Let’s all take a deep breath, and go over today’s strip one panel at a time, shall we? There we see Funky and Holly, Wally and Rachel (with…her son? Robbie? Billy? Who knows?), Tony, and Adeela. But what are they doing in the pizzeria? Two months ago, we learned that Funky had decided to close the place and auction everything off. But in the spirit of the holidays, let’s be charitable, and suppose that the auction has concluded (would’ve liked to have seen some of that), but the lease runs through the end of the year. Since these folks, except that little kid, all work there, maybe they’re putting the last touches on closing up shop…though, that pink neon sign still hangs in the window, and the TV still hangs on the wall. And there are Christmas decorations on the wall that weren’t there when the auction began. Well then, I suppose they’ve gathered for one last nostalgic employee gathering…
Then we get to panel two, and there’s the Montoni’s delivery fleet, parked right out in front. With “brand-new snow tires“! Of course this doesn’t make sense. And after all the other BS that Batty’s shoveled our way, particularly in the past month of strips, this incongruity comes as no surprise. You win, Mr. Batiuk. You’ve spent fifty years establishing these characters and their universe, and have certainly earned the right to throw logic and continuty down the toilet. Our nitpicking nation turns its beady eyes to you. Woo woo woo.
146 responses to “Sorry, We’re Open!”
I can see why the whole town is heading to this concert. Apparently it’s THE most important event in Centerville, so important that the weatherman calls it out specifically. It might, in fact, be the one and only place anyone is going. There might even be some kind of curfew that enforces St Spires attendance in this dystopian hellhole.
It’s like Phil the forecaster is trying to stick it to Channel 1 over his forced retirement a few years back and get some people killed on the roadways.
“Dangerous weather conditions tonight, so if you are going to that St. Spires concert then be sure to leave a little early. But you should definitely go out to St. Spires. Tonight. In the dangerous weather conditions that require new snow tires. Go. Go now. If the state police try to stop you, ignore them and keep on driving…”
Phil as Glorious Godfrey!
There might even be some kind of curfew that enforces St Spires attendance in this dystopian hellhole.
Don’t get me started on the Mandatory Silver Age Comic Book Ownership Act.
“This is the Westview Comics Code Authority! HOME INSPECTION, OPEN UP!”
“Open all drawers and long boxes. Have your keystone issues pulled and unbagged!”
“Sir! We’ve searched the house top to bottom. They had fifteen issues of Justice League and five of Action Comics. But they were all from The Death Of Superman crossover!”
“What!? Only Bronze Age books!?! What kind of grim-dark, anti-hero household is this?”
“We’re terribly sorry, officer, it’s just…those Silver Age books have gotten mighty expensive…even for the tattered reading copies. And little Kal needed his asthma medicine…”
“Enough! I am well versed in the 2022 Overstreet Price Guide. On your salaries in the Mozzarella Mines, I should expect at least one issue of Ditko’s Spiderman or Broome’s Flash! At minimum some late issues of Jimmy Olsen!”
“Oh, please sir. Little Kal was-”
“What good is it if your child can draw air when he has nothing to read to draw inspiration? No…it seems this family needs some time in the Fortress of Solitude!”
I STAND IN LINE.
This is why I always keep my back issues of “Little Lotta” on full display on the kitchen table.
Little Lotta! 🤣😂😅
I keep Hot Stuff the Little Devil under the floorboards as it’s unclear if it’s an approved comic.
Now that’s improv! I had the germ of an idea, you made it funny.
I keep hoping we get the Narnia ending as most of the characters die in a crash.
Preferably without the subsequently finding themselves in a much better place.
Don’t worry about that. Satan just hid his Welcome mat.
Not sure whether it’d be the better place, but it would certainly be the other place.
Why, yes, I have been told that I look like Sebastian Cabot, but I never get tired of hearing it…
No, I’m Mr. Pip. Billy Mumy is just Pip, though I’m told he prefers to be called Bill Mumy these days.
I checked, and somehow Batiuk got something right. Two things, actually, which is a bigger Christmas miracle than Montoni’s coming back from the financial grave. Yes, Muslims can attend Christmas parties and celebrations. Yes, Muslims can enter places of Christian worship. But, uh, has anyone warned Adeela that Catholic churches are so tough, they’ve got a guy nailed to the wall?
“Yes, Muslims can enter places of Christian worship.”
Well, yeah, they’re not vampires, you know?
A point lost on some people. There’s nothing in the Koran that says they have to avoid non-Islamic places of worship. On the other hand, they’re not supposed to cook or serve any food containing pork, even if it’s done for non-Muslims. That would be a problem for Adeela, if it’s ever proved that actual meat is used in making Montoni’s pizzas.
There is shirk, but I think you have to do more than set foot in church to get in trouble for that. Especially in the USA, where churches are used for many non-religious purposes (weddings, funerals, voting, social events). Going to see a “Messiah” performance might be pushing it, though.
There are varying degrees of orthodoxy in all religions. Since we know nothing about Adeela, we know nothing about how comfortable she’d be with going to a church service.
I happen to live in an area full of both churches and mosques/Islamic centers/Islamic schools. One thing I can tell you is that hijab-wearing, observant Muslims tend to keep to their own culture and their own places, like Orthodox Jews. There are dozens of churches in my neighborhood. I pass churches every time I go out for a walk. I have never EVER seen anyone in Muslim garb enter any church at all. I just don’t think it happens much. Maybe, as you mention, for a funeral. Maybe. (Voting here is done in schools, so that’s not an issue.)
