Tag Archives: Harley

The Nudge-stodian

Summer’s gone from “playing along” to listening in rapt attention as Harley the Custodian talks about his mission to ensure that she writes her important book. Meanwhile, your genial host has gone from bemused to befuddled to borderline enraged at how Batiuk has seen fit to wind down his once beloved franchise. It’s exhausting even to read, let alone to try and write something funny about. The upside is that it’s inspired some genius snark from you readers; even compelling the lurkers to chime in. Starting Monday, Epicus and I will step aside and allow our stellar bullpen of guest authors to take a couple more swings, then we’ll see how things shake out over the next, final few weeks. Don’t forget that Tuesday at 8PM EST, I’m attempting to conduct a 1-hour online event via Google Chat. Email sonofstuckfunky[at]gmail.com for an invite.

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It Takes A Nation Of Humanity To Hold Us Back

today

“Recognize humanity as our nation”??? Yeah, sure Tom, and maybe we can recognize ennui as our state, and boredom as our municipality. So to recap what we thus far know: apparently, Summer’s ability to detect patterns will cause a major paradigm shift that allows humanity to become our nation, and it involves Donna’s old Eliminator helmet somehow. It’s all really coming together now. I was all confused before, but yeah, this totally clears things up.

Panel one Summer looks exactly like Act II Les, minus the nerd glasses. And that fishhook smirk in panel two seems to indicate a human emotion that as of right now I am totally unfamiliar with. Skeptical bemusement? Wry acknowledgement? Polite confusion? Beats me. And while I know that hands are always notoriously difficult to draw properly, drawing a hand holding a pen must be even harder, as this week has established with iron-clad evidence.

Great Moments In FW Arc Recap History

March 17-23, 2014
Funky visits the nursing home to discover that his Dad has taken up smoking.

This one marked the moment when Morton’s Alzheimer’s, which had been nearly totally debilitating just a few years before, began to miraculously vanish. I can’t explain the medical science behind it, but apparently the cigarettes somehow transformed Morton from a helpless drool-cup into a quick-witted, razor-sharp old coot who soon became the coolest resident at Bedside Manor. It did wonders for his virility too. And it’s probably one of the more under-the-radar courageous things BatHam did during Act III, as you don’t see a lot of people promoting cigarettes as a health aid anymore. Quite a gutsy stance.

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Protective Custodian

Green Luthor
November 29, 2022 at 10:52 pm
“Custodian” in the case of the group he’s describing would mean something akin to “caretaker”; i.e., they’re responsible to keeping anything from happening to the timeline.

But “custodian” can also refer to someone who performs janitorial duties (itself a form of caretaker). Which is the job he’s doing at Westview High.

So the high school custodian is ALSO a custodian of the timeline! Hilarious!

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

So now this arc is really starting to go somewhere! He’s been sent from the future for the “crucial job” of making sure Summer writes her book about her podunk Ohio hometown! Time travel tales often involve a character going back in time to alter events to produce more favorable outcomes. But in whatever “somewhen” Harley’s from, Summer’s book has been written; it exists. So why is it necessary for him to travel back through time to ensure that something that’s happened, happens?

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Custodious Interruptus

today

THIS is why he did this arc in the first place. It only exists so he could do that “custodian” gag! This explains everything, and it explains nothing. But I know how this guy thinks, and when he got this “custodian” idea, bells started ringing in his head and he started victory lapping around that studio of his. The whole thing was built around that one stupid joke. Sigh.

Great Moments in FW Arc Recap History

May 2-7, 2011
Les finally bangs Cayla.

May 8-21, 2011
Ann Apple calls Les to tell him that “Hollywood” wants to option Lisa’s Story. This sends Les into a panic as he imagines how “Hollywood” will desecrate his work. After a park bench consult with the ghost of his late wife, Les reluctantly agrees. Ann dismisses Les’ fears by telling him there’s virtually no chance the movie will ever get made.

May 22-29, 2011
Les and Cayla on the porch swing. Cayla interrupts Les’ “long thoughts” by uttering the words “I love you”. Les is unable to respond in kind, and after a long, awkward pause the two decide to “take a break”.

