Tag Archives: dumb CBH tangents

Not So Different

Link to Today’s Strip.

So Cayla states, AND I QUOTE, “He told me that one thing that gave him some solace…was reminding himself that he wasn’t like them.”

And so, I am willing to rest my case, and conclude that in an arc about racial profiling Batiuk and his team got two black characters confused because they looked too much alike.

There remains the outside chance that I am wrong, that the ‘wisdom’ Cayla spouts is also something her father, Smokey Williams, will be shown saying in his original arc. I will let you know my findings in the comments section when my copy of Strike Four! arrives. And I will add a retraction statement to this post if I was wrong.

But for now, lets look a little closer at the Jefferson Jacks arc. In truth, it was the first thing that came to my mind when I saw last Saturday’s strip, because it was the most significant arc I could think of that tackled racism. The storyline ran in Crankshaft from September 15 to October 12 in 2008. The following are some highlight strips, to give you all an abridged rundown.

First things first. I tried digging through the Toledo Mud Hens rosters to see if they ever integrated before the team moved to West Virginia in ’52. I couldn’t find any black players, though many didn’t have easily googleable pictures. But the Mud Hens integrating in ’47 is a bit of fictional license.

Second. While I couldn’t in my quick and dirty internet search blitz find instances of players confronting disgruntled potentially violent townsfolk, or a black player having to walk to a game, much of what is depicted in the arc is similar to what early integration-era ballplayers went through. I could find instances of heckling from the stands, eating and sleeping on buses, being boarded with local families, and having some white teammates be cold and others be friendly. Crankshaft being ‘one of the good ones’ is, of course, heavy-handed and self-serving. But I really didn’t hate this little story. And the art was especially nice.

This feels so oddly well researched for Batiuk work, doesn’t it?

Well…

Finally, in a bit of Crankshaft news, the Crankshaft story dealing with the black baseball player Jefferson Jacks has been nominated for a Glyph Award in the Best Comic Strip category by the East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention which takes place on May 16th at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Philadelphia. Just a bit of backstory here… a good friend, Tony Isabella, had suggested I write a story about a black minor league ballplayer who would have played with Ed Crankshaft on the Toledo Mud Hens. I was out of pocket on the Lisa’s Story book tour around that time, so I suggested to Tony, a fine comics writer in his own “write”, that he do it… and he did. Later, when Tony’s scripts came in, I wrote the Sunday strips to wrap around the story and they were then beautifully illustrated by Chuck Ayers. If I say so myself, it’s a fine story and I’m very pleased that it was nominated by the judges.

Finally, part two… the current Jefferson Jacks story was written by me as I recuperated after my accident last year, but Tony and I had such a good time with J.J., that we’re working on some new stuff for down the road. 

Tom Batiuk, blog post dated April, 15, 2009

He had a ghost writer for the story! Tony Isabella is a fellow Ohio native who’s written for Marvel and DC. He’s best known as the creator of Black Lighting.

The ‘current Jefferson Jacks story’ referenced in the blog post was, of course when Jacks played ball in pre-revolution Cuba. Since it was penned by Batiuk, I’m sure was just as well researched and substantiated as the arc Isabella wrote.

Note, the above was a vertical slice of the story. The full arc ran from April 13 to May 2, 2009.

Tomorrow is the last day of my shift. I can continue the saga of Jefferson Jacks for you all, if you’d like. Show you the conclusion to another Funkyverse story of prejudice.

Or, it’s not to late to learn all the exciting facts about Styrofoam and linoleum.

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All the Same to Tom?

When I first read today’s strip, it seemed to make sense. (Except for the last panel, of course.) I remembered Cayla’s dad.

His first and last in-the-flesh appearance in Funky Winkerbean.
ULTRA CLOSEUP ACTION

I remembered that Smokey Williams had been friends with Crankshaft.

The seasoning is piss and vinegar.

And I remembered, from my very earliest comic strip snark fandom days, that Crankshaft had a flashback prestige arc about Cranky befriending his black teammate during the early integration era.

Still, not as hamfisted as this week.

And I chuckled to myself over how it was just PEAK Batiuk to reference by name an obscure character that has only been seen in Funky Winkerbean once, who further references an awards bait arc he wrote in Crankshaft back in 2008. Are any readers, even among the dedicated snarkers on SOSF, CK, Curmudgeon, and elsewhere, going to remember who Smokey Williams was?

I tried to do a little mental math, if it would work if Cayla’s dad was a young man in ’47. But I just chocked it up to time skip weirdness. Then, I went back to the archives for Crankshaft to reread the Diet Jackie Robinson arc.

Wait…
Umm…
But….what?
One of these names….
Is not like the other….

And then I looked at the Crankshaft-meets-Cayla strip from 2011 a little closer.

Any closer and I could’ve counted the blackheads on Cranky’s nose.

Smokey calls Crankshaft an ‘Old-Timer.’ Cranky is a grandfather of adult grandkids at this point, and Cayla is Smokey’s daughter and a college student. Smokey is drawn slightly younger looking than Ed Crankshaft.

