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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.