(If you saw a different post earlier, it’s because you’re getting caught in a time vortex and totally not that I got my days mixed up.)
So Young Harry, who was completely baffled by the concept of “comic book store”, can think of nothing more important to ask his future self than “does my mom throw away all my comic books?”. And Old Harry’s response is basically “no, but your wife does, because wives are just like moms, basically, making you get rid of what really brings you joy”.
I could really do without that last panel, honestly. I know they’re technically the same person, but a teenager talking about sex with a strange old man he just met is a bit uncomfortable, and Young Harry’s face really does not help it.
The wistful way John and Batton are looking at each other today, you’d think these two were carrying on some kind of illicit love affair. And in a way, they are. Talking about comic book memories is the ultimate form of intimacy two Funkyverse males can achieve. I wonder how Crazy Harry feels about John cheating on him like that.
Yesterday, we examined the few wisps of hay we found in the 2021 needlestack. Today a more onerous chore: to find out which of the innumerable rusty, tainted, twisted barbs hurt the most when it got under our skin.
The following are your nominees for The Worst Funky Winkerbean Strip of 2021.
1.) War of the Word Zeppelins
2.) Post Pandemic Doom Posting
3.) ‘Disappointed a Lot of Fans’
4.) Feeling Blue
5.) Randy Old Man
6.) Gross Randy Old Man
7.) Just Gross
And the winner for The Worst Funky Winkerbean Strip of 2021 is…
GROSS RANDY OLD MAN
Though other strips certainly made a strong case, only one strip this year had seasoned Son of Stuck Funky commenters saying things like:
The tonal shifts in this comic are several parsecs in length.
Looking at this offering is like playing “How many impending accidents and lawsuits can you count?”
The fact that I’m concerned about Lillian, who is utterly despicable, is kind of impressive.
I don’t want to overreact, but I can’t help thinking this is just plain evil.
Can we nominate Batiuk for the Golden Crackpipe award? He can only be high if he thinks this was a good idea.
be ware of eve hill
But never have I seen such a tone-deaf display as where today’s strip is leading this storyline.
I find it hard to believe that TomBa is this clueless but I also find it hard to believe that he could be so offensive intentionally.
I can feel my sense of humor evaporating the moment my eyes fall on the strip.
The Duck of Death
Jesus, this is bad.
That’s it for the awards to hand out! Join us tomorrow for closing remarks as we wrap up the first ever Funky Winkerbean Awards, and I wrap up my shift.
Well look who’s referenced today, Lillian McKenzie. That’s a pretty obscure character to be pulling from there Tom, we only saw her 50 times last year in Funky Winkerbean, and 72 times in Crankshaft, for a total number of 122 Lillian strips for 2021, causing commenter ‘erdmann’ to wonder:
Loathsome Lillian appeared in 50 FW strips? That’s on top of her “Crankshaft” appearances? Lord, is it possible that wretched old bat could have appeared in more strips than any other Batiuk character last year?
(For those of you wondering, Crankshaft appeared in 266 of his eponymous strips, so he wins.)
A quick review of Crankshaft‘s year brought into focus once again how much better Crankshaft is. It has its terrible Batiukian moments, of course, but it also had several strips that gave me an out and out chuckle. Because Ed Crankshaft is a sort of horrible person it’s funny when dumb things happen to him. Which is why Funky can pun and complain as much as he wants, he can’t ever be anything more than a pale imitation.
While I’m a little gentler on Batiuk’s humor than some here, it was still difficult to pick out strips that genuinely rose to the top. There were plenty of strips I found inoffensive, or mildly amusing, but those tended to mush together into indistinct blob of almost-humor. Still, with the help of a panel of my personal friends we were able to put together the following nominees for…
The Best Funky Winkerbean Strip 0f 2021
1.) Expensive Equipment
3.) The Joys of Reading Over 50
4.) Interdisciplinary Thinking
5.) Funkyverse in a Cookieshell
6.) I’ve Seen Things You People Wouldn’t Believe
And the winner for The Best Funky Winkerbean Strip of 2021 is….
I’VE SEEN THINGS YOU PEOPLE WOULDN’T BELIEVE.
Though it didn’t win, it was extremely gratifying for me to see ‘The Joys of Reading Over 50’ make such a strong showing. My panel of friends didn’t really get it, and I worried that I was just sentimental for the days I still lived at home. Remembering all the times coming in late from my gas station shift, seeing my dad passed out on the couch with a fat book splayed out across his chest; creeping over, taking his book, sliding in the edge of dust jacket to mark his place, slipping off his glasses to fold them on the side table, turning off the lamp and tucking him in.
