Only the Pearls: The Pearls Before Swine iPad App

Thanks to the publisher, I got a chance to try out the Pearls Before Swine iPad app, Only the Pearls, that launched last month. There’s more information in that link, but the short version is, creator Stephan Pastis selected his 250 favorite strips and enhanced their presentation with audio and video clips.

Only the Pearls logo

One of the earliest video links explains that he’s aware that his favorites may not match yours or mine, a nice introduction. It’s interrupted by a sound from off-camera, which highlights one of the things that made me feel uncertain about some of this content: Much of the video content turns on Pastis pretending to be a jerk. (At least, I’m assuming he’s pretending.) That doesn’t match my sense of humor, but it does coordinate well with the tone of some of the Pearls Before Swine strips.

The app allows the user to explore however they wish, or if, like old-fashioned me, you prefer a chronological approach, you can swipe the pages, as though moving through a book. (Pastis, in some of his comments, refers to the project as “the book” also, which I found revealing.) It’s a very nice presentation, and dedicated fans of the strip will appreciate the “greatest hits” approach. It’s fun to see the first appearances of various characters, such as the Crocs or Zebra.

Stephan Pastis caricature

All the pages have an accessible table of contents, which lets you see only the strips with video, only those with audio, only those animated, and a couple of the special areas. Comparing Pastis in real life to his self-caricature was eye-opening. Plus, it’s neat hearing the story of how the strip started in his own voice. A bulletin board section contains some ephemera related to the strip, and each has an audio story behind it.

There’s a lot of content in the app, making for hours of reading and listening. Really, the only drawback I can see to this app is that it’s so audio-visual and interactive that I couldn’t find a good time to play with it. I do a lot of my surfing while watching TV, and this was something that demanded attention. With all the sound, I had to be sure I was checking it out in a quiet environment, one where I wouldn’t bother other people. There’s really no reason why Pastis’ comments had to be audio — they could have been readable notes under each strip — but it does provide the illusion of being closer to the artist. Here’s another writeup with some screenshots.

2 Responses to “Only the Pearls: The Pearls Before Swine iPad App”

  1. FoxTrot Launches iPad eBooks » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] I discovered with the Pearls Before Swine iPad app, comic strips make for great tablet fodder, although the FoxTrot editions don’t have the […]

  2. Comic Strip Collections: Cul de Sac, Pearls Before Swine, and Max Overacts » Comics Worth Reading Says:

    […] it’s that, after reviewing Only the Pearls, the Pearls Before Swine iPad app, I feel more like my sense of humor doesn’t match the […]




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