Tom Batiuk’s got a decade-plus on me, but I reckon my high school experience had more in common with his than with that of today’s high school student. In my days, the only “device” a student might carry would be some kind of orthodontic implement. Any phone calls a student made would have to be from the principal’s office or the corner malt shop. Logan Church and her peers are never without their cellphones, and thus, are never without access to all the world’s knowledge. No wonder the unpleasant Jim hates teaching a class. When Logan correctly answers a physics question, Jim’s initial surprised reaction immediately shifts to narrow-eyed suspicion. She couldn’t have known this answer without Googling it, because Jim believes, as does Les, that these students never even open their textbooks. The thought that he has actually taught a student something brings Jim to actual tears. Unless that teardrop in the corner of his eye is a prison tattoo.
Tag Archives: Jim Kablichnik
Retirement clearly means different things to different teachers. Harry Dinkle comes to mind…how could he not, since nearly half the strips last month were about him? Harry’s busier now than he was before his retirement. When he’s not lurking around Becky’s band room, he oversees the Bedside Manorisms, conducts the July 4th concert in the gazebo, and hard-earns a buck or two giving piano lessons to rotten kids. Even in his sleep, he experiences nightly flashbacks to his days in uniform.
Les’ “work wife” Linda entered her lonely retirement sometime before Bull’s death. So the current, core faculty at WHS consists of Les (who’s rarely seen in the school, let alone teaching a class), Principal Nate, band director Becky, and the execrable Mr. Kablichnick.
Banana Jr. 6000
December 1, 2020 at 9:54 am
[Les is] the “cool” teacher that all the kids relate to…Batiuk thinks he’s invented the modern day Mr. Chips.
December 1, 2020 at 10:56 am
He’s invented the modern day Mr. Buffalo Chips. I’ll give him that.
That title really ought to go to Jim Kablichnick, the Science Schmuck. Despite his resemblance to Mark Twain, Jim’s corny, repetitive attempts at humor elicit only groans from his students. His climate mania is his least quirky character trait. I couldn’t find the strips, but can recall an arc where his coworkers shared their concerns that he was having a nervous breakdown. He’s a militant germaphobe, and a loner who on a class trip to Washington D.C., opted to drink alone in his room rather than join Linda, Les, and Cayla for dinner. OK, that last one’s understandable. At any rate, nobody hates his job more than Jim, for whom Wednesday, June 11, 2025 cannot come quickly enough. He memorializes his remaining days as a teacher on a whiteboard. Unless Jim’s creator plans to continue working after Funky’s 50th year, and barring another “time jump,” Batty will retire three years before Jim. Here’s hoping!
First of all, there is an absolute horror show of a human in the background. A literal dickhead emerging from a shirt made of pubes. The guy is smug as shit too. No doubt having just eaten an entire plate of the grilled processed meat tubes that he has descended from in some kind of twisted Westviewian evolution.
Does Westview grade on the curve? That’s a horrific thought. Because while some teacher claim that pretending that the smartest kid’s 85% correct on the test is the new 100% is ‘grading on the curve’, what it really means is the draconian application of the bell curve to the entire class. Every student ranked, in direct competition with the other students for the limited number of A’s, 40% of students doomed to C’s regardless of what actual percentage of the material they got correct. All your A or B tells you is that in Mrs. McGiggins 2005 Fall semester of Pre-Calculus you did better than 15 other people.
My junior year of high school, the calculus teacher was gone the entire year on maternity leave. For the first semester, they gave the advanced math students taking precalc and calc a teacher they had previously relegated to teaching remedial general math because she was so inept, despite the fact she was technically qualified. Because of her I never learned the difference between cosine and cosign.
When the most gifted kids in the school started struggling and complaining to their parents, the principal had the audacity to come to the class, pull out a bell curve and try to explain to us that, really, most of us SHOULD be getting C’s in the class.
I shot my hand right up and explained to the class that ‘the bell curve’ was both old-fashioned and unfair. We were supposed to be graded on the percentage of the material we got right, not in competition with other students for limited number of A’s. The fact that most of us were getting C’s meant that, as a class, we were understanding barely half of what we were being tested on. He fumbled around for a bit, but didn’t really have a good response. He was talking to the smartest kids in the school, and our GPA’s, and thus our college prospects, were on the line.
They pulled an old math teacher out of retirement for the next semester.
I remember the impotent frustration, the despair, and the eventual fatalistic resignation that we, as a class, felt that semester. So many of us just gave up trying. There was no reason to attempt to succeed on our own, because that would only hurt our classmates by driving up expectations. So most of us sat through every day of math class that semester, silent, sullen, and unresponsive.
What I’m saying is, I’m guessing that Westview grades on a curve.
So was Sunday a one-off as usual, or was Batiuk just really hungry so we’re going to get weeks of unrelated food strips? Or are we in for an entire week examining Les and Cayla’s weird aromantic relationship?
