Tag Archives: Valentine Theater

Time in a Bottle.

Link to Today’s Strip.

For the best part of 10 years, I thought I understood the Funkyverse.

Crankshaft and Funky Winkerbean take place in two neighboring towns, Centerview and Westview. They both take place in roughly ‘present day’ in terms of technology and occasional oblique references to current events. But they also take place roughly ten years apart. Crankshaft is set in the past of Funky Winkerbean. It really wasn’t that hard to understand.

Crankshaft takes a picture.

Crankshaft. September 3, 2011

And Les looks at it framed on a mantle.

Funky Winkerbean. September 3, 2011

Jeff reminisces about his old Starbuck Jones comic. And considers buying the last issue of an Action Comics storyline he never finished.

Crankshaft. March 20, 2014
Crankshaft. March 28, 2014

And years later he gifts the Starbuck Jones comic to Holly for Cory’s collection. And she gifts him the end of the ‘Congorilla’ story in return.

Funky Winkerbean. April 4, 2014
Funky Winkerbean. September 5, 2014

Crankshaft and his Bus Barn buddies complete in a bowing competition against a younger Montoni’s Pizza crew.

Crankshaft. December 2, 2015

And Funky recalls the same event from his perspective in flashback. Complete with old timey photo corners.

Funky Winkerbean. November 30, 2015
Funky Winkerbean. December 2, 2015

Crankshaft’s secret hoard of Bean’s End back catalogues is discovered. And his daughter sells them to a strangely young and buff Chester Hagglemore.

Crankshaft. June 7, 2018
Crankshaft. June 9, 2018

Years later, Chester puts the entire collection up for sale to fund his new comics empire. And Morton Winkerbean buys Crankshaft back his favorite issue.

Funky Winkerbean. June 12, 2018
Funky Winkerbean. June 22, 2018

Simple. One is past. One is future. In fact. I would almost nearly give it credit for being clever. A weird way to tell a story non-linearly. But it adds a certain depth to the proceedings if you’re in the mood to be charitable to Batiuk’s intended sentiments.

For example, the county fair arcs.

Funky Winkerbean. August 13, 2019
Crankshaft. August 15, 2019
Crankshaft. August 16, 2019
Funky Winkerbean. August 16, 2019.

Taken alone, they’re a bunch of bland fair puns on the Crankshaft end, and an awkward date ending in an even more awkward wedding proposal between Mopey Pete and Minty in Funky Winkerbean. But I’ve got a soft spot for grandparents. Seeing the younger Mindy enjoy the fair with the ‘Gramps’ that loves her, simultaneous to seeing an older Mindy fondly remember those moments years and years into the future when he can no longer be there…It kinda gets me in the feels. She’s trying to pass on to her boyfriend the vital essence of a person she loves who is now a weakened shell of what she once knew.

We get on Mindy for being boring and stupid. And it’s true. Because she is bland af. But this is the closest she comes to being a character to me. Because I get it. We’re seeing both sides of a painful transition, where a precious adult goes from being a childhood pillar, to a fragile keepsake. The story is greater than the sum of it’s parts.

So there. I’ve complimented Batiuk for something. Stop the presses. I’ve complimented him for using the time skip well. And he’s even done it more than once. It’s interesting, and occasionally sometimes even approaching good.

So why? Why by all that is sweet and bright? Is he throwing it all away over the pandemic!?! WHAT IS EVEN THE POINT?!?

When I heard that The Valentine was closing in Crankshaft, I could still make it work in my mind. Yeah, the location has showed up multiple times in Funky Winkerbean, still owned by an older Max Murdoch. Yeah, THE STARBUCK JONES PREMIERE was held there. But maybe, I thought, he would find a way to give Max back the theater after a while. Max has years and years to get that theatre back in time for it’s appearances in Funky Winkerbean. I can’t blame Batiuk for wanting to be topical, and hey, it’s conflict at least, so yeah, sure, let him lose the theater for a few years…

But then…then there was that fateful day in May.

Crankshaft. May 24, 2021.

Jeff shows up at the Valentine theatre with a rock he’s not supposed to get FOR MORE THAN A DECADE.

Funky Winkerbean. September 6, 2020.

Why?

Why?

Why?

And my only hope, was maybe he forgot. Maybe, just once, he forgot which strip was supposed to be the past of which. Maybe, just maybe, this dumb rock from Bronson Canyon was not the rock that shattered the temporal pane that separates past from future in the Funkyverse. I begged. I pleaded. Please don’t do this, Tom. Please, don’t rip away the final shreds of sense propping up the cardboard walls of your paper doll playhouse. Don’t be like this. Make the right choice, and tell me that you will stick with what you’ve established.

And today…

He told me no.

WHY ARE YOU LIKE THIS TOM WHY

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Of Course He’s Cos

Link to today’s strip.

As mentioned, I found yesterday’s strip kind of cute and a bit of a relief from the usual fare.  However, it appears I’ve picked up a terrible habit from reading this strip:  I didn’t think things through. 

I figured the guy would take off his costume to perform the ceremony, you know, the way a normal person would.  (Indeed, I thought that’s what had happened in the second panel, with the minister the bearded guy in the back.)  Instead, this turned to the Dumb Side, really, really fast.  So, what kind of church does this guy lead?  Can he perform marriages that will hold up in court?  I think if he’s an ordained minister for the Church of St. Leeloo Dallas Multipass, Cindy, Vera, Cliff and Mason might find themselves in something of a pickle down the road.

What’s probably most irksome here is John.  His nonchalance from yesterday has cooled into a deep boredom–as if he searched all over for a priest of the Holy Order of Batman, Batman, the one he really wanted, but damn it couldn’t find one and had to settle for one who wouldn’t be able to give him first communion.   Screw you, Mason, you wanted a damned minister and I got you a damned minister.  Can I go home now?

