Tag Archives: Washington D.C.

Ducking the Call.

Link to today’s strip

Les finally stopped grilling hot dogs. I’m guessing so his depressed resigned expression could be seen by all the people who refused to take over the responsibility Les was attempting to relinquish. And they’re just smirking at him. They probably refused because they hate him, not because they don’t want to go to DC with a bunch of high schoolers.

yellowskyGuys, I’m starting to worry about Cayla. She hasn’t smiled once in two weeks of being in the strips. Either she’s in the midst of a major depression, or she’s become the audience avatar: bored, depressed, and tired.

I’m depressed because the sky in the strip has been colored oppressively yellow all week, and I don’t know why.


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No Conflict of Interest.

Link to today’s strip

What is going on with Les’ face in panel two today? I can only guess that Ayers saw the word vomit in the speech bubble and decided to give Les an expression to match. It’s a pretty apt depiction since Les is just regurgitating yesterday’s substance.

And good old principal Nate today, distilling into one word the thing most perniciously wrong with Funky Winkerbean. Les presents him with something potentially contentious, and Nate agrees.

No argument about the students’ obligation to be in school, the potential debasing of non-violent rule breaking as a tool of last resort, or the use of the school’s own vehicle of propaganda to take a position on a divisive issue where the student body is likely not unified in viewpoint. Nate agrees. All ‘good’ people agree. Everyone seen is in agreement. The potential opponents are an unseen undefined ‘badness’ that must not be personified.

This is worse storytelling than the Big Gay Prom arc, because at least in that we had a strawwoman in opposition. She was about as nuanced as a shrieking harpy ruining everyone’s lunch, but she was there. Opposition leads to drama. It resists the goal of the protagonists, making them work for what they want. And, most importantly to Batiuk’s goals, it gives what they’re fighting for weight. Debate lets the characters themselves tell the audience why: Why is a walkout the best way for these students to protest school shootings? Does anyone think there is a better way? Is there any specific legislation or legislators these kids are targeting? We’ll probably never know, because so far no one asked.

If Les and Bernie had to convince the Principal to allow the editorial, if they had to explain themselves to parents or disagreeing students, or if they had to potentially sacrifice something to stage this protest, then the ‘protest’ might seem like something more than what it is: hollow, passionless, consequence free virtue-signaling.


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Contempt of Continuity

Gerard Plourde
December 1, 2016 at 8:29 am
I wonder where he’s going with this. Does Cliff defect to the USSR and end up in the Gulag until 1992?

December 1, 2016 at 1:39 am
“How would you characterize your shipmates, Mr. Anger? Were they communists? Were they virile? Strapping? Did they have tattoos?”

These questions and many more will sadly go unanswered as today Cliff wraps up his story. And your genial host must, unlike Cindy Summers and Tom Batiuk, do at least a modicum of research to come up with something to say about this plodding plot. While I could find no actors from that era who were sent to jail, I did find a Wikipedia entry about the Hollywood Ten, a group of screenwriters and directors who refused to cooperate with McCarthy’s HUAC and who were indeed blacklisted, fined, and sentenced to prison terms of up to one year.

November 23, 2016 at 2:49 am
Oh, hell. He’s going to ruin Trumbo.

Yep, Dalton Trumbo was one of The Ten, and I’ve put his words from a 1976 interview into Cliff’s mouth here,to lend a little eloquence.


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Leningrad Steamer

Tailgunner Joe clearly has got some kind of a hard on for Cliff Anger and his commie pals, and he continues to press his case against this hostile witness. Query this, though: if Cliff had to find work in the summer of 1940, let’s figure his age at the time had to be at least, oh, sixteen. Which would make him 92 today. It’s not totally implausible that he could be spry enough to travel to Hollywood, resume acting, and even pitch woo with his former costar, but it is kind of a stretch. Of course, in the Funkiverse, age and even time itself is fluid and elastic. Cliff looks hardly older than the ostensibly late-fiftyish Crazy Harry, and Harry’s contemporary Cindy has the face and body of a millennial.


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Clifford the Big Red

November 28, 2016 at 10:55 pm
Does Batiuk think that any of his readers actually care about Cliff? Because there’s not even at attempt at humor here. Just sticking it to a senator who’s been dead for sixty years, which is weird and bizarre and totally par for the course for Batiuk.

What’s even more annoying and boring than Cliff Anger “trifling with” Sen. McCarthy by cracking wise? It’s Cliff, for the second day in a row, responding to another direct question by sanctimoniously spouting his views. Voting “several times for candidates of various political parties“? Hoo boy! What a rebel. And I’m pretty sure that definition makes most of us Communists. This arc is the comic strip equivalent of “eat your brussel sprouts.” Colorless, musty, verbose brussel sprouts.


