As you’ve no doubt already seen elsewhere on this site, Volume three of The Complete Funky Winkerbean is just out and available everywhere, although, personally, I think it’s hard to beat the prices on Amazon. So I’m not going to say any more about it here except to take the opportunity to publicly acknowledge the charming foreword written by Joe Walsh for the book. Joe writes prose as well as he writes songs and I appreciate his lending his talents to the book. Instead, what I thought I would do would be to give you a sneak peek at the cover of the new Crankshaft book that will be coming out this spring because, well, that’s just the kind of guy I am. It’s a book that collects all of the baseball stories that have taken place in the strip, and there’s even a little story behind it. Crankshaft had been optioned for a movie, actually several times, and, on one of those occasions, baseball was to play a role in the film. The producer had asked me to send him copies of all the baseball strips that artist Chuck Ayers and I had done. On reading through all of those strips, it seemed to me that there was a book-like narrative thread that ran through everything. As I mention in the book’s intro, baseball had provided me with a vehicle for exploring a man’s life and allowed me to examine how only getting his fingerprints on the brass ring shaped the remainder of his life and left him a little… cranky. The fine folks at the KSU Press agreed with me and so the book covering Crankshaft’s exploits from playing with the Toledo Mud Hens to today’s senior league games will be out this April. Spoiler alert: Even I have to admit, it’s a pretty cool book. It might even include a couple of honorary pitches by Mr. Ayers and myself so, with your leave, I’m going to head out to my backyard and start loosening up by chucking a few snowballs at the old oak tree.