On Strips: Pearls of Fortune

By | Friday, May 16, 2014 1 comment
Here are this week's Pearls Before Swine...
This isn't the first time Stephan Pastis has "borrowed" characters from other strips and/or poked fun at them. Given the newspaper environment, it's typical that you would provide a little context for readers unfamiliar with the strips you're poking fun at. Not every paper carries Andy Capp, after all.

Now, with only three panels to work with, it's difficult to provide a lot of backstory as well as including a joke. So what Pastis usually does is spread the backstory out over the week's strips. You'll note that he doesn't actually identify the characters until the Wednesday strip and, even then, he doesn't call Peter by name, only "the guy from B.C."

With Andy Capp, he smartly writes the jokes around the character's near-perpetual drunkeness and generally abrasive demeanor, but they don't require any particular knowledge of the character. "Gone with the Wino" is a fair enough joke on its own merits; that it's coming from Andy only adds some extra dimension to the gag.

With Peter, though, his appearances here make no sense. I mean, if you're familiar with B.C. and know how Johnny Hart did a fair amount of proselytizing in his later years of the strip, it kind of fits, but even then the "good news" line comes across as something of a non-sequitur. And then the "Gone with the Jesus" makes no sense at all, given that A) all but one of the letters are in place and B) there's not enough space for "Jesus" in the first place!

I can kind of see where Pastis was going with this, and he does a fair job emulating the differing artistic styles, but even in the gag-a-day format, you need to provide some basic storytelling and provide readers with sufficient context for a character's actions.
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Anonymous said...

Thank you for making not just one, but TWO points on how the phrase "Gone with the Jesus" isn't a valid response given the state of the board. I really thought it did fit until you pointed out there wasn't enough room. Thank heavens!