Is Bill Watterson ghost drawing Pearls Before Swine this week? (UPDATED)

Many comic fans noted that the story-line this week in Pearls Before Swine contained artwork out of character for creator Stephan Pastis’s drawing style. On Monday, Stephan tweeted the following:

The story-line this week has a second grader taking over Stephan’s strip. Some have speculated that Calvin and Hobbes creator Bill Watterson is the drawing the strips (See Twitter timeline below for examples of fans speculating). See examples from yesterday and today:

Wednesday’s Pearls

Thursday’s Pearls

Indeed there are Watterson-esque style in the above. I’m not fully convinced that it is Bill. If anything, the lettering is quite close, but slightly thinner than Bill’s usual style. The explosions in the background of Thursday’s strip are too unrealistic. It could be that Bill is the artist and he’s altered his style enough to fit better with Pearls. I dunno. Bill has been reconnecting with the cartooning community, but to ghost Stephan’s strip? I’m skeptical. I have a query out to Stephan himself for an official response. I’ll post his response when I get it.

So the question is, if it’s not Bill, who’s the artist in this week’s Pearls? Add your suggestions/speculation in the comments.

UPDATE: For the record, Stephan is not confirming or denying Watterson (or any other artist). He says we’ll have to wait until Saturday to find out.

21 thoughts on “Is Bill Watterson ghost drawing Pearls Before Swine this week? (UPDATED)

  1. Talking head strip, Martian Robot attacks, not enough room to draw better, mind blowing surprise promised in the series? I think it adds up.

  2. “Drawn by a second grader…” Wasn’t Calvin in Second grade?

    It’s either Watterson or it’s great misdirection by Stephan.

  3. Interesting. The handwriting in today’s strip (Thursday) does have a striking resemblance to Watterson’s. Rat’s pose in panel 2 is also reminiscent of reactions Calvin and Susie have had in Calvin and Hobbes…

  4. Also, one of Watterson’s big complaints was that comics had gotten too small to display the detail of the art, just like Libby says in panel three of Thursday’s strip.

  5. I saw Pastis was here Cleveland recently, where Watterson lives, for a “book signing” He was seen asking a tiger at the Zoo if
    he had seen Calvin or Bill around, and was directed to the Monkey exhibit.

  6. When I saw the “Pearls” strips they immediately reminded me of Watterson but only because he often used the space and similar action scenes so much in his Sunday strips. So the idea at least seems “borrowed.” If he did draw this strip, it seems he’d have to do it deliberately outside his own style, which could be done of course.

    What’s clever about this, though, is that it does look like artwork of a second-grader with early drawing talent and the punchlines are clever, what you’d expect Pastis and the second-grader to say. And the second-grader’s saying she could do more if she had more space is usually one excuse some use for not drawing well. (After all, the great Walt Kelly could draw up to ten characters in one panel and it never even looked crowded.)

  7. @B.J. Dewey – That is an interesting observation about Walt Kelley – Though he was indeed a consummate master of every aspect of cartooning, he had considerably more space to work with per panel than modern comics allows – his awesome crowd scenes might not be nearly as readable at today’s shrunken sizes…

  8. Certainly, Stephan is teasing many of us into thinking Bill is involved with his strip this week. Either way, there hasn’t been this much fun on the comics page in quite awhile. Well done Stephan and…whoever!

  9. The art hardly looks like a 2nd grader drew it, unless it was the most precocious 2nd grader to have ever lived. I just thought it was one of the many Watterson imitators that have followed in the master’s wake. But if it IS actually the W-man, it’s pretty impressive get.

  10. If not Watterson, could it be Richard Thompson? Gary Larson?
    or Stephan’s imaginary friend?

  11. I think the name Libby is a hint. There was once a cartoon mascot for Libby foods “Libby the Kid” who would in an aside to the audience would say “That’s Billy the Kid spelled sideways”.
    Watterson would be the right age to remember this, and obscure enough to use it.

  12. Hi Dave Stephens: I don’t understand what you mean. Kelly’s strips, downsized for his book collections, are the same size as many comics today and even smaller than some running on Sunday pages.

  13. I took another look at the artwork and agree with Terry LaBan that a second-grader could not do this artwork. I stand corrected.

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