When Is the Right Time To Retire a Comic Strip?

It’s always tough to know when to retire a strip.  If you use as your example Calvin & Hobbes, The Far Side or Bloom County, the right amount seems to be somewhere between ten and fifteen years.

But if Peanuts had retired at that point, we’d have no Flying Ace or Woodstock or Peppermint Patty. In fact, Schulz’s most famous Sunday strip, the one with the characters lying on their backs identifying cloud formations, did not even come until the 10th year of the strip.

For me, the decision is a tough one.  I have to balance the freshness of Pearls with financial considerations, because after all, I’m only 42, and need to make money for a number of more years.

But the decision was made a whole lot easier for me last week, when I received this:

From: “BARR JAMES ALFRED”

Date: February 5, 2010 1:28:48 PM PST

To: unlisted-recipients:; (no To-header on input)

Subject: Notification of Bequest In Your Name

Notification of Bequest In Your Name

On behalf of the Trustees and Executor of the Estate of Late Scott Kennedy ,I hereby attempt to reach you again. I wish to notify you that late Scott Kennedy made you a beneficiary to his will.He left the sum of thirty one Million five Hundred Thousand Dollars.($31,500,000.00 ) to you  in the codicil and last testament to his will.  This may sound strange and  unbelievable to you, but  it is real and true.

Late Scott Kennedy until his death was a very dedicated Christian who  loved to give out. His great philanthropy earned him numerous awards during  his life time, Late Scott Kennedy died at the age of 71 years.According  to him this money is to support your activities and  to help the poor and the needy.   Please You should fill the information below for more directives

1.Full Name

2.Telephone number,

3.Age

4.contact address/Country

5.occupation

6.identification

Yours In Service,

Barr.James Alfred (Esq)

At first, I questioned the email because I found it strange and unbelievable.  But he knew I would think that.  Look, he says:

“This may sound strange and unbelievable to you, but it is real and true.”

Then I started thinking, “But why would this Scott Kennedy guy leave me this money?”  But he explains that too.  See, it says Scott Kennedy was:

“…a very dedicated Christian who loved to give out.”

But then I was like,”Wait, wait, wait… how does Scott Kennedy know me?”  But he obviously does.  See, he says:

“According to him this money is to support your activities.”

See, he knows I have activities.  Which I do!  I like to sit on the beach and drink, and I want to do that for the rest of my life.  But that takes money.  Which now I have!

I know what you’re thinking.  There’s still the formality of sending him the information he wants.  But I’ve already done it!  And to be extra thorough, I threw in my social security number.

So when is the right time to quit a strip?

When Scott Kennedy dies.

Rest in peace, friend.

64 thoughts on “When Is the Right Time To Retire a Comic Strip?

  1. Umm…
    You do know that this is a fake, right?
    I get these often, but I think anyone with an IQ of 25 can realize that these are bullshit.
    I hope that you are smarter than that.

  2. man i want some random people to know me like they know you…what a great opportunity!!!!! =O)

  3. Please don’t stop. Rat is my life. I absolutely love rat. He is part of the reason that I read this comic. He makes it so violent, and I love violence. So plz dont retire.

  4. LoL…

    and I thought I got good emails..I know that million dollar check is bound to hit my checking account soon.

  5. I don’t think you really knew this guy, or else you’d know his first name was really “Late.” Late Scott Kennedy. If you want his money, you should at least show him the respect of using his first name, Late.

  6. Hmmm, you seem the kind of fellow I’m looking for, let me make you an offer you can’t refuse!

  7. Wow, I love the people who actually think that you aren’t using sarcasm. *sigh*
    I thought it was interesting that, of course, Mr. Kennedy gave you money but they still don’t know what your name is. Just saying.

  8. So for those of you who are sadly too dumb to realize that he knows its a scam. Realize the point of “When Scott Kennedy dies.” Was there is no Scott Kennedy so he can’t die. This strip will not die.

    Yesss!

  9. Your correspondent Cindy is correct. My fathers first name truly was Late. In fact he named me after his father, Early.

    I can attest that my father truly did in fact leave you $31,500,000.00.

    I have several other wealthy relatives who are quite old so maybe one of your readers will be lucky enough to get millions from their estates when they pass away.

    Enjoy your new found riches.

    Early Scott Kennedy

  10. When you get the money I’d like to talk with you about investing in a miracle drug that will make your penis stand up and sing.

  11. Why was Scott Kennedy late? Did his watch stop? Or was it just his ticker?

    I think that Rat is James Alfred Barr, and he just landed a JAB on you. It also looks like he enlisted one of the crocs as his secretary.

  12. Maybe you should put this in the strip. It would actually make a funny story line if you “lost” control of the strip.

  13. Ha ha. This blog post was only “So-So”, but reading the responses that took it SERIOUSLY was comedy gold.

    I’m pretty sure you did this deliberately, as a sort of performance art piece. And you are a genius for doing so. Made my day.

