A former minor league baseball pitcher, the strip’s namesake, Ed Crankshaft, was deeply disappointed when his major league aspirations fell by the wayside. Today, however, he can deal with life’s curveballs, thanks to a loving family that stands by him. Crankshaft amuses comics fans with his no-holds-barred zingers and cantankerous disposition, an obvious outer crust for a school bus driver.
Since its debut in 1987, Crankshaft has engendered reader loyalty with its engaging storylines and Crankshaft’s muddled aphorisms. Created by Batiuk and drawn by Chuck Ayers, the strip is a spin-off of Batiuk’s immensely popular high school comic, Funky Winkerbean. Written in the same “narrative humor” vein as Funky, the strip offers plenty of humor, but it also tackles some tough issues like adult illiteracy, Alzheimer’s disease and school violence.
Available daily and on Sundays, Crankshaft currently connects with readers in more than 300 newspapers worldwide. Given the strip’s thoughtful approach in acknowledging the issues facing today’s senior citizens, Crankshaft is particularly popular among older people and those who have parents at or beyond retirement age. Crankshaft really resonates with readers emotionally invested in the strong, identifiable characters and plot-driven storylines.