A Long Expected Party

Link to a strip that would have been cute if Holly wasn’t giving a stink face in the last panel.

Tom Batiuk,

My sincerest and most heartfelt congratulations on 50 years of Funky Winkerbean.

It may not be perfect… but flawed or not, you’ve created a comic strip that has entertained people for decades.

Even if it wasn’t always in the way you intended.

Thanks for the laughs. Thanks for the memories.

Happy 50th Anniversary, Tom.

Stay Funky.

CBH

45 Comments

Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

45 responses to “A Long Expected Party

  1. The Duck of Death

    100% pure 24k class, CBH. Just classy all the way. And absolutely brilliantly conceived and executed. You care more than Tom Batiuk does, and we love you for it. Here’s to the future of SOSF!

    • Epicus Doomus

      Seconded, simply epic. I’m anxiously looking forward to CBH’s 60th anniversary post already!

  2. William Thompson

    What movie was Holly watching? At first she seemed enthralled by a romance, but her startled reaction is what you’d expect from someone engrossed in a first-rate horror movie . . . . which pretty much describes her life, especially when you imagine what it’s like to be the object of Funky’s romantic urges.

    • Watching “Lisa’s Story” on Netbusters, perhaps.

      • none

        Other strips commemorated milestones like Dick Tracy’s 75th or Gasoline Alley’s 90th (the latter of which had Beetle Bailey mention it weeks after everyone else, for some reason), but there seems to be no mention of it by anyone today. Given the lead time required to coordinate the message, it might be safe to assume that nothing will be made of the 50th at all.

        Therefore I have to thank the author for keeping his ego and celebration limited to his blog. There’s few things which I loathe more than vacuous and unjustified praise, and that would have been all over the strips today had there been an attempt to publicize it as other strips did.

        The last strip should have been the first Sunday entry of the Act III timeline, showing the time skip with Les and Summer on the bench. The end. Everything after that has been worthless.

        • none

          Was going to make an “I got the reference!” post, decided that was dumb, hit cancel, refreshed the page, wrote that post, it ended up in this chain anyway. No way to delete to edit the post.

          Thanks for being as worthless as Act III Funky Winkerbean, WordPress.

  3. Epicus Doomus

    Here’s what I would have done if BatHam let me write the strip. I’d have done a week-long arc where Ghost Lisa visits Les’ pals and thanks them for putting up with the bearded dick with ears for all these years. Funky, Crazy, Cayla, and I don’t know, maybe Summer or Mason or something. Then in the Sunday strip they’d all be at Montoni’s. Les would walk in and they’d all be stupidly smirking at him, at which point he’d angrily storm off. Then in the last panel, Lisa would be looking at the readers and shrugging, like “whaddya gonna do”?

    Fifty years…it really is a pretty impressive feat. The number one song in the US when FW started its run? “Horse With No Name” by America. “The Godfather” was the number one film, “All In The Family” the top rated TV series. I was in the first grade, so my memories of that era are hazy at best. I don’t know what sort of witchcraft Batiuk employed to make it this far, but hey, no matter how you look at it, it’s certainly noteworthy.

    And how fitting that he marks this occasion with a typically lame standalone Sunday strip, with a gag that was tiresome when Ricky did it to Lucy. As far as pop-culture phenomenons are concerned, FW is undoubtedly one of the weirdest.

  4. Sourbelly

    Brilliant work, CBH. Poignant, yet brutally honest. That’s a narrow rope to cross.

  5. sorialpromise

    Congratulations on 50 continuous years, Mr. Batiuk. I am only aware on one other creator doing the same, Mr. Schultz. I do not know if the creators of Dick Tracy, Dennis the Menace, or Blondie made it that far. You are in rarified company. I do know that Berke Breathed, Darby Conley, and Bill Watterson could not do it. I salute you.
    CBH, you are so special. What a nice tribute. This is why I follow SOSF.

    • Epicus Doomus

      Here’s the list of longest running comic strips of all-time:

      The Katzenjammer Kids (1897–2006; 109 years)
      Gasoline Alley (1918–present)
      Ripley’s Believe It or Not! (1918–present)
      Barney Google and Snuffy Smith (1919–present)
      Thimble Theater/Popeye (1919–present)
      Blondie (1930–present)
      Dick Tracy (1931–present)
      Alley Oop (1932–present)
      Bringing Up Father (1913–2000; 87 years)
      Little Orphan Annie (1924–2010; 86 years)

      “Blondie” had been running for FORTY-TWO YEARS when FW debuted! That fact boggles the mind. When TFH shared this list with me, I was totally stunned. While fifty years is an incredible accomplishment, in comic strip terms it’s practically nothing.

