Excellence in Awfulness.

With the awards to individual characters and the technical awards finally out of the way, we move on to the most prestigious awards of our ceremony. Two awards that balance each other, and between encompass the whole that Funky Winkerbean could be. The dark and the light, the yin and the yang, the Batman and the Joker.

“We artists are not required to be nice, but only talented!” 

First the dark. A collection of the strips that make us question which is worse, to accomplish nothing or to have a massive negative impact? To be forgotten or to be offensive?

Your nominees for,

The Worst Funky Winkerbean Strip of 2022

1.) The Nightmare Continues

2.) Test Anxiety

3.) Pulling the Last Plug

4.) Glory Days

5.) Precious Memories

6.) Bursting the Bubble

7.) TMI

8.) A Darling Gift

And your winner is…

Pulling the Last Plug

Such hot garbage it spontaneously combusts… the true origin of ‘the burnings.’

Tomorrow. We see if any strips this year were light enough to balance all this dark.



Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

106 responses to “Excellence in Awfulness.

  1. Y. Knott

    By dint of being the last FW strip, “Pulling the Last Plug” carried an enormous weight of expectation — not to mention the weight of all the truly pitiful crap that had come before it.

    It truly lived down to every expectation we had for it.

    • hitorque

      I dunno… 2022 was a REALLY shitty year for the Funkyverse even by Funkyverse standards, and I’d figured that Batiuk burned his last creative juices coming up with a smug mind-nudging, time-traveling janitor who had unlimited omnipotence and unquestioned judgement to reshape reality as he saw fit yet he was too fucking stupid to even secure his only way home.

      So I was probably the only one who had absolutely zero expectations of the final strip, except for how hard it was going to suck. Batiuk amazingly found a way to equally piss off his true believers AND the hatereading community…

  2. I’m not sure I’d say “Pulling the last plug” was the worst strip, but it was definitely the most desperately pathetic.

    “Buy my books! Please! And give me prizes! Please! You loved it when Crazy Harry played pizzas on a turntable, isn’t that worth something to you? Buy my books! Give me prizes! Any prizes! And please, please, buy my books!”

  3. Phillip Craig

    Knowing now that Batdick had a year to develop that final arc, yes, that was the worst of the worst, despite the brutally awful competition. Always save the worst for last!

  4. Andrew

    I was very much for “Bursting the Bubbles” on a technical level. There were a LOT of word zeppelin-stuffed strips and there’s a very reasonable thing to snark about (“Show, don’t tell”, much?), though admittedly had I wanted to nominate one it would’ve been the Sideways Thanksgiving Special where Harley laid out his time traveler credentials. Though it was also notable too for the time-bubble retcon’s explanation, which I did see some remarking as happy with as “Alright, good, you admit it and you gave a reason”, which admittedly is better than the nothing we had been getting in the weeks leading up when we didn’t know why they were happening beyond the email where someone asked him about it. Still, there’s so many plot holes in just saying Westview itself had the bubble when Centerview supposedly was not affected, which continues to rub me the wrong way as a clumsy effort in what had been a conscious effort Batiuk & Ayers spent YEARS trying to hold to before just giving up to give the Funky cast a lifeline back into Crankshaft story arcs. It felt like a dirty fix to have your cake and eat it too.

    I won’t deny that the final strip didn’t earn that award either, though. I’m sure it could be justified as a way of saying “Goodnight, but not Goodbye” (to quote the Star Wars Holiday Special, fittingly), but at the end of the day it’s still putting one of the strip’s real-life books about it’s most “prestigious” stories front in center as the FINAL panel. At least if she had been reading Summer’s Westview book at the end it could be more about the legacy of the whole town, but nope, it’s Lisa Lisabean, once again, imploring that the strip’s sole legacy is a made up cancer victim that nearly won an award once. (Also, surely the future would accept reading a “tree book” in bed? It’s at least not straining your eyes with holograms before trying to sleep. These future Moores are such prunes if “No reading books at bedtime” is a house rule)

  5. Epicus Doomus

    I thought “Test Anxiety” might have gotten a bit more love, seeing how it was a daffy time-travel gag centered around the word “mammogram”…and a girl who later died…from breast cancer. Sigh. But yeah, that last strip was a real doozy all right. It kind of summarized and encapsulated everything I hated about the strip. Especially the cancer book.

    • The Duck of Death

      “Test Anxiety” did leave me curious, since it was the first time readers learned about the switch on Harry’s arm that apparently shuts off his ability to talk. Otherwise he surely would have continued to shout as he was pulled along.

      I wish we’d learned more about that speech-shut-off switch — was he born with it? was it installed by a mad cybernetics scientist? — but I suppose it’s too late now.

  6. Bill the Splut

    Out of–okay, I admit it–pure cruelty, I checked Bezo’s Realm of Nightmare to see if the Great Book got a sales boost.
    “batuik lisa’s story” led to NO results. Lots of stuff that just weren’t it.
    I suppose I could’ve refined the search more, but after seeing “Dr. Tobias Colon 14 Day Cleanse, Supports Healthy Bowel Movements, Colon Cleanse Detox, Advanced Cleansing…” I had to give up. Although I’ll bet that the Book That Changed Everything was a great colon cleanser.

    • Bill the Splut

      I added “tom” to that, and got less results. I searched just for his name. Even less. I guess we know why he kept putting his own url in the strip.
      Yep, “the books will be there forever!” Because no one will buy them, except from the Robbie in a ruin.

      • You have to admit, the colon cleanse would be a lot more useful, and a lot more enjoyable, honestly.

