List of Pearls Before Swine characters: Wikis

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This is a partial list of characters in the comic strip Pearls Before Swine by Stephen Pastis

Contents

Rat

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Personality

Rat is a megalomaniacal rat, who is frequently critical of the strip's style and artwork, as well as the other characters in his and other strips, real life people, and almost all living (and often nonliving) things. He believes himself to be much more intelligent than he actually is, and thinks more or less anybody else is stupid. He tends to aggravate people, particularly his intelligent friend Goat, and is easily aggravated by his naïve, dim-witted housemate Pig. Rat believes himself to be the wisdom of the strip, if not wisdom itself, and that anybody else is more or less dumb, whereas most other characters view him as "a loudmouth, pompous malcontent". He may or may not be a personification of the Seven Deadly Sins.

Rat is very prideful and arrogant (he once made a list of all the geniuses in the world that only said "Mozart, da Vinci, Me", and then said that he only put 'that music dude' there to be nice), and is constantly dreaming up schemes that invariably would keep him away from anyone and everyone else, though these inevitably backfire. He often appears incapable of seeing his own faults.

Rat is also a con artist, as he is often taking up professions he knows almost nothing about and charging people a lot of money, often insulting or confusing his customers, co-workers and boss in the process. He is often self-employed, using his jobs to trick vain, unintelligent people into either giving him money or making them do things for him. In one instance, he even started a big controversy over a bogus weight-loss scheme he created, involving the starvation of obese people, that wound up on the Senate floor. At times, other companies make the mistake of hiring him, in which case Rat is usually rude to his customers and employers.

In the comic's history, Rat has hosted several jobs for varying lengths of time. Some of them include a marriage counselor, a book store information guide, a Feng Shui expert, a telemarketer, a supermarket cashier, a reporter for the New York Times, where he is allowed to make everything up (Pastis has said this was inspired by the Jayson Blair scandal), a pizza parlor manager, a pet psychic, a stockbroker, a life coach, a talk radio host, an oil company CEO, a barista at a coffee shop, a supermarket tabloid manager, a Lawyer, a cartoonist, a perennial candidate, and a hotel concierge among others. Much about his family is unknown, but he did telephone his mother in one strip, and we know that his father was killed by a circus clown for an unknown reason.

Despite the partial success of many of his get-rich-quick schemes, he constantly claims to be poor, although it is quite possible that he always squanders or otherwise loses the money. Despite this, he has enough money to get by in life (although it is possible his apparent housemates, Pig and Goat, chip in to help him), and he often does things that would require large amounts of money, such as purchasing nuclear missiles from Russia.

He has been known to collect people in whom he sees a severe flaw in their driving, lifestyle, etc., and place them in an area whose name corresponds with their supposed imperfection (collectively referred to as "Box O' Stupid People", they have also been known as "Cubicle O' Shame", "Pit O' Useless Blowhards, etc.). Strips featuring this invariably feature another character (usually Pig) objecting, only to wind up in the "box" himself.

He has also made various forays into the world of literature, and Sunday strips often depict him typing novels. These novels usually are about a character called Angry Bob, who, in every book, finds true happiness, followed by an untimely death. Rat also has a comic strip, Dickie the Cockroach, about a cockroach who ties people up and slaps duct tape over the mouths of people who say stupid things (he did this to the titular character of the comic strip Cathy); he is seemingly oblivious to the fact that no one reads it. Recently he has begun writing children's books, starring the character Danny Donkey (Rat even made a doll of Danny who mysteriously came alive (similar to Hobbes of Calvin and Hobbes) and robbed a liquor store (ironically, this occurred right after Pig commented that another strip should do this). He has made references to poetry many times too, although he has almost never written a poem himself (except for rhymes that he used to put in postcards, who turned out to be almost always rather insulting to the postcard's owner), and also wrote things for peoples gravestones that were very insulting to the dead person, i.e. "He lived, he died. We barely cried." He once said that the key to writing great poetry is making your work so obscure that "no one can understand you, much less criticize you". He once wrote the following free verse poem: "Atop the fog the Zebra's buttocks angry at my mother's sloth".