Guys. I don’t think that Crankshaft and Smokey Williams played on the same team. I think Smokey Williams is decades younger than Crankshaft. But then, who is he?

In the bedeviled Comics Kingdom hellscape, Crankshaft only goes back to late 2002. When Smokey calls Crankshaft up in 2011, it is the first time he’s mentioned or seen in the archives. But he isn’t treated like a new character. The Toledo Blade didn’t carry Crankshaft. In desperation I started googling madly into the void. And got this little clue from a book review of the Crankshaft baseball collection: Strike Four!

Memorable storylines include the time Ed became a coach and mentor to struggling Aeros pitcher Smokey Williams, and a flashback to Ed’s support for his team’s first black player, who took some harassment from both the public and other players.

Akron Beacon Journal, June 7, 2014

Crankshaft is certainly not a coach or mentor to Jefferson Jacks in the integration arc. And Jefferson Jacks isn’t playing for the Aeros, and doesn’t seem to be a pitcher.

So Jefferson Jacks and Smokey Williams…I think…are two different people. Evidence for this supposition is that Jefferson Jacks shows up at the end of the 2008 arc.

He does look like Cayla’s dad will look…thirteen years in the future.

And this strip from when Crankshaft was inducted into the Centerville Sports Hall of Fame in 2012.

See the cluster of three bald heads to the left? The white one is Dusty Bottoms, Crankshaft’s catcher. Is the tall white haired one Jacks and the shorter one Williams?

So my working hypothesis right now is that some time in the first fourteen years of Crankshaft there is an arc where Smokey Williams was introduced. Was he the victim of racism then? I don’t know yet. But my Ebay order for Strike Four is in the mail.

Because one of two things is happening here. And I absolutely must know which it is.

1.) Smokey Williams, Cayla’s father, was also subjected to racism in the arc I haven’t read yet.

2.) Batiuk got his black baseball players confused, probably because he made the older Smokey at Cayla’s wedding look just like Jefferson.

You may think actually purchasing a Crankshaft book is taking my obsession with Funkyverse lore a little too far. To that I have the following two rebuttals.

1.) I took it too far a long long time ago.

2.) I actually like Crankshaft.

It’s funny about once a week.
The superior protagonist in every way. Even when it comes to conversing with his long dead wife.

You may think this is a sign that I’ve gone mad.

I have no rebuttal for this.

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Khan Do No Wong

NOBODY TALKS LIKE THIS!

Malcolm is now pouting like a child, which I guess fits one of the two ages he claims to be.

It’s okay Mal, you won’t have to feel seventy and seven for much longer. Because you’ll soon be completely forgotten. As a Westview student who isn’t a child of a main cast member, you were always cursed to be swallowed by the memory hole. I’m just sorry you had to go through this awful plotline first.

It could be worse. At least you weren’t initially created with sermonizing in mind, and then forced to linger in the background long after you were no longer wanted.

Commenter Bad Wolf had this to say yesterday:

I’m going to pin a lot of it down to his dismissing any of the (potentially) interesting characters he’s thrown in over the years—like that couple from Hong Kong he was so proud of—so that they aren’t around when he does want to use them for some social message. If he had built up Westview into a little Springfield of different quirky characters he could bounce back to whenever he wanted I’d be a bit more generous in how i looked at the strips.

I talked a couple days ago about culture as opposed to race, pointing out that any of the recurring non-white characters in the Funkyverse are culturally indistinguishable from anyone else. That doesn’t mean Batiuk hasn’t tried to introduce culturally distinct characters. He is just completely unable to sustain them. We’re seeing it happen in real time with Adeela the Iraqi immigrant. She was introduced for a big prestige arc in 2018 and was given the typical Montoni’s nepotism position.

After that she had nothing more than sporadic appearances for months. Appearances where she was a non-character, interchangeable with anyone else. She got another prestige arc in 2020 so Batiuk could preach at us about ICE. Then she showed up ONCE and said NOTHING in all of 2021, and is yet to appear in 2022.

Introduced as a prop in service of a ‘message’, then pointlessly kept around in case he wants to use her again. She’s walking the same path Kahn the Afghani immigrant walked before her. The same path Zhang Li and his wife Liu Lin trailblazed years before.

I don’t have access to the actual 1997 prejudice arc that Batiuk talks about in his blog. The incompetent misers over at Comics Kingdom only have Funky Winkerbean going back to October 1998. Maybe Billy The Skink can fill us in on the details. But what is clear from looking at 1998 and 1999 is that for a while Batiuk intended for Zhang Li and Liu Lin, along with their grandmother La Choi San, to be integrated into the crew.

Watching football with the boys.
Going Shopping with with the girls.
Playing backyard football.
Discovering cancerous tumors.

And what’s more, the integration of the Chinese family was supposed to allow for a different culture to be presented, and positive cultural exchange to take place. (I’ll leave it up to you to decide if this presentation is offensive or not.)

