Author Archives: beckoningchasm

How Not To Be A Cartoonist

Link to today’s strip.

You know, I was genuinely enjoying Les’ hapless, morose expression in panel three (“Twenty or thirty years? Oh, I only waited about twelve. How I have shamed her, and myself”). It’s the perfect way to undercut your own joke.

But then I realized…that’s not Les in panel three. That’s the Editor Guy we saw seated behind the console in Tuesday’s strip. (The clue is the console.)

The thing is, the guy has an identical hairstyle, identical hair color, the same beard, he’s in the same position on screen and he’s facing the same way. He even has the same glasses. It would be natural, almost automatic for a reader to conclude that this is Les. Only it ain’t.

How the heck did this slip past Batiuk, Ayers, the Phantom Editors, everyone involved in this strip? I would count this as a huge gaff, akin to spelling the co-creator of Superman as “Joe Schuster.” Especially since the guy’s expression seems to be the “point” of this particular episode. If it was Les, it would be the point; as Random Guy, morose self-pity changes into bored resignation.

It’s certainly one more bit of evidence that no one cares what goes in, as long as it does go in.

Not going in: a timecode.

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We Get Signal – Main Screen Turn On!

Link to today’s strip.

So, we have to wade through this mawkish, maudlin dreck again. It isn’t enough for Tom Batiuk to have one “Lisa’s Story” storyline, no, we have to have dozens of them. But of course–Lisa’s death is the only thing that defines Les Moore, a “real hero.”

Does Batiuk have any idea how shallow and one-note his main character is? I have to think “no,” because every time he appears, it’s something to do with Lisa. Over and over and over, again and again.

That Pulitzer committee ain’t rethinking their decision, Tom. They’ve moved on…something Les should have done at least ten years ago, if he was a mature, adult man. But he’s not. He’s an overly pampered man-baby who demands that everyone feel sorry for him.

By the way–still no timecode.

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Question the Numbers

Link to today’s strip.

Aw, look at Tom Batiuk, all using film terms and everything! Too bad he has no idea what he’s talking about.

You know what a timecode is, Batiuk? It’s a series of numbers that are displayed on the bottom of the screen, showing the running time and the frame count. I’ve never heard of a timecode used on a trailer; typically it’s used on raw footage so the film-makers can see what happened when while they were filming a movie. It helps with the editing process, because the director can say “I like camera 3, from 15:05 to about 17. After that, camera 2 is much better.” It allows the film-makers more accuracy in choosing takes and assembling scenes.

I don’t know why you’d put it on a trailer. Maybe you’re trying to impress a hayseed douchebag, by bamboozling him with your jargon?

But that’s okay, Tom, because you know what’s not on your trailer? A timecode. It ain’t there on screen, hayseed.

To your credit, there’s not a Time Cube on there either. I guess you aren’t educated stupid.

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The Square Root of Zero

Link to today’s strip.

First off, major thanks to Comic Book Harriet for her amazing research and erudition. Her posts are always educational and entertaining…two words never applied to Funky Winkerbean.

There’s no way that I can match what CBH offers, so prepare yourselves for disappointment! It is, after all the Funky Winkerbean way. On the plus side, you might get to see some cool animation.

Looking at today’s entry, I think what we have here is an example of the ultimate Funky Winkerbean strip: a strip where nothing at all happens other than wasting a reader’s time and a newspaper’s space. Because I’ve seen Tuesday’s episode, and completely removing Monday’s changes nothing. It’s pointless filler for pointless filler.

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Patterns of Force

Link to today’s strip.

Pathetic. That’s the first thing I thought of when I saw this strip. I’ve just got to remain relevant, but this pandemic messed up all my plans! Well, I’m sure I can shoehorn in something, right at the end, and remain one of the cool kids, one of the strips that resonate with today’s youth! Because otherwise, how can I grab those sweet, sweet awards?

I know a lot of people were taking the comics page to task for not adapting to the pandemic. I wasn’t one of those people; the comics page is not reality and it is not required to do anything other than entertain. But today’s strip is really galling. Batiuk is trying to have it both ways, by acknowledging the pandemic, and yet not having it interfere with his year-long planning.

Because which of the stories last year could he possibly have pulled in order to address the situation? Well, how about all of them?

Without cheating by clicking on the “Act III” button in the banner, I can’t think of anything significant that happened in 2020. And I bet that’s because nothing did. I’m not talking about “events” because “events” happen all the time. I’m talking about things that make a difference in the strip. Actual changes, the things he touts over and over as his accomplishments.

Again, not cheating by clicking, I doubt anything of significance occurred. (You can beat me up in the comments.) Batiuk isn’t having it both ways, he’s throwing it away both ways.

