Funky Winkerbean Concludes After 50 Years - But the Story's Not Over

Nov 18, 2022 · 16


Tom Batiuk, the award-winning cartoonist who has been writing and drawing the syndicated comic strip, Funky Winkerbean, for over 50 years, has announced that the beloved strip will be coming to a close at the end of this year as a daily comic, but will still continue on his personal website, tombatiuk.com, as an occasional comic.

Batiuk will also continue his other syndicated comic strip, Crankshaft (with artist Dan Davis), which is set in the same fictional universe as Funky Winkerbean. Therefore, Batiuk notes that there is a good chance that the Funky Winkerbean characters will pop up occasionally in Crankshaft, as well. Also, Batiuk will continue releasing new collected volumes of Funky Winkerbean, with Volume 12 just being released on Nov. 15.

Batiuk was a middle school art teacher in Ohio who began doing cartoons while monitoring study hall in 1970. Eventually, his high school characters started appearing in the teen section of the Elyria Chronicle Telegram. This led to the official launch of Funky Winkerbean as a syndicated comic strip in 1972. For the first 20 years, the strip followed the adventures of the title character, a high school student, and his group of friends, in high school. It had the standard approach of most comic strips, with no one aging, and no serialized stories.

However, in 1992, the strip launched a new format, with the reveal that Funky and his friends all graduated from high school in 1988, and they were now graduated from college. So the strip from that point forward continued in real time, with the characters aging and in one notable case, dying. The approach was a shock to longtime readers who were used to the more comedic nature of the strip over its first two decades. In 2007, Batiuk changed the format again, moving the story another decade into the future.

The stories surrounding the death of Lisa Moore after an eight-year struggle with breast cancer, was collected into its own book, Lisa's Story: The Other Shoe, after her death in 2007 (right before the strip went 10 years into the future). That collection was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. That storyline is part of the latest volume of the collected Funky Winkerbean.

In his announcement of the end of the strip, Batiuk said, "Between the blog, the books, and the pop-ups in Crankshaft, it’ll be like the Funky gang never left. Which I hope makes you feel as good as it does me. The carousel isn’t stopping, just slowing down a little. A special thanks to all of the Funky faithful for coming along for the ride. Boon companions all."

Source: Tom Batiuk

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