Cameras are FINALLY rolling in today’s strip, which is take 3 (why?) of the contents of this Sunday strip from January 31, 1999.
Yep, even when it was actually happening, Lisa’s story was pretty much all about Les.
Les didn’t write the script for this movie, and yet, this scene is almost verbatim what was actually said back in 1999. I guess he had nothing to fear after all as the script writer must have been clairvoyant… or perhaps just too lazy to even try to punch up a bland passage lifted wholesale from the Lisa’s Story book.
If Les cannot live through seeing actors recite his own words, he knows where the door is. Even if he somehow didn’t walk through it to get in the soundstage, maybe he parachuted in or was brought in bound and gagged inside of a trunk (my favorite theory), he saw Marianne do so.
Anybody here seen that old jerk Les Moore,
Can you please tell me that he’s gone?
He annoyed a lotta people, readers chiefly among
Y’know I just looked at today’s strip and he’s gone.
Anybody here seen any act-tion,
Can you tell me when it comes on?
There’s been a lotta panels, but it seems nothing has happened
I just looked at today’s strip and I yawned.
Does anybody here get this movie’s appeal,
Can you care when Lisa’s fate is foregone?
They need a lotta viewers, their wallets must be wrung
But it’s being made for an audience of one.
Didn’t we snark on Lisa’s arc before?
Won’t this movie plot and strip end eventually?
Then we’ll be free,
Someday soon it’s gonna be one day.
Has anybody here seen my old friend Tom,
Can you tell me where he’s gone?
I thought I saw him there WAY over the hill
In denial that he’s been there so long.
Could cameras finally be rolling in today’s strip?! Ha ha, no. Tom “Tell, Don’t Show” Batiuk is living up to his nickname again. Whatever was just filmed was “great!”, though. Not great enough to portray in this strip or to make additional takes unnecessary, but still great!
There’s really nothing here, is there? We’ve seen Mason and Marianne in their costumes… we’ve seen the laughably cheap winter park bench set being set up… Les has already reacted to all of this. Did we really need to see Martin Johns say some cliché movie director things and spout some authentic Hollywood jargon? Can we move on to Les’ inevitable griping about what is actually being shot? The sooner we get there, the sooner we get out of this story arc (I hope).
At the very least couldn’t TB have had Ayers punch this up by giving Martin a clichéd old-style Hollywood director’s get-up? Y’know, stupid beret, sunglasses, jodhpurs, oversized megaphone, etc.? And if you’re gonna have Shermy cameo as a cameraman, at least let us see his face!
Today’s strip was not available for preview. Whether it is available for regular view in a timely manner is up to Comics Kingdom and their miserable and often buggy interface that has supplanted seemingly every newspaper’s online comics section. Oh to return to that time a few years ago when some papers let you read comics from multiple syndicates on the same single webpage… or even just a few months ago when I could download a PDF file of the physical paper with my overpriced and constantly-rising online newspaper subscription and read the comics in the pleasant manner that I would in a physical paper. The internet has never been easier to access or more difficult to use… but I digress.
I’m going to assume Les is still in the Hollywoodland Studios soundstage with MariLisa and MasoLes. As both actors are wearing thick winter clothing (in addition to their amazing wigs) in prior appearances this week, I am also going to assume they are preparing to film scenes from when Lisa first figured out something was amiss in her body. That was back in January 1999.
Lisa and Les, Cindy and Funky, and Lu Lin and Zhang Li all went out into the snow to play football (apparently tackle football?!) in mid-January 1999. Lisa decided to perform a critical self examination for breast lumps after feeling abnormal pain when Zhang Li tackled her to the ground. You know the rest. If you don’t, TB has some books he would like to sell you…
For those that don’t remember (looking at you, TB), Lu Lin and Zhang Li were a refugee couple from China who owned and operated The Jade Dragon (see this handy Act II character guide), a Chinese restaurant next door to Montoni’s. Like everything in Westview that doesn’t involve pizza, comics, or high school, the restaurant eventually went out of business and the couple wisely left town. Montoni’s then expanded and absorbed the space that The Jade Dragon once occupied.
