As she wanders ’round Westview, hopefully Summer’s head is beginning to clear. The rest of us, meanwhile, are getting dizzy trying to figure out what, if any, significance these locations hold for her. On Monday we saw her pass by Dinkle’s house, but Summer was too involved with sports to be in the band. The high school was certainly an important part of her life, but from there, she continues on past the first home of the Fairgoods, Fred and Ann.
I’m embarrassed to admit I immediately recognized the house in today’s panel 1 as “the Lighthouse.” It was another site that Fred and Ann pointed out ten years ago as they took Darin and Jess on their impromptu nostalgia tour. It was formerly “a home for troubled youth” where Ann had worked early in her career. Maybe the locale stuck in my head because of Ann’s ominous answer when asked by Darin why it had closed: “Long story short…the guy who ran it turned out to be more troubled than the kids who stayed there.”
I searched the Act I strips in vain for some background. One of the “troubled youths” who spent time at the Lighthouse was young “Crazy” Harry Klinghorn:
But I gave up before finding any dirt on “Neal,” who appears to have been a pretty nice guy.
In the second panel, Summer gazes fondly at yet another Fairgood landmark, the second apartment where once lived Fred and Ann. Really, what gives? Yes, this is the couple that raised her half brother, and “Eight Track” Ann did (assistant-) coach Summer’s team to the state championship. It just seems so random, but who are we to question Summer’s legendary “ability to detect patterns“? At least we’re out of that goddam janitor’s closet.
91 responses to “There is a Light That Never Goes Out”
Wednesday and Thursday, nothing….
I love the Fugs. They did so much with so little musical talent! That’s absolutely a compliment.
Truly, the Fugs at their best made you want to kill for peace. (As the MC5 made you want to kick out the jams, m*th*rf*ck*r!)
For a sense of what Neal’s on about. I recommend the *Best of Broadside: 1962-1988* box set which covers most of the concerns of the era.
Nothing about damate climage, though.
More silent panels of Summer in front of random locations AND it’s a sideways strip? Truly our cups runneth over.
I don’t see how Batiuk could possibly tie up all these plots in just 16 strips.
It was already Thursday
And his lordship’s artificial limb had still not been found.
Therefor having directed the servants to fill the baths
He seized the tongs
And set out at once for the edge of the lake–
That’s enough, folks, to introduce you to the works of Edward Gorey, if you have already not made his acquaintance. Like Funky Winkerbean, alas, he’s been dead since 2000.
From the bathing machine came a din,
As of jollification within.
It was heard far and wide,
And the incoming tide,
Had a definite flavour of gin.
Now I’m yearing for a Funky-themed version of the The Gashlycrumb Tinies.
L is for Lisa who NOBLY died of cancer and DON’T YOU FORGET IT.
A is for Ann, so unhappily wed
[art: Ann is slipping rat poison into Fred’s Ensure]
B is for Bull, who lost his own head
[art: Bull’s head, still in its helmet, with a frozen look of terror, sits in pride of place on Linda’s mantel]
C is for Crazy, in coffee he drowned
[art: Funky, Les, and Holly look the other way as Cory jams Harry’s head into the full coffee urn behind the counter]
D is for Dinkle, who can’t hear a sound
[art: Dinkle smirkingly conducts St Spires’ choir, oblivious to the screams and pointing as the 1300-lb crucifix behind him tears off the wall and topples toward his head]
Someone help me out here!
E is for Ed, who took it too far
[art: Crankshaft cackling obliviously as Keesterman, behind him, swings the 4×4 that remains of his mailbox post at his head]
F is for Funky, mind blown in his car
[art: Funky, head smashed and bloodied, slumped over the wheel of his car. Turns out he did die in that accident
G is for Gay Kids, whose faces were hazy,
H is for Harry, who’s not all that crazy.
G is for Gazebo, a location most prime
H is for Harley, the protector of time
I is for Ingrates, can’t see Tom is skilled
J is for Jessica, whose father was killed
K is for Keisha, seen not hair nor hide
L is for Lisa, of cancer she died
M is for Mort, the dementia did spare
N is for Nate, he’s just kind of there
Eh, I’m sure someone else can think of much better ones than that. I’m not entirely pleased with the meter or rhyme on some of them, but, y’know. If anyone wants to improve them, go right ahead.
