Cindy was the most popular, so she gets to talk about getting left out TWICE. Or we’re supposed to interpret the start of this interminable pity party on Tuesday as a private conversation between Funky and Cindy, and thus she warrants a second confession to the entire group. Continue reading
Tag Archives: Funky Winkerbean
Roland was an anti-establishment activist. Of course he didn’t feel a part of things in high school. I suppose we can read this as Roland feeling alienated even before, and choosing an identity in the counter-culture that justified those feelings.
At least by talking about prior ‘protests’ and ‘anger’ Rolanda has made her line specific to her, so she’s leaps and bounds ahead of Crazy and Funky this week. But Batiuk is just writing her saying this because he wants to let his new trans character talk one more time before this arc ends and she disappears forever.
It’s Derek who’s giving me a chuckle today. He gets one word. One word this whole year. “Seriously?”
I’m guessing that this was intended by the author to reference the one or two strips where he felt ‘alienated’ by his race. He was one of a few black students in a mostly white school. So obviously (sarcasm) asking him if he felt left out is silly.
But I am invoking Death of the Author.
Because Derek is the embodiment of ‘Seriously?’ As in, “Why do I exist in this asinine universe surrounded by stupid, unfunny, jokes?”
Every time he would stare out at the audience, it was like a cry for help through the crack in the Fourth Wall. He had this air of resigned desperation. I imagine you would get a similar expression if Charles Dance was sent to a hell populated entirely by Teletubbies.
And so when Derek today says, “Seriously?” I don’t hear, “Yes, of course I felt like an outsider.”
I hear, “Seriously? Seriously? It’s been 50 years! I hardly even remember high school. Why did I even come to this? Why did I bother to bring the ultrasound picture of my great-grandson? Or the photos of my granddaughter getting her doctorate? Why did I bother looking any of these chucklefucks up on Facebook to see what they’ve been up to. I came all prepared to talk about Les’ movie getting an Oscar. Cindy’s work on BuddyBlog. What it was like being stuck in LA for the fires. Funky’s punk son finally making an honest woman of that poor pretty army chick. Holly’s biography on being a majorette. Rolanda’s work counselling the families of senior gender transitioners. Maybe share some memories of Bull and Mary Sue, since this is our first reunion without them. But naw, I shoulda known better. These assholes are just gonna stand in a row all facing the same way, like they’re posing for a picture no one is gonna take, and pass the same damn sentence down the line in the world’s most half-assed game of telephone. Fuck these cookie-cutter punch-outs all thinking they’re a special snowflake. If they’re not all dead by the next reunion, I’m not coming. I was hoping to talk to Barry Balderman and Carrie and Melissa, maybe catch up with Wanda, but naw. They were too smart for this shit. I mean. Seriously?”
“At least Les didn’t have a pity party over his dead wife again.”
Speaking of Les! Here’s some more writing advice from the past! Brought to you by the world’s least prolific biographer.
We Are The Son of Stuck Funky Admiration Affiliate
Preserving the old strips from being abused
Protesting the new ways for me and for you
What more can we do?
Quick! The most popular and objectively successful member of the class has admitted they never felt like they fit in! Everyone must fall in line behind her and parrot her sentiments! This will prove how alienated and apart from things they all were!
This would almost be a joke. If the idea that “Les was a dork in school” hadn’t been hammered home so many times the nail is halfway to China, and they’re using a percussive drilling machine with 2000 feet of rod to reach the punchline.
What even does ‘In-Crowd’ mean? In my experience, you want your circle of friends to share your interests and enjoy the same things. A chess club nerd is going to be lost and bored at a football kegger. The kids I knew in high school that were miserable were either the ones that faked their way into a clique that didn’t really suit them, or the poor kids who never found a niche no matter how small.
But Funky was considered perfectly acceptable in High School. Neither the most popular, nor the least.
‘Average’ is the first bit of characterization Funky was given, and as far as I can see it held true through 20 years of high school. You’ve got to give him some credit for keeping Les as his best friend, since nothing probably dragged him down Cindy’s popularity rankings more than having human tumor Les Moore clinging to his side.
