Something I Know I’m Going To Regret Admitting About My Cell Phone

Two things seem to happen to me a whole lot when I use my cell phone in the car.

Either (1) The battery fails, or (2) I lose reception and the call is dropped.

Out of courtesy for the person on the other end of the phone, I try to warn them in advance that I might lose the call either because my battery is showing it’s down to one bar or the reception in the area I’m driving through is bad.

It happens so often that people inevitably ask me why I don’t get one of those chargers that plug into the cigarette lighter, or switch to a carrier with better reception in my area.

It’s a good question, because while I know these annoying things happen to everyone with a cell phone, I think they happen to me more.

The reason I think they happen to me more is that whenever the battery fails or I lose reception, it is caused by me pressing “end call.”

Hey.  At least I was courteous.

croc on phone

And Now a Few Words From the Creator of One of the World’s Most Beloved Family Comics

On Thursday night, I was drinking at a bar in the Gaslamp district of San Diego.  There I ran into ‘Family Circus’ creator Jeff Keane.  My spotlight panel at Comic-Con was scheduled for the next day.

“Hey Jeff, you have to come to my panel tomorrow,” I told him.

“Why?” he asked.

“Because every time I do a panel, someone inevitably asks me what other cartoonists think when I parody their strips.”‘

“So?” he said.

“So if somebody asks that question, I can surprise everyone by introducing you and showing them that we know each other and are actually good friends.”

“Alright,” he said, “I’ll try and make it.”

The next day I did my panel.  At the end of it, I took questions.

Sure enough, one of the first questions was what the other cartoonists thought of my parodies.

Warming up to my surprise, I said that other cartoonists were generally great sports about the parodies and that most of us are good friends.  I added that both of the “Family Circus” creators, Bil Keane (the father) and Jeff Keane (his son) were especially great sports.  And to prove my point, I scanned the audience for Jeff.

“Jeff?” I asked, hoping he had come. “Are you here somewhere?  Jeff?  Jeff?”

And slowly someone I couldn’t quite see rose from the back of the audience.

“SCREW YOU!!!” the person yelled.

The person being Jeff Keane.

My good friend.


Drowning Out the Voices in my Head

I do not like our icemaker.

It’s in the door of the refrigerator that my wife Staci bought.  And it’s too loud.   I’m not sure what it’s doing back there, but it can drown out a bugle.

I also do not like our answering machine.   It’s next to the phone I never answer.  And when I don’t answer it, the person talks into the machine.  But I don’t want to hear their voice.  So I try to lower the volume, but it’s at the back of the machine, and when I pull the machine out, the cord won’t budge and all the crap by the phone falls over.

There is only one good thing about the icemaker and the answering machine.  They are next to each other.

So now, when people call, I fill glasses with ice.

Lots and lots of ice.

One of Staci’s friends requires four glasses.

Every time she calls, she makes California’s drought worse.

If I was a better person, I’d tell her what she’s doing to the environment.  But it would mean talking to her.  And hearing that voice.  Which would require more ice.

I’m just proud that I’ve taken a bad situation (the loud icemaker) and used it to my benefit.  Sort of like that old adage about how when life hands you lemons, you’re supposed to turn them into an icy-cold glass of lemonade.

Only you don’t need the lemonade.

Just the ice.

The Pearls iGoogle page

Just got back from Comic-Con in San Diego.  Thanks for all those who came to my talk and to the book signings. I had a great time.

And, I just heard that Google is now giving people the chance to personalize their Google page with Pearls Before Swine art.  The art rotates throughout the day too, giving you a whole bunch of different Pearls designs.

Click HERE for the Google art.

Just a Reminder

I will be at this year’s Comic-Con, taking place this week in San Diego, California.