When Batiuk isn’t stroking his ego with prestige arcs, or indulging his comic book fetishes, or pandering for attention from organizations, he still…very rarely…has the power to touch.
But if it was hard to find strips this year that were genuinely ‘the best’, it was even harder to narrow down all the potential nominees for our last catagory.
Join us tomorrow for the final award: The Worst Funky Winkerbean Strip of 2021.
Batton, John, you two have known each other since at leastMay 2019. You already talked about Amazing Fantasy #15 back in June. There is no way in this entire multiverse of madness John selling a copy to Chester hasn’t been discussed to death yet. So what the heck is today about?
While I appreciate the irony of the author avatar attending awards week, nothing about this week makes sense or stands out. And NONE of these panels from this week are Panel of the Year contenders. Two doughy-faced men blathering at each other in a boring beige room is about as visually appealing as cellulitis.
Which is sort of a shame, last year’s lovingly rendered Rexall Drug that we managed to track down via Google Street View did make my short list for panel contenders. If only to honor a day when Batiuk’s obsessive weirdness so closely dovetailed with our own.
But ultimately the Imperious Holy Temple lost out to some, (in one case literally,) stiff competition.
The following are the nominees for The Panel of the Year 2021…
1.) The Final Note
2.) Rare Flying Discman
3.) Take THAT History!
4.) Smoking Vader
5.) Les Waterboards Himself
6.) Eros Panoptes
7.) Stag Film
8.) Pizza Box Signal
And the Son of Stuck Funky winner for The Panel of the Year 2021 is….
THE FINAL NOTE
Here’s a comparison with the ‘variant’ Davis cover of the crossover event.
Though we all enjoyed a flashback of Les Moore drenching himself with water while spouting grawlix, nothing can complete with, “You guys wanna go see a dead body?”
Mr. A had this picked out all the way back on June 19 . (Sorry your nominee didn’t make it Sourbelly.)
I promised you yesterday a ridiculous spreadsheet. See, when I was trying to figure out arcs of the year, it suddenly struck me that the ratio of Les to Funky this year was skewed Funky in a way I had never seen before. Then I realized how many previously integral characters, like Wally, Cindy, or Jessica had been shoved so far into the back seat, they may as well have been tied up in the the trunk. It made me curious. Who showed up the most this year?
Below is hours of my life I could have spent with loved ones or napping. But I found it interesting, and thought some of you might too.
Named Characters by Number of Strips Appearing In for 2021.
The most baffling development from this is that, believe it or not, many of Funky’s AA meeting attendees have names. This floored me.
In October, when I was going on an CK archives deep dive for my Wally Winkerbean Pizza Monster nonsense, something caught my eye.
January 15, 2001
January 20, 2001
January 23, 2001
April 22, 2021
Why? Why when Batiuk can’t even remember the names and number of the collective children of Wally, Rachel, Becky, and John; when he can’t be assed to check who the Dinkles had for Thanksgiving LAST YEAR, would he go back in time TWENTY YEARS to resurrect these characters?
When Funky was last at an AA meeting, in 2018, it was peopled by generics. So I can only assume that working on this era while preparing his massive omnibuses for Kent State jogged his memory, and he asked Ayers to recreate these important figures of Funky Lore.
But THIS is what I’m here for. THIS is what keeps me looking again, coming back, pondering, analyzing. Some kind of weird call-back, so obtuse and strange that, as far as I can tell, no one among Batiuk’s most dedicated and educated readers noticed for months.
Join me tomorrow as I attempt to convince you, despite all evidence, that modern Funky Winkerbean isn’t universally unbearable, as we award The Best Strip of 2021.
This seems like a weird question to be asking John now. Batton has multiple times this past year been, as Epicus put it, ‘schlepping up that dingy, creaky old KK staircase’ to wax eloquent on the naissance of his funny pages obsession. You’d think this would have been one of the first things they chatted about.
I described DSH John once as a bartender in a town full of drunks. He slumps behind his counter dispensing the Westview drug of choice and getting high off his own supply. Character-wise, he has nothing going on for himself. He’s simply a springboard for other people to launch off of. He hasn’t had an arc to himself since the aborted plotline where he was going to be a consultant on the Starbuck Jones movie.