      • Bad wolf

        The list unfortunately leaves out the involvement of the original creators with the strips: how long did the originators stay with it, or go from writer/artist to just writer? I just looked over the Alley Oop creator’s wiki and how that went through several generations.

        “In comic strip terms it’s practically nothing” is so crazy but true! The length of a comic strip becomes another dimension to them, somehow, and that they can so outlive their origins is strange and possibly unique. Who can imagine if all TV shows were still “Phil Silvers” and “Jackie Gleason”, reimagined and with a new generation of millennial actors?

      • Green Luthor

        -Katzenjammer Kids: original creator Rudolph Dirks did the strip for 15 years; successor Harold Knerr did 35 years (the longest run of any creator on the strip). (But Dirks was able, after legal action, to launch a “new” strip that was essentially identical after having been off the original for 2 years; that strip (“Hans und Fritz” for the first 4 years, then “The Captain and the Kids” for the rest of its run; Dirks did that strip for 41 years, so technically one could argue he did 56 years, not including the two year gap.)
        -Gasoline Alley: original creator Frank King did 41 years, the current longest run (but current creator Jim Scancarelli has 35 years so far)
        -Ripley’s: original creator Robert Ripley did 30 years; current creator John Graziano has been on for 31 years and has the longest run
        -Barney Google: original creator Billy DeBeck did 29 years; successor Fred Laswell ran a whopping 59 years!
        -Popeye: original creator E.C. Segar did 18 years; the longest run was Bud Sagendorf’s 35 years. (Current creator Hy Eisman has a 27 year run so far.)
        -Blondie: creator Chic Young did 43 years, with his son/successor/current creator Dean Young having a run of 48 years so far.
        -Dick Tracy: creator Chester Gould has the longest run, of 46 years
        -Alley Oop: creator V.T. Hamlin ran for 40 years; successor Dave Graue assisted him for 26 years before taking over the daily strips for five more years until Hamlin retired, then did the strip for 18 more years before having Jack Bender take over finishing chores for the next 10 years; Bender then stayed on for 17 more years. (So Hamlin was on for that 40 years, with Graue doing most of the strips for the last 5; Graue’s total time as a primary creator lasted 33 years, but he worked on the strip for 59 years in total.)
        -Bringing Up Father: creator George McManus had a 41 year run, the longest for any creator
        -Little Orphan Annie: creator Harold Gray had a 44 year run, the longest of any creator

        So it’s not really how long the strip runs, it’s how long the original creator does the strip, or how long any successor stays on. For a strip to run 50 years and still have the original creator actually is pretty impressive; it’s not an achievement too many others have managed, and Batiuk does deserve credit for that, at least.

    • Green Luthor

      Technically, Charles Schulz didn’t actually do Peanuts for a full 50 years; the first strip was October 2 1950, with the final strip February 13 2000, so it fell about 8 months shy of the 50 year mark.

    • sorialpromise

      ComicBookHarriet! You are loved!
      I almost forgot.
      Stay Funky!

  6. Rusty Shackleford

    Congratulations Tom on 50 years. Since you aren’t retiring, would you consider having some fun with this strip?

  7. Gerard Plourde

    CBH,

    That tribute you put together is truly a tour de force! I hope TomBa can continue for another 20 years so, like Queen Elizabeth, Funky Winkerbean (and SOSF) can celebrate a Platinum Jubilee.

  8. erdmann

    Today’s post is perfect and the faux anniversary strips are amazing. By the end, I was surprised by how much sympathy I felt for ol’ Tom. That will change Monday when a smirking Dinkle shows up to sell band turkeys or someone here quotes from Batty’s blog and causes my blood to boil, but that’s Monday.
    Tonight, I bear ill will to no one. Tonight, I want to sincerely congratulate Tom on hitting the big 5-0. That’s one hell of an achievement.

  9. Hitorque

    Bloody brilliant…. Why was I thinking this was 100% real?

    • billytheskink

      If TB was anything like Jim Davis, he’d take CBH’s work here and run it as the real FW for a couple of weeks. The only thing readers would notice was the improvement…

  10. Hitorque

    Let’s do another 50!!

  11. Y. Knott

    Wow. Very nice work, CBH! I mean, of COURSE it was better than Batiuk’s strip, because doing a better job than Batiuk is an extremely low bar. You (and the other regulars here) do that routinely. But this topped even your own very high standards — this was a genuinely enjoyable and even moving post. Thanks for all you do!

