Tag Archives: smirk

Change for the Worst

Today’s strip:

August 3, 2018:

Today’s strip and this week’s arc continue to practically mirror those of last August. Again, for those of you who’ve recently started reading Funky Winkerbean:  even given FW’s elastic, nonsensical reckoning of time, Darin Fairgood has got to be at least forty years old, which many would consider “young” (certainly younger than me). But it’s unlikely that his presence at a postal counter would raise any eyebrows. What the hell’s with the 72-year-old Batiuk’s contempt for old people, the post office, and old people at the post office? Anyway, I happen to think that “a wallet that has a change purse” sounds pretty cool, and clearly, Darin thinks so too.

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Like I Care

Having satisfied her simian sexual appetites, as well as getting in a “bonding moment” with her child, Jessica has hastened back to L.A.—the world must not be made to wait any longer for that very important Butter Brinkel documentary! She’s probably been back in town barely long enough to unpack her suitcase; long enough to compel Darin to show his “caring” by sending her a package. Rather, “one of” his packages, which suggests this is a thing with him. Batiuk persists in depicting Darin and Jessica as these two starry eyed, young sweethearts, tragically kept apart by their respective, oh-so-important careers.

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Readers React

Link to today’s strip.

Okay, today’s thing is actually kind of funny, in a “Family Circus” kind of way…by which, it isn’t actually funny but you can at least see that a joke was intended.

And who among us here has not said the dialogue in panel one, after reading Funky Winkerbean or Crankshaft?

 

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Textbook Case of the Smirks.

Link to today’s strip

There is barely any continuity of which people are in the tables in front of Nate, as pointed out yesterday by Gerard Plourde and Eldon of Galt. (Who, when mentioned together, sound like some kind of awesome adventuring duo from a fantasy novel.) Linda has become Klabichnik, and the tables have completely changed orientation between panels.

Also in the background, right under Nate’s nose, is a teacher I don’t think we’ve seen before: The Invisible Man. I know that Batiuk has toned down a lot of the more whimsical elements of his strip since the early days, but we are still in a universe with a sentient 1970’s era computer, so I guess a see-through man isn’t out of the realms of possibility. Must have been a diversity hire.

Final textbook tallies? Wat. I mean, I guess that the teachers would have to check to make sure all the students had turned in their textbooks by the end of the year, but Nate wants all of these tallies turned in to him directly? Is he going to stay up late into the night, pouring over the numbers, checking and rechecking to make sure every single battered tome has been returned to him? Does he have a name for each one, put it in it’s little nook for the summer, then sit on the floor then gaze up at them, whispering softly at his ‘friends’. That is very unlike the lassiez-faire attitude Nate has displayed previously.

But laughing about an art error, and trying to go off on some kind of wild tangent about a crazed Nate having a secret obsessive, possessive, text-book hoarding alter-ego that only comes out when he’s alone in the dark, are literally the only ways I can make this milquetoast strip amusing, even to myself.

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Bell Pepper Curve.

Link to today’s strip

First of all, there is an absolute horror show of a human in the background. A literal dickhead emerging from a shirt made of pubes. The guy is smug as shit too. No doubt having just eaten an entire plate of the grilled processed meat tubes that he has descended from in some kind of twisted Westviewian evolution.

Does Westview grade on the curve? That’s a horrific thought. Because while some teacher claim that pretending that the smartest kid’s 85% correct on the test is the new 100% is ‘grading on the curve’, what it really means is the draconian application of the bell curve to the entire class. Every student ranked, in direct competition with the other students for the limited number of A’s, 40% of students doomed to C’s regardless of what actual percentage of the material they got correct. All your A or B tells you is that in Mrs. McGiggins 2005 Fall semester of Pre-Calculus you did better than 15 other people.

My junior year of high school, the calculus teacher was gone the entire year on maternity leave. For the first semester, they gave the advanced math students taking precalc and calc a teacher they had previously relegated to teaching remedial general math because she was so inept, despite the fact she was technically qualified. Because of her I never learned the difference between cosine and cosign.

When the most gifted kids in the school started struggling and complaining to their parents, the principal had the audacity to come to the class, pull out a bell curve and try to explain to us that, really, most of us SHOULD be getting C’s in the class.

