We’ll have to take Les’ word about the “beauty” of Mason and Cindy’s second home: what we’ve been shown for the last three days, the exterior resembles a loading dock. We don’t get to see much of the interior: most of the scenery is obscured by word zeppelins. I’m sure it’s not Batiuk’s intent, but there still feels like a lot of sexual tension between these two. I’m not able to dig up the strip where Les first meets Lisa (help me out, billytheskink), but Les’ “main pickup move” must have been strong indeed with Cayla, as seen in this 2008 strip.
Link to today’s strip
Ooooh. Les’ Kent State shirt is back! He used to wear it on the regular but I looked and he hasn’t been seen in it since March 2017. At least, I assume it’s a Kent State shirt. The sloppy way it’s drawn, I had previously took it for some kind of tribal symbol, or a bad Stargate fan shirt.
Speaking of sloppy drawing, there’s a non-sequitur of art in every panel today. In panel one Les hand disappears into Funky’s chest like he’s coping a feel. Or attempting to reenact that famous scene from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. In panel two Les’ face has melted into a Bell’s Palsy grimace as he hunches over the inky blackness of Funky’s coat, looking for all the world like he’s just grabbed the head of a tiny Nazgul.
Panel three we get a tiny bowl of balls invading the speech bubble atop the fridge. Are they oranges? Who puts oranges on top of the fridge? Are they novelty clown noses, tucked away for some kinky kitchen roleplay? Also in panel three we have the return of our Theme Of The Week: Funky making a horrified shocked face. Today’s offering has the overtones of ‘electric prostrate exam’ we’ve enjoyed thus far, but follows it up with a hint of ‘trousers full of spiders’ for good measure.
Link to today’s strip
Some of you yesterday were wondering about the lack of a punchline. Today we learn the joke. In his desire to prepare some kind of boiling black tar substance Funky has missed a last second Hail Mary shot. And Holly shrieked in almost climactic ecstasy. Was this a playoff game? It’s so Batiukian to either be incredibly specific, (We are at the Ohio Music Educators Conference!) or frustratingly vague. (Our sportsball team is playing a non-specified game against a non-specified opponent.)
By the look on Funky’s face in the last panel, this will be more than just a petty annoyance to him. He looks like a man who has just shit his own pants upon noticing his grandchild playing in traffic while delivering a eulogy at his wife’s funeral.
Link to today’s strip
Comic Book Harriet, back in the saddle again. Taking over spurring this dead horse to flop listlessly forward another two weeks. I want to thank TFH for gallantly riding us through three weeks of absolute comic book nonsense. I don’t know if I had it in my heart to handle the cringe of Chester awkwardly trying to buy Ruby’s affections and/or loyalty.
If you weren’t paying attention to the clothing change, you might think that today’s strip was a continuation of Sunday. But no, they’re just plopped in front of the TV again on another day.
A couple questions. Who is playing? Why do they care so much? Must be an Ohio team. The jerseys of the two giants being shouted at by Danny Devito on the TV are on the red spectrum. Scapegoats matches would not be on TV right? The Cleveland Cavaliers have wine red jerseys. Ohio State has scarlet. University of Cincinnati is red. Youngstown State is cardinal. And Miami University in Oxford Ohio (founded in 1809)is also just plain old red.
Something we cannot question is this strip’s weird fixation on hot cocoa. Look at Funky lurching compulsively off the couch in search of hot sugar water. I mean, I really only drink the stuff once in a blue moon, usually around Christmas. Westviewians seem to use in all seasons it as some kind of comfort currency. I looked around, but this doesn’t seem to be a specifically Ohio or Great Lakes thing.
Batiuk does like to have his characters drinking something in strip. Making and offering each other drinks. Coffee usually, sometimes cold beverages, occasionally tea. I’m guessing it gives them a little something to do at in the panel rather than stare at each other seemingly motionless blathering inane dialogue. And I get it. My parent’s marriage entirely revolves around drinking coffee in proximity to each other.
But Cocoa seems to have a special place in his heart. As the beverage of choice when he wants to make his characters unbearably twee and childlike.
But Funky seems to have a special affinity for it. In a really creepy way.
It’s back to the WABAC machine in today’s strip. No, I’m not talking about the flashback to “five years ago…”, I’m talking about Bull’s funeral, which has itself moved two-and-a-half years backward in time in order to accommodate a five years ago flashback featuring players Bull last coached in the spring of 2012. Well, at least we are getting something that is actually about Bull in this one… that’s so damning with faint praise that it could keep an ocean at bay. (“Billy was a special blogger”, they said at his funeral.)
Also, I tagged both Keisha and Linda in this, because I’m not sure which one of them is standing next to Summer in panel 3.
Making their first appearance since January 2016 are Summer and Keisha. I’m sure the sounds of one-on-one basketball right outside his door do wonders for the terminally distractable Les’ writing process.
If “see you later, alligator” is good enough for Cliff and Vera, I don’t know why Les and Cayla feel the need to “update” it. Let’s not get started on Les calling his black wife a monkey. Instead let’s examine Batiuk’s tendency to take a feeble but acceptable joke and proceed to stretch it ’til it breaks. He could have left it at “they’re working on an update blah blah blah.” But, because it’s Sunday and he still has two panels to fill, he’s gotta drop in the stuff about going “viral” and “beta testing”.
It’s all well and good that Batiuk recruited a couple comic book pros to draw Crankshaft and Funky Winkerbean. But the draughtsmanship, maddeningly inconsistent as it is, isn’t the problem with these strips, it’s the writing.
My fellow bloggers out there are familiar with a WordPress feature called “post tags.” Adding tags to a post “aids in navigation and allows posts and to be grouped with others of similar content.” For example, you might notice the tags for today’s post are listed this post, just before the comments, like so:
It’s a fun and handy feature, and you can even display the tags in a “tag cloud” (on this page it’s in the right-hand sidebar, under the heading “Most Tagged.” The tag cloud displays your most-used tags, and renders them in larger or smaller font sizes depending how often they are used (note the size of “Les” and “Montoni’s“).
I mention this because I regret never having created a tag called “Last panel in which everyone exchanges puzzled expressions in response to what a main character has just said.” The problem, see, is that post tags should be succinct, and there’s really no way, short of an acronym, to shorten that description. And the “LPIWEEPEIRTWAMCHJS” tag would be used a lot: in pretty much every strip that’s set in Mr. Moore’s or Mr. Kablichnick’s or Mr. Dinkle’s classroom, for starters.