Pearls Before Swine is an American comic strip written and illustrated by Stephan Pastis, formerly a lawyer in San Francisco, California. It chronicles the daily lives of four anthropomorphic animals, Pig, Rat, Zebra, and Goat. Although created in 1997, it was not published until 2000, when United Feature Syndicate ran it on its website. Its popularity rose after Dilbert creator Scott Adams, a fan of the strip, spread the word to his own fans.[1]

United Feature launched the strip in newspapers beginning December 31, 2001, in The Washington Post.[2] On January 7, 2002, it began running in approximately 150 papers. [3] As of early 2007, the strip appears in more than 400 newspapers worldwide.[4]


Pearls Before Swine has a few central characters, supplemented by an array of minor figures.


Main article: Rat
Cast pearlswine Rat


Rat (debut: Dec. 31, 2001) is a megalomaniacal rat. He is frequently critical of the strip's style and artwork as well as the other characters in the strip and all living things. Often self-employed, most of his businesses involve either punishing or defrauding people for their ignorance, much in the same vein as Dogbert, though with a darker humor.

Rat is the most insensitive character in the strip, except when it comes to his love for Pig's sister Farina; he also seems to feel some genuine friendship toward Pig himself, although this hardly gives Pig any immunity from Rat's insults. Rat's interactions with others are typically sarcastic, condescending, insulting and sometimes violent, particularly when dealing with what he considers to be exceptionally annoying people (i.e. virtually everyone) and their habits. Rat frequently breaks the fourth wall to berate his creator on his jokes, artwork or general content of the strip itself. He also is the author of a children's books series, Angry Bob, as well as Danny Donkey.


Main article: Pig
Cast pearlswine Pig


Naïve Pig (debut: Dec. 31, 2001) is childlike and dim, but also well-meaning and kind, all of which leads to constant ridicule by his housemate Rat. Pig's jokes generally involve his incompetence and not knowing his true surroundings. Pig has a hot-tempered girlfriend named Pigita. Pastis says that Pig is the easiest character to write for: "He just has to misunderstand everything that he hears, then when it's explained to him, he has to misunderstand that too." Pig has a habit of talking to inanimate objects such as food, stop lights, bait and various other things (although since, in the "Pearls" universe, the objects talk back, this is not as odd as it might otherwise be). Pig once fell in love with a syrup bottle known as "Ms. Booty-worth". Pig is cannibalistic; he likes bacon, ham, hot dogs, etc.


Main article: Zebra
Cast pearlswine Zebra


Zebra (debut: Feb. 4, 2002), also known as "zeeba neighba" (zebra neighbor) by the comically stupid Fraternity of Crocodiles next-door (Zeeba Zeeba Eata), is a zebra who is often seen trying to patch up relations between his herd back home and its predators, lions and hyenas. His troubles include various encounters with the Fraternity of Crocodiles. He also serves as a less-irritable version of Goat, and is also the only character Goat can put up with.

Hyenas are the third type of predator that plague Zebra's herd. Before 2008, they had only appeared in the strip twice: once, a series in which Zebra was an online advice columnist for other zebras; the second appearance was a single Sunday strip in September 2007 as new neighbors of Zebra. Starting on February 25, 2008, a story was published featuring the hyenas as operators of a funeral home.

Zebra's birthday was celebrated in the February 20, 2008 strip, where Rat gave him a used bar of hotel soap.


Main article: Goat
Cast pearlswine Goat


An intellectual goat who interacts sparingly with the other characters, Goat (debut: Jan. 18, 2002) usually appears whenever there is a small issue dealing with a character or a conflict to be mediated. Goat has an equally hard time dealing with Pig's incompetence and Rat's cruelty and occasional ignorance. Goat maintains a blog that, as Rat likes to point out, receives no hits. Goat in turn tends to criticize Rat's forays into writing, often telling him not to write them at all. In early strips, Goat had a beard; he first appeared without it in the March 31, 2004 strip. He is smart and knows how to solve problems.

Goat dislikes conversing with the other characters at all; he much prefers reading books. However, it seems that he most tolerates talking to Zebra; he is least tolerant when talking to Rat. Goat's real name is revealed as Paris in the September 21, 2007 strip, and it claims that "Goat" is his stage name.

