First things first.
VOTE FOR THE 2022 FUNKY AWARDS, YOU BEADY EYED NIPICKERS!
And Also Here’s More Nominees.
Voting will continue through January 21.
Vote Early. Vote Late. Vote Often.
A community member’s failure to vote may result in loss of posting privileges, lifelong shame, and their username being added to The Wall of Dishonor along with other potential Les Moore sympathizers! (Note: None of this is true, probably. But you don’t want to take that chance, do you?)
A few weeks ago, when I was emailing an awards update to Epicus, I told him that I was planning on doing a couple deep dives during the time voting was active. I also asked him if there were anyone in particular he’d like to see.
He said, and I quote, “You are free to run wild, CBH.” So if you hate the next couple weeks of posts, you can blame him.
He also said, “I’ve always been a big Frankie fan LOL.”
And so, I’m pleased to present, a retrospective on Franklin Pierce.
Franklin Pierce was the 14th President of The United States, serving from 1853 to 1857. His single term was marred by tragedy as his last surviving child was killed in a train accident weeks before his inauguration. By attempting to be conciliatory to the South in a time of increasing tension over slavery in the years leading up to the Civil War, he cultivated a reputation as being weak and vacillating, and he failed to secure the Democratic nomination to run for a second term. An alcoholic in his later years, he died of cirrhosis of the liver in 1869 at the age of 64. He is nearly universally regarded as one of the worst Presidents ever. And yet he is only half as reprehensible as Les Moore.
Wait…I think the Funkybrain has hit again. I’m confused. Did Epicus mean Frank Pierce?
Frankie is Lisa’s high school ex-boyfriend and Darin’s ‘bio-dad’. He’s also basically Satan. If Satan was easy to blackmail.
He wasn’t always that way. I don’t think. It’s hard to tell.
In the summer of ’86, following Les and Lisa’s epic Boy’s Bathroom Breakup, Les begins second guessing ending the relationship.
Was this mystery, muscular, Montoni’s man Frankie? Maybe.
In November 1986, out of the blue, we are dropped right into a conversation between Les and Funky. There wasn’t a lead-in. The week before this was a watermelon having an existential crisis.
In November of 2001 the Teen Pregnancy Arc was re-penciled by Ayers and reprinted as an extended flashback. The context for the start of the conversation was Lisa and Les considering having a baby together. In the re-do, this ‘guy’ is confirmed or retconned to be Frankie.
In the original teen pregnancy storyline Frankie is only mentioned a handful of times.
That’s it. A few name drops, but he’s out of the picture. However, notice how dismissive Lisa is in the 2001 gritty Disneystyle remake? That’s because Frankie had already made his Act II debut, in April of 2000.
There’s a lot we can glean from this scene. Frankie comes across as a classic narcissist. Going from complimenting Lisa’s hair at the beginning to insulting it at the end isn’t an inconsistency, it’s two sides of a power play. And it’s much defter characterization than we’re used to in THE END TIMES.
The way Lisa interacts with Frankie, anticipating the manipulations and grandstanding, hints that they had a relationship that lasted long enough for her to see patterns in his behavior.
The only strange thing about the interaction is that Frankie is looking for Darin. I fail to see where it profits him. A narcissist who wants kids usually sees them as a possession or an extension of themselves. They might assume the kid will be a source of ego validation and unconditional love, or push achievement and then co-op the kid’s successes as their own. But a Frankie seems so selfish. Would he really be the kind of narcissist that gets gratification from spending material wealth hoping to manipulate or control a young teen he’s never met?
We’ve never really been given any insight into what his thoughts were on Lisa’s pregnancy back in the day: if he hoped Lisa would make one decision or another, if he attempted to pressure her. The way things are framed, you would assume he just ducked out of any responsibility and left it all up to her. But is that at odds with The Devil’s Devil we see in 2000?
Join us tomorrow as we continue the adventures of Epicus favorite character, FRANKIE!
Or else I’m doing nothing but an extended Les Moore and Ghost Lisa retrospective for the next three weeks!
That is a very real threat!
