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.