Wait, did Funky Winkerbean just give his wife the helmet Bull Bushka died in?

I … don’t think he did? But to me and everybody else who reads and remembers stuff from Funky Winkerbean, this Sunday’s strip was weird.

The thing making it weird is that when Coach “Bull” Bushka died, a couple years back, in the comic, he was wearing his old Westview Scapegoats football helmet. This was actually made a point of the plot, for reasons I won’t get into. It’s not something you can just ignore like Phil Holt’s death. But this is why a Sunday strip intended to be a quick smile was instead all flabbergasty.

Funky, to his wife Holly: 'The Doctor said it was okay for you to start putting weight on your foot as long as you use the crutches.' Holly, looking up from the crutches :'I'm not worried about hurting my foot. I'm worried about falling on my face with these crutches and knocking my front teeth out!' Funky, on the phone: 'Linda, do you still happen to have any of Bull's old ... ' And it stops there. In the last panel we see Holly wearing Bull's old Westview Scapegoats football helmet and looking much more confident in her walk.
Tom Batiuk’s Funky Winkerbean for the 16th of January, 2022. I’m not going to knock Holly for worrying about skipping on the crutches; if the sidewalks in her town are anything like ours, there’s a couple of well-cleared ones (eg, mine) and then a bunch that are slicks of ice with a layer of fine powdery snow on top. (The crutches look too short for her, to me, but I am also, sincerely, willing to attribute that to artistic license, as a way of showing that she’s unsteady in a way that communicates clearly in still pictures.)

Anyway, as the Son of Stuck Funky folks noted, it appears Linda gave the helmet that her husband died in to his friend Buck, who I’m almost sure had a last name. It’s plausible that Bushka, who coached Westview football for decades, had a couple extra helmets kicking around. And I’ll suppose this is what Batiuk meant us to see in this strip. Just … wow, did this joke not land anywhere with regular Funky Winkerbean readers.

Author: Joseph Nebus

I was born 198 years to the day after Johnny Appleseed. The differences between us do not end there. He/him.

11 thoughts on “Wait, did Funky Winkerbean just give his wife the helmet Bull Bushka died in?”

        1. Also I keep trying to watch the closing credits extra slowly to see if I can make out the ‘secret buttons’ that the blocker has when the charger calls ‘Long Shot’. I can kind of see where one might be, but not in enough detail to see where a contestant could clearly understand it without further instruction.

          Yes, I know it’s just ‘press the button corresponding to the block you want to place’ but if I know anything about instructions it’s that they need to be more clear than that.


  1. I don’t know if there’s a rule against it, but in your opinion, assuming it’s legal to do so would calling Long shot on the first level and going directly to the 6th level be worth the loss of the money earned going up the board?


    1. I’ve been giving this a bit of thought, yeah! And it looks like it’s legal to just short-circuit the whole game and call for a Long Shot at the start of a round. (For those who have no idea what we’re on about, it’s the short-lived game show Whew, currently running on Buzzr, the other game show channel.) Certainly I’ve seen players who weren’t able to get past the second level with time running out who called a Long Shot.

      But I don’t think it’d be good strategy. When you call a Long Shot you get, effectively, only a one in three chance of winning the round at all. Technically the blockers don’t have to already have a block on the sixth level, but I’ve only seen a handful of blockers not put one up there. You might end up with that anyway, given how easy it is to run out of time and not be up there. But you don’t get anything in the main game for getting through boards quickly. In fact, you want to spend as much time on the boards as possible since money won there adds time to your bonus round; you could get up to 15 seconds for the bonus round, with perfect play, and that would make a huge difference.

      I think the thing to do is call for a long shot if you’re under ten seconds, wherever you are. But — especially in Celebrity Whew — I’ve been seeing people getting up to the board with 15 or more seconds on. In fact, last week there was a team that had so much time they got the block on the sixth level and the two bloopers left on that level, and still had time left over. The shock is they got both bloopers wrong, so the game just … petered out. It seems to be happening more that chargers have abundant time to get to the sixth level and I don’t know if that’s just a reflection that game show competitors tend to get better as the show goes on or that the celebrity version of the game somehow has a better flow. Could be that celebrity and real-person trading off answering duties makes for an easier cognitive load on folks.


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