Is This an Improvement?

Alright, I’ve changed the strip.  I think I like it better now. As some of the comments noted, I think the “explosive” element and car element in the prior version were too distracting (Makes you momentarily search for a physical connection between the pogo stick and the event).  Now the joke is simpler, and perhaps more relatable.

Here is the new version (Click to enlarge):

So what do you think?

77 thoughts on “Is This an Improvement?

  1. My husband and I both voted. One of us voted that this strip is better…one of us voted that they would like to hook up with you.

    (hint…I voted that this strip is better)

  2. I like the pogo stick. I like the punch line; it has a Peanuts-on-acid sort of vibe that when you hook into, is really cool. I just don’t think Rat is the character to care about the bad-news delivery mechanism.

  3. If there were two things I’d change:
    1) maybe have rat coming towards pig in the first panel? That way the jumping around in circles makes a bit more sense
    2) Maybe it’s just the fact that I’ve read the other strip first, but in this one the “bad news” doesn’t seem bad enough.

  4. There’s still a “why?” factor that’s missing. How is Pig’s reaction any different because of the Pogo stick than it would have been if Rat just stood there and said it? The humor that is there comes from the silliness of it, but that’s all. It still needs a hook to put it over the top.

  5. I think Rat’s short, choppy sentences are perfect for bouncing on a pogo stick. Definitely better.

  6. I demand you add on Honeymoon of the Damned Pt. III. The suspense is killing me, because I too have way too much time to myself on a Friday night.

  7. The last line of the middle panel doesn’t fit. Because it’s a big chronological leap that doesn’t build on the bad news in a funny (read: unexpected) way.

    What, you want an example? No way – one of the two of us gets paid to write comedy, and it ain’t me

  8. Make the first panel from the first version the first panel of the second version. I think that would set it up better.

  9. Being the kind of person I am, I prefer the first strip more because it doesn’t really have much of a connection… This strip makes too much sense to me.

  10. I think this version is better. I must agree though that the first panel of the first strip, and the second of the second strip seem to go together better.

    And I do like the idea of running this as a series. Also like the idea of changing the punchline to the “bad news is best delivered by a moving target”, that was mentioned earlier.

    This allows for the reader to see that the purpose of the pogo stick was not to soften the blow, which is very un-rat like, but rather another self serving mechanism, which is very much rat.

    Also, this could allow for more things to be used in follow up strips, as the idea would be of rat moving rather than being tied to the pogo stick

  11. In this economy many of your readers are worried about where next month’s rent is coming from. This version is simply going to remind them and depress them. Nice going. Stick with the exploding car; it’s outside most people’s daily concerns.

  12. I think Pig needs to say something; it feels a bit offkilter with Rat just bouncing and Pig standing there saying nothing (not an unusual situation for Pig, I guess, but in this case…) and then Rat launching into his bad news. Why don’t you have Pig say something like, “Hi Rat, what’s going on?” or “What’s up?” Then you have a lead-in for the pre-punch-line….

  13. I like that one person’s comment who said the last panel would be better if rat was hopping away on the pogo stick when he shares his infinate wisdom on the proper way to tell bad news. It would make the overall strip more ironic.

  14. I also feel at some point that you should have rat presenting pig with a Hanukkah cake that says “Shalom Stan” on it.

  15. I prefer the second comic’s silence at the beginning, but the bad news from the first one. I agree with the commenter who said the choppy sentences go well with the pogo stick, so the second gets points for that. Making a few syllables jagged in the first one would give the same effect, though. Hmm… it’s hard to decide, but the second is probably better overall.

  16. Stephen, I do believe you just hit on an amazing idea. For one strip a week, make the internet your editor. Put up a draft of an idea and ask for our comments. I think the results would be fantastic.

    Oh my god, the more I think about it, the more I realize how brilliant it is. Please do this.

  17. he’s talking too much in the second frame. it should be short and to the point like “I just nailed Pigetta.” or “I didn’t flush and it’s your turn to use the toidy.”. Or maybe: nope, no “or maybe”, I like my first idea best of all…

  18. First frame: he’s bouncing around, not saying anything

    Second frame: He delivers his one liner of bad news , like “Hey Pig, I just had my way with Pigetta.”

    Third Frame: As pictured but him not saying anything.

    If he stays silent in the third frame then the issue of him acting out of character by delivering bad news on a pogo stick becomes less of a factor.

    and it makes the whole thing funnier.

    Damn, I’m a frickin’ geniius.

  19. You see, it’s not the fact that he’s delivering bad news on a pogo stick, it just “happens” he is ON a pogo stick when he delivers the news. Would be no different if he was sitting in a chaise lounge chair delivering the news. Rat delivers bad news. That’s what he does. Last frame needs to be silent. Or at the very least something not related to the pogo stick.

