Now I don’t want to jinx us or anything, but it appears that the Big Cancer Movie mega-arc is finally, mercifully over. If you had “Marianne gets breast cancer” in the “how will this arc end?” pool, please stop by the home office in Secaucus to claim your prize (a World’s Greatest Band Director key ring) on any even-numbered Tuesday between 11AM and 11:10 AM. Print out a copy of your comment and please bring four forms of ID.
Suddenly Les, who used to despise Hollywood with every fiber of his being, is suddenly wistful over seeing the famous “Hollywood” sign that Marianne nearly jumped from, possibly because yet another mundane and anti-climactic part of his stupid life is now behind him or possibly because he’s pondering how he’d feel right now if Marianne HAD jumped, the cancer movie had never been made and Marianne didn’t so thoroughly embody the role of Lisa. Either way, who gives a shit?
Coming tomorrow: Les’ plane is shot down over Lake Oahe by an errant Air National Guard Sidewinder missile. It spins in. There are no survivors.
“Galoot”??? Les Moore is not a “galoot”. Bull was a galoot, Buck was a galoot, even Funky could be a galoot. But Les is a somewhat effete bearded dick with ears and there’s nothing even remotely galootish about him. And Cayla is like what, forty-five or so? Why would she be using slang that fell out of fashion thirty years before she was born? Sigh.
So Les, courtesy of his great artistic gifts and his wife’s untimely death, saved a life and not just any life, mind you, but a FAMOUS PERSON’S life, which is worth like five or six regular lives, at least. This is so mawkish it’s hard to believe an adult wrote it, and it’s so self-reverential it could have only sprung from the pen of one man. Then, on top of everything else, he actually has Les’ current, still-living wife grant him permission to hug other women, as long as Lisa is somehow involved, which is just too distressing and too disturbing for words. Les isn’t merely the most detestable character in the entire history of fiction, he’s a deeply twisted psychological disaster area too, trapped as he is in a bizarre relationship amalgam with Lisa, Calya and the stupid book of his.
It’s all too much, which is what we all say after a few days of Dick Facey’s irritating shenanigans. As far as “Lisa’s Story” stories go, this one was a real corker all right. Women getting breast cancer, women starring in movies about women getting breast cancer, women who secretly lusted after Les in high school, women thanking Les Moore for saving their lives, other women looking on approvingly, this one really had it all. It’s a wild wish-fulfillment fantasy and an obnoxious victory lap all in one.
Marianne Winters, the sexy young Hollywood starlet with the small-town morals and a heart of gold, was stricken with breast cancer. But, because she just happened to be starring in a movie about a young woman (with small-town morals and a heart of gold) who was stricken with breast cancer, she understood the importance of early detection and successfully detected the breast cancer she’d been stricken with. What luck!
And, even more fortunately for Marianne, hundreds of thousands of people got sick and died from a horrible virus that pretty much shut the entire country, including Hollywood, down. And even MORE fortunately, a gigantic wildfire roared through the Hollywood area, leaving untold destruction and billions of dollars worth of damage in its wake, thus enabling Marianne to set aside the time to seek the very best medical attention for herself.
So it all really worked out well for her and, even more importantly, it all worked out for the deeply-conflicted Delicate Genius too. Because you see, Les was very deeply conflicted about sharing his innermost pain (that he painstakingly documented in a best-selling book then talked about non-stop for over a decade) with the world, at least until he discovered that his personal courage, fortitude and tremendous artistic gifts were responsible for literally saving Marianne’s life. So like with Marianne, the pandemic and the conflagration, the whole wife dying of cancer and sending him into a twenty-four-year-long cycle of depression and misery thing all worked out great for him in the end. Heartwarming, ain’t it?
BatYam could probably save all kinds of time if he just nailed Les and that f*cking book of his to a big cross, then had the various other characters pass by and genuflect before him, but there probably wouldn’t be as many opportunities for dumb puns and stupid wordplay that way. The fact that he spent years on this story only to have it end up here just boggles the mind. We all should have seen it coming, too, but once again Batty somehow managed to surprise and bore us all at the same time, which is quite a trick when you think about it.