May 30-June 4, 2011
Cayla tells Linda that she and Les are through; Linda tells Bull, and Bull lets slip to Susan, who marches directly to Les’ classroom and blurts out the dreaded “I love you”. When Les (again) fails to respond in kind, Susan flees the scene.

June 5-12, 2011
Les confides in Funky and Crazy Harry about his love life. The friends react with disbelief that Les, whose inability to get a girl in high school is retold in a series of flashback vignettes, now has two women vying for his affection. Les takes umbrage at their teasing and storms out of Montoni’s. Funky shows up at Les’ porch to seek forgiveness.

June 13-July 2, 2011
Les calls Cayla to try to mend their relationship, but she is already on his sidewalk when he calls. She apologizes to Les (!). No sooner do the two exchange “I love you’s” than Keisha “crazies things up” by sending a pic of Susan kissing Les to her mom’s cell phone. Cayla buys Les’ explanation that it was not his fault. Back at Westview HS, the “kiss” photo has gone viral among the students. Principal Nate calls Les and Susan into his office, where Susan immediately takes the blame and voluntarily resigns. As she cleans out her belongings, Les halfheartedly attempts to talk Susan out of resigning, but she tells him she’s decided to make a “clean break from Westview”

Oh, if you weren’t around for this era of FW, consider yourself blessed, because the above represents TWO STRAIGHT MONTHS of solid Les. All Les, all the time, week after week after week. And there were four more weekly Les arcs in the two months that followed, with way more to come. The vitriol was pretty intense, I can tell you that. Les Moore, already the single most detestable character in the history of fiction at that point, forever cemented his legacy after this run. It was just unbearable. In my opinion, it may have marked Act III’s nadir, the point where it really bottomed out.

And, interestingly enough, the arc immediately before Les took over for TWO MONTHS was Boy Lisa’s less-than-triumphant return to Westview, after “this economy” forced him to flee his Big City MBA lifestyle and move in to his bio-step dad’s spare bedroom. The idea of moving back in with his actual parents, who were both still alive and well and living in Westview, was never mentioned. Of course, Les got Boy Lisa a job at Montoni’s, where he designed pizza apps and created the “breakfast pizza” craze that swept Westview for several panels. And Jessica, who was now his wife, was there too, kind of. Way more stuff used to happen back then, but at the time it seemed like nothing was happening, like how it is now. Maybe it was all just an illusion or something.

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Stuck Inside of Westview with the Helmet Blues Again

If you’re going to write a time travel story, you either totally ignore all the possible, unintentional ramifications of transtemporal travel, or you make the story about those ramifications. Either way, doing so requires a fair amount of narrative skill. That is, at least make it entertaining enough so that hidebound literalists and beady-eyed nitpickers don’t feel compelled to tear it apart. Gosh, this arc is infuriating. Given his seemingly supernatural gifts, surely there was some way that Hedley could have gotten back the dreary magic helmet. He’s had over 40 years to do it! But noooooo, he was content to leave it in Donna’s possession, and now it’s disappeared (and how does he even know this?). As a result, he’s “stranded” in space and time, and, nothing against janitors, but it’s probably a pretty mundane existence for someone capable of time travel and mind control. But hey, at least the music’s good!

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I Know Where He Can Find A Mind Exactly Like That

Link To The Strip

You know, the strip is drawing to a close, as is my beloved SoSF blog, and I really wish it didn’t have to be this way. It’d really be nice if we got a story that offered some kind of closure, or even a nostalgic “life goes on” clip show kind of thing, where we could chuckle at the gang and their various pitiful antics over the years. But, unfortunately, he threw whatever this is supposed to be together, so there’s nothing you can really do but marvel over how unbelievably terrible and stupid it is.

Impossible events (that they’re only talking about, mind you), wild incongruities, dialog that contradicts itself all over the place, awful artwork, it’s unquestionably one of the most terrible FW arcs I’ve ever seen. And it’s not even terrible in an astonishing way, like when Les saved Marianne from a fire. It’s just stupid. I mean sure, maybe this helmet nonsense will lead somewhere and we’ll all be like “wow, I can’t believe how that cat figured into the story!” but what are the odds?

