Tag Archives: Les’ blue sweatshirt

The Les You No

Today being 4/20 and all, I found it perfectly appropriate that Mason’s contact photo on Les’ phone should be a picture of some cannabis. But the “trees” we’re looking at in today’s strip are the kind that “don’t provide any shade,” not the kind you smoke. So, the Lisa’s movie is already in the pitch meeting stage, is it? Normally, this would mean that the screenplay’s been completed. Otherwise, they have nothing to “pitch.” Of course, normally, location scouting for a major motion picture takes place after the script is done, and by someone (or a team of people) whose job it is to scout locations; not by the leading man/exectutive producer taking pictures with his cellphone.

Les, perhaps still smarting over his students’ shabby treatment of Batton Thomas, shows little enthusiasm over going to Hollywood to pitch the movie. This sends the normally mellow Mason into a tizzy, demanding that Les join him immediately, his teaching job be damned. Mason is hellbent on involving Les in every single aspect of this movie project, but one questions the wisdom of dragging him along to the pitch meetings. Is no one in Hollywood going to be aware that Lisa’s Story already had been optioned and gone into production nearly six (!) years ago? And that, after insisting that he write the screenplay, Les arrived in Hollywood, splitting his time between complaining, daydreaming, and wishing for death , before walking away from and sabotaging the project?

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Kitchen Nightmares

Link to today’s strip

Ooooh. Les’ Kent State shirt is back! He used to wear it on the regular but I looked and he hasn’t been seen in it since March 2017. At least, I assume it’s a Kent State shirt. The sloppy way it’s drawn, I had previously took it for some kind of tribal symbol, or a bad Stargate fan shirt.

Speaking of sloppy drawing, there’s a non-sequitur of art in every panel today. In panel one Les hand disappears into Funky’s chest like he’s coping a feel. Or attempting to reenact that famous scene from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. In panel two Les’ face has melted into a Bell’s Palsy grimace as he hunches over the inky blackness of Funky’s coat, looking for all the world like he’s just grabbed the head of a tiny Nazgul.

Panel three we get a tiny bowl of balls invading the speech bubble atop the fridge. Are they oranges? Who puts oranges on top of the fridge? Are they novelty clown noses, tucked away for some kinky kitchen roleplay? Also in panel three we have the return of our Theme Of The Week: Funky making a horrified shocked face. Today’s offering has the overtones of ‘electric prostrate exam’ we’ve enjoyed thus far, but follows it up with a hint of ‘trousers full of spiders’ for good measure.

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Pizza My Mind

Wow, greasy, fattening pizza (which Funky undoubtedly donated) and flat Montoni’s root beer for all! Thanks Jessica! You really know how to show gratitude in today’s strip! You’d think from the look on Jessica’s face she’d just gotten them all tickets to Disneyland. The look on Cayla and Keisha’s faces say it all; please God, not another slice of Westview’s worst and only pizza.

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What Baby

SoSfDavidO here! Ya know, we’ve all heard Hollywood makes you self-centered but today’s strip pushes that a bit far, considering Jessica isn’t even out there yet.

Let’s do a quick tally, shall we? So far, Evil Hollywood has sucked away Mopey Pete, Jessica, Darin and Cindy Summers. At this rate there won’t be a Westview left after Les and Co. moves out so he can work on his screenplay. And hey, sure there’s plenty of need in California for greasy, Ohio-style pizza so why not move Montoni’s out there, too? Oscars for everyone!

mc_escher

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Summer Dropouts

SoSfDavidO here, ready for an all-new storyline!

It’s Monday in late January so it doesn’t make sense that Summer is hanging around helping yet another group of doomed souls move into the apartment above Montoni’s but here she is in today’s strip still wearing her shapeless burlap hoody. You’d think her coming home to visit for the first time in a lonnnnng time would warrant a bigger story line than MyPod music recommendation algorithms but apparently not! She isn’t even given a line. Aside from the lifting duties she may as well be a potted plant.

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The Lights In The Sky Are Stars

Link to today’s strip.

