Tainted Love

Link To Strip

Comic Book Harriet here! Taking the wheel one final time while this strip is still running, gently guiding it as it peacefully coasts to its final resting place.

As everyone has been saying in the comments, this arc has been monumentally bad. The sort of Aldo Keltrast, dog-in-the-corner while Margo smiles, Rey Skywalker, bad that will stand the test of time. Even if, for the last couple weeks, we get an abbreviated version of the kind of treacly Funky and Crew ending we all pretty much expected, the chance to make that ending a real story with a beginning, middle, end, goals, stakes, and conflict is pretty much over. It could have been as easy as Funky losing the keys to Montoni’s, or Les getting locked in the high school after dark. Any of us could pitch an ending more keeping with what this strip tried to be. Many of us HAVE pitched sci-fi endings more interesting than this.

But naw. Why don’t we have three weeks of emotionless, conflictless, exposition instead. Talk about what HAS happened and what WILL HAPPEN without any chance of it changing. Have two characters, one we definitely don’t care about and another we barely even know anymore, spout tensionless word zeppelins into the air, placidly; describing time travel and mind rape with the sort of bemused detachment I expect from people talking about a drizzly day.

I’ve heard more interesting descriptions on how to order from the Secret McDonalds Menu.

I don’t know how I feel about it. Because the part of me that is the nicest to Batiuk of our general crew. The part of me who confessed on a video chat with at least 10 other Batiuk haters, that a Crankshaft strip had made me cry. The part of me that chuckled at Vintage FW. That sappy part of me wants something better for the end, something to put a penlight (not a spotlight) on the B+ material this strip was occasionally capable of.

But the part of me that sat with a grin on my face through all of Rise of Skywalker. The part of me that laughed with glee when Phil Holt came back from the dead, and when Skyler blithely played with his grandfather’s murder weapon. The part of me brimming with self-righteous artistic indignation at every missed opportunity of this entire fictional universe. That nasty little gremlin inside is like…YES! THIS! LET IT END LIKE THIS! NOT IN GOODNESS! NOT IN THE GLORY OF A DUMPTER BLAZE! BUT IN THE REFINED PLATONIC IDEAL OF EVERY ONE OF BATIUK’S SINS! HIS DULLNESS! HIS LONGWINDEDNESS! HIS BLAND CHARACTERS! HIS AVATARS! HIS EGO! HIS NOSTALGIA! HIS OBTUSE LOGIC! THIIIIIISSSSSSSSSS


Great Moments in FW Arc Recap History: May 8, 1985. Les and Lisa on the bleachers.

Hannibal’s Lectern went off on a great tangent yesterday, talking about Harley Davidson motorcycles, and how the company wildly lies about the past to sell the present.

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.

Hannibal’s Lectern. Published author, gentleman (?), and motorcycle enthusiast.

Hannibal suggests that Batiuk should have done that kind of retcon when bringing the timelines together. I disagree, I think he should have explained it with a single strip at the end of the Crazy-Harry-Time Travel arc. ( Crazy: “I guess it was all an off-gassing mind trip, if I had gone back in time…things would have changed in the present!” *Crankshaft walks by*)

Hannibal and I are united in our assessment that three weeks in a janitor’s closet is NOT the way to do it.

But Batiuk is no stranger to Stalinist revisionism, with disappearing children edited out of families like murdered Politburo members from photos. Batiuk describes Les and Lisa’s year long Act I relationship like this on the blurb to Lisa’s Stoy: Prelude:

Introduced to readers of Funky Winkerbean in late 1984 as she experiences SAT test anxiety, Lisa becomes Les Moore’s best friend and a pivotal character. Les and Lisa go to the prom, begin steady dating, and then break up. Over the summer, Les realizes how much he misses Lisa.

In his Match to Flame, he’s even more vague about the nature of their dating relationship.

While all of this was going on, that girl from my sketchbook had begun little by little to insinuate herself into the strip. In my mind, the students in the strip had reached their junior year and as such the junior/senior prom was looming. Les needed a date for the prom, and this new girl seemed to be the perfect candidate. Along with Les I learned her name—Lisa. They went to the prom together and continued to date. They followed the typical bell curve of a high school relationship and eventually broke up with Lisa transferring to another school. Nice story, that. The problem, however, is that I had really grown to like Lisa and I missed having her in the strip almost as much as Les seemed to. It turned out that my journey with Lisa was only starting. Twice I would banish her from the strip and twice she would return with a new story to tell.

From The Complete Funky Winkerbean Volume Five

What did that ‘typical bell curve’ relationship really look like?

Well, in early May 1985, Les Moore is busy litigiously harassing women while on his love quest.

I don’t know if this Cindy is THE Cindy. I don’t think so.

He is as charming and suave as ever.

Are you a boyfriend-free girl?