Yes, a black and white and sepia flashback, with old timey scrapbook corners, really takes me back to 2011. Makes me remember when Cayla didn’t look like someone dipped Cindy in chocolate.
Why is Bill Nye surprised someone is grilling hot dogs at a picnic? He is asking Les this, when the only possible alternative interpretation of the scene is that Les is about to skewer his wife with a hot poker. For a science teacher those are some top notch observation skills. I imagine he wanders about asking similar questions.
Enters his classroom. “So, you’re the students who are working on your science projects in my science class today?”
Standing in the lunch line. “So, you’re the the school cook, who cooks and serves the food to the students?”
Entering his bedroom. “So, you’re the man who’s been sleeping with my wife?”
Greetings, folks, BChasm temporarily in the captain’s chair for the next little while. What’s this?! The viewscreen shows a sea of hostiles–ready photon torpedoes! We must annihilate this threat before it spreads across the galaxy!
I’m going to skip over Mason’s “movie we filmed here,” comment, because while I don’t think any of the film was shot in Centerville, I honestly don’t remember the “school bus drives into shot” bit well enough, and–Tales to Astonish–I have no desire to look and see. So I’ll give him that.
What else? Well, we’ve got a crowd shot of almost everyone, including Les–which sets our Les Watch back to zero, damn it. At least he’s not saying anything, and is both poorly drawn and partly covered by a word balloon. Funny, though, I’d have expected both Comic Book John and Imbecilic Harry to be there, but I guess they got their exposure in at Comic Con, so no need to feature them any longer. But who is that between Jim KibblesNBits and Marianne? It looks like they flew Marianne’s mother out there after all! I guess?
The fact that so many of the cast and crew are in the audience–and sitting right up front, too–makes me wonder if Tom Batiuk believes that the first time anyone involved with a movie actually gets to see the finished film is at the premier. In the real world, the director would have seen the film dozens of times by now, and there’s almost always a screening for the cast and crew. So all these people would be backstage, or at the back of the hall, gauging audience reaction–pacing, room for laughs, people getting bored at certain parts, and so on–and looking for “oohs” and “aahs” for the cast members.
But not in the fantasy land that is the Funkyverse. Here, everything happens the way a five year old imagines that it happens–it’s all just magic, and friendship, and comic books and pizza, and it works every time! In a way, that sounds like an attractive world…for a few minutes. But after those few minutes, I’d want something of substance, something that would stir the imagination rather than just “be” everything forever.
Poorly thought-out as the Lisa stuff is, it’s at least an attempt to address adult concerns–something that a comic strip aimed at “contemporary problems of young people” should attempt more often. Because I’m pretty sure the contemporary problems of young people aren’t that they wish there were more comic-book movies.
…starts today, as Westview High School’s CCTV news program announces Bull’s retirement to the student body. I don’t know what to call it anymore, though, because apparently either Tom or his Sunday Artist Intern is spelling the title “The Bleet” nowadays. So, what do you think? Is T-Bats slipping in mistakes like this intentionally to screw around with the snark community, or is he just going a little soft in the noggin?
Since we’re talking about The Bleat/Bleet, say hello to Bernie Silver who seems to have inherited the anchor’s chair from Owen. And since he reports that the official retirement sendoff will be on Friday, we can probably expect the entirety of next week to depict =- or at least talk about – said ceremony.
So, we’ve got Bull’s retirement, a new anchor, and a stupid typo. Other than that, this is pretty much your typical mediocre Sunday throw-away, just like last week with Funky’s leafy hairline. I can’t help thinking, though, that Tom is setting Bull up for a fall. Look at Les in panel three. That filthy, squint-eyed, lifted-eyebrow smirk. He knows something, that smug fuccboi. I’m starting to hate Dick Facey as much as Epicus Doomus does.
Well!…and that’s that. Anyone who thought that the computer might actually do something has to be contented with some hot wheeled-away action. Yet another disappointment, one supposes, though at least memories of the “fun” Act I weren’t ruined. In other words, it could have been worse. Far worse.
The way things develop in this strip is truly unfathomable; one can’t help but wonder why the computer was brought back at all, except 1) as a tease to long-time readers, only to be dashed to earth, signifying this strip is serious so look elsewhere for “fun”; 2) as a form of “striking the set,” ie, removing anything that might be entertaining, and 3) as a means to mention Starbuck Jones yet again, though Tom Batiuk is slipping by not using his full name. Which “Starbuck” is this, Tom, I’m all confused!
Maybe now that it has, *cough*, contributed, the computer will go to Washington DC on a senior class trip! That should take, oh, half an off-screen panel.
For someone who contributed nothing at all this week, Les sure looks remarkably smug in panel one (though to be fair, that’s his default expression). And in panel two, Tom Batiuk’s itch is finally scratched and Les opens his mouth. Jim Kibblesnbits is a complete ass, but I’m willing to reduce his massive negative score by one for shutting down Les. (Personally, I would have used one fewer syllable, if you know what I mean, but then that’s me.) His stance perfectly conveys utter contempt and disdain. Oh, I’m sure the lesson we’re supposed to take is that Les is so wise and deep, such that no one is capable of swimming in his waters. They’d rather stay in the warm, ignorant shallows. Anyone who has read this strip for any length of time will take the opposing view, that Les is being deservedly beached on his deserted isle.
