Age • 60
Most influential cartoonist • “Peanuts” creator Charles Schultz. “ ‘Peanuts’ had a huge influence on me. For good or bad, he shaped what we do.”
Art mirrors life • Just about every character in “Funky Winkerbean” was inspired by someone Batiuk knew. Funky was modeled after Batiuk’s college roommate, and Mr. Dinkle, the band director, was inspired by Batiuk’s junior high band teacher.
What about Tom? • “It’s clichéd but it’s true, you’re a little bit of all your characters. ... Probably most of my traits get focused into Les. My concerns and anxieties became his.”
The loss of Lisa • Some felt that death and dying had no place in the funnies, but many more were supportive, says Batiuk, a cancer survivor. “They seemed to be gratified to see their lives reflected back at them in my work.”
Buy the book • “Lisa’s Story: The Other Shoe,” a collection of strips chronicling Lisa’s battle with cancer, was published in October. All proceeds go to Lisa’s Legacy. “I don’t think a comic strip character has ever been used in quite this way,” says Batiuk. “It’s amazing to see your character step off the page into the real world to do good.”