The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Saturday, January 03, 2004

I already suspected the comic strip "Pearls Before Swine" had something going for it back in November, when it presented a touchingly funny commentary on the American over-reliance on prescription behavior-modification drugs for kids. Now, after a moving strip this past Sunday on Mideast schoolbus bombings, I'm sure of it.

Naturally, an installment like this can't run without freaking some people out—the same people whose mentalities can't comprehend that comic strips are a medium, not a genre. So in response to a minor uproar, the St. Petersburg Times conducted an interview with strip creator Stephan Pastis about that Sunday strip.

I've come to the conclusion that Pastis is a pretty cool dude, on the basis of these comments alone:

Q: Do comics have to be appropriate for children to read?

A: I don't know why some people say the entire comic section must be intended for kids. Historically, that would eliminate all of Krazy Kat (the greatest strip of all time, in my opinion), many of the strips reflecting the deep anxiety and depression of Charlie Brown in the mid '50s, the unbelievably moving Doonesbury strips about the bombing of Cambodia/Vietnam in the early '70s and the terrific Bloom County strips that showed what cosmetic companies were doing to animals in the '80s. And those were four of the greatest strips ever produced.

He's far from alone in considering George Herriman's "Krazy Kat" the all-time great, of course. But that he'd cite it unsolicited bodes well.

I had never heard of "Pearls" before it was added to the comics lineup of the Times a couple of months ago. But it's rapidly becoming one of my "new" (to me) favorites, along with "The Boondocks" and "Get Fuzzy".