The Fraternity of CrocodilesEdit

Cast pearls crocs


The Fraternity of Crocodiles (debut: Jan. 3, 2005) is usually involved in various (failed) attempts to eat Zebra. The fraternity name is "Zeeba Zeeba Eata" (although one of them called it "Zeta, Zeta, Epsilon" in a botched attempt to fool their suspicious neighbor). The crocodiles are dimwitted and poor hunters (they believe they are hunting prey when they catch plastic flamingos, garden gnomes or carved tofu cows) who usually need to go to the Safeway supermarket or order fast food to eat (which they call Zeeba Nuggets). This may be an unintentional irony on Pastis' part, as crocodiles are largely considered among the most intelligent of the reptile species.Template:Who? At least two have girlfriends or are married, and at least one (Larry) has a son, Billy. Billy is far more intelligent than his father and he is also a pacifist and a vegetarian, similar to the relationship between the Warner Bros. cartoon characters Sylvester the Cat and his son, Sylvester Junior. At one point, Billy started dating Zebra's niece, a young female zebra named Joy. His dad doesn't yet understand the concept of going out with food and when he sees the two kissing he thinks Billy is killing Joy in a very weird way.

The crocodiles include Bob, Floyd, Fred, Frank, Jimmy, Jojo, and Larry. The crocodiles are frequently killed in the continuity of the strip; some are brought back without explanation, while others are brought in as replacements. A crocodile named Biff, described by Pastis as "the dumbest of all the crocodiles", was unable to fend for himself, so Pastis, in self-reflexive strips, portrays himself as a character who must take care of him. Biff was later eaten by a poodle, but brought back on Nov. 12, 2006.

The male crocodiles, when talking, are often saying words in phonetical style, such as "goowoo" (guru), "nome" (gnome), and "meester" (mister). They also say "me" instead of "I", and refer to themselves as "crockydiles." The male crocodile's opening line often is "Hulllooooo Zeeba neighba, leesten." Female crocodiles, Billy, and various "Smart Guy" crocodiles speak normally, due to their intellect.

After many failed attempts, the Crocodiles captured Zebra (along with Jeffy from Family Circus) in September 2007. Jeffy convinced them to let him go; Zebra was saved on September 15, 2007 when Duck came out of the swamp with a Rocket launcher and scared the Crocodiles away.

Little Guard DuckEdit

Cast duck

Little Guard Duck

Duck is the "watchduck" for Pig and Rat's home, and still lives with them despite often taking on different occupations. He's known for a short temper and a violent streak (usually rocket launcher-related) bordering on stereotypical sociopathy. Pig often locked him in a clothes hamper or wastebasket as a punishment for irrational actions.

His first appearance was March 14th, 2005, when Pig bought him due to the fact that a proper Guard Dog was too expensive. Pig's neighbors frequently laugh at the Guard Duck, but the neighbors usually then get beat up or blown up by a rocket launcher. Soon after he was fired for stealing a neighbor's inflatable pool.

Months later, the Duck robbed a bank and was thrown in prison. Though he was awarded release on bail, the Duck escaped prison and has been with Pig and Rat ever since.

The Duck once staged a coup to become mayor. Once Mayor, he began checking off neighbors of the town he had written down on his "Enemies List" and began a very corrupt reign as a despot. The reign ended because of the Duck's ineffectiveness as a civic leader (most of his strategies involved eliminating the opposition), but Duck later represented Zebra in a lawsuit the Crocodiles brought against him.

The December 3, 2006 strip revealed that Duck did not know ducks could fly, never having been taught because he never knew his parents; he referred to himself as "a broken duck." Things became more hopeful for Duck when on January 1, 2007, Maura the non-anthropomorphic female duck companion appeared with him and even kissed him. However, on January 5, she flew away to migrate with other ducks. Since then, several strips have featured the Duck coping with his loss; most recently, he spent Valentine's Day 2008 on the "Crate o' Sadness" (where he was eventually joined by the entire main cast). The crocodiles, in particular, made the poor choice of laughing at the Duck at which point the Duck made one of the crocodiles into a pair of boots January 24, 2007.

