To feel your world changes because a character takes off his hat is, I would have said yesterday, a once in a life time experience.
Almost three years ago, my comic world was rocked when B.D., from Doonesbury, had his helmet removed. For 34 years, he’d had on a helmet, be it football helmet, an army helmet, a CHiPs helmet or anything else. We’d never seen the man’s full head. Then Garry Trudeau blows the man up out in Iraq, takes his leg and his helmet. The helmet made me call my father, in Japan, to tell him.
I wasn’t shocked at the time about the leg. After all, Trudeau has a weird penchant for pulling the rug out from under you. People grow up, marry, have children, get divorced … In the 1970s, Joanie had sex with Rick, whom she would later marry, but at the time, the last panel of the comic was blacked out in some states because they weren’t married. Weird shit to think of now, but there it was.
Like I said, I expect the occasional WTF moment from Doonesbury. Andy died of AIDS. Mark came out. Mark’s father married a younger hot-chick even though he was broke (which is a running favorite of all the strips ever, and I’ve had it up in my cubicle forever). Doonesbury is a shared love with my father, and we’ll always have it.
Similarly, I expect a couple wacky moments from Funky Winkerbean. This is a me-love comic, though. I doubt my father reads it regularly, if he ever did, and I don’t know a lot of people who like it as much as I do. I’ve quietly ballyhooed the strip (yes, that’s a mild oxymoron, move on) to my friends. I’ve admired Tom Batuik’s atristy as it’s improved. But I don’t have Funky up on my walls, and I don’t have any strip memorized.
Maybe it’s because I see Funky as my roots. I’m from Cleveland, and I’ve always felt tied to Funky. When I moved to California and later Illinois, Funky and Crankshaft were ways to keep me humble, to remind me of the way my life used to be. A quieter time, even though it was still, quite clearly, here and now. A slower life than the city, where things aren’t pounding in your veins 24/7.
And I expect the crazy from Funky. This week, I rather expected Becky to be taking over as Band Director, since Harry L. Dinkle the World’s Greatest Band Director was one of the last remaining (if not the last) original teachers from that script. I’ve been sort of expecting his death, retirement, or something shocking. After all, Lisa’s cancer is back, Wally’s back out at Iraq, and all sorts of crazy stuff happens on this strip.
And I love Dinkle. I love his self appointed title. I love how it always rains on his performances. I love that his annual turkey sale is continually screwed. I just think he’s great.
For whatever reason, I was not expecting him to take off that uniform, hat and all, and to show me his face today.
I spent a couple hours trying to figure out if it was really Harry. I even went to the author’s blog to check. After all, Booster Gold is back, when I thought it was the Atom. But no. It’s Harry L. Dinkle.
World’s Greatest Band Supervisor.
May he live long and proud!