Hip hip hip hip hip Today's strip more of the same It just never ends Chipmunks to Springsteen Crazy's music tastes cover '58-'80 Only now Crazy? How hip did you feel during The last 40 years?! "You can become hip, Just listen to new music" - Captain Funkvious Funky's bald advice Somehow smartest thing in years In this comic strip Funky's silhouette Recognizably human Crazy's, not so much Listening to this No wonder no customers Are at Montoni's Make it stop make it Stop make it stop make it stop Make it stop oh please
Tag Archives: Montoni's
(It’s a long one today folks. Sorry ’bout that.)
Link to another dumb question from Maddie that I can’t believe she’s never asked her mom before. And how has Maddie not seen the picture at Montoni’s? She worked there.
Who doesn’t at least know the very basics of how their parents met? Heck, I referenced my own parents’ story of sneaking out to the county fair behind my grandma’s back in the very first post of my shift. I will admit, sometimes I pretend like I haven’t heard a story, just so I can hear it again; but that doesn’t seem to be the case here.
And, as many of you have commented, this story has more holes than Swiss Cheese. The real backstory here is that in 2001 or 2002 Batiuk realized that he had married off Les to Lisa and Funky to Cindy and wondered who he should set Crazy Harry up with. He then had the idea to reveal that The Eliminator kid was a girl all along, and have her and Crazy fall in love. Not the worst idea, really. Done right it could have been a cute reference to ‘Samus is a girl!’. The problem was in the execution.
In Metroid, Samus isn’t ‘hiding’ her gender because the Mother Brain is sexist and won’t fight a woman. She’s just in an androgynous space suit for most of the game. Players might assume she’s male, but it’s not confirmed either way until the end.
I haven’t read all the old The Eliminator strips; I don’t know how often she self-refers as male. So I don’t know how feasible it would be to present Donna’s past actions as allowing the people around her to think she was a boy because she didn’t care to clarify, or because she thought it was funny. (“I was named for your Grandpa Donald. My mom always called me that when she was angry.”)
But the only other way to salvage this would be writing a more serious story about Donna as an insecure little girl who thought she needed to disguise herself coming to the realization as an adult that she was wrong. Because she didn’t need to. Period. Mary Ellen, and Livinia, and Junebug, and even Wanda have proved that handily almost a decade before The Eliminator is introduced.
Batiuk is repeatedly guilty of recontextualizing his own past to suit the narrative of the now. I found some old puff piece newspaper articles that just plain don’t make sense after reading the first few years of Funky Winkerbean.
To Batiuk, delving back into the high school years with the gay prom issue underscores the generational changes and contemporary challenges his characters faced once he decided to let them begin aging along with Batiuk and the rest of us.
“I had crossed the threshold and I had grown up and the characters wanted to grow up too, it seemed like,” Batiuk said in an interview in his cozy and bright studio jammed with books and mementos.
“Funky Winkerbean” might have a lower profile in mainstream culture than, say, “Doonesbury,” possibly because “Funky” was a gag cartoon in the early years when society was highly politicized in the Vietnam era and has become more issue-oriented since the 1990s…The San Diego Union-Tribune
Thomas J. Sheeran, AP
May 29, 2012
When he began “Funky Winkerbean” on March 27, 1972, Batiuk was a 25-year-old cartoonist who seemed to be purposely unaware of the furor then affecting American society. The Vietnam War was still a focus of the nation’s rage, Watergate was just beginning to heat up and all the rest of the post-‘60s-era concerns – sexism, racism, the Cold War, social-welfare programs – hogged the daily headlines.
In the midst of this, Batiuk’s strip existed as if in another dimension. His characters were mostly students whose main interests involved air-guitar contests, flaming-baton routines, bullies roaming the hallways, student popularity polls and how to survive the daily humiliations of gym class.
In the 90’s and beyond, Batiuk wanted to pretend he hadn’t been talking about ‘serious issues’ in Act I, because he wanted attention for talking about them now.
The first years of Funky Winkerbean didn’t exist in a ‘different dimension.’ They were more contemporary than the modern strip has been in years.
SUGAR PRICE SPIKE OF 1974.
Some of these events were very much ‘of their time.’ For someone like me, born after this era, reading through is a fun little history lesson. Like when I was a kid, learning about the 80’s by reading Dave Barry’s Greatest Hits and watching old VHS of Saturday Night Live.
But other ‘current events’ only serve to prove that time is a flat circle, and the more things change…the more they stay the same.