Accurate or Magical Asian Trope? You decide.

But after the arc where La Choi San offers her herbal remedies, and the arc where La Choi San coaches the Montoni’s Little League team to a championship, the Chinese family falls into the background. Literally. They do nothing more than show up in the background of various parties and social functions for the next six years.

Les and Lisa’s Anniversary, 1999.
Thanksgiving 1999.
Party for Lisa’s roommate, Allison, 2001.
New’s Years Eve, 2001-2002.
Funky’s Birthday, 2002.
Uhhhh……(Halloween, 2002.)
Crazy and Donna’s Wedding, 2002.
Les and Lisa’s housewarming, 2004.
That one time John got arrested for selling Hentai to Becky’s Mom. 2005.

Lin gets one maybe almost arc in 2004, when she watches men move a desk for a week and then walks all over Crazy Harry.

One arc in six years. And it’s to massage a male character.

And then, early in 2006.

They’re gone.

Within a week of Li and Lin leaving, Montoni and Funky hear of someone interesting in moving into the Jade Dragon’s space.

I heard you had an opening for ethnic boondoggle?

Why does Batiuk keep doing this?

Because, as a writer, in order to sustain interest in a character of a different culture beyond the initial introduction you have to make them deeper than their surface level identity. You have to give them goals, interests, and problems that aren’t related to them being black, or asian, or middle-eastern. And you have to be able to understand both the parts of the character that are different from you, and the parts that are the same. Star Trek TNG and DS9 were great at this. Worf was Klingon. Quark was Ferengi. Riker was a slut. But all of them had more going on than just their species.

But in the Funkyverse only a very select few are allowed to have unique personalities different from Tom’s. And most of those are muted hold-overs from Act I, like Cindy’s vanity or Dinkle’s ego. I don’t think when Batiuk sits down to write the next pointless Westview student body he’ll be saying, ‘This one will be fiery and intelligent but too brash, and interested in sports and action. This one will be level headed, but often hesitant and aloof, and interested in music and poetry. And this one will be Captain Kirk.’

He just decides which cheap flash clone of his own brain will be the nerdiest nerd.

In other news, I guess Westview did still have a mall in Act II. At least through 2002. Because Lisa and Lin go shopping there on Super Bowl Sunday.

Whoda thunk?

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Mal. Bad. In the Latin.

Link to Today’s Strip.

Logan is playing an age old scheme. A game as old as the rolodex and the address book. She’s not really interested in Malcolm now, in fact, never really wanting to see him again, but still wants to keep the echo of a line open. Another invisible thread in her bundle of similar invisible threads so that, when time gets short or she get tired of the hunt, she can yank on that bundle and see which fish haven’t been caught yet. See which fish have gone from bony bait to a trophy. Catch and release romance.

erdmann and newagepalimpsest had a different take on Malcolm and Logan reiterating over and over to each other that this is their last date:

And…wow. The nihilistic existential dread in the idea that you are an unimportant fictional character that is doomed to not only cease to exist, but cease to be remembered, the moment the eye of your uncaring creator finally passes from you. That you are conscious and aware only in this meaningless moment, and all that you have is the companionship of those trapped in the same hell, teetering on the edge of the cliff that will plunge both of you into damnatio memoriae. That is some psychological horror that Batiuk never has the guts or ambition to delve in to.

I feel sick.

Existential horror isn’t the only nightmare we’re subjected to today. We also have a visual monstrosity in the background of the first panel. In fact, you guys have been spotting weirdos in the background all week. I wonder what it is like to experience the Funkyverse from their eyes. What their stories might be.

Jeremy ‘Jay’ Raffe knew that wearing his hair down would hide the damage from the accident, that horrible day with the taffy puller that had changed his life forever. He’d grown his hair out intending to do just that. But…gradually he had realized, self-acceptance is all about control over what you choose to be. You cannot be a freak without your consent. And if he was going to be a freak, it would be for the manbun he chose, and not the neck that he didn’t.”
Paul Roberts’ mother told him that his father was a great man, a great man who had worked for great men. Before he’d left her, he’d shown her a Philips-Norelco PC80 color broadcast camera, and said that when his son was old enough to lift it, he should take what was under it and come find him. She’d only find out later about all the cameras. All the cameras, all the women, and all the green plaid shirts. Dozens of boys and men, travelling the country, wearing the emerald flags of their patrimony, hoping to find their father, and instead finding brothers with the same story and the same dream. Many had stopped the search for Father Roberts, taken off their shirts and changed their names…but Paul still held out hope. Even as his shirt faded, his dream never died. That someday from out of the crowd he would feel a hand on his shoulder, and a voice calling him, “Son.”
“‘Seven days….” the childlike voice had whispered over the phone. But Charles ‘Chet’ Bruin wasn’t too concerned. His buddy, Seth, knew he had the tape and knew he was going to watch it once he’d dug his parents’ old VHS player out of the downstairs closet. It was just a senior prank. ‘Seven Days’ to graduation. Much Lulz for the TikTok.

