Pearls Before Swine – Visual Storytelling Example – Alexander Lewandowski

I decided to write about one of my favorite comic strips, Pearls Before Swine. Drawn by Stephen Pastis, Pearls Before Swine is a relatively popular comic strip, and features the cartoon misadventures of a pig, rat, goat, and occasionally the cartoonist himself. I’m a fairly avid consumer of comics and have read quite a few from Dilbert, Garfield and Peanuts, but Pearls Before Swine is the only one that I have found myself coming back daily to read. I suppose I like the comic strip so much because of its witty, blunt, oftentimes dark and adult-oriented humor, likable and humorous characters, and the way that it often breaks the fourth wall to deliver an extra laugh for the reader. Additionally, the comic often publishes a strip that focuses on a horrible pun or figure of speech, and even if I either find myself groaning or laughing at these, I always come back for more.

Looking at storytelling in comic strips such as Pearls is interesting since in most of the comics, the plots are very short and shown in three panel sequences, what I call the opening panel, the rising panel, and the punchline. In the opening panel, the joke is established, in the rising panel, the joke is elaborated on, and in the closing panel the punchline is delivered. The comic stories typically do not extend beyond this short sequence, but sometimes the comics will directly relate previous events. I have to say that this is part of the appeal of comics to me, since I can pick up and leave wherever I want, and not have to worry about reading the comic daily. Overall, Pearls is one of my all time favorite comics (and visual stories in general), and one that I plan on enjoying for years to come.


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