Link To Today’s Strip
Back in 1994 BatYak was considered something of a modern-day Nostradamus, courageously addressing timely social issues of the day long before they became fashionable. Guns in schools, teen pregnancy, drunk prom driving, alcoholism, divorce, talk radio, medical chart snafus…BatHack saw these broad social trends coming and tried to communicate these truths to us via his unique brand of obtuse wry banter, which unfortunately was just a bit too far ahead of its time for the “average” comic strip reader to properly appreciate. In an era marked by noisy dissonant pop-culture phenomenons like Nirvana and “For Better And For Worse” Batiuk’s subtle, more writer-ly take was lost in the shuffle. It was truly America’s loss.
Anyhow, it’s a real delight to see the still-dying Fred manage to weakly mutter his approval for the #hashtag movement as his loveless wife and reluctant caretaker Ann looks on with barely interested disgust at the frail wretch of a man her philandering ambition-crushing husband has become. So it turns out that the whole #anti-guns in schools arc was just a prop to take a victory lap acknowledging that FW addressed the issue way before it became trendy and fashionable. Nicely done. If any “young people” get teen pregnant or let talk radio inspire them to blow up post offices he’ll have that covered too. Sigh.
I am only going to focus on the positives in today’s strip.
Yessiree, just the positives today. Things like… uh… hmmm… well… Darin using “mom” to refer to the woman that raised him instead of Lisa. Yeah, that’s one! There is also… ummm… these two shmucks getting themselves soaked to the bone walking back to the Eaton Building because they naturally forgot to bring their umbrellas in perpetually sunny Cleveland. I can dig that.
So yeah, I’m only talking about the positive things today. You won’t see me mention any negative aspects. Nope, not a single one. I won’t mention at all how Durwood appears to have brought “Sky” back with him to Ohio solely so he could take advantage of his aging mother for free child care. I also won’t mention how he has put both his young son and disabled father in danger by working the only caregiver in their house to exhaustion. Nor will I mention how disingenuous it is for Durwood to talk about how important it is for “Sky” to be cared for while he is working after he just shot the breeze with Pete for who knows how long at an offsite coffeeshop on company time. No, I will not mention any of those things, only the positive stuff… the sunshine, lollipops, rainbows, safety, laughter, and skip to-and-fro.
Funny, I thought focusing on the positives would improve this strip. But alas, no such luck…
Link to today’s strip.
Well, so far Pete’s learned absolutely nothing of value from John, which isn’t even a little bit surprising. I’m guessing that in today’s episode we learn even less, but as it wasn’t available for preview, we can all be disappointed together.
By the way, did any of you notice that Chester has a mutant super-power? I’m a bit red-faced that I only recently saw this. Observe:
He has the power to hitchhike whenever he wants!
Actually, let’s improve this.
Much, much better.
A couple of days ago, commentor Charles asked this:
“And why does it always have to be someone like Crankshaft and his daughter? I swear to God when I first made the observation that “There are 200 people in the Funkyverse and they’re all within two degrees of separation” I was joking.”
Many others have asked the same. (And it’s almost always Crankshaft characters appearing in Funky Winkerbean, rarely the reverse–though I do remember Les showing up the used bookstore. Les Moore? Double-yuck!)
My own theory is that Tom Batiuk is trying to create some kind of Funky Winkerbean Extended Universe; the idea being that someone reading this would learn of Crankshaft and think, “Wait, there’s MORE like this? Wow, I have to find that!”
Which is exactly the reaction he gets nowadays. Oh, except the word “find” is replaced by “avoid.”
Link to today’s strip.
Ah, the perils of drawing your comic strip, word balloons and all, a year before you write the dialogue. I feel certain Tom Batiuk wanted to have some reference to “medication” in Dullard’s word balloon, but alas he couldn’t make the word fit. Too bad, as it would clarify the mysterious “they” in Ann’s balloon (supposed to be “medications” I guess) and make her reference to a “booster shot” tie it all up neatly. It still wouldn’t be funny or good, but one could point to it as (at least) well constructed.
Oh well, can’t stop now! Onward, ever onward, toward that 50th!
I try to point out things I like whenever I can, and I like the shadow pattern of the window on the far wall. Somebody took his time applying craftsmanship to make that, and it is appreciated. And unless I’m mistaken, the picture on the wall looks a little like “Christina’s World” by Andrew Wyeth. It may not be, but I like to think someone tried to slip something of quality into this dreary waste.
…It’s the only way to be sure.
Link to today’s strip.
I’m having a hard time grasping the fact that Tom Batiuk, the most depressing comic strip author of all time, thinks that there are some things that are depressing that shouldn’t be*. Seems to me he’d be okay with children’s books getting darker and darker, as that’s his own game plan searching for respectability (i.e., award nominations). Shouldn’t children’s books be reality-based and reflect contemporary problems of young people?
Perhaps he’s ticked off that children’s books would follow along his chosen path. Perhaps he thinks I’ve earned this…stupid children’s books haven’t. Stop poaching my territory. Seems like a case of wanting it both ways, but perhaps there’s an alternate explanation in that last panel.
In his offscreen presentation, Tom Batiuk loves him some comic books. But what he loves most is old comic books, the ones he grew up with. Whenever he mentions anything positive about contemporary comic books, I don’t think he ever goes past what a “striking” cover this or that issue has. But he can go on for hours about silver age Flash comics.
So what more natural than, when he wants entertainment, he wants the entertainment he enjoyed as a kid. Absolutely nothing wrong with that. But he should be self-aware enough–at least I hope he is–that while he can say Things are terrible and dreary now, they were so much better years ago, that others can say the same about his own work.
*Though what seems to be distressing Ann here is actually just a description of the Sun.
Link to today’s strip (presumably).
Thursday’s strip was not available for preview, but I’m betting March will begin with a titanic explosion, followed by millions of multi-tentacled aliens descending on the town, their hearts twisted with evil and their minds bent on enslaving the world.
But first, we have to guess whether yesterday’s episode exhausted Tom Batiuk’s observations about grandparents and toddlers, and he’ll thus quickly pivot to his real interest (hint: it has to do with comic books), or if he figures he ought to squeeze out a few more pearls before getting to the good stuff (which has to do with comic books).
I guess we’ll all have to wait!
Link to today’s strip.
Isn’t it amazing how every time these characters hear a joke that they did not concoct, the reaction is always anger, weariness, or in the case of Dullard here, utter befuddlement? And yet when they tell a joke, the entire earth should fall off its axis from everyone laughing.
Look at Dullard’s utterly doltish face in panel 3. There’s a clod who knows he’s just been insulted, he just can’t figure out in what way. Is…is someone else Skyler’s dad?
That’s the face of someone without the slightest hint of a sense of humor (or intelligence), who does not know a joke when he comes across one.
It’s kind of the opposite of Tom Batiuk, who finds jokes all the time, when they actually aren’t anywhere in the area. Or at least that’s what I see happen.
One thing here that begs a look at the continuity is the fact that the Fairgoods live in Westview. Skyler was (presumably) conceived and born in Westview. And yet…the US Postal Service closed the Westview PO some years back. Remember how Harry had to scramble to find a job?
Westview has no mailman. Think about that for a moment.