Funky, Cory, and the Force Ghost of Tony head on into one of Montoni’s many expansive and infuriatingly unorganized storage areas in today’s strip. People were joking about department stores putting up their Christmas decorations in August decades before I was born… but what can be said about decorating for Christmas less than a week before Santa slides down Montoni’s pizza oven chimney?
This is one of the most flabbergasting Funky Winkerbean strips I’ve ever read. Not because of penny socks, or laughably late Christmas decorating, or hologram Tony… but because Funky is apparently capable of feeling shame. Never would have guessed.
Before we get started, a huge shout-out to Comic Book Harriet, who always brings the knowledge. Her ability to analyze and correlate is second to none–and you certainly won’t see anything like that from me! Which means my mundane and dim-witted commentary will seem refreshing because of the contrast!
…I always knew I’d end up thinking like a Batiuk. With any luck I can get therapy for this, maybe with some kind of salve.
Today’s entry is kind of baffling. Seems to me he wrapped up the Pizza Box Monster arc pretty well yesterday, yet he felt he needed to add this weak coda. I guess he thought “CSI: Montoni’s” was too clever to leave out, but when it came time to write the strips he forgot to add it.
Weird how Rachel is mooning over TBM, while her husband is standing right there. Nobody respects Wally. Oh, and check out Holly–you can see it looks like she’s holding some kind of crutch, as a middle finger to everyone who said “Well, she’s limber and can get to the roof easily, because he wrote this arc several years ago, before he decided Holly needed a broken ankle.”
I did not. I completely did not. I am just as creative and innovative now as I was forty years ago!
I’m sorry Jimmy. A broken sarcasm meter is one of the most common injuries suffered by SOSF commenters. We’ve been trying to pioneer a new treatment that involves carefully grafting sarcasm from other sources to the site of the meter injury.
But Wally Winkerbean is a name I’ve seen mentioned again and again, both in our comments and in the comments on Comics Kingdom. So I spent way too long over the last few days pondering the character of Wally Winkerbean, an exercise nearly as psychologically damaging as the actual act of BEING Wally Winkerbean.
And the whole time, I was asking myself, is this man the Pizza Monster?
Suspect: Wally Winkerbean.
1.) Wally could fit the physical description. He is nearly always drawn equal to or just a shade shorter than Funky. He is physically fit.
2.) Wally has former military friends and connections. While he probably lacks the funds to hire a helicopter, maybe a pilot buddy owes him a favor.
3.) Wally is familiar with helicopters.
4.) Wally is a manager of Montoni’s, and lives above the store. He is very familiar with the building. This works against the Mason Jarre theory. Would Mason have known about the roof ladder? Would he have had a key to the side delivery door? Would he be able to plan his interior getaway through the upstairs apartment? Did this require a key? Wally would have all of these things.
And here is where things get hazy. What motive would Wally have to do this? Who is Wally?
I don’t even think he really knows. He’s like a dog that’s been kicked around one too many times. He’s so guarded. He lingers at the edges of panels, letting other people do the talking, smiling benignly. He’s always trying to be helpful, always aiming to please and not cause a fuss or make trouble. Like he’s apologizing for existing.
Because he is.
Wally used to be an underachieving, pseudo delinquent who spent his days goofing off at band practice and dragging a frozen turkey around on a string.
And then, right after high school graduation, when he was joyfully confessing his drunken love, he caused a horrible car accident that maimed his girlfriend and ruined her music scholarship. He didn’t speak to her for more than a year and joined the military. To atone? To escape? Both?
The car accident sets Wally off on a spiraling cycle of trauma and atonement. He is in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan, presumed dead (for the FIRST time) but escapes captivity and returns to Westview to marry Becky.
But the trauma of Afghanistan weighs on him, and he returns to the country in an attempt to atone for that. Both he AND Becky are nearly exploded, and adopt an orphaned girl.
Wally is unexpectedly redeployed to Iraq. When he gets there he learns that his wife is pregnant and he misses the birth of his son. During the time skip wally is exploded by a roadside IED, and held captive for years. The only face he can remember during his long imprisonment is the face of his beloved Becky.
And when he’s finally reunited with her, she shows him her second husband, takes him to his own grave, hands him a trombone, tells him Dinkle said hi, and LETS HIM WALK TO FUNKY’S HOUSE.
