Pearls Before Swine is an American comic strip written and illustrated by Stephan Pastis, who was formerly a lawyer in San Francisco, California. It chronicles the daily lives of four anthropomorphic animals, Pig, Rat, Zebra, and Goat, as well as a number of supporting characters. Although created in 1997, it was not published until 2000, when United Feature Syndicate ran it on its website. Its popularity rose after Dilbert creator Scott Adams, a fan of the strip, showed it to his own fans. United Feature launched the strip in newspapers beginning December 31, 2001, in The Washington Post. On January 7, 2002, it began running in approximately 150 papers. The strip currently appears in 650 newspapers worldwide. The strip has become somewhat controversial due to its use of adult humor, mock profanity, violence, drinking and drug references and references to Middle-Eastern terrorism.
Pearls' style and humor are inspired by several comic strips, chief among them being Peanuts, Dilbert, Calvin and Hobbes, Bloom County and The Far Side. Pastis regularly puts tributes to them in his strip. When asked in an interview about whether his profession as an attorney inspired the humor in the comic, Stephan said, "I was very unhappy as a lawyer, and humor is a reaction to and defense against unhappiness. Also, the law inspired me because if you dislike what you’re doing to the extent that I did, it gives you the impetus to get out." Pastis also regularly parodies comics he finds stale or unfunny, including Cathy, The Family Circus and Garfield. The relentless and merciless riffing on classic comics (i.e. a series where Osama Bin Laden comes to live with the Family Circus, causing the parents, Billy, Jeffy, Dolly and PJ to be sent to Guantanamo Bay detention camp) has earned Pastis the disdain of many comic artists, which Pastis referenced in a later storyline where the Pearls cast is not invited to the 75th anniversary crossover party of Blondie.
Source: Wikipedia, "Pearls Before Swine (comics)", available under the CC-BY-SA License.