My current guess is that the strip will end with Les asking Summer how her book is coming along. Summer will reply that it’s already finished. Then the last panel will show “The Complete FW” with a caption that says “Thanks For Reading…Stay Funky!”. This story isn’t going anywhere and nothing will happen, so right now that’s the most likely ending.

Great Moments In FW Arc Recap History

November 19-December 20, 2012

An extended Crazy Harry arc begins. Harry explains to Donna his love of old comic books. The next day he walks into Montoni’s to inform Funky that USPS is shutting down the Westview Post Office and he’s out of a job. Harry decides he must sell off his beloved library, spending a week sorting and packing his books and his comics before schlepping them off to John, who offers Crazy Harry a job at the Komix Korner.

Being a mailman was Crazy Harry’s entire post-high school identity, so OF COURSE Batiuk had to destroy it, as he’s often prone to do. I was shocked to discover that Crazy has been working as John’s Komix Korner lackey for TEN YEARS already, as I thought this happened far more recently than this. Time sure does fly. He just loved to torture these characters. He absolutely bludgeoned Funky and Wally for years on end, he had Dinkle go deaf, he had a trombone prodigy lose an arm, he had Bull lose his mind AND die, he crippled Fred Fairgood AND rectonned him into a philanderer for no reason whatsoever, and he stripped away whatever dignity Crazy had left (hint: not much), just for kicks. He’s a dark, dark character, that Batom. He obviously loves the idea of cruel fates befalling his characters, especially if they were popular or good at something in high school. It’s always been one of his weirdest traits.

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Disrupting the Timeline

Green Luthor
November 24, 2022 at 10:44 pm
But…Donna said she made the helmet herself? Is she also a time traveler? (Is that how she played Defender in 1980?) Or did she just somehow accidentally create a “temporal phase shifter” without realizing it?

Hitorque
November 26, 2022 at 12:16 am
1. So Donna lied her ass off when she said she constructed the helmet herself?

1a. So Batiuk lied his ass off when he showed us Donna being “inspired” by that bullshit comic book cover and actually making the helmet herself?!?

So not only is Harley a time traveler; today we learn that he’s a toucher of minds. If he has that ability, couldn’t he just influence Donna’s mind to return the helmet? Why do that when he can just inspire a fantasy illustrator to put it on the cover of Eerie #57 for her to find? The end of Funky’s 50-year run would be the perfect opportunity for Tom Batiuk to tie up at least a few of his myriad loose plot ends, and even revisit a few of the people and places who have played a role in this strip’s history. Instead, we’re given a week (or, likely, more) of these two mopes sitting in the janitor’s closet, discussing this hokey time travel retcon.

The Duck of Death
November 23, 2022 at 10:35 pm Edit
Kudos to Tom Batiuk for ensuring that none of his readers will be sorry when his strip ends, or miss it when it’s gone.

I’m with ya, DoD.

Great Moments In SoSF Arc Recap History: March 12-19, 2017
Funky wanders around an abandoned house in the woods.

While jogging with Les, the Funkman notices a derelict house on a hill, and he returns later, by himself, to explore. This week long, standalone arc accomplished nothing in the way of plot or character development. But it exemplifies a couple hallmarks of post-Act I Funky Winkerbean: glacial pacing and the futility of human existence. The strips from Monday to Friday are almost completely void of verbiage: Funky pulls his car over, treks up the hill, and wanders through the abandoned house. Read the entire arc here.

 

 

 

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The Great Tomholio

today’s strip

So Harley owned the time travel helmet, then Donna stole it? So her whole main FW gimmick was predicated on theft? And, as TFH pointed out yesterday, “The Eliminator” was supposedly “eleven years old” at the time, thus couldn’t have even been in high school in the first place. But complaining about FW’s lack of continuity now would be like the crew of the “Edmund Fitzgerald” complaining that the ship was too damp. This arc is slowly shaping up to be the worst idea in a lengthy history of them. Any idiot could have thrown together a month’s worth of strips featuring Les and Funky sitting at Montoni’s and saying “hey, remember when…?”, but once again, BatYam just can’t resist the urge to out-clever himself. 

