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Match to Flame – 43

posted on May 3, 2017

Now, at this juncture, you might be wondering why someone who had his hands full creating a still fairly new comic strip would want to take on the responsibilities, workload, and general insanity of a second one. (Excellent question: It shows you’re really paying attention.) There are probably several reasons for this. First is the fact that cartoonists are apparently kind of an insecure lot. Misfits, really, who are either trying to find themselves or lose themselves in their art. The list of major cartoonists who have created second strips is an impressive one that includes God himself, Charles Schulz, who launched a companion strip about sports while authoring the most popular comic strip in the world. The clinical reasons for this phenomenon shall have to remain between us and our therapists (thanks, Mom), but suffice it to say, the perceived need to hedge our bets with a second feature seems to be a fairly pervasive one. Second, as someone who had just gained purchase on the comics page on the backs of the aging teen comic strips of the day (Freckles and his Friends ended less than a year after Funky began) and who had replaced Little Orphan Annie for Jiminy Cricket’s sake in the Philadelphia Inquirer, I was understandably wary of the shelf life that a teen strip might have. I recall thinking at one point that Funky might have a ten-year run at best, and, by 1978, the strip had already reached its sixth anniversary. Plus, 1978 and 1979 were not great years in the economy, and, casting a cold hard eye down the road, the future looked a little dicey. When you couple all the above with the fact that I was in a creative overdrive at the time, it’s not surprising really that I thought about floating a new comic strip past the powers-that-be at my syndicate.

From The Complete Funky Winkerbean Volume Three

Match to Flame – 42

posted on April 26, 2017

The shout out in the Avengers Annual was followed by Crazy Harry showing up on a splash page of The Spectacular Spider-Man along with Zonker Harris and Mike Doonesbury from Doonesbury. (Holy crazy crossovers, Batman! To someone who had been homeschooled by Stan Lee through the monthly Marvel offerings and who had tried right out of college to get a job at Marvel Comics, this was indeed heady stuff.) Somewhat later, Crazy Harry would be seen reading a copy of The Uncanny X-Men in the Funky universe (page 410, June 8, 1980). In a crossover with our own universe, Cathy and I appeared in a Funky Sunday (page 330, December 10, 1979) as we waited in line to see a Star Trek movie. But the most wrenching change would come on March 25, 1979, when the cast of characters from ratings cellar dweller Channel One was spun off into a new syndicated strip called John Darling with a growing universe of characters all its own.

From The Complete Funky Winkerbean Volume Three

Match to Flame – 41

posted on April 11, 2017

This period became one of rapid expansion in the Funkyverse in other ways as well. There occurred a number of recurring set pieces such as The Guide to Taking Tests, course descriptions from the student curriculum guide, final exams on Shakespeare the Hard Bard, Les’s Record Roundup, the Winning With Wine series, the Winning Tennis series (these last three obviously reflect the author’s interests at that time . . . hey, a guy’s got to have some hobbies, right?), and the How to Win at Basketball series, plus Crazy Harry’s Secret Cases of Sherlock Holmes and his Monstrous Limericks. All of this ran alongside stories about Arab sheiks buying the oil rights to the football field, a nuclear power plant blowing up, the school’s computer playing Star Trek and beaming people around the building, Harry L. Dinkle’s The World’s Greatest Band Director’s encounter with Santa Claus, Fred Fairgood running in the Boston Marathon, and the longest story arc yet attempted about a teachers strike, which led to some of the Westview teachers ending up in jail. (This story was based on a teachers strike that took place in Brunswick, Ohio, during which some of the striking teachers were jailed. Among those sent to jail was a teacher who would later become a judge in my home town and who would end up as the presiding judge when I filed my lawsuit to regain the ownership and control of my creations. File that one under small world, and stay tuned for Volume 7 for all the gory details). The Funkyverse was expanding almost exponentially and was threatening to come apart at the seams. And then it did. The crossing over into other universes started quietly at first when in the summer of 1979 the Funkyverse showed up in the Marvel Universe. Jarvis, the butler at the Avengers Mansion, comments on wanting to see what’s new with Funky Winkerbean as he picks up the morning paper in that summer’s X-Men Annual.

From The Complete Funky Winkerbean Volume Three

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