I do like how the Xaxian is posing in panel two, in that James Dean in “East of Eden” symbolism pose, though I kind of think it’s a bit inappropriate here.   I remember doing that pose as a kid, and usually the spear would be going behind the neck–it looks here like it’s piercing his chest.   Maybe that’s why Mason looks so distraught–he watched someone commit hara-kiri right in front of him!  He couldn’t be hiding his face in shame because of comic books, because Mason sure strikes me as the kind of guy who’d leap at the chance for a comic-book themed wedding.

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Minister of the Inferior

Link to today’s strip.

I have to admit, this one was just startling enough that I enjoyed it.  The strange situation, and the nonchalant way in which it is presented, made for a strip that was actually entertaining.  So, kudos to Tom Batiuk; I’d like to see more like today’s offering, and less of what he typically deposits here.

Of course, today’s strip doesn’t really bear any close looking, because the premise is kind of stupid.  I mean, I guess the local minister could see a flyer, “Wanted, People to Portray Movie Characters for Film Premier, Costume Provided” and stop darning his socks in the night when there’s nobody there and think, “Say, that sounds like fun!  And I’ll bring my Bible along, just in case someone wants to get married!”  I mean, that sounds really, really contrived, even for this strip…though certainly not beyond the realm of possibility, given this strip’s history…

Okay, I’ve talked myself into it:  Tom Batiuk will take something cute like today’s strip and ruin it with tomorrow’s.

 

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All the King’s Horsesh!t

Link to today’s strip.

I’d like to think that scream of terror in the last panel is someone snapping from the sheer disregard of continuity.  “This theater” was responsible for none of what you claim for it, Mason.  You, Pete and Cindy were the ones who brought Cliff out of his self-imposed hermitage.  Vera just happened to show up at the Silver Grille.  (I guess she had one of those decoder rings before she was engaged with one.)  And I know it galls you to admit it, but you met Cindy because of Les Moore.

Once again, Tom Batiuk seems to be making it up as he goes along, disregarding his own history while he expects his readers to have an encyclopedic knowledge of every minor character who appeared for a panel or two.   It’s amazing how those two contradictions don’t collide and annihilate the whole strip.

Speaking of a panel or two, it’s sure unfortunate that Cindy had to run off between panels one and two.  Because I don’t know who the Hell that’s supposed to be in the second panel; it looks very little like Cindy.  I mean, she’s not even wearing the same dress.  I guess, maybe Cindy tripped and looked foolish doing so, so the people in charge said, “Quick, we need a hot blonde who doesn’t look anything at all like she’s fifty years old!”

Either that, or the new artist is definitely getting Funkyfied–“Hey, whatever fills the panel, man.”   Gotta wonder if, when he told his fellow artists that he’d landed the Funky Winkerbean gig, there was this long, uncomfortable silence, followed by expressions of sympathy, pity, and many hands on the shoulder with the words, “We’re there for you, man,” and “You’ll get through this.”

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Just Say No

Link to today’s strip.

Well, Jff, I guess your tongue-tied nature might be explained by the fact that this is a huge surprise to you, unaccustomed as you are to public speaking…except that all of this was your idea in the first place.  As Mason points out, the whole reason everyone is here because of you.  Given the fact that this strip goes out of its way to praise its characters for the slightest reason, did you really think you’d sit in the back and be ignored?  Sure, sure, that’s what we wished would happen, but that never counts.

I have to hand it to Tom Batiuk for his optimism–every time he brings in characters from Crankshaft, I imagine a mythical Funky Winkerbean reader saying, “Wait, there’s a whole other comic strip full of characters like theseWhere can I find this magical realm!”  And, since Mr. Batiuk never names “Crankshaft” in these cross-overs, said mythical reader is left saddened by the fact that he will never find this other strip.  Why, it’s a two-for-one!

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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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How Blue Was My Astra


Maybe I’ll update this post later on and maybe not, but in the meantime please enjoy today’s strip without dislocating your neck. BeckoningChasm will be heckling the Starbuck Jones cast and crew from behind the velvet ropes starting Monday. Thanks to BC and to Team SoSF and most especially to you, the readers!

Your genial host,
TFH

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Wreynolds the Writer

She may be unclear about Mason’s presence at the premiere, but Blondie McMicrophone positively gushes over “The Writer,” Pete Reynolds. Pete’s actually the re-writer, hon. He was only brought aboard to “rework the script”  after the movie’d already been in the works for a year.

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Oy Vey ist Premiere!

Let’s hope the prospective Mr. and Mrs. Jarre and Mr. and Mrs. Anger get back from the courthouse in time for the World Premiere of Starbuck Jones! The studio’s pulled out all the stops, installing huge inflatables of Starbuck, Jupiter Moon, and a Xanax Warrior atop the Val’s crumbling marquee, while the “front of house,” which just last week was brown, appears to have been repainted the same blue-gray as the drab balloons at that kid’s birthday party. Here’s hoping that the life-sized SJ and Jupiter we see waving to the crowd are costumed players; to have the movie’s leads cosplaying themselves at the world premiere would be too cheesy even for Batiuk.

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Another Pizza My Heart

Another perpendicular panel and more of Pete and Mindy meeting cute. I can’t tell you “the age of that joke” (I’m guessing ancient) but I can tell you Batiuk last used it six months ago (in another sideways strip no less). I guess he forgot, just like he forgot that it was a Tweet, not a “coded Junior Spaceman message” that Jff sent to the director. Pete nurses a glass of coyote urine as he watches Mindy gorge on pizza and Italian bread. He’s either too cheap/broke to get a slice for himself, or perhaps he’s already grooming svelte Mindy to join the ranks of dumpy blonde Westview wives.

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