Eagle-eyed funny page fans may have noticed something different last week in Stephan Pastis' comic strip, "Pearls Before Swine." Perhaps something a bit more... boyishly mischievous.
If the drawings and storyline felt vaguely familiar, or perhaps dredged up inexplicable feelings of nostalgia, there's a good reason why: They were drawn in collaboration with legendary cartoonist Bill Watterson, author of the beloved "Calvin and Hobbes" comic strip.
In a blog describing how the work came to be, Pastis said he'd emailed the famously reclusive Watterson after running a Calvin-themed comic, thanking him.
"And what do you know, he wrote back," Pastis comments. "Let me tell you. Just getting an email from Bill Watterson is one of the most mind-blowing, surreal experiences I have ever had. Bill Watterson really exists? And he sends email? And he’s communicating with me?"
After a few more emails, Pastis says Watterson suggested they team up to produce a couple of comics, then auction off the finished artwork for Team Cul de Sac, a charity for Parkinson's disease -- under one condition: "The only thing Bill ever asked of me was that I not reveal he had worked on Pearls until all three of his strips had run."
"I think we both got some surprises,” Watterson told the Washington Post in an interview describing the process. “I didn’t know what he was going to write, and he didn’t know how I was going to draw it.”
The resulting comics, in which Watterson adopts the persona of a precocious second-grader named "Libby," mark the end of a nearly 20-year absence from syndicated cartooning for Watterson, who retired in 1995 and tends to avoid publicity. According to the New York Times, Watterson has only published one other drawing in the last 19 years: a poster for the documentary film "Stripped."
READ the comics, below [via Universal Uclick]: