Who the hell names their kid “Story”? Oh…Lisa’s granddaughter is named “Lisa.” How many birthdays is this for her, anyway? Her height, relative to her mother’s, and her Judy Jetson attire suggest she’s a teen, but her reaction to seeing “her” name of the spine of the book is so childlike.
A couple readers noted that among the other books on this shelf are another Les Moore bestseller, Fallen Star. and Batiuk’s Crankshaft collection, Strike Four! (not nearly as funny as Jim Bouton’s Ball Four). Today’s panel 1 also reveals a bound volume of Atomik Komix’ Elementals Force (probably just the covers, since that’s all we’ve been allowed to see). Somewhere, there must be a copy of Holly Budd’s “majorette memoir,” Singed Hair. I’m beginning to understand why they burned down the bookstores.
December 28, 2022 at 12:36 am
…I’m a little surprised Byrne didn’t make the clerkbot look like Rog-2000.
Had TB been able to persuade Chuck Ayers to draw this week, the robot might have resembled one of Queen Tika’s robots from Murania! Note that the “clerkbot” is referred to as “the Robbie,” which I’m betting is a Forbidden Planet reference.
192 responses to “Lisa’s “Lisa’s Story” Story”
Once again, with only 3 days left, he’s repeating the action from the previous day. And the action is still shameless shilling and Gary Stu-ing, just like it was yesterday.
I once thought it was possible he was just giving a middle finger to his readers, friend and foe alike. But I no longer believe that. No one would humiliate themselves publicly like this on purpose.
Until now, I didn’t think Guy Gilchrist’s final Nancy strip could ever be topped in overall self-absorption and contempt by a comic strip artist.
Fritzi Ritz got married?! How is the entire male gender supposed to survive now?!
Olivia Jaimes retconned everything Gilchrist did when she took the strip the very next day, which is absolutely hilarious to me.
And OJ’s strip is so lousy that I yearn for Jerry Scott’s rendition, and now only read Bushmiller’s
Guy Gilchrest literally had no idea what Nancy was and used it as an excuse to throw in all sorts of self-promoting garbage and using all sorts of dramatic crap no one asked for (literally making Sluggo a depressed orphan cared for by veterans??). Bushmiller was a minimalist and kept finding ways to make his art more reductive without sacrificing the joke. That’s it, that’s all you need. Why Gilchrest wasn’t fired years ago is mind-boggling.
I’ve always been a bit offended by the end of Stone Soup a couple of years ago. After 20 years, Jan Eliot, the comic’s creator, started to wind things down by making the strip a Sunday only strip. In the middle of 2020 Jan gave a month’s notice that she was ending the strip. That’s all fine.
Starting June 14, 2020, Jan inserted herself into the final seven strips to thank her characters one-by-one.
Not once, not even in a little text box, did Jan thank or acknowledge her readers in the strip. Here’s the final strip.
Go jump in a lake, Jan.
A couple of commenters, including myself, pointed out this omission in the final strip’s comment section. I was criticized by other commenters as a “miserable person”, “a cup half-full” and a “bitter Betty”. Within a day or two, my comment and all the other negative comments were removed. I have to wonder if it was by Jan Eliot’s personal request. Can’t have any negativity besmirching your final strip.
I discovered later that Jan Eliot had thanked the readers of Stone Soup on her website. That’s nice, but only the “real fans” who visited her website received thanks? If you were a special insider fan, you were acknowledged. If not, …well, Jan didn’t think enough of you to mention it. You may as well go pound salt.
To be honest, I thought Batiuk might follow suit.
Thank you, Lisa. You almost snagged me a Pulitzer.
Thank you, Les. I loved you so much, I made you my avatar.
Thank you, Harry Dinkle. My most popular character. Enjoy your expanded role in Crankshaft.
Thank you, Flash and Phil. You were the comic book mentors I deserved but never received.
Thank you, Funky. In a final act of kindness, I’m terminating your character. Cheer up, Funky. It’s all over now.
As nauseating as that may have been, is it any worse than what we received? Two whole months of “What the hell is going on?”
“Thank you, John Darling, for letting me murder you.”
“Thank you, Bull Bushka, for letting me give you CTE and have you drive off a cliff.”
“Thank you, Lisa, for letting me get you pregnant as a teen with an abusive boyfriend, for letting me get you to be blown up in a post office, for letting me get you to meet and marry St. Les the Moore, for letting me get you to have a kid, St. Summer the Baby Les, for letting me get you to have cancer twice, die in an elaborate, shameful manner and for your death to be exploited by me…”
The final week is on the same snail’s pace of every Act III arc, lost in meaningless minutiae.
Day 1: Go to dilapidated bookstore.
Day 2: Find The Book
Day 3: Notice THE BOOK.
Day 4: Read THE BOOK’s title out loud.
Day 5: Veronica tells Betty that THE BOOK inspired an Oscar-winning movie and the world’s most important fund-raising 5k run.
Day 6: Betty decides to live to the pre-burning time in Centerville. The second panel shows Ed Crankshaft in the background walking up the steps with a suspicious look and a baseball hat but the look turns to a smile as he overhears the conversation and realizes that a living blood relative of St Lisa is going to move in next door.
Sunday: A welcome party of the great-granddaughter of the most important person to ever live near Centerville.
Maybe I guessed right yesterday. Maybe Batiuk is crazy enough to declare himself the Chief Bull Loony of the asylum. It’s not much of a distinction, but he’ll settle for what he can get.
Oh but DOD, we learned SO MUCH from today’s strip! We learned Summer’s granddaughter is named ‘Lisa’, and we learned that she did not have a ‘tree copy’ of Lisa’s Story. This is definitely information that required it’s own two panel strip in the only week we will ever have to spend in this time period with these characters. (/s)
“…in the only week we will ever have to spend in this time period with these characters.”
Know you the ways of the Batiuk, do you? Sure are you that these characters and this time cannot be revisited in the other realms that the Batiuk controls? The realm of Crankshaft could not ever a harbour be for such creatures or their time? The web page the Batiuk has dominion over is safe from them, hmmm? The time helmet forever lost it is, and passage into new realms impossible it is?
Oh, what a comfort to be of such things so certain…..
Given the pacing, perhaps Todd is feeling nostalgic for Dondi.
Tomorrow’s comic: “the Robbie says it is for sale! Just go to tombatiuk.com/books!”
Buy the book? From whom? Has there been any sign of a clerk or that Lilian’s illegal bookstore is even open and operating? Despite the burnings, the bookstores stayed in business?
The honor box must be overflowing.
Um, they don’t already own a copy of “Lisa’s Story”? How the f*ck is that possible? Oh, yeah, right. The Burnings. Sigh. This is possibly the most nauseating moment in FW history, although that’s a bit like saying “this is the most boring baseball game I’ve ever seen”.
“The robbie”. This is possibly the single stupidest thing any FW character has ever uttered. Although that’s a bit like saying “this is the most nauseating FW strip I’ve ever seen”. Once again, Batiuk chose hawking his cancer book over “writing” a “story”, as he’s done so, so many times before. A fifteen year long victory lap to celebrate the last story he put any effort into…and that one sucked too. It’s all so pitiful and sad.
Two more to go after tonight. Man, that went fast. I honestly used to believe he’d just go on forever. I assumed he had decades of these in the can, ready to go for the rest of the century. But I guess not. He should be a good egg about it and let us see the outtake file, because you KNOW that’s gotta be just incredible. Come on Tom, I’ll make sure nobody makes fun of them, I swear to God.
