Tag Archives: retcon

Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night

Link to today’s strip

Epicus had a great comment yesterday, and judging by the upvotes most of you agreed. There was one thought in particular that gave me pause. He said, “A child could write it. Unfortunately though, no children were available so BatYam took a stab at it…”

When I was younger, I used to do theater. My first role, when I was 12, was the mother in James and the Giant Peach. I was eaten by a giant invisible rhinoceros at the very beginning of the show. I flung myself all over the stage screaming and dying, and I got a pretty big head by thinking I was good at it. That was, until I heard my director say, “Dying is easy, comedy is hard.”

As near as Grandpa Google can tell me, the actual origins of that famous turn of phrase come from a story movie director George Seaton told about going to see his friend, the actor Edmund Gwenn on his deathbed in 1959.

“All this must be terribly difficult for you, Teddy,” [Seaton] said sympathetically.

Gwenn didn’t buy that sympathy. A smile touched his lips.

“Not nearly as difficult as playing comedy,” he answered cheerfully.

They were his words of exit. His head turned on the pillow. He was dead.

As a kid that pithy little aphorism was a revelation. Melodrama is easy. It’s easy to act, and it’s easy to write. Death hangs like the sword of Damocles above us all, and in time every sword will fall. Who do you love? Your mom? Your spouse? Your goldfish? Find the fear you hold inside knowing they are mortal, and you’ve found the massive emotional button any artist worth their paycheck can push at will. Entire genres of weepy books and Hallmark Channel movies are built on the cheap, baking-soda-and-vinegar, combination of love and death.

Twelve years ago, Batiuk pushed that button. And, go back and read those strips, he was effective.
cheap and effective, like your mom
This strip is cloying. It’s maudlin. And yet, it is 110% more real than anything we’ve seen in years. A mother won’t see her daughter grow up. A father struggles to explain. A child tries to comfort a loved one they can hardly realize they’re about to lose. Death is taking a knife and cutting to ribbons the story of a happy family just as viciously as Rose stabbing a precious comic book.

We’ve gotten none of this in Bull’s death. None. We didn’t see Linda calling her children. We didn’t see the pain of Jinx thinking about how Dad wouldn’t be there to walk her down the aisle. Or Mickey realizing her own kids would never know a Grandpa Bushka. We didn’t linger on Linda’s pain as she sits through a funeral full of terrible secrets, as she comes home to an empty house, as she has to do laundry that will only remind her of her dead husband’s illness.

It should have been easy. A child could have done it. But Batiuk decided to give us a death without really showing the love that death was cutting off.

Instead Batiuk decided to end this arc (for now?) with a week of strips where Linda gets down on her knees in front of his author avatar so she can fellatiate Les Moore’s metaphorical ego-dick.

In the past, I’ve tried to cut Tom some slack. But not today. Please insult this man.

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We have Always been Allies with Eastasia.

Link to today’s strip

I hope no one expected much out of me this shift, because I literally cannot see the screen through my seething rage. There’s nothing more I can possibly say that others haven’t said better. In case anyone out there doesn’t read the amazing comments provided everyday by our Funkysnark crew, here are couple that show we know Batiuk better than any New York Times reporter. I promise tomorrow, when I’ve had time to process my anger, I’ll attempt to mold it into something of my own creation, rather than plagiarize the hilarity of others.

beckoningchasm
Oh
My
GOD

Batiuk is going to make Bull’s death All About Les, isn’t he? Good GOD, is there no depth to which this man will not sink to promote The Worst Character In The Entire World?

Banana Jr. 6000
Let’s cut to the chase here… this is going to be about Les getting over being bullied, isn’t it? Even though they had a friendship for many years in adulthood, that extended to Bull helping Les’ daughter rehab her knee, and Bull managing Les’ precious Lisa’s Legacy run. But no, as we saw at the funeral, Les just isn’t over it yet.

It’s creepy how much the town of Westview indulges Les’ bizarre psychological needs. Like with the new Lisa’s Story movie, he didn’t even start it – Mason Jar did! And then a random person came up to say yes, Lisa’s Story is a universal tale that must be seen by all. Now Linda invites him over to show him this picture when he should be the one consoling her.

Les’ life is like the part in Being John Malkovich where John Malkovich takes the passageway into his own head, and all the dialog in the world is just “Malkovich Malkovich Malkovich Malkovich Malkovich.” Which should be horrifying, but Les’ ego is so huge it seems perfectly normal to him.

Epicus Doomus
Sometimes I seriously believe that BatYap is writing this shit just for us and amusing himself by our consistently outraged, bored and disgusted reactions. “Heh heh, watch them freak out when I have Bull and Les sharing a water bottle on the football practice field, they’ll lose their minds!”.

See above. Now it’s not only not about CTE or suicide anymore, it’s not even about Bull OR Linda, but LES! Apparently this old and totally implausible photograph that Linda lovingly shared with Les triggers Les’ memories about what a disgusting slobbering animal Bull was, all sweaty and gross and germ-laden. That’s some truly touching and timely stuff right there. I’m wagering that he didn’t share this part of his big prestige arc with the NYT people.

