Scoff and Scorn Before Swine

Posted by on December 14th, 2009 at 8:18 AM

Stephan Pastis is one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet—self-effacing, shy even, soft-spoken, modest. Not at all the sort of fellow you’d imagine him to be judging from the most conspicuous evidence we have at hand, his comic strip. Based upon that evidence, we must conclude that Pastis is an arrogant egomaniacal blow-hard who scoffs mercilessly at his readers and his fellow cartoonists. How can I say that? Come now: anyone who names his comic strip Pearls Before Swine is expressing an overweening disdain for his readers. Day after day, he casts his “pearls”—his comic strip—before the “swine,” his readers. That conclusion is inescapable.

As for his similar disdain for his professional colleagues, we have as evidence the infantile scrawl of his drawings in the strip. Stick figures, slightly modified. But we know Pastis can draw better than that. Whenever he draws himself or any of the characters from other strips that he regularly dragoons into cameo appearances in his, we see a drawing ability on display that is superior to the stick-figure style he assumes when rendering Rat, Pig, Goat, and the rest. When he draws little Jeffy from The Family Circus, Pastis apes Bil Keane’s style perfectly. And since Keane (both father and son, who is now doing the feature solo) has considerable drawing ability at his fingertips, we know, perforce, that Pastis does to.

So when he draws his characters in a way that they resemble hors d’oeuvres on toothpicks, we know he’s doing minimal work, artistically speaking. In effect, he’s ridiculing his hard-working fellow cartoonists, many of whom spend almost every waking hour making the elaborate drawings in their strips. I can almost hear him scoffing: “You fools! You spend your lives pushing ink around on paper, but I have achieved fame and fortune with the barest resemblance of drawing in my strip. Don’t you wish you’d thought of this?” Scorn drips from every syllable.

But, as I say, Stephan Pastis is actually one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet—as long as you meet him somewhere other than in his comic strip.

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One Response to “Scoff and Scorn Before Swine”

  1. WLLilly says:

    …Are you sure he doesn’t use some sort of ” sampling ” and/or digital assitance to help w/the duplicates ?