I’m now imagining the cashierbot with the personality of bratty British pop star Robbie Williams. It doesn’t make this epilogue better but it doesn’t make it worse.
I suppose you can dream, ED, but an outtake file would require Batiuk to reject an idea he had. All available evidence shows that this is an impossibility.
I wonder if ‘the burnings’ were supposed to be like…climate damage wildfires or something? As everyone pointed out, Summer’s grand utopia going through some kind of mass book burning rampage seems uncharacteristic of an author who spent months having St. Lisa defend Hentai from Roberta ‘Strawwoman’ Blackburn.
Yet another case where an editor would have been able to polish this turd a little.
The fire that started in Hollywood during the filming of Lisa’s Story just kept going across America. Those darned golfers!
The Burnings actually ended Damate Climage. The smoke from the combustion of every copy of “Dead St. Lisa’s Story” (except for the ones Lilliopsaurus squirreled away) blocked the sunlight and cooled the earth.
Hey, Tom. There are already shortened/slang words for “robot” and “android.” They are: “bot” and “droid.”
Please make a note of this.
Ooo, someone gave you a thumbs down. Todd might actually read this blog.
Nah, that’s just Thumbsy McDowndown, or possibly the other one who used to reply to his own posts with different names. They couldn’t play nice with others, and they’re still salty about it.
Ask the Robbie if it’s for sale???? YOU’RE IN A BOOKSTORE!!!
You beat me to it. Also, why can’t she ask Robbie herself? Robbie is standing right there. Talking about store clerks as if they aren’t present is very rude – at least that’s how my mother raised me.
She had to ask her mommy because this perfect society is based on Westview. In Westview, mere girls aren’t allowed to act on their own. They need an adult to handle all their decisions and other actions with the real world. (Probably Summer stayed in college for a decade because Les never gave her permission to graduate.)
Oh, Domo-arigato Mr. Roboto is the clerk.
Okay, but that just moves my question to the next rung on Batiuk’s ladder of abstraction (which is missing a lot of rungs, as always, so it’s a risky stretch): Why is there a robot clerk, why is there a need for any clerk, and if the robot can manage a bookstore why can’t it fix the broken sign?
…if the robot can manage a bookstore why can’t it fix the broken sign?
It can’t get down those rickety stairs!
No Scotch tape?
Well, they could be at Birchmount Stadium, home of the Robbie.
“Home of the Robbie”? That sounds 50 Shades of Grayish, i.e. exactly the kind of thing ComicBookHarriet, Ian’sdrunkenbeard and I would appreciate. (I’ll leave it to them to create the appropriate Dinkle-Summer “playground” scene. )
That said, I looked it up and discovered a Bare Naked Ladies connection. That’s pretty fun to know. Thank you, Nathan.
Maybe she meant, “Is the robbie itself for sale? We could take it out of this dump and bring it to our own dump, where it could serve us drinks. Many drinks. Many drinks of all kinds.”
Is that why their place was all soft rounded surfaces? To protect them from injury when they’re blackout drunk?
Nah, Robbie was obviously named after Rachel’s son. You know, Billy?
Billy (age 7) Keane? That would explain a lot about the genetics of this world.
Tired: the Tommy Westphall Universe.
Wired: the Lisa Story-named-after-The Glorious St. Lisa of Westview Cancer Universe.
I, for one, look forward to our new robot overlords.
Robot roll call indeed.
I’ll tell ya what, riffing comic strips is a very untapped medium, would be cool to see the likes MST3k tackle it more often (there was an official IDW comic of them riffing on old public domain comic books, that’s one way to tackle Starbucks Jones)
For a real old throwback, there’s a few websites that host an old script that riffs through a famous Jack Chick Track comic that denounced tabletop roleplaying as Satanic. Fun reading to be had, I recommend: https://darkdungeons.neocities.org/links
It was an untapped medium.
Now we’re in the tenth year of Josh and MW&M and everyone in the home sites’ comic sections trying to upstage them and/or imitate Seanbaby.
At root, snark only works when there’s a visible disconnect between the author’s abilities and intent (declared or self-described) and the created content. 9CL, despite its overwrought effusiveness, still isn’t doing the equivalent of camera mugging to get acclaim for social commentary, nor are there any horseshit newspaper articles that puff up Brooke. Nor is there any strip doing the same thing as FW has done and continues to do until this very day, as seen here.
This is his curtain call. This is his epilogue. And all he can think to do is to spend his very last moments imploding into himself.
Something like this should never happen again. It’s my sincere hope that it never happens again, at least. Once is enough.
With it gone, what else is there to snark on that isn’t already saturated? Nothing that I can think of, really.
I don’t really mind what the comments section of CC is. It’s open mike night at a comedy club, and at the end of the week a shortlist of the best get their work noticed and immortalized. If Josh didn’t want everyone ‘trying to upstage him’ he wouldn’t pick a comment of the week. Really, the travesty of CC is that he hasn’t put in the extra money to make sure all those comments are preserved.
I mean, half the commenters here are also posting hilarious quips. The difference here for a long time is we also have people going off on tangents, posting deep analysis, and mini essays.
Josh only has Uncle Lumpy to rotate with. There’s got to be plenty of days where he doesn’t have the energy to bring his A game to his jokes. And, I can tell you from experience, it’s comforting in those instances to know that someone in the comments is going to post something worthwhile for the people reading everyday.
I’m a huge fan of CC, but it doesn’t help that Josh on his worst day is *much* better than Lumpy on his best. Honestly, I’d rather he simply go dark when he goes on vacation, the way he does during his Christmas break.
Chacun à son goût! I find Josh tends to get into a rut after a certain amount of time. Lumpy’s guest host bits look at a bunch of different strips instead of the same five or six, and I believe they generally revitalize things.
The strategy employed by SoSF in terms of rotating bloggers worked extremely well, and I think Josh would benefit by employing it. Of course, he’d have to assemble a team as good as the SoSF crew, which would be no mean feat! But with Funky ending, maybe y’all are looking for new snarking opportunities….
Love Josh, love Comics Curmudgeon, but there are flies in the ointment. First, the deletion of comment sections after a certain time period. A tremendous pet peeve of mine.
Second, the fact that comments aren’t threaded makes them beastly hard to read. And when commenters snark on strips that don’t appear in that day’s CC, I just don’t have the energy to try to find the strip online and cross-reference it with the snark.
To me, the biggest flaw is that because there’s only one “editorial voice,” Josh’s, with a very pronounced style, the commenters almost universally tend to imitate that voice and style. This leads to monotony in the comments section.
Contrast that with this site, where every host has a unique style. Even within one host stint, different days often feature different styles. Result: No “house style,” nothing for commenters to follow, consciously or unconsciously, more self-expression, and less monotony.
Sorry to bloviate, but I have to add something that Josh used to do a lot more of, which I loved:
He would snark on a strip that he knew didn’t really deserve it, like Marmaduke or Dennis the Menace.* But he would do so by positing a demented universe based on the strips. For example, he had Marmaduke as a literal Hell-hound, a demon from the sulfurous depths, and read the strips from that perspective. And he rates Dennis the Menace strips based on how menacing Dennis is, often veering into lengthy abstractions. (I recently saw a Family Guy episode that stole the “how menacing is Dennis, really?” schtick.)
