Trombone Morty

Yesterday, Dinkle’s concern was whether people will “actually show up;” not whether or not an approaching winter storm would force him to postpone or cancel “The Jazz Messiah.” Those wouldn’t be options for the guy who regularly subjected his high school band students to extreme weather conditions. Dinkle is no less demanding when it comes to his orchestra of elderly folks, not only making them risk their lives driving (at night!) in the snow, but urging them load up the van and leave early. Well, it’s a good thing they were already loading up the van and leaving early! Meanwhile, Mort Winkerbean–we can tell it’s him and not Funky by the extra facial lines–reminds us where his son gets his penchant for “jokes” that nobody else finds amusing.



Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

81 responses to “Trombone Morty

  1. The Dreamer

    the link is to the Sunday strip

    • William Thompson

      The link to today’s strip is lower down–“they were already loading up the van and leaving early”.

  2. billytheskink

    TB can’t even write for old people these days! You wouldn’t have to tell any of these folks what the weather forecast is. They are octogenarians living in a group home, they’ve watched every local news TV broadcast aired in the past 3 months.

  3. The Dreamer

    So which of the women in the choir is Morty going to hit on?

  4. KMD

    So is TB ready to bow out with a van full of seniors following Bull over the cliff? The comic ends with liver spotted corpses upon the Ohio ground? Pretty morbid but pretty much as uplifting as most of Act III. To steal a line from the New Kids, A Funky, Funky Christmas and a happy new year!

  5. Epicus Doomus

    Morton Winkerbean…Act III’s most inexplicable character arc. Way, way, way back in 2010, Morton was in the throes of Alzheimer’s disease. He couldn’t do much more than sit there with a blank (even by FW standards) look on his face and occasionally blurt out some random non-sequitur, while Funky looked on in sad bemusement. Then Funky, seeing there was no other option, sent his dad off to live at Bedside Manor, where he could get the help and care he needed.

    And help and care they did, to a completely unbelievable degree. Here it is, an incredible twelve years later, and not only is Morton still alive, he’s positively thriving. In 2010 he was basically a vegetable, but here in late 2022, Morty is a wisecracking, randy jazz musician who blows a mean-ass trombone.

    And that happened a few times in Act III, where a character underwent an astounding transformation and no one noticed or even commented on it. Like with Morton, and also with Cory, who left Westview a surly teenage shit-bag and came home a ramrod-straight, model citizen. No one ever said “holy shit, Funky, it’s like he’s a whole new person!”, or anything of the kind. You saw it with Cindy a little too, as no one ever says “oh my God, you look like you’re still nineteen”. Or how no one noticed when Cayla’s whole face changed. Or how Marianne went from being a home-wrecking sexpot to an impossibly naive, twee Hummel figurine.

    But the Morty one is by far the most egregious, especially seeing how he did an entire prestige arc about it back in the day. It’s like if Becky suddenly had two arms again, or if Lisa faked her death and hid in the attic all this time, or if Summer was still in college.

    • Andrew

      You could argue Summer was a victim of it too. Going into college high and mighty, there was no hint she would become so wishy-washy about her major and end up spending a decade wallowing off-panel doing things, and when she did come back Ayers forgot how to draw her and turned her into into a long-headed rando to emphasize the Girl Les element to her revised character.

      • Epicus Doomus

        With Summer, he easily could have done some dialog like:

        “So how are things at the pediatric law firm, Summer?”

        “I’m taking a leave of absence for a while.”

        Which would have established that a) she graduated a while ago and b) she was a normal functional adult now, doing legal work for young, underrepresented children. But instead, he decided to do the bit about her “undecided” major, which he’d already done back in 2017, I think. And now it’s just strange, and lazy.

        The Cory one always drove me nuts. NO ONE made ANY MENTION of Cory’s COMPLETELY DIFFERENT personality, at all, ever. And his surliness was pretty much the whole character before that. I just found it to be maddening.

        • Banana Jr. 6000

          Cory also never owned up to stealing the Lisa’s Legacy Run money. You’d think that when he got older and on the straight and narrow, he might feel bad about it and want to make amends with Les. Or that it might come up in a conversation with Funky at some point. It was just swept under the rug and never dealt with again.

          • That was another poorly-thought-out event. Batiuk put it in as a kind of “gotcha!” plot twist, but real people don’t act that way at all. Funky would have demanded the money to make up for his writing a check but no, all he did was say “I’m mad at you” and that was the end of it.