Chet was running home after the ceremony to grab his trunks when he heard a crash from the living room. He ran in to see his dad’s precious 146 inch Samsung LED flatscreen had fallen off the wall. When he lifted it, underneath he found her, soaking wet in a nightgown. A little on the wan side, maybe, but kinda cute. She looked up at him with the palest blue eyes. He had to at least give it a shot.

“You wanna go to a graduation party?” Chet asked. “My sister has a swimsuit that would probably fit you.”

She smirked at him. Then opened her mouth impossibly wide. And Chet knew, it was gonna be a good party.”

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The Bailout or the Boot?

Link to today’s strip.

Logan, woman to fictional girl, I think this better be your last potentially romantic date with your good pal Malcolm.

I mean, I guess he’s tall. And next to cowlick Connor and certified Michelin Manlet Bernie, he’s okay looking. Yeah, he’s got a receding hairline, but what fresh-faced Westview teen doesn’t have one? I mean just look the crowd at that graduation party you went to!

That’s a lotta kids in baseball caps for a pool party…

But girl. I’m seeing some SERIOUS red flags. You better put him right back in the friendzone.

I know from my work at the gas station, that a lot of the young high schoolers these days have debit cards. All well and good. But a credit card?

I remember the day my mom handed me a credit card with my own name on it. She said it was linked to her account. She said she would be able to see everything I bought. She said it was only for emergencies. Like if I was stranded in a blizzard and needed a hotel. (Many of my mom’s worst case scenarios involve blizzards. It’s also why she refuses to get rid of the compressed bale of old blankets wedged in her linen closet.) She gave me one of those serious mom stares. I felt like I was walking around with the nuclear football tucked into my nylon wallet.

But Malcolm tells us that this is HIS credit card. I guess that means Malcolm is 18, and has an independent source of income. Which would seem like points his in favor. But then he says he must have maxed it out and didn’t realize it? And so Logan has to pay for the latest rehashed Marvel product?

I don’t have a smart phone. My phone has a calculator, and always knows what time it is, so it’s already smarter than me. I had a smart phone for about six month, before I ruined it jumping into a pond to fish out a newborn calf. Now I’m playing a game of chicken with a 10 year old diet-blackberry Samsung to see which quits first, the phone or the entire 3G Network. (Looks like the phone will win.)

But I have seen the wizardry available with the internet in the palm of your hand. I’ve seen people at the checkout have a card decline, pull out their phone and pay it off, or transfer money from one account to another, in minutes. I’ve seen people glancing at their phones and checking their balance before telling me exactly how much in sticky quarters they’re going to give me to pay for their pack of Camels so they can run the rest on their cards.

Meaning, any tech literate young zoomer is going to be able to pay down the balance on their credit card with their phone on the spot.

Meaning, Malcolm not only has maxed out his credit card, he lacks the funds in his bank account to pay it down. And he didn’t think to check on this before his very special date with Logan? A date where he only brought his credit card? He’s already in debt, but was going to tack interest charges onto a date?

And I know most starting out credit cards have pretty low credit lines, but still $1000, $500?

Then he looks Logan in the eye, face both tired and pained, and tells her that this is nothing…barely peanuts…to the crippling debt he’s planning to inflict on himself. Malcolm already has a solid figure in his mind, so much so that he already counts that debt as HIS before he’s sat through a single lecture. Tens of thousands of dollars, maybe hundreds of thousands, more money than most people make in a decade, are already hanging over his head, future promise bucks handed from lender to unnamed college in his name. For what?

Why is he going to a college expensive enough to drain the light from his eyes? What are his plans? Does he have a career path that requires a degree? Because he isn’t being bankrolled by scripture sales from the Cult of Dead St. Lisa. He doesn’t have an Endless Summer to spend puttering around a university changing his major from one useless certificate to another.

College can be a rewarding place to learn, to find yourself, to make new friends, to fall in love, and have exciting experiences. So can summer camp. You do not go 40 grand in debt for summer camp. You go 40 grand in debt because you have a clear goal that necessitates that sacrifice.

Come on, Logan! Surely with your ABC News boosted business blog, you should be able to talk him out of the biggest and most expensive mistake an aimless young graduate can make:

A four year, $200,000, liberal arts degree.

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The Autobiography of Malcolm Expy: As told by ComicBookHarriet.

The character we’ve nicknamed Thatsnought Hewmore was first seen August 10, 2016.

Also 1st appearance of cowlick freckles kid, later named Connor.

And now, two thousand one hundred and twenty days later…this boy finally has a name.

He appeared in 68 strips, not counting this week. He spoke 31 lines of dialogue.

And.

At last.

A (first) name.

How do I know all those specific numbers? Uhhhh.

You know how yesterday’s post was kind of short? Today is going to make up for that. You’re all in luck, or out of luck, depending on your views. Because we had a couple rain days last week that kept me out of the fields.

And so, below, in chronological order, is every appearance of the class of 2022.