Great Moments In FW Arc Recap History

February 17-23, 2014
Aging weekend anchorwoman Cindy Summers is put out to pasture (AKA Cleveland) by ABC News. Sunday: Holly and Funky worry about Cory.

In 2014, FW featured an arc where national network news anchor Cindy Summers was fired for being too old and disgusting to show on HD TV. No lawsuit, no nothing. Cindy grudgingly accepted her fate and left quietly, then complained to Funky about it. I believe this arc marked her Act III return, and that was how he chose to bring her back, by pointing out how she used to be hot, but wasn’t anymore. And she’s been a vapid, anxiety-ridden airhead ever since. I guess we’ll never find out what happened at Buddyblog, or with the Emmy nomination she snagged. Another FW character forever on the receiving end of Batiuk’s perpetual high school karmic payback.

 

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Wack Friday

As far as Summer knows, the helmet that Maddie sketched for her has no special powers, aside from concealing Donna’s feminine gender from the boys. So how in the hell is she able to surmise that it’s really a “temporal phase shifter“? Maddie doesn’t know this, and Donna, who as a kid actually wore the thing, thinks that its phase-shifting abilities were just a figment of her fumes-addled imagination.

Great Moments In SoSF Arc Recap History

Mar. 23-Mar. 31, 2010
In the big game, the Lady ‘Goats go up against Our Lady of the Cedars, and get their asses kicked for a change.

From back when Summer was actually a main character in the strip; the “sporto” that her father never was in his high school days. The Lady Scapegoats are seeded vs. Our Lady of the Cedars, who are to Westview’s girls’ basketball squad what Big Walnut Tech is to the football team. The girls are intimidated even before the game starts, and even the duo of former rivals Keisha and Summer are not enough to propel the Westview team to victory. This arc is notable for a couple of reasons: it’s one of the rare occasions when our protagonists do not succeed. It also contains one of my all time favorite Act III FW panels: the dejected Westview team seeing their reflection in the winners’ trophy.

Not sure why the OLC girls are still in uniform while Summer’s team has already changed into their street clothes. Nor why the winners are showing off a huge trophy when this is supposed to be a first round game.

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In Westview, It’s More Of A Disadvantage Point

Happy Thanksgiving from your pals at SoSF!

today’s strip

I don’t know how many of you watched “Twin Peaks: The Return”, but during the final episode (spoiler alert for five year old show) there is a rather long scene near the end where literally nothing happens. And while tension did indeed build, a quick glance at the clock revealed that there was no freaking way the show would explain everything (or anything) in the amount of running time it had left. And then it really got confusing and weird.

I mention this because after today there are like only forty FW strips to go, and knowing BatYam as I do, it seems incredibly hard to believe he’ll be able to bring whatever this is supposed to be home in that amount of time. The strip is winding down for good, and it’s squarely focused on a character who’s been absent for most of the last ten years, and a guy who isn’t really a character at all. He’s obviously setting up some sort of insane time travel thing here, which only makes me wonder where all this imagination was hiding for the last fifteen freaking years.

Obviously the fear here is that he’s going to somehow reunite Les and Summer with Lisa in some way, shape or form, and the strip will end with the three of them hugging. Cayla will presumably be conveniently retconned away or shipped off to “Crankshaft” or something. We all know he (BatHam) never really cared for Cayla anyway, given how little she factored into the strip after she married Les. In my opinion, the whole strip noticeably slowed down (no, seriously) after that.

Great Moments In SoSF Arc Recap History

June 14-June 20, 2010
Funky checks his dad into a nursing home. Afterwards, he orders a “vodka and orange” at a bar, but changes his mind and leaves.

Which led to his collision with Cell Phone Girl (RIP?) and “the black panel”, the greatest individual panel in Act III history. This is FW we’re talking about, so there was some speculation that Funky had died, but he just went into a coma instead. He then traveled back in time, met his teenage self, and advised himself to buy a copy of “Starbuck Jones #1″…the very same comic book that had saved Montoni’s in a prior arc. Then he recovered and PTSD and blah blah blah who cares, but that was where the Starbuck Jones legend truly began, which spawned a sequence of events that directly led to Ruby Lith retiring just last week. Who’d have thunk it?

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