Of course, you can’t have a time travel story without Lisa. It’s inevitable.
It’s already creepy enough for sixty-ish Harry to be walking up to a high school girl who doesn’t know him and address her by name, but telling her he’s been to the school before doesn’t help. Lisa really should know better than to stop and engage some random old guy who’s approaching her, but this is Lisa after all, she clearly has bad judgment when it comes to men.
I’m positive someone Harry’s age is bound to have friends or family who aren’t alive in 2022 anymore, but apparently he doesn’t care at all about seeing them. All he cared about was himself (literally), and visiting high school again, which is so typical of characters in this strip. Honestly, I wouldn’t be shocked at all if he somehow enrolled in high school again (it turns out he’s missing a credit!) or becomes a teacher, and that lets Batiuk reboot everything.
It’s been great being able to comment on one of the weirder recent arcs. TFHackett gets to take over tomorrow, when Harry probably tries to make Les and Lisa get married as teenagers or something.
Link to another boring nonsensical strip that I still kind of understood because I’m always asking my housemate and best friend if she wants to go to the store with me but man was this week awful with maybe one almost joke and five days of pointless observation and yes this was supposed to be one long run-on sentence for comedic effect.
Full disclosure: Until I read through the Vintage Funky Winkerbean, I assumed Roland was black. I realized my mistake when Derek popped up, asking Les about why ‘brothers and sisters’ weren’t being covered by the school paper, looking like the lost sixth Jackson brother from the Jackson Five cartoon.
So Roland’s poofy hair was just an Art Garfunkel style jewfro, and Derek is the strip’s first black character. Which other characters seem to only notice and comment on occasionally.
In all of his appearances, there’s only a handful of strips where Derek’s overtly concerned about racism. And it always comes across cringy af. Now-a-days this is the sort of material that gets you twitter cancelled.
Other than these cases, Derek is written as ‘one of the guys’. Sometimes he spouts off Roland-esqe general activist talking points for a laugh.
His main character trait is this sort of weary detachment. In the four years of strips released, I think I’ve seen him smile twice. It’s like, somehow he knows. He knows that he’s stuck in Funky Winkerbean. And the best he can hope for is to feel slightly less than dead inside.
Like Livinia, unspoken identity politics hamstring his range. Because Batiuk wants Derek to be a positive portrayal of a black student, he’s never shown getting into trouble with the principal or being ignorant. He never asks the dumb question. He is the one Funky Winkerbean character that is never the wacky one spouting off inanity. He is all grimace and side-eye.
When Derek delivers the punchlines, they’re clever observations that reveal intelligence, not obliviousness like Batiuk will use for Les or even Funky.
Derek is still showing up in Vintage Funky Winkerbean through 1976. Most recently watching TV with Crazy Harry on 4-10-76.
I doubt he’s going to completely disappear for a while, since he fulfils an important diversity position. He’ll keep showing up until a more gimmicky black boy is introduced, or until Batiuk forgets to remind his audience he’s not racist. In September of 1975 a black female student was introduced, Junebug Jones. She and Derek are dating, and she becomes a cheerleader. Her ‘unorthodox’ cheering strategy is another running gag.
I’m of two conflicting minds on Junebug. On the one hand I wonder if she plays into the lazy stereotype of black girls as loud, aggressive, and tactless. On the other hand, I love seeing a lady with some backbone.
Derek and Junebug, one of the first couples in Funky Winkerbean. She might not have liked the odds, but she should have placed her bets. By the 1998 class reunion arc, they are confirmed to be married.
And by the 2008 reunion they have grandkids!
Junebug shows up again in 2015, as part of The Upcoming Reunion planning committee.
So, really, despite all his grumbling, it seems like Derek and Junebug had it pretty good for Funky Winkerbean characters. They escaped the plot before the Act II drama hit, and every subsequent cameo appearance has only reinforced their happy ending.
And as we enter the homestretch it’s “the WHS gym” making a TREMENDOUS run for the wire! Yep, it looks like we’re in for lots of sepia-toned “Les is stuck on the gym rope again” flashbacks featuring good ol’ Act I Loser Les! That’s right, folks. Way back when, before he was an award-winning author/martyr/smug obnoxious jerk whose wife tragically died, Les was a hapless dweeb! I know, I know…it’s difficult to believe, but it’s 100% true. In fact, you can visit the official FW archive site and take a gander at those old strips anytime you…oh, wait. Forget that last part.
“Six months ago”??? What? Does the reunion committee meet every two weeks or something? Why were they discussing a venue six months ago? And why didn’t they settle on one? Normally, a story starts making more sense as you add details…but not in the Funkyverse, where up is white and down is sideways and everything is coated with pizza grease, nonsensical developments and retconned nostalgia. And sometimes all the names are wrong too.
