Sometimes when I parody another cartoonist I call them in advance. Sometimes I don’t.
In the case of the Ziggy strips this week, I did. In part because I needed some help. Specifically, with the premise of this particular strip:
I had never before spoken with Ziggy creator, Tom Wilson Jr., so it made the conversation a little awkward. My intro to him on the phone went something like this:
“Hey Tom, my name is Stephan Pastis, and I do the comic strip Pearls Before Swine. Anyways, I’m doing a series where my characters are really, really mad that your character never wears pants. And they’re going to organize protests, and cars are going to get overturned and they’ll go on a hunger strike, all because they think this grown man should be wearing pants.”
I never know what I’m going to hear on the other end of the line when I make one of these calls. Will they hang up? Will they say no? Will they swear?
Tom was great. I think all he said was that sometimes Ziggy did in fact wear pants. I conveniently ignored that.
But then I needed his help.
“By the end of the series,” I told him, “Rat is going to declare victory, saying that you — Tom Wilson — have agreed to put pants on Ziggy. Do you think there’s any way you can put pants on Ziggy that day in your strip?”
“Sure,” he said, accommodating as can be. He could not have been nicer.
So I did my strips, told Tom that the key strip would run on December 16, and he sent me an email confirming that “Ziggy will wear pants on Dec. 16th.”
Feeling triumphant, I went online this morning to look at Ziggy and to my great surprise, he has no pants.
Never before have I been so disappointed to see a man with no pants.
At least I think he has no pants. Here is Tom’s strip:
Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but I’m presuming that like me, Tom doesn’t color his own dailies (the Monday through Saturday strips). And the heel and sole of Ziggy’s right foot do look pretty angular, so maybe those were some sort of stretch pants on Ziggy, and the colorist just screwed up and colored them flesh tone. Sure, he’s not wearing shoes either, but I see Ziggy as a bit of an elf and elves don’t need shoes. They’re like magical midgets in tights.
So are they or aren’t they? Did Rat win his protest? Or go down in ignominious defeat?
You’ll have to be the judge.
It’s a controversy for the ages.
Pants-gate has begun.