Long-running daily comic strip Funky Winkerbean kicked off a new storyline this week, which will focus on the high school hubbub that erupts after a teenage gay couple says they want to attend prom together. Over the course of at least twenty-four strips, cartoonist Tom Batiuk will depict a heartwarming story of allies taking a stand for LGBT youth.
With the exception of strips like Doonesbury, the comics page of the newspaper isn’t the place one expects to find topical commentary on current issues, but since its debut in 1972, Batiuk’s Funky Winkerbean has been exploring real-world situations with increasing frequency. Over the past 15 years, the strip has addressed everything from breast cancer to land mines, earning it a spot as a Pulitzer finalist, and sometimes inspiring reader controversy, but never backing away from harsh emotional realities.
As its topical storylines go, the upcoming prom story will probably rank as one of the more upbeat and ultimately optimistic. Readers will see a number of different characters take a stand against the intolerance being displaying by a handful of people, which creator Batiuk says reflects his own observations of modern teenagers as being “more open and accepting than their predecessors.”
Look for the young gay students to make an appearance in the comic strip later this week, which you can see online here. The first installment of the series can be seen below: