It Seems Some Comic Strips WERE Left Behind

So I find now, as some eight years ago I was doing things for the first time, I am doing them now for the final time.

Hi folks, it’s me again, BChasm here for a one more romp through the Funky Winkerbean swamp.

And I must say, as romps go, this has been one of the most enjoyable. The hosts, the guest hosts and the commentors have been absolutely wonderful companions on this forage through the train wreck, and as we’ve sifted through the wreckage we’ve found some wonderful artefacts and some poor-grade sewage. Such it is on a journey like this, and I could not have asked for better companions. I love you all.

I’m going to ignore the current nonsense in today’s strip and touch on one of the defining strips of Act III.

Last week as you’ll recall, Epicus mentioned the events of June, 2011.  Les inexplicably finds himself pursured by two women, and Crazy and Funky make some very mild comments regarding his romantic past.  

A normal person would respond in one of two ways:  1 “Heh, I guess it is kind of funny.” 2 “I really need some help with this, guys.”

Les uses neither, instead storming off in high dudgeon. 

Funky feels remorse over this, and we get the strip below.

Again, a normal reaction to Funky’s contrition would be something like “It’s okay, I was just upset” or “Hey, you’re my friend, don’t worry about it” or some such acknowledgement of the sentiment while diminishing the event.

Not Les.  Les’ response is that of a man whose ego dwarfs the sun itself.  If I were Funky, my reaction would be to mentally cross Les off my list of friends.  I would know, now, that if I ever needed sympathy from Les, all I would receive is a counter-complaint (“Well, sure, your house burned down, but I thought I’d lost a Lisa tape.  I was in a real panic, let me tell you–“).

The above strip was the biggest indication that Les Moore is a world-class prick.  Looking back, I cannot recall a single moment when Les was sincerely concered about another (living) person; everyone around him exists solely to validate him.  

And this, ladies and gentlemen, was our star character.  But allow me to fix this one strip, to put it a quarter-inch from reality.

Ladies and gentlemen, I thank you for your indulgence.  I have read and enjoyed the posts and comments here and I am glad that I was, in some small way, a part of this mosaic.  For my final trick, let’s enjoy an old favorite!



Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

109 responses to “It Seems Some Comic Strips WERE Left Behind

  1. Y. Knott

    I’m going to ignore the current nonsense in the strip…

    You certainly went all in on ignoring it! Was this ‘proof of concept’ that this blog can exist and prosper without new strips to comment upon?

    • The Duck of Death

      I was just thinking the same thing! Brilliant. I think not seeing the ghastly mess that today’s FW certainly is is a feature, not a bug. If we cannot avert our eyes, BC will avert them for us. It’s an act of mercy.

  2. William Thompson

    That image of Funky being pursued by that horde of insects made me think of “The Zanti Misfits.” Only scarier.

    • Anonymous Sparrow

      One of the stars of “The Zanti Misfits” is Bruce Dern.

      Dern never won an Oscar any more than a certain cartoonist snagged a Pulitzer.

      C’est la vie. Ou la guerre.

  3. ComicBookHarriet

    Did you just quote Eisenhower?

    I love this place…just…so much….

  4. RudimentaryLathe?

    Yeah that 2011 strip….I kinda get why Les would feel hurt by his friends laughing at his situation, but as HBC showed yesterday, it’s understandable they’d find “women vying for Les” a ludicrous concept. And hurt or not he handled it in such a childish, pissy way. But he’s the Auteur’s pet character so……

  5. Epicus Doomus

    It’s terrific to have you back one more time, BC. Few, if any, hated Les (and Dinkle) more than you did. And that’s coming from me, mind you.

    It’s kind of depressing how you can literally see Batiuk losing interest in his own, final, story here. So Harley was sent to “nudge” Les and Lisa together, but it wasn’t necessary, and, well, that’s it. Compelling stuff there, Pulitzer (never won) Boy. And look at Summer, all touched by this story, which she’s no doubt already heard ten thousand times. I mostly just feel embarrassed for BatYam right now.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      “I altered the flow of time, changed your parents’ class schedules, and made them sit next to each other… but Lisa chose Les all by herself!” Yeah, that’s how love works, you time-traveling imbecile.

      Proximity is the biggest factor in choosing a romantic partner, especially for schoolchildren. Harley manipulated them into a situation where they didn’t have any more choice of partner than the characters in The Blue Lagoon did, and is now acting like it was natural all along. Horseshit.