In our sanitized, censored, edited Act III, Batiuk presents Les getting up the guts to ask Lisa out, as if he already admired her.

March 7, 2017

When in reality, he didn’t even know her name. Like Billy The Skink pointed out in 2017, he was asking her because she was the last girl he hadn’t asked…and he had to psych himself up because he’d been rejected all day.

Apparently, a dance party has broken out in the gym after lunch?

The dance goes well. He asks her to prom. Prom goes well. They kiss. Les crashes his car on the way home.

His first gift to her? Funeral flowers.
Credit for this strip pic goes to the Sale into the 90’s blog. Because Toledo Blade Microfiche is DUMB.
Silly Les! Daring to be happy before Act III!

I guess they start dating. Though in the summer of ’85, Les is still openly oogling other women.

There is an entire week in August of ’85 dedicated to Les getting his braces stuck on Lisa’s sweater while they were necking. But that’s all we see of Lisa for the summer.

An entire WEEK of this, folks.

When school starts again, as a show of devotion, Les gives her a his pocket protector. Then he gets a horrible perm for the Homecoming Dance and freezes Lisa’s corsage…which does…something to her… off panel…

I didn’t see the pocket protector at first…and this came across very creepy.
Sorry for the strip quality and content. In every respect.

As a couple, Les and Lisa barely show up from Prom of ’85 through to about March of 1986. Much much much much more time is dedicated to Dinkle fundraising, Coach Stropp losing, people smirking at puns on TV. In all those months, I could find only a strip or two other than this. I think Batiuk didn’t know how to handle hapless Act I punching bag Les in a normal relationship. But then, in March, things take a turn.

Very niche reference, but big Mikasa Ackerman vibes here.
Is her machine gun cardboard too?

The relationship goes toxic. And it goes toxic because LISA becomes jealous, crazy, manipulative, clingy, and physically abusive.

That is assault and battery.
That is assault and battery played for laughs.

Les, being his extremely flawed Act I self, is no pure victim in this. But his forgetfulness and distance almost could be read as dissociation from the moment, as he tries desperately to cling to the validation of having a girlfriend even if that same girlfriend becomes someone he can’t handle.

Tip to any single guys. Do. Not. Check Phone. While on Date.
Unless you’re pulling up Dank Memes to share.
“If you’re not back in love by Mondaaaaay, you can’t say you didn’t tryyyyy…..”

Les finally gets up the nerve to break up with Lisa. By standing in a place both public AND where she can’t physically reach him without breaking taboos.

Just wait, you’ll be very productive your senior year…
This one got me. Score one for Act I actually being funny.
And then she took that gun…and melted it down…and made a car…

And their first round of dating ends like it began. With a creep threatening legal action.

Les pines for Lisa all summer long. And it is so typical of Funky Winkerbean that more strips are dedicated to Les moping around whining for Lisa after they broke up, than were spent on the what I assume were the happy times in their early relationship. And we have no clue what Les liked about Lisa in particular. He’s not missing Lisa, he’s missing the idea of being pair-bonded.

Multiple WEEKS of this, folks.

When school starts, he is determined to ask her out again. But…

Just wait…Les…those cruel plot twists just get better and better.

I know that was a LONG archive dive. Even for me. But I wanted all of you to see this. Glorious Dead St. Lisa was not immaculately conceived sinless from the author’s pen. For a short while there, she was WORSE THAN LES. Batiuk has built up Les and Lisa’s relationship as a lynchpin to his universe. But the couple he puts up on a pedestal as the parents of the savior of humanity, had an utterly toxic beginning. That first year, they were two desperate, awful people that clung to each other for a while not out of any real deeper attraction or connection, but out of the self-centered desperation to be in some kind of relationship with anyone.

And now we know, it was Harley the Timeline Custodian who made it happen.


During the group chat last night (which was SO FUN,) it was announced that we will be doing a 2022 Funky Awards in January. I am currently accepting nominations for Best Strip, Worst Strip, Punchable Les, Panel of the Year, Storyline of the Year, and also suggestions for additional categories.

I’m also considering doing some Act III character dives to run during voting week. Let me know if there’s any character in particular you want to get the ‘Is Wally Winkerbean the Pizza Monster?’ or ‘Why is Cayla Married to Les?‘ treatment.

Until then, see you in the comments you beautiful snarkers you!



Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

77 responses to “Tainted Love

  1. Epicus Doomus

    Thanks CBH, especially for reminding everyone that for a very, very long time, Lisa was just as annoying as Les was, and sometimes even (gasp) more. I used to consider Les, Lisa and Summer the three most annoying characters in the strip. But, of course, then Les got remarried and Summer went off to college and Dinkle started popping up a lot and suddenly Flash and Batton were characters and so on, and my list evolved, let’s say. Les and Lisa were the ones who drove me away from reading the damn thing for years at a time. Yes, I sometimes enjoy being reminded of things that once annoyed me, got a problem with that?

