Have I said this before? I’m a new fan of Pearls Before Swine – it’s a comic strip featuring anthropomorphic stick-figure animals. I discovered them in the library a few weeks ago. Admittedly it isn’t laugh-out-loud laughter, but I love the prevalent acerbic wit and cynicism, which makes the rare heartwarming strips all the more touching. It’s like Calvin and Hobbes really, except starker, darker and worse drawn – yet the art is secondary to the dialogue. The weaker strips can get quite slapstick – I hate the strips which is pure wordplay for the sake of it – yet the better strips are pure gold.
Newspaper comic strips appeal to me better than the oldschool Marvel superhero variety. Not all strips – I think Garfield’s a poor excuse for one – but the better ones I enjoy a lot. Maybe it’s the challenge of making punchlines work with just a few panels to work with, and that inspires me. Particularly Pearls Before Swine. It shows me that you don’t have to draw particularly well to get away with running a comic, that you can be darkly humorous without becoming too macabre.