      And if Harley did all this, then he must have arranged Lisa’s rape and pregnancy, because this cynical “love story” doesn’t work any other way. Harley’s emphasis not having to manipulate the story here implies that everything else *was* manipulated.

  6. The Dreamer

    you left out the link to today’s strip

    • I think I should confess: I’ve picked up a habit very similar to Tom Batiuk’s. While he writes his stories a year in advance, I would frequently write my posts before the relevant strip was even available.

      • The Duck of Death

        I’ve been assuming all the hosts have been doing that for the deep dives. They’re clearly labor-intensive.

        And we’ve been in basically unsnarkable territory for a while in this arc. Make fun of the idea… make fun of the word zeppelins… make fun of the syntax…. and now, just more of the same. Nothing left to say, really. So the deep dives are particularly welcome. Thanks again to all the hosts for your herculean efforts to delve through one of the most wretched bodies of works in all of comics history and somehow find nuggets of humor and insight.

        • ComicBookHarriet

          A long time ago, I realized that there are only so many ways to say, ‘This isn’t funny’. While FW occasionally finds new and creative ways to be awful, most of the time it’s awful for the same reasons that have been talked over again and again. Those things bear repeating, like a liturgy to keep them present in our minds, but not constantly.

          Tangents and archive dives are the way to keep it fresh and fun. I think I learned that the hard way when I had a week of Funky and Morty talking safe sex.

  7. Y. Knott

    Meanwhile, over on the BattyBlog, we’re treated to a few pictures of a book signing with absolutely no people present. And then this jaw dropping sentence:

    “While I was there, I got word from the KSU Press that The Complete Funky Winkerbean Vol. 12 had sold out its initial print run and was headed back for a second printing to supply the backorders.”

    Good god. What are we supposed to make of this?

    A. There are way more unironic fans of this strip than we think … and fans who actually have $45 of disposable income, at that.
    B. KSU Press routinely makes up fairy stories to keep their authors happy.
    C. The initial print run was 8 copies.

    • billytheskink

      You beat me to it with C, but my first thought was “Oh, they’re printing another copy?”.

    • Epicus Doomus

      “Oh, hey Mr. B. The Complete Funky Winkerbean Vol. 12? Um, let me check, please hold…HEY, HANK! We got anymore The Complete Funky Winkerbean Vol. 12s back there in the warehouse?”

      “Yup, thirty gross. We use them to keep that one wall from collapsing.”

      “Well, can you use something else to hold the wall up? We need a case.”

      “Uh, yeah, we have a bunch of these Crankshaft anthologies. We can use those, I guess.”

      “Thank you for holding, Mr. B. We’re actually doing a second pressing right now, so it’ll be a few days. Yeah, yeah, with the holidays and all, probably next week, uh-huh, talk soon!”

    • That’s 2005-2007, right? I unironically enjoyed those years, for what it’s worth.

      Though I don’t think there was as much as 45 bucks’ worth of enjoyment in there, no…

    • The Duck of Death

      Clearly the backlog is because Climate Damage forced them to pulp all the glossy white paper to turn it into cardboard shipping boxes. But don’t blame Tom! He had his characters create two comix covers — he’s done his part to save the planet!

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Like I said on the group chat: there’s nobody in a college bookstore in December! Batiuk needs to schedule his book signings at the beginning of the semester, when people are buying textbooks! Or at least during a campus event like a home football game weekend, or an alumni weekend, when there will be people shopping for school gear.

      • daveydial

        I’m willing to bet it’s not Tommy Boy’s decision on when he does a signing. KSU probably just sticks him in a spot when they know there will be little to no real foot traffic to keep him happy.

        • Banana Jr. 6000

          Fair point, but TB would have to be pretty unobservant not to realize this is what they’re doing to him.

          • Lord Flatulence

            I think you answered your own question.

          • daveydial

            I mean ol’ man Bats-for-brains can barely realise how he’s destroying his own legacy with this crap of an “arc”. Would you really be shocked if he was distracted by the ego-stroking of getting a signing to notice the pattern?

      • daveydial

        I’m willing to bet it’s not Tommy Boy that schedules his signings and KSU just plans for him to be there when they know there will be little to no foot traffic so he stays happy.

  8. billytheskink

    The highlight of that asinine 2011 story arc was this, probably Act III Linda’s least horrible moment.

    I’m amazed Les didn’t demand a porch swing apology.

