Tag Archives: shopping

The Charlie Brown Cosplay Caper.

Link to this Sunday’s Very Special Episode of Funky Winkerbean.

Most of you in the comments seemed okay with me at least touching on the subject of this arc.

I wish the subject of this arc was this amazing article of clothing

What Batiuk wants this week to be about is racial profiling and ‘shopping while black’. Which is why Cayla, of all people, has been called in to interfere. (At least her being at the mall fits one of her two known character traits.)

Racial profiling in retail is, of course, a real thing that does happen. Like this case in Missouri in 2018 where cops were called on three black teens shopping for prom because a customer had accused them of shoplifting. The teens calmly let the officers check their bags and receipts and were let go. (The store later formally apologized.) So I’m not going to argue with Batiuk that what he’s depicting today is something that never happens. This isn’t a legal immigrant with a pro-bono lawyer on her side being deported immediately without recourse only to be saved by Bill Clinton.

But today is extremely muddled, because it isn’t clear that the cashier is racially motivated.

When I’m not working on the world’s ugliest tan, I work part time at a gas station to earn fun money for robot conventions and my raging caffeine addiction. During my shift, I am the only cashier in the store, and I have to watch for shoplifters. You know who I watch for? Kids.

And I won’t even be egalitarian about it. I’m especially sharp-eyed, right or wrong, when it’s a group of three or more boys between the ages of 12 and 16 unaccompanied by an adult. The only people I watch closer than a group of unchaperoned adolescents, are the few poor ghost people every town has, no matter how small. Scraggly familiar faces, just coming down off a high, who scrape together cans and change for just enough to self-medicate their demons with high-gravity beer and bargain cigarettes.

Is this kind of profiling wrong? I don’t know. Maybe. I try not to be too harsh with it. I try to joke with the kids, and smile kindly at the tweaked out.

But nothing puts me on guard faster than the kid who is always looking over his shoulder to see if I am watching THEM. That’s when I watch them even closer. And I have seen, many times, that my stare makes the kids act weirder. And I’ve known in the back of my head, that maybe they never were intending to fill their pockets with Twinkies. That maybe they’re acting weirder now simply because I’m watching them.

So what do we have here? Actual racial profiling, or a feedback loop of suspicious stares?

If Batiuk wanted to make this clear, he failed. Big surprise. But I’m guessing in most real cases of this scenario there isn’t someone shouting slurs and saying, “You people!”

But if Batiuk wanted to leave it ambiguous, to tackle the issue as it really is: Where it’s often unclear where racism ends and justified surveillance and suspicion begins… well, that might be a bit too ambitious for old Tom here.

He should just go back to thugs nonsensically hating on Chinese food.

Another story that appeared in 1997 was inspired by a completely different source. A Vietnamese couple had moved to our town and opened a restaurant on the site of a former Red Barn. Cathy and I enjoyed stopping in there, and one time while waiting for an order, I read a yellowed newspaper article that was framed on the wall by the door. It told of the young couple’s escape by boat from Vietnam and the harrowing journey they undertook facing pirates and being stranded and abandoned at sea until finally making it to a hoped-for life of freedom in the United States. I started getting some ideas for a story. One of the advantages of getting ahead on the strip like I had at that juncture was I could take the time to let an idea have a longer gestation period. I could keep rolling it over in my mind, examining all of the facets and considering various possibilities until I felt it was ready. And when it was, a young Chinese couple moved into the space next door to Montoni’s and opened a restaurant called the Jade Dragon West. Zhang Li and his wife Liu Lin were political dissidents from Hong Kong who, fearing a crackdown when Great Britain handed Hong Kong back over to China, made the decision to escape to America. They met their good neighbors Tony Montoni and Funky Winkerbean, but soon the couple also experienced the racism that lurks in the American shadows. In the course of telling their story, I made use of a number of elements of the tale I found in the yellowed newspaper clipping (I seriously doubt if that would have happened with Grubhub, and I’m glad that the nascent internet hadn’t grown big enough to ruin that opportunity for me). Go out to dinner . . . come home with a story. Nice when life works that way.

From The Complete Funky Winkerbean Volume 9

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How the Mighty Have Fall In.

Link to Today’s Strip.

