Tag Archives: Grayscale

Mr. Whole Note Takes a Week.

Link To Today’s Strip

Thanks to our glorious leader TF Hackett, who brought up yesterday that “Mr. Whole Note.” is, in fact, a song/training exercise for learning piano students. The excerpt he posted of ‘The Complete Funky Winkerbean Volume 2.’ is simultaneously infuriating and fascinating. So, I’ll let you all expertly dissect Dinkle’s non-joke in the comments, and look forward to your hilarious analysis. I’m going off on a tangent again.

Like a lot of mouth breathing nerds, I am a huge Tolkien fan. Like, I’ve read The Silmarillion more than ONCE kind of Tolkien fan. If you really start digging into his work, you find out that the man was a persnickety and easily distracted procrastinator who created reams and reams of unfinished material that his son, Christopher, carefully collated and annotated into multiple volumes. The famous Silmarillion is just the tip of the iceberg.

Reading through something like “The History of Middle Earth” series, and seeing his son deconstruct the evolution of his father’s work in parallel to his father’s life is to get a window into the creative process of a man. The single world that Tolkien invented is so complex, with thousands of years of history and dozens, if not hundreds, of complete stories and sagas he never thought finished enough to release. And his son spent his whole life studying and writing about his father’s work, carefully breaking down the evolution of concepts and characters. I feel like all the weird asides, and life commentary, written in the margins of The Complete Funky Winkerbean attempt to achieve the same thing for Batiuk’s massive world.

But, unlike Tolkien, who hid his unfinished material away, and really didn’t like the idea of psychoanalyzing authors to find parallels in their own work, Batiuk is compelled to write the deconstruction himself. He has to be the one to break apart and explain this weird, paper-paste, universe he’s spent his life creating, and tie it together with his own experiences. Writing paragraphs on his musical education and family life with serious self-importance, probably because there is no one out there obsessed enough to do it for him.

It’s really kind of sad. Tolkien was a deeply religious man, assured of his own immortality and humble in his act of subcreation. Even if you don’t share his belief, you can tell how his faith comforted him. His only self psychoanalysis of his work is a wonderful short story, ‘Leaf by Niggle.’ In it he writes a parable of painter that ends with the realization that even if the massive work of art he was trying to create was never finished, and never appreciated, and ultimately never remembered by anyone on this Earth, that somehow it would exist forever and finally be perfected in the world to come.

Tom Batiuk, meanwhile, has the Kent State University Press printing out an entire Midrash of Funky Winkerbean, trying to scrape together enough interest and importance for a hint of earthly immortality. And, it seems, the only ones who care enough to spend any time at all engaging with his world are a tiny cabal of beady-eyed nitpickers who he disdains.


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Winters Blunderland

Please don’t spend too much of your valuable Christmas Eve time reading today’s strip. Please.

That Mason fella sure is great, huh? Marianne and Cindy sure think so. In fact, Cindy finds it hard to believe that Mason even exists. I’m with her on this point, as Mason appears today to be some sort of mythical human-unicorn chimera.

But what about Mr. Director? You know, the guy who first noticed the DMZ story and the potential trouble it could cause… The guy who made sure a corrected story was sent out to the media within hours… The guy who was concerned about Marianne to the point that he tried to call and text message her while Mason and Cindy groused about the internet’s big meanies… The guy convinced the police to put out an APB for a woman that had been out of contact for less than half a day… What about him?

Eh… That Mason fella sure is great, huh?


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Marianne Bright

Today’s strip is precisely why the “Mason’s Nose” tag was created.

We’ve covered, ad nauseum, Marianne’s transition from a rising star, whose popularity was such that a Starbuck Jones sequel was greenlit within weeks of her joining the project, to someone who claims her career has not yet even begun. We’ve done the same for her recently revealed ability to evade the security and natural dangers on Mount Lee to scale the Hollywood sign.

For me, there is only one thing left to cover here. Just one question left to ask. I can think of nothing else to say but this…
Is TB really closing out this suicide-teasing story arc by having Marianne quote the actress who is, perhaps, Hollywood’s most famous suicide?


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To Fetch A Pale Beyond The

Hiking boots? Who needs hiking boots?

No one in today’s strip seems to. Mason and Cindy have sauntered up the side of Mount Lee in loafers and ballet flats respectively. In fact, nary a bramble nor briar has scuffed Mason’s chinos or Cindy bare legs. I drastically overestimated Marianne’s ninja skills.

Also, Marianne is fine. Mason is a confirmed drama queen. Another Funky Winkerbean story arc winds up being all sizzle and no steak. Carry on. I


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Dare To Be Stupid

So here’s today’s strip.

Too easy, Cindy. Too easy… but OK, I’ll bite.

stu·pid – /ˈst(y)o͞opəd/ – adjective

adjective: stupid; comparative adjective: stupider; superlative adjective: stupidest

1. Taking a trip with your attractive co-star without telling your fiancée.
“Why don’t I just give you a lift home?”

2. Failing to notice that a hatchet-faced man is conspicuously tailing your car or parked a few yards away, recording you with his smartphone.
“Your daughter is a great actress, Mrs. Winters.”