I would say that Funky should let Les speak on what it really felt like to be excluded in high school. Since if anyone has a right to speak on the topic it is him.
But I bet Funky and crew remember Les’ self-righteous downer of a commencement speech and rightfully figured the less he said on the topic the better.
Wanda has been smart enough to NEVER attend a reunion following the 2008 fiasco. But really she should have known what she was in for, since Cindy showed up at her door in 2004 to for an entire week of groveling. Something I only found after my Wanda retrospective back in March.
Now we KNOW Batiuk is stalking this blog. He saw our intense discussion a couple weeks ago about the best guitar solos, and needed to weigh in.
And yes, Tom, “I’m Not Like Everybody Else” has an absolutely screaming guitar solo. Good call.
Name dropping quality limey rock music won’t save this strip from being carefully dissected for all the logical and continuity failings within.
Let’s go panel by panel.
Panel one, Cindy thanks Funky for letting The Reunion Committee borrow the jukebox. This implies that Cindy is back on The Reunion Committee. For the 2015 Time Pool arc, Cindy ceded up Chairman of the Committee to Les because she was moving to LA to work for BuddyBlog.
So after settling in in LA Cindy decides to join the committee again despite the long distance? Plausible I guess. Most planning for these things is done online anymore. So Cindy was on the committee for this reunion. A reunion held in the high school (gym, cafeteria, commons?) with a pizzeria jukebox as the DJ? NOT PLAUSIBLE.
Moving on. Would they seriously transport a 250 pound classic jukebox to the high school for a bit of kitchy flair to go with their careful decorating scheme of random balloons, crepe paper, and pink frilly table cloths? When a cell phone hooked to a speaker would give you better sound and a better selection?
The jukebox has a the B-side to The Kinks 1966 best selling “Sunday Afternoon”? Plausible.
Cindy chooses the song. Plausible. Because it’s a killer jam. Yeah, it would have come out when they were in Middle School. But so what. “Sweet Child of Mine” charted when I was a fetus, and I listen to that all the time.
Plus, she just came to her 50 year reunion looking 40 years younger than her cohorts with a handsome movie star on her arm. She’s been a national news anchor, won an EMMY, and lived in New York and LA. She is literally not like anyone else there. Plausible.
Funky finds her song selection interesting. No. Not unless Funky has it in his brain that Cindy doesn’t have an appreciation for proto-punk rock. Even Cindy choosing the song as a flex isn’t implausible and Funky should know this.
Cindy confesses that, “She never felt like a part of things in High School.”
Cindy practically RAN the social circles of the high school. She was at the very apex, dictating who was in and who was out and what all the cool kids would be doing. She ranked every single person and made sure she was at the top.
Maybe she did feel disconnected from everyone else. Those who seek to dominate others rather than befriend them often do. But I don’t feel sorry for her for a second. Because unlike all the poor kids she put outside so they’d have to look in at HER, her alienation was entirely self-inflicted.
When I was in middle school, I looked up to who my mom had been in her school days. She’d been a cheerleader, and a homecoming queen, and gave the class valedictorian speech. I, on the other hand, was a chunky, geeky, midget with a propensity for uncontrollable bouts of weirdness. My mom sat me down and told me a story.
She said that when she was younger, she looked up to her older sister, who was also super popular and glamorous. She asked her sister how she got so popular. My aunt said, “Be nice to people, be nice to everyone you can. If you do that, nothing else matters, you will be popular.”
Maybe it’s because I was in a medium small school. Maybe my class was just friendly in general. But I followed my mom’s advice, and in my own weirdo, class clown way, I was popular. Maybe I didn’t get invited to the parties of other cliques, or have football players beating down my door for dates, but people weren’t unhappy to see me sitting next to them in class. I was fondly thought of by the majority of my classmates and even occasionally admired for my self-confidence to be unbearably weird.
