In Over His Head

The Cranky Shitstorm Continues.

Following the week of ominous black and white strips, we were presented a one off Sunday of Lisa’s Legacy Run in 2016.

Yeah, that website link it totally dead. I checked. Last Funky Winkerbean 5k was in 2019, as far as I can tell.

Then it’s back to Hollywood, for probably some of my absolute most favorite Frankie strips ever of all time for real.


He’s one fedora away from a Dick Tracey.

An gift basket of hilarity to unpack from just this one strip.

One. Lenny doesn’t recognize Darin, despite being part of the prior scheme?

Two. Frankie recognizes his son because of PETE?

In 2013, when the big Frankie Gets Real plot went down, Pete was living in New York and working on The Amazing Mister Sponge. He showed up video chatting with Darin a couple months before Frankie rolls into Westview.

Funny joke there Darin. Too bad it’s been used before.

Wally gets shot down. The foreshadowing is terrifying.

Mopey Pete wouldn’t be seen again until May of 2014 when Holly Winkerbean flies to New York to pick up some line art, to tempt Chester Hagglemore out of a precious copy of Starbuck Jones.

I have had enough, so act your age….
Splash pages are always signed by the writer. The writer is the real artist. RIGHT BATIUK?!?!?

So, for Frankie to recognize Darin from PETE, Frankie must have done some serious research his bio-son’s high school years, complete with pictures. Or he’s been stalking him since their previous encounter. Maybe via Facebook?

Three, Frankie calls Pete a little creep.

There’s this weird light/dark side echo. Like, Frankie and Lenny are the mirror universe evil versions of Darin and Pete. Like, despite the obvious differences in personality, morals, temperament…Frankie and Darin are united by their intrinsic and heritable need for a little stoogy sidekick.

And then, there’s this.

And now Frankie is one felt nose away from Sesame Street.

I can’t top BeckoningChasm’s words on this. So I won’t try.

This is my favorite drawing of Frankie.  Look at that openly happy and joyous expression!  There’s a man about to explode with happiness–or a man surgically altered for transfer to the “Popeye” comic strip.  He’s also hiding a turkey baster in his shirt, which shows preparedness!  Unless that’s Kuato waking up.

BeckoningChasm, November 7, 2016

Frankie tries to get Darin to give him the inside scoop, pointing out that publicity is publicity.

Just the pissiest pissy face from Darin here.

Many in the comments rightfully said that Frankie expecting Darin to work with him on this is pretty optimistic given their last encounter. But I’m going to defend it. Frankie is written as a narcissistic sociopath. His empathy and theory of mind for other people is extremely limited and warped by his desires.

He’s motivated by money and fame and so over and over again makes the assumption those can be used to motivate everyone else. He’s oriented to his own goals, and his first expectation of a situation isn’t what is most likely, but what is most beneficial to him. Focused on his new goal, Frankie is over the ego-injury of years ago. And if he isn’t thinking of it any more, why would Darin?

It’s not super deep, it’s a typical villain trope pulled right off the rack, but it makes sense.

Darin is getting aaaawfuly close to assault here.

Here we have another bit of consistent characterization. Frankie’s instant reaction to being rebuffed is to fight back. Yeah, he’s fighting back via a thought bubble and vague plans to ruin things. A reflex ego-shield for a big old manbaby. But the instant, “I’ll make you pay.” spirit is still there. Unlike every other Funkyverse character who curls up into a mopey depressive ball at opposition or failure,

Sure is dark in their Film Food truck…

But would vengeance be swift?

(Spoiler: No.)

Tune in Sunday night.

(There may be a dumb Cranky post between then and now. Depends.)



Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

48 responses to “In Over His Head

  1. Y. Knott

    Frank: And what I don’t understand is why do people take an instant dislike to me?
    Trapper: It saves time, Frank.

    From the M*A*S*H episode “O.R.”, October 8, 1974. Written by Larry Gelbart & Laurence Marks.

  2. Epicus Doomus

    Buying a food truck, driving it all the way out to Hollywood, and setting up shop outside a studio seemed like an awful lot of expense and effort to…uh, what was Frankie doing there, exactly? Oh yes, he was “digging up dirt” on Hollywood superstars, presumably to peddle to those awful, awful tabloid newspapers and internet gossip sites we all despise so much. Still though, tough to see how he would have manged to break even there, much less make a profit. Plus, who the hell would eat anything from a truck labeled “Film Food”? Ick.