    • I’m surprised Linda isn’t consumed with jealous rage. She and Les spent a lot of time together in the faculty workroom…

      • Epicus Doomus

        Linda is one of the few female FW characters who never flew into a jealous rage, at least as far as I can recall. She was too busy being dismal, weary and resigned to her dreadful fate to have time for jealousy. Linda is the saddest sack who’s ever sacked. She’s a sad-sack lunch. You stuff your sads in a sack and give them to Linda, and she won’t even have the room. Not in that sad-sack of hers, no siree Bob.

        • ComicBookHarriet

          Was Linda even that much of a sad sack before Bull’s illness? She was just kinda, there. She was the featureless sounding board at work for Les to blather at, and she seemed to treat him like her Gay Best Friend: someone to be catty with and talk boys.

          I guess she may have absorbed some sadsack energy from being too close to Les.

          Bull was the rare FW character cast from a different mold. Pure id, so he could feel real joy. So of course Batiuk decided to make him the strip’s final sacrificial lamb.

        • Anonymous Sparrow

          Ah, but she’s not a goldbrick!

          Maybe it was the mention of Eisenhower above, or the release of Brittney Griner, but I’m thinking of a conversation Vice-President Nixon had with Chairman Khrushchev in Moscow over a “Captive Nations” resolution the U.N. had recently passed.

          In *Six Crises,* Nixon said the language was “beyond the pale,” but in the memoirs he published fifteen years later (and in at least one other book published after that), it concerned what sort of shit smelled worst.

          Khrushchev said it was horse shit.

          Nixon said it was pig shit.

          The Chairman conceded the Vice-President’s point and the kitchen debate continued.

          Ridiculously completist note:

          In *The Making of the President — 1960,* Theodore H. White records John Kennedy listening to a Nixon speech and saying: “You know, Nixon is really smart. How can he talk such stuff?”

          In “Breach of Faith,* published fourteen years later, White has Kennedy wondering how Nixon can talk “such shit.”

          In “Miami Blues,” Susie gives Junior the “shit happens” t-shirt not the “shit happens when you party naked” t-shit.

      • ComicBookHarriet

        Linda was married to a sane Bull at the time. I wouldn’t choose Les over that for any amount of money.

        • Epicus Doomus

          One of the real upsides re: Bull’s death was not having to endure Linda anymore. I’d always forget about her, then she’d return, and within seconds I’d be begging for it to stop. Dreariness personified. Becky was another one, although not quite as dreary as Linda. Equally resigned to her fate, though. And Adeela was always a real beam of misery too, whenever she popped up.

          On the male side, Les is easily the dreariest. No one else is even close, really. Wally and Funky were both major punching bags for years, but at times they did express happiness (or a reasonable facsimile thereof) here and there. So while they were dreary, it was more or less the result of being in dreary situations as opposed to Les’ innate dreariness. Fred Fairgood became pretty dreary, but again, that was situational dreariness. Ditto Morton, who was dreary, then un-drear-i-fied after he took up smoking.

          And if you recall any Les/Linda arcs, there were indeed dreary. Very much so, in fact. Wry smirk, defeated wisecrack, wry smirk, utter hopelessness, wry smirk, beaten resignation. Blech.

          • ComicTrek

            Whew, Linda! No joy in her at ALL. Except for two panels of a blissful expression while she made dinner on that fateful night, which was a low blow. 😡

          • The Duck of Death

            Coming Fall 2023 from KSU Press:

            Wry smirk, defeated wisecrack, wry smirk, utter hopelessness, wry smirk, beaten resignation. Blech, the definitive Funky Winkerbean anthology! Ask for it at your local bookseller!

          • Banana Jr. 6000

            At least Becky had something to be dreary about. Being a music prodigy on your way to Julliard and having it destroyed in a drunk driving accident that wasn’t even your fault, would make someone a little salty.

            And yet the strip treats Les’ or Linda’s endless, aimless dreariness as more important than Becky’s.

          • Anonymous Sparrow

            All this dreariness is sure to bring on the weak-and-weariness, so be sure to have a sufficient stock of quaint and curious forgotten lore at the ready.

            But stay away from the Montoni’s coffee, because, like the brown acid, it’s not specifically too good.

          • The Duck of Death

            And ol’ Harley, still bullshitting
            Still is sitting, still is sitting
            On his big ol’ fat ass just beside the closet door;
            And his eyes have all the dullness of the ending of the Bull mess,
            And his flat-top casts a shadow with sharp angles ‘cross the floor:
            And the plot from out this shadow that is darkening the floor
            Shall be lifted — nevermore!