    It took me several moments to realize Harley was talking about the bleachers there in panel three, thanks to yet another truly oafish Batom sentence. He’s a professional writer, you know. Just ask him, he’ll tell you all about it.

  2. William Thompson

    Looking at that picture of Les and Lisa reminded me of diagrams of how the Hiroshima bomb worked: You have a big piece of U-235 here, and another big piece of the stuff there, and when you bring them together real fast, you’ve got a disaster that can destroy everything in sight. Only funny.

    • Epicus Doomus

      The whole reason they were eating lunch on the bleachers in the first place was because no one liked them. So why would anyone else want to join them? Once again, Batiuk makes sure that every single detail is off, somehow.

      • Green Luthor

        Ah, but the reason no one liked them is because Timemop was nudging everyone to not like them. I mean, how could ANYONE not like lovable ol’ Les? And I honestly didn’t remember how much of a charmer Dead Saint Lisa was back then, too.

        See? It’s all consistent, we’re just beady-eyed nitpickers and hidebound literalists if we can’t see the genius at work here.

      • William Thompson

        You’re right. Harry Daghlian wouldn’t have touched them.

        • Cheesy-kun

          Timemop couldn’t “nudge” Les and Lisa to meet in a way that didn’t cost them their popularity and self-confidence? Had to base their connection on their shared perception no one else wanted them.

          It’s a better story and a healthier basis for love if they had been unpopular all on their own. Timemop is a jerk.

          Is TB a sociopath or an alien still trying to make sense of human psychology? Yes!

  3. Green Luthor

    “Funky says that Lisa sticks to me like skin on a fish.” Has any actual human being ever used that expression? (Well, at least Batiuk’s been consistent with his it’s called writing.)

    CBH, for going through and finding all those strips, truly we stand in line. That had to be a real slog, even with the occasional Act I sign of comedic ability.

  4. CBH, there’s absolutely no shame in chuckling at vintage FW. A lot of that stuff was truly funny.

    As opposed to… this. I can’t believe that with 3 weeks left, he’s still padding this dead-in-the-water arc. Well, truth be told, I can. I’d feel a little bit sad for Batdick’s forced retirement from this strip, if he wasn’t so damned arrogant. I’m sure he’s a perfectly decent guy in real life, but his public persona is just…yeccchhh.

  5. Andrew

    Phase 2 of the flashbacks now? Where we chronological go through Harley’s influence on the school and/or Les’s relationship with Lisa? Even if not, everything about this space janitor is definitely leaving the attempt at nostalgia tinged with this whole retconing business. Because that’s what it is, no matter how you slice it. Just shoehorning in a new element to try and connect a(nother) thread across these last 50 years.

    Thanks for that big recap of the first year of Lisa’s lovelife, CBH, very informative. Have to wonder if this is skipped over in some ways in Bautik’s Prelude book, or if he literally skips it all to get to the pregnancy arc, as far as avoiding the extremes like the locker door slam or her own litigation against Les. Honestly despite degrees of her behavior, those strips actually make Lisa seem likable and funny in a way, as far as making her a character and in the mold of the up-to-eleven world that was typical of Act 1 (A full foot from reality as opposed to quarter-inch, if you will). If I had been a reader in the 80s, I don’t think it would’ve been too out of line, and I definitely would’ve been surprised seeing her come back with the baby bump (though maybe I would’ve wondered if that was somehow her karma for her problems in the relationship, in some twisted way). If nothing else, I enjoy getting a good feel of her character before tragedy and bad health luck came to define her. What sort of legal cases did she handle, for one thing? Can we make an Ace Attorney fangame out of those?

    Also, I’ll confess something to my fellow snarkers: as far as Star Wars goes, I don’t hate a single one of the movies. The OT is classic (even ROTJ), I grew up with the prequels and can’t help but still admire them and their legacy, warts and all, and I felt the sequels were more or less inoffensive; not strong pieces, not what I wanted, and Abrams’s choices were definitely weak links in the narrative, but OK and still gave some cool characters. Also the one-off films weren’t that bad either. Can’t talk about the shows as I don’t even have Disney+.

    • billytheskink

      I’m with you on Star Wars, there is enough that is fun in even the oft-maligned movies that I find each of them watchable at the very least… even Rise. (I demand a Boolio prequel spinoff, get on it Disney+!)

      The Holiday Special? Now that is Act III FW bad. Dumping on the Holiday Special is pretty rote at this point, especially now that pretty much anyone who wants to see it can and you don’t have to take anyone’s word for it… but it really is that bad.

      • ComicBookHarriet

        But mah Bea Arthur show tuneeees!

        Naw. For me I really liked The Force Awakens, though that might have been my raging Harrison Ford crush affecting my mind. So when The Last Jedi took all the Mystery Boxes from that movie and opened them to show they were empty, it kinda ruined the sequel trilogy for me. Add to that some glaring structural issues my writer brain couldn’t get over.

