One Arc To Leave Behind…

Lisa Lis–COUGH, Ach *spit* sorry. Sorry just got to get that name out of my mouth.

*gargles hot chocolate*

Now! On with the Awards Show!

According to Tom Batiuk himself, he was aware far in advance that this would be the last year of Funky Winkerbean.

“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.”

I imagine he must have agonized over it. Thinking long and hard about his characters, and where they were in their lives. And what stories he just had to tell in this strip’s last trip around the sun. We can glean a lot from what he chose. What does Batiuk find important? What does Batiuk fear? What does Batiuk desire? What does Batiuk want to say? What does Batiuk want to be remembered for?

For consideration for this award, a story arc had to take longer than a single week, though those weeks didn’t have to be contiguous. So many fan favorite arcs were discounted, such as, ‘Funky Heckles an Estate Planner’, ‘Funky and Crazy discuss Hipness’, ‘Funky Remembers Grocery Shopping’, and ‘Crankshaft Tells Susan To Live.’

Beyond that, the academy considered both the length of the arc, and the overall importance to the characters of the moments contained therein. It may have been boring, but a wedding is still a wedding, especially when it’s a wedding we’ve been waiting for for SEVEN YEARS.

Your nominees for

Story Arc of the Year 2022

1.) A Valiant Attempt

2.) Les Wins Again

3.) Helmet and Crazy’s Crazy Adventure

4.) Captain Plaintive and the Planeteers

5.) Gun Play

6.) Reunited and it Feels So Dumb

7.) Welcome to the Family

8. ) A Different Ending

(Let me just say this is one of my favorite awards. Trying to find the perfect panels to encapsulate an entire stupid arc.)

And the winner for Story Arc of the Year 2022 is…

Gun Play

As honored historian Billy the Skink predicted, “I expected anything and everything connected to the John Darling murder weapon to perform well in the polls.”

Indeed, though Les’ Oscar Triumph is also performing exceedingly well across several categories. It will be interesting to see how they compare against each other going forward.

Time travel, either to the past or to the present also had it’s fans.

Tomorrow Les and his Oscar and Jess and her Gun go head to head once more as we reveal the winner of the coveted, Panel of the Year 2022.



Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

34 responses to “One Arc To Leave Behind…

  1. Y. Knott

    What a field of nominees to choose from.

    Could we somehow melt Les’ Oscar into a gun that (after traveling back in time) we could use to shoot every author in the Funkyverse before they actually publish anything, thereby saving us all from Lisa’s Story, Atomik Komix, and An Oral History of Westview?

    • Epicus Doomus

      ANY OTHER WRITER would have had Les say “oh no, I can’t accept your Oscar statue, Marianne”…but not Tom Batiuk, oh my heavens no. Les already had a special shelf prepared for it. Given everything we learned about Marianne, that was like taking a participation trophy away from a special-needs child. And right when she needed more older male guidance, Les swoops in and grabs the prize for himself, instead of gently counseling her like he should have. She’s really gonna regret that once she gets all old and jaded, unless the cancer gets her first, of course.

      • gleeb

        Yeah, Les and Marianne Winters are two people who have a long stretch ahead of them of only communicating through lawyers.

        • Banana Jr. 6000

          And the Oscar committee. Because trophies can’t be “conveyed” to anyone other than the recipient. Les being forced to return the trophy would have been a good story, and even consistent with the Funkyverse’s long-running “no success ever lasts” theme. But of course the rules don’t apply to Les.

          • But that would involve awareness of the rules of the thing he’s writing about, and as we’ve seen with all the comic book material, that’s a long shot at best.

            Anyway, it’s a type of amusing, Les making a shrine to a project we’re supposed to believe he never wanted to do.

          • Andrew

            Ah, that’s where the “quarter-inch from reality” comes in, it lets Batiuk ignore the rules only prunes come up with that get in the way of a “touching” story.

            I remember as much from the legendary “Funky goes back in time via car crash” story. When we got the cutaways of paramedics dragging him out of the wreck to the ambulance, seeing them go all “hold on buddy you’re gonna be okay!”, I remember the snarkers here back then remarking how EMTs legally can’t say that because people will sue them for those statements if the patient dies or is otherwise inconvenienced for life. These things that can be gleefully ignored with “quarter-inch! Quarter-inch!”

          • Green Luthor

            It’s not so much that you CAN’T give or sell your Academy Award to someone, it’s that you MUST give the Academy the option to purchase it from you for $1 FIRST.

