In case you missed it, we are in the final weeks of Funky Winkerbean. Tom Batiuk appears to be reluctantly retiring the strip much in the same way he’s written Ruby as reluctantly retiring from Atomik Komix this week and in today’s strip. The timing of this thin gruel of a story arc and TB’s fairly muted announcement is certainly no coincidence. Most all of us here at SOSF, despite speculating for over a decade on when and how this thing would end, are probably still processing the suddenness of the announcement, how soon it will become reality, and what that means for this wonderful community going forward.
But enough wallowing about, let’s leave that to the strip and try to get back to business as usual. I guess today’s strip is aiming for bittersweet, but it largely is coming across as just bitter. You can’t mask your true feelings in a wall of smirks, TB… And even if the strip wasn’t ending at the close of this year, I’m guessing we were never going to see Chester meet with the building manager by looking in a mirror anyways. I’d say “a pity”, but, you know, it’s not. It’s really not.
Are we STILL on this?
More on Ruby's retirement
Here in today's strip
Batton butts right in
Again, he does NOT work here
Who asked him to speak?
A reflection of TB?
Is the strip's end near?
Or is this resolve?
Tom writing his thoughts in strip
Eff-ing ponderousA warning haiku
The link above has cussing
With Dinkle, Linda
And others who fake retire
Do we believe this?
We probably should
Not like TB gave Ruby
Chester looks depressed
I mean, he's just despondent
In his sad jacket
Wait, is today’s strip taking place on the exact same day that Ruby drew Sunday’s Scorch cover?! Ruby drew a whole cover in a matter of hours?! Maybe that’s not at all surprising for a real life comic cover artist at a real life comic book company, but at Atomik Komix it sure is. These folks make “Turtle Thompson” look like AJ Foyt.
I mean, Batton is still there treadmilling and everyone is wearing the exact same things they were wearing in last week’s strips, give or take some colorist’s liberty… ok, scratch that, Mindy is wearing a skirt in today’s strip and clearly has on pants in last Saturday’s strip. Different day, I guess. In either scenario, though, we’re left to note how ridiculous it is that Batton spends so much time in the Atomik Komix bullpen. He, ostensibly, has a job drawing a comic strip, but we’ve never seen him do it. Heck, we’ve never even seen the strip-within-a-strip… and it’s not like Funky Winkerbean is above that kind of thing. He likes comic books and frequents Komix Korner from time-to-time (SUCH a unique trait in the Batiukverse, I know), but he doesn’t appear to be a regular there like he is here at the Atomik Komix bullpen. He likes or feels obligated to jog. And that’s it. That is everything we know about the guy. I don’t necessarily care to know more, but if TB insists on having his author avatar hang around places where it makes no obvious sense for him to hang around then Batton needs some purpose and motivation.
Oh yeah, also… Ruby is old, water is wet, and Chester now wears the look of someone clinically depressed.
Oh, we’re sticking with Ruby this week, huh… at least in today’s strip we are. Can’t you see the excitement on my face?
Looks like Ruby is ready to start living off her social security checks and some meager and infrequent Miss American residuals. That or she’s dying (to start living off those social security checks and meager and infrequent residuals…). Either way, a blow for feminine editorial oversight at Atomik Komix, but what women’s lib doesn’t know won’t hurt ’em!
Pete should leave the snark to us. For one thing, baked potatoes are delicious and this strip suffers greatly in comparison to them. For another, all this damate climage comic business was Pete’s idea in the first place. And above all, Ruby’s given him some prime snark ammunition by drawing some planet that does not appear in almost any way to be earth and he just completely misses it. Leave the wisecracks to the professionals in our comment section next time, Pete.
Ruby has got to be regretting speaking up a few days ago because, as we see in today’s strip, she’s being told to… do her job?!
I know, I’m as shocked as any of you that someone at Atomik Komix is even suggesting the idea of doing work. Granted, Phil is suggesting that someone other than himself work, but still… This will probably work better for the deadline anyways, Phil is not known for his speed. Flash being kind of a jerk and everyone else standing around like this place has no editor in chief, or leadership of any kind – now that is the Atomik Komix we all know and love.
Anyways, we’re back from “the climage damate comics aren’t optimistic enough” to “the damate climage comics aren’t, uh, something about women I think”. Are we supposed to see these two complaints as the same thing?
And there’s Atomik Komix’ lead art forger Darin, looking like a cat who’s just heard someone open a tin of Fancy Feast. But Phil Holt’s reaction is much more interesting.
“Slumming again?” Phil, you only joined Atomik Komix ten months ago. How often does this woman visit that you can say that? It can’t be that many times, because she buys comic book art, and Tom Batiuk didn’t obsessively catalog every step of the transaction process. The contract signing alone would take a week.
But Kitch seems to know how toothless Phil’s “grumpy” act really is. And she’s right. There are at least five old people in the Funkyverse who are much worse than Phil. Harry Dinkle, Ed Crankshaft, Lillian McKenzie, Mort Winkerbean, Melinda Budd.
To make another movie comparison: this is the “you two know each other” scene. A new character enters the movie; an existing character greets them in overly familiar way; and someone says “you two know each other?” One of them says “yes, we were in the Army together,“ and exposition is achieved. This interaction appears to be setting that up. But it probably isn’t.
Tom Batiuk is just filling the word balloons with whatever meaningless drivel he thinks will let him get on to the comic books, which is the only thing he wants to talk about. But he’s inadvertently implying that Kitch and Phil have a history, and that this is going to be relevant to the story. 98% of the time in Funky Winkerbean, it’s not.
Hello! This is the commenter known as Banana Jr. 6000. I take my handle from the wise-cracking but philosophical desktop computer from Bloom County. Having recently completed the monumental task of finding Spaceman Spiff among the cosmos, I will now take on an even greater challenge: helping to make Funky Winkerbean fun and interesting to read every day.
I’m delighted to join such a strong team, where everyone brings their own areas of expertise to the discussion. My background is in writing, so that’s probably what I’ll talk about the most. And today’s strip gives me a lot to talk about!
The “Dibbs Gallery” marquee tells us this is Kitch Swoon, who was last seen at Atomik Komix handing out nice-sized checks. Apparently she’s hired the new-look Summer as an assistant. It also looks like Tom Batiuk went through a Roy Lichtenstein phase about a year ago, because this is his second mention in a month. The wedding sign Darin made was a blatant copy of Lichtenstein’s famous work “Crying Girl.”
How on earth is a visit to Atomik Komix going to “revisit the source material” for Roy Lichtenstein prints? Roy Lichtenstein was a real person, who died in 1997. Is she flat-out admitting that Atomik Komix and Dibbs Gallery’s real business is art forgery?
Today’s strip should have been deleted. We don’t need a strip to tell us what’s going to happen in tomorrow’s strip. Just start the scene already. Batiuk did this correctly the first time Kitch Swoon appeared in 2019:
Six days of Ruby telling of her struggle as a woman in the male-dominated golden/silver age of comics. Then Mindy shares some hurtful online comments that she’s received, and even Ruby, who’s seen it all, is taken aback. The plot is just starting to move into “contemporary issues affecting young adults in a thought-provoking and sensitive manner” territory. But hey, it’s the Sunday following a Mindy and Ruby week, which means we get a Wayback Wendy Sideways Sunday Comic Cover.