        The Rise of Skywalker is entertainingly bad, I genuinely had a great time with it. Kinda watched it like I do a Bayformers Transformers movie.

        Rogue One and Solo were both pretty good, in a Star Wars 90’s Novel kind of way.

        You want GOOD Star Wars? Clone Wars Cartoon, at least after season 3.

    • Maxine of Arc

      Rise of Skywalker made me pretty sad, but I either love, like, or don’t hate all the rest of them to differing degrees. I thought Last Jedi was really good actually. The shows I am sorta 50-50 on because they trade REALLY heavily on nostalgia-bait cameos and a Skywalker around every corner, but I really liked Andor in part because it didn’t have that.

      ….what? It’s easier than trying to find something to say about the sad petering-out of Funky Winkerbean. Batiuk keeps saying how much he liked Lisa and she just wouldn’t stay gone, but WHY? What characteristics made her so endearing he couldn’t forget about her? He didn’t show any of that to us.

      • ComicBookHarriet

        I’ve heard nothing but good things about Andor.

        I thought season 1 of The Mandalorian was pretty good, if a little predictable. I haven’t seen any of the other Live Action Star Wars Shows. Though I did watch Auralnauts ‘Larry’

        • Maxine of Arc

          I was super into the Mandalorian but then a dingdang Skywalker showed up. I’ll still watch the next season. Grogu and Peli Motto are great, and I dig Pedro Pascal.

          • The Duck of Death

            I have no particular interest in Star Wars. I enjoyed the first 3 (and am old enough to have seen all 3 in theaters in first release), then pretty much lost interest after being severely underwhelmed by “The Force Awakens.” But I find this conversation interesting because it’s a glimmer of what this site, or some site somewhere, could potentially morph into as Funky fades.

  6. none

    Good Lord is A1 Lisa hideous. Look at that last panel of the black corsage strip. The oblong stretched out head, the pointed crow beak nose, the frizzy hair helmet.

    You know how buzzfeed and those other clickhole sites sometimes run articles showing AI humanized renders of cartoon characters? What would happen if it attempted to render her. Guh. At least Ayers had enough self respect to not attempt to recreate that look for today’s strip (nor any other time he’s had to draw her from A1, I believe).

    • ComicBookHarriet

      It’s not that hard to picture, just slap a dead chia pet and two magnifying glasses on the head of a woman with mandibular hypoplasia.

    • bunnydoe

      I have to admit that my thought while reading was how much that looks like the exact hairstyle I had in junior high.

  7. billytheskink

    WOW! That is an all-time great archive dive, CBH. Les and Lisa really were made for each other…

    I certainly remember seeing their awful traits regularly on display in Act II but I did not recall them both having such horrid personalities during their short time in Act I. Those Act I strips actually entertain, provided you aren’t supposed to like either character… Alas, once Lisa became pregnant, it was clear that TB did intend for you to like these characters.

    One of the all-time great retcons in strip history (especially since TB has revisited it flashback at least 3 times now) is the start of Les and Lisa’s relationship. Framed in flashback as a sweet moment between a pair of nervous geeky friends, while in reality Les turns to Lisa as a last resort, initially referring to her as “that girl”. Even Harley can’t keep any of this straight.

  8. billytheskink

    Who is this Lisa is chatting with on the bleachers? Lisa Clumperman’s sister?

    Lisa C. is an all-time Batiukverse hero.

    • William Thompson

      If Hardly A. Thought had any sense, he’d have nudged her into taking over Summer’s book-writing role.

    • Green Luthor

      Lisa Clumperman may have just taken the top spot in the “Favorite Funky Winkerbean Character” category away from Zanzibar The Talking Murder Chimp.

    • The Duck of Death

      Team Clumperman, but these thoughts should have stayed in this strip, where they were amusing in a Mad-like way, and not been put into Les’ mouth as a valedictorian speech.

  9. ian'sdrunkenbeard

    I have to disagree with you, CBH. I thought the Aldo Kelrast story line was one of the best in the history of comics! Aldo’s resemblance to Captain Kangaroo was a nice touch, the intervention was great, and I loved the way they plugged Johnnie Walker as the booze to chug out of the bottle while driving over a cliff.

    I couldn’t believe that they actually killed him off. Compare that to the wet fart of the Wilbur story line in which he fell off a cruise ship and survived to be an even bigger asshole than before.
    Mary Worth was getting over 400 comments a day from people who were hoping that Wilbur was dead. I’m not sure if it was during this arc or another, but Karen Moy has posted on the CK comment page.

    • ComicBookHarriet

      For me Aunt May falls in love with the Mole Man will always have a special place in my heart. But I hear you.

      I think it was Brigman, the artist, that posted in CK during Wilbur’s fake out death. And yeah, it wasn’t Aldomania but a year later we’re still talking about it.

