Tag Archives: Florida

They’re Gonna Need A Bigger Pack

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Fanny Packard? Because Funky and Holly are old boring fuddy-duddies who wear fanny packs? Ummm, OK then. “Things to do…”???? They’re picking up Holly’s mother, not going sightseeing. You can almost see BatNom’s self-satisfied smirk as he set down his felt-tip after coming up with this stellar bit of wordplay. Geez. Just when you think an arc bottoms out, Batom lowers the floor.

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The Ups And Downs Of Being Funky

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In a strip where elderly Alzheimer patients cut albums in Memphis and surf the web like pros and people take sixty-plus year breaks in their careers, this whole daffy premise is pretty tough to swallow. It’s astonishing how little Holly and her mother think of Funky, which is supposed to be the joke here I guess. He can’t even count on his own wife to have his back, as she has no qualms at all about forcing him to close up shop and take a four thousand mile round trip with his mother-in-law, which would be valid grounds for divorce in at least forty-nine US states but unfortunately for Funky, not in Ohio.

Poor Funky, the FW character you always laugh at, never with. Every single other character in the strip is a wry wisecracking wordplay machine, snidely smirking after another unbearably clever pun or smart-alecky remark, but never Funky. Funky just shuts up and takes it, week after week, year after year, decade after decade, all because he was the “normal well-adjusted” kid in high school and BatNom will never let him live it down. The guy survived crippling alcoholism and an even more crippling car crash to become the local president of the chamber of commerce and the only most successful businessman in town. He’s convivially and generously hosted and/or catered literally every single major social event the town has ever seen, he’s employed a bevy of family members and pals at his restaurant and he’s acted as a kind and patient landlord too.

His reward? To be kicked and kicked again, over and over. His family doesn’t respect him at all, his friends mock him, he suffers from a litany of health woes and he’s fat, old and physically repulsive. The guy who writes this thing never stops heaping abuse on him and (oddly enough) it just makes it impossible for me to truly hate him like I hate Les and Lisa and Darin and Dinkle and Pete and Holly and Cory and Summer (whoever she is) and Chester and Mason and Cliff and Becky and Cindy and Vera and Crazy and Owen and Cody and Nate and Cayla and that bus driver (I forget his name) and the other characters (except Buddy, as I really love that dog).

Let that be a lesson to all those kids out there just now discovering FW (guf-faw) for the first time: don’t peak in high school. Pick a thing (dork, stoner, “it” girl, baton twirler, jock) and f*cking run with it because living down your high school identity will be the most important thing you ever do. Also, invest in comic books and whatever you do do NOT get involved in the pizza industry, although eating it three times a day is fine. See, there’s actual educational content in this strip, you just have to wade through forty-plus years of crap to find it.

 

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And The Bland Played On

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The good news: no comic books!!! The bad news: mail is still playing a pivotal role in the strip.

Let’s take a moment to talk about shitty storytelling. Holly has apparently just opened her invitation to the Big Band Alumni Reunion Event (sigh), which oughta be a real barn-burner by the way. Yet somehow, despite just finding out about it, she knows that a) her mother was also inexplicably invited, b) she wants to attend and c) she wants them to drive to Florida to pick her up. Which opens a whole host of mysteries best left unsolved, which they no doubt will be.

I don’t remember Holly’s mom being a character in the strip at all, which seems to indicate that the “goal” here is a) more “adorable old coot” humor and b) another excuse to trot out Holly’s Act I flaming baton trick persona, neither of which has generated a lot of clamor among FW’s (chortle) fan base as far as I can tell. Anyone who’s had anything whatsoever to do over the last forty years has forgotten all about Holly’s baton silliness and if FW contained any more “adorable old coot” gags it’d come with a year’s supply of Coumadin. Unless this Big Band Alumni Reunion Event (sigh) is just another excuse to have the loathsome Dinkle wobble down Act I Memory Lane yet again, which seems sort of likely given the premise here.

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Ret-Kahn Time

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I couldn’t resist one last awful Khan pun to close out the week. I guess the retcon panel is supposed to imply that Montoni’s managed to somehow survive in the worst commercial space in the entire world even in spite of the fact that the business was owned and operated by a complete imbecile with extremely low expectations. So as I pointed out yesterday, nothing has really changed in that town regardless of the current state of “the economy”…it’s a huge fail-hole populated by depressing, stupid people is all. Knowing how these people think, they probably rub the burn scars they got from eating “pizza on a stick” fondly while reminiscing about “the old days”.

I’d like to believe that Old Man Montoni would likewise be amazed by how unbelievably narcissistic and self-absorbed these idiots are and that he’d be appalled by how they always make everything about themselves. But he did live there too, so I doubt he’d even notice that anything was amiss with these clowns.

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Dear Tom Batiuk:

Over the course of 2½ years of presiding over this forum, sharing nearly a thousand daily posts and over 19,000 reader comments about your work, I’ve managed to hang on to a tiny shred of admiration for you. When the “Fuck you, TB” comments flew, I could confidently poke my head out of the foxhole and say, “Hey! Give the man credit. He’s made a forty-year career of doing something he loves.” Or, “He’s seems like he’s actually a nice guy in person.” Or, “Well, he has some interesting musical tastes.” Or, “He’s raised a fair amount of money and awareness to fight cancer.” Or, “O.K., today’s strip is truly funny.” All right, that last one, not so much.

And then, today, Tom, you pull this. You spend three weeks on an arc where Crazy Harry gets fired (or retires, according to one strip), with one week’s notice, and no severance, pension or unemployment benefit, and has to sell off his books and comics before accepting a part-time temp job (which he’d willingly do for no pay) at the Komix Korner. Come Sunday, he-e-e-e-e-re’s Harry, in full postie drag, to deliver the annual “Buon Natale dalla soleggiata Florida!” postcard from Tony (along with a bonus potshot at e-mail).

Admit it, Tom: your heart’s just not in it any longer. This is more egregious than having Les show up in Westview a week after getting on a plane to Tanzania. You fancy yourself a writer; you regularly lecture and chastise the readers; you dismiss as “beady-eyed” anyone who finds fault with your creative output. Even in a fictional milieu where continuity long ago became an afterthought, today’s strip signals to the readers that you flat-out don’t give a shit anymore.

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"Kil" Me Now

I know “it’s called writing”, but TB’s been doing a lot of it this week: once again today we’re treated to a first panel jam packed with Funky’s exposition.

Anybody who happened to read this September interview with Tom Batiuk already sees where this is going (spoiler alert!):

Without giving too much away, are there any more “big events” planned for the cast…?

TB: Sure! There are a bunch of big events, inside and outside of the strip…the girls’ basketball team is going to be vying for the State Championship…In the middle of the year, Les and Summer are going to climb Kilimanjaro.

This tells us that Funky’s improbable raffle idea will succeed (of course!)  in saving Scapegoat athletics, and also that TB’s avatar Les will be making a Kili expedition, just as TB did in February 2010. Hopefully Summer’s bum knee will hold up!

Wishing my readers a safe and happy Thanksgiving! –TFH

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Float-oni

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Gah! While we’re waiting to find out who’s calling Les on the White Courtesy Phone, TB “treats” us to another of Tony Montoni’s wacky holiday postcards. On the plus side, at least this time Tony is not posing in old lady drag. The downside? He’s showing us his legs. Are those the reflections of Florida palms on the water, or is it the lingering residue from last spring’s oil rig disaster?

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