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Tom Batiuk to Make Appearances to Promote “Lisa’s Story”

E&P has the story that Funky Winkerbean creator Tom Batiuk will be making at least 15 scheduled appearances across the country to promote his book “Lisa’s Story: The Other Shoe” which contains the story-lines of Lisa’s battle with cancer. Check the E&P story for dates and locations which range from Ohio, Texas and California.

I typically read all of my subscribed comics on the weekend, but have had to make an exception for Funky Winkerbean as Lisa’s death seems more imminent. With the first scheduled stop for Tom on his book tour slated for October 6th, it would be a safe bet to guess that Lisa’s death will occur before then.

Community Comments

#1 Ken
September/23/2007
@ 2:34 am

I’m afraid I must add my voice to those upset at Tom Batiuk over this story line. I don’t believe he’s really educating anyone…I don’t know a single person who hasn’t been touched my cancer, and such losses. Controversial or socially important topics are one thing, but this, much like killing off the family who helped Wally in the Middle East, is just cruel, and mean, and sharp. I can’t help but question Mr. Batiuk’s motives, or sense of kindness. I think he may get overwhelmed by his own mission. Frankly, I don’t feel very warmly towards his book. Hopefully ALL proceeds go to some cancer center. Otherwise it’s ONLY a sick thing.

#2 JA Freem
September/23/2007
@ 9:16 am

I stopped reading the comics some time ago and due to being unemployed, I began receiving the limited delivery paper on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I must admit, on numerous occassions, I have cried outwardly while reading Tom’s strip. Kudos to him for “feeling” and for allowing us to do the same.

#3 Roberta Alter
September/23/2007
@ 6:18 pm

Personally, I have never been as touched by a story line as I have been lately. Lisa’s ultimate death is being handled with dignity, a touch of humor and profound realism. I applaud Tom Batiuk for handling such a delicate subject with compassion and strength.

#4 L Beech
September/24/2007
@ 11:15 am

People read the comics to have a temporary escape from usually not so good news. Many years ago , Batiuk was good at providing a few laughs. But in recent years he has had this mission to make a soap opera out of it. And now it’s not that easy to just ignore his comic strip and just reading the others, because now we’ve got drawings of a very sick woman with oxygen tubes up her nose. I hope my local paper replaces this comic strip. It has no place in the “funnies” section of the paper.

#5 Dean Michael
September/25/2007
@ 8:13 am

What most readers are forgetting is that the “funnies” section has always had doses of reality, even in a gag a day strip like Funky. You can go as far back as the late 20’s-early 30’s when Percy Crosby killed a main character who was a child in the strip “Skippy”. Death is a part of life and has a place in the comics page, it is no differant than a television remote control, if you don’t like it, don’t read it. Spend more time encouraging a strip you enjoy, not commenting about one that you don’t.

#6 Ken Wolski, RN
September/25/2007
@ 9:57 am

I had hoped that Batiuk would have introduced the issue of medical marijuana during Lisa’s ordeal with cancer and chemo. I thought, “Why not try marijuana?” It might have helped her deal with the nausea of chemotherapy and might have forestalled the wasting syndrome that Lisa is apparently suffering from. It also might have eased her pain and raised her spirits. It’s too late for that now, though. Lisa doesn’t have very long to live.

#7 Rich Diesslin
September/25/2007
@ 10:47 am

I had hoped that Batiuk would have introduced the issue of spaying and neutering dogs and cats. Might as well if the arc goes on for another couple of months. ;)

