This year’s Lisa’s Legacy event is taking place rather early. When the Act III curtain rose twelve years ago, Bull Bushka presided over the Lisa’s Legacy Walk while Les and Summer took part in the Making Strides walk in Central Park. Let’s recap events of the years since.
2008: Cory steals the cigar box containing over a grand in registration fees; Funky writes a check to keep his delinquent son out of trouble.
2009: Cayla and Keisha get roped in to volunteering; Cayla’s reward is to get schooled by Les on exactly how Lisa made a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
2010: Even ten years ago, Funky was complaining of his physical ailments.
2011: It rains.
2012: Instead of a week-long arc, the Run occupies a Sunday strip in fiery autumn hues.
2013: This time Funky needs to be attended to by an EMT.
2014: The 15th annual LLR is noteworthy for the black, not primarily pink, tee shirts worn by the participants, and the black comic border and muted palette; not TB’s usual fall riot o’ color.
The Run wasn’t featured in 2015, and again was a Sunday-only in 2016. The Mentor (Ohio) Rotary took over the event in 2017, in order to allow Les more time for his book tour.
In 2018 and 2019, The Run was apparently pre-empted by prestige arcs: Wally and Adeela and the Death of Bull, respectively. This year’s real-life event doesn’t appear to be happening, no doubt on account of Covid.
Hope everyone’s enjoying a nice Labor Day Weekend!
So Les is back in Westview for the Lisa’s Legacy Run. And Mason, Cindy, and Marianne surprise him by showing up. And “Cindy is shooting footage of us running the race today…” For use in the movie? Will Marianne and Mason be running in character as Lisa and Les? Cindy’s a cinematographer now? Wouldn’t they need permission to shoot? And two movie stars and a former network news anchor are just hanging out, not attracting attention from anyone beside Les. Such disorienting plot “developments” have been Funky Winkerbean‘s stock in trade since mid-Act II. Let’s talk instead about the deteriorating draftsmanship in this comic strip.
The only modification I’ve made to this panel was to remove the dialogue balloons, or “word zeppelins,” in order to allow us to better appreciate this Mount Rushmore of melting faces. Les suffers the least, as his goatee in profile always looks like shit. Mason sports an even goofier than usual expression. Cindy is droopy-eyed, and Marianne’s head is on a stalk.
Tom Batiuk writes and “inks” FW, but for the last two years the strips have been penciled by Batiuk’s ol’ Kent State pal Chuck Ayers. Ayers has partnered with TB in this way since the mid 1990’s, in addition to drawing Crankshaft for 30 years. In March 2017 Ayers gave up both jobs to pursue other interests, but returned following the tenure of Rick Burchett, who turned out some of the most horrendous, slapdash, off-model draughtsmanship since another noted comics artist, John Byrne, was at the drawing board.
Ayer’s Crankshaft strips always seemed to me to be much better and more naturally drawn than Funky Winkerbean. And the aforementioned Messrs. Burchett and Byrne were renowned, more-than-capable comic book artists. I’m bringing all this up because I wonder if a requirement of working as Tom Batiuk’s penciller is having to “dumb down” one’s ability closer to Batiuk’s level. In this way, the guy who got laughed out of New York by Marvel and DC gets to hire real artists, and then
pin clip their wings.
Double Sided Scooby Snack
February 8, 2020 at 12:12 pm
Uh oh! Well, so much for “Take your favorite guy to lunch day.”
Well, what do you know? Jessica is not about to let Darin off the hook for blowing his check on other comix artists’ work, and Darin reveals himself to be not completely clueless by picking up on her anger.
