Tag Archives: cellphone

You’ve come a long way, baby

Ah, the classic tug-of-war between privacy-invading exuberance and false modesty… who wins that race to the bottom in today’s strip?

Les’ false modesty does, of course. For one thing, it’s coming from Les, which makes it an additionally off-putting version of an already off-putting behavior. The biggest reason, though, is that Cayla’s desire to “let people know” is essentially moot, everyone already knows. Anyone who cares saw Marianne tell the television cameras that she was coming to give her Oscar away to Les this week. Yeah, if she’s trying to organize a mob to meet Marianne then that might not work if by “on the way” Marianne means that she’ll be there within the hour… but with Marianne’s very public announcement of her planned visit and the relatively specific time frame she gave, the Taj Moore-hal should have been descended upon by pushy celebrity obsessives and Starbuck Jones fans days ago. Where are they? Where’s Lenny and Frankie and (ugh) DMZ? Why am I asking you?

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Only the Wrong Survive

Nice of Mason to let Les know that their film project has drawn an Oscar nom for its leading lady. And kinda nervy of Cayla to denigrate “Lisa’s Story: The Movie” in front of Les. And speaking of nomineeds, a note to our Comic Book Harriet: we already have our first candidate for Most Punchable Les face in panel 3.

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Hooray? For Hollywood?

Link To Today’s Strip

Uh-oh. Looks like BatHam isn’t ready to shut the coffin lid and shovel dirt on “Lisa’s Story-The Movie” just quite yet. Back around Halloween when Les was sneering derisively and shrugging disinterestedly about how the cancer movie bombed, it looked like that whole sordid episode was over, but if I’ve learned one thing over the course of Act III, it’s that Lisa and her story will never, ever, completely “go away”.

I have to believe that given the time of year and the subject matter here, most of our readers probably have a pretty fair idea re: where this could be going. Sigh. Hopefully it’s not entirely Les-centric, but it would seem that he’ll be involved somehow, and any Les is too much.

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Stark Contrast

Link to today’s strip.

Ah–the penny drops. Now we know why we had to revisit Holly’s broken limb–because Tom Batiuk saw a cast-type thing on someone’s leg and thought, “Hey, that looks like Iron Man’s boot!”

Before you say, “Oh, pshaw! No one would do that!” remember this is Tom Batiuk whose work we are discussing. Of course he’s done that, many, many times. And he will no doubt continue to do it, many many times.

I thought DSH John sold the “dolly” a while ago. Perhaps Chester bought it back and donated it. For a rich guy, he sure likes throwing money away. I was pretty sure rich people did the opposite of this, but then I’ve been wrong about a great many things. And I’ve certainly never been nominated for a Pilitzer!

As for the strip itself, it’s actually rather sad. Funky was one of the very, very few characters who didn’t regard comic books as holy relics. I seem to recall when asked about them once, he claimed disinterest, saying something like “*I* grew up.”

How have the mediocre fallen.

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It’s Always the Quiet Ones.

Click Here to See an Anatomically Incomprehensible Funky

I’m sorry Jimmy. A broken sarcasm meter is one of the most common injuries suffered by SOSF commenters. We’ve been trying to pioneer a new treatment that involves carefully grafting sarcasm from other sources to the site of the meter injury.

But Wally Winkerbean is a name I’ve seen mentioned again and again, both in our comments and in the comments on Comics Kingdom. So I spent way too long over the last few days pondering the character of Wally Winkerbean, an exercise nearly as psychologically damaging as the actual act of BEING Wally Winkerbean.

And the whole time, I was asking myself, is this man the Pizza Monster?

Suspect: Wally Winkerbean.

Observations:

1.) Wally could fit the physical description. He is nearly always drawn equal to or just a shade shorter than Funky. He is physically fit.

Suddenly Rachel’s interest makes sense…

2.) Wally has former military friends and connections. While he probably lacks the funds to hire a helicopter, maybe a pilot buddy owes him a favor.

If they’re willing to help him move a couch upstairs…they’re willing to to anything.

3.) Wally is familiar with helicopters.

Sometimes, they’re all he can think about.

4.) Wally is a manager of Montoni’s, and lives above the store. He is very familiar with the building. This works against the Mason Jarre theory. Would Mason have known about the roof ladder? Would he have had a key to the side delivery door? Would he be able to plan his interior getaway through the upstairs apartment? Did this require a key? Wally would have all of these things.

