I May Be Single By This Time Next Week

My wife Staci’s birthday is next week.  So I went to the grocery store to get her a cake.  The woman in the bakery section handed me a notebook of possible cake designs.  The whole first half of the book contained various types of birthday cakes.  Boring.

But in the back of the book were much more interesting cakes.  Non-birthday cakes.  St. Patrick’s Day cakes, Thanksgiving cakes, Father’s Day cakes.   After a great deal of thought,  I chose the Hanukkah cake.  On it is a big Menorah.

I should mention that we’re not Jewish.  Nor is her name “Stan,”  which is the name I gave the bakery woman to put on the cake.

I’m not even sure she knows what “shalom” means, which is too bad because that’s the special message that will be written next to the word “Stan.”

Before you start calling me immature and insensitive, you should know that I’m getting her a really nice present.

It’s a ladder from Home Depot.

I hope Stan likes ladders.


Hookah Pipes, Duck Mistakes and Spoilers

My Sunday strip is almost guaranteed to raise complaints, despite the fact that I went out of my way in the Friday strip to mention that these pipes are used in the Middle East to smoke tobacco.


(Warning: don’t read this next part if you don’t want me to give away some of the stuff that’s going to happen with Guard Duck in upcoming strips.)

Moreover, today’s strip contains a big goof.  Guard Duck is supposed to be gone from Rat and Pig’s house for awhile, going through his dark days following the break-up with Maura.   As you’ll see in the next couple weeks, he is living somewhere else now, drinking by himself and miserable.  Then I was going to reintroduce him back into Rat and Pig’s life  triumphantly a few months from now (in a strip I’ve already drawn). 

But  lo and behold, I look at today’s strip and see that he has somehow popped back into Rat and Pig’s life, screwing everything up.   Ah, the perils of long plotlines.  Remind me to never write a novel.

Now I have to figure out a way to separate him from Rat and Pig again.  Either that, or I need you all to erase today’s strip from your collective memory.  Since I’m not that smart, I will depend on the latter.

Freak Woman, Storytime and Croissants

Today the customer standing in front of me at Starbucks ordered her drink and the Starbucks employee did not hear it correctly.

The customer said, “Sorry.  I’ve been sick.  And my voice is a bit nasal-ey.”

Already, too much information.  But she went on.

Oh, did she go on.

Freak Woman launched into a one-minute long tale about her husband, her illness, her voice and something funny that her kid said.  I’m not sure what compelled her to think it was “Storytime at Stephan’s Starbucks,” but think it she did.

And all nine of us in line behind her got to listen.

Worse, the three employees behind the counter all felt compelled to stop what they were doing and listen to Freak Woman.  Their faces all said, “Please.  Tell me more.”

I wish she had turned around and seen my face.

It said, “I want to shove your head into the croissant counter.”

So if by chance you were that woman this morning in Santa Rosa, California, please stop telling stories at my Starbucks.

I’d hate to mess up a counterful of perfectly nice croissants.

A Heartwarming Story About My Closest Friend

My closest friend my whole life has been this guy named Emilio.  We’ve known each other since first grade, which means we’ve been friends for some 35 years.  If there’s one thing you need to know about Emilio, it is this:

I’ve never really liked him.

The problem is that when you’re me, you can’t be very choosy about friends.  So I haven’t been.  Hence Emilio.  Or as I like to call him, “That fat bastard.”

I bring this up only to tell you a brief story.

When Emilio and I are in a bar, he will inevitably start talking to other people in the bar.  I, on the other hand, like to stand in a corner talking to no one.  Sometimes facing the wall.

Invariably, Emilio will tell the people he’s just met (often two attractive girls) that the guy staring at the wall is his friend.  He then invites me over.

I say hi.  They ask what I do.

Emilio answers for me.  “He’s a cartoonist.”

One asks, “What do you draw?”

Emilio answers for me again. “Have you ever heard of the comic strip, ‘Calvin and Hobbes’?”

They shriek with excitement.

“Well,” Emilio says, “that’s not the one he draws.”

They sigh.  A sigh so audible that they cannot hear it when he adds, “He draws one called ‘Pearls Before Swine.'”

The girls say nothing.

I sip my beer.  I stare at the ground.

And Emilio laughs.

Damn that fat bastard.

Pearls Without Pig and Rat

Hey, we’ve got some great candidates already.










You won’t realize this until you see tomorrow’s Pearls strip, but the selection of the gummy bear strip is amazing.  (It might just be the same strip I chose to delete a character from tomorrow).

Garfield Minus Garfield

Pearls today mentions a comic strip called “Garfield Minus Garfield.”  It’s a real comic strip which you can see here.  The brilliant creator, Dan Walsh, simply takes existing Garfield strips and removes Garfield.  The result is mind-bendingly great and surreal.

Here are a few:



If anyone wants to create a few Pearls Without Pig or Pearls Without Rat, send them to me, and I’ll post a couple of the best ones.  The more surreal the better.