Author Archives: beckoningchasm

Flap Goes the Yap

Link to today’s strip.

Well, the perspective shifts in today’s strip seem noteworthy as an example of terrible artwork, as Dullard’s desk seems to scoot across space so he can…uh, weakly comment on dull things. I’m surprised the force of his motion didn’t knock Flash and Ruby, happily reminiscing, into the next building. That would have tied up their stories nearly, and they wouldn’t have to stand there smiling at each other.

–Wait–

Oh God. I think I foresee what’s in the wings.

Flash and Ruby are going to get married.

Tell me I’m wrong.

Please, tell me I’m wrong.

For the love of God, Montresor, please tell me I’m wrong!

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The Fewer the Better

Link to today’s strip.

“Wordy? Yeah, I do a rough sketch of what it should look like, including the word balloons, a year before it has to go live. Then I send it to the art guy to do the final drawing–making sure he draws the word balloons just the way I like ’em. I like to draw ’em big, because there’s important stuff to go in there. Heh, who’s he going to complain to?

“Then it goes into a drawer until about two weeks before it goes live, and then I have to remember what I was going to say in those word balloons. And here’s where it gets difficult, because I look, and a lot of times it’s a bunch of space I have to fill, and it’s hard to remember it all, especially when I can’t even remember a character’s last name. Heh, Pete Rigamarole. So there tends to be a lot more words than needed, just so it doesn’t have a lot of blank white space. I hate blank white space, it reminds me of clam chowder.

“I think using a lot of words makes me look smart, what do you think? And only answer that if you think I’ll like your answer.”

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The Zeppelin’s Graveyard

Link to today’s strip.

Good grief, look at the size of that folder, is Pete writing a novel or a comic book?

I admit I have no idea how comic books are written, other than what is known as “Marvel Style.” This is where the writer gives the artist an outline of what should happen in the issue, the artist goes off and draws the pages, and the writer then fills in the dialogue and needed descriptions. I don’t think “Suddenly he turned and saw” would be anywhere in that outline.

It also occurs to me that unless you’re a beady-eyed nitpicker, you have no idea who these people are or what they’re doing. That could be an actual movie script, for all the casual reader knows. And who’s the old guy? All it would take is Pete saying, “Flash! Good to see you!” And then, “I’d be honored if the great Flash Freeman read my script!” Done and done.

If there are any people out there who “enjoy” this strip, they’d have to have an encyclopedic knowledge of characters, places and occupations for it to make any sense. It would help if they also had a fanatical devotion to continuity–something Tom Batiuk has demonstratively been shown to lack.

One thing that he definitely has, though, is a bristling reaction to any criticism, and he’s certainly imbued Pete with that characteristic. Ouch.

By the way, a quick web search for “dangling subject” brings up lots and lots of entries for dangling modifier, but nothing at all for “dangling subject.” But I suppose the Lord of Language knows what he’s talking about. And quite honestly, I don’t know what Freeman is talking about.

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In Space, No One Can Hear You Repeat Yourself

Link to today’s strip.

Hi folks, BeckoningChasm back in the center seat. First of all, many thanks to TFH, Comic Book Harriet, Epicus Doomus and the others who are willing and able to try and rip some sense out of this…thing. Hat tip: it’s never an easy job. Tom Batiuk seems to be obstinate about refusing to put actual content into his strip, so the hard work must be done by others.

And for the next two weeks–that’s me. And when we look at today’s thing, we can see that once again Tom Batiuk has dredged out one of his golden floaters, Flatus Freeman, to appear in the strip and advise the young striplings. Although, as always, this episode makes the case that Pete Retardo has never, ever, come up with an idea on his own. Everything crucial has come about because someone else has made an off-hand remark, and today, the tradition continues.

Despite the fact that, you know, Pete mentioned nothing at all about space. But who cares, right?

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This is the farmer sowing his corn

Link to today’s strip.

Good grief, look at that word zeppelin in panel one.

This the dolt who made the call
To schedule the audition
To fill the position
To be the organist
Down at the church that Tom built.

Presumably Harriet was right there the whole time and knows what was going on; of course, given the writing in this strip I’m surprised she didn’t repeat his words verbatim in her panel five frog-face. After all, she outlined all his other accomplishments and (of course) concluded that he was the best thing evar. In probably the fastest 180 I’ve ever seen.

The reason being, this entire episode is Tom Batiuk publicly patting himself on the back. “Look at this terrific character I created! Is this award-winning or what?”

As mentioned yesterday, unless this church has a single Sunday service, Dinkle will be spending a lot of time there. Most churches I’m familiar with have several Sunday services, a couple on Saturday and at least one every weekday. Let’s not even bring up holidays. That’s going to cut into a lot of Dinkle’s other activities. (Come to think, how does Lillian manage to run her bookstore? Answer: it’s magic. Dark magic.)

