Funky Winkerbean: 10 Years Later

October 5, 2007, is the first Funky Winkerbean strip after the death of Lisa Moore. And, as promised, the strip has jumped forward 10 years into the future.

This has proved, among Comics Curmudgeon fans, anyway, to be just as controversial as Lisa Moore’s death. By skipping the funeral and the period of grief afterward, it seems to have denied the death the dignity and importance it deserved. Others chastise Mr. Batiuk for turning Les into such as sad sack that he’s still obsessed over his wife’s death 10 years into the future.

Me? I think it’s a novel storytelling device. Honestly, I have not seen any other strip do this before. The funny pages are inhabited by comic strips that are trapped in time, and the ones that do progress don’t take an immediate leap but rather take things one day at a time (For Better or For Worse and Gasoline Alley are the two most obvious examples). Leaping forward 10 years is a common theme in novels, but not so much in comic strips. So it IS a little refreshing to see Batiuk do this.

As for the flash forward being a cop-out: Batiuk already dealt with the character’s reactions to Lisa’s death while she was alive, and lingering over the death in the aftermath would seem repetitive and unnecessary. As Les mentions in today’s strip, there’s an awful lot of paperwork to handle during the mourning period (lots of which has to be done in less than a week), and I don’t think the strip would do justice to the hectic activity without fans complaining that the characters weren’t taking time to reflect on Lisa.

And if the characters WERE reflecting on Lisa all that time… well, did we need the characters to be mopey for months on end? I thought that WAS the main issue with the depressing Funky Winkerbean storylines in the first place.

So, all in all, I have no problem with this strip. Batiuk is framing the first “10 Years After” strip in a psychiatrist’s office mainly to bridge the gap between the 10 years; most anything else would’ve been too abrupt. Personally, I might have had Les visiting Lisa’s grave and reflecting. There’s far less baggage in that scenario. But the psychiatrist’s office is fine by me.

HOWEVER….

I think the time of super-maudlin storylines HAS to come to an end… starting NOW. Batiuk has a clean slate at this point. He can reshape his character’s destinies. I have no problem about him airing serious issues in the comics, but over the past year it’s been maudlin to the point of absurdity. There’s a reason snarky fans call it “Funky Cancercancer,” and it’s not for good reasons.

In other words: Tom Batiuk, if you are reading this, please lighten the strip up.

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6 thoughts on “Funky Winkerbean: 10 Years Later

  1. I’ve been an avid reader of the Funky Winkerbean strip (and Crankshaft) for years and seen the changes, topics, storylines whether light or dramatic, issues and growth of characters. I’ve seen the format changes, from when time stood still until 1992, when time was fast-forwarded to having Funky and the gang graduate Westview High in 1988, skip the college years and having the cast enter the real world in the year 1992 (the change-over time), where the strip had been in real-time ever since.

    A major storyline and subject of controversy is Lisa’s Story, where character Lisa Moore unfortunately battles breast cancer, where it has advanced and spread and it was announced it will lead to the character’s untimely death, which occuredon October 4, 2007.

    I have a burning question regarding this storyline: After Lisa’s death, it was said that the story/format is to advance ten years hence. Does this mean that the year it will take place is 2017, the near future, or will it still be in 2007 which would have Lisa’s passing take place in 1997? The latter would be similar to Funky & crew graduating, storyline written and released in 1992, the changeover year, but the graduation revealed to have taken place in 1988. Another reason I question this is because current events within the last 10 years have appeared within the strip, such as September 11, 2001 tragedies with Cindy Sommers-Winkerbean (pre-divorce) reporting on those, and Wally WInkerbean in the armed forces (two times) and serving in Afghanistan and Iraq, even adopting an Iraqi girl who’s family was lost in a terror-bombing.

    I just was curious how the format would be, along with many other readers, I gather. Also, I understand that Lisa Moore will still appear through flashback scenes and via video she prepared prior to her anticipated death to she can advise her daughter.

    I Thank the creator Tom Batiuk for all the decades of entertainment through the powerful strip and I’ll anticipate much more.

    Regards,
    Michael

  2. I think Batiuk’s main concern isn’t continuity, but rather the morals behind his stories. Thus, this is what I think will happen: the “future” Funky Winkerbean actually takes place in 2007. It will take a while for Batiuk to set up the characters in their new environment, maybe taking a couple of years. (There are many potential storylines regarding Les’ daughter, for example.) After a few years have passed, he can safely refer to the “past” Funky Winkerbean items — Lisa’s death, Wally’s military service — and, while not refering to a specific year, he can safely allude to them as past events.

  3. Even though Wally & Becky adopted an Afghanistan girl after her family was lost in a tragic terrorist bombing while they were in that land-mine mission and Kahn is later in the USA; there were no conflicts in the region in the 1990s. Wally Joined the military service to get away by escaping guilt due to the car accident which caused his future wife Becky to lose an arm, but that resulted in him being presumed missing his helicopter was shot down in Afghanistan, where he was later found, afterwards having to return to serve in Iraq post 9/11/01, and Wally would have been in Middle School or early High School during Desert Storm, the last major Iraqi conflict.

    Also, while 46 year old Les is in therapy, the flashback (10 years ago) at the airport shows him taking off his shoes while at security; that wasn’t the case in the 1990s or pre-9/11/01. And of course Cindy Sommers-Winkerbean was covering the 9/11 tragedy in NYC.

    I’m just wondering how this will all piece together. Also, there is occasional crossover with Crankshaft; it would be odd for the Funky cast to age 10 years and time to stop for the Crankshaft cast.

  4. You should look at the pantheon of “new” characters. Wally Winkerbean is MIA in the cast — and John (comic book guy) is now married to Becky — Wallys ex/widow — the story line behind this has not been revealed (yet).

  5. Pingback: funky winkerbean

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