Football: Comic Tragedy

Sep 10, 2019

By Jacob Feldman

Since 1972 cartooist Tom Batiuk has told the story of Funky Winkerbean and his Westview High classmates. In the fall Batiuk would often return to the story arc of Jerome (Bull) Bushka, the school’s star fullback and later, coach. But lately, Batiuk says, “I was beginning to think about whether it was responsible to continue telling lighthearted fotball stories given what we know about the damage concussions do.”

As he learned more and more that the NFL stars he grew up idolizing suffered from symptoms associated with head trauma, Batiuk decided his character-now in his 50s-should deal with the same issur. Bushka’s story will come to an end this fall, culminating in a wordless five-panel strip in which he takes his own life after being denied disability. “It’s that sort of dichotomy,” Batiuk says. “Football wasn’t akk bad.[Bull] loved it. But he also suffered the consequences.

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