Bobby Bryant, a reporter for The State (SC), has been tracking some of the anger that Funky Winkerbean readers have expressed on blogs such as this one and thecancerblog.com.
Writes one grandmother:
“[Tom Batiuk is] a man who seems to be without any idea of the pain you are inflicting,” she wrote on TheCancerBlog.com, a cancer-support Web site. “You do not have the right to put this horror in a family paper.”
Some “Funky Winkerbean” readers are upset, especially those with a personal stake in the cancer storyline. The grandmother who blasted Batiuk on TheCancerBlog.com wrote that her daughter was fighting cancer: “Every morning, (my grandchildren) read your work and get the message that their mother will die.”
Another woman on the same Web site wrote: “I just can’t stand (this) storyline… . Comics are supposed to be interesting, funny and relieve some sadness… It is really awful that you would take up such a story in (the) ‘comics’ section.”
I suspect that until this story line comes to a conclusion it will be a continued struggle for those who have had to deal with cancer in their own lives or those that they love. Certainly this demonstrates the impact that comics can have on readers lives.
UPDATE: Bobby Bryant, the writer of the article that I reference above, writes in to point out an online poll that ran with the story. The question posed: “What do you think? Should “Funky Winkerbean” be addressing death?” At the time of this writing, 292 votes have been cast with an even 50% for and against.