The Cream of the Crap

Now that we have crowned the worst, we must similarly honor the best. And like any election after 1796, it was easy to find candidates who were awful, but terribly difficult to find truly good nominees.

In order for a strip to be nominated, it had to achieve Batiuk’s desired effect. If the strip was supposed to be funny and was, or was supposed to be charming and mostly succeeded, it made the short list. It was a very short list. The thinnest silver lining to a dark cloud.

And that cloud destroys everything it touches…

Your nominees for…

The Best Funky Winkerbean Strip of 2022

1.) A Darling Gift

2.) Goodbye Zoomers

3.) Off the Chain

4.) Downsizing

5.) Last Chance for Romance

6.) The Lost Finale

7.) Les Finally Gets It

And the winner of The Best Funky Winkerbean Strip of 2022

Les Finally Gets It

Behold, Lisa Jr., the glory of your ancestor!

This strip was beautiful, and richly deserved this award. Batiuk wanted us to find Les in pain funny, and we did. It was this sweet moment of connection across the trenches. Batiuk’s gift to all the Les haters. The twisted tangle of bodies in that final panel? Like Giambologna’s Abduction of a Sabine Woman, you have three figures, each a different height, each a different area of impact. Les in agony, turned to art.

But was it truly THE BEST strip this site saw in 2022?

Tune into tomorrow for our final award.


Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

43 responses to “The Cream of the Crap

  1. Y. Knott

    Was there ever any doubt?

    I’ll put in a good word for “Goodbye Zoomers”, which was actually amusing. But c’mon — Les gets seriously painfully injured?

    I mean, Les actually gets that smug look literally SMASHED off his stupid face?

    AND in a way that he brought upon himself?

    It doesn’t make up for everything else. But it’s a great moment.

    (Not as great as many of tomorrow’s moments, though. Can’t wait to see the winner there!)

    • The Duck of Death

      Yeah, but both men, canonically 68 or 69 years old, walked away with nothing but bruised egos after “showing the kids how it’s done.” Not much of a comeuppance. I’d call it a win, actually, for perpetually-passed-over Les. Sure, he broke his glasses, but at his age, he’s lucky that’s all that broke.

  2. Epicus Doomus

    In hindsight, it seems pretty obvious that the “Lost finale” strip should have been and probably was the “real” ending, and that futuristic “Lisa’s Story” nonsense was kind of just tacked on for no reason other than to pimp the cancer book one more time. And as far as FW Sunday strips are concerned, I’ve seen worse. It required the reader to actually pay attention and identify the characters, which is a form of “entertainment”, which instantly gives it a leg up on the typical Sunday strip. It’s still sort of hard to believe that the last six FW strips featured two characters who didn’t even previously exist, given how the damn thing ran for fifty years and had a cast of thousands.

    Of course, it’s always fun when Les gets hurt. Doesn’t matter how. For example, the funniest part of the “USA!” post office bombing arc was how upset Les was. Physical pain, psychic pain, it makes no difference to me. If Dick Facey was suffering, I was pleased.

  3. Green Luthor

    Huh, I thought “Don’t mention the autopsy photos” would place higher, although to be honest, I didn’t quite realize that the award was supposed to be for strips that accomplished what Batiuk intended. (I mean, it’s possible Batiuk was going for “hilariously deranged” with the autopsy photos, but I don’t think he’s that self-aware.)

    Either way, though, I can’t argue with Les in agony. That’s always a bright spot.

    And “The Lost Finale” was genuinely nice, even if the story preceding it was utterly nonsensical. (Why were all these people going to the concert, and in a frickin’ blizzard no less? Dunno, they just are.) But Batiuk couldn’t get out of his own way enough to leave it at that, and he had to give us one last week of “Buy my book!” Thanks, Tom, for reminding us why the only thing we would miss was the snarkability.

    • ComicBookHarriet

      There is no reason for the ‘don’t mention the autopsy photos’ thought bubble to be there except for dark humor. Batiuk used to use dark humor all the time, so it isn’t foreign to him.

      I took that strip as a genuine attempt at a joke, hence it making both the best and the worst.

      • Green Luthor

        True. The whole thing was so completely unhinged that it was hard to tell how much was Batiuk’s intent and how much was Batiuk’s half-assery. (Mitchell’s personality seemed to shift every strip, but was Batiuk showing us how he’s “odd”, or was it just another case where Batiuk loses the plot between strips? Both explanations are believable.)

        Ah, well, still not gonna complain about the winner being Les in pain.