Okay, I’m challenging myself. I’ll post the full Westviewcrumb Tinies either tonight or tomorrow morning.
Oh, I overlooked the part where they all die. That would make a fitting end to the strip. I anxiously await your results.
Y is for Y. Knott, an author of prose
Z is for zero, which is how much Funky Winkerbean history he knows
I wonder if you could do a Gashlycrumb for commentors.
Dang it, I didn’t notice they were all dying, either. (I guess I’m just too numb to death and dismemberment in Westview.)
Gorey did the original titles for PBS’s “Mystery!” series. Beautiful stuff.
On “Degrassi: The Next Generation,” Ellie Nash and Marco Del Rossi first bond over their affection for Gorey’s *Gashlycrumb Tinies.*
I’m absolutely in awe of your mem — er, your pattern recognition skills, TFH. And your researching chops.
And also in awe of how many potentially interesting threads Puff Batty has dropped over the years. But no doubt we’ll find it was all worth it once we witness the brilliant denouement I’m sure he’s leading up to with these pulse-poundingly suspenseful strips.
Between this week and some of the no-context recollections during Harlan-no-wolf’s flashbacks, it’s almost as if the strip is expecting us to remember everything as if we were superfans who had arranged a whole wiki around its lore (of course if we did that [not the worst] idea we’d be the kind of snarky informal that you’d see on, say, the wiki for the Transformers franchise). Like none of us know who Neal was or how he turned out bad, that’s a definite shortcoming.
Some creators usually make things for themselves first, their audience second, but most published media looking for a profit can’t afford to do that. But there is nothing to lose here with the strip on borrowed time, I suppose.
Is this going to lead to the cemetery or to the park bench (if there’s a difference)? I think that Batty is trying to prove that the paths of boredom lead but to the grave. Otherwise this story is even more pointless than “Funky sees an old painting in an abandoned house.”
Boredom indeed. I can’t believe it but this just keeps getting worse. Batty of course thinks that he has created a rich tapestry out of all of this, while I see a torn up rug that the dog soiled and then tore up.
Is it possible to have that Pulitzer nomination invalidated?
I checked TB’s Twitter account tonight and I see he hasn’t tweeted since Dec 5. Which is weird, considering his first tweet was on Nov 28. Everything he’s tweeted so far seems to be more or less quotes from his blog/intros to his books. If ever there were a time when he’d want to be getting out there and raising interest, wouldn’t you think it would be now?
I’m sure his 26 Twitter followers must be on tenterhooks waiting for more wisdom from the Oracle of Medina.
Another oddity: The Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter logo-links on his web site still resolve to nothing. Even though he now has a Twitter account.
Breaking news: Does Tom Batiuk suck at Twitter even more than he sucks as a comic strip writer?
Tom Batiuk’s extraordinarily ability to completely suck has certainly been proven in comic strip form! But now, finding an exciting new medium in which to suck, Tom Batiuk has taken on Twitter. And even though his comic strip suck-tacity has a 50-year head start — Batiuk is showing he can suck mightily at Twitter, too!
A barrage of vanity-themed posts that are thoroughly uninteresting, followed by day after day of silence when only one lonely (negative) response was received? Yes! Twitter followers have found that — even away from ‘dead tree’ media — Tom Batiuk can be just as effective at conveying that patented Batiuk combination of ineptitude, narcissism, laziness and lack of storytelling ability that his readers have come to count on for their sucking needs! Why, you can practically hear the sucking before you even read a single tweet!
Of course, it may be an impossible dream for Batiuk to suck as thoroughly at Twitter as he does on the comics page. And yet, as connoisseurs of suck-tatiousness know — when Tom Batiuk attempts to communicate in any form? He’s capable of a generating a sucking force that could draw a herd of elephants through a straw. His blog, for instance, is incredibly sucky.