    Boy Lisa’s pissy faces are just so hilariously non-threatening. I always found it kind of offensive how Boy Lisa more or less shunned his actual parents after deciding to focus more on being Lisa’s son. Other than forcing his exhausted mother to babysit while he was off gallivanting around in his ridiculous comic book fantasy world, he didn’t really seem to have much use for Ann and Fred anymore. I always wondered how they felt upon learning that upon returning to Westview, their son opted to shack up in his bio-mom’s house instead of theirs, which might have almost made actual sense. Typical Lisa, still meddling in everyone’s business decades after she died.

  3. Bill the Splut

    Freakin’ Emperor Palpatine would look at Frankie’s face and say “Wow, I guess he’s evil. Subtle.
    “Well, back to my fully functional battle station with a hole so big spaceships can fly in it. Hope that fish-head guy doesn’t figure it out.”

  4. billytheskink

    Yet another instance of Durwood riding on Pete’s coattails… Durwood’s own bio-dad doesn’t recognize him without Pete, the world famous comic book writer.

    Man, Ayers was bringing his B-plus game to the pencils back in 2016. That’s some solid pissyface artwork on Durwood.

  5. be ware of eve hill

    LOL. Love the Mooch Myers “like” on the Facebook post.

    Ah, yes, Eric “Mooch” Myers. Mooch found out love triangles never work. No room for you in the Mopey Pete/Darin love affair.

    It’s a shame that Mooch was banished to the Isle of Forgotten Characters. ACT III could have used a bit of arson to liven things up.

    • billytheskink

      Banish and then Pete stole his girlfriend. Ouch.

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        Pete couldn’t steal anyone’s girlfriend with a wheelbarrow full of roofies and a getaway car. He’s far too socially stunted, unappealing, and just plain lazy for that. Hell, I don’t think he even wants Mindy all that much. He certainly never showed much interest in her.

      • be ware of eve hill

        Mopey Pete stole Mindy from Mooch? He wasn’t banished. He died of embarrassment.

        Have to admit, I don’t remember that. What was Mindy’s first appearance in Funky Winkerbean? Wasn’t she a waitress at Montoni’s?

        Did Mindy attend Westview High?

        • billytheskink

          Mindy did not go to Westview High, I believe she met Mooch when she worked at Montoni’s and each of them flitted in and out of each other’s strips for a couple of years. Mooch and Mindy went to prom together, with Durwood and Jess and Pete and Chien.

          • be ware of eve hill

            2007, huh. I barely remember 2007. 😁

            Chien went with Mopey Pete? What a goth thing to do.


          • Bill the Splut

            Which 1 is Mindy? The brunette in the middle? Please tell me that she’s NOT Chien, because that’s the only character in FW that I ever liked. Like she’s gonna dress up and go to prom!
            Since that makes no sense, I’ll bet that’s her. So, as a guy who worked 6 years in record stores (as we called them, before you were born) that is NOT a goth. Or…is she punk? New Waver? Disco queen? YOUNG LISA?!
            “Get to the mailbox before our parents”? What does that mean? Is this like a vendo? In those days, I guess people mailed themselves nudes.
            Wait–is Mindy a blonde? Because whenever has a nerdy guy in this strip ever not been rewarded with a hot blonde?

          • Banana Jr. 6000

            The idea that any female would even speak to Mopey Pete is several meters from reality. He’s not as repulsive as Les, but he’s more instantly repulsive. His smile is big, phony, and desperate. He refuses to grow up, and seems proud of this. He announces it immediately, when he mentions comic books three times in a two-minute conversation. We joke that he’s gay, but I don’t think he’s that either. He’s Tom Batiuk’s idea of how a man should carry himself: like a permanent nine-year-old.

  6. be ware of eve hill

    An intriguing transition for Darin over the last half dozen years of the strip. He went from one of the most hated characters circa 2016 to an almost non-entity at the strip’s end. It’s like Batiuk lost interest in the character.

    Subject for a future blog?

    • gleeb

      Oh, some of us still hated the character.

      • be ware of eve hill

        LOL. No doubt. Me too.

        There’s not much to like about Darin. Batiuk made him some kind of super-adaptoid who is great at everything. He has an M.B.A. He develops phone apps for Montoni’s. He illustrates books. He illustrates comic books. He sells popcorn at halftime.

