Tag Archives: Les

Fielding a Compliment

ICYMI: So yesterday Logan was summoned to the office, only to return today to The Bleat’s studio with the rest of her peers (the “freshmen” we met in 2016 and hence should have graduated last June), and they’re all just back from a field trip? Th’ hell? Is this happening like five minutes later, or have days passed? Les is still wearing the yellow shirt, but that’s not a clue, since he wears a yellow shirt at least 85% of the time. Logan’s wearing a jacket that she didn’t have on yesterday, but then again, yesterday her top went from a crew neck to a turtleneck in the space of one panel. And today she wears the same color top but now it’s a v-neck. Logan: “Yeah, I almost would rather have been here!” Girl, you were here! Maybe that’s not Logan Church, but rather her heretofore unseen identical twin? Les, of course, is unaffected by any of this, as long as he can take as a “compliment” that being in his class is almost–almost–preferable to some shitty, five minute field trip to the principal’s office.

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Monday Morning Church

Welcome back from what I hope for you was a wonderful, long holiday weekend. Also back at work this Monday is Les Moore, after a weekend in Hollywood that started back in June. Les’ harrowing experience during the wildfires there have left him a little bit on edge: so triggered is he by the loud PA announcement that the sheaf of blank paper he was holding flies from his tiny hands. Easy to see why Mason wants to make a movie about this hero. Even Logan, the one being summoned by this booming voice, is more calm. Harder to gauge the reaction of the anono-kid in the red shirt, who is likely high AF and whose stage direction for this scene is “(looks on).” Tuesday: Logan pauses in the doorway and, without even getting Les’ Spinal Tap reference, blankly inquires of Mr. Moore, “Why don’t you just make ten louder and make ten be the top number and make that a little louder?”

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You Forgot the Hot Chocolate And Cookies, Cayla

Link To Today’s Strip

Oh, yay. Another sideways strip. If your comics are so awkwardly wordy that they have to be turned sideways to fit in all the dialogue, maybe you’re doing something wrong. Or maybe visual storytelling isn’t for you.

What Lisa-related writing do you think Les is working on while he sits there silently while Cayla literally praises his greatness and showers him with kisses? That is one awkwardly clunky line Cayla is reading. I wonder if this was one of those situations where Les won because nobody else bothered to enter.

I have a feeling that Batiuk tells himself “You deserved to win” every day, when he thinks about the Pulitzer. I can see how he could be that deluded, given that he can spew out garbage like last week’s arc and still get it published and somehow get interviewed in major newspapers like he’s an Artist.

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Threescore and Five

Oh, now hold up. Men’s Over Sixty-Five Division? This is the last time I’m going to harp on timeline and continuity: Batiuk clearly gives no fucks so why should we? But if you go by what Wikipedia says:

In 1992, Batiuk changed the strip’s format. It was established that Funky, Les, Cindy and all the rest of the previous cast had graduated from Westview in 1988…

In which case, today Funky would be right around 50 years old.

In November 2008, the gang assembled for a thirty year reunion (“the coming reunion”). This would make them WHS Class of 1978. Funky would be about 60 (at the “time pool” reunion in June 2015, any dates on the banners were artfully obscured).  This number also would jibe with Funky being 46 at the beginning of Act III in 2007, as shown on the “Meet the Cast” page. So we have what amounts to a time jump within a time jump. The characters are catching up in age with their creator, and Funky (and his peers, including ageless Cindy) are at least 65 years of age. Older than me, even!

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Heavy Medal

[I]n 2008 [Tom Batiuk] was named a Pulitzer Prize finalist. Only three other newspaper strip creators have achieved this distinction in the award’s 100-year history: Garry Trudeau (Doonesbury), Berkeley Breathed (Bloom County) and Lynn Johnston (For Better or For Worse). Pulitzer judges cited Batiuk’s controversial story line in which his Lisa character battles cancer – a subject not typically covered in the funny pages.

“That sort of validated my career for me because there are only four … Trudeau, Breathed, Johnston … and Funky,” Batiuk says with a smile. “I’ll take that company. That’s not bad.”

From the Interviews page at funkywinkerbean.com

Today’s strip…Who wouldn’t admire a guy who creates three hugely successful (in their day) daily comic strips? The main difference between Tom Batiuk and two of those other three famous cartoonists is that Trudeau and Breathed won their Prizes. Now, being a Pulitzer finalist is nothing to sneeze at, but this does put Batiuk in the lower percentile, alongside Johnston, creator of the only long-running, “serious” comic that engenders even stronger love/hate among its faithful readers.

