Tag Archives: Summer

Your Ignorance Makes Me Ill and Angry

Link to today’s strip.

In any other strip–Peanuts, Calvin and Hobbes, even Mary Worth (prior to its Wilburization)–this would be a sweet moment. Imagine if Linus found out that Peppermint Patty had deliberately thrown a game so that Chuck could have a win. That would be great, and Linus’s response to Patty’s question would be the same as here.

But this isn’t a strip where sweet things happen. Mawkish things, treacly things, things filled with bathos, sure, those happen all the time. But genuine nice moments are as rare as Becky’s mom.

Here, Summer’s sly face in panel three suggests not so much a sentimental secret, but the desire to make Les keep thinking he’s been losing his mind. I kinda like that she has that ambition, honestly.

Source of today’s title.

PS: We know why this entire week is here, right? It was a recent commentor (I can’t remember who, sorry) who pointed out that the nominees for the Academy Awards are going to be announced very soon. Who wants to bet that “Lisa’s Story” will have a few entries? So, a week of Lisa-a-Go-Go. Gotta keep Lisa in the public eye, even if she’s poking that eye with a stick!

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The Needs of the Ninny Outweigh the Needs of the Fool

Link to today’s strip.

It’s pathetic to call this week’s story a “mystery” because a mystery generally yields important information when solved. Here, Ghost Lisa was portrayed by someone we’ve never seen before and, no doubt, will never see again. And this is called “writing”?

What this episode seems to say is this: Les never filled the bird feeder. This newly minted character did, and continued to do so for (I guess) decades, because oh god, everyone was so affected by Lisa Les’ suffering that they had to do everything in their power to make sure his illusions were catered to.

And–get this–this is supposed to make Les a sympathetic character. One we’re supposed to stand behind and cheer, as he confronts his Lisa-less future alone.

And now that Summer is filling the bird feeder, Purple Hat Lady can finally rest. I’ve done my duty for Les, by God, and finally I can see the sunset. Thank the lord above I was able to help Les Moore cope for these twenty-some years.

Here’s what I think we’re seeing. Mrs. Ewing is actually Lisa, who never died but faked her death to be rid of Les. Les was always so cloying, and so clingy, that she felt she couldn’t breathe–she had to get out. And what would Lisa look like if she’d remained alive? Another fat, doughy blonde. She moved into the house next door just so she could enjoy watching Les moan and agonize over how much he suffers.

Summer wouldn’t recognize her, and Les…he only has eyes for himself.

According to Phil Holt, it’s the easiest thing in the world to fake your own death. All you need is a sympathetic lawyer. And what was Lisa’s profession again?

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Children of Eóghain

Link to today’s strip.

Today’s episode is about people feeding birds. Uh…

So, notice how in Tuesday’s strip, Ghost Lisa was carefully pulling out handfuls of bird seed? Here, Summer just cuts to the chase and dumps the whole lot in.

I guess this is to contrast Lisa’s more formal methods with the rebellious attitudes of Summer. I guess this is also to fill space in the newspaper.

Um, I like the footprints in the snow. That’s a nice touch. Can I go now?

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Well, I’m Convinced (But How to Prove It?)

Link to today’s strip.

Yeah, Les, it has to be Lisa’s ghost. To paraphrase Peter Venkman, no human being would be able to fill the bird feeder like that.

We all have our pet peeves about what we hate in this strip. I, like many of you, hate the restatement of the previous strip as a question. I know it’s a holdover from when comic strips were exclusive to newspapers, thus someone might miss an episode and need to be brought up to speed, but to quote John Howard’s clumsy phrase, “Those days are long gone in the rear view mirror.”

Still, the zeppelins have to be filled somehow.

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The Phantom Menace

Link to today’s strip.

So, Day Two of “Lisa Loved to Feed The Birds.” It’s a nice enough thing to do, sure, but it’s very low cost in terms of time and effort. You put out bird seed. Later, the birds eat it. It’s not like rescuing stray dogs, where you have to open up your home and take actual care of another creature.

Which is the obvious answer to Summer’s question in panel one. “Me? Give a damn about someone other than myself? Not likely! You screwed up, Summer–yes, you did.”