It’s very hard to believe that a Muslim observant enough to dress like Adeela would eagerly attend a performance of the Messiah. But again, she is a cipher who isn’t really any kind of person at all, with no character traits that we know of. She’s a vague potato-shaped social-justice idea.
I love the ‘potato in a hijab’ you came up with yesterday DOD.
Wally did show a tiny inkling of sensitivity to Adeela in 2020. But she let him know that she ranks honoring Montoni’s over any possible affront to her religion.
Her constantly having to come in contact with pork and serve alcohol has never come up though.
Now that I think about it, that character might be Rana. Is there any way to tell her from Adeela?
They’re Just Like Us™️! Even Khahn, the Afghan warlord! He’s Just Like Us! Trans people! Gay people! Black people! Asian immigrants! Even women! They’re all just like me, Tom Batiuk! They share my thoughts, beliefs, fetish objects! Conflict? Why would there be conflict when everyone agrees with everyone else on everything? Wow! Amazing!
You’ll all stand in line one day when what I write about sparks others to build on it to create a science of behavioral-patterned algorithms that will one day allow us to recognize humanity as our nation!
“Shirk” has to do with worshipping any religion in which God exists with other gods. It’s all right to go into a church, temple or chapel as long as you don’t indulge in the local rituals. Proselytizing is acceptable, and I wonder how much effort it would take to get the pastor of St. Spires to convert. (“There will be no Les Moore in Paradise” could do it.)
A performance of Handel’s Messiah would be acceptable to most Muslims, as it doesn’t involve worship. But I don’t know about listening to Dinkle’s show. Probably not; I’m sure Islam forbids masochism.
Looks like Phil the Phorcaster was brought back just in the nick of time. Obviously, no other meteorologist could warn people of a blizzard and remind them of the big event at a local church. Visionary leadership at Channel 1.
So THIS is where that handicapped-friendly curb comes into play, right? Which character will slip on it and die? All of them at once? That would be noteworthy.
Why iis Tony Montoni even there? For the entirety of Act III he has been retired and spending winters in Flprida Heads south at the first sign of cold air.
And why is Wally going out in public without Buddy the therapy dog? He will have a nervous breakdown?
And why are they going to midnight mass in Xmas Eve in Centerville in a snowstorm? Is there no church in Westview?
Of course there’s a church in Westview. Well, okay, it’s really more of a shrine. And it’s in Les’ house, dedicated to Dead Saint Lisa. But it has VHS tapes and an Academy Award statue!
I mean, they called it the Taj-Moore Hall.
So it being a gaudy and expensive temple to a tyrant’s dead wife is appropriate.
Buddy has enough sense to stay at home during a blizzard. As for the rest of that crowd, what kind of future civilization are they going to inspire?
And why did Tony turn into that Swedish janitor from Archie in panel 2?
Harley…Tony…Swedish janitor… Summer called, and she’s seeing a pattern.
Isn’t that Wade, Funky’s AA sponsor?
Why iis Tony Montoni even there? For the entirety of Act III he has been retired and spending winters in Flprida Heads south at the first sign of cold air.
He also had a mild case of deadness. (Though if you want to argue that’s the same as living in Florida, I won’t quibble.)
That was really weird. I don’t think even Batiuk would have killed Tony without at least a throwaway strip ala the death of Coach Stropp. So I don’t think he was supposed to be dead.
My best guess is that, since Tony had previously made a habit of coming home to decorate for Christmas, that in 2021 he was instead ‘there in spirit’.
Either that, or whatever strange force causes the Sunday colorist to turn all the redheads into blondes also turned Tony into a Jedi.
Do you realize we have three ghosts? Lisa, Phil Holt, and Tony? That makes the required quorum for a Christmas Carol retelling. Only this one has a slightly different ending.
The Spirit of Lisa was immovable as ever.
Funky crept towards it, trembling as he went; and following the finger, read upon the stone of the neglected grave his own name, Funkensteiger K. Winkerbean.
“Am I that man who lay upon the bed?” he cried, upon his knees.
The finger pointed from the grave to him, and back again.
“No, Spirit. Oh no, no.”
The finger still was there.
“Spirit of Lisa,” he cried, tight clutching at its robe, “hear me. I am not the man I was. Why show me this, if I am past all hope?”
The skeleton leg of the spectral Lisa drew back, then kicked forward with a surprising speed and ferocity, connecting firmly with Winkerbean’s fleshly posterior. He tumbled headfirst into the grave, breaking his neck.
Upon hearing the news the next evening at Christmas Day dinner, Tiny Skyler blurted out merrily, “God bless us, every one!”
My turn to stand in line for you. We keep doing this and a square dance might break out!
The only way this could be better is if it were Les.
There are prisons and workhouses, I’m sure.
“Hm, the roads are probably really slippery; even with new snow tires, there’s a definite danger of going off the road. Wally, you drive. Anyone who doesn’t mind losing a limb, go with Wally.”
Buddy, meanwhile, has wisely decided to sit out this comic for the past few years. He’s a good boy, yes he is.
Why’d he even bother with that go-nowhere “Montoni’s is closing” arc if he was just going to ignore it a few weeks later? Another Batiuk premise gone hopelessly awry, forever lost in his weird tide of malaise. An arc where Montoni’s closed for good would have had a lot more promise than whatever this is supposed to be, but, as usual, he botched it.
It’s also safe to say that Westview is home to the U.S.A’s least cool independent music scene. The whole town is abuzz over an elderly jazz band doing a Christmas show at the local church, which is a sure sign that there isn’t much in the way of live music in the mid-central Ohio valley. They’re even talking about it on the TV news, for crying out loud.