Is this the only time we see Wally smoking? Weird.

Motive:

And here is where things get hazy. What motive would Wally have to do this? Who is Wally?

Pretty much…

I don’t even think he really knows. He’s like a dog that’s been kicked around one too many times. He’s so guarded. He lingers at the edges of panels, letting other people do the talking, smiling benignly. He’s always trying to be helpful, always aiming to please and not cause a fuss or make trouble. Like he’s apologizing for existing.

Because he is.

Wally used to be an underachieving, pseudo delinquent who spent his days goofing off at band practice and dragging a frozen turkey around on a string.

And yet, the band room sign is still taped to the door.

And then, right after high school graduation, when he was joyfully confessing his drunken love, he caused a horrible car accident that maimed his girlfriend and ruined her music scholarship. He didn’t speak to her for more than a year and joined the military. To atone? To escape? Both?

Hello, Uncle who is actually my cousin….
Cut to panel of Wally buying beers and kissing Rachel.

The car accident sets Wally off on a spiraling cycle of trauma and atonement. He is in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan, presumed dead (for the FIRST time) but escapes captivity and returns to Westview to marry Becky.

Spoiler Alert: He doesn’t get over it.

But the trauma of Afghanistan weighs on him, and he returns to the country in an attempt to atone for that. Both he AND Becky are nearly exploded, and adopt an orphaned girl.

I can’t promise I’ll remember to invite you to my second wedding though…

Wally is unexpectedly redeployed to Iraq. When he gets there he learns that his wife is pregnant and he misses the birth of his son. During the time skip wally is exploded by a roadside IED, and held captive for years. The only face he can remember during his long imprisonment is the face of his beloved Becky.

And when he’s finally reunited with her, she shows him her second husband, takes him to his own grave, hands him a trombone, tells him Dinkle said hi, and LETS HIM WALK TO FUNKY’S HOUSE.

“But the car is already in the garage for the night, so he can walk.”

And you know what? He takes it all. We barely see him complain. He just accepts it. He gets angry and loses it ONE TIME to a random guy at a traffic light. He has a panic attack at a basketball game. But he doesn’t want anyone to make a big fuss on his account. When he can’t minimize, he apologizes. When someone helps, him he thanks them. He resists help only when he sees it as fruitless or too much of a hassle.

It’s no big deal guys, honest. But thanks for caring.

Eventually, Wally get’s his wonder dog and his wonder wife, and things have mostly turned around. He’s happy now. But he still seems happiest when he’s pleasing others, or when he’s doing good. That’s what the Adeela thing turned out to be. She reminded him of his sins and trauma, so first he tried to run away. Then he tried to please her. He offered her a job, helped her get her license, worked to keep her from being deported, just another bit of atonement for the fact that poor Wally still doesn’t really think he’s worth the hassle.

Why would this sad sack of a man be the Pizza Monster? Why would he torment the one person who was there for him when even his own wife had abandoned him?

And so again: Motive:

1.) Similar to a Mason theory, Wally believes that this yearly prank is somehow good for Funky. Either as a distraction from grief, or a catalyst to shock Funky out of his usual ennui. He believes this helps Funky so much that he is willing to go through a dangerous stunt that would likely trigger his PTSD.

2.) When you peel back the layers and layers and layers of guilt and trauma, there is something inside Wally that craves the boy he used to be. A prankster. A fearless daredevil. And that buried side of himself has responded to his life’s trauma by craving first the anarchy of anonymous pizza theft, and then the danger of this year’s stunt. Even Wally seems to realize that he is repressing something.

“Would it sound like a pizza box?”

At what moment in Wally’s life did he feel the most joy? When did the art show us he was completely free of the weight of all his guilt and inadequacies?

“Hey I survived a landmine. Neat.”

The adrenaline pounding in his veins, the rush of air in his lungs, the unbridled cry of triumph. Yes, I am alive! I have done the impossible! I have stood at the precipice of death. Yet everything I love awaits me in safety! I have broken the rules of this dark universe!

What would Wally do to recapture that moment when every thought in his tortured brain was blanked out by wordless, animal joy?

Would he become….the Pizza Monster?