      • Bill the Splut

        Possibly I’ve reached the commenting point of “Could you just shut up already?!” but bathroom wall of the asylum, right?
        Bats in the Attic exists not along the Amazon. In books, in anywhere, except shoes and giant tubs of banana Nesquick.
        Apparently, Amazon doesn’t show sales rankings anymore? I did find this quote, from the distant past of 15 years ago, when Frankies ruled the earth:
        “Essentials of Internet, by Gretchen Marx, Arthur Marx, and Robert T. Grauer. It’s ranked #6,149,269.”
        Wow, I would assume that’s low, but it’s about the weird world of this “Inter-Nets” and from 1997. It’s like a Y2K book. And you know what?

        • Tom from Finland

          I had to check and for me both batiuk lisa’s story and batiuk give results in Amazon. Lisa’s story is currently #1,366,426 in Books but #706 in breast cancer (which seems to be a literary category).
          While doing the research I found out two ”interesting”things:
          Many Crankshaft books seem to be listed with Chuck Ayers as the main author
          If you search for Crankshaft in Amazon’s books section, the results are one third comics, one third cars and one third gay erotica.

  7. billytheskink

    A very worthy winner, but I still can’t get over Skyler playing with the remains of the gun that murdered his grandfather. That actually rhymes with our winning strip, where Lisa’s great granddaughter is also holding a memento of their ancestor’s untimely death, which was somehow less creepy (but more infuriating).

    Despite the results, I expect this was the most difficult vote most of us had to make. Such a plethora of horribleness.

  8. be ware of eve hill

    A lot of us remember the final day of some comic strips. A few of them were classic and worthy of a framed print.

    I can’t read the last Sunday of Peanuts without tears welling up in my eyes. Charles Schulz couldn’t continue and was apologetic to his readers. He cared about them. He thanked everyone, from his editors, fans, and to even the characters. Schulz died on February 12, 2000. This Sunday comic was in newspapers the following day.

    The final Calvin and Hobbes
    The final Calvin and Hobbes was excellent because it was a beautiful farewell. Bill Watterson assured us their adventures would continue even though the comic strip wasn’t being created anymore. Calvin says, “A day Full of Possibilities! It’s a magical world, Hobbes, ol’ buddy. Let’s go exploring.” The dialog Calvin uses makes you smile at this farewell, rather than be depressed about the ending of the comic strip.

    The ending for The Pajama Diaries was rather abrupt and caught me by surprise. It was one of my favorite titles.

    Sure, the ending was abrupt, but Terri Libenson did right by offering some closure concerning the major characters and acknowledging the readers by thanking them for reading. Terri addressed the abrupt ending of the strip in the comic strip’s comments. She guaranteed the archives would remain available in the Comics Kingdom. The Pajama Diaries is still on the Comics Kingdom. Note the fangirl, second in line amongst the replies. 😊

    Retail was another one of my favorites and ended a month after The Pajama Diaries. Like Terri Libenson, Norm Feuti was ending the comic strip to create children’s books. I knew the comic strip was ending because of an interview on The Daily Cartoonist. Norm did a good job closing out the strip. Marla, the main character, finally escaped from retail work and stuck it to her misogynistic, corporate suck-up manager Stuart in the final days. During the final months of the comic strip, “Grumbel’s” was forced to close and go into liquidation. The final comic strip left no doubt whatsoever it was over.

    I mentioned the finale of Stone Soup a month or so ago. Jan Eliot spent six Sunday strips saying goodbye to the main cast and informing them of their fates. It was a nice sendoff for the characters. If Jan had acknowledged the readers in even the slightest, I might have given the final strips a chef’s kiss. Just one little box saying, “Thanks to all my readers for 25 wonderful years”. That’s all it would have taken for me, Jan.

    Contrast the above with the final Funky Winkerbean strip.

    1). Did the final FW strip offer closure to the fate of the main characters? Nope.

    2). Did Batiuk paint a rosy future for the main characters of FW? That’s a negative, Ghostrider. Batiuk never even offers an explanation for “The Burnings”.

    3.) Did Batiuk ever address his readers in the comments about the end of FW? I imagine the thought of addressing the readers in the strip never occurred to a bitter Batty. I say thee nay. Batiuk seems to like maintaining a distance from the “rabble”.

    4.) Did Batiuk assure his readers the archive would remain in the Comics Kingdom website? Ha! He couldn’t remove them fast enough. The final strip was literally an advertisement to buy one of his books.

    As far as comic strip finales go, ‘Pulling the Last Plug’ was unique in its awfulness. There was no closure. There was no gratitude for the readers who read FW to the end. The strip was moved decades into the future with little explanation.

    Like that, it was over. Done, as if someone removed the strip from life support.
    * beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep *

    I left a comment in the 12/31/2022 Comics Kingdom Funky Winkerbean discussion.
    be ware of eve hill: A comic strip died here today.

    • ComicTrek

      ALL OF THIS.

      Wow. TB really couldn’t have cared any less, could he? We knew this, but wow. It was all about acclaim for “LISA’S STORY” to the bitter end…

      • be ware of eve hill

        Tom Batiuk, the epitome of a one-hit wonder.

        ‘Lisa’s Story’ being named a Pulitzer finalist ruined Funky Winkerbean.

        • Banana Jr. 6000

          Most one-hit wonders at least have one good song. Batiuk had a “hit” nobody actually liked, then just hung around forever. Imagine if Terry Jacks had Bryan Adams’ career.