          • ComicBookHarriet

            @Anon Sparrow

            Just be careful if you hear a rapping rapping at your chamber door.

  9. William Thompson

    Look at panel two. This meeting has dragged out so long and slowly that the glaciers have come back to bury it.

  10. Green Luthor

    “I was going to force your mom to mate with Les, but she decided to do it willingly on her own.” Wow, Batiuk. Just… wow. Girl Les looks so utterly charmed that Timemop didn’t need to effectively rape her mother, even despite knowing she actually WAS raped later. (Well, was retconned to be raped.)

    Does Batiuk even realize what’s he writing anymore?

    • Mela

      Aww, isn’t that sweet? She really liked him on her own-he didn’t have to make her. No, it’s not sweet-it’s creepy.

      I enjoyed the chat earlier this week-so much fun to put faces with online names. And I’m loving the revisits of the strips. I’d forgotten about some of these storylines, so thanks to all for showcasing bits of the strip’s history. It has been so much more enjoyable than the janitor’s closet mind touching mess.

  11. Andrew

    Like many things with Funky, there was an attempt with Les’s character. You can sort of see where the intent is, where we’re supposed to see his character’s perspective and where friends may be too rough. But the delivery’s all wrong. The goatee is a trope of mirror universe bad guys for a reason, it just makes it all the easier to be skeptical about everything he does, the ribbing is about genuinely funny irony and Les’s problem isn’t even that grave.

    In a similar case, I’d dwell on Les’s mountain-climbing exhibition (aka the “Bautik had a cool vacation and wanted to give Les the same experience for some reason” story arc), and the fact he spent half the time making Dr. Livingston “I presume?” jokes with a big dumb smile on his face. Like I get it, it’s a very “dad joke” thing to do, I can see my dad acting like that and find it amusing despite some embarassment. But the way Les went about it just resulted in the most punch-worthy faces, and we never really see Summer (who traveled with him for it) react in a sort of “Oh, dad..” bemusement way, more of genuine frustration. It wasn’t relatable, it was insufferable.

    As for the finale and nuSummer’s dreary revelations, bam, there it is. Space Janitor admits he was willing to influence young Lisa’s mind to go on that date with Les for the sake of the Sacred Timeline. There is a lot of ways one can read of that, and most of them are very unfavorable towards the character and Bautik as far as manipulating the mine of a teenager’s romantic intentions for the sake of a “greater good”. Some comment sections would get into a total fury over that line, we’re lucky we’ve been prepped for a week on this guy’s “I’m just mentally prodding people i swear it’s not mind control!” claims to just roll with it. And as far as implying the wholesomeness of the Les/Lisa lovelife, well CBH covered it more than enough yesterday. I shall say no more.

    • The Nelson Puppet

      “I can say no more.”

    • Charles

      the fact he spent half the time making Dr. Livingston “I presume?” jokes with a big dumb smile on his face.

      Should point out that Les was often making that joke to Africans, when it’s a quote from Henry Stanley, who played a major role in the Belgian Congo genocide.

      His best hope would be that they all thought he was an idiot.

    • ComicTrek

      You know, I never realized how much Paul McCartney, Al Pacino, and Sylvester Stallone all looked alike when they were younger. I was thinking Rocky or Scarface, but nope!

      • ComicBookHarriet

        I never realized how much Summer Moore looked like Paul McCartney, Al Pacino, and Sylvester Stallone…

    • Maxine of Arc

      “Please, say no more.”

  12. William Thompson

    “No, I touched your dad’s mind. Repeatedly. With a neuro-piledriver. It took a lot of effort to get him interested in someone other than himself. That, and making sure Vaseline was always sold out when he went to the store.”

  13. So here’s my comment on the whole Harley thing.

  14. be ware of eve hill

    BC, I love the filenames you used for the strips from the Les double suitor snit story arc, “douchebag1” and “douchbag2.”

    Can we call Les “DoucheBag 1” and Lisa “DoucheBag 2” from now on? It has kind of a nifty Thing 1 and Thing 2 vibe.

  15. be ware of eve hill

    This story has taken place in a closet since November 23. I think it’s high time for Harvey and Summer to come out of the closet.

    • William Thompson

      As what? Neuterosexuals? Because it’s impossible to imagine either of those detached, passive creatures taking an interest in sex.

  16. ComicTrek

    HaHA! This guy is the worst! “It was *I* who caused your parents to stay together, and yet they fell in love all on their own! Hahaha….. ha….er….I guess I had nothing to do with any of this, after all.”

