Tom Batiuk is the creator of the longrunning 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'.
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.
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. 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. 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.