Death Comes to Funky Winkerbean
And yes, I’m aware that sounds like an amusing punchline, but actually it’s been quite moving — or as moving as something in comic strips can be — as the character of Lisa dies after a long struggle against cancer (this impetus for this topic being “Winkerbean”cartoonist Tom Batiuk’s own cancer fight). Above is the penultimate strip in her comic strip mortality; it officially all ends tomorrow.
I’ve been surprised how much I’ve been caught up with it. I really wasn’t a Funky Winkerbean reader when I was younger; it was just another vaguely lame comic strip when I was growing up. But apparently at some point Batuik decided to age his characters like they were in the real world, and also had them deal with some real world problems to go along with the punchlines. It made a difference when I finally started paying attention to the strip a couple of years ago, and now with the Lisa story line I have to say that it’s been the first thing I open the newspaper to when I get it every day. This morning my newspaper was missing, and I was severely annoyed; fortunately the strip is online.
I suspect that the reason this particular storyline has gotten to me is that I’m just now old enough to know people my age who have had cancer or other life-threatening diseases; I’m just now old enough to fear the loss of a spouse. Mortality, while not yet terribly concrete, is neither just an abstract concept anymore, either. Batiuk is doing a good job of pressing my buttons at the moment. It’s a reminder that stories that affect us can come out of anywhere — even out of “Funky Winkerbean.”