Long-Running Comic ‘Funky Winkerbean’ Plans Gay Prom Storyline


Cartoonist Tom Batiuk, author of the long-running comic Funky Winkerbean, is planning a month-long storyline starting April 30 which focuses on a gay student who wants to go to prom, the Chronicle Telegram reports:

“It struck me that whenever I sit in classes at Midview High, which I still do, my overall impression is that the younger generation’s attitudes toward gays is more open and accepting than their predecessors,” Batiuk said. “It’s not perfect, but it shows promise for an emerging generation that will bring this issue (intolerance) to an end. I wanted to take those two opposing viewpoints to reach across that divide of intolerance.”

The upcoming same-sex storyline will be one of the strip’s most socially significant since publication of “Lisa’s Story,” Batiuk’s 2008 Pulitzer finalist about the battle one of his strip’s central characters had with breast cancer. The story eventually morphed into an award-winning book published by Kent State University Press.

Batiuk also has tackled teen pregnancy, suicide, alcoholism and teen dating violence in the comic's 40 years, according to the paper. Funky Winkerbean appears in more than 400 newspapers nationwide.


  1. dekkoparsnip says

    Of course, it being a Funky Winkerbean strip, they well both end up sad and miserable and sickly and alone.

    All snark aside, good for Batiuk. I hope the couple shows up randomly to taunt Crankshaft as well.

  2. gregory brown says

    I didn’t know FW was still running. I don’t read the right papers. I used to enjoy it in the TOLEDO BLADE, which was one of the few things enjoyable in Toledo. FW and the wonderful Canadian strip FOR BETTER OR WORSE, which was progressive and treated social issues in remarkably thoughtful ways, brightened days for years.

  3. anon says

    The recent basketball state champ story was one of the only ‘Happy Ending’ stories he’s done in the strip. Almost all the others are very downbeat. You forgot “murder” in the list of things featured in the strip over the years.

  4. BEAHBEAH says

    I had no idea this was real. On an episode of The Simpsons years ago, the family goes to a parade and there’s a Funky Winkerbean balloon in it (there’s also a Noid balloon). Bart comments on how they get the lamest floats/balloons.

    Finding out this is real just makes that more hilarious. But good on them for addressing more progressive issues. I wonder what papers this strip runs in, I’ve never seen it and I’ve lived all over the place.

  5. bobbyjoe says

    Wagering may now begin on the exact time, to the minute, when Tony Perkins will release his latest conniption fit over this.

  6. jim says

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  7. KT says

    So, should we run a pool how many newspaper are going to drop these strips? I wager on 54. Good for Batiuk. I used to read Funky Winkerbean everyday but it became very depressing so I moved on. Still, its good to see progress being made in the comics (considering half of them seem stuck in the 1960s).

  8. Henry Holland says

    “Of course, it being a Funky Winkerbean strip, they well both end up sad and miserable and sickly and alone”

    Sad, but so very true. As the Comics Curmudgeon would say “The Funkyverse, where hope and joy go to die a miserable death”.

    “(considering half of them seem stuck in the 1960s)”

    Haha, try the 30’s > 50’s! I love what’s called legacy strips, like Beetle Bailey (started 1950), Mary Worth (1938!), Hi & Lois (1954), Judge Parker (1952), Rex Morgan MD (1948), Mark Trail (1946)….mmmmm….Mark Trail….mmmmmm.

  9. Grateful says

    I am deeply grateful that Mr. Batiuk is doing this. The newspapers that drop the strip can go to hell. I’d like know exactly who they are — if there are any — so I can write nasty letters to their advertisers.

    I grew up with Funky, Les, Crankshaft, etc. This warms my heart, big time. It almost feels like retro-active comfort. I most definitely could have used a positive message about “who I am” back then.

  10. says

    I’ve read “Funky Winkerbean” since the days when it was a quirky humor strip, and while it does sometimes get heavy nowadays, I still enjoy it (it’s not just that the subject matter has gotten more serious – the humor has gotten gentler as well, in the FBOFW vein). That said, this is a very bold move on Batiuk’s part, given the age of most newspaper readers and the kind of “safe” expectations they have of comic strips. There’s another write-up on today’s “Daily Cartoonist”: http://dailycartoonist.com/index.php/2012/04/20/tom-batiuk-writes-month-long-series-on-gay-teens/

  11. TonyJazz says

    I’ve subscribed to Funky Winkerbean (and the counterpart, Crankshaft) for five years now via an online service….

    Now, I’m really pleased that I’ve spent the time I have following his stories….

    And I look forward to seeing how this story line develops and concludes….

  12. Jim says

    I thought there was a gay character a long time ago in the strip – or perhaps it was another that appeared in the Omaha World Herald. There were a number of letters to the editor complaining about it at the time and eventually the character left the scene.

  13. Brian Henke says

    The Cincinnati Post dropped Funky in 1992, and the San Antonio Express-News dropped it in early 1994.