- List of Pearls Before Swine characters
This is a partial list of characters in the comic strip Pearls Before Swine by
Rat is a megalomaniacal
rat, who is frequently critical of the strip's style and artwork, as well as the other characters in his and other strips, real life people, and almost all living (and often nonliving) things. He believes himself to be much more intelligent than he actually is, and thinks more or less anybody else is stupid. He tends to aggravate people, particularly his intelligent friend Goat, and is easily aggravated by his naïve, dim-witted housemate Pig. Rat believes himself to be the wisdom of the strip, whereas most other characters view him as "a loudmouth, pompus malcontent".
Rat is very prideful and ignorant (he once made a list of al the
geniuses in the world that only said "Mozart, daVinci, Me", and then said that he only put Mozart there to be nice), and is constantly dreaming up scemes that invariably would keep him away from anyone and everyone else.
Rat is also a
con artist, as he is often taking up professions he knows almost nothing about and charging people a lot of money, often insulting or confusing his customers, co-workers and boss in the process. He is often self-employed, using his jobs to trick vain, uninteligent people into either giving him moneyor making them do things for him. In one instance, he even started a big controversey over a bogus weight-loss scheme he created, involving the starvationof obese people. At times, other companies make the mistake of hiring him, in which case Rat is usually rude to his customers and employers.
He may or may not be a
personificationof the Seven Deadly Sins.
In the comic's history, Rat has hosted several jobs for varying lengths of time. Some of them include a
marriagecounselor, a book store information guide, a Feng Shuiexpert, a telemarketer, a supermarket cashier, a reporter for the " New York Times"(where he is allowed to make everything up), a pizzaparlor manager, a pet psychic, a stockbroker, a life coach, an oilcompany CEO, a coffeeshop cashier, a lawer, a cartoonist (Where he rips off Dilbert), a runner for City Council, and a hotel concierge among others. Much about his family is unknown, but he did telephone his mother in one strip, and we know that his father was killed by a circus clownfor an unknown reason.
Despite the partial sucsess of many of his get-rich-quick schemes, he constantly claims to be poor, although it is quite possible that he always squanders or otherwise looses the money. Despit this, he has enough money to get by in life (although it is possible his housemates, Pig and Goat chip in to help him), and he often does things that would require large amounts of money, such as purchasing
nuclear missiles from Russia.
He has also made various forays into the world of literature, and Sunday strips often depict him typing novels. These novels usually are about a character called "Angry Bob", who, in every book, finds true happiness, followed by an untimely death. Rat also has a comic strip, "Dickie the Cockroach", about a cockroach who ties people up and slaps duct tape over the mouths of people who say stupid things (he did this to the titular character of the comic strip "Cathy"); he is seemingly oblivious to the fact that no one reads it. Recently he has begun writing children's books, starring the character Danny Donkey (Rat even made a doll of Danny who mysteriously came alive, similar to Hobbes of "
Calvin and Hobbes" (ironically, this occurred right after Pig commented that another strip should do this)). He has made references to poetrymany times too, although he has almost never written a poem himself (except for rhymes that he used to put in postcards, who turned out to be almost always rather insulting to the postcard's owner), and also wrote things for peoples gravestones that were very insulting to the dead person, i.e. "He lived, he died. We barely cried." He once said that the key to writing great poetry is making your work so obscure that "no one can understand you, much less criticize you". He once wrote the following free verse poem: "Atop the fogthe Zebra's buttocksangry at my mother's sloth".
While Rat is often cold hearted or mean to his housemate Pig, he has been shown to be kind at times, saying nice things to him (although quickly covering it up with his usual attitude). He sometimes lies to Pig to spare his feelings, although not very often. It has also been revealed that Rat has a soft spot for Pig's sister, Farina, a
germaphobewho lives in an air-filtered bubble. She, however, had on-and-off feelings about Rat, often breaking Rat's heart and dating other characters.
He is also quite materialistic in his likes; he has said that the American dream is to have a video store on every block, enjoys
pornographyand slasher films, and his philosophies tend to say that were all doomed and that there is no moral law.