            Of course, if a recipient were to announce – as part of their acceptance speech, no less – that they planned on giving it away, I’m pretty sure the Academy would want to have a few words with them. (And a nice new $1 bill for them as well.) (Especially for a winner of one of the, like, nine awards that anyone actually ever cares about.)

      • The Duck of Death

        I used to say it jokingly, but it seems less like a joke after the last couple months… I picture Puffy’s living room fireplace mantel with a tight, bright spotlight shining on an empty shadow box with a gilded frame. The box is dusted gently, carefully, every week. The spotlight is dimmed every night and brightened every morning.

        One day there will be a Pulitzer in that box, Puff Batty knows. One day the Committee will come to their senses and see what’s been right there in front of them all along. One day. Soon. Till then, the mantel, the spotlight, the gilded frame will mark the honored place where The Prize will be displayed.

        And in the meantime, Les can put his richly deserved Oscar in his own special place. Look at him smile! Someday Puffy will smile just like that as he takes possession of the prize he’s owed. Someday.

  2. Epicus Doomus

    I voted for the ending arc, although the handgun arc was without a doubt a worthy winner. The hilarious thing about the gun arc was how BatYam seemed to have no idea how tasteless and ham-fisted it was. He appeared to genuinely believe that he found a heartwarming way to turn “bad” into “good” there, without having the slightest clue re: how deeply weird and sick the whole thing was.

    The second funniest thing about it was how nonchalant everyone was throughout the arc. “Oh, that, it’s just the murder weapon, I forgot I had that lying around. You can just have it, I guess”…”oh great, what am I gonna do with this?”…”yeah, sure, we can melt down a gun for you”…everyone was just weirdly emotionally flat, the whole time. It’s what happens when you use too much wryness, and as we all know, Batiuk uses that shit by the long ton.

    • ComicBookHarriet

      Both the handgun arc and the ending arc were just wonderfully bizarre and off. I joked above that Batiuk thought very carefully about what would be best…

      But really, he seemed to have said NAW, I’LL DO WHATEVER I WANT.

    • William Thompson

      I voted for the future arc because Batty wrote like there was no tomorrow.

  3. erdmann

    Maybe Batty really did know well in advance the end was nigh and as he plotted the strip’s final year, his thoughts were turned to us.
    “If this is to be Funky Winkerbean’s end, then I would make such an end as to be worthy of beady-eyed nitpicking!”
    “Jessi Got a Gun” alone was an embarrassment of riches, but he also gave us “Les Wins the Oscar for Best Actress,” “The Time Mop Saga,” “My Big Fat Funky Wedding,” “Roland/Rolanda” and “Thatsnaught Versus Racism.”
    Heck, when last year’s strips are collected in the final volume of “The Complete Funky Winkerbean,” I might have to buy a copy…
    Once it’s been remaindered and offered for sale at Ollie’s Bargain Outlet, of course.

  4. Green Luthor

    For me, it all came down to The Gun and Timemop. But ultimately The Gun had to take it; it’s truly Batiuk’s demented masterpiece, the one that makes you scream “what in Zanzibar’s name were you even thinking, Tom” so loud you get funny looks in public.

    I’ve said before, I actually LOVED this story. Just… probably not for any reasons Batiuk intended. It was a drawn-out, boring, plodding, banal mess. It was Batiuk just talking about local TV shows he watched as a child, along with a seemingly-bipolar nutter who salvaged the entire John Darling show’s set from the garbage. And then Boy Lisa opens a drawer (as one does when in someone else’s house) and finds… something. Lots of guesses as to what was going to be in there, but I doubt ANYONE guessed… The Gun. (Or ANY gun for that matter, let alone THE Gun.) The sheer Bat(iuk)sh** insanity on display from the presence of The Gun alone…

    And then it just KEPT GETTING MORE INSANE. The Obsessive Collector got The Gun unintentionally? And he just gives it away? Along with a coffee mug, but that was only reluctantly? The autopsy photos? And then the cherry on this lunatic sundae: The Toy. Again, just so, SO many layers of insanity. Turning a gun into a toy for your child? Turning a MURDER WEAPON into a toy for your child? Turning the weapon that murdered your son’s grandfather into a toy for that son? Just calling up some place to ask if they can MELT DOWN A MURDER WEAPON for you? AND turn it into a toy for your child?

    If you posted every synonym in the thesaurus for “demented”, you wouldn’t have enough adjectives to describe this one. If you went through dictionaries for every language on Earth (including Tolkien languages or Klingon) for translations of “demented”, it still wouldn’t be enough. This thing was so off-the-wall insane it defies description. (Seriously, how would you even begin to describe this story to someone who hadn’t read it?)

