Tag Archives: bad ideas

Forgetabilia

Today’s strip echoed a personal experience for me.

For almost as long as I can remember, my parents were small business owners. They ran a family business that started in 1980. When my father couldn’t do it anymore in 2005, my brother took it over. It operated continuously until 2020. You can probably guess what contributed to its demise.

When it was time to move out of the building, one of the more difficult things we had to do was take down all the pictures, mementos, awards, and other history that had been hanging on the wall for decades. There were pictures of old friends and loved ones who aren’t with us anymore. There were pictures of us with famous people. There were pictures of the time we were on a local TV news story. There were print magazine and newspaper articles. There were letters of commendation we had received about the work we did. There were letters that mentioned Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union. There was even a Little League team photo plaque dated 1985, for a team I played on. Every item brought back a fond memory of a former time in our lives. So much of my family history was documented on those walls.

Montoni’s history wall sucks.

Three pictures of Tony Montoni? A local TV host? A 12-year-old playing Defender? A vague woman on a motorcycle? Most of this junk isn’t worth hanging on the bathroom wall, much less selling as “memorabilia.”

The picture of the visit from Bill Clinton is fine. Any personal interaction with a current or former POTUS is a big deal. But let’s talk about what’s not on this “history wall”:

  • Mason Jarre, a major Hollywood movie star who has been to Montoni’s multiple times, and initiated the Oscar-winning movie on the premises
  • Atomik Komix, a local, nationally prominent comic book publishing company, with two Hall of Famers on staff
  • Pete, the writer of this world’s equivalent of Star Wars, which was also filmed in this town
  • Holtron, a noteworthy prop from this movie, that is housed nearby
  • Cindy Summers, a local product who became a national news reporter and was so popular in high school her parties were covered by MTV
  • Bull Bushka, a local product who played in the NFL
  • Any of the high school championships Westview won (my local Applebee’s commemorates such things, and I live in a big city with several high schools)
  • Harry Dinkle, a man who single-handedly propped up the economy of Belgium
  • The pizza box monster, who doesn’t turn up in today’s strip either. As commenter Andrew pointed out yesterday, his real-life counterpart is on Luigi’s history wall.

And I never thought I’d have to ask this, but…. where are Les and Lisa? We’re supposed to take their ridiculous over-the-top Love Story rip-off and all its side plots seriously. So they’re a massive part of Westview history.

This pathetic display should be enough to convince Summer that her proposed “oral history of Westview” is unviable. On top of that, Funky is selling all this! Why would anyone want to read a history of Westview, when the people who live there and collected that history, don’t care enough to keep it?

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Turn And Face The Lame

Oh, Les. I think the book agent will know exactly what’s coming their way, when you call Ann Apple and tell her your directionless 29-year-old daughter wants to write a book.

The “make Summer a famous author” train is steaming ahead, folks. It’s Wednesday, and Les is already talking about getting an agent for his no-talent sprog. For someone who hates Hollywood people, he sure does act like one.

“Westview is changing?” How would Summer know? She’s been away for ten years. Having Summer make an occasional visit to foreshadow this observation – or anything at all about this complete rewriting of her personality and interests – would have been helpful.

Also:

The town in M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village is more receptive to change than Westview. These people all have the same high school social structure, the same friends, eat the same pizza, read the same comic books, mourn the same dead person, hate the Internet, and think The Phantom Empire is the greatest movie ever made. And don’t you dare suggest anything otherwise.

Summer says her book will be “an oral history, but also about social dynamics on a micro scale.” Did she change her major again in the middle of that sentence?

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Infinite Recursion

You won’t believe Summer’s brilliant idea for a book! It’s not about Lisa! It’s about Westview! Which is about 70% Lisa by volume.

There are already enough books about Westview, Summer. They’re called The Complete Funky Winkerbean Volumes 1 through 12. Nobody buys or reads them.

Is Batiuk trying to be meta here? He’s already blurred the line between Lisa’s Story, the in-universe book Les wrote, and Lisa’s Story, the real-world book of Funky Winkerbean comic strips you can buy online for only $80.

Let’s see how meta this gets. Someday, Tom Batiuk will sit down to put together a future Complete Funky Winkerbean compilation, that will contain the “Summer wants to write a book about Westview” plotline. When he does this, he will be writing a book about Westview about writing a book about Westview.

And what if Summer’s book includes information about the many books that have been written by Westview residents? Most of them are about things that happened in Westview: Lisa’s death, Holly’s majorette career, Dinkle’s life story. So when Batiuk sits down to compile this future Complete Funky Winkerbean book, he will be writing a book about Westview about writing a book about Westview about writing a book about Westview.