And you know what? He takes it all. We barely see him complain. He just accepts it. He gets angry and loses it ONE TIME to a random guy at a traffic light. He has a panic attack at a basketball game. But he doesn’t want anyone to make a big fuss on his account. When he can’t minimize, he apologizes. When someone helps, him he thanks them. He resists help only when he sees it as fruitless or too much of a hassle.
Eventually, Wally get’s his wonder dog and his wonder wife, and things have mostly turned around. He’s happy now. But he still seems happiest when he’s pleasing others, or when he’s doing good. That’s what the Adeela thing turned out to be. She reminded him of his sins and trauma, so first he tried to run away. Then he tried to please her. He offered her a job, helped her get her license, worked to keep her from being deported, just another bit of atonement for the fact that poor Wally still doesn’t really think he’s worth the hassle.
Why would this sad sack of a man be the Pizza Monster? Why would he torment the one person who was there for him when even his own wife had abandoned him?
And so again: Motive:
1.) Similar to a Mason theory, Wally believes that this yearly prank is somehow good for Funky. Either as a distraction from grief, or a catalyst to shock Funky out of his usual ennui. He believes this helps Funky so much that he is willing to go through a dangerous stunt that would likely trigger his PTSD.
2.) When you peel back the layers and layers and layers of guilt and trauma, there is something inside Wally that craves the boy he used to be. A prankster. A fearless daredevil. And that buried side of himself has responded to his life’s trauma by craving first the anarchy of anonymous pizza theft, and then the danger of this year’s stunt. Even Wally seems to realize that he is repressing something.
At what moment in Wally’s life did he feel the most joy? When did the art show us he was completely free of the weight of all his guilt and inadequacies?
The adrenaline pounding in his veins, the rush of air in his lungs, the unbridled cry of triumph. Yes, I am alive! I have done the impossible! I have stood at the precipice of death. Yet everything I love awaits me in safety! I have broken the rules of this dark universe!
What would Wally do to recapture that moment when every thought in his tortured brain was blanked out by wordless, animal joy?
Would he become….the Pizza Monster?
Click here to see Funky GET PUNKED.
Today we can add one more slim slice of evidence to our profile of the Pizza Monster. He is someone who would shout to his victim that he’s been ‘Punked!’ You know, something giggling teens told each other circa 2004.
The comments section has been busy considering suspects for days. Much of the speculation has involved the helicopter. While just about any tall, slim, white man could have pulled off the prank the previous years, this helicopter stunt is a dangerous and potentially expensive endeavor.
Maxine of Arc crunched the numbers earlier this week,
I decided to do a quick run on Grandpa Google to find out how much it would cost to charter a helicopter in Ohio. One of the first results is for Cleveland helicopter tours (look I don’t know, I’ve never been there, maybe there’s lots to see) and it appears you can get a 10-minute sightseeing tour for around $100, half an hour for ~$240. So the mere existence of a helicopter doesn’t necessarily mean the PBM is made of money. Now, to get a helicopter to drop you on a roof in the middle of town, that will probably have to run you some extra bribe money, but even so, if this is the highlight of the PBM’s sorry existence, they could have been planning this since last year.
So I don’t think we’re limited only to Chester Moneybags. A couple of high school kids with part time jobs chipping in might be able to make it work.
While I agree with her assessment that simply hiring a helicopter wouldn’t be out of the price range of most of the cast, this is more than that. This helicopter pilot was willing to fly low over a small city, precariously dangling a man in an unwieldy box costume hundreds of feet off the ground. He was willing to participate in a stunt so dangerous it would make Tom Cruise balk. If the Pizza Monster dies, he could be legally liable. He would definitely lose his pilot’s license. He’s probably breaking the law even IF the stunt goes off without a hitch. That’s more than just some bribe money. That is someone who is either being paid a HECK of a lot, someone who owes significant favors, or someone just as crazy and daring as the Pizza Monster himself.
The existence of the helicopter was a big clue. And in the comments section we seem to have narrowed things down to four hypotheses.
One hypothesis is a coordinated effort of multiple people. (I loved ian’sdrunkenbeard’s ICE theory yesterday. That’s the creativity I keep coming back for.) Of course, this year, the Pizza Monster has to have at least one accomplice in the helicopter pilot, but there could be more. Maybe someone is the daredevil, and another the financier. So this theory can work in tandem with the three main suspects I’ve seen.
1.) Mason Jarre.
2.) Wally Winkerbean.
