came before us. You saved me from typing a very, VERY long treatise connecting DFC to SOSF I was still collecting my thoughts on and was planning to write out today or tomorrow. When I first stumbled upon the DFC I finally understood what those archeologists felt when they dug up the Rosetta Stone…

    2. A protagonist being told by some strange, otherworldly being that they’re special and have special powers and are destined to be the savior of humanity is so played out it isn’t even funny.

    2a. It’s even worse when said protagonist somehow doesn’t have any clue about their special magical powers until they’re 26+ years of age…

    2b. AND EVEN THEN, this hackneyed plot foundation can still be wildly entertaining with some genuinely original creativity and imagination (SEE: “The Matrix”, “Unbreakable”, etc.)

    3. I’m about done with this storyline and will have nothing further to contribute until it starts actually going somewhere… Batuik keeps gunning the engine but the gear is still in neutral.

    4. I’m confused about the CTE flashback? Linda said Bull was on the “practice squad roster” for the old St. Louis Football Cardinals in 1980 (which means he’s Westview High Class of ’75), but when Bull was trading football war stories with that Hank Hill weirdo (who we’ve never seen since) he said he got an invite to training camp as an undrafted rookie and was cut after 2-3 weeks which would *NOT* make him eligible for the class-action settlement if I understand correctly…? (And nevermind the fact that any dain bramage Bull suffered would have obviously come from his college years). So which is it?

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      1. It was great to meet you too. I wish we all could have talked longer.

      1a. I hope to hear your DFC-SOSF thoughts anyway. Good stories are worth telling more than once.

      4. I don’t think FW was ever very clear about what Bull’s NFL career entailed. The funny thing is, it didn’t have to be. The CTE settlement was very broad; pretty much anyone who had any kind of career could receive something. Which is another problem with that arc: a short-timer wouldn’t have gotten very much anyway. I worked out that Bull’s age, condition, and being on the practice squad for a year would have only gotten him 12-30 thousand dollars. Not exactly a life-changing windfall.

      As Hannibal says below, Batiuk should have just left it alone. He retconned a detail of a major character’s life, then got it completely wrong anyway.

    • billytheskink

      It was great to see you and so many others last night last night as well, hitorque!

      The Bull CTE arc was absurdly full of retcons about his football career, but the constant reclassification of his status with the Cardinals is the most egregious of those since the entirety of it happened in Act III (unlike the retconning of games depicted or not depicted in Act I and Act II). Here’s the first reference To Bull playing for the Cardinals, where he specifically notes that he was only ever contacted by a scout and considers himself to have “missed” the chance to play in the NFL.

      4 years later this “near miss” turned into a tryout that “didn’t last long”.

      And then we have today’s flashback from 3 years after that where Bull was suddenly a practice squad player. Meaning he collected at least one regular season week paycheck from the Cardinals.

      Of course, the ever-changing graduation date makes Bull’s practice squad presence even more of an issue. If the graduation date is 1972 and Bull spent 4 years at EMU, he would have joined the Cardinals in 1976, when practice or “taxi” squads were actually not permitted in the NFL (neither were injured reserve or inactive lists for that matter, reserves returned in 1977 and a true taxi/practice squad returned in 1989).

      The most interesting way to have framed Bull’s NFL “near miss” probably would have been for TB to stick to a timeline based on the 30 year high school reunion he wrote in 2008, which would have put Bull’s college career ending in the 1981 season and had him entering the NFL in 1982… where a narratively convenient mid-season strike could have conveniently cancelled a mid-season tryout/roster spot offered to Bull, who was then never offered another chance after the strike ended.

