Does today’s strip really take place right after yesterday’s? Amicus and Wally left the box office window presumably just a few minutes prior to go bother the supervisor and in that short time Adeela has already been put on the 3:45 AM flight to Baghdad? I see nothing that really indicates otherwise except for Adeela’s speedy departure, so I guess we’re still in the middle of the night of Adeela’s arrest.
I suppose this was inevitable, though. Westview has seen several immigrant refugees move to town over the years, and none have wound up ultimately staying. Let’s look at their fates:
Lu Lin and Zhang Li – escaped detention in communist China for their role in student pro-democracy protests and opened The Jade Dragon, a Chinese restaurant, next to Montoni’s:
Kahn (or is it Khan?) – immigrated from war-torn Afghanistan, founded a deli, and even became a US citizen (despite having been a known Taliban-affiliated arms dealer):
Rana – orphaned by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan and the adopted by Wally and Lefty and raised in Westview by Lefty and DSH:
This ICE supervisor has got to be quaking in his Johnston & Murphy’s, Amicus Breef is finally breaking out the lawyering talk in today’s strip! And he’s doing it with righteous indignation too! What a lawyer this guy, keeping supervisor Ed O’Neill off of his Facebook feed for 4… maybe even 5 minutes by threatening to do something that would have been more useful had he done it before he showed up at the detention facility.
Today’s content just repeats yesterday’s–imagine that–Rachel getting more and more miffed by unexplained behavior by Wally. As newagepalimpsest pointed out yesterday, this would be a typical scenario in an Archie comic.
But Archie’s creators never succumbed to the Pulitzer’s siren call. So, its stories could still be fun and somewhat relatable. Here? I’m surprised that Rachel’s expression isn’t one of sheer terror. Imagine, being abandoned by Wally.
She must have to hire a backhoe to find her self-esteem.
Me, on the other hand, what I’m struck by is Rachel’s head in panel three. What the heck? Is she auditioning to be part of the Peanuts gang? She wants to be the Little Red Haired Girl?
I’d be interested to know how this took place. Ayers drew her with her head sunk down, looking all irked, and Batiuk said “It looks like she doesn’t have a neck. Make her head bigger.”
“That’ll just make it worse.”
[A long pause] “…you like getting paid, don’t you?”
Oh, now hold up. Men’s Over Sixty-Five Division? This is the last time I’m going to harp on timeline and continuity: Batiuk clearly gives no fucks so why should we? But if you go by what Wikipedia says:
In 1992, Batiuk changed the strip’s format. It was established that Funky, Les, Cindy and all the rest of the previous cast had graduated from Westview in 1988…
In which case, today Funky would be right around 50 years old.
In November 2008, the gang assembled for a thirty year reunion (“the coming reunion”). This would make them WHS Class of 1978. Funky would be about 60 (at the “time pool” reunion in June 2015, any dates on the banners were artfully obscured). This number also would jibe with Funky being 46 at the beginning of Act III in 2007, as shown on the “Meet the Cast” page. So we have what amounts to a time jump within a time jump. The characters are catching up in age with their creator, and Funky (and his peers, including ageless Cindy) are at least 65 years of age. Older than me, even!
[I]n 2008 [Tom Batiuk] was named a Pulitzer Prize finalist. Only three other newspaper strip creators have achieved this distinction in the award’s 100-year history: Garry Trudeau (Doonesbury), Berkeley Breathed (Bloom County) and Lynn Johnston (For Better or For Worse). Pulitzer judges cited Batiuk’s controversial story line in which his Lisa character battles cancer – a subject not typically covered in the funny pages.
“That sort of validated my career for me because there are only four … Trudeau, Breathed, Johnston … and Funky,” Batiuk says with a smile. “I’ll take that company. That’s not bad.”
Today’s strip…Who wouldn’t admire a guy who creates three hugely successful (in their day) daily comic strips? The main difference between Tom Batiuk and two of those other three famous cartoonists is that Trudeau and Breathed won their Prizes. Now, being a Pulitzer finalist is nothing to sneeze at, but this does put Batiuk in the lower percentile, alongside Johnston, creator of the only long-running, “serious” comic that engenders even stronger love/hate among its faithful readers.
