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Three Questions For: Stephan Pastis

April 26, 2010
Stephan Pastis, creator of Pearls Before Swine

Art by Marc Librescu

Stephan Pastis is the cartoonist who created the comic strip Pearls Before Swine. Launched in 2002, the strip appears in 550 newspapers worldwide. Shortly after the strip was picked up for syndication, Stephan left his job as a litigation attorney  in the San Francisco Bay area to work on his art full-time. His new book, 50,000,000 Pearls Fans Can’t Be Wrong: A Pearls Before Swine Collection, was released on April 6th.

1. You’ve said that of all the characters in Pearls Before Swine, you relate most to Rat, who is an arrogant, self-centered misanthrope. In what ways are you similar to Rat and in what ways are you different?

I share with him my dim view of humanity and some of his ego. Unlike him, I’m not a complete sociopath.

2. Newspaper comics pages seem to be stuck in the middle of the last century. For the most part, newspapers run hackneyed comic strips that aren’t funny, along with strips that have been running since dinosaurs walked the Earth. What’s going on?

The demographics of the papers skew old. Editors sometimes cater to that group. As they do, young people don’t read the paper, and it skews even older. It’s a vicious cycle that some stagnant papers may take with them to the grave. Fortunately, not all papers and editors are like that.

3. The newspaper industry has been going through hard times. Do you think new technology like the iPad will rescue the industry and provide a revitalized platform for comic strips?

I’m hoping something does. And fast. Whether it’s the iPad or not, I couldn’t guess. For me, personally, I’m hoping to get Pearls animated for the big screen. We’ve been in negotiations, but so far, I haven’t found a deal I’ve liked where I retain the right to write the screenplay. I just can’t let someone run off with my characters.

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