Author Archives: beckoningchasm

The only creature that knows of death, and its inevitability

Link to the Sunday Mourning strip.

I’m writing this before the Sunday strip becomes available, as is usual for Sunday and Funky Winkerbean.  Thus, I have no idea what it might be.  I have a feeling we’ll be seeing more trivia associated with the upchucking upcoming Lisa’s Story movie, but we might get Funky and Holly at home, or–in a massive middle finger to “continuity”–Funky and Les out for a morning run.   Remember the time Les flew to Africa, then flew back to Ohio in the middle of his trek up Mount Kilimanjaro so he could comment on Funky’s new car?  He then immediately flew back and ended up back with his tour group.  Lucky for them, huh?  Probably, that’ll be revised so that it was Mason’s private plane doing all that plague bacillus transporting, even though Mason was but a glimmer in Batiul’s eye back then, because when you have awards to win, tiny little details like telling a coherent story are totally unimportant.

UPDATE:  Oh my goodness, Lisa’s Story is the most tragic and heart-rending story every told.   Every detail is just more piteous and disturbing.  Why?  Is it because her suffering reaches deep into the soul, and illustrates the grand scheme of life in all its glory, which is then only cut from us cruelly, and discarded, along with all our dreams?

No, it’s because it gave an asshole like Les Moore the gateway to fame and respect–two things that should never have come close to this utterly loathsome gibbering slime-sheet.  I would give–(checks pocket change)–$1.78 if Mason would just dump Les into the fountain and say, “What a waste of space you are.  Good luck getting an airline ticket out of here; after I use my enormous fame to blacken your reputation forever, no one will want to touch you.”

Heck, I could go as high as $2.56.  Let me check under the couch cushions, and I might be able to sweeten that even more!

And…that’s all from me for this go-round.  Thank you all for your indulgence and for being a great audience.  Your contributions make this site what it is.  And please, a warm round of applause for Epicus Doomus, who takes over the center seat starting Monday.  Excelsior!

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“Here’s a Quarter…

–call someone who cares.”

For the first time since time immemorial, there’s an actual punchline that’s kind of funny.  A mangled aphorism, sure, but so much better than anything ever featured in Shankcraft.

The fact that the rest of it is stupid beyond measure is beside the point.   Reviewers:  “Yeah, I thought the movie was overly maudlin and treacly, the characters were loathsome, the production values are nil, and I was about to give it zero stars, but the quarter-finding scene turned it into a masterpiece of high art.”

I get it, Batiuk, every single trivial thing that involved Lisa is sacred, no matter what did (or didn’t) happen.   It’s all part of some fantastic mosaic of incredibleness and awesomeness and every person alive (or dead) should go out and a) buy the hardback trilogy and b) give Batiuk all the awards that can possibly be awarded.

There’s no question in my mind that Batiuk is winding this thing down.  The endless descents into utter trivia, treated as if they are gifts from the gods; the settling of old scores; the elevation of the hero characters; and the general disinterest he shows in his writing–all these things point to man who has spent his legacy and just can’t care anymore.

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In A World Where Les Is A Hero…

Link to today’s newspaper vandalism.

Well, apparently Tom Batiuk saw “Stan and Ollie” last year, and liked it enough to have it still playing eleven years in the future.  (Your time jump, Batiuk, not mine.)  The fact that he liked it makes me think it isn’t worth seeing, but I’ll try not to let his taste color my viewing habits.  Who knows?

As for the rest of this, movies are made this way only in the most imbecilic fantasy wish-fulfillment worlds.  The real world is nothing like this; the idea that Mason’s cellphone picture would be digitally altered for the big screen is really dumb, unless he’s planning on making an entirely green-screen film like The Amazing Bulk.  Which wouldn’t surprise me in the least, given the “talent” that abounds in this strip (and behind it).

Preproduction for movies is generally nothing but drudgery, so it’s not a bad idea for Batiuk to make it seem somewhat interesting or even romantic.  What is a bad idea is having Les Moore in your story–that turns it right back into drudgery.

It does turn out that Mason has a hidden superpower–he can lean way over and not fall on his face.  Boy, wouldn’t that make a satisfying third panel?  Especially if his cellphone broke and a piece of the screen lodged directly into Les’ throat.

Now I’m all miffed that this didn’t happen.

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Break BOTH Legs. And the Neck.

Link to today’s childish whim.