      There was an interesting piece written during the Wilbur Arc on The Comics Journal. The Author actually talked to Brigman and Moy and you got the sense that Brigman was in on the joke and Moy was aware but didn’t understand it. That combo really makes Mary Worth shine these days.


      The author then goes into the Mark Trail reboot, (and is way too nice to it.) And Olivia James’s, Nancy, which is a reboot I can get behind.

      • ian'sdrunkenbeard

        Thanks so much, CHB. That is a good article. Everyone else here is thinking, “Who the hell does this guy think he is, to come into Harriet’s house and tell her about comics?” Also thanks for correcting me about Brigman.
        I just started reading “Gil Thorp” recently, and the style was like a weird Faulkner novel. Everyday a different bunch of characters talked about people and events that I knew nothing about. One day they’re talking about abortion, the next day someone’s kid is tg, a Native American girl reads a statement before singing the national anthem at a high school football game, then we find out Gil’s daughter is bi…Everything is touched upon, but so far there has been little follow up. Then I found out that Henry Barajas is the new writer and a lot of commenters are very critical of his sudden lurch into new direction totally different from the old strip. Henry has gotten pretty snarky with some of his critics on the message board.

        • bad wolf

          I get the feeling it has become impossible to continue a soap-opera strip now without falling into the “current day” trap as virtually all writers have the same list of things they feel compelled to talk about. Just being self-aware and snarky in the strip itself is death to normal reading and commenting; Mark Trail’s update has been on Comics Curmudgeon very little compared to the non-ironic previous team.

          A strip supposedly about small-town high-school students playing JV sports? Well you know you’ve got to focus it on [list of topics you just mentioned]. It’s for a current audience, you know.

          • Will

            I’ve dropped Gil Thorp, Mark Trail, and Judge Parker from my regular rotation because I find the writers’ obsession with being meta and ironic irritating. GT and MT, in particular, were interesting to read (and make fun of) because they were so earnest and square.

          • billytheskink

            The thing with a strip like Gil Thorp is that you can use it to comment on or involve the topics of the day. The strip’s creator Jack Berrill did it at times and subsequent writers Jerry B. Jenkins (somewhat controversially) and Neal Rubin (usually blandly) did so as well. Stepping into another medium, the late 70s TV show The White Shadow remains well-regarded to this day for its use of high school sports as a frame for contemporary teen and young adult issues.

            But the heart of a sports-focused entertainment property like Gil Thorp is the narrative and drama produced by the sports competition itself. If that doesn’t come through in the writing, then the sports, at best, exist in the strip only to inform the characters and at worst are completely superfluous. That isn’t necessarily the wrong way to go about writing a comic strip, but doing so in Gil Thorp takes away what has long made the strip unique and appealing to those who are fans of it.

            I’m a long-time Gil Thorp reader and I resolved to give Barajas a year before offering any opinion beyond constructive criticism (yes, I’ve broken that promise already… but I won’t today). I do think that, after a rather uneven start, Barajas is finding his footing now that he is bringing some focus onto Keri Thorp and the football season. I also think he would be well-served to consult with some folks who have more experience writing sports narrative.

          • I don’t read Gil Thorp–I actually find myself incapable of reading it, because the art is so painful. Unlike the sloppy dashed-off FW art, GT looks like it’s deliberately constructed to be difficult to parse.

          • ComicBookHarriet

            I occasionally fantasize about taking over Mark Trail with a real skilled artist. Turn it back into a pulpy celebration of the great outdoors. Do entire arcs based on like…Scooby Doo ghost mysteries based on actual National Park history that tie into the unique ecology of each park.

            Every arc, a mini advertisement to visit scenic Yellowstone/Backbone/Death Valley/Valley Forge.

  10. sorialpromise

    She is back! She’s back.
    ComicBookHarriet Live!
    Stars are now aligned!

    Such fun to see and hear you last night. You were just as I pictured you except your hair did not look like Princess Leia. You still look 18. You got it, baby!
    I must disagree somewhat with your post. After 3 weeks of Harley, your research made us remember why FW was so good at one time. I do realize that there were so many bad strips in between these classics. Yet these strips are good. The story moves along, and there are punchlines. Had TB decided to go out swinging, we would be begging him to drop Crankshaft and keep on with Funky. But as Les said, reality begins to set in.
    This is why you are special, CBH. No one here thinks that you over-researched today. You brought food and drink and created a party for famished readers of SOSF.
    It’s clear she’s a gem
    Her research stands by itself
    CBH is great!

    • ComicBookHarriet

      Hey SP! Wasn’t that video chat fun!? It was so weird to put faces to names and names to screennames. Who woulda thunk that our esteemed Batiukstorian BillyTheSkink, around since the Stuck Funky days, was such a youngun? And Epicus reminded me of the Tolkien artist John Howe, if the guy shaved his beard.