  20. We already know that some comedic tension is created by Rat on the pogo stick in the first two frames. Tension and conflict. We look at that and think, wtf?? The mere act looks silly and humorous. A bit slapstick.

    In the second frame, Rat, while bouncing on his pogo stick, just happens to have some bad news for Pig while he’s in the area so he delivers it in usual Rat style.

    It is redundant for Rat to say anything about the pogo stick in the third frame. He already said much better and funnier in the first two frames by his actions.

    Ok, I’m tired and half-drunk…I’m not posting anymore….grin…

  21. ellipses between each comment might make the way you’d say something while bouncing come across more clearly. maybe a list of bad stuff that happened in the first panel (‘x…y…z. and…’), and one just to be mean (…’you’ve gained weight.’) in the second panel. i don’t know. pretty sure most of what you put out is either funny or makes us scratch our heads and think you’ve gone so deep into your stockpile that only the truly devoted understand what just happened.

  22. Definately better. Having multiple shorter stories of bad news makes the reader focus on the bad news.

  23. Too many people are loosing their houses these days… its less funny when you know someone in that situation.
    You live on the other side of the continent and in another country, it just wouldn’t work out Stephan.
    Yes, you have waaaaaaayyyy too much time on your hands on a Friday night

  24. Why not have this:

    1. Pig and Goat sitting together at the local bar/restaurant. Rat comes in on the pogo stick. They ask what he’s doing.

    2. Rat delivers the bad news about Pig’s car. Pig gets shocked.

    3. Pig runs. Goat asks Rat. “But why the pogo stick?” and Rat replies “Bad news is better delivered on a pogo stick”

  25. I say find a way to combine the two. Put in the exploding car bit, but then also the lost money/eviction bit. Or, make it a series. Rat can have accidentally blown up someone else’s car first and we get the pogo stick line. Then the next day (or a few days later) we get the second version.

  26. I would rearrange and split the dialog from the second panel between the first two panels to create a better build up.
    Panel 1: We have no cash. I lost it at the track.
    Panel 2: I could’t pay the rent. We’re being evicted.

  27. this is better, but i liked the idea or blowing up the pig’s car from v1 better than the more down to earth bad news being passed on here. similarly, i think the dialogue from panel 2 is abit too wordy for the simple punchline.

    you might consider changing the second panel to read simply “I blew up your car” or “I blew our rent money at the track”

    if you felt like it you could also change the illustration to include a few wisps of smoke coming in from off panel.

  28. If Pig’s expression was changed to one of wonder, and he said “OH BOY, a pogo stick!” then Rat’s conclusion regarding the pogacious delivery vehicle of bad news would make more sense. On the other hand, this is a Pearls strip … since when was making sense a factor?

  29. I guess I just don’t find pogo sticks all that funny. Hippity-Hops, on the other hand, are hilarious.

  30. I like this one better, but I feel like Rat needs to be saying something in the first panel.

  31. I like the short sentences with the pogo stick. But the third sentence “I lost it at the track” doesn’t fit the four-word structure you set up. I tried to fix that with this:

    That also includes the original first panel, largely because the first panel currently feels so lifeless. The problem with that is “I got something to tell you” doesn’t match the three-to-four word scheme of the second panel.

  32. I like this one better. I had to vote for the strip but I really wanted to pick one of the other options. You sure need a lot of validation!

  33. Hate the new one. Loved the old. Do what you want Funny Man….Cause I already saved the previous “Explosive” Hi Res version on my computer.

    Ha HA ha hah ha haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa. It’s MINE now, ALL mine!!!

  34. Perfect now, especially since Rat seems to have no remorse. The news is more ‘believable’ and thus more poignant. Go with it, man, go with it, and the critics be damned!

  35. Is there a subliminal connection between the pogo stick and the creepy solicitation in the voting?

  36. As I said in the last post, Pastis, do not rely on your fans. We wll drag you down. (especially the drunk ones) Do not let us tint your brilliance and work on the cockiness you have lost. I don’t think there is a right and wrong to this strip. I am just curious why you are pondering so hard on it. Are you giving it to the Queen of England? Or the President of the United States…

  37. I like this second version much better than the first. Perhaps in the last panel, pig could still be present with the shocked look, and rat could say something like “Dude. I was on the Pogo Stick ‘O Bad News.” Then the Pogo Stick ‘O Bad News could crop up again, and become one of those beloved in-jokes your fans adore so much. 🙂

  38. Mr. Pastis, if you want to appeal to the younger generation, you need to know that explosives are hilarious. Any strip that has to do with explosives is an instant classic, keep that in mind.

  39. How about putting pearls into an iPhone app? Let us know if you’d like us to do that. It’d also help to know if rat owns the digital rights to your work. 😉

  40. @madelena – at least the drunk ones offered some valid insight. What did you offer? yuk yuk yuk

  41. I like the timing on the second one vs the first one. Better flow with the action when Rat’s bouncing around without a caption.