51 responses to “A Frank Discussion”
CBH, that little write-up on Franklin Pierce (about whom I knew nothing) inspired me to go the basement bookshelf and grab a book that belonged to my Mom. I’ve always wanted to read it but for some reason have not: The American Presidents by Whitney and Whitney, a chapter on each president from Washington to Clinton. Never too late for brushing up history and political literacy. So thanks for the inspiration! I need something to clear my head after those mind-stunting last few days of FW. And thanks for everything else you do here!
He really is kind of fascinating. He reminds me a little of Herbert Hoover, in that he might have been considered a decent president if the situation around him was different.
But Herbert Hoover was actually a really great guy. Whereas Pierce DID support slavery as necessary to preserve the Union. Biiiiiiig whoopsie.
Some day I’m gonna write a book called ‘Good Men, Crummy Presidents.’
Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote a campaign biography of Pierce (they both attended Bowdoin; so did Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, for what it’s worth) in 1852 and later received an appointment as Consul at Liverpool.
Hawthorne’s verdict on Pierce:
“Frank, I pity you — indeed I do, from the bottom of my heart!”
B.B. French despised Pierce so much that he felt that regardless of who succeeded him, the country couldn’t have a poorer cuss in the White House than Pierce.
He might have felt otherwise after four years of James Buchanan. Old Buck’s definitely a case of a man with a solid resume (Congressman, Senator, Minister to two countries and Secretary of State to James K. Polk, the greatest one-term President in our nation’s history…sorry, GWB, your father didn’t want to be a one-term President, and Young Hickory did, dying 103 days after he left office) who turned out not to be a great President.
Anony Bird…bringing that sweet sweet trivia that I crave.
Thank you, CBH!
Consulates seem to have been the reward for campaign biographers in the 19th Century: William Dean Howells wrote a biography of Lincoln in 1860 and became the U.S. Consul at Venice.
This brings home the difference between Hawthorne and Howells.
Howells attended the inauguration in 1861 and went on the receiving line afterwards. He shook hands with the new President and left, later meeting a friend.
“So how did it go?” the friend asked.
“Oh, fine,” said Howells. “I shook hands with Mr. Lincoln. He was very pleasant.”
“What did he give you?” asked the friend.
“Was he supposed to give me something?” asked Howells.
The friend, savvier in politics, sighed. “Go back on the line,” he said, “tell him you wrote a campaign biography and ask for something.”
So Howells went back on the line, and when he met the President the second time, he explained that he’d written a campaign biography and was supposed to ask for something.
“I see,” said Lincoln. “In that case, how would you like to be the Consul at Venice?”
“That would be fine, sir.”
Hawthorne, who had been at the custom house in Salem until the Whigs came in, wouldn’t have been as innocent.
Both Hawthorne and Howells are in the Library of America, but the LOA seems to be dragging its feet in delivering the promised four volumes of Howells’s work: only two have appeared. In contrast, just about every word from two of Howells’s friends, Mark Twain and Henry James, is available from them.
While this would be fair for the Lord of Language, it seems unfair to the “Dean of American Letters.”
I did tell you to run wild, CBH, and I stand by that. I mean, what the hell else are we gonna do? Thanks for the Frankie retrospective. Part One. I’d almost forgotten how awesome he was. Just look at him, smarmily taking cheap digs at an insecure, newly-shorn, pizza-slinging Lisa, when she was at her absolute lowest. Just classic stuff. Frankie was the villain FW needed.
He should have popped up once a year, at a minimum, just to f*ck with everyone. Imagine Frankie showing up at a “Lisa’s Story” book signing, and having Les make out his autograph to “Lover Boy”, or going all-out to win the annual cancer fun run, shoving everyone out of the way and etc. I mean, come on, it’d have been epic good fun. Frankie was tragically underutilized.
And I’m with you re: Les’ eraser head. That titly-headed thing Les does was one of the most enraging things about FW, period. Ugh, just thinking about it makes me cringe in disgust. Frankie should have kicked his ass a few times, as Bull just didn’t get the job done to my satisfaction.
But… what if Frankie WAS used more? What if Frankie… was the PIZZA MONSTER????
Eh, probably not, though. But we can always dream…
A drunken Frankie shows up at the hospital and offers to donate blood after the post office bombing.
Frankie attempts to abduct baby Summer from the neo-natal ward.
Frankie finds metal shavings in his pizza.
Frankie stages a slip & fall on the Fairgood’s front porch.