August 26, 2015. 1st appearance of Bernie Silver. Westview seniors Owen and Cody attempt to bully him. He is nonplussed. The next strip they stop when they realize Bernie has a copy of ‘The Amazing Mr. Sponge’ in his backpack.

August 30, 2015. 1st appearance of Maris Rogers, unnamed. She is presented as the newest in a long line of popular blonds. Les creeps on her as only Les can.

For the most part Owen, Cody, and Alex dominate Westview High School storylines for the next months. Freshmen don’t show up again until…

February 23, 2016. Bernie Silver is reintroduced, Maris Rogers gets her name, and Logan Church’s has her first appearance. Logan was colored white for her first week, before becoming black when next seen in September. She has since been recolored in the Comics Kingdom archives.

Original strip on top, recolor below.

They are all interviewing with Cody, Owen and Les Moore for positions on ‘The Bleat.’ Maris has a blog of make-up tutorials but knows nothing about journalism, Logan has a business blog that ABC news picked up? (The hell?) They all get the spot, and Bernie will, of course, talk about comic books.

February 29, 2016. The aged up Crankshaft Twins, Emily and Amelia, are introduced. And spend a week establishing that Emily is the pink and sunny one, and Amelia is the dark and sassy one. For the first couple weeks, their hair is colored typical-Westview-blonde, but has since been recolored in the Comics Kingdom archives as a strawberry blonde.

This will, of course, remain wildly inconsistent.

The following week, we get another set of Emily and Amelia shenanigans. Including Batuik pulling out an ancient running gag from the 70’s, and the last appearance of quarterback, chain-smoker, and 35-year-old high school student Jarod Posey. Emily and Amelia join ‘The Bleat‘. Amelia eats lunch with SENIORS. Les tries teaching them poetry.

Then we’re back to high school being about the seniors, Owen, Alex, and Cody, and their Starbuck Jones filled graduation.

July 10, 2016. A Sunday Strip where Emily and Amelia play their previously established instruments door to door as a band fundraiser.

August 10, 2016. Malcolm and Connor, and later Emily and Amelia, appear as silent students in a week-long band camp arc where Becky and Dinkle are the only characters to speak.

September 18, 2016. A Sunday Strip where Bernie asks if he can opt out of a quiz. Logan, Maris, and maybe Amelia are in the class.

October 23, 2016. A Sunday Strip where Bernie on ‘The Bleat’ announces Bull Bushka’s retirement. Some students that look like Maris and Malcolm are pictured in class.

January 8, 2017. A Sunday Strip where Bernie hasn’t practiced the Trombone.

March 5, 2017. A Sunday Strip where Bernie leaves chess club to go play games at Komix Korner with Malcolm and Connor.

March 19, 2017. A Sunday Strip where Malcolm and Connor are playing games in Komix Korner.

March 29, 2017. In the middle of a week of Becky/Dinkle gags, a single strip where Dinkle addresses the band. Malcom gets the only name he will be known by for the rest of his high school tenure. Bernie, Emily, Amelia, and Connor are also seen.

April 17-22, 2017. A week of high school gags. First two strips of Les ranting at silent students. Emily, Amelia, Malcolm, Connor, Logan, and Bernie are crudely scribbled in. Then a strip at Komix Korner where Malcolm and Logan tease Bernie about Facebook friends. Then three strips where Bernie and Malcolm talk about how dangerous ‘the vendo’ snacks are.

May 16-22, 2017. Another week of high school gags. First Malcolm, Bernie, and Connor at lunch. Then Maris talks to Principal Nate. Finally Les gives a class, including the whole crew, the results of a quiz.

May 28, 2017. A Sunday Strip where Logan takes a test. A call back to Batiuk’s numerous test gags of the past.

A week of school shenanigans. On May 31, 2017 we get Bernie doing another Batiuk ™ wacky test answer. And June 1, has a poorly drawn Connor talking to a poorly drawn Linda (Burchett had just taken over art duties.) Everything else that week is about the teachers.

June 11, 2017. A Sunday Strip where Bernie, Malcolm, and Logan are playing games at Komix Korner.

August 28, 2017. The final appearance of Owen, Cody, and Alex, at the Starbuck Jones premiere.

November 20-24, 2017. Malcolm and Bernie try to sell mattresses door to door.

January 17th and 18th, 2018. In a week of Les Moore complaining about copier paper, Maris, Malcolm, and Logan run in filming a hit piece for ‘The Bleat’. The artwork is particularly awful.

January 21, 2018. A Sunday Strip. Emily and Amelia talk to people who don’t resemble their parents all all about getting rid of the landline.

January 22 and 23, 2018. Bernie, Malcolm, and Logan discuss school food.

JUNE 10th, 2018. A Sunday Strip. Bernie talks on ‘The Bleat’ about teachers running out of material to teach. Emily and Amelia film him. A student who may be Connor beans a kid with the sun in Kablichnik’s classroom.

DECEMBER 16, 2018. A Sunday Strip. Becky and Dinkle yell at the band. I you squint and cross your eyes Bernie, Connor, and Emily might be there…or they’re just generics.