He is also seen criticizing the quality of other comic strips, particularly older ones or those aimed at a specific group. For this reason, he and the other characters were banned from the 75th anniversary of "
Blondie". He sometimes even goes into the "real world" and complains to the strips writer, Stephen Pastis directly. Rat once mentioned that another reason the funnies are "unfunny" is because the censorshipcode hasn't been updated since the 1950s, meaning they can't do things commonly seen on prime time television. He explains that some comic strips, such as " The Far Side" and "Calvin and Hobbes", were genuinely funny, but the writers retired, because they had the good sense to not let their features grow stale and let new cartoonists make their livings. Unfortunately, most of the new writers follow in the footsteps of the very comics Rat states as the root of the problem, so the funnies are trapped in a vicious circle.
religionis disputable. He is friend with Satanand has stated at least once that he would be much more religious if it "weren't for all that 'love thy neighbor' stuff, as he hates his neighbors (this caused Goat to comment that [his] soulis so dark it smudges [his own] , after which Rat said: "Maybe I could love YOUR neighbors. I don't even have to SEE them." He was once seen at the "Church of the Amazing GraceAnnual festival". Rat has "invented" several new types of philosophy/ religionover the strips run, including "Unthinkology", "Mulliganology", and "Cheezepuffology". He explains "Unthinkology" as "The belief that thinking causes pain... hence, one must cease all thinking." He explains "Mulliganology" as "In golf, when you screw up on a shot, you say "Mulligan", and you get to take it over again. A Mulliganologist applies this purpose to all tenets of life". He explains "Cheezepuffology" as "The fundamental tenet is that nothing you dream ever comes true, so you might as well live in front of your TV and scarf cheeze-puffs."
Rat has made multiple sojourns into
politics. In 2002, he ran for Mayor against a dead opponent. In 2004, he ran for president as an Independent. During this campaign, he appeared on " Meet the Press", where he voiced support for the wars in Iraqand Afghanistan, but said he would remove all troops in order to invade France. In 2007, he ran for mayor against Jojo the crocodile in an election that was mootas Duck made a coup.During these campaigns (and several other times), he voiced conservativeopinions. Whether or not this was ever commentary on the cartoonist's part is a matter of debate.
Rat has died 3 times in this strip (and was re-born three times). He died once when he tried to smile for the first time and his head exploded from the strain, and another time when he got hit by a
carwhile crossing the street. In a July 10, 2008 strip, he died of a stroke, after realizing that the creator did not mean that only one character was going to get killed off that week. Pastis character had died the previous day.
Stephan Pastis, the strip's author and formerly a lawyer, started drawing Rat in law school, often killing him off for the sake of humor. He would doodle the Rat character usually while bored in his classes. In later attempts to get syndicated, Pastis teamed Rat up with Poe, a being that didn't resemble anything. The strip, titled "Rat", was too depressing for the syndicates, and was turned down.
Rat was later put into another one of Pastis' comics, "Bradbury Road", which was also rejected. [cite web|url=http://www.baywalk.com/cartoons/bradbury_road.htm|title=Baywalk.com - Lifestyle Shopping and Articles - Cartoons and Funnies - Bradbury Road|publisher=www.baywalk.com|accessdate=2008-06-15]
"Bradbury Road" is the story of Gus, a ten year old boy who is befriended by Rat, a cynical rodent who gnaws his way through the wall into Gus' room. Gus, the child of divorced parents, lives with his mother and very rarely sees his father. Reserved and slightly awkward, he spends a lot of time in his own room. For those times when Gus is not around, Rat talks with Jingles, a stuffed, court jester doll that lives on a shelf in the boy's room.
After some rejection, Pastis eventually wrote "Pearls Before Swine", which was an attempt to revive "Rat" with a less depressing tone. Poe was replaced by Pig, and began syndication by
United Mediaon December 31, 2001.
Pig is a good-natured
pig. He believes that there is good in every being, even his cynical housemate Rat. As well as somehow being friends with Rat (despite Rat's constant abuse), he also frequently is seen talking with Zebra and Goat.
Pig is very dimwitted and naïve(he reads "
Sky Mall" to keep up with the War in Iraq), often being beaten up by Rat after trying to have a serious conversation with him, only to say something unrelated (i.e. Euthanasiabeing confused for "Youth in Asia" or " Port-Au-Princebeing confused with Port-a-Potty). This often leads to a defeated comment from Pig afterwords (i.e. " Honestyis not the best policy", never discuss _______) etc.). Pig is usually oblivious to how cruel Rat is.
