Tag Archives: Montoni's

So your Haiku is stuck somewhere between Chipmunks and early Springsteen…

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

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Quoth the unshaven “Anymore”

If today’s strip is to be believed, Crazy Harry is completely unaware of a genre of music that has been a major force in popular music for three-and-a-half decades now, and is arguably well into its second decade as the dominant genre of music in the United States. Where has Crazy been? Living under a rock (booooooooo!) since the Reagan administration?

Funky lives up to his name for once, brimming with mildly more modern musical knowledge than Crazy, the Act I gang’s resident music fan and audiophile dating back even to his early appearances. I guess he’s now not only channeling NASCAR legend Mark Martin’s haircut but also Martin’s unexpected rap music fandom.

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Licorice Pizza

OK, I’ll start positive today. Here’s something I like about today’s strip, Ayers uses bubble panel borders correctly, to denote a memory of dream sequence. Yeah, that doesn’t sound like much, but coming from TB’s pencil for decades it meant “present day in-strip setting change”, a maddening misinterpretation of longstanding comic art language.

And now, for everything else…

A pizza spinning on your turntable used to be a sort of shorthand for “cool”, in that it signified you were someone cool enough to have just a had a party wild and “crazy” enough that some nut tried to play a pizza and everyone was having too much “fun” to notice (see this well-known scene from Sixteen Candles, for example). However, a pizza spinning on your turntable when you are alone in your own room with your headphones on is not “cool”. Silly, whimsical, weird, crazy? Sure… but not cool. One could even describe Crazy’s memory as rather sad, given the contrast between him listening to his pizza alone in his room compared to the sight of a pizza on a turntable signifying a really good time shared by friends.

Furthermore, was the music produced by the pits of a pizza ever “cool”? Since every Youtube video of someone “playing” a pizza on a turntable is just a gag to dub in “That’s Amore”, I am forced to assume that it actually sounds like an EP for a British New Wave band. In that case, yes, it actually was cool.

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Relics of the Past

(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.

No. It wasn’t.

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.

Hai Guize

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.


The Spokesman-Review
Dan Webster
July 20,1997

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.

VIETNAM

Let’s talk about the draft on the fourth strip ever.

WATERGATE

August 4, 1973

THE BICENTENNIAL

PLANE HIJACKINGS

LABOR STRIKES

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.

“There’s no delicate way to put this. Running around naked in public was one of the biggest and strangest trends of the 1970s.”

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.

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Pennies Dreadful

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.

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Not with a Bang but a WHUP WHUP WHUP

Link to today’s strip.

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!

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It’s Always the Quiet Ones.

Click Here to See an Anatomically Incomprehensible Funky

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.

Observations:

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.

Suddenly Rachel’s interest makes sense…

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.

If they’re willing to help him move a couch upstairs…they’re willing to to anything.

3.) Wally is familiar with helicopters.

Sometimes, they’re all he can think about.

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.

Is this the only time we see Wally smoking? Weird.

Motive:

And here is where things get hazy. What motive would Wally have to do this? Who is Wally?

Pretty much…

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 yet, the band room sign is still taped to the door.

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?

Hello, Uncle who is actually my cousin….
Cut to panel of Wally buying beers and kissing Rachel.

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.

Spoiler Alert: He doesn’t get over it.

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.

I can’t promise I’ll remember to invite you to my second wedding though…

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.

“But the car is already in the garage for the night, so he can walk.”

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.

It’s no big deal guys, honest. But thanks for caring.

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.

“Would it sound like a pizza box?”

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?

“Hey I survived a landmine. Neat.”

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?

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Squaring the Circle, Cylindering the Cube.

Link To Today’s Pointless Strip.

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.

🎃Elle-O-Ween🎃 on Twitter: "FLORIDA SOFTSHELL TURTLE (Dec 22-Jan 19)  You're either all the way out there or entirely withdrawn. There's no  in-between. You're a case study in extremes. You try your best
Pictured…not the Pizza Monster.

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.

It’s Evolving….

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.

This pointless, boring, and unreadable chart took an hour of my life I will never ever get back. No, I don’t know why I did it, but I decided that you have to know that I did.

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?

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