Author Archives: ComicBookHarriet

It ain’t EZ being EZ, no.

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Oh those WIVES amirite? Always wanting their faucets not to leak, and their tub seams not to be stained black with mildew. Needing grout that hasn’t been haphazardly sealed with crazy glue, drywall not patched with bondo and tempera paint, linoleum sans the packing tape, light fixtures with actual covers still intact. What a bunch of absolute spendthrift divas.

Or maybe the Winkerbean bathroom and kitchen isn’t in such a state yet. Maybe it’s just my poor parents who have been putting off a kitchen/bathroom remodel since the Clinton administration because it’s easier to fantasize about the dream kitchen they’ll put in, forever perfect in its nebulousness, than it is to bite the bullet and finally rip out the Brady Bunch orange counter tops.

Anyway, this strip is either a tolerable lead in to a new arc of Funky misery, or the start of a very unappealing adult film. The dialogue says the former. But Holly and the Handyman’s bedroom eyes tell a different story. And what kind of real contractor just wanders around with a giant ‘EZ’ plastered on his hat and shirt. I’ve seen sexy nurse Halloween costumes with more believable ‘names’ on the lapel.

It’s been a fun couple weeks. The Dinkle arc was a bit of a slog to end on, but it’s not every shift that I get to talk about Batman. Thanks to everyone for the kind comments! TF Hackett will be taking over the exciting renovation action tomorrow. Please remember to thank him and Epicus for giving us all our cozy, internet safe-space where we can join together in mocking the final death throes of the slow entropic decay of a fictional universe.

Stay warm and Funky everyone! Comic Book Harriet signing off!

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The Silent Generation

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That is a massive piece of paper for Dinkle to overlooking. He should have seen it in panel one, where the back on his coat is exposed to us. The only explanation I can come up with for Dinkle allowing this sixteen-inch, unmissable sign to be posted on his back is that he was flattered to be mistaken for a Boomer. Because, unless Funkyverse’s murky comic-book-time has gotten really murky, there is no way that Dinkle was born after 1945. Never forget that Dinkle was Funky, Holly, and Cindy’s band teacher so he has to be, at minimum seven or eight years older than them, IF they were in one of the first years he taught.

If you’re curious, in most areas dialing that number along with a local area code will send you to the directory assistance.

So, I’ve been playing a fun little indie video game with my galpals for the last few months. It’s called Phasmophobia. It’s a ghost hunting game, where you search various haunted locations: farmhouses, asylums, prisons, apartments, with tech to identify and gather evidence on ghosts.

A month ago, we were searching the old abandoned high school.

Looking for a very special ghost.

Needless to say, when I saw what the randomly generated ghost name was, I laughed hysterically for five minutes and then spent half an hour trying to explain why it was funny.

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Rot Fuzz

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Here ya go guys! I hope you like it. Because this fuzzy, disgusting thing is the best joke we’re getting this week outside of our own wonderful comments section.

Actually, truth be told, I laughed when I read this one. I mean, it strains credulity that this girl is only now noticing that something she’s putting in her mouth several times a week looks like a fried caterpillar. But I still laughed. The joke stuck the landing for me, even if the routine leading up to it was as thrilling and challenging as Simone Biles sliding directly across the balance beam on her belly.

But I just don’t care. I’m so worn down by the bad pranks this week, the non-punchlines. This followed a tried and true humor formula: set-up, surprise, and realization. The set up is a filthy reed, the surprise is that Dinkle doesn’t just tell her to toss it, the realization is that making a sarcastic comment about science projects is totally in character for him.

The slimmest weakest of jokes that I can’t bring myself mock. Maybe I’m feeling extra charitable since it’s the beginning of Lent. And as we read in Matthew 12:20 “A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory.”

If he won’t crush the bruised reed, who am I to quash the moldy one?

PS: Thanks to everyone who liked my story yesterday! It’s nice to know that when Batiuk gives me nothing you guys are okay with random tangents and personal anecdotes.

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Jerrymandering Flautists

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Dinkle has had about enough of these pranks, and so have I. None of them are anywhere near the quality or level of execution needed to be more than a time-killer. The true goal of school pranks is notoriety and immortality. Moving the pickled animals in jars from the science lab into the trophy case, welding a car around the flag pole, staging a lunch room flashmob. A beautiful moment of adolescent apotheosis, where you have risen above the rules, the hierarchy, the schedule that has domesticated your youthful exuberance. A good prank is a shock to the system.