I shot my hand right up and explained to the class that ‘the bell curve’ was both old-fashioned and unfair. We were supposed to be graded on the percentage of the material we got right, not in competition with other students for limited number of A’s. The fact that most of us were getting C’s meant that, as a class, we were understanding barely half of what we were being tested on. He fumbled around for a bit, but didn’t really have a good response. He was talking to the smartest kids in the school, and our GPA’s, and thus our college prospects, were on the line.

They pulled an old math teacher out of retirement for the next semester.

I remember the impotent frustration, the despair, and the eventual fatalistic resignation that we, as a class, felt that semester. So many of us just gave up trying. There was no reason to attempt to succeed on our own, because that would only hurt our classmates by driving up expectations. So most of us sat through every day of math class that semester, silent, sullen, and unresponsive.

What I’m saying is, I’m guessing that Westview grades on a curve.

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The Very Model of A Modern Major Millennial.

Link to today’s strip

At least we now have some kind of in universe excuse for why Summer has been at Kent State for so long. Apparently she calls her father every year at the same time to change her major. And he seems smug as a snake about the whole thing. Is he paying for her college, or has she taken on student loan debt?

I decided to do an archive deep dive and found that Summer and Keisha last showed up on October 7 for a one-off Sunday strip.

If I could ask Tom Batiuk one question, honestly, it would be why he doesn’t write people interacting with their kids. The children of main characters are an afterthought if they are remembered at all, and parenting and concern for offspring are rare topics. It sometimes shows up. Rarely. Holly was worried about Corey being in the military, and had a snit fit when he wouldn’t text her back about things.

But if we were to compare the number of strips involving couples and their relationships to the number of strips about parents and kids, there would be no contest. Despite the bond between a parent and a child being the more inalienable, demanding relationship. You can’t amicably divorce your kids, and see them socially on occasion.

It makes me want to sit down with Tom and a shrink and ask him about his relationship with his parents, and then his own kids, to see if those relationships were as bland and benignly distant as the ones he portrays. I would like to see if he resents the idea that his kids should affect his life and dreams, or have a claim on him for time or emotional support.

I don’t have kids, but I have parents, aunts, uncles, coworkers…and it doesn’t matter how old you or your children become, your bond with your children is primal. It will take up a chunk of your emotional and relationship capital. You can’t have casual children. But Tom has never wanted to present children as obstacles in that way. People just show up together, without their kids, and no mention of babysitters.

Darrin apparently has dumped Skyler off at his parents’ and forgot about him and Jess is content to live in California forever. Wally didn’t know Rana had gone back to college, and we haven’t seen him interact with Wally Jr in years. Jinx didn’t show up to her father’s retirement. We never get to see how Bull’s CTE affected his kids. Jinx could still be in college, but that didn’t come up when Linda was talking about finances. Crazy Harry’s Maddie has slipped into the memory hole, along with her other two siblings.

Maybe Batiuk would fob this off by saying there are already so many comic strips about parents and kids, so he chooses not to show the moments of parenting. They take place off panel. But in a strip that’s become about less than nothing, maybe some parent-child dynamic could bring a bit of heart. Shoving hordes of kids into the attic like an army of Chuck Cunninghams only makes your characters seem shallow and self-centered. Every couple a codependent, un-nurturing, dead end.

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Pointless precognition.

Link to today’s strip

You didn’t sit down before answering! You sat down after answering! At most you sat down WHILE answering. And do you always narrate everything you plan to do? And then do you immediately fail to do the thing you plan?

Cayla is confirmed as baked out of her mind, only able to repeat what she heard last. No judgement here, whatever gets her through the day.

Epicus pointed out yesterday that Summer has been in college for seven years of real time. Even if we accept a ‘comic book time’ that allows for a year of Funkyverse to take more time than a calendar year in the real world…It’s baffling that Tom Batiuk would drop her character like that.

What do you figure Summer’s big bombshell is? I still have a longstanding bet that she the secret student from behind the Big Gay Castle. But maybe I’m unfairly stereotyping female basketball players with pixie cuts. It was probably Chullo head.

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