Tag Archives: Holly

A Very Winkerbean Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving, loyal SoSF readers!

It’s a virtual cavalcade of stars today, featuring TWELVE of FW’s most beloved and adored characters. That’s over ten percent of the cast, in case you’re keeping score at home. I certainly hope Harriet started cooking early, or it’s gonna be a long, long night. I can’t imagine for the life of me why the entire Winkerbean clan would go to Dinkle’s house for Thanksgiving dinner, but hey, no one ever said a holiday garbage dump arc has to make logical sense. I assume that Rocky’s forgotten mom is sitting by the phone, forlorn and alone.

Coming tomorrow: Thanksgiving dinner at Dinkle Manor ends abruptly when Morton gets into the Sambuca and ends up exposing himself to Harriet in the hallway. Fortunately, though, it’s played for laughs and everyone smirks knowingly at the old coot’s perverse antics. Happy Thanksgiving!

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Stark Contrast

Link to today’s strip.

Ah–the penny drops. Now we know why we had to revisit Holly’s broken limb–because Tom Batiuk saw a cast-type thing on someone’s leg and thought, “Hey, that looks like Iron Man’s boot!”

Before you say, “Oh, pshaw! No one would do that!” remember this is Tom Batiuk whose work we are discussing. Of course he’s done that, many, many times. And he will no doubt continue to do it, many many times.

I thought DSH John sold the “dolly” a while ago. Perhaps Chester bought it back and donated it. For a rich guy, he sure likes throwing money away. I was pretty sure rich people did the opposite of this, but then I’ve been wrong about a great many things. And I’ve certainly never been nominated for a Pilitzer!

As for the strip itself, it’s actually rather sad. Funky was one of the very, very few characters who didn’t regard comic books as holy relics. I seem to recall when asked about them once, he claimed disinterest, saying something like “*I* grew up.”

How have the mediocre fallen.

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That’s the Way the Cookie Crumbles

Link to today’s strip.

I can kind of see the joke, here. A fortune cookie without a fortune would be “un-fortunate.” It just seems oddly constructed, like he had the basic idea and struggled to fit it into a less clunky shape, finally saying “Oh, the heck with it” and just writing it in like it was on the napkin.

Maybe Funky’s line could have been something about “It was probably bad news anyway” or something. Or, the idea could have been dropped as unproductive.

But that would have meant coming up with another idea, which is work, so…”in” goes the cookie jest.

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Bury My Foot at Wounded Knee

Link to today’s strip.

I have no idea what Holly means in panel two. Is she on her knees a lot? Does she scrub a lot of floors, or is her Dorf impression hugely popular at parties? When one says “I’m on my feet a lot” it tends to mean “I’m very busy.” I don’t know the corresponding meaning for knees.

Panel three is the real baffler. I really have no idea what she means. It’s framed as if it’s a punchline, but I cannot find a trace of humor in it–or anything sensible. Her knees want her to die so they can rest? Is that the joke?

Proof positive (as if any more were needed) that this is never touched by an editor.

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The Cursive Westview

Link to today’s strip.

Dunno what to say about today’s strip. I’ve never had a broken leg, so I don’t know if toe-writing is a standard healing exercise or it’s just a bit of whimsy.

It’s actually kind of funny, to be honest. I mean, I didn’t laugh or anything, but I appreciated the attempt. I like, too, that she seems to be making light of the situation without being condescending–a real rarity in this strip. Though Ayers has drawn the doctor as if he had just been sneered at.

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Ellipsis Sweet as Candy

Link to today’s strip.

Dunno why Tom Batiuk feels the need to censor himself–I guess having a character say “ass” in a comic strip is a horror beyond imagining. Hundreds of readers would demand that the strip be pulled from newspapers across the country.

I mean, I guess that’s the thinking. The problem is, it reduces a decent punchline into a complete non-punchline. The reader (by which I mean me) is brought up short by the omission, making me pivot from contemplating the joke to wondering why he felt the need to censor it. “Butt” would be acceptable, and if that’s considered too risque, how about “rear”?

Oh well, this seems to be Tom Batiuk’s working method for several years now, making sure no humor gets into the strip. Because “funny” doesn’t win awards.

Including “ass” would have made Funky’s panel two expression work much better. Ha ha, he would think. She means me.

A thing I like: the cabinet handles in panel one make it look like Funky has antennae.

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Noisy Parker

Link to today’s strip.

