Tag Archives: Pete’s Plaid Shirt

People Who Are Unalert and Afraid

Link to today’s strip.

I hate to sound like a broken record, but Jessica comes across as emotionally unstable, and Dullard comes across as a clueless clod. The fact that she’s ready to fly off the handle without knowing what’s actually going on, and then immediately turn lovey-dovey would be worrisome to a normal person.

But of course, Dullard isn’t normal. He thought he could hide his glasses from his wife, apparently forever; and he thought sharing his medical condition with his wife (again) was something one simply does not do.

Now, in the hands of a nominally clever writer, this could work, with a lot of details nudged here and there. You could get some good comic mileage out of this kind of a relationship. “Seinfeld,” “Friends” and dozens of other shows managed to make neurotic relationships amusing.

Of course, we are not in the hands of a nominally clever writer. What occurs to me is that this week’s “story” would have worked better with Pete and Mindy as the leads. Pete is already obsessed with his loser nature, and since they’re not married it might be a genuine worry for him that Mindy would say “Ugh! Glasses? No thanks!” Maybe. None of these characters are developed enough so we can reasonably guess what kind of reactions they would have. This week offers proof of this.

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People Like You (Dullard) and You (Jessica)

Link to today’s strip.

So Dullard was afraid that Jessica would think he was a nerd, because he was wearing glasses.

And then what? Divorce him? “Your honor, this man wears glasses. No wife wants a man who wears glasses.”

Seriously? I mean, sure there was a time when wearing glasses was considered “uncool” and perhaps a bit of a stigma…among school children, on television sitcoms. In the 1960‘s (at the latest). And I’m betting on each of those sitcoms the resolution was that it was “okay” to wear glasses.

Today, I’m not sure I know anyone who doesn’t wear glasses. It’s not a trait that really stands out anymore.

In a better comic strip, this could be the start of a “bit” that could be hilarious, as over the coming days Dullard tries increasingly bizarre ways to hide his glasses from Jessica. Because what else could his plan be?

Let me restate this: Dullard didn’t want Jessica to know he needs glasses. Since they are a married couple, and not casual acquaintances, this would be a very difficult achievement. “What are those?” “These? Nothing! Funky asked me to keep his glasses, just in case.” Later: “While we’re driving in the car, can you tell me when you see the signs for the exit for HorribleDemise Lane?” “Uh, I’ve got a better idea! Why don’t we ask Skyler, to test his reading ability?” “Oh, that’s such an awesome idea from a father! My father was murdered by the way.”

Skyler: “M-U-R-D-E-R-E-D. Murdered. Shot to death while on the air.”

This scenario, though, would require the creativity of 1950’s sitcom writer, which Batiuk can’t give, can’t even buy, and just doesn’t get.

Skyler: “A-E-O-N space F-L-U-X. Something unfathomably better than this horrible existence could ever be.”

(Sorry, I love that intro and wish I could do something half as cool.)

It’s another example of Tom Batiuk deciding that the first thing he thinks of would make a good story. “What if…Dullard had to wear glasses?” Well, what if? That’s just boring. “What if he wanted to hide this from Jessica?” What? That doesn’t make any sense! And it’s still boring!

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And Who’s Watching?

Link to today’s strip.

I’m not sure I understand you fully, Dullard. Could you state that as a question?

Seriously, why does Dullard’s statement end with a question mark? This is the sort of response when you’ve been found out, and are hurriedly trying to think of an answer that will defuse the situation. “My–eye doctor? Ha ha, no, of course it isn’t my eye doctor! That would be silly! I meant I might…try…a new…locker! Yeah, that’s it!”

While it is almost certainly his eye doctor he’s seeing (boy are we getting a theme in 2021 or what?), it’s interesting that his reaction to an angry Jessica is to shrink in terror. Again, boy, is this a healthy relationship. (Answer: no, it isn’t.) Most husbands or wives would probably be amused by the anger and say, “Oh hi honey. I’ve been seeing an eye doctor. I just didn’t want you to worry. Sorry, I didn’t mean to keep you in the dark. Where do you want to go for lunch?”

Because, again in a healthy relationship, Dullard would know that Jessica was coming to visit. She’d have told him. She wouldn’t have just popped by…although that seems to be exactly how Atomik Komix (spit) headquarters seems to work. In a healthy relationship, she wouldn’t have wanted to keep him in the dark. In a healthy relationship.

Speaking of the dark, wow, that’s some cloud there descending in panel three to envelope (and hopefully digest) the three idiots.

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Wound Up As Tight As It Is

Link to today’s strip.

And Jessica’s fears grow deeper and wider. Perhaps, as I suggested yesterday, Dullard’s beginning to wonder why he married her.

Ha, just kidding. We all know it’s not going to be anything that threatens their relationship (such as it is).

