Feature Article on Tom Batiuk in The Comics Journal

Oct 3, 2023

Very proud to be featured in a recent article on The Comics Journal. The article is titled, “The Dying of the Light: My Grandmother, Dementia, Time in the Comic Strip, and Roses in December — by Tom Batiuk and Chuck Ayers.” Here’s an excerpt from the author, Alex Dueben:

I don’t have children, so I’ve never had the experience of teaching them and reinforcing lessons. But I have had experience with relatives with dementia who have lost their memories, who are unable to make new ones, who are unable to recover what’s been lost, and in trying to guide someone untethered from their memories. It is, to say to the least, disorienting.

This all came to mind reading Roses in December (The Kent State University Press, 2015). The book by Tom Batiuk and Chuck Ayers collects two storylines from Crankshaft, a comic strip that the two worked on for 30 years together, until Ayers retired in 2017 and Dan Davis replaced him as the artist. I grew up with Batiuk’sFunky Winkerbean, which he wrote and drew until the strip was retired in 2022, but in the pre-internet days of my childhood I never knew there was a strip about a curmudgeonly ex-baseball player turned school bus driver named Ed Crankshaft.

People have called me a curmudgeon over the course of my life, and I liked the idea of a comic that was centered around a figure who wasn’t warm and fuzzy. But reading Roses in December, I found myself deeply moved in ways for which I was not prepared. And while it’s easy to say that the reason for that is because it reminded me of real life events, I believe that it’s more than that. The reason why captures some of what a comic strip is capable of doing.

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Book Signing at Kent State University Bookstore

Book Signing at Kent State University Bookstore

As part of the introduction of the latest Funky Winkerbean Collection, I will be signing books at the Kent State University Bookstore on November 30, 2022. Learn more about the event — I hope to see you all there.