Clearly, Montoni’s closing was just part of Girl Les’ dream. If it was a dream. Or Timemop just nudged everyone into keeping Montoni’s open and forgetting about the whole thing. (He was said to have eaten lunch there every day or whatever, wasn’t he?) Or Batiuk just doesn’t care because it’s called writing.
Based on the comment posted yesterday towards the end of the day, with Puffy’s latest piece, it does seem like he has decidedly elected “train wreck” for the ending, and unfortunately not the literal kind. Not that the past few weeks have indicated otherwise.
No, the ending is just the kind you can expect from this strip, with it completely disrespecting its vaunted past, and, as a result, disrespecting its remaining readers.
We were never at war with Montoni’s.
See, this is kind of thing Batiuk’s puff pieces never bring up. “Why are all the employees assembled at Montoni’s when we just saw it close and auction off all its belongings?” It’s a perfectly reasonable question. Or anything about Les, other than “do you see yourself in Les?” But Tom Batiuk writes all his interviews himself, so he’s never asked anything he doesn’t want to talk about. They’re all full of questions like “Tell me about how aging your characters realistically makes Funky Winkerbean so relevant” and “Wow, Lisa is such a powerful character!”
They’re assigning these “interviews” to their most junior writers. Put yourself in their place. You’re gonna get paid $200 or whatever to write this piece; there’s no way you’re gonna do more than 10 minutes of background research. So you do a quick Grandpa Google search and read a few of the previous puff pieces that were also written by junior writers getting paid peanuts. And thus doth bullshit proliferate and spread throughout the land.
10 minutes of Grandpa Google would quickly lead you to this very website. But no interviewer has ever asked Tom Batiuk about his critics, or even mentioned that any exist. As far as I know, no one has ever come here asking for help writing a news article or term paper or anything like that.
Hell, the junior writers should be interviewing us for these pieces! That this website has existed for 12 years to catalogue something as ephemeral as Funky Winkerbean is noteworthy by itself. Okay, I get nobody wants kick dirt on the guy when he’s retiring. But this kind of puff piece is nothing new, and we’re never asked about it.
The other problem is these interviews consist of questions that no real reporter would ask, not even a junior one. They don’t tell you anything about the subject, and you don’t get a feel for what it would be like to listen to them. And there’s never any reporter pushback or follow-up on the incredulous answers he gives.
In the Washington Post puff piece from earlier this year, Batiuk was asked about The Comics Curmudgeon, which is as hard hitting as any of these interviews are going to get. Interrogative and angry journalism is for politicians dodging a scandal, or CEO’s embezzling, or rock stars cheating on their child brides, not milquetoast comic strips lazily flopping over the finish line.
Even the greenest journalism rookie knows that they don’t get paid if they submit “Stupid Comic Strip Which No-one Likes Is Stupid And Boring: A two sentence interview with Funky Winkerbean’s Tom Batiuk, right up until the point he walked out on me.”
Oh, and in panel 2, Tony appears to have transformed into Marvel Comics writer/editor Mark Gruenwald. (Sadly, Gruenwald passed away far too young in 1996, and he definitely deserved better than to be trapped in Westview in the afterlife.)
(Seriously, there’s no way that guy in panel 2 is the same guy as in panel 1.)
Tony looks terrible in panel 2…I thought Batiuk had brought back Funky’s AA sponsor, Wade.
He looks like General Halftrack from Beetle Bailey.
Good call. General Halftrack is depicted as an old-school boozer who regularly makes a fool of himself. Just imagine how much more he’d drink if he had to live with the people of Westview.
Big chance for a prestige arc, though, when Batiuk reveals Ms. Beasly is a transitioned man, forcing Halftrack to reexamine to his core what his idea of what attraction means. Well, for a panel, anyway. Then we’d be talking about Sgt Rock comics.
Batty would never do that. The idea that a MAN (the obviously superior human) would voluntarily transition to an Icky GORL is simply outside his range of conception.
It’s probably some golden age cartoonist. Turtle Thompson, maybe.
Yup. I thought that too. I guess June 2015 will go down as the last appearance of Wade.
Wade looks like Yosemite Sam’s dad.
Oh yeah…the band box. Yet another phrase I’ll never, ever type again after the 31st…”band box”.
…until the band box turns up at Dale Evans, anyway…
Still way better than “jack and jilled myself.” Eww.
Ugh, that stupid band box. I’ve seen it in person many times, it’s really not that special.
He “broke the law of gravity”? Wouldn’t that mean he DIDN’T fall down? The Lord of Language strikes again.
That’s just off-putting. Nobody should enjoy the band box THAT much. If his hands weren’t up, I’d think he was jack-and-jilling himself just below the frame. Was there some storyline reason for it, or is this just Batiuk trying to make the world like the things he likes?
What are you talking about. The Great Bandbox Rehab of summer 2015 took up more than TWO WEEKS (off and on)
And, of course, referenced the real life refurb of the Luigi’s bandbox.
They’re going to need those brand new snow tires…here’s the part of Phil’s phorecast they missed as they rushed out the door (Wednesday’s Crankshaft):
The blizzard is going to heal climate damage. Even better, it will create a glacier over eastern Ohio that will trap all these people. When they are defrosted they’ll find themselves in the glorious future that is meant to arise from Summer’s book. Which means she won’t have written it, and Hardly is chagrined to discover he nudged the life of the wrong Summer Moore.
It’s a remake of the old Outer Limits episode “A Feasibility Study.” I approve.
