Bull and Buck spend New Year’s Day watching college football on Bull’s basement TV and reminiscing about how lousy the Scapegoats football team was.
The gang at Atomik Komix, in between inexplicable power failures, manage to introduce a new character, the “Scorch”.
Wally and Adeela prepare for graduation. Though Wally has a job at Montoni’s waiting for him, Adeela is unable to get hired because of her foreigner status. At the graduation pizza party, Tony welcomes Wally aboard (even though he was hired in the kitchen nine years ago) and Funky installs him as night manager; Wally in turn announces Adeela will be the pizzeria’s new day manager.
January 27-February 3
Becky and Dinkle attend the Ohio Music Educators Conference in Cleveland.
Bull is notified that he will be inducted into Westview’s Sports Hall of Fame. Linda invites Bull’s erstwhile rival Buck to give the induction speech.
At the high school, Linda shares with fellow teacher Les that she plans on retiring at the end of the school year, as Bull’s condition worsens.
February 25-March 2
Cayla takes Les shopping for new clothes to wear at book signings. Les infuriates Cayla by paying full price for the very first thing he tries on.
Bernie Silver organizes the students to “walk out” of school to protest gun violence on the first anniversary of March for Our Lives.
Holly informs Funky that her mom has decided not to return to Florida due to worries about climate change.
Bull has an angry episode involving a lost DVD; this prompts wife Linda to take him to a doctor in North Carolina for more tests.
March 18-April 7
Holly’s mom Melinda has officially moved in with her daughter and son in law, and Funky must go to Florida to ship back all of her belongings.
Cindy announces her latest project will be a documentary about disgraced silent film star Butter Brinkel. Naturally, this means she must fly back to Ohio, with Mason and Jessica, to do research, from Crazy Harry’s DVD collection.
April 15-May 5
Ahead of Free Comic Book Day Dead Skunk Head John visits Atomik Komix to enlist Darin, Pete, and Holtron for in-store appearances. Also present are Flash Freeman, Mason, Les, and Tom Batiuk stand-in”Batton Thomas.”
Les invites Cindy to visit the staff of The Bleat.
Summer, who has been in college for 7 years now, calls Les to tell him she’s thinking of changing her major.
The Westview faculty gather under a yellow sky for the Teachers’ Picnic.
May 27-June 16
Cindy and Cliff meet at the Brown Derby to talk about Butter Brinkel. Jessica, who initially expressed interest in working on Cindy’s new project, suddenly decides she misses her husband. Oh, and her young son Skyler, who is still being cared for by Darin’s mom, Ann. When Skyler falls and has to be taken to the ER, Jessica returns to Westview for a week.
Another, yes, another arc in which Darin is the youngest person using the post office.
June 23-July 20
Cindy and Jessica’s latest documentary tells the story of Butter Brinkel: from his beginnings as a 12-year-old runaway on the vaudeville circuit to his rise to stardom in the early 40’s. During a masquerade ball at Brinkel’s mansion, starlet Valerie Pond is found shot to death. Brinkel is indicted for her murder and refuses to testify on his own behalf in the “trial of the century.” Butter’s old “kemosabe” Cliff relates to Cindy how the author Dashiell Hammett that Butter took the fall to cover up for the real murderer. Anger also shares, decades later and for the first time, how Butter’s Scotch-drinking, cigar-smoking pet chimp Zanzibar pointed a prop raygun at him and spoke like a human. The resolution to this “mystery” is that maybe the jealous, talking chimpanzee was the killer.
With the Brinkel “documentary” “wrapped,” Jessica flies back to Ohio. She tells Darin that she’s turned down an opportunity to be an assistant cinematographer on the Starbuck Jones sequel in order to resume being a full time wife and mother.
July 29-August 4
Darin is approached by art gallery owner Kitch Swoon, to have his work included in a comic art show.
Les summons the staff of The Bleat to cover the county fair for the Westview Gazette; the kids demonstrate their ignorance of what newspapers are.
At the County Fair, Mindy challenges Pete to win her a prize at the baseball toss booth. He fails miserably, but the carny awards him a giant stuffed tiger out of pity. Pete reveals that he’d intended to propose to Mindy, but has blown most of his engagement ring savings trying to win the cheap toy. Mindy giddily accepts said cheap toy in lieu of a diamond ring. On the way home, the two stop by Bedside Manor to deliver a funnel cake to Mindy’s “Gramps,” a.k.a. feeble, wheelchair bound Ed Crankshaft.
August 18-September 1
At the comic art show at Dibbs Gallery, Mindy meets “old comic book artist” Ruby Lith. Over coffee at the Beanstalk, Ruby regales Mindy with stories of her struggles as a woman working among male chauvinists.
Mindy introduces Ruby Lith to the Atomik Komix staff and shows her around the studio. Ruby spies Mindy’s notes for a new character, the time-traveling “Wayback Wendy,” and the two women decide they will collaborate to bring the character to life.
September 9 – October 13: The Death of Bull Bushka
(Batiuk reveals to the New York Times that he’s beginning a 10-week story arc in which Bull’s declining mental state leads him to commit suicide.)
Buck Bedlow pays another visit to the Bushka home. Bull’s declining mental state now has him compulsively “washing and rewashing clothes all day long.” Linda tells Buck that Bull is probably ineligible for disability from the NFL since he wasn’t in the league long enough. The two old sportos go for a walk to the football field. The mailman arrives at the Bushka household with a letter from the NFL, informing Linda that Bull is ineligible for disability benefits. While Linda is commiserating with her online CTE support group, Bull barges into the room, demanding the car keys, which Linda has (very poorly) hidden in a drawer. Bull finds them, and, apparently deliberately, drives thru a guardrail on “Nobottom Road.” Two Ohio Highway Patrol officers arrive at the Bushka to inform Linda, who somehow hasn’t noticed that Bull had left the house.
Though Bull was well-liked and well known in Westview, his funeral is seemingly sparsely attended. Summer recalls the man that selflessly rehabbed her knee as a doofus, while Les recalls how he was bullied by Bull back in high school. Buck Bedlow and Harry Dinkle also share their remembrances.
After Bull’s funeral, Cindy and Mason meet with Les at Montoni’s to discuss “taking another run at turning Lisa’s Story into a movie.” Mason will portray the “real hero” (Les), but someone other than Les will write the script. Les reluctanly agrees, on the condition that Lisa’s story not be “glamorized.”
October 27-November 3
The mysterious “Pizza Monster” pays a Halloween visit to Montoni’s.
Les calls on the widowed Linda, who reveals that Bull’s “accident” was a suicide; that one of the troopers on the scene was one of Bull’s former players who kept some details out of the police report; that Bull crashed wearing his old football helmet in order to preserve his brain for research; and that since he never actually played in the NFL, Bull is ineligible for compensation. She also tells Les how Bull considered him a friend, contributing annually to the Lisa’s Legacy fund and saving a picture of the two of them together during Les’ week long stint on the football team.
Dinkle is amazed to learn that door-to-door Band Turkey sales have been supplanted by online selling via “Bandigogo.”
November 25-December 1
Melinda causes woe for daughter Holly and son-in-law Funky, leaving the house a mess and using up space on the DVR.
Comics legend “Flash” Freeman regales Darin and Pete with stories of Batom Comics back in the day.
Funky’s having recurring dreams of forgetting his high school locker combination. This is due to anxiety about forgetting to order mozzarella for the restaurant.
An end-of-year burnoff of miscellaneous gags, some holiday-related: Summer and Keisha are home for Christmas; Les still shilling his book; the band’s Christmas concert, another gratuitous shot at the USPS; Skyler is a brat; and a Montoni’s riff.