Tag Archives: gradient voids

Ruby the Grate

In case you missed it, we are in the final weeks of Funky Winkerbean. Tom Batiuk appears to be reluctantly retiring the strip much in the same way he’s written Ruby as reluctantly retiring from Atomik Komix this week and in today’s strip. The timing of this thin gruel of a story arc and TB’s fairly muted announcement is certainly no coincidence. Most all of us here at SOSF, despite speculating for over a decade on when and how this thing would end, are probably still processing the suddenness of the announcement, how soon it will become reality, and what that means for this wonderful community going forward.

But enough wallowing about, let’s leave that to the strip and try to get back to business as usual. I guess today’s strip is aiming for bittersweet, but it largely is coming across as just bitter. You can’t mask your true feelings in a wall of smirks, TB… And even if the strip wasn’t ending at the close of this year, I’m guessing we were never going to see Chester meet with the building manager by looking in a mirror anyways. I’d say “a pity”, but, you know, it’s not. It’s really not.

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Excre-mint

Here is today’s strip. You all go ahead and tear into it. Not sure I could do much better than the post title anyways.

Sorry, two days to go on my stint and I’m already running on fumes. Even WordPress knows this, somehow. It’s kind of creepy, to be honest… I’ll press on these next two days, but I’m going to set a spell today and see you in the comments.

Speaking of running on empty (and burying the lede, for that matter), Tom Batiuk dropped some news late yesterday that may or may not be relevant to this story arc, the last several months of speculation in the comments, and the future of this website. Some of you all commented on it yesterday. I have plenty of thoughts on this, as I am sure many of you all do. As with today’s strip, I’ll see you in the comments to discuss.

I’m guessing this will get more ink than the strip…

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What’s in your head, in your head? Ruby, Ruby, Ruby-y-y-y

I’d argue that today’s strip is the product of an AI tasked with generating images for the word “wistful”… but that’s an insult to artificial intelligence and I don’t want to be responsible for unleashing Skynet. This is just completely sad, but in the stupidest way.

Mindy is the one that really punches up the stupidity here. First, “when” Ruby retires is essentially right now, it doesn’t need to be discussed as if it is well in the future. Second, Mindy also draws a paycheck from Atomik Komix… so does she dramatically underestimate the financial resources it takes to travel extensively or does Chester really pay that well?

And if Chester pays that well, why can’t he spend some money on an office that doesn’t look like a dungeon crawl game being played on a vintage grayscale Macintosh? Maybe everything in the office is made of stone. So that’s why they called him “Chester the Chiseler”!

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Re-haiku-ment

Are we STILL on this?
More on Ruby's retirement
Here in today's strip

Batton butts right in
Again, he does NOT work here
Who asked him to speak?

Batton's questioning
A reflection of TB?
Is the strip's end near?

Or is this resolve?
Tom writing his thoughts in strip
Eff-ing ponderous

A warning haiku
The link above has cussing
That's NSFW!

With Dinkle, Linda
And others who fake retire
Do we believe this?

We probably should
Not like TB gave Ruby
Anything worthwhile

Chester looks depressed
I mean, he's just despondent
In his sad jacket

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(We Are) The Depressed Derek Appreciation Society.

The Minority Characters Speak Out!

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.

The Cringe Echoes Through the Ages.

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.

Chilling

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.

Past, Present, and Future can all be thrown out without explanation if you suddenly decide that Crankshaft and Funky are no longer separated by 10 years.
Good pacing is spending five days on a woman being impotently worried, two days introducing a transgender character you haven’t seen in 40 years, and five days on characters all agreeing they have the exact same feelings using the exact same words.

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
?

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WAT?

Wat.

No really. I’m sorry.

But WAT?

wat
WAT
WAT?!?!?!

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.

WAT.

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The Mindy Projection

Mindy may be front-and-center in today’s strip, but we all know she isn’t the real star. The real star is…

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Addition and Subtraction

Link to today’s strip.