You can hear the Control Voice make its closing statement: “It could have happened to any neighborhood. Had those who lived in this one been less dimwitted, less foolhardy, it would have happened to all the neighborhoods of the Earth. Fortunately the aliens judged humanity by them and decided we weren’t worth the trouble. Feasibility study ended. Abduction of human race: Preposterous.”
The folks in “A Feasibility Study” come from Midgard Drive, so let’s hear it for Odin, Thor and Loki:
Odin: For Asgard!
Thor: For Midgard!
Loki: For myself!
Gonna get you, Surtur…
This just appears as blank on my computer screen.
That’s not a complaint, by the way — that’s an expression of gratitude.
Fixed. I should know better than to try posting images from my phone.
Yeah, right? Along with Dinkle, Phil is linking the two towns. Why? Why was Phil brought back?
MAYBE the blizzard is actually THE disruption/recalibration of the space-time equilibrium that syncs both communities.
That’s not snow falling, it’s crystalized flakes of pure “eloquentus solutionium.”
PS “Yeah, right?” is meant as enthusiastic agreement to what you wrote, Y. Knott and not sarcastic challenge. Just realized my intended tone may not have come through.
No worries — the tone came through just fine! (But it’s appreciated that you wanted to be sure!)
Umm… isn’t Worstview in NE Ahia, which is to say downwind of Lake Erie, which is to say a part of the country where heavy snow is fairly normal and municipalities know how to deal with it? I live outside Chicago, and while we don’t get the lake effect snow of a place like Buffalo, we still get enough that the government has a plan for it. We have 3-6” forecast for tomorrow, and the roads have already been sprayed with beet juice (which somehow works better than salt), the plow drivers have been put on call, and everything is ready to roll. Point being, does it make any sense that a road in that part of Ahia would have been allowed to accumulate the amount of snow we saw in yesterday’s strip?
This may just raise the “Batiuk doesn’t do research” trope ot a new level—he apparently doesn’t even look out the window or leave the house during the winter.
Beet juice ice melt! I have learned a new thing today.
Only fair as I wrote the comment while watching a high school chemistry class take its final exam. Been working a full-time job the last couple weeks, which is why I’ve had little time to comment.
Apparently the beet juice contains sugars that increase the effectiveness of salt, so that the highway department can spread less salt on the roads. Good for the pavement, cars, and the environment. And maybe for beet farmers as well.
Dwight Schrute shall save us all!
I used to live around there and I’m intrigued by the beet juice swap for salt. How are you supposed to rust out your car frame with that?
In P2, Wally looks like he’s floating.
There’s plenty of explanations and ideas for the last days of Montoni’s that could be used to explain why everyone was there, but because we’re rushing to get everyone to a damn church band’s performance, we’re just left with no context why people are at a closing establishment that decorated for the holidays and kept the TV (that WAS for sale at the auction, it had a tag! Was the TV that bad that no one bought it at all? Auctions rarely go with no bites, I imagine)
It’s been said before, but Montoni’s (or hell, the high school, or the actual town of Westview itself) is a better centerpoint for the 50 years of mayhem coming to an end than 2 weeks of Atom Kom whatver, 3 weeks of space janitor post with an extra week of post-dream walking, and now at least 1 of traveling through snow to see a church thing in a whole different town. There’s no pathos when this element of FW’s status quo feels fairly new, not even as old as the comics mumbo jumbo. Just feels like means to an end for the Crankshaft lifeline.
That’s the thing of it. He’s going to combine the two strips and we’re not supposed to resent the mess he makes doing it. Reason: the dodo thinks that syndicate hopping will shield him from the fungus people in basements bullying him about horrible and pointless things like continuity and logic. He can’t escape his failure even if he could run at Idiotic Speed and that is a Flash Fact.
There were SO many ways this could have been done elegantly. The two school systems merge. Atomik Comix moves offices. Montoni’s opens up a Centerville branch. Assorted characters get jobs with the Valentine or start eating at Dale Evans, attending St Spires, etc etc etc.
“I’m taking my ball and going home! I’m closing Montoni’s! I hate you all and you can’t touch my characters and I’m telling Mom, SO THERE!”
He really thinks this is “elegant” (his word) and a meaningful and coherent “bowtie” (his word) on the 50 years of FW.
I’m just baffled.
It’s Tom Batiuk’s unwrapping of his Christmas present to the world, which shows, like the Emperor’s new clothes, that there was nothing there to start with, and despite the decades, nothing ever appeared to take its place.
“It was always you, Helen.”
Dang! Rachel’s kid has caught that same fluctuating age disease that Wally Jr. and Skyler have.
The whole town drives off to this “concert” and they meet in the middle, crash, and explode! Right?
If the Bedside Manor party leaves on Tuesday at 25 miles per hour, and the Montoni’s party leaves on Wednesday at 5PM at 30 miles per hour, and the Bedside Manor stops to pick up Summer, how boring will this story be?
Batiuk honestly seems to be putting more thought and effort into having Phil the forecaster return to his job in Crankshaft than he is to wrapping up Funky Winkerbean, which is baffling and kind of sad.
It’s the final indignity he’s decided to heap upon FW readers. He’s trying to strong-arm them into reading “Crankshaft” whether they want to or not, and it’s not particularly subtle, either.
I have been thinking that the last couple of days. It wouldn’t surprise me if the last strip is everyone on the steps of St. Spire’s looking at a mushroom cloud in the direction of Westview, with Funky saying that he must have forgotten to turn off the pizza ovens, and asking if they have any vacancies in Centerville.