Recurring charactersEdit

  • Stephan Pastis (debut: June 1, 2003) — Pastis appears self-reflexively in several strips as the cartoonist of the strip, usually exhibiting ambiguous feelings toward his characters (and an exasperation with Rat in particular). He is often seen smoking, although Pastis has mentioned in his books that he does not smoke and has no idea why he drew himself that way to begin with (though Rat and Guard Duck are often featured smoking as well).
  • Staci Pastis (debut: May 22, 2003) — Stephan's wife.
  • Pigita (debut: Aug. 19, 2002) — Pig's on-and-off girlfriend, known for her wild mood swings.
  • Farina (debut: Aug. 18, 2002) — Pig's germophobic sister who lives in a bubble, although that doesn't prevent her from dating characters from many comic strips. Rat had dated her years before, and remains in love with her, though he denies it. She has a habit of telling Rat he is not manly enough while at the same time dating an otherwise geeky character like Dilbert or Ziggy.

Minor charactersEdit

  • Alphonse, the needy Porcupine (debut: July 6, 2004) — Loves to grandstand in order to gain attention. He once threatened to throw himself out a window (three feet above the ground) if Rat did not help him. Pastis eventually stopped using him in strips after receiving complaints from anti-suicide groups about him.
  • Anemone Enemies — (debut February 6, 2006) Originally a single Anemone named Annie Mae, then split into two anemones, they are Pig's arch-nemeses and have attempted to destroy him several times. At the beginning of the strip series where the Anemone was introduced, Pig claimed that he got in a fight with a sea anemone 11 years hence, and that the year he [the anemone] swore revenge had come. Whether there is any truth to this (because Pig was sleep-deprived when he said it) is currently unknown. When she/they appeared in the past, the jokes frequently used words and phrases alliterative of the word anemone (PIG: "How dare you tempt me with amenities like anime, Annie Mae, my sea anemone enemy!"). These alliterations also use homonyms with the alliterations to annoy Rat tremendously. The two anemonies formed a phony friendship with Pig and failed to kill him with a homemade bomb (see Killer Whale, below).
  • Angry Bob (debut: Sept. 15, 2002): A character in a book series by Rat. Each strip concerning these books starts off with a disgruntled Angry Bob eventually finding true happiness, before meeting an untimely death.
  • Christmas Tree Girl, — (debut: 12/02/07) was a character introduced on December 02, 2007 as a romantic interest for Rat. Rat, in response, instantly becomes nervous and speechless in her presence. Since her debut to the strip, she and Rat have been on various dates, though none have ended on a particularly good note, with one ending with his napkin on her head 'to stop her staring', and the other ending over an argument with Rat's new BlackBerry Handheld.
  • Chuckie, the Non-Anthropomorphic Sheep, appears several times in the strip. He is introduced as being a friend of Goat's. He is non-anthropomorphic, meaning that unlike the other animals he has no human-like characteristics (with the exception of being a biped). Also, notably, Chuckie is killed or prepared to be killed by various characters (including Pigita and Rat), only to inexplicably return. Chuckie has not appeared in a few years, possibly because of the rise of more recently added characters, such as the crocodiles and the guard duck.
