Friday, March 11, 2011

Tom Batiuk - Funky Winkerbean - "Lisa's Story"


2001.02.28...Lisa (Funky Winkerbean)...Breast Cancer Awareness 1996

When I came across the Breast cancer awareness FDC in my collection I was not sure I would be able to use it for a sketch. Then I was reading Funky Winkerbean and Lisa's ghost made one of her usual comforting visits to her husband Les Moore, and I knew I had to request a sketch from Tom Batiuk of Lisa Moore...


I first received a sketch from Tom Batiuk, Funky Winkerbean in the late 1980's. Back then Funky, which first appeared in 1972, was about a group of high school students going through the usual problems a teenager faces. Yes the comic had the usual best friends, school bully, student living in a locker, but Batiuk also featured stories that brought a teenager's problems out in the open, including teen pregnancy...

Batiuk then did something no other artist did. He took time off and brought the cast back as adults, with established careers and lives. Still Batik touched on subjects that we all face, marriage, divorce, birth, drunk driving, war and death...

Lisa's story was one of the story arcs that touched many readers when it was published and still does in book format...Lisa had married Les Moore and in 1999 Lisa was diagnosed with breast cancer. The strip followed Lisa through her discovery, treatment, family relationships through tough times and her untimely death at a young age (2007). This was not a quick get it done story but 8 years of a characters life. While Lisa was undergoing treatment my family was dealt a similar blow. My wife was diagnosed with breast cancer and is now a 4 year survivor. While I was reading about Lisa's final battle the realization that we were just beginning ours touched me very deeply. When Lisa passed I could not tell my wife, the thought of having to be in Les' place was too difficult to think about...

When I sent my request to Tom Batiuk, I was not sure if he would respond and I was not sure how I would feel if he did. When I opened the envelope with the sketch of Lisa's smiling face I was delighted, not saddened as I might expect. I thank Mr. Batiuk for bringing realistic experiences to the daily comic strips, it did help me to cope as I looked back to Lisa's story. He helped take the loneliness out of the situation many of us have had to face.

Lisa is not the only comic character to die, of course Superman and Batman have died a thousand deaths. There are several characters that have met their end in the comics, including another Tom Batiuk character John Darling (John Darling, Funky Winkerbean spinoff), Farley the dog (Better or Worse), Phylllis Blossom (Gasoline Aley, where the characters age in "real-time"), Grandpa (Family Circus), but Lisa's lost battle to cancer was carried by several newspaper and television news reports. Lisa's Story made an impact on many people and will continue to reach out and touch many lives...

Lisa's Story Reuters

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