It’s been a staple of newspapers worldwide, but after more than fifty years, Tom Batiuk’s Funky Winkerbean is coming to a close. Batiuk announced that he would be retiring the beloved comic at the end of the year, closing out a truly transformative saga.
Funky Winkerbean began as a series of cartoons that creator Tom Batiuk drew while overseeing study hall as an English teacher. He used the characters to create a one-panel strip called Rapping Around for the Elyria Chronicle Telegram. Just two years after that, Batiuk sold a reworked version to Publishers-Hall Syndicate, creating a comic strip that would be read in hundreds of newspapers. Funky Winkerbean largely centered around the title character and his friends attending Westview High School. But in 1992, Batiuk made the decision to age up his characters, a shift that not only changed the story’s format, but began the strip’s foray into exploring timely, relevant social issues.
Since Funky Winkerbean’s second time jump in 2007, the strip continued to include storylines that grappled with serious subjects. But after a run of over fifty years, Tom Batiuk has decided to end the tales of Funky and his friends and family. The comic strip creator posted on his personal website, tombatiuk.com, that the time had come to end the ongoing story. However, the artist did leave the door open slightly by saying that he did plan to do the occasional Funky Winkerbean story on his personal website. Not only that, but Funky Winkerbean’s spinoff series Crankshaft would be continuing with both Batiuk and Dan Davis still at the helm. Batiuk even mentions that Funky and his cast may make the occasional appearance in Crankshaft. But as for Funky Winkerbean’s daily adventures, those will be ending at the end of 2022.
It’s The End Of An Era For Funky Winkerbean
It’s sad to see a comic strip that’s been around for so long reach a definitive end. Funky Winkerbean was a comic that was published in over four hundred newspapers worldwide. The strip also achieved literary acclaim when Funky Winkerbean was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize over its cancer arc centering around the character Lisa Moore. Funky Winkerbean went through several drastic changes, some which were quite controversial. But its growth in storytelling has cemented the strip and Batiuk’s place in comic history.
Most comic strips are centered around a status quo that rarely allows its characters to grow or change. But Tom Batiuk changed what comic strips could be with his daring and creative choices. Batiuk’s comic grew from a gag-a-day strip to a story that touched on serious issues such as drug dependency, suicide, abusive relationships, and more. It wasn’t the sort of things that were found in the usual Sunday funnies, but that made Funky Winkerbean stand out all the more. It’s been a long, strange journey for Funky Winkerbean and his pals, and readers can see for themselves how the story ends December 31st, 2022.