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FunkyWatch: June’s Most Depressing ‘Funky Winkerbean’ And ‘Crankshaft’ Strips

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Over the past 40 years, Tom Batiuk’s Funky Winkerbean has transitioned from a gag-a-day comic strip about a high school to an ongoing chronicle of pure, abject misery. Thanks to the ongoing commentary on Josh Fruhlinger’s Comics Curmudgeon, I am now completely obsessed with it, which is why I spend a little time every month rounding up its finest examples of crushing despair.

This month, Batiuk took to the page to chronicle a few things that, if you weren't familiar with how this strip actually worked, would seem to be a few of life's happier moments: There's a marriage for Wally and Rachel, a trip out west for Les to work on the movie based on his most successful book, and in Crankshaft, it's summertime and the bus drivers are off on vacation! If, however you are familiar with how this strip works, then you'll know that this is all pretty much just setup for misery, hatred, and the actual wrath of God Himself. In other words, it's business as usual in Westview.

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IDW To Publish First Ever Collection Of Golden Age Wonder Woman Newspaper Comic Strips

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In the Golden Age of Comic Books, newspaper strips were still considered to be the dominant and far more respectable form of sequential art. They had, after all, been around for a while before Action Comics #1 rolled around and introduced the superhero, producing enduring and beloved characters like Flash Gordon, Prince Valiant, and even helping to popularize Mickey Mouse. As a result, the creators of these upstart superhero comics were pretty keen to get in on the deal, resulting in newspaper strips based on Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman, often produced by the creators of the original comic books.

The Batman and Superman strips have been reprinted over the years, but the Wonder Woman newspaper strip, which ran from 1943 to1944, never has, until now. IDW Publishing has announced that it's collecting the strip's entire two-year run into a single hardcover, set to be released later this year.

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Gorgeous ‘Little Nemo’ Anthology From Paul Pope, Cliff Chiang, Jill Thompson & Others Turns To Kickstarter

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Publisher Locus Moon press has been working on the new anthology book, Little Nemo: Dream Another Dream, for about two years now, and it's asking for fans to help make the long journey come to fruition.

The book,which tasks creators including Paul Pope, John Cassaday, Jill Thompson, Cliff Chiang, J.H. Williams III, Craig Thompson, Carla Speed McNeil, Mike Allred and Roger Langridge, with drawing new, full-page Little Nemo strips in the style of series creator Winsor McCay, will come out in the fall if Locus Moon can raise $50,000 via Kickstarter. The project launched Monday morning, and by mid-afternoon, it was at around $13,000. Not a bad start.

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Crossover Of The Year: Dick Tracy To Solve The Mystery Of Little Orphan Annie’s Cancelation Cliffhanger

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In the world of superhero comics, it's pretty safe to say that readers have become pretty well-accustomed to crossovers. In the big shared universes at Marvel and DC Comics, characters show up regularly in each other's books all the time, and even if they're keeping to themselves, there's always the big, universe-spanning event comics that are rolling out like clockwork to bundle them all together for your reading enjoyment -- or for your reading, at least.

In the world of newspaper strips, however, that sort of thing is much more rare. Sure, you occasionally get stuff like Tom Batiuk arranging for a shockingly boring cross-time comic book sale in Crankshaft and Funky Winkerbean, but even that's pretty small and confined to one character.

As a result, it's always notable when the newspaper characters start jumping into each other's strips. Especially when it's two-fisted cop Dick Tracy gearing up to rescue Little Orphan Annie from the clutches of a murdering terrorist known only as "The Butcher of the Balkans," a thing that is actually happening iny our newspaper right now.

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Bill Watterson Returns to the Comics Page in ‘Pearls Before Swine’ by Stephan Pastis

Pearls Before Swine
Stephan Pastis/Bill Watterson

Bill Watterson, the legendary creator of the beloved 'Calvin and Hobbes' comic strip, has returned to the comics pages in Stephan Pastis' 'Pearls Before Swine.'

