And then came the last days of December. I’m really going to miss this. As most of you probably already know, we’re going to keep SoSF alive on some sort of limited basis (at least for now), and we have a world-class, outrageously obsessive MAJOR EVENT coming up in early 2023 that might rate as the greatest thing in SoSF history (I don’t want to oversell it here, no pressure, but it’s gonna be BIG), but the days of hilarious, scathing and insightful daily FW content are over for me. Within a few months, words and phrases like “pinned-up sleeve”, “band box”, “green pitcher”, “Boy Lisa”, and “Dick Facey” will disappear from my lexicon, and I’ll be poorer for it. 10:30PM eastern time will never be the same.
Our commenters were superlative, and our guest hosts were second to none, but one man deserves the lion’s share of gratitude here…TF Hackett. He’s the engine that powered SoSF for all these years. He did work behind the scenes that no one even knows about, and he covered all the costs, and he did it because he wanted to. It was all a labor of love for all involved, but Tom put the most into it. Without the work he did, putting together daily SoSF posts would have been a major pain in the ass. Everyone who contributed deserves a round of applause, but don’t stand up until the end, when TF Hackett takes the podium. Thanks, Chief, it’s been an honor and a real pleasure.
So, my last-ever strip. Sigh. It figures that it’s a complete piece of low-effort shit, featuring a robot and a character that didn’t even exist until Monday. “Can we get both of these books?”…uh, it’s a bookstore, you dolt. “Writing runs in my family”…the entire family, combined, lifetime, over four generations, has written a total of three books. Five, if you count graphic novels, which I do not. This is the penultimate FW strip, and he’s STILL mindlessly killing time.
I never did really figure Batiuk out. At times, I believed he was genuine and sincere, but incredibly inept and misguided. And other times, I took a more cynical view of FW, and often wondered if cruising under the radar, drawing as little attention to himself as possible, and putting nothing into the strip was the plan all along. Like with his regular prestige arcs. He’d mention them in the puff pieces, he’d make them seem much more significant than they really were, but he never really actively promoted them in any sort of meaningful way. And the stories themselves were always as trite and safe as possible, too. How couldn’t that be anything but deliberate?
But then I always go back the other way and think nah, he’s just a boob is all. He really is trying, it’s just that this is the best he can do. It’s a conundrum, and you could find evidence to support either hypothesis. Then again, perhaps it’s both. Maybe he’s totally sincere AND trying to bilk the Syndicate WHILE being an inept boob. He’s a real enigma, all right, and I’m going to miss trying (and failing) to figure that nut out.
And with that…
…it’s been a source of much laughter, much pride, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. My finest online accomplishment. It’s been a blast, guys, and Happy New Year and best wishes to all!
184 responses to “Abyssinia, Batty”
Thank you Dr. Batiuk for going do0-lally
Leaving me the heritage of Winkerbean Alley!
Writing does not run in the Moore family. Writing runs from the Moore family, until it finds a dark, safe hiding place, crawls into it, curls up in a ball and whimpers for escape.
Writing does not run in the Moore family. Being a noxious, self-entitled egomaniac who uses writing as an excuse for doing nothing all day runs in the Moore family.
Maybe she’s talking about her dad’s side of the family.
Writing does not run in the Batiuk family.
Well, now you made me imagine that her dad is a descendant of Batton Thomas…no, wait, a clone of Batton Thomas.
Batiuk gives writing the runs.
ED, I don’t know what else to say other than, I stand in line. And I mean that in the most sincere sense. You were a human torch, as it were. I mean, your torch lit up a lot of very stupid and dull stuff, but, well, uh, maybe I’d better see myself out….
Thanks BC! Our guest hosts were all uniformly great, and the easiest people in the world to “manage”. Truth be told, I always felt kind of bad when I’d see some of the arcs you guys were saddled with. “Oh no, BC drew a Claude Barlow arc again” and etc. But no one ever complained.
I always kind of liked drawing Les arcs, as at least I’d be able to really go off on him, be all venomous, and write “bearded dick with ears” a lot. And like you, Dinkle arcs were probably my least favorite, although that’s a crowded field.
Problem with Dinkle arcs was that Batiuk always thought that Dinkle was more interesting or funnier than he ever was. And absent the “I expect her to put out!” strip, he never went full-on into inappropriateness or weirdness that would often animate our discussions about Mort or other elderly characters, for instance.
Yesterday, Batiuk posted on his blog a guide to all the characters in the Sunday strip. Just about every character was identified by their first name alone (including “George”, who most people would probably think of as “Keesterman”, although Ed was at least listed as “Crankshaft”). Some characters got a bit more, like “Crazy Harry”, “Mrs. Lee”, or “Pizza Monster”. And, appropriately, the real people (his wife and son, plus Chuck Ayers) were given their full names.
Two characters were given more than that: Batton Thomas (but of course, although if he had listed him as Batton Thomas Creator Of The Comic Strip Three O’Clock High it would’ve been legitimately funny) and Harry L. Dinkle. Not “Dinkle”, not even “Harry Dinkle”, he gets his middle initial in there, too. (Almost surprised he didn’t say “Harry L. Dinkle World’s Greatest Band Director”.)
That, I think, shows just how inflated an opinion Batiuk has of Dinkle. (And of his most obvious author avatar, of course, though Zanzibar knows he certainly had enough of THOSE.)
(Oh, and in listing just first names for most everyone, there’s two characters listed simply as “Rocky”. And he accidentally skipped a #66, and couldn’t be bothered to correct a whole four entries because of it.)
So “Mrs. Lee” was the character we couldn’t figure out. I have no idea who that is.
For 66 I’m insetting Butter Brickle, before his last name was changed to Brinkel. Mostly because I refuse to insert any of the few characters I actually liked (looking at you guys Zanzibar and Green Pitcher).
I’m guessing that “Mrs. Lee” is Liu Lin, the wife of Zhang Li. The couple owned the Jade Dragon, a Chinese restaurant next door to Montoni’s. Makes perfect sense to bring her back 16 years after she disappeared from the strip.
Makes as much sense as anything else. Renaming and misspelling a long gone character’s name. Classic Batiuk to the end.
I think Mrs. Lee is this chick from Crankshaft. I don’t think she’s ever been referred to by name in strip.
She’s a teacher that pops up very rarely to take kids of field trips where Cranky is the bus driver. Recently she showed up as a diversity background character for the Save the NEWSPAPERS arc, Her most notable appearance was in 2017, when her class gets caught in a blizzard and has to spend the night at The Valentine.
She goes back at least to 2013.
And her last field trip appearance was in 2021
DAVIS YOU THIEVING BASTARD I DEFENDED YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I think we had an inkling of Davis’s laziness back in August when he retraced the exact same image of Mason Jarr the Movie Star doing a formally-header-featured dumb face like 5 times as he fangasmed over the Valentine theater.
Can you blame him? He has to illustrate Tom Batiuk’s its-called-so-called writing. I’d probably do the same, just to get it out of the house.
ED, all hosts: Whatever it is you do to pay the bills, you must be good at it and a joy to all around you, if the creativity and humor you display here is anything to go by.
I never thought I’d be commenting on any forum, much less one like SoSF but here I am and it’s been a blast.
Stay tuned, Cheesy-kun!
I will and thanks for the heads up!
Beckoning, I’m standing in line right behind you. TFH was a superlative captain of SOSF, but I have no doubt in my mind that without Epicus as his first mate, this place would never have lasted this long or become this rich.
Epicus, on this, your last day posting on a current FW strip, I salute you. You said a few days ago that this blog– having this escape and outlet– helped you through some tough times. Well you’re not the only one. I can’t thank you enough for all the work you’ve put in to this place, and letting me burrow into it like the little snark parasite I am.