3.) Someone so wacky that it doesn’t even make sense. (I saw Buck, Flash Freeman, Cliff Angere (too old?) Bernie Silver, Lisa, Sadie Summers.)
To this I will ad, briefly, Darin Fairgood being financed by Chester Hagglemore. No one has mentioned it, but I haven’t ruled it out yet, since it is, on paper, plausible.
So today, lets make up a dossier on Mason Jarre, using the template pioneered by ‘be ware of eve hill’ and furthered developed by Banana Jr. 6000 and Suicide Squirrel.
Suspect: Mason Jarre
1.) Mason fits the physical description. He is tall, white, slim, and suitably athletic.
2.) Mason is portrayed as wealthy and loose with his money. He owned two houses in the L.A. area simultaneously and has chartered flights to Westview before. He would have the means to hire a helicopter pilot, and bribe him into breaking the law.
3.) Mason is Bi-Polar. The lows of which have never really come up in the strip. But we’ve seen numerous indications of his impulsivity. He is portrayed as someone who gets an idea, and just runs with it, no matter how crazy.
4.) Mason is an action movie star, who has in the past showed a willingness to risk his own life.
5.) Mason is familiar with Montoni’s, having been there many many many times over the years. He knows Funky well enough to have his cell phone number.
1.) Mason is married to Funky’s ex-wife. Though everything seems amicable now, it could be that he enjoys messing with Funky to punish him for the years where Funky was a lousy husband to Cindy,
2.) Mason is also at least a casual friend of Funky’s. He could be doing this from a misguided notion that he’s adding a little needed excitement to Funky’s life.
3.) The first Pizza Monster incident came right after Mason and Cindy were in Westview for Bull’s funeral. Maybe was hoping to provide a zany distraction from the grief.
4). He’s just a weird guy who likes doing weird things to the tiny town he’s adopted as his own because he’s a bored thrill-seeker. Like an impulsive Lightning McQueen.
Chance of Being the Pizza Monster: Maybe? Mason Jarre fits the profile. He has means and opportunity. But is the motive too flimsy?
What do you guys think? Is Mason our guy?
Welp, anyone who guessed Cory Winkerbean over the last few days, I’m sorry but we have to cross him off our list. He’s appeared in the same panel as the Pizza Monster, so now has a better alibi than dead characters, like Bull. We’ve had inexplicable resurrections numerous times, but only one instance of quantum superposition.
Not that I thought Cory was a likely candidate. Though he might have strong means and motive, we can rule him out for the simple reason that Cory Winkerbean is the smallest adult in this strip (ever since that actual dwarf stopped hanging around with John circa 2011.) Cory may be a former military man in his mid twenties, but he has the appearance and build of an old-timey malnourished newspaper boy.
And while yesterday we confirmed that the Pizza Monster could not be someone fat, he also cannot be someone short. Even given the artistic license of comic body proportions, the dramatic angles used in the framing, and the fact that the pizza box head could be taller than the wearer, if we use the shoulders as a measuring stick the Pizza Monster Person has to be as tall, if not taller than Funky.
We can also tell from their ankles and footwear, that the Pizza Monster never wears shoes that would significantly increase their height.
In the often sloppy art of this sloppy strip, it is hard to gague how tall people are by measuring them against objects, but in my exhaustive research I’ve discovered that there does tend to be consistency on which characters are drawn taller than others when multiple characters are standing in a panel.
The comparison seems to be: Tony < All Other Women < Summer < Les </= Wally </= Funky < Mason < Darin.
Funky is portrayed as a tall guy. Wally is usually drawn about equal if not a hair shorter, with Les another notch lower. Mason and Darin are taller. I would feel safe crossing off our list of suspects any character shorter than Les Moore. So, Pizza Monster’s gender mindscrew last year notwithstanding, I am confidently crossing off the list all women. Though the idea of Cindy borrowing Traffic Helicopter 1 to prank her X-man has it’s allure, let’s be real, she wouldn’t be caught dead in pure white sneakers, even if her face was obscured.
So, we’ve narrowed Pizza Monster down to a tall, slim, limber, lighter skinned man. We’ve got several suspects left, and as commenter Suicide Squirrel pointed out yesterday believable motives for this prank are varied enough to make it hard to narrow down based on the crime itself.
1). Funky’s increasing agitation. It’s fun messing with the fat man’s head.
3.) Montoni’s staff getting revenge on Funky for unfair working conditions and/or low pay.
4). Revenge on Montoni’s for their rancid cardboard pizza.