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FunkyWatch: May’s Most Depressing ‘Funky Winkerbean’ And ‘Crankshaft’ Strips

FunkyWatch for May 2014

Over the past 40 years, Tom Batiuk’s Funky Winkerbean has transitioned from a gag-a-day comic strip about a high school to an ongoing chronicle of pure, abject misery. Thanks to the ongoing commentary on Josh Fruhlinger’s Comics Curmudgeon, I am now completely obsessed with it, which is why I spend a little time every month rounding up its finest examples of crushing despair.

One of the interesting things about the FunkyVerse -- well, interesting to me as someone who obsesses over this endless march towards oblivion to a truly unhealthy degree -- is that there seems to be a sort of tradeoff between the two strips. Crankshaft has traditionally been the more lighthearted and pun-based experience (relatively speaking), but whenever Funky dips its toes out of the miasma of despair and decides to do a little slapstick comedy, Crankshaft takes up the slack so that the total amount of depression remains unchanged. And that's how you get three-panel gags about drone strikes. Seriously.

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New York Times Refuses To Print #YesAllWomen Comic By Michael Kupperman And David Rees

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The newspaper comics page often has a surprising amount of political (and simply depressing) content in its colorful panels, but a comic about the feminist #YesAllWomen hashtag and “men’s rights activists” by Get Your War On‘s David Rees and Tales Designed to Thrizzle’s Michael Kupperman proved to be too much for the New York Times editorial page.

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Read Restored Strips From ‘Tarzan In The City Of Gold’ By Comics Master Burne Hogarth [Preview]

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"Aware that he was going to work for a competing syndicate, Foster sought to leave Tarzan on such an artistic high note that he would be impossible to replace.

"He hadn't reckoned on 25-year-old Burne Hogarth."

That passage from Scott Tracy Griffin's introduction to Tarzan In The City Of Gold is as bold a statement as any I can think of to compel a comics and illustration fan to pay attention. The young Hogarth did indeed hold his own against the legendary Prince Valiant creator Foster, going on to illustrate (and sometimes write) nearly 600 Tarzan strips between 1937 and 1950, of which the first 150 or so are beautifully restored and reprinted in a new deluxe volume from Titan Books.

ComicsAlliance presents an exclusive four-strip preview of Tarzan In The City Of Gold, a story that's at once a treat for aficionados of classic comic strip illustration and a gorgeous introduction to the form courtesy of one of its most accomplished masters.

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‘Umbrella Academy’ Creator Gerard Way Dramatizes Twitter In New Comic Strip Starring Cats

Twitter Gerard Way Comic
Gerard Way

Umbrella Academy creator and former My Chemical Romance frontman/recently announced solo artist Gerard Way has a huge Twitter following -- 740,000 followers -- and he's good about using it to share his comic book work. For example, he used his Twitter account as a springboard for his new comic starring cats, All Ages.

Still, he doesn't seem to be the biggest fan of the way some users abuse the social media platform. At least not according to his new comic on The Talkhouse, in which he imagines a Twitter-style conversation between two cat people in a house.

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FunkyWatch: April’s Most Depressing ‘Funky Winkerbean’ And ‘Crankshaft’ Strips

FunkyWatchApr

Over the past 40 years, Tom Batiuk’s Funky Winkerbean has transitioned from a gag-a-day comic strip about a high school to an ongoing chronicle of pure, abject misery. Thanks to the ongoing commentary on Josh Fruhlinger’s Comics Curmudgeon, I am now completely obsessed with it, which is why I spend a little time every month rounding up its finest examples of crushing despair.

As noted by T.S. Eliot in The Wasteland, everyone's favorite super-pretentious reference, April is the cruelest month, and it seems that Tom Batiuk has taken that to heart. After going all out with a military tragedy that left sixteen dead in last month's strips, this month's have involved a young woman going to prison to confront the man who murdered her father, and also some jokes about collecting comics. Here's what's bananas: It's the bit in the prison with the murderer that made me laugh the hardest. Look at that panel up there! It's hilarious!

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