  17. be ware of eve hill

    More Funky Winkerbean in other Comic Strips

    Ink Pen is another comic strip that has mentioned “Funky Winkerbean” on a couple of occasions.

    Ink Pen – Saturday October 31, 2009

    This one is a bit odd. Jenn Erica mentions getting hit on by all the widowers from Funky Winkerbean. What character, aside from Les, was a widower in Funky Winkerbean circa 2009?

    Mort Winkerbean is a widower, but was he featured in Funky Winkerbean as of 2009? If not, Ink Pen appears to be highly prophetic, considering how much of a horndog Mort became in the latter days of Funky Winkerbean

    When did widower Ed Crankshaft first appear in Funky Winkerbean? Did he hit on the ladies?

    It’s kind of amusing that Batiuk’s cohorts can’t be bothered to research his work in any detail. Les is a widower, and women are dying in that strip. There must be several widowers.

    Ink Pen – Tuesday February 2, 2010

    In this strip, I think Phi Dunlap is just using “Funky Winkerbean” because the name sounds funny.

    It’s a little late in the game, but from now on, I think I will start using the phrase “Oh sweet Funky Winkerbean” when exasperated by an FW strip.

    • be ware of eve hill

      Oh sweet Funky Winkerbean.🤦‍♀️

      I meant to write “Les is a widower, and women are dying in that strip. Therefore there must be several widowers.”


  18. As someone who actually kinda-sorta enjoyed the Les-Lisa relationship while it was actually going on, let me just say… way to ruin everything that was good about it, Batiuk.

    Seriously. The appeal of it was that it didn’t feel scripted. It wasn’t planned, even by the author himself – it just sort of organically developed. And that made it feel real in a way that (let’s face it) every single other relationship in the strip never did. It had personality, it had quirks. It wasn’t perfect, but it worked. And that describes pretty much every single real-life relationship I’ve ever seen.

    But of course then Batiuk had to spend all of Act 3 retconning it into THE GREATEST LOVE STORY EVER TOLD!!!!, and in doing so removing everything that was genuinely sweet and relatable about it. This is really just the icing on the cake, in some ways the perfect culmination of the last fifteen years – revealing that it wasn’t two flawed people coming together and gradually managing to make each other better, it was a giant cosmic eugenics project where ever detail was masterminded by shadowy forces.

    And what kills me is, today’s strip shows that on some level, Batiuk even seems to understand that having something be FATED TO HAPPEN!!! ruins the slice-of-lifeness and makes the whole thing into a dull intellectual exercise. So he throws in that part about, “well, er, SOME of it happened organically!” But it’s far too little and far too late.

    • Paul Jones

      Batiuk is ashamed of having Les and Lisa be two people to stumble past their own egos and flaws to find a measure of happiness because he thinks people deserve better. He won’t admit that’s what people like because he has delusions of what grandeur is.

    • Charles

      The appeal of it was that it didn’t feel scripted. It wasn’t planned, even by the author himself – it just sort of organically developed.

      Sorry, I have a hard time agreeing with this, seeing as how Batiuk named her Lisa, suggesting that she was a female Les. I’m sure if “Lesa” was a common name, he would have named her that instead.

      It seemed pretty telegraphed to me.

      • Baeraad

        Er, he’s said himself that he didn’t really plan on this relationship going anywhere and that when he first wrote Lisa out, she was meant to stay gone. Now, the part about them getting together for a single arc was certainly planned, so maybe he matched their names for that reason. But there pretty clearly wasn’t a road map back at the beginning.

        • Charles

          But that’s not the same thing. If he introduced Lisa to be Les’s girlfriend, then that’s absolutely proof of planning, if not scripting of the relationship. That he didn’t have the teen pregnancy line all thought out at first, or the cancer, or the post office bombing doesn’t really matter.

          • It matters for the purposes of my point, which is that the relationship felt more real because the author was making it up as he went along rather than knowing from the start that it was going to be True Love, which is what I think he did for all other relationships… with the possible exception of Funky/Cindy, I guess, though with them it was mostly their *divorce* that felt organic.

          • ComicBookHarriet

            Yeah, I’m going to back baeraad on this. I think that Batiuk thought it would be funny to give Les a girlfriend who was even more of a pathetic loner than he was, and then force him to break up with her. And then make her unavailable once Les changed his mind. It fits exactly with the kind of yank-the-football, grass-always-greener flavor of ironic humor he’s always played in. I don’t think he intended her to come back from Big Walnut Tech, until he decided he wanted to dip his toes into teen pregnancy.

