I Am Going to Change the World

I am disturbed by mindless conformity to long-held traditions.  And I am determined to change them.

I am starting with a drink now unanimously referred to as “Pepsi.”

In restaurants, bars, fast-food joints and grocery stores, I have taken to  using the product’s God-given, full name:  Pepsi Cola.

It is harder than it seems.

For example, try telling the person at the Taco Bell window that you would like two “Pepsi Colas.”  And don’t just say it.  Over-enunciate each syllable for emphasis, as though the person to whom you are speaking is deaf and you are facilitating their reading of your slow-moving lips.  And wait for the response.

“You mean Pepsi?” they will ask.

Then there is a  pause while they consider the possibilities:

1) The customer I am dealing with is developmentally disabled and I should not stare.

2) The customer is from an obscure Central Asian nation and I should not stare.

3) I am not getting enough money to deal with this shithead.

While the Taco Bell employee ponders this, I, too, ponder.

I ponder all the revolutionaries that have come before me:  Jefferson, Paine, Marx, Lenin, King, Gandhi.  And I know that at that moment I am in that line of great men.

“No, no.  Not Pepsi,” I reply, pausing briefly to smile.

“Pepsi Cola.”

Ahh, The Perils of Being Too Far Ahead of Deadline

I am generally five to nine months ahead of deadline, which is unusual for cartoonists, who are generally no more than than two or three weeks ahead.  Most cartoonists would love to have this problem, but the truth is, it does create some difficulties.  Today’s strip is one such example.

Four or five months ago, I drew some comic strips where Rat was testifying before Congress.  These are the strips that are running today and tomorrow.

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A few weeks after I drew the strips, I saw in the paper that Darrin Bell (“Candorville”) did the exact same joke, with comic strip characters testifying before Congress.

This illustrates some of the pitfalls of being so many months ahead of deadline.  For one thing, I can’t be as topical as everyone else.  By the time my strip appears, the news story I am commenting on is many months old.  And for another thing, if I do have an idea concerning something in the news, it will be 6 to 9 months before anyone sees my strip, raising the chances that someone else’s cartoon on the topic will run before mine.

Sometimes, I will try to get around this by substituting out strips for ones I’ve just drawn.  But even this is difficult, as the subbed-in strips still won’t run for 4 weeks or so.  Also, you run the risk of an error, where some newspapers don’t get the substitute and end up running your original strip that day.  Then you have some papers in the country running one Pearls strip, and other papers running a different Pearls strip.

In this particular case with Candorville, I contacted Darrin and let him know of the similarity.  He had a great idea, which was to reference my strip within his strip on these two days.  That way, anyone seeing mine today and thinking I took the idea from Darrin will see that we know each other and view the whole thing as more of a collaboration.  Anyways, Darrin did a great job on it, and it provides a second angle on what Rat is doing in Washington D.C. when not testifying.  You can see the strip here.

As an aside, Darrin’s strip also raises an interesting idea about something I’ve long wanted to do.  And that is to have five or six cartoonists all agree upon one event that they will cover in the same week of strips.  Take, for example, a bar fight.  All of the creators’ respective characters will be in the same bar, scattered throughout the bar, and will see the fight from their own individual perspectives.  In short, it will be like five or six separate cameras all covering the same event, but with different cameramen who all want to emphasize different things.  Each artist’s strips will have to be able to make sense on their own (because you don’t know which of your readers will see the other artists’ strips), as well as make sense in the larger context of this one common bar fight.  I think it would be an interesting experiment.

Hope nobody beats me to it.

The Triumph of the Donkey

After much soul-searching and vote counting, it looks like the fourth new plush will be…..Envelope please….

Mr. Danny Donkey.

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By the way, it’s interesting, because each time we turn one of these characters into a plush, I have to provide the plush manufacturer with what they call “turnarounds” for the characters.  This is a drawing of the character from multiple angles.

This is always a  struggle for me since I generally only draw my characters from one or two angles (and almost never from the rear or the side, as the manufacturer needs).

But anyways, here is what I sent them for Danny.  In my notes, you will see the great confidence I have in my multi-angle drawing ability:

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And here is what I had sent them earlier for Guard Duck:

duck-turnarounds1Thanks to everyone who helped me pick the four new characters, which will now officially be Guard Duck, Goat, Snuffles the cat, and Danny Donkey.

They will  join Rat, Pig, Zebra and Larry the Croc, which you can buy at any local store that sells plush or online here or if you prefer Amazon, here.

P.S.  And thanks to all of you that voted for the Stephan plush doll.  While I, too, share your preference, there seems to be little demand for dolls of middle-aged guys with goatees.  Curse this cruel world.

And The Plushie Goes To…

Hey, thank you to everyone who helped vote for the next four Pearls plush characters.  According to my tally, Snuffles the Cat is comfortably in first place, followed by Goat and Guard Duck.   So those three are easy choices.  The last one is a toss-up between Danny Donkey and a Zeeba Zeeba Eata Croc (complete with frat sweater, and if I’m lucky, beer in hand).  So I still have to think about that last one.   But thank you for all of your input.  I’ll pass it on the plush manufacturer’s, Aurora.

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Five Favorite Albums of All Time

Just picked my five favorite albums of all time on my Facebook page.  Hard to limit it to just five though.

Here is one of them.

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For the rest, just go to my Facebook page here:

http://www.facebook.com/people/Stephan-Pastis/1068971233

If you’re not already my friend, just send me a friend request, and I’ll approve it.  Unless you’re that Safeway clerk.  She’s out.

Agree on the five?  Disagree?  What are yours?

You Are Now in Control

Hey, the good folk at Aurora want to make 4 more Pearls characters in plush!   So I need your help.

The first will definitely be Guard Duck.  And he’ll be carrying a grenade.

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But the next three are up to you.  I have a few candidates:  Goat, Danny Donkey, Snuffles the Cat.

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Or maybe Maura (Guard Duck’s girlfriend), Patty (Larry’s wife), or Pig’s girlfriend Pigita.   I’m conscious of the fact that I should probably have a female in the mix, so one of these might be good.

Or maybe one of the lions, or a Zeeba Zeeba Eata croc complete with fraternity sweater (and viking helmet?).

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So send me your suggestions!  You are officially in control.