This is the sort of strip that makes me think Tom Batiuk should have retired a long, long time ago. That Sunday strip where child Summer turned into teenage Summer, and inaugurated Act III, should have been the end. Because this, as mentioned above, is pathetic.

And…that’s it from me. Tune in tomorrow when your host will be the always erudite, always entertaining Epicus Doomus.

As long as I’m plugging some of my favorite animators, here’s Graham Annable, aka Grickle. This one always makes me laugh. It’s a little over a minute long.

This next one is a bit more ambitious, and I’d advise you not to watch it late at night. Three minutes long, and scarier than Stephen King.

See you in the funny papers!

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If We Make It, We Can All Sit Back And Laugh

–but I fear, tomorrow, I’ll be crying.

Link to today’s strip.

Well, we all knew the horrors were upon us when Harry Dinkle showed up.

So instead of contemplating the Unnamable, how about something that should go right into Tom Batiuk’s “women are unappreciated” shtick?

In honor (honor, not horror) of Harriet Dinkle, I give you Sally Cruikshank’s “Face Like a Frog,” a five minute slice of absolute brilliance, with a score (and song) by Danny Elfman. Hey, he wrote for Batman movies!

Ms. Cruikshank, in my opinion, is one of the greatest animators ever–male or female. Her work is entirely based on talent, rather than demanding appreciation because of her sex. And there’s more creativity and imagination (and humor) here than exists in all of Batiukland. Enjoy!

And to answer the obvious question, yes, that is the late, great Dick Miller as the voice of the main character.

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So, a Needle Pulling Thread

Link to today’s strip.

I think Batiuk uses “So…” as a way of saying “It has been established in the previous strip, and agreed upon that…” He’s trying to bring his readers up to speed on what’s going on. The fact that nothing is usually going on (other than endless talk) doesn’t seem to be a factor. I know it bothers a lot of folks; it doesn’t really affect me either way.

It reminds me of the old intro narration on Lost In Space to set the scene for the episode: “Last week, as you recall, Will, Dr. Smith and The Robot…” etc. (You just have to add “unaware,” “incredible,” and “alien” and there you go.)

As for the content of today’s strip, I ask, “What content?” One could cut out every strip this week except Wednesday and Thursday, and you’d have the complete story.

You could cut out all of them and improve the comics page greatly. Especially since this seems to be little more than an ad for a real-world event that just happens to highlight one of his characters. Which begs the question…I wonder who reached out to who?

Another question: now that Batiuk has tied himself to this “salute to band directors,” and, in his eyes, gained a whole new slew of new readers…how long do you think it will be before he pivots to “Lisa’s Story”?

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Nixon Looks Worried

Link to today’s strip.

You know, it was a huge revelation to both Dinkle and Harriet that you could just set up a web fund and people would give you money for no reason (and no effort on your part). Even better if you had a cat, and Dinkle certainly has access to Bingo (the cat from the church, in case any of you have memories like Tom Batiuk).

But no, those old candy-selling gags are money in the bank so they’ve got to be trotted out again.

I’m sitting here wishing for a different set of characters, and realizing that no matter who’s in the cast, it’s all going to be terrible. They’re all like whatever it is in the bowl in front of Harriet–something you don’t want to look at too closely.

By the way, the Firesign Theatre had an album some years ago called Boom Dot Bust. One of the characters was mayor William Cudlip P’nisnose. I think we’re seeing his wife in today’s strip. Or, Nixon in a wig.

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Non-Doubting Thomas

Link to today’s strip.

Well, we’re back to being “selected” so I guess consistent writing is a much harder job than it appears to be. And of course Dinkle was selected. Many things like this are entirely too predictable in this strip; the only surprise is how dull, horrible and irritating it can get.

Of course, both Harry and Harriet are dressed the same way they were yesterday, and standing in the same places, so my inference is that this is taking place mere minutes after yesterday’s strip. But Dinkle’s over-description in panel one makes it seem like days have transpired, and he has to remind Harriet which organization is going to shower him with acclaim. So, either he signs up for dozens of events daily, or Harriet is remarkably stupid, even for a female in this strip. That’s saying something.

Of course, she married Dinkle, so she can’t be that bright.

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The Gorge Rises

Link to today’s strip.

Okay, so yesterday Dinkle said he might be “selected” to be one of 300. Today, I guess all you have to do is claim a spot? Might want to work on your “consistency” there, Batiuk. And while you’re at it, do something about “continuity.”

Ha! I slay me.

Anyway, in today’s strip, the dialogue could have said that the 257 “have already been chosen,” which would put it right back into the “might be selected” camp and add a bit of an edge to panel three’s situation. Will Harry be selected or won’t he? Of course he will, that’s a foregone conclusion, but at least Batiuk could try to have a bit of suspense, something that will keep a reader interested. Cos it sure ain’t the characters or dialogue that’s gonna do it.

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