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October 1, 2007

Memo to Tom Batiuk Regarding Monday’s Funky

Put her out of her f****** misery already. Seriously, it’s perverse to torture even a fictional character this way.


  1. AGREED! I never knew that a comic on the FUNNY PAGES was supposed to make you want to slit your wrists on a daily basis! First Funky’s raging alcoholism, now this… Funky SUCKS!

    Comment by Laurie Wylie — October 1, 2007 @ 8:17 am

  2. Batiuk usually saves his biggies for the Sunday strip. Hopefully he’ll digress for a bit this week and not give us a daily dose. I know a real person in a similar stage and trust me, I do NOT cut these out and save them for her.

    Comment by padraig — October 1, 2007 @ 2:46 pm

  3. Today went just a bit too far.

    Comment by Charlene — October 1, 2007 @ 4:46 pm

  4. I figure we’ll see one major system shut down every few days until Batiuk decides he’s pulled enough legs off his spider.

    Comment by Cidu Bill — October 1, 2007 @ 4:56 pm

  5. You know, there was a less grotesque way he could have done this: They’ve already announced a collection of the strips leading up to Lisa’s death. The daily newspaper strip could have ended a few weeks ago with a dignified farewell to the character — perhaps right after she recorded the message for her daughter — and then jumped ahead 10 years (which it is going to do after her death). Anybody interested in watching Lisa’s death throes in graphic detail could have bought the book.

    Comment by Cidu Bill — October 1, 2007 @ 5:01 pm

  6. It’s just – I suppose I see what Batiuk’s trying to show, but I don’t think he’s doing it well.

    There are a lot of sadly deluded people out there who think that one must “die with dignity”. In reality, nobody dies with dignity, whether at home, hospital, or hospice. It doesn’t happen. Even sudden deaths aren’t dignified – many people who die of heart attacks, strokes, accidents, etc. vomit, bleed, lose control of their bladder and bowels, and have horrific seizures.

    I blame those TV movies of the week that show Jaclyn Smith or Holly Hunter or whoever sitting around with their loved ones then suddenly, and beautifully, just closing their eyes and dying. Death is normally not like that. It’s messy, unpleasant, and completely and totally undignified, and nothing can be done about it.

    What used to be called ‘death agonies’ are still for the most part unavoidable. The best those of us among us with money can do is to pay to have them lessened with professional caregivers and (above all) drugs.

    Which makes me wonder: at the level of morphine Lisa’s probably taking now, is she even going to be alert enough to freak out over not seeing? Yes, tolerance reduces the side effects of morphine use, but as tolerance increases so must the dose.

    Comment by Charlene — October 1, 2007 @ 6:50 pm

  7. Scratching my head, I dug up Funky to see what the fuss was about. Shoulda left it where it was – not in my mind.

    Society must be pretty comfortable if a _cartoonist_ feels compelled to share deep pointless terminal anguish on the _funny_pages_ as some kind of social commentary.

    Mr. Batiuk: death sucks. We know that. Most of us have dealt with it one way or another, and don’t want to make a point of deliberately avoiding the subject when we turn to the one part of the newspaper designed to distract us from our daily exposure to tragedy. It’s not censorship to say: please, take that material somewhere else.

    Comment by ctdonath — October 1, 2007 @ 9:55 pm

  8. By the way – according to

    “For the first time in a comic strip, Funky Winkerbean creator Tom Batiuk has depicted the death of a young wife and mother from the recurrence of breast cancer. Lisa Moore, a major character who is battling breast cancer for a second time, succumbs to the disease on Oct. 4, 2007, leaving behind her husband, Les, and their five year-old daughter, Summer.”

    At least she only has 3 more days of misery. Rest in peace.

    Comment by Laurie Wylie — October 1, 2007 @ 10:35 pm

  9. For the first time in a comic strip, Funky Winkerbean creator Tom Batiuk has depicted the death of a young wife and mother from the recurrence of breast cancer.