        • sorialpromise

          Be Ware of Eve Hill
          You are on fire today. May I give you the highest compliment that I can give? Today, you entered the CBH area of quality research. 🌺💐🌹 This is spectacular. What a focused contrast between how truly good comic strips ended and how TB decided to end FW. Apparently, creators have 2 choices to honor readers. Schulz did it directly. Watterson broke the 4th wall and spoke to the readers indirectly. Mr. Batiuk chose for his readers to say, “I am sure glad this is finished.” Well, except for that guy on the twitter feed: “My favorite comic strip is over!” That is some heavy Act 1 loyalty!!! He could not have come late to this party. Each to his own though.
          This is my only regret to the FW ending: fewer and fewer bwoeh posts. You are loved♥️💖❤️🫂🫂🫂

          • ComicBookHarriet

            You’ve been in lurker mode recently!!!

          • sorialpromise

            Baby, I’m back!

          • be ware of eve hill

            Hey sp, I was about to put your avatar on milk cartons, “Have you seen me?”

            Approaching CBH quality research? Thanks, but I’ve been thinking about creating a post like this since witnessing Batty’s dreadful self-promotion finale. I also had some classic strips to draw from as examples. CBH can post blogs day after day utilizing only Funky Winkerbean strips. She’s incredible.

          • sorialpromise

            (And I am allergic to milk!) Don’t put yourself down, Eve. Remember, ComicBookHarriet is a paid professional. Mr. T. F. Hackett pays her thousands. (Every dime well spent. Mr. TFH, please give her a raise.) People like you and I do it for used pens and day old compliments. Although there is more. I am going to let only you onto a little secret: Do you know that if you read SOSF on MSExplorer or on Google, you get ratings, but on WordPress, I get blue stars. Joy! Rapture! Blue stars! Oh the pure joy of blue star jocularity! Remember, Mums the Mal.

    • Rusty Shackleford

      Heck, Lynn Johnston did a better job with her ending of FBOFW. Batty crapped all over his longtime readers. What the heck is wrong with that guy?

      • be ware of eve hill

        I agree. IMHO, the finale for FBOFW was very good. I meant to include it in my write-up. There was closure for all the main characters, and Lynn Johnston thanked everyone but the kitchen sink.

        • hitorque

          I’d completely forgotten about the FBOFW finale… I’m the same approximate age as Michael Patterson (For lack of a better term, we kind of “grew up together” in a very real sense, and in the late 80s through the mid-90s our family owned a big, chaotic Old English Sheepdog like Farley)…

          Seeing that strip again reminded me that once upon a time I fancied myself as a writer yet Michael has published at least four books by now and I still haven’t done my first…

          (please kill me now)

    • Bill the Splut

      I loved Retail! Umm, the strip, not the thing I worked in for 45 years, before I retired because it was tearing my body apart.
      I’ve tried to find out what chain “Grumbels” was based on. The name is from the old NYC chain Gimbels. But it was set in Southern New England, presumably Mass. There was a week of story on a day trip to corporate which was in Stamford CT. I95? That takes a week to drive every day! (CT JOKE)
      I wonder, without evidence, if it was my old Boston-based place Lechmere. After it got bought by IKIFWMW. If someone says they once worked in Lechmere, watch them smile at how great it was! Then say “Montgomery Ward” who bought it. And destroyed it in a year. The light in their eyes will go out. They might start singing “Double Coupon” by Babyland , a great song from the bad movie “The Doom Generation.” Me, I’ll just say what IKIFWMW stands for. It’s “Internationally Known Incompetent Fuckwads Montgomery Ward.”

      • be ware of eve hill

        While in high school, I worked for a burger chain named ‘Burger Town’. We had to wear these godawful brown double-knit uniforms that were way too hot, and stupid looking engineer caps. You’d go home smelling like you took a bath in burned grease. It got in my hair and entered my pores. I promised myself I’d never work in the fast food industry again.

        So, when I was in college, I got myself a job working in retail. I started off in the Ladies department. The way people left the changing rooms made me lose faith in humanity. I expected having to re-hang clothes, but I didn’t expect to find, trash, soiled diapers, and on occasion human feces. C’mon ladies, it’s a changing room, not a bathroom stall. I was just about to quit when I was promoted to housewares. It wasn’t too bad after that, but getting away from there was a big incentive to graduate in four years. I worked at a JC Penney near Columbus, Ohio.

        I think “Grumbel’s” is a cross between Gimbel’s and the word grumble.

        My favorite Retail strip was when the assistant manager Josh told Stuart and Marla that Delman’s offered him a job with higher salary. After Stuart gave him a raise, Marla discovered that Josh was never offered a job and lied about it. Realizing that he was caught, Josh accepted a job at another company. He gave Marla his two-weeks notice, but after he admitted that he lied about the Delman’s offer, Marla angrily fired him on the spot, not letting him work out the notice. Josh fled the store like a scalded dog. Yipe! Yipe! Yipe!

        • Bill the Splut

          Retail (the strip) was awesome. It definitely showed the dynamic of a functioning managerial team. Marla, Val and Coop bickered, but they always had each other’s back against the real enemies: customers and the idiots in corporate. Who in retail hasn’t worked with a conceited dimbulb cashier like Courtney, or an arrogant dipshit boss like Stuart? I actually preferred the low-level dinks like Courtney. One day she’s gonna go “WHATEVER!” and walk away from the job (While waiting hours for a parent to give them a ride home). The Stuarts NEVER went away, unless they were promoted to do even more harm. Am I the only person who remembers the book “The Peter Principle”? The theme was “Everyone gets promoted to their own level of incompetency.” Someone’s good at being a store manager? Make them district, watch them flounder! I knew a guy who I’ll call “Bob” (for that was his name, BOB) who drove every single manager and even asst mgr away because he was that big of a jerk. But he’d climbed his way to there by hard work and tenacity okay he married the vice president of Kay-Bee Toys’ daughter. He lost his job because no one wanted to work for him. My entire store quit, and it…was a very successful store, to that point. A year later, they downsized it, then closed it.
          JCPenney, huh? Did you ever go to the fitting room and have to pick up used condoms during the AIDS panic?
          I thought that the strip ended 10 years ago, but it was only 3! I would have loved to see Norm’s take on covid, panic buying, “No one wants to work! I’m the CEO, so off to my biggest yacht!” and the now clear trend towards “No, Karen, you are Not Always Right.”

