Tom Batiuk, creator of the comic feature Funky Winkerbean, was one of three finalists for the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartooning. Judges said his work was considered “for a sequence in his cartoon strip Funky Winkerbean that portrays a woman’s poignant battle with breast cancer.” It was only the fourth time a cartoon strip was a Pulitzer finalist.
Funky Winkerbean made its debut on the comics pages in 1972, and today appears in more than 400 newspapers worldwide. Batiuk chronicles the lives of students and faculty at Westview High, including Harry L. Dinkle character, the self-proclaimed ” World’s Greatest Band Leader.”
Batiuk, a former middle school teacher, is such a fan of music education that he created the comic strip Halle Dinkle just for MENC members. Halle is Harry’s daughter, and the strips chronicle the trials and triumphs of a general music teacher.
Music educators are among Batiuk’s Funky fans. In 2007 the Montana Music Educators Association asked members to write to the Helena Independent Record to ask that the newspaper to continue running the strip after the paper announced plans to discontinue it. They did in such numbers that Funky remained in the newspaper.
Halle Dinkle strips previously appeared in the MENC magazine, Teaching Music, but will now appear every other month in the online news at menc.org/news.
–Roz Fehr, August 22, 2008. © MENC: The National Association for Music Education