It’s a long line, and I’ll take my place in it. I’m pleasantly surprised at what a wonderful community this is. I just came here to vent my annoyance with a comic strip, but I met so many interesting people and learned so much about so many things from a lot of very educated people. SOSF is a well-managed blog, that strikes the right balance between letting everyone speak their minds while also not tolerating nuisances. It’s also a much better archive of Act III than any Wiki could be.
I love visiting here, and intend to remain a part of this community as long as it exists. Thanks to TFH, Epicus, all the other guest posters, and all the commenters and readers for all you’ve done over the years to make this place what it is. And for letting me be a part of it.
Thanks CBH! Your kindness is only matched by the quality of your outstanding posts!
ED, thank you. I am grateful for your tireless efforts to bring wit, wisdom, and laughs (plus smirks, lots of grade-A smirks, of course) to us.
Thank you also for the update about what’s ahead. Will the domain name remain the same? Is there a subscription list we should join?
Thank you, again. I hope 2022 has been good to you and wish you all the very best for a safe and happy 2023.
If I may answer for my tutti di capo tutti ED: the plan for now is to leave the lights on around here. Obviously, there will be no more Funky Winkerbean strips to poke fun at, and we just can’t bring ourselves to monitor Crankshaft every day. So, posts will no longer be on a daily basis, but for now we’ll leave it up as a place for this great community to stay in touch.
Good question re: a subscription list. We’ve been considering requiring readers to register in order to comment. The reason SoSF has been such a friendly place is that ED and I have kept tabs on the discussion, taking action on those very rare occasions when some a-hole comes barging in and gets out of line. We’ll just see how things go. Thanks for reading and hanging out with us.
The commenters on this site have always been remarkably well behaved, as far as I have seen. I only started reading here about 4 years ago, but since then the only person I can remember being at all inappropriate was Double Sided Scooby Snack. You were all very tolerant and patient with him or her for quite a long time.
We always took pride in running a civilized site here at SoSF. Almost everyone who participated obliged. We honestly had very, very few problems with that over the years. It was never about “censorship” or squashing dissent, either, it was about maintaining a standard, and making it mean something. It can be done, and SoSF is the proof.
No thanks necessary! I’ll gladly join a subscription list if that’s the route you take.
It’s great to know this community will be around after Saturday.
It’s a shame writing doesn’t run in Batty’s family.
six daily strips a week Thats 302 daimy strips a year for fifty years Over 15,000 daily FW strips and over 2,500 Sunday FW strips And tomorrow is the last one Give Batiuk credit for his productivity Very few other comic strips have lasted this long with the same people doing it
It’s incredible, but even more incredible is the fact that FW isn’t even in the top ten longest running strips all time. Apparently doing a daily comic strip is like being pope, you’re in it for life, and sometimes beyond.
Though all the longest-running strips are all legacy strips, where the original creators are long gone. I’d honestly be curious how Batiuk ranks if one breaks down the strips by individual creators (like, how long did The Family Circus run under Bil Keane alone, rather than how long has the strip been running in total).
But it’s not a project I’m gonna take on right this second; maybe in the coming year I’ll see if I can find out more about that.
Charles Schulz did Peanuts from 1950 to 2000 Also 50 years But Schulz never used other artists or computer programs Batiuk had a lot more help
Garry Trudeau has written and drawn DOONESBURY since 1970. He has had assistance from an inker for years, has taken several sabbaticals, and the strip has been weekly rather than daily for nearly a decade, but I still think it is an impressive achievement.
I love reading Epicus Doomus! He wrings those strips for every drip.
Replying to yesterday’s bwoeh baseball:
I likes the 1960’s Cleveland Indians. Rocky Colavito, and my favotite, Sudden Sam McDowell.
If you like base hits, the 2015 Kansas City Royals were right up your alley. “Keep the Line Moving”
They were frell!
Lay on MacDuff!
My memories of the Indians were from the 1970s and 1980s. Always at the bottom of the standings. Out of playoff contention by August.
When we moved to KC from Ohio, I initially still rooted for the Cleveland franchises. That changed when Marty Schottenheimer became the coach of the Chiefs a year later. The Browns were stupid enough to let him get away. No Super Bowls, but Marty’s Chiefs were almost always in the playoffs.
We used to attend the Royals home opener just about every year, but we weren’t what you’d call fervent fans. The fortunes of the club seemed to go downhill after we arrived. Call it the bwoeh effect. Sorry about that.
The Royals won the series the Fall after we left. We try not to take it personally.😒
I kind of lost interest in MLB baseball in the mid-1990s when a strike cancelled the playoffs. Then came the steroid era and batters wearing armor crowding the plate.
Still enjoy the NFL.
Wish me happy birthday!
Wow! Thank you, Ian. The Beatles are my favorite music. Last year, I watched “Get Back” by Peter Jackson. It took me a week. My brother and sister saw them in Kansas City in 1964. I saw McCartney myself in the 1990’s.
Best wishes and many happy returns, sorialpromise!
Thank you, Anonymous Sparrow! In your honor, I will read some out of “Preface to Paradise Lost” by C. S. Lewis.
A high tribute indeed!
Should Milton (Professor Jennings is scathing on him in “Animal House”) get to be too much, take a moment out to think of Helen Joy Davidman, who was married twice, once to William Lindsay Gresham and once to C.S. Lewis.
Gresham dedicated *Nightmare Alley* to her.
Lewis dedicated *Till We Have Faces* to her.
Both great books and yet so very, very different.
There are two film versions of *Nightmare Alley,* but none of *Till We Have Faces.*
There is the film, “Shadowlands,” about Joy with Anthony Hopkins and Debra Winger. I have not read or seen “Nightmare Alley”, but I have read “Till we have Faces” twice. To me it is the most difficult book that Lewis wrote. Very visual, but I can’t say I have grasped its meaning. Perhaps I must try again.
Happy New Year to you!
Thank you for reminding me of *Shadowlands*! I haven’t seen the film, but I have a recording of the play from L.A. Theatre Works, and it’s very poignant. Come 2023, it’s time to go through their *Drama Collection* again, from A (a play about the Pentagon Papers) to Z (Anna Ziegler’s *Photograph 51,* which explores Rosalind Franklin and DNA).
It could be that I cherish *Till We Have Faces* because Lewis uses a woman’s point of view so well with Orual, the Veiled Queen…or else because it seems to offer partial restitution for what happened with Susan in *The Last Battle.*
As I have a sister and a stepsister named Susan, I’m rather protective of those with that name.
When I reread “Till” I will read it with Susan in mind!♥️💖❤️
HAPPY BIRTHDAY SORIAL PROMISE! Hope you have a day to celebrate your family! Your friends! and all the things you’ve accomplished!
Thank you, CBH. I hope you are close to full recovery. Just came back from Spices Restaurant in NKC. Authentic Thai food. Most original Crab Rangoon, I have ever tried. If you ever get south, I will buy your lunch. ♥️💖❤️🌺💐🌹
Happy birthday, sorialpromise!
Thank you, sir. You are appreciated!
Yes, happy birthday sorialpromise! The Beatles are on my b-day playlist every year. I’ve not seen Mr. McCartney, but I did trek to Kettering Ohio a few years ago to see Ringo and his All-Starr Band-one of the most fun shows I’ve ever seen.
Thank you, Mela. It was a joy to meet you on the group call. I think Ringo enjoyed the touring more than the other 3. Listen to Abbey Road’s the End. He has a great drum solo. ♥️💖❤️
Happy Birthday, sp! 🎂🎁🍬🎇
At my age, people aren’t sure whether they should offer birthday congratulations… or condolences!
I am a congratulations kind of guy. I don’t mind getting older. I have kids, grandkids, and a wife of 47 years. I have hobbies that keep me busy, and good friends like you that keeps me sharp. Love♥️💖❤️!