          Having Social Security is awesome. I suggest everyone look into it.

      • billytheskink

        Retail drew to its conclusion perfectly. Quite literally the only misstep was the reference to “Dollar Admiral” in the final strip, as neither small format discounters like Dollar General or single-pricing dollar stores like Dollar Tree generally move into empty softline department store spaces or malls as such space is both too large and usually too expensive for their needs.

        And that’s it, that’s the complaint. A completely inconsequential one as the ending story arc covered the process of a department store closing and liquidation with accuracy and humor.

        • Bill the Splut

          Well, that’s just your opinion, man. I worked at a Sam Goody/Suncoast in 1990. Primo real estate, man: Top of the escalator, by Sears. Crazy rent, like $1000 a month, or per square foot, it was a while ago, I forget. Can’t remember everything, right?
          When it closed, it was replaced by a fabric store, and at the bottom, the most generic dollar store I’d ever seen.
          Okay, it was over the course of like 10 years, but that Sam Goody really tied the mall together. (shrugs, drinks)

          • billytheskink

            Certainly there are exceptions, and there has been a new wave of snacks/toy/gift-focused variety stores like MiniSo, Five Below, and Dollar General’s own PopShelf that will open in malls. But they are taking over inline spaces that were once occupied by chains like Sam Goody. Grumbles always came across to me as a store occupying a large anchor space, though.

            Such space is often very difficult to find new tenants for, especially in this day and age where widespread store closures from Sears, JCPenney, and Macy’s have not been coupled with the rise of other department store or even large format discounter chains.

    • The Duck of Death

      Yes yes yes, to everything except the archives comment, maybe. It’s possible that when Bats moved from King Features, his archives had to move with him. They no longer have Classic Funky either. I don’t know whether that was a case of Tommy taking his ball and going home, or whether it was a legal arrangement that made removing the archives inevitable.

      Crankshaft’s archives, btw, are still almost nonexistent on GoComics. They haven’t filled in anything but the few sparse weeks in 2012 and 2009.

      • be ware of eve hill

        GoComics is notorious for taking forever to load the comic strip archives of recently acquired comics. The fact that there’s anything at all before 1/1/2023 gives me hope that there will be a decent Crankshaftarchive some day. Will the archive go all the way back to 1987? Would be nice, but I doubt it.

        I was referring to a Funky Winkerbean archives. I seriously doubt TB will set up an archive on his personal website like Darrin Bell did for Candorville or Norm Feuti did for Retail.

        • The Duck of Death

          I was referring to FW’s archives too. I don’t know why they’re not on CK: TB’s decision, or King Features’ legal mandate? Both?

          As for him setting up an archive on his site… as I mentioned a few weeks ago, he never learned the lesson that the more your audience is exposed to your work, the more they’ll want to own it. Conversely: Out of sight, out of mind.

          So I expect him to hold those archives ever so tight. Want ’em? You’ll have to buy ’em. Kent State University Press, $45 a volume, 12 volumes so far. Batty ain’t givin’ nothin’ away for free to a bunch of leeches.

          • be ware of eve hill

            The way Batiuk constantly hawks his books tends to make me agree with you. The chances of FW appearing on GoComics are slim.

            Is there any truth to the rumor that Tom Batiuk is legally having his name changed to “tombatiuk.com/books”?

            I don’t know enough about the legalities to comment. WTH is that written between the panels of Crankshaft? Mediagraphics, Inc.? When did that start and where did they come from? Does Batom, Inc. still exist?

            Andrews McMeel, the owner of GoComics, is a much larger publisher than Batiuk’s current publisher, The Kent State University Press/Black Squirrel Books. I don’t know if Batiuk’s current publisher has limitations, but ‘The Complete Funky Winkerbean’ volumes are currently only available in hardcover and cost, as you said, $45 per volume.

            Sales of ‘The Complete Funky Winkerbean’ might improve if Andrews McMeel made the volumes available in softcover. 40% or 50% could be knocked off the price. I wonder if that had anything to do with Batiuk’s move to GoComics?

            I’m probably giving TB too much credit. For all I know, Batiuk might be adamant that there’s only one way for a ‘Complete Funky Winkerbean’ to be bound, and that’s hardcover.
            TB: A treasure like ‘The Complete Funky Winkerbean’ in softcover? (scoffs) How gauche. (sniffs dismissively)

          • Banana Jr. 6000

            Is there any truth to the rumor that Tom Batiuk is legally having his name changed to “tombatiuk.com/books”?

            No. He’s changing it to Twotime Pulitzernominee Tom Batiuk.

    • TimP

      Thank you for posting this.

    • This was really well said and it is a shame how poorly and abruptly FW ended.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      I join the long line everyone is standing in for this post.

    • hitorque

      Holy damn I’d forgotten Stone Soup ended…

  9. be ware of eve hill

    I still can’t get over how bizarre that final week was. To me, it had a tagged-on out-of-left-field feeling to it.

