Wow. Major Act II flashbacks, man. I didn’t think he’d go THERE with this story, but once again I vastly underestimated his shamelessness. He could have chosen to go with some nice breast cancer awareness platitudes and how “Lisa’s Story” was ultimately helping people and so forth. But, with his usual sledgehammer-like subtlety, he decided to go ahead and GIVE MARIANNE CANCER instead. So now she really is just like Lisa, except hotter and, you know, alive and everything.
Even after all these years and all the tedium, this is still one weird-ass f*cking comic strip, I’ll tell you what. This is just ghastly and the fact that BatYam doesn’t know this makes it even more twisted and strange. It doesn’t insult your intelligence, it shoots your intelligence in the back, rummages through its pockets and leaves it for dead. Ham-fisted, heavy-handed, this one is as tone-deaf and ridiculous as it gets. Once again BatYarn goes in a direction no one else would have even considered.
Has any comic strip ever used the word “lump” more than FW has? “Maybe For Better Or For Worse” did, but most of that strip’s tragedies weren’t cancer related, so I dunno. If it’s “Crankshaft” I definitely don’t want to know.
Today’s glurge filled festival of pathological coddling gives me the opportunity to delve into something I’ve been wanting to examine for a long time. But it’s going to be a challenge to talk about, because I swore that I wouldn’t talk about CERTAIN CHARACTERS by name this week.
Let’s talk about Cayla.
For the last several years, whenever she’s appeared Cayla has been the target of a strange mix of pity and ridicule in the comments. And it’s earned. Because Cayla’s presentation in strip is the most conspicuous manifestation of just how twisted and weird the enshrinement and cult of Dead St. Lisa has become. She is a consolation prize. A tacked-on coda. But rather than be resentful of her situation, she has become a priestess and mouth piece of her glorious predecessor.
The external reason for Cayla to be this way is that she’s been written to be a benign gift to the author avatar. She’s built for comfort, not conflict.
But it is so strange to follow Cayla’s journey, and try to imagine a real, flesh and blood woman choosing a similar path. If there was such a woman as Cayla Williams, who would she be?
What do we know about her personality and her history prior to her entering the strip? She comes from an athletic family, who cared enough about her to attend her wedding, but whom she hasn’t seemed to worry much about since. She has completely adopted Funky, Harry, Holly, and crew as her circle of friends, so must have had no close friendships extant before her move to Westview. She worries about her financial matters, while being a shopaholic. She’s class conscious, and seems to want to buy the good opinion of rich people. Current insecurities and prior blows to her ego seem to have hampered her confidence. A previous romantic partner left her with a daughter to raise alone.
Soon after moving to Westview she saw what she wanted and she pursued it. Of a hundred different seats that were open with no asking, she had a particular one in mind.
And from very early on, she knew that she would be jostling for position with a corpse in a race she might never win.
But she went after it anyway, even duked it out with a younger woman. She was pretty bold with her intentions.
Why? What did Cayla want?
Well, one thing she seemed to want was financial security for herself and her daughter. She was looking for someone to ‘pool resources’ with.
Second, she seemed to want people that she could care for, that would be emotionally dependent. She seems to genuinely enjoy being needed. This would fit with her underlying lack of confidence.
In fact. She enjoys being needed so much, that she seems to put herself in a position to both be needed, and remain needed. She wasn’t just looking for someone who appreciates a kind heart. She wanted something to prop up, because when something is leaning on you for support, your position is secure. They can’t leave. And the type of support she offers often promises future financial or social gain on her part.
So of course she is willing to jump on the Dead St. Lisa bandwagon. Her affection for her predecessor might even be genuine. That dead woman is the source of all her current and future security. And it could be she is content to have a decoy and mirage to distract her meal ticket. Some people find too much romantic attention smothering, better to shunt some of that off on a ghost. Let the feelings you elicit be lukewarm, safe, and necessary. Keep feeding the muse of pathos by offering those threesomes from beyond the grave.
Because. Let’s be real for a minute Cayla. You don’t care if you’ll never live up to Lisa any more. You only cared for a moment, when you were worried she’d keep you from scoring the prize that matters. Lisa’s dead. And the helpless withering worm left in her wake needs you. You’ve made sure of that. Yeah, sometimes he’s annoying and insufferable. But he produces, and he provides. You can give him pleasure, and you can give him pain, according to your whims. And either way, he’ll wake up needing you tomorrow just the same. What you really get off on is the control. You like watching him fawn, but you love watching him squirm.