December 17, 2018. Bernie has excuses for not practicing.

December 23, 2018. A Sunday Strip of the Christmas Concert. Is that Connor’s hair fweep in the second panel? Is that a tiny Amelia in the last? Does it matter? No. Because the strip is about Becky (for once.)

March 3-10, 2019. After a crappy comic editorial, Bernie does a very special gun control editorial. Logan Church compliments him. Logan, Connor, Emily, Amelia, Bernie, Malcolm, and Maris participate in a school walkout.

March 17, 2019. A week later, A Sunday Strip, Batiuk pats himself on the back again for the gun violence walkout by having Fred Fairgood watch the entire class walkout again on the news. If you squint you can tell it’s Bernie, Logan, Emily and Amelia leading the class out, and Malcolm, Bernie, and one of the twins on the TV.

April 2019. During THREE WEEKS of Free Comic Book Day at Komix Korner. Malcolm gets commissioned Darin art. Bernie meets Flash Freeman. Bernie and Malcolm ask about the first appearance of Batton Thomas. Logan, Bernie, and Malcolm get their pictures taken with Masone Jarre and Holtron. Logan gets an autograph to sell. And Malcolm asks about future crossover events at Atomik Komix.

The next week, May 8-11, Cindy has agreed to talk to ‘The Bleat’ crew. (For whatever reason, Batiuk has forgotten that Maris was supposed be a part of ‘The Bleat’.)

August 5-11, 2019. Before school starts ‘The Bleat’ gets together to report on the county fair. Emily and Amelia remember that they had characters established three years ago.

November 3, 2019. A Sunday Strip. Malcolm delivers a bad pun on ‘The Bleat’. Amelia and Logan are camera operator and director.

December 16, 2019. A single weekday strip of Dinkle criticizing Becky. Is that Malcolm in the crowd? Idk.

March 8, 2020. A Sunday Strip of Bernie getting a candy bar delivered. Malcolm and Emily are flabbergasted.

March 29, 2020. A Sunday Strip. Bernie relates New Horizon’s historic flyby with a Marvel character. Connor, Emily, Amelia, Logan, and Malcolm are in class.

April 15, 16 and 17, 2020. Batton Thomas visits Westview High. The kids don’t get it. Bernie, Malcolm, Emily, Amelia, and Logan are in attendance. Emily, as the polite one (or just because) asks the only question.

November 30- December 5, 2020. A week of disconnected school gags. The PA system screams for Logan, which startles Connor and Les. Bernie, Malcolm, Logan, Maris and Emily(?) return from an unseen field trip. Maris does a typical Cindy-lite school picture gag. Emily and Amelia talk to Les about Cross Country on set of The Bleat? Logan answers a question ‘correctly’ and Kablichnik cries. Bernie and Amelia are in class with her.

December 21, 2020. Malcolm walks out of band class in the background while Dinkle and Becky talk. THRILLING.

January 3, 2021. A Sunday Strip. Malcolm, Bernie, Emily, and Amelia show up as smirking side faces during the Winter Band Banquet.

January 10, 2021. A Sunday Strip. Connor, Emily and Amelia, and Logan are all called on by name during attendance. Malcolm looks devastated that another chance to establish his real name has come and gone. Bernie keeps Altoids in his pocket. This is treated like something we all should know by now.

January 24, 2021. A Sunday Strip. Becky explains the behavior guidelines before the band goes to OMEA. Bernie asks a question. Emily, Amelia, Malcolm, Logan, and what might be a tiny Connor and Maris are all in the background. The next day, only Malcolm is identifiable. The band is left behind in Columbus, Ohio, and not seen again as they make their long trek back in the middle of winter.

In February 2021 there is a week of Dinkle substitute teaching, but all the kids look completely generic except for maybe on February 17th. This might be Connor without freckles?

March 7, 2021. A Sunday Strip. Emily, Amelia, Bernie, and what might be the back of Malcolm’s head, listen to Kablichnik blather about black holes.

September 1, 2021. Les Moore crucifies the concept of humor on the set of ‘The Bleat’ while Emily, Amelia, Malcolm, Logan, and Bernie watch in horror. The next day Bernie runs out for protection.

September 5, 2021. A Sunday Strip. The Class of 2022 flashes back to a zoom lesson. Maris has black hair for some reason.

March 20, 2022. A Sunday Strip. Bernie, Malcolm, Logan, and Connor are playing Magic at Komix Korner. Bernie angrily forbids Batton Thomas from sorting Magic cards.

May 15, 2022. Bernie picks out senior pictures.

And a week later, we’re graduating.

115 Strips. Spread out over 2592 days.

Final Spreadsheet, through May 29, 2022.

Ladies, Gentleman, I present to you, The Westview Class of 2022!

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Closing Ceremony

Why would a deaf man need a mute button?

And so we conclude The 2021 Funky Winkerbean Awards. The first ever year-end awards event in Son of Stuck Funky history! But will it be the last?