I hope you guys don’t mind another dumb slice-of-life CBH story. I’ve just got nothing to work with here.

My little sister is a modern day saint. A sweet, loving, little gem of a girl who sees the best in everyone, and who has never met a soul she wasn’t willing to pray for. The kind of person who, when she got a the flu, said, “Well, if I had to get the flu, this is the good kind of flu. Because I’m really not coughing all that much. And at least I got it over Christmas break, so I won’t have to miss any work.” I haven’t seen her get properly mad in 20 years. The closest she comes to anger is nervous laughter and pursed-lip silence. The only negative emotions she allows herself to feel are sympathetic sadness, and guilt feeling anything else bad. If this were the middle ages, she would have shrines built in her honor, and pilgrims would walk barefoot to have her lay upon hands. Instead she teaches kindergarten at a Christian school.

She was already like that in high school. And everyone in her class knew it, and most loved her, even if they found it hard to relate to so much concentrated purity.

But on the last day of band of her senior year, she kept getting called out by the band director for not playing her flute right. She’d never really been dedicated to her instrument,( I don’t think she’s picked up the flute once since she graduated.), but the teacher had never really picked on her like this before.

Finally he slapped down his baton and said to her, “I don’t even know why you’ve bothered being in band for four years. You’re terrible at it! You are the worst flute player I have ever had!”

And my sister turned bright red, and shouted back, “If I’m such a bad student, maybe it’s because you’re a lousy teacher!”

The band director went stony silent, and said, “You go to the principals office right now. You are out of my band.”

And my little sister stood up and roared, “You can’t kick me out because I quit!” Then she picked up the flute she’d been using, and bent it over her knee. She threw the twisted instrument on the floor and stormed out of the room.

You could have heard a pin drop. My little sister, the sweetest, most kind girl in school, had shouted at a teacher and was headed to the principal.

Then giddy laughter coming from outside the door broke the tension.

It had been her senior prank, planned between her and the band director. The flute had been an old, broken castoff of the department. No one in her class had seen it coming.

My sister is a saint who never really gets angry. But she’s also a pretty good actress.

And that is how you prank the band.

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A Taste of Ohioana

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Quick comment on today’s strip. If this exchange didn’t end with hoodie boy getting a one way trip down to the Principal’s office, then Dinkle’s a pushover. The kid is grossly late to class AND tries to prank Dinkle anyway. With a weird, spur of the moment, nonsense prank. Everyone else seems to have had days to plan all their equipment swapping, but hoodie-boy wanders up late, sees a sub, and immediately drops his trombone right outside the door.

I, and TFH, and perhaps some of the rest of you, took some time this evening to watch The 2021 Ohioana Book Festival 15th Anniversary Poster Reveal via eventbrite zoom meeting, though I was about 20 minutes late getting in. The nice man hosting the thing seemed absolutely flabbergasted that someone was watching from New Jersey and mentioned it several times. And every time I gave a little grin and thought, “That’s our Hackett.”

I took some notes during the panel. So here are the juiciest tidbits. Please, anyone else who watched, give your reports as well!

Tom has had cataract surgery, and talked about being terrified of people slicing his eyes open.

He has some pandemic related strips coming next month, but admitted that doing everything a year out had handicapped his ability to write about Covid. He made it sound like he had realized that it was not a case of ‘better late than never.’ And it sounded like he wasn’t sure about starting a whole pandemicverse a year late.

To come up with the name for Funky Winkerbean, he had kids in his art class write down a bunch of silly names, and then he and his wife picked out the first and last name from the list. He seemed both bemused and rueful about it.

He admitted that Les is the character most like himself. Though he said he puts a bit of himself in every character, (IMO, this is the reason why they’re all so samey wamey.)

He said that before the pandemic he and Ayers would meet at Luigi’s every two weeks to work on the strip.

He claims that the time jumps were to keep his main characters closer in age to himself so he could draw on his own experiences for inspiration. (This is probably why everyone in this strip, from 35 to 95, all act the same age.) He also claims that he didn’t time jump Crankshaft because Cranky wouldn’t have ‘survived’ it. I guess forgetting that Cranky is still languishing in Bedside Manor in Funky.

He got the okay to write Lilian getting an Ohioana Book Festival award. So expect that some time in 2023.

And, most pertinent for our blog, Tom says that cartoonists don’t really retire, they collapse over their drawing boards. He said he feels like he is only now getting good, and doesn’t see himself quitting any time soon. Sorry to anyone holding out for a joint 50 year anniversary and retirement celebration.