  4. sorialpromise

    Everyone loves a good ‘give it to Les’ strip.
    Others can do that better than me. (I?)
    I come to “praise Batiuk, not to bury him.” This might fit better into CBH’s tomorrow post.
    I liked the “Goodbye Zoomers.” That fit very well into TB’s wheelhouse. He understood high schoolers. It was the aging that he could not get a handle on. High School in Act 1, was his bread and butter. He spent a good 20 years mining the humor. He captured the ups and downs, the victories and also the humiliating defeats. He understood teachers, administration, students, music/band, and the various necessary fillers: such as mascots, computers, school signs and painted rocks. He jumbled them all together pretty well. Then he aged himself out from his wheelhouse. It grew stale. Enter Act 2. The official SP “Lay for Tom B” has ended.

    Reading Be Ware of Eve Hill
    Gives me a thrill
    Devouring ComicBookHarriet
    Pictures me on a chariot
    I read linear like an arrow
    I am hooked on Anonymous Sparrow.

    ( I quote:
    I’m a poet
    My feet show it
    They’re Longfellows)

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      I voted for “Goodbye Zoomers” for the same reason. It was on topic, had something to say, and mined a genuine chuckle out of something the world was tired of (COVID and video meetings). Dare I say, it’s a rare strip that wouldn’t have looked out of place in Act I.

  5. Les gets injured and–wait for it–doesn’t get to lecture people about how terrible they are for injuring him and for forsaking Lisa. It’s almost like a strip written by someone other than Tom Batiuk.

  6. billytheskink

    A Darling Gift was the most humorously surprising strip of the year.

    The Lost Finale was the most pleasant.

    Goodbye Zoomers had the best gag.

    Les Finally Gets It, though, was certainly the most enjoyable.

    Especially so when you see that, in a likely attempt to simply fill the background, Ayers drew one of Les’ teammates crowding his route… something that would, indeed, lead to Les getting crushed by two defenders. My head cannon says this was intentional on the teammate’s part.

  7. be ware of eve hill

    Damn, CBH. Your knowledge of Western culture and art is incredible. I took a year of Western Culture classes at college and never heard of/don’t remember ‘Abduction of a Sabine Woman’.

    I voted for ‘The Lost Finale’ because that was the nominee that hit me the most emotionally. That was when it really sunk in that SoSF was losing the fodder for its snark. ‘The Lost Finale’ truly would have made a fitting finale, but TB couldn’t leave well enough alone. Why Tom, why?

    It was kind of fun trying to identify all the characters. If anyone doubted Batton Thomas was Tom Batiuk this strip clinched it.
    be ware of eve hill: Hey Tom, I see Cathy and Brian sitting in the back pew. There’s Chuck Ayers on the right. Where are you? Oh, right. Batton Thomas. Oh, how I hate him.

    I thought about voting for ‘Les Finally Gets It’ but didn’t because it didn’t lead to permanent injury. In hindsight, I can see why everyone liked it. Les Moore, Batiuk’s “Golden Child” finally takes one on the chin. Time after time, Batiuk makes all the other characters bend over backwards to make Les happy. All the unwarranted fawning and constant protection of his delicate ego. Les was more than overdue for a comeuppance.

    How many of you reacted with a fist pump after witnessing Les get pulped?

    Scenes We’d Like to See: The group tackle resulted in a head injury that lead to CTE induced dementia for Les later on. At his funeral, attendees grumble at how poorly he treated them.

    • be ware of eve hill

      Let me guess. I tried to close my italics tag and forgot the slash again. How many times? How many times am I going to make that boo boo?

      Edit function for bwoeh, por favor. *sigh*

    • sorialpromise

      From the BWoEH archives:
      “I took a year of Western Culture classes at college and never heard of/don’t remember ‘Abduction of a Sabine Woman’.”
      As anyone could tell you, ‘Abduction’ is ALWAYS taught the third week of the semester because:
      1. The artist painted it on the third week of the month.
      2. The event portrayed happened on the third triad of the quarter.
      3. The work was commissioned during the third week of the season.
      4. The models could only commit on the third day of the week.
      (the education continues for the advancement of Western Culture.)

      • sorialpromise

        Anonymous Sparrow might even say the work is Bologna!

      • be ware of eve hill

        All about the thirds, eh?

        ‘Western Culture’ was a mandatory general studies course at OSU, but it was one of those “read and regurgitate” classes. You’d take notes at the lectures and read the course text, but you’d almost instantly forget what was on the test (multiple choice/true false) after taking it.