Belated birthday greetings, sorialpromise. Hope your day was grand.
We had a superb day. My wife, son, and grandkids ate at an authentic Thai restaurant in North Kansas City. Delish!
I love the jazzy birthday song. Thank you! I enjoy you, Cheesy-kun!
Glad to hear you could spend such a nice day with your loved ones (and I love Thai food.) Stay well and may you enjoy many more fine days and birthdays, sir!
I miss the old AL East.
My favorite memory of the old AL East is George Brett and the pine tar bat. Billy Martin was a genius, and Brett went ballistic! Good times. Good times.
I also miss the old AL East. Wisconsin born-and-raised, was a Little Leaguer in the 70s. Tickets were affordable back then and I could go to 4-5 Brewers games every summer my dad, my team, Scouts and church group.
Listened to Bob Uecker cover the radio broadcasts. (Loved that he was in Major League)
Saw the Yankees and Red Sox play at Milwaukee County Stadium more than any other team, great games, legendary players.
Still feels wrong to see Milwaukee in the NL but I’m glad thery brought back the MB ball in glove logo, at least.
When I played sand lot baseball as a kid we did stretches and batted like Rocky Colavito. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rocky_Colavito
“Rocco Domenico “Rocky” Colavito Jr. (born August 10, 1933) is an American former professional baseball player, coach and television sports commentator. He played in Major League Baseball as an outfielder from 1955 to 1968, most prominently as a member of the Cleveland Indians where, he established himself as a fan favorite for his powerful hitting and his strong throwing arm.
“A nine-time All-Star player, Colavito averaged 33 home runs per year for his first 11 seasons, exceeding 40 home runs three times and 100 runs batted in six times.”
The pitcher we tried to imitate was Luis Tiant.
I loved Luis Tiant. No way could I throw like him. But he was a dominant pitcher, and the ace on that team. I think it is criminal that Mr. Tiant is not in the Hall of Fame.
Happy birthday sorialpromise. It’s good to have you on the team.
Thank you, BJ. I was hoping you could of had one more shot at guest hosting. I am greedy that way.
Yes, thank you so much for keeping this place alive. In all the shit that’s happened to me over the last ten years of my life, I could count on this place to be an amusing place with some interesting people sharing perspectives on a simple comic strip that almost certainly didn’t deserve our attention.
As for today’s strip, I simply cannot believe that that ladies’ jacket style would ever catch on. It’s so unflattering, in a way that would probably make most women especially self conscious. It’s closer to haute couture, only it’s too uninteresting and doesn’t show any imagination in the slightest to be that.
Same here, Charles! Batiuk’s weird 1960’s go-go pastiche re: these characters is kind of bizarre. They don’t even have paper books anymore, yet the women are all dressed like “Batman ’66” villains. It’s odd.
The end of an era truly upon us, one more day of snarking on comics to go, lot to say goodbye to. And yet so much unsaid, there’s so much you can communicate about this strip in retrospect (and perhaps even “continue” it, as my fanfic-tier idea keeps bubbling in my head. Notes for another day, maybe?)
Despite all of this, meanwhile the comic itself is just bleh, even for being the penultimate Funky strip. Snail’s-pace pacing continues as these farts buy a book (from a falling-apart bookshop in the middle of nowhere futurescape? Just knock the fucking robot over and run!) and talk about “it runs in the family” (and yet not having these books already, even if it is the “tree copy” novelty). Trying to show us the Funky future in 6 days is one thing, doing so by putting most of the “”action”” into book shopping in some weird idea of an abandoned area just muddles the waters further, and putting your IRL books into the spotlight YET AGAIN is just the icing on the premade-gas-station-store cake.
I’m sure Batiuk was itching to indulge a little more on silver-age sci-fi, and sure, with his precedent for time travel in the comic (or was it time travel?) there was room for it, but he’s just not been able to resist to try and “tie it together” by making this slice of Ohio seem important in the “grand scale of things”. And it could’ve been funny if was the Great Montoni Empire or the Gospel of Dinkle, that edge of whimsy that’s never left even if it’s been retranslated into just puns and smugass smirks every punchline. But no, it’s played seriously with the “pathos” of one specific cancer death story moving the nation and a film that won ONE Oscar, compounded then into a basketball star-turned-sudden-wunderkind somehow finding world-changing patterns in writing the whole town’s last 50 years of history down. Yet even in this epilogue he tries to have his stale cake and eat it too with an ancestor a mere TWO generations separated “rediscovering” these world-shaking books for the first time for some idea of a “touching” coda. For perhaps the last time, this isn’t how you do self respect for your saga, this is just glorifying your own work and making you look like a twat.
It’s definitely the dawn of something.
When there’s no more room on the empty award shelf, the Moores will walk the earth….
Deleted my WordPress account yesterday only to discover it kept my call sign and the email address I use here. So, I created a new email account and added Shiba to my name. (My family owns a Shiba.)
THANK YOU to everyone who graciously replied to my comments yesterday. Due to WordPress issues I could not acknowledge them and I apologize for giving the impression I was ignoring.
As always, there were so many great posts about topics I’d never have learned about otherwise. Thank you.
Don’t forget yourself. I bought that Kasulis Shinto book based on your recommendations and observations. The Yurei and Yokai books will have to wait until my bank account recovers…
Oh my gosh, beckoningchasm, that’s nice of you to say.
I do hope the book is worth your time and trouble. Are book prices in the US going through the roof? They are here and I’m definitely buying a lot less.
I wish there were a way to create Little Free Library exclusively for SoSF readers. I’d love to circulate my favorite books among you all and have easy access to titles you’ve mentioned.
It’s not so much that the books are expensive–they’re not–but that my bills are rather expansive and one must watch where one’s pennies go. Yes, even the pennies. “Those greedy bankers!
They’re so cartoony!”
I understand, my family, too. The price of books in translation here have skyrocketed this past year and kindle prices are keeping up with that increase, too. After staying stable, gas and electric have jumped, too, with forecasts for incremental increases the rest of the winter. Japan’s energy prices are already much higher than in North America so these new rates are really being felt.
The first we do, let’s kill all the greedy, cartoony, bankers! (We should’ve acted after they ruined the Big Apple’s greatest pizza shop.)
That which survives, survives because that is the only path it has. Survival is the goal. That which perishes, perishes because it follows a path paved with gold that leads nowhere. The “greedy, cartoony, Batiukian bankers” that oppress everyone are simple parade balloons, recognized in importance only by the Marge Simpsons of this world. The true oppressive forces remain well hidden, alas.
Boy does that sound way too ponderous! Yikes! I should, like, put an emoji here or something.
Our whole neighborhood is peppered with those. There are two within about 100 yards of my front door. But none that are likely to be used by SoSF’ers, alas. Although book rates for shipping printed material around are still comparatively affordable… just saying.
ED, my take on it is that Tom Batiuk is sincere in his belief that his “first thought=best thought” half-assed efforts are in fact genius.
And also that he genuinely thinks that he is doing the best he can — because putting any more effort into it would only make the finished product worse. After all, if “first thought=best thought”, then more thinking would only screw it up.
And also also: his battles with the syndicate are all about his desire to completely control his output. Yes, they’re partly to ensure he has ownership … but they’re also partly to make sure he can continue to half-ass the work involved and still get paid.
Oh, and also also also: Batiuk doesn’t promote his work very well, because it’s tedious and tiresome he’s not really that good at it. I mean, he’d LIKE his work to be read far and wide, but doesn’t really know how to make that happen. When he talks to or has interviews with people, he says what he thinks are interesting things. But it really never seems to resonate with people who don’t already know who he is.
However, going to comic-cons to ‘promote’ his work is fun, because he gets to look at comics. And organizers treat him with some respect, or at least deference, because he’s paying a fee to be there. And the fourteen people who buy a book are pleasant to chat with.
