Tag Archives: Lillian

Black Cat Familiar

Link To Today’s Strip

Yes Dinkle, we know. We know you know all about mascots. Just like you knew all about playing music and directing and fundraising. You’re a former high school band director. WE ARE PAINFULLY FAMILIAR WITH THE CONCEPT.

And who isn’t familiar with mascots? Was he being ironic? If so, why did we need an entire panel of him imagining a school logo?

And in what universe does this exchange not come across as extremely dickish? Lillian was explaining that the cat was the mascot, she wasn’t asking if Dinkle knew what a mascot was.

It would be like showing a friend your new Jeep and having them roll their eyes and tell you that they are familiar with the concept of internal combustion engines.

And Dinkle is imagining the school logo. He didn’t even have the decency to remember the actual live goat he bought to stand on the sidelines and nibble chemically treated turfgrass while watching the Scapegoats lose. Paul deserved better.

Our Funkistorian Billy The Skink posted these back in 2018. But for any of our more recent readers, a little journey back in time.

FW9-26-83
FW9-27-83
FW10-1-83

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Hitting the route notes

I suppose we have the consolation that today’s strip is not nearly as terrifying as Dinkle’s last music directing dream. That’s not much, but we have to take what we can get here.

So this group really is a “Gospel” choir? That wasn’t just a set up for last month’s “gossip choir” joke? Look, I’m not saying that a choir of interchangeable old white midwestern women in what appears to be a staid mainline Protestant church cannot sing a genre of music that is most strongly associated with (often) male feature performers in southern evangelical or (particularly) Black churches. Unexpected as it might be, of course they can. What I’m saying is that I don’t think TB has any idea that Gospel music is an actual genre of music itself and not simply another term for “hymns” or “church music”.

Unfortunately for TB and for us, music is not like a choir loft. It can’t be researched by taking a photo of it and e-mailing it to Chuck Ayers.

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Medal of Horror

Today’s strip marks the third straight day that Dinkle is doing his eyes-closed, head tilted back, mouth-agape, peacocking thing… which I think we can all agree is seven days too many. Hopefully we can also all agree that the poetic tire fire that is “I believe this is the first time a man’s crew-neck undershirt has been seen in the choir loft!” is a sentence that is just too perfectly execrable to exist. Yet it does exist.

Yes, we have here a call back here to Dinkle’s May 2017 trip to Belgium, where he was showered with unearned praise, given this unbearably punny-named medal, and stood in front of TB’s uncredited tracing of the legendary Hergé’s work. I’m not wordly enough to know if the Belgians hate us, but I can’t blame them if they do…

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If only there WAS a substitute for experience…

You are looking liiiiive at St. Spires Church and its odd, grass-covered exterior wall in today’s strip

At least the choir ladies are asking follow up questions now. The last two times Dinkle pulled his “a little” shtick no one pressed him for specifics. I’m half-surprised Dinkle doesn’t carry around a printed resume to hand out to the mere mortals who aren’t familiar with his life story, that really seems like something he would do.

At least we get that brilliant salmonella pun again4 and a half months was just too long without it. It’s a true TB original too, you won’t find it anywhere else.

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Parish the thought

I’m not on Dinkle’s side or anything, but I struggle to sympathize with the choir ladies in today’s strip. Those stern looks of disapproval are genuine and understandable, but these ladies have got to stop setting Dinkle up for this miserable gag. This is the third time they’ve walked right into it. Yes, Dinkle is insufferable and arrogant, but they’ve had plenty of time now to learn that asking him if he knows anything about a subject is a sure way to draw out that insufferableness and arrogance. If you don’t like the way he acts when baited, stop baiting him!

At least there’s no blood this time from Dinkle biting his tongue… Well, that’s not really an improvement. For a while there I thought that maybe Dinkle could be put on a path to self-destruction by frequently questioning his credentials.

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Robed in travesty

I thought maybe we were getting an extended break from Dinkle during the last week, TB does love pontificating on comic books after all, but I should have known better. The Dinkle-St. Spires choir story had yet to play all of the beats a Dinkle story plays. We’ve covered his arrogance, his ego, his megalomania, his ludicrously demanding practices, the one thing we were missing from the complete Harry Dinkle experience finally shows up in today’s stripfundraising. I should have seen it coming, no excuses.

