[A]s readers mourn Lisa Moore, they may find some comfort in knowing that writer Tom Batiuk promises big changes for the story.
In May, Batiuk returned to a breast-cancer story line he started in 1999. Lisa had a mastectomy, completed treatment, recovered her good health, had a daughter and lived happily with Les.
When Lisa received news in the spring that her cancer had returned, many readers were unhappy. "Don't let Lisa die" was the message they sent.
The messages imploring Batiuk to devise a miracle cure for Lisa tapered off when it became apparent where things were going, he said. Now he's getting e-mails from those who have been touched by cancer.
"They are getting ahold of me and saying they are gratified that somebody is doing this and that somebody is telling the true story, which is very, very nice. And that's the majority."
The response from cancer patients and those who have lost loved ones surprised him a bit.
"Because I certainly could have understood that this could have been coming at the wrong time for certain people," he said. "But I guess it's just human nature. Everyone approaches things differently."
Batiuk is ready to bring some hope to the story line and will make adjustments to the strip, he said. After Lisa's death, the Funky Winkerbean timeline jumps ahead 10 years.
Batiuk said he didn't want to go though a year or more of mourning with Lisa's widower, Les, and he wanted to move the characters forward.
Les will be a single father dealing with Summer, his 15-year-old daughter. Funky will be 46.
"All the core characters are going to have families," said Batiuk, 60. "I think that reflects the readers who followed Funky all along."