All because I realized early on that I didn’t have to be a part of everything to be a part of things. That people didn’t really care how good I was at stuff, how pretty, how tall, as long as I was a friendly face that treated them like they had value. There were a few jerks this didn’t work on. But they were few and far between.
In honor of this week, I pulled out my senior class book. There I was, voted one of the four “Most Creative’.
What I said I’d miss the most? “Nurse’s office.”
Did you guys enjoy this gripping, emotional, and politically charged tale which really challenged our main characters leading to growth and change that will really shake things up going forward?
(Seriously, tomorrow is Cindy and Holly.)
Oh, I ‘member.
I’m starting to get kinda paranoid, guys. I’m starting to feel like Batiuk IS reading this blog. That he reads it, and then changes continuity or characters just to troll us. He saw my jokey headcanon that Roland became a conservative hardware store owner, and had to kick back against my fantasy of responsible small business success and respect for the establishment by inserting the character into a hot button political issue.
I had to fumigate and dissect a political hornets’ nest on my last shift. I’m in no mood to kick this one. I eagerly look forward to all of you in the comments respectfully discussing with each other the artistic merits of this decision and tearing Batiuk a new one. Remember the site rules.
Whatever our diverse views, we can all agree that Batiuk is mostly doing this because he lazily looked through the Overton Window and realized he could bring up a topic that would get him possible cheers from the people he loves to get cheered by and maybe even jeers from the people he gets off on hating.
Some context for your discussion. I don’t have anything concrete I’m trying to say with these. Just some stuff that’s weird to read with the new retcon in mind.
I stared at today’s strip for hours. Trying to decide if I was amused, offended, or bored.
On the one hand, valued commenter The Dreamer foresaw this strip yesterday.
I’m waiting for Cindy to show up. At the 50 year reunion, standing with all her old geezer classmates, still looking 25 years old with her great body and younger movie star boyfriend Mason Jarr…..
And I’m getting sick of Holly Budd Winkerbean being so mopey and self-conscious. A single strip of it is relatable, a week of it is exhausting.
On the other hand, it’s at least a structured joke. Again, the nature of my own parents’ relationship skews how I’m seeing things. They tease each other mercilessly. My mom once joked that my dad was going to leave her for his old college girlfriend, and my dad just scoffed.
“It would take too long to train someone else.”
And they laughed, sitting in their cluttered dining room wearing sweatpants and baggy t-shirts, sipping coffee from out-of-season Christmas mugs that never got put away. They were both in on the joke, that learning to put up with someone new, a whole new set of pet peeves, failings, wants, and triggers would be too exhausting. And beneath the ribbing is always the stubborn kind of unconditional love that has them picking ditch side tiger lilies and cooking enough pot roast to last a week because they know that’s just the thing to make the other smile.
But when I peeled the lens of my own experience away, I was lost. My sense of objectivity completely wrecked. I was seeing, but I had completely lost the ability to understand.
So I asked some of my normie friends. All women between 29 and 40. Some single, some in relationships. None with kids. People who know of Funky Winkerbean, and this blog, because of me ranting at them. But not people who could tell a Jessica from a Mindy at 100 paces. I sent them today’s strip and just said.
PLEASE GIVE ME YOUR THOUGHTS ON THIS STRIP. Positive, negative, neutral, confused, whatever I just want some normie outsider perspective on it.
- “It feels like he’s making like a lame mid-90s, sitcom joke about how women are difficult. Because two wives would be double the nagging and emotions or something?”
- “ahem Wifey here is exhibiting a behavior promoted by our culture where women are encouraged to fight or tear each other down because #thepatriarchy. She is heckin intimidated by Cindy and is asking for reassurance from hubby. Hubby, instead of giving her blind reassurance that he only has eyes for wifey, ~apparently~ gives the wrong answer. – Signed, the token liberal (What this means coming from this comic in particular heckin idk.)
