Match to Flame 188

Nov 14, 2022

Speaking of dropping shoes as I have a couple of times already, I’ve got one more bit of business to attend to before I close out this introduction. In Volume 8, I mentioned how I’d often find myself signing my band book collections at the Midwest Band and Orchestra Clinic, which was held each December in Chicago, and how on one such visit I crossed the border into the criminal realm for just a brief period. I promised to relate that story in the appropriate volume when the year in which it occurred turned up and the statute of limitations had passed, and the designated hour has now struck. So, the Chicago Sun- Times was the first paper to ever buy Funky, and it was also the home of Publishers Hall Syndicate when I was first syndicated. Now, whenever I was in town for the Midwest Clinic, I’d usually head down Michigan Avenue to do some Christmas shopping. Along the way, I would always make a pilgrimage over to the Sun-Times building on the banks of the Wabash River to pause and reflect for a moment. On one such visit, I saw to my chagrin that the sacred building that had housed my syndicate and my first newspaper client was being torn down. As I walked along the chain-link barrier that surrounded the building, I started to entertain thoughts of maybe picking up a brick or something as a memento to take home with me. I circumnavigated the building and found that there was no opening available to get inside the fence, so I walked up to the fence where I saw a security guard sitting in the warmth of his car reading, ironically enough, a newspaper. I shouted and waved my arms to get his attention, and eventually the driver’s side window went down and a bored face looked my way. I didn’t mess around. I’m usually loath to play the Funky card, but it was now or never. I poured out my story of why this place was such a special holies of holies to me and how he may have been reading my comic strip in the very newspaper he was holding. He must have been a Trib reader because his expression somehow got even more bored as he said, “I can’t help ya!” The guy didn’t have a romantic bone in his body. He turned back to his paper and back up went the window. Now, the Sun-Times building was actually kind of an ugly squat affair that had one really long side composed of thick tinted plate glass windows and large sliding doors facing the river, where they would roll the large rolls of newsprint right off of the boats and into the first floor that housed the printing presses. The building had four other sides of unequal length that enclosed the structure. I found that, if I walked from where the security guard was parked toward the river side, there came a point where he no longer had a clear sight line past the corner. And even more interesting, at that point there were concrete barriers abutting the enclosure that could conceivably allow someone (I’m not saying who) to step up and cleanly vault the fence. And a plan began to form.

From the introduction to The Complete Funky Winkerbean Volume 11 

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