    Sheer lunacy. It was Tom’s glorious demented masterpiece. It was AWESOME. A well-deserved win.

  5. Bill the Splut

    I’m going to have to disagree here. You guys are the experts; I just used to read these and say “Well, that was dumb” and forget about within seconds.
    But there is no way this guy “gestates” an idea. He sits on an infertile egg for 11 months, and then wonders why there’s yolk all over his chair.
    I’ll bet the non-zombie strips that will end when the creator’s had enough have had endings planned for years. Blondie will exist as long as Dagwood’s tapeworms, Family Circus as long as the Sun. Very old GOOD comics, like Broom-Hilda or Zippy? Like Calvin & Hobbes, I’m sure they have long planned exits.
    FW? If he did, then why was it this bizarre crap? It sure looks like the work of a guy who works a year in advance. And then forgets what he wrote.
    “The book I’ve been pitching for a quarter century–here it is AGAIN! And it leads to–UTOPIA! Well, except for all the burning.”
    Cut out the Ozymandias shit, bro. Your book is like a foot in the desert. But don’t worry. I look upon your works and despair.

  6. billytheskink

    Once the gun came into play in “Gun Play”, it became the one story arc this year where I WANTED to see what was next. Not because it was any good (it wasn’t), of course, but because it was the first story arc in a while that was unpredictable. It was the one thing TB did this year that surprised me… well, other than retiring the strip. The conclusion was more jaw-droppingly insane than infuriating (though it was infuriating) or boring as heck like the other nominees, worthy as they were of their nomination.

  7. Paul Jones

    And, as I said before, what really sealed the deal was he was too busy taking a big old swing at the “wrong” kind of fan to understand what the Hell people were complaining about when they ‘bullied’ him by calling the arc tasteless, ham-fisted, implausible and maybe a little horrifying.

  8. What really baffled me about the gun arc was that it revolved around some dude who collects vast amounts of memorabilia from local television stations to the point he has an entire daytime talk show set in his house.

    Mitchell or whatever was actually a decently fun character, super rare for this strip, I just wish Batiuk had the restraint to resist leaning into improbable amounts of geek culture and midwesterner references every story. There’s got to be 1000 ways of putting a murder weapon in Boy Lisa’s hands that are more entertaining than “comics industry guy collects stuff,” again.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      improbable amounts of geek culture and midwesterner references every story

      That was the problem with some of these: they were ordinary by Act III’s standards of self-indulgence. Unlike most of the other awards, this one had some tiers. The Timemop ending, the gun story. and Les being handed an Oscar for doing nothing were clearly the top three.

      • Mela

        Agreed. The gun story got my vote because it was so freakishly twisted, as Green Luthor brilliantly already recapped. But Marianne giving Les her freshly won (and first) Oscar because his “making it all possible” outranked her own acting ability? And the entire “look whose story it really was the whole time” ending? Both self-serving ego wanks (I am forever grateful for the SOSFer who first used that term) and both worthy choices.

  9. The Duck of Death

    In love and honor of the very deserving winner:

  10. KMD

    A well deserved win. The Gun plot had me wondering wtf would happen next and kept me guessing the whole time. Just when I thought I knew where TB was going with it, he went in an even more insane direction. The gun turned into a toy was the cherry on top of this batshit sundae.

  11. The Duck of Death

    The ending of this arc was a brain-melter in so many ways.

    1. This wasn’t just a murder weapon. It wasn’t just a murder weapon that had been used to kill Jessica Darlingwhosefatherjohndarlingwasmurdered’s father, John Darling. It was a murder weapon used in a very high-profile killing that must have gotten a tremendous amount of publicity, at least in the Centerville-Westview Metroplex Region. And nobody seems particularly surprised or confused that some creepy, obsessed rando has this piece of evidence from an infamous murder trial.

    2. Heavy toys of solid steel are not suitable for toddlers. Nor would any toddler be interested in them, nor would they be able to lift them above their head gaily pretending that they are rocket ships.

    3. “Here’s the gun that killed your dad.” “Thanks! We’ll keep with us always, and make sure it remains a treasured object in our house!”

    4. I keep thinking about the therapy bills for little Skycap when he grows up and finds out that his favorite doorstop/rocket ship was made specially for him from the gun that killed granddad.