- “I am now overthinking it. I think my initial thought was “I’m not sure I get the joke.” Upon further reflection, It is hard to say if he was going for ha ha two wives how silly or a sweet I’d have always have fallen in love with you sentiment. I’m going to be charitable and say he was going for sweet & snarky.”
- “Blah. That’s my reaction to this. Just blah. If my partner said that to me, I’d feel pretty gross about the relationship.”
- “If he’s fully joking, man is he playing with fire. Let’s reverse the roles. Husband is all “Man Steve is looking like a million bucks today. Do you still wish you were married to Steve?” And then wife says: “Don’t be silly! Then I’d have two husbands!” I don’t think husband would appreciate that response.”
- “Side note, I do think him saying “well then I’d have two wives” might be an attempt to poke fun at her for even asking about wishing he was still married to Cindy. It’s pretty lame, but it somehow has the same energy as five-year-old me asking my Dad how he did something that, at the time, seemed incredible but wasn’t really. He’d always tell me that he was a wizard.”
- “The second thing is that some of the guys I dated in Utah always liked to float the idea of having more than one wife.”
- “Based on everything I have ever heard about Utah this, somehow, super doesn’t surprise me? God, why is Utah so weird.”
- “Also also. Because apparently I’m not done yet, damn you. Like, look at this face.”
- “It is quite a face. Little dots for eyes. But like for me, in a way, her comment kind of comes off as more casual? I don’t think she’s fussed specifically about Cindy.”
- “But also I can see the 50th anniversary banner for the reunion in the background. Which just makes Cindy seem more jarring to me, considering the subject matter. Because they’re all pushing into their 70s at least. Which means Cindy has one hell of an exercise routine and a love for Botox, probably. Which, you know. Bodybuilding grandmas are a thing.”
- “Side note – it’s kind of funny to me that big Hollywood stars like Cindy and Mason Jar would care to kick it back to podunk small town whereveritisville for a high school reunion. Iunno. Maybe it’s just because I’ve never made it to a reunion myself and the last one they tried to put together fell apart because no one was gonna show up.”
So, there you have it. Some normie opinions on today. As close as we can get to that hypothetical newspaper reader who occasionally catches a strip or two while flipping through the paper. The only thing skewing the sample is that all of my friends are just as into hyper-analyzing media as we are here. You give us something to dissect and we start gleefully pinning it down and pulling the wings off.
But what do THE EXPERTS think?
I’m eager to find out.
Aaaaaand just like that, the teeter tooter pivots and suddenly I’m annoyed again. All the Holly relatability of the last three days evaporates in a puff of smoke because REALLY?
This drivel should be coming out of Les’ mouth. Not only is he a self-important sad-sack always eagerly searching for a way to inject pathos into the most mundane situations, but he also was actually bullied and teased in high school. And the fact that he took a job at the same school district so that he could constantly re-traumatize himself is perfectly in character for Les Moore. He’s just the kind of insufferable pseudo-intellectual that thinks pain is somehow more real than joy, and so seeks it out.
But Holly? Holly, you were a popular and well liked HOMECOMING QUEEN who seemed to take being regularly set on fire with carefree joy. You were so self-confident (and dumb) you didn’t even realize when you were being teased.
Maybe I’m missing a subtle turn in her characterization somewhere between where Vintage FW has gotten to on CK and the end of Act I. But while I’ll buy that a plump middle-aged Holly might be a little daunted tonight, wondering who she hasn’t seen in 40 years might have jetted to Westview to judge her weight gain and dough slinging husband, I don’t buy for A SECOND that she was nervous every day she showed up at High School in full majorette attire.
And, news alert Holly. THAT ISN’T THE SAME BUILDING.
Crazy Harry seemed to remember and reference it earlier this year, when he made sure to take a walk down to ‘the old high school’ during his off-gassing time travel adventure.
I think it’s symbolic of this strip as a whole that Batiuk tried to move on by tearing down the old building 15 years ago, and obviously regrets it now. He wishes he still had the thematic through line. My parents attended the same High School building I did. I remember at a brother’s wrestling meet my mom walking me down to her old locker and her combination still worked. Batiuk would fume in jealousy that such an opportunity is gone. He tried to ‘kill the past’ but somehow Palpatine returned.