Well…uh…say, isn’t it funny how you can go to the hospital, and spend so much time looking for a parking spot that you start singing about it?

No?

Most hospitals have a circular driveway that goes right up to the front door, so that (for example) a person with a leg injury can be helped into a wheelchair. Then, the person driving can go and find a parking spot so that the patient can be tended to.

But if we did that, we wouldn’t get today’s example of ultra-hilarious wit. (I’m guessing that is what we’ve been given.) I’m not sure what Batiuk is aiming for by revisiting this particular story, but I guess he feels he has something to add. I’m anticipating being underwhelmed.

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Not with a Bang but a WHUP WHUP WHUP

Link to today’s strip.

Before we get started, a huge shout-out to Comic Book Harriet, who always brings the knowledge. Her ability to analyze and correlate is second to none–and you certainly won’t see anything like that from me! Which means my mundane and dim-witted commentary will seem refreshing because of the contrast!

…I always knew I’d end up thinking like a Batiuk. With any luck I can get therapy for this, maybe with some kind of salve.

Today’s entry is kind of baffling. Seems to me he wrapped up the Pizza Box Monster arc pretty well yesterday, yet he felt he needed to add this weak coda. I guess he thought “CSI: Montoni’s” was too clever to leave out, but when it came time to write the strips he forgot to add it.

Weird how Rachel is mooning over TBM, while her husband is standing right there. Nobody respects Wally. Oh, and check out Holly–you can see it looks like she’s holding some kind of crutch, as a middle finger to everyone who said “Well, she’s limber and can get to the roof easily, because he wrote this arc several years ago, before he decided Holly needed a broken ankle.”

I did not. I completely did not. I am just as creative and innovative now as I was forty years ago!

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Debts to Pay.

Click here to see Funky do a B&E.

It’s not Wally. (Sobs and takes down the thumbtacks and string)

But who is left?

Darin? Fat chance. The only time Boy Lisa ever risks his life is in his dreams.

But I don’t know if Mason knows Montoni’s layout intimately enough for this stunt… We’ve never seen the action star on the roof, or in the back room.

But then again, who does that leave?

Only one man.

This Man.

Suspect: ‘Kahn/ Khan’ (Possibly an alias?)

Background: Khan hails from the wild hills of Afghanistan. He was a bandit leader, drug dealer, and gun runner, who held Wally captive for months hoping to sell him to anyone willing to pay, even presumably American enemies, so the buyer could in turn make ransom demands.

Wally charmed Khan with chess and pictures of American women, stalling for enough time to signal allies and escape. Rana’s older sister found Wally and helped to hide him from the desperately searching Khan, and eventually led him to an American airfield.

When Wally and Becky returned to Afghanistan with an NGO mine clearing organization, they hired a local liaison to work as their guide and driver, and he turned out to be Khan.

Khan seemed overjoyed to be reunited with Wally, and Wally was pretty gracious to a man who had intended to sell him for cash.

On one of their last days in Afghanistan, Wally stepped on a landmine. Knowing it might trigger when he stepped off, he told Khan to leave him and drive a safe distance away.

Instead Kahn attempted to defuse it,

And when he couldn’t decided that he would bat the mine right out of the air in a stunt more nonsensical and ballsy than anything Crankshaft has ever rigged up with Bean’s End Merchandise and lighter fluid.

They return to the city to find that the Afghan family that’d helped Wally escape from Kahn before had exploded in a car bomb attack, leaving only Rana, the orphan Becky and Wally immediately decided to adopt.

A few months after the family returns to the US, Kahn walks into Montoni’s asking for Wally.

And like anyone who ever walks into Montoni’s, this murderer, drug dealer, and former terrorist is offered a job there on the spot.

 

Kahn arrived mere moments before the fateful letter that Wally was to be redeployed to Iraq, where he is blown up and captured again.

Post-time skip. Kahn is still working at Montoni’s.

Wally returns home in summer 2009 and takes a job at Montoni’s February the next year, but we get no strips of Wally and Kahn in a panel together because Batiuk is boring and unimaginative and I hate him.

In 2011, we are informed that Kahn has received American citizenship and has opened a Deli next door to Montoni’s

In 2014, Wally and Funky notice a ‘Going out of Business’ sign on the door and go in to talk to Kahn. He says he intends to move back to Afghanistan.

Spelling change why?

And that’s it. That’s the last time we’ve ever seen or heard of Kahn.

Until now.