And that is my headcanon for Cayla. She didn’t want a healthy and whole husband to love only her. She wanted a meal ticket just broken enough so it wouldn’t run out on her. And she’s carefully cultivated the relationship, keeping her victim just neurotic enough to maximize her comfort, security, and enjoyment.
It’s been an interesting two weeks folks. Hope you enjoyed! Beckoning Chasm will be in on Monday. I’m interested to see how he handles Batiuk’s upcoming homage to ‘The Day the Clown Cried,’ we’ve seen presaged in the banner.
And here it is. We’ve had to suffer through an entire week of Les whining to Marianne about one woman who died at least 15 years ago in strip time (Edit: twenty-three, ED), while the world is literally burning around them. As day turns to night with nary a word from Cindy, Masone, Pete, or Mindy.
You people have been saying it all week: Marianne has been blandly listening to Les whinge about his manpain, instead of worrying about friends, family, coworkers, or her own property. The girl had more going on for herself when she almost threw herself off the top of the Hollywood sign.
And all so Marianne can watch some video tapes that Batiuk will, no doubt, forget were transferred to digital years ago. So many problems with this. But two stick out in my mind.
One, why didn’t he let her or Masone watch some of the tapes to begin with? It’s implied that some tapes are very private and others are meant for more public consumption, as seen in this strip from Darin’s birthday. Why did you ever think of this as an all or nothing thing?
Two, are you now going to let her watch all of the tapes? Even the tapes that weren’t meant for you? Have you seen the tapes addressed to Summer directly? Or the tape specifically for CauCayla? Are you prepared to override the rights of Lisa, Cayla, and Summer, to have their own private messages remain private?
Who are we kidding? Of course you are. The sum total of everything Lisa ever was or wished is now yours to use, abuse, and change however you see fit. You can tell yourself that you think Lisa would have wanted you to share material that SHE SPECIFICALLY TOLD YOU IN PERSON was private. Anything so Marianne can have important moments like this inform how she plays Dead St. Lisa.
There were those who said it couldn’t be done… heck, I was one of them, but here we are. I can’t say I’m not relatively grateful to start my blogging stint off with a strip where Les doesn’t speak. Such strips are as rare as Pete and Durwood being productive, so I’ll note them.
That said, I’m not sure why Les is reacting with such slack-jawed shock at the sight of MariLisa. He’s seen Lisa sososomanytimes since her death, and I’m not even counting the thousands of times he probably watched those dang videocassettes, so how is this in any way weird for him?
Comic Book Harriet here; stretching out her snarking muscles to warm up for this marathon of nonsense.
A long long time ago, when the world was young and Bush was president, I decided to join the Cross Country team. I wouldn’t call what I did on that team ‘running’, because that is an gross insult to the vital skill set that allowed our ancestors to chase down game and flee sabertooth tigers. If we are being extremely generous, we could call my half-hearted efforts ‘jogging’. Just like you could be generous and call the multicolored scribbles of a toddler ‘art’.
As my oxygen deprived brain would send gasping signals to my leaden legs to shuffle forward in a jerky shamble, my entire torso was consumed in the effort of sucking in air and huffing it out like I had swallowed a miniature iron lung.
Sometimes, when one of the more naturally athletic teammates would approach from behind to lap me, (again), they would attempt to engage me in conversation; but a few painfully wheezed one word replies were all I could ever manage.
Never in a million years would I have taken the effort and energy and oxygen to laboriously explain to myself, on an empty track, self-evident and pointless facts OUT LOUD.
And here we come to the Axis Mundi of the Funkyverse. The centerpoint around which all things turn. Lisa’s Legacy.
And what is Lisa’s Legacy? In universe, her legacy seems to be appropriating the suffering of others to line the pockets of her foundation. From Funky passing out during her annual ‘fun’ run, to Phil Holt’s lifetime of work being auctioned off to honor a woman who never read comics. All the people who stand in Les’ book lines to tell him that they were compelled to buy the book because the tragic story inside mirrors their own past trauma, all feeding her legacy with their dollars and pain.
And now we learn of Bull’s yearly guilt offering. Money poured into Lisa’s Legacy by a man who would later despair when the NFL refused him monetary help. This strip is completely nonsensical for so many reasons.
1.) As many of you have pointed out, Bull helped with the organization of several Lisa’s Legacy events. In that light a yearly donation is hardly surprising. So why does Les look so bemused?
