More word zeppelins in today’s strip… Not as bad as yesterday, but still, get your bookmarks out, folks!
You know, this is actually one of TB’s tidiest retcons, probably because it is one of the very few intentional ones he’s ever undertaken. It takes the original scene and changes its context (slightly) by depicting a previously unseen scene. Tidy. The pieces actually fit together. There are no loose ends, deleted original context, or unresolved conflict with the originals scene. See? That’s not so hard.
Heck, as a bonus it even (unnecessarily but adeptly) explains a silly detail from the original scene, why Les has a camcorder and this Hari Seldon story readily at hand as if he was waiting for Lisa to lament about all the things Summer she will never get to experience. Turns out, he pretty much was just waiting on the chance to whip that camera on out.
Tidy as it is, this retcon was no more entertaining or less irritating because of it. In fact, it makes the origin story of the Lisa tapes tremendously off-putting. The focus shifts away from the impending reality of Summer growing up without a mother seen in the original scene to the needs of Summer’s nogoodnik parents… First, Lisa wants to record the tapes so she can live vicariously through Summer’s adolescence in her imagination. Then, Crazy and Lisa hatch this cockamamie plan to let Les take credit for the idea to record the infamous tapes, which only soothes his ego and bolsters his hero complex. These people are awful and I hope I never wind up sitting next to any of them on an airplane.
Oh, good. Logan, got my advice. Despite presumably having the entire summer to continue seeing each other, Logan is drawing a line under this date. Never again! After this is over, she’s never going to go to the mall with Malcolm, never going to eat ice cream with Malcom, and never going to watch a Marvel movie ever again. Good for her.
I do find the meta-joke funny here. (Not the strip itself, it’s pretty clumsy.) They went to see ‘the latest Marvel movie.’ Batiuk’s writes everything a year in advance, but he knew there would be ‘a latest Marvel movie’, no matter when this arc ran. There is always a latest Marvel Movie. There will always be latest Marvel Movie. The virtual reality computer chips Elon Musk will get us all to implant in our heads 20 years from now will come with Disney+ preinstalled and undeletable, and our decaying brain matter will be eternally wirelessly downloading the latest Marvel Movie as we lay dead and rotting in our Disney Corporate caskets in the Magic Kingdom to Come.
Weird that Logan is saying this is the first time they’ve ever eaten ice cream together. I mean, they’ve been friends, at least casually, for years. We saw them hanging out at Komix Korner together after school. But they’ve never eaten ice cream in proximity? Or just gone to the mall to kill time with Bernie and Connor?
Wait, what mall is this?
Thanks to strips the glorious Batiukstorian, Billy The Skink, dug up last week, we know at some point there was a Westview Mall. At least at the time of Les and Cindy’s graduation. Which surprises me because Westview doesn’t seem like a big enough town to support a thriving mall. Especially now that malls everywhere are dying a slow agonizing death.
When Cayla farmed her daughters out as labor for Christmas break in 2020, they certainly weren’t working at the Westview Mall.
‘TH’ Mall is probably supposed to be Mammoth Mall; the mall in Centerview where Crankshaft used to traumatize children as a photo op Santa.
Mammoth Mall is also where a very late Act II Darin and Pete went in 2006 for Senior Skip Day.
And at the time Mammoth Mall is referred to, by both Linda and Pete as THE Mall. So I think we can safely assume that Mammoth Mall in Centerview is ‘the mall’ for both towns.
But, that doesn’t make any sense. Because Crankshaft learns in 2019, (and ten years in the past?) that the mall was supposed to be closing.
Indeed, in 2017 the Mammoth Mall was already as empty as the mall from Silent Hill 3, and full of similar haunting horrors.
Of course, in August 2019 there was still enough of a crowd for Crankshaft to taunt multiple groups of innocent children about the inevitability of summer’s end.
And for the 2020 Christmas season, either a year or eleven years after Cranky got fired from his Santa gig, there wasn’t a shortage of traffic.
So Mammoth Mall is Schrodinger’s Shopping Complex. When unseen it is both dying and fine simultaneously. But when observed in strip it is always either dying or fine, based on Batiukian forces beyond our understanding.
In a way, it stands for the dual fates of malls in modern society. Many are sad, desperate shells, full of broken dreams, and dentist offices. Some are still doing fine, still a hub for women to shop, teens to hang, and men to wait on benches staring blandly at their phones. And I’m guessing that everyone is within day-trip distance of one of each kind.