Years ago, many of us hypothesized that Batiuk may end his strip at the 50th Anniversary; go out with a major milestone achieved and draw a line under half a century of storytelling. The counter still sits at the very bottom of the right of the blog, expressing this hope.

64 days from the 50th, I think it’s safe to say he has no plans to retire this year, or even relatively soon.

And to that I say, good. Judging by the comments, the 2021 Funky Awards were a smashing success. If he wants to continue, then maybe we’ll be here again next year, with a new set of punchable Les Moore faces to choose from.

btw, this strip was Principal Nate’s only appearance for 2021.

But before we close this first one out, I have some people to thank, ANOTHER SPREADSHEET (yay!) and a final arc I’d like to recognize.

First of all, I want to thank those of you who comment almost daily! Some of you are relative newcomers, some of you have been at this for longer than I’ve been lurking around. You are ALL awesome.

A few years ago this blog was averaging 15 to 25 comments a day, often less. This year, as boring and inane as the stories seemed to be, we regularly hit 40, 50, sometimes more. There are a lot of great places to go on the internet to post snark on Funky Winkerbean, but people here were also discussing, debating, analyzing. They were posting photoshop edits, strip rewrites, and song parodies. This isn’t just a place to get some great sarcastic quips whipped up by clever minds, it’s also a place to vivisect the very concept of humor itself. So thank you!

Secondly, to the lurkers or occasional posters, thank you. Even if you’re just upvoting or downvoting comments, or chuckling at the banter as you scroll through, we’re glad you stopped by. You are always welcome to comment (provided it’s blog kosher), and should never feel pressured to.

A big thanks, and a tip of the CBH keyboard, to my fellow guest writers:

Thanks to Beckoning Chasm, for the hilarious post titles, the cheeky pop-culture references, and your dark artistic flair. Thanks for creating the hilarious gif of Les getting pummeled by an Eisner. Hope you don’t mind I wanted it front and center for these awards.

Thanks to SpacemanSpiff85 for being able to methodically shred the logical and humor failings of strip after strip after strip with Socratic insight. Every post from you asks how? why? when? and nails Tom to the wall for his lack of answers.

Thanks for Billy the Skink, our resident Batiukstorian, and poet laureate. We can always count on you to educate us on 50 years of Westview history; or spin a pointless strip into a golden bundle of haiku, and to tag the ever living HECK out of it. If we were the Starship Enterprise, (TNG, of course,) you would be Data. (I would be Wesley.)

A huge thank you to Epicus Doomus, the power behind the throne. He not only writes his two week shift, he moderates, he schedules everyone else, he subs if someone can’t complete a shift. I may go off on a tear and spend two weeks playing ‘try-hard’, but then I get to hibernate for a couple months. For Epicus, the work doesn’t stop. He carries the burden of a lot of the behind the scenes minutiae. Thank you.

Another huge thank you to TFHackett, Blogmeister-In-Chief, not only for creating this blog and keeping it trucking along, but for your posts, your humor, and your hilarious panel edits. Without you, this blog wouldn’t exist, and none of us would have this great place to voice our opinions on a single syndicated comic strip read by almost no one else.

And a final thank you to the mysterious ‘Stuck Funky’ writer, the progenitor of the original blog from which we are descended. Wherever our primordial ancestor is, I wish him or her happiness, humor, and health.

Speaking of voices….

SPREADSHEET TIME!

Since you enjoyed the appearance spreadsheet, I thought I’d also share the OTHER spreadsheet I generated this week. See, appearances are nothing, especially when women be tiny and disappearing into the background. So I decided to see how often various named characters actually SPOKE this year, so we could figure out which characters were actually characters, and which were just props.

Below is a list of the number of PANELS named characters SPOKE in for 2021.

(I excluded Marianne and Masone’s lines from the Lisa’s Story Trailer.)

It’s less an award, and more an arc this year that was lambasted in the comments, but that resonated with me. For very personal reasons.

So, The 2021 ComicBookHarriet Special Recognition Certificate goes to.

HOLLY AND MELINDA

Many in the comments criticized the early part of this arc; where Holly and Melinda reminisce, decide to arrange an alumni event, and then Holly breaks her ankle trying to impress her mom. They felt the relationship was regressive and borderline abusive. And, given the exaggerated characters on display, and everyone bringing their own personal histories to the table, that is a perfectly valid interpretation.

Nothing in Funky Winkerbean this year hit me harder or touched me more.

At the very end of September, I lost my 98-year-old grandma. She’d been declining physically for years, though maintained most of her cognitive function to the very end. Still, her death was a surprise.

My grandma was very much a softer Melinda Budd type. She was Olenna Tyrell from Game of Thrones. She was Violet Crawley from Downton Abbey. Propriety focused, status conscious, but practical. Very particular in the way she wanted things done, but generous to a fault. Occasionally prickly, but devoted to her family.

I adored her.