3. Rushing off to find a missing and possibly imperiled person yourself upon deducing their likely whereabouts, rather than informing the police who are already looking for said missing and possibly imperiled person.
“I just realized where we can find Marianne!”

synonyms: Mason, Mason Jarr, Mason Jarre, Masone, Masone Jarr, Masone Jarre, and so on an so on..e

Well, Cindy is certainly asking the right person.


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Race To Lee Mountain (I Presume)

Today’s strip was not available for preview. It probably involves Mason and Cindy driving toward Marianne’s location, which Mason is either still teasing or half-explaining to Cindy. Maybe they will have already arrived, with Mason continuing his train of thought from yesterday’s strip as if they had just gotten in the car instead of taken the 30 minute drive that getting to the Hollywood sign requires. Maybe we’ll cut back to Marianne (Ha! no we won’t, not until sufficient drama has built). I’ll lean on our commenters to take the stuffing out of this one.

I would, however, like to focus on something commenter Charles said yesterday:

Instead, Mason has chosen to dash off like a 1950s football player posing for a promotional photo and give no specifics about Marianne’s presumed location. Makes you wonder if he really wants her found.

I think he wants her to be found on his terms. He wants to be the hero and the center of attention. He doesn’t want some dumb flatfoot getting credit for saving her.

Makes him a good successor to Les, in fact. This sort of reprehensible act designed to lionize himself is just the sort of thing Les would do. I wrote about Batiuk potentially bringing in a Dinkle V2.0, but in fact, Mason is Les V2.0.

I took a look back at the last time this strip teased a suicide, the infamous Susan Smith story arc from mid-1995. Was it any better than this current story arc? Well, yes and no. Yes, because it involved a teenage social outcast who had a well-established and unhealthy infatuation with a teacher rather than a popular actress with a background as deep as a tide pool… and no, because that teacher was Les. Also no, because TB was using those wavy borders I griped about all last week improperly even back then, when cutting from Les and Co. to Susan looking sad in a different setting.

Anyways, Charles’ point about Mason’s hero shtick being just the kind of thing Les would do is dead on. It is, in fact, exactly what Les does upon discovering Susan unconscious in her bedroom, literally saying “I can get her to the hospital quicker myself!” That’s nothing though, when compared to Les’ immediate response to Susan’s horrified mother, who was reasonably planning to call 911:


A certain universal New Yorker cartoon caption comes to mind…


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Dawn We Now Our Realizations

There have been three instances in this comic strip where Marianne has spoken multiple consecutive complete sentences. THREE. All occurred within a week of each other back in early October. Mason was present for all three. One involved Marianne talking about how great working with Mason is and in the other two she talked about how her single mother dreamed of being an actress and now lives vicariously through her (and also that the Hollywood sign holds a special importance to her). This makes up the bulk of us readers’ interaction with Marianne.

One particularly astute commenter last week (I wonder who that was…) pondered whether or not Mason would remember this conversation with Marianne and rush off to save the day. Today’s strip answers that question with a resounding “yes”.

It begs more questions though, particularly why Mason did not relay his realization to the police officer who was standing right next to him in yesterday’s strip. You know, the police officer with the radio, who works for the department that has officers sitting in running cars minutes from Marianne’s presumed location… might be a good guy to tell.

Instead, Mason has chosen to dash off like a 1950s football player posing for a promotional photo and give no specifics about Marianne’s presumed location. Makes you wonder if he really wants her found.


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Suspense… of belief

“Read” today’s strip

So is this it? Is it over? Can we get back to what the Westview High School news broadcast kids are up to now? I’m ready for Bernie Silver’s review of the latest Amazing Mr. Sponge after all of this.

Or did Marianne use the same ninja skills that got her past security up to the sign, the ninja skills that allowed her to balance on the knife’s edge that is the top of the H, to disappear into the night?

If you are wondering why I keep hammering on this dopey theory that Marianne is a ninja, it is because it almost makes her interesting.


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There’s an APB for that

The wavy panel border returns in today’s strip.

Again, I do not understand exactly what this is supposed to mean. In the visual language of comics, the wavy border should signal Marianne’s scaling of the H as a dream, but it really comes across like it is just signaling the shift in setting from the studio lot to the Hollywood sign. It’s like telling someone you “dreamed of Portugal” when you really mean that you physically went to Portugal.

Day five in grayscale, and I’m actually starting to appreciate it. Seeing Funky Winkerbean in black-and-white on my local paper’s color comics page is like watching an infomercial for an as-seen-on-TV kitchen product. You know how those ads always begin in black-and-white or muted color, showing a frustrated person trying and failing to use common kitchen utensils to measure flour, slice a tomato, take a bite out of a sandwich, or some other non-difficult task… then the ad switches to color to espouse the virtues of how easy it is to eat eggs or to prevent your children from choking on hot dogs if you just owned this amazing new product?

That’s what it feels like reading this week’s FW strips right next to a bunch of full color strips.

Does your comic strip ignore it’s own continuity, reasonable plausibility, and all good taste? What you need is the…

…overly broad Danish humor of WUMO!
…12 year old political and pop culture references of Get Fuzzy reruns!
…first world problems of Dustin!
…awkward innuendo that populates every conversation in Luann!
…hack-y mundanity of Garfield!
Phantom‘s striped codpiece!


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