“Okay, so like there’s this guy, Les Moore, who’s like totally awesome and cool, but he’s like real sensitive and stuff, and he wrote a book that, like, didn’t have any explosions in it but was still like the best book ever, and everyone thought it was great.  And a bunch of people wanted to make a movie of it, but they didn’t do it right and Les got sad and stopped them.  But then this good guy named Mason, he was a super cool actor and stuff, and he wanted to make the movie, and Les was like, I don’t like this.  But Mason said he’d make sure it was, like, all done the way Les wanted, and he would let Les double make sure so it was all fine, but Les was like, it’s a perfect book, a movie won’t be good at all.   But they let Mason try it, and he made sure it was all just like Les said it should be, and Les would be there the whole time so he could make sure it was done right and there wouldn’t be any mistakes ever.  And everyone like applauded–all the moms, and the dads, the grandpas and mas, all the rotten older brothers and all of the babies and pets, too.”

I’ve said on a number of occasions that this strip is childish.  Well, it’s more than that.  It’s childish in the extreme, but it is plowing headfirst into infantile territory.

Yesterday, Charles said this (excerpted)

[Batiuk is] so desperate for affirmation, for praise, that he devotes strip after strip pleading with his audience to accept his assessment of his own genius.

I agree completely.  Which is why Batiuk has given us panel three, here–it’s an attempt at deflection.  Oh, gee, I’m so humble and I’m really not worthy of all this attention.  I’m…I’m…I’m flawed just like a regular human.  It rings just as falsely now as it did years ago, when Les asked the CME staff for a “cup of hemlock.”

Would that they had given it to him.   What might have been.

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On Wednesdays I Go Shopping

Link to today’s strip (eventually).

Wednesday’s strip was not available for preview.  THANK GOD.

There’ve been many times lately when criticizing this strip feels like criticizing a preschooler’s finger-painting.   When presented with such a work, you don’t want to say, “Well, Tommy, arms don’t really come out of the sides like that, and shoes aren’t big and round like wheels.  And is that a dog?”  That just seems kind of mean-spirited.

Tom Batiuk doesn’t write well.  To put it mildly.  He cannot plot out a proper story, his ear for dialogue is deaf, and his points are buried beneath the ineptitude of his execution. Occasionally, he has a sort of ham-handed way with a phrase that has a certain off-putting charm, but that’s about it.

But what if that’s the best he can do?  His “stories” over the last couple of years have started out like they might be going somewhere but always–always–end up like a balloon that’s just been unknotted.  Falling to the earth with a farting noise.  The Butter Brinkle thing–seriously, what an embarrassment that would have been to a professional, published writer.  Here?  In it goes.  And once it was done, it was gone.  Nothing to tie it together, nothing to indicate it meant anything…no impact at all.

Lately, the strip has been all been wish-fulfillment.  Les gets showered with praise.  Funky gets stepped on.  Everyone talks about how awesome Les is.  Bull gets an off-hand death that is largely used to push “Lisa’s Story” again.  That really seems like the work of someone who doesn’t care.

But he seems to be losing his grip on the elements he’s always deemed important, like Les and “Lisa’s Story.”  How many times has Mason told Les he wants to option the book?  He flew out to Ohio to do it, then flew Les in to California to do it.  That doesn’t seem like someone who can separate the wheat from the chaff.  Both are treated with equal carelessness.

So I wonder if I’m pointing out the shortcomings in the work of someone who should do better…but can’t.

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This site uses cookies

Link to today’s strip.

Charles basically nailed it–and did my job for me, thanks!–in yesterday’s comments, in which he basically laid out the next month’s worth of strips.  I’d link his comment here, but I don’t know how to do that. (Here ya go. —TFH)

So, what we have here is what we had yesterday–two characters talking about Les.   Not a single step forward, but hey, if people are talking about Les, it has to be award-winning, right?

I don’t dare wish for anything different, because it’s certain to be worse.

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Return of the LisaVirus

Link to today’s barf.

Well, I should have known.  Batiuk’s revisiting of his “prestige arc” was so poorly performed that it should have been obvious he was going to spin up Lisa’s Story again.  The world’s worst book, written by the world’s worst writer, about the world’s worst person.

Of course Summer has no idea what’s going on.  Les is far too important to himself to waste valuable preening time on informing his family about anything.   “Hello, Summer!  How’s school?  We just spent a week in California with Mason Jarre!”  No, even that takes too much effort, effort that could be put to better use stroking his ego.

I would like to say something nice about the artwork.  The shift in perspective from panel one to panel two is nicely handled; it looks like Cayla went toward Summer to help her with her bags.  A rare instance of interesting art in this strip.

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