Link to today’s strip (eventually).
Wednesday’s strip was not available for preview. THANK GOD.
There’ve been many times lately when criticizing this strip feels like criticizing a preschooler’s finger-painting. When presented with such a work, you don’t want to say, “Well, Tommy, arms don’t really come out of the sides like that, and shoes aren’t big and round like wheels. And is that a dog?” That just seems kind of mean-spirited.
Tom Batiuk doesn’t write well. To put it mildly. He cannot plot out a proper story, his ear for dialogue is deaf, and his points are buried beneath the ineptitude of his execution. Occasionally, he has a sort of ham-handed way with a phrase that has a certain off-putting charm, but that’s about it.
But what if that’s the best he can do? His “stories” over the last couple of years have started out like they might be going somewhere but always–always–end up like a balloon that’s just been unknotted. Falling to the earth with a farting noise. The Butter Brinkle thing–seriously, what an embarrassment that would have been to a professional, published writer. Here? In it goes. And once it was done, it was gone. Nothing to tie it together, nothing to indicate it meant anything…no impact at all.
Lately, the strip has been all been wish-fulfillment. Les gets showered with praise. Funky gets stepped on. Everyone talks about how awesome Les is. Bull gets an off-hand death that is largely used to push “Lisa’s Story” again. That really seems like the work of someone who doesn’t care.
But he seems to be losing his grip on the elements he’s always deemed important, like Les and “Lisa’s Story.” How many times has Mason told Les he wants to option the book? He flew out to Ohio to do it, then flew Les in to California to do it. That doesn’t seem like someone who can separate the wheat from the chaff. Both are treated with equal carelessness.
So I wonder if I’m pointing out the shortcomings in the work of someone who should do better…but can’t.
Link to today’s barf.
Well, I should have known. Batiuk’s revisiting of his “prestige arc” was so poorly performed that it should have been obvious he was going to spin up Lisa’s Story again. The world’s worst book, written by the world’s worst writer, about the world’s worst person.
Of course Summer has no idea what’s going on. Les is far too important to himself to waste valuable preening time on informing his family about anything. “Hello, Summer! How’s school? We just spent a week in California with Mason Jarre!” No, even that takes too much effort, effort that could be put to better use stroking his ego.
I would like to say something nice about the artwork. The shift in perspective from panel one to panel two is nicely handled; it looks like Cayla went toward Summer to help her with her bags. A rare instance of interesting art in this strip.
Link To Today’s Strip
Did Thomas T. BatBore just suddenly forget that Summer is twenty-five years old? If he wanted to do childish Summer gags he shouldn’t have skipped over her childhood. But he did and it’s way too f*cking late now. Whether it’s intentional (ha) or not, Summer is suddenly the biggest loser in the strip. Totally rudderless, sleeping til noon, shoveling candy into her face like some sort of dimwitted feral cave-dweller…Bull Bushka donated tens of thousands of dollars worth of physical therapy for THIS? He really DID die in vain.
Consider this: at one time Summer and Cory were at the forefront of the (then) new Act III generation. Summer was the twee goody-two-shoes with a side of grit and a hell of a jump shot, while Cory was the slacker sleazebag with the bad attitude and the haircut to match. Summer was going places, Cory was going to prison. But now, only (sigh) seven short years later, Cory is a ramrod-straight soon-to-be-wed decorated Army veteran with strong ties to both the comic book and pizza industries, while Summer is an immature lazy slob with immense student loan debt and a dad who keeps writing the same book about her dead mom over and over. It just goes to show you how little high school really matters, even in a comic strip where it means absolutely everything.
Link To Today’s Strip
Wow, it’s an EXTREMELY RARE and wildly abrupt mid-week arc shift, as suddenly the seldom-seen Women Of Les make an EXTREMELY RARE guest holiday appearance. Good ol’ Summer hasn’t changed a bit, still slobbing around in her trademark hoodie like it’s 2011 all over again. For
those both of you keeping score at home, Summer and Keisha are in their EIGHTH year of college. I don’t know what they’re majoring in but it must be pretty grueling stuff.
Once again, Summer left for college eight years ago so Les needs to get the f*ck over it already. Don’t they have DVRs in Ohio? Les is one of the few FW characters who’s annoying even when the other characters are just talking about him. What a dick.
Fortunately, today’s strip stays in one time line. It also quotes one of Bob Dylan’s best-reviewed songs. Well, that’s two positives to the… end-ish? of this very
maudlin special story arc. FYI: A donation has been made to the Boston University CTE center, presumably so readers will remember what this story arc was about last month.
So was Bull a member of the local Dylanist congregation or is that the only house of worship in Westview anymore? Both?
And with that, I am relieved… both to be done with my posting stint and, come tomorrow, by the incomparable Spacemanspiff85.