But, still….there’s one rock-solid thing that you can be sure of! If Tom Batiuk is writing it, whether it’s a tweet, a comic, a blog post, or an intro to “The Complete Funky Winkerbean, Volume Whatever Who Cares Just Buy The Damn Book Already” — it won’t just suck. It will SUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK-suck-suckity-sucksucksuck.
My god, will it suck.
I never knew Homer Simpson was a fan of the New York Knicks…?
At least Ayers’ artwork is sharp today. Sharp as in incisive.
That incomplete snowman-esque blob in panel one is a perfect encapsulation of what we’ve seen this week. The form of something is vaguely there, and its creator is content to simply leave it at that.
If in fact Batdick has the rug pulled out from under him regarding this strip’s demise, I wonder if he’s taking a page from the last “Annie” writer, Jay Maeder, who got revenge on the syndicate by having the final strip end in the worst way possible.
Probably not. Never assume evil when incompetence will suffice.
Yeah, with Batty, that is a wise assumption. This strip is a checklist of bad tropes and bad decisions.
What happened with Annie?
Annie was kidnapped by a war criminal known as “The Butcher of the Balkans” and taken to Guatemala (although despite his reputation, The Butcher wouldn’t murder a child, but also couldn’t let her go because of the whole “wanted war criminal” thing). Daddy Warbucks was resigning himself to never seeing Annie alive ever again. And… scene!
Three years after the end of the strip, characters from Annie made appearances in Dick Tracy, and she was finally rescued the following year. (A couple of months later, Dick would make a visit to Westview. Surprise, surprise, he was on a case involving stolen comic books. Because of course.)
he was on a case involving stolen comic books.
Stolen comic books that for some reason were being auctioned off by the local police, because of course that’s what happens when stolen property is recovered.
Of course, The Gun That Murdered John Darling Who Was Murdered somehow got out of police evidence into the hands of a collector, so at least the mishandling of evidence seems to be consistent.
Ah, yes, many were the times in my youth when I would walk along the wintry streets of my hometown and stare thoughtfully as I trod past locales that meant something to other people tangentially connected to my life. Geez, even the Stage Manager in “Our Town” would have seen this in the script and said, “Okay, folks, this part isn’t very interesting, so we’ll just skip over it.”
Looking forward to Sunday’s sideways strip when Summer stumbles over the access ramp on the sidewalk in front of a now-shuttered Montoni’s.
This should make me think of the Beatles’s “In My Life,” and,to be fair, it does. Unfortunately, it also makes me think how much better that song is than this comic strip.
I think the Thornton Wilder play for Batiuk isn’t *Our Town,* but *The Skin of Our Teeth.* Whenever that’s revived in New York, it never seems to come off, yet the consensus is that it’s a brilliant piece of theater, and it shouldn’t be impossible to equal the opening run in which Elia Kazan directed and Fredric March, Tallulah Bankhead, Florence Eldridge and Montgomery “Nembutal Numbs It All, But I Prefer Alcohol” Clift starred.
Yet it hasn’t happened, and when I mentioned this to a man who taught theater, he said it was because it was a bad play. Bad plays sometimes get Pulitzer Prizes, you know.
As I am feeling poetic, here’s Robert Southey’s “Battle of Blenheim”:
It was a summer evening,
Old Kaspar’s work was done,
And he before his cottage door
Was sitting in the sun,
And by him sported on the green
His little grandchild Wilhelmine.
She saw her brother Peterkin
Roll something large and round,
Which he beside the rivulet
In playing there had found;
He came to ask what he had found,
That was so large, and smooth, and round.
Old Kaspar took it from the boy,
Who stood expectant by;
And then the old man shook his head,
And, with a natural sigh,
“‘Tis some poor fellow’s skull,” said he,
“Who fell in the great victory.
“I find them in the garden,
For there’s many here about;
And often when I go to plough,
The ploughshare turns them out!
For many thousand men,” said he,
“Were slain in that great victory.”
“Now tell us what ’twas all about,”
Young Peterkin, he cries;
And little Wilhelmine looks up
With wonder-waiting eyes;
“Now tell us all about the war,
And what they fought each other for.”
