Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Discuss: Calvin and Hobbes


Anthony said...

I LOVED Calvin and Hobbes. I never had a favorite comic strip until I started reading it. Before that I occasionally read the Sunday Funnies. I clipped it out of the paper before it was available in trades.
I can remember one Thanksgiving my local store didn't get any newspapers in and I went on a long trek from store to store looking for any paper that carried it but I came up empty. A friend of my mom's came through with the missing strip but I can't remember if it was a reprint because of the holiday.
I collected the trades until they started with the oversize books and passed on the Complete Calvin and Hobbes because of the price. I think one day I'll pick it up.

William Preston said...

Greatest comic ever. I was a huge Charlie Brown fan when I was a kid, and, since I was a kid, I loved the way Schulz allowed the characters to utterly saturate the media. By the time I was older, this--and the fluctuating quality of the strip, which lost its bite--kept me away from the comic for years and made me distrust Schulz as a creator.

Watterson never allowed either of those faults in his work. He got better and better, pushed the strip to its limits, and then stopped at his peak. And his refusal to market the characters into other media meant he maintained control over them as characters; they didn't become soulless corporate shills, as Schulz's did. Watterson drew a hilarious, witty, smart, evocative strip, treated his readers with respect, treated the bean-counters who wanted smaller and smaller strips with deserved disrespect, and kept his sights on producing enduring art rather than raking in the easy money.

Makes me think I'll make some time today for those giant "Complete" tomes my parents bought for my family.

Redartz said...

What a wonderful strip! Calvin and Hobbes grabbed me from the first reading, and I followed them to the final strip.

Watterson filled the strip with wit, imagination and a frequently biting assessment of society. At the same time, he gave Calvin the boisterous personality of the child many of us fondly remember. Sure, Calvin was a handful for his long-suffering parents, but what a heart he had!

Of course, half of the title refers to Hobbes. The tiger was the perfect companion to the boy. Imaginary? I think Hobbes is more real than some people I've known. And those strips of Hobbes lying in wait for Calvin's return, only to send him flying with a screaming pounce ? I'm smiling even now.

Watterson's art was another crucial element of the strip's success. From the Mesozoic dinosaurs to Spaceman Spiff's cosmic vistas, the ink line and coloring combined for a visual treat rarely seen on newspaper pages.

I think I'll join William in breaking out a volume later.

david_b said...

Ditto's on Calvin and Hobbes.. One of the earliest strips had Calvin with all these different 'PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE' eyes for his parents, then his dad finally coming back and saying 'No you CAN'T have a flamethrower..!' or some request of that nature.

Oh, how far we've journeyed since the days of Dennis the Menace..

Seriously, I love the devotion between Calvin and his tiger, love the snuggling scenes around the fireplace at Christmas time (I have a few of those color strips cut out and matted in frames..). I also applaud the choice not to commercialize his characters, in direct contrast to other '80s characters like Garfield, Bloom, and Shoe.

My '80s fav comic was Bloom County (later Outland..), and Calvin's humor seemed to be a natural offspring from that type of humor, but more sharper and far-reaching.

Thinking of the dinosaur facial reactions and Spaceman Spiff stories specifically, not to mention the days his Dad comes home to find all these decapitated snowmen in the front lawn acting out scenes of utter horror.


Edo Bosnar said...

No doubt, one of the best newspaper strips ever. Everything about it was so perfect: the characterization, the dialogue, the humor, and the art - Watterson really captured lightning in a bottle with that one. And like William, I appreciate the fact that he never allowed the characters to be over-exposed by merchandising (I think I would shed a tear if I ever saw "Calvin & Hobbes Happy Meals" or some such).
One of my favorites: Calvin's begging his mom for some money, she naturally won't give it to him, so he asks for soap. The last panel shows Calvin sitting at a little table next to the car, which has "Fr sale, chp!" written on the windshield.

William Preston said...

Two other things:

Syracuse usually gets a ton of snow, and whenever it does, those strips with Calvin's disturbing snowmen always come to mind.

Also, I have a somewhat subtle Calvin and Hobbes reference in the draft of my next short story (it's part of a sequence of stories—about the "Old Man," a Doc Savage homage—that's been running in Asimov's Science Fiction over the past several years). I assume at least one other person will catch the reference and be amused. We C&H lovers have to stick together . . .

dbutler16 said...

Great comic! There aren't many comic strips worth reading since this one stopped.

William Preston said...

Anyone seen "Frazz"? Not only does the artist draw his humans with Watterson's style, the main character looks like an adult Calvin.


Fred W. Hill said...

I noticed that about Frazz, William. The resemblence looks to close to be mere coincidence. Oh, and I entirely concur with your feelings about Peanuts -- great strip for much of its run, but it was by far overcommercialized. Even if it had lost much of its "spark" in the final years, it was still one of the best of the antique strips and at least Schulz had the sense to bring the strip to an end when he could no longer do it rather than have Peanuts continued under lesser artists.

Anyhow, I'll go out on a limb and state that Calvin & Hobbes was the best comic strip of the latter half of the 1900s, maybe even ever. During its run it was definitely the funniest and most creative and often even thoughtprovoking. Well, the main characters were named after two famous philosophers, after all! Gotta go now -- something under the bed is drooling ....

Gray said...

Having grown up on Peanuts, Hagar the Horrible, Beetle Bailey, B.C.....Calvin and Hobbes was absolutely in a class by itself. As a kid I remember having loads of comic strip collections around the house, remnants of my older brothers' favorites, reading all of them voraciously. When I encountered Calvin and Hobbes it was as David B said, on the heel of years of Bloom County and seemed at times a perfect companion strip. When the comprehensive volumes came out, I immeadiately snagged em and read them to this day. Great topic, guys!

Anonymous said...

Love Calvin and Hobbes. Doug, relating to your comment the other day about characters having a "voice", or hearing them in our heads - I had a buddy that I worked with who would read Calvin and Hobbes out loud everyday, with a distinct "voice" for each of them. Calvin was a high pitched, nasally smart-ass (like a SpongeBob kinda, sorta) and Hobbes had a very monotone, professorial, above-the-fray sort of air about him. So, I still hear them that way whenever I read those old strips.


Ramiro said...

Best strip ever.

Related Posts with Thumbnails