Sunday, July 10, 2011
Zeeba Zeeba Neighba
I'll bet you really didn't expect this to be my next move.
But I like comics. And as there is an element of technical artistic proficiency involved with producing them (i.e...the pictures), I think this severely overlooked subgroup of "ART" counts. My fave, fave, favorite comic (probably of all time) is Pearls before Swine by Stephen Pastis. Its the first comic I read in the newspaper in the morning...and my Dad will save it for last because its his favorite too. We each own our own book collections of this strip too :)
Pearls before Swine began in 2002, is currently published in approximately 650 newspapers worldwide, and was awarded Best Newspaper Comic Strip by the National Cartoonists Society in 2003 and 2006. It was nominated for the Reuben Award, cartooning's highest award, in 2009, 2010, 2011.
The creator of this hilarious strip, Stephen Pastis, is a former litigator that found the world of comics far more enchanting than the tense and anxious world of law. He had been interested in comics since he was a child, but as I think many children are quickly convinced these days...that just wasn't "practical." I want everyone to take a good look at Mr. Pastis because I think he is a very important example of how you CAN do something you love and you CAN be happy and you CAN be successful simultaneously. You just have to want it, to work for it, and to fight for it.
Pearls is primarily based around two friends: Arrogant, raging, beer-drinking Rat and sweet, but slow-witted Pig. They're joined by a host of secondary characters including the intelligent, well-read Goat, the protective but delusional Guard Duck, and poor, poor Zebra who's main point in the comic is to avoid being eaten by his next door neighbors, the Crocodiles (a.k.a. The Fraternity of Zeeba Zeeba Eatas).
As GoComics.com tells it, this pair (Rat & Pig) "offers caustic commentary on humanity's quest for the unattainable." But it also offers so much humor, bad puns (which Dad and I LOVE) and real-world connections. You laugh, but sometimes you also find yourself thinking (while laughing) "OH, that is so TRUE."
Things I appreciate about this comic:
1) The Crocodiles. They're oh, so stupid but hilarious. And I love the way Pastis has their accent manifest in words. You try saying "ZEEBA NEIGHBA" without smiling. (Translation: Zebra Neighbor. See? Not as funny.)
2) In the book collections, Pastis will give himself props if he did a particularly good job drawing a chair or a vase. He wasn't a professionally trained artist and its fun to see him admire his own work. If you see a vase patterned in checkers (I'm told), this is a tribute to Charles Schulz and Charlie Brown.
3) Rat. GOSH, Rat can be mean. And insensitive. And full of himself. But dang, if he isn't funny. And if he doesn't say things sometimes we wish we could!
4) Pig. Sweet, lovable, naive Pig. He tries so hard. At everything. And its usually just not enough. But he keeps trying!
5) The style is simple and to the point, which allows you to focus on the dialogue and the dialogue is top-notch. Pastis is wickedly clever and finds a lot of funny ways to address current issues or trends. He isn't afraid to touch on the controversial, and with the charm of such cutely drawn little animals, who could really be mad? (Well, some people can. And have been. But they're perhaps uptight.)
I leave you with a slideshow of some Pearls strips (Thank you, Yahoo). Scroll using the buttons on the left. I could do this all day. (Thursday June 30ths strip made me laugh so hard, just fyi.) Enjoy!