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Deafinitely Dumb

Hey, remember when this story arc was about Bull?
Today’s strip sure doesn’t.

Look, I’m just going to gloss over the fact that Dinkle was actually introduced well over a year into this strip’s existence and just give TB credit for remembering that Funky Winkerbean itself is 47 (and a half) years old… And with that out of the way I’ll go right into wondering what the heck this has to do with Bull, his condition, his life, or anything. I guess if you twist your neck 117 degrees and squint until you experience sharp pain in your temples it appears the notoriously egotistical Dinkle (or is that Buck?) is paying Bull a compliment by saying they were equals despite his long and incessant history of considering all things inferior to himself and his marching band. But really this is just TB repackaging his biggest hit.

Dinkle is the only thing about this strip that has ever moved merchandise. His “football fields are for band practice!” bit covers books and t-shirts, and even serves as his character’s introductory line in the stage play Funky Winkerbean’s Homecoming. Dinkle’s shtick has sold band posters (“Dinkle wants your horn to twinkle”) and shoes, and no less than 9 Dinkle-specific collections of FW strips have been published! No, seriously, there have been 4 Lisa books and 9 Dinkle books.

Football Fields are for Band Practice!
Sunday Concert
Harry L. Dinkle Live at Carnegie Hall
I Never Promised You a Rose Parade
Gone with The Woodwinds
Would the Ushers Please Lock the Doors!
Attack of the Band Moms
The Grass is Always Greener on the Other Side of the Football Field
Music is Worth it… Music is Worth it… Music is…

This is nothing more than TB pushing his most-recognized character/cash cow into a story the New York Times inexplicably gave him ink for. Ugh!

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Lespicable

I don’t have words right now for today’s strip, so here is a list of synonyms for “Les Moore” that I found in the thesaurus:

cheap, contemptible, cruddy, deplorable, dirty, grubby, lame, lousy, mean, nasty, paltry, pitiable, pitiful, ratty, scabby, scummy, scurvy, sneaking, sorry, wretched, abhorrent, abominable, condemnable, detestable, execrable, hateful, loathsome, odious, disgusting, reptilian, repugnant, repulsive, revolting, revulsive, discreditable, disgraceful, dishonorable, disreputable, ignominious, shameful, base, ignoble, low, shabby, sordid, squalid, vile, blamable, censurable, reprehensible, reproachable, cowardly, craven, dastardly, unethical, unprincipled, unscrupulous, base, currish, detestable, execrable, low-down, low-minded, snide, sordid, , evil, foul, immoral, iniquitous, wicked, cruel, vicious, debased, degenerate, depraved, atrocious, villainous, monstrous, horrible, appalling, pathetic, egomaniacal, jerky, are-you-still-in-high-school-?-good-grief-get-over-it-man-!-don’t-you-have-a-life-now-?

Please feel free to add any that I and Merriam-Webster may have missed. Thanks.

Also, just to remind anyone who wasn’t reading back in 2011, or those who have had the good fortune to forget, Bull’s bullying of Les in high school was an act to protect Les from real bullies. It’s like Les doesn’t even read this strip…

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Memories… Summer good, Summer not

It’s back to the WABAC machine in today’s strip. No, I’m not talking about the flashback to “five years ago…”, I’m talking about Bull’s funeral, which has itself moved two-and-a-half years backward in time in order to accommodate a five years ago flashback featuring players Bull last coached in the spring of 2012. Well, at least we are getting something that is actually about Bull in this one… that’s so damning with faint praise that it could keep an ocean at bay. (“Billy was a special blogger”, they said at his funeral.)

Also, I tagged both Keisha and Linda in this, because I’m not sure which one of them is standing next to Summer in panel 3.

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Hammett Up, Cliff

Today’s strip gets a “time travel” tag and a “retcon” tag, because both of those things appear to be happening!

This is lifted wholesale from the Fatty Arbuckle case, by the way. Dashiell Hammett actually was a Pinkerton man in the late 1910s and early 1920s and he did claim to be a part of the Pinkerton team hired by Arbuckle’s defense attorneys, though some historians doubt his involvement was significant if it even happened at all.

How this squares with the timeline of silent film star 1940s icon Butter Brickle Brinkel’s trial is unclear… but all timelines in the Batiukverse are about as clear as an oil spill.

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The Right to Hug Arms

Link to today’s strip

The internet has been a wonderful breeding ground for all kinds of new dialectical terminology. Whereas before we had things like Ockham’s Razor or Pascal’s Wager. Now we’ve got Godwin’s Law, “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1.” The Bechdel Test, “Whether a work features at least two women who talk to each other about something other than a man.” And Poe’s Law, “Without a clear indicator of the author’s intent, it is impossible to create a parody of extreme views so obviously exaggerated that it cannot be mistaken by some readers for a sincere expression of the parodied views.”

Here we have an inverse Poe’s Law. A sincere expression of a view so obviously exaggerated it is indistinguishable from parody.

Also. Is this all of the students who walked out? That must have been some editorial.

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