Programming note: Monday’s strip won’t drop until midnight eastern, so expect another “placeholder” post. Thanks!
Now this strip from last March (see detail) makes sense: the “we” moving back to Ohio is not Darin and Jess, but Darin and Pete. Turns out Boy Lisa was right, too. Jessica seems to have adjusted very well to being a long distance wife and mother. Shouldn’t she be “trying to sublet the apartment and wrap[ping] up her documentary film work with Cindy”? Instead, she’s lounging on the deck enjoying her fifth Ketel and tonic. She’s so sloshed that she accidentally texts her mother, who is grateful for this misdirected crumb of affection.
Readers of the official FW blog will recognize the bespectacled geek dad in panel one as John Darling, Jessica’s father who was murdered. Unless they read today’s “dialogue,” though, they’ll have a hard time figuring out that the woman who looks exactly like Jessica but with different hair is her mom Jan. As drawn by Tom Armstrong, Jan Murdock was quite the hottie. Batiuk (and the returning Rick Burchett) render her using the Blandly Attractive White Female Template.
Oh no, Les is back in today’s strip. And along with ol’ smirk n’ shirk we get three would-be nominees for This Week In Milford’s pantheon of hair. Let’s see… we’ve got a phone camera operator sporting a Dave Coulier mullet, a proud Lisa book-buyer wearing the Luke Skywalker, and someone so enthralled with the many justifications for John Darling’s murder in Fallen Star that they are morphing into Albert Einstein. Fantastic.
Well, that took my mind off of yet another strip where Les shows contempt for the people who want to give him money for his work, for a few minutes at least.
Thanks, SOSFers, for putting up with me and TB (mostly TB… I hope) for another two weeks. The unenviable task of covering a crazed bald man palming two imaginary grapefruits (and whatever else next week brings) falls to someone significantly more well-known to the average comic strip reader than Phil the Forecaster, our own Comic Book Harriet. Good luck.
Phil is implored to give the viewers one more forecast in today’s strip, a forecast so far out that even a good meteorologist would just be guessing.
And that’s… it? We spent a week watching the fifth or sixth most-prominent character from a decades dead comic strip get ceremoniously fired from a job we didn’t know he still held.
A lot of Funky Winkerbean story arcs make we scratch my head, but this one may have me wearing in a bald spot. I mean, I like a good deep cut reference as much as the next person but that doesn’t mean I would subject anyone to a week of posts consisting of nothing but Tonio K lyrics and Cattanooga Cats references. Well, at least Les wasn’t involved in this one.
Apologies for the late post, but after reading today’s strip you may want me to apologize for posting at all.
Phil gets a final farewell for 45 years of (poor) service at the station. OK, I get that.
He is given a gag award (swiped from a cameraman’s daughter’s bedroom no doubt) for said service. I’d get it if it was played as an inside joke, but it is clearly intended to be an insult, so… what?
Then an anchor airs some of his dirty laundry on the air. Uh…
This strip took 100 steps and went nowhere. Phil’s award, at least, was better than the gift Coach Stropp got at his (forced) retirement party.
It’s about time! I was wondering if we’d ever get there, but today’s strip finally gives us the call back to John Darling we’ve been expecting. Yes, Phil is terrible at his (former) job, just like he was back in 1979. Back then, making fun of the local weather forecaster was a comedy trend surpassed only by making fun of Billy Carter…
This strip appeared opposite an ad imploring you to come test drive the all-new Chevrolet Citation…
Oh, for Pete’s sake!
I remain baffled by the pie case at Montoni’s. Who eats pie there?
That’s a rhetorical question of course, nobody eats anything at Montoni’s. Not even Crazy, who is only ever seen there sipping a bottomless coffee or soda and avoiding his job. But still, what’s with the pie case?
Today’s strip finds Phil having skipped the bargaining phase of grief over his firing… moving right on to depression, acceptance, and Jim Boeheim impersonation.
Producer Jan Murdoch Darling’s sympathy for Phil is an awfully kind gesture on her part, considering that he once pulled a gun on her late husband. Frankly, I find it somewhat difficult to sympathize with Phil when he’s sharing a panel with Jan. Yes, his 40+ year career is coming to an end and not by his choice. Too bad. Meanwhile, Jan:
– grew up with an awful, abusive mother, one of the comics page’s most vile characters
– sees her only child visit on rare occasions, and never to actually see her
– has fallen from producing The “Today” Show to once again slumming it at the dying Channel One
– oh yeah… and famously saw her husband murdered right in front of her
But sure, we’ll shed some crocodile tears for you too Phil.