Not having that Pulitzer on his shelf alongside his Flash maquette has to sting a little, for a storyteller who likens himself to Charles Schulz and Woody Allen. Despite the considerable success and fame that Batiuk’s earned over nearly a half century, he’s still “never won a medal.”

C’mon man. Even Skyler‘s won a medal.

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It Keeps You Running

Jeez, that’s quite a list of ailments. Can you imagine what kind of shape Funky would be in if he didn’t exercise regularly?

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Well, You Ain’t Never Caught a Rabbit

Mason walks around with that same stupid smirk all the time, but why must Les look askance at Funky in today’s strip? Could it be that, having been so immersed in Hollywood–even rescuing a starlet from a wildfire!–Les is starting to see his hometown Ohio friends as pathetic, smalltime losers? He can’t wait to get back to whatever’s left of Hollywood, where he’ll get to hang out on the set of Lisa’s Story and ogle Marianne in her Lisa drag.

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Rotary Sojac

This year’s Lisa’s Legacy event is taking place rather early. When the Act III curtain rose twelve years ago, Bull Bushka presided over the Lisa’s Legacy Walk while Les and Summer took part in the Making Strides walk in Central Park. Let’s recap events of the years since.

2008: Cory steals the cigar box containing over a grand in registration fees; Funky writes a check to keep his delinquent son out of trouble.

2009: Cayla and Keisha get roped in to volunteering; Cayla’s reward is to get schooled by Les on exactly how Lisa made a peanut  butter and jelly sandwich.

2010: Even ten years ago, Funky was complaining of his physical ailments.

2011: It rains.

2012: Instead of a week-long arc, the Run occupies a Sunday strip in fiery autumn hues.

2013: This time Funky needs to be attended to by an EMT.

2014: The 15th annual LLR is noteworthy for the black, not primarily pink, tee shirts worn by the participants, and the black comic border and muted palette; not TB’s usual fall riot o’ color.

The Run wasn’t featured in 2015, and again was a Sunday-only in 2016. The Mentor (Ohio) Rotary took over the event in 2017, in order to allow Les more time for his book tour.

In 2018 and 2019, The Run was apparently pre-empted by prestige arcs: Wally and Adeela and the Death of Bull, respectively. This year’s real-life event doesn’t appear to be happening, no doubt on account of Covid.

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Before They Make Me Run

Hope everyone’s enjoying a nice Labor Day Weekend!

So Les is back in Westview for the Lisa’s Legacy Run. And Mason, Cindy, and Marianne surprise him by showing up. And “Cindy is shooting footage of us running the race today…” For use in the movie? Will Marianne and Mason be running in character as Lisa and Les? Cindy’s a cinematographer now? Wouldn’t they need permission to shoot? And two movie stars and a former network news anchor are just hanging out, not attracting attention from anyone beside Les. Such disorienting plot “developments” have been Funky Winkerbean‘s stock in trade since mid-Act II. Let’s talk instead about the deteriorating draftsmanship in this comic strip.

The only modification I’ve made to this panel was to remove the dialogue balloons, or “word zeppelins,” in order to allow us to better appreciate this Mount Rushmore of melting faces. Les suffers the least, as his goatee in profile always looks like shit. Mason sports an even goofier than usual expression. Cindy is droopy-eyed, and Marianne’s head is on a stalk.

Tom Batiuk writes and “inks” FW, but for the last two years the strips have been penciled by Batiuk’s ol’ Kent State pal Chuck Ayers. Ayers has partnered with TB in this way since the mid 1990’s, in addition to drawing Crankshaft for 30 years. In March 2017 Ayers gave up both jobs to pursue other interests, but returned following the tenure of Rick Burchett, who turned out some of the most horrendous, slapdash, off-model draughtsmanship since another noted comics artist, John Byrne, was at the drawing board.

Ayer’s Crankshaft strips always seemed to me to be much better and more naturally drawn than Funky Winkerbean. And the aforementioned Messrs. Burchett and Byrne were renowned, more-than-capable comic book artists. I’m bringing all this up because I wonder if a requirement of working as Tom Batiuk’s penciller is having to “dumb down” one’s ability closer to Batiuk’s level. In this way, the guy who got laughed out of New York by Marvel and DC gets to hire real artists, and then pin clip their wings.

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