5.) Revenge for the Great Westview Salmonella Outbreak of 2018.
6.) It’s Halloween.
But I’m sure we’ve got more clues to find if we just look closely enough. The dossiers and profiles in the comments yesterday were creative, thoughtful, fun, and wacky….everything Funky Winkerbean isn’t. If you’re not reading the comments of Son of Stuck Funky you’re doing this wrong.
A few commenters yesterday quipped that this dumb, lazy, illogical storyline doesn’t deserve this level of analysis. And they’re completely right. This material probably doesn’t deserve the consideration we’re giving to it. But there are only so many times you can write a blog post saying: “This just isn’t funny. Boy, Tom sure is lazy and self-absorbed.”
So, I try to limit criticism like that to the strips where it is most effective; not more than a couple times a shift. I would get tired of writing it, you would get tired of reading it, and this wonderful little place would die. It’s why the rotation of writers is so gosh darn important.
Every couple weeks, one of us poor saps gets locked in a room with a big stack of whatever wisps of brittle, old barnyard bedding Batiuk saw fit to rake together and shovel out. And we’re told, ‘make something of it.’ And while no one would really blame us if we just flopped down a took a nap, we all set to spinning anyway. We spin poems and jokes, analysis and observations, vitriol and sarcasm. And I usually end up selling out to the twisted little man named Grandpa Google, hoping he’ll give me some gold.
The straw does not deserve to be spun into anything. It’s straw. It’s a filthy mass of tangled and broken stems, something that hasn’t been alive in years, all puffed up with air. But this blog is all about digging through that to find the kernel of something maybe interesting hiding underneath, and growing that seed into the madness you’re now witnessing. It’s exhausting. Sometimes you fail. It’s why we all take the burden in shifts. But it’s worth it. Because when it works, it is a wonder to behold: straw into gold.
I saw so much gold in the comments yesterday. Beautiful, glorious, shining nuggets of hilarity. And it makes all the spinning worthwhile. Spin on, you crazy diamonds….spin on.
Yesterday we ruled out some possible Pizza Monsters based simply on having an ironclad alibi, and we got some interesting guesses in the comments based on the evidence. Today I want to take a deeper look using geometry…see if we can cross a few more names off the list.
First of all the dimensions of an average large pizza box are as follows.
Now lets look at the dimensions of the Luigi’s Pizza Monster. It is made up of at least two different sizes of pizza boxes though they seem to have a similar height.
So the Luigi’s monster would be, at a very minimum, 66 inches tall…and probably a little more. Somewhere between five and a half and six feet tall.
More importantly, this monster is only about 18 inches from front to back, even though it is 32 inches wide. Assuming a human torso is roughly elliptical, and using the equation to find the area of an ellipse. A = πab. With a as the minor radius of 9 inches, and b as the major radius of 16 inches, we get an area of roughly 450 square inches, and an estimated perimeter of 80 inches, However, that is an ellipse twice as wide as it is deep, most people with an 80 inch waist would not be that flat. Unless they were some kind of horrific softshell tortoise human.
Point being. The Pizza Monster probably isn’t very fat. As can be seen in the bits of wrist or ankle we can see in various shots.
Also, did you know that the Pizza Monster this year has a different construction technique for the arms? I’m guessing it allows for better helicopter clinging and ladder climbing action.
So, I’ll say we can safely rule out DSH John. Even though it would fit his cheap nature to use the dozens of old Montoni’s boxes he no doubt has stashed around his comic shop in order to steal yet more pizza. And even though it would have also suited his underhanded and duplicitous side to offer the services of the cosplayer Mr. Monster last year, and then use his knowledge of that friend’s cootie allergy to steal the aforementioned pizza. Poor Dead Skunk Head is just too fat and out of shape.
By the same token, we can rule out Tony, Donna, Dinkle, Harriet, a magically rejuvenated Crankshaft, and Chester Hagglemore. They’re all just too portly, old, or both to make this costume work. Especially since, on average, the Montoni’s Pizza Monster seems to use less boxes than Luigi’s.
From the hands we can also tell that Pizza Monster has a lighter skin tone, ruling out Cayla, Principal Nate, and Bernie’s two friends who maybe have names I guess.
So our culprit is white, not fat, still limber, knows Montoni’s, knows Funky, and has such a strong desire to mess with him every Halloween that they’re willing to do all of this.
What do you guys think? Any more names we can add to, or take off, of the list?