Tag Archives: silhouette

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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1962 Called….

Link to today’s strip.

“And I mean I literally made sure to preserve his brain for study.  If you look inside this closet, you can see that I severed Bull’s head and put it in this photo-developer tray.  I attached some tubes to his head so it would look cool, but they’re just for show.  Oh, and you can see he’s got plumber’s tape over his mouth; that’s because he kept yelling at the big mutant in the other closet to break out and smash the place up, and I’d just vacuumed.”

So, is Linda’s dialogue (in panel two, blimp one) supposition, or did she find a note explaining Bull’s plan?  Because he could have been wearing his helmet because dementia.  Or because he forgot he had it on, or simply wanted to wear it.  The longer this arc goes on, the more apparent it is that there was no plan at all here, just another pathetic stab at getting attention.  A phishing attempt that somehow managed to snare the New York Times.

And if Linda did find a note, how many weeks will it take her to read it?  At one word per day….gee, are you sure ten weeks are enough?

Special Movie Bonus:  has anyone here seen…this?

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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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Tempo Of Doom

Today’s strip… or July 11th’s strip? YOU make the call!

This time warping stuff is getting really really old, especially when it makes negative amounts of sense. At least with Tuesday’s “five years ago” mishap you could chalk it up to the strip’s time simply not matching real time even while matching real time’s seasons (not an uncommon thing at all in comic strips). This strip has long done that, though not in a consistent way – Summer’s generation was in high school for 5 years, Pete and Durwood’s for almost a decade, and the Act I gang was there for 20 of course.

Today, though, we’re at “three months ago”. That places this flashback in early July, and yet both Buck and Bull are wearing coats? I mean, this is presumably still an October funeral, right, what with the falling leaves colored a bright orange hue? Heck, this doesn’t even line up with Buck’s mid-September visit, where he and Bull stroll out to Jerome T. Bushka A&L Automotive Stadium, as neither man is wearing a coat then.

Is this beady-eyed nitpickiness? Maybe, but when there are little errors like this in nearly every strip it starts to add up to genuine distraction. This is especially true when the story hops all over the calendar, which *gasp* makes invested readers hop through the calendar with it in an attempt to understand what is going on.

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Helmet Heir

If you read the New York Times, then you’ve already seen today’s strip.

Long time readers are probably wondering why this state trooper is reenacting the second most memorable thing about “The Electric Company” with Linda instead of hauling off her baked meteorite, as the disposal of dangerous foodstuffs is the historical role of the Ohio State Police in Funky Winkerbean. I’m right there with you, as I honestly don’t know.

FW1-26-86

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My Spouse Lit A Fire Just The Other Day, Tried To Cook A Pizza In An Unusual Way*

Link To Today’s Strip

* Nope, not letting it go.

Linda reading Batiuk’s NYT interview.

“And then I asked my cognitively impaired husband for a bite. So he bit me! (rimshot)”. Apparently Linda’s online support group is all about one-upmanship and exchanging daffy anecdotes about who’s got it worse. Sounds real helpful. No wonder she’s so miserable all the time, even her “my husband is so cognitively impaired…” gags aren’t that good. Leave it to Linda to find the wryest support group on the internet. In any other support group she’d undoubtedly be the wryest by far, but not this one.

“Take my CTE-afflicted husband…please! Why did my CTE-afflicted husband cross the road? He doesn’t remember! But seriously folks, is this thing on?”

This weird mix of weak sad gags and unbearable human misery has always been FW’s stock in trade but man, it sure does take a terrible toll on the readers. Perhaps he feels that by zany-ing things up a little it’ll increase the dramatic impact when Bull dies. And maybe it would have, if he didn’t go and spoil the whole story for no good reason like an imbecile. But alas, we’ll never know.

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Clari-not

Was not expecting today’s strip to be a standalone gag, but I guess we should be grateful for some respite from Bull’s swan song. And it’s been a while since my high school band days, but we didn’t start practicing Christmas music until football season was almost over. Speaking of football, we’ll get back to Bull’s plight on Monday; the good news is that your guide will be Epicus Doomus!

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