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Harry L. Dinkle

posted on January 15, 2007

It was a warm July evening in 1973 and I was lying on the bed in our apartment doing some writing for Funky. As is my custom, I was grousing to myself about having to write when I could’ve been goofing off, with little inkling of what the Muse had in store for me that night. Now lying on a bed is pretty conducive to letting your mind drift off, and, since Funky and the gang were about to head back to school in the strip, my mind was drifting back to all the things you associate with the start of school… football games, homecoming preparations, the usual stuff.

However, when I was in school, I hadn’t been on the football team or the homecoming committee. What I did do was play trombone in the band.

Now I know what you’re thinking. You probably figure I’m going to say I jumped up off the bed at that point and ran around the room shouting “eureka!” Well not exactly. What I did do was begin to jot down memories of long cold bus rides with wet feet and itchy wool uniforms… of singing “A hundred Bottles of Beer on the Wall” until the bus driver turned his hearing-aid off… of selling band candy to all of my relatives. I also jotted down the idea for a new character… a band director named Harry L. Dinkle. Harry L. Dinkle the World’s Greatest Band Director. Even then the “eureka” didn’t come.

The fact of the matter is, it really came later in a whole string of retroactive “eurekas”. First, as the mail began to come in… followed by invitations to speak at band awards banquets… and then the honorary inductions of Harry (and sometimes myself) into various state band organizations… the penning of the Harry L. Dinkle March… watching Harry march in the Tournament of Roses Parade… a line of Harry L. Dinkle band shoes and so much more.

It’s hard to believe that it’s been more than thirty years since that summer evening. Frankly, it seems like only yesterday that Harry first marched onto the comics page and started selling band candy. And could the first band camp we attended together really have been that long ago?

Much has changed in the world since then. And now it’s time for Harry to change too. Time to put aside the uniform that has served and identified him for so long and move on into administration as so many have before him. All the characters in Funky have grown over the years and Harry is no exception.

Does that mean that Harry and the band are going away? Not by a long shot. Harry has some new challenges ahead, as will Becky as the new band director. And someone has to be there to launch the new Harry L. Dinkle Performing Arts Center. As much as the arts and music belong in a school curriculum, so Harry, Becky and the band belong in Funky. Recently, at the Midwest Clinic in Chicago, I drew my last public picture of Harry in his uniform. This week inaugurates the new look Harry, and I’m looking forward to drawing him in the strip for, hopefully, a long time to come.

Why now?

posted on November 27, 2006

So why a Funky Winkerbean web site now, you might ask. Well, I was going to make some cute comment about wanting to make sure the internet was going to be around for awhile and stuff, but, who are we kidding? Let’s be totally honest here… I was actually planning to do this twenty years ago, but I just got busy. I was spending more time in the Funkyverse than the real verse, and, well, that’s just not healthy for a growing boy.

Plus, there are a lot of readers with a lot of questions. Will Lisa find out that Darin is her son? Will Darin find out that Lisa is his mom? What’s happening with Wally in Iraq? Who’s Wally? Is he Funky’s brother? His cousin? His uncle? And there was no real forum to address all of these questions. Well, now there is. The primary function of this web site is to provide information. Hopefully, it will answer a lot of your questions. .. at least those that can be answered without spoiling things for everybody.

And that’s also the function of this blog. Sometimes I will be presenting new and startling info, but for starters, I’ll probably be using it to answer FAQs from the e-mail. While I truly appreciate and enjoy the thoughtful e-mails I get, there’s no practical way to answer all of them, but perhaps I can touch on some of the big issues here.

At other times, I’ll use it to pass along cool articles, interviews and such. At still other times, I’ll be making it a visual blog… just depends. And finally this will be the storm front where the cool stuff breaks. You’ll find out about it from me first because…well because I know.

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