#8 Deb White
September/26/2007
@ 5:28 pm

ok- a comment from NE Ohio..
I only get the paper on Sunday.. so I have a bookmarked site where I read “Funky” online everyday. As I sit in front of my monitor, at times my heart wrenches down to my gut- at other times I crack a wry smile..
Been there- done that. Breast cancer survivor of 7 years. Met Tom in Akron after Lisa’s Story was first out.. As the story of her life continues, I want to say, or maybe shout out loud that her story has been told with unfortunate accuracy, through the evolving tale and through the artistry that Tom has of making a simply drawn expression tell so much.
Soap operas in the funnies?? hmm.. I think there are a few classics out there that aptly fit that description. Nothing new, and certainly not out of place.
Tying up the storyline of Lisa’s son Darryl, her videotaping her wishes for Summer as she grows- these things were brilliantly done.
The “superheroine” glimpses are right on- indeed- the friends and caregivers are truly deserving of the title. “Live with HOPE”- that’s what a local said to Les and Lisa on their last vacation after noticing her freshly bald head shortly after her recurrence and second bout with chemo.
That particular Sunday strip hangs in my office- a reminder to me and in honor of the friends I have made around the world via online breast cancer support;
Hope is all we have. You don’t have to be a cancer survivor to know that. It applies to us all. Lisa and Les have portrayed that all along.

After Lisa leaves this world for the next, we will see how Les, Summer, and their family and friends all cope. Les has been solid and supportive- I suspect he will have it pretty rough when it’s all said and done.
The rest of the storylines will still be there- and I will continue to enjoy them.
As for now- I truly thank Tom Batiuk for showing the world of “cartoons” a look, and a gifted look at that, of not only showing what Lisa and others endure with cancer, but showing how that changes life’s perspective.
Live with Hope.

#9 Donna Longfellow
September/26/2007
@ 7:16 pm

Right on Deb! So glad to see your comments!

#10 unavgreen
September/28/2007
@ 8:50 am

I think this is one of the GREATEST story lines in a comic strip. I am an Adult Protective Social Worker who deals with dying clients all of the time and it is a very difficult but rewarding job. Lisa is dying and her husband is showing such love, compassion and concern as her caretaker. I wish that my clients had someone like that to care for them. Thank you Tom Baitiuk for this wonderful LOVE STORY. May GOD continue to bless you

#11 Lea Jones
September/28/2007
@ 12:11 pm

I have followed this strip for a long time and I have grown to appreciate Batiuk’s realistic if tragic view of the world. His strips are topical and thought-provoking. I have followed the story of Lisa and Les and I have to say that each day’s strip lately is like a small blow to the chest, leaving me breathless and close to tears. You see, my mother died of breast cancer and heart disease six years ago. Seeing Lisa reminds me of mom’s decline and death yet I read it every day. I don’t think he is being sick or exploitative; just honest. This man knows his subject and the crushing weight of caretaking and grief. I feel that he understands not just those with cancer but those of us who are left behind. But even as reading the strip stirs up so much pain for me, Tom Batiuk is handling the subject with the utmost care and dignity and he should be applauded for bringing attention to it.

#12 Renee Heytens
October/1/2007
@ 9:12 am

Yes, the whole Lisa story is very touching and relivant to today’s issues, but isn’t the comic page a place to escape the horrors of real life? I honestly thought that Lisa would somehow get better, but apparently Mr. Batiuk thinks there is humor in watching a loved one die. I don’t understand why he had to put us through that. Maybe he should start publishing his “comics” in a medical journal instead of the funny pages.

#13 Wendy McGhee
October/1/2007
@ 9:40 am

I hope you are not really planning to “skip the whole grieving thing” in Funky Winkerbean by fast forwarding 10 years. This society needs help in dealing with death after the person has left. My husband has been dead 10 years and I still think he’s golfing. Ten years later your characters would be different with no explanation why. Grieving can be fun!

#14 Susan Lytle
October/1/2007
@ 2:20 pm

Lisa’s story line is breaking my heart. While she has obviously made peace with her future, I can’t help but wonder how Les and Summer will handle it. Right now Les seems to be in a state of uncomprehending shock. It must be overwhelming for him. Sometimes it is hard to remember that these people are only cartoon characters.

#15 Rick Hargrave
October/1/2007
@ 4:38 pm

The story line is great. The only thing that may ruin it is if Tom does not carry through with the grief relief that is mandatory for cancer survivors and their families. One of my mentors at Baylor hospital in Dallas has always told me “Grief, the only way out is through it”. I anticipate the strip.

