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Match to Flame 166

posted on January 10, 2022

I had rushed home to write down my series of revelations thoughts before I forgot them, and the first thing I pulled from those notes was a story about Lisa being diagnosed with breast cancer. I realized from the start that this was a story that couldn’t be written under my normal deadline of six weeks and that it was also going to run on the comics page longer than anything I had written before. When I was starting out on Funky, I was given some advice along these lines:

  • Always put your best jokes on a Monday or Friday because those were the days when you had the highest readership.
  • And, if I wanted to run a related series of ideas, they could run in the middle of the week.
  • An actual story should not run more than three weeks tops.

What I had in mind just wasn’t going to jibe with those strictures, and, in truth, I hadn’t been paying any heed to them for quite some time. But this new work was going to push things even further, and the second part of it would run for an entire year. It was necessary, however, in order for the work to unfold in a more naturalistic time frame as befitted what I was now trying to achieve.

From the introduction to The Complete Funky Winkerbean Volume 10

 

 

Match to Flame 165

posted on January 4, 2022

The moment came along, and I mentioned it to no one. I’ve learned the hard way that you should never tell anyone about a story until you can hand it to them to read. This point was especially cogent now that I was pretty much keeping my own counsel and eschewing the advice of . . . let’s just say the universe, to cover my bases. Ideas that you speak about before they’re fully formed are like little birds that then fall from the sky and lie on the ground with their feet pointing up in the air (even if you’re just talking to yourself, the universe hears; trust me on this). There’s even an inverse correlation to this thinking. Sometimes, not telling anyone can bring a sense of energy and excitement to a creative endeavor. Much like the Beatles working on Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band in seclusion for a year, or Bruce Springsteen walking around with a homemade cassette containing Nebraska in his back pocket for a summer, or the ten years Andrew Wyeth worked in secret on the Helga paintings (again, if you’re going to identify . . . ). There’s something secretly thrilling when you know you’re working on something special, and the world has no idea that it’s coming.

From the introduction to The Complete Funky Winkerbean Volume 10

 

Match to Flame 164

posted on December 15, 2021

Which brings us to those backstairs strips I mentioned earlier. They started in a large field near my house. I wrote about this in the introduction to Prelude: Lisa’s Story Begins, and I was going to rewrite it and expand on that material here. But, upon rereading it, I thought it said exactly what I wanted to describe. So, I’m simply going to quote that paragraph here (this thinking is a companion to the great comic book artist Wally Wood’s dictum on drawing—“Never draw anything you can copy, never copy anything you can trace, never trace anything you can cut out and paste up”). Here ’tis:

For a long time it was my habit to go running at the end of a workday around a large field near my house. It was always a nice way to unwind and let the thoughts of the day sift out. On one particular afternoon near the end of the run, I suddenly saw the future of Funky Winkerbean start to unfold on the big screen inside my head. Not in ideas, not in words, but experienced as something totally different—a landscape. Exactly, do-doo-do-doo, do-doo-do-doo. But there it was, just this rolling terrain a lot like the field around which I was running—except that every rise, every nuance in the landscape represented a beat in the overall Funky Winkerbean big picture going forward. It was like hitching a ride on the arrow of time and being allowed to see everything over the horizon. Much of it involved Lisa, but everything else was there as well. Everything. It would take the better part of a decade before I would finally work my way through all of it. And here’s the kicker: that was the one and only time it ever happened. I suppose you could chalk it up to not being properly hydrated or whatever, but, nevertheless, from that point forward, I knew Lisa’s story. I knew where it was going and also what it was going to cost to tell it.

From the introduction to The Complete Funky Winkerbean Volume 10

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