Using this type of technique, one can snark on anything.
*These strips are perfectly competent. They know exactly what they are and what they’re there to do, and they do it professionally. Like McDonald’s fries. You know what you’re getting. You pay, the fries taste the same as they always do, you’re satisfied. Nobody is under the illusion that this is haute cuisine and nobody shows up in a chef’s hat ranting in French about Cordon Bleu techniques. It just is what it is.
It’s quite flattering indeed to have SoSF compared favorably to the Comics Curmudgeon. Thank you!
Fruhinger brought me to Mary Worth; Moy drove me from it by refusing to kill Wilbur Weston.
And his novel, The Enthusiast, is an amusing read.
All good points. I like CC but it’s true that Josh’s style is a bit tedious. I do find some of his comments very funny and I’m amazed when he links things back to older strips from years ago. Reminds me of our own CBH, who by the way got a nod from Uncle Lumpy.
Which is why I will stan Uncle Lumpy till I die. Maybe he has less native talent than Josh. But he is incredibly involved in the greater comic snark blogosphere, and during his shifts he bring attention to comics that Josh (in his lust for Mary Worth) overlooks. He’s like the relief pitcher in the bullpen who has worked his ASS off for his 3.2 ERA and 82 MPH cutter.
during his shifts he bring attention to comics that Josh (in his lust for Mary Worth) overlooks
Well, several years ago Josh simply stopped using comics from Gocomics and other sites, instead exclusively moving over to KFS comics to use for his daily posts. I do think that’s hurt his site more than a bit, because it’s limited his options to a point where it’s often schtick.
This doesn’t include how he stopped using Luann strips because the weird sexual mores in that comic strip disturbed him, but it all happened at roughly the same time.
Gotta sell those books. The garage has to be cleaned, we haven’t been able to park in there for 20 years.
“TOM! I’ve been telling you for fifteen years, get those old cases of books OUT of the garage! Critters are building nests in them! Talk to ol’ Hank McGlinchy down the road and see if he’ll let you throw them into his wood chipper. Maybe we can use them as garden mulch.”
“Can’t. The ink they used kills hope in all living things.”
Of course! Of course Girl Les’s granddaughter is named Lisa!
Actually the real funny thing is that the way things are presented, nuLisa seems to be unaware of her namesake or that she would have a book about her as well. So much for our predictions that Lisa statues line the nuWestview city that she hails from, unless this girl is dim enough to have not paid attention to them. Is the “twist” to this week that this the exact moment she is inspired to write Girl Les’s biography, starting her own parallel quest to begin interviewing her neighbors or whatever about her life?
More notably, this robot is still charging people for books?! Isn’t this an abandoned building on the “outskirts” of the future world that this lady guiding nuLisa around had to hunt down to discover. The sign is half-broken outside and the nearby Crankshaft residence is boarded up, nobody cares about this place (and if they would, as if this were a heritage site or something, it’s a real shitty one if they’re just selling off the artifacts to any rando visitor)! Just hit the robot with an EMP and walk out with whatever you want!
Side note, completely slipped my attention/memory that Holly is an author too, now, go figure. She’ll overshadow her husband in history thanks to him completely botching the Montoni’s franchise.
The whole damned idea is to whimper and moan that both Les and Batiuk have been forgotten by an uncaring world. This would be annoying enough were it not for his lovingly detailing how clever Les (and thus he himself) is for doing everything he can to stir up apathy. He deliberately tanked an attempt to make a Crankshaft sitcom because it wasn’t true to his vision of having an unsympathetic and unrepentant old grouch who never apologized for letting his self-induced hardships curdle his character and somehow, that’s Hollywood’s fault. He thinks that a reminder that even DC Comics itself realizes that the idea of a rich jerk dressing up in a bat-suit and punching muggers in order to avenge his parents is fundamentally absurd is an attempt to attack him personally. He doesn’t go to a publisher people would know to get his stuff out. He’s shooting himself in the foot and blaming it on us so it’s not our fault that he’s in the remainder bin.
It must be hell to be Tom Batiuk. To be so sure of your own brilliance, so desperately craving of recognition, and to have no idea why you don’t get it.
Didn’t someone say something like that about George W. Bush? It sounds awfully familiar.
You don’t think Batiuk has political ambitions, do you?
Remember, a vote for Batom is a vote for a band turkey in every garage and a reindeer on every roof!
I don’t know: I wasn’t intentionally referencing any quote or anyone in particular.
No, I don’t think Batiuk wants to get into politics. He doesn’t have a shred of any trait that would give him a chance to succeed. I don’t think it interests him anyway.
He could possibly get an at-large council seat in Valley City, but that’s about it.
Maybe Batiuk is ripping off A Canticle for Leibowitz, or Neal Stephenson’s Anathem and he imagines every little bookstore – but most especially the ones with his collected comic strips (not going to call a collection of strips a “book”) – are what preserved civilization’s collected knowledge so it could rebuild.
In any case, what a self-obsessed, egoistic vision of the future. All the more since it’s stuck in the pre-digital world. The burnings wouldn’t matter b/c there’ be millions of digital copies.
Oh, and as many of you keep pointing out: How. Did. Mini-Lisa. Never.Have.A.Copy.Of.This.Damned.Book?
I’ll say this for Batiuk: He earned his hate-readers the honest way.
* Not going to call a collection of Cancer Lisa or Crankshaft strips a “book.”
Collections of previously published comic strips assembled in book form. I’m going to miss saying that all the time.
Touche, ED. And, fair enough. I do sound petty.
I’m gonna stick up for these collections as “books,” simply because the introductions (going by the excerpts in his blog) are the funniest damn thing he’s ever done. It might be worth finding the collections in a bookstore and reading the introductions just standing there in the aisle. That is, if you can stay standing without your knees buckling from convulsive laughter.
Ball Four was good. The Bronx Zoo was better. Jim Bouton comes off a lot like Tom Batiuk: he’s the unquestionable master of his craft, he has zero self-awareness, and every time he fails it’s somebody else’s fault. Sparky Lyle’s book is the same kind of smutty tell-all, but it was a lot more fun to read. Lyle had an actual sense of humor.
Thanks for that summary, BJ6K. I’ve had both on my wishlist for ages but now I’ll focus on Lyle’s. (Baseball sure seemed more fun in the 70s, but maybe that’s just my childhood memories.)
Bronx Zoo is about as 70s as it gets. If you enjoyed that era of baseball, you’ll love it. There are some hilarious stories in it. I don’t mean to sell short Ball Four, though. It’s well worth reading, in a “character study of a deeply flawed man” kind of way.
And if you like Jim Bouton, you could watch The Long Goodbye in which he plays a role. Also appearing, albeit briefly, Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Beckoningchasm: I was just writing to someone about director
Robert Altman’s movies and singled out “The Long Goodbye” (with “California Split”) as one of my favorites.
It’s a movie I didn’t immediately get, because while it’s a Philip Marlowe story, the take on Marlowe isn’t what you’d find with with Dick Powell in “Murder, My Sweet” or Humphrey Bogart in “The Big Sleep.” It’s a meditation on the character, really, and, for that reason, I suspect that Mr. Batiuk would find it an abomination.
Bingo the Choir Cat would approve of the cat in it who only eats a special kind of cat food.
And Marlowe goes out specially to get the cat’s specific food, because he’s the shop-soiled Galahad.
