Keeping it Funky: Tom Batiuk

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Funky Winkerbean

A few years back, I got to speak with cartoonist Tom Batiuk about the fortieth anniversary of his strip, Funky Winkerbean. And then something happened that doesn't often happen to comic strip artists.

Tom got nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. And then he was a finalist for the award.

The notice came for Tom's work on the Funky Winkerbean strip that focused on a longtime favored character developing breast cancer. The strips were collected into three volumes, to bring LISA'S LEGACY to the world.

So when I was told that Tom was going to be in St. Louis on a book signing tour, I jumped at the opportunity to talk with him a little bit more (and couldn't resist bringing my first four volumes of THE COMPLETE FUNKY WINKERBEAN with me, because it couldn't hurt, right?) about this incredible journey he's been taking through the funny pages.

After the interview, the Union Station hotel dimmed the lights in the lobby (fortunately we finished just in time, as they weren't consulting us on it) and suddenly the entire domed ceiling was transformed into an undersea aquarium. Tom and I stood watching sharks, whales, sea turtles and jellyfish swarm all over the place as we fell into the immersive (or perhaps submersive) experience.

And, yes, he signed the books. He even drew a character in each one, which was above and beyond, as we talked about found photographs and our shared love of comic books.

Keep it Funky, Tom!