  • The Fruit Buddies, is a meeting of fruits that "Brother Pig" (Pig) is the head of. The group originally starts off with Annie Apple, Secretary Banana, Brother Pear, and Georgie Grape. On the first day that the group premiered, Georgie Grape was eaten by Rat. Their Grape Recruiting Drive hurt, Pig moves the meeting to a more secure place, the Refrigerator. After Rat finds them and eats a newcomer, an orange, Pig is forced to allow Potatoes into the meetings, which is met with a negative response. On "Petey Potato's" first day, much coughing is heard, with words such as "French Fries", "Hashbrowns", and "Potato Salad" thrown in, much to Pig's dismay. Prior to the next meeting, Rat eats Annie Apple, Brother Pear, and Secretary Banana in the form of a fruit Shake. Left with only Petey Potato, Pig goes to Zebra for advice. As Zebra gives him words of encouragement (to start a Potato Buddies group), Rat makes French fries at home, ending the Fruit Buddies Arc.
  • John and Jennifer Seal — Two seals who moved into the neighborhood unaware that a killer whale also lived nearby. Unlike the comic's other predator-and-prey characters (calm Zebra and the largely incompetent Crocodiles), John Seal is highly excitable and often outraged by the patient, stalking nature of the killer whale. Since the death of the Killer Whale, they have not appeared again.
  • The Killer Whale — A character who lived near Jonathan and Jennifer Seal and made failed attempts to get them to leave their home so that he could eat them. Slightly more intelligent than the crocodiles (being able to speak properly), he was seen ordering a pizza from Domino's (which he cancelled when he saw the seals had come) and trying to order Krill from a Mcdonald's-style drive through. He is deceased as of May 2006, accidentally killed by Zebra when given a meatloaf laced with explosives. (cf Exploding Whale) (Zebra got the meatloaf from Chuckie, the Non-Anthropomorphic Sheep, who got it from Alphonse, the Needy Porcupine, who had gotten it from Rat, who baked the meatloaf with the explosives intended to kill Pig, which came from the Anemone Enemies.)
  • Leonard — a short-lived character who once moved in with Rat and Pig. He works at Kiddieland as Tatulli, the Self-Esteem Building Bear; however, when Pig sees him in his costume, he thinks Leonard is being devoured. However Stephan Pastis states in his book "Lions and Tigers and Crocs Oh my!" that Leonard was a "failed experiment". Leonard was later killed when Rat had him drowned in a toilet. The Tatulli costume is named after cartoonist Mark Tatulli, creator of the comic strips Heart of the City and Liō.
  • The Lions — (debut: 5/31/07) Two lions who moved in next-door to Zebra when an elderly couple moved away. This puts Zebra in an awkward situation -- he has predators on both sides of his house (the Fraternity of Crocodiles is on the other). However, Max and Zach have stated that they will not prey upon Zebra because only female lions hunt. Their wives have been shown attempting to eat Zebra, but only hunt at night. Max and Zach seem to honestly like Zebra, talking to him and warning him of how his actions will draw their wives' attention towards him, only to be disheartened when Zebra refuses to avoid things that make him look weak (like yogurt and the Oprah Book Club). The introduction of Max and Zach was significant because up until that point, while crocodiles and hyenas had both been shown, lions had remained unseen characters. The Lions speak like surfers, beginning conversations with "Duuuude!" and calling Zebra "bro".
    In July 2007, the wives left Max and Zach, so their diet currently consists mainly upon "court-ordered support" (crates of "frozen zebra"). The Crocs once stole the meat, but were subsequently caught by the lions. In February 2008 Max and Zach met new wives, Gigi and Kiki.

