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Match to Flame 115

posted on February 4, 2020

Say what? Yes, you read that right. John Darling had been suffering through some tough times brought about by lost artists, lost papers, and lost interest in it by me. Part of my loss of interest was due to the hassles of having to bring new artists in and the concern over its dwindling client list. Plus, I’d become disenchanted with trying to satirize a television industry that was a bigger joke than any jokes I could write. I was mainly keeping John Darling going because of the lawsuit. I just didn’t want to walk away from it in the middle of all of that and make my attorneys’ jobs on the Funky lawsuit even tougher. But when deadlines began to become an issue, it was over. My attorneys would just have to deal with it. The John Darling contract differed in respect to my Funky contract in that it did allow me to opt out if the number of papers John Darling was in dropped below a certain figure. They had, so I did. Here’s the problem, though. I still wouldn’t own my characters and I unreservedly, categorically, unequivocally, absolutely, no way in hell wanted someone else to work with them (I’d like to think that my characters would have refused to work with anyone else, but you never know). So what to do, what to do? I finally decided that if I were going to kill off John Darling in the real world, I would kill off John Darling within the strip itself. And I’m not just talking dead here, I’m talking “Bucky dead.” So in the final John Darling panel, we see the cast gathered around his grave in the cemetery. Down the line in Funky, Les will solve John Darling’s murder and uncover the killer, but that revelation will have to wait for a future volume in this collection. To help me send John Darling off, the strip’s original artist Tom Armstrong returned for the final three weeks, marking the final time that Tom and I would work together. Also down the line in Funky, John Darling’s daughter Jessica would appear as a student at Westview High School and would go on to play a fateful and impactful role in the lives of those characters. So a little bit of John Darling would still live on.

From The Complete Funky Winkerbean Volume 7