I'm not even kidding a little bit when I say that the Comic-Con event I was looking forward to the most was the 40th Anniversary of Funky Winkerbean panel featuring the strip's creator, Tom Batiuk. As the record will show, I am thoroughly obsessed with Funky and the various miseries Batiuk heaps on its characters, and I was genuinely looking forward to hearing him talk about the choices he's made in the strip.

Sadly, Batiuk was unable to attend Comic-Con, a fact that somehow managed to go unreported to me, fellow Funky devotee Jen Vaughn, and the other people who showed up this morning for the panel. But on the bright side, it did give me the opportunity to steal Batiuk's nameplate as my one and only souvenir of Comic-Con 2012.Well, I say "steal," but in reality I just mentioned that I wanted it and one of the convention organizers told me it was totally okay to take it. I think she was trying to give us a consolation prize for the panel not happening, but really, she didn't need to.

After all, going into a room with high hopes and having them slowly crushed as disappointment sets in over time is pretty much the ideal Funky Winkerbean experience, even moreso than asking Batiuk about why he chose to put an adorable kitten in danger in the latest storyline (yes, really). It was even better -- if that's the word I'm looking for -- since the Funky fans in the rows in front of me were having a discussion about how they thought My Little Pony probably sucked (they hadn't seen it) and how Green Arrow is "like another Batman, except Batman has bulletproof armor and Green Arrow just has a hood."

It was perfect, which is why Jen and I opted to end our panel experience by re-creating Batiuk's signature smirk in the panel room:

The Comic-Con website lists the cancellation, but doesn't list a reason why, so if Batiuk's taken ill, I'd like to sincerely wish him a speedy recovery, and, since I didn't get to say it in person, a wholehearted congratulations on 40 years in comics!

More From ComicsAlliance