Because Stephan Pastis used to not be able to draw lions, these particular predators were not shown in the strip until May 31, 2007, when two were shown moving next door to Zebra, on the opposite side from the crocodiles. They are the second-most mentioned predators, behind the crocodiles. Prior to their appearance Zebra has been seen corresponding with them via letter, attempting to give them more culture than just eating zebras and establish a friendship between their species. Instead, the lions' replies are always terse and stupid responses, often featuring them taking his advice the wrong way by eating a zebra. The lions remain the only predators capable of instilling fear in Zebra; the crocodiles just induce frustration due to their complete incompetence.

  • Toby the Agoraphobic Turtle — an agoraphobic turtle who was afraid of public places, so he stayed home, kept his head in his shell and guzzled beer from a "beer bong". When Pig said that "beer isn't the answer", Toby karate-chopped him. Pastis stopped using him, saying he had no licensing potential,[5] but Toby appeared again once afterward, having broken into the garage of Pig and Rat to steal a giant can of beer.
  • Wee Bear — A little bear with a social conscience. "Wee Bear" is a nickname; he's actually named Moses Savio Chavez, after Robert Parris Moses, Mario Savio, and César Chávez. In a treasury, Pastis wrote that Wee Bear was an attempt to have a Linus-like character in the strip.
  • The Roof Fish — Recently introduced January 14, 2008, Roof Fish sit atop comic strip panels and dangle various items using a rod and reel in an attempt to catch and kill other characters. According to Rat, the bait they use are objects they know will tempt characters into taking them; if they fall for the bait and give in to the temptation, they are eaten. So far they have attempted to ensnare Pig and Rat (Pig with a DVD of the sitcom "The Office", his favorite television show, and Rat with a cold beer) but have been unsuccessful. However, they were able to tempt Pigita with an engagement ring she mistakenly thought was from Pig, but because of her weight the Roof Fish were unable to reel her in.
  • Stromoski the Undateable Frog — Introduced in 2005, Stromoski is a friend of Pig's who has trouble getting dates because he can't resist sticking his long tongue in women's ears at bars. The response from the women is violent, usually involving the woman in question stomping Stromoski flat. His last appearance came after he licked Gloria Steinem's ear. He is named after cartoonist Rick Stromoski. (For more on the storyline, including a response by Stromoski, see the Crossovers section.)
  • The Hyenas Recently introduced in 2008, the Hyena Hy and Hy run a funeral business, from which they intend to eat the dead bodies of their clients. On the side, they also go around looking for dead or dying things to eat. They are very silly and not very intelligent, which may, like the crocodiles, be an unintentional irony, as hyenas have also recently been found to be very intelligent.


The strip is set in a fictional suburb within or around Albany, California, where Pastis currently lives. Every house appears to have siding on it.

The continuity of the strip is very loose, and Pastis even admits to the fact that "sometimes characters get jobs once, and you never hear about it again." Many storylines are left with open endings, and sometimes continuity leaps are made (frequently characters presumed to be dead will come back to life). Usually, relationships between characters are left unaltered (Farina, who appears infrequently for long periods of time, has a relationship with Rat that usually picks up where it left off.)

The strip's universe appears to be a world where comic strip characters are actual people who can interact with the creators of their strips or other strips, as well as characters in other strips. Pastis is a frequent character, usually being criticised by Rat for lack of drawing ability among other disqualifiactions.

Meaning of the titleEdit

The title Pearls Before Swine refers to the admonition "Neither cast ye your pearls before swine" that Jesus gave to Peter according to Matthew 7:6 in the Bible. In the context of the comic strip, Rat, who considers himself a genius, must cast his pearls of "wisdom" before Pig, who is the only one naïve enough to listen to him.


Artistically, Pearls is extremely simplistic, with minimal art. Most of the characters have no mouths, polka dot eyes and stick limbs; those with lips are unintelligent. Pastis stated, "People say that they like my strip's simplicity, but I'm doing the best I can to just to get up to that level. I'm not dumbing the art down."[6]

Pearls Before Swine has proven controversial, largely due to its dark humor. Despite the simple drawing style, topics such as politics, murder, suicide, and depression are common themes. The jokes themselves are often based on puns and wordplay. Pastis also employs the format of the Shaggy dog story, particularly with Sunday strips, relying on a great amount of text to spin an elaborate yarn that is ultimately resolved with an unforeseen and abrupt ending (such as the character’s random death, or an intentionally bad pun, which is sometimes identified as such by the characters).

Pearls is also a meta-comic in that it often satirizes the comics medium, and allows its characters to break the fourth wall and either communicate directly with the author or with characters from other strips.

Pearls comics only sometimes contain a continuity, where one storyline will carry on through about a week of comics before moving on to a new storyline. More often however, comics will be stand alone, such as when Rat sold Pig for 10 million dollars, but in the next strip both were back to normal, Rat being poor and Pig still with him.


Pearls Before Swine often interacts with other comics, as in a story arc that featured members of The Family Circus sheltering Osama bin Laden, unaware of his identity. In late August-early September 2007, a story arc featured Rat lost in the desert, and taken hostage by fans of Family Circus, angry at the strip's mocking in Pearls. Rat proceeded to call Circus creator Bil Keane, who also was angry at the mockery. Rat was freed on the condition that he participated in some pro-Family Circus comics. After one panel of this, Rat says that this was a bad idea. Bil Keane has recently shown the psychiatrist a snowman was visiting as one "Dr. Pastis".