#16 Eric Burke
October/1/2007
@ 8:20 pm

I had hoped that Batiuk would have introduced the issue of medical marijuana during Lisaâ??s ordeal with cancer and chemo.
Good point, but I can’t imagine a single editor in the country with the cojones to run the strips that would feature the marijuana. Could you imagine the outrage? It would come from everywhere, despite the genuine use of the drug…

#17 /Renee Richter
October/1/2007
@ 8:24 pm

What emotions Every one of which my family and I felt watching my husband fade away this past June. He was 82 years old, alot older than Lisa. Tom Baiuk is a wonderful person putting these feelings out in the open. We are not sure if this story is fact or fiction but it is being told in an honest and marvelous way. Thank you, Thank you. Please continue writing so beautifully.

#18 Karen Stang
October/3/2007
@ 11:08 am

I have cut out the Oct 2 strip to keep with me at all times. It is to remind myself of what is important in life and to keep the love going.

#19 Shari Armstrong
October/3/2007
@ 11:45 am

I have been a fan of Funky Winkerbean for 20 years, being introduced to it in college. Yes, it’s upsetting to see the character of Lisa pass away from cancer, as most of us have lost loved ones to cancer of one sort or another. Don’t forget that he had Lisa do a very brave thing – going to testify. I think the biggest message he is trying to share is we need to focus on research to help prevent more losses to this disease – in all it’s forms.

I plan to have the tissues handy tomorrow.

#20 Patricia Clark
October/4/2007
@ 6:46 am

Wow. I have sat by the bedside of friends and family who have died of cancer. Some have had Lisa’s bravery, some have not. But, from now on, I’m going to remember her story and know how to behave in a much more positive and helpful manner.

Thanks, Tom.

Patricia

#21 Herb Sauter
October/4/2007
@ 9:04 am

Wonderfully done! Sensitive, enlightening, dignified. My family has lived through much of Lisa’s experiences, but with my wife currently a survivor of breast cancer. We’ve come so close to living out the Funky Winkerbean script. The last six months of the strip have shown us how blessed we have been to date, while at the same time reminding us that the future is never certain. Thank you for focusing the world on this deadly disease, for letting those afflicted, either as victims or supportive loved ones, know that they are not alone. Thanks too, for providing positve models that may help guide afflicted ones through the difficult coping process.

You must be exhausted from the emotions and effort that clearly went into your work. If you intend to leave the equally difficult followup to Lisa’s death to someone else, I certainly understand. My hope though is that YOU will have the divine guidance to do it.

Thank you and God bless you for what you have given to your readers.

#22 Betsy
October/4/2007
@ 1:47 pm

I read this strip today, heartbroken. I had lost my own dear friend to cancer almost four years ago, and Lisa’s story resonates in ways that leave me grieving my poor dear friend, who died in similar circumstances, anew.

If it makes you feel, it’s art….

God bless everyone who is missing the Lisa in their lives today…..

#23 Rebecca Mackenzie
October/4/2007
@ 2:11 pm

I have been a long time fan of Tom Batiuk. The recent story of Lisa only makes me a bigger fan. I lost a brother to Cancer. Tom’s remarkable sensitivity, not only for the Cancer patient, but for the family, has brought comfort to me. I don’t think anyone can really know how it is until they have been there, but Tom comes as close to portraying it as anyone I have seen to date. Thank you Tom!!!

#24 Lleon Kearns
October/4/2007
@ 4:42 pm

I wish to send flowers a dozen red roses. She will be missed by all.

A Fan

#25 James Green/Sandy Brady
October/7/2007
@ 12:30 pm

All of us have lost a friend and the tears are flowing. Lisa’s story has been a realistic look into the ravages of cancer. Last week in her last hours, we knew the end was near and wondered how this week’s strip would be handled. As expected, Tom provided a beautiful memorial with photos from Lisa’s life. May God bless you and trust you will find the strength to continue with her family and the grieving process.

