Apologies for today’s short post, but this story arc has gone about as well as my week at work has… And today’s strip doesn’t do much to improve matters. It doesn’t do much period.
The insurance companies Dinkle may have put a stop to the flaming baton trick, but don’t you dare think he is losing his touch. He has happily proposed maiming senior citizens with fire in recent years.
Today’s strip goes beyond TB’s regular “tell, don’t show” philosophy into, well, “tell, don’t tell” territory I guess. We get a couple of 35 cent metaphors and learn NOTHING. Not a thing. In fact, you could swap the order of yesterday’s and today’s strips and it would make exactly as much sense as the present order. The Flash #123 made this big impact on this author avatar who went on to become a cartoonist… yeah, we knew that yesterday (or, 12 years ago, if you’ve ever read TB’s blog). Shouldn’t we be on to the why? The how? No, don’t bother with that, we need to hear a few more flowery words that restate what has already been restated ad nauseam.
This is beyond Herb and Jamaal‘s dopey non-specificity, which muddied the gags but didn’t keep the reader from recognizing that they existed. This glacial garbage muddies a complete lack of any substance to begin with. There is nothing here. Nothing. At all. No conflict, no suspense, no character development, no dispensation of information real or fictional. We’re waiting for a man to pay for a comic book. WE ARE WAITING FOR A MAN TO PAY FOR A COMIC BOOK. I’ll put up the $5.99 or whatever the #123 reprint costs just to get Batton the heck out of there.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
Ooooooooooooooo! Rumors! Swirling rumors! Each one far too interesting to be true or even explored in Funky Winkerbean. Enjoy them now, because today’s strip is probably the last time they will ever be mentioned.
It really is too bad too… the most interesting aspect of celebrity mystery deaths are the wacky conspiracy theories obsessively promoted by space cadets with more imagination than TB has ever had. They can be disgusting, demeaning, profiteering, and otherwise awful, but interesting they really so often are. Otherwise, this Brinkel story is just terribly sad… which I guess, to be fair, is TB’s wheelhouse. It’s a really boring wheelhouse.
In true Batiukverse fashion, the police are having to hold people back from attempting to join Valerie Pond in the back of that ambulance.