Other changes were afoot on the comics pages. My partner on John Darling, Tom Armstrong, had started a new strip of his own called Marvin about a young child. The demands on his time were such that he was having trouble keeping up with John Darling, and something was going to have to give. I knew the feeling well from my early days on Funky and, when Tom called one day saying he was ready to move on and just concentrate on Marvin, I gave him my blessing. Tom gave me some time to find a replacement, but I didn’t have to look far. I had tried to start a couple of new strips with a terrific local artist from Cleveland, Gerry Shamray, and he was able to jump in on John Darling without missing a beat. Truth be told, however, John Darling was beginning to wear a little thin with me. The writing was easy enough, but it was becoming a little discouraging to satirize what was happening on TV only to have TV top you with something more outrageous the next week. Broadcast TV was rapidly becoming a bigger joke than any joke you could ever write about it, and reality TV wasn’t even on the horizon yet. It was becoming a mugs game. Still, you hate to let one of your characters go, so Gerry and I slogged on, and I’m glad we did. Why? Because John and Jan Darling would soon become the proud parents of a baby girl. A baby girl named Jessica who would grow up to play a prominent role in the life of that as-yet-unnamed girl from the sketchbook I mentioned earlier.
From The Complete Funky Winkerbean Volume Five