      I totally agree that for what they were in Act I, the Les and Lisa strips were inoffensive and often funny. They actually entertained. Though if you consumed a ton of it at once you’d start to notice recycled material.

      It’s just looking at Act I now through the lens of what this would become that makes it weird.

      That’s why I ended the dive on the chilling strip of Les terrified of the prospect of living with Lisa for the rest of their lives.

      Hope the next video chat is soon!

      • sorialpromise

        Wow! You are so right! Epicus looks just like a clean shaven John Howe.
        The beauty of CBH, is that someone could discuss with you equally well classics, comics, fantasy, anime, or sci-fi and the conversation could last for hours. You are a joy!

    • ian'sdrunkenbeard

      What SP said.

  11. Jeff M

    Wow. That deep dive, from an Act I land I’m unfamiliar with, gives me so much to think about. Thank you, and I might have more to say – but just to start: if Les’s crying himself to sleep made his parents think he was wetting the bed, was he crying out of his dong? Or were his parents spectacularly clueless about what might actually be going on down there with a high school student? In terms of moisture I mean, of course.

  12. The Dreamer

    Interesting point– it is well known that Batiuk and Ayers do the FW strips a year ahead of publication This is why there were no pandemic strips until a year after it started. But this year it sounds like the Syndicate told TomBat they were pulling the plug at year end a few months ago So TomBat likely had to replace months of finished strips with the new arcs intended to close out FW

    So there may in fact now be a cache of unpublished Funky strips out tgere This year’s Pizza Monster panels, Lisa’s Legacy Run .etc Will these get published on his website? We can assume the retconning of the Crankshaft ten year gap was precipitated by the kmowledge that FW was ending So everything from at least that point in FW must be replacement panels for what was already finished and originally intended to run It might be possible to pinpoint where the FW ending arcs started being inserted8

    • William Thompson

      If Batty does post any alternate FW strips, they would be a good reason to keep SoSF alive. But as others have said, Ayers only received Batty’s year-old ideas about two weeks before the publication deadline. That could mean either Batiuk would have to do some of his own artwork or find someone new to do it for him.

  13. ian'sdrunkenbeard

    Thanks for all your great commentary and scholarship here, CBH. I must admit I was most star struck by your presence in the chat yesterday. I guess that’s why I had to criticize you today.
    I would like to request a reprint of your commentary on women comic book artists. I looked at a lot of great art for a couple of weeks, searching all the artists and all the art I could find.
    The 50th anniversary was another great commentary. Rerunning old lead commentaries might be a way to keep SOSF going, at least for a while. Or you could run old John Darling shows 24/7.
    I would like to see all the talented funksters here shamelessly self-promote anything they’ve got going on. Would this be against the rules? I enjoyed reading some of our authors here, especially Barbara Gordon. http://coyotewildmag.com/spring_2007/content/gordon_elfland.html She is the only one I still have a link to, but I can’t even remember her handle here. I would like the authors to repost along with others. Would that be OK?

    • ComicBookHarriet

      Defending Aldomania is not criticism! It is you following your heart!

      I’m glad you really like the Women in Comics stuff I did, since that was the first time I really went off the rails with research. When I did it, I worried it was too much, but Epicus and TFH were totally on board.

      Not sure if I would do a reprint, since it’s still up there on the archives, even with all the awesome comments still attached. (Take THAT Curmudgeon)


      The archives drop down menu is on the right, beneath the twitter and search bar, but above the tags. If you’re trying to remember when a particular arc ran there’s an ACT III tab at the top.

      There’s a lot of great ways to find old posts here. I’m guilty of going back and reading my favorites. And TFH has made noises that they’ll stay up, even if new posting slows or stops.

      • ian'sdrunkenbeard

        Thanks again. Duh! I’ve been coming here for a while but I don’t use all the cool features of the site. I will start now.

    • batgirl

      Hiya! My handle here is batgirl. No surprise!

  14. ComicTrek

    “And eventually, I made sure to influence Lisa and her contemporaries to play the touch football game that would lead to the discovery of the lump on her breast instead of influencing her to find it first!

    When the hospital mixed up Lisa’s scans, I had no influence over that! But I did make sure to influence your half-brother to meet his biological mother! So that your mind could remain innocent and pure…although I didn’t influence an adult to read over Lisa’s sexual assault and abuse diary…

    I’m actually really horrible at this time traveling thing….”

  15. erdmann

    Another well done entry, CBH. Oddly enough, for all the over-the-top humor (and yes, several are funny), these Act I strips are probably closer to reality than the notion that Les and Lisa’s relationship was a perfect love for the ages. Oh, I know some people do meet their soulmates right off the bat (I knew a couple that started dating when they were 11 and are still together 48 years later), but I think finding true love takes more time and effort for most of us. Missteps are to be expected.
    I have no idea what became of the first girl I dated. Heck, I can’t even remember her last name. I remember the full name of the second girl I dated, primarily because her dad was our family doctor, but that’s about it. Neither girl was quite what I hoped for, but in their defense, I’m certain my awkward, clueless teen self failed to live up to expectations, too. That’s just how it goes when Space Janitor Jesus isn’t there to nudge you along.