And of course his dialog in the third panel is stupid extraordinaire. “Oh my goodness, there’s a human-shaped form out there feeding the birds! It must be Lisa’s g-g-g-g-ghost!”

At least Summer looks like Summer this time. Not sure if that’s a good thing or not. I mean, she’s still Summer and will have to live with that.

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This Strip is For the Birds

Link to today’s strip.

First and foremost, a huge shout-out to Comic Book Harriet, for her incredible work over the last two weeks. Lots of thought and effort put into those Funky-award strips. Much more thought and effort than have been used by the strip’s author…and more than I can muster, for sure! I salute you, CBH. The rest of you can look forward to dull entries almost equal in blandness to the actual strips themselves.

As for today’s strip, well, you’ll never guess, but Les has been thinking about Lisa again. “No!” you’re probably all gasping, “Why, he never does that! He totally loves Cayla now and has moved on!”

Well, ha ha to you, totally fictional reader! Les is dwelling on Lisa again.

The thing is, that’s all he does. Why? Because it’s the only thing that makes him special. His eternal flame for Lisa is Les’ only characteristic. And that flame has to be kept alight at all times, because it shines on the only moment that, apparently, means anything to Tom Batiuk: that Pilitzer nomination. That moment has haunted Tom way more than Lisa haunts Les.

Nice artwork in panel one, Ayers. Is that supposed to be Summer? Because it looks like someone from a Hanna-Barbera cartoon. Like, someone who would hang around with Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm when they were teenagers, while Fred hasn’t aged a day. Say, do you suppose…?

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To His Coy Mistress.

Today’s glurge filled festival of pathological coddling gives me the opportunity to delve into something I’ve been wanting to examine for a long time. But it’s going to be a challenge to talk about, because I swore that I wouldn’t talk about CERTAIN CHARACTERS by name this week.

Let’s talk about Cayla.

For the last several years, whenever she’s appeared Cayla has been the target of a strange mix of pity and ridicule in the comments. And it’s earned. Because Cayla’s presentation in strip is the most conspicuous manifestation of just how twisted and weird the enshrinement and cult of Dead St. Lisa has become. She is a consolation prize. A tacked-on coda. But rather than be resentful of her situation, she has become a priestess and mouth piece of her glorious predecessor.

The external reason for Cayla to be this way is that she’s been written to be a benign gift to the author avatar. She’s built for comfort, not conflict.

But it is so strange to follow Cayla’s journey, and try to imagine a real, flesh and blood woman choosing a similar path. If there was such a woman as Cayla Williams, who would she be?

What do we know about her personality and her history prior to her entering the strip? She comes from an athletic family, who cared enough about her to attend her wedding, but whom she hasn’t seemed to worry much about since. She has completely adopted Funky, Harry, Holly, and crew as her circle of friends, so must have had no close friendships extant before her move to Westview. She worries about her financial matters, while being a shopaholic. She’s class conscious, and seems to want to buy the good opinion of rich people. Current insecurities and prior blows to her ego seem to have hampered her confidence. A previous romantic partner left her with a daughter to raise alone.

Soon after moving to Westview she saw what she wanted and she pursued it. Of a hundred different seats that were open with no asking, she had a particular one in mind.

And from very early on, she knew that she would be jostling for position with a corpse in a race she might never win.

But she went after it anyway, even duked it out with a younger woman. She was pretty bold with her intentions.

Why? What did Cayla want?

Well, one thing she seemed to want was financial security for herself and her daughter. She was looking for someone to ‘pool resources’ with.

Who do we think brought more money to this pool?

Second, she seemed to want people that she could care for, that would be emotionally dependent. She seems to genuinely enjoy being needed. This would fit with her underlying lack of confidence.

In fact. She enjoys being needed so much, that she seems to put herself in a position to both be needed, and remain needed. She wasn’t just looking for someone who appreciates a kind heart. She wanted something to prop up, because when something is leaning on you for support, your position is secure. They can’t leave. And the type of support she offers often promises future financial or social gain on her part.

