Comic Strip Character Max Arrives at Wilmington College

April 6, 2006

Even though this year's freshmen have been on campus for only a few days, Wilmington College's Class of 2005 has already distinguished itself from the 130 previous groups of first year students in the school's history. It has a comic strip character as a member. That's right, Max Murdoch arrived with his classmates Monday. He moved into Denver Hall, attended the New Student Convocation with his parents and–like his fellow freshmen–renewed the College's long-time tradition of new students "signing in" at the Campus Rock. He has already met his roommate, hooked up his computer to the Internet and campus network, picked up football and soccer schedules and tried a Skyline 3-way chili in the Student Dining Hall. Don't take our word for it. Max's arrival at Wilmington College is being chronicled in more than 325 newspapers across the country–with pictures. Make that illustrations. Wilmington College is a subplot setting for the Universal Press Syndicate's Crankshaft, a comic strip by Funky Winkerbean creator Tom Batiuk, whose real-life son, Brian, is a junior at WC. Crankshaft, first published in 1986, is based on the exploits of the irascible school bus driver (named Crankshaft) in Funky Winkerbean who has a married daughter with a teenage son, Max. Batiuk said once his son decided to enroll at WC, the College was a natural setting for Max's exploits. "I became aware of Wilmington because my sister (Mary Ellen Batiuk) is a professor there," he said. "The decision on whether it was a good fit was Brian's. He was influenced by the size, the setting and the opportunity for more individualized attention from the faculty in smaller sized classes." In the initial comic strips featuring Max and family visiting Wilmington College, such campus icons as College Hall, the Campus Rock, the Simon Goodman Memorial Carillon, Denver Hall cupola and Marble Hall were easily distinguishable. The recent installments showed a van loaded to the hilt with "Wilmington College or bust" painted on the window and Max checking in at the Student One Stop Service Center, the place where students take care of their accounts, academic records and financial aid. Also, Max moved into the residence hall. Future issues will include Max being welcomed to campus at the New Student Convocation, saying good-bye to his parents and their life at home without Max, as well as other experiences he has as a first year student at WC. Max's "presence" on campus at Monday's New Student Convocation did not go unnoticed by President Dan DiBiasio. "Over the next four years, I hope Max's only encounters with the president's office are positive ones," he said. Past issues of Crankshaft can be viewed at the website: