Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Comic Depression or Comic Relief?

I read the comics just about every day. I read the rest of the paper, too, but I make it a point to read the comics. I enjoy them, occasionally they make me chuckle but more than anything they're just light reading with pictures. Something to give me a break from thinking and life- if only for a few minutes.

There are a few strips that I will skip over, such as "Momma", because I don't enjoy them and they actually annoy me to read them. Lately, the strip "Funky Winkerbean" has been at the forefront of my comic reading experience. I'm not sure how many of you read the comics and if you do, how many of you read Funky. Funky's creator, Tom Batiuk, has taken two characters who are married and have been a part of the strip forever and is having them deal with the struggles of Breast Cancer. Lisa, a character in the strip, is suffering from her second bout of Breast Cancer. A few years ago she went through her initially battle with the disease, went into remission and was married and had a child with her husband, Les. Recently, she has
re-developed the disease and tomorrow, according to Batiuk's website, she succumbs to this horrible killer.

I did a little research before I sat down to today because honestly, the strip was really bothering me. I open the comics and I want to be relieved of my daily stresses. I don't want to think about my own personal health struggles. I don't want to be reminded that we all have full plates that are often very full. I want to be shown some pictures and told a funny little story and then go back to reality. Since Lisa has been dying in the comic strip I've been getting more and more upset with the paper each day. Initially, I wanted to know why Batiuk felt it necessary to give us this downer of a story in the funny pages. Who really wants to read about Breast Cancer and a mom and wife "leaving" her family? Not me, especially not first thing in the morning! I thought about it a little more and realized this man who draws this strip couldn't possibly just be writing and drawing about this for the sake of nothing else to talk about. I went to his website and found out that he had a purpose and all of a sudden this comic strip took on new meaning to me.

How "appropriate" to show this "family's" struggle with Breast Cancer and the damage that the disease can do during a month that is completely dedicated to its awareness. The strip is depressing, it's sad, it makes me think extensively about the possibilities that could lay ahead for me and my family and also for the other women and men in my life who this disease will touch. But the strip is eye opening, it is refreshing in many ways, and it is action producing. I don't think any of us would want anyone in our lives to have to go through what Batiuk portrays for Lisa and those around her but I think, sadly, many of us will somehow be involved in something similar unless we do something now. Unless we are looking out for ourselves and one another and making sure we get checked and are checking and unless we are fighting in every way that we can to make sure more and more research is being done, we could end up in a circle very much like that of Lisa and Les. It's a very scary thought but it is a relief to know that there are people out there, like Batiuk, who have taken the time to use their "power" and influence to show us that life is about more than we think it's about.

I urge you to check out Funky Winkerbean. Look at the past strips and see what has been happening. It's not easy to read and it's very sad but it is very real and very important for each and every one of us.


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