James Green and Sandy Brady

#26 jay wilson
October/8/2007
@ 5:08 pm

human, notwithstanding, I have Tom as one of my
heros. I applaud his bravery and his genius.
I hope to meet him in Dallas.

#27 Pat Stropko-O'Leary
October/11/2007
@ 7:47 pm

I’m grateful that Tom chose to include hospice as one of the services helping Lisa as she died. Hospice is not utilized often enough or early enough, to assist families as they care for their loved one at home. So much more can be done if they are called in sooner rather than later. Our whole staff is grateful to Tom for the graceful, loving manner in which he treated Lisa’s death and I hope that Les will get the grief support that hospice provides at no cost to him as he works through his pain over the loss of Lisa.

#28 Hope Warren
October/20/2007
@ 2:57 pm

I have just recently started to read the lovely Funky Winkerbean strip. I started because of a stupid and ignorant comment in our local paper, and because I have long been a fan of another strip that has dealt so beautifully and realisticly with the death of a pet, a grandmother, the grandfather’s remarriage and now his long goodbye. I can barely write this because the husband’s sorrow was so real to me. After my husband died I too stood in his closet and hugged his clothes, I couldn’t bear to look at the empty bed because I was blessed to have had the most wonderful husband in the world. So, thank you for letting us have these glimpses into the rawness of grief. I will cut out all these strips so that I know I’m not alone. We need these lovely stories to make us remember what we lolved and lost…and perhaps those readers who are lucky enough to have that special person still in their lives will say a extra “I Love You” today.
Hope Warren

#29 Hope Warren
October/20/2007
@ 2:59 pm

I have just recently started to read the lovely Funky Winkerbean strip. I started because of a stupid and ignorant comment in our local paper, and because I have long been a fan of another strip that has dealt so beautifully and realisticly with the death of a pet, a grandmother, the grandfather’s remarriage and now his long goodbye. I can barely write this because the husband’s sorrow was so real to me. After my husband died I too stood in his closet and hugged his clothes, I couldn’t bear to look at the empty bed because I was blessed to have had the most wonderful husband in the world. So, thank you for letting us have these glimpses into the rawness of grief. I will cut out all these strips so that I know I’m not alone. We need these lovely stories to make us remember what we loved and lost…and perhaps those readers who are lucky enough to have that special person still in their lives will say a extra “I Love You” today.
Hope Warren

#30 Patrick Wilken
October/26/2007
@ 3:03 pm

My area newspapers foolishly removed “Funky” some time ago, and I’ve truly missed Tom Batiuk’s sometimes zany, sometimes quiet imaginings. On occasion, Iâ??ve acquired out-of-town papers to keep up and was shocked when I saw that Lisa’s cancer had returned. Every day since, I’ve been filled with such anxiety until I read the paper- wondering where we were headed next. I too lost my mom to cancer and the vividness of Tom’s storytelling in print has me finally, after six years, starting to grieve. How tears can cleanse and heal! I have resisted following the story online, for I believe you can’t match the sensation of touching the artwork, studying it and carrying it around as you measure its depth. I am soooo thankful that Tom has teamed up with Kent State University Press to release the whole story (in hardcover and soft). I’ll be purchasing several copies for friends and family (what a loving present!). The book signings are a bit too far for me to travel, but probably for the best. Tom might be rather startled by some big lug hugging him…

#31 Mike Rae
October/29/2007
@ 12:53 pm

Tom Batiuk has done a great job describing the ups and downs that comes with having a family member suffer and ultimately die from Cancer. I think he is to be congratulated for his excellant, realistic portrayal of a cancer victim’s last few months along with the moments of hope, dispair and most importantly, love. I plan to attend a book signing by Tom and congratulate him on a job well done. Comics entertain, enlighten and make our hearts feel….Tom has accomplished all of those objectives. I can understand the criticism of some because the issue may still be too close in time to such a loss. I’m six years away from losing my dad and time not only helps to heal, but also gives perspective. The moments you share and the moments you let your loved one know they are loved are so very important…whether your loved one is sick with cancer or totally healthy.