        • sorialpromise

          See, if you would have known me way back then…how old are you by the way? I bet that I was in third grade when you were in your third trimester during your third year…I could have helped you pass Western Culture.

    • Bill the Splut

      And then, someone pulls his broken glasses off his open-coffin corpse, and wears them while being carried around on the gurney he died on.
      Everyone laughs!

    • EntrancedCat

      I’d like to give CBH a special award, mention, gratitude for putting a butt-naked Funky into “Phryne Revealed Before the Areopagus” by Jean-Léon Gérôme.

      • ComicBookHarriet

        Thanks EC,

        Now before everyone starts viewing me as some kind of rustic renaissance woman knowing all art and history and literature…the only reason I know the Sabine Woman sculpture is because I saw it when I went to Florence with the college choir, and the only reason I knew the Phryne Revealed painting is from a pretty famous political cartoon that riffed on it.

  8. The Duck of Death

    I had to give it to “The Lost Finale” because it wasn’t a failure on any level, which is incredibly rare. And it gave us several minutes of entertainment debating who the participants were.

    And it was a very rare exception to the pissy, scolding, mopey, resentful tone of the last 10 years of this furschlugginer strip. Finally, something upbeat and uplifting.

    As for “Les Finally Gets It,” I’m probably alone in this interpretation, but I felt Les was triumphing in that situation. As if Charlie Brown had finally kicked the football, but sprained his ankle in the process. I mean, he caught the pass. And I hate to see him succeed in anything. So I couldn’t vote for that.

    Fun trivia about the runner-up:

    Bats provided an annotated version of The Lost Finale on his site. He numbered the characters from 1-70, and forgot the number 66. Instead of correcting the four numbers he would have had to rewrite, he unapologetically noted right below the art that he forgot it, saying, “It happens.”

    This lends credence to my theory that he literally forgot that the year 2022 didn’t end on a Sunday, and had to come up with 6 more strips to close out the year, after Chuck had hung up his pen for good.

    He’s missed holidays before, running holiday strips after the holiday has passed. I think he’s just not big on consulting calendars and doing the necessary work to nail down important days.

    • billytheskink

      TB forgetting #66 and then not taking a few minutes to correct it really does say something. Back in March, I annotated this panel for a Sunday strip in the Oscar ceremony story arc.

      See how the #24 is kind of wonky and a little out of the labeling order of the rest of the numbers? (I’m hoping it wasn’t obvious unless pointed out)

      That’s because I originally mislabeled it as another #21 and didn’t catch it until after I exported the image and closed out the file where I added those numbers without saving it. And I spent the 3 minutes and 42 seconds necessary to correct that… for this blog… which I don’t get paid a cent to produce.

      I suppose in fairness to TB, though, he was doing the same for his blog rather than something he gets paid to produce. I could hazard a guess as to which blog post has more views…

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        It’s like he thinks it’s cute. “Oops, I made an oopsie!” He mimics self-deprecation over a mistake nobody on earth would care about, instead of putting in the tiny amount of work to fix it. How lazy and phony can you get?

        It’s one thing if you do something colossally dumb and then have a laugh at yourself about it. Like the infamous Sylvester screw-up on Press Your Luck, featuring a guest appearance from Mel Blanc himself.

        Batiuk wants to be self-deprecating, but self-deprecation has to be sincere. It has to be rooted in something that’s true, and not all that flattering, about yourself. Batiuk’s ego won’t let him ever, ever, ever admit he was wrong about anything. His whole image is built around puff pieces that proclaim Funky Winkerbean is great, for irrelevant reasons that aren’t even true.

    • Green Luthor

      Also fun about his “Annotated Lost Finale”? #57 is listed as being “Kesha”. Not Keisha, Kesha. (But she’s listed right after #56, “Batton Thomas”, so I might have a theory as to why Batiuk missed that…)

  9. The Duck of Death

    In today’s Crankshaft, robes and fundraising and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir are forgotten. Lillian frets because she doesn’t know if the choir is “ready to perform in front of an audience.”

    Literally in front, because, as she explains, they’ve performed for audences before, but they were in the back of the church.

    [pause for laughter]

    Incidentally, on re-reviewing the fake-finale “Hallelujah” strip, I noticed that Lil was back to playing the organ — the very instrument that Harry was hired to play, with great fanfare, in a long arc. The more things change in the Funkshaftiverse, the more they stay the same.

    • The Duck of Death

      Mar. 31, 2021: One of the choir biddies tells Dinkle why they need a new organist:

      “Lillian, our current organist, has been doing it for so long tht her hands just won’t let her do it anymore.”