“It was the English,” Kaspar cried,
“Who put the French to rout;
But what they fought each other for,
I could not well make out;
But everybody said,” quoth he,
“That ’twas a famous victory.
“My father lived at Blenheim then,
Yon little stream hard by;
They burnt his dwelling to the ground,
And he was forced to fly;
So with his wife and child he fled,
Nor had he where to rest his head.
“With fire and sword the country round
Was wasted far and wide,
And many a childing mother then,
And new-born baby died;
But things like that, you know, must be
At every famous victory.
“They say it was a shocking sight
After the field was won;
For many thousand bodies here
Lay rotting in the sun;
But things like that, you know, must be
After a famous victory.
“Great praise the Duke of Marlbro’ won,
And our good Prince Eugene.”
“Why, ’twas a very wicked thing!”
Said little Wilhelmine.
“Nay… nay… my little girl,” quoth he,
“It was a famous victory.
“And everybody praised the Duke
Who this great fight did win.”
“But what good came of it at last?”
Quoth little Peterkin.
“Why that I cannot tell,” said he,
“But ’twas a famous victory.”
He obviously doesn’t give a shit. He’s not trying to weave any sort of actual “story” out of this nonsense, nor will he. He’s a few weeks from the end, and he’s blowing an entire week on planting obscure Easter eggs in the background as Summer, presumably the lead character here, wanders around aimlessly in a raging blizzard. He has nothing, and he put nothing into this, either. Lots of you have commented on why he’d do such a thing, and I believe every one of those theories, but the bottom line is that he just can’t be bothered to care. This is some of the least entertaining “work” he’s ever done.
Is this Batty’s Metal Machine Music or Contractual Obligation Album? Those two albums of famously unlistenable “music” were recorded by Lou Reed and Van Morrison, respectively, to fulfill the letter of their contractual obligations to their record labels, with a hearty FU. (Though Metal Machine Music has a sort of “so unlistenable it’s brilliant” cult following — kindred spirits to us here, perhaps.)
Of course, Reed and Morrison both had brilliant work in their past and in their future, which makes their FU albums mere curiosities. This — this is just a long slow decline starting to pick up speed and roll out of control, downhill, on greased skids.
Metal Machine Music is great. Doesn’t matter how it was made, or why, it is what it is. It can contain multitudes.
Contrast with Batiuk’s crap, which can’t contain it’s own continuity.
Theoretical question: If Tom Batiuk was intentionally trying to do bad work, how could you tell?
His blog would carry a lecture on the brilliant and clever way in which he did the worst possible job.
A raging blizzard? That blizzard is not raging. It’s grumbling. Who can blame it? It was hauled out of bed to serve as a metaphor for Batiuk’s snow job of a story.
For those of us who’ve always wanted FW to do a crossover with a magazine like Midwest Living. https://www.midwestliving.com/homes/
Also for those of us who wondered if the week in Westview could become any more pointless.
The best possible outcome is that TB is enjoying the deep dives our hosts are doing to explain what’s in the strip this week. It’s easy to imagine the meal it feeds his ego. (You see! You really do care!! What’ll you when ol’Battiuk is not around to beat down!)
I’ve certainly learned more about FW than anything the actual writer has bothered to put out there. Our hosts have made me care, in other words.
It also was Batiuk and his wife’s second apartment. And Fred and Ann’s first apartment was Tom and Cathy’s first.
“Living in the run-down apartment in the run-down neighborhood with the house of the rising sun a couple of doors down and the guy next door who would sit on the stairs in his apartment smoking a cigarette, looking for all the world like the serial killer he may or may not have been as he stared into our kitchen window, and waking up one morning to find his car being winched out of the river behind our apartment following a late night parking mishap just didn’t seem to be our style anymore. We’d moved on, so we moved on.” From a Match to Dreck post.
Despite a difference in the age when they wed, he decided to make Ann and Fred in Act I the avatar for his own marriage.
Which is creepy given Ann’s confession, posted yesterday, that she married him without falling in love.
The reason we’re walking past half of these locations isn’t because they were important to Summer, or even this strip as a whole, it’s because they were important to Batiuk personally.
This whole thing has turned into the ending to Synecdoche, New York.