          • ComicBookHarriet

            What are you guys talking about. Cory was thoroughly punished by having to go to Winterfest with Summer Moore.

          • Would love to see that conversation. “You stole the $77.25 from the Lisa’s Run, so you have to take Les’ daughter to the dance!”

    • Green Luthor

      At some point, Funky went to visit Morton, and Morton said he had taken up smoking. I don’t know that his dementia was ever mentioned again. Clearly we can conclude that cigarettes can cure Alzheimer’s! It’s a medical miracle!

      (Truly ironic that, in Westview, known carcinogens appear capable of curing afflictions for which there is no real-world treatment. Maybe the Alzheimer’s got cancer and died?)

      • Epicus Doomus

        That was when Morty’s unbelievable recovery began. And honestly, smoking made him seem a lot cooler, too.

    • The Dreamer

      yes once Les got engaged to Cayla, he straightened Cayla’s curky hair to make her look less black No sense denying it

    • The Dreamer

      even more egregious was the Crankshaft retcon of the ten year time gap. Which now requires ignoring Crankshaft’s Act 3 FW appearances where he is seen old and enfeebled being wheeled around in his wheelchair near the nursing home Didn’t happen Crankshaft still lives at home and is still alert and walking around

    • ComicBookHarriet

      The vim and vigor must be contagious. As Carl the horn player is no longer on Oxygen.

  6. Banana Jr. 6000

    Two weeks left in Funky Winkerbean, and it’s going to spend one of them driving somewhere.

  7. Green Luthor

    Sure glad Batiuk decided to spend at least one week of his last two on… this. (Though it’s still far less annoying than last week’s strips, so… yay?)

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      My lord, the transactional dialog in Funky Winkerbean. “Harry called to say there’s a storm coming!” says generic senior #6, when it’s been snowing in the strip for a week and we can see it snowing in the same panel. “We should leave early!” when they’re already leaving. “We have to get there before the snow!” which is just a restatement of what we’ve already been shown and now told. “You need to load your instrument, Mort!” Ugggggggggggggh.

      FFS, Batiuk, you don’t have to show us EVERY. SINGLE. STEP. of them getting from place A to place B. What’s the rest of the week’s arc? “Oh no, the meter’s almost on ‘E’!” “What should we do?” “Let me call Harry!” “Harry says to stop and get gas!” “But Harry said the storm was on its way!” “Yes, the snow is beginning to pick up!” “Mort, you guard the instruments. Carl, you stay away from the fumes. Lillian, you go inside and pay.” “I want a Caramello bar!”

      I know you occasionally have to remind the reader where the story is, but this shouldn’t take more than one panel. This strip needs a full week to tell you what it’s telling you that it already told you.

  8. William Thompson

    That labored pun is Batiuk’s idea of off-beat humor?

  9. Andrew

    Act 3 is ending how it thrived: old farts doing old fart things, complete with a character that magically got better from Alzheimers and focusing on a subset of characters that debuted on the spinoff that the cast is going to take refuge in. Fantastic.

    Wonder if Summer’s going to stay on that diving board the rest of the month.

    • batgirl

      Alone on the diving board, Summer can wave to Becky’s mom on the lift, to Holly’s mom in the stands, to Susan Smith by the bridge, and TB’s other forgotten women characters.

      Oh dear, what can the matter be?
      Seven old ladies got trapped in the lavotory,
      They were there from Sunday to Saturday
      Nobody knew they were there.

  10. The Dreamer

    well those earlier strips were before Morty started taking Viagra I bet Morty announces that he is leaving the seniors home to get a bachelor pad on Centerville and join the Crankshaft cast Because there are so many hot widowed women in that choir

  11. William Thompson

    They’re all old enough to be the parents of the strip’s sixty-plus main characters. Yet there they are, loading up the van without any help or supervision from the nursing-home staff. Will one of them drive the van, or are we going to see a bored staffer behind the wheel?

    Also, that van should be parked under an awning. You don’t want elderly people out in the rain or snow; you don’t want them slipping on wet or icy ground; and EMT vans need to park somewhere that won’t expose a patient on a gurney to the elements (and loading a gurney into a van isn’t always quick.)

    • Epicus Doomus

      In Westview, life begins at ninety, which is when you really begin to hit your stride.

      • Cheesy-kun

        This week is shaping up to be a perfect storm of seniors. Dinkle and the choir, Mort and the band, and Phil the weather geezer.

