Half a dozen times a year, I cut a comic strip out of the newspaper. Now maybe this is because I’m not a regular reader of the newspaper – I get most of my news from public radio – so that when I do see one, I’m enthralled. Or maybe it’s because I have ESP or some other form of weird psychic ability that makes me read the newspaper on just those few days a year when I’m going to find a comic strip that I can’t resist.
They’re usually kind of black humor – my favorite kind – but I keep them on or around my desk because they’re so beautifully written. It often amazes me how comic strip writers can take 20 or 25 words and turn them into a complete story – and when they do it like Stephan Pastis of Pearls Before Swine did today – I cut it out and every time I look at it, I wish I could write like he does.
If you’re interested in checking out the strip that caught my attention this week, here’s the link to the website: http://www.comics.com/comics/pearls/ - you may not end up at the cartoon I’m talking about, but it ran on February 14 so you should be able to find it.
Do I wish I’d thought of the Crate o’ Sadness? You betcha. Do I wish I could write a story as succinct and as poignant as this one? You betcha. Do I wish I could draw to go with the story? Double you betcha.
Writing great comic strips is an art form all of its own. It combines the ability to write quickly accessible humor (not an easy job all by itself) together with the ability to come up with something new every day (and that’s almost impossible). You need to be able to (at least part of the times) write emotionally without it turning into sentimentality.
Hats off to you, Stephan Pastis.