Tag Archives: knowing smirks

Who Will Be the Next to Whine?

Funky See, Funky Do.

Quick! The most popular and objectively successful member of the class has admitted they never felt like they fit in! Everyone must fall in line behind her and parrot her sentiments! This will prove how alienated and apart from things they all were!

This would almost be a joke. If the idea that “Les was a dork in school” hadn’t been hammered home so many times the nail is halfway to China, and they’re using a percussive drilling machine with 2000 feet of rod to reach the punchline.

Keep digging, Boys! We’ll reach that sweet black comedy!
I know it!

What even does ‘In-Crowd’ mean? In my experience, you want your circle of friends to share your interests and enjoy the same things. A chess club nerd is going to be lost and bored at a football kegger. The kids I knew in high school that were miserable were either the ones that faked their way into a clique that didn’t really suit them, or the poor kids who never found a niche no matter how small.

But Funky was considered perfectly acceptable in High School. Neither the most popular, nor the least.

‘Average’ is the first bit of characterization Funky was given, and as far as I can see it held true through 20 years of high school. You’ve got to give him some credit for keeping Les as his best friend, since nothing probably dragged him down Cindy’s popularity rankings more than having human tumor Les Moore clinging to his side.

I would say that Funky should let Les speak on what it really felt like to be excluded in high school. Since if anyone has a right to speak on the topic it is him.

But I bet Funky and crew remember Les’ self-righteous downer of a commencement speech and rightfully figured the less he said on the topic the better.

Wanda has been smart enough to NEVER attend a reunion following the 2008 fiasco. But really she should have known what she was in for, since Cindy showed up at her door in 2004 to for an entire week of groveling. Something I only found after my Wanda retrospective back in March.

Thank you, Cindy, for coming to my house and talking about your own feelings for five minutes and then walking away without waiting to see if I had anything I needed to get off my own chest.

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The Power Of Friendship.

Hey Look Derek and Junebug!

Did you guys enjoy this gripping, emotional, and politically charged tale which really challenged our main characters leading to growth and change that will really shake things up going forward?

Good!

Artistic Credit, Beckoning Chasm. Love you buddy!

(Seriously, tomorrow is Cindy and Holly.)

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Credit Fraud

Today’s strip concludes (we hope and pray and hope and wish) this latest visit from the Ghost of Distress Past. Her Royal Wryness. The VHSaint herself.

  • Special thanks go out to Summer for being a prop with no impact on the story whatsoever, she has already collected her prize of appearing in a full 3 panel strip this week (panels will not necessarily be consecutive).
  • Special thanks also go out to Les for having such an insatiable ego and such milquetoast friends and family that he will continue to receive the unearned praise he has been given for decades now.
  • And extra special thanks go out to Crazy Harry, who demanded nothing but 18 panels of our precious time in return for his brilliant idea of pretending Isaac Asimov invented the concept of recording video using already obsolete technology.

On the subject of 18 panels (well, 16, thanks to a couple of 2 panel strips), this new Lisa tapes origin story actually takes up more column inches than the entire original origin story AND depiction of the recording of the tapes! That took just 16 panels in four strips. For all its faults, Act II got to the point…

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Rent-A-Fiend

Thanks TFH, enjoy your well-deserved break. You got some real stinkers… I mean, we all do, but I feel like saying that trivializes how uniquely awful each two week shift can be.

Oh, so we’re carrying Sunday’s setting over into today’s strip? Well, that’s one way to make Funky sympathetic after last week’s behavior… stick him next to Les the following week.

“Bunged up”? Is Funky continuing to morph into Crankshaft or is he suddenly a British chap with a bit of a knee allergy? Either way, Funky has apparently had the kind of knee trouble that keeps you off the tennis court for over four years (shout out to that Rick Burchett artwork). And, of course, Les got better results from tennis lessons than Funky did. Of course.

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The Saga Of The Stinging Sword

Link to today’s strip.

It’s hard to believe I once thought this bitter, hateful story would be “a love letter to something Tom Batiuk likes.”

This story had almost nothing to do with Prince Valiant, except for trashing its real-life artists. Three of the four from that era were slighted in some way. Hal Foster was depicted as unscrupulously plagiarizing someone else’s art; Gray Morrow’s name was gotten wrong; and John Cullen Murphy was conspicuously omitted. And since “King Features Syndicate” was proudly displayed on the office walls, Tom Batiuk even implicates his own employer in this fictional misdeed. And couldn’t even bothered to explain why. Continue reading

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Dumpster Diving

Link to today’s strip

Hal Foster himself shows up at the King Feature Syndicate offices, and fishes Phil Holt’s unsolicited submission out of the trash.

Why?

Hal Foster was auditioning people to take over for him. So he would know who the candidates were, and who submitted what pieces of art. This drawing being in the trash implies its worth clearly enough.

Continue reading

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Plot Twist: Phil Holt Was Never The Main Character Of This Story

The story completely undermines itself.

It doesn’t look like Phil Holt had much of a “try out” for Prince Valiant. It looks like he made an unsolicited submission to a large publisher, which was promptly thrown in the trash. By the receptionist. Ouch.

This is typical, though. Most big media companies have a stated policy of “we do not accept unsolicited submissions,” and return them to the submitter with a letter to that effect. This so people can’t claim the publisher stole some half-baked idea they submitted, and try to sue them for damages.

But who’s that in the background? A man who is very specifically drawn; has a monogrammed art satchel; a pair of initials no real person who worked on Prince Valiant had; and looks like he’s waiting for an interview.

It’s Batton Thomas.