Link To Today’s Thing
Man, that post title just wrote itself. I’ve been waiting years to use that one. Anyhow, Lisa’s sainted ashes (sigh) are still the main focus, as Mason (who just promised to respect Les’ Lisa boundaries a few months ago) is poking and prodding him to give up the EXACT SPOT where Les dumped Her ashes, as if anyone would actually care. It’s so weird when Les isn’t the sickest and most morally repugnant character in a story, you know? I mean how long is this movie going to be? How many downer endings will it have? Ten? Twenty? Does it start when they meet? When they get married? I KNOW I definitely don’t want to relive THAT wedding (look it up). Is there an intermission after she dies? Sigh.
Coming soon: “Lisa’s Story Part II…The Re-Lisaning”, the follow-up to Mason Jarre’s 2020 smash hit film. Watch as Les blithely ignores his new still-living wife…again. With forty-three hours of never-before-seen “behind the scenes” footage.
There are so many times I’d love to have an honest talk with Batiuk about this strip. Like this week’s story. Are we honestly supposed to feel bad for Les here? “Aw, poor Les, he got peer pressured into doing something he doesn’t want to do.”, or something? I mean, he’s an adult, if he’s already regretting it, he can say “Actually Mason, I don’t want to do this.”. Or he could, once again, act like an adult and accept it and make the best of it. Batiuk so often goes for “deep and conflicted” but hits “in need of intensive therapy” instead. I wonder how soon Les is going to hallucinate a talking blue cat?
Our old friend the park bench returns from a long absence in today’s strip. A pity that these two are disturbing its peace. Or were disturbing its peace, rather, as Les and Durwood are STILL flipping through old photographs.
You could probably argue that they are flipping through new photographs staged to look like old photographs, as TB redraws all of these flashback panels, but then you’d be debating the semantics of Funky Winkerbean, which (speaking from experience) won’t get you invited to many parties.
Anyways, today’s flashback panels pretty accurately replicate the original strip from August 1993 (The Westview High School class of 1992 1988 had a 5 year reunion? Weird.)
TB has, of course, recapped Les punching out Bull at the five year reunion before, though not with these same panels. It was part of Les’ reminiscence of his time with then-fiancé Lisa after she was injured in the 1996 Westview post office bombing. This was less than three years after the famous punch, by the way. Again, it was a fairly faithful reproduction of the original strip except that Lisa gets a snarkier 3rd panel line in the flashback.
Oh, and if you are wondering what awful thing Bull said about Lisa to deserve being punched… Uh, I’m not sure, honestly. At the most, he was being patronizing to Les while making a mildly unwelcome but factual statement about Lisa. Anyways, Bull was remarkably cool about the whole thing, in an early example of the common Act II trope where Les’ haplessness was played to make others look bad instead of for humor.
You know who really does deserve a Pulitzer? Whoever came up with that blurb “Funky Winkerbean is a reality-based comic strip that depicts contemporary issues affecting young adults in a thought-provoking and sensitive manner.” That is, if there’s a Pulitzer Price for bullshit.
June 24, 2016 at 10:29 pm
And of course we all know [Mason wanting to add an “e” to his last name] will never, ever be mentioned again…
Each time TB squanders ink and newsprint on a strip where Les and Funky go running, it’s the same question: why does Funky do it if he derives no benefit? Les appears to be reasonably fit (at least compared to Funky). He’s not spraying plewds everywhere (“plewds“, by the way, are the droplets of sweat we see in cartoons). Although that might be attributed to Les’ sweatband, which he wears so tightly that it appears to be deforming his skull.
On the heels of bringing you the last couple weeks of snark, yours truly feels like Funky does after one of his runs! Fortunately, billytheskink will be tagging in to go mano a mano with the mind of Batiuk for the next fortnight. Thanks as always for reading, commenting, and sharing the pain.