All of which promises what could be could be an interesting twist: what if Dinkle failed the audition? I think it would be the first time in the strip when he didn’t get everything he wanted. It might humble him and make for a rounder character.

And of course it will never happen. The strip is now total wish-fulfillment and trivial observations. Where every “hero” character is Superman.

And with that, I am out of here. Please welcome the always erudite and entertaining Epicus Doomus who will be your host for the next couple of weeks. Exit, stage left!

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The Old Die Rich

Link to today’s strip.

I’m not sure God appreciates being mentioned in Funky Winkerbean, especially in connection with Harry Dinkle, but his “at our age” remark raises a question.

When the organist died in Crankshaft, the immediate substitute was ancient crone Lillian. Here, Batiuk is going to reward the equally ancient (and equally loathsome) Dinkle with the position. Why wouldn’t the church try to find a younger person, one who could be expected to helm the organ for many years to come (before dropping dead)? I don’t think it’s especially rigorous physical work (I’m not an organist), but unless the church only has a single Sunday service, the organist is going to be spending a lot of time there.

Perhaps the job is a voluntary one, and there’s little (or no) pay, and a younger person would need a salary. A retired person wouldn’t have this worry.

But…I’m starting to think Tom Batiuk just hates young people. Whenever they appear, they are invariably shown as worthless idiots completely out of clues. Think of the youngest characters he’s shown us (Skyler, Bernie, the other high schoolers) and tell me I’m wrong.

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Inkle Dinkle Do

Link to today’s strip.

And as many predicted, here comes Dinkle to be rewarded. To be honest, my impression of the character is that he’s something of a tyrant, so I don’t know how suited he would be to work in a church. But Batiuk’s gonna Batiuk, and it’s time to praise Dinkle to the skies.

I forgot to mention the joke yesterday, but that’s okay as it reappears here as…I think…”Newspapers, am I right?”

I don’t know if Batiuk is making fun of newspapers or making fun of people who’ve abandoned them. It might be that even he doesn’t know. He seems to be wary of online things and prefers the old fashioned stuff. But who really knows?

All I can tell you is that this week has been a slog. Uninteresting characters discussing dull trivia. Admittedly, that’s every week, but this one seems especially devoid of even the tiniest bit of substance to grab on to.

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The Audience is Wide

Link to today’s strip.

For a man who has such great pride in his writing ability, Tom Batiuk shows remarkably little evidence of having any.

The fact that we’re on our fourth day of this non-story gives a very good picture of Batiuk’s “writing” process.

First, set up a situation. A church needs a new organist. It’s a fine premise, it would be possible to tell an interesting story with that situation. Except for the next step.

Second, find something in the premise that’s incredibly trivial and inconsequential, and stretch the Hell out of it. You should be able to get an entire week out of this; if you put in the effort, you can get two or even three weeks.

Third, go for an ending where you get to reward your hero characters with little or no effort.

As mentioned, finding an new organist could make an interesting story. You could have several characters try out for the position–one person who has always wanted the job, another who is qualified but hasn’t been a member of the church for years, perhaps a relative who thinks the position should be his, etc. Drama is certainly a possibility, as well as some interesting character work.

But not in Funky Winkerbean.

Heck, if you hired Tom Batiuk to write a “Fast and Furious” movie, the characters would spend two hours looking for their car keys. Then at the end, they’d be handed their car keys by an unintroduced character, and they’d spend the rest of the movie admiring themselves, their abilities, and their struggles to get those car keys.

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Let’s All Gather in the Gathering Room

Link to today’s strip.

Here it is Wednesday and we’re still all glabbering about replacing the organist. I realize that this is all supposed to be happening on the same day, strip-wise, but it makes it excruciatingly slow for the reader.

I know Batiuk doesn’t give a cusser’s tink for his readers, but he needn’t be so blatant about it.

This week’s strips together make the most desolate wasteland I’ve seen in this strip for a long while. If he really needs to stretch this sort of stuff out, he should give serious thought to retiring. Yeah, I know there’s some Golden Something award if he makes it to 50 years, but give the world a break.

This reminds me of people who talk constantly, who never shut up, and who also never say anything. It’s like they have to fill the world with noise, but it’s never interesting noise.

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I Get Carried Away

Link to today’s strip.

As I mentioned yesterday, we really have no timeframe for the events in Crankshaft and Funky Winkerbean. I, therefore, find it funny to think that Lillian’s been on the job for only a day or two and has immediately been proven unsuitable.

I think that’s the first time I’ve found the strip “funny.” So, good job.

I don’t know why Batiuk insists on doing these terrible crossovers. Scratch that–I do know why. It’s to get people interested in reading the other strip. The thing is, if you’re telling people you’ve got something else that they may like, that something else better not be Crankshaft.

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