She Who Must Not Be Named

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How exactly is Funky looking at Holly in panel 2? His shriveled left eye seems to be staring right at the bridge of his own nose. But his cosplay is on fleek. A near dead ringer for Joe Pesci’s Harry from Home Alone. True the hat is the wrong color, but the vacant yet angry expression is exactly the same.

Of course Holly is probably referring to Hurricane Irma. But that’s not the only option.

She could mean Irma, Wisconsin, USA, an unincorporated community that Mrs. Budd wants to live closer to so she can attend St Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church.

Or she could be frustrated that Irma, a Danish supermarket chain, has stopped shipping internationally so she wants to move somewhere with a larger Danish expat population in hopes of finding a store carrying her favorite brand of Spegesild.

Maybe she wants to be closer because she has IRMA Intraretinal microvascular abnormalities, a component of diabetic eye disease.

Maybe she’s upset because she heard rumors that Irma Records, an Italian record label, was about to drop Michael Buble’s friend, Matteo Brancaleoni, and needs emotional support.

On the subject of emotional support, maybe her past is coming back to haunt her. She could be suffering from PTSD from participating in Operation Irma, a series of airlifts of civilians during the Siege of Sarajevo.

She’s even old enough to have survived the sinking of the SS Irma, a Norwegian merchant ship sunk in controversial circumstances in 1944 by the Royal Norwegian Navy.

Since we’ve already had one storyline on swinging seniors and protection, maybe Holly’s mad at IRMA, the International Rectal Microbicide Advocates, an international non-profit organization which promotes awareness of rectal microbicides and reviews and encourages research into the safety of personal lubricants for anal sex, especially as pertaining to preventing AIDS. Maybe Funky’s Mom gave Funky’s Dad HIV after living it up with the senior crowd at the Miami Bum Boat Club.

But if I could pick one myself, I hope Holly means 177 Irma, a 43 mile wide asteroid currently located in the asteroid belt. I would choose this in the hopes that Mrs. Budd is only moving in so she can spend her last few weeks tormenting her son-in-law before a wayward 177 Irma careens into Earth driving the human race extinct.

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Timeworn Warning

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So an unpleasant elderly woman demands to move in with her middle aged child? A plot line so timeless that Tom Batiuk has used it already. Did he miss Rose from Crankshaft so much that he decided to move a surrogate Rose to the flagship? How long until the elder Mrs. Budd is stabbing comic books and reminiscing on spatula spankings?

This strip is really about 50% recycled Crankshaft at this point. Elder antics abound, and the majority of the cast is aged 50-90 and drawn as an even 75. And it only highlights how much better Crankshaft is. I’m not saying Crankshaft is good but it is usually tolerable and occasionally amusing. Some of that has to do with residual ‘zany’ ideas being allowed there, like Crankshaft scaling a massive icicle with hatchets.

I think the real difference is the titular protagonist. When your main character’s explicit stock state is a grumpy, ignorant, sour old man, then it’s in character when he’s stupid or mean. But it hints at hidden depths when he’s thoughtful or kind. Like washed out, discount, diet Archie Bunker.

But when your main character is supposed to be a relatively intelligent, socially conscious, everyman, then he’s bland when he’s acting like himself, and just infuriating when he’s an asshole so dense and full of shit Miralax couldn’t clear him out.

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Doom Smells Pretty Fishy.

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Oooh, we have a real treat this week. Not only was Monday a nonentity where one character essentially tells another, “I will soon tell you the point.” But we get a double dose of the ‘suspense’ today. Do you think by the end of the week we will know the crux of the ‘conflict’? I give it 50-50 odds.

Funky is shoveling the snow off the sidewalk, and talking to his wife on the phone. So much wrong with this.

While I guess a March snowstorm isn’t insane for the Midwest,(here in Iowa we had snow on Thursday,) the strip on Sunday had the students standing on growing green grass in light jackets and sweaters.

Funky is just outside his house. Unless his wife is away from town, isn’t she just inside? Why is she asking him if he’s sitting down? Why is she having this serious conversation with him on the phone, instead of waiting the 15 minutes for him to finish shoveling? Has she locked him out of the house? Do they only converse with cell phones now? Does she refuse to set eyes on him since he turned into a horrible eldritch amalgamation of the Stay-puff Marshmallow Man and Statler the Muppet?

‘Not necessarily bad news’ always means, ‘it’s not bad for me, but you won’t like it.’ Funky is right to sniff doom. On the other hand, a good whiff of Funky right now probably smells like moldy dog and onions. He sniffs doom with every inhale.

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Disarmed

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The Right to Hug Arms

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The internet has been a wonderful breeding ground for all kinds of new dialectical terminology. Whereas before we had things like Ockham’s Razor or Pascal’s Wager. Now we’ve got Godwin’s Law, “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1.” The Bechdel Test, “Whether a work features at least two women who talk to each other about something other than a man.” And Poe’s Law, “Without a clear indicator of the author’s intent, it is impossible to create a parody of extreme views so obviously exaggerated that it cannot be mistaken by some readers for a sincere expression of the parodied views.”

Here we have an inverse Poe’s Law. A sincere expression of a view so obviously exaggerated it is indistinguishable from parody.

Also. Is this all of the students who walked out? That must have been some editorial.

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Did someone break the windows?

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No Les, for either one of them to be jokes, they would have to be funny. And kudos to all the commenters who wondered if Batiuk would remember far enough back to reference the machine gun. Turns out it was cardboard. What is funny is that bringing a fake gun to school these days is likely good enough to get you suspended. Ah, the good old days, when Batiuk still had the balls to use guns for humor.

There is something funny in this strip though. That kid carrying the ‘We’re Still Here” sign looks like an immigrant from another strip entirely. I’m guessing Archie. He’s either got freckles, acne, stubble, or a tiny tattoo of a flock of migrating geese on his cheek. That coat looks like he murdered Chewbacca to wear his pelt, and the orange scarf isn’t so much a fashion accessory as some terrible noose he’s broken free. He’s got a nose high and sharp enough to use as a can opener, pointy ears. And all of this with a receding hairline hiding under cowlick reminiscent of the infamous scene in “There’s Something About Mary.”

Forget everyone else in this strip. We should make it all about Cowlick from now on.

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The Enemy of My Enemy.

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Well, this is the most blatantly, problematically sexist strip I have seen Tom Batiuk put out since “What Women’s Lib doesn’t know won’t hurt them”. He has his newest nebbish highschool avatar say that it took him til the tenth grade to have girls for friends, and flat out say that he considers wimmin-folk a separate class from himself.

Bernie has been hanging out with Logan for at least three years now, and he didn’t consider her a friend? Instead he saw her as an ‘other.’ And not only as from a different group, but a group outright opposing his own.

The wording of this has a darker potential double meaning. Because it could indicate that there are in fact two camps on each side of these opposing groups. A male opposing camp and a female opposing camp. And how else is Logan different from Bernie? So we’ve got textual sexism on top of sub-liminal racism. I’m revoking Bernie’s ‘woke’ card.

For years I’ve been defending Tom Batiuk against claims of overt sexism. I honestly believed he just had a hard time writing and relating to women. But this one strip has me rethinking everything.

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