Tag Archives: retcon

Signal the Virtues! Strike up the Bandwagon!

Link To Today’s Pulse Pounding Drama!

Blatant theft of idea and art! Done with love, respect, and admiration for Blog Host Emeritus, Beckoning Chasm.

‘Member Roland?

Oh, I ‘member.

I imagine this was also Batiuk’s thought process writing this arc.

I’m starting to get kinda paranoid, guys. I’m starting to feel like Batiuk IS reading this blog. That he reads it, and then changes continuity or characters just to troll us. He saw my jokey headcanon that Roland became a conservative hardware store owner, and had to kick back against my fantasy of responsible small business success and respect for the establishment by inserting the character into a hot button political issue.

I had to fumigate and dissect a political hornets’ nest on my last shift. I’m in no mood to kick this one. I eagerly look forward to all of you in the comments respectfully discussing with each other the artistic merits of this decision and tearing Batiuk a new one. Remember the site rules.

Whatever our diverse views, we can all agree that Batiuk is mostly doing this because he lazily looked through the Overton Window and realized he could bring up a topic that would get him possible cheers from the people he loves to get cheered by and maybe even jeers from the people he gets off on hating.

Some context for your discussion. I don’t have anything concrete I’m trying to say with these. Just some stuff that’s weird to read with the new retcon in mind.

Okay, now imagine 50 years!
So, not ace?
But bikini’s irrelevant?
History and Etymology for chauvinism
French chauvinisme, from Nicolas Chauvin, character noted for his excessive patriotism and devotion to Napoleon in Théodore and Hippolyte Cogniard’s play La Cocarde tricolore (1831)
Life-style? Mom?
Misogynist Transphobic Dad?
Hmmm…
I mean, no argument there…
Projection? Jealousy?
Denigrating Roller Derby reference, learned from dad?

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The Les He Knows, The Better

More word zeppelins in today’s strip… Not as bad as yesterday, but still, get your bookmarks out, folks!

You know, this is actually one of TB’s tidiest retcons, probably because it is one of the very few intentional ones he’s ever undertaken. It takes the original scene and changes its context (slightly) by depicting a previously unseen scene. Tidy. The pieces actually fit together. There are no loose ends, deleted original context, or unresolved conflict with the originals scene. See? That’s not so hard.

Heck, as a bonus it even (unnecessarily but adeptly) explains a silly detail from the original scene, why Les has a camcorder and this Hari Seldon story readily at hand as if he was waiting for Lisa to lament about all the things Summer she will never get to experience. Turns out, he pretty much was just waiting on the chance to whip that camera on out.

Tidy as it is, this retcon was no more entertaining or less irritating because of it. In fact, it makes the origin story of the Lisa tapes tremendously off-putting. The focus shifts away from the impending reality of Summer growing up without a mother seen in the original scene to the needs of Summer’s nogoodnik parents… First, Lisa wants to record the tapes so she can live vicariously through Summer’s adolescence in her imagination. Then, Crazy and Lisa hatch this cockamamie plan to let Les take credit for the idea to record the infamous tapes, which only soothes his ego and bolsters his hero complex. These people are awful and I hope I never wind up sitting next to any of them on an airplane.

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Where there’s an ill there’s a way

So much for Summer’s reappearance… with today’s strip we’re now seven panels removed from Monday’s “Hey Harry! What Brings?” with no end in sight to the sepia-toned sadness blocking Ms. Moore from view. If that’s not bad enough for poor Summer, Lisa can’t be bothered to even mention “her daughter” by name in the word salad she spits out in panel 2.

Are we headed toward another unnecessary and uninteresting retcon?

For years, mankind thought they knew the origin of the Lisa tapes… but they were WRONG.

WHAT IF… recording an incessant number of Lisa’s final few hours on earth wasn’t Les’ idea at all, but instead, the brainchild of a completely different nerdy MAN?

The TRUE origin of the Lisa tapes revealed… This August. Playing exclusively in Funky Winkerbean.