So of course she is willing to jump on the Dead St. Lisa bandwagon. Her affection for her predecessor might even be genuine. That dead woman is the source of all her current and future security. And it could be she is content to have a decoy and mirage to distract her meal ticket. Some people find too much romantic attention smothering, better to shunt some of that off on a ghost. Let the feelings you elicit be lukewarm, safe, and necessary. Keep feeding the muse of pathos by offering those threesomes from beyond the grave.

Because. Let’s be real for a minute Cayla. You don’t care if you’ll never live up to Lisa any more. You only cared for a moment, when you were worried she’d keep you from scoring the prize that matters. Lisa’s dead. And the helpless withering worm left in her wake needs you. You’ve made sure of that. Yeah, sometimes he’s annoying and insufferable. But he produces, and he provides. You can give him pleasure, and you can give him pain, according to your whims. And either way, he’ll wake up needing you tomorrow just the same. What you really get off on is the control. You like watching him fawn, but you love watching him squirm.

And that is my headcanon for Cayla. She didn’t want a healthy and whole husband to love only her. She wanted a meal ticket just broken enough so it wouldn’t run out on her. And she’s carefully cultivated the relationship, keeping her victim just neurotic enough to maximize her comfort, security, and enjoyment.

Canon

It’s been an interesting two weeks folks. Hope you enjoyed! Beckoning Chasm will be in on Monday. I’m interested to see how he handles Batiuk’s upcoming homage to ‘The Day the Clown Cried,’ we’ve seen presaged in the banner.

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To Have and Have Not

Link to today’s strip.

First off, kudos to unca scrooge and others who noted that the joke in yesterday’s strip had to do with men being last-minute shoppers, while women were ahead of the game. The presentation was unusually subtle; generally, Tom Batiuk can’t help but have one of his characters point out how clever he is.

And the joke would have worked fine…in a sitcom made during the early 1960s. But here in the technical vastness of the future, we can surmise that surely humor is very different.

Take today’s thing. It seemed pretty obvious from the outset that the pun being avoided here was something Batiuk was aching to use. The fact that he now denies himself is quite odd. Including it would have made at least one joke, no matter how poor; keeping it out just makes today’s strip one more pointless episode in a long string of them.

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Wrappin’ Around

Link to today’s strip.

I’m going to guess that the “joke” here is that people get more frantic and desperate the closer the holidays get.

There’s not a lot of visual evidence for that guess, but that’s what I’m going with. In fact, panel two seems to have some of the same folks as panel one–sky-blue coat lady and blonde, for example. I guess it could be a second shopping trip, but you’d think Tom Batiuk would want to spice it up with a little variety.

At first, I thought the bald guy near the front had brought an upright vacuum cleaner to be wrapped–which would have been a good choice a day or so ago–but on closer inspection it looks like a sauce pan. Seems like an odd thing to want wrapped, as I imagine they mostly come in their own boxes, but I don’t know–maybe you can buy them loose. Fine.

What I really like is the guy in the front of the line. What a face of absolute despair. I like to imagine he’s saying “I don’t have any family or friends, so I don’t have anything to be wrapped. My dearest wish is to have something I need wrapped.” Everyone angrily waits for him to collapse, or to shoot himself.

Callow youth even furiously checks his watch. It’s been eighteen seconds, damn it. Do what you’re gonna do and let us get our stuff wrapped.

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I’ll Make You A Star

Link to today’s strip.

Okay, what is that thing the woman wants wrapped? A big star with tassels? Why would you want to give that as a gift? It’s both awkward and unattractive, and while I don’t want to judge anyone’s taste, I can’t see it going well with anything. A star for the top of the Christmas tree? Wouldn’t you want that before Christmas day?

I guess the thing is huge and unwieldy and thus difficult to wrap, which might be why Tom Batiuk thinks it could be part of a joke. But if someone handed that to me and told me to wrap it, I’d say “Okay, it’s an extra three dollars for the box.” Because that’s what one would do–put it in a box and wrap the box. It’s just that simple.

I guess the customer could insist that it be wrapped as is, and the customer is always right, but let’s get a quarter-inch closer to reality: no one is going to spot this wrapped thing and exclaim, “Oh boy, you got me an XBox!”

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