Tag Archives: comics

Hardboiled Volk

Today’s strip tells us literally the same thing that Friday’s strip did. Marianne’s fate will remain a mystery for another day… that day quite possibly being Christmas Day. We are in color again, but I’m not quite getting that infomercial tonal shift feeling I described a few days back.

I feel it my duty to point out that a story about an actress who is driven to suicide (possibly) by cyberbullies is not “hardboiled” It’s pretty much the exact opposite of hardboiled, actually. It can be many other things: sad, appalling, educational (or in TB’s hands: implausible, maudlin, and preachy), but a word meaning “tough, cynical, unsentimental” as hardboiled does? No.

Us beady-eyed nitpickers may notice that Tom Lyle’s signature offers additional proof that TB works a year ahead, not that we really needed it.


You can see the conception of this comic book cover on the official Funky Winkerbean blog


Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

Look at that Caveman Go

Okay, there seems to be a motif at work here…I mean aside from the fact that today’s strip is a rehash of the day before, with Wally as a cartoon caveman in the last panel instead of the first. It’s a pretty safe bet that everyone recognized Fred Flintstone in Monday’s strip;  no doubt some of you recognized Alley Oop, but I had to shake my head at this Tip of the Funky Felt Tip to a character I thought obscure even by Tom Batiuk’s standards.

According to Wikipedia, the Alley Oop comic strip was created by American cartoonist V. T. Hamlin in 1932. This surprised me, as I’d had Oop pegged as a prewar contemporary of Little Nemo and The Yellow Kid. I was even more surprised to learn that the strip survives over 80 years later and today appears in more than 600 newspapers. That’s roughly half again as many papers that carry Funky Winkerbean.


Filed under Son of Stuck Funky


Dead Skunkhead is back from ComicCon and he’s eager to show off his latest purchase; a needlessly huge statue that’s going to scare the daylights out of Becky every day for a few weeks until she gets used to it being there. From the sounds of things in today’s strip John didn’t exactly get Becky’s blessing.

No more kids!? That’s a little dark. Did they have kids to begin with? Forgive me for using track but kids in Westview are props pulled out during turkey sales and whenever someone is moving into the apartment above Montoni’s.


Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

Night of the Meek

Link to today’s cover.

So, as predicted, it’s a comic book cover using someone else’s artwork, and the Batiuk characters are pasted awkwardly in the corners to ruin the effort.  The characters have nothing interesting or funny to say, but they have to be there because we can’t have nice things.  At least you folks get to read it right-side up!

People here have long speculated–if Funky Winkerbean is such an onerous chore to create, and Starbuck Jones is obviously where his true passion lies, then why doesn’t Tom Batiuk drop Funky and take up Starbuck.  After all, he’s gone to great lengths to detail a lot of Starbuck’s world, and it clearly holds a great deal of importance–heck, unless you follow Batiuk’s blog, there are all kinds of things in the strip that simply come out of nowhere.  By contrast, over in Funkytown, he can’t even be bothered to remember names or hair color and the characters are stagnant and miserable.

My guess (and it is only that) is that Tom Batiuk has enough self-awareness to know that if he were to tackle Starbuck Jones, he’d ruin it.  So far, the only appearances of Starbuck Jones have been comic book covers.  Never an actual adventure.  Well, a cover can promise a great deal, and it never has to deliver.  It isn’t expected to deliver.  It’s just supposed to make you buy the magazine.  It’s supposed to set up a story, not tell it.

But, if you’re going to make a space adventure comic, you cannot just promise adventure and then have people smirking over old comic books.  It’s going to require actual storytelling.  Moon Mile Meek has to leave the space house and find a giant monster somehow.  (Although I’d be willing to bet that Kloog showed up on the doorstep, thus obviating the need for Meek to do anything.  I’m also getting the distinct vibe that Meek touched one of Kloog’s comic books, and that’s what set everything off.  Sigh.)

To do actual storytelling, you have to have excitement, drama, action, violence, fresh fruit.  Passion.  Thrills.  Spills.  Romance.  Adventure–all the things you would expect to find in a space adventure book.  And when presented with the chance to do any of these things in Funky Winkerbean, Tom Batiuk turns away and does essentially nothing.  A chance for some police action with Dick Tracy?  No way, let’s have Tracy haul boxes of comic books.  How about romance, with Wally and Rachel?  Not really–that whole thing was presented as “Well, everything is only going to get worse, might as well get married now.”  Danger and intrigue in the Middle East with Cory Winkerbean?  Sorry, the cat’s eaten it.  Adventure?  Ah, usually fresh on Monday, today the van broke down.  And so on.

Even if he only did the writing, there isn’t a way that I can see that Tom Batiuk could produce a Starbuck Jones story that would satisfy anyone, including himself, and its lack of substance would probably depress him even further.  It would emphasize the various things lost to this strip over the years.  Storytelling, for one.  I don’t see any storytelling going on in this strip.  Ergo, Starbuck Jones will continue to be mentioned and continue to appear on covers, but that will be the extent of it.

