October 20, 2022 at 12:49 am
Is tomorrow’s strip going to feature Ms. Smith saying to her would-be Clarence the Angel (Second Class), “Oh! You thought I was going to jump? No, I just stopped here because I have a flat tire!”?
Close enough, O’Malley, close enough. A flat tire can happen to anyone, though; a driver of today’s cars would have to be pretty damn hapless to run out of gas. Guess Susan’s still so distraught over having to say farewell to Les (and to her teaching job) to see the “low fuel” light through her tears.
This “Susancide” arc that wraps up tomorrow has been particularly pointless. Batiuk brings back from an eleven year absence a long running, albeit secondary, character who starred in one of his early prestige arcs. But we catch up with her here mere hours after we saw her last. Where is she now?
And where was Ed Crankshaft then? Susan split the scene in July 2011. Less than a year later, Les and Summer were training for their Kilimanjaro klimb when they spotted their old bus driver:
“How do you know that decrepit old man in the wheelchair is Crankshaft, Mr. All-Smart?” Because in ’09, Batiuk & Ayers gave us a week where Crankshaft becomes unstuck in time, flashing forward and back through his life.
Come to think of it, inserting Ed Crankshaft into this flashback gives Ayers an excuse to draw the character the he drew for thirty years: the classic Ed Crankshaft that everyone knows. Not Mindy’s feeble “Gramps,” or that Hector Salamanca lookalike that Rick Burchett turned him into. Even Batiuk himself never drew Crankshaft very well. Dan Davis draws the strip these days, and does a creditable job currently, but only Chuck Ayers could render Cranky’s contemptuous scowl in panel 3!
I was not so intrigued by Susan Smith’s reappearance yesterday, neither by today’s cameo by a…younger? Ed Crankshaft. Nope, what set these beady eyes to nitpicking was Ed’s peculiar POV in panel one. That angle and that distance just seem impossible on that narrow bridge. My curiosity compelled me to construct the scene from the opposite perspective:
Weird camera angles aside: so it looks like Batiuk’s gonna play the suicide card again, and for the second time on the same female character, and over the same leading man. Unbelievable. At least he knows better than to have Les come hastening after her to talk her down. Unless he’s about to leap out of Crankshaft’s bus. Speaking of old Ed, if indeed this strip is happening eleven years ago, he really went downhill between June 2011 and this cameo in June 2012!
“Several years ago…? Could “several” equal eleven years ago? Because this gal looks a lot like Susan Smith. Her hair and attire even match Susan’s when she said her goodbyes to Les and Westview in late June of ’11.
For anyone who’s just picked up reading Funky Winkerbean (or this blog) within the last decade, here’s a quick recap: Susan Smith was one of Les’ students. Susan quite understandably developed an insane crush on Mr. Moore, and her suicide attempt was thwarted by Les himself. Susan surfaced again in Act II, as the abused girlfriend of Matt Miller (again to be rescued by Sir Les-a-lot); seven years after that she showed up at Westview High as a student teacher. Early in Act III, she returned to the WHS faculty. She was greeted there by school secretary Cayla, who would become her rival over, who else, Les. Susan bestowed on Les an impulsive kiss that led to a small scandal that led to, as we see here, her boxing up her belongings as smug Les looked on. So yeah, I’m guessing that this is the same woman. And given her past, the fact that she’s parked her car on a bridge does not bode well.
A tip of the SoSF fedora to “anita the last vcr” (@saleintothe90s) from whose tumblr I cribbed my knowledge of Susan Smith’s background!
I know that among our loyal readership, there are a number of you who have some working familiarity with the entertainment business. Help me out here: I’ve heard of a “closed set,” but…the lot is closed? The parking lot? “They’re shooting Lisa’s Story today.” Shooting? Already? I wasn’t aware that casting, or any other aspect of this production, was even finalized. And here comes the star of this movie they’re shooting, and he can’t get on the lot because the security guard does not know who he is. Is he wearing those shades because he’s blind? And Mason, to his credit I guess, instead of throwing a movie star shit fit, sits there pouting like a douche.
I haven’t even looked at today’s strip, dear snarkers. I’m sitting outside by the firepit with my family. Catch up with ya later!
Balancing humor with sensitivity to tell stories we need to hear…Some of the stories can be told over a cup of coffee, while others require a full-on Roman feast.
Amazon blurb for The Complete Funky Winkerbean, Volume 9, 1996-1998
Shit. We’re back in “Hollywoodland.” Why is Mason so hellbent on casting Marianne Winters as Lisa Moore? For that matter, why is making this movie so important to him? What’s behind his strategy to get Les on board with casting Marianne by inviting other actresses to read for her role? It’s not enough for Tom Batiuk to reprise and rehash the whole Les Goes to Hollywood thing, but this time Les is even pissier and all Mason does is fly him back and forth to the coast, take him to lunch at the Chateau Marmot, and kowtow to his every whine. Stop lathering Les’ ass for God’s sake, Jarre!