While Rat is often cold-hearted or mean to his housemate Pig, he has been shown to be kind at times, saying nice things to him (although quickly covering it up with his usual attitude). He sometimes lies to Pig to spare his feelings, although not very often. It has also been revealed that Rat has a soft spot for Pig's sister, Farina, a germaphobe who lives in an air-filtered bubble. She, however, had on-and-off feelings about Rat, often breaking Rat's heart and dating other characters. This has proven to be one of the few things that can destroy his giant ego.

He is also quite materialistic in his likes; he has said that the American Dream is to have a video store on every block, enjoys pornography and slasher films, and his philosophies tend to say that we're all doomed and that there is no moral law.

He is also seen criticizing the quality of other comic strips, particularly older ones or those aimed at a specific group (the more sympathetic Pig often states his admiration for these same strips). For this reason, he and the other characters were banned from the 75th anniversary of Blondie. He sometimes even goes into the "real world" and complains to the strips writer, Stephen Pastis directly. Rat once mentioned that another reason the funnies are "unfunny" is because the censorship code hasn't been updated since the 1950s, meaning they can't do things commonly seen on prime time television. He explains that some comic strips, such as The Far Side and Calvin and Hobbes, were genuinely funny, but the writers retired, because they had the good sense to not let their features grow stale and let new cartoonists make their livings. Unfortunately, most of the new writers follow in the footsteps of the very comics Rat states as the root of the problem, so the funnies are trapped in a vicious circle.

Religion

Rat's religion is disputable. He is friends with Satan, but has also stated at least once that he would likely be much more religious if it "weren't for all that 'love thy neighbor' stuff", as he hates his neighbors (this caused Goat to comment that [his] soul is so dark it smudges [his own], after which Rat said: "Maybe I could love YOUR neighbors. I don't even have to SEE them." He was once seen at the "Church of the Amazing Grace Annual festival". Rat has "invented" several new types of philosophy/religion over the strips run, a few of which include "Unthinkology", "Mulliganology", and "Cheezepuffology". He explains "Unthinkology" as "The belief that thinking causes pain... hence, one must cease all thinking." He explains "Mulliganology" as "In golf, when you screw up on a shot, you say "Mulligan", and you get to take it over again. A Mulliganologist applies this purpose to all tenets of life". He explains "Cheezepuffology" as "The fundamental tenet is that nothing you dream ever comes true, so you might as well live in front of your TV and scarf cheeze-puffs."

Politics

Rat has made multiple sojourns into politics. In 2003, he ran for City Council against a deceased opponent a la John Ashcroft, faking his own death to even up the polls, and after that plan backfired advocating the invasion of Mexico, only receiving one vote, he himself voting for his opponent (Pig "had a little trouble with the butterfly ballot"). In 2004, he ran for president as an Independent (joining the race 10 days prior to the election after being incorrectly informed by Pig that it was in six months). During this campaign, he appeared on Meet the Press, where he voiced support for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but said he would remove all troops in order to invade France. He also criticized Ralph Nader for his book Unsafe At Any Speed and John Kerry for his first name. In 2007, he ran for mayor against Jojo the Crocodile in an election that was moot as Duck staged a coup-de-etat. During these campaigns (and several other times), he voiced conservative opinions. Whether or not this was ever direct commentary on the cartoonist's part is a matter of debate.

On the other hand, he has also voiced anti-capitalist and even revolutionary socialist beliefs during his employment at Joe's Rostery, although these may have been more intended to spite his boss than to express his actual political views.

During one series of three strips, he was known as "Johnny on Top, Folk Singer Singer For the Far Right", intended as a counterweight to politically left-liberal folk singers (likely including, though not mentioned by name, Pete Seger and Willie Nelson). He wrote three songs; "Shoot the Hippie out of the Redwood Tree", "If You're not White, and You Talk Funny, We'll Drop Bombs Right on Your Bunny" (because camel didn't rhyme) and a pro oil spill song titled "Maybe Your Ducky Likes Swimming in Mucky". He has also been known as "Blind Bobby Z, Blues Singer for the Rich and Uptrodden" (also known as "Blind Jimmy Windthrop") for three strips, singing songs about taxation and Nordstroms. His only known song was "My Capital Gains Are Blowin' Away In The Wind".