All thanks to TFHackett for making this site a reality, and maintaining it so excellently for all this time!
Panel 1: “Can we get both these books?”
Panel 2: “I’d like to get both these books.”
That Batiuk, doesn’t waste any space, does he? It’s called writing!
(Like… does he KNOW he only has one strip left? I mean, these have to have been done a while ago, but he’s wasted, just, SO much time this week to no apparent purpose. It really is astounding how utterly lackadaisical this finale has been. It makes “Summer walks around looking at random houses” look like a masterpiece of pacing and plot.) (Bad a call, Tom. Bad a call.)
Anyhoo, Epicus, TFH, and everyone else: thanks for everything, and I look forward to whatever comes out of this. I stand in line.
With all due resepct, Green Luthor, you left off the denouement: “Yes. You may buy those books.” That’s where we see the master’s touch.
Panel Three, omitted for lack of space: “I’d like to return these books.” To which the robot answers, “Sorry, all sales of THOSE books are final.”
Fourth panel. I meant fourth panel. Damn it’s hard to comment over a phone…
And, again, as others have pointed out: How did the Tin Man get up those stairs? If he was carried up them to work in the bookshop, then why would he have treads for feet instead of rotating wheels? Why is a robot manning the shop? Biggest question of all: Why am I even asking?
Oz never did give nothing to the Tin Man that he didn’t already have, and because he never was the reason for the evening, or the tropic of Sir Galahad.
So please believe in me when I say, “I’m spinning ’round, ’round, ’round, ’round… smoke glass stained bright colors… image going down, down, down, down… soap suds green like bubbles”
I can’t find this anywhere on the internet, but I recall hearing years ago that Dewey Bunnell of the group America offered an apology for all the ridiculous lyrics he’d written. It’s doubtful that Tom Batiuk will ever ‘fess up in this manner.
Still…such a nice tune, isn’t it?
The penultimate strip is once again an embarrassing troll attempt by Batiuk, as if he was the best comic strip writer to ever exist. The irony here is that Tom’s mid-late 90s weirdness with FW predated all sorts of online webcomics who handled the material much more competently.
Heck, SE Case has created not one, but TWO webcomics with deeply flawed characters you actually don’t want to punch in the face: Cheap Thrills and Rigsby, WI (the former is anthropomorphic but was more an incidental choice set in the md-90s; the latter is a human cast set in 2003-onward). If anyone ever interviews Tom about the art of comic strips, they should be required by law to read chapter 3 of Cheap Thrills — all 144 pages of a searing, shocking narrative.
I’ve been in the shadows as a lurker, and honestly, the way Funky is ending is likely the lousiest end to a comic strip ever. But oddly very satisfying, having seen how good a comic strip can be.
If I could give you several upvotes for that Chapter 3 recommendation, I would.
“Writing runs in my family,” says the nitwit who apparently had never heard of great-grandpa’s magnum opus until three seconds ago.
And no interest in buying “Fallen Star?” I suppose the dozens of copies Les could never unload survived the burnings and are still in the family’s basement. Another copy is the last thing they need.
Middle of the day where I live, and I have to go out now but I’d like to leave you with three things.
Based on conversations here recently, I hope at least one of them is of interest. Sincere apologies for taking up the space if not.
Decent (accurate, if simplified, but quick(b/c simplified)) English summary of Shinto “kami” ‘(gods). My wife is from Ise, home of Ameterasu and the Grand Shrine, as well as the “marriage rocks” featured near the top of the post. I’m not a Shinto-ist so I neither advocate for or against for the religion. (Over 90% of Japanese id their own beliefs as a combination of Shintoism and Buddhism. The former is associated with life- births, marriages, childhood, graduation, ground-breaking ceremonies); the latter with death (funerals, etc.)
A list of Japanese novels, and more, published in English this past year:
Finally, a song by Tokyo Groove Jyoshi, a jazz-funk fusion band. (Jysohi means woman or girl, depending on the context.)
Thanks to all who have run this place. I’ll miss the check in which was really a bright spot to every day. I still remember the final Calvin & Hobbes strip like it was yesterday, and it still brings an actual tear to my eye when I remember it. “Everything familiar has disappeared!” “A big white sheet of paper to draw on!” It was as if Watterson poignantly recognized the end of each his readers’ own childhoods, and in a Kierkegaardian way was handing us our own paper and pencil to replace his. I can’t imagine that the last FB panel will move me in the same way. But SOSF has been a blast to follow and I’ve been the better to have been in on it. I truly stand in line.
I’ve been trying to snark as normal these past several weeks, partially because even with the strip ending it has continued to give us plenty to mock but also because carrying on like everything was normal helped take my mind off the fact that it wasn’t. I didn’t want every one of my comments to turn into “Seasons In The Sun” (justifiable as that my be). But I can’t do it today.
I have been a part of a few other online communities over the years where I met folks I considered to be friends (some I still keep in touch with). But I have never been a part of community like this one… with such a broad spectrum of knowledge and insight and probably the most respectful and pleasant discourse I have ever encountered in an online community. This place is remarkable, and this community has been a constant in my life for close to 15 years (if you count the Stuck Funky days too). Oh my the things that have happened in my life over the last 15 years, the changes, there have been so many… but the routine of checking to see what everyone is saying about the latest FW strip has been a beloved constant for me. I wish I could I say I was handling this change in routine better than I am, but I’ve never been great with change.
Obviously, this is not the end of this site or this community and I’m excited about what the new year has in store, but as Epicus one of the great bedrocks of any online community I have been a part of, has just said… “10:30PM eastern time (9:30 central for me) will never be the same.” It really won’t. But it was the same for a long long time, and you all made it that way. For that, I’m extremely grateful. Thank you all.
Thank you billytheskink for your kind words and for being a key contributor lo these many years!
And how. An absolute rock-solid anchor.
The entertainment level on SOSF is a consistent 10/10. Batty could learn a thing or twelve. Well done all. I will miss reading the daily snark.
Mr. Hackett, and all of the other truly wonderful moderators, my eternal thanks. This has been very much a blast. I’m of course curious as to what comes next.
As for today’s filler, I’m shocked at how shitty the artwork is. Like, how many middle fingers does Batdick have to throw at us?
Wait – tomorrow is the last strip? Shit, I assumed “end of the year” would at least have given him a Saturday. Wow. This belated realization makes this entire week even worse.
The strip discussed in today’s entry is for Friday December 30 2022; the posts go up at ~10:30 PM the night before. So tomorrow’s entry will be for the Saturday strip, which will be the final one.
My brief career as a guest host here ended years ago and I can only echo the standing in line the others have heaped upon TFH. The wit and heart of this community would have found an outstanding outlet in a good comic strip but we comment on the ship we have, Funky Winkerbean, not the strip we wish we had. Kudos to all, save one, whether he be named Batton Thomas, Batominc, or some other silly moniker.
Now we await the final whimper. The only suspense remaining is whether the title character’s name will ever figure in the strip again.
Brief, but excellent, oddnoc. Always a pleasure to see you pop in.
“Can we get both of these BOOKS?”
“Certainly, meat-beast. It is a bookstore.”
“I’d like to get all 1206 remaindered copies of of “That’s Her Name Too”s BOOKS. Because she writes BOOKS.”
“Yes, we…sell books… If we sell just a few more, we can fix the sign!”
“She is budding.”
“I, Robby–don’t know wtf you’re talking about.”
“BOOOOOOKS!!!! Writing runs in my family! I can read my own name now! Off of BOOOOKS.”
“Does your logorrhea run all the time too?! I’m an immortal robot and even I ain’t got time for this.”
They walk out dejected. Robbie mutters, “These kids today with their Zip-a-toned acne! They’ll all get Crankshaft noses before it ends.”
