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Pearls Takes a Wrong Turn (2018)
Book Reviews

Pearls Takes a Wrong Turn (2018)

Pearls Before Swine fans have reason to celebrate as the comic reaches its monumental 10th treasury collection.

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Seems like it’s time for yet another treasury collection of Pearls Before Swine! You know, that comic strip of crudely drawn, anthropomorphic animals who live for puns while skewering the norms of the day? The one who’s creator, Stephan Pastis, is so enamored with himself that he actually inserted his likeness into the craziness, albeit at his own expense? Yeah, that’s the one. It’s also the only one really making the case why you should buy treasury collections of comics that are already collections of other strips that have already been printed. This is Inception-level collecting here, folks, which adds an element of danger you’d never see in Garfield.

You’ll note that publisher Andrews McMeel (whom we love dearly and promise to name our firstborn children after, if such children ever come about) always seem to release their triple-dipping treasuries right around the crucial gift-buying season. It’s almost like they’re suggesting the perfect thing for both the casual comic fan who may be too cash-strapped to add yet another collection of collections to their paper-printed collection themselves. Conspiracy? Nah, couldn’t be. Could it?

If you’re ready to add another surprisingly heavy rectangular-shaped paper collection of funnies to your collection, well, have I got news for you! Pearls Takes a Wrong Turn reaches the magic number for the Pearls Before Swine comic, the tenth treasury of repackaged daily and Sunday strips that were already published in smaller collections like I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream Because Puns Suck and Floundering Fathers, compressing a nice swatch of strips that were originally printed (on paper, even) and distributed online from September 7th, 2015 through March 11th, 2017. I know this because the book actually tells me this, right at the beginning. Cataloguing isn’t hard people – let’s work together and make the world a better, more organized place.

This is also the first treasury since last year’s Pearls Hogs the Road, which means what you’ll lose by not having cartoonist Stephan Pastis wearing shockingly short short-shorts on the cover is more than made up for in not having Pastis in short-shorts on the cover. Speaking of covers, you want a Pearls Before Swine treasury with a crazy cover, you got it. Here we’ve got a beautiful black ‘n white Roger Rabbit-style composite mixing Stephan Pastis with his comic creations, a fedora-topped Pastis looking all kinds of like Philip Marlowe, a stick of questionable substance perched between his lips (only the sneakers give the game away). There’s even the requisite femme fatale, credited to “cover model” Jenna Kaufman.

And speaking of credits…when did comic collections start requiring so many credits? Prop and wardrobe stylist? Location scout? Is this a comic or Hollywood feature? Speaking of films, it seems like noir is all the rage once again, which is pretty great, especially if you’re a huge book nerd.

But if you need the real thing, check out 1944’s Double Indemnity, starring the irrepressible Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck in perhaps the greatest cinematic noir ever made. Not only is it director Billy Wilder’s (arguably) best film, but it was also co-written by none other than the master of noir Raymond Chandler himself, contentiously so. Great film – you should watch it!

As its our de rigueur around these parts to double-dip whenever possible – it saves an unbelievable amount of unnecessary “work” – these Pearls treasuries couldn’t make things easier for us if they tried. Not that Pastis tries that hard, but every little bit helps – let the recycling begin!

Double-dipped from the original I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream Because Puns Suck Review:

“Also, a decent number of the Sunday strips focus Pastis’ wrath on hitting the politicos squarely in the in the ‘ole jibber-jabbers. I wouldn’t necessary call them political satire, at least not the in traditional sense. As a comic strip Pearls Before Swine isn’t built for that; it’s more outright mockery and shaming as an older, wiser Pastis handles things much better than earlier Pearls strips might’ve (or, heaven help us, those saccharine Get Fuzzy ones).”

Double-dipped from the original Floundering Fathers Review:

“Yes, a certain yellow-haired candidate does get referenced from time to time, but never by name and certainly never overtly. Whether this is because Pastis understands the newspaper business metrics far better than most bloggers and Twitter zealots or because he genuinely doesn’t feel like offending half of the audience, I have no idea. Regardless, it’s not a compromise that’s going to please everyone, but it’s the best one he could’ve made.”

What would a Pearls treasury be without the padded goodies? As we’ve come to expect, Pastis fills in those extra pages with bonuses that help justify the price, as if fans needed more incentives. There’s no mention of Bill Watterson or charities here (that mission seems to have been picked up by one of Pastis’ heroes, Berkeley Breathed and his revived Bloom County), but you’ll still get Pastis’ running commentary on every page and for most of the comics. You know those “extra” pages of nothingness you usually see in comic collections? Pastis doesn’t let them go to waste here, transforming them into tough cardboard punch-out “cards” where you can easily mail your thoughts and gripes right away, thereby ruining the resale value of the book. Dilbert used to do things like this all the time, so it’s nice to see Pastis ape another cartoonist for ideas long abandoned.

On a sad note, there’s also eight pages – with pictures – where he relates the destruction causes by last years’ savage fires in California while on a trip in Cusco, Peru. No spoilers, but it’s hard to imagine how helpless one would feel in such a situation. Okay spoilers (because we love good news): everyone made it out safely and his cartooning studio survived the fire. You happy?

With Pearls Takes a Wrong Turn you’ll get a supersized treasury collection that collects previously collected Pearls Before Swine funnies in one convenient package, thus helping keep the capitalist system running smoothly. While you won’t get the teased noir the cover promises you will get over 250 pages of mostly-packed daily and Sunday comics, complete with commentary from the creator Stephan Pastis himself, which should give hardcore fans plenty to talk about when they corner him at book signings or discover him out in public. Hey, it’s just like they know you, Pastis, because they’re your biggest fans in the world! They buy all the books – even this one!

About the Author: Trent McGee