Man, Batiuk must've really hated some chick named Lisa, huh?
Seriously though, I haven't read Funky Winkerbean in years and this entry was fascinating. Thank you. We need to stop giving points to Very Special Episodes of whatever. It all leads to Paul Haggis getting awards for "Crash" instead of the "Tootie Learns to Drive" episode of "Facts of Life," which actually was entertaining and gravitas-appropriate to its medium.
"There was even a fund started in Lisa's name. But this is Funky Winkerbean, so she had to die."
Maybe Baituk should guest-artist FBoFW one week so they can just put the Grandpa out of his misery already.
I just went back and read the last few weeks of Winkerbean online, and despite agreeing initially (that "Death" is fucking ridiculous), I actually found the strips pretty tasteful, touching, quite realistic in terms of medical and emotional pain, and, to bastardize what kudaspeaks says above, "entertaining and gravitas-appropriate to its medium." No NARM here, although I may have a weak spot for this particular storyline after having a close loved one go similarly over a long period of time.
On the other hand, while I agree with Baituk that the funnies need not always be funny, he does seem to have a perverse interest in putting his characters through the wringer.
For me it's definitely perversity - he made such a big deal about her remission and having a kid. My mom is a longtime survivor of this cancer, so I find this "you could relapse at any moment" stuff unpleasant - I did get satisfaction from Lisa's survival so this "to bad, she dies anyway" seems to indicate a peversity towards the audience as well.
In comments I've read elsewhere, more than a few people with personal connections to cancer find this questionable and like milking the issue (so to speak). And the whole "you thought she was okay but the tests were wrong" sitcom stuff seems like he's returning to the same emotional well to many times.
Well, in my defense, I haven't read Winkerbean other those last few weeks online just now in years, so I'll take everyone's word for it.
By the way, I read the comics at lunch today and--yep, in conjunction with my stupid crack, the Grandpa on FBoFW appears to have died today. Oops.
No need to defend - in small doses Funky Winkerbean is striking, it's just the cumulative effect - every single character has been effected by or witness to some horrible thing - is what makes long term fans say "if this was an alt comic, it'd be satire."
God, if only Mallard Fillmore would die of some wasting disease.
Or in an alcohol-fueled car crash, as would better suit Bruce Tinley.
Tinley and Rall can fight it out for who congratulates their readership more.
I'm disturbed by this. I can't quite pin down why I'm so disturbed—I only started reading the strip when I read various bloggers writing about how fucked up FW is.
Sunday's strip, though, made me think that he's aware of how fucked up he's being and completely relishing it.
And that white masked figure. You cannot tell me he wasn't thrilled when he came up with that.
The fact is, the bound-book comic medium (I'm calling it that to differentiate it from the newspaper variety) has taken a _very_ culturally adult turn over the last twenty years. There is no doubt that a revolution has occured in comic books, so it's certainly about time that something happened to 'ramp up' the game with the 'funny pages'. I think it's about time that someone in the mainstream media started making people think, even if it means scaring the shit out of them.
I'm sure all of us know that something going on in real-life politics is about to scare the shit out of all of us.
I wonder how he'll address that? When GW Bush declares himself dictator? (Ok, when and if that happens, how will it be treated in FW?)
Y'know that's true - I can see Tom B looking at the graphic novels and thinking "I've got the drawing skills, I should step it up." The problem is, when you're writing in three panel segments and making plot changes on the fly, then what passes as tasteful in the collected edition plays a lot different from day to day. As a comic book, this might play differently, but when you have a dying woman screaming she's gone blind and that's the punchline frame, it is really off.
On a side note - he did send a character to Afghanistan to talk about land mines, and said character ended up punching out the Afghan who saved his life because he knew the guy was an arms dealer. This was before the Gulf war kicked into full gear, but in light of current events it's a creepy jingo moment - like Batiuk felt he couldn't have that story unless at least one Arab got punched in the face.
Thank you for this interesting post! We spend a lot of time talking about comics at my house, specifically strips as opposed to books, but I don't get a lot of time these days to follow all of them. I was not aware that this was going on in Winkerbean world, and I find it fascinating. It's quite maudlin, but parts of it are pretty funny: that whole bit in the first strip citing Monty makes me laugh.
This FW strip just freaks me out. The stark whiteness, the silent guy in a mask and formalwear... it's just disturbing. Yet I can't stop looking at it.
Yeah, I can't stop thinking about it either, and now can't wait to see what happens tomorrow.
Will they literally waltz off to the afterlife? Yikes.
Anyway, I guess he was trying to find some way to personalize death that didn't involve a shroud or a sickle. But damn.