Funky Winkerbean Artist Intensifies Character's Cancer Struggle

MEDINA, Ohio (AP) - The man in the Cleveland area who draws "Funky Winkerbean" says the comic strip's return to a cancer story line follows his own diagnosis.

Beginning with today's strip, main character Lisa Moore finds her cancer, which has returned after seven years, has gotten much worse.

Strip creator Tom Batiuk (ba-TOOK') learned about three years ago that he had prostate cancer and underwent surgery in January. He says his experience showed him that he had only skimmed the surface of the subject.

The Lisa character was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 1999 and underwent a mastectomy and chemotherapy.

Batiuk works out of a studio at his home in Medina (meh-DY'-nuh), about 30 miles southwest of Cleveland.