        We get it, Batiuk. Darin is the spawn of the Dead St. Lisa. How could he be anything less than superhuman?🙄

        What annoyed me most about Darin was the way he treated his adoptive parents, Ann and Fred Fairgood. Darin spent far more time glorifying his “bio mom” and sucking up to Les than spending any time at all with the couple that loved and raised him from infancy. That always rubbed me the wrong way.

        Darin, call your mother. She’d love to hear from you. No, I didn’t mean Lisa.

        After a while, Darin ceased to wedge his way into the Batiuk/Les Moore love affair. It’s intriguing. One moment, Darin is challenging Les Moore for comic strip supremacy. Flash forward six years, he’s taking a backseat to Flash and Phil.

        Don’t get me started on Jessica. To call her shallow is a compliment. While working on documentaries with Cindy in California, Jessica left Skyler with her in-laws. What kind of mother could repeatedly leave her child for extended periods? Unconscionable.

        Poor Ann has to take care of Skyler as well as her husband, Fred, who has been disabled by a stroke.

        When visiting Darin’s childhood home, Jessica feels compelled to make out with Darin in his old bedroom. Why? Has Darin’s bedroom been converted into some kind of shrine? Making out with Darin, with his parents and their son in the other room?

        When making an impromptu visit to Atomik Komix, Jessica overhears Darin talking about “seeing someone.” She immediately assumes he’s cheating on her, only to discover the “someone” is his eye doctor. Upon hearing the truth, she jumps his bones in the coat room. With Mopey Pete within earshot?

        Some people have no scruples, I guess.

        Earth to Tom Batiuk. Is this the behavior of a likable character? Hello?!

        • billytheskink

          My favorite Durwood bit was very early Act III when Durwood, the career nerd, suddenly knew more about basketball fundamentals than Summer did.

        • Banana Jr. 6000

          Darin is yet another Forrest Gump character in the Funkyverse. He falls into major successes left and right in vastly different fields, without ever doing anything or having any skill. Or, as you point, out being likable in any way.

          It’s also another reflection of Tom Batiuk’s attitude that everything except writing and making comic books are busywork for idiots. This guy just programmed a custom pizza app in his spare time? With the ability to take credit card payments? Sure, Tom.

          • be ware of eve hill

            Computers are so easy. /s

            I’m reminded of the movie Revenge of the Nerds where the Anthony Edwards character creates a computer animation of a girl he’s trying to impress by tapping on a keyboard for 30 seconds.

            I went to the movie with a guy who was a computer programmer. He loudly complained about the scene as it was taking place.

          • be ware of eve hill

            Yes, your honor. That’s the unscrupulous couple who made out in the coatroom.

            Guilty. Guilty. GUILTY!

    • ComicBookHarriet

      Darin would make an interesting character study, you’re right.

      I’m considering putting the next deep dive up for a vote. List the 7 or so subjects I’ve got the most material done for.

  7. Paul Jones

    The irritating thing is that Batiuk never got it through his thick skull that being an aggressive jerk who won’t throw his hands up in despair at the first sign of trouble is an appealing quality.

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      That’s a really good observation. Batiuk’s values are so backwards that his villains are more likeable than his protagonists.

  8. ComicBookHarriet

    And for you art swipe fans out there! Today is gonna be hard to figure, because some of the background people might be generic pulls or maybe even “gasp” original. Though I’m pretty sure the weatherman is a Cranky/Ralph/Keesterman with a different head.

    But I did find this from earlier in the week.

    Three separate “Pam and Cranky watch TV” strips were cobbled together for that one.

    • Fan Fan

      I like the dialog in the second one better!

      • The Duck of Death

        Agreed. I’ve always said Batiuk’s art would work better as 3 random panels. People will assemble their own stories… Some kind of national dance competition where people recruit others to “own” part of their state’s team with the promise of a huge prize if the team wins? And the “owners” of the Nebraska team are showing up to cheer?

        See, it’s already more interesting.

  9. Rusty Shackleford

    Ok, I will admit that I like Crankshaft this week. It seems like the weather reports are always exaggerated up here in NE Ohio and so the gags this week aren’t bad.

    I’m just glad we didn’t get another week of OMEA shilling.