Jim Kibblesnbits is one of those characters who rarely appears, but like a fly discovered embedded in the lemon meringue, his rarity doesn’t lesson his loathsomeness in any way. He shines out like a rotten, crumbling sun, spraying sickly light on vast dead plateaus and their attendant population of shriveling bacteria and scrubby lichens. Today, though, in this one thing, I give him a half-lidded smirk and the offhand flick of a salute. Here, I wish more people would look to him as an example. (And nowhere else.) He’s been an ass all his life, and he’ll be an ass tomorrow, but tonight by God he’s everyone’s hero.
The three of them walking away from an already forgotten, completely despised Les is a truly poetic image, made more so by the vent lines on the locker near Les’ mouth. It looks like he’s bleating…which he probably is.
Les should be broken in half, placed in a paper bag on your worst enemy’s doorstep, then lit on fire. Ring the doorbell and prepare to be entertained.
It seems the slavering monster I was hoping for yesterday has been revised into an old piece of computing equipment. I’m guessing this is the old Act I computer which was obsessed with Star Trek, and um, had, uh, other characteristics I’m sure. Those of you who guessed this, please collect your prize money at the gate. Of course, I think that was everyone who looked at this week’s banner, so form an orderly line, folks.
Normally this would be a welcome thing, seeing this relic from the good old days of the strip…but I don’t know. The last time something from then was brought back…well, I can’t remember what it was but I seem to recall that it was ret-conned into being something terrible. Maybe it was Donna as the Eliminator, or Franky going from dumb jock to out-and-out rapist, or…something. These strips are so anti-content that I honestly forget most of them seconds after reading. (Or at least I give it the ol’ Westview try.) Thus, whenever anything from the “funny” days appears, my reaction is not “Oh boy, we’re going to lighten things up!” but “Oh, God, we’re taking this out of the closet so we can smash it.”
At any rate, the fact that the computer “sighs” can’t be a good sign. Perhaps it has some horrible, debilitating virus, and it wants to be smashed into flinders. Which makes me wonder why Tom Batiuk has never done an “assisted suicide” arc, the story of someone who finds existence so painful that they can’t continue. Certainly there must be a lot of folks in Westview who feel that way and can’t see pain as an opportunity for a pun. Seriously, if he carried it through it might get him that Pulitzer. I’d nominate either Cayla or Funky himself.
Finally, once again, Les hovers over the proceedings like an evil angel of death (even though he’s the shortest one there, a virtual midget). He contributes nothing except making the reader hate this comic even more. Look at him in panel one: “The hate is swelling in you now. Take your weapon. I am unarmed. Strike me down with it. Give in to your anger. With each passing moment you make yourself more my servant.”
Wouldn’t it be great if Kibblesnbits accidentally tipped the computer onto Les, and it smashed his ribcage into a thousand fragments? And he made a noise like “Guuuhhh” and everyone thought that was so funny, and they couldn’t stop laughing? And they picked up the computer, and dropped it again, just so they could hear that noise and enjoy themselves?
I mean, it’s long past time Les did something funny, isn’t it? That would work for me.
I dunno, Mr. Director Man, but everyone seems to be smiling at it so it can’t be a hideous, slavering monster that will devour all of you, so it’s hard to care. Naturally Les is right there, because of course he is. My God, what an utterly punchable face. The most loathsome man in the world.
Say, do you know how comic strips are made? Some guy–a cartoonist–scribbles a few bits of artwork down, then erases them and re-draws them until they’re as terrible as possible. Then the cartoonist decides, “How do I feel about my readers? Do I hate them, or do I really hate them?” and he writes down dialog depending on his decision. Then, he decides he really hates his readers after all, and adds Les Moore. If the cartoonist takes more than ten minutes to do all of this, he loses. Does he then start all over until he gets it right? No, don’t be silly, this is cartooning where “losing” is “getting it right.”
…I figured I’d take Tom Batiuk’s knowledge of how movies are made and apply it to a different profession. Because in reality, Jim Kibblesnbits wouldn’t be getting a check–the scene would have been re-shot and the people responsible for on-set security would, at best, be severely reprimanded. And the adults in charge of the field trip would probably be charged with reckless endangerment. Or, if they were lucky and no one saw Kibblesnbits and thus decided to get nasty, trespassing. Obviously, HeyItsDave explained this the other week, but it bears repeating every time Tom Batiuk decides his hard-won ignorance is preferable to how things actually work.
Credit where it’s due: the shift in perspective between panel one and panel two is actually pretty well handled. The presence of Les ruins both panels, but I’m sure he’s only there to represent Tom Batiuk’s middle finger to his critics. His expression for this function is perfect.