2.) Why is Linda only seeing this when going through old check stubs? Did her and Bull have separate accounts? Even so, if the donation was substantial in the least, shouldn’t Linda have been aware of it? They’ve got kids who had college to pay for.
3.) Why wouldn’t Les be aware of Bull’s yearly donation? Who cashes the checks and handles the finances for the foundation he started? Even if others are helping to run it, do we really believe Les wouldn’t keep tabs on the donors?
Batiuk twists his characters in knots and throws logic out the window just to name drop the foundation that serves as an evergreen reminder of the ‘most important’ thing he ever wrote.
Oh Goodie! Just my luck, a strip so banal that the entire thing, both in words and artwork, progresses the story in an almost negative direction!
In panel one, a lobed-headed monstrosity announces from the inky black crowd mass that the auction is about to start. We know this can’t be Darin or Jess since it’s shown in the next panel that they’re jockeying for position in in the back row like this is church or something. The unseen person doesn’t say ‘The auction is about to start,’ like a normal person might, but mentions again the full title of the auction. This gives him a chance to utter the name of The Blessed Dead St. Lisa aloud, which knocks off a few hours of future Masky McDeath Purgatory. No one in Funkyverse ever passes up a chance to mention St. Lisa’s name.
In the second panel, the vaguely Asian woman is either chewing tobacco, or has a severe case of lump jaw. But the greatest miscreation of this scene blooms between Darin and Jess like a horrifying, fleshy flower. Four hands. THERE ARE FOUR HANDS! Gripping and grasping each other in a sweaty mass. And creeping out of Lockjaw’s hair are the slender fingers of Jess’s right hand. Meaning… DARIN HAS THREE HANDS!
Luckily in the last panel, we learn that jogging lightly for less than three miles sends Darin’s pulse rate skyrocketing. Congestive heart failure will soon end his multi-appendaged misery. And I for one look forward to Darin’s Legacy Fund for Congenital Defects.
Also, are we sure that Darin hasn’t gotten a nose job? He looks uncannily like Masone Jarre. I’m predicting a ‘Talented Mr. Ripley’ scenario coming soon. And Jess can join in! All she has to get is a bob cut and she would look just like Cindy!
Hello Funkysnark Fans! Comic Book Harriet here. And I am soooo honored to be with you this week! This is my first time driving the bus! But as long as I don’t go careening off any cliffs like a drunk on prom night, I think we should be okay.
And for my first strip we have an almost ‘Mark Trail’ set up, with a building cheerfully spouting expository dialogue. I do have to applaud the scene setting in the first panel. We know we’re in Beverly Hills because a vapid looking, overly skinny, socialite, in a back-exposing top has wandered into traffic and is about to get mowed down by a blue Porsche. It could use some topical Hollywood harassment, but these strips are written months in advance.
Boy Lisa, and the person who exists so Boy Lisa has someone to talk to when Droopy Eyes McSadWriter isn’t around, are gearing up for the only thing that really matters in Funkyverse: Comic Book Cancer (Charity Action).
I am totally baffled by Mrs. Flowers in The Attic saying the title of the auction as ‘Covers for the Cure.’ It seems to be followed by BoyLisa suddenly realizing they forgot to promote this event. Or maybe that ‘Covers for the Cure’ would be a better promotion than whatever they chose. Which is probably something like’ Starbuck Saves Second Base!’ But why would the young Miss Darling say it in the first place if it wasn’t the title of the event?
Are you excited for a week of fictional strips that serve as cheap advertising for a real life auction for a real life charity that honors the tragic death of a fictional character? Because I sure as heck am!
Speaking for myself, Boy Lisa’s annoying insistence on referring to Lisa as his “mom” is nothing short of infuriating. Lisa was not Darin’s “mom”, his mother is named Ann and she’s currently back in Westview caring for his father Fred, who suffered a stroke on the crapper a few years back. Let me tell you, the way he took his misery knife and carved up those two characters was one of the cruelest things he’s done in Act III and all of it after Ann single-handedly scored Summer her championship too. The stroke, the loveless sham marriage full of unfulfilled dreams, the weird half-sister, Darin’s sudden embrace of Saint Lisa as his “mom”…he went all-out on the Fairgoods.
BanTom’s barely-disguised disdain for adoption in general aside, what a laughable piece of claptrap this is. Sure, this husband, father of a young child and sole provider has a hefty windfall plop right into his lap and his first thought is Lisa…come on already, Tom, knock it the f*ck off.