Tag Archives: Les

Summer’s Finally Over

Link To Today’s Strip

Summer is back in town, presumably “from college”, for the annual Falling Of The Leaves as is customary in Westview. Seeing good ol’ Summer there with her ever-so-twee hair and her trademark gritty hoodie brings back fond memories of how much I detested that character way back in the dark early days of Act III. She was around all the f*cking time with the basketball and the wry wisecracks and the Lisa gobbledygook, it was awful.

Summer was a major player there for a while but after she got the flu and won the Big Game he shipped her off to KSU and that was pretty much the last of her, she hasn’t had an arc to herself in years. Perhaps he just became enamored with his new up-and-coming crop of characters like Cliff and Chester and Phil Holt and post-Alzheimer’s Mort or maybe it was because he can’t write for a female character unless she’s feeding her husband straight lines, but whatever the reason Summer got kicked to the curb in what’s turned out to be one of (only) Act III’s more pleasant developments.

I’m deliberately ignoring the dialog, Les & Cayla’s already inexplicable and credulity-shattering courtship and marriage needs no further embellishment. God I hate that disembodied Les head so, so much. Seeing Les and Summer together like that really annoys me and brings back a lot of FW memories I’d rather keep buried. In fact this one could be my most hated strip of the year so far.

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Early dawning, Sunday morning

Link to today’s strip.

As usual, Sunday’s strip is not available for preview and I’ve got too much to do tomorrow to wait up for it.

I’m of two minds–on the one hand, it sure seems like we were building up to something starring Cliff Anger…but we haven’t really built anything enough.  I mean, one mention of “Butter Brickle” hardly constitutes a leaping-off point for a Cliff Anger comic book tribute cover, but then this is Funky Winkerbean so absolutely anything is possible, as long as it isn’t even slightly interesting.

The second, and I think more likely possibility is that we’ll have something unrelated to the previous week.  For example, it’s been a while since Funky and Les have gone running, and the fact that Les is in California shouldn’t be a barricade to this strip.  Or we might get wacky Bernie Silver Chess Club antics, with all the wackiness scientifically removed.   Who knows?

Ah well.  We’ll all find out together, and our yawning will be such that it will wake the land!

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Eating Their Turds and Whey

Link to today’s strip.

Whoops!  Late to the party on this one, but I got involved in a project of my own and neglected the time.

Not much to say about this one.  The artwork continues to slide into the abyss, the dialogue is idiotic, and Rich Burchett shows us something in that last panel  (almost wrote “penal”; these hosting stints, lemme tells ya…)

I mean, look at Cliff’s face in that last panel.  “Oh?  Think I’m not planning on getting my cheese dip on?  Really, Vera?  Wow, are you in for a surprise!”

Overall, again, it’s people sitting around discussing things that we have not seen and we’ve not been given a reason to care about.  Eating food that looks, honestly…well, it looks largely like bowel movements.  Which, given the overall bent of this strip, makes perfect sense.  It also makes those vaguely flesh-colored cubes that show up now and then in Mary Worth look edible.

It’s kind of silently nauseating in its own unique way.  And it’s another step away from what people want in comic strips.  And it makes me feel that the 50th anniversary will be something to see, though I can easily imagine Batiuk presenting something ultra dull.  After all, it’s the Funky Winkerbean way.

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Hollywood Heartworm

Boy, the artwork in today’s offering is really terrible.  Those faces in panel one look like a set of sad balloons from an abandoned “melting-flesh” themed carnival.  And I don’t know what’s going on with Cayla’s hand.  That doesn’t look natural at all.  Rick Burchette is becoming worse and worse all the time; he’s actually making Batiuk’s work look good by comparison.  Whether this is due to influence from above (“Make it crappy, like me!”) or a growing disenchantment with his task (“This strip sucks, so who cares”), it’s hard to say.  I would guess that the recent Atomik Komix (gah) covers are his way of saying “I am actually quite a competent artist; ’tis the subject that dictates the work and moves the artist’s hand.”

And as to today’s content, well, we’re back to the self-depreciation crap.  I know Batiuk loves to have his characters wallow in misery, but seriously, give it a rest.  It hasn’t been “edgy” for decades now, it’s just tiresome.  It’s the sort of thing that teenagers grow out of.  Sheesh.  Cliff himself has had a 180 degree turnaround in his life, and he’s now revered and celebrated.  But no, he has to be all “Woe is me.”

How can one be a “Hollywood Heartthrob” by starring in one forgotten (but beloved) serial before disappearing into bitter exile?  How the Hell can these people be ambulatory and lucid, let alone alive, in their late 90’s?  It’s easy, really.  Because reality in this strip is whatever Batiuk wishes it to be, because reality in the real world refuses to cooperate.

If it weren’t so dull, it would be sad.