      Heck, this story even makes narrative sense within the Cardinals actual 1982 season… the Cardinals running game struggled during the two pre-strike games in 1982 (averaging 79 yards on 2.6 per carry), so maybe they would have gone looking for a fullback to push the struggling FB Wayne Morris into opening up bigger holes for star RB OJ Anderson. Upon the end of the strike, the Cardinals running game came to life (averaging 150 yards on 4.3 per carry) and Morris was ultimately voted team MVP by his teammates, eliminating any reason to consider bringing back Bull. Even so, the Cardinals actually did add a backfield player after the strike, Willard Harrell. These real life things actually fit the general scenario TB built around Bull, the strike wiping out Bull’s try-out and veteran tailback Harrell getting a call instead of Bull when the games resumed… and I researched them in 25 minutes!

      • ComicBookHarriet

        You looked up the 1982 Cardinals average running yards to comment on a comic strip with a talking murder chimp and a time travelling janitor.

        This is why you’re the Batikstorian.

  38. Hannibal's Lectern

    In an example of life imitating… well, whatever “FW” has become… I got a communication from Harley Davidson yesterday. Not the time janitor, the motorcycle company. For those who are not familiar, H-D (the motorcycle company) trades heavily in “heritage,” its position as the world’s oldest motorcycle company. And they retcon that “heritage” like the old Soviet Union. How they do it is a lesson for Batiuk: they just do it. If the factual history doesn’t match the narrative they want to sell to their current customers, they just recite the narrative as if it were factual. No explanations. No acknowledgment of any inconvenient facts. No discussion.

    For example, the publication they sent me this week included a blurb about a new model that looks a lot like a model I owned forty years ago. They yap about how the original bike was “iconic,” the product of the “rebellious spirit” of “West Coast customizers.” This is complete BS. The “FXRT” model of 1983 was not an “icon”; in fact it was thumpingly rejected by the customers (as I said, I owned a couple and was told regularly that it wasn’t a “real Harley”). As for its origins, it was basically the plastic bodywork from a water-cooled V-four bike that never made it to production (and whose existence the company denied for decades) grafted onto their standard Super Glide model. In other words, a parts-bin bike, an attempt to recoup some of the money that had been spent on a canceled development. Those of us who owned the bike might be outraged by this retcon, but we are few (the reason the original is now a “collectible” is that so few were sold, and of those, many lost the bodywork and became standard Super Glides). The Official History has been written, and the Faithful will accept it. Period. End of discussion.

    The lesson is, if you’re gonna retcon, do it boldly. If Batty wants to do away with the time skip and bring “FW” characters into the present of “Crankshaft” (and vice versa), then he should have just done it. This attempt to explain it is just plain embarrassing.

    • The Duck of Death

      Agree 100%. Make your decisions, own them. After all, it’s called writing. But this mess — has Bats never heard the adage, “When you’re in a hole, stop digging”?

      (Here’s my funny co-inkydink story. As I was heading upstairs for a zoom call, an internet jazz station I was listening to started playing the original Hoagy Carmichael instrumental version of “Stardust.” I don’t think I’ve ever heard this version in all my years of listening to jazz stations. What are the odds?)

      • The Duck of Death

        I should say for _yesterday_’s zoom call, which was a Google Groups call anyway, and now I’m off to get some more coffee, which I clearly need.

    • William Thompson

      One maddening thing about Bathack trying to resolve the time discrepancy: have any of his unironic readers noticed it? Have there been enough discrepancies to annoy them? I don’t recall Senile Crankshaft and the Doublenut Twins showing up often enough in FW to be a glaring issue. Once FW is gone, there won’t be any reason to think about the time mess.

      Oh. When Les, Funky and Summer appear in FW, they’re going to keep explaining it away, aren’t they? Maybe it’s Batiuk’s way of further poisoning FW to keep the syndicate from reviving it.

      • Hannibal's Lectern

        “Further poisoning FW” is like contaminating strychnine with LSD.

        Let’s see who catches the John Belushi reference in that…

      • ComicBookHarriet

        Batiuk has no unironic readers.

        All his ironic readers, all across the interwebs (CC, CK, here, Twitter, etc) noticed.

