Tag Archives: Dinkle’s Music Mug

The Old Die Rich

Link to today’s strip.

I’m not sure God appreciates being mentioned in Funky Winkerbean, especially in connection with Harry Dinkle, but his “at our age” remark raises a question.

When the organist died in Crankshaft, the immediate substitute was ancient crone Lillian. Here, Batiuk is going to reward the equally ancient (and equally loathsome) Dinkle with the position. Why wouldn’t the church try to find a younger person, one who could be expected to helm the organ for many years to come (before dropping dead)? I don’t think it’s especially rigorous physical work (I’m not an organist), but unless the church only has a single Sunday service, the organist is going to be spending a lot of time there.

Perhaps the job is a voluntary one, and there’s little (or no) pay, and a younger person would need a salary. A retired person wouldn’t have this worry.

But…I’m starting to think Tom Batiuk just hates young people. Whenever they appear, they are invariably shown as worthless idiots completely out of clues. Think of the youngest characters he’s shown us (Skyler, Bernie, the other high schoolers) and tell me I’m wrong.

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Inkle Dinkle Do

Link to today’s strip.

And as many predicted, here comes Dinkle to be rewarded. To be honest, my impression of the character is that he’s something of a tyrant, so I don’t know how suited he would be to work in a church. But Batiuk’s gonna Batiuk, and it’s time to praise Dinkle to the skies.

I forgot to mention the joke yesterday, but that’s okay as it reappears here as…I think…”Newspapers, am I right?”

I don’t know if Batiuk is making fun of newspapers or making fun of people who’ve abandoned them. It might be that even he doesn’t know. He seems to be wary of online things and prefers the old fashioned stuff. But who really knows?

All I can tell you is that this week has been a slog. Uninteresting characters discussing dull trivia. Admittedly, that’s every week, but this one seems especially devoid of even the tiniest bit of substance to grab on to.

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And Then Deprussian Set In

Link To Today’s Strip

So John decided to just stop by WHS to see if Becky, his wife, needed a ride home? How does she usually get home? Couldn’t he have just called her first?

Heh heh, that’s a good one, as everyone knows how regimented that Prussian army used to be. See, this is an example of our pal BatDerp trying too hard not to inadvertently offend someone. The German army, the Russian army, the US army…someone somewhere might take offense, but the Prussian army?

“Dear Akron Daily Bugle,

The “Funky Winkerbean” comic strip that ran on December 22nd was very offensive to all Prussian army veterans, as it implied that the Prussian military was very tightly-wound and regimented. My experience in the Prussian army was quite the opposite, as our commanders always promoted a relaxed and genial atmosphere. I demand a retraction and must insist that you stop publishing this blatant anti-Prussian propaganda at once.”

Not bloody likely. Anyhow, it’s pretty pathetic to see Becky STILL having to point out the differences between herself and the guy she replaced as band director a hundred years ago. “I do things differently than Harry did”…well good for you, Becky.

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As Alike as Two Bothers.

Link To Today’s Strip

Only now, at the end of the week, do we get a name for our little future Motzart. Robbie even has a brother. A brother in Mopey Pete cosplay.

I wonder if Alex and Robbie are intended to become recurring characters? I mean, regardless of intent, we probably will never see them again. Because even when Batiuk seems like he’s carefully introducing another actor into this slice of life drama, he invariably forgets about them. But it would be interesting if Batiuk figures piano lessons are a good way to milk the remaining Dinkle market?

As for the art, Dinkle’s huge flesh-toned couch is hideous. The little specks on it give the appearance that the furniture has been molded from sand.

But Dinkle’s face in panel 3 makes this whole week worthwhile. The man is scrumptiously morose; hunched over, tired , his lips pursed into a thin line as he tastes the bitter defeat coating his tongue. Never has disdain looked so exhausting. When Ayers delivers, he delivers, and he always puts that effort into envisaging misery.

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The Ultimate Racketeer.

Link To Today’s Strip

Potted plant is back!

I wonder if we’ve been a little harsh in our criticism of the bland offering of jokes this week. I showed the strips to a friend and they got a mild chuckle from her.

