All good things must come to an end; so too must all excruciatingly dull things like this week’s reno convo. As Funky Winkerbean has pivoted from “depicting contemporary issues affecting young adults” etc. etc., we see more situations that are likely drawn from what’s been happening in Batiuk’s life the last couple years. Having one’s home renovated actually does hold some comic potential, and this arc got off to a promising start Sunday, where we saw Funky and Holly interacting with the contractor at their house. It might have been kinda fun to see the job actually being done, and maybe have Holly finding ways to continually and inadvertently drive up the price tag, adding to her husband’s consterenation. Instead, the rest of the week’s been taken up with these two commiserating.
Tag Archives: Crazy Harry
Let’s just leave aside today’s weak gag. I want to talk about what’s going on with Crazy Harry’s head.
As a teenager in Act I, Crazy was never seen without his trademark hat: an olive drab, military style fatigue cap, similar to those worn by Fidel Castro or Beetle Bailey. As an Act II young adult, Harry ditched the cap, but kept his Crazy cred by sporting a beard and ponytail. His forelock was noticeable but not distracting. In Act III, he complimented his postal uniform with a jaunty snap-brim cap over longish, but not ponytail length hair. After getting dumped by the P.O., Harry went mostly hatless, and his hair and beard began to gray. After Chuck Ayers reunited with Batiuk, Harry’s hair at last went totally gray, and that forelock has taken on the appearance of a casque, the bony, keratin-covered protuberance on the head of a cassowary:
Holly Winkerbean’s not the only Westview wife who’s been watching HGTV. According to Crazy Harry, Donna “seems plugged in and aware” of kitchen design trends. Too bad she’s married to a man who squanders his postal service pension checks on rare Tarzan comics.
I’m pretty sure that Crazy doesn’t get the nesting urge; if he did, it would mean he was pregnant. Crazy’s just saying he “gets” it. I didn’t: I had to look up “nesting urge”. Anyway, what’s not to get about the desire to “reno the nest” (and hoo boy, there’s another turn of phrase that you will hear nowhere in real life)?
February 21, 2021 at 11:00 pm
Every time a strip features Funky being nervously anxious about the cost of something I will be motivated to write here to say, yet again, as I did yesterday and before, that FUNKY LIVES IN A GOD DAMNED MANSION OF A HOUSE THAT WOULD HAVE A VALUE OF AT LEAST ONE FUCKING MILLION DOLLARS IF IT EXISTED IN THE REAL WORLD…
Exactly. The Winkerbeans live in a spacious home (that I suspect closely resembles Batiuk’s “Cartoon Castle). Funky clearly should have the wherewithal to spruce it up just a bit. He’s just bent out of shape because Holly’s taken charge of things. But she spends at least as much time running the family business as does Funky. Doesn’t Holly deserve the kitchen (and bathroom) of her dreams?
Such a weird joke today. I’m thinking that this “momentary lapse” Funky mentions was in November ’19, when he mused aloud about installing a shower in the guest bathroom for Holly’s mom. But that conversation took place face to face, and not over the phone. Does Holly surreptitiously record all their conversations, for use as leverage to get her way? Apparently there are third-party apps that allow you to record phone calls, but it’s not a feature of iOS. At any rate, Funky knows he’s been hornswoggled, and is none too happy about it. Even though profanity standards have become pretty lax, “damn” is still kinda salty language for any newspaper comic strip not named Doonesbury. And does Funky/Batty realize that Steve Jobs has been dead nearly ten years?
“Kitchen Reno“? I had to read today’s strip a couple times before I grasped that “reno” in this case is short for renovations. The weird alignment of type didn’t help. What’s with Funky’s stricken expression in panel 2? Home improvement is typically something guys like to talk about. Of course, all that Funky cares about is what all this is going to cost, especially with Holly out there sourcing materials. As the owner of a business that seems to have more employees than regular customers, he’s right to be concerned as to what this is going to cost.
Poor Funky’s fallen down the subjectivity vs objectivity hole. His dual vision has left him with the niggling suspicion, and growing fear, that everything he had hitherto seen and labeled was merely him giving voice to his own perception. And in telling that label to another person, he could never truly know if the red he told them about was the red he saw. And when you think about it, what is red anyway?
