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Behind the Books – Book 2

posted on March 31, 2021

The second book came up pretty quickly after the first one, and this time it was with Tempo Books. Once again, I went to my colored markers to hand color it – this time to a much more satisfying result. The artistic thing that bothers me the most about this cover is the crooked Funky logo. This logo was designed by me at the strip’s onset and has been the bane of my comic strip existence ever since. The actual logo itself is crooked so trying to fit it into Sunday strips and on book covers has been an ongoing challenge. Although, on closer examination, it looks like Tempo’s printing of the entire piece of cover art was crooked.

The title obviously, or maybe not so obviously anymore, stems from Rick’s ‘Play it again Sam!’ line in Casablanca. I decided that I’d feature my school computer cum washing machine on this cover. At the time, I believe Funky was the only comic strip featuring computers, let alone a computer that would become a sentient character and one who would organize and hold Star Trek conventions at that. Both the computer and the Star Trek theme obviously both stemmed from my long association with reading science fiction. It wouldn’t be the last time that SF themes would appear in the strip.

In Memorium

posted on March 29, 2021

My junior high band director Harry Pfingsten passed away last Friday. Harry was an extraordinary director and man. We were probably one of the few junior high bands to ever perform at a college football halftime. He brought out the best in us in more ways than one. I’m grateful that I had a late opportunity to close the circle and play a very minor part with his Patriot Symphonic Band a few years back at the Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic. He was an important influence on me and, I’m sure, many others, and he will be missed.

Behind the Books – Book 1

posted on March 27, 2021

There are quite a few Funky books out there with some stretching all the way back to the strip’s early days. So I thought it might be fun and possibly illuminating to revisit them in chronological order and look at how they came about, what my involvement was and the environment from which they emerged.

I learned about the very first Funky book titled Funky Winkerbean when I got a call one day from my Syndicate in 1973 saying that Xerox wanted to publish a Funky collection to be sold through The Weekly Reader a publication distributed through schools.  I recognized The Weekly Reader from my junior high days. It was geared towards reading and writing, and in the back it gave you the chance to order paperback books. I ordered a number of the science fiction offerings and those books became my introduction to authors like Alfred Bester, Robert Heinlein, and Isaac Asimov. So it was was quite a thrill to think that one of my books was going to be sold in that venue.

The most daunting thing about it was the fact that the publisher wanted me to do the cover. It was a totally new and different experience from doing the strip. Nobody offered any suggestions about using a Pantone color chart or anything, so I just fell back on my classroom experience at Kent State where the work was all done by hand. I took one of my favorite Funky cartoons, re-pencilled it, inked it and then grabbed a bunch of markers that weren’t dried out and colored it. And it pretty much looked like it. At the time, I thought the uneven marker coloring gave it a nice texture and a definitely non slick look which seemed fine for the era. Looking back I see something that looks pretty crude work done by someone who wasn’t yet that versed in producing commercial color illustrations. I had so much to learn.


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