        I’d say it can’t be a coincidence that Phil was brought back just to report on a snowstorm that will threaten the Silver Age Choir & Brass Band Christmas Concert. But with Batiuk, how his own characters meet just might be a coincidence.

        Does the band van pick up Summer and insist she get out of the storm? Do we end up with her interviewing all these old folk (who will all recall how wonderful her mom was and how their dad’s books changed their lives).

    • Batiuk doesn’t need to follow the details; his stories are so compelling that readers will easily forgive the little mistakes he makes on his way to poignant comedy gold!

  12. J.J. O'Malley

    Please tell me the van skids along the ice-covered roads and smacks into a certain local swimming pool diving platform, knocking a certain someone contemplating their place in the universe off their frozen perch.

    • The Duck of Death

      Yes, what if the swimming pool is a time pool and they all get knocked into it, and … *YAWN*… sorry, I’m even boring myself just trying to channel Puffy.

      Anyway, it’s now evening (assuming this is happening on the same day), and I love the idea that Summer Zeeve has been standing on that icy, slippery diving board for hours, just trying to “flip the script.”

  13. Paul Jones

    Whatever we think is going to happen, it’s bound to be stupider than we could possibly think it is. He could drive all the way into Crankshaft for all we know.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Well, they are driving to St. Spires church, which is a Crankshaft location.

      • Green Luthor

        In yesterday’s Funky, Dinkle mentioned the concert being promoted on Channel One. In yesterday’s Crankshaft, we saw Channel One promoting the concert. Synergy!

  14. Hannibal’s Lectern

    Is “put your trombone in the van” supposed to be a euphemism for (gag)…

    Excuse me, I gotta go order another pallet of brain bleach…

  15. The Duck of Death

    Once again with the word zeppelin where a word balloon would have done fine.

    I can sort of deal with the seemingly unnecessary explanation, although it would have made more sense if Mort didn’t already have his horn.

    But why not, “Harry says there’s a storm coming, so we’re leaving early for the St Spires Jazz Messiah concert.”

    I guess the Lord of Language just loves words so gosh-darn much he can’t help but sprinkle them on with a heavy hand, like a bountiful layer of rainbow jimmies on a skirt steak.

  16. The Duck of Death

    Guys. Guys, is he gonna have the whole freakin’ cast from both comics in this church and pan over the crowd while the ensemble sings the Hallelujah Chorus?

    Is this how it’s all gonna end?

    • Gerard Plourde

      That does seem to be where this is heading.

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        Which would be fine, if not for the two months the story has spent on this stupid-ass Summer book.

        • William Thompson

          Well, which story is more important? Summer discovering that she is a critically-important historical figure, destined to remake the human race in Westview’s image, or Dinkle and his ego?

          • Banana Jr. 6000

            Summer, obvs, but the story doesn’t give her story the weight it’s telling us it has. That’s the problem. If Batiuk wanted to end Funky Winkerbean on an epic note, fine. If he wanted to just gather all the characters for one last group photo, fine. He lurches back and forth between the two and doesn’t commit to either.

            And if that was the end of Summer’s book arc, he really did not sell it. She just climbed on a diving board and “discovered” some Philosophy 101 gumf about free will. She should have learned that during her 12 years as an undergrad at Kent State.

    • Tom from Finland

      This would be a great opportunity to give Funky Winkerbean the John Darling treatment:
      Everybody from FW who will be transferred to Crankshaft gathers to the church for the concert and everybody else dies when a snow hurricane destroys Westview

    • William Thompson

      At the end Skyler chirps “God bless us, every one!”

      God complies, and they all go up in smoke.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      I still like my Vogon ending, where Summer is Fenchurch. She realized how the earth could be perfect, and had 2 weeks to tell everyone instead of 5 minutes. But Funky Winkerbean moves so slowly that the earth was destroyed anyway.

  17. The Duck of Death

    I’m picturing the writing process.

    Puff Batty sits in front of the local evening news, absorbing what his betters have decided is the day’s most important news, and what opinions the good guys should have on that news.

    At the end of the broadcast, the weatherman warns of “lake-effect snow bands” approaching Northeast Ohio.

    “Bands!” thinks Batty. “You can have a band of snow, or a band of musicians! It’s a word that has two different meanings! Oh HO!” He rubs his hands with a laugh. “Oh, this is gonna just knock ’em dead. Now all I have to do is think of some reason to use the two ideas in the same strip. I know — the music band has to get to a show early because of snow bands! Tommy, you still got it! And … SEND!”