I’m not sure these robes appear to be “tired and worn” so much as they appear to be rain ponchos purchased at a Cleveland Browns game. Maybe add some patches or stains or loose threads next time to sell the effect, Chuck.

Now it is only a question of how many weeks will TB spend showing Dinkle pushing these old ladies to sell “choir mattresses” or his autobiography or whatever. Unfortunately, it won’t be a negative number.

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Has Harry Ever Been Experienced? Well, Has He?

Link To The Thing

Now that you mention it I can’t recall ever seeing Dinkle actually playing a musical instrument. Surely he has and I’m just blotting it out for obvious reasons, but isn’t he really more of a conductor of sorts? Or am I just remembering his entire ten thousand year character arc all wrong?

Look how angry he is in panel two, as if these old biddies would know who the hell Harry Dinkle is. Where the hell did he learn how to play a big church organ anyhow? In the Army or something? It’s all so stupid and implausible. He couldn’t even create a backstory here, where we learn that Dinkle’s dad Hinkel used to play the organ at his old church and young Harry used to tag along or whatever. He’s just the “music guy” and BatHam’s go-to whenever “music” is somehow involved, like Les and smugness or Boy Lisa and blandness.

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Total Organ Failure

Link To Today’s On Time Strip

No, she passed away while playing racquetball, you clod. This one is rather grim and depressing, even by FW standards. They just refuse to let that poor old dead organist rest. Oh well, at least her death resulted in a humorous anecdote for everyone else, so her hundred and twenty years on this planet were well worth it. Maybe next week the pastor will die during a funeral service, with hilarious consequences of course.

I get this reference, because G and C are music notes, right? Sigh. It’s not Batiuk’s worst gag ever, but still, the old lady dying sort of takes the edge off, for lack of a better term. In a FW context it’s nothing but to an outsider I suppose it’d seem rather dark, which is probably one reason why hardly anyone reads it.

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The Audience is Wide

Link to today’s strip.

For a man who has such great pride in his writing ability, Tom Batiuk shows remarkably little evidence of having any.

The fact that we’re on our fourth day of this non-story gives a very good picture of Batiuk’s “writing” process.

First, set up a situation. A church needs a new organist. It’s a fine premise, it would be possible to tell an interesting story with that situation. Except for the next step.

Second, find something in the premise that’s incredibly trivial and inconsequential, and stretch the Hell out of it. You should be able to get an entire week out of this; if you put in the effort, you can get two or even three weeks.

Third, go for an ending where you get to reward your hero characters with little or no effort.

As mentioned, finding an new organist could make an interesting story. You could have several characters try out for the position–one person who has always wanted the job, another who is qualified but hasn’t been a member of the church for years, perhaps a relative who thinks the position should be his, etc. Drama is certainly a possibility, as well as some interesting character work.

But not in Funky Winkerbean.

Heck, if you hired Tom Batiuk to write a “Fast and Furious” movie, the characters would spend two hours looking for their car keys. Then at the end, they’d be handed their car keys by an unintroduced character, and they’d spend the rest of the movie admiring themselves, their abilities, and their struggles to get those car keys.

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Let’s All Gather in the Gathering Room

Link to today’s strip.

Here it is Wednesday and we’re still all glabbering about replacing the organist. I realize that this is all supposed to be happening on the same day, strip-wise, but it makes it excruciatingly slow for the reader.

I know Batiuk doesn’t give a cusser’s tink for his readers, but he needn’t be so blatant about it.

This week’s strips together make the most desolate wasteland I’ve seen in this strip for a long while. If he really needs to stretch this sort of stuff out, he should give serious thought to retiring. Yeah, I know there’s some Golden Something award if he makes it to 50 years, but give the world a break.

This reminds me of people who talk constantly, who never shut up, and who also never say anything. It’s like they have to fill the world with noise, but it’s never interesting noise.

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