It wouldn’t be A Very Special Funky Winkerbean Story Arc if Batiuk didn’t manage to work in a Sunday comic book tribute. Interestingly, Batiuk’s Medina homeboy Tony Isabella featured this very comic book cover on his blog a little over a year ago. Also worth noting that while the guy pictured here has the same skin tone as the woman, that the FW colorist has made him positively swarthy. He’s like Lenny in reverse.
The Lisa-Frankie “romance” so far: insecure “new girl” can’t believe that the handsome jock has asked her out. He picks her up in his leopard-print upholstered bread truck. Later, they attend a party where they both consume alcohol. On the way home, Frankie stops in an alley where we must assume they had unprotected sex. Lisa’s journal only informs us that this was not a good idea, but was she in fact raped? What were her “high expectations” when Frankie parked in that alley? Did her low self esteem lead her to just go along despite her better judgment? Nothing to this point suggests that this was non-consensual (“Uncle Jfff’s” recollection of the near-punching seems to have taken place either after the sex or on a different night–Lisa’s dressed differently). In the 2001 flashback to Lisa’s teen pregnancy, she even offhandedly describes Frankie as a “lousy” lay.
What makes today’s panel so infuriating, of course, is that interview Batiuk gave back in March, where he teased this story arc:
In the return of that story we deepen the teen pregnancy story and say that it was a little more than just youthful indiscretion on Lisa’s part. There was some coercion involved (emphasis added).
With that, Batiuk goes above and beyond “tell don’t show”: he’s telling about “telling, not showing”. Any coercion on Frankie’s part, particularly of an alcohol-impaired Lisa, makes TB’s evocation of “Romance” today stupid, tone-deaf, and wrong.