-- It's an iconic comic strip: "Funky Winkerbean" runs in more than 400 newspapers and celebrates its 45th anniversary this year -- and the characters have grown up with its creator, the strip showing marriage, children, and, in the case of Les and Lisa, even more serious issues.
"After they're married, Lisa is diagnosed with breast cancer," says Tom Batiuk, an Akron native, Kent State University graduate, and current Medina, Ohio resident. "Having grown into adulthood, I was starting to hear from friends and family who were dealing with the illness."
Lisa's cancer goes into remission but then an event in Batiuk's life made him revisit Lisa's story.
"Then I was diagnosed with cancer, prostate cancer, and I realized I'd only skimmed over the surface of the story in the first telling," says Batiuk. "It was much more highly charged and emotions were much stronger."
Lisa eventually succumbs to cancer. Batiuk took the entirety of Lisa's story and, this month, released "Lisa's Legacy Trilogy," a three-volume set that chronicles Lisa and Les' life as well as their battle with the disease. A portion of the proceeds go to breast cancer research but Batiuk also wants to raise awareness.
"Use her story as a catalyst, to talk about the disease," Batiuk says. If he has one message, it's get screened early. It saved his life and might've saved Lisa's. Still, according to Batiuk, Lisa lives on.
"With the Lisa's Legacy Fund for Cancer Research, it's nice to see her there and still contributing hopefully in the real world," he says.
"Lisa's Legacy Trilogy" is available at your local bookstore as well as at funkywinkerbean.com/books.html. If you want to donate for breast cancer research at UH Seidman Cancer Center, the link is: LisasLegacyFund.org