Ultimately, my point is this–that those expecting anything of interest to pop up in this strip had best appreciate things like today’s artwork, junked up as it is with crap.  Let’s face it, there are some stains that no detergent can remove, and that shirt is always going to look like that.

Well, my guest stint now comes to an end.  Tune in tomorrow when the unparalleled Epicus Doomus takes over center stage.  I thank you for your indulgence, and I am outta here!



Filed under Son of Stuck Funky


Link to today’s strip.

Sigh.  So, tomorrow (Sunday) we get to look forward to another comic book tribute.  Hey, why not, it sure saves writing and drawing effort on Tom Batiuk’s part, and the artwork is usually not too bad.

Now, I’m no expert in comic books–thank goodness–but it sure looks like Cigar McBalding is holding a finished proof in his hands.  If he’s asking for a cover change at this stage, he’s either a moron or has so much money he can afford to throw lots of it away.  (Or, to be fair, both.)  This things is ready to roll off the presses–it’s a bit late to be making major changes.

This episode contrasts with the others this week.  In those, Cigar McBalding suggested “improvements” to be implemented in the future (at least he discusses it with the creative team, unlike the people at Cable Movie Entertainment who just present a list of demands).  In those episodes, at least he steered the folks toward what he wanted.  Today, he’s looking at something that (presumably) he approved, and wants changes made way late in the process.

Sigh again.  If Tom Batiuk’s fantasy world consists of crass publishers and beleaguered writers…man, that’s just too depressing to think about.   Imagine Sam Lowry from Brazil daydreaming about being buried under tons of garbage…and liking it.

Another example of a “who cares” episode, by which I mean more evidence that Tom Batiuk just doesn’t care any more.  It seems to be obvious that he would rather be eating cookies, drinking hot chocolate, and reading old issues of The Flash in the attic rather than put any time or effort into his work.  (This seems worrisome.  Is is possible for nostalgia to become a mental disorder?  I’m serious.)

There’s no joke here.  There’s no here here.  There’s also a deliberate blindness here.  If he’s so passionate about genuine creativity being pushed aside by crass mediocrity, why is his comic strip taking up space that could be used for something good?


Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

Sponging Off Relatives

Link to today’s strip.

Ha ha ha, the first line Darin’s had all week and Pete immediately steps on it!

I continue to be amazed that anyone, anyone at all, could find a sponge-based superhero to be interesting.   When I was back in the ninth grade and was drawing superhero comics on notepaper, I would never have considered such an idea, much less dealt with it for more than a few seconds.  (“What a stupid idea.  Must be too much eraser dust in the air, confounding my brain.”)  Perhaps I’d use it as a comedy character who was immediately defeated in some humorous way, but anything ongoing?  NO.

And remember–I’m talking about the ninth grade.

I don’t know what to make of Tom Batiuk’s fantasy publishing world.  In a way, it’s quite impressive in its scope and detail, but it makes me wonder why he doesn’t apply some of that creativity over here, in the strip that puts bread on the table.   Wouldn’t that be something?  Imagine reading posts on this site telling how much we liked the episode of the day.  As it is, Funky Winkerbean comes across as an afterthought–as Gerald and others have pointed out, no one who only reads the strip would have any of the Batom Books details provided in the blog posts, which robs these flashback strips of rather most of their impact.  Not that it would really make much to people not obsessed with silver age DC comics, but still, some context is always nice.

Without any of that, reading about some guy’s fantasy comic-book publishing world is like listening to a really boring person at a party.  You suddenly realize you’ve heard nothing he’s said for at least five minutes, and you start to worry he’ll ask you a question and you won’t have any idea how to respond.  And your drink is almost full–can’t use “Going to get a refill!” as an excuse.  Maybe plead for a bathroom break?  Give it a shot.  You can hide in the den…and read old comic books.

Heh heh heh.


Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

Damsel Under Duress

Link to today’s strip.

Actually, Cigar McBalding’s idea sounds like a good one.  While he’s obviously proposing it for prurient reasons, the Comics Code Authority would curtail anything outrageous, and really, I think it would make the Starbuck Jones comic a bit less one-dimensional.

Which makes it strange that McBalding is proposing it.  I thought he was supposed to be the greedy, money-eyed villain of the Batom Comics company (despite him being, uh, the publisher).  Here he is, actually trying to improve the book.

Of course, I’m thinking of a typical comic book; in the context of this strip, adding a new female character opens up the whole can-o-worms that is “female characters in the Funky Winkerbean world,” which is a place that is really depressing.  Starbuck Jones already has a robot that can bring him hot chocolate and cookies while he’s reading comic books…what else can a woman do?  I guess she can travel the universe, collecting comic books for him, or she can die of cancer.  At all times, though, she must show herself as way inferior to her man.

Ah well, when you’ve got a 50th Anniversary as a goal, it’s a bit late to start learning new tricks.  You just need to get there, pal, any way you can.


Filed under Son of Stuck Funky