Tom Batiuk, ’69

From the time he was a young child, Tom Batiuk, ’69, knew he wanted to be a cartoonist. The Funky Winkerbean creator drew inspiration for his characters and storylines from his real world, including his time at Kent State.

Tom Batiuk, ’69, has always loved comic books, but his parents wouldn’t let him read them when he was younger. To get his fix of The Flash and other superheroes, he would go to his friend’s house after school so they could read them together and, eventually, his parents agreed to let him have some of his own. Once he graduated from Kent State, he interviewed at Marvel and DC Comics. They turned him down and unknowingly set him on the path to create something all his own, Funky Winkerbean. Tom’s strip ran for 50 years, a constant, reliable presence in homes throughout the U.S., appearing in 400 newspapers worldwide at its peak. His characters grew up alongside him and his audience, allowing him to expand his storylines and explore important topics like teen pregnancy, cancer and more. And while he retired the beloved Funky Winkerbean comic Dec. 31, 2022, his spinoff strip, Crankshaft, is still running. Get to know Tom in his own words.

KSU: What is your idea of perfect happiness?
TB: Writing, and one of my wife Cathy's pizzas.

KSU: What is your favorite trait in others?
TB: Kindness.

KSU: What trait about yourself do you like least?
TB: Hard to narrow it down…

KSU: Who has had the greatest influence on your life?
TB: Charles Schultz.

KSU: What is your favorite Kent State memory?
TB: Hanging with friends in Stopher's pipe alley* (to discuss homework assignments, of course).
*Refers to the original Stopher Hall, constructed in 1949 and demolished in 2004.

KSU: What is your favorite journey?
TB: Returning again and again to NYC.

KSU: What is your guilty pleasure?
TB: Pick any Marvel Universe movie.

KSU: What do you consider your greatest achievement?
TB: Writing “Lisa's Story.”

KSU: If you could come back as one person, who would it be and why?
TB: No thanks, Oprah.

KSU: What part of your college experience most formed who you are today?
TB: Classes, professors, friends... all contributed and still do to this day.

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POSTED: Friday, September 29, 2023 03:09 PM
Updated: Monday, October 2, 2023 01:53 PM