I will be on two panels.  The first is this one on Friday, July 24:

Friday, 4:00 – 5:00 pm Spotlight on Stephan Pastis: Stephan Pastis (Pearls Before Swine) shares his unlikely tale of how he went from being a full-time lawyer to one of the most popular syndicated cartoonists in newspapers today, including a rundown of some his most popular strips, and some that weren’t so popular.  Room 2

The second panel is a group panel on Saturday, July 25:

Saturday, 12:00 – 1:00 pm  Comic Strip Syndication is Dead: Long Live Syndication!: Q and A Session with Stephan Pastis (Pearls Before Swine); Richard Thompson (Cul De Sac) and Keith Knight (The K Chronicles) on the pros and cons of comic strip syndication and the challenges and options for aspiring comic strip creators in this era of declining newspaper readership.  Room 7AB

I will be doing two signings also, both at the Comic Relief booth.  My signing schedule is 5:15 pm on Friday, and 2:oo pm on Saturday.

One word of warning:  I am a profound disappointment in person.  Ask anyone who’s met me.   On the upside, I can sign books, plush and body parts.  Depending on the body part.  And the body.

I May Be Contacting a Lawyer

For those of you wondering if I’ve seen today’s Family Circus, the answer is yes.  In it, creator Jeff Keane mocks Pearls Before Swine.

If you haven’t yet seen the strip, I present it below.  Please take a close look at the book in Daddy Keane’s hands.


If you can’t read it, the book’s title is “Pig and Rat Get Lost.”  And it bores the Keane kids so much, they leave the room.

I am now thinking about filing a lawsuit against the Keane family for their appropriation of my characters’ names.  But having been a lawyer, I know the hardship involved in a protracted legal fight.  So instead of continuing this blog entry, I need a few moments to think. While I do, here are some random Pearls strips to entertain you.


Some News About Courage

I am afraid of everything.

Dogs.  Earthquakes.  Flying.  Family.

I am also a whiner.  A whiner who needs to control his surroundings.

That means that everything needs to be just the way I like it,  especially when it comes to writing the strip.

The drapes have to be closed.  The right music has to be on my iPod.  The little Kleenex that sticks up from the top of the box cannot be sticking up from the top of the box (I tuck it back in).  And if my boxers are too tight, I will change them.

These two bad character traits merge in unholy ways when I fly.

First off, I don’t want to die.  Secondly, everything is out of my control and all of it bothers me.  The cramped seat.  The idiot in front of me who made it cramped.  The fat idiot next to me who spills over the armrest.

I am reminded of all this because on Wednesday, I’m flying to Comic-Con in San Diego, where I have to speak.

But I am also reminded of what I lack in the way of courage and grace because on Saturday, I will be on a panel with Richard Thompson, the creator of the comic strip Cul De Sac.

Richard is probably the most talented all-around syndicated cartoonist working today.  And he is the only syndicated cartoonist I know of to receive an endorsement from the legendary (and reclusive) comic strip creator, Bill Watterson, who popped briefly out of hiding to write of Richard’s work:  “Richard Thompson’s Cul de Sac has it all:  intelligence, gentle humor, a delightful way with words, and, most surprising of all, wonderful, wonderful drawings..”

Richard announced this week that he has Parkinson’s.

In his blog entry, Richard does not complain.  Nor does he show self-pity.

Instead, Richard jokes about it.

Jokes about the problems it could create for his chainsaw-juggling act.  Jokes about the possible benefits.  Jokes that he will have a good excuse for missing deadlines.

Now there’s a reaction for you.

You know, I think as children we are taught that courage is John Wayne courage.  It is loud and it is brash and it wears boots.

But that’s not courage.

Courage is being diagnosed with Parkinson’s and writing chainsaw-juggling jokes about it.

And Richard’s discussion of his diagnosis is, at least to me, a reminder that while life may be unpredictable and unfair, its greatest beauty is in the capacity of the individual to stare into the face of that difficulty and smile.

And make chainsaw jokes.

So this is for Richard.

If the coward and whiner that is me can one day face adversity with a tenth of what Richard has shown, I know I will have done something right.


Radio Free Pearls

Hey, for those of you who have absolutely nothing better to do tonight, come listen to my boring voice live on KSRO News Talk. I’m supposed to be on live from 5 pm to 5:40 or so (Pacific Standard Time). Maybe we should turn it into a drinking game, where you have to drink every time someone says “Pearls.”

To stream the show, just click on the link below:

KSRO News Radio

And please, drink responsibly.