Baseball sure seemed more fun in the 70s
Agree 100%. Back in the ’70s, I can remember listening to Tribe games on the radio. I’d turn off the lights and listen in the dark. It was fun, despite the Indians having a low payroll and pretty much being a farm team for the Yankees.
The only MLB game I watched on TV this year was the All-Star game. All the runs in the game were scored on home runs. The winning American League squad scored all their runs by consecutive batters hitting home runs. ZZZZZZ.
Remember that TV ad with Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine? “Chicks dig the long ball?”
This “chick” doesn’t. I’d rather watch base runners sprinting around the bases than jogging around them. To me, the batted ball to the outfield wall with runners on base is the most exciting play in baseball.
Imagine a non-ironic fan of FW . (If you can. I can’t.) They’ve got to be thinking, “Wait, Tom. You’ve got dozens of character with dozens + dozens of unresolved plots, and you’re ending the strip with bizarre. non-strip characters focusing on obscure books you’ve written? Why? Why?’
As an ironic reader, I ask the same question. I still think he’s trolling the entire comics strip world, And failing as always.
“Why are there so few books made of trees?!”
Nameless lady points at floor: “Some guy named Tom used all the paper up.” Daughter of Les’s Lisa’s Les’s Lisa looks at the piles of crunchy Kleenex. “Oh, right. He masturbated to himself a lot.”
So Summer’s granddaughter Lisa is going to read Lisa”s Story and break down in tears Then she finds a DVD of the movie and the Oscar statue for Best Actress
Then in the final panel she reads the inscription in the book It is signed by….Lisa herself! ‘To my daughter Summer and Granddaughter Autumn. If one of you ever finds this you will know I didn’t really die I live and will live foreher in your dreams…..Lisa’
That’s the big plot twist at the very end
The big plot twist is just as likely to be that reading “Lisa’s Story” inspires Lisa Mk. II to write her threatened biography of Lisa’s daughter. That is, if Batiuk remembers that and doesn’t decide to plug his works instead.
Um, don’t count on it.
Gawd, TFH! Put a spoiler space in there or something! Way to ruin the surprise for everyone. Now we know the next few days are gonna suck.
I mean, you should have known that when you realized you were reading Funky Winkerbean in 2022.
Heh. Left off the /sarc tag.
So it’s going to be something worse than I imagined? Okay, I can see that. The Funkyverse has more worse things in it than downtown Ry’leh. So, um, what will we see? It’s going to involve Les Moore, right? Lisa 2.0’s mom will pay for the books with paper money, and Les’s face will be on the bills? The art of cloud-sculpting has been perfected, and the renowned artiste Moebius Peatmoss unveils his newest depiction of Les every day at noon? If you want to picture the future, picture a face that should be ground under a boot, smirking at you forever.
I still think he’s trolling the entire comics strip world, And failing as always.–> Batiuk is the Mr. Bean of comic writers. Always failing in ever more convoluted and unintentionally hilarious ways yet with no self-awareness.
Every time I see an image of those “Complete Funky…” books I think of something that is truly wonderful, and if you haven’t read, should seek out – the Drawn & Quarterly series of early “Gasoline Alley” strips, under the “Walt & Skeezix” title. Beautifully drawn, and great, earnest, goofy storytelling. https://drawnandquarterly.com/books/walt-and-skeezix-1/
There is an astounding amount of high quality crafted work that essentially dead to the present day. It seems like the quality to strips in general just nose dived with the 80s. I don’t think there’s one specific day or person or strip to demarcate the boundaries, but even in the 70s there were still many strongly drawn strips. Seeing the first FW strip as it appeared within the context of the other strips published that day made FW look like chicken scratch. Seeing 30s and 40s strips in general is like looking into another planet. For GA in particular, despite Scancarelli’s best efforts, it may be difficult to understand why that strip has the pedigree it still holds until one looks at those old strips.
This is the kind of thing that I think of to ask where the market has gone for a certain bygone product. I guess there really is no current sizable market demand for comic strips that have artistry beyond Kindergarten levels.
I was reading the comics in the Chicago newspapers in those days, and what I remember as the primary driving force was the papers’ desire to cram more and more strips onto the same amount of newsprint.
Bill Watterson wrote about this in one of his “Calvin and Hobbes” collections (I think it was the 10th anniversary book, which contained a lot of thoughtful writing about the business of making comics). He even did a couple strips on the subject, where C&H are (as just a pair of talking heads that barely change between the panels) discussing how Calvin’s dad complains that comics have shrunk to the point where all you can put in a panel is a pair of talking heads… (and that, Tom, isn’t just called “writing”; it actually IS writing).
Re the earlier comment about whether the FW collections deserve to be called “books”: Watterson wrote about this, too. While he allowed the syndicate to do annual collection books (simple collections of strips, all in black and white, no commentary), he also did a series of large-format, color collections with self-deprecating names like “The Essential” or “The Authoritative,” names he said he chose because these were so obviously not what they were named. The books included additional multi-page stories, watercolors, poetry, essays and sometimes commentary on individual strips. He said he did the extra material in large part because he felt that if he was going to ask the reader for fifteen bucks (or whatever), he needed to give them a real book, not just a collection of reprinted strips.
Also props to JJ for bringing up Rob-3000 yesterday and getting a shoutout in today’s post. Been going down a brief rabbit hole regarding the character and credit to Byrne, he seems like a pretty fun character:
Many thanks, Andrew, and to TFH up top for mentioning me as well. I’m old enough to remember those Rog back-up stories in mid-’70s Charlton comics, back when Byrne was a fresh-cheeked up-and-coming artist. One of the best self-parodies he took part in was the fumetti-styled “Fandom Confidential” series that debuted in The Comics Reader, where he’s seen at his drawing board while wearing a crown. Hunt for it, it’s worth it.
As for today’s helping of auto-erotica, I can’t even find words. I’d think this was self-parody if I hadn’t read Batiuk beforehand.
I was looking at the Funky W wikipedia page today to see how many artists have worked on the strip over 50 years. The article doesn’t mention Chuck Ayers at all. Isn’t that weird? I can’t think of a reason why Ayers’s existence is unacknowledged by Wikipedia.
If any of the SOSF gang have Wikipedia editing privileges, maybe they could add the right info about the artists to the article. You know. As a friendly parting gesture.
Maybe Ayers threatened to sue Wikipedia for defamation of character.
I rather enjoy the image of Ayers as a Wikipedia vandal, constantly checking the FW wiki page and deleting every attempt to credit him on the strip.
Whoever it was that got us a mention on the FW Wikipedia page is one of SoSF’s truest heroes.
Truly. The fact that we are mentioned and Ayers isn’t credited is hilarious.
I have a pretty good idea, but that secret dies with me.
As today Mark Twain’s takedown of James Fenimore Cooper’s work is probably more read than Cooper’s original stories;
As today no one remembers Robert Southey’s “The Old Man’s Comforts and How He Gained Them,” but we all know Lewis Carroll’s “You Are Old, Father William”;
So will future generations know and appreciate Funky Winkerbean primarily for the snark it generated.
Mark Twain was a fantastic snarker. Vicious, funny, but had substance too. He’d have fit perfectly into the internet age.
Hard to believe that “Ayres” could be disrespected that much.
“Be sure to buy ‘Lisa’s Story.’ ‘Lisa’s Story?’ A crummy commercial?! Son of a bitch!”
