And I Quote: Stephan Pastis Says Dante Couldn't Have Imagined Comic-Con

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Newspaper cartoonist Stephan Pastis produces an oddball strip "peopled" by zebra-hungry (but dim) crocodiles, a passive-aggressive rat, a sort-of-pig-on-the-street pig … and Pearls before Swine is laugh-out-loud funny an impressive percentage of the time. The most recent collection from Andrews McMeel is Pearls Blows Up reprinting Feb. 17, 2008-Aug. 22, 2009, and it's well worth your investment. Among its other charms are Pastis' annotations of many installments. ("That's supposed to be Osama bin Laden in the last panel. Sadly, he's about as recognizable as Saddam Hussein was a few days earlier. That brings up an important rule of cartooning: If the joke is dependent on the reader recognizing someone in the last panel, it's a good idea to make that person recognizable.")

But I was struck by his commentary in the introduction to the volume: a discussion of his appearance at Comic-Con International: San Diego in 2009. As in:

"I was in a land not even Dante could have envisioned.
"People dressed like animals. People dressed like superheroes. People dressed like Star Wars characters.
"And they don't just dress like them, they act like them.
"Take my word on this. There is nothing more disturbing in all of human existence than watching a forty-five-year-old man dressed like a Stormtrooper battle a fifty-two-year-old man dressed like Luke Skywalker.
"It is the kind of debauchery that made God flood the earth in the time of Noah and surely must tempt him to do it again."

But Pastis also says he had a great time - and it was not so much the convention, as it was the wonders of the convention combined with those of San Diego itself. Which is something to consider, while we agonize over finding a San Diego hotel and begin to schedule what we're going to be doing each day of our annual adventure. Pastis wasn't quite ready for it when he first arrived; are you? And have you figured out yet what you will be doing there this year?


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