BUY BOOKS FROM TOMBATS.COM
Turning off cloaking device. Long time reader first time commenter. Thank you all for many years of information, education, and fun. I’ve been reading SoSF since the early Act 3 days. From the beginning of FW to the mid-80s I moved around for jobs and school—some papers carried it and some didn’t. Thanks to you guys I got a lot of the history filled in.
My current paper carried FW until, I think the start of Act 3–I remember Masky McDeath, and the Sunday strip following, but not sure after that (I wonder if that marked the end of the syndication contract everywhere). So, I started reading it online—Seattle Post-Intelligencer, I think—and the snark. A link at some point brought me here, where I have returned EVERY day since.
I don’t want to list names for fear of leaving someone out—but the parody strips have been absolutely hilarious, the references to other comics, videos, music, and cultural artifacts have been fascinating.
I hope this site can continue, even without FW (I read Crankshaft but it’s really lame). Even an occasional update would be great.
Thought about watching the video meeting you had, but had another commitment. Would love to see what you all look like behind the snark
Awesome, I always wondered how many lurkers we had out there!
I’ve mostly been a lurker, but it’s high time I came out of the woodwork and thanked all of you for this terrific site. It’s really been something I’ve looked forward to every night before I go to sleep! Thanks so much for all the hilarious and worry snark over the years!
[and arrgh – “worry”?? Sposed to be “wonderful”! ]
It’s fine — don’t wonderful about it!
‘s wonderful, ‘s marvelous…
The only true way this can end is if these two future people, whomever they are, don’t even read the book… but just spout out one last wall of text in portrait mode about how great and godly St. Lisa the Moore of Perpetual Cancer Misery was.
Or they offer up the book in an alter in the family room adorned with photos of St. Lisa, St. Les the Moore of Perpetual Smugness, St. Summer the Child of the St. Lisa and St. Les. Hey, maybe they have the last known fully-functional VHS player in existence so it can play in perpetuity the endless tapes of St. Lisa!
…and in the end, we see St. Lisa on her deathbed back in 2007 with St. Les by her side, as she dreamt the past 15 years of the comic after meeting Masky McDeath en route to actually dying. See “An Incident on Owl Creek Bridge”.
Or listen to the adaptation on “Escape” (December 10, 1947), which adds a nice touch as Peyton Farquhar meets an escaped slave named Jethro whom he earlier sold down the river…
Must stop before I go into the changes “X Minus One” made to Tom Godwin’s “Cold Equations”….
Ambrose Bierce is one of my favorite writers. Possibly because he’s so very, very dark — today he would be called “blackpilled” — his voice reads as very modern to me. And it’s clear he loved the English language.
Couldn’t agree with you more about “Bitter” Bierce, especially after reading *The Devil’s Dictionary,* in which he lets others define “riches”:
A gift from Heaven signifying, “This is my beloved son, in
whom I am well pleased.”
John D. Rockefeller
The reward of toil and virtue.
The sayings of many in the hands of one.
To these excellent definitions the inspired lexicographer feels that he can add nothing of value.
And sums up “marriage” on his own:
Marriage, n: the state or condition of a community consisting of a master, a mistress, and two slaves, making in all, two.
While writing a “Fantastic Fable” called “Wasted Sweets,” with the marvelous closing line of “The nurse is an illiterate mute.”
A while back, someone (sorialpromise?) asked people what their favorite Funky Winkerbean arc was. With over fifty years of comics, that’s a near-impossible task. Consider when Funky Winkerbean started, I was in elementary school. Now I’m a grandmother, a handful of years away from retirement.
By process of elimination, I found ACT II to be too overwrought and depressing. With ACT III, it would be easier to list the most hated arcs. My favorite FW arc is undoubtably from sometime in ACT I, but it has been so long I’d have to reread the strips to determine which one. There’s just too much to read.
As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I have only one Funky Winkerbean book in my collection. It’s been decades since I read it, but I felt compelled to read it tonight. It took less than a half hour to read the entire book. There were some memorable story arcs in the book. Crazy Harry at the air guitar contest. Les stranded atop the gym rope as Homecoming festivities went on around him. Les’s classic “Queen of Marksbury” foul-up at the ‘Battle of the Brains’.
The story arc below cracked me up and is my favorite from the book. I love Les’s facial expressions and the way he seems to be pleading with the reader for help.
Les has parents! I always thought he emerged from a local cesspool or was dropped off as an infant at the fire station.
As the mother of a son, I should find Mrs. Moore’s behavior here abhorrent, but… this is Les we’re talking about. Mrs. Moore, I’d like to buy you a coffee.
There was one strip featuring both of Les’s parents.
Nice car. Is that a Family Truckster?
As insane as Act II was, the one strip with Les screaming “USA!!” after the post office bombing remains the funniest.
That is funny. During Act II, I was reading Funky Winkerbean without the snark accompaniment. A non-ironic reader, you might say. I didn’t realize Les’s shouting resembled “USA” until mentioned here on SOSF.
As you pointed out yesterday, Batty inflicted a whole world of hurt on Lisa. No wonder she chose the sweet embrace of death over fighting her cancer.
Lisa: My cancer is recurring? Oh, hell no. Enough is enough. That’s it. I’m outta here! Masky McDeath, take me away!
Readers: See ya. Don’t let the door hit ya where the good Lord split ya.
My personal favorite. That gag NEVER gets old.
Say, wasn’t this the basic plot of that 1987 teen comedy titled–of all things–“Three O’Clock High”? Is this a case of “art” imitating “life” imitating “art”? Thanks for one more fascinating deep dive, BWOEH.
I’ve never seen “Three O’Clock High”. What a coincidence! Both the title and the plot. The litigious TB didn’t sue?😱
You’re welcome, but it wasn’t really a deep dive. I just fired up the scanner and cropped the images.
A funny storyline, made even more hilarious by the knowledge of just how insufferable Les would become. We’ve all wanted to give him a good beating, and to know even his mom would cheer it on makes the thought so much more satisfying.
As for my own favorite Funky story, I mentioned it a little while back, but I’ll repeat it here. (Too bad I have no idea even what year it would have been, other than it was an Act I story.)
Les and Funky were at the local McDonald’s (or whatever non-trademark infringing name was used). Les accidentally left his retainer on the tray when he dumped his tray into the garbage can, and only realized it when they were walking home later. So they rush back to see if it’s still in the garbage, but it had already been emptied into the Dumpster outside. So now Les has to crawl around in the Dumpster to find his retainer.
Les says something like “Please don’t tell anyone I threw away my retainer, it would be too embarrassing”. The last panel is the Dumpster, with Les’ legs sticking up out of it, and Funky saying to a random passerby “He forgot to finish his fries”.
Funny and with a bonus humiliation of Les. If only Batiuk had recognized where his strengths did (and did NOT) lie…
I mean, Batiuk did brag (through his fictionalized history of Batom Comics) about a comic writer who did no research for his stories at all but “just wrote”, because that’s how “real writing” is supposed to be, apparently. So I definitely think he has a large amount of ineptness mixed with a humongous ego. But even then, I find it really really hard to believe that even he would think spending days with characters silently walking through an abandoned house or silently walking past houses is honestly worthwhile.
Thank you for all you’ve done, ED! I could always count on your posts being great to read (so are everyone else’s here, but still).
It wouldn’t surprise me if he only had enough material to go up to the concert on Christmas, realized he was still two weeks short on material, and just drew Summer walking around all aimlessly for a few days and got one last chance to do a Jay Sherman “buy my book! buy my book! buy my book!” pitch.
In normal circumstances, the artist would probably ask to have content be rerun to newspapers, but this is Funky Winkerbean, and nothing in it is really worth being rerun.
The weeks of silently walking were action-packed compared to the weeks of silently opening letters.