    Many of us have said the Christmas Sunday strip would have made a decent Funky Winkerbean finale. Suppose TB miscalculated and was a week short.

    Submitted just for funsies.

    Comic Kingdom: Tom, you seem to have miscalculated. You’re a week short. What you submitted will only last until Christmas. Would you like us to run a week of repeats? Blank panels?
    TB: What? That’s impossible. I never make mistakes. I have an 11-month lead time for emergencies.
    Comic Kingdom: Nevertheless, you’re still a week short. Perhaps your overly large lead time is responsible for the error?

    TB: I bet Kings Features sabotaged my submissions somehow. I’ll call Chuck and let him know that we need to do another week.
    The Batty Phone: (rising tones) The number you have reached has been disconnected or is no longer in service.
    TB: Dammit, Chuck! How can you leave me high and dry like this. I know, I’ll get John Byrne.
    TB: Hi, John. Tom Batiuk, here. Can you do the pencils for a one-week Funky Winkerbean story arc?
    John Byrne: Sorry, Tom, I’m not really up for it. Hope you find someone. How about one of the comic cover guys…
    TB: John, how can you do this to me?! I let you have a cameo in my strip!
    John Byrne: *sigh* … Say, Tom, there was a gag strip I doodled for fun. It was about how someone can still by a copy of ‘Lisa’s Story’ in sixty years in the future…
    TB: Sounds great! I’ll take it!

    TB: It will make for a perfect final week! It fits with what I was planning for Summer. These women can be Summer’s daughter and granddaughter. I’m a genius!
    (TB cackles with glee, pats himself on the back, and performs a home-run trot around the imaginary bases)

    • Gerard Plourde

      You may have submitted the above “for funsies” but I’d bet it falls closer to what actually happened than a certain Author would ever admit.

    • be ware of eve hill

      Hell and double-blast, dammit to Hades twice.

      I meant to write:
      Say, Tom, there was a gag strip I doodled for fun. It was about how someone can still by buy a copy of ‘Lisa’s Story’ in sixty years in the future…

      Sorry. I couldn’t sleep and was up past my usual bedtime. My editor has been put on notice.

    • Bill the Splut

      I assume that I’m the only person who read “emergencies” and thought
      (looks around room)
      Well, I was right again.

  10. Paul Jones

    The last FBorFW was at least a lame-ass ripoff of the ending of American Graffiti (which was a bummer because it didn’t say that Mike got fragged by his platoon five klicks north of Da Nang) which makes Johnston slightly less awful than a pathetic old fart whining “BUY MY BOOK!!” over and over again.

  11. ComicTrek

    The finale wasn’t nearly as violent as I thought it would be. Sure, every main character predictably ended up dead (or implied). But I was personally surprised that there was no massive car pileup, no “where they ended up and how they died”, no explosions or even toxic gas. “The burnings” probably had something to do with it, but likely just targeted books.

  12. Banana Jr. 6000

    “The Nightmare Continues” got my vote, for that camera shot up Summer’s nostril. That whole strip is hideously ugly. This is the character Batiuk’s trying to turn into the leading light of civilization, and he thinks that gives her any dignity? It looks like something that would happen to Meg Griffin.

  13. robertodobbs

    I think I “got the reference” to “The Nightmare Continues” unless I’m too old for this group – I saw a British Punk band in Detroit in the early 80s called Discharge that had a song by this name. Or is there something more recent in Pop Culture that I’ve missed? BTW thanks CBH for the work. And Lisa’s Mom still looks like a cross between Sam Donaldson and Ted Koppel.

  14. Rusty Shackleford

    Now that Batty is force feeding crap from FW into Crankshaft, how long will it be before the new syndicate pulls the plug?

    Why would a church group be invited to the OMEA? They do have guest artists come in and perform but they also give workshops for the teachers which is the whole damn point of the conference. The rest of the performers are obviously student groups from around the state.

    Cancel Crankshaft now!

    • I would say that Crankshaft was lucky up til now. Batiuk was paying more attention to his “””prestige””” strip, and probably just handed his artists a list of puns and said “Work ’em in.”

      Now Crankshaft has his full focus and he’s going to Les it up.

  15. Bill the Splut

    “It was all a dream–
    OR WAS IT?!” Things I say all the time after waking up.

    Last night, I had a dream that someone ordered me 25 pizza-adjacent objects from Dominos. And I could TASTE them.
    Thanks for that, brain.

  16. The Duck of Death

    Today in Crankshaft:

    Yesterday, the choir of octogenarians learned that they were going to sing at OMEA and, as a result, would need to fundraise, again, for new robes, again, less than 2 years after buying their last set of new robes.

    Today, hey, guess what! They won’t need to fundraise because Lizard Lil has somehow gotten hold of robes formerly used by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. But — get this — they’re way too long! “Apparently they’re quite a bit taller than us,” Lillian quips. [pause for laughter]

    How she got the Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s robes could be an interesting story, so we will never hear it, and 78% chance the robes will be gone tomorrow and never mentioned again.

    Also, why OMEA wants a church choir director and his choir, average age 84, to perform — that would also be an interesting story, which we will also never even see hinted at.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      78% chance the robes will be gone tomorrow and never mentioned again.

      No, it’s only Tuesday. Tom Batiuk’s rules dictate that the strip must talk in circles about robes for the entire week.

      • The Duck of Death

        Yes, of course. It goes without saying that he must jabber on and on and on and on and on about robes until the heat death of the universe. I just meant that I suspect the Mormon Tabernacle Choir robes are too interesting and specific a detail to be brought back tomorrow.