He started Act III with big dreams of merging all three acts thematically together. You’ve got the old Act I crew being middle-aged adults, you’ve got the grown up Act II kids in Darin, Pete, and Jessica being the new young adults just starting out, and you’ve got the Muppet Babies kids to keep the High School hijinks flowing.
But now its a gerontocracy of the impossibly old taking over everything. Even poor Pete, Darin, and Mindy have been supplanted by octogenarians.
You’ve all said it below. This shouldn’t be the 50th class reunion. Their 30th class reunion was in 2008. This pretty much confirmed that the time skip from Act II to Act III moved their graduation date from 1988 back to 1978. Summer Moore was established as turning 16 a few months prior. So is she 36 now? Seriously?
I would be perfectly fine with Batiuk having his strip officially enter Comic Book Time. It didn’t bother me at all that it took Bernie Silver six years to graduate. In a medium where a single five minute conversation can take two weeks if a comic year equals a calendar year then you’re leaving a lot of these characters’ lives out. It’s a comic strip, we understand that Christmas comes in December, school starts in September, and it takes eight years for a toddler to turn four. It’s FINE.
But the sudden, inexplicable, fast-forwarding of random characters we’ve gotten recently is just baffling. Why is Crankshaft’s great-grandson suddenly eight, when he was born less than three years ago, but Emily and Amelia haven’t aged? Why is Funky suddenly over 65 and Skyler, born in 2013, is still sitting on Santa’s lap and baby talking?
The time pool reunion arc of 2015 DIDN’T have a date or year attached. And that was a much smarter take in my humble but correct opinion. Because it wasn’t clear an entire seven years had passed since the last one. (And a 37 year reunion seems really weird)
But Batiuk couldn’t resist slapping a big fat 50 on this one. Despite only MONTHS before presenting them as all in high school in 1980!
And you know what. I’m here for it. I’m here for all of it. I’m cracking open a cold one, kicking back, and watching this train wreck. Because I have such a great bunch of people to do it with. Because it genuinely brings me joy.
Don’t let Batty get you down guys. Just enjoy the screeching, burning, twisted mess. Are you ready for a 50th reunion of “Senior Discoveries” ? Are you ready for “exploring the honesty beneath such a gathering’s initial artifice”?
Are you ready?
This week has been a real see-saw for me. Because while Funky himself has been insufferable, and Batiuk deciding to fast track his Act I cast to their late 60’s is just infuriating, Holly has been so darn relatable.
I can’t help it, guys. She just reminds me so much of my mom. There’s not been a single thing she’s said or suggested these past three days that would be out of character for Momma Harriet. From wishing she’d lost weight for a major event, to scoffing at too much nostalgia from high school, to wanting to avoid hours and hours of vaguely remembered former acquaintances pasting on smiles while silently gauging which of them had the most loveless marriage, messiest divorce, or the most messed up grandkids.
I don’t remember the context enough for specifics, but I KNOW my mom has suggested escaping to me while driving to some dreaded social event.
“What if we just kept on going?” She smiles, desperately, trying to psych herself up for a family reunion or wedding of a third cousin’s cousin. “Drive all the way down to your sister’s, and just…hid out?”
Is the choice of the word ‘disillusioned’ weird? Maybe. Maybe not. I’ve seen the way my mom’s face falls when talking about a friend’s divorce, or the profligacy of a young adult she’d nurtured as a child. She’d rather not know that the marriage she’d been a bridesmaid for fell apart after infidelity, or the sweet little girl she taught in Sunday School had to get a restraining order on her meth-ed out baby daddy.
If I’m being nicer to Holly and this strip than it deserves, just know that it’s because all it would take is a brunette wash and a pair of glasses, and Holly morphs into my mom. And I love my mom. And if you knew her, you would love her too. And if you didn’t it would be a clear sign that you are a garbage human forever beyond hope of redemption.