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Pea-Brained

So, do you think it’s just Melinda that forgets what Funky does for a living, or Batiuk himself? I know Funky currently owns and manages Montoni’s, but I guarantee he’s done more than his share of cooking, and I don’t get at all why Melinda is so shocked she’s literally covering her mouth. But I guess it’s worth scrapping years of character development for the bad sitcom level hilariousness of “men don’t know how to cook”.

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Alumnaiku

Look, the man himself
Deigns to appear on panel
Here in today's strip

Why is he worried
No one is coming to see
Him in uniform

No one is coming
To see Holly twirl either
But whatever y'all

This Harry Dinkle,
He sounds like a real jerk
This guy here, real jerk

With his history
Of abusing band members
Why would alums play

But of course these two
Still have their band uniforms
No one leaves high school

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Healing fact-or fiction?

Oh sweet Sousa, it’s HIM! I guess we all knew his appearance was inevitable after Holly brought up band alumni yesterday, but I think we were all hoping he wouldn’t show up as soon as today’s strip. But now he is involved AND he is tossing around comic book/video game terminology like he‘s DSH or the other guy in this strip named Harry, making this story arc go from insufferably bland to straight up insufferable in three panels flat. And now we know Holly wasn’t the only majorette he routinely maimed…

Holly really shouldn’t be surprised he remembers her, though. After all, he named his shoe brand’s majorette marching boots after her. I guess that means he is being sincere then telling her she was the best majorette he ever had, though I’ll also bet he‘s been keeping her royalty checks from the sale of those boots for the past 29 years too.

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The Happy Masses

Link to today’s strip.

So, it’s another Sunday strip that adds nothing, but takes up a bunch of space.

The main thing I find of interest is the last panel, where Mason apologizes to Les, because “keeping the masses happy” is “a thing now.” Hasn’t it always been?

Dunno how to tell you this, Mason, since you’re apparently a dimwit and cannot learn new things, but “keeping the masses happy” is a major part of the motion picture industry. (Not so much in the comic strip industry, I guess.) Every studio wants their productions to be seen by as many people as possible.

Of course, Lisa’s Story is an Important Art House Film Designated (By The Author, Not The Critics, And Not The People) For Greatness, so naturally it won’t make the masses happy, and it will not be a popular or financial success. It’s just too special for the ordinary dullards who slog back and forth on this planet. Look at them, they pay their bills, they buy their Egg McMuffins, they sometimes drive to the lake so they can eat sandwiches, they might laugh at those late night TV hosts if they’re not too exhausted after their mundane days. *Shudder*

This is yet another manifestation of Batiuk’s idea that people do not know what’s good for them, they do not seek quality art that shows how a super-sensitive man reacts to his wife’s death (and finds fame thereof), but instead are happy to watch Chris Pratt do handstands in a Burger King parking lot while the soundtrack belts out something about “Cartoon Heroes” or maybe Hobbits and Isengard.

“Keeping the masses happy” is the lowest thing a “creative” person can do. (It’s certainly not the way to *cough* win awards, which should be the focus of anyone who dares to call himself an “artist.”) Look to the Oscars: If a movie is popular and is a big financial success, it’s not winning any awards in today’s movie industry.

The people who make movies, though, would love to make the masses happy. It’s how they make their money. I bet, back in the day, they even hoped Radio Ranch would be a smash hit, rather than a future relic fetishized by aging cartoonists.

One other detail here is very, very telling. In the third panel from the end, Mason mentions that the film is based on Les’ life. Not Lisa, but Les. It would have been easy to substitute the word “book” for “life,” but I guess sometimes Batiuk’s ego gets the better of him.

As long as I’m linking crap, why not link this. It’s wonderfully melancholic and yearning at the same time. Heck, it’s Saturday night, I’ll link everything that–oh hello, officer, no, I was just moving on, thank you!

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Return of the Phil

This doesn’t quite seem to be how normal people would react to someone randomly returning from the dead. (I know it’s a waste of time expecting people to act normal in this strip, but still). I absolutely believe that if someone in the Batiukverse did spontaneously, inexplicably return from the dead, the first thing they would do would be seek out the nearest comic convention and ruin an event honoring someone else.
Boy, is Les going to be pissed with Lisa shows up and ruins the Lisa’s Legacy Run this year.

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