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Tuesday, June 08, 2010

At least someone understands! [I think]

Back in 2003, I became a big fan of Stephen Pastis' comic strip 'Pearls before Swine' because of this cartoon: 

That was early in his career when he wasn't yet the huge success he is today. 

I've continued to enjoy this often-irreverent (but almost never political) strip ever since.  But despite his usually eschewing politics in favor of human foibles, in the past few days I can't help but get the sense that Stephen Pastis still keeps an eye on the goings-on over here in Israel:

Pearls Before Swine 

And the follow-up:

Pearls Before Swine

And today's strip... which could be interpreted as the world asking the secular left-wing Israelis to hand over their religious right wing brothers and sisters... or at least their towns and homes.

Pearls Before Swine

Of course, this story line could simply be Mr. Pastis' take on human nature and I'm reading way too much into it.  But I don't think so.  There are just too many things lining up in this segment:

1.  The zebras are constantly being hunted and victimized by their neighbors; the crocodiles.

2.  The crocs never seem to understand why the zebras are averse to being killed.

3.  Now there is an outside party with the name 'POTUS' (President Of The United States) trying to act as a 'neutral party', but who is in truth asking the zebras to make an unreasonable sacrifice in the name of compromise.

4.  I'd be very surprised if Mr. Pastis is unaware of Winston Churchill 's famous quote "An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile - hoping it will eat him last”.

I exchanged emails with the creator of the strip over the past couple of days, and while he was extremely warm and cordial... he deftly sidestepped confirming or denying that he had Israel in mind when he drew these latest frames.  That's fine.  He has a huge audience (deservedly so), and it would be silly of him to be overt about his political leanings (if that's what they are) if it might alienate some of his fans. 

Personally, I enjoy his strip whether he is talking about my country... or simply talking.  The universality of the underlying messages in his strips means that they could apply to anyone, anywhere;  Not just Israel.

Well done Mr. Pastis!

Posted by David Bogner on June 8, 2010 | Permalink


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I assume you didn't miss the acronym POTUS...

Posted by: Dave (Balashon) | Jun 8, 2010 12:32:11 PM

Dave... Yes, President Of The United States. Pretty hard for a recovering 'West Wing' junkie to miss. :-)

Posted by: treppenwitz | Jun 8, 2010 12:36:45 PM

wow that's hilarious we LOVE that strip. it's the first one my boys read in the morning over their breakfast. interesting series he's got going right now :-)

Posted by: Leah Weiss Caruso | Jun 8, 2010 2:29:47 PM

Because of this post (and the fact that the rain kept me from walking at the lake this morning), I just spent a very enjoyable half hour at Stephen Pastis' blog.

Posted by: Lynne | Jun 8, 2010 2:58:30 PM

I'm glad I'm not the only one who sees that subtext. I'm also glad that he has the good sense to neither admit nor deny what he has in mind. I already knew he was a good man since I learned that he used to practice law and dropped it in favor of doing cartoons. I know there'a a lot of good you can do with a law practice, but from what I've seen in my own practice and that of others, if you're good, it makes you arrogant, and if you're not, it drives you to all different kinds of dishonesty.

Posted by: Barzilai | Jun 8, 2010 9:11:50 PM

He was at Rueben (comic strip convention) a week or two ago, where Yaakov (of Dry Bones) was giving a presentation. Wonder if they talked. Probably the same deal, won't confirm or deny.

Posted by: JDMDad | Jun 9, 2010 4:17:43 AM

The zebra is cool :)

Posted by: It's Full of Stars | Jun 9, 2010 10:36:32 AM

A few years ago PbS posted a brilliant set of strips over the course of about a week, in which the crocodiles and zebras were meeting together at a special peace conference to learn how to live together. The daily strips were so clever. This was a while ago, but I think that in the end, the conference was a failure because the crocodiles ate a few of the zebras.

There was another series where the crocs sued the zebra for not agreeing to be eaten, in breach of natural law...

Posted by: Adina | Jun 9, 2010 2:23:13 PM

The strip from '03 is absolutely brilliant and touching. I'll have to check this guy out...

Posted by: psachya | Jun 9, 2010 9:48:01 PM

I wonder, though, why Potus is an elephant. Seems to me that it would make more sense if it were a donkey, AKA an ass.

Posted by: Barzilai | Jun 9, 2010 10:57:59 PM

It was pretty hard to miss Pastis's subtext. PBS was one of my favorite strips before; doubly so now.

Posted by: Elisson | Jun 22, 2010 3:52:36 AM

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