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Flash Fridays – The Flash #218 October-November 1972

posted on February 15, 2019

This issue issue pulls one of the Flash’s oldest villains, the Pied Piper, back into the fold, and yet there’s no sign of him on the cover. Not the way I would have handled it, but Cary Bates does do a nice job with the Piper one we’re inside the book. PP comes up with psychic pipe attuned to Flash’s mental wave length and basically spends the better part of fourteen pages making him totally miserable to the point of even questioning his own identity. With this story, Bates has really gathered his feet under himself and is ready to take off on a long run with this character. Artist Irv Novick is right there with him every step of the way as he truly begins to make the character his own and feel right to the reader.

The Green Lantern/Green Arrow story that rounds out the issue continues wrapping up the classic run by Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams on the characters, and what more is there to be said about that really? Well, as it turns out there’s a good bit more to be said and it’s said by Flash letter-hack Guy H. Lillian III in the issue’s Flash Grams column. I was going to try to encapsulate what Guy had to say, but decided instead to just let him say it as he did back in 1972. Herewith:

Dear Editor:

What a character Green Lantern is! I remember buying that first Showcase issue wherein the anonymous and characterless madman tried to destroy Coast City with a yellow missile, wherein Abin Sur passed on his power ring, and Hal Jordan began the schizoid rivalry with Green Lantern that ended only a few months ago… after ten, eleven, twelve? years of self hatred.

Amazing the changes in a character, and a comic, and an audience, and a country. Even before “Easy Rider” hit the screen and Denny O’Neil took over the scripting of GL, Hal had discovered-because, of course, National Periodicals had discovered-that the glamor job of test piloting was not sufficient to the demands of a newly humanistic, social thought of the new decade, the 60’s. So he became an insurance investigator, a toy salesman, mundane jobs but jobs in which he could encounter people-and be a person himself. Hal grew even before the O’Neil take-over.

Denny got the strip at a time in America when everything was alive with the fires of the late 60’s. It was appropriate That GL should be the ‘zine which DC chose to meet the new ideas and new experiments, the new responsibilities. So for 14 issues DC tried, Denny tried, Adams tried, and the whole field was changed. Now it’s over, more or less, and things are somewhat back to “normal”, in the real as well as the comix world… and people, editors, writers, audience, almost everyone, is anxious to forget the flames and ideas and all the rest of what the 60’s meant in its own field. So the ‘zine ceased to sell, and since comix people have to eat the same as you or I, off the stands it went. 89 issues. I read every one of them.

And a last slap or two of applause. Because even though the last phase of stories had their faults (though I don’t subscribe to the anti-relevancy gripes of many fans as being one of those faults), it represented courage on the part of a business enterprise. Like  GL in his last scene of his own comic, the bland stupidity of the world has at times caused in me a violent and vengeful response, mental if not physical, repressed if not overt. But the fact of Green Lantern/Green Arrow, the fact of the magazine’s being here when it was needed… it’s something to remember and some small piece of a victory to save. – Guy H. Lillian III

All I have to add to that is an amen. I didn’t know Guy H. Lillian III except through the lettercol of the The Flash, but it seems to me he would have been a great “guy” to have a cup of coffee with.

Volume 8 Drops

posted on February 14, 2019

Volume 8 of the complete Funky Winkerbean dropped today on Valentine’s Day, which is appropriate because romance, unrequited and sortaquited, definitely infuses the collection . This is the work that starts to flow from my getting editorial control of my writing and creations (see volume 7). Without a strong editorial hand on my shoulder, it was left up to me to decide where to take the strip… and this book contains the decisions I made. It’s where the work starts to transcend my influences and sources.

Plus, quite frankly, I think it’s my most danceable book yet. Check it out!


Match to Flame 96

posted on February 13, 2019

At the end of the teen pregnancy story, I had Lisa leave the strip to go live with her grandparents in Seattle. To have her continue on in the strip as if nothing had happened just didn’t feel right. Likewise, after having been Lisa’s confidant and birthing partner, it was going to be impossible to go back to things like having Les being stuck up on the rope in gym class and ending up being repurposed as a decoration for the homecoming dance. A line had been crossed, and my characters now were going to have to grow up. The philosopher Immanuel Kant reasoned that, if you have sequence, then ippso pippso (my words, not his) you have time. Comic strips always had sequence, but then somewhere along the way they slipped into the habit of circling back at the end of each day’s strip and restarting the clock. However, inherent in their genetic code was the ability to take that sequence and just keep on going like, oh, I don’t know, life does. I wanted that for my characters and I wanted it for me. From the teen pregnancy story forward, I would slowly begin moving them toward graduation and beyond. What that “beyond” was exactly and how I would get there was still a project under construction. Like they say on those little magnetic aphorisms that you stick on the fridge, sometimes you just have to jump off the cliff and build your wings on the way down. I don’t recommend this, by the way, unless there are no other options, and Lisa had left me with no other options. In the end, what really happened was that Lisa and the teen pregnancy story opened a door for me and invited me to walk through. But opening doors can be scary, because there’s always something on the other side.

From The Complete Funky Winkerbean Volume Five.