Stephan Pastis, the author of the comic strip Pearls Before Swine, is a big fan of Bill Watterson, of Calvin and Hobbes fame. Pastis put a joke about Watterson in his strip and emailed it to him, and the response he got was a surprise -the very retired and reclusive Watterson, who hadn’t published a comic in 19 years, had an idea for a collaboration between the two comic strip artists! Pastis writes about the creative process:
At every point in the process, I feared I would say something wrong. And that Bill would disappear back into the ether. And that the whole thing would seem like a wisp of my imagination.
But it wasn’t that way.
Throughout the process, Bill was funny and flexible and easy to work with.
Like at one point when I wanted to change a line of dialogue he wrote, I prefaced it by saying, “I feel like a street urchin telling Michelangelo that David’s hands are too big.” But he liked the change. And that alone was probably the greatest compliment I’ve ever received.
Watterson was the “guest artist” in three strips this past week, in the role of a second-grader who bragged she could draw better than Pastis. The change in style did not go unnoticed, but Pastis was sworn to secrecy until after all three strips ran. Now you can read the whole story at Pastis’ blog.
It also turns out that Watterson was already a fan of Pastis’ work when he was contacted. He told the Washington Post:
“Several years ago, when Stephan did one of his strips that mocked his own drawing ability and mentioned my strip in comparison, I thought it might be funny for me to ghost ‘Pearls’ sometime, just to flip it all on its head,” the goateed Watterson tells me, offering a clear indication that he still follows the funnies. “It was just a silly idea, and I didn’t know Stephan, so I never pursued it, and years went by.”
Did you happen to keep the funny pages from Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday? If not, you can see the week’s story arc beginning here.