Oh look. Like so many of you guessed, adding a cat video will instantly lead to millions of dollars.

Sigh. I mean. I guess things are moving quickly. I wouldn’t have put it past Tom to subject us to a full week of Dinkle and Lillian sitting as they were on Monday, brainstorming ideas they won’t use back and forth, complete with bad wordplay.

But the writing today. Was he getting paid by the word? The letter?

It reminded me of an old ‘Between Friends‘ strip I used to have pasted to my door. (Between Friends is by Sandra Bell-Lundy. The art is simplistic, but the writing is great.) In the comic one woman spouts an unwieldly word-zeppelin. The other woman looks up at it, pulls out a pencil, and erases most of the words, simplifying the sentence.

The first woman looks at it and comments, “That’s what I said.”

The other woman replies, “No, that’s what you MEANT.”

A little something like this.

Or maybe something like this.

But, really, I think today’s strip is best with a little New Yorker magazine flair.

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Video Doesn’t Lie.

Link to Today’s Strip.

At this point Lillian is a popular mystery author, with a writing career 110% more successful, meaningful, and productive than Les Moore’s. Due the self-promoting nature of her job, she is probably more tech savvy and better equipped to navigate a crowdfunding site, than say…literally anyone I know over the age of 75.

But I don’t know if I would trust her cinematography and video editing skills.

I’m picturing a blurry image, in portrait mode. Seven elderly women in a poorly lit choir loft. The video begins halfway through the first words of the song. The audio is muffled by Lillian’s finger over the mic, as the whitebread midwestern ladies mumble their way through ‘Swing Low Sweet Chariot’.

The phone is obviously trembling in Lillian’s weak hands, jarring the autofocus every few seconds. Blurry, then sharp, then blurry; background then foreground. She awkwardly zooms in and out from each choir member, and when the camera zooms, the shaking is magnified, so each woman looks like she’s having her own personal earthquake. Lillian’s arms dip in exhaustion, abruptly cutting the entire choir off at the head, before she corrects herself.

Before the song even ends, she tries to shut the phone off, but fails. The last minute of the video, (Which Lillian uploads in its entirety, unsure of how to edit.) is the interior of her purse in the dark. You can distantly hear the muffled voices of the choir members gossiping viciously about the parson’s granddaughter. Six months along they say. With twins. She’s even moved in with the cad, and you know that he smokes in the house. And they say the divorce from her first husband isn’t even finalized.

“It makes you wonder…” Minty Pete says, “I mean, I’ve seen it on Maury once.”

“What’s that?” Poodle Headed Lisa Reborn asks.

“Heteropaternal superfecundation”

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Rot Fuzz

Link To Today’s Strip

Here ya go guys! I hope you like it. Because this fuzzy, disgusting thing is the best joke we’re getting this week outside of our own wonderful comments section.

Actually, truth be told, I laughed when I read this one. I mean, it strains credulity that this girl is only now noticing that something she’s putting in her mouth several times a week looks like a fried caterpillar. But I still laughed. The joke stuck the landing for me, even if the routine leading up to it was as thrilling and challenging as Simone Biles sliding directly across the balance beam on her belly.

But I just don’t care. I’m so worn down by the bad pranks this week, the non-punchlines. This followed a tried and true humor formula: set-up, surprise, and realization. The set up is a filthy reed, the surprise is that Dinkle doesn’t just tell her to toss it, the realization is that making a sarcastic comment about science projects is totally in character for him.

The slimmest weakest of jokes that I can’t bring myself mock. Maybe I’m feeling extra charitable since it’s the beginning of Lent. And as we read in Matthew 12:20 “A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory.”

If he won’t crush the bruised reed, who am I to quash the moldy one?

PS: Thanks to everyone who liked my story yesterday! It’s nice to know that when Batiuk gives me nothing you guys are okay with random tangents and personal anecdotes.

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