Introducing Crankshaft,

Cartoonists have Ohio roots


Ohio native Tom Batiuk, who made comic strip history by confronting serious real-life issues over the years, is sure to tickle our readers’ fancies with “Crankshaft.”

The series, a spin-off of Batiuk’s popular high school comic “Funky Winkerbean,” will appear daily beginning Tuesday, March 11. It is among four comics joining our new daily lineup.

The main character of “Crankshaft,” Ed Crankshaft, is a cantankerous school bus driver whowas first introduced in “Funky Winkerbean” and later became the lead character in Batiuk’s third comic strip introduced in 1987.

“Most of my work is only about a quarter inch removed from real life so I’m hoping that readers will encounter things in the Crankshaft family that reminds them of their own, and, that in Crankshaft himself, they find someone they may already know,” Batiuk says. “Of course, I’m ably abetted by artist Chuck Ayers whose illustrations breathe life into the characters and brings character to their lives.”

Both Ayers and Batiuk were born in Akron and the two were classmates at Kent State University from 1965 to 1970.

Batiuk first published his cartoons in his elementary school newspaper in Elyria. He won a national scholastic art award in high school, and after graduating from Kent State became a high school art teacher.

It was teaching that inspired him to create Funky Winkerbean in 1972. Over the years he has confronted issues ranging from dyslexia and teen suicide to guns in the classroom, racial discrimination and teen-dating abuse.

Many will remember his touching cartoons about breast cancer, alcoholism and post-traumatic stress disorder.

After graduating from Kent State, Ayers began his cartooning career as a staff artist and editorial cartoonist for the Akron Beacon Journal. He taught cartooning at both his alma mater, Kent State, and the University of Akron and received a first-place award for editorial cartoons from the Ohio Associated Press in 1986.

In our recent reader poll about their favorite comics, many mentioned “Crankshaft” as a cartoon they’d like to see regularly.

James Lee of Dayton said that “Crankshaft,” along with “Baby Blues” and “Mutts,” remind him of the good old- fashioned comic strips of his childhood.

“They’re funny, bring warm feelings, and don’t make me work too hard,” Lee said.

Jim Kent of Oakwood also picked “Crankshaft” as a favorite.

He likes it, he said, because it “deals with life and living in today’s world via incidents and events with which we can identify — older folks, families, kids.”



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Springfield Entertainment

Comedy genius Jerry Lewis has died at 91
Comedy genius Jerry Lewis has died at 91

Legendary comedian, brash entertainer,  zany actor and dedicated humanitarian Jerry Lewis has died in Las Vegas at the age of 91. He died at his home at 9:15 a.m. , according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal and confirmed by his agent, Variety reported. Lewis was born Joseph Levitch in 1926 in Newark, New Jersey to show business parents...
Madonna celebrates turning 59, posting first family pic with all six kids
Madonna celebrates turning 59, posting first family pic with all six kids

Photographed for the very first time! Pop star Madonna shared a debut family portrait Friday that featured her and all six of her children. The Material Girl posted the photo on Instagram following her 59th birthday party at a two-day, gypsy-themed celebration in Italy. From top left Rocco, 17,  David, 11, and Mercy James, 11, to the right of...
New biography about David Bowie reveals details of his wild life
New biography about David Bowie reveals details of his wild life

An upcoming biography of David Bowie reveals new details about the singer’s life, including some strange propositions, NME reported. “David Bowie: A Life” will be released Sept. 12. Written by Dylan Jones, the biography is described as “intimate a portrait as may ever be drawn” about Bowie, who died Jan. 11, 2016, after...
Taylor Swift wipes social media accounts; website goes dark
Taylor Swift wipes social media accounts; website goes dark

Taylor Swift has wiped her social media accounts clean, and fans of the singer are trying to figure out why, Billboard reported. On average, Swift has put out a new album every two years since her debut in 2006. Her last album, however -- “1989” -- was released in October 2014. Friday morning, fans noticed that Swift had deleted...
Former Yankees star Derek Jeter, wife welcome first child 
Former Yankees star Derek Jeter, wife welcome first child 

Former New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter was called “The Captain” during his major-league career. Now he can be called a dad. Jeter’s wife Hannah gave birth to a girl, Bella Raine Jeter, on Thursday, according to the verified Twitter account of The Players’ Tribune, which was founded by Jeter in 2014. The Jeters were married...
More Stories