Link to a strip that is somehow more nonsensical than yesterday’s.
Before we dive into individual characters. I thought we would briefly take a look at 1972 as a whole, just to see the cast of characters at play, and how often they showed up. This list misses out on a few characters that showed up more than once, but didn’t have names, such as an older curly haired teacher, a cashier, and the school librarian. Also, the records on CK are somewhat incomplete, there were strips missing. This is just to give a rough overview.
Below, the trademark CBH nonsense spreadsheet! Funky Winkerbean characters of 1972 listed by number of appearances.
It seems that, from the very beginning, Les and Funky were the main focus. Poor Livinia Swenson never stood a chance.
The second strip she’s in, (which is almost 2 weeks after the launch,) it seems to me that she’s set up as a distaff counterpart to Funky, his equal in averageness. The way their hair is only differentiated by length, like they’re the Wonder Twins or something, only furthers this impression.
But, in the grand scheme, she doesn’t show up that often. Like everyone in the cast, she puts in time as the ‘Person-Who-Asks-Question’ and the ‘Person-Who-Watches-TV-And-Makes-Face.’ Roles anyone and everyone fills, almost always devoid of specific connection between line and speaker that would keep them from being swapped with someone else.
When her personality does manifest itself, she’s opinionated, strong-willed, and socially conscious with a focus on ecology and feminism.
She’s also never afraid to step on someone’s toes or hurt some feelings. She’s got this kind of blunt honesty I really like.
She’s shown to be questioning gender norms, but unlike other political opinions only mined for yuks, hers can be sympathetically presented, where the joke isn’t her question, but the response.
When I put all of Livinia’s strips together, it seems obvious why Batiuk never could muster up much interest in her. She’s built to sit on this intersection between average and activist, and that severely limits her range. Batiuk doesn’t want too many of the jokes to come at her expense. He wants her to be a more or less positive representation of a ‘modern’ free-thinking teen girl. So the only gimmick he gave her can’t be exaggerated too much. And in order to survive Act I FW, if you’re not Funky himself, you have to have a solid gimmick to mine for humor. Despite what Les said above, Livinia was subtle, too subtle to last as a main character once Holly and Cindy were introduced.
Which is too bad. Because she was unrelentingly cruel to Les, and it was beautiful.
Currently on Comics Kingdom Vintage Funky Winkerbean is up to May of 1976, and Livinia hasn’t completely disappeared, showing up on April 21, taking a test.
Her appearances have become few and far between, however. I don’t know when the last time she shows up alive is, but I’m wondering if it’ll be soon. I couldn’t see any sign of her in the strips I found of the Act II class reunions of 1992 and 1998, though what I had to look at via scanned microfiche was pretty blurry. By the reunion of 2008, she was dead.
Farewell Livinia. You were too good for this strip.
Many of you yesterday were baffled by how obtuse and unfunny Funky telling his wife he couldn’t find hamburger was. So much so, that poor Duck of Death could only wave the white flag of defeat.
Batiuk’s done it. He’s created The Unsnarkables™️, a series of comics so nondescript that they can’t be mocked. Like a piece of driftwood, a discarded gum wrapper, or a random rock in a park, they just exist uselessly without making any kind of impression, leaving no openings for snark or humor.
I admit defeat. Tom has won.
This is TRAGIC. A valued commenter has been weighed down by the sheer baffling yet boring inanity of Funky Winkerbean in January, and now sits slumped in the trenches, unwilling to fight. I hunch down by our wearied and war torn comrade, shell shocked by a barrage of nonsense, and I whisper in their ear the warcry of the Son of Stuck Funky blogger: “Nothing is Unsnarkable.”
Our gallant sergeant SpacemanSpiff85 once snarked for 100 words on a silent strip of sidewalk renovations. Staff-sergeant Billy the Skink once wrote six hilarious haiku on three wordless panels of a woman realizing her brain damaged husband had taken the car keys. I’ve snarked over dialogue-less panels of SALAD DRESSING! Look around you Duck of Death! These brave nitpickers once snarked for an entire week on nothing but envelope opening!
Are you tired? Rest. We shall take up your burden. But know. Know deep in your heart. That someone here will fight this beast. Someone here will take on this monster. Someone here will find SOMETHING FUNNY to say ABOUT NOTHING.
And cheer up. While today’s strip makes somehow even less sense than ANYTHING I’ve seen in weeks. At least it has the possibility to get a great Beach Boys song stuck in your head.
And now for your Comic Book Harriet Useless Factoid Report.
It is believed that there was a real Sloop John B. It sunk off the coast of the Bahamas in the 17th century.
The lyrics to the Bahaman folk song were first published in 1916, by Richard Le Gallienne, in Harper’s Monthly Magazine.
Richard Le Gallienne had a friendship, and even a brief love affair, with Oscar Wilde. Though he was also a notorious womanizer who was married three times.
Poet, Carl Sandberg, included “The John B Sails” in his 1927 collection of American folksongs, The American Songbag.
Carl Sandberg won three Pulitzer Prizes in his lifetime. Which is three more than Tom Batiuk has won.
Carl Sandberg claimed he collected the song from American artist, war correspondent, and political cartoonist John T. McCutcheon.
McCutcheon owned a private island in the Bahamas, where he often lived.
In 1932, McCutcheon won a Pulitzer Prize for cartooning. Which is one more than Tom Batiuk has won.
In what place in this tiny choir loft was this cat hiding?
The church allows a cat in the choir loft? Thereby excluding anyone with feline allergies from choir participation, if not church attendance?
These ladies force a cat that appears social to live alone in a tiny choir loft, with companionship only a couple hours a week during practice and services?
These dumb ladies never thought to mention their cat to Dinkle, their choir director of weeks, if not months, (if not years, given Sunday’s strip)?
They’re still insisting that the Choir Loft is a perpetual man-free zone only recently invaded, when Dinkle has been their choir director for weeks, if not months, if not longer?
Even if the cat was hiding, Dinkle failed to notice litter boxes, food dishes, cat beds, an omnipresent layer of fine black hair covering every surface?
And, the most important question of all: Mopey Pete and Minty’s middle-aged daughter travelled back in time to before her birth to participate in the all-female church choir in Centerview?
Is this an extended, Back to the Future incident?
Or has she come back to prevent some kind of horrifying future apocalypse?
Does she have to work to ensure her own birth?
Does she have to work to PREVENT her own birth?
Is Minty Pete the CAUSE of the horrifying future apocalypse?
Is this poor middle-aged woman in a weirdly tight striped shirt actually burdened by the deaths of a thousand future innocents, and carefully planning her own temporally displaced suicide for the betterment of future mankind?
Wouldn’t that be a much better story than what we’re getting this week?
Poor Donna, look how excited she is in panel one. She reaches out with both hands to the bottle sitting on the weird, tiny, chest-high, table that floats in the featureless beige void. Some cheap sparkling wine. Something to take the edge off the fear gnawing at her subconscious that she’s trapped forever in this gradient colored nega-space. Locked into a bland box, where she slowly decays as the background fades, both the room and her person losing all color and detail. She’ll drink that bottle of cheap, carbonated booze and forget her horrifying existence for a while.
And then the reveal, and her face falls.
This must be payback for all the times she washed her hair with Crazy’s head cleaning solution.
But it’s okay. She can wash away her sorrows with rancidly effervescent salad dressing.