Funky Winkerbean logo

Match to Flame 101

posted on May 30, 2019

All of the attention that my band director was garnering even afforded me the opportunity to finally be able to answer the question that is the bane of all cartoonists—“Where do you get your ideas?” I was always at somewhat of a loss as to how to explain the process and would end up saying lame things like, “I’m not sure, but I’ve got all day.” Then one day I got the perfect answer. I was sitting in my attic studio getting ready to do some writing (which to the untrained eye is almost indistinguishable from gazing out the window, although I’ve now adopted the more modern approach of checking my email every five minutes). Suddenly the phone rang and, cursing the interruption, I dutifully answered it. It turned out to be a call from the director of one of the top high school bands in the country at Boardman High School in Youngstown, Ohio. He was calling to let me know that his high school band was going to be performing at Carnegie Hall in New York City and he wanted to know if I’d be interested in any of the details. As the image of Harry L. Dinkle, the World’s Greatest Band Director, playing Carnegie Hall flashed into my mind, I hastily grabbed for a pen.

Interested? You bet I was interested! I spent the next hour trying to glean all the information I could from that wonderful man. Armed with these facts, I immediately began to chronicle the adventures of the Westview High School Marching Scapegoats’ trip to New York City and Carnegie Hall. One of the great things about having a character like Harry is that often all you need is an interesting premise and the series writes itself, and so it was with this story. It flowed so easily and was so much fun that I didn’t even mind the fact that it was going to be hard to draw. I did realize that I was going to need to know a great deal more about Carnegie Hall than I did at that moment.

As fate would have it, I was going to be in New York in a couple of weeks (isn’t clean living wonderful?). So while I was there, I took my trusty Canon and began visually chronicling the band’s adventures in the city, which naturally included shooting Carnegie Hall from every possible angle I could imagine. When I actually got some shots of a school bus in New York City traffic, I knew that this story arc had somehow been preordained. I almost felt bad that I had Holly Budd, the band’s queen of conflagration, perform her famous flaming baton trick and set fire to the hallowed hall. **SPOILER ALERT!!!** Never mind, too late. Anyway, there you have it; my secret is finally revealed. I get my ideas by sitting around in my studio waiting for people to call me with some. Hey, it beats working for a living.

From The Complete Funky Winkerbean Volume Six