Today’s strip shows Les continuing to chase Nate around to berate him over his copier use. And not surprisingly, he’s wrong. He’s not being penalized. He’s simply not getting credit for it. He’s not allotted fewer copies than his fellow teachers. He gets just as many, but since he decided to go double sided, he used half as many pages. It’s not Nate’s fault, or the fault of the other teachers that Les was sloppy when heeding the rules.
But I’m more annoyed by the punchline. Batiuk uses a legal term, “don’t make a federal case out of it”, but rather than bringing the Legal Society students in, he brings in the kids in the journalism club (media club, or whatever the hell it is). Wouldn’t a better punchline be “don’t turn this into a front page story”? Or “don’t make a national story of this”? You know, something to reflect the fact that these kids are specifically in the school’s media news activity?
But I don’t know why I’m annoyed. To mix my metaphors, flubbing an open layup like this is par for the course as far as Batiuk’s concerned.
So today Les keeps mashing on the copier, like an unmajestic silverback gorilla, as if mashing it is going to make his problem of blowing through his alloted copies go away.
But it’s panel two that’s the true majesty. Look at that thing. He’s got the aforementioned unflattering angle focusing on his baldness. He’s got the loosened tie that’s supposed to make him look unpretentious and hip but instead makes him look like an unprofessional slob. His eyes are tightly closed like a six year-old’s who’s on a whining binge because his parents didn’t get him the right Christmas present. And finally, there’s that finger that he’s waving as if he’s in any position to lecture his boss about his own wastefulness.
And there’s one more thing, of course. You’d think a guy who’s supposed to be some sort of accomplished writer would be detail-oriented enough to determine from the posted rules whether making a double-sided copy constituted two “clicks” or one. But Les is not that guy.
So today we go back to Les and naturally this means it’s the setup for a week of him complaining about something.
I’ll just ignore Les blowing through his month’s allotment of photocopies, both because I trust all of you to hash it out more than adequately, but also because Batiuk’s going to give us plenty of opportunity to do so over the course of the week, to comment on something else. It’s the way Les is drawn in panel 2, looking down at the top of his recently severely-balding head. (Seriously, look at how significant Les’s hair loss has been in the last two years) I’m going to assume that Burchett leaves the diagramming of the strip’s art to Batiuk, because this is by far not the only time Batiuk’s used this angle. The odd thing is it’s with one exception always a balding man, with the primary focus on his male-pattern baldness. He’s never once drawn a woman from this angle. But now he’s shown Les, Funky and Bull in this fashion multiple times each – an odd, inexplicable angle with their head bowed showing the full ravages of a receding hairline.
It’s remarkably unflattering and jarring. Makes me wonder why Batiuk keeps coming back to it.
From the FW blog:
Rick [Burchett]…lays-out and pencils the Sunday sequence. When that’s finished, it’s my turn to jump back in and ink it into a Funky Sunday. The lettering is then done on the computer after which it goes off to colorist Rob Ro who proceeds, as he always does, to turn it into a totally beautiful Funky Sunday.
Colorist Rob can even turn a clump of gridiron turf into a flaming mini-volcano! Well done, Rob! So today we get the big payoff in the Buck Bedlow saga. We wondered why Buck showed up out of nowhere and went to such lengths to overturn Bull’s non-touchdown in the Big Game. What Buck was really doing was getting a preview of his own impending decline. But if he got his “CTE diagnosis” (grrrrrrrrrr!) “last month,” why did he show up back in September?
Well it’s been a pleasure stoking the snark fires these first two weeks of the new year. Tomorrow, guest author Charles takes over the reins. Wear a helmet, folks! –TFH
January 12, 2018 at 2:14 am
I have a strong feeling they’re either:
A. Digging away the snow so Bull can recreate his “winning” play.
or B. Digging up the dirt where Bull “made” his “winning” play so Bull can take it home and preserve it.
And the correct answer is “B”, if by “preserve it” you mean plop it on a shelf where it will wither faster than Bull’s mind. I guess we can remove the quotation marks around “winning” now, as Buck ‘n’ Bull have, by sheer force of will, turned that long-ago loss into a win. And again with the “crazy” talk, though at least Linda means it figuratively. While thematically this week’s arc was nothing to write home about, what interests me (barely) about today’s strip is Bull’s profile in panel 2. Not because his hair, which three months ago was brown, is now pure white. It’s that as he gazes at the relic of what is now seen as his life’s greatest achievement, he morphs into a bald version of his Act I self.
Y’know, these days, many high school sports fields, even Batiuk’s alma mater, feature modern, expensive, artificial turf fields. So in today’s strip we’re witnessing two clowns causing costly damage to school property. Even a natural turf field would likely have an irrigation system below the surface. And besides that, the ground is frozen. But Batiuk’s not about to let any of these details get in the way of us “earning” whatever “ending” this is all leading up to. Why all this phony closure-seeking on behalf of a man who sadly will soon be unable to remember anything? And if the mission here is to somehow scrape up Coach Stropp’s ashes, they need to move over a little more to the left.
If you are reading this and your name is not Thomas Martin Batiuk, you read Funky Winkerbean not for its depiction of “contemporary issues affecting young adults in a thought-provoking and sensitive manner” (because all that ended with Act II). You don’t seek real-life situations, believable dialogue, likable characters, or coherent plotting. You likely were a true fan of this comic back in the days when it did have these characteristics, in abundance. Perhaps you’ve continued reading faithfully ever since, or, perhaps you picked up the funny pages after a lengthy absence, decided to check in on ol’ Funky and his pals, and wondered what the hell happened.
But if you’re reading this blog, you share a very special perspective on the Funkiverse. You keep coming back either to see how incoherent, tone deaf, and awful it can get…or…you cast aside whatever passes for narrative around here, and inject your own. In which case, today’s installment could be right out of a Coen brothers film: repressed midwestern matron Linda gleefully looking on as strapping Buck marches docile Bull out to dig his own cold, lonely grave.