Tag Archives: marching bands

Take My Arm, Please

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This one is unbelievable. First, we have pinned-up sleeves all over the place today. Then it turns out that Dinkle, aka General Nostalgia himself, doesn’t even KNOW about the Band Big Reunion Alumni at all yet! How could this have not been his idea? I mean, what the hell is he even DOING there if he’s not re-living the good old days, you know? And why are Funky and Holly leaving to pick up Holly’s mom now for an event that’s a full month away? Is he seriously going to do an arc about the elderly AND marching bands at the same time? Good God.

And finally there’s the bizarre spectacle of a retired march band conductor cracking wise about old people with missing body parts to a current marching band conductor with one arm. I mean, just wow. Utterly spectacular.

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The Ups And Downs Of Being Funky

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In a strip where elderly Alzheimer patients cut albums in Memphis and surf the web like pros and people take sixty-plus year breaks in their careers, this whole daffy premise is pretty tough to swallow. It’s astonishing how little Holly and her mother think of Funky, which is supposed to be the joke here I guess. He can’t even count on his own wife to have his back, as she has no qualms at all about forcing him to close up shop and take a four thousand mile round trip with his mother-in-law, which would be valid grounds for divorce in at least forty-nine US states but unfortunately for Funky, not in Ohio.

Poor Funky, the FW character you always laugh at, never with. Every single other character in the strip is a wry wisecracking wordplay machine, snidely smirking after another unbearably clever pun or smart-alecky remark, but never Funky. Funky just shuts up and takes it, week after week, year after year, decade after decade, all because he was the “normal well-adjusted” kid in high school and BatNom will never let him live it down. The guy survived crippling alcoholism and an even more crippling car crash to become the local president of the chamber of commerce and the only most successful businessman in town. He’s convivially and generously hosted and/or catered literally every single major social event the town has ever seen, he’s employed a bevy of family members and pals at his restaurant and he’s acted as a kind and patient landlord too.

His reward? To be kicked and kicked again, over and over. His family doesn’t respect him at all, his friends mock him, he suffers from a litany of health woes and he’s fat, old and physically repulsive. The guy who writes this thing never stops heaping abuse on him and (oddly enough) it just makes it impossible for me to truly hate him like I hate Les and Lisa and Darin and Dinkle and Pete and Holly and Cory and Summer (whoever she is) and Chester and Mason and Cliff and Becky and Cindy and Vera and Crazy and Owen and Cody and Nate and Cayla and that bus driver (I forget his name) and the other characters (except Buddy, as I really love that dog).

Let that be a lesson to all those kids out there just now discovering FW (guf-faw) for the first time: don’t peak in high school. Pick a thing (dork, stoner, “it” girl, baton twirler, jock) and f*cking run with it because living down your high school identity will be the most important thing you ever do. Also, invest in comic books and whatever you do do NOT get involved in the pizza industry, although eating it three times a day is fine. See, there’s actual educational content in this strip, you just have to wade through forty-plus years of crap to find it.

 

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And The Bland Played On

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The good news: no comic books!!! The bad news: mail is still playing a pivotal role in the strip.

Let’s take a moment to talk about shitty storytelling. Holly has apparently just opened her invitation to the Big Band Alumni Reunion Event (sigh), which oughta be a real barn-burner by the way. Yet somehow, despite just finding out about it, she knows that a) her mother was also inexplicably invited, b) she wants to attend and c) she wants them to drive to Florida to pick her up. Which opens a whole host of mysteries best left unsolved, which they no doubt will be.

I don’t remember Holly’s mom being a character in the strip at all, which seems to indicate that the “goal” here is a) more “adorable old coot” humor and b) another excuse to trot out Holly’s Act I flaming baton trick persona, neither of which has generated a lot of clamor among FW’s (chortle) fan base as far as I can tell. Anyone who’s had anything whatsoever to do over the last forty years has forgotten all about Holly’s baton silliness and if FW contained any more “adorable old coot” gags it’d come with a year’s supply of Coumadin. Unless this Big Band Alumni Reunion Event (sigh) is just another excuse to have the loathsome Dinkle wobble down Act I Memory Lane yet again, which seems sort of likely given the premise here.

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This Year in the Funkiverse

Hello, snarkers, your genial host TFH here to ring out the same old same old. I could never have gotten through this past year without our staff of volunteers: SoSFDavidO, BeckoningChasm, BillytheSkink, Charles, ComicBookHarriet, and most especially my aidedecamp EpicusDoomus.

2017 saw many developments in the Funkiverse. Sadly, in the real world, this was also the year the syndicate stopped posting new strips online before midnight Eastern time. So while we wait for Sunday’s strip to drop at midnight, let us recap some “highlights” of the Funky Year just ending.