I won’t miss Batiuk’s decompressed “writing,” but I will miss the commentary his work has inspired over the years. I have no idea how I found this place or when (10 years ago? 12?), but I’m glad I did.
I’ve laughed, I’ve learned and I’ve been impressed by all of you.
As others have pointed out, one of the best features of SoSF is that the comments, even at their most vitriolic, have generally remained intelligent and respectful. I’ve witnessed online discussions that led to legal action and people losing their jobs. Thankfully, none of that was here. Others could learn from SoSF.
In fact, TFH should publish “The Best of Son of Stuck Funky” as a book. It could provide a blueprint for the world, ushering in a new Golden Age filled with peace and harmony, mountaintop sing-a-longs about soft drinks, bookselling robots and hideous, non-aerodynamic flying cars. We could lead the way to everyone realizing that SoSF is our nation.
Any way, it’s all right. We’re going to the end of the line.
I don’t know why Byrne thought Lisa Jr needed a lazy eye, giant blotchy dimples, and a face full of Zip-A-Tone.
Green Luthor was probably correct: They had a batch of zip-a-tone that had to be used before it’s too late.
But since the last panel is not fully zip-a-toned, maybe they finally run out of ammo. (Or then they are just letting the barrels to cool down and tomorrow it’s double zip-a-tone all around)
“Writing runs in my family!”
“Madame, I’m just programmed to shelve, select, and sell the books, all right? I don’t need to hear your life story!”
If only Robbie the Bookbot had come with Frank Nelson’s sarcastic salesman voice installed.
Has anyone made a Dalek joke yet?
‘Bezerk’ video game reference?
THE HUMANOID MUST NOT ESCAPE! GET THE INTRUDER! CHICKEN! FIGHT LIKE A ROBOT!
The 9th Doctor: Everybody lives, Eve. Just this once, everybody lives!♥️💖❤️
Or do you prefer this one:
Eve, are you my mummy?
Don’t joke about the Daleks! We need all the allies we can get!”
Thanks to ED and all the others who hosted here! Your opening comments were always hilaritizing.
Thanks to TFH for keeping everything going and for paying the bills!
May blessings flow from the Almighty Green Pitcher!
Not with a bang but a simper, eh? Tomorrow, we get a tip of the Funky Felt-Tip and an ending as inconclusive as Apartment 3-G.
Wonder if this article interests anyone here. No “Robbies” in this old bookstore. (I can’t imagine life without my iPhone and my kindle is indispensable for travel. However, at home and whenever it’s not inconvenient, I do prefer “tree books.” I find it’s easier to retain what I’ve read and I just love a good cover.)
Nothing about Funky, no explosion, nothing about a thing…just Lisa’s Story? It really has been all just about Lisa’s Story all along. As much as I knew that, it still doesn’t make any sense for LS to ALWAYS be a big reveal – especially to readers/snarkers who’ve read something about it practically every WEEK, and to the Summer Spawns here who should already know about this!!!
I don’t know what else to say, except for a big thank you. Thanks for the laughs, guys. It’s been like a big extended family here. Where would we be without each other to share our feelings in this agony? Thank you *all* — for everything. ❤️
Epicus Doomus, thank you. Thank you, everybody, for so much brilliant and hilarious snark.
You’re quite welcome, another instantly recognizable SoSF regular from way back!
Lillian looks a bit differently than how she looks in Crankshaft, must be a guest artist or something.
Lisa Mk.2’s line sounds like something an alien disguised as a human trying to hide its world domination plans would say.
All right, as long as everyone’s getting sappy, I’ll join in. I’ve lurked here on and off for I don’t know how long. And I don’t remember when I started commenting. But I do know that when I started making this site my first morning visit with coffee, my mental health improved immensely.
Ironically, with all the snark, this is my refuge from the relentless anger and negativity not only in the news and the media but also in the vast majority of message boards. It’s made me smarter, too. I’ve learned so much from the hosts and commenters, and had such a ball turning FW inside out to try and figure out how and why it’s so broken.
Bless TFH, Epicus, and everybody who ever had a hand in modding this site. Somehow they encouraged free expression for over a decade while never allowing angry bickering to take hold. I have no idea how you guys did it, but I stand most humbly in line. Now can you teach the rest of the Internet your secret techniques?
Maybe I’ll be more productive if there’s not a daily post to check in on here. But this was my sanity sanctuary, my happy place where I could rest my mind, and I’m gonna miss it so much.
“this is my refuge from the relentless anger and negativity not only in the news and the media but also in the vast majority of message boards. It’s made me smarter, too. I’ve learned so much from the hosts and commenters, and had such a ball turning FW inside out to try and figure out how and why it’s so broken.”
That sentiment speaks for me as well. This group has been a wonderful hangout for me. Thank you again to everyone – our moderators, contributors and commenters. I hope our effort to continue, even on an occasional basis, is successful.
Do you realize that literally every single person here has ancestors more interesting than these mooks?
No matter whether your 8 great-grandparents or 16 great-great grandparents were rich or poor, famous or obscure, it’s certain that all of them did more interesting things than die of cancer, write about their spouse dying of cancer, or write an utterly unresearched book about their obscure hick town.
In fact, it’d be hard to be more boring than the Moores. Your average church lady who lives her whole life in a small Wisconsin farming town and raises two children with her husband, who works in a dairy — absolutely unironically, that person is far more interesting and impactful than the Moore family we’ve been shown.
Batty will go down as the undisputed master of the “informed attribute.” He says someone is interesting, or brilliant, or selfless, or world-changing, then shows the exact opposite, but is confident that he’s made his case. Because he’s the author and he says so. It’s called writing.
I notice the boarded-up house next door re-appears today. I picture this as the future version of a crackhouse, only it’s full of hot chocolate junkies.
And I really wish Robby looked like the robots in The Phantom Empire.
PURITAN ROBOTS! RUN! RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!
From todays Akron Beacon Journal
He’s had plenty of time to think about the ending. When he started working on the finale, he and Ayers were about a year ahead on the strip.
“That’s the nice thing about being that far ahead,” he said. “It gives you time to let it gestate and you can correct any anomalies and make everything work.”
Jesus H. Christ! I — I — *mumble* — lost the power of speech, sorry…
I don’t know whether to believe that he had a full year’s notice that FW was ending or not, but if that is true, it may lend support to the theory that Batiuk is unable to continue and that Crankshaft is being ghostwritten.
Being a year ahead would be a problem in this case, because it would mean a lot of finished strips couldn’t be used, and he wouldn’t have time to work through his oh-so-intricate story lines. I know TB has his three weeks rule, but his “prestige arcs” can go on for years. The Summer story looks very truncated, despite wasting an entire month on pointless things.
This is another way I know Tom Batiuk writes all these puff pieces about himself. They contain the same writing mistakes he makes everywhere else. The one that caught my eye was “Crankshaft,” which has a succession plan with artist Dan Davis, will continue as usual.” Does that mean Crankshaft will become Davis’ strip if Batiuk ever retires or passes away? Does it mean Batiuk has a plan to replace Davis as artist? It’s very unclear what this means.
And Batiuk gives another different answer to why the strip ended: “It just wouldn’t be the same working with someone else.” Why is that? You’ve changed artists before. You have some kind of succession plan for your other comic strip. It’s an obvious follow-up question, and it’s never asked.
Then there’s this bomb: “Chuck Ayers, the former Beacon Journal editorial cartoonist, wanted to retire from penciling the strip, but agreed to stay four more years to wrap up the 50th anniversary.” WHAAAAAT????!!!! Batiuk’s known this for four years and still couldn’t plan it? Or tell the truth about it in every previous interview? And again, the interviewer doesn’t ask the obvious follow up question about it.
It makes me (a journalism major) angry, but I console myself that these affronts are only showing up in the Cleveland-area newspapers. Nobody anywhere else in the country, or in any other country, cares.
