Today’s strip shows Les continuing to chase Nate around to berate him over his copier use. And not surprisingly, he’s wrong. He’s not being penalized. He’s simply not getting credit for it. He’s not allotted fewer copies than his fellow teachers. He gets just as many, but since he decided to go double sided, he used half as many pages. It’s not Nate’s fault, or the fault of the other teachers that Les was sloppy when heeding the rules.
But I’m more annoyed by the punchline. Batiuk uses a legal term, “don’t make a federal case out of it”, but rather than bringing the Legal Society students in, he brings in the kids in the journalism club (media club, or whatever the hell it is). Wouldn’t a better punchline be “don’t turn this into a front page story”? Or “don’t make a national story of this”? You know, something to reflect the fact that these kids are specifically in the school’s media news activity?
But I don’t know why I’m annoyed. To mix my metaphors, flubbing an open layup like this is par for the course as far as Batiuk’s concerned.
So today Les keeps mashing on the copier, like an unmajestic silverback gorilla, as if mashing it is going to make his problem of blowing through his alloted copies go away.
But it’s panel two that’s the true majesty. Look at that thing. He’s got the aforementioned unflattering angle focusing on his baldness. He’s got the loosened tie that’s supposed to make him look unpretentious and hip but instead makes him look like an unprofessional slob. His eyes are tightly closed like a six year-old’s who’s on a whining binge because his parents didn’t get him the right Christmas present. And finally, there’s that finger that he’s waving as if he’s in any position to lecture his boss about his own wastefulness.
And there’s one more thing, of course. You’d think a guy who’s supposed to be some sort of accomplished writer would be detail-oriented enough to determine from the posted rules whether making a double-sided copy constituted two “clicks” or one. But Les is not that guy.
So today we go back to Les and naturally this means it’s the setup for a week of him complaining about something.
I’ll just ignore Les blowing through his month’s allotment of photocopies, both because I trust all of you to hash it out more than adequately, but also because Batiuk’s going to give us plenty of opportunity to do so over the course of the week, to comment on something else. It’s the way Les is drawn in panel 2, looking down at the top of his recently severely-balding head. (Seriously, look at how significant Les’s hair loss has been in the last two years) I’m going to assume that Burchett leaves the diagramming of the strip’s art to Batiuk, because this is by far not the only time Batiuk’s used this angle. The odd thing is it’s with one exception always a balding man, with the primary focus on his male-pattern baldness. He’s never once drawn a woman from this angle. But now he’s shown Les, Funky and Bull in this fashion multiple times each – an odd, inexplicable angle with their head bowed showing the full ravages of a receding hairline.
It’s remarkably unflattering and jarring. Makes me wonder why Batiuk keeps coming back to it.
Link to today’s strip.
The above link goes to the NJ link since, as is traditional, the Sunday strips are too precious to drop on the unwashed. So you’ll have to wait until midnight to taste Tom Batiuk’s genius. (Yeah, I know–ewww! Total double–yuck!)
I’m guessing we’re going to get more Dinkle, because what better way to spit in the face of your readers than with Harry Dinkle? I’m not really asking for alternative answers to that question, but feel free in the comments to describe Batiuk’s ultimate expression of disdain.
Les Moore and Darrin Undesirable are equally awful characters, but at least they can be defeated–in the first case, by having to meet his public, in the second by denying certain pens, but Dinkle…how does one defeat Dinkle? Near as I can remember, in the diminishing brain-space left to me, Dinkle has always been praised and has never suffered a setback.
I think it’s well past time for that lack to be addressed, but I suspect that will never happen.
One more thing to regret too late on this year’s Anti-Thanksgiving’s Black Weekend.
The panels in today’s strip read at least as well in reverse order. To paraphrase Nate, who can say what the past four years held for the Class of 2017? The only glimpse we get of WHS ’17 is a few pairs of feet in panel 4 (nicely-rendered, by the way, and feet are hard to draw) . Recall that Cody and Owen handed over the reins of WHS’ in-house media operation directly to some freshmen. I’m supposing Tank and Conner to be underclassmen. As befits these anono-grads’ status, their commencement is held not in a stadium, with drones, but rather in the auditorium, listening to Nate name-check the author of A Game of Thrones.
Batiuk’s spent the last few weeks burning off a lot of one-shot gags. You’ve gotta admit, though, that even when they fall flat, you’ll take a half-dozen joke strips over say, a week of Funky exploring an abandoned house. Today’s comic continues in the gag-a-day vein, but Burchett continues to add welcome and pleasing visual details. Especially in that first panel: Cayla is positively coquettish, smiling to herself as she casually lets slip to Nate that hubby Les is going to be…preoccupied. And she’s totally getting through to Nate, too. Cut to a nice shot of the talking school building featuring non-hand lettering on the WHS message board, some nice shade from some leaves, and of course there be bricks.
That slow jam playing we could hear in the background abruptly switches to Yakety Sax! Here comes Les, haulin’ ass, knocking hapless students aside with his valise in his frenzy to get the hell away from there. Unless Les and his wife drive separate cars to work, poor Cayla’s going to need a ride home…
Today’s strip was not available for preview. I assume we are still at Westview High School, getting poorly acquainted with the strip’s newest generation of students (the 6th by my count, though that is not canon). We know that Bernie and Maris like to skip class, that Logan has more Facebook friends than Bernie, that New Monroe/Thatsnot Hewmore rightfully finds Les unfunny and Bernie mildly creepy, and that Emily and Amelia are twins but also, like, their own people. What will we learn today?
On that note, I thought we would take a quick look at TB’s first attempt to create a new generation of students back in the fall of 1992, mere months after the first time jump. The first two students introduced were Wally Winkerbean and Mercedes “Sadie” Summers, both relatives of prominent Act I students.
Here is Sadie pulling the same stuck-up popular girl routine that older sister Cindy did, while everyman Wally breaks the fourth wall with a sideways glance just like
cousin uncle Funky:
Wally first appeared at band camp, where he was bullied mercilessly by a mullet-sporting senior trombone player, interviewed by a TV news crew about being bullied, and then tied to his bunk with Saran Wrap.
Sadie’s first appearance was also the very first strip in which Les taught
English Language Arts. She dealt with living in the shadow of her legendarily popular sister by wearing her hair in the exact same strange way. Back in 1992, the Westview economy was not buoyed by pizza and comic books, it was built entirely on hair spray…