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Match to Flame 124

posted on July 1, 2020

 

In a very nice gesture, King Features feted Funky’s 20th anniversary with a wonderful party atop the Stanhope Hotel in New York City. Considering that I hadn’t expected Funky to make it to ten years when I was starting out, it was quite a celebratory feeling that evening with Cathy and our son Brian by my side to realize that I had lapped my earlier expectations. It was a great evening, and maybe it broke some ice because it wasn’t long after that I received a call from the syndicate offering to renegotiate the contract and we started talks. I began to realize that the people who had presented me with that first contract weren’t the evil empire but just businessmen doing what businessmen were supposed to do, which was take care of their business and make it as profitable as they could. By the same token, it was up to me to take care of my own needs. Once this understanding was in place for both sides, things could move forward. It took awhile and there were a lot of ups and downs, but when we were finished I had a contract that acknowledged me as the owner of my characters. The copyright would read “Batom, Inc.,” which was the name I had given my imaginary comic book company when I was in the fifth grade. I was poised and prepared to move forward with a comic strip that was ready to play for keeps.

From The Complete Funky Winkerbean Volume 7

Match to Flame 123

posted on June 3, 2020

 

Turned out to be one of my better half hours. I spent it frantically trying to determine Funky’s fate. Up to that point I had been pretty casual about it, figuring that I’d just work it out as I went along, but Ted made it clear that he was having none of that. Funky was the main character in the strip, and the first question that every editor in the country was going to ask was the one that Ted had just posed. And I didn’t have an answer! I started running through all of the possibilities, and no job I conjured up seemed to suit Funky. I already had two of my characters returning to the high school, so that wasn’t really an option. I vaguely recalled thinking that Funky had been a business major in college, but it was really a bad time for them because the country was hip-deep in a recession that had been going on for a couple of years and a lot of them couldn’t find jobs. It took a bit for that to sink in before I realized that, like so many other college graduates at that time, Funky would probably be unemployed and living back at home with his parents. So I called Ted back and told him just that . . . and then, as an afterthought, I added that I’ll probably end up having him deliver pizzas for a while at Montoni’s, the pizzeria in the strip. That afterthought probably sealed the time-jump. The circumstances of Funky’s unemployment meant that the strip would continue to be relevant and pertinent, but by tying Funky to Montoni’s, I had laid the groundwork for what would become the strip’s second set piece . . . its second stage. Funky’s relationship with Montoni’s would grow; the apartment above Montoni’s would house a number of the characters (and when Montoni’s later expands, a law office and a comics shop); weddings (plural) would take place there; and, of course, Crazy Harry would be dropping by with the mail every day. Where the high school had been the perfect stage for the young Funky characters, Montoni’s would now give my adult characters a place to perform. It was ingenious. I’d been lucky. I believe it was Thomas Edison who said, “Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration,” but he probably should have thrown desperation into the equation as well. 

From The Complete Funky Winkerbean Volume 7

Match to Flame 122

posted on May 6, 2020

Turned out to be one of my better half hours. I spent it frantically trying to determine Funky’s fate. Up to that point I had been pretty casual about it, figuring that I’d just work it out as I went along, but Ted made it clear that he was having none of that. Funky was the main character in the strip, and the first question that every editor in the country was going to ask was the one that Ted had just posed. And I didn’t have an answer! I started running through all of the possibilities, and no job I conjured up seemed to suit Funky. I already had two of my characters returning to the high school, so that wasn’t really an option. I vaguely recalled thinking that Funky had been a business major in college, but it was really a bad time for them because the country was hip-deep in a recession that had been going on for a couple of years and a lot of them couldn’t find jobs. It took a bit for that to sink in before I realized that, like so many other college graduates at that time, Funky would probably be unemployed and living back at home with his parents. So I called Ted back and told him just that . . . and then, as an afterthought, I added that I’ll probably end up having him deliver pizzas for a while at Montoni’s, the pizzeria in the strip. That afterthought probably sealed the time-jump. The circumstances of Funky’s unemployment meant that the strip would continue to be relevant and pertinent, but by tying Funky to Montoni’s, I had laid the groundwork for what would become the strip’s second set piece . . . its second stage. Funky’s relationship with Montoni’s would grow; the apartment above Montoni’s would house a number of the characters (and when Montoni’s later expands, a law office and a comics shop); weddings (plural) would take place there; and, of course, Crazy Harry would be dropping by with the mail every day. Where the high school had been the perfect stage for the young Funky characters, Montoni’s would now give my adult characters a place to perform. It was ingenious. I’d been lucky. I believe it was Thomas Edison who said, “Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration,” but he probably should have thrown desperation into the equation as well. 

From The Complete Funky Winkerbean Vol. 7

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