#32 Howard Rogers
November/12/2007
@ 12:11 pm

The Lisa story mirrors our tragedy to the letter. I’ve been glued to the strip for years and particularly to Lisa’s story. Tom has the ability to deal with weighty subjects so well and with great accuracy. His illustrations during Lisa’s decline were so real that they struck real chords with me. I saw the same daily changes a decade ago. Readers should and will understand the horror of cancer and the sensativities of care giving. My wife left behind a 22 and a 25 year old who aree with me. Good work, Tom.

#33 Don Bearden
November/16/2007
@ 8:52 pm

I’ve held off writing this note as long as I can. My father died of pancreatic cancer on September 27, 1995 six months after diagnosis. My mother wife and 18-year-old daughter lived the story I was reading in Funky Winkerbean. The names were changed, and the type of cancer, but the date was a real problem for me. It was so obvious that last couple of weeks that Lisa could not survive long and I feared the date of her death. It was a minor relief for me when the anniversary passed, but it was still a rough time.

The Hospice nurses spent many hours with us and friends from my parents church came to relieve us as we sat by my Dad’s bed, but we never forgot what was happening. We watched, we prayed, we mourned, we waited. That was the worst — waiting and watching that once-powerful body shrink and wither away and then the mind begin to go. The day he died, each of us had asked our God to take him out of his pain and give him peace, without the other knowing we had.

I was napping on the couch before beginning my 11 PM to 3 AM shift by my dad’s side while my 18 year-old daughter sat in the room with him finishing her shift. My wife woke me and said I’d better come to the bedroom. My daughter had been alone with her grandfather when he breathed his last and I had to be the one to confirm his passing. I checked his artery and my mother used the stethoscope, then I went into the dining room and called the hospice nurse.

The nurse called the funeral director and I called my dad’s pastor and my Uncle, then I called my pastor.

Tom has told a beautiful story with all it’s pain, and he’s done a great job, but there is still more to it. Right now, he seems to be staying mostly 10 years in the future. I don’t mind that, but he needs to revisit the year following Lisa’s passing. Even his readers need that time to adjust to the event. When he has taken care of that problem, I’m perfectly willing to have him spring forward 10 years and begin a new stage in life with Summer as a teenager and Funky a fat fifty year old.

My thanks to Tom for a wonderful story even though it hurt deeply.

Don Bearden age 65

#34 Nichole
December/12/2007
@ 1:00 pm

We had a great interview with Tom at one of these speaking engagements. He discusses some of the topics you bring up. If you’d like to see it, here is the link: http://www.understandingcancer.tv/Home/UnderstandingCancerYou/UnderstandingCancerTV/WatchEpisodes/tabid/106/Default.aspx
Enjoy!

#35 Tim Marth
December/17/2007
@ 12:23 pm

I have a question for Tom. Since Lisa’s death, the strip has seemed to jump ahead about ten years. Did I miss something? I try to read every day, but don’t understand the leap.
Unlike the myriad of negative comments, I submit that almost none of the comics today are funny, but Funky has been both an amusing and serious part of our lives for years, and I think his handling of the storyline has been nothing short of brilliant.

#36 Rich Diesslin
December/18/2007
@ 12:10 am

Tim, you submit “wrongly” in my opinion. There are several funny strips out there. Funky is no longer one of them.

