Tag Archives: writer’s block

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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Had I known TB was going to gratuitously shill for his next collection of strips in today’s strip, I wouldn’t have plugged his Amazon pre-order page yesterday. Click the link above to the previous day’s post if you want to see it, I’m not linking it again.

So… Durwood first floated this whole “Prelude” idea to Les over a year-and-a-half ago. Les allegedly began working on it shortly thereafter, with his publisher delaying release of The Last Leaf until he could finish it so that they could be released together.  In fact, just last week Darin explicitly tells Les he wants to see what he has written so that he can start on the “illos” for the book.

But in today’s strip, Les is just NOW given the idea for the Prequel/Prelude book that he claimed to have started in mid-2015, a book it was definitely implied he was procrastinating on just LAST WEEK?!

I… I mean… Just… Just move on to the next story arc, please.

The Last Leaf, by the way, is going to be an actual thing. That means that, combined with Prelude and the already-published The Other Shoe, this trilogy of books that Durwood has proposed is going to be a real (expensive) thing too.

And to think I said I wasn’t gonna plug TB’s books today…


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Lisaday, March 10

Today’s strip was not available for preview. If this week’s trend holds true, we’ll be seeing another Les-Lisa milestone. The most likely possibilities:

– Les’ European adventure from 1995 – Where he chased Lisa across Europe to propose to her after Susan sabotaged his original audiocassette proposal.
– The post office bombing that injured Lisa in August 1996 – You can read the whole thing right here on SOSF.
– The Halloween 1996 wedding – With Funky Winkerbean as Spider-Man in the DC-Marvel crossover no one asked for!
– The strip that launched TB’s opus – You know the one

In case my guesses are totally off, and so no one visiting SOSF today leaves empty-handed, here is Lisa’s very first appearance in Funky Winkerbean:


And as an added bonus, I regret to inform you that you will be able to own your very own hard copy of the strip above (and many others) come October with the release of Prelude: Lisa’s Story Begins, available for pre-order NOW on Amazon!


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Gless Joe Vs. Bald Bull

Our old friend the park bench returns from a long absence in today’s strip. A pity that these two are disturbing its peace. Or were disturbing its peace, rather, as Les and Durwood are STILL flipping through old photographs.

You could probably argue that they are flipping through new photographs staged to look like old photographs, as TB redraws all of these flashback panels, but then you’d be debating the semantics of Funky Winkerbean, which (speaking from experience) won’t get you invited to many parties.

Anyways, today’s flashback panels pretty accurately replicate the original strip from August 1993 (The Westview High School class of 1992 1988 had a 5 year reunion? Weird.)

TB has, of course, recapped Les punching out Bull at the five year reunion before, though not with these same panels. It was part of Les’ reminiscence of his time with then-fiancé Lisa after she was injured in the 1996 Westview post office bombing. This was less than three years after the famous punch, by the way. Again, it was a fairly faithful reproduction of the original strip except that Lisa gets a snarkier 3rd panel line in the flashback.

Oh, and if you are wondering what awful thing Bull said about Lisa to deserve being punched… Uh, I’m not sure, honestly. At the most, he was being patronizing to Les while making a mildly unwelcome but factual statement about Lisa. Anyways, Bull was remarkably cool about the whole thing, in an early example of the common Act II trope where Les’ haplessness was played to make others look bad instead of for humor.


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More photo album corners and sepia in today’s strip, as Les and Durwood continue to show off their unparalleled procrastination abilities.

So, in a game we are surely going to play all week, did this actually happen this way in Act I? More or less, yes.

The strip from TB’s 2001 rehashing of Lisa’s teen pregnancy is pretty much the same as well, only name-checking Lamaze this time. And let us all be glad that TB is, thus far, not revisiting Lisa the way he did during that 2001 rehash, where he re-drew at least two panels of nearly every single one of strips from the original 1986 story arcs.

While I can’t say this for Act II, I kind of enjoy diving back into the Act I strips, mostly because Les is an idiot and the strip regards him as such. That attitude, sadly, died loooooooong before Lisa did, early in Act II.


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Swing and amiss

I will give Tom Batiuk this, he rarely reuses artwork. Story arcs, dialogue, themes, comic book references, potentially fatal diseases, and whatnot, sure… but not artwork. No, he loves redrawing Act I scenes in his current “realistic” style.

Which we see in today’s strip, where he has redrawn a pair of panels to almost exactly match the strip from May 10, 1985.


Lisa appears less desperate in the 2017 panel than she did in 1985, though one could say she appeared Les desperate in 1985… On the Funky Winkerbean retcon scale this is RETCON NINETY-FIVE. Today’s strip hits RETCON ONE in panel 3, though.

Les, who alleges that he was so in love with Lisa back when this happened, actually asked three other girls to prom before he asked her: Cindy, who Les files a sex discrimination suit against after she turns him down; Allison, who Les asks via world’s worst wingman Crazy Harry; and Tracy, who Les openly insults before asking.

Oh, and he doesn’t appear to know or remember Lisa’s name until after they dance, (in some pre-prom dance in the gym that they are both attending? I can’t quite figure out what is going on.) referring to her as “that girl” in his thoughts before asking her to dance.