This could be kind of sweet, if we liked these characters even slightly.  Since they have been deliberately fashioned to be as unlikable as possible, instead this is just three panels of wasted space.

It’s interesting how the viewpoint shifts–in panel one, Les starts with “I’m,” meaning he (as usual) only cares about his own feelings.  In panel three, Cayla goes for the “We’ll,” somehow hoping to include herself.  Does she really think she’ll ever be included in Les’ world?

I can’t really think of anything else to say about this one, so on to the comment section wi’ ye!

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Blightmare

Link to today’s strip.

Here’s something I like about today’s strip.  No, it’s not the idiotic word-play.  It’s not the artwork, the falling leaves, or the grotesque slab of Les’ greasy hair in panel two.  (Seriously, look at that.  I mean, we all want him to melt in agony, yet here it is and it isn’t any fun at all!)

No, what I like are the expressions in panel three.  Those are three of the most bitter, most miserable people in the world.   Even the guy who’s delivering the pun doesn’t look pleased with himself–he looks as if he’s really loathing himself for having to do this.

What we see here are three people realizing that they are mere toys in the hands of an angry god, and they must dance for his pleasure or burn.  They have one freedom left:  the freedom not to smirk at a pun.  They can withhold their approval in this one thing without fear of annihilation.

No wonder both Les and Cayla envy Les’ dead wife.  Even though the dead can never rest, they can’t die again. either.

Of course, Les’ expression in panel three is typical of him when someone else delivers wordplay.  It just galls him when someone beats him to the punline.  I recall Barry Balderman’s remark about “Life is like masking tape, the more you use, the less you have” (or whatever he said).  Les’ face then was just Boy do I hate you.  Boy do I hate you.  Lisadamnit, I’m supposed to do the clever stuff. 

Given what passes for “clever” in these parts, I suspect most cast members would be happy to pass it off to Les.  “Happy” being the completely wrong word, of course….

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Long Arm of the Lawn

Link to today’s strip.

Or, even better, Long Yarn of the Yawn.

I remember reading Dick Tracy years ago, and a retired police chief had opened a gardening supply store named Lawn Order.  I thought that was pretty clever, as puns go.

This?  This isn’t clever.  I bet there are hundreds of tree-care folks who use this as an actual slogan.  In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me at all of Tom Batiuk was driving around, spotted this on the side of a truck, and thought Well, there’s a daily strip right there.

I don’t know what is more sad.  That Tom Batiuk did twenty years of gag-a-day strips, and thirty years of bland garbage, or that he actually thinks those thirty years are what will constitute his fame.

(Yes, in the “thirty years” I’m including from now to March, 2022.  That’s the only endpoint left here.)

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For Leaf Closure

Link to today’s strip.

Dear Mr. Batiuk–

Look, we get it.  You killed off one of your favorites to win a prize, and when you didn’t win that prize, you’ve tasted ashes and been filled with regrets ever since.

But it doesn’t change the fact that she’s dead, and you need to stop bringing her back.  Either that, or finally give Cayla a small bit of dignity and have her divorce Les for “irreconcilable differences.”  She can even make puns on the way out the door.  Then Les (and Summer) can wallow in Lisa memories until March 2022.

She’s not poignant.  She’s not insightful, or funny, or even interesting.  Les’ continued need for her makes him look even more pathetic than he actually is.  Here’s the thing: The more you bring her back, the less special her death becomes. 

It’s like the dork who finally gets a laugh with one of his dumb jokes, so he repeats it endlessly until everyone was sorry they laughed in the first place.   And they wonder why they laughed at all.

One thing I’m sure of.  I’m willing to bet real money that the Pulitzer Committee is not reading this strip and thinking, Wow, we really made a mistake.  This is great stuff.  Let’s award him a do-over prize!  No, like most of humanity, they’re not reading this strip at all.  And if they did, they’d think, Wow, we were lucky on that one.  How did we even nominate this?  Were we drunk?