During a two-week series containing nine strips, he attempted to buy a rifle from "Walmartopialand Guns" to "pop his neighbor in the rear". When the gun dealer refused to sell, he accused him of being far left, going to the extent of calling him a "Dennis Kucinich-loving liberal" and "Hanoi Jane".

In 2008, he donned the name "El Jefe, The Cuban Evenger" and sent the Guard Duck and Snuffles the cat as mercenaries to topple Raul Castro. This failed, as the two landed in Jamaica and were arrested for shooting a police officer (a reference to the Bob Marley song I Shot the Sheriff).

He has on three occasions testified before the United States Congress; the first time on the "growing pet psychic scandal (where he pretended to read the Congressmen's minds, correctly predicting them all saying "Fundraising and sex with [their] intern), testified at hearings on his "Box Me In!" weight loss program (see above). and more recently attempted with the title character of Dennis the Menace (unsuccessfully) to get Congressional bailout money for comic strips.

Literature

Rat has also repeatedly forayed into literature, and Sunday strips often show him writing novels, often while drinking. His main character is Angry Bob (see below). In addition to Danny Donkey, mentioned above, he has also written Killing Zeebas for Dummies: A Step-By-Step Guide, which he marketed to the crocs, as well as multiple unnamed romance novels, Elly Elephant (a helpful elephant who sometimes kills people who do not return her may favors), at least two books focusing on a private investigator named "Detective Bob", and a short story focusing on Zorro's brother, "Orro." He has also written a comic strip entitled Dickie the Cockroach, and briefly a rip-off of Dilbert entitled Bildert.

Death

Rat has died twice in this strip and was near death a third time. The first of these occasions, occurring in 2002, saw Rat ascend to Heaven, only to be turned away by St. Peter, after being hit by a car (while he was comatose in a hospital). Rat's first official death came in 2005 when, after being encouraged to smile more, his body exploded from the stress (although he'd return one week later). His second official death came in June 2008 as he suffered a heart attack from overstimulation related to the death of Stephan Pastis in the strip one day before, but both he and Pastis were returned to Earth later that week at the intervention (within the Pearls universe) of United Feature Syndicate.

History

Stephan Pastis, the strip's author and formerly a lawyer, started drawing Rat in law school, often killing him off for the sake of humor. He would doodle the Rat character usually while bored in his classes. In later attempts to get syndicated, Pastis teamed Rat up with Poe, a being that didn't resemble anything. The strip, titled Rat, was too depressing for the syndicates, and was turned down.

Rat was later put into another one of Pastis' comics, Bradbury Road, which was also rejected.[1]

Bradbury Road is the story of Gus, a ten year old boy who is befriended by Rat, a cynical rodent who gnaws his way through the wall into Gus' room. Gus, the child of divorced parents, lives with his mother and very rarely sees his father. Reserved and slightly awkward, he spends a lot of time in his own room. For those times when Gus is not around, Rat talks with Jingles, a stuffed, court jester doll that lives on a shelf in the boy's room.

After some rejection, Pastis eventually wrote Pearls Before Swine, which was an attempt to revive Rat with a less depressing tone. Poe was replaced by Pig, and began syndication by United Media on December 31, 2001.

Pig

Personality

Pig is a good-natured pig. He believes that there is good in every being, even his cynical housemate Rat. As well as somehow being friends with Rat (despite Rat's constant abuse), he also frequently is seen talking with Zebra and Goat.

Pig is very dimwitted and naïve (he reads Sky Mall to keep up with the War in Iraq), often being beaten up by Rat after trying to have a serious conversation with him, only to say something unrelated (i.e. Euthanasia being confused for "Youth in Asia" or "Port-Au-Prince being confused with Port-a-Potty). Pig is usually oblivious to how cruel Rat often is.

