Monday, February 9, 2009

Calvin and Hobbes

It's funny how you can be doing something, important or not, and you find something that just picks you up, shaves off a few years, and drops you off back in the middle of good memories.

I was on Facebook, replying to somebody's comment and I noticed over in the right margin the links to groups or pages, and lo and behold, I saw two very familiar figures from my earlier years: Calvin and Hobbes! Of course, I clicked on the link and I immediately was transported to 1985...the first year that Calvin and Hobbes hit the comic pages of the newspapers.

I still remember the very first cartoon. I also remember the very last one, and every single one in between. I read that cartoon religiously. When I was in the Navy for the last few years of the 80's and thru the mid 90's, I missed a few when I was in school or underway. I played catch up by buying every single Calvin and Hobbes book that Bill Watterson published.

Calvin, the impetuous youth that all of us wish we were and weren't, did everything that we couldn't but always longed of doing when we were young. To chronicle the affair and to make it more believable is an unlikely sidekick, a stuffed tiger named Hobbes, Calvin's best and most imaginary friend. Calvin couldn't be separated from Hobbes, and indeed, it wouldn't have been a comic strip sensation without the hi-jinxs of the both of them. The yin and the yang, so to speak.

Each Sunday comic strip was a masterpiece in itself, especially if Calvin happened to be time traveling in the Jurassic period that Sunday. Never would you expect a comic strip to be so detailed, so colorful, so beautiful! Truly unbelievable and special works of art.

There wasn't a day gone by that we weren't treated to Calvin's very own special philosophy, a philosophy that sometimes changed as quickly as a child's attention span, but it was, again, a philosophy that you could identify with, even to some small degree. Calvin's irrational innocence (or not so innocence as the case may be) tempered by a more rational Hobbes was something we could all identify with and escape back into our childhood to.

I cannot begin to recall all the stories, the characters or even the multitude of plots that I experienced reading that strip. It was an experience. Sure, you read it...but you actually experienced it, being sucked into the comic with Calvin and Hobbes. That was the creative genius of Bill Watterson. Spaceman Spiff, Stupendous Boy, and Tracer Bullet were just a few of Calvin's alter ego's that kept us longing for our own childhoods.

Where else can you read about "the Noodle Incident", Hamster Huey and the Gooey Kablooie, dinosaurs flying F14's, and transmogrifiers and time machines and cloning machines? Calvinball, the super-secret club G.R.O.S.S., creating snowman sculptures from hell, taking a trip to the Yukon armed with a helmet, a globe and a couple of sandwiches, racing snow sleds and wagons from dizzying precipices downhill to certain almost-death, dancing to classical music on an old 33 1/3 vinyl record at 78 rpm (though I thought it was 72 rpm in real life...I could be wrong) when he should have been asleep, mertilizing humongous space aliens on uncharted worlds, and Rosalyn, Calvin's arch-nemesis the babysitter.

Trying to escape from school any one of a thousand different ways, and doing things that no rational child would conceive of doing; and of course...Hobbes waiting to exuberantly pounce on Calvin as soon as he walked through the door after school, happy and grateful to see his best friend once again. All trademark Calvin and Hobbes. These are good memories indeed!

I cannot pick one favorite strip of all time. I can identify with Calvin or Hobbes or Calvin's parents or little Susie Derkins in every single strip. They are all my favorites, and it would be akin to torture to make me pick just one strip over all the other masterpieces.

I read a lot if not all of the interviews that Bill Watterson did/granted over the years, his epic fights for creative license for his strip, and at the same time, against the syndicate over trademark and ownership rights and marketing. Mr. Watterson didn't write Calvin and Hobbes to become rich, though I am sure he did. He did not want marketers to cheapen his creations by creating Calvin and Hobbes toilet covers or whatever lame marketing ploy somebody could think of. He could have kept on writing Calvin and Hobbes for many years after the ten years he gave us, but he chose not to. He gave everything he had into Calvin and Hobbes, and when he couldn't give any more, he stopped. He wanted to keep Calvin and Hobbes pure for people like me.

That last day of Calvin and Hobbes was a bittersweet day. An instant classic was pure Calvin and Hobbes. Nevertheless, you realized that it WAS the last strip. A melancholy day but when you got done experiencing his last strip, you realized that Bill Watterson did what he wanted to do and that he stuck to his principles. Calvin and Hobbes left us wondering what the next hi-jinx would be and what new trouble he'd be causing for his parents. I was satisfied. I still miss Calvin and Hobbes.

I'm going to dig out my collection tonight and do some catching up.

God Bless!


  1. You're weird!! LOL (welcome to the club!)