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Kids’ author and cartoonist Stephan Pastis is ‘confident about being clueless’
Pearls Before Swine cartoonist Stephan Pastis is syndicated in hundreds of newspapers nationwide (including the Sun-Times) and a bestselling children’s author. Shortly before stopping by Anderson’s Bookshop in Naperville to promote the second title in his ongoing Timmy Failure series (Timmy Failure: Now Look What You’ve Done) on Saturday, March 1, Pastis took time out of his no doubt hectic schedule to answer and illustrate a batch of mostly inane questions.
Q: The character of your newest and second children’s book, Timmy Failure, is “clueless and comically self-confident.” In what ways are you clueless and comically self-confident?
SP: I am clueless about which Pearls strips will be hits and which will be misses. And I am confident about being clueless.
Q: You attended UC Berkeley and got a degree in political science, then you got a law degree from UCLA. In what ways did your schooling and previous occupation as an “evil” attorney prepare you to become a beloved cartoonist and eventual author?
SP: Being an attorney was like being in prison. And becoming a cartoonist was like going over the wall. So I try to remain as funny as I can so the guards and bloodhounds never catch up to me.
Q: Your comic strip is nationally syndicated in hundreds of newspapers and very successful. What ridiculous luxuries do you now indulge in that you couldn’t afford before?
SP: The reduced-fat turkey bacon sandwich at Starbucks. I eat as many as I want.
Q: Wikipedia says you drew early inspiration from Peanuts and Dilbert. Do you identify more with Charlie Brown or Dilbert?
SP: Charlie Brown. Because I could see him sitting alone and eating the reduced-fat turkey bacon sandwich at Starbucks.
Q: What do you think of journalists who ask questions based on stuff they read on Wikipedia?
SP: I think it’s great, because I’ve been known to anonymously add outrageous lies to the Wikipedia pages of other cartoonists. And it’s good to know that someone relies on that.
Q: You’ve said that Dilbert creator Scott Adams is largely responsible for catapulting you and your strip to national prominence. In what ways and how often do you pay him homage in return for his generosity?
SP: On Tuesdays, I massage his scalp.
Q: You also got to know Peanuts creator and well-known hockey enthusiast Charles Schulz a bit before he died. Did he ever check you into the boards during a pick-up game? Pull your jersey over your head and sucker-punch you?
SP: Much worse. During a face-off, he leaned in and whispered, “I make forty million dollars a year.”
Q: You’re a second generation Greek-American. What’s that like?
SP: It means that when I go to the Billy Goat Tavern, I feel totally at home.
Q: For pandering purposes, since this is for the Chicago Sun-Times, please characterize Chicago’s awesomeness in the most unctuous terms possible.
SP: I have two favorite cities: Chicago and I can’t remember the other one. And if that doesn’t get me a free hot dog at Hot Doug’s, I’m going to be very upset.
123 W. Jefferson Ave., Naperville
Saturday, March 1 at 2 p.m.