          • Banana Jr. 6000

            Me too. I don’t know what Batiuk’s long-term plans were, but it felt real enough. My first girlfriend was a Lisa, and I’ve already said I was a Les. (Okay, we weren’t THAT bad, but the theme of awkwardness and incompetence in a first relationship felt real to me at the time.)

  19. Paul Jones

    Batiuk’s desperate need to be taken seriously has resulted in no one taking him seriously. He doesn’t realize (or especially care to) that the things people value are the things he thinks people don’t value. He is like Les in that way. Les would have been a damn sight better off and less of a prick if he knew what was good about himself and what people liked about him.

    • The Duck of Death

      What honestly baffles me is that he seems to believe comedy is a bastard stepchild to drama. He thinks it’s frivolous, worthless, not capable of containing meaning.

      I could spend the whole day typing out counterexamples. The most celebrated American author, Mark Twain, wrote almost exclusively comedy and satire. Comedies by Shakespeare and Molière are still performed today, and people still pay to see them. Hell, they are still putting on productions of Lysistrata and The Frogs after 2500 years. I need not go on, since I’m sure everyone on board realizes that comedy is as legitimate as drama, and no one who cares about culture would dismiss comedy as an art form.

      Like drama, comedy can be light and trashy, or it can be used to make serious points. How did this escape Puff Batty, a man whose primary author avatar is an English teacher? Who told him that comedy is childish and Drama Is Always High Art, and The More Dramatic the Drama, the Better?

      • ComicBookHarriet

        I LOVE LOVE LOVE Aristophanes.

        My favorite play of his is probably The Wasps. I fantasize about putting on a ‘modern’ production of it, (modern in the visuals) where Cleon is obviously Trump, Procleon is inexplicably a WWII vet just like how in the original play he’s a survivor of the Persian Wars, and the hippie dippie wussy son has a manbun.

        Reading it is so comforting. To realize how little things have changed.

        • Aristophanes is ridiculous!

          • sorialpromise

            Oh sweet Funky Winkerbean.🤦‍♀️
            That is so hilarious on so many levels!
            1. CBH, please call me when you put on your one-woman production.
            2. TF Hackett you deserve *Researcher Gold* for finding this clip
            3. A shoutout to my granddaughter for her favorite phrase, “This is ridiculous!”
            4. Thank you to bwoeh for belatedly giving me permission to use her personal phrase. (It is quite catchy!)

        • Euripides Pants, Eumenides Pants

      • Paul Jones

        The dimbulb thinks that if people laugh about a problem, they don’t take it seriously. The macaroon wastes his time writing saloon drunk ravings about how he mistreated his audience by making them feel a little better about the day. He’s proof of something P J O’Rourke once said: “Serious is just stupid sent to college.”

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        Funky Winkerbean was a lot more powerful when it wasn’t above being funny. Like that Lisa Clumperman bit we saw yesterday. It was a good joke, but it spoke to something real: high school yearbooks are very much an example of history being written by the winners.

      • Anonymous Sparrow

        There was an 18th Century author named Fanny Burney (Jane Austen took the phrase “pride and prejudice” from her) who moved in literary circles including Dr. Samuel Johnson and Mrs. Hester Thrale.

        Despite the acclaim of her novels, Mrs. Thrale thought them beneath her friend, and was after Burney to write…

        A comedy!

        Tragedy tomorrow, comedy tonight! Who cares whether it’s divine or human?

  20. Charles

    Thing that strikes me as weird about all the brouhaha about Funky and Crazy making fun of Les, and later, Funky and Les conducting an autopsy of Les’s relationship with Cayla and Susan, was that it really didn’t reflect reality. As we saw in yesterday’s strip, Les had a girlfriend for an entire year in high school, and then he got back together with her in some respect when he played her nursemaid during her pregnancy. Why then would he be considered a naïf about women? He certainly seemed to have more experience with women than Funky, who was never shown to have a girlfriend in high school, and who at that point had gone through a contentious divorce, and Crazy, whose first romantic encounter with a woman in the strip was hooking up in his thirties with the woman he used to stalk when she was 11. Plus, when they were conducting this “autopsy”, Les had already been married to Lisa for who knows how many years and had been involved in a sexual relationship with Cayla for over a year. Les had plenty of experience with women in intimate relationships, so his and Funky’s conclusions were absurd.