None of this adds up in the slightest. If he knew years in advance that the end would be on Dec 31, 2022, why no real acknowledgement or celebration for the 50th anniversary, from him or anyone else? Why not the puff pieces then, when they could have boosted his readership and done him some good?
In fact, why not end on the 50th, or at least on the arc that the 50th fell on?
Those early strips bwoeh posted were coherent, intelligent, and often funny. Now every word that comes from the man’s mouth or pen is incoherent gibberish. #SAD
I’m curious about Ayers’ supposed agreement to stay on four more years (which would translate to around 2018). I’ve been of the theory that Batiuk has been suffering mental decline and wonder how that would fit in this timeline. Did the strips begin to go seriously off the rails around then?
Also, Ayers’ agreement to stay through the 50th doesn’t negate a previous report that the reason for the strip’s end was Batiuk’s inability to find a successor artist.
It also supports the speculation that Batiuk isn’t ending the strip willingly and explains the late timing of the announcement.
We could have fodder to continue for a while exploring the conundrum.
To be specific, Batiuk has TRIED changing artists before, and except for Dan Davis…it hasn’t worked out. (And as I discovered today, Davis has access and the ability to steal references liberally from Ayers prior work)
Byrne was always just a fill-in. And Burchett was a bust. Ayers, no matter how much he’s slipped now, or how slapdash he could be in a pinch, is the one Batiuk jelled with. Without him I fully believe FW would have sputtered and died midway through the 90’s.
He took the art through a gradual shift in the 90’s away from narrow eraser shaped heads and monodiclops nightmare eyes to what was a more visually appealing style (closer to what he was doing in Cranky) by the time Batiuk was grasping for a Pulitzer.
As usual, your knowledge of the strip shines forth. Interestingly, the announcement of Ayers’ retirement was in the Spring of 2017. The wording surrounding the new artists is interesting. In the March 29, 2017 post, Davis is named as the new artist for Crankshaft, while Burchett’s role is described as “only doing the pencils after which I jump in with the inking, lettering, studio cleaning and, of course writing both Funky and Crankshaft” with the further note that Ayers would be continuing to contribute on “selected story arcs down the line.”
I mean there was the positive fluff piece in the New York Times or whatever during the summer.
Much as we’d like to see it though, these articles are chosen for the specific purpose they serve (fluff piece on a milestone and quick interview with the creator), and it’s really not worth the time or ruffled feathers it’d give the newspaper’s management to turn them into a slam piece on a comic artist who put out a mediocre soap opera strip for 50 years. It may be glorifying what doesn’t need glorifying, but overall the strip’s been harmless in its mediocrity, haphazard handling of serious issues on-and-off aside. Those who know it for what it is are vocal enough, and as we do say, nonironic fans are likely far and few between anyways.
I am reminded though of the old YouTuber “Comic Strip Critic” that I’ve linked a few times. The one notable FW video he did on the “DSH rants that comics shouldn’t be funny by definition” week was for a time privated because he actually conducted an interview with Batiuk where IIRC they got along amicably and he explained his position on that week in a way that felt satisfactory to the guy and he didn’t want to stir up trouble by keeping the original video up. Obviously the tides shifted though, and the interview seems lost to time while the original rant video has been restored.
The newspapers in Northeastern Ohio—all of them—are under-resourced, under-funded and cut to the bone in many aspects. The Plain Dealer has only four union personnel on their payroll. The Akron Beacon Journal has been slashed, sliced and diced in the 15 years since Knight-Ridder sold it. Even Tom’s hometown Medina Gazette and Elyria Chronicle-Telegram aren’t in exactly the best of health. The Lorain Journal is a zombie paper. Youngstown doesn’t even have a newspaper of their own (the Warren-based “Vindicator” doesn’t count).
Mark Price is a respected historian and historical writer for the Beacon. He would have not been my choice to interview a borderline fabulist like Tom, but it’s doubtful that anyone else was available.
On the one hand, this ain’t journalism. It’s closer to a paid advertorial.
On the other hand, a writer’s gotta get paid. Of all the stories that need investigating and all the people who need muck raked about them, Batiuk doesn’t even rank at the bottom. He’s not even on the list. He doesn’t matter; his ridiculous ego and self-promotion mean nothing; his dwindling strips aren’t important.
It’s not worth bothering with. File the story, cash the check, and save any energy for something someone somewhere might care about.
It must really be bad, then. I’m not asking for muckraking, just something to indicate that someone other than Tom Batiuk himself wrote the entire article. They all hit the talking points that Batiuk and nobody else on earth cares about: Luigi’s, the band box, he ages his characters, blah blah blah. And talks up Lisa’s death like it was the moon landing. Never a word about Les. Never a word about Funky. Never a word about Cayla and interracial marriage, even while he’s fishing for awards with everything else. The CTE arc doesn’t get mentioned much anymore either. Bull Bushka certainly doesn’t. Nothing is ever questioned. And there’s a lot of room for perfectly respectable questions.
And I know, journalism is just as half-assed and ignored about people and issues that matter to our lives – when it’s not being blatant propaganda for some point of view. Call me an idealist, I guess.
Batiuk said he began developing the final storyline during long walks in the country. He decided to focus on the recollections of Westview janitor Harley Davidson, who had been in the background since the early years of “Funky” but had never played a major role until now.
“He made a perfect witness,” Batiuk said.
Oh, come ON! a witness to friggin’ WHAT? None of that incoherent claptrap came true in the future YOU are showing us now!
It took some long walks in the country to think of this kind of brilliance, I tell you what. Some LONNNNNG walks.
In other news, a saddening amount of old outlinks have expired, and some of us may have run out of free clicks for the Beacon Journal. So here is a permanent free archive of the above article.
Puff pieces everywhere, always, to the very bitter end.
Right about now is when I wish I could find one of them there unironic fans we sometimes speculate about.
You know, the ones who white-knight into SoSF or CK to wanly defend the latter-day FW, usually with a variant of “I used to read it in high school and it was funny”?
What do they think about Batty now? Still pleased with TomBa’s artistry? Still angry at the “unjustified” snark? Are they content with how the saga ends?
Love the thread title, Epicus.
“I have a message. Funky Winkerbean was shot down by its own creator. It spun in. There were no survivors.”
Thanks, I’ve used that “spun in” gag a bunch of times in the past. And, oddly enough, that very episode of MASH aired just last night, believe it or not.
MAJOR EVENT, eh? If you’re going through Photoshop Les’ head onto something, may I suggest a pike?
That Sunday crowd–can they be photoshopped into a line of tumbrils on their way to the guillotine?
Sad to see it end! Wish I’d participated a bit more, oh well.
Whoever said that Lisa Jr Jr was descended from Harry Dinkle nailed it. The resemblance is even stronger today.
Ugh, what a dopey way to wrap up a strip. Lynn Johnston’s conclusion for FOOB looks so much better by comparison. This is like the finale to Cheers or Seinfeld in its underwhelmingness.
Finally, thanks to all involved here at SOSF, I’ve really enjoyed reading the site over the last few years.
I have been reminded a lot this week of the How I Met Your Mother finale, a show which turned out to be not really much about the mother at all. Seasons long buildup to it and at the end it really was about Robin (a great or awful character depending on who you ask). Granted, I wasn’t overly invested in the show, although I liked it when I watched. I understand, though, why fans were so divided on the ending.
I feel the same about this strip over the past month. He had a perfectly good opportunity to wrap things up at the reunion, which would have worked had he thrown a little gratitude of accomplishment in with the “high school was awkward” frowning faces. He could have closed Montonis or sold it to someone else in Westview with a little more fanfare-let Funky retire. Instead he goes off in a direction that really makes no sense other than to hamfistedly remind us yet again FW was not really about the title character. It was always about the dead gal, at least from Act II on. Am I surprised? No. Disappointed? Yeah.
