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Chuck Ayers

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

FunkyWatchFeb

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'm not going to lie to you, folks: Tommy B was in rare form last month. After crushing every ounce of hope I had left in me with January's monumentally disappointing Dick Tracy crossover, I assumed, having never learned my lesson about assumptions in the years that I've been reading this strip, that February would bring an upswing in quality. I mean, mathematically speaking, it would almost have to. And yet, Funky Winkerbean continues to defy all expectations. These strips might not have made me quite as angry as January's did, but believe me, folks: they get dark, even by Westview standards.

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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 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 have been writing this column for four and a half years now, and I can tell you with absolutely no uncertainty that I have never been as angry with Funky Winkerbean as I am right now. I mean, don't get me wrong, I've been mad at this thing before, but never before has it been the pure, incandescent rage of betrayal at declaring the crossover of the year, only to have it stink up the joint like a bucket of dead fish. But I think I'm getting ahead of myself. Fortunately, we've got all the usual misery to take my mind off it.

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

FunkyDec00

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.

The end of the year is always a time for reflection, and for me, that came today when I logged into Comics Kingdom and reupped for another year of the service that sends me each day's Funky Winkerbean and Crankshaft strip first thing in the morning, thus ensuring that I start off each day by experiencing the worst of the human condition. So as we dive into this month's strips and all the reminders that death is the only respite from the horrors of life, keep in mind that I have once again done this to myself.

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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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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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