  14. What, is this a warning to watch out for this kind of e-mail fraud? Considering you’re an ex-lawyer, I highly doubt you stupidly sent you’re social security number. But then nobody ever said you had to be smart to be a lawyer. Just work hard and pass the bar. Which means een a lawyer can be conned. But somehow I doubt you’ve been conned in this instance.

  15. If I weren’t so amused at some of these folks who thought you were serious, I’d feel bad for you, Pastis, that they actually believe you’re that dumb.

  16. Stephan, I think you’re going to be “late” if you ever think about leaving Staci and drinking with “hoochies” till dawn. There will never be enough money to hide from a woman scorned.

    P.S. It’s really a nice thing to sleep with both eyes closed. You wake up feeling refreshed each morning ready to take on the world.

    Love your humor. Keep leaving them laughing!!!

  17. You definitely changed the last part of this post (re activities). (I know, you never tweak your posts – like the mysterious disappearance of the post about an overweight schoolmate with an Old Testament name who never moved until money was dropped.) Staci must have read it because I, on Staci’s behalf and long-suffering wives everywhere, was about ready to boycott your strip. And I still might.

  18. Don’t be expecting your money to get to you anytime soon. Like most dead people, the Late Scott Kennedy is never on time for anything.

    And yes, I *did* just plagiarize one of your first PBS strips (was that the first official one?) for the sake of a comment on your blog.

  19. Mr. Pastis –

    After reviewing your blog posting, I have instructed my barrister, James Alfred (Esq), to remove you as the beneficiary to my will. Had I but known that the extent of your “activities” were to sit on the beach and drink, I would never have elected you as my beneficiary.

    Instead, I shall be directing the vast sum of my estate to the development of a miracle drug that will make one’s penis stand up and sing.

    And ignore the comments of my son, Early – we disowned him years ago.

  20. And to think, the only thing I get in my email people telling me I have a small…personal…body part. It’s quite rude.

  21. Hey! I got one of those, too! Barrister James Alfred contacted me as well. Aren’t we the lucky ones? I wasn’t going to answer him until I read this. Following your example, I not only gave him my SSN, but my mom’s maiden name, too! Do we have to split the 31.5 mil or do we each get a pile of dough?

  22. One day I plan on collecting my Nigerian benifactors to each other so that between the 5 of them they could buy Nigeria and solve the problems that plague that country.

  23. Ha! Little does he know that you’re so broke stealing your identity wouldn’t do him a bit of good.

  24. Ohhhh dear… please don’t retire, even after your ship comes in! We Love Pearls! What do all those rich retired comic strip artists do after they retire anyway?

  25. I’m going to ignore the scam part of your post and focus instead on the idea regarding comic strip length. You are correct in thinking that a strip should run no longer than 10-15 years. Outside of Shulz and maybe Adams no one has shown the ability to keep their strip fresh for any longer than that. I understand that when you’re actually doing the strip financial concerns come into play but if you want to be remember as a Watterson or Larson type figure, if you want to leave a legacy, you have to know when to walk away.

  26. BAH! Stephan, you forgot to give him your account number! Now you have to wait for the check! LOL! Good stuff.

  27. Pastis, the right time to end a strip is when it stops being entertaining to whoever created it. What’s the point of writing a joke if you don’t think it’s funny? So, when you stop laughing inside, cut the strip. Until then, f#-$ whoever says it ain’t funny.

  28. I hope you plan to share with your loyal readership…and I’m not just talking words of wisdon…SHOW US THE MONEY!

  29. Kris, I mentioned this interview in one of his earlier posts. But praising Watterson always bears repeating:

    Sorry to take you out of the limelight for a moment, but have you read the recent interview of Bill Watterson? He says in part:

    “It’s always better to leave the party early. If I had rolled along with the strip’s popularity and repeated myself for another five, 10 or 20 years, the people now ‘grieving’ for ‘Calvin and Hobbes’ would be wishing me dead and cursing newspapers for running tedious, ancient strips like mine instead of acquiring fresher, livelier talent. And I’d be agreeing with them.”

    Isn’t he just the Captain Sullenberger of comics?! Pearls is great, obviously (but a little too mean and dark for my tastes sometimes), but C&H is just the gold standard of comics. And I bet Bill Watterson took his wife on a nice honeymoon and doesn’t pick on shrimpy twelve year olds. But if you print this you also get points … in that vaporous book of points.

  30. Wow, I got emailed telling me that I won the British lottery…TWICE. We should pool our money and buy an island nation or five.

  31. Fifty years, Mr. Pastis. You made a deal with the devil. Give us fifty years of Pearls.

    And more Mr. Snuffles, please.

  32. I don’t know what’s funnier- this blog entry or the morons who think you actually fell for this scam.

  33. BTW, for what it’s worth, I don’t think you should retire anytime soon. First, you’re no Bill Watterson. And for all his attributes, he’s got that temperamental artist thing going. You’ve just got that temperamental thing going. Second, many of us appreciate the long-running strips and still think they’re funny. It’s like “more cow bell.” The same silly jokes are funny. You need to get off your soapbox about some of these older strips. I STILL laugh at Garfield and, yes, Blondie. I don’t laugh at Family Circus much, but maybe little kids like it. And you certainly aren’t above copying these strips that you mock. Rat kicking pig. Rat mocking pig. Rat hitting pig. Now where have I seen that before? Does GARFIELD ring a bell, Mr. Pasties? So don’t retire anytime soon. Just be nicer to Mrs. Pasties.