I want to thank BJ6K and anneki for bringing the Washington Post article to our attention yesterday. It was the puffiest of puff pieces. It reminded me of those puff balls in the timber around here. You whack it and release a giant yellow cloud of nonsense.
Everyone had their favorite quotes, but mine had to be when he compared the first time skip to a ‘Road to Damascus’ moment. Because yeah, I’d believe that Batiuk has been struck blind on his creative journey. And now he’s sitting there at home, his eyes covered in scales, with no Ananias of an editor to come and peel his blindness away.
FYI: Cows got out again on Monday morning. They thought our neighbors’ corn looked tastier than the dry grass left in our drought stricken pasture. Fixed the fence AGAIN, gave them some big round bales of hay, and they STILL were all standing by the fence this morning, staring longingly at the green stalks on the other side of the woven wire.
Maybe if we could get some REAL RAIN, and not mother nature spitting in contempt on the dusty cracked ground…
Y’all have been amazing in the comments lately! Love all of you!
No really. I’m sorry.
I guess August 2022 is the month that Funky Winkerbean decided to try to out dick Les ‘Dickface McSmuggy’ Moore in a dickishness contest.
Because there is NO WAY that high school was more daunting, stressful, confusing, scary, exciting or heart breaking than beating cancer, overcoming alcoholism, surviving a car accident, weathering a divorce, losing a friend to cancer, raising a troubled son, and having a son in the military.
(Notice how only ONE of those things was a positive? For Pete’s Sake, Tom. Lighten up!)
Do we enshrine our high school years? Some of us, yeah. Not all of us, because like Holly said, they’re just FOUR YEARS. For some people they were pretty low key.
I had a pretty good time in high school. I wouldn’t say I ‘enshrine’ it, but I look back on it fondly. I had a group of great friends. I liked 75% of my teachers. I packed my days with extracurriculars. That’s what I miss the most about it. The thing wistfully wish I could get back is being called on to perform and having all of those creative outlets and the buffet of interests to pursue: band, choir, art, drama, sports, FFA.
The people that ‘enshrine’ high school don’t do it because it was the superlative apex of emotional experience. If someone had high school as the most exciting or heart-breaking time in their life, then they died soon after graduation, either literally or figuratively. People recognize high school as a distinct, notable time because it is a liminal period. The border between childhood and adulthood.
For many it’s the last time they’ll put on uniforms, play instruments, have their names on score boards, sing in a choir, and be asked to draw a picture. At the same time, they’re getting a little taste of growing up, dating, driving, spit-balling possible futures at a half-interested guidance counselor.
But after that, they have the rest of their lives.
I’m not married. I don’t have kids. I live in the same town I grew up in. I willingly put hours into writing a Funky Winkerbean snark blog every few months. If anyone is going to pretend High School was the MOSTEST TIME EVAR GUIZE, it’s going to be someone like me. But no. Life since then has been just as much, and often more daunting, stressful, confusing, scary, heart breaking AND exciting. I’ve gone on adventures. I’ve made forever friends. I got a tattoo on my ass. I met Mark Hamill. I kissed my baby nephew’s tiny fingernails and felt him fall asleep on my chest.
Batiuk wrote all kinds of these experiences for Funky and Holly over the last 30 years. The quality of the stories is debatable. But was is objectively true is that MAJOR STUFF HAPPENED.
In one strip, Batiuk is tossing away everything he’s written since 1993, more than half of his entire comics run.
Why did he decide to let the Act I cast graduate?
By allowing my characters to have a time-driven existence, I get to explore everything that flows from that . . . goodness and evil, happiness and sadness, weakness and strength, failure and success, love and grief, youth and age, and the quest for meaning. And the vehicle for all of this is story.From The Complete Funky Winkerbean Volume 9
But, I guess none of that matters. Since Funky is telling us today that everything explored since then is LESS meaningful, impactful, and exciting than the time these characters spent in high school.