I thought a lot about the subject of ‘arcs’ when preparing these awards. For the Worthy Awards, picking nominees for Outstanding Story of the Year seems easy. The Worthyverse has months long super arcs, usually between three and five a year. However, in Funky Winkerbean, anywhere from a week to a month may be spent on a group of characters before he moves on to another group, and then often back again to an earlier thread, weaving together like a messy braid of nonsense. And then there are one-off weeks spent on plotless gag concepts. Was Dinkle suffering through a series of anemic high school pranks an arc? Was the Pizza Box Monster an arc?
What constitutes an ‘arc’? I thought about it a couple different ways.
One way was looking at what seemed like major events; high points where long running plot points had new developments, or where the status quo changed. It was easy to catagorise the Comic Con trip or the flopping of Lisa’s Story as an arc.
But another way I analyzed the year was by breaking it down by location. Where did the comic spend most of it’s time? This is how Funky and Holly got an ‘arc’ nomination that encapsulated all their banal medical and reno stories. We also spent way too long poking around St. Spires with the choir in a number of mini arcs that begged to be rolled together.
Number Of Strips Taking Place at Each Location.
In the end, I simply went with my gut. I felt bad about it, because it felt like something Batiuk would do.
So, the nominees for The 2021Story Arc of the Year
1.) Dinkle Joins the Choir
2.) ‘Lisa’s Story: The Movie’ Wraps and Flops
3.) Phil Holt: Resurrections
4.) The Winkerbeans Rehab, Reno, and Recover
5.) Tom Worships Idols of Silver
And the winner of The 2021 Story Arc of the year is…
‘LISA’S STORY: THE MOVIE’ WRAPS AND FLOPS
For most of last week I was sure Phil Holt’s Resurrection was going to maintain its narrow lead. But at the very end Lisa’s Story swooped in to steal the prize. Congratulations to the cast. It will likely be the only accolade this cinematic turkey receives.
Come back tomorrow, when we’ll announce The Panel of the Year, I’ll show you another ridiculous spreadsheet that proves I have too much time on my hands, and we’ll go on an archive deep dive that will leave you scratching your head.
I guess “sitting!” didn’t last long, and neither did the standard practice of letting the kid tell Santa what he wants. Crazy and Skyler are up and about in today’s strip, and Crazy is shamelessly shilling his employer’s wares. Really? That’s where we’re going with this? Even Hollywood was mocking this exact practice way back when Tom Batiuk was in diapers.
Speaking as someone who was once whatever age Skyler is supposed to be today: expensive static collectible figures made to sit on a shelf, as this “Spidey-Man” appears to be, are not great gifts for children. Kids want something posable that can be thrown back and forth across the living room. A Spider-Man figure that is actually fun to play with has got to be able to punch over some stacked cups, body slam Doc Ock (sold separately), and ride the Spider-Cycle (also sold separately).
Et tu, Skyler? Crazy being baffled anyone would think he looks like Santa Claus while wearing a Santa Claus hat was bad enough… but today’s strip sees Skyler puzzled that Santa Claus spends time away from the North Pole? Has the kid never been to a mall? A store with a Salvation Army bell-ringer out front? A December Rotary Club fundraiser?
Actually, Given Westview’s general economic and retail landscape, that may be believable. The inquiry “North Pole?”, however…
As pretty much every single one of us beady-eyed nitpickers noted yesterday, Skyler was born in 2013, eight years ago (in fact, his birthday was November 22, just a few weeks ago), and has demonstrated his abilityto speak in complete sentences on multiple occasionsin the past. His regression to the verbal ability of a two year-old is a puzzling and insipid development, but no less so than a number of other things that have happened in this strip in Act III. Tomorrow may well find Kevin Garnett (no, not that Kevin Garnett, this guy after a visit to the Pete Reynolds New Last Name Store) correctly shouting “Anything is possible!” It’s true, we’re all living in Phil Holt’s world now.
Hi, I’m billytheskink and I love Christmastime. A lot. So folks who find me insufferably cheery at this time of year can take some solace in knowing that this year I have volunteered to take time away from playing holiday novelty records just a bit too loudly and dumping sprinkles on yet another batch of cookies to read AND write about Funky Winkerbean.
Crazy, you’ve had a beard for decades… no one has ever compared you to Santa Claus when you wear red? Not one time? Reading today’s strip, you would think Skyler is the first person ever to make the connection between a bearded man in a red hat and old Kris Kringle.
