Author Archives: TFHackett

Cripes, What a Black Hole!

How bad was the past week of Les strips? Bad enough to make today’s appearance by Mister Kablichnick feel like a refresing palate cleanser. I was ready to add “doughnut of doom” to the Batiuktionary, figuring that the term was coined by TB to set up the “punchline.” But Grandpa Google turned up this April 2019 New York Times article that uses the phrase, as well as the image Jim that is showing the students.

It’s been a pleasure sharing the pain with you lo these last two weeks. Beckoning Chasm steps into the wheelhouse starting Monday!

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I Stan in Line

Is she based on one of Batty’s real-life book signings? Who knows? And how does she know that she got every single one of Les’s references? One or two might have gone right over her, and everyone else’s, heads. This lady’s just a little too pleased with herself. Les seems pleased by her fawning over him. I’m not even sure if he’s being sarcastic about wanting to give her a gold star.

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Make Me an Angel

beckoningchasm
March 4, 2021 at 11:01 pm
I can understand why TFH doesn’t want to do any entry for Friday’s episode. One has to be able to stop vomiting long enough to write a post. Today’s strip makes that an inhuman achievement, and not the Marvel Comics one.

Sorry you guys! Something came up. Please rip today’s strip to shreds for me!

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Somewhere, My Les

I don’t get the reference, nor do I even care. Never saw the movie Dr. Zhivago,  nor am I about to embark on reading it or any other sprawling Russian novels. I barely have the patience to inquire of Uncle Wikipedia, but here goes:

Following the October Revolution and the subsequent Russian Civil War, Yuri and his family decide to flee by train to Tonya’s family’s former estate (called Varykino), located near the town of Yuriatin in the Ural Mountains…Yuri and his family settle in an abandoned house on the estate. Over the winter, they read books to each other and Yuri writes poetry and journal entries.

…and watch a lot of football on TV, I suppose. The “Got the Reference” lady, chiming in again from the back of the room, is really starting to annoy; garnering glares from everyone but Les, who beams appreciatively.

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And All the World is Football Shaped

He may be the only Westviewian who’s not enthralled with comic books. But for someone who dreaded high school gym class, Les is…not uninterested in sports. He plays tennis (but only against easily defeated, out-of-shape opponents like Bull and Funky). He’s not real good swinging a bat (except in his mind), but he raised a basketball phenom, and we know he watches hoops on TV with his current wife. Never pictured him as a football fan, though. But Les being Les, he and St. Lisa saw no mere game, but rather “a model for dealing with and overcoming adversity“. Assuming he’s watching the Cleveland Browns, like everyone else in Batiuk’s realm, that actually begins to make sense.

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Pen-dejo

During last month’s online unveiling of his poster for the Ohioana Book Festival, the subject of Batiuk’s famous year-in-advance lead time came up. When asked if readers could expect to see his characters affected by the current pandemic, Batiuk admitted that he’d been “writing around” the subject, hoping (as we all do) that the crisis would soon run its course.  Yet  today’s strip is one of those rare  instances where Batiuk’s year-old content winds up being almost timely. The Moores were quarantined before quarantine was cool. Citizens weren’t wearing surgical masks back then, even during “a really bad flu season.” But if Les was so germ conscious about sharing a pen, you’d think he’d carry around his own.

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Watching the Detective

He’s made appearances in just two strips since last December 4, but the appearance of Les on a Monday signals that our week has been ruined. Especially when we see him in a bookstore setting. At least we’ve been spared a punny name: this bookstore is simply called “BOOKSTORE.” Maybe someone reading this who’s familiar with publishing can tell me: do authors go around still signing a book that was published over ten years ago? And given the target demographic for Les’ dreary memoir, it’s a pretty safe bet that everyone in the room “got the reference ” to Dick Tracy.

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We All Scream

J.J. O’Malley
February 26, 2021 at 11:43 pm
I can’t believe I’m writing this, but I almost want there to be a complete tour of the new and “improved” Chateau Winkerbean tomorrow, just so our six days of sloughing through (apparently) one very repetitive day-long conversation won’t have totally been in vain.

Hate to spoil it for ya, J.J., but I have a feeling that today’s strip is about as close as we’re gonna get to seeing the actual reno in progress. Throwaway panel 1 is a lovingly detailed rendering of a gutted kitchen, chock full of the kind of details–the orange extension cord, discarded sheetrock and wood, exposed studs and electrical–that have me thinking Batty snapped some reference pix during the real-life reno of his own kitchen that inspired this arc.

Also in panel 1, to the left of the FW text, we see Holly’s profile, which tells us that they’re sitting in a room that’s just off the kitchen. Which makes me wonder how she could forget that the ice cream and everything else has been moved to another location.

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Write What You (Ren-)Know

All good things must come to an end; so too must all excruciatingly dull things like this week’s reno convo. As Funky Winkerbean has pivoted from “depicting contemporary issues affecting young adults” etc. etc., we see more situations that are likely drawn from what’s been happening in Batiuk’s life the last couple years. Having one’s home renovated actually does hold some comic potential, and this arc got off to a promising start Sunday, where we saw Funky and Holly interacting with the contractor at their house. It might have been kinda fun to see the job actually being done, and maybe have Holly finding ways to continually and inadvertently drive up the price tag, adding to her husband’s consterenation. Instead, the rest of the week’s been taken up with these two commiserating.

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Do Ya Reno What I Mean?

Let’s just leave aside today’s weak gag. I want to talk about what’s going on with Crazy Harry’s head.

As a teenager in Act I, Crazy was never seen without his trademark hat: an olive drab, military style fatigue cap, similar to those worn by Fidel Castro or Beetle Bailey. As an Act II young adult, Harry ditched the cap, but kept his Crazy cred by sporting a beard and ponytail. His forelock was noticeable but not distracting. In Act III, he complimented his postal uniform with a jaunty  snap-brim cap over longish, but not ponytail length hair. After getting dumped by the P.O., Harry went mostly hatless, and his hair and beard began to gray. After Chuck Ayers reunited with Batiuk, Harry’s hair at last went totally gray, and that forelock has taken on the appearance of a casque, the bony, keratin-covered protuberance on the head of a cassowary:

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