Durwood has a pretty poor grasp of economics for the holder of an alleged MBA… but look, if you really want, I’ll grant that the loopy and incredibly fictional economy of the Batiukverse means that Silver Age Omnibus books are such tremendous demand that Durwood’s Catch-22 makes sense. What doesn’t make sense is that quite literally yesterday we were told that these fancy comic books couldn’t be shipped on time due to climage damate. Now the blame rests with the Pandemic/COVID/Supply Chain Issues/Amazon/Internet/Inflation (oops, we’re not yet a year out on that last one filling up the column inches, check back next summer when inflation somehow closes Montoni’s again)? Make up your mind TB Batton!
Harry motherf*cking Dinkle…the one FW character who sends a shudder of total disgust through every SoSF guest host, each and every time he rears his ugly, cackling head. “Band director”…the two most demoralizing words in the Funkyverse. And he’s with that other band director, you know the one I mean, that guy who’s based on someone, I think. It’s gonna be a long week, people.
And what’s with Funky’s alcoholism coming up all the time lately? Isn’t he anything else? I mean, the guy quit drinking a long time ago, he’s Westview’s number one businessman and the head of the local chamber of commerce. Plus his step-son just got married. So why can’t he talk about anything else?
Today’s strip is all about the numbers for me… and not just the zip code of “Boston, Mass”. We’ve got 3 faculty on stage here, which is what… half of WHS’ known paid staff these days (along with Les, Cayla, and Lefty)? Of course, maybe you only need 4 teachers, 2 administrators, and a Dinkle when you only have 16 students in your senior class. To be fair, only nerds would show up for a school assembly during the last weeks of their senior year, so maybe these are just all the nerds (that would explain why Maris Rogers is having to plan on crashing graduation parties instead of hosting them).
Wait a second, this is the Senior Honors assembly. That explains it…
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.