Stephan Pastis took an unusual route to becoming a number-one best-selling comics creator: he went to law school. It's not that he didn't want to become a cartoonist - as a child growing up in the Los Angeles suburb of San Marino, he spent many happy hours off by himself drawing. He was routinely called on to create cartoons for his school newspapers. But by the time he graduated from the University of California at Berkeley with a degree in political science, Pastis - a completely self-taught artist - felt it unlikely that his cartoons would ever be syndicated.
So he found himself sitting in class at UCLA Law School, hopelessly bored, sketching the character Rat (who would later become a mainstay of all his future comic strips). Creative inspiration followed him through graduation in 1993 to his first law firm job in San Francisco, where by 1996 he finally started submitting his comics to syndicates. Persisting through an initial spate of rejections, Stephan Pastis created his signature strip Pearls Before Swine, chronicling his worldview through the misadventures of arrogant Rat, dumb-but-sweet Pig, philosophical Goat, along with a brood of other anthropomorphized animals and many, many puns. The strip was eventually syndicated in 1999 and can now be read in over 800 newspapers, dozens of book collections, and on GoComics.com. Several of the collections have appeared on The New York Times Best Sellers list.
In 2013, inspired to break out of the box of a daily comic strip, Pastis took on the new challenge of becoming a children's author, penning the first book in a projected middle grade series called Timmy Failure, about an inept kid detective and his sidekick polar bear. Fail it did not; receiving stellar reviews and becoming an instant New York Times and National Indie bestseller. Now published in nearly 40 languages worldwide, Pastis' defective detective has become a breakout children's book character.