Skyler’s smarter than he looks, though. He knows that with parents like his, he’d better go straight to Santa to make sure he winds up with something good this year, and not (Starbuck Jones-themed) clothes again… or the coal that Durwood and Jess are sure to find in their stockings.
I thought Phil said he needed someone to ‘write it to life’, but apparently he already has dialogue written for this story. So he’s not really looking for a writer but an editor.
And whooo boy, that is some old timey sexism there. It’s so bad that all the background men have disappeared. Mindy looks grumpy! Which is nice to see, because she’s done nothing else but smile blandly for an entire month.
Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt though. Maybe Phil meant that line as a really weird homage to the Rankin-Bass Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer special.
I can think of plenty of contexts where that line would still be acceptable. Maybe the speaker is an anviliciously sexist villain or otherwise flawed character that needs to be punished and educated. I mean, comics today seem to be nothing but virtue signaling and navel gazing. The twelve people that still read modern superhero stuff would love to see puff-pieces on The Mary Sue about how brave Phil Holt is for burning his past self in effigy. The Subterranean is obviously a monstrous stand-in for the basement dwelling creatures, fueled by misogyny, destroying comics by complaining online about ‘the feminist agenda’.
To be sure, the old Marvel comics Kirby and Lee created back in the day were laughably sexist. But you know who was writing the dialogue? Stan Lee. So why is the Stan Lee stand in correcting Kirby?
And you know who Jack Kirby created? Big Barda, the wife of Mr. Miracle. A character where literally the gimmick is she is stronger, more prone to violence, and more physically imposing than her husband. Apparently the interplay between them was inspired by his relationship with his wife, Roz.
Maybe if Phil Holt wasn’t a cantankerous hermit with only a single friend he would be better at writing women. It’s funny how that works, knowing other people helps you understand other people. And understanding other people helps you understand yourself. Cutting yourself off from engaging with other perspectives, even ones you fundamentally disagree with, can take you to some pretty strange places.
I said yesterday that I thought Phil Holt was too antisocial and reclusive to be pure Jack Kirby cariacature. If I wanted to give Batiuk credit, I would say that he intentionally infused his Kirby Clone with a bit of essence of Steve Ditko. (Like 90’s Superboy having a bit of Lex Luthor DNA in him, gahIamsuchanerdgah.)
Ditko was the artist and co-creator of, among others, Spider Man, Dr. Strange, The Question, and The Creeper. Like Jack Kirby he had a falling out with Stan Lee over author credits and creative direction, and left Marvel to freelance for Charlton and DC. But unlike Jack Kirby, Ditko was an intensely private man, who didn’t give interviews, or go to conventions, or converse with fans.
Some of you more comics savy may be thinking, “Oooh, The Question! That’s who Alan Moore based Rorschach on!” And you would be mostly right, except that The Question was really a watered down version of another character that Ditko created. While Ditko made his living doing freelance work, he also created superhero comics with smaller indie publishers. Like Mr. A.
Yup. Ditko was a Randian Objectivist that would make Andrew Ryan blush. His principles, combined with his anxious and shy nature, made it easy for him to alienate everyone around him. In many cases it seemed he wanted to. He never married. He broke off friendships. He surrounded himself with the few he thought he could trust not to betray or challenge his ideals. To quote Flash Freeman, “He spent most of his time at war with the world and everyone in it.”
I read two informative articles, and watched one fascinating documentary about this weird, weird, strangely admirable and slightly pitiable guy.
This Vulture article was the most negative, but also the most psychologically insightful. Vulture writers are a bunch of liberal pantywaist hippies who hear the word ‘objectivist’ and rear back like Dracula at a Crucifix, (sorry, channeling the spirit of poor Steve for a moment) but lots of good facts there.
This article was a little more even-handed, very focused on his work output, and covered the characters he continued to create for Marvel and DC into the 90’s.
And finally, this charming BBC4 documentary was probably the most sympathetic to Steve Ditko. Several comics creators, including Alan Moore, weigh in on his art, philosophy, and legacy.
Meanwhile… *stupid cloud bubble panel border that TB inexplicably thinks should indicate an in-strip shift from one place to another*
Everyone’s 5th favorite Stooge, “Curly-Joe” DeRita, and Darth Vader himself are hanging out at Ye Olde Comic Shoppe. What’s that all about? Spacemanspiff85 is going to be our guide as we find out (provided we do in the next two weeks). Thoughts and prayers, man, thoughts and prayers.