Not having that Pulitzer on his shelf alongside his Flash maquette has to sting a little, for a storyteller who likens himself to Charles Schulz and Woody Allen. Despite the considerable success and fame that Batiuk’s earned over nearly a half century, he’s still “never won a medal.”
Hope everyone’s enjoying a nice Labor Day Weekend!
So Les is back in Westview for the Lisa’s Legacy Run. And Mason, Cindy, and Marianne surprise him by showing up. And “Cindy is shooting footage of us running the race today…” For use in the movie? Will Marianne and Mason be running in character as Lisa and Les? Cindy’s a cinematographer now? Wouldn’t they need permission to shoot? And two movie stars and a former network news anchor are just hanging out, not attracting attention from anyone beside Les. Such disorienting plot “developments” have been Funky Winkerbean‘s stock in trade since mid-Act II. Let’s talk instead about the deteriorating draftsmanship in this comic strip.
The only modification I’ve made to this panel was to remove the dialogue balloons, or “word zeppelins,” in order to allow us to better appreciate this Mount Rushmore of melting faces. Les suffers the least, as his goatee in profile always looks like shit. Mason sports an even goofier than usual expression. Cindy is droopy-eyed, and Marianne’s head is on a stalk.
Tom Batiuk writes and “inks” FW, but for the last two years the strips have been penciled by Batiuk’s ol’ Kent State pal Chuck Ayers. Ayers has partnered with TB in this way since the mid 1990’s, in addition to drawing Crankshaft for 30 years. In March 2017 Ayers gave up both jobs to pursue other interests, but returned following the tenure of Rick Burchett, who turned out some of the most horrendous, slapdash, off-model draughtsmanship since another noted comics artist, John Byrne, was at the drawing board.
Ayer’s Crankshaft strips always seemed to me to be much better and more naturally drawn than Funky Winkerbean. And the aforementioned Messrs. Burchett and Byrne were renowned, more-than-capable comic book artists. I’m bringing all this up because I wonder if a requirement of working as Tom Batiuk’s penciller is having to “dumb down” one’s ability closer to Batiuk’s level. In this way, the guy who got laughed out of New York by Marvel and DC gets to hire real artists, and then pin clip their wings.
When he came up with today’s strip one year ago, not even Tom Batiuk’s febrile, I mean fertile, imagination could have conceived what we’d be calling “the new normal” today. Unless BatAyers diverge from their famous, self-imposed 12-month lead time, expect Covid to rear its ugly head in Westview sometime in early spring.
For cryin’ out loud, boys, Her Majesty’s eyes are up here! If Nancy creator Ernie Bushmiller had drawn today’s strip, there’d be bold, dotted lines going from their eyes directly to Queen Tika’s rather modest bosom. You guys haven’t been out in the desert that long! Meanwhile, old Jff, “real” Jff, wears the same frightened expression that’s been on his face since the smoke and flames started closing in. This queen and these friendly, helpful robots most likely will be revealed to be figments of his boyhood fantasy, come to life! Shouldn’t adult Jff be the one wearing the excited grin?
*Congrats to Y. Knott for coming up with the winning nickname Skppyfor Jff’s boyhood alter ego!
Today’s strip was not available for preview. I predict it’s either a single panel of Cindy and Marianne in bikinis, with Cindy bemoaning her figure, or Jeff in a cave pretending to be a spaceman. Or, knowing Batiuk, it could be Buck coming to visit an inexplicably alive Bull.
What fresh awfulness do we have in today’s strip? Oh, just the latest reminder that Lisa’s Story is all about Les… and that anything written or filmed about Les isn’t worth the paper or celluloid it is recorded on.
This is who Mason considers “a real hero”? Someone who apparently told the accomplished and successful actress Marianne Winters to her face that she wasn’t good enough for the role of Lisa? Someone whose advice to her on playing the role of his late wife in a scene where she is preparing to have a biopsy to confirm a probable cancer diagnosis is to think more about HIM?
Les Moore is monstrous cad and in a just Batiukverse he would have been thrown off of a railroad trestle years ago by one of a long list of suspects too long to investigate and whom no jury would convict even if caught.