Our palates have really been ruined by consuming and analyzing EVERYTHING Batiuk provides in his greasy spoon buffet. When you’ve gagged over creamed corn that’s been congealing under a heat lamp for eight hours, it becomes so much easier to find problems with the innocent loaf of off-the-shelf white bread splayed out in slices at the end of the table.

I think it’s easy for us, deep in the lore, and with years and layers to our disdain for some of these characters, to forget that a week of strips like this is probably the only enjoyment casual readers get out of these comics, smiling half heartedly as they accidently let their eyes drift over Funky Winkerbean while searching for the obituaries.

Can you imagine being an average Joe, not a weirdo commenting obsessively over a comic strip online, and opening your local fishwrap to randomly read a strip from the L.A. Fire arc? Or Bull’s suicide? Or Zanzibar the talking murder chimp blessed be his name? Your brain would spit that wad of nonsense right back out to protect itself, like slamming the door on a Jehovah’s Witness.

But today’s strip? This is the kind of strip destined to be cut out of the paper and put on the fridge by kindly little old music teachers who paid for their grandkids’ Christmas presents with piano lessons. It’s a stolen joke, told with a microgram of charm, that will get a few smiles.

I talked earlier this week about Batiuk’s immortality. And, as much as he’d like it to be cancer or PTSD or teen pregnancy, it’s really one-off Dinkle type gags. I remember Dinkle strips posted in my own music teacher’s office. Tom’s real legacy isn’t massive volumes of collected comics, it’s yellowed strips of newsprint taped haphazardly to a filing cabinet beside a pile of music stands.

I can imagine, fifty years from now, a kid opening a cupboard in the attic of my old band room, where the retired uniforms and broken instruments are left to rot, and inside are a pile of dusty worn out band shoes, a few tarnished majorette hats, and, pasted to the door, a browned and crumbling clipping of Harry Dinkle, screaming at children in the pouring rain.

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Fourth Wall Frown

Link To Today’s Strip

Sure looks like Dinkle is ALWAYS ENJOYING giving piano lessons here. In panel two his face looks like it’s about to melt right off from all the pleasure teaching this child has given him. He stares out at us, his droopy face limp from all the aching joy coursing through him.

Kids today, amirite? What with their lazy ability to access nearly the sum total of the world’s knowledge through advanced pocket sized electronics connected to an invisible network of radio signals wirelessly transmitting nearly instantaneously across the entire nation. How annoying, that they can use this vast storehouse of information to interpret things they encounter that they don’t completely understand.

Back in Dinkle’s day, if someone purporting to be an expert told you something, you believed him. If you didn’t know the answer to a question, and you weren’t within arms reach of 100 pounds worth of encyclopedias, you lived with your ignorance. You didn’t get to instantly know why the sky is blue, or why mules are sterile, or when The Pet Shop Boys released the single, “I’m in Love with a German Film Star.”

So no, you snot nosed brat, you can’t ‘google’ it! You don’t get to know about Mr. Piano’s Mr. Middle C key until Mr. Harry Dinkle, The World’s Greatest Band Director, tells you!

And don’t you dare ask where my potted piano plant went!

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Mr. Whole Note Takes a Week.

Link To Today’s Strip

Thanks to our glorious leader TF Hackett, who brought up yesterday that “Mr. Whole Note.” is, in fact, a song/training exercise for learning piano students. The excerpt he posted of ‘The Complete Funky Winkerbean Volume 2.’ is simultaneously infuriating and fascinating. So, I’ll let you all expertly dissect Dinkle’s non-joke in the comments, and look forward to your hilarious analysis. I’m going off on a tangent again.

Like a lot of mouth breathing nerds, I am a huge Tolkien fan. Like, I’ve read The Silmarillion more than ONCE kind of Tolkien fan. If you really start digging into his work, you find out that the man was a persnickety and easily distracted procrastinator who created reams and reams of unfinished material that his son, Christopher, carefully collated and annotated into multiple volumes. The famous Silmarillion is just the tip of the iceberg.