    The only possible explanation for Batiuk’s presentation of this sequence is that a romantic relationship with Lisa doesn’t count because she wasn’t traditionally desirable, which really doesn’t speak well of his inclinations.

    • Paul Jones

      It speaks to another problem: letting their roles in high school define who they are as adults. As dickish as Les can be, I would have stood in line had he pointed out that he’s getting advice from two deluded losers who think too much of themselves.

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        Especially if he can pull off John Cusack’s line from the gas station scene in Say Anything.

  21. The Duck of Death

    As I pointed out a few days ago, if you need a specific human being to come from a coupling, you need to ensure that a specific spermatozoon (out of millions) is the one to fertilize that ovum.

    Part of me doesn’t want to know how Harley achieved that, but part of me feels like it could be the crowning glory of horrifying wretchedness for this arc, and the entire 50 years of FW.

  22. The Duck of Death

    Why, Summer looks just tickled pink. Just as you and I, or anyone, would be if we found out that we had no free will unless happened to choose to do what our mental manipulators already wanted us to do. Who wouldn’t be thrilled to know that a fat, middle-aged, crew-cutted janitor stalked you and consistently probed your mind, knew your every thought and desire, knew everything you were doing and were about to do, knew what your future would be down to the last detail?

    Especially a woman. What woman wouldn’t be delighted to know that a Harley watched over her as she showered, exchanged secrets with her friends, had her first tentative romances, did private stuff in the bathroom, etc? It’s no wonder Summer coyly puts her hand to her face in a delicate Victorian gesture of modest delight.

    • hitorque

      The fact that Summer isn’t absolutely horrified at these revelations is a pretty safe indicator that she’s too fucking stupid to write a term paper, much less a complete book…

      • William Thompson

        The fact that Hardly drifts between boredom and self-satisfaction when he mentions his “nudgings” proves that Summer shouldn’t write the book that creates his “superior” society.

  23. hitorque


    Since McFly has admitted that his orders were to ensure this union of Les+Lisa happened whether they wanted it to or not, by logical extension McFly would have ALSO been ordered to ensure St. Lisa suffered some other kind of “tragic death” if she never got cancer, right??

    • The Duck of Death

      Is Harley willing to prevent evil, but not able?
      Then he is not omnipotent.
      Is he able, but not willing?
      Then he is malevolent.
      Is he both able and willing?
      Then whence cometh evil?
      Is he neither able nor willing?
      Then what was the point of creating this wordy deus ex machina?”

      — with apologies to Epicurus

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Well, we don’t really know that. I’ve mentioned The Boys From Brazil, where they not only cloned Hitler, but tried to re-create Hitler’s childhood. This story hasn’t touched on what role Lisa’s death played in Summer growing up to become The Most Influential Writer Who Ever Lived.

      And it’s a serious plot hole in this story. It raises the question of why Summer is even necessary. We know she’s a terrible college student; the research we’ve seen has been lazy and banal; and the time-travel story doesn’t give her any other traits that would enable her to write a book of this magnitude.

      There’s also the problem that Batiuk skipped the most important ten years of Summer’s upbringing, and refused to let her mother’s death affect her in any way. She had to support her father’s maladaptive coping.

      On one hand, Batiuk’s right not to bring this up now, because it would be making a story out of something he has long refused to make a story out of. On the other hand, it implies something very ugly: that Les and Lisa are such important people that their seed is enough to create the person who re-defines what it means to be human.

      • William Thompson

        We’ve all assumed that Hardly’s version of future history is factual. We have his word that this book will spark a scientific revolution that leads to the creation of a perfect society. It’s far more likely that Summer will produce a crapfest of a book that appeals to ignorant fanatics. Lisa’s Kampf will lead to a pseudoscience that claims it can create a perfect society. Instead it will eget a mess that produces manipulative creeps like Hardly. Batiuk doesn’t realize that what he has shown us invalidates what he has told us.

        • Green Luthor

          “Batiuk doesn’t realize that what he has shown us invalidates what he has told us.” Oh, hey, we found the cover blurb for the next Funky Winkerbean collection!

          • Y. Knott

            Hence Batiuk’s reliance on “tell, don’t show”. If he only tells us, and never shows us, the showing can’t contradict the telling!

            (Of course, parts of the telling can and will contradict other parts of the telling. But rarely within the same a̶r̶c s̶t̶r̶i̶p p̶a̶n̶e̶l w̶o̶r̶d̶ ̶z̶e̶p̶p̶e̶l̶i̶n s̶e̶n̶t̶e̶n̶c̶e syllable.)

