Again I Ask What the Flipping HECK Is WRONG With You, Funky Winkerbean?


So I am again angry at Tom Batiuk’s comic strip Funky Winkerbean. Before getting into why I need to warn people the story going on involves a discussion of gun violence and a fictional murder. If you don’t need that in your recreational ranting, yeah. Hoo boy do you not. But for people willing to consider it, come see what’s under the cut.

The start of this story was about Jessica Darling, who’s wanting to reconnect with My Father John Darling. I capitalize the phrase because she refers to My Father John Darling so often it stumbles across the line from “useful reminder to the audience” over to “weird, distracting compulsion”. So she asked the first regular cast she saw. They suggested Mitchell Knox, a onetime comic book writer who’s gone into collecting stuff and maybe he knows something.

Knox turns out to be Yet Another Comic Book Guy, fresh off the top of the stack of Funky Winkerbean’s apparently inexhaustible supply of characters who suggest The Simpsons’ Comic Book Guy. And he doesn’t just know something. He’s gone into the business of collecting Cleveland Local TV Personality memorabilia. When we first saw him he was sitting on the John Darling Show set, suggesting the madness of a hardcore John Darling fanboy in some year inspired by 2022. Being a Cleveland-area TV personality fan brings him back into the world of plausibility. Also, it turns out the comic strip John Darling was set in Cleveland, one of many things I have been wrong about in my life with no consequence whatsoever.

Anyway, this week Knox has invited them into his house to show off his memorabilia, including stuff from major real Cleveland TV personalities other than Ghoulardi, the only one I had ever of. In between sociable moments he’s snarled at them and insisted he got everything legitimately so they don’t have any legal claim on anything. Oh, and please admire the complete set of the John Darling Show that he rescued and rebuilt in his home. Jessica’s husband Boy Lisa (he probably has a name, but he’s the son of Dead Lisa, Who Died Of Death, put up for adoption before she could marry Les Moore and die) rooted around in the drawer of John Darling’s set’s table and found … a gun!

Boy Lisa, lifting a gun: 'What's this?' Mitchell Knox: 'Oh my .. .I'd forgotten all about that! It's the gun that was used to murder John Darling! I didn't want to display it, so I stuck it in there!'
Tom Batiuk and Chuck Ayers’s Funky Winkerbean for the 21st of September, 2022. When the comic strip John Darling was ending in the summer of 1990, Tom Batiuk — annoyed at some rights issue regarding the character — chose to kill him off . This made at least the second time a major comic strip ended with the murder of its main character. (Sports/action/adventure strip protagonist Big Ben Bolt was assassinated the last week of his strip, shortly after he won the Nobel Peace Prize for his boxing.) This offered a nice sick joke as it allowed Darling to finally achieve his goal of hitting the national news, this for his senseless murder. The comic irony on top of that? His murder was printed the 3rd of August, 1990 — that is, the day after Saddam Hussein invaded Iraq, and so a day when all the network news was about that. The senseless murder of a Cleveland TV personality could not have got fifteen seconds on that day. Just mentioning.

Not just a gun. It was the gun that Plantman used to murder John Darling. And that, years later, he tried to use to shoot Les Moore. Knox “just forgot” that he had put this — used to kill Jessica’s My Father John Darling, and used to attempt to kill Boy Lisa’s mother’s husband — in there. And Boy Lisa just ran across it. And … I mean … just … What the flipping HECK is WRONG with you?

Gads but if this strip weren’t so fun to hate-read I’d have quit by now.

Author: Joseph Nebus

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

4 thoughts on “Again I Ask What the Flipping HECK Is WRONG With You, Funky Winkerbean?”

    1. Oh, you’d think, except you know what Les Moore’s other book was? It was the one where he solved the murder of My Father John Darling and failed to get killed by Plantman with the gun that was all the talk this week.

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