The Complete Funky Winkerbean, Volume 3, 1978-1980Art, Black Squirrel Books™, Humor
In this third volume, award-winning cartoonist Tom Batiuk continues to chronicle the lives of a group of students from the fictitious Westview High School. Funky Winkerbean fans are introduced to a host of new characters, including black cheerleader Junebug Jones; Melinda Budd, Holly Budd’s ambitious stage mother; Jerome the drum major; Nancy the school librarian; Ron the tennis pro; Irma, Rita Righton’s tennis partner; Channel One reporters Brenda Harpy and Minnie Cameron; talk show host John Darling; news anchor Charlie Lord; Phil the Forecaster; and program director Reed Roberts. Batiuk also features a troupe of inanimate forms achieving sentience, such as talking trees, clouds, school desks,video games, and a talking tennis ball machine that goes on to play at Wimbledon.
Not only does Batiuk grow his Funkyverse” through its cast of characters, but he adds a number of recurring set pieces, too, such as “The Guide to Taking Tests,” course descriptions from the student curriculum guide, final exams on “Shakespeare the Hard Bard,” Les’s Record Roundup, plus Crazy Harry’s “Secret Cases of Sherlock Holmes and His Monstrous Limericks.” Volume 3 will entertain readers with Arab sheiks buying the oil rights to the football field, an exploding nuclear power plant, and the school’s computer playing Star Trek and beaming people around the building.
By the late 1970s Batiuk’s talent for character- and story-driven work was coming into its own. Not only was Funky Winkerbean evolving but the strip-within-a-strip about John Darling and his bottom-of-the-ratings-barrel TV station, Channel One, spun off into its own strip called Darling. With life imitating art, Batiuk even found himself as a guest on The Today Show, following his story arc about Darling filling in for the vacationing Tom Brokaw.