    And this is a good thing?

    Comment by Cidu Bill — October 1, 2007 @ 11:12 pm

  10. Well it’s certainly notable. Infamous even. Clearly someone thought it was a good *idea*, if not a good *thing*.

    Comment by Powers — October 2, 2007 @ 7:29 am

  11. Grow up,people! This is art imitating life, and it isn’t always funny. That’s just the way it is.

    Comment by Big Daddy — October 2, 2007 @ 9:46 am

  12. Not all of life belongs on the comics page, though

    Comment by Cidu Bill — October 2, 2007 @ 10:07 am

  13. cancer cancer cancer pizza cancer cancer blindness cancer cancer mailbomb cancer cancer


    Comment by Rasheed — October 2, 2007 @ 10:23 am

  14. If David Willis had never done anything else, I think he’d be remembered for Funky Cancercancer and his strip about Frank Miller.

    Okay, and throw in any of his “I’m Batman” strips.

    Comment by Cidu Bill — October 2, 2007 @ 10:27 am

  15. Rasheed: sing it to the tune of “Badger Badger Badger”:

    cancer cancer cancer cancer cancer cancer cancer cancer cancer cancer cancer cancer BLINDNESS BLINDNESS

    Comment by Mark — October 2, 2007 @ 10:57 am

  16. My issue isn’t that FW is too sad, but that this sort of pathos isn’t Batiuk’s strong point. With a few exceptions (say, when Lisa found out aobut the test mix-up and called Les at school), the storytelling has been terrible–it features a poor sense of timing (for example, the huge build-up to Darrin and Lisa’s reunion, which resulted in two sitcom-level punchlines, and nothing else), a lack of proportion (using Lisa’s cancer as a vehicle for a “Women loooooove to shop!” joke), ignoring most of the other characters of the stirp (when its strength lies in the way it works as an ensemble). Sorry–this sucks. I admire him for portraying death in this manner, but not for his bad writing.

    Comment by Cedar — October 2, 2007 @ 12:03 pm

  17. Thanks for the link to Funky Cancercancer . . . but, did I miss something in the “first sex” story arc? Are they half-siblings? I guess i’d like to CIDU Cancercancer for the incest reference, please.

    Comment by Kit — October 2, 2007 @ 1:37 pm

  18. Yes, I did just use “CIDU” as a verb 😛

    Comment by Kit — October 2, 2007 @ 1:38 pm

  19. Kit, the incest reference was just David Willis’s wild speculation — based in part on some Usenet discussion of the possibility. It was, already however established that Lisa had been date raped by a boyfriend and hadn’t been Norman Osborned by John Darling.

    Comment by Cidu Bill — October 2, 2007 @ 1:44 pm

  20. Kit, I think the joke also came from the fact that Jess looks more or less like Darrin in a wig.

    Comment by Cedar — October 2, 2007 @ 1:55 pm

  21. What I don’t understand is where Batiuk got the impression that his reader’s haven’t already been through these issues in their own lives? You would be hard-pressed to find a person who hasn’t lost a loved one, many to cancer and other degenerative diseases.

    I just don’t get his point – is he trying to educate us on the grim realities of life, or is he just venting?

    Comment by src — October 2, 2007 @ 3:25 pm

  22. Never heard of Badger Badger Badger before. I looked it up and it reminded me of the psyco commentary on the Blair Thumb DVD

    Comment by Rasheed — October 2, 2007 @ 3:38 pm

  23. Anyone else reminded of when Calvin & Hobbes had a baby racoon die? Bill Watterson took a ton of flack for being too dark and depressing for the funnies back then.

    I’d be lying if I didn’t say that the baby racoon got me more misty than this character has. More evidence of what a great storyteller Bill W. was (and still could be — Come back Bill!)

    Comment by padraig — October 3, 2007 @ 1:38 pm

  24. thank you for the wonderful series regarding Lisas brave fight with breast cancer. I cried this morning when I read her final good bye. hopefully the coming days of grief her family and friends confront are handled with the same tact and grace.

