Lee Wochner: Writer. Director. Writing instructor. Thinker about things.


Get yer story straight

funky061015.jpgDidn’t realize I had so much in common with Funky Winkerbean. I can relate to this origin story, from the 10/15 Sunday strip: “After (reading that first comic book)… the world was never the same!”

Except certain things about the execution of this strip fill me with doubt. For one thing, the comic he’s rhapsodizing about doesn’t belong with the other comics it’s shown with.

The comic he’ll never forget — Action #242 — debuted in July of 1958 and introduced both Brainiac and the bottle city of Kandor. But shown alongside it is an issue of Archie’s Mad House — and that title didn’t debut until 1959. I know that sometimes comics distribution was spotty and slow, and perhaps the Action #242 hung around unbought, but how to explain the Captain Marvel #1, which debuted in 1968 — a full 10 years later?

You’ll also note that the cover price of Captain Marvel #1 was 12¢. In 1968, comics went to 15¢ (making this one of the last 12¢ issues). When had they last been available for 10¢? Try 1962. The cash register in panel five shows a sale of 10¢, which is correct for Action #242, but again, it’s displayed alongside a comic from 10 years later that would have cost more.

In the background of the same panel, one sees a poster for the community Halloween Party, meaning that this is set in October. The issue of Captain Marvel shown would have been distributed in August — so this particular issue would have been pulled and replaced twice in this timeframe.

So… what year is it supposed to be here? Or are we supposed to think that the drugstore (and its distributor) kept comics lingering on the same spinner rack for Ten Years?

Also, whether it’s the 50’s, or the 60’s, what era is this kid’s weird clothing ensemble from? One could charitably say late 60’s / early 70’s, in vogue with the then-counterculture, except in panel 3 it looks as though his jeans are either cuffed or rolled. (Rather than no cuffs, and flared.)

Along a similar line, note the druggist’s eyeglasses. They don’t look 50’s. Or 60’s. They appear to be from the 1970’s.

Why is any of this important?

Because all of the details are wrong, they make the entire story unbelievable. This mishmash of bad facts leads me to only two possible conclusions: The narrator is either a liar manipulating an unseen audience member, or he’s seriously brain-damaged. Ordinarily, I don’t follow Funky Winkerbean. But now I’m going to, just to see which theory is true.

The third potential scenario would take us outside the strip: that the cartoonist didn’t care enough to get it right.

8 Responses to “Get yer story straight”

  1. Rich Roesberg Says:

    I think you are missing the unstated, subtextural message of this Funky Winkerbean strip, which is about the nature of memory. The inclusion of all those seeming anachronisms was intentional. What Mr. Funky is saying is that a trigger memory, such as his of making that crucial first comic book purchase, has become inextricably linked to all those other fond memories that followed. Hence, the inclusion of what appear to be errors is intended to demonstrate the interrelatedness of associated remembrances and how they interact with each other. To me, this strip is the “Remembrance of Things Past” of the funny papers.

    I also like in Blondie, when Dagwood keeps running out his front door and slamming into Mr. Beasley, the hardworking and beloved mail carrier.

  2. Paul Crist Says:


    You should add a disclaimer that you are a professional mail carrier.


  3. Joe Stafford Says:

    Who is the guy with the cap in that Sunday strip anyhow.

    He bears a striking resemblence to Unca Rich, both in his
    adulthood and boyhood. As for the rememberances, I’m
    with Rich on this one, memory is shaped like the DNA Molecule
    in a helical fashion, able to be gazed upon in any dimension
    and in any all inclusive fashion we may deem appropriate.

    As in dreams that I have of driving my mom’s 1961 Turquoise
    Pontiac Bonneville with the suicide ‘no center pillar’ hardtop
    and power windows that operated without the ignition key engaged.
    Unca Rich and Paul are in the backseat, Lee’s in the shotgun position,
    I’m driving, and we’re all reading funnybooks and listening
    to Skinheaed O’Connor on a nonexistant stereo. 1961 Bonneville’s
    did’nt have them. See?

  4. Paul Crist Says:


    Did you consider that the writer of this stip was just putting his favorite comic books into a strip?


  5. Lee Wochner Says:

    Then he’s truly deranged — not one Lee/Kirby issue of Fantastic Four?!?!?!

  6. Rich Roesberg Says:

    Possibly because Kirby art would involve too much drawing for the Winky Funkerbean artist.

  7. Lee Wochner Says:

    You’re not kidding. I recently read a collected version of (to me) highly memorable Captain America stories from the 1970’s, featuring Sal Buscema artwork. I remember not being crazy about the art then, but looking at all the machinery in the background — or, rather, the overall lack of crazy machinery in the backgrounds — renewed my appreciation for how much energy and inventiveness Kirby put into such panels.

    This makes me wonder how Kirby would have adapted to modern-day computer cartooning. Would he have cut and pasted so many images — as I see every month in every Marvel comic — or would each still have been made fresh?

  8. Rich Roesberg Says:

    Considering that Kirby used the occasional collage in his work, and did it very effectively, I believe he would be taking advantage of computers. He wouldn’t be doing it to avoid drawing. He’d still delineate just as much and as well, but then you’d turn the page and have your eyes popped by a double wide spread of computer assisted collage/altered images/drawing/whatever.
    A few years back I heard that the new generation of comic readers had consigned The King to the junk heap of funnybook history and considered his style outmoded and unattractive. I hope, if that was true, this unfortunate misperception has changed. But hey, you can’t tell these damned kids anything.

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