A man having an affair wouldn’t say he “hasn’t said a thing” to his wife. Of course he hasn’t told his wife he’s cheating on her!

Banana Jr. 6000 on March 8, 2021.

Not to mention that a man having an affair probably wouldn’t talk about it with anyone, much less his co-worker. Seems like the kind of thing you’d want to keep private. Especially since Pete is well-known to just blurt things out if he thinks it makes him look clever. (Spoiler alert: it doesn’t, Pete.)

Also as mentioned yesterday (hey, if Batiuk can do it, so can I) this seems to be the only scenario he can come up with featuring Dullard and Jessica. Person A overhears conversation involving Person B, and immediately takes the worst possible interpretation.

Again it begs the question: why are these two together? What kind of relationship do they have if, on overhearing any dialogue (not between themselves), they immediately assume they’re on the outs with each other? I seriously wonder why they haven’t murdered each other until–SNAP!–I remember that this is Funky Winkerbean, where interesting developments are NOT allowed.

Batiuk has to keep it all stable so the Pulitzer committee can re-think their mistake.

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Frisket Business

Whew! I am so very happy to report that today’s strip doesn’t take place at the optometrist office, we’ve instead moved to a world where two Northern Ohio-based nonagenarian comic book legends are somehow meeting for the first time. It is, remarkably, a welcome respite.

Are we really supposed to believe that Flash and Ruby Lith, alleged fans of each other’s work, are meeting for the first time? Ruby Lith (hired in September 2019) wasn’t in the office during Flash’s last visit, when he dropped by to kvetch about “Turtle Thompson” (wait, was “Thompson” part of the guy’s nickname?) back in December 2019? Yes, Ruby Lith’s Miss American was a Capitol Comics title while Flash worked at Batom, but these two have both presumably been alive since the Coolidge administration working in the same industry in presumably a similar geographic area… they never met at a convention? Trade show? Art supply store? Comic book store? 3:30 PM dinner buffet?

While the plot seems a stretch, the puns today, however, are… well, they certainly are present. Though I incorrectly guessed her relation, I knew Amber Lith was coming. Really, I think we all knew Amber Lith was gonna be a gag in a Ruby Lith strip at some point. Didn’t see the dog’s related punny name coming, but it feels incredibly uninspired and unsurprising nonetheless.

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Krabby Petey

Banana Jr. 6000
December 4, 2020 at 12:36 pm 
…The joke is so mild and so botched, and the reaction is so ridiculously oversold, that the strip should be funny for how misguided it is.

Does anyone else think that Darin in the last panel looks like he was drawn by MAD’s Maddest Artist, Don Martin?

Tom Batiuk has frequently expressed, in his work and in interviews, that even though we call them “comics,” they don’t necessarily have to be “funny.” “I don’t see why a comic strip can’t carry the weight of substantial ideas,” he once said. But even a storyteller like Batiuk must cleanse the palate with the occasional standalone gag, or even a week’s worth of them. Everything about Pete’s “holiday joke” is lame, and the smugness with which he delivers it is just off the charts. Of course, the response is a hearty HA! HA! HA! from all but one of the Atomik staff.  At first, it looked to me as if Chester was the one admonishing Pete to “stick to writing drama,” which would make sense as he’s Pete’s boss. Naturally, as his fiancé, Mindy must come to Pete’s defense. But nobody knows better that his real soulmate, Darin, that flighty, distractible Pete needs help with focus. And anyway, his jokes suck.

Something that does not suck is the way Beckoning Chasm goes to work on Funky Winkerbean with a pair of pliers and a blowtorch, and his authoring stint begins with Monday’s comic. Stay safe and well and happy, people. –TFH

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Don’t Try Scuba-Side

Here’s that “Rip Tide, Scuba Cop” cover that nobody asked for. Back in June, Batiuk shared Craig Rousseau’s preliminary sketches for this cover on the FW blog back in June. The draftsmanship is fine (certainly better better than Batiuk and Ayers recent output), even if the composition’s a little…busy. In this way, it has more in common with the action-packed Silver Age covers of Batiuk’s beloved Flash than with the edgier, minimalist modern day covers that he likes to feature (without attribution) on the blog.

No doubt that this one had its genesis when comics fanboi Batiuk seized on the “Scuba-side” pun. After that, it was just a matter of squeezing out a few more jokey names based on bodies of water to round out the “squad.” Then it was just a matter of finding a comic book artist with some free time on his hands.

All that was left was to contribute the “humerous bon mot” (that’s how Batiuk spells it) featuring Mindy and Pete, to give this strip some tenuous tie to an FW plotline. Mindy’s not just some dumb gurl who lucked into a colorist job at Atomik Komix. She’s the brains behind Pete. Her insistence on going to the beach, instead of hiking to Bronson Canyon, inspired Pete to create a new Atomik title (and potentially saved them from dying in a fire).

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