  34. DAMN YOU SCOTT!! YOU SAID THE $31MILL WAS MINE FOR OUR YEARS OF FRENDSHEEP AT YOU GO AND LEAVE IT TO SOME “COMIC” STRIP WRITER! WHY NOT JUST LEAVE IT TO A GUY WHO WRITES JINGLES FOR PERSONAL HYGIENE PRODUCTS???

  35. Steven, please let the executor know that I believe he missed contacting me, too, as I am sure he supports my activities as well. Though I hope it is true for me I can only say I would be very upset were Pearls Before Swine to leave the comics scene. It has brought so much laughter to me.

  36. Damn…you mean those guys aren’t real?????….surprised they didn’t try and charge you $2500 to release the money too!

  37. hahahaha! Yeah, yeah. those things are so cheesy. If I ever see one on the net, I think I’m gonna bust a gut. :) as to retiring (a serious question . . .) whenever your fans will let you. I don’t know much about comic strips. (hardly anything at all, in fact) but I know that some writers have been begged to make more, more, MORE! Especially if they’re in a series. sorry to say this, but you probably won’t retire. :) Because if no one else, I won’t stop asking for more. Hey, by the way, you brought the Lions back, I see! thanks! I was beginning to wonder . . . :)

  38. You are too funny. I think I may like your blog even more than your strip and that’s pretty hard :)

  39. Stephan,
    You are too late. I was contacted by Mr. Barr James Alfred (Esq) and I am already much further down the process than you. I have already sent in not only all of my information but I have also wired the $3,000 required for the administration of the wire transfer AND I have sent them my bank routing numbers. What a great return on an investment! $31.5 million for just $3,000. I am expecting my $31.5 million any day now…

    Yep, Annny day now… (I wonder what’s taking so long)

  40. Yes yes, my family will give you all that and more!, just send me your credit card number and its all yours!

  41. Retire Pearls Before Swine? No times 1,000,000,000! Do you really want “Snuffy Smith” and “Mary Worth” to outlast Pig, Rat, and the host of others??

  42. No! God damn, Mr. Late Scott must be senile. I, too, was promised a sum of many millions of dollars in his will! This leaves me to wonder what I will do no that you have stolen my inheritance.
    But wait- I have also won the online lottery, the british lottery (twice), and then my Great-Aunt thrice removed died in her estate in Kenya, leaving me $21 million USD.
    I kind of forgot about that. Guess I’m well off after all.

  43. This is the las garbage I received:

    WILLIAM FAMOR CHAMBER’S
    ADDRESS: ARENA WHITESTOWN MAIN WAY
    TALLAGHT DUBLIN 22 IRELAND
    TEL: – +447024058708
    ———————————————————————————-
    NOTIFICATION OF BEQUEST

    ON BEHALF OF THE TRUSTEES AND EXECUTOR OF THE ESTATE OF LATE SCOTT KENNEDY, I HEREBY ATTEMPT TO REACH YOU AGAIN. I WISH TO NOTIFY YOU THAT LATE SCOTT KENNEDY MADE YOU A BENEFICIARY TO HIS WILL. HE LEFT THE SUM OF THIRTY MILLION FIVE HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS. ($31,500,000.00) TO YOU IN THE CODICIL AND LAST TESTAMENT TO HIS WILL. THIS MAY SOUND STRANGE AND UNBELIEVABLE TO YOU, BUT IT IS REAL AND TRUE.

    LATE SCOTT KENNEDY UNTIL HIS DEATH WAS A VERY DEDICATED CHRISTIAN WHO LOVED TO GIVE OUT. HIS GREAT PHILANTHROPY EARNED HIM NUMEROUS AWARDS DURING HIS LIFE TIME, LATE SCOTT KENNEDY DIED AT THE AGE OF 71YEARS. ACCORDING TO HIM THIS MONEY IS TO SUPPORT YOUR ACTIVITIES AND TO HELP THE POOR AND THE NEEDY.
    PLEASE YOU SHOULD FILL THE INFORMATION BELOW FOR MORE DIRECTIVES IN ORDER THAT WE MAKE THE FUND REACH YOU WITH OUT ANY DELAY.

    1. FULL NAME
    2. MOBILE/HOME TELEPHONE NUMBER,
    3. SEX
    4. AGE
    5. CONTACT ADDRESS/COUNTRY
    6. OCCUPATION
    7. NATIONALITY
    8. NATIONAL ID OR DRIVER’S LICENSE.

    AWAIT YOUR IMMEDIATE RESPONSE
    YOURS IN SERVICE,

    WILLIAM FAMOR

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