Funky Winkerbean by Tom Batiuk
Funky Winkerbean in 2007

Tom Batiuk is the creator of the long-running newspaper comic 'Funky Winkerbean'. Born in Akron, Ohio, and educated in fine arts at Kent State University, he was a high school teacher in arts and crafts before he turned to cartooning. His first professional work was a panel for the teen page of the Elyria Chronicle-Telegram in 1970. Two years later, he started his celebrated comic strip 'Funky Winkerbean'.

Fundy Winkerbean, by Tom Batiuk (1977)
Funky Winkerbean (1977)

The comic started out as a look at everyday high school life, with laugh-a-day gags. Throughout the years, Batiuk's comic matured into a series of real-life stories with continuity. Batiuk has also used sensitive social issues as alcholism, suicide, teen-dating abuse, dyslexia, cancer and death in the series, which made him a groundbreaking artist in the genre, that has been labeled "narrative humor". This earned him several awards, and overwhelming support from the media, the National Allience of Breast Cancer Organizations and the California Teachers Assocation.

Funky Winkerbean, by Tom Batiuk

King Features distributes 'Funky Winkerbean' to about 400 newspapers worldwide.

Batiuk also created a strip starring talkshow host 'John Darling' ran between 1979 and 1991 in The Salt Lake Tribune. It was drawn by Tom Armstrong until 1985, and then by Gerry Shamray until the character was killed of in the final episode in 1991. In November 1980 an episode of 'John Darling' congratulated presidential candidates Ronald Reagan on the left side and upside down on the right side Jimmy Carter with their election. This idea was very similar to Bob Clarke's cover of Mad Magazine's issue #60 (January 1961), only with candidates John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon. Whether homage or plagiarism, Mad Magazine only noticed the similarity four years later, in issue #246 (April 1984). 

The 'Funky Winkerbean' school-bus driver also got his own strip in 1987, called 'Crankshaft', and is drawn by Chuck Ayers. It is distributed by King Features to nearly 300 newspapers throughout the nation.

Funky Winkerbean by Tom Batiuk

funkywinkerbean.com

Series and books by Tom Batiuk in stock in the Lambiek Webshop:

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