Pig also has a knack for making friends with inanimate objects, mostly food (who are almost always eaten by the selfish Rat). In certain instances, Pig makes clubs with these friends, like "The Fruit Buddies" and "The Bait Club". He also dated "Ms. Bootyworth" for a week.

Pig will often misunderstand an expression or figure of speech and apply it literally, with humorous results. He has also been known to use such terms literally in a context where he is misunderstood, often getting beaten up by someone who he does not realized he has offended. Unlike Rat, who is constantly criticizing other comic strips, Pig has occasionally been seen praising other comics, such as Mutts.

Pig, when on a date, is most likely seen with Pigita, but earlier in the strip, he can be seen with other pigs. Pigita, like many people, is aggravated by Pig's stupidity. She also has dramatic mood swings possibly resulting from bipolar disorder, though these happen far less frequently in recent strips.

In one strip, he said his favorite TV show was The Office. He has also mentioned liking the Care Bears and Happy Days and often says his favorite comic strip is Blondie (although this at least once was "altered dialogue" being used as evidence to try and let the "Pearls" cast into the Blondie 75th Anniversary, which they had been banned from). Rat has referenced Pig's "point of reference" as Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner.

He also appears to know more about the people in the neighborhood than Rat does, for example when Rat bragged about knowing things about strangers and celebrities but couldn't identify the man who walked past, Pig identified him as Bob, their next-door neighbor for the last eleven years. In one strip, he mentioned going to "Father Nick's" funeral. When he told Rat (who didn't know who Father Nick was) that Nick had been their priest since 1979, Rat said "Maybe I've missed a [mass] or two".

He frequently writes letters to well-known real-life people, usually foreign authority figures at odds with the US like Fidel Castro or Kim Jong-Ill concerning rather unimportant things like image; while Rat constantly berates him for doing this, the people they are sent to have been shown to care about what he says, occasionally crying when he criticizes them. He also makes massive donations to Rainbow/PUSH, misunderstanding Jesse Jackson's slogan of "keep hope alive" and thinking the money will be used to afford medical treatment for Bob Hope.

He likes football and has tried to play at least twice in the strip, with poor results: The first time, he tried to play touch football, but the two teams, having picked everyone else, started picking inanimate street neighborhood objects, deceased people, and even types of wine over him; the second time, he ran into the wall and wrecked the "print registration", messing up the strip's artwork.

Not much is known about Pig's family, although Pig writes letters to his mother occasionally, and she writes back with indifference, if not rudeness, to him. Pig's mother's first appearance in Pearls, where she is actually seen, was on June 25, 2005 when she tried to get Pig out of a tree he was climbing. Pig was born in a liter of seven piglets, one of whom is his sister Farina who had a brief relationship with Rat. Pig is also a cannibal (since he eats corn dogs and BLT sandwiches) but is somewhat oblivious to this fact. He can sometimes name the dead relative he is eating. The May 25, 2003 strip revealed that he lost a relative in the Vietnam War.

History

Pig is directly descended from a family of pigs that appeared in "The Infirm," another of Pastis' rejected strips. Pastis decided to create another pig character to pair with Rat, and as such Pearls Before Swine was born.

Zebra

Personality

Zebra is a supportive and caring zebra, who is often seen either writing to his predators or talking about recent deaths. He thinks it is a large problem and tries to promote peace and understanding between species. He is seen mainly around Pig or Rat, but also occasionally hangs out with Goat, being one of the comic's few characters Goat is able to stand for any length of time. Zebra was the fourth main character to be introduced, as Pastis said in "Sgt. Piggy's Lonely Hearts Club Comic" that his original intent was for Zebra to be in a limited run. His popularity forced Pastis to include him full-time.

He lives next door to the Fraternity of Crocodiles, much to his dismay, as they are constantly trying (and failing) to eat him. His other neighbors are a pride of lions who he apparently has a better relationship with as the male lions usually warn him whenever Zebra is acting "weak" which marks him as an easy target for the Lions' wives. Before these predators moved next door to Zebra, he often tried to reason with them by mailing them nice letters. But the predators never really took them into consideration.

