Tag Archives: Crankshaft

How ’bout “Murder-by-Book-Signing”?

Link to today’s strip

Look at that douche in panel 1, visible strain on his face as he forces himself to listen to Lillian’s blathering. Les does however hit paydirt as Lillian acknowledges that she’s here to buy “the new Lisa’s Trilogy books”. This is not how a real person would describe what she’s doing, but at least Les made one sale. I suppose that’s the part that drives this book signing sequence forward, since the punchline is nothing more than a continuation of yesterday’s punchline. I do like how Les in the last panel, looking puzzled, holds Lillian’s book right up to his face as if he’s never seen such a thing before in his life, deciding to smell it. He looks confused and disoriented. Oh, Lillian, your delightful smile is wasted on this man. He’s never going to read your book. Don’t kid yourself.

I have to admit that I’m more intrigued by the subtitle in panel 2 for The Last Leaf, which is “Lisa’s Story Concludes”, which with that awful stylized lettering I’ve read more than once as “lisa’s story omelettes.” How could this possibly be a conclusion to Lisa’s Story? She DIED in the last one! If it’s about Les’s ability to become a functional member of society again after his loss (which not only has a debatable premise, but is also the most reasonable direction for the book to take), that’s not about Lisa. That’s about Les. It’s as if Fitzgerald wrote “Gatsby’s Story Concludes” about how Nick Carraway got on with his life.

But that’s not really a surprise. After all, I bet if you took all the strips in the new “Lisa’s Trilogy books” of Batiuk’s and counted the strips where Lisa appears and the strips where Les appears, Les would have more by a substantial margin. Hell, dump the book where his purported protagonist is dead and I’d bet Les still has a wide margin in the other two. It’s never been about Lisa. It’s always been about Les. For every strip of Lisa reflecting on her own about her life’s circumstances in a way that doesn’t focus on Les, there are probably ten of Les moping about some damn thing.

Whew, what a tangent. Anyway, your main character, ladies and gentlemen.

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He never knows….

Link to today’s strip, oriented correctly since you might actually want to read it

Today’s strip features one of the few things Batiuk does that actually amuses me. He owns himself.

Lillian tells Les that he inspired her to become a writer simply due to his appearance at her bookstore a quarter of a century ago, then promptly lists all the books she’s written, all of them filthy genre fiction. Batiuk links all of her novels’ titles together with the presumed joke being that they’re all derivative, insipid and absurd. He then mocks the prolific Sue Grafton out of nowhere by suggesting that that’s where Lillian got the idea.

But the fact is, Lillian’s asinine Murder-by-places-you-buy-books conceit could have been directly inspired by Les. After all, here’s Les, who’s supposed to be a respectable writer revered by his peers and his creator for his great artistry and vision, yet over the course of the last two decades, here are all the books he’s written:

  • Lisa Before She Died
  • Lisa Dying
  • Lisa After She Died

That’s an own goal.

I’m also curious about Les’s omnibus Lisa edition. I’m going to assume that “Lisa Before She Died” was the same standard non-fiction prose of “Lisa’s Story”, but “Lisa After She Died” was clearly portrayed as a graphic novel. So are we supposed to think that there are two staid non-fiction stories, followed up by a story told through pictures? How would you even format such a monstrosity?

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Oh, the inanity!

Today’s meandering

I’ve got to hand it to Batiuk. I thought when he was going to plug Les’s (and his own, as it were) latest book flogging the Death of Lisa, that he would focus on how brave and unflinching an artist Les was for writing it.

Instead, he unflinchingly examines the inane inanity of inaneness by having this week’s focus be about how Les did a book signing at Lillian’s converted attic a couple decades ago that no one attended. Way to stretch the limits of the medium, Batiuk. Let’s just try to forget that he spent a week in Crankshaft covering this book signing, so this week has been nothing more than “remember when in my other strip Crankshaft….?”

Anyway, I’m pleased that Les has gone from seemingly being charmed by Lillian’s appearance to bored indifference bordering on irritation in the last panel. That’s right, douche, right where you belong.

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Tuesday, September 26

Today’s strip

And there’s our least favorite guy, sitting there in his earnest earnestness in the Columbus Museum of Art with his latest cancer porn books. And Batiuk decides to do another damn Crankshaft crossover by bringing Lillian into the strip as Les’s lone customer. She’s got to be, what, 137 years old by now?

