Monday, March 25, 2013


My pal Tom Batiuk’s Funky Winkerbean comic strip was played mostly
for laughs in the mid-1970s, but one strip in The Complete Funky
Winkerbean: Volume 2, 1975-1977
[Kent State University Press; $45]
was unexpectedly sobering.  Dated July 26, 1975, its three panels
show the teenage Funky watching TV.  The unseen commentator on the
screen says:

Finally, in tonight’s news...

...and this’ll kill ya...

...Congress has given up in its attempt to pass strong gun control

That was 38 years and so many senseless school and public shootings
ago. That was 38 years and so many innocent lives cut short by gun
violence ago.  I had to stop reading the book for a while before I
could continue to enjoy the collected strips.

There was always a contemporary feel to Funky Winkerbean.  Subjects
such as school busing and the anxiety over segregation were touched
upon so gently that the reader barely notices the edge Batiuk was
able to bring to these topics. 

The book contains the staples of high-school-based comedy.  There
are the perky cheerleaders, the nerds who pine for them, the coach
only slightly less pathetic than his incompetent players, teachers
trying to prepare their students for a life in uncertain times and
all the rest.  But there are also those insane touches I remember
fondly almost four decades later: the cheerleader who sets herself
on fire via flaming baton with alarming frequency, the kid living
in a locker that must be some form of Tardis and the all-powerful
computer who screws up class scheduling because it is distracted by
its love for Star Trek.  Fun stuff.

Amazon is currently selling the book for a third off its list price
and that works out to about ten bucks apiece for each of the three
years collected in this book.  Go for it.

ISBN 978-1-60635-151-2


Two of my Marvel Comics stories are scheduled to be reprinted later
this year.  Captain Universe: The Hero Who Could Be You #1 [$7.99]
reprints the short story in which a toddler, based on my son Eddie
at that age, gains the power of Captain Universe.  It was drawn by
Steve Ditko and features some surprise guest stars.  This special
104-page comic book also collects Marvel Spotlight #9-11 from 1979
plus material from Marvel Fanfare #25, Web of Spider-Man Annual #6
and What If? #31.  The other writers are Captain Universe creator
Bill Mantlo, Gerry Conway and Glenn Herdling.  In addition to the
stories drawn by Ditko, there are Captain Universe tales drawn by
June Brigman and Scott McDaniel.

More expensive is Marvel Masterworks: the Fantastic Four Vol. 15
[$69.99] featuring stories written by Roy Thomas, Gerry Conway, Len
Wein, Marv Wolfman, Chris Claremont and, for one tale, yours truly.
The volume collects Fantastic Four #151-163, Giant-Size Fantastic
r #3-4 and Marvel Treasury Edition #2 with art by Rich Buckler,
Bob Brown and John Buscema.  

That’s all for today as I work on some other projects.  If you come
back tomorrow, you’ll find me rhapsodizing about Chupacabra vs. the
.  Because someone has to fall on that grenade for you.

© 2013 Tony Isabella

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