    • Cabbage Jack

      Yeah, he’s going to ruin it with Funky tropes, but I’ve frequently unironically enjoyed Crankshaft. It’s as repetitive as Groundhog Day, and I hate the Lena strips because we’re supposed to root for the needlessly cruel and abusive team who harass an innocent and well-intentioned woman, but when Batty feels like it, he can still turn around a bland but pleasant gag-a-day strip

    • The Duck of Death

      With the warning scrolling across the bottom of the screen:

      Just in… The world is going to end eventually!… We’re doomed!

      it’s almost as if Batty is making fun of his own fatalistic “climate damage” moping. Does he realize that? Probably not, but you never know. It’s never too late to become self-aware.

  10. Banana Jr. 6000

    Frankie is the critic Tom Batiuk wishes he had in real life. Over-the-top, cartoonishly evil, driven by obvious and shallow motives, and easily defeated. He’s got us, but our existence doesn’t feed his ego the way he wants.

  11. Banana Jr. 6000

    I wondered if there was ever a “splash page” story in Funky Winkerbean. After the bullpen, covers, gem mint collectible value, and spinner racks, that’s Batiuk’s fifth comic book-related special interest.

  12. be ware of eve hill

    The other day, I wrote that I’m trouble receiving all of my selected comics in an email from the Comics Kingdom. It’s supposed to be a subscriber perk.

    Yesterday, they wrote back saying they were sorry for the issue and were working on it. Then THEY CLOSED MY PROBLEM TICKET.

    How can they close the ticket when the underlying issue hasn’t been resolved? How can you track issues that need to be worked on when they’re closed? 🤯😖


    • Banana Jr. 6000

      To be fair, sometimes the help desk will close tickets that are individual cases of something larger that’s already being tracked. Meaning, large and widespread problems, something Comics Kingdom seems to have a lot of.

  13. Banana Jr. 6000

    Frankie is written as a narcissistic sociopath. His empathy and theory of mind for other people is extremely limited and warped by his desires. He’s motivated by money and fame and so over and over again makes the assumption those can be used to motivate everyone else. He’s oriented to his own goals, and his first expectation of a situation isn’t what is most likely, but what is most beneficial to him.

    Is he wrong, though? Despite their small-town pretensions, these people are all a bunch of fame whores. They just want to be comic book famous instead of the more traditional Hollywood famous. If Frankie made a mistake, it was underestimating how deeply in thrall they all were to the Cult of Lisa.

  14. I never knew this existed. And now I do, my life is worse.

    • Well, the embedded URL didn’t work. Go to Amazon and search for “Tom Batiuk Summer’s Story.” Bleck.

      • Y. Knott

        Or stay here and read these words from Tom himself, as posted on his blog. (WARNING: A strong stomach is required.)


        As part of the Lisa’s Legacy Trilogy box, readers will also get a digital chapbook called Summer’s Story which tells the story of her birth and is the final thread in the tapestry of Lisa’s life. So, in essence, you could say it’s really a fourlogy. Or not. Below is an excerpt from the chapbook.

        Hey, you found it! Good for you, and, if you’ve gotten this far, then you’re exactly the person we had in mind in preparing this chapbook. Sensitive, inquisitive, and with just the ever-so-slightest touch of OCD (the good kind not the bad kind where you find yourself wishing that OCD was in the correct alphabetical order). Because what you have here in this chapbook is the final missing piece that ties together the tapestry of Lisa Moore’s life. If I may, let me briefly explain why this chapter in Lisa’s Story at first wasn’t and why it now is.

        When Lisa’s Story was first published in book form in October of 2000, it collected the narrative which first appeared in Funky Winkerbean and that took her from her first cancer diagnosis to its remission. After her cancer returned in 2006, that second story from the strip along with the earlier work was collected in 2007 in a new book called Lisa’s Story – The Other Shoe. In the strip, during that six year interregnum between the stories, I stepped away from dealing with Lisa’s cancer to write different stories featuring different characters. Lisa, with only a coupe of exceptions, left the stage to others in the repertory while she patiently waited in the wings. One of those exceptions, however, was a fairly significant one. It was the story of the birth of Les and Lisa’s daughter Summer. It followed Lisa through the ups and downs of her pregnancy to Summer’s birth as a preemie and her battle for life in the neonatal intensive care unit, and, as such, it adds the final brush stroke to the picture I’ve been painting of Lisa. Once again we see Lisa’s courage in the face of adversity on display. And it makes clear why in The Last Leaf we see Summer going to her sweet sixteen NICU reunion at the hospital. Compiling only parts of a comic strip into a book can be a tricky bit of business since, what flows so naturally from day to day, can seem awkward and forced when rearranged and aligned in foreign juxtaposition to one another.* Such was the case with Summer’s birth in that it didn’t have a natural home in Lisa’s Story, coming too quickly following the first chapter and too close to the second. Even though it would have explained why there was no Summer in the first half of the book, and a young Summer suddenly appearing in the second, the juxtaposition would have been jarring. As well, the book would also have become unfocused. The story we were telling was Lisa’s cancer story. So the decision was made not to include it.