And Crazy’s just like, “The healthy human eye sees red when it looks at light with a wavelength between approximately 625 and 740 nanometers. Any object that reflects light at this wavelength is red. Now shut up, Nightwing’s talking!”
Pretty sure it’s Nightwing on the TV in Panel One. The hero persona of the grown up Robin, Dick Grayson, for the uninitiated. Which means we’re getting to the end of our Batman TAS binge. Gonna guess we’re supposed to think these two just watched some of their favorite episodes, since they’re both in the same clothes as Tuesday, but it’s pretty fun to think that these guys have been parked in front of the TV for 45 straight hours binging feverishly on their drug of choice.
I mean, if you’re watching your favorite Batman episodes, and it doesn’t include a Nightwing one, I don’t know what to say. You’re missing out. Dick Grayson is such a great character, when written by a competent author. A boy with a backstory similar to Bruce Wayne, who becomes a hero without becoming vengeance or the night. Instead, usually being presented as warmer, more open, healthier, than his foster dad.
Before we’d like to close out our Batventures through the Batverse, please allow me a completely self-serving story.
In 2016 I was able to go to a small Wizard World Comic Con being held in my state. I went with one of my nerdtacular besties, who is one of the biggest Nightwing stans in the universe. Stars of the convention were Kevin Conroy, the voice of Batman, and Loren Lester, the voice of Robin/Nightwing. So of course, we went to their joint panel. It was great, except for the omnipresent voice actor panel questions of ‘BuuT hOaw Do U Git inTO VA WRK PLZ?’ (Seriously, if you are ever at a convention. Just don’t. It’s been asked a million million times, and everyone knows the answer.)
But as the panel progressed I couldn’t help but feel that Conroy was monopolizing things a bit. Understandably so, maybe. Questions that were nominally posed to both men, were obviously directed to The Batvoice. But Lester is an accomplished actor in his own right, and I couldn’t help but feel like the charismatic Conroy was getting a little puffed up on all the Batpraise. The man is talented, friendly, and gracious but DANG, you could see his ego from space with the naked eye.
So, I got in line for the mic. And as luck would have it, I was the last question of the panel.
And because it is modern day, some stranger I didn’t know was filming, and posted the video to YouTube, where I could find it this evening, and post it back to some niche comic strip blog.
Time stamp is 44:22 to hear an invisible Harriet offend Kevin Conroy.
Funky Winkerbean, a strip that only addresses the most current and topical of issues. Bringing us hot takes on the cultural debates that shape our world today. The ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, restored and conserved in the 80’s.
And Funky has to be one of those weird romantic hipsters that preferred the ceiling dark and dirty as the original sin it portrays. Not that he’s really alone. Go online and you will find entire cabals of passionate folk nitpicking the way they cleaned that ceiling, and they will never NEVER stop. Because there’s a genuine debate over if the ‘one solvent solves all’ approach of stripping the ceiling of anything that wasn’t painted on when the plaster was still wet erased details that our favorite pizza-loving, sewer-dwelling, turtle went back and put in there, rather than just erasing the heavy handed touch ups of early restorers.
There are others who thought that aggressively cleaning the ceiling at all was wrong. Some objects: furniture, coins, leather, firearms; collect a patina over the years that collectors consider a sin to remove, no matter how much time and oxidation have changed the appearance of the object. The ceiling as it was before showed its age, showed the hands of time and the hands of hundreds of tiny touchups by dozens of different humans through the centuries. It had accumulated a story. Who were we to erase that history?
But on the other hand, a painting is a statement by the artist. Mikey boy painted that ceiling to put into the physical world something in his mind and heart he had decided to say. If we had allowed time and grime and 18th century hands to obscure that work, we were changing the message of a man who could no longer speak for himself.
And Mikey was one odd duck, and not a guy we should ever talk over. The best story in the Sistine Chapel, one some of you might have heard, is actually on The Last Judgement wall fresco. It’s said that when Pope Paul III and some of his retinue were previewing the not complete work, the Pope’s Master of Ceremonies, Biago da Cesena, complained about all the naked people, saying the equivalent of ‘this doesn’t belong in a church, but in a bathhouse’.
