No other cartoonist working today enjoys his job as much as Stephan Pastis. That’s what it seems like, anyway. Where his peers seem content letting publishers simply package comic strips into pre-formatted templates, print them out (on recycled paper!), and quickly ship them off to retailers across the world, that’s not enough for this lawyer-turned-cartoonist. He may do all of those things as well, but not without putting his distinctive stamp of approval on everything first.
He even rips Berkeley Breathed’s old skit by putting himself on the covers. What an ego on this guy, huh?
Pearls Falls Fast: A Pearls Before Swine Treasury, the seventh such thing, not only sports the most audacious live-action/cartoon cover work yet, but it also reprints all the cartoons from two prior collections: Unsportsmanlike Conduct and Rat’s Wars, both originally published last year. So does this make this super sized Treasury a double-dip for fans and collectors alike? You betcha, but that also makes it a steal for those too lazy (or cheap) to have picked up the individual books. Be it Greed or Thrift, either way this one volume has you covered.
But it won’t just be daily and colorized Sunday comics, all annotated with original newspaper publishing dates, you’ll be getting here. As we’ve come to expect from prior Pearls Treasuries there’s a running commentary on every page from Pastis himself to help explain select strips, throw in some mighty fine trivia, or just flesh out the white space.
He even burns through a few extra pages towards the back by including drawings he did as a kid in the appropriately named “Wading into the Kiddie Pool”, where he makes the astonishing observation that, unlike Mozart, he “wasn’t born an artistic genius.” He merely blossomed into one.
So in the spirit of things I’ll happily double-dip into my own prior reviews of both collections, gleefully cribbing select text and pictures, as it seems like the right thing to do. On with the show.
Double-dipped from the original Unsportsmanlike Conduct Review:
“Predictable, you betcha, but it’s still a winning formula after all these years because we’re always in on the gag, and because Pastis’ enthusiasm for his craft remains as raw and unadulterated as ever. It’s hard not to smile at the clueless Gopher Grenade Brigade or at the debut of Pastis’ mom (at least a chain smoking, beer swilling, bird blasting version) after Rat’s failed revolution against the government goes awry, litigiously empowered crocodiles, or the (mis)adventures of Stevie Sheep, the latest of Rat’s attempts at a book for kids. Unsportsmanlike Conduct may be the 14th collection of a comic strip just now hitting its teenage years but remains, remarkably, one showing no signs of growing pains.”
Double-dipped from the original Rat’s Wars Review:
“If nothing else, Rat’s Wars showcases Stephan Pastis’ unique ability to make his comic strip, now blazing into its second decade, predictably unpredictable. Behind the simple artwork lay one of that most rare of things: a fully engaged, topical, and satirically relevant comic strip that’s just flat out hilarious. What a treat for longtime comic fans such as myself, who thought the days of picking up a new printed collection with glee were nearly extinct, to have such a treat to look forward to. Recommended without hesitation and looking forward to the next!”
Pearls Falls Fast: A Pearls Before Swine Treasury is either a shockingly crass move by one of the cartoon world’s biggest egos or an astonishing money-saving bundle of joy by a charitable soul. Either way, you’ll get every single comic strip, dailies and Sundays, that already appeared in the Unsportsmanlike Conduct and Rat’s Wars collections. Which means its hilarious, and the extra commentaries only reaffirm that Stephan Pastis either has too much time on his hands, or is the luckiest cartoonist out there.