Tom Batiuk's popular Funky Winkerbean made its debut on the comics pages in 1972 and today, appears in more than 400 newspapers worldwide. The cartoonist not only entertains teenagers and adults alike with his portrayal of the students and faculty at Westview High but has earned high marks for his sensitive treatment of important social and educational issues. His groundbreaking series on teen pregnancy, reading impairment dyslexia, teen suicide, teen dating abuse and breast cancer earned Batiuk high marks from fans, educators and community leaders. And because of the popularity of the Harry L. Dinkle character, "The World's Greatest Band Leader," the Funky characters became the first comic-strip stars to march in the Rose Bowl Parade.
Tom Batiuk (rhymes with "attic") was born in Akron, Ohio, in 1947, and his first cartoons were published in his elementary-school newspaper in Elyria. He won a national scholastic art award in high school. After graduating from Kent State University with a bachelor of fine arts degree and a certificate in education, Batiuk became a high school art teacher.
Batiuk's teaching experiences inspired him to create Funky Winkerbean in 1972. What began as a gag-a-day comic strip about high school life evolved as Batiuk himself matured. Through the years, he has stretched the creative boundaries of comic strip narrative humor, introducing real-life issues such as dyslexia, teen suicide, guns in the classroom, racial discrimination, teen-dating abuse, breast cancer, alcoholism and post-traumatic stress disorder into Funky Winkerbean. Batiuk has won accolades and awards from his peers, as well as from educators and professional and civic organizations across the country, for his outstanding treatment of serious social issues. In 2009, University Hospital's Ireland Cancer Center in Cleveland, Ohio, established the Lisa's Legacy Fund, named after one of Batiuk's main characters.
Batiuk has created other strips as well. In 1979, he launched into syndication John Darling, the adventures of a fictional talk-show host featuring celebrity caricatures. In 1987, he created his third comic strip, Crankshaft, based on the irascible school-bus driver in Funky Winkerbean. For more information, please visit www.funkywinkerbean.com
At 46, Funky finds his professional life and his personal life in a brand-new place. Having opened Montoni's in several new locations, including New York City, he is constantly running to keep up with the demands of the franchises. Funky's life these days resembles a game of Whack-A-Mole.
Cory Winkerbean, the 15-year-old son of titular character, Funky, has a permanently laminated detention card from his high school principal.
Les, the former leader of the out crowd and the guy who couldn't climb the rope in gym class, is the single parent of 15-year-old daughter, Summer.
Summer is the 15-year-old daughter of Les Moore. Her mother, Lisa, died of breast cancer when she was a little girl. Being raised by a single father, Summer excels at school and is the high school's must popular basketball superstar.
Crazy Harry is all grown up with a 15-year-old daughter, Maddie, who is just as flaky and fun-loving as he was in high school.
Maddie is the same kind of free-spirited, fun-loving flake that her dad was in high school ... much to her dad's delight and consternation.
Becky, at 33, is the high school band director and mother of the school's most popular girl, Rana.
Rana knows her mother, Becky, wants the best for her ... Rana just wants her mother to stay out of her room. Is that too much to ask?
Bull, the former high school jock, is confused and frustrated as he struggles to bond with his gifted adopted daughter.
Jinx is the adopted daughter of Bull Bushka, the former high school jock and current coach. She is a gifted student, who excels in her school work. But, she isn't a sports phenom, which both confuses and frustrates her father.