  39. The question keeps arising: why does this guy have to keep “nudging” people? Who is he “nudging” against, ie, who is trying to prevent Summer’s book?

    I think I have an idea. There is no conscious enemy pushing against Summer. The force that Hardly has to keep correcting against is the fact that both Les and Lisa are so utterly repellent that no one would willingly associate with them, including each other.

  40. be ware of eve hill


    I saw the post you left late last night.

    On Christmas 1984, my older brother gifted me the same Funky Winkerbean book as a stocking stuffer. He attended Kent State at the time and purchased the book at the university bookstore.

    My book has a similar sketch of Funky and a signature from Tom Batiuk.

    Until today, I mistakenly thought they were part of the printing process and every copy was the same. Your copy disproves that. Your signature should read “STAY FUNKY,” not “STAY STAY.” You might have the “Inverted Jenny” of Funky Winkerbean books! 🤣

    Not only is your signature different, but there are also slight differences in the sketches of Funky.

    – Did Batiuk sign and draw a sketch in every copy?
    – Just the ones for sale in the Kent State University bookstore?
    – A special limited edition? For $3.95? ($11.33 in 2022 dollars)

    • ComicBookHarriet

      You can see multiple pictures through the years of Batiuk doodling and signing doodling and signing. He does plenty of bookfairs, cons, and circuits. We were joking in the call that an unsigned FW volume is probably rarer than a signed one.

      For the record, my Crankshaft book came unsigned.

      • be ware of eve hill

        Just wondering, does Batiuk sign stuff for free, or just for those who buy his books?

        (What did you do to me, TB? When did I become so jaded?)


        For the record, my Crankshaft book came unsigned.

        That kind of makes sense. Would Batiuk sign a book without a sketch? To the best of my knowledge, Batiuk has never drawn Crankshaft.

      • be ware of eve hill

        I owe you a bit of an apology. Yesterday, I mentioned my ‘DAYS UNTIL THE END OF FUNKY WINKERBEAN’ chalkboard. You sounded excited and said you’d like to see photos of it.

        My Funky countdown chalkboard is indeed a modification of my Christmas countdown chalkboard. It’s also true that the chalkboard was originally a “Countdown to Disney” chalkboard. D’oh!

        The Disney chalkboard was specially ordered for my brother’s visit several years ago when my family lived in SoCal. Our parents never took us to Disney World or Disneyland when we were kids, so Mal and I arranged a couple of days for Rob when he came out to visit. He was so impressed by the chalkboard he forgot to take it home. Just left it hanging on the wall. *sigh*

        Mom was a child of the depression and always taught me, “waste not, want not.” Until this year, I’ve been using it as a Christmas countdown chalkboard.

        If I’m honest, it looks kind of crappy, and I was embarrassed to photograph it. So embarrassed, I ordered a ‘Brown & White Christmas Countdown Chalkboard Sled Wall Plaque’ to pick up on the way home. Turns out they canceled my order because it was out of stock. Way to do business, Big Lots!

        On second thought, considering the quality of Funky Winkerbean lately, the appearance of my ‘DAYS UNTIL THE END OF FUNKY WINKERBEAN’ chalkboard is appropriate, after all.


        • ComicBookHarriet

          THIS IS AMAZING.
          Thank you so much for sharing.

          I really think that the fact it was a repurposed Disney trip boondoggle really adds to the charm.

          Funky Winkerbean is a lot like Disney World. There’s a lot of cheap fakery going on to give the sense reality. It’s manipulative, and mercenary. It’s perfect.

    • Bad wolf

      I think all cartoonists develop a stylized icon of a character they can jot down faster than their own signature. He could probably crank those out faster than they’d roll off the press.

      • be ware of eve hill

        Considering how close all of those “Stay Funky” signatures are in appearance, I believe you are right.

  41. You’d think that stealing from Isaac Asimov and Jim Butcher (The Dresden Files) would result in something more interesting. Your pullet surprise for this last, dreadful arc is that it won’t.