Good ol’ Tom Batiuk; you think he’s going to sock you with drama, then he pulls the rug out from under you and says, “Just kidding!” It’s just like Lucy and the football!
Except I doubt anyone is fooled by this anymore. We’ve come to expect that nothing will ever change in this strip. Oh, Wally and Rachel will get married, Cindy will go to Los Angeles, Darrin will, alas, reproduce, but they’ll all come back to Westview because they’re moths, and Westview is the flame. It’s only the children who disappear.*
And Funky will get older, more out-of-shape, more decrepit…but the sweet release of death will always elude him. After all, he’s inferior in every way to Les Moore, and that’s an important function in Westview.
It has been speculated that Mr. Batiuk’s resentment toward Funky comes from the fact that his strip has been saddled with Funky’s amazingly dumb name. It must be especially galling since he re-tooled the strip to be “serious.” How could anyone take a strip called Funky Winkerbean “seriously”? That’s not the kind of title that draws award nominations!
My own theory is that the real-life Funky and
Les Tom Batiuk had some kind of major falling out. And Tom Batiuk is the guy who has a syndicated comic strip that he can use as a vehicle for revenge. Funky is the one person perennially dumped on, and he gets no sympathy from any of the other characters. At least people feel sorry for Wally. I’ve never seen this kind of anger from a creator to his creation.
Well, actually I have, now that I think about it. Hollywood is full of people who achieved fame for one thing, then almost immediately became resentful of that thing and declared that said thing was keeping them from reaching their true potential. Think of all the comic actors who decided that, damn it, they were serious artists and, by God, they were going to make a movie about a crippled person dying in the gutter if it killed them! And they end up making a movie like Simple Jack. (NB: Not high quality.)
The thing is, I really can’t think of anyone like that who not only failed to achieve the goal of Serious Ac-Tor, but also tainted their earlier, funnier work with the failures of their later seriousness.
Apart from the obvious, I mean.
*If they ever make a Funky Winkerbean movie, this would be perfect for the tagline on the poster. Great for the trailer, too–imagine that read in some ghostly-whisper voice. *Shudder*