Tag Archives: melting faces

Funk You! It’s January!

VOTE! Only Two Days Left

Funky in today’s strip has, once again, gone full Crankshaft on us.

This Sunday, many of you pointed out that poor Funky in the final panel was looking like He-Who-Shall-Usually-Not-Be-Named-In-This-Strip.

But when I really thought about it. Funky has been Crankshaft every single time he appeared this week.

Sunday. He complains while watching football.

Wednesday. He fails to find something he’s looking for in the basement.

Thursday. He wears stripey old man pajamas and gets up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom.

Friday. He refuses to lose weight with the power of wordplay.

Today. He sneers and ‘corrects’ a beloved family member who was attempting humor or encouragement.

And you know what? I like Crankshaft better. Crankshaft has always been a cantankerous old coot. It was what he was designed for by his creator, and he works hard at it. Funky has fallen and decayed to this state due to neglect and indifference.

Today’s strip stands out to me as especially mean spirited, even for Crankshaft. It is approaching Lockhorns levels of snippy. This is a strip that needs some smirks. But instead Funky looks offended as he slaps down his wife’s futile attempts at wordplay and spoons up another dripping cotton ball to eat.

As Banana Jr. 6000 put it yesterday.

FW makes no distinction between groan-inducing but harmless dad jokes, and hurtful remarks poorly disguised as humor. I’m sure you’ve known people whose idea of a “joke” is really just backhanded, passive-aggressive insults about people. Then when you don’t like it, they accuse you of having no sense of humor. Westview is full of that guy.

As Professor Fate said, “It felt mean spirited and a substitute for confronting the deeper conflicts that nobody wanted to face.”

Duck of Death put it more bluntly. “But this type of humor, Snappy Answers to Perfectly Normal Requests, is just assholery.”

This week of pathetic non-humor felt like it was cobbled together from stuff they dug out of the trash. They just put all this out here to fill some time, to take up space. It reminded me of an old running gag from one of my favorite YouTube channels, RedLetterMedia, making fun of how January and February are used by movie studios as a dumping ground for movies they’ve lost all hope for.

Did you want entertainment? Did you want quality? F**k you, it’s January!

(This video has foul language. Obviously. Viewer Discretion Advised.)

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Haikranky

Obligatory
Haiku post for today's strip
Where nothing happens

"Who spent most of his
Time at war with the world and
Ev'rything in it"?

We talking about
Phil Holt or that Ed Crankshaft?
Both? Makes me shudder

C'mon now, Durwood
Phil did not know a dang thing
About your mother

C'mon too, Mindy
Who here cares one iota
About your granddad?

Pete here wins the strip
Only offense is a smirk
Default win's a win

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Induction Junction, What’s Your Unction?

Could Ruby and Flash be any less excited than they are in today’s strip, the big reveal of their hall of fame induction? I actually think they could, in theory… if they had to read this comic strip.

Despite Ruby’s wry response to being honored before she and Flash go the way of Phil Holt, the real life Eisner Awards Hall Of Fame is more than willing to honor comics icons who are no longer with us. Four of the six 2021 inductees announced thus far are no longer living, including legendary American political party mascot creator (and 180 year old) Thomas Nast and Swiss proto-comic strip pioneer Rodolphe Töpffer (who passed away when Thomas Nast was 5 years old).

One inductee who is still living is Lily Renée, who turned 100 back in May and is most likely one of TB’s biggest inspirations for the Ruby Lith character (big kudos to our own ComicBookHarriet for making and elaborating on this connection). Given that TB is known to work about a year in advance of the publishing date, the Ruby Lith-Lily Renée connection makes this story arc remarkably prescient… or it would if TB had not revealed his eerie precognitive powers several times before in both Funky Winkerbean and Crankshaft. At least this time he used his powers to predict something good.

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A Breef Encounter

What’s better than four white saviors?  Five white saviors of course! That’s the gist of today’s strip, it seems… as *groan* Amicus Breef emerges from the walk-in freezer brimming with fantastic legal advice such as talking to Adeela.  Preferably by phone, no need to go down to the clink and talk to her in person if you can help it, right?  I mean, jails are full of criminals after all and you can’t be too careful.

Oy!  Amicus Breef?!  Amicus?  Stupid punny names are nothing new for this strip, but they usually at least involve a first name human beings might actually have.  Well, at least he works in a profession relevant to his stupid punny name.  What if Mason Jarr(e) was really into making homemade preserves or holding iced tea at restaurants known for their cucumber salad, or if Cliff Anger was actually a solo climber?  Or what if Ruby Lith’s job was to illustrate schlocky no-budget Silver Age comic books?  Oh wait…

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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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