Whether or not the St. Spries choir will ever sing a note under Dinkle’s direction will have to wait for another day, for today’s strip returns to (what I assume is) TB’s latest writer’s block go-to: domestic scenes with the Winkerbeans. Hey, that rhymes!
Hey, thanks for putting up with me through two more weeks of this mess. I genuinely appreciate it. Steering us all through the swamp starting tomorrow will be the one and only man of space named Spiff, Spaceman Spiff. May you see no Les or Dinkle story arcs on your journey, good sir.
Oh those WIVES amirite? Always wanting their faucets not to leak, and their tub seams not to be stained black with mildew. Needing grout that hasn’t been haphazardly sealed with crazy glue, drywall not patched with bondo and tempera paint, linoleum sans the packing tape, light fixtures with actual covers still intact. What a bunch of absolute spendthrift divas.
Or maybe the Winkerbean bathroom and kitchen isn’t in such a state yet. Maybe it’s just my poor parents who have been putting off a kitchen/bathroom remodel since the Clinton administration because it’s easier to fantasize about the dream kitchen they’ll put in, forever perfect in its nebulousness, than it is to bite the bullet and finally rip out the Brady Bunch orange counter tops.
Anyway, this strip is either a tolerable lead in to a new arc of Funky misery, or the start of a very unappealing adult film. The dialogue says the former. But Holly and the Handyman’s bedroom eyes tell a different story. And what kind of real contractor just wanders around with a giant ‘EZ’ plastered on his hat and shirt. I’ve seen sexy nurse Halloween costumes with more believable ‘names’ on the lapel.
It’s been a fun couple weeks. The Dinkle arc was a bit of a slog to end on, but it’s not every shift that I get to talk about Batman. Thanks to everyone for the kind comments! TF Hackett will be taking over the exciting renovation action tomorrow. Please remember to thank him and Epicus for giving us all our cozy, internet safe-space where we can join together in mocking the final death throes of the slow entropic decay of a fictional universe.
Stay warm and Funky everyone! Comic Book Harriet signing off!
Good. I was worried I wouldn’t get to have any Les Moore action during my stint this time.
That was sarcasm, in case you were wondering. If I’m ever actually happy to see Les Moore, I’ll let you know so I can be transferred to the appropriate facilities.
At least he’s keeping his smug stupid mouth shut.
And Funky’s so unimpressed to see him, that he’s not even bothering to get his ass out of his chair.
In fact, this entire strip has a weird manic energy to it. Les just…smiles. While Funky, apropos of nothing, grimaces and waves his arms, and rants about seeing through walls. You could edit Les out of the strip entirely. He’s just a prop for Funky to use. He could have been anyone. Swap him with Harry, Holly, Corey, Garfield. It wouldn’t change a thing.
It’s almost like…like Les Moore isn’t there at all. And Funky is ranting at an imaginary Les he conjured up in his delirious need to have someone smirk beatifically at his stupid joke the very moment it entered his mind.
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.
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.)
Comic Book Harriet here again! Can’t believe I’m up again already. It seems like yesterday I was struggling to find a band turkey joke that wasn’t as overdone as the ones in the strip. But Tom rolls on like an ever flowing stream of consciousness, bringing me back again, panning through his muck for fool’s gold.
I want to give special commendation to SpaceManSpiff 85. He was given a relentlessly dim and myopic arc, and managed to fill the week with a overwhelming flow of cataract puns. Sir, you have my admiration. And my sympathy. Because it seems I’m going to be just as burdened this week with shortsighted visual humor.
I asked earlier this arc if Funky has always been a hapless character that only exists to be neurotic and spout lame puns. My interactions with Act I Funky come through flashback photo-cornered panels, car accident coma dreams, and the offerings of our resident Batiukian researchers. Longtime Stuckfunkians Rusty Shackleford and Banana Jr 6000 were kind enough to reply, and both used the term ‘burnout’ to describe Act I Funky, which kind of surprised me. I can’t see the preachy Batiuk, with more cheap soapboxes than a Palmolive warehouse, insinuating his main character was dating Mary Jane Wackytabaccy on the weekends, and playing it for harmless laughs. Crazy Harry? Sure. But the eponymous protagonist?
I can see it now. Panel two has Act I Funky, in all his mellow glory, blissed out on his tiny bed, with every comfort a baked adolescent needs within arm’s reach: lamp, pizza, soda, music, The Amazing Mister Sponge. Curled up in a tiny cluttered nest of his own hedonism. He even has his SHOES on the bed, that’s how much he DNGAF.
Stark contrast to Act III Funky in panels 1 and 3, sitting on a huge, empty bed, in a mostly empty room. Only a featureless smartphone and a rapidly expanding mattress his plebian pleasures. His specific interests have been pulled out, leaving us with a boring box containing a boring man with a face slowly drooping like a blobfish.
I wish Funky could have gotten glaucoma instead. We could have had burnout Funky back.
Is Funky telling the truth in today’s strip? Last time we saw him get a physical was in early 2017, when he and Holly flew to Dallas (sure…) to visit a so-called “superclinic” (sure… again) for physicals. Well, Holly claimed it was an annual physical back then, so maybe the Winkerbeans’ annual January Dallas superclinic physical trip just recently happened. Not sure when that would have been, we’ve seen Funky and/or Holly every single week so far this month…
Oh wait, none of that matters. Nurse Scrunchie doesn’t care about Funky’s physical health, she just needs to know if he can afford to pay for his cataract surgery. What a scathing and original commentary on the American healthcare system! Groundbreaking stuff!
And eye (ugh) *s-eye* (no no no) *sigh* (that’s better) sorry… I am about out of patience with this anti-majestic glacier of a story line. Every single thing in today’s strip happened in yesterday’s strip as well. I’m not sure even Garfield or Family Circus recycle at this level… I don’t know if this will help, but I have cut the 62 words in these last two strips down to 20 in an attempt to make this never-ending story stronger and more concise.
Dr. Droopy: Cataract surgery is pretty common nowadays. It is quite safe and not especially complicated.
Funky: I'm worried! WORRIED, I TELLS YA!