STEPHAN PASTIS has a weak spot for blind spots.
The creator of the popular “Pearls Before Swine” comic, like most cartoonists, has his favorite comedic twists and tricks. So when he set out to write his first children’s book, he thought about two of his favorite fictional characters: the quirky and quixotic Ignatius J. Reilly from Toole’s “A Confederacy of Dunces,” and self-deluded middle manager David Brent, as played by Ricky Gervais on the original “The Office.”
As a source of comic tension, “I like characters who have blind spots and are full of themselves, but there also needs to be vulnerability,” says Pastis, who was just named as a finalist for the 2013 Reuben Award. “When you have a character who is arrogant, a vulnerability is what rescues him,”
The result in kid-lit form is his new character Timmy Failure, a “defective” boy detective who, in his impassioned hunt for clues, proves utterly clueless. The results are very funny, yet writing for Timmy comes with its own writing challenges.
“I have an unreliable narrator,” Pastis says of the title character in the new book, “Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made.” “I have to remind myself every chapter: He gets everything wrong.”
“Timmy Failure” hits bookstores and online shelves today. To read Comic Riffs’ full article on Pastis and his new adventure as a first-time author of youth books, click HERE.