Why are there corner thingies in panel one? It’s just a flashback to six months ago, not a cherished old memory of happier days gone by. Either use them right or not at all, Author Guy! Retcon photo album corner thingies are a privilege, not a right.
When I said yesterday, “It gets worse,” you probably thought, “How can it?” Well, now you know.
Those of you with weak stomachs may want to stop with Les’ first dialogue balloon, in which Les gets someone else to do his work, again, this time quadrupling his own workload to nothing. Has Les ever done anything? It sure seems all he does is complain when things are expected of him, and then he moans and weeps until someone else does all the work. Then he whines about how hard his life is, and, well, you know the rest.
If you’re brave enough to tackle the rest of the strip, let’s press on. Les has never gotten over the loss of his first wife, and everyone, simply everyone, is completely aware of this and does whatever they can, at all times, to help him heal. Because no one else in this world has ever lost a loved one. No one else has ever suffered. No one else bears the weight of the world like Les Moore. (It’s no wonder that someone like Wally, who has suffered far more than Les, is a character the strip treats with thinly-veiled contempt.)
Lest you think me callous, I do understand that losing a loved one is a lifelong thing, and that those who’ve left us will always be in our memories. But looking at Les’ sad, smashable face in panel two, you’d hardly think this was a guy who eventually married another woman, then wrote a comic book about how he’d found new love with his new wife.
Mary Sue’s phrase in panel two seems off to me–if I was sympathetic to Les, I’d say he still loves Lisa, and that’s why he remembers. Oh well, Mary Sue is, after all, a girl, and they’re not much good for anything in this world, are they. I’m surprised we didn’t get a third panel of Les patting her on the head and saying “Thank you for trying.”
There’s a phrase that describes Les Moore perfectly. That phrase is “wallowing in self-pity.” It’s the sort of thing that a normal person does for a time–possibly a long time–but then picks himself up and moves on.
But not Les Moore. He’s going to make sure you’re always aware of him, and through this awareness, he’s going to make you suffer.
Oh, before I forget, when I said it “gets worse” yesterday, I left out one thing–it gets even worse tomorrow.
Okay…I’m going to take a wild stab here and guess that the “state of the ark” thing is supposed to be a joke about…Noah? (Oooo, too bad last year’s film wasn’t a huge blockbuster–that would’ve helped, right? Oooo, those year-long waits.) As, I’m guessing again, the prior DJ’s equipment was commonly used in Biblical times–not at all conducive to repainting those funky (oops) seventies vibes. And all those lyrics about cubits! No wonder the Reunion Committee ladies want something more contemporary (it’s a well known fact that, before building the ark, Noah was well known for hosting some serious raves, but that was, like, aeons ago. You can read all about it in your Bibles.)
–Uh…huh. Even I can’t find that premise easy to sustain, and I find it hard to believe anyone, Tom Batiuk included, would write that down and say There. There’s the next strip. Granted, he has given us many, many inexplicable punchlines over the years, but I seem to recall they kind of related to the subject at hand. This one, not so much. Unless the last DJ decided to forgo the turntables in favor of pottery shards, this is rather dim.
One thing, though–the fervor with which poor Barry is assailed makes me think that, yes, the high school does hold a reunion every year–and it’s the only thing going on in these folks’ lives. They just go through their sad days, waiting for the magical date to show up, the reminder of when they were happy and the future was rosy. And all they want is a decent DJ to help the illusion along. And suddenly…I don’t think these reunion enthusiasts are idiots any longer. I find them kind of sad, now, people longing after a happiness they’ll never have, fluttering along like a butterfly at the end of its lifespan, desperate not to die for a while longer.
Have I bummed you out? If so, it’s good practice. I’ve seen tomorrow, and tomorrow isn’t pretty.
I don’t suppose it could be said often, or loudly, enough: THERE’S NO NEED FOR CONTACTS–YOU SEE THESE PEOPLE EVERYDAY.
And, once again, despite all his whining and complaining and moaning about having to be on the reunion committee, someone else has done Les’ job for him. Will that stop the whining, complaining and moaning long enough for Les to offer a simple “Thank you”? Of course not. Les doesn’t thank anyone. Hmph, if anything, they should be thanking him. Here they are, bathing in his presence and all they can do is give him grief for not being a shallow teenager. How he suffers!
By my count, Les has done exactly nothing to help prepare for the reunion. Perhaps that makes him wiser than the others in a real-world sense, but it still makes me want to slap him. Of course, that’s natural to feel anytime Les shows up.
And, with Les “leading” the committee, the Coming Reunion is certain to become a Lesfest. Hey, remember Lesfest ’12? Totally awesome. I got completely blitzed on nachos, man, and they had the widescreen TV wheeled in. Woo-hoo! Good times, man.