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The good news? Batiuk is opting for once to “show, not tell” how Cliff wound up in front of Sen. Joesph McCarthy’s committee. The bad news is that rather giving us a straight-up flashback, TB’s presenting  Mason Jarre starring in The Cliff Anger Story. No way could the guy in today’s panel 3 be the same one we saw in yesterday’s: not with that cheese-cutter nose and maddening, dangling anglerfish-like forelock.

Gerard Plourde
November 26, 2016 at 1:31 am
The “Red Scare” and blacklist of the late 1940’s and 1950’s is a very complex subject and an understanding of that history is not helped by confusing and conflating events…

Many of you in our very erudite audience have rightly taken Batiuk to task for his fuzzy depiction of this chapter in our nation’s history. If TB can’t be bothered to do research, neither can I, though a little Googling turned up an article mentioning Dashiell Hammett, who was in fact called before Joseph McCarthy’s Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations but refused to cooperate. The article fails to mention if Hammett “sassed” Sen. McCarthy in the manner of Cliff Anger; but though he was blacklisted, effectively hastening his demise, he was not put behind bars.


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And Now, Part Two: The End

Link to today’s strip.


So we get most of a week of Les spitting weak jokes at a bunch of parents, and then we…cut to the grand finale.   No scenes of boarding the bus, no hijinks along the way, nothing with the hotel, or anything having to do with Washington DC.  (Yeah, sure, the White House is mentioned.  Mentioned.)  All we get is two panels of a miserable looking bunch of people (Owen aside) staring dead-eyed into the distance.

And…that’s it.  Yes, that’s all of it.  That’s the entire senior trip.  This way to the egress.  That’s all she wrote.  Th-th-th-th-that’s all folks!  Finito Binito (sic).

This is pretty unprecedented for this strip.  Hell, the simplest, most mundane tasks typically require several days of strips.  Wedgeman’s ring comes to mind.  Here, Tom Batiuk has willingly skipped over a potential couple of weeks.  Not that I’m complaining, exactly–I imagine that a fortnight trapped on a bus with Les Moore would be sheer torture.  Worse than stabbing a coloring book.

No, it is a relief to be spared all this.  It just begs the question.  How is he going to reach the 50th anniversary by passing up material?

There’s only one plausible answer, and we all know what that is.

He had to wrap this up so he could get back to Starbuck Jones.   I mean, it’s increasingly clear that Starbuck Jones is all he cares about in this strip (and it’s creeping up in Crankshaft, too).   He must know by now that Les Moore as “beloved character” is never going to happen.  That seems to be why he’s pushing Starbuck Jones so relentlessly, even to the point of cutting off a Les arc.

So, next week I’m guessing we’ll get more people talking about Starbuck Jones.  Not really doing anything–I think the bus scene exhausted his “show” abilities–but talking about how things might happen.  His “tell” abilities are always at the ready.

Next week we’ll see if I’m right.


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The Batiuk-Signal, Robin!

Link to today’s strip.

Greetings fellow snarkers, BChasm back for another stint in the chair.  Congratulations to HeyItsDave for giving us an exemplary two weeks on his first time out.  Well done indeed!

As for today’s offering, there’s one thing worth noting:

Wedgeman’s back!  There he is, near the center of panel one, burnt orange t-shirt, arms angrily crossed as if he’s been assigned to read Funky Winkerbean.    What tales he could tell us!  Like maybe, what the heck is Alex doing with her hand?  Stifling a yawn?  I’m with ya there, Alex.  Note that Glasses seems to’ve lost a lot of weight, and behind him is some kind of creature I think I saw in a scary YouTube video.  And right under the dialog there’s a girl who is fading out of existence!  Wow, someone could use that if there was a space movie filming nearby!

Other than that, ho-hum.  When I was in high school, any excursions off the school grounds did not require a face-to-face meeting with the parents.  Usually, a permission slip had all the information my parents needed (itinerary, what to bring, etc), so I brought it to them, they read and signed it, and I turned it in.  Are there now actual after-hours meetings for this sort of thing?  If so, my next question is “Why?”

I’m going to pass over the comic book stuff and point out the awful overly-spun dialog we’ve got today.  Always a problem when you draw your word balloons a year before you know what to fill them with.  Wouldn’t panel one read better like this:

On the other hand, maybe we should just go with our inner Batiuk:


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