  18. Count of Tower Grove

    Old people with thinning hair not wearing hats with an approaching snow storm. Musicians no less, they could show how hep they are by wearing chullos.

  19. Professor Fate

    So as the strip ends we’re leaving Summer standing on a frozen diving board that by all rights should have been taken down since the pool was closed and replaced by an indoor pool (I guess she joins Becky’s mom who we last saw suspended in the air as well) Of course that’s not how anything works but that should be the tag line for the strip “Funky Winkerbean – That’s not how that works”
    Meantime this, this is how we’re spending the penultimate week of the strip in the company of one of the most unlikeable old coot in the strips vast multitude of unlikeable old coots (it’s him or Dinkle) as they drive in the snow.
    The only thing that would top this in terms of a useless waste of time would be in the last week consists of Les opening a letter.
    Stray thought walking back to the Time Traveler (and oh what a waste that was) is it possible that he gave a ‘push’ as he terms it for the Doctor to mix up Lisa’s x-rays – as she had given birth to the chosen one she was no longer needed.
    I’ve often (too often) compared the Author’s storytelling with Dada anti-narrative but there is of course a difference The Dadaists were doing it on purpose, one does not think the same of the author’s work.

    • The Duck of Death

      I often think of Dada as well, but as you note, the Dada and Surrealist movements were concerned with bypassing the conscious mind and accessing dreamlike states beyond reality (sur-real). They used various techniques to inject randomness into their art and poetry, forcing the viewer/reader to create a story that made sense of what was given to them.

      But TB’s work doesn’t even function well as Dada storytelling. He is clearly trying to guide us somewhere, always, with a heavy hand. He doesn’t trust his audience to make connections or draw inferences. Because he’s so inept, he can neither drive his heavy-handed point home well, nor allow his readers to fill in the empty spaces with their own meaning.

      Try it yourself. Think of three images as random as you can make them. Say:

      P1: A flashlight beam lights up a corner of an attic. A family of raccoons, among dusty boxes, is transfixed in the light, startled.

      P2: A mom and dad are at a carnival with two happy young children, buying cotton candy.

      P3: A tractor-trailer speeds down a highway. Cattle are seen grazing near the road.

      Even if you try not to, you’ll make up some kind of a story that unites them. Is P2 a happy memory, a photo from the boxes in P1? Is the truck driver speeding home to the family in P2?

      But with TB, you can’t even do that. It’s like when you’re trying to sleep, and each time you start to dream, a loud noise startles you awake, leaving you with half-remembered snippets of nonsense that fade away within 30 seconds.

      • William Thompson

        Batiuk must have seen that episode of MASH with the murder-mystery novel. The last page is missing and everyone spends half the episode trying to figure out whodunnit. Only the clues are all ambiguous and the question is never answered. “Brilliant!” he says, missing what makes it funny. “A story is entertaining when the readers have to make up their own ending!”

      • Professor Fate

        It’s been my impression (which could be wrong) was that Dada was concerned more with our (the viewers) assumptions about art hence the classic Dada painting The Treachery of Images by Rene Magritte which shows a painting of a pipe with the words ” Ceci n’est pas une pipe” (this is not a pipe) which is well true but it’s a picture of a pipe so it’s a pipe and there you go round and round which is the point – when you look or watch or listen to a work of art you are bringing a lifetime’s worth of assumptions and expectations with you – Dada tried to shatter those assumptions or at least expose them – Surrealism was a much more inward looking art (again that is my sense of it) trying to via image and words to reach make contact with the sub-conscious mind – similar but different which is why I’ve always thought Dada worked better in performance (Cafe Voltaire and all that) rather than painting and the like.

  20. robertodobbs

    I had to look it up to see that a “snow band” is a real thing but it’s a term I haven’t heard once in my 6 decades on the planet. Maybe an Ohio thing?

  21. bayoustu

    TFH- nicely done with the NOLA music reference in today’s post title! Let The Good Times Roll! …which is the anti-mission statement of this comic strip!

  22. Rusty Shackleford

    Ah the blinding snowstorm, another Batty trope that is a feature of this strip. Used to create dramatic tension and full word balloons.

  23. There’s got to be a Pullet Surprise in tackling the edgy issue of proper trombone transportation.

  24. sully

    I despise this strip (and Batty’s other daily hunk of dung too, for that matter), but I love the communal disdain, and like-minded commentary. It’s a dilemma.