Reading through something like “The History of Middle Earth” series, and seeing his son deconstruct the evolution of his father’s work in parallel to his father’s life is to get a window into the creative process of a man. The single world that Tolkien invented is so complex, with thousands of years of history and dozens, if not hundreds, of complete stories and sagas he never thought finished enough to release. And his son spent his whole life studying and writing about his father’s work, carefully breaking down the evolution of concepts and characters. I feel like all the weird asides, and life commentary, written in the margins of The Complete Funky Winkerbean attempt to achieve the same thing for Batiuk’s massive world.

But, unlike Tolkien, who hid his unfinished material away, and really didn’t like the idea of psychoanalyzing authors to find parallels in their own work, Batiuk is compelled to write the deconstruction himself. He has to be the one to break apart and explain this weird, paper-paste, universe he’s spent his life creating, and tie it together with his own experiences. Writing paragraphs on his musical education and family life with serious self-importance, probably because there is no one out there obsessed enough to do it for him.

It’s really kind of sad. Tolkien was a deeply religious man, assured of his own immortality and humble in his act of subcreation. Even if you don’t share his belief, you can tell how his faith comforted him. His only self psychoanalysis of his work is a wonderful short story, ‘Leaf by Niggle.’ In it he writes a parable of painter that ends with the realization that even if the massive work of art he was trying to create was never finished, and never appreciated, and ultimately never remembered by anyone on this Earth, that somehow it would exist forever and finally be perfected in the world to come.

Tom Batiuk, meanwhile, has the Kent State University Press printing out an entire Midrash of Funky Winkerbean, trying to scrape together enough interest and importance for a hint of earthly immortality. And, it seems, the only ones who care enough to spend any time at all engaging with his world are a tiny cabal of beady-eyed nitpickers who he disdains.

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Coasting.

Link To Today’s Strip

Some observations about today’s strip:

1.) Dinkle’s curtains are that horrible pubic hair texture we often see on Funkyverse couches.

2.) You can faintly see leafless trees outside through the window. Which is a unusual amount of effort for a weekday strip. I’m getting used to characters conversing in strange gradient colored voids punctuated by door and window frames, like some kind of weird, artsy, theatre project.

3.) Dinkle is using a saucer under his coffee cup. When loitering needlessly at the highschool, I have never ever seen him use a saucer or coaster under his coffee cup. Instead he sticks the dang thing right on top of the piano, probably leaving behind more ugly rings than a thrice divorced Kardashian.

4.) Isn’t that just like Dinkle? To care for his own property, while treating the property of others with thoughtlessness.

5.) Seriously, Dinkle is just the worst.

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Don’t wanna work, (just want to bang on the drum all day.)

Link to today’s strip

And here we finally have the point. Delivered with all the beauty and grace of a newborn giraffe with inner ear problems trying to stand. He’s trying to pander to his band teacher ‘fans’, with Hallmark card greetings, but the message is first muddled, and then outright destroyed.

1.) Squirrels bury nuts to eat them later. Some squirrels even bite off the tiny seed leaves if they find sprouted acorns in order to preserve their food supply for longer. So I guess teachers plant ‘seeds’ in their students hoping to profit off of them later, and it is only an accident if some of those students grow from the experience.

2.) Becky’s percussion section this year is so stupid they will never amount to anything. She expects nothing from them, and so nothing will grow from them later. After saying teachers renew the world by growing the mighty forest of young minds, we are shown teachers joking about dum-dum kids they’ve deemed beyond their help.

3.) Becky blames the sun for stupid drummers.

4.) Batiuk thanks Scott Lang, Ant Man, for this entire nightmare.

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An Object At Rest

Link to today’s strip

We are well and truly frozen in time this week. The janitor hasn’t moved, Becky and Dinkle are still in the band room. The joke is still nonsensical. (Squirrels aren’t nuts. Nuts are nuts. Squirrels eat nuts. I guess if you are what you eat..FORGET IT. THERE IS LITERALLY NO POINT.)

See what you did there Batiuk? You made me type in ALL CAPS. Like Terry Pratchett’s DEATH. Or like an elderly woman texting who can’t read her own phone screen.

Not even the coffee cup has moved. Dinkle’s coffee cup. Which he keeps in the band room as a way of marking his territory. Like leaving a coat on a chair, or purse on a pew, or a dog pissing on a couch. It hasn’t moved in years. The top of that piano must look like someone’s old Spirograph art.

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