Wow. Major Act II flashbacks, man. I didn’t think he’d go THERE with this story, but once again I vastly underestimated his shamelessness. He could have chosen to go with some nice breast cancer awareness platitudes and how “Lisa’s Story” was ultimately helping people and so forth. But, with his usual sledgehammer-like subtlety, he decided to go ahead and GIVE MARIANNE CANCER instead. So now she really is just like Lisa, except hotter and, you know, alive and everything.
Even after all these years and all the tedium, this is still one weird-ass f*cking comic strip, I’ll tell you what. This is just ghastly and the fact that BatYam doesn’t know this makes it even more twisted and strange. It doesn’t insult your intelligence, it shoots your intelligence in the back, rummages through its pockets and leaves it for dead. Ham-fisted, heavy-handed, this one is as tone-deaf and ridiculous as it gets. Once again BatYarn goes in a direction no one else would have even considered.
Has any comic strip ever used the word “lump” more than FW has? “Maybe For Better Or For Worse” did, but most of that strip’s tragedies weren’t cancer related, so I dunno. If it’s “Crankshaft” I definitely don’t want to know.
What the f*ck is she talking about? Does she mean the movie itself, the book being translated into Spanish, the news that the movie won’t be shown anywhere, or what? For the time being I will assume she means how he “feels” about “Lisa’s Story” itself, because “Delicate Genius is deeply conflicted about sharing personal details of his life” is more or less the entire point of the “LS” arc, but given Batiuk’s uniquely non-linear “storytelling” style, who the hell really knows. She could be talking about the crab puffs or the ketamine she slipped into his drink or God only knows what.
And Cayla’s slow descent from “character” to “caricature” to “prop” continues unabated today, as BatNard couldn’t resist throwing in a touch of that patented “female = jealous” trope he enjoys so much. “GASP! She’s going into that room to talk to my HUSBAND…ALONE!!! I hope SEX isn’t involved!”. And while I’m braying on and on about shitty, poorly-developed female characters (again), there’s Marianne Winters, the beautiful twenty-something movie star with the small-town heart of gold, about to confide in her dear friend Les Moore, who didn’t even want her cast as Lisa in the first place. Luckily for her, she won him over with her pitch-perfect Lisa-isms thus immediately putting Les at ease to a point where he chose to allow himself to befriend her and not dismiss her as another cheap Hollywood phony like he initially assumed she was. Another believable and convincing female FW character and not at all indicative of far bigger and way weirder issues that are just too icky and disturbing to address at any length today.
Only two languages? How incredibly humiliating for poor, poor Dick Facey. It’s all just another burden Les has to bear, the price he’s being forced to pay for bearing his innermost soul and so forth. Now I’m not a big-shot professional author, so I can’t say for sure, but it seems to me that getting your book translated and published in Spanish would be a pretty big and possibly even lucrative deal. But, as we know, the bearded dick with ears cares not about wealth or fame or notoriety or success, as demonstrated by the obnoxious way he tilts his stupid beard in panel three as Marianne futilely attempts to placate and pander to him. What a dick.
Thanks to BC and everyone who kept steering the S.S. SoSF since my last stint! You’re the heroes the funny pages need.
It’s Self-Deprecation Guy himself, the actor who KNOWS he sucks, Mason Jarre! This guy needs to work with Kevin Smith, like pronto. He could mail in a performance as “Boss Who Doesn’t Give A Shit” in “Clerks 6 – The Clerkening”. Seriously though, the whole unbearably humble “my career is a big joke” shtick got old last week, so this is just typical BatYam overkill. It’s somewhat interesting how BatYarn uses this kid of wry self-deprecation to paint Mason as being a “nice guy”, as if the readers wouldn’t like him as much if he happened to be proud of his career. Everyone in the strip does it all the time, so it seems normal by Funkyverse standards but when you think about it, it’s kind of a strange world view.
Also of note: Cayla’s status as one of if not the biggest rube in the strip. It’s pretty funny how Mason unintentionally tells her as much, too. But not intentionally funny, of course, as we simply cannot have that. We all assumed she was remarkably easy to please way back when she first started (gak) dating Les, but now we know for sure.
Today’s glurge filled festival of pathological coddling gives me the opportunity to delve into something I’ve been wanting to examine for a long time. But it’s going to be a challenge to talk about, because I swore that I wouldn’t talk about CERTAIN CHARACTERS by name this week.
