Oatmeal-gumming funny-pages readers got a dose of blood and guts Monday, as seen on the Houston Chronicle’s comics site, when they saw a young woman’s line drive bang the bejeezus out of an opposing pitcher in the panels of “Crankshaft.”
Now some of the spatter may carry over to “Funky Winkerbean”
In the depressing world of cartoonist Tom Batiuk, terrible things happen in the past, present and future. Die-hard fans may recall that Mr. Batiuk jumped the world of “Funky Winkerbean” ten years ahead in 2007. Time stood still, however, in “Crankshaft,” a spin-off of “Funky Winkerbean” centered on a language-mangling curmudgeon who may or may not end up as a vegetable in some years’ time.
Got all that? Well, this week readers of both strips are getting an odd story that plays out over a decade. In “Funky Winkerbean,” Cayla is deepening a relationship with the nerdy Les Moore, and is about to play a game of softball with him and her family. Ten years earlier, in “Crankshaft,” we see Cayla accidentally smack a line drive right into some young girl;s noggin in the course of playing baseball.
Does the softball incident from Cayla’s past have any odd echo in her future? Is nerdy Les about to get brained by an errant line drive? Can Tom Batiuk think of any storyline that makes us smile or cheer or even feel sunny for ten seconds rather than the soul-rending horrifics he keeps hurling at us day after day? Mr. Batiuk, it’s a wonder you can even get up in the morning to sketch out yet another heart-rending step down the spiral.
To reach the Comics Examiner, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow me on Twitter @bristei