He recently adopted a pet cat named Snuffles that the Crocs tried to use to kill him. Instead the cat liked Zebra (the Crocs think the cat has a secret plan). It's later revealed that, while not homicidal, Snuffles does have a criminal side, including being involved in a deal to sell nuclear weapons technology to Arab countries, posing as a "deposed" Nigerian king for an e-mail scam, selling stolen Rolex watches on the street, acting as a mercenary, and scalping tickets for a San Francisco Giants game.

Not much is known about the surviving members of his family except for their names, with those usually being a relative of Pastis. He has a brother named Peter, nicknamed "Stumpy" after a crocodile ate his left leg.

He often tries to stop predation, but his efforts usually fail miserably. He once came up with a plan to fool the lions by playing dead. This didn't work, as 99 of the 100 zebras that tried it were eaten, and the one who succeeded "wasn't faking it". Another time, he tried getting zebras some "popemobiles", so they could travel safely. However, it worked too well, and they wouldn't leave, and thus died. Zebra also tries reasoning with the lions and crocodiles, but they refuse to listen, often eating their would-be instructors.

On one occasion he organized the "Zebra/Lion/Croc Olympics", which took place in Athens, Greece, like the real-life Olympics going on at the time. The Olympics failed, as the Crocs kept eating the Zebras and the Greeks were more interested in smoking cigarettes and drinking soda pop then building the stadiums.

History

Zebra was originally meant to be a one-time character (as stated by Pastis) selling cookies to buy weapons for his herd (which Rat wouldn't buy, not wanting to mess with natural selection), but he was popular and became a central character. His first strip was released on February 4, 2002.

Goat

Personality

Goat is intelligent and literate. Like Pig, he is well-meaning and tries to be kind; like Rat he is arrogant and easily irritated, which is often his stumbling block when dealing with characters other than Zebra. He has a hard time putting up with Rat's ego and Pig's stupidity. He willingly interacts with Zebra, but usually tries his hardest to keep away from the other characters. He likes to read, and would rather read than hang out with anyone else. He is described on the Pearls website as "the voice of reason that often goes unheard", referring to his level-headedness, compared to the other characters.

Goat has a particular dislike for and rivalry with Rat, whom he criticizes on a regular basis for his ego as well as his writings. Rat in turn makes fun of Goat for having a blog that no one reads and (on at least one occasion) ruins a date for Goat by hanging around him and annoying him.

Name

As with most of other animal characters in the strip, Goat is only referred to by the noun as a name. However, in an arc where Goat travels home and visits his mother, she comments on how his name is never used in the comic strip he works in, and that his real name is Paris. This name was chosen as a tribute to Stephan Pastis's grandfather who died before Stephen's birth, Paris Tripodes. [2] Goat replies that "Goat" is just a stage name.[3].

History

Goat was the third main character to debut in the strip and was the first of two conceived specifically for Pearls (as opposed to Rat and Pig, who as noted appeared in Pastis' rejected strips). He was originally supposed to be a bear, but after the syndicates rejected the idea Pastis reworked the character into a goat.

Trivia

  • On the cover of the Pearls Before Swine comic strip treasury "The Crass Menagerie" Goat is seen seated on the right reading the book God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., which has as an alternate title on the cover "...or Pearls Before Swine."
  • In the same story arc that says his name is Paris, it is revealed that he and his mother are the only anthropomorphic members of his family.
  • For the first two years of the strip, Goat had a beard. He first appeared without the beard on March 31, 2004. It began to appear irregularly shortly thereafter until it was dropped altogether.

Guard Duck

Personality

The Guard Duck is a violent duck, hired by Pig because the cost of a proper guard-dog was too high. He often blows up the neighbors' property (and, occasionally, the neighbors themselves), often assuming he is at war and that the neighbors are the enemy. On one occasion, he actually did go to war, albeit as a mercenary in Rat's plan topple Raul Castro (see above). He was fired after stealing a neighbor's inflatable pool, and then robbed a bank, escaping from prison. He appears to see Pig as his General, referring to him as "Sir". He has twice rescued Zebra from the Crocs, once by force, and once as Zebra's attorney. He also served as mayor of Albany, California, obtaining the position after overthrowing the incumbent in a coup, until he was caught bugging the offices of his political opponents and forced to resign in disgrace.

