Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Lisa No Moore

Greetings from the NWOW sukkah where we will be pecking away from the laptop through next wk!! A Wednesday afternoon at the end of September and it is 85 degrees! What more could you ask for??

Years ago, when I was a teenager, there used to be this goofy comic strip called "John Darling". The comic strip was about a character who was a talk show host for a local TV station. Originally like the crabby bus driver "Crankshaft", he was a character in "Funky Winkerbean" a onetime very funny strip about two high school characters named Les Moore and Funky Winkerbean. The strip featured an ancient talking computer, a talking Space Invaders game that was at the local pizzeria back in the day when those establishments had video games, and amusing John Darling TV segments. The feature became so popular that cartoonist Tom Batiuk decided to turn him into his own strip Then one day in August of 1991 as another week was wrapping up, Darling was shot dead by an unknown gunman.... and the following day another strip had replaced it in the paper. In Batiuk's creepy mind, he decided to end the strip by just shooting the character!

Batiuk is also the same guy whose onetime funny Funky strip featured a Redd Foxx joke on the very same day that Foxx died. That was just bad timing... and I was thinking about that Sunday Night while watching the brilliant Star Wars spoof on "The Family Guy" where Foxx was one of the good guys on the Red team trying to defeat the Death Star. Good thing I saw the movies in '05 and '06.... otherwise I would not have gotten half the jokes. The Funky strip originally featured high school teens, abruptly changed format in 1992 when the characters started to age in normal time just like the people in For Better or For Worse. FBOFW and its natural aging found itself with a problem when the family dog Farley got incredibly old... so ultimately ol' Farley was sent off with John Darling to Comics Heaven. Most strip characters are frozen at the same age like The Family Circus and the legendary Peanuts... and the old funny Funky. In Funky II, Les became a teacher... and Funky kept getting drunky,... but then he joined AA and bought the pizzeria that used to house the talking Space Invaders game. Les became friendly with and ultimately married a girl named Lisa who was impregnated in the original Funky as a teenager, and decided to give the kid up for adoption... Her son was adopted by the local high school principal and as a teenager is now dating the daughter of.... believe it or not.. slain TV Man John Darling!

This is pretty heady stuff for a newspaper comic strip.. but Batiuk's mind gets stranger!! Back in the days when a woman named Susan Smith killed her kids and blamed it on an imaginary black man... Funky had a teenaged character, also coincidentally named Susan Smith, who attempted suicide only to be saved by Les Moore! Speaking of the real Susan Smith, her name came up in the news recently with all this talk about the Jena 6! Let's get this straight.. this juvenile delinquent thug beat the living crap out of a kid at school to the point where he was knocked unconscious! Yet these civil rights protestors led by self proclaimed righteous men Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson claim that this thug is being treated unfairly and they are painting Jena as some racist town because the kid whose butt got kicked made a rather dopey gesture to the black kids. Gimme a freakin' break.. an unjust trial? According to the newspaper, the all white jury was all white because none of the blacks summoned for jury duty bothered to show up. And is attempted murder too strong a charge when the victim is beaten so badly that he is knocked unconscious to the point he had a concussion? And all these people march to support a juvenile delinquent with a lengthy criminal record?

Getting back to Funky... I brought my big gripe up back on July 4th when I said newspapers should drop the strip (in a column about free speech by the way) because the character of Lisa is suffering a losing battle against cancer. Lisa's fate has already been determined because over the next few weeks, Batiuk is publishing another book of his strip collections,... this time all about Lisa who with hubby Les now has a kid who is about 5 or 6. It's nice Batiuk is writing a book, but killing off a character in such a tortuous way and showing this horribly sad story in a comic strip is an absolute disgrace. I have boycotted the strip since July and if I had kids who read the comics, I couldnt get my scissors out fast enought to cut the strip out before their little eyes saw this waste of newspaper ink. The only reason I know what is going on is through the very well done Stuck Funky Blog which has been taking each days strip and analyzing each panel to find the humor! The anonymous writer pokes fun at Batiuk for the sheer absurdity that he has chosen to put this in the newspaper funny pages. (The blog also links to a cancer fundrasing site) The blog is actually very entertaining, and the recent speculations about which of Lisa's friends is going to end up in bed with the future widower Les Moore are just one example of its dark humor... but remember,... comic strips are supposed to be funny! The comments are also quite amusing. Check it out starting from the beginning through the archives and you will find a parallel universe of Funky comic strips which totally defeats the purpose of the dreary deathwatch that has been created by Mister Morbid Tom Batiuk!

I got to thinking about this last week when I heard the sad news about Brett Somers and her death from cancer. Today as part of our Clip of the Week we will have some of Brett's finest work. Brett had apparently been sick for years, I had heard rumors about her cancer some years back.. yet she was doing a cabaret show a few years back and looked pretty good for her age. Jack Klugman who she split with in the 70s but never divorced also beat cancer and the list goes on. Even Laura Ingraham who I dont like.... beat it, and I am happy to hear that she is doing ok!! (Althought it was odd that she was on CNN's Reliable Sources Sunday Morning talking about how Katie Couric had been dating her ex fiancee) It is a tough disease and a lot of brave people are kicking cancer's ass. And there are a lot of people besides myself who are ticked off at what Batiuk has been tossing into the funny pages. There was a furious grandmother who wrote to her local paper totally furious at Batiuk because her daughter is fighting cancer... and her daughter's young daughter started to read the strip and thought that her mommy was going to be another Lisa Moore!

