Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Pearls Before Swine

I am not quite sure what to make of Pearls Before Swine by Stephan Pastis as a newspaper strip because that's not a format I read it. The only newspaper I come across that carries it is this free one which I read very irregularly on buses, and I have not quite got into web strip format (web comics I read tend to be blogs, not dailies).
Instead I have been reading it in big chunks in treasuries, there's four of them out at the moment. What is interesting is that Mr. Pastis provides lots of comments on individual strips, telling about inspirations, reactions, planned alternative takes, pointing out details (usually mocking his own drawings) etc. And considering how Pastis makes regular appearances in the strip itself and there are also numerous references on being a comic strip, poking fun on other strips and so forth, there's a good deal of meta buzz going on without it being either the main point of the series like with e.g. Sam's Strip but far more than in pretty much every normal strip.

There is something deeply satisfying about Pearls Before Swine. Beside the frequent metacommentary, there's the crude and simplistic but extremely functional artwork, main characters named Rat, Pig, Goat etc. and writing ranging from really bad puns (the so-bad-it's great kind) to poignant social commentary to touching moments to funny jokes. It's practically the Platonic Idea of a comic strip.

And despite Pastis' claims of PBS being a dark strip, I actually find it quite positive. I am somewhat tired of cynicism and hopelessness of strips like Dilbert (I am perfectly capable of being highly cynical, dark and hopeless by myself, I don't need help by amateurs) and I absolutely loathe sadism as source of humour. Garfield started this trend by its popularity and while it was funny in its first years and put some variety to the concept, it inspired a number of copycats who thought making a strip of a character who torments other characters is comedy gold. So strips like Get Fuzzy have no appeal to me.
But a strip that is funny without being negative or sugary, there's not too many of those.
And as far as alleged edginess goes, my local paper carries Fingerpori, Viivi &Wagner, Wulffmorgentaler and Biller so my views of what is acceptable content in a comic page of a newspaper are somewhat desentisized...

I'm a fan of the band too.


  1. Can't agree with you about DILBERT. I love that strip! Own several collections, and signed up to have the new strips emailed to me every morning. It probably helps that I can relate to it, because I've worked in one of those crappy companies, and pretty much experienced everything Dilbert satirizes (from clueless bosses to annoying coworkers).

  2. Guess the life experience influences a bit, my workplaces have been more on academia and government facilities which of course have plenty of insanity of their own, but Dilbertworld falls outside those.
    I don't avert my eyes if I come across Dilbert and I have laughed at the strips but some parts of it rub me the wrong way. Well, as far as genres go, comedy is one of the more subjective ones...

    And I also know some perfectly sensible people who enjoy Get Fuzzy. But that's one of the strips (but not the only one) whose apppeal I don't get at all...not sure if it's me or the others who are to blame.