As further evidence, I submit this photo from the Funky Winkerbean blog:

That’s Tom Batiuk on the left. I don’t know who the other man is, because I don’t know the context of this photo. It’s too young to be Hal Foster, who was born in 1892, and looked like this in 1962.

Today’s strip makes it clear that Phil Holt tried to nag his way into a tryout, when Batton Thomas had a genuine tryout lined up. Which raises the obvious question: why is this story about Phil Holt and not Batton Thomas??!! Just from today’s strip, we know that Thomas has a better “I tried out for Prince Valiant” story.

This makes Phil look like a liar. In fact, this strip raises a lot of questions:

  • Two days ago, Phil said he has memory problems. Are we supposed to infer that his recollection of events is false?
  • Phil said he was “up against” Wally Wood and Gray Morrow, but he didn’t even have an appointment to show his work when Batton Thomas did.
  • Sunday’s strip was Phil telling an obviously fake story. Is he doing it again?
  • Does Kitch know everything Phil says is baloney, and is just humoring him for some reason?
  • Does today’s strip mean Tom Batiuk himself auditioned for Prince Valiant? Batiuk has never spoken of this.
  • Why would Batiuk give this storyline to his Jack Kirby clone instead of his self-insert character?
  • What does it say about the cast of Funky Winkerbean that it has multiple characters who could have plausibly auditioned to draw Prince Valiant in 1970?
  • What’s even real in this world?

The Funkyverse tries to use Expy Coexistence. Characters are analogues of real people, but mention real people, places, and events. This is done very inconsistently, though. Some characters are real people (Hal Foster, Conan O’Brien); some are ersatz versions of real people (Phil Holt, Flash Freeman, Batton Thomas); some are purely fictional (Ruby Lith, Pete); some are unclear because they’re real names that are spelled wrong (Gary Morrow, Joe Schuster); and some are fantastic entities that can’t exist in a realistic world (Holtron, Lord of the Late). Some fictional characters are real people in this world (Dick Tracy); some fictional comic worlds are still fictional in this one (Prince Valiant, Batman); and this world has its own in-universe fictional properties (Starbuck Jones, the entire Atomik Komix oeuvre).

There are a lot of other inconsistencies that need to be cleared up, too. Like how the time skips are supposed to work.

Funky Winkerbean needs a Universe Bible. I know Tom Batiuk can do this, because he wrote one for Batom Comics. And it’s actually decent. It’s concise, has a clear idea what it wants to convey, and isn’t trying to bludgeon you with a dictionary. Compare that group of blog posts with this group and you’ll see the difference.

This will also be a Cartooning Suggestion:

Write a Funkyverse Bible. And then obey it.

This would solve a lot of the problems that arise from Tom Batiuk constantly reinventing characters and the strip’s history to fit short-term story needs.

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Batting .500

Ugggggggggggggggggggggggggh.

It’s Day 10 of the arc, and this is the fifth strip that could have been omitted entirely. It does not advance the story, reveal any new information, or serve any other purpose.

When I was in high school, I was in a theater production of Rebel Without A Cause. There’s a scene where a character dies because his car goes off a cliff. We accomplished this by playing a sound effects audio clip on the PA system, and telling the actors to improvise some dialog to fill the time. They never got it right. It was either “He’s getting close to the edge! He’s going to go over the edge! Oh no, he’s at the edge! He’s really close to the edge now!” Or they just said random things, and were somehow surprised when the crash sound happened.

Funky Winkerbean reminds me of that. It has no idea what pacing it needs, or what direction it wants to go. It’s just slow, slow, slow, slow, slow, slow, slow, ohmygodIneedtowrapthisuphurryhurryhurryhurry. It’s either burying you under an avalanche of pointless exposition because it’s got all week, or skipping important story points to get finished because the week’s almost over. It’s like watching the first hour of a long. tedious movie, and then random bits of the rest of it.

I blame Tom Batiuk’s insistence on week-long story arcs. I think it’s one of the less-talked about reasons why Funky Winkerbean is as bad as it is. Batiuk seems far more interested in making his arcs exactly six days long than he is in making them any good. I would put an end to that, with the second of my Comics Suggestions:

Story arcs must start on a day other than Monday, or end on a day other than Saturday and Sunday.

No more week-long arcs. Stories will be the number of days they need to be, rather than filling an arbitrary length for no good reason. Hopefully, this will encourage the culling of unproductive strips (which this arc has a lot of), and let stories happen more naturally.

This also replaces the “three-week rule” Batiuk frequently mentions. There’s nothing wrong with long story arcs, if they are otherwise compelling. This is dreadful at any length.

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0-2-1-3-4

Today’s strip is all about the numbers for me… and not just the zip code of “Boston, Mass”. We’ve got 3 faculty on stage here, which is what… half of WHS’ known paid staff these days (along with Les, Cayla, and Lefty)? Of course, maybe you only need 4 teachers, 2 administrators, and a Dinkle when you only have 16 students in your senior class. To be fair, only nerds would show up for a school assembly during the last weeks of their senior year, so maybe these are just all the nerds (that would explain why Maris Rogers is having to plan on crashing graduation parties instead of hosting them).

Wait a second, this is the Senior Honors assembly. That explains it…

With credit and apologies to the Scotts, Smith and Hepting.

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Silverfiche

OK, which one of you yutzes bet Tom Batiuk that he couldn’t put together another strip about Bernie Silver’s senior pictures? I suppose we have you to thank for today’s strip

The good news is we can all boot up our Packard Bells and our MS Paints and join Bernie out in Tinseltown, where we’ll be paid handsomely for our rudimentary green screen skills (citation needed). Here’s a blank Bernie to start with:

Now go forth… The possibilities are endless!

History!

Sports!

Economics!

The deaths that built Gordon Lightfoot’s house!

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