Friends and neighbors, it is truly a blessed day: Funky/Dick is finally here.
A few months back, we found an announcement buried in an article in Variety, of all places, that revealed plans for ComicsAlliance's two favorite comic strips, Funky Winkerbean and Dick Tracy, to cross over at the start of the year. Now, the day has come, and there is a very good chance that Les Moore will either be violently murdered or framed for murder. If I was a betting man, I'd put money on the latter, but in my heart, I know I'm hoping for the former.
Q: How did Dick Tracy solve the case of Li'l Orphan Annie's disappearance and was it appropriately insane? -- @willwise3
A: Oh Will. Will, Will, Will. I want to take a moment to thank you for letting me talk about what is unquestionably the single greatest crossover of the year. For those of you who may have missed it, the Little Orphan Annie comic strip ended a while back with what has to be the most harrowing cliffhanger to ever hit the newspaper page. After eighty years of adventures, Annie went out in the middle of a story where she'd been kidnapped by an actual war criminal called the Butcher of the Balkans, locked up on a boat bound for an unknown shore, with Daddy Warbucks wondering if he would ever see his beloved daughter again. Seriously, that was the last strip, and Annie's final fate until it was announced that Dick Tracy would step up and solve the case last summer.
As for whether or not that story was "insane," well, let me put it this way: It involves SUPER-POWERED MOON PEOPLE, ATOMIC WEAPONS, AND A TIME MACHINE.
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.
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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