Poor Phil the Forecaster is still getting fired in today’s strip and Alex (the bearded news director who is probably supposed to remind us of smarmy John Darling regular Reed Roberts) seems awfully chipper about replacing him with an unpaid intern. Firing Phil as a cost-saving move (rather than for a variety of good reasons covered below) tells me that Channel One will soon be one of those stations that airs Family Feud reruns in primetime. Alex might want to start worrying about his own position.
That Phil remained Channel One’s weatherman into 2017 is remarkable, in both positive and negative ways. He debuted in Funky Winkerbean in the mid-70s, giving him a 40+ year tenure at Channel One that would be a legitimately impressive career in real life.
He also kept the job for decades despite the running gag that he was terrible at it. And if Brenda Harpy is to be believed, he also kept the job despite being a certifiable nutcase who engaged in terrifying workplace violence on at least one occasion.
He wasn’t wrong about John Darling and the ozone layer, though.
Oh, did you come here for Funky Winkerbean snark? Sorry, but today’s strip is a John Darling comic, presumably part of a JD revival that few will get and surely fewer asked for.
Yep, this is “Phil The Forecaster”, weatherman for Channel One.
Well, former weatherman for Channel One now, apparently… Back in the JD and early Act I FW days, Phil was the subject of a running gag where, get this, his forecasts were always wrong!!! And everyone made fun of him for it! Ha Ha! Oh man, can you believe it? A TV weatherman getting the forecast wrong… Brilliance.
Anyways, Phil just got fired.
Today’s strip was not available for preview. It is, almost certainly, more of the same book signing shtick. Will today’s customer be totally or only partially clueless as to why they are waiting in line? We’ll have to find out together.
But while we are on the subject of Les’ books, let’s take a brief look back at the promotion for his first book Fallen Star, the John Darling bio and murder-solver that may or may not have actually been released in 1997 or 1998.
Les gets booked on “The Today Show”.
Has a publicity photo taken by Crankshaft’s non-Pam daughter Chris (Barry Balderman cameo in the photo-corner flashback!).
Gets bumped from “The Today Show” because his agent is terrible.
Gets interviewed by some giraffe children for their high school newspaper because his agent is terrible.
Sulks in the park and is found by Apple Annie, a homeless media maven and part-time stalker who would become Les’ publishing agent in early Act III before TB forgot she existed.
Post-script: Chris Crankshaft would later help Apple Annie out of homelessness. They met because Annie helped a lost Crankshaft find Chris during one of his infrequent visits to New York. I think the Batiukverse is shrinking to a singularity…
Link To Today’s Strip
“Nice job, Jess”…obtaining a working VCR? Managing to insert the tape properly? Or is Boy Lisa implying that they’re actually watching Jessica’s completed JD documentary and if so, huh? Did I miss something while I was trying to tune out the incessant Barbie-ing? She stopped filming WEEKS ago, so in short, what the f*ck is he talking about? But hey, she made it back home without losing an arm or becoming seriously interested in comic books, so maybe she merits a “good job” after all. Gotta consider the “big picture”, I suppose.
“You’re Barbie”, “I’m Barbie”, “I’m you’re Barbie”, “you’re my Barbie”…ENOUGH ALREADY WE GET THE POINT! I mean wow, this is overkill even by FW standards. Four straight days of it, too, just sheer bludgeoning repetition solely for the sake of it. He’s actually patting himself on the back repeatedly during a self-congratulatory/vanity project arc based on an old comic strip he used to write…now that’s self-absorption on a grand scale.
So what did we learn here? Well for starters, Jessica IS Barbie! We also learn that Jess is quite easily distracted, never follows through on anything and cannot be counted upon to recall her own memories correctly without video verification. But a long-dead character cared about her very much and in the Funkyverse that’s what matters most of all, no?
That rendition of Skyler’s head in panel one merits immediate inclusion in the SoSF Hall Of Fame and if it isn’t unanimous I will be quite disappointed. Spectacular, it’s like a moonrise.