Pig also has a knack for making friends with inatimate objects, mostly food (who are almost always eaten by the selfish Rat). In certain instances, Pig makes clubs with these friends, like "The
FruitBuddies" and "The Bait Club".
Pig is constantly abused by Rat, such as one occasion when Pig's
brain, tired of not being used, left his head, Rat used it to store beer.
Unlike Rat, who is constantly criticizing other comic strips, Pig has occasionally been seen praising other comics, such as "
Pig, when on a date, is most likely seen with Pigita, but earlier in the strip, he can be seen with other pigs. Pigita, like many people, is aggravated by Pig's stupidity. She also has dramatic mood swings.
In one strip, he said his favorite TV show was "The Office". He has also mentioned liking the
Care Bears(apparently in order to advance his child-like naivate) and " Happy Days" and that his favorite comic strip was "Blondie".
He also appears to know more about the people in the neighborhood than Rat does, such as when Rat bragged about knowing things about strangers and celebrities but couldn't identify the man who walked past, Pig identified him as Bob, their next-door neighbor for the last eleven years. In one strip, he mentioned going to "Father Nick's"
funeral. When he told Rat (who didn't know who Father Nick was) that Nick had been their priestsince 1979, Rat said "Maybe I've missed a Sunday [mass] or two",
He frequently writes letters to well-known real-life people, usually foreign athourity figures at odds with the US like
Fidel Castroor Kim Jong-Illconcerning rather unimportant things like immage; while Rat constantly bereates him for doing this, the people they are sent to have been shown to care about what he says, occasionally crying when he criticizes them. He also makes masive donations to Operation PUSH, thinking the money will be used to afford medical treatment for Bob Hope.
footballand has tried to play at least twice in the strip, with poor results: The first time, he tried to play touch football, but the two teams, having picked everyone else, started picking inatimate street neighborhood objects, deceased people, and even types of wineover him; the second time, he ran into the wall and wrecked the "print registation", messing up the strip's artwork.
Not much is known about Pig's family, although Pig writes letters to his mother occasionally, and she writes back with indifference to him. Pig's mother's first appearance in "Pearls", where she is actually seen, was on June 25, 2005 when she tried to get Pig out of a tree he was climbing. Pig also has a sister Farina who had a brief relationship with Rat. Pig is also a cannibal (since he eats
hot dogsand BLT sandwiches) but is oblivious to this fact.
Not originally in the strip, Pig came from a past attempt to get syndicated by Pastis, and stepped into "Pearls" to replace the humanoid Poe from Pastis's first strip to feature Rat (also rejected).
Zebra is a supportive and caring
zebra, who is often seen either writing to his predators or talking about recent deaths. He thinks it is a large problem and tries to promote peace and understanding between species. He is seen mainly around Pig or Rat and occasionally with Goat, being one of the comic's few characters Goat is able to stand for any length of time
He lives next door to the Fraternity of Crocodiles, much to his dismay, as they are constantly trying (and failing) to eat him. His other neighbours are a pride of
lionswho he apparently has a better relationship with as the male lions usually warn him whenever Zebra is acting "weak" which marks him as an easy target for the Lions' wives. Before these predators moved next door to Zebra, he often tried to reason with them by mailing them nice letters. But the predators never really took them into consideration.
He recently adopted a pet cat named Snuffles that the Crocs tried to use to kill him. Instead the cat liked Zebra and The Crocs think the cat has a secret plan. It's later revealed that while not homicidal, Snuffles does have a criminal side; including being involved in a deal to sell nuclear weapons technology to
Arabcountries, posing as a "deposed" Nigerian kingfor an baseballgame.
Not much is known about the surviving members of his family (almost always when Zebra talks of a dead family member, it is the name of one of Pastis' real relatives), just their names.
He has a brother named Peter, possibly for the character in "
FoxTrot", nicnamed "Stumpy" after a crocodile ate his left leg.
He often tries to stop predation, but his efforts usually fail miserably. He once came up with a plan to fool the lions by playing dead. This didn't work, as 99 of the 100 zebras that tried it were eaten, and the one who succeeded "wasn't faking it". Another time, he tried getting zebras some "
popemobiles", so they could travel safely. However, it worked too well, and they wouldn't leave, and thus died. Zebra also tries reasoning with the lions and crocodiles, but they refuse to listen, often eating their would-be instructors.