So much for depicting “contemporary issues affecting young adults.”

Story arcs this year included: the engagement and wedding of ostensible nonagenarians Cliff Anger and Vera Nash; Funky and Holly flying to a clinic in Dallas (!) for their annual physicals; Darin crossing paths with an elderly comics legend (who’d be dead a couple months later); Crankshaft crone Lillian McKenzie pestering Les at a book signing; Phil the Forecaster unceremoniously being put out to pasture; and an orchestra comprised of senior citizens traveling to Memphis to cut a record, led by crusty Harry Dinkle.

Dinkle Raisin the Bar

Speaking of Dinkle, though he mainly was just along for the ride during the Memphis caper, Batiuk’s favorite “breakout character” figured prominently in other arcs, even flying to Belgium to be feted by the company who makes all that band candy.

In other “funds raising” news:

Band candy (and turkeys) have been supplanted by mattresses, which are improbably hawked door to door. Ha! Ha!

More old people stuff

Funky’s dad Mort Winkerbean, depicted as helplessly senile five years ago, has inexplicably become livelier and more engaging than his son, while Bull Bushka continues his decline, and Ed Crankshaft is the very picture of decrepitude.

Promotional consideration

As he’s done for years, TB used his strip once again to publicize the real-life Lisa’s Legacy Run. This year, Batiuk introduced us to Batom Comics artist Phil Holt, before killing him off and auctioning off his work, as a weak tie-in to the real-life auction of faux comics art created by other artists and featured in the strip. At least this, like the Lisa Run, was for charity. Less altruistic was having Les blowing off his teaching job to flog his latest literary offering: a three-volume boxed set identical to the one Batiuk was offering for sale IRL!

Starbuck Jonesin’

After considerable buildup, we never did get to see a single frame of the Starbuck Jones movie blockbuster. The epic franchise exists only to serve as a plot engine, providing jobs for Darin and Pete, rescuing the Valentine Theater, sending the gang to Comic Con, and occasioning a guest appearance by Conan O’Brien.

Rick rolled

Batiuk must’ve figured he’d need a little help dragging Funky out another four plus years to get to that Gold T-Square award. In May of this year, he introduced comic book artist Rick Burchett as his “penciller” on Funky (and Dan Davis performing similar duties for Crankshaft), somehow leading to an even more poorly drawn product.

Friends, on behalf of Team SoSF and myself, I wish you a peaceful, prosperous, safe and happy New Year! Thanks as always for reading and commenting.

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Garage Turkeys Re-Re-Visited

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Uh yeah Becky, they’ll “celebrate” with a “holiday (presumably Memorial Day) meal” consisting of ancient freezer-burned band turkeys…a prospect that apparently amuses Becky to no end based on her deranged wry smirking. Not even a rotting band turkey would land with a thud as leaden as this gag, which was quite clearly a desperate “hail Mary” attempt to fill that last sad and empty word balloon with SOMETHING…anything…no matter how incredibly dumb it was. A silent strip featuring the band parents walking out to the parking lot and starting their cars would have been way, way funnier than this.

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Ahhh-Trophy

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Someone, please, make it stop. Today we see just how bad a marching band gag can get, as BatNom reaches the bottom of the barrel, plunges his fist straight through it and grabs a handful of slug and worm-riddled soil beneath said barrel…just because he can. See, the horrible marching band full of useless slacker teens wins SO MANY TROPHIES that they actually need an ENTIRE BUILDING to house them. And fortunately for the marching band, WHS JUST HAPPENS to have an entire building to SELL to the perennially-cash strapped band, which is rather fortuitous if I do say so myself. Everyone wins! Well, almost everyone, as regular FW readers might not consider Becky’s truly obnoxious Dinkle-esque cackle as being a “win”. I do like that weird angle in panel two, I don’t think I’ve ever seen her pinned-up sleeve from that perspective before.

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Flutophoning It In

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Good ol’ FW, always with that smirking contempt for things BanTom likes. So to reiterate, the WHS marching band is a deeply competitive, proud and Ohio-renowned institution full of lazy talent-less slackers whose parents actually receive awards for enduring the shrill horrifying noises their offspring produce when they practice, which according to FW lore is extremely rare. Got that?

And no band parent has it worse than those whose children play the dreaded flutophone. Sandy’s actually handling it better than some other band parents, as overeating is preferable to the alcohol and illegal drugs some band parents need to make it through even one more day of that incessant racket…award-winning racket, I might add. It must be quite an honor to receive an award plaque from Becky. Not because of the award itself which of course is totally meaningless, but because it’s just harder for Becky to hand things to other people, what with the missing arm and all.

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