Bautik always had a habit of letting the strip getting autobiographical in a way. Modeling Montonis on his favorite haunt, using his real-life homes for one of his couple characters, having Les go on the same mountain-climbing trip he did, having Funky explore an abandoned house like he did, and then just up and writing in a self-insert with a thinly-disguised name.
Point of comparison of course, Bill Watterson also heralded from Northeast Ohio and modeled parts of the strip from his childhood home recollections, but at most it was only noticeable with vague references in the environment drawings and that one collection backcover he did of Calvin imagining himself as a giant rampaging through town matching up with a specific real-world town. He kept it vague and artistic-focused, as opposed to make whole plotlines based on what oneself did over the weekend.
Some really great works of literature were semi-autobiographical. Little Women, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, All Quiet on the Western Front. In fact, there are some authors who were really only able to succeed with the works that were semi-autobiographical, with their less personal offerings failing to reach in the same way.
Lisa’s Story would not have gotten a Pulitzer nod if Batiuk hadn’t seen himself in Les, and his wife in Lisa. He’s incapable of concieving of minds unlike his own and maintaining interest in them for serious storytelling. So for him, drawing from the personal was his only avenue to emotional storytelling.
But Batiuk, in Act III, totally forgot how to construct a story. It didn’t matter how much or how little any story was drawn from his life. So much of the last few years was just people sitting around, staring around, walking around, mentioning things.
So what he was pulling from his life didn’t work, because we couldn’t see the point. Weeks and weeks of his own special brand of ‘memberberries only he could taste. And way too much of it.
He’s incapable of concieving of minds unlike his own… drawing from the personal was his only avenue to emotional storytelling.
This is Exhibit A of why I think Tom Batiuk is on the autism spectrum. He seems to have no theory of mind.
He can’t put himself in the heads of his characters, not even for the most basic human interactions. He can’t imagine that Cayla (or any woman) would have her own wants and needs in a marriage. Or that nobody on earth cares about the things this comic strip expects its readers to relate to, like his overly specific opinions about comic books, or its obtuse casualness with death relics.
Compare TB to strips like “Ernie Pook’s Comeek” by Lynda Barry and “Hyperbole and a Half” by Allie Brosh. Both rely on extremely specific childhood memories that mean nothing whatsoever — zilch — to anyone but them. Yet…
Lynda Barry did a story on how Marlys (author avatar) had a slumber party, and the kids ended up dividing up the floor like a map with individual territories, and by the end of the night they were barfing up kool-aid and hot dogs. Allie Brosh did a story on how as a young child she became obsessed with a dinosaur costume and it seemed to take over her personality. These stories brought me into their world. I cared about them because I absolutely felt what it was like to be the kid at the slumber party or in the costume, as if it had happened to me.
In a sense there’s no “theory of mind” in those stories, but in a sense there is; the artists had to go back to their childhood minds in order to tell the story from within. TB once had the ability to get close to that — I think a lot of people identified with the Act I Les and a few other characters. But somehow he lost the thread completely.
I would argue there is alot of theory of mind in Allie Brosh’s work, because her stories include of asides that reframe the story as an adult would see it. Like “Richard”, where little Allie was sneaking in and out of his neighbor’s house for some innocent reason, but inadvertently creating the impression that something untoward was going on. In “How A Fish Almost Destroyed My Childhood”, changing the perspective is the comedic payoff. Both of these stories are on hyperboleandahalf website and they’re both very good.
You mention the other problem: Batiuk can’t even get into the heads of his own characters. They just do the strange things they do, and act like their motives were self-evident. Here’s Summer wandering around town on foot, going by houses she has thirdhand connections to, for some reason the story thinks is obvious.
Batiuk leaves you to fill in the blanks. And the rest of what we know about his characters doesn’t suggest any positive answers. Summer is a failed college student who can’t write, can’t research, doesn’t know what to do next, and needs to “clear her head” only because of its extremely low capacity for information.
Yeah, and Barry usually includes Marlys’ mother (spouting her favorite epithet, “Holy BALLS”) or assorted trashy, harried, weary adults, complete with cigarettes dangling from lips, cat’s-eye glasses, and half-assed beehive hairdos. You do get a sense of the world they live in and the sheer exhaustion of the adults. You sort of see it from both perspectives.