In early 2007, one of the crocodiles appeared on a cereal box in Baby Blues. In Pearls Before Swine, the children from Baby Blues were once portrayed as driving a car to get beer for Rat and ended up running over and killing Jeremy from Zits. Baby Wren from Baby Blues was portrayed as an extreme bad-ass whom one does not mess with. It is this attitude that results in her killing several members of the fraternity of crocodiles when they try to eat her. The following Monday in the Baby Blues strip, baby Wren was seen playing with a stuffed crocodile with Xed-out dead eyes, an allusion to that storyline. On December 7, 2007, a crocodile appeared in Lio, only to say "OK, me freeked out by dat keed."

Bucky Katt from Get Fuzzy once appeared in early 2007 when Rat suggested Pastis add a cat to the strip for more popularity. Bucky then asked if Pastis had a lawyer. Bucky also appeared in the end of a storyline where Rat tried to learn (from the characters of Mutts) how to be a lovable character; Rat said that both he and Bucky flunked.

On the back cover of "Nighthogs" you can see Bucky Katt and Satchel Pooch from Get Fuzzy in a window.

Characters from Cathy, B.C, Dilbert, and several others have made guest appearances as well, in which they are often mildly mocked. Garfield has also been the brunt of many punchlines, though only once has a character from the strip appeared in Pearls.

During Blondie 's 75th-anniversary sequence of strips in September 2005, which was referred to within some 25 other, generally more well-established comics, Pig and Rat were among the comic strip characters not "invited" to the event; Pastis in his strip had Pig and Rat complain for weeks. To console them, in a self-reflexive sequence, Pastis set up a competing party in his own strip for other comic characters not invited to the Bumstead home in Blondie. Opus the Penguin from Bloom County and his eponymous strip was the only other attendee.

On one occasion, the Pearls characters left the strip one by one, in an event popularly referred to as the Pearls Labor Dispute.Template:Fact In this series, the strips The Family Circus, Love Is..., Get Fuzzy, Rose Is Rose, and Garfield were visited (as well as the Jumble puzzle). The characters Marmaduke and Nancy and Sluggo made guest appearances as temporary replacements for the departed characters.

Others artists, particularly other young and newly established cartoonists, have collaborated on these meta-comic exchanges. On April Fool's Day 2005, Pastis, Get Fuzzy creator Darby Conley and FoxTrot creator Bill Amend published the same storyline involving a Ouija board using each strip's respective characters.

In 2006, Conley used a week of Pearls Before Swine strips verbatim in place of his own comic, pasting stock illustrations of Get Fuzzy characters over the Pearls Before Swine characters, leading to a comically nonsensical Get Fuzzy sequence-specifically, the strips in question saw Zebra getting attacked in his bed by the Fraternity of Crocodiles; Conley pasted stock illustrations of Satchel Pooch over Zebra. After a few days of this, Conley drew two strips featuring him and Pastis arguing over the strips.

A similar reversal happened in November 2006, when a "disgruntled newspaper layout artist" inserted random Get Fuzzy panels into Pearls. There have also been other allusions: Satchel from Get Fuzzy once had a Pearls book next to his beanbag, as Rob asked about a phone call from "an annoying lawyer named Stephan" (Pastis was a lawyer before becoming a cartoonist), and Pig has attended at least one evening class led by a "Professor Conley". FoxTrot referenced Pearls Before Swine by having Jason Fox redraw the Crocodiles to look like his sister Paige. On the cover of a Get Fuzzy book, Bucky Katt's Big Book of Fun, Rat can clearly be seen flying an airplane. Further, during a series of strips where Darby Conley was injured, the artist shared some ideas for strips, including one that warned him "Do not give Stephan Pastis a plug" (the strip in question featured Bucky Katt roasting Jason Fox and Billy from Family Circus on a spit over an open flame).

In 2005, Rick Stromoski's strip Soup To Nutz introduced a short-lived character, a big-headed kid named Stephan Pastis, as a friend of Andrew Nutz. This was Stromoski's response to Pastis' creation of Stromoski the Undateable Frog (see above). While Pastis drew the strips featuring Stromoski the Undateable Frog first, the Soup To Nutz strips featuring big-headed Stephan Pastis ran first- Stromoski was not as far ahead of his deadlines as Pastis was.