[read in movie trailer voiceover voice]

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When Everything Goes Pear Shaped.

I know I promised you guys the distant past. But first, a brief timeline of the last couple years.

December 2019 to March 2021: Life in Westview proceeds as normal; people self-medicating with comics to stave off the usual nihilistic despair. No mentions of pandemics, lockdowns, masks, or quarantines.

March 2, 2021: Les Moore mentions a previously unrecorded flu quarantine from when Lisa was undergoing breast cancer treatment. A week of retrospective strips on the ‘famous Flu Epidemic of 2007.’

April 2021: Funky Winkerbean attends an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting and begins blathering about ‘last year’s pandemic’. It’s as if from a moment in the future the past has been altered, Flashpoint style, so that a pandemic occurred ‘last year’ but is mostly over.

September 30, 2021: Holly Winkerbean breaks her ankle. During her time in the hospital we see people wearing masks in the present, though no one at the football game was masked. (Consistent with late pandemic trends.) She begins a recovery that sees her using a pair of crutches through at least January.

TODAY: Holly Winkerbean is implied to have broken her ankle at the beginning of the pandemic.

You know, when I did the Funky Award for Most Puzzling Continuity Question, I really figured it would be a one time deal, since many of the continuity snarls had been kicking around for a while. I never imagined that by MARCH 2022, we would already have three or four potential nominees.

But Batiuk is no stranger to continuity snarls. They cropped up in his VERY FIRST month of Funky Winkerbean.

The fifth ever printed Funky Winkerbean strip, 3/31/72 introduces Fred Fairgood as the school counselor.

And yet, the next time we see him, 5/9/72, he introduces himself as if he is just arriving.

And that isn’t the only first month snafu. On 4/5/72, we see first see Les working on the school paper, an early running gag.

And a few weeks later, he announces to Funky that he is applying for the position.

Now, both of these are understandable within the context of trying to launch a strip. You’ve got (I’m guessing) a few months of strips prepared, but then you want to lead off with your best and most easily digestible material. So strips are put out of order.

Batiuk actually has some good insight into why starting a strip is difficult.

Starting a comic strip is a unique proposition that requires a slightly different skill set from the one you’ll hopefully be using a few years later.

When I was just beginning with Funky, I read a Peanuts strip that completely frustrated me. The strip in question had come after a week during which Linus had had his blanket taken away, and he was lying on the ground shaking as he went through withdrawal. In the second panel, Snoopy walks up wearing his WWI flying helmet and scarf. He pauses to look down at Linus shaking on the ground and then walks off saying, “Poor blighter, his kind shouldn’t be sent to the front.”

It was an elegant strip that Schulz had taken twenty years to set up. Twenty years in which he had developed the theme of Linus and his blanket, developed the character of Snoopy and Snoopy’s fantasy world as a fighter pilot in WWI—all so he could create the opportunity to eventually dovetail them into that one perfect strip. Twenty years that I didn’t have behind me in those first few weeks of Funky.

Instead, what you have in a beginning strip is a great deal of expository dialogue trying to establish your characters’ names, personalities, and situations. Oh, and have them say something funny. I’ve often likened it to a stand-up comic who has to win over new audiences each night with a series of individual jokes.

Later, if he’s lucky, he moves on to a sitcom where the situational humor allows him to extend the comic narrative. Finally, if he’s really lucky, he gets to make movies, where there’s room for the subtleties of behavioral humor. It takes a long time to establish your characters and develop their personalities.

From the introduction to The Complete Funky Winkerbean Volume One

We can debate all day if he ever established his characters or developed their personalities into something consistent, but the above does, I think, point to one reason that Funky Winkerbean maintains it’s ironic audience. History. Any one year of Funky Winkerbean is mostly unremarkable. If it had only lasted a decade, any decade of its lifespan, it wouldn’t catch our attention.

But 50 years of this? 50 years of the Cronenberg-esq transformations of these strange sad-sack characters within a single universe, generated by a single mind.