#37 Cathy Scott
December/25/2007
@ 3:57 am

Funky is not funny. Neither are the feelings of pain, anxiety, fear, loss, etc. that his comic elicits. The last thing I read about Tom Batiuk (in his own words) is that he believes we live in a cold and uncaring universe. I’m sorry he believes that. I’m sorry that Lisa’s husband, who by clinging to past, is not living today. (Honey, it’s been 10 years since Lisa died! We don’t forget the loved ones we’ve lost, but the brave among us, move forward and find love again.) And, I’m even more sorry that Lisa’s husband is passing that behavior on to their daughter…through his actions. I’m not saying we shouldn’t remember…we should.
I have lost people I dearly love…but I know that I will see them again one day…in Heaven.
With this coming new year, my 75-year-old mother will start her 3rd year of fighting Inflammatory Breast Cancer (stage 4). My younger brother (who was my best friend growing up as Air Force brats and in a chaotic, alcoholic home) will start his 4th year of fighting colon cancer (again, stage 4). I don’t know what else the new year will bring. My marriage died years ago. (Can it be resurrected? It can, but it will take 2 people…and God.) Menopause, being a caretaker, loving people whose timeline to meet the Lord appears to be more compressed than mine, job-hunting, etc., takes its toll on my mind, body, and spirit some days. (And, I’ll tell ya, estrogen has never been my friend! Someone told me menopause lasts even longer than 7 years. I hope not!)
And speaking of hope, I have hope for the coming year. I believe in miracles with my whole heart. I believe in love–real love. I admit that I am an incurable romantic, but romance fades…and a deeper, more spiritual love takes root…or the marriage dies. Some people start their marriage with a spiritual connectedness; I didn’t. But I have learned that the only abiding love is God’s.
Maybe Tom Batiuk only knows God’s love through other people (perhaps his wife who stood by him during his own battle with cancer). My prayer for him is that God would touch his heart and allow him to see how much He loves him–and that this is not a cold and uncaring universe. God brings people into our lives for seasons and earthly lifetimes. But Heaven–it’s forever, baby. And actually, we can (and do) have a piece of Heaven on earth.
Today is Christmas…a day when the majority of us celebrate the birth of our Savior. And, it’s okay that others worship differently–or not at all. We still love ya…we don’t have to believe the same thing. This is America…we have that freedom. I normally cry at Christmas (as I have been doing this morning) and I am not even sure why. It’s probably a combination of things. So, I guess I’ll just go with it. Cry, that is. I’ll cry a little for my personal loses (both past and anticipated–a bad habit of mine) and pains; I’ll cry for your loses that you’ve shared in this blog; I’ll cry for the wrongs that I want to right in this world, but can’t. Then, I’ll stop. And, I’ll have joy in my heart again. Because today is Christmas…and that gives me hope.
I hope cartoonists will stop spreading pain, death, gloom, doom, despair, real-life suffering, etc., in their strips. Honey, I got enough of that in my real life. (Again, that’s my hope…doesn’t have to be yours. If you like reliving old hurts, more power to ya!) I read comics to make me smile…and so many of them don’t. Let us get back to the basics if we must and look at the definition of comics. I find nothing funny about cancer, strokes, etc., that are in comics today. (BTW, I do find some political cartoons funny, but they are in the right section of the paper–not in the comics!) I think I’ll write my newspaper and tell them I wish they’d stop carrying those. (I can do that because this is America. And if enough people think the same as I, then we can get some of those cartoons that are not funny out of the comic strip. And, that might get the cartoonist to listen since it would impact their pocket books. If not, that’s okay. I’ve only been reading one or two strips out of the whole page in our paper anyway. All it does is waste paper (but, I won’t go there today).
Merry Christmas. To God be the glory and may He bless you, yours, and the USA. Love, Cathy B.

#38 Bev Lino
December/26/2007
@ 10:48 am

December 26, 2007

I got “Lisa’s Story: The Other Shoe” for Christmas and read it thru today. Although I have followed the comic strip right from the beginning, and knew the outcome, it really touched me. I felt like Lisa was a friend of mine, and I felt so sad for her and her family. She showed such courage and grace during her illness, anyone would be proud to be her friend.

Tom Batiuk did a remarkable job writing this story, and he did a great service to all women helping them to be more aware of breast cancer.

#39 Donald Billing
March/26/2009
@ 8:32 am

Tom just go to acam.org and learn how cancer can be cured without the usual treatments.

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