  12. William Thompson

    The first FW strip appeared on a Monday. What if Batiuk’s idea of the anniversary date isn’t 27 March but “the last Monday in March”? We could be in for it with the next strip.

    • Jim in Wisc.

      Considering that Batiuk works a year in advance, he either:
      1) Didn’t realize the anniversary was coming up, or
      2) Didn’t plan the publishing calendar correctly.

      • Epicus Doomus

        On one hand, I’m genuinely surprised that he never even mentioned it, but on the other hand, not really. It’s just that it’s such a seemingly major milestone, I really thought he’d do some kind of corny “group shot” thing, with all the characters crammed into one huge Sunday panel or something. And then he did absolutely nothing.

        • Banana Jr. 6000

          Batiuk has a blog post up now (https://funkywinkerbean.com/wpblog/funkys-50th/) that acknowledges the big 5-0. It’s actually pretty humble by his standards, and reveals some early artwork I don’t think we’ve seen. He sullies it by tacking on a needless book promo, though.

          • Rusty Shackleford

            Not too bad, but it seems to me like he is bored and tired of this strip. I just can’t believe he didn’t do a look back, but instead we get this weak Funky and Holly crap.

            He really should retire at this point. Spend more time doing what you want Tom, you’ve earned it.

          • Bad wolf

            Feels to me like someone called him at the last minute. “Oh, yeah, 50th, yeah i was planning something… um.. on my blog.” *hastily boots up, signs into WordPress and uploads a couple of old strips* *runs the bases*

          • Banana Jr. 6000

            You’re right. It’s revealing how little TB wants to talk about FW. Unless it’s about comic book covers, Dinkle, Lisa, or shilling old books nobody wants. And with the 50-year goal now met, there’s no reason to keep it going.

            In a better world, FW would have ended right after Lisa died. That Batiuk didn’t want to deal with the aftermath of Lisa’s death, after he spent a decade slowly killing her, was proof that this strip was out of gas in 2007.

  13. I’ve seen (and created) lots of FW strip “remixes”), but I think this is the first time someone’s built out an entire story arc. Stellar work, CBH! You even replicated TB’s trademark lettering. I stand in line!

    Funky’s 40th anniversary coincided with the 40th anniversary of Montoni’s pizzeria, and occasioned a week’s worth of strips with flashbacks to Act I. TB also did quite a bit of press. It’s odd that he’s being so low key about hitting the half century milestone. But the most recent Batty blog entry makes mention of it, and includes another sweet pic of young TB.

    • Bad wolf

      I just hope CBH didn’t use the lettering technique i tried when i mocked up strips ages ago, moving one letter at a time by MS Paint. That was a long and (by TB standards certainly) stand-out collection of strips indeed!

      Once I did a deep dive and found the website of the guy who provided individualized fonts for comics creators and while he said he created and sold one to TB he did not offer it for general purchase. Unfortunate but understandable, as we can see, almost the only reason to purchase it would be to have fun with the strips the SOSF way!

    • ComicBookHarriet

      Hey! Ians Drunken Beard did a brilliant entire arc on the St Spires choir.

  14. Suicide Squirrel

    Excellent work ComicBookHarriet, and I don’t just mean today’s 50th Anniversary tribute. Your writing all week has been stellar. I have really enjoyed your essays on the ‘Funky Winkerbean’ strip’s formative years and revisiting characters who were special in their own ways. Your essays reminded me that at one time, ‘Funky Winkerbean’ was an enjoyable comic strip. I was so anxious to read your essays I neglected to read the linked daily strip.

    ‘Funky Winkerbean Vintage’ has been in my Comics Kingdom favorites, but I never felt the urge to read sequentially through the archives until this week. In many cases, the humor I’ve rediscovered there has been better than much of the Comic Kingdom’s contemporary offerings.

    When I was a Freshman at Kent State, the schedule of classes featured numerous ‘Funky Winkerbean’ comic strips. ‘Funky Winkerbean’ was one of my favorite comic strips in those days. I thought it was pretty cool to discover Tom Batiuk was an alumnus.

    Most of us can recall a comic strip titled ‘Garfield Minus Garfield’. Your 50th-anniversary strips have, dare I say, a ‘Funky Winkerbean Minus Tom Batiuk’ quality to them. I believed they were real until I recognized some of the strips.