  16. ComicTrek

    No wonder Les doesn’t respect Cayla. He likes a crazy woman who’ll knock him around! Which puts Angry Poltergeist Tape Lisa in yet another new light…

  17. Rob

    Excellent, informative post as always, CBH!

  18. ian'sdrunkenbeard

    Random dump.

    This is my strip for the one hundredth birthday of Charles Schulz.

  19. Charles

    I do enjoy how Harley talked about how his influence on others was “slight” yesterday, and then mentions today how he arranged it so Les and Lisa would ultimately get married and have a child. You know, nothing substantial at all.

    Also, there’s the inclusion of the word “direct” when he’s talking about how he didn’t influence Summer’s mind, which is awfully convenient, since he apparently influenced the timeline to ensure she was conceived in the first place, and further to ensure that she didn’t die as a premie. That’s certainly a nice exception, huh?

  20. Paul Jones

    Having to remember that Lisa was a desperate frump (not to mention the sort of wan hysteric we see populating comic books) and that Les was more afraid of dying alone because he’s too stupid to understand what a skeevy loser he looks like appears to have been too much for our boy. At the time, we would been justified to assume that if these two losers did get together somehow, it wouldn’t be because of some grand destiny. It’d be like FBorFW: two jerks who deserve one another, only the pea-brain writing it won’t see it.

  21. I was able to read all the Les-and-Lisa strips here after I bought a hazmat suit, and I need to know who to send the receipt to.

  22. Dood

    WTF does “stay out of them” even mean?

    Can we just nuke this strip from orbit?

    • Green Luthor

      The “them” is referring to the bleachers, although (in typical Batiukian fashion) that’s not really the way any actual human would structure that statement.

  23. Hitorque

    1. For that wearing-the-scarf strip, I didn’t even know they were in the shower until my third or fourth time reading it… I thought Lester and DJ Funkintime were both wearing sweaters, the background brick wall was outside the school, and the ‘steam’ was just bushes…


    3. I really hope this is leading up to McFly telling Summer that Lester isn’t her real father and he had to nudge someone else into doing the deed.

    3a. But seriously, all I ever wanted from these final weeks was to know what Funkenstoner’s christian name is, how he got the infamous nickname, and why he’s continued to use it in his 60s…

    4. I’d said before that McFly had a God Complex, but now that term seems oddly lacking because now he’s clearly been meddling in anything he can with absolutely zero restraint. What is the term for a God Complex combined with a pathological obsession with micromanaging every possible detail?

    5. Interesting to see that random happenstance has been totally eliminated from Westview County and everyone is some kind of marionette or video game NPC living in Lester/Blessed St. Lisa’s “Matrix”… McFly leaves absolutely nothing to chance — except of course for the present whereabouts of his enchanted helmet.

    6. At least now I know blessed St. Lisa’s instant transformation from “100 percent unfuckable neurotic antisocial geek” in high school to “cool and casual fun-loving sexpot” in her 20s was all from McFly’s gentle nudging; presumably along with Summer’s increasingly ambiguous gender androgyny…

  24. The Duck of Death

    Yesterday I said that Act I Les was lovable. I was basing that on the Vintage FW strips I’ve been reading for several years on CK, because I’ll be damned if I’ll spend actual money buying FW books. But none of the vintage strips have shown Lisa; they’re currently running mid-late 70s. The Les I’ve been seeing is a Charlie Brown-like character, an insecure guy who’s hapless at sports, that most readers could probably identify with on some level.

    The Les in the strips CBH shars today is a lot less endearing, and the Lisa is both physically and psychologically ugly.

    CBH, you’ve once again outdone yourself with brilliant analysis of a strip that, let’s all admit it to ourselves, doesn’t deserve it.

  25. Hitorque

    7. I FEEL SEEN 😬😶😑 Because these three excerpts are not only unintentionally the closest real life depiction we’ve ever seen in the Funkyverse, they’re WAY too specific to my own life:

    “…as he tries desperately to cling to the validation of having a girlfriend even if that same girlfriend becomes someone he can’t handle.”

    “And we have no clue what Les liked about Lisa in particular. He’s not missing Lisa, he’s missing the idea of being pair-bonded.”

    ” …they were two desperate, awful people that clung to each other for a while not out of any real deeper attraction or connection, but out of the self-centered desperation to be in some kind of relationship with anyone.”