I’m glad I looked through the comments, erdmann. I was going to post exactly the same thing!
Now I hear Lisa Mk. II speaking in the voice of a four year old. “Ask the Wobbie if the booksie is fow sale!” Didn’t Mommy already check out the shop to find Summer’s book? Why does she seem surprised to find Lisa’s Story here? Why doesn’t their family already have copies of these books? It’s like there’s some dark secret that has forced then to hide their family history and identities–
Uh, oh, the Robbie is uploading an alert! “Suspicious activity! Two females show favorable interest in the Destroyer! One claims to share the name of her mother! Request Level Five assistance!”
For a moment the two humans blather on about Lisa and the Necrocomicon. The Robbie relays their words to the Committee for Public Safety, and a DNA scan identifies them as descendants of Family Moore. The Robbie reveals none of this to his guests, and cheerily sells them copies of every book written by Les Moore. “Each book bears his click-click-whrrrr autograph! But for you click-whrr-click no extra charge!”
The two humans smirk cheerily as they leave the bookshop with their purchases. As they reach the foot of the stairs they find themselves surrounded by an angry mob. “There they are! Chlidren of Evil!” “Spawn of the ones who destroyed the old world!” “Creators of this living hell!” “Burn the witches! Burn them with their own books!”
And the Burning is back, toasted with mugs of hot chocolate warmed by the flames.
Gotta love the awkward font mixing on the Lisa’s Story cover to replace TB’s name with Les’. Hey, at least Byrne took the time to do it, unlike some FW artists…
And ask the “Robbie” yourself, Lisa 2.1, it is right in front of your face. I guess that might explain why she’s also surprised that anyone else in human history has her name.
Maybe in the 2060s, “Lisa” is an outdated, archaic name, like Mildred or Gertrude is now. Seems sort of unlikely, though.
The idea that she’s never even HEARD of “Lisa’s Story” is just so ludicrously hilarious. There’s just no possible scenario where that’s even remotely plausible. Grandpa Les had a “Lisa’s Story” Oscar in his living room, for God’s sake.
It calls back to how Batiuk would vacillate between making Les modestly successful and enormously successful from Lisa’s Story. He’d tour the country and appear on the Today Show in support of this dumb thing, and when he first sold the movie rights, it was worthy of being mentioned on the national evening news. But then suddenly he’d have a signing at the Ohio Museum of Art and it’d be considered the “major leagues”, with the clear implication being that everything up to that point had been minor. The guy would go from someone whose name would be recognized all over the country to a guy who wasn’t widely renowned in his own small town.
I suppose this observation depends on what the absurd cataclysm they keep vaguely referencing actually entailed; but Les’s great granddaughter not knowing that she was named after Lisa, and that Lisa’s Story was the book that established her family’s legacy feels like a DuPont kid looking at one of the DuPont branded buildings littered around northern Delaware exclaiming “Hey! That’s *my* name!”
Ah, who can forget Burchett’s horrifying Megamind Les?
I mean, I can’t, and I’ve tried…so…so hard.
Maybe tonight? Maybe, I won’t see him lurking in the corners of my nightmares. His bulbous forehead pulsating. His tiny black facial features shrinking into the center of his round fleshy head. His neck narrowing to a sinewy toothpick. His hair sliding farther and farther, off the back of his skull.
One night, that’s all I ask, one night where THIS isn’t my sleep paralysis demon.
Hilarious! Thank you!
I stand in line!
This should have been my first comment: THANK YOU, HOSTS!
Thank you for brilliant postings and titles these final weeks and thank you for letting me join your community and respectfully engaging my comments. Thank you also for all the facts and ideas you have shared.
As you probably know, in my part of the world, the Year of Tiger is winding down and we are about the begin the Year of the Rabbit. With that in mind…
Thanks Cheesy-kun! You jumped on the bandwagon right as it was careening down the last hill, but you really made the most out of the ride!
CBH the diplomat?
“you really made the most out of the ride!” —> You couldn’t shut up! 😏 smirk smirk
If there’s a new site, I hope I’ll be allowed to visit.
OLD AND BUSTED:
Summer’s writing sparking 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
THE NEW HOTNESS:
Look, a book! (The next day) Look, a book with my name in the title!
UGH, this wasn’t supposed to be a reply. Clog. Torso chute. Brain.
We once had a pet rabbit. I took to crooning to it. There aren’t that many great songs about rabbits (and White Rabbit’s not really, uh, about rabbits) so I would substitute the word “bunny” for “money,” since that’s a much more common word in songs.
“The best things in life are free. But I don’t want a bunch of birds or bees. I want bunny — that’s what I want.”
My favorite was “For the Love of [Bunny]” by the O’Jays. “Bunny bunny bunny bunny… bunnnnn-nnny… for the love of bunny, people will buy bags of carrots… For that one fuzzy blob who carries a lot of weight. For that mean, mean, mean poopin’ machine.”
If you lack suitable rabbit songs for the new year, give my technique a try.
My pet rabbit is named Sunshine, so I have a lot of song choices. Given how little she likes being picked up, though, I figure “Sunshine on my shoulders” would not in fact “make me happy.”
OH, COME ON. How are we expected to believe that this girl has NEVER heard a thing about her “famous” family members? SERIOUSLY, come on!
Not everyone is Jessica Darling, Daughter Of John Darling, Who Was Murdered.
1. “HEY THIS BOOK HAS MY NAME ON IT!!!” She’s shocked because I guess because nobody else in the future is named Lisa after it was on the top 10 list of most popular girls names for a century?? Or is everyone in the future really fucking ignorant?
1a. So Lisa Jr. has no idea whatsoever that her great grandfather was a best-selling author whose book got turned into an award-winning movie? Or did movies and music get banned, too?
2. Isn’t it oddly convenient that Blessed St. Lisa’s descendants have all spent their lives in the same shitty smalltown? I guess not as convenient as the bookshop having those two oddly specific books that somehow survived the purges…
2a. It’s all touching and heartwarming until you remember that the Time Janitor is mind-nudging these two idiots along to their predetermined outcome.
2b. FFS all that’s missing is for Lisa Jr. to discover the rack with the entire Atomikkk Komixxx Anthologies…
3. I know we’re all living on a less-than-optimal real life timeline, but this future Funkyverse sucks.
2a. “The Force can have a strong influence on the weak-minded.”
It all a bunch of https://i.postimg.cc/3RgswGC8/img-17-aaa.jpg
I live in perpetual amusement that this guy never even won a Reuben, much less a Pulitzer or whatever he was gunning for. My God, even Greg Evans won a Reuben!
Did he even get his 50-year badge? The prize you get just for existing?
Pulitzer judges aren’t comics people. They are probably swayed by the topic more than the artistry displayed in exploring that topic.
But Batty’s peers, professional comic strip artists, know their profession and its history.
I’m guessing they see Batty for what he is: an overblown, self-regarding hack who thinks he’s brave for fighting straw men that exist only in his mind. A cartoonist of very moderate talent with no respect for the history of the art, and no regard for the great artists who came before him. A pretender who claims to have been “first” to do things that others had done better decades before.
I wouldn’t expect him to be celebrated by actual comics artists. It’s interesting that he hasn’t received a Gold T-Square. (BJr6K, I think that’s what you’re referring to.) From the National Cartoonists Society website:
The Gold T-Square is awarded for 50 years as professional cartoonist. So far, three have been presented: to Rube Goldberg in 1955, Mort Walker in 1999 and to Arnold Roth in 2018.