Nah. Could be everybody BUT Funky is on the steps of St. Spires, but it’s obvious that Batty hates the Funkster far too much to let him be among the ones chosen to reach safety in Centerville. I can see those people standing on the steps, watching the mushroom cloud rise, and commenting that Funky couldn’t never quite got that polonium-spiced pizza to bake properly.
The Funkyverse turns into Fallout? Yeah, I could get behind that.
“Cheap boring melodrama. Cheap boring melodrama never changes.”
I agree. But maybe his new syndicate’s market research dept. discovered that Phil has a huge fandom among meteorologists and Weather Channel watchers. How could he not appeal to the attractive, well-styled 30-50-somethings I see on TV?
He could be hoping he’ll be the next “breakout star” like Dinkle. I am just having a horrible thought that he’s going to use Phil for Very Serious “climate damage” strips, actually.
Oh, man, Spiff, you could be right on both counts: Phil as a star whose schtick is “climate damage.” Numb and Numb-er.
John Hope was an extremely popular weatherman who slightly resembles Phil. He was on-air on the Weather Channel until he died in his early 80s.
But unlike Phil, he was good at his job, and had a calming avuncular presence.
Interesting! Phil the Forecaster was introduced in FW way back in the late 70’s. How long was John around?
In Phil’s first appearances the joke wasn’t even that he was bad at forecasting, but that John Darling was an asshole.
The Weather Channel didn’t start until ’82, but Hope was with them from the beginning.
I actually like that strip you posted. That’s the thing about comedy: If it doesn’t contain some truth, it’s not funny. This strip contains truth — it contains what we’ve all wanted to say to a forecaster whose wrong predictions messed up our day. AND it contains a consistent truth about John Darling’s character (namely, that he’s a jerk).
Thank you, that’s interesting, Duck. The Phil in the photo you shared has great posture and looks confident and professional. Batiuk’s Phil looks like that guy’s dweeby, insecure brother.
Was Phake Phil’s phiring based on something that happened to Real Phil? I wonder why TB brought him back now, when any minor character’s appearance means less time for major characters.
John Hope worked for the Weather Channel until his death in 2002. I think he was partly retired in his last years, and just working as a hurricane expert, but I’m not sure of that. He definitely wasn’t fired.
You’d be surprised. When I was in the broadcasting world (30 years ago now), the TV weatherman had a lot of pull, because oftentimes that’s what drove the channel people watched for news. If everybody in town loves ol’ Phil the weatherman, and Phil the weatherman moves from Channel 8 to Channel 9, news viewership will change accordingly.
Which is why the whole Phil story is such baldercrap. If he had any appeal to viewers, they wouldn’t have fired him in the first place. Or some other channel would have promptly scooped him up. But Channel One brought him back 20 years too late because… reasons, I guess.
Tom Batiuk does loves his age discrimination stories about TV stations. He did the same thing to Cindy Summers. And just as ineptly.
Batiuk cares so much more about irrelevant characters like Phil and Adeela than he does the most basic facts of his own world. And he gave Summer a month-long arc he never even resolved.
it’s not just that he forget Montoni’s was closed; he has them buying new equipment! That didn’t jog his memory? Ayers just drew it without question? No editor asked about it? This has to be intentional.
“Huh, why are they in Montoni’s? Didn’t Tom close that last month? I should ask about that… wait, hold on, I only have to draw ten more of these after this? Eh, f*** it, it’s Tom’s problem.”
From yesterday’s comments, replies to mine, just saw your replies:
Duck of Death, I am beginning to think you an actual poet or songwriter, or an historian thereof. (No sarc.) 🎵… And when those blue snowflakes start falling That’s when those blue memories start calling…🎶
TFHackett , Your news is like an early Christmas present. Thank you! This is great news! (“have no fear, we’re going to keep this thing going in some form after Funky ends! Stay tuned.”)
Beware of Eve Hill: Well, I certainly don’t predict something correctly but once year (or once every ten years in Centerville, as Harley can tell you). (“How do you folks accurately predict Funky Winkerbean strips? “)
Thank you for replying to my comments, I am sorry for the late acknowledgment.
Well, we knew that the “We’re closing down” wasn’t going to stick because reasons. I half-way expect to see Bull and Linda driving to the blasted thing.
Buddy the therapy dog wakes up on Christmas morning in the upstairs apartment at Montonis. Nobody is around Buddy wanders downstairs. Montonis is deserted Where is everybody? Buddy goes outside Not a soul is around Budst walks around Westview The streets are empty Buddy ends up taking the same walk as Summer did He goes up on the diving board Buddy sees nobody. He howls Buddy walks to the park Suddenly he sees someone framed by the rising sun coming towards him
It is the Ghost of St Lisa! Lisa hugs Buddy. ‘They’re all gone Buddy The end came last night. Westview is no more. Buddy you are the last survivor of Westview’ Buddy gives her a sad look Lisa smiles ‘Come on Buddy, the sun is rising Its a new day Its time to go’
The ghost of St Lisa and Buddy are seen walking together in the last panel past the ‘Welcome to Westview sign’ and towards the rising sun The caption of the last panel reads ‘And now we leave Westview, Ohio Where in the end only Saints and Dogs are worthy enough to survive. No one else leaves alive!’
Buddy, finally freed from human restraint, walks to the nearest pet store. Tail wagging, he surveys all the gourmet dog food. But he has no can opener. No opposable thumbs.
“That’s not fair!” “That’s not fair at all!”
Time enough at last!
Mr. Bemis talks about *David Copperfield* with someone at the bank. In that favorite child of Charles Dickens,* we meet Dora Spenlow (later Copperfield), who has a dog named Jip.