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The Gangrene’s All Here

Link to today’s strip.

Another dull entry…which would be a great name for this strip.

Imagine this particular episode presented with no dialogue–it’s just people standing around with a couple of handshakes thrown in.   Without the dialogue, it’s dull, but you have the possibility that adding dialogue might make it into something that could be interesting, possibly, depending on what these people say.  But in Funky Winkerbean, if you add the dialogue back, yes, it changes…but not for the better.  You end up with something no one could care about at all, except someone trying to reach a 50th anniversary on a project in which he has lost all interest.  And it shows.  Boring people saying boring things in a boring way.

I’m sure the idea is that Funky Winkerbean fans (those mythical creatures) would look upon this and shout, “Yes!  Vera and Cliff are back!  This is great!”  The problem–probably the main problem with the whole strip–is that in the real world, enthusiasm for characters comes from caring about them, because those characters are interesting, or do interesting things.  Here, these characters are uninteresting, do nothing but stand around, and we are given no reason to care about them at all.  This is because Tom Batiuk cannot create interesting characters, because he cannot care about anyone other than his various avatars (mainly Les, but also Dullard, John Howard and Dinkle).

Remember that time you were in a restaurant and you asked the table next to you if you could borrow their salt shaker, and you got an assful of stories that bored you to tears, but you needed that salt?  Say hello to Vera and Cliff.

While I can’t say much for his taste in clothing, it’s nice that Cliff and Vera dress up a bit when they’re going visiting.

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The House That Jones Built

Link to today’s strip.

Greetings, folks, BChasm here back behind the wheel of this eternally stalling vehicle.  Many thanks to Comic Book Harriet for an excellent hosting stint.  Trust me, the headaches go away after a while!

So, what do we have here?  I’m honestly dying from boredom just looking at this one.  I do like the drawing of the house and the environs in panel one–it’s simple and slapdash but it’s nice, including the squiggle birds and the hinted-at ocean.  A decent looking house right on the beach–Starbuck Jones has been very good to Mason.  And it’s nice of Les to change from the yellow shirt he was wearing yesterday to a blue version of the same thing.   I suppose he did that on the ride over, and thank you to Tom Batiuk for not showing that, and also not showing Mason saying, “Wow, Les, you’re really ripped.  I could get you into the movies easily, as a sensitive and caring guy who ends up with the girl in the end!”  And also not showing Les being all humble and yet unable to say No.  So that’s three good things Tom Batiuk did in just this one episode!

Anyway, I get that Les and Mason are pals due to suffering through the abortive “Lust for Lisa” project, but Cayla and Cindy don’t really seem like the type to pal around.   Have they ever actually met?

As for the dialogue, ugh.  Dullard told Mason that he and Les were up for an award.  Cindy took that as a way to catch up on Ohio.  Because, as I think the Comics Curmudgeon pointed out, phones can never be used in the Funkyverse.   And everything always happens in Ohio…the place Mason wanted to retire to, if I remember correctly.  Yeah, no one uses phones, except Les, just yesterday to text Cindy.  So he has her number stored in his phone.  And…

This strip is like a shelf full of boxes that all get knocked to the floor, contents scattered everywhere.  And the person assigned to pick everything up just doesn’t care where things are supposed to go.

Still, I think the point of this episode is to present something so dull and uninteresting that no one can really criticize it.  If so, mission accomplished.

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A Big Pick-Me-Up.

Link to Today’s Comic.

Once again stayed up late waiting for Sunday’s strip to drop. Les and Cayla are in LA, getting picked up by the world’s worst Uber. Mason has always been portrayed as a dingbat. I would not feel safe with him behind the wheel of a Hummer/Hearse Hybrid during LA rush hour.

It seems that ‘Comic-Con’ this year was completely summed up in one panel of nerdery last Sunday. The awards show might as well have been a poorly attended wedding reception for all the excitement and industry flavor we got.

I’m pretty flabbergasted by it, really. We did get plenty of tone deaf ‘nerdy’ humor last year, and the year of the great Holly Winkerbean Starbuck Hunt. But the idea that Batiuk would have nothing more to say during a Comic Con, that he’s both out of new ideas and not interested in recycling his old ones, it’s not like him. It’s almost worrying. Lack of interest in activities that you once enjoyed is a classic hallmark of depression. Can someone check on him?

Well it has certainly been an interesting couple weeks at the helm. I interpret this awards quickie as TommyBats realizing that while the IRL ‘Lisa’s Story’ was nominated for a Pulitzer, the ‘in-universe’ book has never been similarly rewarded. The Eisner nomination, but not win, is a way of giving his opus similar accolades both within his world and without.

Beckoning Chasm is up tomorrow, to see us through the sights of LA. If Cayla is impressed with Union Station, wait till she sees the Scientology Building.

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