Calvin and Hobbes: Classic Cartoons
Calvin and Hobbes
When it comes to classic cartoons, who doesn't love Calvin and Hobbes?
For just over ten years (1985-1995), cartoonist Bill Watterson delighted audiences with the syndicated cartoon strip, Calvin and Hobbes, printed in newspapers worldwide. The popular cartoon strip stars a spiky-haired, six-year old boy, Calvin (based on the French theologian of the same name), and his toy tiger, Hobbes (named after the English 17th century philosopher). Calvin is wise beyond his years, and is also somewhat of a smart-aleck. Hobbes is akin to an imaginary friend to Calvin. He walks, talks and advises Calvin with respect to all of his mischief. However, to all other observers (Calvin's parents, friends, babysitters, etc.), Hobbes is but a mere stuffed animal, half the size he appears to Calvin.
Together, Calvin and Hobbes do all the things little boys dream of.... they build forts, exclude girls from clubs, go sledding, build time capsules, play superheros, and generally form the most unique bond ever seen between a child and his playmate. One speculates that Calvin's extreme imagination might stem from boredom. He has no brothers or sisters in the cartoon strip. To others, he is probably mere genuis.
How Bill Watterson Created Calvin and Hobbes
In a classic tale of success, Watterson broke out with Calvin and Hobbes while working at an advertising job that he hated! Within two years of its initial publication in November 1985, the strip was featured in an article in the Los Angeles Times, and was in wide circulation outside the United States. Over the life of the comic strip, Watterson won several awards, including the Humor Comic Strip Award in 1988, and the Reuben Award (Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year) in 1986 and 1988. Watterson took a couple of brief breaks during the 10-year run of his comic strip. Primarily, he was working to try to expand the constraints of the small panels for comics in newspapers. After frustrating efforts failed to result in advances, Watterson hung up his hat on December 31, 1995. We watched as Calvin and Hobbes sledded off into the unknown future.
As with the cartoonist Gary Larson (The Far Side), Bill Watterson left audiences wanting more. Both cartoons remain very popular, despite being out of regular circulation for more than a decade. Calvin and Hobbes are truly missed!
Calvin's Struggles with Math are Infamous
Who Can Forget Calvin's Snowmen?
Unique, Yet Familiar Themes in Calvin and Hobbes
Anyone familiar with Calvin and Hobbes will know that the comic strip is really all about the two of them. Sure, there are some other characters, like Calvin's mom and dad, his babysitter, a friend from school, and his teacher, but primarily the strip is about the life perspective of a 6-year old boy, and his stuffed tiger (real or not). What differentiates Calvin from.... say, Dennis the Menace or Charlie Brown, is his high intelligence and ironic sarcasm. Its scary. Whereas Snoopy may have been more intelligent and funny than his master, Calvin and Hobbes are double-trouble. And, more often than not, Calvin will try to lead Hobbes astray! Hobbes has a kind of "shrug, why not" attitude about many of the escapades into which they foray. Other times, he appears to be a voice of reason, calming down a manic Calvin.
The running commentary between Calvin and Hobbes is, of course, the foundational basis for the humor. More than just a smart-aleck, Calvin is tuned into issues related to the environment, religion, philosophy and politics. But he's certainly not in your face about hot topics. He'll make you chuckle and laugh, as you should when reading the comics. And you'll wonder how a 1st grader and his stuffed animal can have so much fun (and be so worldly at the same time)!
Math Atheism - Why Didn't I Think of This?
Is Hobbes of Calvin and Hobbes Real?
Commentators and enthusiasts of the Calvin and Hobbes comic strip have debated whether Hobbes is "real" or not, since its inception. Is he a figment of Calvin's imagination? If so, how does the boy end up with scrapes and scratches after Hobbes pounces on him?
More interestingly, he cannot tie himself up.... Bill Watterson has explained that it is not so much a question of whether or not the tiger is real, but the juxtaposition of Calvin's view of reality with others' views. Obviously, Calvin has a very unique perspective on the world!
Some of the scenes in which Hobbes is "transformed" from toy to friend, or back again, are priceless. One classic is when Calvin is instructed to put Hobbes into his locker at school. "Locker?! He'll suffocate!" Calvin protests.
His teacher relents and allows Hobbes to be placed under the desk. In the next frame, Calvin is taking a math test and whispers to the much larger tiger under the table... "what is 3 + 7?" Hobbes replies, "37."
Hobbes - the Perfect Foil for Calvin
From the Playground to the Boardroom!
Calvin and Hobbes are Not Animated
You may be surprised to learn that Watterson never desired to merchandise Calvin and Hobbes in any way (other than to sell books), and has not wanted to animate the cartoon characters, either.
With respect to the latter, one drawback has been considerations of voice (can you imagine what Calvin would sound like?!)
Of course, many of us have seen the unauthorized window decals of Calvin urinating on various brands. Despite threats of lawsuits for copyright infringement, obviously some sticker makers have not responded by stopping their distribution of illegal merchandise.
There are a number of great Calvin and Hobbes books and collections for enthusiasts! Perhaps one day, Mr. Watterson will be convinced to create more Calvin and Hobbes strips, or license some merchandise. Until then, we'll just have to enjoy the 10 years of comics already produced, and the epic collections of the classic friendship of the boy and his tiger.