Author Archives: TFHackett

None Like It Hot

Maddest of mad props to ComicBookHarriet for her timely and courageous reporting on this wildfire that has ravaged a huge swath of southern California.

If I can ever replicate and distribute this font, I shall name this font Reckless Death Stunts.

OK: well, I sorta lied yesterday when I commented about having watched The Phantom Empire (heretoafter referred to as TPE) as part of a midnight show at the old Capitol Theatre in Passaic, New Jersey. There I may indeed have taken in an episode or two, mixed in with some choice Three Stooges shorts, wacky commercials, and Star Trek bloopers. But this was the late 1970’s, kids. And, blame the microdot I guess, but for the life of me I cannot recall a whole helluva lot about TPE. Do you suppose Tom Batiuk get turned on to The Phantom Empire as a  stoned young Kent Stater, maybe as part of a midnight show at the Agora? Or did he discover it as a striped shirted, balding young boy, much like the one he draws as Jff’s boyhood alter ego in today’s strip? So stressed out by the obtruding smoke and flame is Jeff that now his hallucination is having hallucinations. Come to think of it, back in May we had Funky hallucinating a robot while jogging. That’s kind of an odd thematic well to which to return. These humanoid, robotic apparitions, then,  will likely turn out to be in reality some abandoned movie gear that Jff spotted while hiking in.

Anyway, I never did watch my dollar store TPE DVD, and  I’m not about to YouTube all “Twelve Dazzling Chapters” (each between 20-30 minutes in length; the Wikipedia entry about TPE has a link to a 70-minute feature edited from the serial).  The Phantom Empire trailer that I’ve shared below makes the serial look much more like an oater than a sci fi thriller: more Roy Rogers than Buck Rogers, more Buffalo Bill Cody than Commander Cody. As you watch the trailer, be sure to savor the truly excellent typography of the title cards.

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Wig Wam Bam

So what have we got here? A couple of Batiuk’s trademark touches, starting with the sign that says HAIR MAKEUP on the inside of the door. The sign isn’t scotch taped; the tape is reserved for those reference photos of Lisa (how did Mason convince Les to part with those?), which would be more helpful maybe taped next to the mirror where the stylist could see them as she works.

And you’ve got spoken dialogue stretched out over panels that wouldn’t make sense in real time. “Doing makeup takes time…” (places wig cap on head, tucks Marianne’s hair completely out of sight under cap) “But if you take the time to do it right…” (takes wig from stand, places it over the cap on Marianne’s head, straightens and styles it until the desired Lisa effect is achieved) “…the results can be amazing!”

It gets more amazing tomorrow, folks, when billytheskink takes over the reins for the next couple weeks! Thank you as always for hanging with us. Stay Funky, y’all.

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Yas, Queen

Don’t know if any conversation has taken place between yesterday’s strip and today’s. I just can’t imagine dour Les being the one to introduce himself and start a conversation. Anyway, somehow the Mauve Queen has somehow deduced Les’ identity; perhaps from the dickish, passive aggressive way he ordered that salad. As a perpetual book-touring author, Les is accustomed to answering questions about his life and his work (usually in a snotty manner), but the weird “first marriage” query even throws him.

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Veni, Vidi, Veggie

The comix site’s not cooperating once again; looks like we will have to wait until midnight Eastern time to be repelled by Friday’s strip.

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Movie Madness

In which the actress who nearly threw herself off the top of the Hollywood sign—over nothing— advises Les about managing the madness.

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Honest Stories of Working People as Told by Rich Hollywood Stars

More of Batty’s trademark exposition repetition in today’s strip. Monday’s and Tuesday’s panels showed these two driving up to a building clearly marked Hollywoodland Studios. Today Les reminds us verbally, and anyone whose interest is piqued (doubtful) enough to zoom in on that little shingle under the LISA’S STORY sign will see the studio name yet again. Ponderous, man, @#$% ponderous. Anyway, panel 2 is the first time we’ve seen a happy expression on Les since back in April when he and Cindy reminisced about their chaste New Years Eve.

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Don’t You Know Who I Am?

I know that among our loyal readership, there are a number of you who have some working familiarity with the entertainment business. Help me out here: I’ve heard of a “closed set,” but…the lot is closed? The parking lot? “They’re shooting Lisa’s Story today.” Shooting? Already? I wasn’t aware that casting, or any other aspect of this production, was even finalized. And here comes the star of this movie they’re shooting, and he can’t get on the lot because the security guard does not know who he is. Is he wearing those shades because he’s blind? And Mason, to his credit I guess, instead of throwing a movie star shit fit, sits there pouting like a douche.

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C’mon, Marianne

I haven’t even looked at today’s strip, dear snarkers. I’m sitting outside by the firepit with my family. Catch up with ya later!

Later…

Balancing humor with sensitivity to tell stories we need to hear…Some of the stories can be told over a cup of coffee, while others require a full-on Roman feast.

Amazon blurb for The Complete Funky Winkerbean, Volume 9, 1996-1998

Shit. We’re back in “Hollywoodland.” Why is Mason so hellbent on casting Marianne Winters as Lisa Moore? For that matter, why is making this movie so important to him? What’s behind his strategy to get Les on board with casting Marianne by inviting other actresses to read for her role? It’s not enough for Tom Batiuk to reprise and rehash the whole Les Goes to Hollywood thing, but this time Les is even pissier and all Mason does is fly him back and forth to the coast, take him to lunch at the Chateau Marmot, and kowtow to his every whine. Stop lathering Les’ ass for God’s sake, Jarre!

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“Doonesbury was a friend of mine. And you, Senator, are no Doonesbury”

After a six day stretch of Montoni’s pizza ‘n’ coffee with a side of band candy, Batiuk serves up a palate cleanser in the form of a sideway Sunday Atomik Komix kover. These Sunday treats typically consist of artwork by Batiuk’s comics buddies (this one’s the third or so from “America’s [and northeast Ohio’s] Thom Zahler” and colorist Rob Ro). Batiuk’s contibution, if there’s any, is what our Epicus Doomus dubbed a “reality bubble”: a little vignette of one or more FW characters doing or saying something that provides context for perplexed Sunday-only print readers of Funky Winkerbean.

“Reality bubbles” in most cases are inserted at the bottom of the vertical frame, almost as an afterthought. Today’s bubble in at the upper right hand corner, and is so large it renders the comic’s title as “KY KERBEAN” (what a silly name for a comic strip). All this real estate so that Batiuk can throw shade at Trump, with a jab vague enough that he could write it a year in advance and folks would still smirk knowingly like Ruby is smirking here.  As for the Wayback Wendy cover itself?  It pretty much gives away the  resolution of the story, doesn’t it? Looks like successfully delivers the speech (written on an envelope, natch) to Honest Abe in time not to disrupt history.

 

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Snark and Gripes Forever

Will ya get a load of Dinkle’s friend’s wife? Talk about “hair in a color that only yarn comes in“! “Busy Harry” Dinkle has taken a break from writing books that no one reads, and has squeezed into his old uniform to conduct the annual July 4 concert. Sadly, the music ensemble from Bedside Manor has been decimated by Covid-19, leaving only Mort Winkerbean on trombone and some new guy on sousaphone who, judging from all the notes above him, is really wailing.  It is here in the park that this guy casually informs his wife of his decision not to retire.

Miscellany: Does anyone else see Act I Les and Lisa in the audience? Has the time pool opened up again?

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