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

FunkyWatch

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 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.

After last month hit rock bottom with the worst Funky Winkerbean strips on record, I was dreading diving into September's offerings even more than usual. That said, it seems like Batiuk has decided to take the month off from pure despair, instead taking a hard left turn into a set of comics that make absolutely no sense. Unless you count the one where an elderly woman is so frustrated with her neighbors that she literally renounces God, I mean. That one could really go either way.

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Venezuelan Cartoonist Rayma Suprani Fired After Criticizing Hugo Chavez

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Sometimes we comics fans can get so bogged down in the minutiae of whether characters we like are being treated the way we think they should that we forget that some cartoonists actually risk their livelihoods -- and occasionally their lives -- to make comics.

Trouble can arise even over seemingly innocuous points. Consider the case of Venezuelan cartoonist Rayma Suprani, who was fired from her job at the El Universal newspaper over a cartoon about health care.

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Chris Ware’s Very Chris Ware New Comic ‘Last Saturday’ To Be Serialized Online At The Guardian

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Chris Ware has tested a whole lot of different formats for his graphic novels, including massively over-sized books, joke books, and craft sets. Now, he's sort of going back to the early roots of comics, publishing a weekly strip on the website of British newspaper The Guardian, titled 'The Last Saturday'.

The first installment of the strip was published Saturday, Sept. 13, with a brief introduction. The apparent premise is that the comic will follow the lives of six characters, all from the town of Sandy Port, Michigan, and presumably all riddled with self-deprecation and insecurity. It is a Ware work, after all.

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FunkyWatch: August 2014 Was Funky Winkerbean & Crankshaft’s Most Depressing Ever

FunkyWatch: August 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.

This month... oh brother, this month. Tom Batiuk's offerings over the past few weeks have made August 2014, without question, the single worst and most mind-bogglingly bizarre month on record. If you haven't been reading my recaps of the strip over the past few years, this is the one you're going to want to start with, if only to see how completely irate one man can get over a newspaper comic strip about a man trying to write a made-for-cable movie about his dead wife.

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Buy This Book: Mickey Mouse Color Sundays Volume 2: Robin Hood Rides Again

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Listen: I love Robin Hood. Outside of Dracula, who I think we can all agree is pretty great, he's probably my favorite public domain character in the history of fiction, and between the sidekicks, the secret headquarters, the recognizeable costume and the uneasy relationship with local law enforcement, he's pretty much a direct ancestor to the kind of superheroes that we have today. So really, if there was anything that was going to get me back to being excited about the hardcovers reprinting Floyd Gottfredson's Mickey Mouse strips after the last volume left such a bad taste in my mouth, Mickey going on an adventure with Robin Hood was going to be the thing that did it.

Which, as it turns out, is exactly what they did. The latest Mickey volume from Fantagraphics is a collection of Gottfredson's full-color Sunday strips from 1936 to 1938 -- plus a whole bunch of bonus features from his later career -- that includes "The Robin Hood Adventure." And folks, this one isn't just a great story from a great creator, it's the kind of story where I want to just start grabbing people on the street and telling them they have to read it, because it's one of the weirdest things I have ever read.

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Bill Watterson’s ‘Pearls Before Swine’ Artwork Raises $62,000 To Benefit Parkinson’s Disease Research

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Even those of you who don't keep up with daily newspaper comic strips probably heard about Bill Watterson's secret return to comics earlier this year. In a storyline in Stephan Pastis's Pearls Before Swine, Pastis was briefly replaced by a second-grader named Libby, who claimed she could draw the strip far better than Pastis had been. While the strip was running, Pastis hinted at a "mind-blowing surprise" for readers, and he definitely delivered when he revealed that "Libby" was actually the legendary creator of Calvin & Hobbes, brought back to comics for the first time since 1995.

As you might expect, this was a pretty big deal, but became even bigger this week when Watterson's three strips were sold at auction, raising $62,000 to benefit Parkinson's Disease research.

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

FunkyWatch

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.

After last month's strips involved an intervention from the Almighty Himself voicing his disapproval for even the slightest bit of happiness, you might think that Tommy B would take a few weeks to ease off the pressure a little bit, but you would be a fool. A fool. Things never actually get any better in the Batiukverse, and never is that more evident than this month, when the strip heads to that most nightmarish of all places: San Diego Comic-Con. Seriously.

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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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