The fact that only three have been presented suggests that there are criteria beyond 50 years in the profession. Apparently, whatever those criteria are, he doesn’t meet them.
If Charles Schulz wasn’t good enough for it—and he drew for 52 years, 49 and two months with Peanuts—then you know the criteria is THAT good.
Slight correction: Peanuts ran from October 2, 1950 to February 13, 2000, a few months shy of 50 years. Schulz had had work published before Peanuts, but I don’t know what their criteria are for being a “professional” cartoonist and whether he met them for a full 50 years. You’d think they could give him a little wiggle room since he practically died with pen in hand. Tough crowd!
Sorry, Nathan — I just realized you already said Peanuts ran shy of 50 years.
Oh, that’s gotta stick in Batiuk’s craw. “Sorry, Tom, you’re not good enough for the award we gave to the guy who created Beetle Bailey.” (Hm, maybe having Lois Flagston appear in Crankshaft was Batiuk’s idea of revenge…?)
“I’m guessing they see Batty for what he is: an overblown, self-regarding hack who thinks he’s brave for fighting straw men that exist only in his mind. A cartoonist of very moderate talent with no respect for the history of the art, and no regard for the great artists who came before him. A pretender who claims to have been “first” to do things that others had done better decades before.”
Or, as Don McLean put it on the final song of his second album, the very dark record where he contemplated whether he was in fact a one-hit wonder who would never recapture the lightning that struck on his first record:
“I know you for what you are not, for that’s really all you are.
And your talents, of a minor order, seem to stretch too far.
We both know this masquerade can’t carry on too long.
You’re deep inside the pride parade, but where do you belong?”
Note: in this context, the “pride parade” is not a festive event with rainbow flags.
Hannibal’s Lectern, your mention of McLean feeling washed up lit up a long-dormant cluster of neurons and I went looking for a blog post I’d read decades ago.
Warning: If you are a big McLean fan, this is harsh. Harsh. It was written by someone who’d toured western Canada with him in 1980. Rereading it after 25 years, it struck me how close the author’s portrait of McLean is to Batiuk territory:
He wasn’t just bitter. He was nuts. I mean certifiable. For example, he had a lame movie idea. He wanted to play a singing cowboy, like a modern day Roy Rogers. And he would fight crime.
Was… was Don McLean a Radio Ranch fan?
Anyhoo, in the time since I first read the article, the site has posted a rebuttal from McLean. I take no position on who is right or wrong, but it’s an interesting point/counterpoint from the ragged edges of the music business. Andy Breckman, the author of the rant against McLean, went on to be the creator and producer of Monk and a Hollywood script writer/script doctor.
(In reply to Duck of Death)
Interesting indeed. I know little of Don McLean beyond a few of his albums. His self-titled second album is about as dark as a record can get. There are maybe two upbeat songs on the entire album, one of which is a cover of an old novelty song. The rest of the album is about failure and misery… it would be a perfect fit for the Funkyverse if not for the fact that McLean seems very aware of his own doubts and insecurities and failings.
There is a song–one of the downer-est in an album of downer songs–that is about a singing TV cowboy who fought crime. Except that in the song, he’s near the end of his career and lamenting how the whole thing was a fake, the studio guys were in charge, and “I wasn’t musical at all; I moved my lips to someone else’s voice.”
Hey! Found it on YouTube:
Have your Prozac handy.
Andy Breckman recorded a couple of albums in the 1990s. One is called *Don’t Get Killed* and it contains a cancer song…and one about a songwriter taking his revenge on a song-character called “Railroad Bill.”
Here are the lyrics:
Now Railroad Bill was a hard living man
He used to take his women two at a time
And everyone agreed he was the badest engineer
That ever driven down the Santa Fe line
His name was known from the folks back home
To the tippy top of telegraph hill
And all the little boys when they were sneaking cigarettes
They used to dream about the Railroad Bill
Well one day Bill was walking along
And he saw a kitten stuck in a tree
When he saw what was the matter he ran to get a ladder
To set that kitty cat free
Bill said no, ain’t gonna do it
Ain’t gonna climb up no tree
This is a stupid stupid song and no folk singer
Gonna make a fool outa me
I said one day Bill was walking along
And he saw a kitten stuck in a tree
When he saw what was the matter he ran to get a ladder
To set that kitty cat free
Bill said no, ain’t gonna do it
Ain’t gonna do what you said
This is a stupid stupid song and as far as I’m concerned
That cat can stay there till it’s dead
I said wait a minute Bill, you can’t argue with me
For God’s sake I just made you up
I got the pen in my hand, I want you up in that tree
I want that cat unstuck
Bill said no, I hate cats
Ain’t gonna climb for no cat
He said why don’tyou have me save a beautiful girl
Who’s been tied down to the railroad tracks?
I said mayb% there’ll be room in the 8th or 9th verse
But right now I want you up in that tree
I’m the writer, God Damn, I got the pen in my hand
And you’e suposed to listen to me
He said you asshole!!
Why should I listen to you, you should be listening to me instead
He said I’m a railroad man and if I was real
I’d seperate your face from your head
You ungreatful brute, I cried, you pushed me too far
I gotta show you I can do as I please
So an earthquake came and it shook the whole terrain
And it brought Railroad Bill to his knees
And then a tidal wave broke and everything got soaked
Bill was almost compleatly washed away
And then a big green monster from the planet Neptune landed
An bit Railroad Bill on the leg
I got the pen in my hand!
I can do what I want
I’m a bright new young talent on the rise
So get your ass up that tree or I swear you ain’t gonna
Get out of my folk song alive
He said you don’t scare me
You might be funny, but you don’t scare me
And if you don’t leave me alone I’m gonna tell everybody
Where you stole this melody
But before he could speak, his tongue fell out
And he could not make a sound
Suddenly he jumped on top of me and grabbed me by the neck
And pulled me to the ground
And he hit me in the stomach
And he hit me in the face real hard
I think he almost broke my nose
Just then a lightning bolt came outa nowhere
Hit him right between the eyes and killed him instantly
The cat came down from the tree, had a bowl of warm milk
Went to sleep for the night
Railroad Bill is survived by a wife and three kids
Dear God, I love to write
Just had another thought: Do you suppose Puffy is as supercilious to his fellow cartoonists in person as he is in print? Is he as quick to dismiss others’ accomplishments or claim them for himself? Is his disdain for syndicated cartooning as a poor cousin of comic books as apparent when he talks to his peers as it is when he blathers out his blog posts?
That could explain why his peers are not honoring him.
If he cared to crack a book, he’d learn that commercial cartooning goes back to the late 1700s, with great artists like Rowlandson and Gillray, even before the technology existed to print cartoons in newspapers. He’d know that comic books started as nothing but printed compendia of newspaper comics. If anything, comic books are a cousin of newspaper comics, the real OGs.
Oh, he definitely knows about comic books starting out as compilations of newspaper comics. He had Dead Skunk Head do a whole rant about it (and why they’re called “comics” even if they’re not funny) a little while back. It was as unentertaining as you’d think.
Green Luthor! You speak madness! Everyone knows comics have to be funny! Why, it’s in their very name! No comic writer would ever dare to not bring the riotous ha-ha merriment! The very thought is heresy!