    5. The “rocket ship” is fugly as hell and closely resembles something my dog left in the yard last week. I didn’t keep it as a treasured memento, though. I bagged it and threw it away in the outside garbage. Philled Hole is a sh!t artist. Someone had to say it. He has no ideas that are good or interesting, let alone original, and he’s a terrible draftsman, and he’s a death-faking, narcissistic creep, and Jack Kirby may have had his faults as we all do, but he deserved much, much better than having this irritating, lazy loser as his avatar.

    • “It was a murder weapon used in a very high-profile killing that must have gotten a tremendous amount of publicity, at least in the Centerville-Westview Metroplex Region. And nobody seems particularly surprised or confused that some creepy, obsessed rando has this piece of evidence from an infamous murder trial.”

      The actual gun stuff isn’t that improbable, I think there might just be some culture clash. I’m from Ohio, it’s cowpoke country and constitutional carry, you don’t need any sort of license or registration for guns and you can trade them around like Pokemon cards if you like. I wouldn’t have really questioned it either if I were them.

      The only really unlikely part is the collector just giving it away instead of selling it if he doesn’t like it. Guns sell for a lot in the first place, a gun used in an infamous historical murder could go for thousands.

  12. The Duck of Death

    In the thrilling conclusion to this week’s Crankshaft arc, Pmm asks Cranky whether he’s learned anything, and he says he has: “Never start a flamethrower on 11.”

    Jeez, Bats, if you’re gonna steal a joke/meme, at least try to get it right. “Starting it on 11” isn’t funny. The joke revolves around “turning it up to 11.”

    Think Puffy’s ever seen “This is Spinal Tap”? It doesn’t seem like his kind of humor. He likes the kind that’s not funny.

    (Apologies if this resembles an earlier comment. I typed it out and couldn’t tell whether I’d posted it, since it didn’t show up.)

  13. Gerard Plourde

    As Green Luthor said, there aren’t enough adjectives to describe how insane the gun arc is.

    I suppose Batiuk must have been thinking of “turning swords into plowshares” when he came up with the concept and “first thought, best thought” took over.

    It also speaks volumes that no one who might have been aware of the storyline was able to get him to think about the story he was telling.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      There is something very, very, very wrong with Tom Batiuk’s attitudes about death. And it’s rampant in Funky Winkerbean.

      Any time a character dies, the others do these bizarre rituals that in no way resemble a human grieving process, or even how a dying person would want their lives to be celebrated. Not even if you account for ancient, unhealthy, or non-Western customs involving death. The loss of a loved one, and how we process it, is pretty universal. Only the details differ much, and religion dictates a lot of that.

      And one of those universal traits about death is: we keep our distance from it. We don’t even like to say the word “died,” even in an official context. We say someone “passed away” or “went to the other side” or “lost the battle” or “finished their patrol” or something equally obtuse and evasive. Even being around a dead body, no matter how gentle or unsurprising the person’s death was, or how unknown they were to you, is very unpleasant.


      This is what Ed Gein did! It’s what Buffalo Bill did! It’s what the Nazis did! Wikipedia calls it “Human trophy collecting”, because the act is so universally repulsive there isn’t even a proper word for it. Even TVTropes is purposefully vague, calling it “Creepy Souvenir.” That’s how icky it is.

      But it’s a basic fact of life in the Funkyverse! The melted-down gun. Bull’s football helmet. Carrying Jack Stropp’s ashes over the goal line. Anything having to do with Lisa.

      Everybody participates in this. Everybody acts like it’s perfectly standard human behavior. The stories don’t lend any weight or context to it at all, as if the characters’ motivations were self-evident.

      But it’s like something you’d see an alien do in Mass Effect, or a really bad Star Trek: TNG episode. “Now that Gluggothar has died, I must perform my people’s death ritual of re-enacting his most glorious achievement. I must carry his remains over the scoring threshhold on the gridball field at the academy of my youth on planet Kreplak.” Sounds like something Worf would say, doesn’t it?

      At the same time, the Funkyverse runs on an ethos of never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, under any circumstances, accepting that a person has died. And definitely not moving on with your own life!

      Les is obviously the gold standard here, but Jessica The Daughter Of John Darling Who Was Murdered-Fairgood sets a high mark too. Even though she was an infant at the time, and would have almost no memory of him, she’s made it her defining trait. Even Summer was too young to be very bonded to Lisa when she quote unquote “died.”

      And if those two things aren’t happening, then everyone’s getting in line behind Les to piss in their casket.

  14. Rusty Shackleford

    For most of these, I voted for the Les strip, I guess it’s just my passive aggressive way of criticizing Batty.

  15. Epicus Doomus

    Yeah, the spam filter is being especially aggressive today, so if a comment vanishes, don’t fret, we’ll free it eventually.