Let’s talk about Cayla.
For the last several years, whenever she’s appeared Cayla has been the target of a strange mix of pity and ridicule in the comments. And it’s earned. Because Cayla’s presentation in strip is the most conspicuous manifestation of just how twisted and weird the enshrinement and cult of Dead St. Lisa has become. She is a consolation prize. A tacked-on coda. But rather than be resentful of her situation, she has become a priestess and mouth piece of her glorious predecessor.
The external reason for Cayla to be this way is that she’s been written to be a benign gift to the author avatar. She’s built for comfort, not conflict.
But it is so strange to follow Cayla’s journey, and try to imagine a real, flesh and blood woman choosing a similar path. If there was such a woman as Cayla Williams, who would she be?
What do we know about her personality and her history prior to her entering the strip? She comes from an athletic family, who cared enough about her to attend her wedding, but whom she hasn’t seemed to worry much about since. She has completely adopted Funky, Harry, Holly, and crew as her circle of friends, so must have had no close friendships extant before her move to Westview. She worries about her financial matters, while being a shopaholic. She’s class conscious, and seems to want to buy the good opinion of rich people. Current insecurities and prior blows to her ego seem to have hampered her confidence. A previous romantic partner left her with a daughter to raise alone.
Soon after moving to Westview she saw what she wanted and she pursued it. Of a hundred different seats that were open with no asking, she had a particular one in mind.
And from very early on, she knew that she would be jostling for position with a corpse in a race she might never win.
But she went after it anyway, even duked it out with a younger woman. She was pretty bold with her intentions.
Why? What did Cayla want?
Well, one thing she seemed to want was financial security for herself and her daughter. She was looking for someone to ‘pool resources’ with.
Second, she seemed to want people that she could care for, that would be emotionally dependent. She seems to genuinely enjoy being needed. This would fit with her underlying lack of confidence.
In fact. She enjoys being needed so much, that she seems to put herself in a position to both be needed, and remain needed. She wasn’t just looking for someone who appreciates a kind heart. She wanted something to prop up, because when something is leaning on you for support, your position is secure. They can’t leave. And the type of support she offers often promises future financial or social gain on her part.
So of course she is willing to jump on the Dead St. Lisa bandwagon. Her affection for her predecessor might even be genuine. That dead woman is the source of all her current and future security. And it could be she is content to have a decoy and mirage to distract her meal ticket. Some people find too much romantic attention smothering, better to shunt some of that off on a ghost. Let the feelings you elicit be lukewarm, safe, and necessary. Keep feeding the muse of pathos by offering those threesomes from beyond the grave.
Because. Let’s be real for a minute Cayla. You don’t care if you’ll never live up to Lisa any more. You only cared for a moment, when you were worried she’d keep you from scoring the prize that matters. Lisa’s dead. And the helpless withering worm left in her wake needs you. You’ve made sure of that. Yeah, sometimes he’s annoying and insufferable. But he produces, and he provides. You can give him pleasure, and you can give him pain, according to your whims. And either way, he’ll wake up needing you tomorrow just the same. What you really get off on is the control. You like watching him fawn, but you love watching him squirm.
And that is my headcanon for Cayla. She didn’t want a healthy and whole husband to love only her. She wanted a meal ticket just broken enough so it wouldn’t run out on her. And she’s carefully cultivated the relationship, keeping her victim just neurotic enough to maximize her comfort, security, and enjoyment.
It’s been an interesting two weeks folks. Hope you enjoyed! Beckoning Chasm will be in on Monday. I’m interested to see how he handles Batiuk’s upcoming homage to ‘The Day the Clown Cried,’ we’ve seen presaged in the banner.
Apologies for the short post tonight. I’m visiting family, and really don’t want to take too much time away from my new baby nephew to write about Cayla and HIM. HIIIIIIIIIIIIM.
I’m just saying, panel three isn’t too clear on what turns into a pumpkin after the party. And I’m hoping it is everyone, everyone and everything around Cayla. I hope that, right after she shuts the door at the close of the night, the car, the valet, the driver, the man next to her, all morph into soggy wet gourd. That Cayla is alone, finally alone, surrounded by a nourishing orange universe. Second to no one. The goddess of all she surveys.