Link to today’s strip
I have to assume that Rachel’s hands are so calloused from years of pizza-slinging that she has no need for oven mitts. Anyhow, the Funk-Man is angrily waiting to re-take his driver’s exam, sitting and sulking as “those kids today” entertain themselves with their phone gizmos they’re all so fond of these days. Based on the way he’s carrying on you’d think he was the victim here and not merely an idiot who failed to renew his driver’s license for an entire year. The funniest thing about this one is how he has the exact same look on his face that I did upon seeing that TB was doing ANOTHER week of this.
So how did Lisa do in the Lisa Legacy Run featured in today’s strip?
She finished dead last.
In today’s strip we see the rare Montoni’s customer in its natural habitat. It was believed by many that these rare creatures had become extinct in the early 2010s. They are still sighted occasionally, as we see today, but such appearances are increasingly uncommon. In fact, Montoni’s customers are seen less often these days than Barney Google, Annie Warbucks, and Irma the diner waitress from Garfield.
It is easy to see why the Montoni’s customer is on the verge of extinction, their natural habitat is an extremely hostile environment. Nearly-inedible food, abysmal service, regular appearances by coffee-gulping comic store employees and that guy with the goatee, and now frequent power outages. Those few Montoni’s customers who remain are sullen and churlish, ultimately accepting of their fate of eating a loaf Sunbeam drizzled with store-brand olive oil in lieu of what they ordered but not entirely resigned to it.
If only Tom Batiuk trusted his characters to inhabit their own stories. and his readers to follow along. We’ve long since established that poor Wally can barely function in 21st century Westview. But in a story arc where he’s the main character, we must listen to Wally’s wife and
uncle cousin boss narrate the “action”. In the case of today’s strip, this is done in order to set up the wordless third panel punchline, where we see “focused and ready” Wally sitting intently, surrounded by his younger peers whose attention is anywhere but on the lesson. This marks quite a change for our Wally in the six years since his first community college go-round (see below), during which time he was not merely distracted but actually asleep in class. It’s gotta be those glasses!
Again with the friggin’ cartoon cavemen! I’ve tried to use restraint when it comes to judging Wally’s behavior on the chance that this might be a true-to-life depiction of life for an afflicted vet. But folks, Wally’s been back Stateside over seven years now. And sure, his wife and everyone in his hometown mostly left him to fend for himself. But seven years. This fish-out-of-water act is really getting old. Fortunately, the day is saved by a young lady so unconcerned about campus security that she cheerfully unlocks the door for a gaunt, older stranger in military fatigues.
Okay, there seems to be a motif at work here…I mean aside from the fact that today’s strip is a rehash of the day before, with Wally as a cartoon caveman in the last panel instead of the first. It’s a pretty safe bet that everyone recognized Fred Flintstone in Monday’s strip; no doubt some of you recognized Alley Oop, but I had to shake my head at this Tip of the Funky Felt Tip to a character I thought obscure even by Tom Batiuk’s standards.
According to Wikipedia, the Alley Oop comic strip was created by American cartoonist V. T. Hamlin in 1932. This surprised me, as I’d had Oop pegged as a prewar contemporary of Little Nemo and The Yellow Kid. I was even more surprised to learn that the strip survives over 80 years later and today appears in more than 600 newspapers. That’s roughly half again as many papers that carry Funky Winkerbean.
Instead of allowing the “Bullzheimer’s” prestige arc to gain momentum, Batiuk has us check in on another of Westview’s lost souls. Not only does Wally find the campus environment daunting: the mere act of online registration makes him feel hopelessly ancient. Perhaps he’d have an easier time had he not waited until the semester had already begun. I don’t know if Fred Flintstone’s what you call a “real” Neanderathal, but Rachel does kind of resemble Wilma, now that Batiuk’s remembered to make her a redhead.