Congratulations to Stephanie Banch who got the autographed book! Sounds like the host knew her, and said she was local, so I don’t think she’s a Stuckfunkian.

The poster Batiuk created was cute. Lillian reading to a group of achingly diverse children inside her walk-up bookstore. No complaints there. Tom was genial, and answered questions by giving interesting details without going on and on and on about himself. He never talked over the panel host, and actually refrained from correcting him several times. It was nice to watch and remember that, as much as we rib on him, he is fundamentally a decent guy. A little out of touch, a lot absorbed in his own world, kinda preachy and kinda myopic. But a decent guy who does care about other people. I’d rather be stuck on a lifeboat with him than, say, Quentin Tarantino. A great artist can be an insufferable man. And a good man can create absolutely insufferable ‘art’.

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Odd Job Man

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How long did these kids have to prepare for this prank? This amount of coordinated music, mouthpiece, and instrument switching could only have taken place if Becky’s absence was expected days in advance, and if this is either the first class period of the day, or the first class period after a lunch.

I want to thank TF Hackett for reminding me of the ‘knowing smirks’ tag in the comments yesterday. I’m going to need it so much to finish off my shift. Today we have an entire peanut gallery of unbearable knowing smirks being exchanged in panel 3. Some may think that these people are smiling mischievously at each other because all their clever pranks are being preempted by a witty old man. But obviously the real reason is that their ultimate prank has yet to be spotted: all of these so called ‘kids’ are obviously middle-aged adults involved in some kind of elaborate LARP.

The janitor in panel 2 is the real star of today’s strip. In all my decades of public schooling, I can’t remember a janitor sweeping the halls in the middle of the day, unless there had been some kind of unfortunate thumbtack crate explosion. But this janitor has staked out the 20 foot stretch of tile outside the band room as his turf. Nearly a year ago, it took him a full five days to carefully and methodically make his way past the classroom.

This strip made of random panels is funnier than any individual strip from that week.

So many fun ways to interpret this! Is he:

A.) A ghost who died in a horrific sign taping accident, forced to haunt this wing of the school, forever sweeping a floor that will never be clean of the stain of his blood?

B.) A man so polluted mentally and emotionally by the Westview climate of somatic decay, greasy pizza, trashy comics, smug nihilism, and puns, that he has become a mindless shell of a man who sweeps automatically and unceasingly, like an organic roomba?

C.) A security guard from the school, in disguise, ordered to tail Dinkle whenever he is on the premises to prevent another lawsuit from parents?

D.) Secretly in love with Dinkle or/and Becky?

Remember that sign-up ends Monday at midnight for Tuesday’s 7:00 pm live online revealing of Tom’s poster for the Ohioana Book Festival.

If you register on Eventbrite, you’ll be entered to win a signed copy of The Complete Funky Winkerbean Volume 10!

See TF Hackett’s comments on yesterday’s post for more details! Link Here for sign up,

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A Paltry Substitution.

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Dinkle’s back. We’ve had to suffer through an inordinate about of Dinkle this winter. From piano lessons to turkey shenanigans to OMEA. It almost seems like Batiuk is intentionally giving us a break from Lisa’s Cancer Movie Extravaganza. Is he trying to reset our sensitivity to the storyline? Like letting a prisoner stew in the hole for a few weeks before bringing them back out for another round of enhanced interrogation.

Had a moment of confusion on my first read. Who the heck is Mrs. Howard? You mean One-Armed-Becky? The wife of Dead-Skunk-Head? I’m so far removed from thinking of either of them having surnames. I can barely remember DSH is named John.

I don’t think that this is a Dinkle strip that’s going to get cut out and pasted on many doors. The joke is anemic, but tolerable enough. Shrewd old teacher is down with substitute pranks. But this must either be a Freshman band class, or Dinkle hasn’t substituted for three years straight, otherwise the kids should be wise to his wisdom.

The real thing holding this strip back is the atrocious art in panels one and three. What is that hand in panel one? I could draw a better hand left handed. All the poor kids have horrible receding hairlines. I half expect that panel two was changed to black outline after the fact. After Ayers drunkenly turned in a scribbly panel of twenty mangled high school students as seen through a cracked funhouse mirror.

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Hackett and his Commenters

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Happy Valentine’s Day Everyone!

To celebrate the holiday of love and romance, Batiuk has graced us with a touching strip of an ommetaphobic man who has completely lost his mind after days of being forced to self-apply eye drops.