Lynda Barry now teaches at her (and her pal Matt Groening’s) alma mater, Evergreen State College. She’s written several books on creativity and how to write personal and meaningful comics/graphic stories. She takes an inside-out perspective; in other words, you sort of release the story from your depths, instead of bestowing it on the audience predigested. That’s not how she’d describe it, but it’s definitely more emotion than exposition, more showing than telling.
So it’s a given that Tom Batiuk has been chased by a jogging robot.
No, what probably happened is this:
Tom was jogging on a track. He glanced at a watering apparatus and thought, “Hey, that almost looks like a robot.”
That led to: “What if Funky thought it was a robot? And… and it jogged with him. That’s it! Brilliant!”
But he failed to carry the thought that one crucial step further: How would someone feel if they thought a robot was jogging with them? You better believe they’d feel something. Probably worried or afraid — that they were hallucinating, maybe because of fever, or brain damage, or creeping dementia? Or because they’d been dosed with LSD? Or even more terrifying, could the robot be real?
He never for a second considered the emotional consequences of a human being thinking he was jogging with a robot. Just thought it was neat that the sprinkler looked like a robot, first thought best thought, done, and … *send*! Another day’s work in the bag!
He wants us to believe in these characters but steadfastly refuses to give them appropriate human emotions or responses.
No, what probably happened is this: Tom was jogging on a track. He glanced at a watering apparatus and thought, “Hey, that almost looks like a robot.”
That’s exactly what happened.
Gee, what a shame that I seem to have the “skill” of figuring out what this guy is thinking. 😦
and remember Fred was previously married He married second wife Ann while he was Primcipal So we are supposed to believe that the Principal of Westview High, presumably making a good living, was living in this run down apartment? Did wife #1 get their house in the divorce?
Fred and Ann were married in 1984
Principal Burch retired in 1986
If you are beginning to become concerned for my mental well being as continually dive into the archives for nuggets of nonsense trivia, please be reassured:
I contracted covid last week.
I’ve been locked in my house for days.
I have nothing to do but sort my grandma’s old collections of paper clips, rubber bands, and rewashed plastic cutlery while watching YouTubers complain about Rings of Power,
OR read Funky Winkerbean.
This is the only thing keeping me…well…not sane…but grounded.
While I’m loving the excellent posts you’re putting together, the reason for your “free time” is disconcerting. Best wishes for speedy and full recovery.
Hope you feel better soon. It kicked my butt and I was run down for quite awhile.
I already feel quite a bit better! Because I found Fred and Ann AND Pam and Jeff’s first apartment!
It’s just down the road from The Wesleyan Village…better known to us as Bedside Manor.
CBH, if you can even read Funky Winkerbean right now, you’re doing fine. I had COVID in September and it gave me a bad case of COVID Brain.
Jeebus H. Crikey, is that what passes for run-down, hard-bitten, rough livin’ in Ohio? Looks pretty sweet from the picture. But wait! A man would sit outside smoking a cigarette! Gritty down-and-out life at its most Bukowski-esque!
Seriously, CBH, I stand in line. I’m in awe of the steel-trap memories our gracious hosts have. And LOLing at “Match to Dreck.”
Thanks CBH. I knew that building looked familiar.
I thought the lighthouse was actually based on Dr Bob’s (founder of AA) house in Akron, but it’s not. That house was probably Batty’s first apartment.
So much vanity in this strip. Calvin and Hobbes was loosely based on Watterson’s hometown of Chagrin Falls, but he never made too much of that and instead focused on creating art. Batty just desperately crams in his likes wherever possible.
Now the “old, run down neighborhood” I definitely remember, mainly because the idea of a “bad neighborhood” in Westview was just so freaking funny. What could possibly be worse than living in the poor part of Westview?
But yeah, of course these places have real-life significance to HIM, but he couldn’t be bothered to use them as a backdrop for a real story. He just crammed them in there, with no regard for entertainment value at all. He doesn’t even draw the strip, so other than the “idea”, he contributed absolutely nothing.
