Last week there was some intrigue over whether some guest strips on Stephen Pastis’s Pearls Before Swine comic strip were actually drawn by Bill Watterson. Pastis teased that the answer would come on Saturday and it turned out…it was Watterson. In a blog post that has been viewed some 2 million times, Pastis revealed how he and Watterson had come up with a scheme where Pearls Before Swine would be drawn by a guest artist—a young girl—and how Watterson was fully on board with it. (Although he also doesn’t like things like scanners and phone calls, as Pastis learned.)
What followed was a series of back-and-forth emails where we discussed what the strips would be about, and how we would do them. He was confident. I was frightened. Frightened because it’s one thing to write a strip read by millions of people. But it’s another thing to propose an idea to Bill Watterson. The idea I proposed was that instead of having me get hit on the head, I would pretend that Pearls was being drawn by a precocious second grader who thought my art was crap. I named her “Libby,” which I then shorted to “Lib.” (Hint, hint: It’s almost “Bill” backwards.)
Pastis also drew a “coda” to the episode himself for Saturday.
And as if Bill Watterson drawing comics again after 20 years wasn’t enough, the Washington Post’s Michael Cavna goes and just chats up Watterson about the cross-over just like that, as easy as pie:
The collaboration is a brilliant pairing of strengths, with Watterson illustrating Pastis’s sometimes-meta script. “I think we both got some surprises,” Watterson says. “I didn’t know what he was going to write, and he didn’t know how I was going to draw it.”
What the HECK? Suffice to say that Watterson is becoming less and less like JD Salinger by the minute, and maybe those Angouleme folks knew what they were doing.
The art from the strips will be displayed at HeroesCon in two weeks, and a panel will explain how it all happened and what role Richard Thompson played in the caper—Thompson is the marvelous cartoonist who suffers from Parkinson’s Disease and in the past Watterson was involved with Team Cul De Sac, a charity organization that helps raise money to combat Parkinsons.
The NEW art will eventually be auctioned off to benefit the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research—and a TCDS event will be held at HeroesCon as well.
Wow — so many good things here. And the strips themselves are pretty amazing.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.