Here’s Dead Skunk Head John’s dissertation on why they’re called “comics.”
November, 2012: If they’re called “comic” books, shouldn’t they be funny?
Warning! A boring wall of text behind the link!
I dozed off half way through and hit my head!
Equally amusing (at least to me) is how what “tragedy” and “comedy” mean in Shakespeare. I still remember the first time I read one of his “comedies” in high school English. Not a laugh to be found. Lots of pettiness and vengeance, and a fair dash of blatant anti-Semitism (which should allow you to guess which play I read). The tragedies, on the other hand, struck me as sarcastically funny–“Romeo and Juliet,” I thought, would have been seen by an audience of Elizabethan working stiffs as a pointed satire about a couple of spoiled rich brats whose self-indulgent romance caused multiple deaths and city-wide chaos, and how they both meet an appropriate end in a comically botched fake-suicide plan. (Maybe this explains why I hang out here.)
I eventually learned that in Shakespeare, the term “comedy” just means “they aren’t all dead at the end.” The real laughs are found in the “tragedies.” Don’t believe me? Check out this “Simpsons” parody of “Hamlet”:
Then watch the play and see how little the “Simpsons” writers had to change to make it officially funny.
It’s burst into flames! It’s burst into flames, and it’s falling, it’s crashing! Watch it, watch it, folks! Get out of the way, get out of the way! …There’s smoke, and there’s flames, now, and the frame is crashing to the ground, not quite to the mooring mast. Oh, the humanity!
But seriously, you know where hidebound literalists like me go when we want to know the meaning of a word? That’s right, the dictionary. Merriam-Webster is considered the preeminent American English dictionary, so let’s see what they say “comic” means.
comics (plural) : the part of a newspaper devoted to comic strips
comic strip (n.)
: a group of cartoons in narrative sequence
I don’t see the part about how they’re supposed to be funny. And as a hidebound literalist and beady-eyed nitpicker, I take the dictionary at its word.
Of course, I may not be using the correct dictionary. Maybe I should consult Scarecrow’s Dictionary of Straw Men and Tiltable Windmills (Iconoclast Edition).
“Cartoon” comes from the Italian Renaissance, I believe. It meant “preliminary sketch.” DaVinci and Michelangelo drew lots of them.
Are you sure Greg Evans didn’t just get a Reuben sandwich at a delicatessen?
Now I’m hungry!
A really good Rueben is art
Goddammit! I changed my avatar back to the guano bag and I accidentally switched from Disqus to WordPress. I think.
I’m trying to switch back so I’ll have to make some test posts, of which this is one.
Sorry to take up space with this bullshit.
I don’t think it worked. Let me try this.
It’s different but it works, so I’m done messing with it. Feel free to delete these crap posts.
Oh, yes. Whining that Les has been forgotten by history that totally ignores his doing everything he could to make that happen.
Last week I ranted about Crankshaft getting everything wrong about gardening. Now it seems to be getting things right. Today, there’s a moderately funny strip in which Crankshaft ogles a centerfold of a telescoping tree pruner, continuing yesterday’s theme of treating the Bean’s End catalogue like forbidden pornography.
In past arcs, he’s botched the name of pretty much every piece of equipment. This week, he nailed the correct name. Last year, every gardening implement seemed to be used for committing arboricide. This year, a pruner is shown pruning.
I can’t help but ask again: Is someone ghostwriting Crankshaft? Because I can’t believe that Bats is suddenly interested in getting things right. Maybe gardeners wrote in to correct him, but even then, wouldn’t he just chuckle to himself and say, “It’s called writing”?
Maybe he’s found a Geoffrey Boothroyd.
Boothroyd wrote to Ian Fleming about James Bond’s weaponry, complaining that the Beretta .25 was wrong for 007. The result was that in *Doctor No,” the Secret Service’s Armourer (Major Boothroyd by name) replaces the Beretta with a Walther PPK.
“Don’t you call James Bond or Secret Agent Man/’cause they can’t do it like Crankshaft can…”
Because Ian Fleming was a craftsman who cared about accuracy. Tom Batiuk is, uh… not that.
There’s a man who leads a life of banal
To everyone he meets he stays so anal
With every strip he makes
Another bad mistake
Three days, he won’t live to see to-mor-rooowwwww….
King’s given you a pink slip
And taken away your fame
Orange you glad Banana Jr. 6000 did that peerless parody of “Secret Agent Man”?
Trivia: In “Beavis and Butt-head Do The Universe,” Butt-head is briefly referred to as “Boothroyd.” This caused an edit to Butt-head’s Wikipedia page, saying that was his real name, but that was soon corrected.
I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that Crankshaft is being ghostwritten. I suspect that he needs continued income for retirement and it’s clear that coherent writing is now definitely beyond him.
He needs income? Why doesn’t he just sell some of his comic books?
Somebody ghostwrote that hi-larious Thanksgiving strip? Glasses Lady: “I’m here to pick up my turkey!” Store Clerk: “Due to supply chain issues, your turkey is on backorder!”
That’s the whole joke. Sounds about right for Tommy.
Maybe his son has taken over. The signature does not specify which Batiuk is doing the writing
My thought as well re: this week’s “Crankshaft.” A decently crafted strip so far – set up a premise based on a known character trait, add one increasingly silly gag a day (I thought Crank shoving the catalog under the mattress was legit funny), gags that make sense (a centerfold for an extending tree lopper) – it ain’t exactly Calvin & Hobbes but it feels like a good solid gag-a-day strip in a way that C’Shaft hasn’t for a long time. Only problem is that the subtext of the whole thing is that The Shaft Man is jerking off under the covers like a 14-year-old…
I have a slightly uncommon name. Many people do. (Interestingly, my actual initials are CBH.)
Even if my name were Æthelflæd, I don’t think I’d be agog to see it in a book title.
Since physical books seem to have been subjected to The Burning, isn’t it interesting that these chicks don’t seem to have any interest in the rest of the books in the store? Have any of us here ever walked into a book store and had no curiosity about any books other than those with our names in the title? Don’t we all just want to look at everything, wandering from Biography to History to Local Interest to Manga to Graphic Arts to every section that catches our eye?
Not these ladies. Dull as dishwater, with half the IQ. Completely lacking in normal human curiosity. Deadbeats.
They’re descendants of Les Moore. If it’s not about them, it might as well not exist. It’s in their genes.
My name, as you can see, is extremely common. It’s the male equivalent of “Lisa,” really – very popular from the mid-60s through the 1980s (every year in grade school we were the ones who had to use our last initials, along with the Sharons and the Kevins)…the idea of seeing my dishwater-dull name on a book spine? It wouldn’t even catch my eye.
I have an uncommon (in the US) middle name. I saw it once on a cover in a used book store. I shrugged and left it alone. Just a coincidence, and not even an interesting one.
Lisa Lisa Lisa, good ol Lisa, yes sir. Good ol Lisa.
How I hate her.
Props for the Peanuts reference. The very first published strip if memory serves.
You got that reference! Lisa would have liked that.
So when do we see one word of Summer’s actual book? When do we see the “science of behavioral-patterned algorithms that will one day allow us to recognize humanity as our nation,” with that day presumably being the era depicted in today’s strip?
Oh, that’s right.
So what was the point of all that long-winded, ungrammatical bloviating by Harley?
Oh, that’s right.
We saw one word of Summer’s book! “Westview.”
