Tag Archives: these kids today

Rot Fuzz

Link To Today’s Strip

Here ya go guys! I hope you like it. Because this fuzzy, disgusting thing is the best joke we’re getting this week outside of our own wonderful comments section.

Actually, truth be told, I laughed when I read this one. I mean, it strains credulity that this girl is only now noticing that something she’s putting in her mouth several times a week looks like a fried caterpillar. But I still laughed. The joke stuck the landing for me, even if the routine leading up to it was as thrilling and challenging as Simone Biles sliding directly across the balance beam on her belly.

But I just don’t care. I’m so worn down by the bad pranks this week, the non-punchlines. This followed a tried and true humor formula: set-up, surprise, and realization. The set up is a filthy reed, the surprise is that Dinkle doesn’t just tell her to toss it, the realization is that making a sarcastic comment about science projects is totally in character for him.

The slimmest weakest of jokes that I can’t bring myself mock. Maybe I’m feeling extra charitable since it’s the beginning of Lent. And as we read in Matthew 12:20 “A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory.”

If he won’t crush the bruised reed, who am I to quash the moldy one?

PS: Thanks to everyone who liked my story yesterday! It’s nice to know that when Batiuk gives me nothing you guys are okay with random tangents and personal anecdotes.

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A Taste of Ohioana

Link To Today’s Strip

Quick comment on today’s strip. If this exchange didn’t end with hoodie boy getting a one way trip down to the Principal’s office, then Dinkle’s a pushover. The kid is grossly late to class AND tries to prank Dinkle anyway. With a weird, spur of the moment, nonsense prank. Everyone else seems to have had days to plan all their equipment swapping, but hoodie-boy wanders up late, sees a sub, and immediately drops his trombone right outside the door.

I, and TFH, and perhaps some of the rest of you, took some time this evening to watch The 2021 Ohioana Book Festival 15th Anniversary Poster Reveal via eventbrite zoom meeting, though I was about 20 minutes late getting in. The nice man hosting the thing seemed absolutely flabbergasted that someone was watching from New Jersey and mentioned it several times. And every time I gave a little grin and thought, “That’s our Hackett.”

I took some notes during the panel. So here are the juiciest tidbits. Please, anyone else who watched, give your reports as well!

Tom has had cataract surgery, and talked about being terrified of people slicing his eyes open.

He has some pandemic related strips coming next month, but admitted that doing everything a year out had handicapped his ability to write about Covid. He made it sound like he had realized that it was not a case of ‘better late than never.’ And it sounded like he wasn’t sure about starting a whole pandemicverse a year late.

To come up with the name for Funky Winkerbean, he had kids in his art class write down a bunch of silly names, and then he and his wife picked out the first and last name from the list. He seemed both bemused and rueful about it.

He admitted that Les is the character most like himself. Though he said he puts a bit of himself in every character, (IMO, this is the reason why they’re all so samey wamey.)

He said that before the pandemic he and Ayers would meet at Luigi’s every two weeks to work on the strip.

He claims that the time jumps were to keep his main characters closer in age to himself so he could draw on his own experiences for inspiration. (This is probably why everyone in this strip, from 35 to 95, all act the same age.) He also claims that he didn’t time jump Crankshaft because Cranky wouldn’t have ‘survived’ it. I guess forgetting that Cranky is still languishing in Bedside Manor in Funky.

He got the okay to write Lilian getting an Ohioana Book Festival award. So expect that some time in 2023.

And, most pertinent for our blog, Tom says that cartoonists don’t really retire, they collapse over their drawing boards. He said he feels like he is only now getting good, and doesn’t see himself quitting any time soon. Sorry to anyone holding out for a joint 50 year anniversary and retirement celebration.

Congratulations to Stephanie Banch who got the autographed book! Sounds like the host knew her, and said she was local, so I don’t think she’s a Stuckfunkian.

The poster Batiuk created was cute. Lillian reading to a group of achingly diverse children inside her walk-up bookstore. No complaints there. Tom was genial, and answered questions by giving interesting details without going on and on and on about himself. He never talked over the panel host, and actually refrained from correcting him several times. It was nice to watch and remember that, as much as we rib on him, he is fundamentally a decent guy. A little out of touch, a lot absorbed in his own world, kinda preachy and kinda myopic. But a decent guy who does care about other people. I’d rather be stuck on a lifeboat with him than, say, Quentin Tarantino. A great artist can be an insufferable man. And a good man can create absolutely insufferable ‘art’.

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As Alike as Two Bothers.

Link To Today’s Strip

Only now, at the end of the week, do we get a name for our little future Motzart. Robbie even has a brother. A brother in Mopey Pete cosplay.

I wonder if Alex and Robbie are intended to become recurring characters? I mean, regardless of intent, we probably will never see them again. Because even when Batiuk seems like he’s carefully introducing another actor into this slice of life drama, he invariably forgets about them. But it would be interesting if Batiuk figures piano lessons are a good way to milk the remaining Dinkle market?

As for the art, Dinkle’s huge flesh-toned couch is hideous. The little specks on it give the appearance that the furniture has been molded from sand.

But Dinkle’s face in panel 3 makes this whole week worthwhile. The man is scrumptiously morose; hunched over, tired , his lips pursed into a thin line as he tastes the bitter defeat coating his tongue. Never has disdain looked so exhausting. When Ayers delivers, he delivers, and he always puts that effort into envisaging misery.

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The Ultimate Racketeer.

Link To Today’s Strip

Potted plant is back!

I wonder if we’ve been a little harsh in our criticism of the bland offering of jokes this week. I showed the strips to a friend and they got a mild chuckle from her.

