Author Archives: comicbookharriet

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I’m a little ashamed to say it, but I chuckled unironically at the strip today. Well, it wasn’t really a chuckle, more of soft snort complete with an eye-roll. But props to Batiuk, this came within sighting distance of comedy.

Ayers deserves more of the credit though, the dead-eyed, wide-mouthed Dinkle in panel three hits my funny bone when partnered with the blunt punchline.

I wonder about the premiums paid out. It seems like even more fundraiser money sucked away from the band. I remember getting promised dumb prizes for selling enough during school fundraisers, but no one could sell enough to earn them.

Cabbage Jack yesterday in the comments pointed reader to Tom Batiuk’s blog. I’d never given it much of a look, but I browsed back a few months and it was quite a trip; an inane mishmash of narcissism and comics related shitposting. Most egregious are the little excerpts from his Funky Winkerbean volumes, where he deconstructs the history of his own creation like an art restorer painstakingly scraping the macaroni off a kindergardener’s project.

“The scenes with Fred and Ann and their son Darin were reflective of a different part of my life with Cathy and Brian that I was beginning to draw upon. Change was becoming a palpable part of Funky, and the biggest changes of all were just about to unfold. I didn’t have a master plan exactly, but I could see daylight ahead, and I was beginning to run toward it.”

“As was my habit, new characters continued to appear. Cindy Summers, the most popular girl in school, and Bodean, Westview High’s resident hood, joined the cast as the polar opposites of the high school continuum. Big hair was starting to come in for girls, and Cindy’s hair soon became the biggest of the biggest. Her tenure in the strip was destined to be remarkably long.”

And taking the cake, yesterday’s offering, where Batiuk goes borderline biblical talking about trying to renegotiate a contract.

“And lo, there came a day when the prophecy of the attorney in the beginning times came to pass.
It’s been said that the past is a knife (as an acolyte of Sigmund Freud, I’m all in on that one), and at the beginning of 1990 I was definitely feeling its point in my back.”

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Turkey Trot

Today’s strip, when it drops.

Today’s strip wasn’t available for preview. I asked my Zoltar machine about it, and he quoted Macbeth, “It is a tale. Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing.”

Then he turned me into Tom Hanks.

As boring as the perfunctory band strips are, at least they’re only depressing in an abstract way.

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Poultry Predilection.

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Becky is preening with pride today. So smug at having found a great, time and hassle saving, idea that Dinkle never considered. I wonder how much this Bandigogo service takes away from their fundraising bottom line? The employees at the frozen turkey warehouse distribution center need their pay, as do the desk drones processing these orders, and the numerous fast talking sale pitch charlatans who undoubtedly prowl the band conferences looking for harried Band Directors juggling too much one-handed who can be persuaded to outsource.

But on the other hand, they’re probably saving a bundle in people suing the school for attempted negligent manslaughter due to virulent food poisoning.

Look at Dinkle in panel three though. He’s saying amazing, but something about his facial expression tells me that he’s secrectly repulsed by the idea of never touching a frozen turkey again.

Never feeling that rock hard, frostbittten flesh slowly defrost beneath his plying fingers as the glistening breastmeat becomes pliable and eventually supple with the warmth of his wrinkled hand. Freezing and thawing, freezing and thawing, over and over again.

He can’t imagine life without a freezer full of round blobs of pink dead flesh in his basement, a box of death resisting decay, ready to melt in his grasp.

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Tealing no Lies.

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Oh goodie! Dinkle has snuck back into the high school band room to make sure his replacement is doing her job correctly. Didn’t want another repeat of the Band Mattresses door to door fiasco. Nosiree! It’s a frozen avian holocaust year after year from now on, just as our founding fathers intended.

You think Batiuk remembers that he taught Dinkle all about the joys of Indigogo back when he was taking the Bedside Manorisms to Memphis? Of course this is BANDiegogo, some kind of MLM nonsense which probably takes a nice slice out of the gross income from the fundraiser.

Also, has the band room always been teal? Such a weird color for the walls of a school. Blues and greens are typically calming colors, low energy, and the last thing Becky needs from her slack-jawed horn jockeys is less energy.

What is written on the dry erase board in the background? Some kind of manifesto? Probably it was supposed to be the lines from music staff, less the clefs and braces. But the way it’s drawn makes it look like someone’s been transcribing the Declaration of Independence long-hand.

A weird mix of detail and sloppiness in the art today, all over. We have Becky’s omnipresent folded and pinned sleeve, and the tiny music note on the coffee cup of the piano. Then we have a computer’s keyboard in panel three just drenched in teal, and the terrifying scribble of Becky in panel one looking like a meerkat in a wig.