Say what you will about FBOFW, but at least Lynn gave it a proper, fairly happy send-off.
For the record, one of the many things I will miss here in addition to interacting with all of you fabulous folks is the frequent use of the term ego wank 😉
Unless there’s something profoundly meta going on here — and I don’t think TB does meta — this should put to rest the idea that he is using this ending as an FU to his readers. He’s proud of it. He really thinks it’s great. He uses the “bow” metaphor again in the above article:
“Those characters have been so good to me over the past 50 years that I really kind of owed it to them to wrap up the strip in a good way and tie a neat bow on it.”
At least he doesn’t call it a “bowtie” this time. Interesting that he doesn’t thank his readers. BJr6K avers that Batty has no “theory of mind.” In other words, he is incapable of realizing that other people see things from their own perspective, and he cannot put himself in the place of an ordinary reader. This is more evidence for that, IMO.
Oh, and he praises Byrne’s artwork in the last strips.
An infinite number of heads banging on an infinite number of desks for an infinite amount of time would never be able to express the ::headdesk::-ing that this deserves.
“Nobody could ever replace Chuck Ayers,” said Tom, adding, “John Byrne sure has done a fantastic job replacing Chuck Ayers.”
^^^Thought I’d summarize Puffy’s thoughts for those short on time.
My dying wish is that there would be some sort of tribunal made up of select SOSF personnel. There, under oath, Batty Boy would be confronted with his own ineptness and be forced to reveal the impetus behind his baffling body of work. That might be a tad dark, but I’d still pay real money to see it.
I got the latest Covid booster shot last night. Now I’m feverish, a bit nauseated, my eyes won’t focus, I ache in various unpleasant places and I want to crawl back under the sheets. It’s like the Timemop gave me a preview of whatever Batiuk will unveil tonight.
Just remember….like Funky Winkerbean and autoimmune responses, all this too shall pass.
I’ll be okay. I’m determined to outlive this strip even if it kills me.
I was really hoping for all this to end on a better note, but I’m grateful for the time we all had together. To be honest, I used to worry that TomBa was going to wrap everything up to coincide with with the 50th anniversary so we got what, nine extra months out of it?
It feels strange to say goodbye because I don’t even feel like I’m going anywhere… You’ll still find me most days at TWIM or CC if I’m allowed back. I’ll still continue to check this site first thing at the start of my routine workday; and I’ll try not to feel sad the first time I see it hasn’t been updated from the day before. FWIW I have no problem jumping on the Krankenschaaften bandwagon or any strip should y’all decide to go in that direction… Hell, maybe y’all might change the format to general comics strip discussion and turn SOSF into a kind of mini-CC because there’s so, so many strips still out there to hateread: JP, MW, MT, RMMD, Luann, 9CL, etc.
Or maybe we shift over to discussing GOOD comic strip content we actually LIKE, such as Pearls Before Swine and I’m not sure what else…?
I kind of love that idea. I’m sure our gracious and beloved host/s have plans in place, but in the event they ever want additional ideas — well, there are a lot of smartasses here who I’m sure could come up with sheaves of ’em.
For unironic enjoyment, on the GoComics site I read Monty, Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, and my current favorite, Super Fun-Pak Comix.
I only had one wish and that’s to know Funkenstoner’s christian name and how he got his lifelong nickname and Batiuk isn’t even going to grant me that…
I have to say it: When I read the Secret Origin of the strip’s name, I had to laugh. Here are the facts:
1. Puffy wanted to call the strip “Three O’Clock High.”
2. The syndicate rejected that name; Puffy implies it was because of possible drug inferences.
3. Puffy went to his students and asked them to come up with some names.
4. One of the names was/contained “Funky” and one was/contained “Winkerbean.” He liked the combo.
5. He has felt burdened with the name ever since he tried to get serious with the strip.
Guys, I really believe that one of Mr Batiuk’s high school students was trolling him. “Winkerbean” sounds an awful lot like something to do with the female anatomy. I wonder if it was some kid’s inside joke. Oh, Winkerbean name coiner, where are you today? You’re probably out there somewhere, grey-haired, in your 60s. I hope you’re reading the strip today and laughing your Winkerbutt off.
What kills me is that Batiuk never stopped giving his new characters silly names, even after the strip became “serious.” The time-traveler is named Harley Davidson? Really? The lawyer is Amicus Brief? That doesn’t even sound like a person’s name.
As usual, Batiuk’s just looking for someone to blame other than himself for the strip’s failure to meet his lofty goals.
“Amicus Brief” — HA! Batty would never use such a silly name for a serious character fighting for social justice.
It was “Amicus Breef.”
George McManus used punny names all the time in “Bringing Up Father,” and virtually all of them are amusing in the vaguely Marx-Brothers-vs-Margaret-Dumont milieu of the strip. Maggie will announce haughtily that Jiggs needs to get dressed because Mrs Millie Annaire is coming over for tea, that kind of thing.
They work because they’re clever (which Amicus Breef is not), they’re one-off characters, and they fit the lighthearted/pomposity-puncturing tone of the strip.
I content it’s short for “Perfunctory.”
So many things to unpack from that Akron Beacon-Journal article. I mean, even aside from Batiuk’s usual mix of self-absorption and un-self-awareness.
“Batiuk stopped working on “Funky” about six months ago “
– So when he attended Comic-Con in late July, he knew Funky Winkerbean was done and his already finished with it. It was definitively over and dead. But he didn’t say anything. For what possible reason?
“Initially distributed by Publishers-Hall Syndicate and later King Features Syndicate, it amassed an audience of more than 80 million people”
– Hahahahaha! No it didn’t. Perhaps it had a potential audience of 80 million. But in no possible universe was that potential reached.
“It’s a ridiculous amount of characters to create for a strip, but for some reason, it worked”
– Half of that statement is correct.
“‘Lisa’s Story’ … was one of those great moments. You peek into a certain moment like that and you can’t stay there forever. It’s like running your hand through a candle flame. You can do it, but you can’t keep it there.”
– And yet he keeps going back there, over and over and over. His hand — hell, his entire arm — is now a charred, smoking stump. But he keeps reaching for that same flame.
DAMN, Skippy. That’s lazy. Any other artist would say, “After I achieved that big goal, I realized that I had it in me to do more and better. And I’m always trying to advance my art and top what I’ve done before.”
But Bats tears his rotator cuff patting his own back for the mawkish and depressing saga of Dead St Lisa, and then says, “Hey, I did a good thing but you can’t expect me to maintain that level of quality. The good thing was a one-off. You should know that.”
This is your correspondent, shooting low rez
A Wire reference as we get down to the wire?
Good a call!
But a Wire reference is always good a call.
She lies on her side
is she trying to hide
as Masky McDeath
steals her final breath?
Damn. DoD, you’re good.
Yes, I’ve got some questions that are guaranteed
To shake you up
How much marriage urges a Cayla to lose her skintone?
Is a magic Lisa tape the final home of Batiuk lore?
Is dead Bull merrier under much less high school drama?
But fantasy moves ahead;
For the janitor just took a turn for the better
And a small object flies from his mouth;
A daring, jewel scales down towards Summer’s book
And you have the modular optimistic silver original
Welcome to the offshoots of Terrible
The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog
I have always thought of batuk as genuine, mostly because he reacts with such anger to criticism. A guy just sliding by would shrug and laugh that off.
I have a real world batuk story. I went to a book signing of his a few years ago. ( FW fans are old. I was in my 50s and clearly the youngest person there.) I sat thru his little routine and spoke to him briefly afterwards. I didn’t hate him but he did seem like your basic bad middle school teacher. Superficially glib and funny but with a real undertone of condescension and a bit of distain. In other words, His personality fit the strip and I think the whole thing was painfully genuine.