When Marianne Winters pulled two VHS tapes out of her purse last week, that was the awful entrancing Funkyverse flipside to Snoopy as the Red Baron pitying Linus. It was a nauseating non sequitur built from years of disdain for a fictional character compounded with decades of facts and moments being referenced incorrectly.

Oh. And Batiuk was already creating inexplicable continuity biffs all the way back in 1973. Only a year after Les announced that he had applied for the position of school paper editor, the entire thing is retconned to being recruited by the school principal.

Never change, Tom. It’s too late to start.

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Do quit your day job

Et tu, Skyler? Crazy being baffled anyone would think he looks like Santa Claus while wearing a Santa Claus hat was bad enough… but today’s strip sees Skyler puzzled that Santa Claus spends time away from the North Pole? Has the kid never been to a mall? A store with a Salvation Army bell-ringer out front? A December Rotary Club fundraiser?

Actually, Given Westview’s general economic and retail landscape, that may be believable. The inquiry “North Pole?”, however…

As pretty much every single one of us beady-eyed nitpickers noted yesterday, Skyler was born in 2013, eight years ago (in fact, his birthday was November 22, just a few weeks ago), and has demonstrated his ability to speak in complete sentences on multiple occasions in the past. His regression to the verbal ability of a two year-old is a puzzling and insipid development, but no less so than a number of other things that have happened in this strip in Act III. Tomorrow may well find Kevin Garnett (no, not that Kevin Garnett, this guy after a visit to the Pete Reynolds New Last Name Store) correctly shouting “Anything is possible!” It’s true, we’re all living in Phil Holt’s world now.

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Snow Job Snore

Cameras are FINALLY rolling in today’s strip, which is take 3 (why?) of the contents of this Sunday strip from January 31, 1999.

FW1-31-99

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.

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Die or Die Not, There Is No Try

Today’s strip takes a pre-dick-tably maudlin turn. Like we didn’t all know “Les tries to sullenly undermine this dumb movie thing” was going to be the gist of this story arc.

Even if I wasn’t short on time to write this, I’m wouldn’t archive dive to prove that Lisa did or did not say what Les is claiming at some point in time… because I can quickly and easily point to a time when she pretty much said the exact opposite.

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This Clown

Well, as Mason himself said yesterday, “things never seem to be going anywhere”… and no where has that statement ever been more true than in today’s strip.

Mason closed out yesterday’s strip implying that something had happened with the production of the Lisa’s Story movie he has allegedly been pitching around “this town”*, but we gain not a single bit of information on that today. Instead, Mason bemoans being an attractive, successful, and in-demand actor as a fate worse than death. Being an action hero was once his goal, by the way, and now he’s mad that he’s in demand for the kinds of roles he apparently had been pursuing? Perhaps he’d like to go back to starring in whatever Dino Deer was supposed to be or working on second-tier cable TV projects that never get finished

* While I am sure there are folks in Hollywood who refer to it as “this town” and manage not to sound insufferable and pompous, Mason is not one of those people. I’m reminded of the use of “this town” in SCTV’s Sammy Maudlin Show sketches, written and recited by people who understood folks like Mason (and TB) who play the put-upon auteur for the bags of wind that they typically are.

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Possibly nothing… interesting at all is going on here

Since we went over how what Cayla claims in today’s strip is in no way true back in Tuesday’s post, I have little left to say. This strip is almost spectacular in how utterly boring it is.

I don’t think anyone would cry if Les retired two years early. Same goes for a certain cartoonist who is now, in fact, about two years away from a milestone anniversary that some experts speculate may also mark his retirement.

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Perfect Atten-dunce

Hark! Saint Les has revealed his halo in today’s strip. He doesn’t want to miss teaching school to deal with the affairs that arise from being a professional writer. How noble!

Here is a list of strips where Les unremorsefully left his students with a substitute teacher:
January 9, 2011
January 31, 2011
September 25, 2017
October 5, 2017
October 30, 2017
November 14, 1997
May 7, 2018
And these are just the ones I could find in 15 minutes!

But this time… how noble!

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