Observations:

1.) Khan is tall, male, slim and, while darker complected than other characters, light skinned enough.

2.) Khan is a former bandit leader who was allowed American citizenship. This implies that he must have turncloaked and aided the Americans enough to receive some significant favors.

3.) Khan was an employee, and manager of Montoni’s for years, he would be very familiar with the building.

4.) Khan once batted a landmine away with a wooden board. The man has no fear.

Motive:

Why would Khan do this?

To figure this out, I had to archive dive and see what was happening in the Funkyverse, and specifically Montoni’s, in the time leading up to the first appearance of the Pizza Monster. And, in the year before, Wally finished college and was made not only a manager, but seemingly a part owner of Montoni’s.

In his final semester of college, he also befriended Iraqi immigrant Adeela, and reconnected with his adopted Afghan daughter Rana. Rana told him that following graduation she intended go back to Afghanistan to teach in a girl’s school.

And, who may have Rana looked up in Afghanistan to help her get the lay of the land? Mayhaps her old family friend Khan?

So Khan hears that Wally is now in line to inherit the Montoni’s pizza fortune. So what?

So. We know two things about Khan. He admires Wally Winkerbean. And he didn’t think all that highly of Funky.

I think it all boils down to the landmine incident. Wally had every reason in the world not to value Khan’s life, and to hate him. Khan was a murderer who had indirectly killed his friends. And the only comeuppance Wally sees fit to give him is a black eye.

Khan also seems touched and impressed that Becky and Wally would adopt Rana with no reservations.

When they first met, Khan had only seen Wally’s life in terms of how much money he could make. But when his own life is in danger, Wally tells Khan to leave and save himself. Khan makes a daring gamble, puts both their lives on the line, and miraculously they both walk away. But is that enough to make up for the months and months Khan held him captive?

Kahn follows this admirable man to America. When Wally is presumed KIA, Kahn stays working at Montoni’s for years, ragging on Funky for neglecting the restaurant Wally had so loved.

When Wally returns from a traumatic captivity, so similar to what he had already been subjected to, maybe Kahn keeps his distance so as to not remind him? Maybe Khan leaves Montoni’s to make space for Wally’s advancement? Maybe he only leaves Westview once Wally seems stable and secure: newly engaged to Rachel, going back to school etc.

And now, Wally’s daughter tells him that, once Funky retires, Wally will have the whole restaurant. The entire pizza empire of Westview. The only thing standing in the way of his hero is the fat aging blowhard he never respected.

So, Kahn uses his US Citizenship to return to the states, and plans a series of drastically escalating pranks designed to drive Funky crazy and send him into an early retirement.

Still not convinced?

Remember last year, when the Pizza Monster was able to keep Mr. Monster from unmasking him by suggesting he was a woman?

Well, during Wally’s daring escape from Khan, Wally used the exact same ploy. Completely covered in head to toe, and using Khan’s people’s reluctance at revealing the female form to maintain his disguise. Khan had learned from the tricks of his friend.

So, Kahn is the Pizza Monster. Canon.

But why does Rachel look so enamoured with the PBM today? Does he remind her of someone?

Hmmmmm?

It’s been a fun two weeks! Beckoning Chasm takes over tomorrow. Happy Halloween everyone!

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It’s Always the Quiet Ones.

Click Here to See an Anatomically Incomprehensible Funky

I’m sorry Jimmy. A broken sarcasm meter is one of the most common injuries suffered by SOSF commenters. We’ve been trying to pioneer a new treatment that involves carefully grafting sarcasm from other sources to the site of the meter injury.

But Wally Winkerbean is a name I’ve seen mentioned again and again, both in our comments and in the comments on Comics Kingdom. So I spent way too long over the last few days pondering the character of Wally Winkerbean, an exercise nearly as psychologically damaging as the actual act of BEING Wally Winkerbean.

And the whole time, I was asking myself, is this man the Pizza Monster?

Suspect: Wally Winkerbean.

Observations:

1.) Wally could fit the physical description. He is nearly always drawn equal to or just a shade shorter than Funky. He is physically fit.

Suddenly Rachel’s interest makes sense…

2.) Wally has former military friends and connections. While he probably lacks the funds to hire a helicopter, maybe a pilot buddy owes him a favor.

If they’re willing to help him move a couch upstairs…they’re willing to to anything.

3.) Wally is familiar with helicopters.

Sometimes, they’re all he can think about.

