If I had told you a year ago that today’s strip was going to be the second in as many days to revolve around Bernie Silver’s forehead acne, you probably would have said “yeah, that sounds like something Tom Batiuk would write about.”
What a pompous and verbose response to a reasonable question. Does Bernie look at Les a role model? Because strips like this make it seem that he does. It almost makes you forget that Bernie is trying to use a pimple to justify an absence from school, a trope that became trite decades ago when the 7 billionth fictional teenager got a pimple on school picture day or prom night and sulked about it.
The traveling green shirt, meanwhile, lives up to its name and finds itself being worn by a third different student in as many days.
Having established an theme for the week, the cartoonist must next come up with five, maybe six more strips to move the story forward. Since Dinkle’s already been honored with an eponymous line of marching band shoes (in real life!), having a candy bar named after him seems like a natural. But the “Harry L. Dinkle Raisin the Bar“? Well, there are some confections that combine chocolate and raisins; throw in peanuts and you’ve got the delicious Chunky bar. But “raisin bar” suggests a baked treat, not a candy bar. And while hitting a sales record does indeed constitute “raisin[g] the bar”, you’d think recognition of Dinkle’s “career in music” would merit some kind of musical play on words.
Sleepin’ with your back to your loved one
This is all that we’ve learned about happiness
“Check It Out“, John Mellencamp
I’ve already gone on record admitting I usually like the way Batiuk draws couples kissing. So I think today’s panel 2 is sorta cute, even if Funky looks like Mister Magoo. And, probably by coincidence, Batty has depicted the current lunar phase! The text content, though…meh. The Winkerbeans have settled in for the night when Holly offhandedly mentions a couple things she’d forgotten to tell him.
The “check engine” light, that bane of motorists’ peace of mind since the late 20th century. Usually not as serious as other dashboard indicators such as, say, the brake light. Probably 75% of the time it’s just letting you know it’s time for an oil change. On one of my cars, I ignored the “check engine” light until it burned out–problem solved!
And the expiration date of Holly’s driver’s license is somehow tied to Funky’s? Do they do their motor vehicle business together like they do their annual physical? In either case, both issues can be addressed in the morning and are nothing over which to lose sleep, or shouldn’t be to a man who’s struggled to keep a business afloat, dealt with an aging parent, or had a kid serving overseas in the military.
Well, Groundhog Day was a week ago, but readers will be forgiven if they feel like they’re re-reading yesterday’s strip today. Panel one, Anono-Lawyer uses a legal term; panel two, lawyer guy turns it over to Funky and Holly. Panel three–the payoff!–Funky says something pitiful.
Since I said everything yesterday that could be said about this setup, I’ll use the remainder of my time to share a couple hunches. First, that building we see out the window in panel 2 seems rather lovingly detailed, especially in light of Mr. “Halftone Gradient” Batiuk’s usual disdain for drawing scenery. Perhaps it is a Real Place in Ohio?
Secondly, as this blog nears its seventh anniversary (thanks to every one of our readers and contributors!), Funky Winkerbean is coming up on forty-five years. I would not put it past Tom Batiuk, assuming he plans to mercifully retire FW at the fifty-year mark, to end with a drawn out “Funky Dies” arc, in which every single abandoned plot line is resolved. Better get to work on that now, Tom.
Link to today’s strip.
It’s hard to tell because of Tom Batiuk’s typically tin-earred dialogue, but it sounds to me as if Coach Stropp told Bull, “Look, if you can’t get into the end zone while I’m coaching you, can you at least carry my ashes across the goal line, so I can have some sense of what if feels like? By the way, ‘ashes’ implies that I am dead and cremated, so it’s nothing you have to do today.”
I think the real focus of Mr. Batiuk’s energy is in panel two. Bull pushes the switch, there’s a satisfying “THUNK” sound, and Linda looks pleased that Bull was able to accomplish something on his own. The reader can see exactly what happened without it being spelled out. The transition between panel one’s silhouette and panel two’s illumination is handled well, with the characters in the same position from the same angle. This tells me that when he cares, Tom Batiuk can draw something that works. Too bad he doesn’t care more often.
So how did Lisa do in the Lisa Legacy Run featured in today’s strip?
She finished dead last.
Uh oh, readers! From the looks of today’s strip, Frankie, a character we barely know about is stalking Boy Lisa and Pete, two characters we barely care about. Unless Frankie is about to run them over with his van I don’t think anything too exciting is about to happen, but it’ll be teased and dragged out for the next three weeks.