    Comment by cindy — October 4, 2007 @ 7:44 am

  25. I can’t tell you how angry the development with Lisa makes me. If I wanted to read soap opera I would read Mary Worth or something like this. I’ve been where Les has been. I burst into tears when Les told Lisa that it was alright to let go. It brought back many terrible memories. Tom Battiuk is hitting us over the head with his own demons. I have mine and they are enough.

    Comment by Dick Reid — October 4, 2007 @ 1:50 pm

  26. Not all deaths are horrible and painful, but every life ends with one. Kudos to Tom for dealing with this fact of life via his art. I particularly like the white-background “twilight world.”

    One strip in the last couple of weeks that I would like to have seen, though, would have gone like this:

    1: At her bedside, Lisa’s father is holding her hand. He tells her, “I’m so sorry, Leese. I love you. I’ve always loved you. Please forgive me.”

    2: In Lisa’s twilight world, she gives her dad a huge hug and says, “I know, Daddy. It’s ok. I love you.”

    3: Back in the real world, closeup of Lisa’s hand as it squeezes her father’s hand.

    Comment by corrie — October 4, 2007 @ 4:21 pm

  27. For those who are angry about the content of the strip – just don’t read it!

    Comment by corrie — October 4, 2007 @ 4:22 pm

  28. I found this storyline very gripping. I enjoyed it, in a sad way of course. I don’t think it was inappropriate in the least. If you don’t like it, don’t read it.

    Comment by Ty — October 4, 2007 @ 4:50 pm

  29. I rushed to read the paper everyday to check on Lisa. I lost my Dad to cancer and I thought Tom handled this in a very loving, caring way. Too many people die alone in hospitals in great pain. It was hard not to get attcahed to Lisa. But that what a good character can create for you. RIP Lisa.

    Comment by Kari — October 5, 2007 @ 11:29 am

  30. My lady died of brain cancer in Oct 06 and I found Tom’s telling of Lisa’s passing very sad and yet real – nobody likes death but we all share it at some time – thanks Tom – please put the enite storyline of her pasing in a book – could I have done more? I don’t think so – maybe Sat’s strip will tell me that…….

    Comment by lee webber — October 5, 2007 @ 6:03 pm

  31. Have you ever watched someone die of breast cancer? I have more than once and I am a breast cancer survivor and I applaud Batiuk’s realistic portrayal of Lisa’s life and death.

    Comment by Pinky — October 6, 2007 @ 9:53 am

  32. However sad, I thought that the portrayal of Lisa’s death was done with great love and respect. My mother’s decision to stop all treatment and food was difficult for us, but she had a peaceful death. I am grateful for knowing that – for helping it happen. We did enough – we did what she wanted. So did Les.

    Comment by Julie — October 6, 2007 @ 10:23 am

  33. I don’t understand all of the negative comments. Lisa’s story is real for so many people and her demise was done with dignity and respect. Death issues are avoided too often in American society. Batuik gave us a good look at reality via his strip. – I just lost my grand-daughter on 10 Septenber 2007 and can empathize. Thanks Tom Batiuk.

    Comment by Joe Rodriguez Jr. — October 6, 2007 @ 2:40 pm

  34. Sad, poignant, full of the romance of life, and so obviously timed for National Breast Cancer Awareness Month I didn’t get it until Wednesday night…it reminded me of friends and family I haven’t seen in a long time, starting with my grandmother who died of breast cancer in 1953…

    This is indeed art imitating life, and doing a damned fine job of it, too…

    Comment by O.B. Dan — October 7, 2007 @ 1:21 am

  35. I agree, the comic strips are supposed to be light & funny, most are. Beginning to see more of the focus on death & destruction. Keep it out of the comics, we read it every day in the news & experience it personally. Don’t need to be hit with it everywhere.