Who is down for a week of Dinkle on autopilot?

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Pigging Out.

Today’s strip, when it drops.

As usual Sunday wasn’t available for preview. And I’m too worn out to wait for it to drop.

Ironically, I spent the afternoon and evening at my very first college football game. Iowa vs. Minnesota. It was an absolutely awesome time. Iowa fans were so excited when they won they rushed the field, as the ecstatic team held aloft Floyd of Rosedale, still safe in Iowa’s care.

Floyd of Rosedale is an 80 year old bronze pig the winning team gets to keep for the year. It references the time when the governors of Iowa and Minnesota bet an actual live hog on the outcome of the 1935 game.

What I’m saying is football is a, weird, exciting sport, with rich history and traditions. If enjoying the game today was also spiting Tom Batiuk’s horrible CTE arc, then I enjoyed it twice as much.

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Blunt Farce Trauma.

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Linda, the cause of your husband’s death was still blunt force trauma in a car wreck. And implying that the hits he took in football were the inevitable cause of Bull’s death takes away the agency of the decision he made to end his life.

In my belief, one of the most dangerous post-suicide rationalizations friends and family make is trying to convince themselves that the suicide was inevitable or unavoidable. I have compassion for people who try to cope this way, but depression or despair should never be approached as terminal conditions.

The silver lining of this entire nightmare of an arc was people here getting a chance to share stories of their own struggles with despair. This tiny community of snarkers hate-reading Funky Winkerbean may have been the only people on the entire earth to actually engage with this horrible story on a deeper level and come away with any positive results.

So don’t despair my fellow Funkysnarkers! Next week Tom promises to serve us a week of Harry Dinkle, scraped together from his bag of recycled gags. I look forward to finding something both funny and insulting to say about Batiuk beating a dead band turkey.

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Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night

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Epicus had a great comment yesterday, and judging by the upvotes most of you agreed. There was one thought in particular that gave me pause. He said, “A child could write it. Unfortunately though, no children were available so BatYam took a stab at it…”

When I was younger, I used to do theater. My first role, when I was 12, was the mother in James and the Giant Peach. I was eaten by a giant invisible rhinoceros at the very beginning of the show. I flung myself all over the stage screaming and dying, and I got a pretty big head by thinking I was good at it. That was, until I heard my director say, “Dying is easy, comedy is hard.”

As near as Grandpa Google can tell me, the actual origins of that famous turn of phrase come from a story movie director George Seaton told about going to see his friend, the actor Edmund Gwenn on his deathbed in 1959.

“All this must be terribly difficult for you, Teddy,” [Seaton] said sympathetically.

Gwenn didn’t buy that sympathy. A smile touched his lips.

“Not nearly as difficult as playing comedy,” he answered cheerfully.

They were his words of exit. His head turned on the pillow. He was dead.

As a kid that pithy little aphorism was a revelation. Melodrama is easy. It’s easy to act, and it’s easy to write. Death hangs like the sword of Damocles above us all, and in time every sword will fall. Who do you love? Your mom? Your spouse? Your goldfish? Find the fear you hold inside knowing they are mortal, and you’ve found the massive emotional button any artist worth their paycheck can push at will. Entire genres of weepy books and Hallmark Channel movies are built on the cheap, baking-soda-and-vinegar, combination of love and death.

Twelve years ago, Batiuk pushed that button. And, go back and read those strips, he was effective.
cheap and effective, like your mom
This strip is cloying. It’s maudlin. And yet, it is 110% more real than anything we’ve seen in years. A mother won’t see her daughter grow up. A father struggles to explain. A child tries to comfort a loved one they can hardly realize they’re about to lose. Death is taking a knife and cutting to ribbons the story of a happy family just as viciously as Rose stabbing a precious comic book.

We’ve gotten none of this in Bull’s death. None. We didn’t see Linda calling her children. We didn’t see the pain of Jinx thinking about how Dad wouldn’t be there to walk her down the aisle. Or Mickey realizing her own kids would never know a Grandpa Bushka. We didn’t linger on Linda’s pain as she sits through a funeral full of terrible secrets, as she comes home to an empty house, as she has to do laundry that will only remind her of her dead husband’s illness.

It should have been easy. A child could have done it. But Batiuk decided to give us a death without really showing the love that death was cutting off.

Instead Batiuk decided to end this arc (for now?) with a week of strips where Linda gets down on her knees in front of his author avatar so she can fellatiate Les Moore’s metaphorical ego-dick.

In the past, I’ve tried to cut Tom some slack. But not today. Please insult this man.

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