Tag Archives: Linda

It’s Beta Than Nothing

SoSFDavidO here, peeking in on this week’s lack of action!

Ah boy, another strip, another plot device pulled out of thin air. Ignoring the fact Harry’s head is on backward in Panel 1, where was this tape the whole time? Funky’s Magical Safe of Holding? Does anyone remember the size of video cameras that used VHS tapes like in today’s strip? I do, and they were the size of a small dairy goat. The idea Harry lugged one of those things to a game and filmed anything is ludicrous. Bull already *lived* the event, what’s a tape going to do but remind him of how old, fat and tired he looks?

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Bore And Snore-der

Link To Today’s Strip

“Yo, Petey! Listen, you know those thirty pallets of blank VHS tapes you boosted right before the format went extinct and couldn’t ever find a buyer for? Well listen, there’s this town in Ohio….”.

“Welcome to Slippery Pete’s Blank VHS Tape Emporium, formerly “Citizen Khans”, how can I help you? Two dozen blank VHS tapes? Why sure, that will be two hundred dollars, please (chortle).”

Taping…LOL. Taping “Law And Order” for twenty years…LOL again. “Too busy coaching”…uh yeah, sure he was, Linda, sure he was.

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No Formats Left Behind

Link To Today’s Strip

It really IS a videotape! Someone actually brought a VHS camcorder to Bull’s last game? Or is this some ancient tape Dinkle unearthed while he was endlessly roaming around WHS for no sensible reason? These people and the videotapes, that was a technological advancement Westviewians oddly embraced for some reason instead of shunning it like they always do.

“What? Movies with sound? Kids today are so spoiled. I’ll stick to my silent films, this is just a fad.”

“Ahhh, the color, the tint…just two more silly knobs to have to fiddle with. I’ll stick to my old black & white TV, thank you very much.”

“Video games? On the TV? Where do you put the comic book? Kids today are so weird.”

“WOW! A camcorder! I can make my own video tapes! I’m gonna record everything and save all the tapes even if the format eventually dies out!”

One of these is not like the others. Imagine it, you’re at a WHS football game, filming with your phone. Then you look up and notice the angry faces of the locals, all of them with huge old-fashioned VHS camcorders hoisted on their aching sagging shoulders. You begin to hear the murmurs…”fancy technology wiz thinks he’s so cool”…”yeah, let’s see him dub copies with that thing”…”damn kids today”. The crowd begins passing around hand-written little notes mocking you. And when you innocently ask whether that horrible wooden trough thing is really supposed to be the men’s room the fed-up mob attacks, running you out of the bleachers and back to your futuristic dream world. And it’s all on videotape.

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Meeting Of The Mindless

Link To Today’s Strip

Woe, woe, woe…Merry Funkmas!!! Everything is inexplicably back in living color today as Dinkle bravely forges ahead through typical Westviewian blizzard conditions to visit his old pal…Bull? Sure, why not? I don’t recall ever seeing those two interact, this oughta be really…(zzzzzzzz). I’ll tell you this right now: if Bull is angrily sitting there next to some overturned water cups I’m outta here for the week. Ditto if Dinkle starts with the music-based puns…”passing his baton” and such. This has “dismal and lifeless” written all over it as it is, there’s just no need to pile on.

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My Mother Said, To Get Things Done, You’d Better Not Mess With Major Tom

Link to today’s strip.

Wow.

You see that, sportos?  If you start out in sports and athletic endeavors, your life will end in crushing failure after a career of setback after setback.  Any chance for happiness will be snatched back at the last moment, leaving your suffering ever more exquisite.  Serves you right for bullying certain people we could name.  Those people practice the only pure sport known to man, running!

You just wasted your entire life.  You could have done things differently–you could have followed the smart people, and become a big comic book fan.  Those people never ever fail at anything, and are always living fulfilling lives.  People smile and wave at them, and offer them rewarding jobs just because they’re comic book fans.  Just think, right now, Linda could be bringing you milk and cookies as you sat in the attic reading about the Flash.  But no, in the strip, you’ve never even mentioned whether you even like comic books.  Loser!

I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a naked expression of hatred from a creator to his creation as today’s strip.  This goes way beyond harsh into rabid, frothing vendetta-land.  This is a person deciding his child’s kindergarten painting wasn’t very good–so it needed to be shredded in front of said child’s eyes as a lesson.  This is “vindictive” with a capital “murder,” to the point where I honestly can’t believe what I’m seeing.

And it would have been so easy to turn it around, to make it something positive.  Get rid of Bull’s dialogue in panels 4 through 6, and replace it with Linda:  “Bull, it’s okay.  That’s the last act of your old life.  The life where you were always worried and angry and things kept going wrong.  That life’s over, and we’re starting your new life tonight.  The one where we face life together.  You and me.”  Then the lights go out, but there’s the hopeful tinge that Bull actually has something to look forward to.  But no, we get an ever descending chorus of bleakness, then the lights go out.  I’m surprised there wasn’t a “BANG!” sound effect in that last panel.