Cartoonist Bill Holbrook referenced the strip in his own Kevin and Kell.[7]

On [ August 13, 2006, Pig and Rat were in a bar discussing a rule that all comic-strip characters needed to age in real-time, a la For Better or For Worse, Doonesbury, and the first to do this, Gasoline Alley. While this rule, made up by Pastis for the sequence, didn't affect the 5-year-old Pearls, it strongly affected the 50-year-old Family Circus and the 75-year-old Blondie within the confines of Pastis' strip.

For a brief period starting February 22, 2007, Pearls Before Swine featured Jason, Peter, Andy and Quincy from FoxTrot as homeless individuals living on Rat and Pig's lawn. This came after FoxTrot switched to a Sunday-only format.

A likeness of both Rat and Pig also featured in an F Minus strip, published on the 24th of June, 2007.

For the January 13, 2008 Sunday strip, Pearls parodied Slylock Fox. The January 16 Slylock Fox contained a quiz question about Pearls in return, and the February 3 Sunday strip featured Rat as the guilty suspect in a robbery (with Pig looking on).


Most cartoonists work six to eight weeks ahead of schedule. Occasionally, unreleased strips converge with current events in a way that requires the strip's syndicate to hold back or modify them so as not to cause offense with the public; United Feature Syndicate, which publishes Pearls before Swine, re-runs older strips when this happens, and has done so on two occasions:

  • During 2002, Rat runs for the office of mayor, against opposition who turns out to be dead; in his first treasury, Pastis explains that the storyline was based upon Missouri Governor Mel Carnahan, who posthumously defeated John Ashcroft for his Senate seat in 2000. However, on the second day of the series, Minnesota Senator Paul Wellstone was killed in a plane crash. To avoid giving the impression that Pastis was making fun of the recently deceased, a majority of newspapers replaced the 2-week series with earlier strips.
  • On Sept. 26, 2006, such alternate strips were provided to newspapers due to that day's strip involving Pig playing in a washing machine. Concurrent news involved the Jimella Tunstall case, in which her children were allegedly murdered by a friend and hidden from the authorities in a washing machine. Many papers and websites that syndicated the strip ran the alternate strips instead.



  • Cartoonist Darby Conley, creator of Get Fuzzy, helped teach Pastis the technical aspects of cartooning.[8] The two remain friends, sometimes poking fun at each other in their strips.
  • Pearls Before Swine was the fifth strip that Stephan Pastis submitted for syndication. Rat had also been the subject of his first attempt, the even darker strip "Rat." In one of the three in between that and Pearls, a strip called The Infirm, the main character (a lawyer) encounters some pigs on a farm. This gave rise to Pastis using Pig as another main character in Pearls.
  • In the F Minus comic printed June 24, 2007 featured a clock hung in the background with the characters of Pearls Before Swine printed on the clock.
  • Goat was originally supposed to be a bear, but the editors of the strip disapproved, and thus Steven Pastis drew a line up of characters that could be used instead. Goat was chosen, and was promptly introduced into the strip.Template:Fact


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  1. The News & Observer (Nov 24, 2006): "Stephan Pastis: Pearls Before Swine", by Matt Ehlers
  2. Pastis, Stephan, Sgt. Piggy's Lonely Hearts Club Comic (Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2004; ISBN 0-7407-4807-6), p.5: "Pearls was supposed to launch in newspapers on January 7, 2002. But just prior to the launch, the Washington Post bought the strip and wanted to start running it a week early. Thus, this week of strips [dated beginning 12/31] was quickly put together just for the Post, and this [12/31] strip became the first Pearls strip, published in exactly one paper".
  3. This Little Piggy Stayed Home (March 2004): "Product Detail"
  4. Concord Monitor (Jan 16, 2007): "Artist says he likes his humor dark", by Allison Steele
  5. Lions and tigers and crocs, oh my! page 187
  6. "Forum Interview with Stephan Pastis, Creator of Pearls Before Swine" (Summer 2004)
  7. Kevin and Kell, July 31, 2006
  8. Template:Cite news


External linksEdit

Template:United Media Comics