Here is today’s strip.
And here is the Reader’s Digest version of today’s strip:
I do not even want to know what Lefty and Dinkle were doing in the band office prior to today’s strip that alumni band practice so rudely interrupted. Whatever it was, it was surely negative amounts of interesting, and we are better off having missed it. If only that could have continued for three more panels…
I’m amazed that TB hasn’t hatched this alumni band thing before. It is full of his favorite FW comfort foods: Dinkle, Lefty’s pinned-up sleeve, old old old people, wistful reminiscence about high school band, petty high school grudges, more Dinkle… Just throw in cancer, comic books, and Les smirking a couple times and you’ve got the complete FW meal.
Alas, there is no gold to be found here… there’s not even a creek.
In a strip where elderly Alzheimer patients cut albums in Memphis and surf the web like pros and people take sixty-plus year breaks in their careers, this whole daffy premise is pretty tough to swallow. It’s astonishing how little Holly and her mother think of Funky, which is supposed to be the joke here I guess. He can’t even count on his own wife to have his back, as she has no qualms at all about forcing him to close up shop and take a four thousand mile round trip with his mother-in-law, which would be valid grounds for divorce in at least forty-nine US states but unfortunately for Funky, not in Ohio.
Poor Funky, the FW character you always laugh at, never with. Every single other character in the strip is a wry wisecracking wordplay machine, snidely smirking after another unbearably clever pun or smart-alecky remark, but never Funky. Funky just shuts up and takes it, week after week, year after year, decade after decade, all because he was the “normal well-adjusted” kid in high school and BatNom will never let him live it down. The guy survived crippling alcoholism and an even more crippling car crash to become the local president of the chamber of commerce and the
only most successful businessman in town. He’s convivially and generously hosted and/or catered literally every single major social event the town has ever seen, he’s employed a bevy of family members and pals at his restaurant and he’s acted as a kind and patient landlord too.
His reward? To be kicked and kicked again, over and over. His family doesn’t respect him at all, his friends mock him, he suffers from a litany of health woes and he’s fat, old and physically repulsive. The guy who writes this thing never stops heaping abuse on him and (oddly enough) it just makes it impossible for me to truly hate him like I hate Les and Lisa and Darin and Dinkle and Pete and Holly and Cory and Summer (whoever she is) and Chester and Mason and Cliff and Becky and Cindy and Vera and Crazy and Owen and Cody and Nate and Cayla and that bus driver (I forget his name) and the other characters (except Buddy, as I really love that dog).
Let that be a lesson to all those kids out there just now discovering FW (guf-faw) for the first time: don’t peak in high school. Pick a thing (dork, stoner, “it” girl, baton twirler, jock) and f*cking run with it because living down your high school identity will be the most important thing you ever do. Also, invest in comic books and whatever you do do NOT get involved in the pizza industry, although eating it three times a day is fine. See, there’s actual educational content in this strip, you just have to wade through forty-plus years of crap to find it.
Nothing much to like about today’s strip aside from the fact that, after getting smirked at by Les “Two Rackets” Moore for three days running, it’s finally Funky’s turn to rock the ol’ Amazon logo grin.
May 30, 2018 at 6:19 am
This week’s theme- “Pluggers” at the tennis court.
At least Pluggers usually employs a gentle, joshing point of view regarding aging. Les responds to Funky’s remark with a look of pure contempt. Maybe because he’s being called “an old man” by someone who’s a doppelgänger for his own octogenarian father. I guess some old men were left behind.
I get the intended joke: band never ends. Students unfortunate enough to play an instrument never get their lives back from the one-armed bandit. The thing is, it’s not funny, it’s depressing, which lines right up with everything about this strip. Is this really how Tom Batiuk wants to shape his legacy? That he made the world a worse place by placing his work in it? Cos that’s what’s happening right now, on film and in the studio.
I want to add this quote from Batiuk’s blog:
“As long as I’m at it, the whole Pop Art movement was wrong as well. The artists of the Pop Art movement treated the comics as something disposable and shallow even as they tried to emulate them. “
I hate to break this to him, but most of the creators of comic books thought they were disposable and shallow. Stan Lee, for example, wanted to write the Great American Novel and saw comic books as a way to earn a living in the meantime.
I also want to quote this, from a Flash Friday episode, before he corrects it:
“Stories don’t come in a much scope than that.”
Yes folks, that’s [sic] and I find it hilarious…more so than anything this strip has offered up.
One notable aspect of today’s strip is that Becky’s sleeve is nowhere in evidence. Someone slipped up in quality control! Also, Dinkle is nowhere to be found, so that’s a bonus point. I do like the way Becky rotates through the panels, it helps to alleviate the boring nature of the strip by at least adding some visual interest.
Let me just say that my mention of “hospital” yesterday was just errant speculation due to the recent shuffling of artists. I, and I’m sure I speak for everyone else in the SoSF community, sincerely hope nothing bad has befallen Tom Batiuk; I have never, ever wished anything but good fortune to him personally. As I’ve mentioned from time to time, from all reports he’s a genuinely nice guy who enjoys meeting his fans; I hope he continues to be so, and do so, for many years to come.
That said…today’s episode is…well, I was going to say “beyond awful,” but I’ll go with “inexplicable” instead. There’s no joke, there’s no good drawing, no wit, just…nothing at all. It’s impossible to imagine a new reader coming across this strip and saying, “Hey, this is a comic strip I’m going to read from now on, with relish!” It’s very possible to imagine a long-time reader saying, “Okay, this is it, I’m out of here. From now on, it’s BC Classic for me.”
The only positive bit at all is the fact that Dinkle is there, and he’s completely silent. I bet he hates that. He’s not even drawn fully, he’s just a menace in a left corner.
It’s also another avenue for speculation. Ordinarily, it would be Dinkle saying all this stuff, while Becky gazed at him in full worship mode. (Heck, I think the last time we even saw Becky, she was a silent potato at Wally’s wedding.)
Why this obvious scenario was flipped, we’ll probably never know.
So sorry for the late post today. Finally went to go see Infinity War, which despite juggling dozens of characters and plotlines, and having plotholes big enough to drive a Hulk truck through, was infinitely better than this because the emotions of individual characters were both believable and dynamic.
This is going for dynamic, since it can’t manage believable, but it falls right on its face at the climax. The worst comic character name since Matter Eater Lad.
My cat sometimes presents me with an inedible pulp on the rug…and it usually takes hours of elbow work to get the stink out.