4.) Wally is a manager of Montoni’s, and lives above the store. He is very familiar with the building. This works against the Mason Jarre theory. Would Mason have known about the roof ladder? Would he have had a key to the side delivery door? Would he be able to plan his interior getaway through the upstairs apartment? Did this require a key? Wally would have all of these things.

Is this the only time we see Wally smoking? Weird.

Motive:

And here is where things get hazy. What motive would Wally have to do this? Who is Wally?

Pretty much…

I don’t even think he really knows. He’s like a dog that’s been kicked around one too many times. He’s so guarded. He lingers at the edges of panels, letting other people do the talking, smiling benignly. He’s always trying to be helpful, always aiming to please and not cause a fuss or make trouble. Like he’s apologizing for existing.

Because he is.

Wally used to be an underachieving, pseudo delinquent who spent his days goofing off at band practice and dragging a frozen turkey around on a string.

And yet, the band room sign is still taped to the door.

And then, right after high school graduation, when he was joyfully confessing his drunken love, he caused a horrible car accident that maimed his girlfriend and ruined her music scholarship. He didn’t speak to her for more than a year and joined the military. To atone? To escape? Both?

Hello, Uncle who is actually my cousin….
Cut to panel of Wally buying beers and kissing Rachel.

The car accident sets Wally off on a spiraling cycle of trauma and atonement. He is in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan, presumed dead (for the FIRST time) but escapes captivity and returns to Westview to marry Becky.

Spoiler Alert: He doesn’t get over it.

But the trauma of Afghanistan weighs on him, and he returns to the country in an attempt to atone for that. Both he AND Becky are nearly exploded, and adopt an orphaned girl.

I can’t promise I’ll remember to invite you to my second wedding though…

Wally is unexpectedly redeployed to Iraq. When he gets there he learns that his wife is pregnant and he misses the birth of his son. During the time skip wally is exploded by a roadside IED, and held captive for years. The only face he can remember during his long imprisonment is the face of his beloved Becky.

And when he’s finally reunited with her, she shows him her second husband, takes him to his own grave, hands him a trombone, tells him Dinkle said hi, and LETS HIM WALK TO FUNKY’S HOUSE.

“But the car is already in the garage for the night, so he can walk.”

And you know what? He takes it all. We barely see him complain. He just accepts it. He gets angry and loses it ONE TIME to a random guy at a traffic light. He has a panic attack at a basketball game. But he doesn’t want anyone to make a big fuss on his account. When he can’t minimize, he apologizes. When someone helps, him he thanks them. He resists help only when he sees it as fruitless or too much of a hassle.

It’s no big deal guys, honest. But thanks for caring.

Eventually, Wally get’s his wonder dog and his wonder wife, and things have mostly turned around. He’s happy now. But he still seems happiest when he’s pleasing others, or when he’s doing good. That’s what the Adeela thing turned out to be. She reminded him of his sins and trauma, so first he tried to run away. Then he tried to please her. He offered her a job, helped her get her license, worked to keep her from being deported, just another bit of atonement for the fact that poor Wally still doesn’t really think he’s worth the hassle.

Why would this sad sack of a man be the Pizza Monster? Why would he torment the one person who was there for him when even his own wife had abandoned him?

And so again: Motive:

1.) Similar to a Mason theory, Wally believes that this yearly prank is somehow good for Funky. Either as a distraction from grief, or a catalyst to shock Funky out of his usual ennui. He believes this helps Funky so much that he is willing to go through a dangerous stunt that would likely trigger his PTSD.

2.) When you peel back the layers and layers and layers of guilt and trauma, there is something inside Wally that craves the boy he used to be. A prankster. A fearless daredevil. And that buried side of himself has responded to his life’s trauma by craving first the anarchy of anonymous pizza theft, and then the danger of this year’s stunt. Even Wally seems to realize that he is repressing something.

“Would it sound like a pizza box?”

At what moment in Wally’s life did he feel the most joy? When did the art show us he was completely free of the weight of all his guilt and inadequacies?

“Hey I survived a landmine. Neat.”

The adrenaline pounding in his veins, the rush of air in his lungs, the unbridled cry of triumph. Yes, I am alive! I have done the impossible! I have stood at the precipice of death. Yet everything I love awaits me in safety! I have broken the rules of this dark universe!

What would Wally do to recapture that moment when every thought in his tortured brain was blanked out by wordless, animal joy?

Would he become….the Pizza Monster?

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