    Comment by Fred — October 7, 2007 @ 2:37 am

  36. I don’t know, Fred…granted, there’s plenty of death and destruction in the real-world news every day – but there, you’re dealing with the cause-and-effect factor on a large anonymous scale, while in Funky it’s all about Lisa, her life, and how she and the people in her life deal with it on a very personal basis.

    Holy crap…how do I come up with this stuff? I’m going back into writing.

    Comment by O.B. Dan — October 8, 2007 @ 4:40 am

  37. Maybe it’s just a coincidence, but it seems to me almost all the pro-Lisa’s deathwatch messages came in a bunch toward the end, as if somebody put the word out that this sequence needed defending.

    Comment by S.P Charles — October 8, 2007 @ 6:17 pm

  38. That might be because we never anticipated such a negative backlash. But it happened, and so did we.

    Comment by O.B. Dan — October 9, 2007 @ 12:17 am

  39. You know……..I think that an indiviual that has to make a comic strip a “Life Experience” has lost the direction of what a comic should be! Life is real enough. Why can’t we pick up the comics and lose ourselves in a land of fun and hilarity. I have considered shunning the strip and I believe I have won. NO MORE FUNKY WINKERBEAN!!!!!!!

    Comment by Dave — October 11, 2007 @ 2:19 pm

  40. y’all want some cheese with that wine.

    the comics of 100 years ago and more brought social issues to light to get them corrected.

    i think Mr. Batiuk handled it very well and with class. TV makes us think that all problems can be solved in 30 minutes to 2 hours and that there’s no mess to clean up.

    personally, when my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer i could have used a learning comic like this. years later when it metastasized to bone cancer – a “comic” of this type would still have been helpful.

    some families don’t discuss anything like this (or even sex and pregnancy).

    Comment by chris — October 14, 2007 @ 12:58 am

  41. Okay, see, maybe there are some things that should be discussed by families and not necessarily in comic strips.

    Comment by S.P. Charles — October 14, 2007 @ 1:40 am

  42. Why is it that show of support for Tom Batiuk’s story seems to be accompanied by personal attacks on people who don’t like it? It almost seems as if it’s one person writing all the messages using different aliases.

    Comment by S.P. Charles — October 14, 2007 @ 1:50 am

  43. I have lost all manner of relatives to cancer and other diseases but I don’t think a comic strip is the place to vent my grief or pain.

    Words do mean things.

    com·ic (kmk)
    1. Characteristic of or having to do with comedy.
    2. Of or relating to comic strips.
    3. Amusing; humorous:

    In other words, write the book but leave the comics comical!!!

    Comment by Dave — October 16, 2007 @ 4:01 pm

  44. I absolutely think Tom is venting. To depict the entire progression of the disease in the manner he did, can’t be done through research. It must be lived. My mother went through all of it, surgery, chemo, radiation……free of…..and of course it’s return and her ultimate demise. It took over three years of torture, a chemo drug diluting piece of s#!!pharmacist, weakened & finally broken bones, and brain bleeds to finally kill her. If you haven’t been through it, pray to GOD you or your family never has to. If you don’t or didn’t like his strip, DON’T READ IT! Lots of people turn to the comics pages to avoid reading about all the other vile crap going on in the world. What a great forum to tell the world and educate it on a horrific disease. I applaud him for using his talents in such a productive and unique way. And one last thing, Tom, great job!

    Comment by Brian — December 27, 2007 @ 2:12 pm

  45. The point is, Brian, if you’ve been through this, why would you want to read about it in minute detail on the comic page? And if you HAVEN’T been through it… Why would you want to read about it in minute detail on the comic page?

    Comment by Cidu Bill — December 27, 2007 @ 2:41 pm

  46. That is exactly the poiny. You want people to go through what you went through? Writr a letter to the editor. Write a book about it. I would probably read both. Just leave it out of the comics!!!!!

    Comment by Dave — February 11, 2008 @ 7:10 pm

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