But wait! What if Les’ earlier book Fallen Star contains an account of how Plantman threatened Les when Les’ writing was going to reveal Plantman as the murderer of John Darling? It has to; it’s an important part of the story. Now, imagine Summer interviews her father about this, for her own book about Westview. This would mean… take a deep breath…

Tom Batiuk is writing a book about Westview (the future Complete Funky Winkerbean collection these strips will appear in) about writing a book about Westview (Summer’s in-universe book) about writing a book about Westview (Fallen Star) about writing a book about Westview (the accounts within Fallen Star about how writing Fallen Star brought out the killer).

This isn’t just another book publishing story. I feel like like I’m unpacking a Russian nesting doll of book publishing stories.

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The Les He Knows, The Better

More word zeppelins in today’s strip… Not as bad as yesterday, but still, get your bookmarks out, folks!

You know, this is actually one of TB’s tidiest retcons, probably because it is one of the very few intentional ones he’s ever undertaken. It takes the original scene and changes its context (slightly) by depicting a previously unseen scene. Tidy. The pieces actually fit together. There are no loose ends, deleted original context, or unresolved conflict with the originals scene. See? That’s not so hard.

Heck, as a bonus it even (unnecessarily but adeptly) explains a silly detail from the original scene, why Les has a camcorder and this Hari Seldon story readily at hand as if he was waiting for Lisa to lament about all the things Summer she will never get to experience. Turns out, he pretty much was just waiting on the chance to whip that camera on out.

Tidy as it is, this retcon was no more entertaining or less irritating because of it. In fact, it makes the origin story of the Lisa tapes tremendously off-putting. The focus shifts away from the impending reality of Summer growing up without a mother seen in the original scene to the needs of Summer’s nogoodnik parents… First, Lisa wants to record the tapes so she can live vicariously through Summer’s adolescence in her imagination. Then, Crazy and Lisa hatch this cockamamie plan to let Les take credit for the idea to record the infamous tapes, which only soothes his ego and bolsters his hero complex. These people are awful and I hope I never wind up sitting next to any of them on an airplane.

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Hai-can’t with this

Here is today's strip
Is it worse than we all feared
Or simply as bad

If I was popcorn
I would be quite offended
By this portrayal

Les hated this film
Why would he even watch this
Was happy it failed

In this case, "writer"
Would not describe Les as he
Did not write the script

This deserves more scorn
I'm a skink, I can't rant, so
I'm counting on you

Rip this thing to shreds
Kill it with all of the fire
Or just acetone

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Grosstalgia

As someone who has ridden in an ambulance with a parent after breaking a bone while competing in a sport, I found there to be nothing at all redeeming about today’s strip. At least yesterday we had some America’s Funniest Home Videos visuals, solid work from Chuck Ayers for once, but today… today… just get out of here with this tripe!

No one wants to see Holly apologize to her mother for, um, for breaking her ankle?! What?! No one wants to see this whole cruel and miserable experience turned into a nostalgia trip. No one wants to know what kind of hairspray Holly uses that has kept her terrifying hair claw intact despite spending extended periods in a driving rainstorm.

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Slipping through the craaacks

As someone who has broken a bone after slipping on wet grass, I must admit that I briefly chuckled at today’s strip… briefly.

And that brief chuckle is the sole redeeming payoff of a story arc that began (checks phases of the moon) three weeks ago?! That’s… better than a lot of TB’s story arcs to be honest.

But what of Dinkle and the alumni band? OK, I don’t care one iota what Dinkle is doing, but the alumni band has been waiting three YEARS to perform! Oh, I’m sorry, I forgot until today that TB did this whole alumni band thing, complete with majorette performance, pretty much three years ago on the dot. I forgot about how it all started with Holly and her mom reminiscing (though then it was on a car trip from Florida). I also forgot that Holly and Melinda were told “no” on the flaming baton trick back then too. I forgot that it all ended (after taking up a whole MONTH), not with a performance, but with this. And worst/best of all, I forgot all about all of this despite being the blogger on duty when it all happened.

I was going to say “you’re welcome”, but I had to go and remember all of this today.

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The Westview Horror

Yep, the Pizza Monster is here. Just like he was yesterday. Not sure why today’s strip couldn’t have just taken place yesterday, other than just to waste time. But of course that can’t be Batiuk’s reason, so I must have missed a subtle nuance yesterday.
I really, really do not like the sideways daily strips. But making them multiple panels is even worse. I can’t imagine what a nightmare this would be to read in black and white in an actual newspaper.
Do you think the PM has been standing motionless in the doorway for long enough for Funky to notice and make a phone call, or did Funky have nothing better to do at work than stand around with his phone ready for the PM?

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