It Was Twenty Years Ago Today…

Stephan Pastis got the pig to say:

Pearls Before Swine made its newspaper debut on December 30, 2001.

As Stephan explains it was a premature birth:

It was December 30, 2001 that Pearls Before Swine first debuted in newspapers. Well, newspaper. This strip ran in the Orlando Sentinel, which for some reason needed to start the strip a week before all the other newspapers kicked in. I would later re-run the strip so it could run in all the other newspapers as well.


The official launch date was, and remains, January 7, 2002 – a Monday.


But Pearls Before Swine had appeared online even before that Orlando Sentinel appearance. United Feature Syndicate, who had signed Stephan to a contract in July 1999, began running the upcoming strip online in November 2000 (the 16th?). But even before that Pearls and other Pastis comic strips had appeared online, as early as 1997.

whether he likes it or not Stephan Pastis takes ownership (©) of all images

From an early interview with (later GoComics):

Q. How did you come up with your characters?
A. I first drew Rat while bored during a class on the European Economic Community in law school. I still have the first strip. Rat gets killed. Kind of an inauspicious start. The pig was taken from a strip I used to draw about an attorney, called “The Infirm.” In one strip, I had an attorney defending an evil pig farmer, and I liked the way I drew the pigs. One day, I just stuck one of the pigs with the rat. The zebra came from one of the strips… the one where he appears at Rat’s front door selling cookies to raise money for automatic weapons (to use against the lions, of course). People liked him, so I kept him. The goat came from Amy Lago, my editor at United. I needed a smart character and I suggested a few possible animals to Amy. (I think there was a bear, a cow, a sheep and a goat.) Amy chose the goat. So if you don’t like it, it’s all her fault.


A circa 2008 Hogan’s Alley interview with Stephan has a few very early samples of Pearls Before Swine.