Our palates have really been ruined by consuming and analyzing EVERYTHING Batiuk provides in his greasy spoon buffet. When you’ve gagged over creamed corn that’s been congealing under a heat lamp for eight hours, it becomes so much easier to find problems with the innocent loaf of off-the-shelf white bread splayed out in slices at the end of the table.

I think it’s easy for us, deep in the lore, and with years and layers to our disdain for some of these characters, to forget that a week of strips like this is probably the only enjoyment casual readers get out of these comics, smiling half heartedly as they accidently let their eyes drift over Funky Winkerbean while searching for the obituaries.

Can you imagine being an average Joe, not a weirdo commenting obsessively over a comic strip online, and opening your local fishwrap to randomly read a strip from the L.A. Fire arc? Or Bull’s suicide? Or Zanzibar the talking murder chimp blessed be his name? Your brain would spit that wad of nonsense right back out to protect itself, like slamming the door on a Jehovah’s Witness.

But today’s strip? This is the kind of strip destined to be cut out of the paper and put on the fridge by kindly little old music teachers who paid for their grandkids’ Christmas presents with piano lessons. It’s a stolen joke, told with a microgram of charm, that will get a few smiles.

I talked earlier this week about Batiuk’s immortality. And, as much as he’d like it to be cancer or PTSD or teen pregnancy, it’s really one-off Dinkle type gags. I remember Dinkle strips posted in my own music teacher’s office. Tom’s real legacy isn’t massive volumes of collected comics, it’s yellowed strips of newsprint taped haphazardly to a filing cabinet beside a pile of music stands.

I can imagine, fifty years from now, a kid opening a cupboard in the attic of my old band room, where the retired uniforms and broken instruments are left to rot, and inside are a pile of dusty worn out band shoes, a few tarnished majorette hats, and, pasted to the door, a browned and crumbling clipping of Harry Dinkle, screaming at children in the pouring rain.

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Always Enjoyable?

Link To Today’s Strip

Oh goodie! I get a Dinkle arc. Having to scrape together some kind of humor or commentary for Dinkel arcs is ‘always enjoyable.’ But it gets tedious trying to remember everything that has happened to Dinkle in Act III that has slowly morphed him from a unique and bombastic caricature of a passionate band director into just another bland, smug, Westview Pod Person.

Please note, while Dinkle claims that teaching piano is ‘always enjoyable’ he doesn’t look like he’s enjoying it today, and…spoilers…he doesn’t seem to enjoy it all week long. Maybe in Westview the words ‘always’ or ‘enjoyable’ mean something very different than what’s listed in the dictonary?

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And he just can’t hide it…

Let’s all bid a hopeful farewell to Batton and, especially, Les in today’s strip. Les will sadly and undoubtedly return (please not for a good long while!), but what of Batton? This week’s story arc served to make him even les relevant than he seemed when he first appeared, and that’s saying something.

Not that doing interesting and relevant things is really a requirement to appear in Funky Winkerbean these days, but unless Batton gets cancer or (a year from now) the COVID-19 it is hard to see what else TB has for him to do. He’s appeared at Free Comic Book Day and he’s stood in front of Les’ class. What else is there? Well, if Batton ever does return, it’s a sure bet it will be during one of my stints writing this blog. I’m two for two so far, lucky me.

Now if Tom Batiuk himself is excited about writing this strip, he sure can hide it. He lost control years ago, and he probably likes it…

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Meeting the Four Hundred

Les just continues to mock Batton in today’s strip. Sheesh, whadda jerk! Apparently newspaper cartoonists were the original social distancing champions, which you probably would be seeing memes about if you were Facebook friends with one. Unfortunately, gags this terrible are not a rare sight in Funky Winkerbean

Emily or, uh Amelia… whichever one wears pink and doesn’t act like what TB imagines a Hot Topic shopper to be, asks a perfectly reasonable question for a “kids these days” kid. Seriously, it is a good question and it demonstrates a knowledge of what a comic strip is, how it is distributed, and its primary measure of success. Batton, of course spins this perfectly fine question into a self-pitying humblebrag so deftly that even Les seems impressed. Newspapers may be dying, but his comic strip is in EVERY SINGLE ONE of the ones that remain! What’re you gonna accomplish in your life, Blondie?

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The Thousand Panel Stare

Kids don’t read newspapers or newspaper comics these days… Boo hoo, so sad, this generation is killing the papers and the cartoonists, blah blah blah yackity smackity… Sorry, don’t care. I’ve heard it all before, and in better comic strips to boot.

Today’s strip is bland, rote filler in a dumb, overplayed story arc, but… that second panel. Chuck Ayers artwork since taking over duties in Funky a couple years ago has taken a good step back from the solid work he did for many years in Crankshaft I would argue, but the second panel in today’s strip is a genuinely excellent piece of cartooning. The beady eyes, the nonplussed expressions, the unrealistic density of students packed into every millimeter of the panel… you can practically hear the crickets chirping in background of this non-reaction. It is an extremely rare and truly good thing to see in Funky Winkerbean. What a pity it isn’t in the service of a better joke.

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TB does it, why not you, Batton?

Kidz these daze and their cellular doohickeys! Always on ’em. Amirite? Amirite? Eh? Today’s strip knows what I’m talking’ about! Leave ’em alone in a classroom with no direction and they just start tap-tap-tapping away on their smartyphones. It’s nothing like it wuz back in my day when we’d get in fistfights and beat lunch money out of the weird kids.

By the way, Les’ opinion on the value of comics sure has changed over the years…

FW5-27-72

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Clari-not

Was not expecting today’s strip to be a standalone gag, but I guess we should be grateful for some respite from Bull’s swan song. And it’s been a while since my high school band days, but we didn’t start practicing Christmas music until football season was almost over. Speaking of football, we’ll get back to Bull’s plight on Monday; the good news is that your guide will be Epicus Doomus!

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