I had just finished an interview at a TV station in Atlanta and was in the lobby about to leave when the receptionist called me over. There was a phone call for me from a fan of Funky who said that she really enjoyed the strip but that there were two things missing: a school secretary and a school bus driver. I thanked her, made a mental note, and was off and running to the airport. At some point later on the book tour, I found myself with some time on my hands at Sea-Tac Airport in Washington waiting for my next flight. I unpacked my mental notes and remembered the call from Atlanta. I was really glad that I did because I thought that the school secretary idea was a real winner with all the potential in the world. I immediately began jotting down some ideas for the character, and I decided to use a character already extant in the strip. My character Ann Randall had been riffed from her teaching job and had been working as a burger bouncer at McArnolds. While she was there, she made friends with a coworker named Betty. Thanks to Ann’s influence, Betty decides to apply for the job of secretary at the high school. I loved how I was able to make it take shape organically out of the strip, and I was excited by the possibilities that the school secretary promised. Before I got on my plane, I had the first two weeks finished with notes jotted down for future weeks. (I should probably at this point send a retroactive shout-out to my unknown benefactor in Atlanta. Much like the fictional Blanche DuBois, I owe much to the kindness of strangers.) Oh, and I had also made a note about the school bus driver. I was going to call him Crankshaft.
From The Complete Funky Winkerbean Volume Five