Tag Archives: Summer

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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When a Stranger Calls.

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Comic Book Harriet back for another turn at the Train Wreck Report. Thanks to Epicus for seeing us through last week! Your hard work on this wonderful little blog deserves praise.

Caucayla sure looks haggard in panel one. Also she seems to be drying the dishes, even though she is standing nowhere near a sink. Also, if Les is rolling in the published author, tenured teacher, kill fee dough, why don’t they have an electric dishwasher? Does Les need a flesh and blood woman to dry his dishes? Is this like…a fetish for him? Is that why Cayla looks so depressed?

Cayla in panel two echoed my thoughts when reading this for the first time. Summer calls? Like the season? I guess it is nearing the middle of May…maybe Les, as a teacher, is especially attuned his students’ bipolar spring emotions of crushing ennui and building excitement. The call of summer.

Then I was all like, oh yeah, Les has a daughter named Summer…right. Wonder when the last time we heard from her is? Doesn’t Cayla have a daughter too? Weird.

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Summer’s Finally Over

Link To Today’s Strip

Summer is back in town, presumably “from college”, for the annual Falling Of The Leaves as is customary in Westview. Seeing good ol’ Summer there with her ever-so-twee hair and her trademark gritty hoodie brings back fond memories of how much I detested that character way back in the dark early days of Act III. She was around all the f*cking time with the basketball and the wry wisecracks and the Lisa gobbledygook, it was awful.

Summer was a major player there for a while but after she got the flu and won the Big Game he shipped her off to KSU and that was pretty much the last of her, she hasn’t had an arc to herself in years. Perhaps he just became enamored with his new up-and-coming crop of characters like Cliff and Chester and Phil Holt and post-Alzheimer’s Mort or maybe it was because he can’t write for a female character unless she’s feeding her husband straight lines, but whatever the reason Summer got kicked to the curb in what’s turned out to be one of (only) Act III’s more pleasant developments.

I’m deliberately ignoring the dialog, Les & Cayla’s already inexplicable and credulity-shattering courtship and marriage needs no further embellishment. God I hate that disembodied Les head so, so much. Seeing Les and Summer together like that really annoys me and brings back a lot of FW memories I’d rather keep buried. In fact this one could be my most hated strip of the year so far.

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Who are these people?

Link to today’s strip

Today’s strip shows two new characters to the strip talking over…

Oh, it’s Summer, with her first dialogue since 2015! And she’s talking to Cayla, and of course, they’re talking about Les, since that’s the only thing these two are ever shown doing anymore.

As it turns out, this is one of Batiuk’s annoying introductions. I suppose it’s no spoiler to reveal that this week’s going to be about Les at a book signing, which also means that today’s strip is a useless one to introduce the subject. He could have easily introduced this sequence by actually starting with Les at his book signing, but that would mean that he couldn’t repeat the premise and effectively skip a day.

But I guess the larger point that this strip makes is that it establishes that Les’s signing is taking place at the Columbus Museum of Art for some damn reason. This only reminds me of how Batiuk has insisted that true art such as his belongs in a museum, rather than being in a more commercial venue. We can only hope that’s this is the last time he flogs that particular conceit in this sequence.

But hey! Marvel at Batiuk remembering that Summer exists and giving her a line. It might be Fall, 2019 before we see this again! Admire her awkwardly angled dorm mirror and try not to think too hard about what exactly that odd bottle of I-don’t-know-what is on her dresser, which Burchett decided to include for some reason.

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Shooting Gallery

Today’s strip

Greetings, folks, BChasm temporarily in the captain’s chair for the next little while.  What’s this?!  The viewscreen shows a sea of hostiles–ready photon torpedoes!   We must annihilate this threat before it spreads across the galaxy!

I’m going to skip over Mason’s “movie we filmed here,” comment, because while I don’t think any of the film was shot in Centerville, I honestly don’t remember the “school bus drives into shot” bit well enough, and–Tales to Astonish–I have no desire to look and see.  So I’ll give him that.

What else?  Well, we’ve got a crowd shot of almost everyone, including Les–which sets our Les Watch back to zero, damn it.  At least he’s not saying anything, and is both poorly drawn and partly covered by a word balloon.  Funny, though, I’d have expected both Comic Book John and Imbecilic Harry to be there, but I guess they got their exposure in at Comic Con, so no need to feature them any longer.  But who is that between Jim KibblesNBits and Marianne?  It looks like they flew Marianne’s mother out there after all!  I guess?

The fact that so many of the cast and crew are in the audience–and sitting right up front, too–makes me wonder if Tom Batiuk believes that the first time anyone involved with a movie actually gets to see the finished film is at the premier.  In the real world, the director would have seen the film dozens of times by now, and there’s almost always a screening for the cast and crew.  So all these people would be backstage, or at the back of the hall, gauging audience reaction–pacing, room for laughs, people getting bored at certain parts, and so on–and looking for “oohs” and “aahs” for the cast members.

But not in the fantasy land that is the Funkyverse.  Here, everything happens the way a five year old imagines that it happens–it’s all just magic, and friendship, and comic books and pizza, and it works every time!  In a way, that sounds like an attractive world…for a few minutes.  But after those few minutes, I’d want something of substance, something that would stir the imagination rather than just “be” everything forever.

Poorly thought-out as the Lisa stuff is, it’s at least an attempt to address adult concerns–something that a comic strip aimed at “contemporary problems of young people” should attempt more often.  Because I’m pretty sure the contemporary problems of young people aren’t that they wish there were more comic-book movies.

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Monkey Winkerbean

Making their first appearance since January 2016 are Summer and Keisha. I’m sure the sounds of one-on-one basketball right outside his door do wonders for the terminally distractable Les’ writing process.

If “see you later, alligator” is good enough for Cliff and Vera, I don’t know why Les and Cayla feel the need to “update” it. Let’s not get started on Les calling his black wife a monkey. Instead let’s examine Batiuk’s tendency to take a feeble but acceptable joke and proceed to stretch it ’til it breaks. He could have left it at “they’re working on an update blah blah blah.” But, because it’s Sunday and he still has two panels to fill, he’s gotta drop in the stuff about going “viral” and “beta testing”.

It’s all well and good that Batiuk recruited a couple comic book pros to draw Crankshaft and Funky Winkerbean. But the draughtsmanship, maddeningly inconsistent as it is, isn’t the problem with these strips, it’s the writing.

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