When my mom calls me up and asks if I want to go to the mall, I always wonder which one she means: The living, or the dead?
And now consider this: If this person who had climbed out of the basement were to go back down again and look in the same freezer as before, would he not find in that case, coming suddenly upon the myriad of frozen packages and frost, that his clouded eyes be filled with confusion?
Now if once again, along with his wife, the married person who had looked there had to again engage in the business of digging and searching about the freezer– while his eyes are still weak and before they have readjusted, an adjustment that would require quite a bit of time — would he not then be exposed to ridicule down there? And would she not let him know that he had gone up to say the thing is not there but only in order to come back down into the basement to look with his ruined eyes — and thus it certainly does not pay to go up at all.
And if she get hold of this searched for thing, finding it there all along, and takes it in hand to bring it from their freezer and to carry it up. If she could kill him, will she not actually kill him?
A tip of the SoSF turban to Comic Book Harriet, who never fails to spin enlightening and entertaining gold from Tom Batiuk’s dreary dross.
The usually exposition-happy TB cuts us a little slack today: without any kind of setup, we rejoin the interminable Kitchen Reno, already in progress. Maybe “progress” isn’t the right word…Funky and Holly’s kitchen is still a complete shambles. But what a lovingly depicted shambles. Clearly, Tom “Write what you know” Batiuk (or maybe Chuck “Really just the penciler” Ayers) must have experienced a kitchen renovation a couple years ago, and was “inspired” to subject Funky (and us all) to a similar ordeal. I’m surprised the FW blog hasn’t been featuring “reference photos” of a gutted Kartoon Kastle kitchen. Willya look at all the details! Every outlet cover has been removed (I thought the bare outlet in the upper left was emitting sparks, but that’s just today’s date). Tools and extension cords are strewn about, plastic sheeting hangs in the doorway, and the floor is covered with a (poorly taped!) dropcloth.
Oh yay, more obsolete technology for Batiuk to fetishize through one of his characters. Was Funky’s record player or eight track player broken? Crazy Harry will be so sad. And this seems like one of the silliest possible times to be using a Discman. The whole point of the things is that they’re portable. Listening to one when you’re by yourself in a room in your own house seems to defeat the whole purpose. Does Funky somehow own a Discman but not a stereo that can play CDs? This strip is mind-boggling sometimes.
Oh, and apparently there are still several companies that make portable CD players you can buy, at least on Amazon. They’re not Sony Discmans, but still. I also have a strong feeling that when Discmans debuted, Batiuk probably loudly proclaimed that his portable tape player was way better. And knowing him he probably did comic strips about it.
That guy in the first panel sure looks happy. I hope he hasn’t discovered a new addiction to donuts. Is it just me, or is that sentence in the second sentence super unwieldy? I can’t really think of a better way to phrase it, and it doesn’t really lead into the third panel at all. Haha, “news that’s unfit to print”, that’s never been done before. I guess “Troller” is supposed to be a play on “Twitter”? Except it doesn’t sound at all the same, and I’m positive Batiuk has already made up a spoof of Twitter. But yeah, reading the news is stressful and can lead to a relapse into alcoholism. True, but not really great material for a comic strip.
Today’s strip is a bit weird for multiple reasons. It’s odd that Batiuk is highlighting that there’s a pandemic going on, and yet neither character is wearing a mask. And the whole punchline of the pandemic making meetings more crowded seems to be the exact opposite of what the pandemic actually did. Unfunny, uninteresting, and baffling-it’s the Batiuk Way!
You are looking liiiiive at St. Spires Church and its odd, grass-covered exterior wall in today’s strip…
At least the choir ladies are asking follow up questions now. The last two times Dinkle pulled his “a little” shtick no one pressed him for specifics. I’m half-surprised Dinkle doesn’t carry around a printed resume to hand out to the mere mortals who aren’t familiar with his life story, that really seems like something he would do.
How bad was the past week of Les strips? Bad enough to make today’s appearance by Mister Kablichnick feel like a refresing palate cleanser. I was ready to add “doughnut of doom” to the Batiuktionary, figuring that the term was coined by TB to set up the “punchline.” But Grandpa Google turned up this April 2019 New York Times article that uses the phrase, as well as the image Jim that is showing the students.
It’s been a pleasure sharing the pain with you lo these last two weeks. Beckoning Chasm steps into the wheelhouse starting Monday!