We get it.  “Lisa’s Story” was your crowning achievement.   Typically, when one has a crowning achievement, one retires.  Otherwise, as one’s crowning achievement recedes more and more into the distance, that crowning achievement begins to look a lot less like the result of talent and more the result of blind luck.  And one ends up as one of those sad old people whose every sentence begins with, “Hey remember when I…”

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Moore’s the Pity

Link to today’s strip. 

ACTUAL STRIP CONTENT COMMENTARY:  There isn’t any.  “Content,” that is.  What we’ve got is a recap post for those poor souls unlucky enough to have missed a month of Tom Batiuk’s brilliance, and are desperate to find out what’s “happened.”   To those folks, well, I can only quote the Daleks: “‘Pity’? The word is not in my vocabulary.”

I have to say that the last panel is a perfect summation of all of Funky Winkerbean.  It should be the logo on the official site.

BCHASM’S “TL;DR” POST:

In 1941, Preston Sturges made Sullivan’s Travels.  If you’ve never seen it, I highly recommend it, and I won’t spoil it for you.  The premise is that Joel McCrea plays a Hollywood director who specializes in frothy, lightweight comedies.  However, he longs to make serious dramas that call attention to the ills of the day.   The film never outright says it, but Mr. McCrea wants to be known as an artist, and not an entertainer.  The lessons he learns, and the conclusion he comes to won’t be surprising to anyone, but I still find it amazing that others in Mr. Sullivan’s shoes seem oblivious to those same lessons.

I wonder, if Tom Batiuk was just starting out on his career as a syndicated cartoonist, and if he took the best strips of the past three years, do you suppose any syndicate would hire him?  Or would they show him and his relentlessly gloomy strips to the exit?

What publisher looks at the comics page and says, “We need more depressing comic strips.  Buy Funky Winkerbean!”?  I can’t imagine such a person.  (Well, okay, I can imagine J. Jonah Jameson doing this, because he hates his readers.)  Does this mean that Funky Winkerbean still appears in newspapers due to inertia and nostalgia, for a time when we were younger and the strip made us smile wryly?

In the very infrequent times that I step in the Comics Kingdom comments section, Mr. Batiuk has a few defenders, none of whom can point to the positive aspects of his work that they enjoy (it’s well drawn, the characters are realistic, it reminds me of my youth, etc etc).  None.  The only defenses I’ve seen employed by his fans is that his detractors have never won an award and must be unemployed.  Well, I mean, take that!  Oh–and there’s also “If you don’t like it, don’t read it!”  I’ll wait for you to recover from that mot juste.

I wonder what Tom Batiuk really hopes he’s accomplishing.  Does he, J. Jonah Jameson-like, take pleasure in consistently thwarting people’s desire for entertainment, because that damned Spider-Man?  Or, conversely, has he simply ceased to care?  I know that if I drew a nice paycheck doing something in which I no longer believed, I’d probably keep doing it as long as the bills kept arriving.  Everyone has the right to survive, after all.  But I’d still take no joy in it.

Of course, a creative person (an artist or an entertainer) might find a way to bring joy back to his creation.  As I noted yesterday, when Conan Doyle brought back Sherlock Holmes, he did so in The Hound of The Baskervilles–hardly an FU to the Holmes fans.  Would such a thing be possible for Batiuk?  I don’t know, but I think it’s far too late for Funky Winkerbean–Batiuk has started down his chosen path, and he’ll be damned if he’s going to admit he made a terrible mistake.  No, you will take Les Moore, and you will like Les Moore, and you will find yourself amused and enlightened by Les Moore*.  I suppose it’s a strange stance to take, to decide that this is the line that shall not be crossed.

Everyone can see the line, it’s just that no one wants to stand on that side.

O Brother, Where Art Thou?

*For amusement, try substituting “horse poop” for “Les Moore” in that sentence.  It reads exactly the same!

Speaking of O Brothers, the greatest O brother of all, David O, will be driving the SoSF Funky Cart in the Depression Box Derby starting tomorrow.  Thank you for your indulgence, and exit right to Funway!

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