On one occasion he organized the "Zebra/Lion/Croc
Olympics", which took place in Athens, Greece, like the real-life olympics going on at the time. The Olympics failed, as the crocs kept eating the Zebras and the Greeks were more interested in smoking cigarettes and drinking soda popthen building the stadiums.
Zebra was originally to be a one time character (as stated by Pastis), but was popular and became a central character. His first strip was released on
February 4, 2002.
Goat is intelligent and literate. He has a hard time putting up with Rat's
egoand Pig's stupidity. He willingly interacts with Zebra, but usually tries his hardest to keep away from the other characters. He likes to read, and would rather read than hang out with anyone else. He is described on the "Pearls" website as "the voice of reason that often goes unheard", referring to his level-headedness, compared to the other characters.
As with most of other animal characters in the strip, Goat is only referred to by the noun as a name. However, in an arc where Goat travels home and visits his mother, she comments on how his name is never used in the comic strip he works in, and that his real name is "Paris". Goat replies that "Goat" is just a
stage name. [Pastis, Stephan. "Pearls Before Swine". 2007-09-21. [http://www.chron.com/apps/comics/showComic.mpl?date=2007/9/21&name=Pearls_Before_Swine] ]
Goat is the only beginning character to be thought up specifically for the strip (as opposed to Rat and Pig, who appeared in Pastis's "Rat" and "The Infirm" [both rejected] , respectively). He was originally supposed to be a
* On the cover of the "Pearls Before Swine" comic strip treasury "The Crass Menagerie" Goat is seen seated on the right reading the book "
God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater" by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., which has as an alternate title on the cover "...or Pearls Before Swine."
* In the same story arc that says his name is Paris, it is revealed that he and his mother are the only anthropomorphic members of his family.
Duck is a violent
duck, hired by Pig because the cost of a proper guarddogwas to much. He often blows up the neighbors' property (and, occasionally, the neighbors themselves), often assuming he is at warand that the neighbors are the enemy. He was fired after stealing a neighbor's inflatable pool, and then robbed a bank, escaping from prison. He sees Pig as his General, referring to him as "Sir". He has twice rescued Zebra from the Crocs, once by force, and once as Zebra's attorney.
August 18, 2002, Farina was introduced to the strip as Pig's sister, coming over for a visit. She was, according to Rat, "so paranoid about germsshe wore gloves to [their] house." However, she is introduced to the strip inside a germ-proof, air-filtered bubble, and many jokes involved the fact she was stuck in a round ball. Little by little, though, Rat started to care about her. Rolling Farina up a hill so she could see a nice view of the nighttime sky and taking her to drive-in movies are just two examples of him expressing love for what may have been the first time. However, Farina's father forbade marriage between the two, and were forced to split up.
July 2, 2003, it was revealed that Farina was married to a bubble pig named Bob and had a bubble child. When Rat called Farina up for a date, Bob picked up instead, and attempted to murder Rat when he found out he still loved Farina.
Bob seemed to have cooled down, as on
November 15, 2005, Farina showed up again to ask Rat to babysit their child while she and Bob went on a "two-week romantic getaway to the Bahamas", thus breaking Rat's heart again.
Since then, Farina has broken up with Bob and appeared in the strip again, but instead of getting back together with Rat, dated
Dilbert, Ziggy, and Hagar the Horrible.
The Adventures of Angry Bob
The books that Rat writes are entitled, "The Adventures of Angry Bob (by Rat)". Sometimes, they will have a subtitle, such as, "An Epic Tragic
PoemThingie" or "A Big Fat Tale 'O Woe".
In every story, Angry Bob becomes frustrated with his
life, usually stating that he is either angry or sad, or both. Then, he gets a new idea to make his life better (e.g. go on vacation, go to a basketballgame, buy a new house, go to the zoo, discover an ancient religion, etc.). Finally, just as he is starting to feel happy at last, something ridiculous happens that kills him (e.g. gets trampled by elephants, gets drunk and drowns in the ocean, gets crushed by a falling librarybook, gets hit in the face with a frisbeeandn chokes on a hot dog, gets beaten up by an angry mob; gets shot by armed, deaf, easily startled, cross-dressing midgets, etc.).
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