        • Bill the Splut

          Your predictions are WRONG!
          Spoiler: Today’s Cranky is Lady Immortus saying…words about something? Maybe does or doesn’t refer to the robes, and whether people can see them? Because…so they aren’t going to the conference in Cleveland, but having it there in Cancerville?
          Oh, after reading it a 10th time, she’s nervous about performing before the sophisticated audiences of Cleveland, after…just performing in front of 2 towns, so it’s not about the robes, but…
          I have no idea.

  17. Hitorque


    2. Just a goddamned minute here — What happened to all their nationwide viral fame from having a stray cat photobomb their Livestream and having their director march in the Rose Bowl parade?

    2a. What happened to the new robes they already bought after begging door-to-door and through Kickstarter or Patreon or whatever?

    2b. What happened to the monies from all those sold-out standing room only performances during Christmas? Because we sure as hell know it didn’t go to the poor…

    2c. Just your daily reminder that the Big Dink could easily buy some really expensive robes out of his own petty cash, but nobody and I mean NOBODY in the Funkyverse ever spends their own money for anything that isn’t pizza or comic books or kitschy pop-culture memorabilia, the more esoteric the better.

    3. I don’t get the “joke” here… Did the Big Dink simply call up one of Brigham Young’s descendants in Utah and ask them to FexEx some random sized leftover robes from recently deceased members to Ohio? Did he plead poverty and try to swindle them out of some charity like the cheapskate he is? Do the Mormons have like a series of bookmobiles criss crossing the continent, except they hand out used robes? Or did he just buy them from the trunk of some shady weirdo’s car parked in the old Montoni’s lot and he just took the seller’s word for their authenticity? What, he couldn’t have simply liberated a few old graduation gowns from storage at Westview High and been done with it?

    3a. Nevermind the fact that a 20-second web search tells us that the Mormon choir doesn’t wear traditional “robes” as we would recognize them — The women all wear custom designed individually tailored dresses which would look really out of place in smalltown Ohio…

    • The Duck of Death

      Oh, hitorque, my friend, you know as well as I that a “20-second web search” entails 19 more seconds than Bats likes to spend thinking up his plots.

      I’m not the first to observe that many classic comedy plots would never work in the age of cell phones. Most “Seinfeld” episodes, for example. All the wacky miscommunications and hijinx could be solved with a 10-word text.

      Similarly, most FW and Crankshaft plots simply fall apart with a 20-second web search. Which is odd, because they’re being written today. But then, there’s so much odd about the Crankerbeaniverse.

    • billytheskink

      TB couldn’t be bothered to research what a “gospel” choir is less than 2 years ago… I would have been shocked if he knew anything about Mormons not named Steve Young or Dale Murphy.

    • The Duck of Death

      In addition, he never did the 10-second Amazon search (5 if you’re a fast touch-typist) for “choir robes.”

      He would’ve found that perfectly good choir robes can be bought for $15-$20. Cheap enough for each choir member to pay for their own, even those on a fixed income, since it’d be a one-time expense.

      I get that the “Harry Dinkle is a Fundraiser!” schtick must continue. What I don’t get is why he can’t branch out to other things they’re fundraising for. Instruments? Pipe organ repair and maintenance?

      Here’s the crazy thing: They all somehow came up with tailored, appropriate uniforms for the “New Orleans Funeral” they did last year. Now those would be costly. But he never fundraised for that cause. Only for those $20 choir robes.

      Insane. Gibberingly insane.

      • Perfect Tommy

        Who Wore It Better? Well duh, Polyphonic Spree of course.

      • The Duck of Death

        Okay. I thought about this, despite being advised not to by my psychiatrist, case worker, and parole officer.

        I never saw a high school marching band, nor knew anyone who was in one, so I can’t answer this question, but some of you will know.

        Do band leaders only fund raise for uniforms? That would explain why Harry Dinkle and his Golden Sprinkles only fundraise for choir robes.

        Do schools pay all other expenses, like instruments, travel, etc, from their general budget? If so, it makes sense that in order to kiss the aśses of the OMEA, Harry just has to keep on fundraising for choir robes, the closest analogy to band uniforms.

        But if not, then I’m baffled as to why he can’t fundraise for some other cause.

        And given that the OMEA is focused on schools and kids, wouldn’t it be interesting if they fundraised for an educational outreach? Like maybe if they recruited a junior choir to sing secular songs at concerts? Especially if they focused on children from impoverished districts where there’s little or no music budget? They could have a whole arc demonstrating how music education and group music-making changes childrens’ lives.

        Or — OR — fundraise for that 17th set of cheap, pilly polyester choir robes. You know, with the Sam ‘n Ella turkeys, the Belgian band candy, the blah blah BLAH BLAH GOD I hate myself for even reading this sh!t.

        • Rusty Shackleford

          Former band member here. No, the director does not fundraise. The director talks to the band boosters who then take on the task of raising the money. It can be for instruments, uniforms, or even money to help defray trip expenses if the band gets invited to a parade.

          OMEA focuses on continuing education for teachers, runs competitions for bands and individual performances, promotes music education and raising the standards of music education in Ohio and encouraging students to consider majoring in music. ( Fun fact: after performing in my school’s percussion ensemble, I was offered a scholarship to study music as a professor attended the performance to scout for talent.)

          • The Duck of Death

            Thanks for that info. That makes it even more baffling that Dinkle is shown selling turkeys, candy, etc, door to door, and also that he keeps fundraising for choir robes to the exclusion of any other expense or need.

            How does a band leader fundraising for church choir robes for 80-year-olds relate to the mission of OMEA? Yet they’re all over Batiuk like white on rice. I truly don’t get it.

