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In its younger days, Tom Batiuk’s newspaper comic strip Funky Winkerbean was lighthearted and occasionally even funny, with, if I recall correctly, lots of jokes about selling band candy. In recent years, however, it has become notorious as the daily newspaper reader’s pit stop of despair, as disease, bankruptcy, dysfunction, and loneliness stalk the saddest cast of characters ever to grace the funny pages; the best that can be said of them is that they smirk in the face of death.
This has not gone unnoticed by the internet. Josh Fruhlinger mocks the strip (along with a good dozen others) on a regular basis at The Comics Curmudgeon, and at Comics Alliance, Chris Sims actually has a monthly roundup of the most depressing Funky Winkerbean strips. And until earlier this week, there were two blogs devoted to commenting on each day’s comic, Stuck Funky and Son of Stuck Funky (although Stuck Funky was no longer updated).
Then WordPress.com, which hosted both strips, got a cease and desist letter from Batiuk’s lawyers, demanding that both blogs be taken down because they were infringing copyright. WordPress complied, apparently without notifying the site’s owner. What is a bit more disturbing is that the C&D letter demanded that WordPress turn over the blogger’s name and address “so that we may take action to prevent the further unauthorized copying and distribution of this content,” which sounds kind of threatening.
There’s a lively discussion up at The Daily Cartoonist, in which the general thinking is that Batiuk went after these two blogs because they posted the strip every day (and then mocked it), while Fruhlinger and Sims go after a number of targets. Regardless of the reason, Son of Stuck Funky is back, albeit without images, dishing out that delicious Funky snark once more.
UPDATE: Batiuk responds at The Daily Cartoonist