It’s back to the WABAC machine in today’s strip. No, I’m not talking about the flashback to “five years ago…”, I’m talking about Bull’s funeral, which has itself moved two-and-a-half years backward in time in order to accommodate a five years ago flashback featuring players Bull last coached in the spring of 2012. Well, at least we are getting something that is actually about Bull in this one… that’s so damning with faint praise that it could keep an ocean at bay. (“Billy was a special blogger”, they said at his funeral.)
Also, I tagged both Keisha and Linda in this, because I’m not sure which one of them is standing next to Summer in panel 3.
Link to today’s strip
I gleaned a few interesting tidbits from the dialogue today. Les’ statements about having to sell more books and the school being happy with a perpetual super-senior indicates that he is currently paying for some or all of her college. Summer’s scholarship must have run out and/or it was not a full ride. Kent State is a NCAA school and only allows students to compete in four seasons of a sport. Maybe she was a redshirt freshman and wasn’t on the team her first year? But it indicates that this will be her fifth, sixth, or even seventh year of college.
If Les’ is paying for Summer’s graduation, maybe from Lisa’s life insurance, then is Keisha’s college also being paid for? Wouldn’t that be super awkward if Keisha was having to take on a bunch of student loan debt while Summer gets to start clean? But, then again, Keisha seemed like a smart girl. She probably made sure she finished her degree before her athletic scholarship was gone.
Actually going to commend the artwork today, relatively speaking. The ruler did a lot of the work, but there is good attention to detail for once. In the background at least. Les is drawn as a sightless abomination talking out of his ass, but I’m guessing that’s Ayers subtle caricature of him. And putting up the porch swing in spring not only sets the season, it’s a subtle callback to the strips way back in June 2011 when Cayla and Les confessed their love on it. Batiuk may forget how many kids his characters have, but he seems to always remember that Les has a front porch swing.
Of course…it was TAN not BLUE. But then again, maybe it’s been painted.
Link to today’s strip
No Cayla. Just no. She’s not going to graduate totally unemployable. Totally unemployable is the 45 year old grandmother who comes into the gas station sometimes, dentures out, in the same shirt as yesterday, still tweaking, and complaining about getting fired from her part time waitress gig at the local greasy spoon because of her nasal fistula.
Summer is going to graduate having wasted either a ton of money, or a scholarship, on a price-inflated liberal arts degree, in a field already supersaturated with competent degree holders. In her most likely job prospects, some kind of office drone, her degree will entitle her to marginally better starting pay and position that in no way recoups the time and money spent teaching her how to read Finnegan’s Wake.
Basically her new degree choice marks her forever as a dreamer, taking what seems like the most obvious, immediate path to satisfying self-actualization. But in reality making her pay through the nose for the kind of deductive reasoning and knowledge she could just as easily pick up from You-Tube videos and $5 Amazon used books. All so she can write navel-gazing, passionless, modern novels filled with listless protagonists with SJW-edgelord identity labels going through a pointless bildungsroman only to reach some kind of epiphany of vaguely positive, yet nihilistic, existentialism. No one but other literary intelligentsia will ever read her books. She’ll be forever outsold by hacks like Stephanie Meyers, and hacks of hacks like E.L. James; people who make up for terrible writing and characters with things like escapism, wish-fulfillment, simple conflicts and emotional arcs, and palpable passion for their creation. You know. The things the masses want and like to read.
I told my best friend Creative Writing English Major about what was happening in Funky Winkerbean yesterday. The second I mentioned Creative Writing English Major she shouted through the phone, “No, it’s a trap!”
But Les sits there smirking, because his daughter is about to fall into the trap he’s in. Finally company. A little LisaLes Jr., both himself and his favorite emotional prop combined. They’ll be able to commiserate and complain about frustrated artistic ambition for the rest of his life.
Link to today’s strip
“Dad, be serious, if I wanted a job that would pay me money I would have taken two months of Industrial Welding at Centerview Community College.”
Really rich coming from worthless English major magnate, Mr. Les ‘those who can’t, teach.’ Moore.
Also, if she’s interested in going into law, then majoring in sociology would have been fine. You can major in anything you want, as long as you keep your GPA up and pass you LSAT.
And don’t you dare disparage sociology! It’s a useless major alone but paired with a Master’s Degree she could become like my older sister, working at her state’s only inpatient mental health hospital for barely more than what an average desk drone makes. But she’s fulfilled.
Sociology made sense as Summer’s old major, what with her activism in high school. But I guess Batiuk has forgotten that, and decided to make her a tiny female clone of her father. I can’t wait for her first book about someone she knew who died.
Also, my best friend forever majored in English lit with a focus on creative writing, and her fanfictions of obscure video games have been very well reviewed! She leads the genre in likes!
She is also a desk drone. Not really using her degree to get paid. But still. Getting paid.