Comic Book Harriet here! Ready to aim aim high and kick it off, hopefully without slipping and breaking a leg. I wanna thank our resident Spaceman Spiff for caring for us all over the last couple painful weeks. He brought us comforting sarcasm, and a barrel full of witty insights to dull the ache of Batiuk’s broken humor.

Today we get a real treat. The Passion of the Dead St Lisa movie bombed. So all of our comments about Funky Winkerbean gradually morphing into a Judge Parker, where characters are gifted success without merit, must have struck a nerve. Or Batiuk just finally remembered who he was, and is back to his old yanking-the-football ways.

But today is just PACKED with non sequiturs.

The only thing that confused me at first, but that I could make sense of after thinking about it, is that the release date of Lisa’s Story got pushed back. The movie just wrapped a few months ago, so it didn’t have any time to sit on the shelf mostly finished ala No Time to Die or Wonder Woman 1984. But then I remembered that movies get release dates well before they are finished, or have even started filming. And the great LA Firedemic of the vaguely defined ‘last year’ apparently shut down movie production long enough for Marianne Winters to be treated for early stage breast cancer. So yeah, the release date would have been pushed back significantly.

And it is an accurate and believable rendering of what did happen to a bunch of movies in the last couple years. There’s a whole Wikipedia page dedicated to the movies, cancelled, delayed, suspended, and/or dumped to streaming because of the pandemic. I’m actually surprised Batty didn’t decide to go topical-to-the-max and have it released directly to PicFlicks or Hula or whatever the Funkyverse equivalent of a streaming service would be. But apparently it was released in theatres.

And that is what is confusing me. There is no way Les and CauCayla would be learning about the movie bombing from an EMAIL from MASONEE. They went to a wrap party, but didn’t go to the premiere? They didn’t bother to check Box Office Mojo, or Rotten Tomatoes to see how the movie was being received critically or financially?

Les knows what it’s like to drop an anvil in a lake?

It that a popular idiom? I didn’t really know. So I went to grandpa Google and did a phrase search.

It really isn’t that common. Only four pages of results. I found it used a couple times in news articles because Judge Napolitano said it about Russiagate. A really sad blog about a sick kid. A few links to some fanfictions on wattpad…

And then things got weird.

What does this mean? What does any of this mean? Is it poorly translated from a language with ideogrammic elements? Is it some kind of secret code? Some kind of communication between hidden agents among us? It Funky Winkerbean PART of whatever this is? When Tom Batiuk ended today’s strip with “an anvil in a lake,” was he sending a message, recognized only by the few, that now, at last, was the time?

If you’re interested to see what dropping an anvil in a lake looks like, may I suggest this video. Where two Finnish people speaking nearly unintelligible English drop a red hot anvil into a lake and film it, just because, why not? Why not do that? Why not watch that? It makes a lot more sense than Funky Winkerbean most days.

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What Women’s Lib Doesn’t Know…

Link to Today’s Strip.

Oh wow.

After taking the bold stand that women have been unappreciated for their contributions to comics, (something that hasn’t been true for literal decades,) Batiuk now declares that WOMEN BE SHOPPING.

And I’m pretty conflicted on it. Because on the one hand, it’s a tired old stereotype. It’s Pluggers level humor. It’s an insult to Cayla’s character. And who is Cayla or Batiuk fooling? She hasn’t changed her hair in any meaningful way since Les paid the chemically relaxed shoulder length cut an anemic compliment back in 2011.

You like it? I will literally never ever change it again.

But on the other hand WOMEN DO BE SHOPPING THO.

I feel like we can be too reactionary against stereotyping in general. Stereotypes are usually based on observable trends. Moreover stereotypes are such a fundamental part of human humor, that trying to go on a moral crusade against them is a dumb and fruitless as Baptists trying to ban dancing. (See what I did there.)

Some of the oldest written comedies we have are full of humor based in gender, generational, or cultural stereotypes.

LYSISTRATA: Hello Lampito, my dear friend from Sparta. How beautiful you look, so sweet, such a fine complexion.  And your body looks so fit, strong enough to choke a bull.

LAMPITO : Yes, by the two gods, I could pull that off. I do exercise and work out to keep my butt well toned.

Lysistrata, Aristophanes. 411 B.C.

CHREMES: He maintained that women were both clever and thrifty, that they never divulged the Mysteries of Demeter, while you and I go about babbling incessantly about whatever happens at the Senate.

BLEPYRUS: By Hermes, he was not lying!

