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Tom Batiuk

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

FunkyWatchJan

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.

For most people, a new year represents a fresh new start, but for Batiuk, 2014 is apparently the year he gets down to friggin' business in his flagship strip. After letting Crankshaft handle the majority of the despair over the past few months, January marked a return in force to Funky Winkerbean being the single most depressing thing in the newspaper. Not just the comics page, you understand, but the entire newspaper. Seriously, this month is all bankruptcy and land mines. Don't say I didn't warn you.

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FunkyWatch: December’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.

One of my Christmas gift this year came from devoted FunkyWatch reader and radio DJ Evan "Funk" Davies, who gave me a year-long membership to King Features' Comics Kingdom website. Not only does this give me access to an archive of high-res Funky and Crankshaft strips, but it also means that I can have those strips emailed to me so that they're the very first thing I see when I wake up every single day for the entirety of 2014. Maybe "gift" is not the right word, but "Christmas horrifying curse" doesn't really sound right. Either way Batiuk and Chuck Ayers closed out this past year with all the uplifting joy you'd expect from a month marked by bitter cold and seasonal depression. Let's get to it!

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FunkyWatch: November’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.

Before we dive into the horrors that November had to offer, a quick word of warning. I've been doing this column for, what, three years now? It's been a long time, and I've seen a lot of pretty grim stuff from Batiuk and Ayers, but this month... This month is quite possibly the single most depressing month of theFunkyverse that I have ever seen. It is unceasing, unstoppable, wall to wall hate, bitterness and misfortune. Even more than it usually is, I mean. Don't say I didn't warn you.

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

FunkyOct00

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.

You know those episodes of Buffy about how demons and vampires tend to take Halloween off because they see it as amateur night? It seems Tom Batiuk is the same way. Rather than building up to one single tragedy when we're all in the mood for horror and hauntings, he spreads the misery out, focusing on different vignettes about the slow death of joy in Westview -- and also his strange delusion about how high school marching bands are something a lot of people care about.

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

FunkyWatchSep

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.

Usually, Tom Batiuk prefers to highlight the more existential problems of the human condition like depression, alcoholism or being Les More, but September brought an interesting new twist: Physical violence! Yes, between the multiple concussions from football injuries, an actual attempt at vehicular manslaughter and the physical consequences of attempting to care about another human being, things get pretty rough for the Funkyverse this month, even by the usual standards. Needless to say, I am thoroughly delighted by this turn of events.

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

FunkyAug00

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 summer (jokes about explosive cookouts) fades into fall (jokes about homework), August finds the Funkyverse in a transitional period. While there are a few storylines going on in this month's strips, they're mostly just getting things in order for the next big stories -- but since this is Funky Winkerbean we're talking about, that just means that instead of horror and depression at what's actually going on, it's horror and depression about what's going to happen.

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

FunkyJul00

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.

Incidentally, I just realized that I'm a month into my fourth year of annotating Funky and its various miseries, and if you were wondering if that fact made me sit down and think long and hard about the choices I've made in my life, the answer is yes. Then again, existing in a hell of my own making does give me a unique insight into these characters and the world in which they live, so I guess that makes it a win-win. For everyone except me, I mean.

Oh, by the way, this month's comics are mostly about old men having sex. You may want to prepare for that.

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FunkyWatch: June’s Most Depressing ‘Funky Winkerbean’ Comic 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.

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

funkywatchmain

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.

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

funkymar

Thanks to Josh Fruhlinger at the Comics Curmudgeon, I started reading Tom Batiuk's long-running newspaper comic strips, Funky Winkerbean and Crankshaft. For those of you who aren't familiar with it, what started as a strip full of wacky high-school hijinx

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