And you make a good point – this doesn’t seem like the utopia Harley promised. But the book must have had some impact by now, if Summer is already “famous Nanna.” Just another story contradiction Funky Winkerbean is going to steam ahead with.
Why didn’t we see a rational explanation for Hardly’s presence? Batiuk could have used it to explain away some of his problems. “I’m here because one of the first time-travel experiments went wrong. We sent a chimp into the past, like NASA did with first Mercury flights, but something went wrong and Zanzibar got all twisted. After that–haven’t you ever wondered why so many weird things happen in Westview? Like the comic-book fixation, or the famous actor who likes it here, or the way nobody ever punched your father Les Moore in the face? That experiment upset the flow of tie and I’ve been struggling to keep you on track to write your oral history of Westview. It’s a vital step in the creation of the science of psychohistory!”
Summer is agog, and Magog. “It is? You mean I’ll change the future?”
“Well, your book will be a crucial footnote in a crucial paper read at a crucial conference, so, um, yeah. Don’t let it go to your head.”
You’re right. Your proposed treatment would tie up a bunch of loose ends and could do it in a creative and entertaining manner.
So there’s no chance that we’ll see it happen.
And Act three ends as it began with all the subtlety of some one smashing a cinder block down on your head again and again and again
“Well I’ll be, it’s your great grandfathers soul sucking memoir about how his wife’s death affected him. Horseman pass by.”
There is something sad in that TB thinks this is trying things up. And how little notice the ending of the strip has generated. Peanuts ending was a big deal Calvin and Hobbes ending was a big deal. This isn’t. I doubt anyone is going to cite Funky Winkerbean as an influence in the future. It would be sad if the Author wasn’t such a puffed up self impressed blowhard. That being the case it becomes pathetic
And isn’t this a book store? Is the robot some kind of caretaker? A last gift of confusion from the author.
Let us all pause for a moment and consider:
Tom Batiuk is a sci-fi fan. We know he loves the work of Isaac Asimov. Presumably he is familiar with some of the other greats of sci-fi — the likes of Bradbury, Clarke, H.G. Wells.
He grew up immersed in the Marvel and DC universes, studying Silver Age comics, many of which cribbed from science fiction writers.
Almost certainly he saw some of the great TV shows of the 50s and 60s. The Outer Limits, The Twilight Zone, Star Trek.
He has been neck-deep in science fiction since childhood.
And this is the culmination of it all. The last hurrah. The denouement. The final capper on his 50-year saga. The breaking of the seventh seal.
One of Asimov’s robot stories was called “Robbie.” Perhaps that’s the culmination. Mention something, and figure you’ve paid homage.
My first thought about all the science fiction and comics that Batiuk loves was to mention Alfred Bester, an acclaimed science fiction writer who also worked in comics (including writing the first “Green Lantern oath”). But in doing a quick Google search for other examples, I came across an obituary for Greg Bear, a science fiction writer who passed away last month:
Take note of all the links in that article. And then take note of what DIDN’T get a link. (Hint: look where it mentions he once appeared in Funky Winkerbean.)
If THAT doesn’t say everything there is to say about Batiuk’s legacy…
I find it interesting that while the obit attempted (unsuccessfully) to link to Bear’s “Daily Show” interview, it does not even attempt to include his appearance in “Funky Winkerbean.” There are some things too embarrassing to be revealed, even post-mortem.
It’s just impossible not to laugh at how astonishingly terrible this is. I mean, I’ve seen it all here, and Lord knows this isn’t the first laughably bad FW story, but wow, this is just SUCH a bad ending. I figured we’d see Les hand Summer her manuscript with a tear rolling down his obnoxious bearded face or something equally stupid, but once again, for one last time, he outdid himself.
I said it before and I’ll say it again: this is a very satisfying ending for us. Batiuk rode the nuclear bomb all the way to the ground.
…where it turned out to be a dud.
It happens, as Captain Marvel told Mister Mind in the “Monster Society of Evil” serial from 1943-45.
You know what’s interesting? I mean, not really. But the title character of this strip last had a bit of dialogue on November 5th. Silent cameos in the “Jazz Messiah” bit, but that’s all.
While it’s definitely still giving TB too much credit, I’m reminded more of Clifford Simak than Asimov or Bradbury. Specifically by the mix of (now outdated) FUTURE! with 1950s material culture. Simak’s robots (who did have actual personalities) were clearly straight substitutions for service people, who would do things like place phone calls or make deliveries. And always humanoid. More than once his far-future characters would find something like a battered leather suitcase holding mysteries or plot-points. My reaction the first time was ‘how the heck has that even survived this long, let alone with stuff in it?’ and then he used the same thing in another story.
Funny, I was thinking Simak too, a little. Specifically City, in terms of a society trying to understand a world long past through ‘ancient’ written stories.
Of course, the comparison firmly ends there. Simak had charm, his works are still being read 70 years after he wrote them, he could tell a story, he could create characters, etc., etc.
For anyone who hasn’t read Simak, if you want sort of a pastoral sort of SF, start with City and Way Station, and head outwards from there!
One of his stories (“Good Night, Mr. James”) became the basis for the Outer Limits episode “The Duplicate Man.” Simak described the story as “The most violent story I’ve ever written–so violent that it was the only one made into a TV show.”
BBC-TV actually adapted two of Simak’s stories (“Beachhead” and “Target Generation”) for their anthology series Out of the Unknown in 1969. Alas, both are now lost (though the audio soundtrack portion of “Beach Head” survives.)
Interesting. I was quoting from Simak’s foreword to “Skirmish,” a collection of his short stories published in 1977. He must have forgot about the BBC adaptations.
In the foreword he made some interesting comments about writing. One is “No writer, of course, is ever completely satisfied with what he writes. He sees failures in it and often wishes he might have done it somewhat differently.” “I am thankful that the publisher put no pressure on me to include some of the truly horrific examples of my earliest writing, tales I wrote while still learning the craft.” “There was still much I had to learn about writing (and I suspect there still is) but by this time I had some sense of the direction I wanted to be headed and some idea of how to go about it.” This from a writer who had won both a Hugo and a Nebula, and was writing near the end of his life.
Simak was modest, but it wasn’t the sort of flippant false modesty of a Tom Batiuk. He was clearly someone who knew that as you go through life, if you pay attention and keep working at it, you keep learning. And everything I’ve ever read about Simak indicated that he was held in high regard not only as a writer by his peers, but as a genuinely decent and thoughtful human being.
Simak’s also on vintage radio, as you’ll learn if you check out “Dimension X” (1950-51) and “X Minus One” (1955-58).
I recommend “Courtesy,” which appeared on both programs.
163 comments, jeepers. You folks have really risen to the occasion. I don’t think we’ve ever had so many comments. Give yourselves a round of applause, let’s go!
Yeah! Everyone give yourself a hand!
Oops — sorry, Becky!
Hey, remember the mystery person that no one could figure out in the Christmas strip? Was it Jinx? Kerry?
Nope. Mrs Lee.
He just posted a numbered key on his blog.
Oh good! He saw my Tweet!
Who the f is “Mrs. Lee”?
Mrs. Li? Who has not appeared in the strip for 16 years?
I notice that he mentioned he left out 66 and suggested to substitute your own favorite. I’m torn between Khan and Bull (if Phil can resurrect, why not Bull)? I’m assuming that Zombie (or is it Vampire?) Lisa is wandering in the church’s crypt.