    • Bill the Splut

      (meekly holds hand up)
      “M-maybe–the kitty needed a robe? The kitty–seems nice?”

      “I traded you for Jean and Myra,
      I traded them for the Mormon Choir.
      Now I got some music and the Lord,
      And I’m feeling dumber than before.
      Everybody’s stupid, that’s for sure!”–Sparks

  18. The Duck of Death

    I had to vote with the majority here, for all the reasons already ably explained by bwoeh and others.

    We had all come up with many plausible and satisfying endings. I think the “Hallelujah” ending would have been fantastic. But I also suggested at the time that a “life goes on” ending would have worked very well. Just a few days of Westview residents living their normal lives and acknowledging that all things considered, they’ve been blessed. Final strip could have been Les, Funky, and Crazy gabbing at Montoni’s, and final line could have been Funky saying something like “Life’s pretty good, you know?” That’s essentially what Calvin & Hobbes did with their classic ending.

    As bwoeh pointed out, I don’t think Puffy considered his audience at all with this ending. I truly believe he thinks his readers should thank him. In reality, for a great strip, the thanks should go both ways — from readers to creator, and from creator to readers. It’s a collaborative effort. But it doesn’t appear that Puff Batty sees it that way, since he unapologetically pulled the rug out from under everyone who wanted to know what happened to the gang, and ended on “a crummy commercial.”

    I know Batty wanted to make history. I think the last week may have done just that, as the worst, most baffling strip ending in history. He even outdid his own “John Darling” ending! (Now the second worst.)

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      It revealed just how little of a shit Batiuk gives about anything but himself. No closure, no heartfelt goodbyes, no memories, no nothing. It meant nothing to him, so it should mean even less to everyone else.

      You ever have a friend who got sucked into multi-level marketing? After awhile, they see you as nothing but a sales target. Every conversation becomes about “the product.” Friendship is out the window. Batiuk is like that. The man saw the end of his 50-year comic strip as nothing but one last chance to sell an overpriced product nobody wants. I bet he didn’t sell one.

      • The Duck of Death

        Yes, next to the Pulitzer nomination, the decision of KSU Press to release umpteen “prestige” hardbacks of FW is the worst thing that ever happened to Tom Batiuk, if only he’d realized it.

        For some people, it’d be fine — a nice feather in their cap along the course of their career. But for him, these events somehow lit up some insatiable part of his brain that craves MORE prizes, MORE recognition, MORE prestige, MORE ass-kissing.

        Like a natural-born junkie.


        • Banana Jr. 6000

          Batiuk would probably sell more books if they were just mass-market softcovers like every other newspaper comic strip produces. Funky Winkerbean doesn’t have NEARLY the cachet needed to sell fancy hardcovers, especially when they’re not even complete archives. Peanuts and Calvin and Hobbes can, but that’s about it.

          And university presses need to sell what they print, so this arrangement doesn’t really make sense for them either. But Batiuk gonna Batiuk.

          • The Duck of Death

            My guess — wild guess, but not that wild — is that Bats has promised to leave some bequest to KSU, and also they can use him to promote their art department, so they indulge him with “prestige” publications. I’m guessing they don’t have such a deep bench of visual arts alumni to draw from. My son’s high school probably has a more impressive list of artists who’ve attended it. (No offense intended to anyone reading this who studied visual arts at KSU — I’m talking about fame, not quality. Otherwise TB would never qualify.)

          • be ware of eve hill

            Ha! You just beat me to it. I just wrote a similar response to DoD about ‘The Complete Funky Winkerbean’ in softcover. I didn’t think about the issue of the unsold copies in my comment, though.

            We can be sure new construction is planned somewhere on the Kent State campus. Perhaps the unsold hardcopies of ‘The Complete Funky Winkerbean’ can be donated to the university and used to create the foundation of some new building.

          • The Duck of Death

            Or pulped to make corrugated cardboard for shipping boxes. ::eyeroll::

            Batton Thomas says that’s how they make cardboard boxes: By pulping hardbacks with heavyweight, glossy white paper.

            ::::a million eyerolls::::

          • Banana Jr. 6000

            I don’t know what’s worse: Tom Batiuk’s dependence on Kent State, or their dependence on him. Is there anything on that campus he or Ayers *didn’t* draw? You’d think a large state university, even a mediocre one, would have produced a third relevant alumni by now. Or at least not make the celebration of failure that is Funky Winkerbean so central to their identity.

          • hitorque

            FWIW, “The Far Side” did at least a couple of hardcovers… I know because my dad bought two of them, I think…

          • Andrew

            Banana: Well, like it was mentioned before, the one dedicated mural Batiuk and Ayers made got taken down after a mere 4-5 years when the lounge it was in got turned into an organization space. I dunno what else they may’ve drawn, I think the continued publications is the only element of their tied legacies at this point.

    • Green Luthor

      For the final week, he could have had Summer interviewing the various residents for her book. Set it a few years in the future, say she’s doing follow-up interviews just to get everything current right before the book is finalized for printing. You can give the major characters some closure, telling the readers what happens to them in the near future. You can reinforce the idea that Summer’s actually going to write this thing, and still leave the “it was all a dream… OR WAS IT?” ambiguity. You can tell the readers that Les died in an autoerotic asphyxiation accident. There’s lots of potential there.

      That didn’t even take me 11 minutes to come up with, let alone 11 months. But, well, Batiuk’s gonna Batiuk, I guess.

      • The Duck of Death

        Despite his assertions, I don’t believe he planned the whole last year as the final year. There’s so much evidence that he didn’t (which has all been discussed recently, so I won’t rehash it).