Remember this is a guy who had to be physically restrained a month ago by multiple people to have drops put in.

That explains his increasingly erratic behavior since the surgery. And the slow decline of his joy since Monday. Every single day, hour after hour, forced to pry his squinting eyes open with trembling fingers. Forced to carefully drip chemicals into the waiting lids, staring up at the nozzle of the dropper, the fear and nausea triggering a flight or fight response that he can’t let his body obey.

Our drip torture is about to end though. As I’ve peeked into the future and it seems the cataract saga is finally drawing to a close. At least, I hope it’s ending. I suppose we could be up for a repeat in a month, when Funky goes in to have his other eye done. I wouldn’t put that past this strip.

So relax, everyone, tomorrow is a brand new day! A day filled with Dinkle.

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Lead Based Paint

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Good. I was worried I wouldn’t get to have any Les Moore action during my stint this time.

That was sarcasm, in case you were wondering. If I’m ever actually happy to see Les Moore, I’ll let you know so I can be transferred to the appropriate facilities.

At least he’s keeping his smug stupid mouth shut.

And Funky’s so unimpressed to see him, that he’s not even bothering to get his ass out of his chair.

In fact, this entire strip has a weird manic energy to it. Les just…smiles. While Funky, apropos of nothing, grimaces and waves his arms, and rants about seeing through walls. You could edit Les out of the strip entirely. He’s just a prop for Funky to use. He could have been anyone. Swap him with Harry, Holly, Corey, Garfield. It wouldn’t change a thing.

It’s almost like…like Les Moore isn’t there at all. And Funky is ranting at an imaginary Les he conjured up in his delirious need to have someone smirk beatifically at his stupid joke the very moment it entered his mind.

Maybe Funky fantasizes a silent Les Moore a lot.

It would be at least one thing we have in common.

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Seeing Red. Maybe. I Think.

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Poor Funky’s fallen down the subjectivity vs objectivity hole. His dual vision has left him with the niggling suspicion, and growing fear, that everything he had hitherto seen and labeled was merely him giving voice to his own perception. And in telling that label to another person, he could never truly know if the red he told them about was the red he saw. And when you think about it, what is red anyway?

And Crazy’s just like, “The healthy human eye sees red when it looks at light with a wavelength between approximately 625 and 740 nanometers. Any object that reflects light at this wavelength is red. Now shut up, Nightwing’s talking!”

Pretty sure it’s Nightwing on the TV in Panel One. The hero persona of the grown up Robin, Dick Grayson, for the uninitiated. Which means we’re getting to the end of our Batman TAS binge. Gonna guess we’re supposed to think these two just watched some of their favorite episodes, since they’re both in the same clothes as Tuesday, but it’s pretty fun to think that these guys have been parked in front of the TV for 45 straight hours binging feverishly on their drug of choice.

I mean, if you’re watching your favorite Batman episodes, and it doesn’t include a Nightwing one, I don’t know what to say. You’re missing out. Dick Grayson is such a great character, when written by a competent author. A boy with a backstory similar to Bruce Wayne, who becomes a hero without becoming vengeance or the night. Instead, usually being presented as warmer, more open, healthier, than his foster dad.

Before we’d like to close out our Batventures through the Batverse, please allow me a completely self-serving story.

In 2016 I was able to go to a small Wizard World Comic Con being held in my state. I went with one of my nerdtacular besties, who is one of the biggest Nightwing stans in the universe. Stars of the convention were Kevin Conroy, the voice of Batman, and Loren Lester, the voice of Robin/Nightwing. So of course, we went to their joint panel. It was great, except for the omnipresent voice actor panel questions of ‘BuuT hOaw Do U Git inTO VA WRK PLZ?’ (Seriously, if you are ever at a convention. Just don’t. It’s been asked a million million times, and everyone knows the answer.)

But as the panel progressed I couldn’t help but feel that Conroy was monopolizing things a bit. Understandably so, maybe. Questions that were nominally posed to both men, were obviously directed to The Batvoice. But Lester is an accomplished actor in his own right, and I couldn’t help but feel like the charismatic Conroy was getting a little puffed up on all the Batpraise. The man is talented, friendly, and gracious but DANG, you could see his ego from space with the naked eye.

So, I got in line for the mic. And as luck would have it, I was the last question of the panel.

And because it is modern day, some stranger I didn’t know was filming, and posted the video to YouTube, where I could find it this evening, and post it back to some niche comic strip blog.

Time stamp is 44:22 to hear an invisible Harriet offend Kevin Conroy.

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