Connections are so much fun to make.
My favorite child among his novels is *Bleak House.*
Malcolm Cowley, in reviewing a volume of Jules Romains’s *Men of Good Will,* tells of a spinster in New England who had a pronounced aversion to Dickens’s *Great Expectations.*
“I’ve read that book forty times,” she said, “and I still don’t like it.”
Meanwhile the entire cast staggers away from the crash scene and turns to Wally the Veteran for leadership. “Follow me,” he says, and leads them into the blizzard. After a while the storm ends, and a bit later they find themselves in the woods. They’re stopped by a split-rail fence, where a brassy man in a cheap suit stands by the gate. “You folks know you all died, right?” he says. “Well, don’t worry! You’ve come to the right place! We’ve got pizza! We’ve got comic books! We’ve got marching bands and a gazebo for concerts! Is that an eternal reward, or is it?”
“Something doesn’t smell right,” Funky grumbles.
“Don’t worry, Dad,” Wally says. “I only wish Buddy was here with me.”
“Sorry, kid,” the strange man says, “But no dogs allowed here!” He opens the gate. “Come on in!”
And in they go.
Ever see the first revival of the Twilight Zone? One of its episodes, “Time and Teresa Golowitz,” had a time traveler changing the past to save the life of a suicidally-depressed high school girl. Based on a story by Parke Godwin, it does everything right. It will help wash away the memory of the Hardly story.
I haven’t gotten into any revivals, because the ones I’ve seen have all been 1-hour shows. TZ works so much better in the 30-minute format. The 60-minute episodes (like Season 4) seem padded, as if they only had 30 minutes’ worth of script. The best episodes of the show were dense; there was so much going on and you had to pay attention. But they never felt rushed. They had a lot to say and didn’t waste time on anything not crucial to the story.
BJr6K, the 80’s revival did half-hours for season 3 and part of season 2. The rest were hour-longs BUT usually with 2 segments. Not always two half-hours, either; if a certain story needed longer, you might get a 40-minute story and a 20-minute one. Also, one of their better efforts was a (very rare) hour-long.
It’s worth checking out. Like the original TZ, there ARE some clunkers, and the odds of finding a clunker get higher the later you get in the series. (“Nightsong” may be the worst episode of any TZ incarnation ever.) But there are enough absolutely worthwhile episodes to make it worth a spin. NB: Try to watch the series in its original formatting — the syndication edits are brutal.
My take: as Westview comes to an end, its inhabitants are taking any form of transportation available to them—car, minivan, walking, etc.,—in a desperate attempt to reach the perceived safe haven of Centerville, where they have been told they have a chance to survive into the new year. But who will live, and who will die? Which of the delivery cars (huh? Montoni’s could afford delivery cars rather than just paying its drivers to use their own vehicles?) will make it through the apocalyptic blizzard to the safety of St. Spires? Which will end up in the ditch, its occupants freezing to death before being buried beneath the snow? Which will sail off Nobottom Road to join Bull Bushka? And what of the other Worstvillians? Will MoPete, Duh-Ren, Chester the Molester and the whole AK Forty-Seven die at their drafting tables as the heat runs out—“fingers cramping… ink freezing… can’t finish the last ‘Sub-turd-anean’ cover… aaahhhh (death rattle) (silence)” And, of course, what of Les? Will he make it to the sanctuary of the Next Strip, or will he finally be united with the Blessed Dead St. Lisa?
Only Batty knows.
The irony is that the cataclysm they’re fleeing is actually the Rapture. They alone will be Left Behind to live through the final tumultuous paroxysms of the dying, discarded Earth.
Buddy is not pictured, of course, because he’s a Good Dog and will go to heaven.
You’ve got to admit: this is the ending to Funky Winkerbean we all dreamed of. It is a complete Batiukian shitshow, and it is GLORIOUS.
The time helmet dumbassery that wiped its ass with the strip’s actual history. A supposed revisiting that was 90% Lisa wanking and 9% time helmet wanking. Wasting three precious weeks on that, and then “it was all just a dream,” and then never clarifying what it was. The masturbatory puff pieces. The in-strip tributes to things from Batiuk’s own life. The obvious agenda of trying to get us all to switch to Crankshaft. Not even pretending to have an ending. The questionable explanation of why the strip ended. The hero shot being the dippy Summer standing on a diving board in a blizzard saying “I have free will!” as if Friedberg and Seltzer were remaking The Matrix.
Just… wow. I am… well, “impressed” isn’t the right word. But I admire its purity.
“It’s structural degradation is matched only by its imbecility.”
Plus, killing off as much of the core cast as possible will make a Funky Winkerbean revival impossible. Is it too late to turn “Johndarlinged to death” into a tag?
Tomorrow’s strip: in the car, on the way to Centerville, Tony and Funky talk about the “It’s A Wonderful Life”-style ending that saved Montoni’s, as all the people of Worstview turned out to bid on the fixtures, paid for them, and then said something like “you keep them, and keep this place open–it wouldn’t be Westview without Montoni’s.”
Combining deus ex machina with “tell, don’t show”… that’s our Batiuk!
(This will also give him a reason to leave Funky behind when he moves the characters he really cares about to Centerville.)
“This is a Channel One Special News Report. Police report that several vehicles en route from Westview to the St. Spires Jazz Messiah concert were involved in a low-speed head-on collision. Survivors died of exposure when the Conveniently Time Blizzard of 2022 buried them under twenty feet of snow. Among the dead are Harry Dinkle, the Bedside Mannerisms, most of the Winkerbean family including a boy of indeterminate age and name, Summer Moore, Adeela al-Hazred and the requisite unidentifiable individual. Authorities believe they might have survived if even one of them had carried a cellphone.