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Oedipus Quax

Hello loyal SOSFers, noted Betamax enthusiast billytheskink here for another couple weeks at the helm. My goal today is simple, to see if I can get more writing done than Les did over the last couple months. Let’s dive in:

Here’s the link to today’s strip.

Let’s see; 1, 2, 3… 6. I wrote six words! “Once upon a time” is; 1, 2… 4. Four words. Mission accomplished!

Also, major newspapers across the country are now printing and delivering today’s strip, in which an adult son ogles a photograph of his late mother from when she was in high school while telling her widower about how attractive she became after high school. And we all called Pete the creepy one…

For reference, Lisa looked like this for much of Act II:

Durwood, meanwhile, looked like this before his nose went all Pinocchio/Jughead/Doonesbury in the early 2000s:

Separated at birth? Why yes, actually, they were.


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It Is By Will Alone I Set My Mind In Motion

Today’s Strip.

Les, you horse’s ass.  You’ve never had any problem visualizing Lisa’s thoughts before–why not grab a thermos, a legal pad, and head on out to the park bench?   Lisa can dictate the entire damned script to you.  Problem solved.  Cayla can do the rest of the yard work.  I mean, Cayla has to be good for something, right?

Now, let’s leave aside the fact that you were LIVING with Lisa all through this time, because if we bring that up, it might just indicate how much of a self-obsessed jerk-clod you are.  It might explain why you can’t (or don’t care to) remember when Lisa confided in you about what she was going through.  You know–the kind of thoughts you’re having so much trouble with right now.

Of course, none of her thoughts and fears back then had anything to do with you, Les, and to be honest it kind of moved the spotlight a little too much away from where it should have been.  After all, what about your needs!

But that’s not really the point I was trying to make, Les.  You are supposed to be writing a movie.  Movies have things happen, and scenes where people speak.  They’re a visual medium.  They are not endless interior monologues, unless they were made in France back in the late 1950’s.  You are adapting a book about a woman who died of cancer.   If there was an audience who wanted to see such a film, they’d want to see how she copes with her illness, how her friends react, how her life changes, perhaps how her priorities shift and how she now sees the remainder of her life in a different light.

The Japanese film Ikiru is a fine example of such a film.

The idea that Lisa’s thoughts should be part of this script is really just begging for a nice case of Writer’s Block excuse (“How can I possibly write her thoughts for Hollywood,” Les preened).  Her thoughts would naturally be expressed, visually and through dialogue, in how she interacts with her friends, her family, her doctors and so on.   It’s all about relationships and how cancer would impact them.  All things that could be shown on screen without too much difficulty.  It’s called writing.

As for you, Tom Batiuk, you really don’t know how to write, do you?

Actually, I secretly think Tom Batiuk regrets the whole “serious issues” path he’s taken, and wishes he were doing gag-a-day again.  It would explain why the strip is so half-hearted and bland.  Well, heck, here’s an easy out for you:  teenage Les awakens in study hall.  “Whew!” he says.  “It was all a dream!”  Then Bull punches him.  There you go, that’s funnier than all of 2013’s Funky strips…which admittedly isn’t saying much.


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Dead Scripts Tell No Tales

Today’s strip

I’m not sure if Tom Batiuk is being subtle or it’s just random, but it does look as if two people are bearing away a casket to be buried, doesn’t it?

Writing can be a difficult process, but I don’t see how Les is having problems here.  As has been pointed out many times already, Les has already lived the story.  He wrote the book.  It’s not like he has to think up an ending.  All he has to do is break it down into a script format.  But–I don’t think he wants to anymore.  I think he’s looking for an excuse, any excuse to say “Sorry, I tried, but I just can’t do what Hollywood wants.”  This, you’ll remember, for a first draft overdue by several months, naturally.

See, I believe that he’s been re-reading the book, and he’s discovered something.  He’s now thinking, My God, this book is terrible.  What a really poorly written book.  What leaden prose, what an insufferable narrator.  This would make a truly dreadful movie.  And he imagines his name on television, exposing his lack of talent to a much vaster audience than the book ever had.   Lord, what have I gotten myself into?  I’ll never be able to show my face again.  I can’t believe anything this bad was ever published.

Us neither, Les.  Us neither.


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A Lot Les

Today’s strip

BChasm here once again, despite what the byline reads.  Monday’s strip was not available beforehand, but I guessed that we’d continue with Holly’s attempt to amass a complete collection of Starbuck Jones comics to send to Cory.  And I guessed wrong!

Tom Batiuk goes back to the only character he truly loves.  I was thinking that if there are seven Starbuck Jones covers, that means seven weeks of Holly looking for comics.  I could not imagine a Funky Winkerbean arc lasting that long; I fear my eyeballs would shrivel in their sockets by week four.

I think that perhaps Tom Batiuk thought the same thing.  Or at least, he thought he couldn’t do without Les for that long.  Anyway, today we have Les, the World’s Greatest Writer, whining about how hard writing is.  I’m hoping he’s building a gallows so he can hang himself.  Hey, can’t hurt to hope, right?


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