And then Batiuk flashes us back in what I presume is today’s “hook” that makes the strip seem somewhat less perfunctory. Les is sitting there with his hands similarly cupped, but instead of his earnest earnestness, he has his standard “oh, how jejune” face, no doubt over how debased he was to be appearing at such a crappy venue as Lillian’s attic-turned-used bookstore.

But what intrigues me the most about the throwback panel is how Burchett hasn’t bothered at all to change the appearance of flashback Lillian from today’s Lillian. She’s still the same woman, clutching the same book in all three panels, despite the fact that in panel two she’s supposed to be something like 25 years younger than she is in panels 1 and 3. After all, Lisa died 20 years ago in the Funkyverse and Les’s publication of the book about Jessica’s-father,-John-Darling,-who-was-murdered, was before even that. Hell, Lillian was old when she was first introduced in Crankshaft, which by going by the screwy timelines between the strips, was probably supposed to be around 43 years ago. Way to mail it in, Rick Burchett.

Panel 3, with its underhanded insult of Les, is pretty much par for the course.

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Skin Flakes, Phlegm and Excrement for Color

Link to today’s strip.

So, everyone wanted to see Crankshaft, probably in the futile hope that his demise would be depicted onscreen.

Well, here’s Crankshaft.  He looks like a plastic bag filled with pus trying to decide if gravity is worth resisting any longer.

Tom Batiuk keeps trying to shove Crankshaft down our throats.  And it never works.  No one cares about Crankshaft, it has never generated any interest in anyone to watch it unfold.  I suspect it’s a very low performer, newspaper-wise, and perhaps Mr. Batiuk is trying to shovel his legacy over there now that he has destroyed Funky Winkerbean.  But that’s like trying to choose between a burning building and a sea full of sharks.

And to be honest, the fact that Mindy seeks the approval of the Old, Unplaceable Odor makes her a truly terrible person.  At least Pm N Jff recognize that Crankshaft is something to be tolerated, not cultivated.

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Meh-Moore-ial Day

Big hat tip to billytheskink for a great fortnight of Funky analysis and haiku. And my eternal gratitude to the generations who’ve fought and died so that we might enjoy our liberty. We honor them today and every day.

From the FW blog:
As I discussed in a previous post, Batman animated artist Rick Burchett is coming on board at the end of this month to work with me on Funky.

So the Batiuk & Burchett era is underway, and if not for the tandem signatures on today’s strip, you’d be hard pressed to notice the transition. But let us, with our beady eyes, nitpick this panel by panel:

Les and Cayla celebrate the holiday at their wedding venue (outside the Taj Moore-hal). Les’ smug expression refuses to so much as wilt, even over a hot grill. Speaking of which, don’t those, um…burgers? look tasty?

Looks like Burchett got the memo about drawing bricks, although it’s a 2-D view and not a perspective rendering…but look how many he gets into that little space! ++++

Burchett’s depiction of outside corners on wooden siding, however, displays none of the verisimilitude of his bricks. Les retains his Paulie Walnuts hair color scheme, and is smirking hard enough to give himself dimples to rival those of TV’s Pioneer Woman.

I actually like this panel 3 tableau of the Moores looking into the distance; though if the perspective is true, Les’ giant wheelbarrow is leaning against his two-story garage. Apparently Westview and Centerville are separated by a lush, wooded shire (and of course, “ten or so years”). Notice Cayla, though: while she’s her usual, bland gingerbread cookie self in panel one, here Burchett has given her a perceptible backside and the appearance of hips. This gives me such hope.

While we can expect the draughtsmanship to marginally improve, Batiuk will still be the one “writing” the strip. So don’t get your hopes up over plotline hygiene, more humor, and less gloom: this is still Funky Winkerbean in the 21st Century. But even a little visual polish couldn’t hurt. Welcome aboard, Rick.

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Hand Of Plod

Link to today’s strip

Yep, the only thing this whirlwind of an arc was missing was a good old fashioned time-killing silent strip. This is almost as suspenseful as wondering when the highway department is going to pick up that deer carcass you pass every day on your morning commute. It’s all in the details today…Jeff’s steam line-free coffee mug (indicating he’s been at this for some time), his tongue sticking out as he works diligently on a puzzle based on a child’s toy (indicating his complete idiocy), the legal pad helpfully labeled “legal pad” (to avoid any confusion) and, last but not least, Jeff’s pencil-holding hand, which indicates he is writing. At least someone involved with FW is.

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