It seems weird, because it sure looked like Bull was being rehabilitated.   As HeyItsDave pointed out on the 24th, Bull has a long list of favors that he’s done for Les.  I mean, if you can’t get absolution doing favors for Les Moore, than your star really is about to shatter.   But there’s always been a rather blatant contempt for sports in the strip.  Yeah, Wedgeman and the other team members were stupidly evil, but that’s typical for a lot of comic strips.  The real “sports is nothing and requires no talent” bit came when a star quarterback emerged from smoking loser Jared.  No practice, no hard work, no talent, anyone could do it.

Today’s strip, though.  I mean, like a nine-car pileup, it’s hard to look away.  This strip really looks like a revenge fantasy that Tom Batiuk drew without ever intending to publish (a sort of voodoo-strip, if you will).  But then there was this deadline, see, and time got short–

Makes me wonder if he has Sunday revenge-strips all drawn, inked and colored about all of us.  Somehow, I would not be surprised.

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The Dead Zone

Link to today’s strip.

I don’t advocate violence against anyone, but I think Bull here would be perfectly justified in punching Linda right in the face, as hard as he can.

Here, Bull has just failed at a final task his former coach assigned him, and all she can think to do is make a joke basically saying, “Well, Bull, we knew you’d fail from the beginning.  We just wanted to see it happen.”

That, my friends, is the very definition of mean-spirited.  The only way this could work would be if Bull was in on it–“You knew I’d do that, didn’t you?”  Easily done:

Just add a half-lidded smirk and the venom is drained out of it.

However, this also illustrates a point made by our very own Paul Jones on the 29th.  If I may quote:

His metier is really the gag a day strip that has no consequences to its jokes but he doesn’t realize it.

In a nutshell and on target.  That is the major failing of this strip–Tom Batiuk is trying to tell long-form stories here, but he is still in the mindset of the gag-a-day strip, where everything must be status quo ante after the day’s last panel.  The two forms really don’t mix well at all.  It’s why medical and psychological conditions have no real consequences, and why–in this instance–someone can make a cruel joke about a character’s failure and we’re all supposed to brush it off.   As Scarlett O’Hara might have said (were she to find herself in a mediocre comic strip), “Tomorrow is another gag.”

As I’ve said before, I think the worst thing that ever happened to Tom Batiuk was being nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.  We’ll never know the reasoning behind that nomination, but it basically said to Tom Batiuk, “Yes, the long-form dramatic comic strip is what you should be doing.  You should never go back to gag-a-day.  You are on the right path.”  And all the evidence that he is not on the right path gets swept aside in the waves of an ego-storm.  Criticism that might make him take a second look is overshadowed by the words “Pulitzer nominee.”

The thing is, of all the long-form stories that he’s told, none of them have been told well.  They’re not interesting–or if they start out that way, they are quickly mediocre’d until they stop that.  They’re not insightful or poignant or heart-warming or anything at all.  They just take up space.

Something I’m guessing Bull will stop doing shortly.

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Shut Up, Donny

Link to today’s trip.

“Flag on the field.  How did it get there?” 

Well, you knew this was coming, right?  Given the choice between a sentimental gesture and a comedic pratfall, which one would he go with?  Well, there really wasn’t a choice, was there–sentiment only rears its head when Les Moore is involved, and he’s nowhere in sight (thank goodness).  Too bad the pratfall lacks the “comedic” bit.  In all seriousness, though, how utterly uncoordinated does Bull have to be to trip by stepping on a tiny banner?  Oh, I get the symbolism–Big Walnut Tech has once again prevented Bull from scoring–but couldn’t it be done in a subtler way?

“Touch a pennant.  Things happen.  A coach becomes a buffoon.”

As you know, there was a similar moment in the Coen Brothers film “The Big Lebowski.”   I won’t spoil it for you if you haven’t seen the film, but there it was funny, appalling, in character, and worked.  Here, it is none of those things, and it doesn’t work.  It just seems like another kick from Tom Batiuk against his old high school nemesis.   The one task that Bull promised Coach Stropp he would do, and he fails at it.  Hardy har har.

“Bull Bushka, noted coach.  Now clown.  Stumble.  Stumble, just to be stumbling.”

Again, the whole premise just seems stupid.  The idea that Coach Stropp would want his remains treated in such a cavalier way, the idea that the school apparently knows nothing of his arrangement with Bull…I mean, surely when Stropp died, the school would have assembled to watch Bull amble toward the goal line, as a gesture of respect toward his career?  No?  There’s just an urn in the locker room with no identification, no one other than Bull knows how it got there (or even that it is there), and the school is perfectly okay with all of this.   (The idea that anyone would want their mortal remains placed in the high school shows just how much said high school has shaped Tom Batiuk’s thinking.)

“Nothing bothers some people, not even funeral urns in the locker room.”

The strangest thing is this:  Everyone, even Coach Stropp, is fine with the idea that Coach Stropp will be honored by the school when Bull retires, and not one moment before.

I keep re-reading the last sentence I just typed, hoping I’ll glean some insight, but it just keeps getting dumber and dumber.

“Bull Bushka.  Caught in the wheels of cartooning.”

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