        In fairness, though, he’d probably have come up with an equally crapdash ending no matter how long he had to do it.

  19. The ending should have been Funky and Holly at home. Montoni’s is now closed, and Funky is retired at last. Holly wonders what they’ll do now, and on Friday or Saturday, Funky drives up to the house in a brand new camper. “Let’s see what’s outside Ohio,” he’ll say.


    • The Duck of Death

      I LOVE THIS and there was zero chance that it could happen. Batiuk doesn’t care what’s outside Ohio so you know Funky never will.

      And Funky doesn’t get to have good things happen to him.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      If any Funkyverse character decided to leave Ohio, they’d drive straight to New York City. Or some fucking comic book museum.

      • The Duck of Death

        Never happen. Because so many movies, shows, books, etc., are set here, no one gets an atta-boy just for writing about the city.

        Let’s face it, a huge part of TB’s unironic fandom likes him not because of his skill, but because of the milieu he portrays: A small midwestern town. A local high school. A local pizzeria. Lots of people seem to feel that they’re cheering on the home team when they read FW.

        If the same strip were exalting NYC instead of hick-town Ohio, it would be clear what a piece of hackwork it is.

        • Banana Jr. 6000

          Well, Batiuk would still try. “Let’s see what’s outside Ohio” is far too open-minded and imaginative for anyone in the Funkyverse. These people crave familiarity. Though I had forgotten about the Montoni’s NYC locations, so maybe Funky wouldn’t need to or want to go there again.

          • The Duck of Death

            Yes, well-known sophisticated lover of NYC that Batiuk is, he somehow had no idea that NY pizza is pretty much the diametric opposite of Luigi’s/Montoni’s, and that this

            would sell about as well here as Yankees merch at the entrance to Fenway Park.

            That whole pizza arc chapped my aśs but good.

        • Bill the Splut

          Yes, who doesn’t dream of what it would be like to live in rust belt Ohio?
          I went to college there–not KSU, but the one all the weirdos went to. My greatest memory was taking acid (for it is in 1978 that our tale is set) and walking into the middle of the road–really, the only road–and gesturing to the freakishly flat horizon to Becky and yelling “BEHOLD–INFINITY!” And she just went “WOW! WOW!” for like 10 minutes.

          Oberlin. It was Oberlin. You possibly have some brain cell that says something about it (“The music school, with the Brubeck concert? The first college to admit Blacks and women? Those albino squirrels?”). Now think of KSU. You remember “Yeah, that thing.”

          • Bill the Splut

            I Grandpa’d Gurgle on Fleabay, thinking “What did that damn mural look like?” I imagined Les screaming distraught over Lisa’s body like in the horrific photo. And I got…
            My gourd. In a year, all that will be left of “Lisa’s legacy” will be this site.
            Were those real, and not your parodies? The “excited teens want LES MOORE to sign his latest book!!!!” is a little too on target. And also…exactly what I’d expect from an egomaniac like TB.

  20. Green Luthor

    “Precious Memories” and “Pulling the Last Plug” were tempting, but ultimately I had to go with “Bursting the Bubble”. The ginormous word zeppelins were obnoxious enough, but Batiuk’s attempts to explain away the time difference between Funky and Crankshaft hit new levels of nonsensical.

    (Plus, Batiuk was just so PROUD of this, which he considered an “elegant” solution to the problem of the time differences. Even though it probably created more problems than it solved, and was ridiculously clumsy and awkward. Sorry, Tom, no Pulitzer for your “elegant” story.)

    • The Duck of Death

      Perhaps a different prize?

      The “Pull it, Sir!” prize, awarded to the cartoonist whose editor is most likely to say those words when he sees the strip.

  21. hitorque

    I’m surprised there weren’t a LOT more votes for “A Darling Gift”?

  22. mj

    (new here, I’ve been lurking on comics curmudgeon for a while, then someone posted a link to this site and I decided to check it out).

    Is it weird I don’t completely hate “pulling the last plug”? At least, not on its own. In the hands of a more competent creator, it could’ve been a cutesy, self-aware way to say “hey, the show’s over, but you can still read the old comics.” A dedication to the fans and a link to an archive would’ve been a nice addition, of course. It’s context that really ruins this strip – the expensive books, lack of an online archive, Batiuk’s fixation on Lisa at the expense of everything else, the way it makes the whole “summer your book is going to save humanity” arc feel that much more pointless, etc. It feels like Batiuk comes up with a couple moments that are So Cool and So Emotional, and then forces the story and characters to act out those moments, no matter how little sense it makes. I swear he outlined the final strip first, then built the rest of the finale around it.

    also, “a darling gift” is a beautiful train wreck and deserves to be the best strip of the year, I’ve rarely laughed so hard at something that wasn’t trying to be funny.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Welcome. And you’re right – the concept itself isn’t horrible. It’s the pervasiveness of it that’s offensive. Batiuk was so fixated on shoving Lisa down the world’s throat, he couldn’t be bothered to give the strip a proper send-off.

    • The Duck of Death

      I second the welcome, and I like that theory that he thought of the oh-so-clever “Lisa Ushered In a Golden Age” theory and built the end around it.

      Yes, “A Darling Gift” is hye-larious. Batiuk raised a child so he should be familiar with toddlers, yet somehow doesn’t realize that a 2-year-old wouldn’t be able to heft 3 lb of steel and zoom it around merrily. And if he were able to do it, it’d be dangerous as hell to every human, pet, and object in the room. If only we could see the hijinx that ensued when little Skyclad inevitably hurled the thing at the window!