If you run into Stephan Pastis this weekend, go easy on him if he speaks highly of Boy-zee.
Pastis, creator of the syndicated comic strip “Pearls Before Swine,” loves this city. He’ll be at the Boise Centre on Saturday for his third Wyakin Foundation Guardian Ball. The Boise-based nonprofit helps wounded veterans get college educations and transition into jobs.
As a tribute to Idaho’s capital city, Pastis paid respect to Boy-see vs. Boy-zee in the Nov. 30 “Pearls Before Swine” strip, which runs in hundreds of newspapers worldwide.
“The only reason I know anything about that stuff is from my visits,” said Pastis, 48, who lives in Northern California. “And I STILL mispronounce it!
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“You know what’s really funny? As an outsider, not a lot of people know that fact. So I want to take credit for spreading your secret far and wide.”
In the strip, Goat commits the cardinal Idaho sin. “You fool!” Rat scolds him. “Natives say ‘Boy-see.’ Boy-see! Boy-see! So bam bam! You’re dead!”
Despite our generous open-carry law, this punishment feels somewhat dramatic.
“I know,” Pastis said, laughing. “That was a little harsh.”
It’s all about having a good time for a great cause. The Wyakin Foundation was co-founded by Jeff Bacon, a Boisean who creates the military cartoons “Broadside” and “Greenside.” About a dozen cartoonists will attend the Guardian Ball, signing posters and drawing.
The highlight is an auction. The grand prize? The cartoonists invade a lucky winner’s house the next day and draw on a wall.
“Why they would want that, I’m not sure, but they do,” Pastis said. “People pay a lot of money for it.”
Bacon informs me that two people each paid $8,500 last year. The next day, the cartoonists visited their houses armed with Sharpies.
A whopping 17 grand to screw up a couple of folks’ interiors?
“I know!” Bacon said. “It was awesome! It’s great. They were very gracious. Beautiful homes. You almost feel like apologizing before and after.”
Pastis says he’s fallen in love with Boise during his visits.
“I just love walking around Downtown,” he said. “I go to one of the Basque restaurants. I was really pleasantly surprised of what a cool town it was.”
If someone would like the Boise strip of “Pearls Before Swine” signed — for a Christmas present, perhaps? — just bring a copy and track him down, Pastis said. “I’ll meet you at a bar and sign a stack for a beer,” he joked.
More realistic? Call and ask for Caitlin Salisbury at the Wyakin Foundation: 208-853-6001. She might even have a few seats left at the Guardian Ball. If you’d like to mail a strip or write to Pastis, the address is: Jan Flemington/Stephan Pastis, Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.
“Or even better, just hand it to me,” Pastis said. “I’ll just be tooling around on Friday. Boise’s not that big of a town. Find me at that Basque restaurant. Gur-nick-a.”
You mean Bar Gernika?
“GerNEEka? Is that how you say it? Yeah, literally catch me. I’m happy to do it.”