Even though Bill Watterson* only drew Calvin and Hobbes for ten years, what a decade it was!
At a time when the comics page was at its most moribund** the antics of bratty six-year old Calvin and his imaginary friend/stuffed tiger Hobbes could be counted on to brighten any day. The amusing scrapes they frequently found themselves in were belied by their philosophical perspective on them; small wonder, since Watterson named Calvin for John Calvin and Hobbes for Thomas Hobbes, both of whom were philosophers - although surely the two never once went tobogganing together!
Watterson cited Charles Schulz as among his prime influences, and there is definitely some similarity between the combination of antics and angst found in Calvin and Hobbes in Peanuts as well; unlike his idol, though, Watterson refused to allow Calvin to exist in any other medium - no Saturday morning cartoon, no Happy Meal Toys, major motion pictures, or television ads. In fact, Watterson has never had kind words for fellow cartoonist Jim Davis, who whored his strip Garfield out to such an extreme that it probably did, in the end, lessen the strip's impact.
Still, for someone with a major knick-knack fetish like myself, a few Calvin and Hobbes figurines would fit nicely into the menagerie of Peanuts, Muppets, and Smurfs which coat the shelves of the Pop Culture Institute like so many barnacles. Nevertheless, I appreciate his decision, and turn to the books again and again whenever I'm in need of the wisdom of a little kid with a big imagination. In fact, one of these days I may even take the plunge and splash out on The Complete Calvin and Hobbes - a 10.2 kilo (22.5 pound) behemoth containing every single strip***.
*Who was born on this day in 1958.
**Which is, let's face it, more often than not.
***Despite the poor reviews the book has received for the quality (indeed, for the lack thereof) of its binding.
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