My mother, on the other hand, is gregarious, and laid-back almost to the point of laziness. Anti-conflict, comfort seeking and giving, a people pleaser. In high-school she’d been a cheerleader and homecoming queen and class president, but as an adult she morphed into a Holly Winkerbean type: warm, soft, and maternal.

For the last fifteen years of my life, I watched my mom and my grandma navigate the difficult transition where child becomes caretaker. They handled it better than many, mostly because my mother left my grandmother as much agency as possible, and my grandmother had the grace and intelligence to admit when she needed to cede some control. But what struck me was that, until the very end, my mom worried what her mom would think, and my grandma worried what my mom was doing.

How many times when I was visiting Grandma in the nursing home in this last year, when she was unable to walk, unable to care for herself, would Grandma ask me how my mom was doing? If she was alright? Because she, of course, didn’t trust my mom to tell her.

How many times would Mom say, ‘don’t tell Grandma this,’ or ‘why did you tell Grandma that?’ Always about something inconsequential, like Mom having a routine doctor’s appointment, or the state of the house, or a story I thought was funny but Mom found embarrassing.

This time last year I hugged her while she choked up; this woman in her 60’s, months away from being a grandma herself. And my mom told me, “I don’t want to lose my mom.” And she said it in a voice like a little girl, and I, her daughter, comforted her like a friend.

The beginning of this arc tapped into that for me. The dynamic between mother and daughter that sometimes you can’t get away from, and sometimes you don’t want to. Such a weird moment to find a connection in, for a strip that usually portrays women with all the nuance and depth of cheap paper dolls.

Maybe it really is as bad as the comments thought, and I was just looking at it through a rosy tear-blurred lens. But before we shut the door on 2021, even if I’m the only one who enjoyed it, I wanted to thank Tom Batiuk for this arc, for showing me a middle-aged woman and her elderly mother bickering and bonding, and reminding me that mother birds are mother birds forever.

Until next time, CBH out.

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The 2021 Funky Awards Week! Day 4

Batton, John, you two have known each other since at least May 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.

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I Wanna Go Home

FUNKY AWARDS VOTING! IT’S NOT TOO LATE TO PICK WHICH LES MOORE FACE IS MOST PUNCHABLE. VOTE TODAY!

Link to today’s nonsensical offering.

Many of you yesterday were baffled by how obtuse and unfunny Funky telling his wife he couldn’t find hamburger was. So much so, that poor Duck of Death could only wave the white flag of defeat.

Batiuk’s done it. He’s created The Unsnarkables™️, a series of comics so nondescript that they can’t be mocked. Like a piece of driftwood, a discarded gum wrapper, or a random rock in a park, they just exist uselessly without making any kind of impression, leaving no openings for snark or humor.

I admit defeat. Tom has won.

This is TRAGIC. A valued commenter has been weighed down by the sheer baffling yet boring inanity of Funky Winkerbean in January, and now sits slumped in the trenches, unwilling to fight. I hunch down by our wearied and war torn comrade, shell shocked by a barrage of nonsense, and I whisper in their ear the warcry of the Son of Stuck Funky blogger: “Nothing is Unsnarkable.”

Pick those Nits RIGHT OFF EM, BOYS!

Our gallant sergeant SpacemanSpiff85 once snarked for 100 words on a silent strip of sidewalk renovations. Staff-sergeant Billy the Skink once wrote six hilarious haiku on three wordless panels of a woman realizing her brain damaged husband had taken the car keys. I’ve snarked over dialogue-less panels of SALAD DRESSING! Look around you Duck of Death! These brave nitpickers once snarked for an entire week on nothing but envelope opening!

Are you tired? Rest. We shall take up your burden. But know. Know deep in your heart. That someone here will fight this beast. Someone here will take on this monster. Someone here will find SOMETHING FUNNY to say ABOUT NOTHING.

11 military propaganda posters that are surprisingly convincing - We Are  The Mighty

And cheer up. While today’s strip makes somehow even less sense than ANYTHING I’ve seen in weeks. At least it has the possibility to get a great Beach Boys song stuck in your head.

And now for your Comic Book Harriet Useless Factoid Report.

  • It is believed that there was a real Sloop John B. It sunk off the coast of the Bahamas in the 17th century.
  • The lyrics to the Bahaman folk song were first published in 1916, by Richard Le Gallienne, in Harper’s Monthly Magazine.
  • Richard Le Gallienne had a friendship, and even a brief love affair, with Oscar Wilde. Though he was also a notorious womanizer who was married three times.
  • Poet, Carl Sandberg, included “The John B Sails” in his 1927 collection of American folksongs, The American Songbag.
  • Carl Sandberg won three Pulitzer Prizes in his lifetime. Which is three more than Tom Batiuk has won.
  • Carl Sandberg claimed he collected the song from American artist, war correspondent, and political cartoonist John T. McCutcheon.
  • McCutcheon owned a private island in the Bahamas, where he often lived.
  • In 1932, McCutcheon won a Pulitzer Prize for cartooning. Which is one more than Tom Batiuk has won.

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