    Some of the snarkers at the Comics Kingdom Funky Winkerbean discussion state they’d like Tom Batiuk to retire. I disagree. I’d miss reading the snark. Please keep up the mediocre work, Mr. Batiuk.

    Plus, I’ve seen some of the new fare Comics Kingdom has introduced lately. Someday all of the older cartoonists will be gone, and the Comics Kingdom will feature more strips like these that are incoherent, talentless, and rely too much on identity politics. Some of the new strips are just plain weird. Is LSD making a comeback?

    • Rusty Shackleford

      Batty would be proud that I went to my local library and picked up vol 1 and 2 of the Funky collection. I enjoyed it as it brought back memories and there were some rediscovered fun strips.

      I’m snarked out so I stand by my wish that he retire. I do agree with you about all the politics in the newer strips. Must everything be politicized?

  15. Suicide Squirrel

    The first thing I did upon arriving at the website this morning was to click the ‘Days until Funky Winkerbean’s 50th Anniversary’ countdown link.

    Is it going to remain at zero, or will tomorrow read “-1”?

  16. Mela

    CBH-your salute is inspired and wonderful!

    TB-Happy 50th anniversary! A 50 year run of anything is amazing-congratulations!

  17. Perfect Tommy

    Well done CBH! Wow, 50 years for our Tommy Boy! I wonder what kind of hoops one has to jump through/Compromising evidence in possession of, to get a syndicated deal these days. Because it looks like the only way out of it is in a wooden box. And even then some get passed on like grandma’s pearls and Singer Sewing Machine Co. stock. Keep on Truckin’.

  18. Green Luthor

    Nice work; it’s honestly a nicer tribute to Funky than Batiuk managed. (I mean, if Batiuk had actually done ANYTHING, it might be a different story, but…)

  19. Happy 50th Anniversary, Funky Winkerbean!

    Today’s strip doesn’t have Les, Ghost Lisa or any Crankshaft characters, so it’s a good strip. In spite of the fact that it has sadly revealed that Funky’s AA meeting didn’t keep him out of the house long enough.

  20. David "PDHS" G.

    I only discovered this site a couple of months ago as I was looking for information about this year’s 50th anniversary of “Funky Winkerbean.” The extended sequence you posted there for day was quite a nice lift for me and helped meet some expectations that I’d had for today after the disappointing non-acknowledgement in today’s Sunday comics sections about the milestone achievement this strip had reached today. (Curious to know how you made it. And, I’m pleased that you depicted the not-quite-old version of Funky here from around a decade ago.) Looking forward now to continuing my exposure to the fun and creative greatness of this strip as go through my current reading of the 1978-80 volume of “The Complete Funky Winkerbean, Vol. 3”!

    • ComicBookHarriet

      Hi David!
      I made it with a lot and lot and lot of time spent with the CK archives and MS paint.

  21. Westview Radiology

    Excellent CBH! The last panel actually choked me up.❤️

  22. be ware of eve hill

    CBH, that’s an incredibly nice salute to Tom Batiuk and his achievement of fifty years. You’re a very sweet person. Today was a day to lower our weapons and salute our “adversary.”

    Funky Winkerbean has been subpar over the last decade and a half, but your blogs this week have shown that the majority of those 50 years were actually decent. Ironically, snarking on the strip over the past four years has been my most enjoyable. Is that ironic or just a coincidence. I can’t tell anymore (thanks a heap, Alanis Morrissette).

    There was some confusion as I read the sequence of strips in the blog post. Where did these strips come from? How did ComicBookHarriet get her hands on these? I finally realized it was a spoof when I read, “Ok… our 60’s Batman stuff is over in the next aisle.” The reaction on Tom’s face. LOL. You got me.

    In my paperback comic collection, there are; three Bloom County books, a Far Side compilation, the first eight Garfield books, a Shoe compilation. Amidst the collection was a Funky Winkerbean paperback full of early 1980s strips titled You Know You’ve Got Trouble When Your School Mascot is a Scapegoat.
    https://funkywinkerbean.com/wpblog/behind-the-books-book-6/

    Busted, I was a fan, and my enjoyment of the strip was enough to make me purchase a collection.

    Tom Batiuk, today you deserve a “You da man!” Thank you for thirty-five years of good comics and another fifteen years of mediocre ones.

    From what I heard, Tom, it snowed in your area last night. Don’t let that put a damper on your day. Take the wife out and celebrate.

  23. Maxine of Arc

    Hear, hear. Beautiful work, CBH, and sincere congrats to Tom Batiuk. My relationship to his work may be complicated, but it is unwavering.