Michelangelo heard this and, (In the words of my tour guide from my visit) ‘painted that man in the darkest corner of Hell, right above the door, where everyone would see him when exiting.’
A little bit of a prickly reaction. Kinda petty. Kinda vindictive. Sounds a little like something Tom would do.
But then again, Tom hardly has the artistic chops to back up his bluster. He’s no Michelangelo, a man so talented that, when poor Biago complained, all the Pope could say was, “I have no jurisdiction over Hell.”
I viscerally, personally know that things have been cold in the Midwest, but has anyone checked to see if the polar vortex has reached Hades?
Because, this is three days in a row now I’m not annoyed at Funky Winkerbean. This joke is tolerable. It’s kind of edgy for a guy who retconned a machine gun nest into cardboard. And its a little clunky, because obviously he’s only putting drops in the eye that was operated on, and that information is necessary for the joke, but he uses the plural in the first panel. But I can’t get mad at it.
Maybe we’re the ones who have broken under the torture. The cataract saga is nearly a month old at this point. We got a brief break from it for the most anemic OMEA arc I’ve seen in ten years. But we’ve had dozens of strips of Funky cracking wise to an annoyed health professional. Weeks of the punchline being, “This joke isn’t funny, sir.” And now, we’ve had three beautiful days of inoffensive. Yeah, we’re back to ocular humor, but this one doesn’t leave a bad taste.
You know what the difference is? Funky’s talking to Crazy Harry, his friend, and not some poor doctor, nurse or orderly. We’re not seeing two humans failing to connect, a wall slowly growing between them, as one assaults the other with misplaced quips. Friends are the kind of people you’re supposed to trade lame jokes with. The bonds of brotherhood can overcome all pun punishment, safe in the intimacy of bad humor between comrades.
I mean, it wouldn’t work as well if this was Les. His inherent Mooreness poisons his every interaction. Les is ‘best’ when he’s interacting with strangers who hate him, because it’s what he deserves. But he’s the exception. As far as I’m concerned Crazy Harry and Funky can sit here watching quality cartoons for my entire two week shift. They’re having fun, and I’ll find some tangent to run off on, and everything will be groovy.
But still, we’ll always know it can’t last. Hidden behind the panels of this strip, in the gradients at the corners and the darkness in the doorways, there’s something out there waiting for us, and it ain’t no man.
It’s Lisa’s Legacy.
Guys, I’m just so conflicted here. Like, painfully so.
On the one hand, we have two 60 year old men getting excited about watching nearly 30 year old Batman cartoons. The overpowering flavor of nerds, soaking into the lumpy bland tofu of these soy cubes, nauseating me. It’s getting really old. The entire Westview landscape is nothing but men waxing eloquent about Batarangs. Everyone male is consumed by geeky interests. There is no escape.
On the other hand, I, a nominal adult closer to middle age than adolescence, love cartoons. I own more DVD’s of cartoons than I own pairs of shoes. I watch more cartoons than any other genre of television. So this entire strip feels like some kind of personal attack.
It doesn’t help that Batman: The Animated Series is not only an amazing, critically acclaimed cartoon that no adult should be ashamed to watch, but is also a cartoon that I remember watching as a small Harriet. I actually watched it as it was airing. A beautiful cartoon. A cartoon that deeply, deeply, wonderfully traumatized me.
There I was, a poor little girl, not even seven, sitting on the couch on Saturday Morning, watching the silhouette of a man held down and begging for mercy as he’s drowned with toxic chemicals.
An innocent girl, manipulated by her invisible and increasingly more unhinged father who loves her possessively and dangerously.
A mentally fragile man sobbing uncontrollably after the violent ‘death’ of the creepy puppet that was actually a manifestation of his dissociative identity disorder.
What I’m saying is, this show gave me some of the formative psychological horror experiences of my young mind, and if anyone wants to sit and rewatch it with me, well, I thought you’d never ask.
(Also, Batman TAS was produced as TWO seasons. the first was 65 episodes long to reach syndication length. They then made an additional 20. It was released on DVD in four volumes. So, you know; suck it Tom.)