Frankie urges Marianne to jump.
Frankie’s carelessly discarded cigarette sparks a huge wildfire.
Frankie goes all out to win the “Lisa’s Legacy” cancer fun run, is disqualified for cheating.
Frankie picks up a hitchhiking Summer.
Endless story possibilities, all hopelessly squandered. Man, he was just so funny. You’d think a guy as bitter as Batiuk would have found plenty for him to do.
Frankie could have been the Anti-Timemop! Frankie spends all his time trying to ruin the… utopian(?)… future Summer creates, and Timemop has to put right what Frankie put wrong! (Or the other way around? Still not sure on that one.)
C’mon, Batiuk, ya coward, like you’re gonna ever do anything THIS interesting with Crankshaft! Do it, you know you want to!
The conflict between Frankie and Timemop fades into the background as Les Moore struggles to alter history, making himself recognized as the greatest author, scriptwriter, father and teachur in history. The new strip will be called “Quantum Creep.”
When the TimeMop story arc was featured several weeks ago, commenters mentioned quite a few time travel TV series. There was one TV show I thought of, but couldn’t remember the title. I meant to look it up later but forgot (senior moment double-down).
I remember now. There was a series on NBC titled
**SPOILERS**. The “bad guy” they were trying to stop from changing history turned out to be a good guy. Unbeknownst to them, the “good guys” chasing him were actually working for a mysterious evil organization. There were sometimes consequences for their excursions. Case in point in the first episode, when they returned to their own time after making sure the Hindenburg exploded, the female lead’s sister no longer existed… and she was engaged. Oopsie. The bright side, her mother’s advanced cancer was gone.
Mr. bwoeh and I thought it was a good show. We got a kick out of the terrorist’s name, “Garcia Flynn”. Yessir, Garcia, what a fine Irish name.
Trivia: Matt Lanter, the male lead, voiced Anakin Skywalker in the Star Wars: The Clone Wars movie and animated series.
Clone Wars cartoon Anakin is true Anakin #changemymind.
Hayden Christensen in Attack of the Clones. 🤣 I’m kidding. He was terrible in that movie.
Matt Lanter in Timelessas Wyatt was pretty kick-ass too. You can save me anytime, soldier! 😘
Sebastian Shaw forever!
Frankie as FW‘s Marty Moon? I don’t know if I love it… but it sure beats the crowd of rando straw men that TB employed after he got tired of kicking Lefty’s mom around. Beats ’em by miles and miles.
OT, but I found this in my pile of notes. Nothing to do with Frankie (who could have been the greatest FW character of all, but for Batiuk’s inherent fear of controversy).
Unfinished, just like the original.
In Zanzibar did Batuik Tom
A talking murder chimp decree:
Where Alf, the sacred Neuman, ran
A crummy comic-book filled van
That smelled a lot like pee.
Drat that person from Porlock!
It’s a tenuous connection, but “Welcome to the Pleasuredome” was the first album by Frankie goes to Hollywood.
We definitely needed more Frankie. And way less Les.
By the way, I voted yesterday and will do so two or three more times if it means not having to read about Lisa’s damn playground ever again.
Frankie is my favorite human FW character, with only Zanzibar and Buddy ahead of him. Thanks, CBH! I can’t wait to learn more.
Your Funkybrain must be emanating funkywaves, because I was nudged to think of Frankie yesterday.
January 8, 2023 at 5:14 pm
I was disappointed when Frankie goes to Hollywood abruptly ended. What nefarious deed was was he cooking up in that food truck with his henchman? Was he going to give the cast of “Starbuck Jones” salmonella?
I know, he just dropped the whole Frankie thing as soon as they coaxed Marianne down from the Hollywood sign. It was such a letdown.
A couple of gems from the Batty Blog’s last two John Darling reposts (I guess since he’s retired from FW he has time to write a paragraph to go along with them now)…
So much for ever seeing the John Darling dailies…
It is, admittedly, interesting to learn where TB got his ethos.
I wish he wouldn’t talk about John Darling as if he cares. As if he didn’t kill him off over a spat with the syndicate, retcon JD’s personality and reputation over in Funkytown, and show further disregard by making it so that the murder weapon itself…well, we all know what happened. Never mind that the thing should have been disposed of. It also could have been loaded!