    I need a PTSD trigger warning because my first real girlfriend in high school was a Les/Lisa Dynamic, my second girlfriend in high school was the same but not quite as bad. My first great love at university was even MORE toxic than the Les/Lisa Dynamic if you can believe it and my second great love senior year, who looking back was the best girlfriend I’d ever have in this life didn’t end happily either… There have been others since but y’all get the point.

    Now I’m 46, single, never been married and now I’m starting to wonder if this isn’t the best for all considered, LOL

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      I can relate to this feeling also. I was more of a Les than anything else in high school, and I could often relate to what he went through in Act I. Especially his incompetence with romance, which hits much closer to home then I’m comfortable admitting.

    • The Duck of Death

      See, hitorque, this is another reason why Act I was better. People here say they can identify with Les & Lisa’s dysfunctional relationship — these are recognizably human characters. And dysfunction is the linchpin of drama. As we discussed a couple weeks ago, unlikable characters can make for great drama and comedy, as long as they’re not presented as someone the audience is supposed to like. (I think Batiuk is making it clear here that this is not supposed to be healthy behavior.)

      Yes, this Lisa is shrill and controlling. But you know what? She may be nuts, she may be overbearing, but she has her own wants and needs. She is an independent person. Compare that to the walking shadows, the husks, that Act III women are.

      Lucy Van Pelt demonstrated similar behavior for 50 years, and is still a beloved character, because she’s a recognizable human type. She never lost her spunk. Thank God Schulz knew better than to soften her into a bland cipher.

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        Lucy Van Pelt *was* softened at times, but in ways that didn’t undermine who she was. Like when she rescued her idiot brother Linus from the dark, freezing pumpkin patch after one of his failed Great Pumpkin signings. And she showed actual concern for Charlie Brown at times.

        This was something Charles Schulz did very, very well. The kids could be horribly mean to each other, but they knew how to dial it back when things got serious enough. It made them feel like real people.

  26. Green Luthor

    Meanwhile, over in Crankshaft, Ed is either drunk into unconsciousness, or dead. Either way, based on the looks they’re giving each other, Generic Blonde Twin and Generic Blonde Twin may have intentionally caused that. I think they’re secretly Westview agents (who would even notice two Generic Blondes from there?), and they’re laying the foundation for Operation: Turn Crankshaft Into FW2.0.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      This strip is a great example of Tom Batiuk being completely tone-deaf. Crankshaft rum-balling himself into oblivion in front of two small children when he’s supposed to be portraying Santa Claus Is. Not. Funny.

      Besides, rum balls don’t have enough rum to get you snockered, unless you’re a lightweight. (Which Ed may be, since he’s 103 years old.) But judging from the tin Lillian is holding, he didn’t eat enough of them to get an ant drunk.

      And what kind of dumbass serves alcohol-based goodies at a “bring your child to meet Santa” event?

  27. I thought Last Jedi was half really good, and half really bad.

  28. bad wolf

    Yes thanks for the deep dive on Act I CBH! I sometimes think going back into the archives will satisfy my craving for more Funky but it may be a little too much like the ‘new-reruns’ Lynn did on FBOFW. I couldn’t get into it at all and by the time the strip has recovered its closer-to-current feeling i had lost all interest.

  29. Perfect Tommy

    Remember Buck Rogers in the Twenty Fifth Century with Gil Gerard and Erin Gray? They did a clip show where Earth’s power grid was fluctuating so they strapped Buck into a devise that jogged his memory so he could figure out which of his rogues gallery was responsible. And the culprit was……Gary Coleman?
    Kinda getting that vibe here.

  30. Scott Lovrine

    Today is Pretend To Be a Time Traveler Day. I wish Harley would start laughing and reveal everything he said was a joke leading up to today.


  31. sorialpromise

    One of your memories that I will keep with me is when you shared that you, your Mom, and sisters would sing Veggie Tales songs while dining at restaurants. That reminded me of my wife and daughter traveling down I-35 through Des Moines. They stopped and ate at “the Machine Shed.” They wanted a dessert and asked the server about the chocolate cake. He told them it was large. They answered that they were hungry, and would order 2. He tried to amend their order, but they were adamant. He brought 2 gigantic slices of cake. Their eyes were as big as silver dollars. They brought the remains home to me and our son. We could not finish it all. (We are much more careful ordering desserts now!)

  32. ian'sdrunkenbeard

  33. ian'sdrunkenbeard

    Oops! I meant to post the original song by Gloria Jones plus a live version.

  34. Gerard Plourde

    I have to say that the personality TomBa gave Act 1 Lisa is pretty revealing. Demanding, controlling, violent. I wonder what led him to deify her later.

  35. be ware of eve hill

    Outstanding work, yet again, CBH. I’m really going to miss these archeology expeditions into the Lost Library of Batiukria.

    Time after time, you set archive diving records and seem to come out unscathed. I hope you get another turn at the SOSF helm.

    I’m crying again. WHERE ARE MY DAMN TISSUES!!!