Match to Flame 183

Oct 13, 2022

I had a story about Wally’s return from the war in Afghanistan after being listed as MIA that was sitting off to the side, completed and ready to go. Moreover, it was a story that was right in John’s wheelhouse. The tale was a bit more exotic than the usual Funky fare, encompassing war, intrigue, and foreign locales that wouldn’t have been out of place in one of John’s comic books. It was also the kind of saga that wouldn’t have been out of place when I was sitting on my dad’s lap listening to him read the Sunday comics. It was the type of comic strip work that back then I had imagined myself doing one day (thunk! Shoe drop). I had some business to attend to in New York, so, while I was there, John took the train down from his home in Connecticut, and, over lunch at the Plaza, I presented my story to him, we hashed it out, and he agreed to take it on. When the strips started rolling in a few weeks later, I was surprised to find that, rather than drawing the characters in his full-blown illustrative style, John had thoughtfully backed off the art to a point that placed it halfway between his style and my Funky style. Not quite Funky, not quite Next Men, but a pleasing look that resided in a new place. He had created the amalgam that I had been looking for, and that was better suited to carrying the writing forward. It was a hybrid style that married itself to the writing in a way that made it of a piece. I’d found the look that would allow me to go a little deeper with the writing without the result looking silly and disconnected. Suddenly, returning to that backstairs story involving my character Lisa, which was pulling me back in, seemed a little less daunting now that I had art that would allow me to enter a black hole and come out the other side. I would be able to tell what promised to be a difficult story in the best way possible with the work being carried by both the art and the writing. In short, I liked it. In short, Funky’s readers hated it.

From the introduction to The Complete Funky Winkerbean Volume 11

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