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VIDEO: Crankshaft, Funky Winkerbean Artist Talks about New Mural at Kent State

Chuck Ayers and Tom Batiuk partnered to tell the story of college life at their alma mater

Crankshaft cartoonist Chuck Ayers got a once in-a-lifetime treat Wednesday.

Ayers watched as his newspaper comic strip was transformed into a massive mural lining the walls of a new student lounge at his alma mater: .

Ayers, class of 1971, partnered with friend and colleage Tom Batiuk, author of the comic strip Funky Winkerbean and fellow Kent State alumnus, to create a mural depicting the college student experience from acceptance to graduation. The mural lines the walls of a new student lounge, called "The Nest," that will debut to students on Monday.

Timeka Rashid, director of the Center for Student Involvement at Kent State, approached Batiuk and Ayers with the idea of putting their characters in a mural to give the lounge a sense of alumni pride.

If you look closely, you can see both artists are memorialized in one section of the mural.

Ayers said the mural represents about 100 hours of work for the artists. The university will dedicate it on the 40th anniversary of the debut of Funky Winkerbean on Tuesday, March 27, from noon to 2 p.m. during the official opening of the new student lounge.

"As a kid, my dream was always to create a comic strip, and Kent State is where the foundations for those dreams were laid,” Batiuk said in prepared remarks. “It was an honor to be asked to display my creations at my alma mater."

Batiuk graduated from Kent State in 1969 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and a certificate in education, and became a junior high school teacher. His teaching experiences inspired him to create the Funky Winkerbean comic strip that chronicles the lives of a group of students from the fictitious Westview High School. The comic strip is syndicated internationally to about 600 newspapers and has a fan base of about 50 million.

Ayers graduated from Kent State in 1971 with a degree in graphic design and worked as an artist at the Akron Beacon Journal for more than 25 years. He served as the paper’s editorial cartoonist for 13 years, and also taught cartooning for several years at Kent State and the University of Akron. Ayers began working on the Crankshaft comic strip with Batiuk in 1987.

Zachary Thoren March 21, 2012 at 08:57 PM
These guys are a huge inspiration for me. Being a KSU (soon-to-be) grad, I hope to create something as lasting and as meaningful as the strips they've created. Great story, Patch.
Darci Kracht March 22, 2012 at 12:43 PM
Where is the mural?
Saul Daniels March 22, 2012 at 01:29 PM
Hey Chuck... When did the beard get so white? Now you look like me! All the best to you.
Erin Michael March 22, 2012 at 02:44 PM
@ Darci - The lounge they renovated - containing this mural - is on the 2nd floor of the Student Center. It was formerly a music listening center.
sally March 22, 2012 at 03:37 PM
Nice work Chuck! I love your talent. So excited you had the opportunity to do this at KSU.

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