I have a bad feeling that the closing storyline of FW isn’t going to end with the last FW panels I think TomBat is going to cross the story over to Crankshaft Forcing FW readers to have to read Crankshaft for a couple of weeks into January to find out what happens Oh how cruel!
I have a distinct feeling that Crankshaft is going to turn into a dumping ground for every idea*/half-baked gag that Batiuk has jotted down over the years for FW and John Darling.
*headache with pictures
It’s the last sideways strip that doesn’t really contribute much to the plot because we never saw how these placed influenced her. There are so many stories it never occurred to Batiuk to tell and this is an infuriating reminder of that fact.
It snows so much in Westview that I have to assume they’re under the malign thrall of the White Witch. That would explain a lot, actually.
Oh, and Lisa is Aslan.
Then I think that makes me Puddleglum, marshwiggling my way through life…
Is today’s Crankshaft a passive aggressive message from Batty?
If so, I don’t think it reflects very well on him.
A reference to the impending end of FW?
I haven’t even read it, and I know the answer to that question is “yes”. In fact, the answer to that question is always “yes”.
If Neal was secretly a creep, then Crazy Harry has some pretty strongly repressed memories. Because from what I’ve seen Neal spent the most time hanging with Harry. Taking him to the fair…taking him on a long trip to a Woodstock reunion…grooming him with comics.
Another indication that Young!Harry wasn’t a comics fan.
So when did he get merged into the Batiuk-gestalt-mind/comixcult?
I think Young!Harry was a comics fan back in Act I. I remember another vintage FW where he writes a book report from a comic book. It’s just the cloudcoocoolander energy that has him noticing x-ray glasses.
Another curious thing about retroactively making Neal a creep – His observation about feeling alienated as a college freshman away from home and finding solace by discovering a favorite comic in a drug store sounds suspiciously autobiographical.
I mean, Neal did get a girlfriend, Sandy. She’s shown sitting with him in Ann and Fred’s wedding.
They met at anti-nuclear protest.
OR….was Sandy just Roland trying a different name at the beginning her transition journey?
Summer keeps walking. Near the end of the month she reaches a cliff. It is, she realizes in bored despair, the edge of the world. It turns out that the world of the Funkyverse is as flat and limited as Batiuk’s imagination. In the perfect metaphor for this strip she goes over the edge and falls into oblivion.
Nice, I want to make it The Gods Must Be Crazy ending:
Summer keeps walking. Near the end of the month she reaches a cliff. It is, she realizes in bored despair, the edge of the world. She throws the “evil thing” over the edge, and returns home.
The “evil thing” is a box containing all the Lisa tapes, Lisa’s diary, the manuscript to Lisa’s Story, and Les’ Oscar. When Les leans over the edge in disbelief, Summer pushes him over.
Thank you for proving that a bit of proper editing can improve even the weakest story. A word to the wise, and to the Batiuk as well.
Speaking of editing: I’m still working on that PhotoShop version I promised of your great ending story. (I didn’t want to post it while the Harley arc was still going on, since I used a lot of images from it.)
Nice, nice, but me, I’m hoping for more of a Dr. Strangelove kinda ending. Who would ride the bomb down, though? Wally, maybe?
No nukes! They say cockroaches are the only things that will survive a nuclear attack. Do you want to hand the world over to Les Moore?
It’s a suitable tribute to the end of the line that we’re burning a week of this limited time touring exterior locations that haven’t been relevant in decades with a character who’s been written out of the strip for long enough that we don’t necessarily know her anymore.
The walk ends on Sunday, when Summer returns to the Taj Moore-hall. “The great circle of life!” she says. “You see all the ups and downs of life, only to return to your starting point!”
“Quite true,” Masky McDeath says, and takes her by the hand. “It’s time for my interview.”
I have a sneaking suspicion that, even after 50 years, we’ll never find out if Funky Winkerbean ever mastered plane geometry.
You’ll just have to keep reading Crankshaft to be sure!
What a dreadful prospect!
We couldn’t go through the last month of FW without at least one unnecessary sideways strip.