        As a youth I always wanted to create a super hero. Little did I know that her name would be Lisa. With this chapbook story back in place, the entire arc of Lisa’s life is now complete. And, with it as well, I think my work on Lisa’s Story is done. I can’t imagine what more she could possibly want to have me tell. But, then, I never saw her coming in the first place.

        *For that experience, I would humbly suggest seeking out the editions comprising The Complete Funky Winkerbean where each day follows like the next breath in the lives of the characters and absolutely nothing is left out which will be a balm for your ever-so-slight OCD.

        • Banana Jr. 6000

          Jesus H. Christ. Who on earth does he think is reading Lisa’s Story, much less an appendix about Summer? An out-of-date appendix, because it now omits the part where Summer wrote the most important book in human history.

          Batiuk reminds me of Bruno Kirby’s character in Good Morning Vietnam. He’s just so convinced of how funny he is, when he demonstrably isn’t.

        • billytheskink

          “the final thread in the tapestry of Lisa’s life”

          Oh, if only… if only…

        • Bill the Splut

          23 years, and he’s still “Gimme Prizes!” It’s called writing like a pretentious dick.

          • Banana Jr. 6000

            And it’s no wonder he doesn’t get any. The man can’t write a simple book plug without indulging his worst traits.

            “Here’s an excerpt from the book: ‘Hi, you bought the book! You must be a very sensitive person!’ You must have the kind of OCD that makes you re-arrange words in alphabetical order!” You know, the kind that doesn’t exist. And if it did, it would be closer to dyslexia.

            If you’re going to share an excerpt with website visitors to interest them in the book, why would you pick the most banal introductory section? That’s like previewing a product manual, but the only part you get is “Congratulations on purchasing the XTC-3500 Model Whatever.”

            But no matter, the rest of the excerpt is just 425 words of Lisaterbation. It starts with “let me briefly explain why this chapter in Lisa’s Story at first wasn’t and why it now is”, which he doesn’t do at all. Blah blah Lisa Lisa adversity courage blah blah my job is so hard blah blah blah interregnum chapbook tapestry neonatal blah blah blah Lisa speaks to me blah blah I don’t don’t want to be unfocused or jarring or continue telling Lisa’s story even those are only discernible traits as a writer blah blah blah.

            It’s just all over the place. Batiuk fails as a writer at the most basic level possible: he fails to convey meaning. WTF is he even trying to tell us? It fails to communicate anything of worth to anyone who bought it, or wants to learn about it beforehand. It’s like something a bot would write, if you set “use big words” to +100%.

          • Y. Knott

            Unless the meaning he was attempting to convey was “I’m pretentious, wildly narcissistic, delusional, and unreadable”. In which case he succeeded brilliantly.

  15. Y. Knott

    “Dumb Cranky Post” watch, day 1: No sign of a dumb Cranky post.

    • William Thompson

      There’s a hint of menace in today’s Crankshaft post. The outdoor reporter has juxtaposed the concepts of cold and hot in a manner clearly meant to be humorous. With this successful, if hesitant, first step into the world of humor, Batiuk may feel emboldened to try another joke some day soon. We’re doomed, I tell you, doomed!

    • Y. Knott

      “Dumb Cranky Post” watch, day 2: Still no sign of a dumb Cranky post.

  16. Wanna read something?
    Why not read some Funky Winkerbean.
    It’s Pulitzer nominated.
    Come on in and purchase these books.
    Come enjoy these strips.

    What’s that?
    You’re going to read Garfielf instead?
    Really now.
    You think you have the audacity to read another brand of strip.
    You will regret that decision.