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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Once again, nice to know he gets it

Back in the bad old days of the second intifada, Stephen Pastis, the artist who draws the 'Pearls Before Swine' comic strip drew a poignant strip about the human side of the cafe and bus bombings in Israel that the international media studiously ignored.

That strip was out in the open... mentioned Jerusalem and everything. I'm sure that his support for Israel cost Mr. Pastis a lot more fans than it gained him.


For a long time after that his strips were entirely apolitical.

A few years later he ran a strip that was equally supportive of Israel... without actually coming out and mentioning us by name.

This story line featured a policeman named 'POTUS' who kept asking the zebras to compromise with the crocs by 'giving them a hand'... literally. After all, they had two.


I sent the artist an email asking him if I'd read the strip correctly (that POTUS was President Of The United States and the zebras were Israelis), and he answered in such a way as to indicate his support without giving a clear yes or no.

The backlash from that first pro-Israel strip must have been something.

Now, in the past few days he has started a new story line that, IMHO seems to be talking about us again.

It portrays the zebras having built a tall wall to keep the crocodiles from trying to kill them. Of course the crocs are angry, and even go so far as to hire a political consultant to try and spin the building of the wall in such a way as to make the zebras seem to be the bad guys.



Even though the obvious reference is to the Cold War, I don't need to email the artist again. This one is also a crystal clear reference to the seperation fence to anyone who cares to see it. But sadly, for those who aren't sympathetic to Israel... it probably is too subtle to have hit its mark.

Good for you, Mr. Pastis... nice to know we still enjoy your support.

Posted by David Bogner on August 17, 2011 | Permalink


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Thanks, Trep. It was because of your original mention that I started reading his strip.

Posted by: Ron | Aug 17, 2011 9:58:04 PM

Me too!

Posted by: Mark | Aug 17, 2011 10:53:56 PM

I've got six "zeeba neighbor" strips on my refrigerator.
Along with several of the horrid wordplays that make rat want to kill mr. Pastis.

Posted by: At The Back of the Hill | Aug 17, 2011 11:18:14 PM

I echo Ron.

Posted by: antares | Aug 18, 2011 2:46:43 AM

If I remember correctly, our first (online) interaction was when I shared the first cartoon with you on our local chat list. I'm a huge fan of Pastis, and have most of his books. In the "treasuries", he has commentary on many of the strips, and as you can see here:


(or here if that doesn't work: http://tinyurl.com/44mv25p )

the attention wasn't all, or even primarily, negative.

But I don't think the most recent ones are political, certainly not about Israel. I just think they're funny, and logical. It's just a sad statement about the world's view of Israel's self-defense needs that what seems logical (in a cartoon) would appear as support of Israel...

Posted by: Dave (Balashon) | Aug 18, 2011 10:26:48 AM

A friend of mine recommended the strip after the "Potus" cartoon. I've been a fan ever since. I like the way he hides his pro-Israel feeling behind a nod and a wink.

Posted by: anneinpt | Aug 18, 2011 6:38:40 PM

Stephan Pastis's political subtext in these strips was extremely obvious... to me, anyway. Your reminding me about the bus attack strip clinches it.

Aside from his politics, I like Pastis. His sense of humor is a little (sometimes a lot) off kilter; his strips always make me laugh. Even the convoluted puns, which elicit a groan along with the laugh. And do you recall the week in February 2009 when Rat learned Yiddish because it was the best language in the world for hurling insults?

Posted by: Elisson | Aug 18, 2011 9:47:21 PM

Well, now he has chosen to hit us over the head if we haven't caught on....Crocs in explosive vests....obvious for everyone now isn't it?

Posted by: Robin | Aug 24, 2011 1:11:08 PM

Mr. Pastis is the only comic strip guy whom I follow on Facebook and his comic page for precisely this reason. Well... and the facts that he is clearly insane...
- And, apropos of nothing - six degrees of separation - I have read Treppenwitz occasionally for years - usually via Daled Amos; Seraphic Secrets; or some other blog reference.
Today I stopped by via a link on Facebook from a former neighbor of mine, Andy, who now lives in Efrat.

Posted by: Moishe3rd | Sep 1, 2011 4:25:35 PM

I stumbled upon this page while looking for an electronic copy of the PbS Jerusalem bus strip to replace the ragged paper copy I've displayed in my public school classroom for years. I never read that strip as pro-Israel so much as pro-peace and anti-violence. I didn't take the victims' being in Jerusalem as a political statement. I resent that interpretation of it, or the idea that child victims of violence are valued more or less specifically because they are from Israel, Palestine, or anywhere else. It further strikes me as paranoid to imagine Mr. Pastis would have lost fans as a result.

Posted by: Just a Guy | Apr 16, 2013 10:12:50 PM

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