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

FunkyWatchNov

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.

I've been doing these monthly roundups of Batiuk and Ayers's particular brand of smirks and sorrows for over four years now, but this month, I actually forgot I had to do it. I'm not sure if it was just the post-Thanksgiving food coma or the hectic transition into December, but for a few days, I was free. And then I remembered, and it all came crashing down. Which, coincidentally, is exactly what happens in this month's strips, so take a deep breath and read on for October's most soul-crushing newspaper strips.

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Funky Dick: ‘Funky Winkerbean’ And ‘Dick Tracy’ Are Crossing Over In January

Dick Tracy and Funky Winkerbean

For some reason, Variety, the Hollywood newspaper known mainly for a tendency to go hard on pun headlines, did a piece today on the endless march of depression that is Funky Winkerbean and how the creeping despair that infests every inch of Westview is actually something of a blessing for the floundering newspaper comics page. It's an interesting take on a brand of misery that we've become pretty familiar with over the years here at ComicsAlliance, but buried towards the end of the article is one of the most exciting announcements I've seen all year:

"In January, Funky characters are slated to meet Dick Tracy, who is published by a different syndicate, the result of a meeting with Dick Tracy artist Joe Staton at a comics convention."

Please, Santa Claus, if you're listening, let this be a story about Dick Tracy being called in to investigate the murder of Les Moore.

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

FunkyOct

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.

A few days ago, I wrote a little about how there aren't a lot of characters that I hate as though they were actual people, but let me tell you: After October's Funky Winkerbean strips, There is not an amount of money in my possession that I would not give for a chance to punch Les Moore right in his stupid, smirking face. I've been doing this column long enough that even the most harrowing depths of the Funkyverse don't really depress me, but last month, I learned that his self-satisfied smirk can still provoke a white-hot rage. Join me, won't you?

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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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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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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

FunkyJun00

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

FunkyMar

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.

I'll admit it, folks. I did not think it was possible. After February rocked through the month with an actual appearance by Death itself, I did not think that things could get any darker. Oh, what a fool was I. Not only do things get darker this month, but they go with a full-on body count of 16 people, plus the potential for even more cancer than before. And that's before we get to the torturous pain of Crankshaft. I'll warn you now, everyone:this is not the day to stop sniffing glue.

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