I’m not sure everyone is mad at Funky Winkerbean in its penultimate week. Annoyed, perhaps. Irritated. But mad takes a special level of broken trust between audience and creator. Annoyance or impatience is more appropriate when we-the-audience see where this is going and the story won’t get there.
Last week everyone was mad because we’d learned a time-travelling janitor manipulated minds for decades so Summer Moore could start to write a world-healing book. But it was all a dream. Then she wandered around an empty town looking at places she didn’t have any emotional connection to. Then, last Sunday, we switched to Harry Dinkle worried that the incoming blizzard might spoil the church choir concert at St Spires, his side gig. They’re doing “Claude Barlow’s Jazz Messiah”.
This week showed, in both Funky Winkerbean and its spinoff strip Crankshaft, all the big characters braving a massive storm to get to the concert. Like, everybody. Summer Moore hitchhikes her way onto the bus from the Bedside Manor Senior Living Home. (The implication is she’s spent the whole day moping and looking at, like, the instant-photo-print-shop her dad’s high school chem lab partner worked at while home from college and thinking how in the end we are all unfocused Polaroids, and now she wants to go see Harry Dinkle’s church choir sing.) The whole staff of Montoni’s. Les Moore and his wife, Not-Lisa, and Not-Lisa’s daughter from her first marriage Not-Summer. Everyone.
So everyone, I trust, gets the reason Tom Batiuk wants this. He’s getting the whole cast of both his strips together so they can bask in one another’s presence one last time. What has gone unexplained, to everyone’s mild annoyance, is the lack of any idea why it’s so important everyone get there. Especially since the church is set in Centerview, the town Crankshaft takes palce in. The Funky Winkerbean folks live in Westview, nearby but still, a bit of a drive.
Especially in the face of a storm that we were told could drop a record amount of snow. It’s the church choir doing a concert that you’d think would have been postponed or cancelled for the weather anyway. It’s not, like, John and George coming back from the dead to play with Paul and Ringo one last time.
It makes sense for Harry Dinkle to carry on despite the weather; that’s almost his defining joke. And to rope his choir into that, yeah, that’s necessary for his joke. Roping the Bedside Manor senior band, that’s his other side gig, in to providing music? Yeah, sure. But once you’re past Sgt Pepper’s Sad and Lonely Hearts Club Band? Nobody else has a reason to be there. The Time Janitor stuff somehow easier to buy, an application of that Father Brown line about Gladstone and the ghost of Parnell. The only person who wants them there is Tom Batiuk, looking to have the whole cast under one roof for the last time, and he gets his way
It would be touching if it didn’t look like the populations of two towns decided to get stuck in a single church’s parking lot.
Incidentally on the 24th, Ed Crankshaft saw the Funky cast and said “seems like there’s a lot of new folks here tonight! Hope they’re not all planning to move into the neighborhood!”. It’s a cute way to acknowledge the Funky gang will likely still make appearances in Crankshaft. It would also be a good tip to Funky readers who haven’t heard that they might want to pick up Crankshaft.
It reminds me of when Darrin Bell put the comic strip Rudy Park into reruns. Bell had a natural disaster strike that strip and evacuate all the residents to nearby Candorville, his other — and still going — comic strip. Catch here is I don’t believe Crankshaft’s name has been spoken in Funky for, like, thirty years. It started as a cute and even realistic affectation. Characters remembered there had been a cranky old bus driver who said a bunch of funny malapropisms, but not his name. It’s a bit of a disadvantage trying to point readers to your other project, though. Even Ronald-Ann spent a week shoving the name Outland into Opus’s ears before Bloom County ended the first time. Maybe that’s this coming, final, week in Funky Winkerbean. We’ll see, and we’ll see how mad that gets us all.
10 thoughts on “Why is everyone mad at _Funky Winkerbean_ this week? (December 25, 2022)”
I’ll be mad if it doesn’t turn out that everything post Les winning Best Actress is mearly the thoughts running though Ed Crankshaft’s mind as it deteriorates while transfixed on a Les Moore promotional snow globe from the McArnold’s “Les’ Story” happy meal that was left on his Bedside Manor tray .Extra points for a William Daniels cameo saying, “If only we could figure out what was going on in his mind.”
Well, alas, looks like this ending is going to have to be reserved for fan fiction, and for that, we have to start someone writing Funky Winkerbean fan fiction. It’s a heady thought.
All set for “It’s A Funky, Funky, Funky, Funky World”! All we need is for Crankshaft to kick the bucket and St Lisa to appear during the chorus to tell everyone about the million dollars worth of comic art hidden under a big Winklebean,and of course Phil Silvers deadpanning”This is no place for a pizza delivery van!”
You know, the world just might be ready for a Funky Winkerbean musical. It’ll be the first musical done entirely in minor key.
Did you know that one already exists?
I did, in fact, and trusted some people would catch it and grin. There’s also, allegedly, a musical based on the comic strip Luann, although I’ve never seen that performed either. I know more about the Doonesbury musical but that’s another one I’ve never seen.
I’m a little surprised there isn’t (as far as I know) a Garfield musical.
And the WTFery continues into this week:
I sincerely love the principle of closing on an epilogue week like this that’s embraced the bonkers stuff. I’m sorry it’s not executed better is all.