      Hallelujah, indeed! A miracle recovery! Today her hands can handle Handel, when before they couldn’t eke out a hymn!

    • Remember, the OMEA stuff has been in FW for years; this is the first time (I think) that it’s been inflicted on Crankshaft readers.

  10. Paul Jones

    What really sells the Les Gets It strip is that for years, he was whining that he never caught the ball only to turn right round and whine that he caught the damn thing. It shows us who and what Les is: a male Elly Patterson, whimpering that he is the victim of all victims, surpassing all others.

  11. The Duck of Death

    Speaking of Dinkle and the OMEA, as I was yesterday, they ran the two “fundraising for choir robes” strips on consecutive days on their Facebook page this week.

    Yesterday I said I didn’t get what an octogenarian church choir had to do with marching bands and music education in schools.

    I still don’t get it.

    But apparently, the aśs-kissing must flow. In both directions.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      As with Kent State University, I don’t know whether Batiuk or the OMEA is more pathetic at this point.

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        Now that I look at their website and convention guidebook they don’t mention him at all. I wonder if he just bought an exhibitor booth or something, and he’s trying to make himself seem like more of a partner than he really is.

        Just like he did with the Rose Parade. He babbled for months about all the floats and the banners to honor the great Harry Dinkle, and then you had to freeze-frame to see any of it. The “marching band directors” project barely mentions him. It looks like they went to Pasadena again this year, with no Dinkle this time.

        • The Duck of Death

          That’s some mighty fine de-teck-a-tive work there, BJr6K. I don’t even see him listed among the exhibitor booths. Yet OMEA just posted two of his strips this week. And Puffy wrote in his blog a few days ago:

          …next week I’m off to sign books at the Ohio Music Educators Conference in Columbus.

          (You can’t help but enjoy how he got the name of The Ohio Music Education Association so very wrong, despite their years of mutual rump-kissing. A real thigh-slapper.)

        • Anniebee

          I do see Kent Stare University as an exhibitor. I wonder if TB will be a guest at that booth, signing books. (That way he doesn’t have to pay the booth fee.)

  12. Gerard Plourde

    While TomBa is at it, the choir’s accompaniment at the OMEA convention should be provided by Mort Winkerbean and the Bedside Manorisms (or whatever they call themselves).

  13. The Duck of Death

    Y’know what I just realized about “Les Gets It”?

    Remember how Lisa found the lump in her breast?

    Yep, it was when she was tackled while playing a pickup game of football.

    Even when She’s not mentioned, She is present. Lisa is always there. Lisa. Lisa. Lisa Lisa bo-bisa, banana fanna fo-fisa, fee, fie, mo-misa.


    • Banana Jr. 6000

      It’s kind of amazing that never came up in that week. Did Batiuk just not make the connection? It’s like watching Lucy holding the football for Charlie Brown, and him kicking a field goal without incident. “Wow, Lucy, we sure showed those other kids we’re better at football!” And nobody comments on it.

      This kind of thing is what makes Funky Winkerbean so goddam baffling. He constantly drags Lisa into everything. Then when he creates a scenario where it would be perfectly valid to bring her up, nothing.

      Hell, it was downright bad storytelling not to bring it up! Les is one of the few characters who has a discernible trait, and that trait is “makes everything about Lisa.” It’s like the joke is, he didn’t bring it up. Funky should “umm, this doesn’t remind you of anything?” But NEITHER of them made the connection, even though Funky played in that infamous tackle football game, and he think he was the one who tackled Lisa!

      Again, Batiuk just can’t make connections where they should be made.

      • Gerard Plourde

        It does lend credence to the theory that some cognitive issue exists.

      • Green Luthor

        In fairness, I’m not sure how one would tactfully or tastefully bring up “hey, doesn’t this remind you of the time your wife first realized she had the cancer that would ultimately kill her”.

        (Although on the other hand, this is the same Funky who went to Linda and asked her for one of her dead husband’s football helmets, after he died as a result of a football-induced condition while wearing a football helmet, so… maybe tact and taste wouldn’t factor into it…)

  14. Will

    The statue of Les is magnificent, well done!

    • ComicBookHarriet

      Thank you! 😀 You have no idea how long I spent hunting up the perfect Jetsons background to paste it on.

      • Gerard Plourde

        The search was worth every minute. It fully deserves a chef’s kiss and would have been a far more interesting and appropriate conclusion to the John Byrne created advertisement for the Lisa’s Story books.