CHREMES: Then he added that the women lend each other clothes, trinkets of gold and silver, drinking-cups, and not before witnesses too, but all by themselves, and that they return everything with exactitude without ever cheating each other; whereas, according to him, we are ever ready to deny the loans we have effected.

BLEPYRUS: Yes, by Posidon, and in spite of witnesses.

The Ecclesiazusae, Aristophanes. 390 B.C.

It’s not the dumb shopping stereotype that’s the problem here.

It’s that an obsession with shopping is literally the only character trait other than doormat that Cayla has been given in the TEN PLUS YEARS she’s been part of the strip. Nothing makes her unique. She has no agency or desires of her own. Except for her skintone she is identical to Cindy, or Holly, or Mindy, or Jess.

Every female character in this strip is as thinly drawn as the forearms of HE WHO SHALL NOT BE MENTIONED.

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Table discussion

Whether or not the St. Spries choir will ever sing a note under Dinkle’s direction will have to wait for another day, for today’s strip returns to (what I assume is) TB’s latest writer’s block go-to: domestic scenes with the Winkerbeans. Hey, that rhymes!

Did you forget that Funky and Holly were having their kitchen “reno”-ed renovated? I don’t want to brag… but I did! And now Holly’s trying to spend the cataract surgery that Funky’s other eye still needs on a table they don’t need… such timeless humor. Wives, they’ll do it every time! What, there wasn’t a tip of the Hatlo Hat at the bottom of this strip? Guess my brain’s filling in missing visuals again.

Hey, thanks for putting up with me through two more weeks of this mess. I genuinely appreciate it. Steering us all through the swamp starting tomorrow will be the one and only man of space named Spiff, Spaceman Spiff. May you see no Les or Dinkle story arcs on your journey, good sir.

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The Meekness Monster

Women sure love shopping and nagging their husbands, amirite?
Eh?
Heh?
Today’s strip knows what I’m talkin’ about!
So, what’s the deal with airline food?

This is how we close six loooooooooooong days of debate about whether or not to take a free trip offer from a movie star… with gags that were pre-historic even when trilobites ruled the Earth. TB could at least give a tip of the Hatlo Hat Funky Felt-Tip to the tens of thousands of comic artists who have used this material before and much much better than he has here.

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I Can No Longer Shop Happily

Rusty Shackleford
November 30, 2019 at 2:10 pm
Just where are they going for the weekend?

My hunch was that the Funkman and the missus might be flying to Dallas for their annual physical, as we saw them do nearly 2 years ago, but they’re not due until January. Guess they’ve gone off on a shopping trip. Is this a Sunday one-off, or will we be treated to a week-long clothes-shopping arc, like the one we endured with Les and Cayla last February? Let’s hope not!

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Clothes Make the Maniac

Gerard Plourde
February 27, 2019 at 6:26 am
So we’re to believe that this is the first time in their marriage that Cayla has gone clothes shopping with Les?

Maybe it’s not that implausible if, as this 2011 strip attests, that a sport coat will last Les “for ages”:


…which is about how long this shopping arc seemed to go on. Now the two are walking out to the car and at this point Les is straight up trolling Cayla. In panel 3, the tail of the speech bubble is painstakingly drawn to make it clear that the SHRIEEEEEEK is coming from the passenger side of the car, thus dashing my hopes that it’s the cries of Les as a furious Cayla stabs him in the groin.

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Speak Softly and Act Like a Big Dick

Epicus Doomus
March 1, 2019 at 12:01 am
Four words: Les Moore must die.

You win this round, Les Moore. You came, you saw, you walked out of the store with the very first thing you tried on. And you happily paid full price. Now, just for good measure, toss out one of your endless supply of quotable quotations. There’s that look of disgust again from Cayla, who clearly has at last had enough of your bullshit. Not to worry: your true soulmate, Linda Bushka, will be back on the market soon!

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Haberdouchery

Les continues to vex his spouse with his silly, ignorant “man” way of shopping for clothes. If that 15% discount applies to everything he charges on the card going forward, it might make sense to apply. But if it’s only on his current purchase, well, does he really need another charge account? Cayla is having none of it, and Les’ latest gaffe causes her to plotz right into a conveniently placed chair.

(Programming note: the first of the month means that Friday’s comic won’t be available until midnight eastern time Thursday, so the customary placeholder post will be in place.)

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