- Posted by Johanna on July 14, 2013 at 9:04 am
- Category: Graphic Novel Reviews
- CREDITS: by Stephan Pastis
- PUBLISHER: Andrews McMeel; $9.99 US
In order to reach a younger audience, Beginning Pearls assembles a selection of the less offensive Pearls Before Swine comic strips. Each main character — Rat, Pig, Goat, Zebra, the Crocs — also gets a short introduction in their own voice.
Starting with Rat makes sense, given that his self-centered obnoxiousness will likely appeal to boys and girls frustrated with being told what they can’t do. Rat is the petty little revenge fantasy we all have. Reading too many strips focused on him at once becomes numbing, though. Putting all the Pig strips together wasn’t a great idea, either, since the dumb jokes are funnier when there aren’t so many of them all in a row.
I find it strange that they didn’t use the strip’s full title, but maybe that’s to make it harder for the kiddies to find the inappropriate other strips.
It’s also odd reading a newspaper comic formatted for a portrait-style book, since the three-panel strips have been arranged, one per page, with two panels across a top tier and the third, printed larger, down below. The occasional Sunday strip uses two pages, but instead of formatting across the spread, you read across and down the left page, then the right.
The strips are funny, of course, as Rat finds the appliances plotting against him or makes murderous gingerbread men or acts out against those who annoy him (which is everyone). One sequence has Pig’s germ-phobic sister Farina visiting in a plastic bubble. Another, quietly sad, has Pig trying to make friends with the silent guy who lives in the reflecting pool. I liked his “fruit buddies” group, even if it ended in despair. We also meet the guard duck.
The Zebra strips seem to come from early on, when he was trying to keep his people from being eaten by lions. The Crocs section is all about their fraternity and how bad they are at fooling Zebra.
It’s not a bad idea to have an introductory sampler to the series available; regardless of the “for kids” label, anyone curious about the comic, which is fresh and darkly inventive, may want to start here. (The publisher provided a digital review copy.)