Guard Duck fell in love with a non-anthropomorphic duck named Maura, who flew away from him and failed to return for over a year. Guard Duck thought he'd lost her forever, due to his being unable to fly (having never learned how), but one day she returned to him. He resigned his "commission" shortly thereafter and traveled to Paris with Maura, who left him while there to work for Aflac. He was reintroduced during a Fantastic Four-parody storyline focusing of the crocs under the pseudonym of "The Waterfowler" (likely a reference to Batman's nemisis The Penguin.

Farina

History

On August 19, 2002, Farina was introduced to the strip as Pig's sister, coming over for a visit. She was, according to Rat, "so paranoid about germs she wore gloves to [their] house." However, she is introduced to the strip inside a germ-proof, air-filtered bubble, and many jokes involved the fact she was stuck in a round ball. Little by little, though, Rat started to care about her. Rolling Farina up a hill so she could see a nice view of the nighttime sky and taking her to drive-in movies are just two examples of him expressing love for what may have been the first time. However, Farina's father forbade marriage between the two, and were forced to split up.

Then on July 2, 2003, it was revealed that Farina was married to a bubble pig named Bob and had a bubble child. When Rat called Farina up for a date, Bob picked up instead, and attempted to murder Rat, thinking he and Farina were having an adulterous affair.

Bob seemed to have cooled down, as on November 15, 2005, Farina showed up again to ask Rat to babysit their child while she and Bob went on a "two-week romantic getaway to the Bahamas", thus breaking Rat's heart again.

Since then, Farina has broken up with Bob and appeared in the strip again, but instead of getting back together with Rat, dated Dilbert, Ziggy, and Hagar the Horrible. In 2007, she moved in with a man in Florida, whom Rat tried to murder (a reference to the Lisa Nowak incident).

The Crocs

Males

Despite the seemingly large number of Crocodiles, most of the males (who are in turn most of the crocodiles) have virtually the same mindset; rude, smug, disloyal, but above all, incompetent. They never give up in their attempts to capture and kill Zebra. Despite their bravado, the crocodiles appear to be ashamed over their constant failures and try to hide them. The reason may be that the predator community appears to view buying your own food (something that one would naturally be forced to do if unable to capture anything) as a wimpy thing.

Females

The female crocs (who the males collectively refer to as "woomun") are more intelligent than the males. They constantly find the males' failures embarrassing.

Billy

The greates exception to the general croc mindset is Billy, the bookish young son of Larry. Having decided that it is wrong to kill others, he is a vegitarian, much to the exasperation and shame of Larry. In fact, Billy often gets along with Zebra, and even is in a relationship with the Zebra's niece.

Angry Bob

The Adventures of Angry Bob

The books that Rat writes are entitled, "The Adventures of Angry Bob (by Rat)". Sometimes, they will have a subtitle, such as, "An Epic Tragic Poem Thingie" or "A Big Fat Tale 'O Woe".

In every story, Angry Bob becomes frustrated with his life, usually stating that he is either angry or sad, or both. During the course of the story Bob will decide to try and do something about it, and more often than not succeeds. However, as is the case in nearly every Angry Bob story, something goes wrong and Bob meets a horrible and gruesome death at the end, often shot or crushed.

References

  1. ^ "Baywalk.com - Lifestyle Shopping and Articles - Cartoons and Funnies - Bradbury Road". www.baywalk.com. http://www.baywalk.com/cartoons/bradbury_road.htm. Retrieved 2008-06-15.  
  2. ^ Pastis, Stephan. "Pearls Sells Out". p.186. Andrews McMeel Publishing. 2009
  3. ^ Pastis, Stephan. Pearls Before Swine 2007-09-21

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