      • Paul Jones

        It speaks to his cowardice as a writer that he made that stupid time ‘frog’ in the first place. The only way he can ‘fix’ it is with another act of gutlessness.

  24. Perfect Tommy

    What’s with all this mind control crap?
    I thought the Federation banned travel to Talos IV.

    • William Thompson

      That’s what the Talosians want you to think.

      • Anonymous Sparrow

        Captain Pike has an illusion and you have reality. May you find your way as pleasant.

        The IMDb identifies the Talosian who says that as “the Keeper.” He says it in “The Menagerie,” the only two-part “Star Trek” episode of the original series.

        In the only two-part episode of “Lost in Space,” Michael Rennie plays an alien known as “the Keeper.”

        Perhaps not fascinating, Mr. Spock, but interesting.

        “Stella has smelled my breath for much less,” said Harcourt Fenton Mudd.

  25. The Duck of Death

    Last night, I watched a Star Trek: TOS episode I’d never seen, “The Return of the Archons.” This morning, I realize it’s practically identical to what Batiuk is setting up.

    [SPOILERS for 50-year-old episode]

    The Enterprise encounters a planet where there is seemingly perfect peace and harmony, thanks to the precepts of “Landru.” The people of the planet worship Landru, and enforcers quickly take care of those who don’t seem to worship fervently enough.

    This ideal society, though, results in mindless zombies wandering slowly, aimlessly around with dumb smirks on their faces, with no free will. Kirk finds Landru, who smugly chastises him for resisting “the body” (the hive-mind of worshippers). He tries to argue with Landru, but realizes that he’s just a hologram.

    Eventually Kirk and Spock realize that Landru lived and died 6000 years ago, and left a computer to run “tapes” — hologram sequences to keep control of the future population. They destroy the computer by turning its programming on itself: Perfect peace destroys human creativity, thus it is evil; thus Landru is promoting evil, not bliss, and evil must be destroyed.

    THIS is exactly the future the Custodian foretells, but with Lisa and her tapes turning everyone into obedient hive-mind zombies without a ripple of rebellion in their brains. Those damn tapes!

    I don’t blame Batty if he plunders (perhaps accidentally) from TOS — everyone does. But how creepy that what the rest of us see as bad guys, he sees as saviors.

  26. Charles

    Keep in mind that at no point has Harley offered Summer any proof that any of this actually happened. This, of course, could have been helped if the “patterns” that Summer had talked about were elaborated on even negligibly, but alas…

    Harley has never made an assertion that he couldn’t have discovered by reading Les’s books. There might be the time-traveling helmet, but remember that Summer initially presented it to him, which he then acknowledged. All he had to come up with was the idea that he’s a time-traveling being here to help Summer with her book, which enables him to jump on the Moore-book gravy train, which, earlier this year, led to Les being given an Oscar over the film version of one of his successful books. Perhaps Harley thinks he can snatch whatever accolades Summer earns from this book, just as Les snatched the accolades that Marianne earned from her acting.

    Because Summer’s just gotten way too credulous for this ridiculous story she’s being sold. “Oh, you can ‘nudge’ minds? Show me!” “Sorry, I can’t manipulate your mind. It’ll disrupt the timeline. I can disrupt the timeline in other, enormous fashions, but I can’t demonstrate it on you.”

    She should instead just ask Harley to nudge the minds of people she knows so she can test it out. “Nudge my dad’s mind so that he eats something he hates for lunch.” “Nudge John Howard’s mind so that he has a veggie tray for lunch today.” What possible harm could come from these demonstrations?

    But no, instead he tells her this patently absurd story with no proof and she just swallows it. Guess it’s because the whopper of a story she’s being told has her at its center as the most important person in the world. Flatter a Moore and you can pretty much get whatever you want from them, I guess.

    • William Thompson

      And it would be just like Batiuk to spend weeks on Harly’s Story, then end it with–

      –Summer wakes up and thinks “I hope researching the book isn’t that crazy.”

      –Harly puts on his Groucho glasses (which improve his appearance somewhat) and says “Gotcha! You really think you’re ready to write a book, kid?”

      –two nice young men in their clean white coats come and take Harly away, haha!

    • Anonymous Sparrow

      “Gosh,” said Les, “how could I ever have ever liked hot dogs and peas?”

      (Harley smirks as Summer’s mouth falls open)