Every day I receive a large selection of comic strips from GoComics in one of my e-mail bags, for which I pay a smidgen less than $12/year. One of those strips is “Pearls Before Swine,” by Stephan Pastis (yes it’s Stephan, not Stephen). Last week, on Wednesday, I saw this.
The second panel of “Pearls” sure looked like it was either Pastis trying to draw like Bill Watterson, or perhaps it was by Watterson himself, but maybe just a bit out of practice. On Thursday I had no doubt that we were seeing the return of Bill Watterson to a syndicated comic strip for the first time since December, 1995, when he brought “Calvin & Hobbes” to a poignant, if early, end.
On Friday, Michael Cavna, The Washington Post’s comics blogger, made the official announcement. Pastis tells the back story at this link. I’ve stitched Watterson’s four panels together into a single strip.
Click to enlarge
For myself, what makes Watterson’s return to (what those older than myself call) the Funny Pages truly special is its connection to cartoonist Richard Thompson, whose Parkinson’s Disease prevents him from continuing his own superb comic strip, “Cul de Sac.” The original art from last week’s “Pearls Before Swine” will be auctioned and the proceeds donated to the Michael J. Fox Foundation. I am, for personal reasons I have been asked to keep private, hooked into Michael’s disease and his foundation, and that was even before “Cul de Sac” first appeared in The Boston Globe.
The connection between Thompson, Pastis, Watterson, and M.J. Fox is Chris Sparks, the guy behind Team Cul de Sac. This is Chris enjoying holding onto the original art while he can. It will be on display at the Heroes Con in Charlotte, NC from June 20-22.
Watterson seems to be slowly entering the public eye again, through his art, if not in person. Besides drawing the poster for the documentary “Stripped” that I mentioned back in February, he drew this picture in recognition of the recent retirement of Lee Salem. Salem was the guy at Universal Press Syndicate who bought “Calvin & Hobbes” but who missed seeing the potential in “Dilbert.”
Here’s another look at the “Pearls Before Swine” original art. I’d love to know what Watterson uses when lettering, because the ink on his originals never looks very black compared to the line art. If it’s a type of India Ink he must dilute it.