  42. Worse, much worse. I wish I’d checked your blog when you first posted the stip cause the first post was funnier. It actually seemed more like Rat had to get the pogo stick to get around after blowing up the car. Now it seems more like Rat has become part Pig. Hoping around on a pogo stick cause the rent’s due and your gonna be evicted seems more like something Pig would do for fun cause he doesn’t get the gravity of the situation. But Rat seems more likely to use the pogo stick to as a “better” replacement for the car he destroyed to buy Pig off, and Pig would go for it.

  43. I think it would be funnier if Rat kept on jumping in the final panel when he stays the punch line, I don’t know why, it just seems it would be funnier that way.

  44. Dan-
    Well, well, well. For a fan of Pearls Before Swine, you have no sarcastic humor. Personally, what you said (drunk or sober) reminds me a lot of how I think.

  45. I think Pig’s facial expression in the second panel is just a bit too dramatic. One of the things I really like about “Pearls” is that the humor comes from the dialogue and ideas even when the characters’ faces stay neutral in the final panels of strips. Also, for some reason Pig’s really dark arms distract me in the second panel.

    And I agree with the other suggestions to keep Rat pogo-ing in the last panel.

    hope that’s coherent and helpful!

  46. oh, and I think the first one is definitely better. Rat has told Pig a bunch of times they have no money to pay the rent before, I think. But maybe as some others have suggested, wait to have Rat speak until the second panel.

  47. Who knew that three frames could be so analyzed?
    I agree with those who say that Rat should tell bad news that only effects Pig so he could bounce in Rats equivialnt of joyful abaondon.
    The news should be spoken in short bursts as he jumps.
    Maybe the next day Rat could be chasing Pig around on the pogo stick insiting that he wants to tell him something. or…. a strip a few days later could have pig saying he wants to tell something to Rat but just before saying it, he could ask to borrow his pogo stick

  48. I prefer the latest one. Although…
    Rat could just pogo out of the scene in the third panel leaving Pig to absorb the McCluhanesque relevance of this experience.

    Need the punch line be spoken…?

  49. This is what you get for trying to do art by committee. The first strip was fine, because it was you. Trust your instincts, and stop asking for help. Boing boing boing boing boing…

  50. The first one was WAAAAAYYY better than the second one. Blowing up a car = instant comedy. also equaling instant comedy? Blowing up poodles. doesn’t get much better than that.

  51. The real question is, when have you cared what we think? Except for the hooking up part I mean.

  52. What do I think? I think you do too many drugs. Or not enough. I’m not sure which. Whatever, guy, it’s just a frickin’ comic strip. The day after it runs it’ll be forgotten. No need for all this brain damage.

  53. I think pogo sticks should be outlawed. That way only outlaws will have pogo sticks.

  54. Every time a comic strip writer breaks the 4th wall, God kills a kitten…

    Ok, jk jk

    You could have Pig ask Rat “Why are you bouncing on a pogo stick?”

  55. It’s definitely an improvement, but I’d simplify it even more. Maybe shorten it to “I lost the rent money at the track. We’re being evisted.” The “rent being due” just seems redundant.

    I’d also change the ‘bounce tracks’ in the first panel to show that Rat is coming in from the left, and then I’d keep him bouncing around in the second panel. It’s subtle, but I think this adds to the sense of him ‘delivering’ the news, rather than just bouncing around.

  56. My user name may suggest why I think that blowing up a car is funnier than losing the rent/mortgage at the track. That said, I considered the unoffered option of “You are very FUNNY, and if we BOTH weren’t married I would hook up with you,” but as far as I can tell from your blog, it would be worse than being married to my less famous and poorer husband. The worst part of our honeymoon was Mexican beer induced flatulence. I will take that over bedbugs any old day.

    I think that the commenter who noted that hippity hops are far funnier than pogo sticks may have a point!!!

  57. The silent first panel is GREAT. It adds tension to the punch at the end. I kinda like the quirkiness of the exploding car because it brings about a completely different mental image. But you’re right, it’s a little too wordy. This version is definitely better than the first.

  58. I love this one, but it would require at least SOME follow up strips. Sure, it could segway into a couple of ideas, but the first one, well, it’s high explosives. What could go wr*BOOM*

  59. I’m 4 months behind in my rent after being laid off in August 08 … Keith has a point.

    Btw, I voted that if you weren’t married I’d want to hook up with you.

    Whatever you draw/write, I’ll read it.

  60. Pastis, you shouldn’t leave this issue up to the fans. You’re an edgy cartoonist, and you’re very good at mocking your opponents, so naturally, all the powerless people of the world that agree with you adore you. You are their hero. What could they say bad about you? I notice that the majority of voters both voted that the first strip was good, and that the second strip was even better. That’s what I mean. Anyway, I like the one where Rat blows up Pig’s car better.

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