Anyway, you can read JD mostly through The Youngstown Vindicator and The Vindicator via the Google archives. It’s tedious, but you can find some gems in there.
Prize movie was great. It was sometimes hosted by the guy who played Superhost. The movies were classic crap and the callers were so dumb, but hilarious.
It was fun to watch when I was home sick from school.
Cheapest Soapbox was probably the hardest part! When Very Special topics are introduced “just because”, there’s no heart in it. The Jefferson Jacks story, for example, did well because there was a real lesson to take from it. None of these Soapbox topics did well last year because TB wrote them for attention.
And they were AWFUL.
Thank you, CBH. I can add nothing to either of these deep dives but I sure did enjoy them.
And I voted! Almost immediately after the polls opened! Poll workers- stay warm out there!
I hope we get at least a similar Les Moore and Ghost Lisa retrospective as this, even though I voted, because this was interesting.
What Batiuk failed to realize is that making someone worse to make Les look better didn’t work because he didn’t change who Les was. Les didn’t grow into anything. He stayed the same dumbass he was in the seventies.
I’ve had time to read those Frankie strips, and wow. That penultimate example is exactly why some of us were initially defensive of TB. When he actually put his ego aside and thought to himself: “people read this creation of mine, so make it good” — he could deliver! Even though we weren’t supposed to like Frankie, the action definitely improved whenever he’d show up!
Thanks, I like Frankie too. So over the top with his evil, you cannot help but like him. He is one of the only people in this strip that takes bold action and “plays for keeps”. Unlike that mousey Lisa.
But his motivations make zero sense. As CBH said, he has no reason to care about the child he fathered, and every reason to stay the hell away and not draw attention to his misdeed. He risks being hit up for child support, prosecuted for date rape, or, in a small rural town like Westview, being Ken McElroyed.
None of the characters motivations make any sense. Besides, Frankie is just another of Batty’s chew toys.
Nice timing on that “I’m a big-shot dot-com salesman” bit. April 2000 is almost exactly when that bubble started to burst. Lisa actually had the more stable employment at that point.
Batty never was one for timing. He always did things at the worst possible moment.
You just know that every time he reused “except the back of his van” he was mentally circling the bases again, because he was certain it was a home run when he first thought of it.
Yes, that was *super* annoying!
But, hey, at least Lisa could make “amusing” puns about being raped. (Oh, right, that was a retcon. A retcon that makes this “joke” look really uncomfortable.)
Was it ever revealed who the principal was talking to behind the prop at the prom or was that completely forgotten about?
Completely forgotten. The unknown gay was never identified. Which was ridiculous. Someone at the prom would have recognized his or her voice, Plus getting admitted to the prom probably would have required showing some identification at the door.
It was completely forgotten. As opposed to the “coming out” story in For Better Or For Worse, which involved a major character, explored how a lot of other major characters were affected by it, and wasn’t retconned away. It also happened in 1992, when this was a much more controversial stance to take.
Why yes, yes it was, in this classic post from earlier this year….
Thanks, I forgot about that. I wonder what kept Batty from following up on that revelation?
The fact that it was an April Fools prank concocted by TFH to mess with our heads.
The prank was almost too good. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if many people start remembering Maddie as the Big Gay Prom Scenery.
Like many parody strips on this site, it’s much more memorable than the real thing!
I should have realized that because it made sense, and how often did that happen in Act III?
The gay prom scenery was never identified. The gay prom couple was never heard from again. Becky never resolved her issues with her mother, AND Roberta never resolved HER issues with her shutterbug husband. It’s possibly the most incomplete FW arc ever.
Let’s talk about Cory soon. He was always a favorite of mine, admittedly. A sweet toddler turned angry youth due to having Act III Funky as a stepfather. We weren’t supposed to like him either, but just like Frankie, he spiced things up!
Yeah, Cory, the second-biggest scumbag in FW history. Those were the days. Then he joined the army and was obviously exposed to some top secret blandening agent, which worked way, way too well. But he was another welcome deviation from the annoying goody-two-shoes types who normally populate the Funkyverse.
Hmm….Definitely noted. Might be fun to do a little breakdown of the entire Act III Muppet Babies cast.
Muppet Babies! 😂😂😂