Link to today’s strip
I have to assume that Rachel’s hands are so calloused from years of pizza-slinging that she has no need for oven mitts. Anyhow, the Funk-Man is angrily waiting to re-take his driver’s exam, sitting and sulking as “those kids today” entertain themselves with their phone gizmos they’re all so fond of these days. Based on the way he’s carrying on you’d think he was the victim here and not merely an idiot who failed to renew his driver’s license for an entire year. The funniest thing about this one is how he has the exact same look on his face that I did upon seeing that TB was doing ANOTHER week of this.
The year’s still young, but apart from Crazy Harry’s Casablanca outing, Cliff Anger’s marriage proposal to Vera, and Dinkle and Becky’s convention trip, Funky Winkerbean‘s been all about…Funky Winkerbean. The Funkman and/or wife Holly (whose hair color recently changed from blonde to the same gray/beige “greige” as Bull Bushka’s temples) have figured in 60% of the strips since January 1st. By comparison, Les has only been seen four times and been given exactly one line of dialogue! Be thankful for small favors. In any event, the titular character, love him or hate him, is getting lots of screentime.
We regularly take Batty to task for depicting milieux (mainly the comics and motion picture industries) that reflect his interests but in which he has only vague understanding. Query which is better or worse: TB’s hamfisted Hollywood fantasies, or relateable, mundane, QIRFRL* arcs like “Funky Renews His Driver’s License“?
*Quarter-inch removed from real life
Sleepin’ with your back to your loved one
This is all that we’ve learned about happiness
“Check It Out“, John Mellencamp
I’ve already gone on record admitting I usually like the way Batiuk draws couples kissing. So I think today’s panel 2 is sorta cute, even if Funky looks like Mister Magoo. And, probably by coincidence, Batty has depicted the current lunar phase! The text content, though…meh. The Winkerbeans have settled in for the night when Holly offhandedly mentions a couple things she’d forgotten to tell him.
The “check engine” light, that bane of motorists’ peace of mind since the late 20th century. Usually not as serious as other dashboard indicators such as, say, the brake light. Probably 75% of the time it’s just letting you know it’s time for an oil change. On one of my cars, I ignored the “check engine” light until it burned out–problem solved!
And the expiration date of Holly’s driver’s license is somehow tied to Funky’s? Do they do their motor vehicle business together like they do their annual physical? In either case, both issues can be addressed in the morning and are nothing over which to lose sleep, or shouldn’t be to a man who’s struggled to keep a business afloat, dealt with an aging parent, or had a kid serving overseas in the military.
Funky seems confused? He’s got plenty of company among readers of today’s strip as we try to parse the supposed humor here. Exactly what disturbing “mental image” does the word executrix conjure in his mind? Is Funky envisioning his spouse as a female pilot? Doesn’t make sense, but when did that ever disqualify a gag in the Funkiverse? Perhaps the first syllables of the word have him thinking that Holly is going to “execute” him? If she hasn’t had him whacked by now he’s probably safe. Well then I guess the gag is that Funky, that dirty old man, associates “executrix” with “dominatrix”, two words with absolutely no other connection aside from the last four letters, and is envisioning the wife looking like Rosie O’Donnell in Exit to Eden. You Google it.
Presenting the last panel from Wednesday’s, Tuesday’s, and today’s strips:
Funky cannot seem to shake his morbid delusion. Once the discussion switches over from pizzeria humor to the somber minutiae of trusts and probate law, the gravity of the business at hand preys on Funky’s feeble mind until he’s convinced that he’s already died. And that’s not even the bad part: it’s starting to sink in that his afterlife will be spent in this room with a lawyer and his wife.
Well, Groundhog Day was a week ago, but readers will be forgiven if they feel like they’re re-reading yesterday’s strip today. Panel one, Anono-Lawyer uses a legal term; panel two, lawyer guy turns it over to Funky and Holly. Panel three–the payoff!–Funky says something pitiful.
Since I said everything yesterday that could be said about this setup, I’ll use the remainder of my time to share a couple hunches. First, that building we see out the window in panel 2 seems rather lovingly detailed, especially in light of Mr. “Halftone Gradient” Batiuk’s usual disdain for drawing scenery. Perhaps it is a Real Place in Ohio?
Secondly, as this blog nears its seventh anniversary (thanks to every one of our readers and contributors!), Funky Winkerbean is coming up on forty-five years. I would not put it past Tom Batiuk, assuming he plans to mercifully retire FW at the fifty-year mark, to end with a drawn out “Funky Dies” arc, in which every single abandoned plot line is resolved. Better get to work on that now, Tom.
Do you suppose, dear reader, that ’round February of last year, Batty’s wife reminded him that it was time to finally plan their estate? After which TB tiptoed 1/4″ away to craft this week’s arc while such terms as irrevocable trust still danced in his head?