“The county coroner reports that the carnage is too great for the local morgue to handle. ‘Not to worry,’ Dr. Julienne Slice announced. ‘We’ll store the bodies in Harry Dinkle’s garage, with the band turkeys. They’ll keep.’
“When contacted, Les Moore was thunderstruck. ‘How can a poor Famous Author like me be expected to write books about each of the individual tragedies I encompass in this devastating event?’ he declaimed. ‘How can I live without the glory of my daughter, who was about to write a world-changing book about my hometown of Westview? Grave, where is thy victory? Death, where is thy sting–OWWW!'” The EMTs who responded to a 911 call for help report that they never saw a corpse which such a broad smile. “It’s like he OD’d on happiness,” one said.
Dr. Julienne Slice… that’s a chef’s kiss right there!
Now that Montoni’s has survived (“It’s called Writing!”), can the resurrection of Lisa be far behind? Will Timemop The Janitor (or LeChat Bleu who took off in the helmet) have nudged the time line to prevent the X-ray mixup?
More evidence that the ending of Funky Winkerbean was unplanned.
And what great news that this site and this community will survive in some form.
Let me get this straight. Batiuk has blamed the demise of Funky Winkerbean on his inability to replace the retiring Chuck Ayers.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t Batiuk illustrate FW for decades? Why not illustrate the strip himself? Did something happen to Batiuk? Is he physically or mentally impaired? Is he so horribly out of practice he’s ashamed to show his work?
More fuel to the argument that the decision to end Funky Winkerbean was out of TB’s hands.
BTW, Batiuk’s Wikipedia page says, “Batiuk attended Kent State University, from which he graduated in 1969 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, majoring in painting.”
Majoring in painting? Has anybody here ever seen a Batiuk original painting? A Google image search pulls up zilch. Nada. Bupkis. Not a t’ing, mon.
Is there an art gallery on Medina Square where I can walk in and view a Batiuk masterpiece?
I wonder if there are any paintings of his hanging in his home?
That’s a very interesting point. AFAIK, there’s nothing on his site about any art other than his strips. Boy, I’m curious now. A triptych showing Lisa in her deathbed, surrounded by mourners/acolytes/angels, an icon for pilgrims?
You just know that in some private folder, seen by no one but himself, he has a painting of Lisa as the Whore of Babylon.
Batiuk, despite majoring in fine arts, was never much of an artist himself. He admits he was very slow, even with the early FW stuff that mostly didn’t have backgrounds. He reused tons of panels, or portions of panels, over and over again. It obvious once you start to notice.
Ayers started penciling Funky Winkerbean for him back in 1994. (They’d been working on Cranky together for years) Batiuk still inked the work, and wrote it. But Ayers was doing the heavy lifting on the layouts, proportions/perspectives. I feel comfortable saying that Batiuk would be completely unable to handle the current art style, even given Ayers current shaky draftsmanship.
Batiuk admits that Ayers was a better artist than him, from the very beginning Kent State days.
“At some point my friend Dave Miles and I noticed that the student paper, the Daily Kent Stater, wasn’t running any cartoons and decided to rectify that. We worked up some cartoons that were typical of the kind you’d find in a college newspaper, with raw-looking art and fairly sophomoric ideas. We took them into the Stater, convinced the editors that they ought to be running some cartoons, and soon our cartoons were appearing a couple of times a week. Life was good. We had a nice run of a couple of months until a student named Chuck Ayers showed up with his own cartoons. Chuck’s cartoons had a certain indefinable something about them that made ours pale by comparison, but let me take a shot at defining it anyway: They were a lot better. I took some cartoons into the Stater office one day, saw several of Chuck’s cartoons lying on a desk, and decided to retire. It wasn’t so much that the Stater let Dave and me go as that we never went back.”
Another artist, a better artist, a more curious artist, would have:
— Gone to Ayers and asked, “Hey, how’d you learn to draw like that?”, or
— Tried to copy his work line-for-line, to get a feel for what he was doing (since copying work by superior artists is a time-honored way to learn art), or
— Sat down and worked on his own art, in his own style, until he got some characters worked up exactly the way he wanted them, and then practiced drawing them in different poses until it became second nature.
But Batiuk follows the Tao of Homer:
“You tried your best, and you failed miserably. The lesson is: Never try.”
To be blunt, I think even less of Batiuk if Ayers was drawing the strip for so long and only recently started getting credit. In any kind of creative work, getting credit is a necessity.
I examined the artwork of Funky Winkerbean in the mid-2000s before making my post. The only credit in the margin was “Batiuk.” I assumed Batiuk did the artwork all by his lonesome.
The art is respectable and better than most comic strips. That’s why I wondered why Batiuk couldn’t do the art himself.
Batiuk couldn’t give his college buddy and long-time friend any credit? And Chuck was okay with that? I’d like to hear the story behind that.
Can’t write. Can’t draw. Other than that, Tom Batiuk is a great comic strip creator. /s
bwoeh, you forgot the punchline.
Kan’t write. Kan’t draw. Kent State.
Sorry. Kan’t say that with a clear conscience.
As with a lot of things, your mileage may vary. My older brother and my niece are Kent State grads.
Batiuk went to Kent State during the days of peace, love and Bobby Sherman.