At some point soon the Funky strip will fast forward ten years, and oddly enough For Better or For Worse is also changing formats and all the characters are now frozen at the same age and won't get any older!! The cartoonist Lynn Johnston announced she was scaling back to spend more time with her husband so some strips would be repeats and the rest would be new... but a few months ago she and her husband split up.

I hope the Lisa book does well, and I understand that the proceeds go to cancer research so go ahead and buy the book.. .. and although the strips showing Lisa's friends being extremely supportive have been quite sweet.... the horrible suffering of a young 30 something year old woman has absolutely no business in the funny pages. We will have more about the newspaper comics in an upcoming column - The Top 14 Newspaper Comic Strips.

I remember when I was a kid they had a cartoon show called Casper The Friendly Ghost... but until The Family Guy episiode where Stewie's wayward football toss to his friend Casper ended up in the path of a speeding car, I never really thought of how Casper went from being a kid to a ghost. And that is the way it is supposed to be!! The Lisa Moore character will probably pass on in the next week or so... rumor has it Farley the dog is going to start barking and lead her to John Darling....but even though she is not a real person, it might be a good idea for parents of young ones to screen the comics in the coming days just in case this is something you dont want your kids little eyes to see.

PUMPSTRADAMUS NFL PICK OF THE WEEK - The Amazing Pump is incredibly 3-0. This week we go to Cleveland, the home of "Funky Winkerbean"... The Browns are 4 1/2 point doggies to the Baltimore Ravens. The Pump looks to extend his streak with the following brilliance - "As Edgar Allen Poe's raven used to say, "Nevermore!" so I'd never go with the Ravens - Take the Browns!"

THE UNBIASED GIANTS FAN PICKS OF THE WEEK - Last week we went 1-2 (The Giants were the only correct pick) for a season record of 3-5-1.. Here are the picks -

Giants 2 1/2 doggies over the Eagles - The Giant D is back.. this is the wk Big Blue gets right back in it!

Rams 12 1/2 doggies over Dallas - Time for the Cowboys to taste defeat!

Bengals 7 points doggies to New England - Go with Cincy! Home Dogs on Monday Night!

CLIPS OF THE WEEK - This week we salute the late great Brett Somers!! First we begin with a clip from The Odd Couple where her character Blanche has to pretend that she is still married to Oscar when Oscar's mom comes for a visit...

Next, here is a clip from Match game where Brett and Charles do a song for fellow late panelist DebraLee Scott

Here is another Match Game clip featuring Brett: (I think this is from the glitchy dvd, but the glitchiness only lasts a second of two)

And finally.... here is Brett being Brett!


Anonymous said...

thanks for the plug!

(stuck funky's anonymous author)

Nate said...

And thank you for an incredibly entertaining daily dose of humor! Feel free to use the "Lisa No Moore" title for the column on the day she moves on to greener pastures.

By the way folks, I just found out that Batiuk will be donating ALL the proceeds from the book of Lisa strips to a cancer charity.. so those of you who choose to read the Stuck Funky blog should also think of throwing some shekels that way also.

Now the question is who will last longer in Cleveland? Lisa Moore or Joe Borowski as the Indians closer?

alberich said...

I guess I should post a link that might complement your comics analysis ...

The Comics Curmudgeon.

Nate is no curmudgeon, but this guy can be!

Nate said...

Thanks for the compliment, I think... I have been feeling rather curmudgeonly lately after the Mets blew it.. but I will address that issue later this week.

I have read the Comics Curmudgeon blog - he doesn't seem to address the Funky Winkerbean issue too often.. but his comments on the other comics are quite amusing!

Steve said...


Nate said...

Bond is coming - hopefully next week!!

Neil said...

Warning: Pet-peeve induced rant ahead. Not that this will surprise you...

comic strips are supposed to be funny

The better comic strips are that good depend realistic characters. In Doonesbury, BD lost a leg in Iraq, Any Lippincott died of AIDS, and Senator Davenport died of Alzheimers. Even though some papers put Doonesbury on the editorial or op-ed pages, it's still a comic strip.

Children do not need to be shielded from the facts that life isn't all happiness and light. I'm not talking about sex and violence, which do need to be introduced at appropriate times. It's a disservice to a future human being to say "Mommy went away for a trip and won't be back". Santa Claus isn't showing up, folks.

See you later tonight, Nate. Looking forward to seeing the sukkah.

Nate said...

If the death is handled tastefully, I guess it would be ok.. For Better or For Worse killed off the grandmother and handled it pretty well, and I think the Doonesbury deaths were done outside the strip.

The suffering and deterioration of Lisa is another story. That is what I object to.

Pumpy Winkerbean said...

And let's not forget, Bill the Cat died in my all-time favorite strip, Bloom County. Granted, he later had a brain transplant (oddly enough, it was Donald Trump's brain!), but that's besides the point.

But yes indeed, we want Bond!