Tuesday, February 2, 2010

My Admiration for "Calvin and Hobbes"

By Tony Mazur

Whenever I straighten up my house in preparation for a family gathering, for some reason I tend to clean places that no one will see, such as the attic and closets. As I tore apart my closet, I came across a bookcase filled with comic books. I was always fascinated with newspaper comic strips, and I would always save my money to purchase as many as possible. I had numerous treasuries of "Foxtrot", "Garfield", "Zits", "Peanuts", "Ziggy", and "The Far Side", but I had the market cornered on "Calvin and Hobbes".

As a child in suburbia, I identified with Calvin. Like me, Calvin was a young boy with a large imagination and a small attention span. Also like me, he was bright, but his grades in school did not show it. I attended a Blue Ribbon elementary school, and most of my classmates were fairly intelligent. Because my attention span was like that of a hummingbird, I occasionally forgot to complete homework assignments, and I was teased for it by my peers. "Calvin and Hobbes" guided me through the perils of childhood.

"Calvin and Hobbes" taught me a lot about growing up. Believe it or not, I was an incredibly shy kid all the way up until high school. The few times I would come out of my shell was because I questioned reality, much like Calvin did. Over the years, I tended to become very philosophical, and I'm sure that traces back to the countless hours I spent with my nose buried in a "Calvin and Hobbes" collection.

As a fellow artist, I admire the work of creator Bill Watterson for a number of reasons. In a medium where newspaper space costs money, Watterson did what he could to bring a higher form of art to the funny pages, art's lowest common denominator. He also fought against licensing his work. As much as it would be nice to buy Hobbes stuffed animals and LEGAL Calvin T-shirts and window decals, Watterson did not want to see his creations distorted.

The strip only lasted ten years, and even though fans are still left wanting more, Watterson pulled the plug. Unlike seasoned strips like "Blondie", "Beetle Bailey", and "Marmaduke", Watterson did not want to see his work become stale and lifeless. Like "The Far Side"'s Gary Larson (who ended his strip exactly one year before "Calvin and Hobbes" closed shop), he went out on top.

Here is a recent interview Watterson gave to The Plain Dealer.

Mr. Watterson, I want to thank you for your tremendous work. You have inspired generations, and when it comes time for me to settle down and have children, I will make sure they are as big of "Calvin and Hobbes" fans as I was growing up.

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