I don’t think it’s meant to be a categorical condemnation of every KSU grad. It’s just a joke so well known that even I, who have never (as far as I know) even met a Kent State grad, know the punchline.
You want the story, you got it. Straight from the horse’s mouth.
A great podcast with Ayers from just a couple years ago. He seems like man cut from the same cloth as Batiuk, really, maybe with a touch more backbone. But he talks about how Batiuk got him interested in Cranky by mentioning that he would be doing some more serious stuff with the strip as well.
Thank you. Interesting.
1.) Chuck says he first started drawing FW in 1994 and drew it until 2016. Confusing, as the artwork of the oldest Funky Winkerbean comics in the Comics Kingdom archive is clearly in a Batiuk style.
2). Chuck also works almost a year in advance. “Disability insurance” as he puts it.
3.) Batiuk inks the strips.
4.) Nobody “letters” the strip. It’s a font created by Chuck. He’s the one to blame for those strange “L”s.
5.) Chuck is responsible for the size and placement of the word balloons.
6.) Sunday comics are colored by someone else hired by Batiuk. That can explain the hair color inconsistencies. Who colors the dailies? Batiuk? That wasn’t made clear in the interview. Chuck said he just does the pencils, then ships it off to TB.
That comic strip is from 10/05/1998.
Good night, Ms. Mancuso, wherever you are.
Miss. Mancuso is another of those weird characters, like Kevin or Act III Chien, that it seems Batiuk meant to do more with. She was drawn into those really early Act III group promo shots, but I don’t know if she ever actually appeared in Act III. If she did, it wasn’t for anything close to an ‘arc’.
The irony is that NE Ohio *is* about to get hit by a once in a generation snowstorm over the weekend Called a ‘Bomb Cyclone’ Batiuk must have known
1. I don’t get it… Wouldn’t damn near every car in NE Ohio be equipped with all-weather tires? Or is Wally talking about those hyper-expensive studded snow tires they use in the World Rally Championship? No wonder Montoni’s went broke…
2. How is everyone going to fit in a couple of compact cars? Why were these cars not auctioned? Or if they are on business lease, why were they not returned to the bank or dealership?
2a. Does nobody in NE Ohio drive a pickup truck or SUV?
2b. WHY is everyone acting like this is the first time NE Ohio has ever seen snow?? WHY wouldn’t everyone, you know, try to leave a little bit earlier?
3. WHY would Adeela give a shit about a Christian celebration? And is St. Spires the only church in the region?
4. I’m still waiting to hear Summer’s grand unified theory of all patterns…
4a. Just your daily reminder that Summer still hasn’t written the first sentence of her book that’s going to save humanity… What a procrastinator.
5. Batiuk’s totally about to wrap up the strip by killing off a legacy character, isn’t he? I’d put my money on either Dr. Rundfunk, The Big Dink, or Morton the Hard-on dropping dead tonight, in that order.
I think it will be Tony MontonI There is a reason Tony looks so terruble in panel two He’s about to go to the big pizza restaurant in the aky
I’m guessing the whole Winkerbean family gets wiped out. With nobody from the family to keep Montoni’s going, the pizzeria is bought out and turned into a crappy mix of franchise shops and frozen pizzas. Characters in Crankshaft will speak ill of it, just in case the syndicate tries to revive Funky Winkerbean.
I’m still kind of agog that Puffy really thinks FW has some kind of legs at this point.
We’re more likely to see a big-budget Agatha Crumm revival, a Winnie Winkle Netflix series or a Dondi Broadway musical than we are to see a bidding war for the smoldering ruins of FW.
According to one critic, the *Dondi* comic strip became a movie so terrible that it turned its star, David Janssen, into a fugitive.
The Fugitive, a QM Production … starring David Janssen as Dr. Richard Kimble, an innocent victim of blind justice. Falsely convicted for the murder of his wife … reprieved by fate when a train wreck freed him en route to the death house … freed him to hide in lonely desperation … to change his identity … to toil at many jobs … freed him to search for a one-armed man he saw leave the scene of the crime … freed him to run before the relentless pursuit of the police lieutenant obsessed with his capture.
I kid, of course, for awful as the movie seems to be, it didn’t become the running joke that “The Horn Blows at Midnight” became for Jack Benny. (Happy Holidays, sorialpromise, he added parenthetically, as a “Gunsmoke” episode called “The Joke’s on Us” began to play.)
But Dondi didn’t go native in Brooklyn afterwards, did he?
There are maybe a few dozen people in the world who have any idea what “Dondi Goes Native In Brookyn” is (or more accurately, wasn’t), and at least two of them haunt this website. That’s pretty impressive!
“Watch this film and you’ll know why Janssen became a fugitive!”
The syndicate can’t revive Funky, though. They don’t own it, Batiuk does. (Well, a “Batom, Inc.” does. But I’d be surprised if that’s anything but a holding company consisting of Batiuk himself and possibly his family, but no one else.)
… and The Great Comics Kingdom Exodus continues.
Mother Goose & Grimm is moving to GoComics at the beginning of 2023..
CK is a total clusterf*ck. I can’t even comment there any more because for some reason when I try to get verified it doesn’t stick, and I’ve been a paid subscriber there for years. Plus it’s just a nightmare to use. The only things I really read any more are Mary Worth, the Crankerbean Follies, and the vintage strips like Big Ben Bolt and Apartment 3-G. I think I’m gonna let the subscription lapse. It’s just not fun any more. I don’t like the GoComics page either, or their comment sections, but at least it’s free.
Isn’t it odd how usability of most web pages seems to have peaked around 2003 and appears to have intentionally gone downhill ever since?