Well, if the “nice-sized” check wasn’t meant for Darin, then he and Jessica will have to settle for a check that is merely “nice.” Doesn’t matter anyway, since Darin immediately cops to having blown at least that amount on some other artists’ work. Tune in tomorrow when Chester turns to Darin and snatches the check from his hand. As commenter “Doghouse Reilly” reminded us on Wednesday, the artwork that Ruby sold was “commissioned recreations,” not her original work which her chauvinist pig bosses did not allow her to keep. Come to think of it, if they were commissioned, then by whom? What’s she doing selling them? Anyway, unless Darin sold off some old “Sophomoric Sightings” strips, any comic art that he’s produced was done as an employee of Atomik Komix, so he’s already received his reward.
Well, good for Ruby Lith. Like cracked actor Cliff Anger, Ruby’s another living Twentieth Century relic who held on into the Twenty-First long enough to finally garner some long overdue recognition. I hope her excitement over this check doesn’t trigger a coronary, which would look something like this:
I also hope Ruby’s allowing for inflation here, since her “original pay date” dates to around the Truman Era. Meanwhile, the expressions of escalating dismay on the faces of Darin and Jessica are the most satisfying thing we’ll see all week.
As if none of us saw this coming. Kitch Swoon and that nice-sized check of hers are not destined to fill Skyler’s college coffers. Y’know, why not have Monday’s strip showing the gallery owner arriving at Atomik Komix and laying the check on Ruby? Then Batiuk would have another five or six days to tell an actual story. But I understand her delivering the check in person, given what we know about the Postal Service in Westview. This is the story, folks: let’s take this week to set up those starry-eyed fortysomething Fairgood “kids” for a little disappointment and humiliation. Darin has to lean back so hard against Jessica’s pushing that it looks like she’s got him on a handtruck.
Why the hell must Haystack Hair “sidebar” with Darin when the dude was standing right there?!? Check out Jessica’s narrowed-eyed, conspiratorial posture in panel one: with her left hand hooking the crook of dopey Darin’s arm, and her right palm downward, fingers spread in the “keep this on the low” gesture. Always with the dollar signs in her eyes, this Jessica: recall her (short-lived) giddiness over the dough that Darin would make off auctioning those Phil Holt Batom covers. At least Jessica is looking out for their child’s future…unlike Darin, who without so much as consulting Jessica decreed that all that Phil Holt money should go to the Lisa’s Legacy fund (which I’m only hyperlinking here because they finally fixed it so the URL doesn’t redirect and give you a dire-sounding certificate error).
Last week’s running gag had Dinkle and Becky walking around reading signs. This week is shaping up to be a series of people letting themselves into the Atomik Komix office and being greeted with “Hey!” Superb draftsmanship today in panel 1: Kitch Swoon appears to be standing in the doorway of an airplane in flight, and Pete is so excited he’s morphed into Shemp Howard. Our colorist gives even less of a damn, leaving Ms. Swoon with white hair rather than the blonde hair she had when we met her last summer. At least Batiuk hasn’t altered or forgotten her name.
Silly monikers have been Funky Winkerbean‘s stock in trade for nearly a half century, from the title character and his friend “Less More,” to the late Coach “Jack Stropp” and forgotten teacher “Rita Wrighton.” These names were semi-witty, facile wordplay. But I’m at a loss to tease sense out of “Kitch [sic] Swoon.” She’s an artsy type for sure (she’s wearing a beret). Does she specialize in “tacky,” lowbrow, populist art? Does the sight of kitsch make her feel like she’s going to faint?
More like National Sneak Up Behind Your Favorite Guy and Startle the Shit out of Him While He’s Working Day, according to the motion lines alongside Darin’s elongated head.
“This is a Cintiq, a 3D drawing board. I’m actually more comfortable working at my old drawing board, which I bought in junior high school for $25. At the time, it seemed like a lot of money. It’s where I do most of my work.”
Tom Batiuk, February 2016
Good enough for Tom Batiuk, good enough for Darin, who sits at a rather small, inclined drawing table under a vintage “floating” draughtsman’s lamp. Very old school and analog, and it makes me wonder how Mindy is able to do her coloring (remember, she thinks Dr. Martins is a brand of footwear).