I’ve never been much of a fan of comic books of any kind. I just have never been able to get into them. I’ve tried on occasion, but I just don’t take to them. However, there’s one comic through the years that I could read all day, every day and have enjoyed since I was a child: Calvin and Hobbes.
Bill Watterson created two of my favorite characters in all of literature . Calvin, a brilliant yet hyper and troublesome 6-year old and Hobbes, a calm, reasonable, and rational tiger are complete opposites and make for humorous and in-depth story-telling.
What separates Calvin and Hobbes from other comic strips is Watterson’s willingness to tell stories in a medium primarily filled with cheap, one-liner jokes with no substance. The strips are mirthful, emotional, educational, philosophical, and often a commentary of society today. Occasionally, it was all of those things combined.
I was introduced to Calvin and Hobbes as a young teenager by either Revis Edgewater or my dad, I can’t remember whom. Over the years I have collected all of the Calvin and Hobbes Collections and I normally read the entire collection once a year on average. It’s amazing how spot on Watterson’s views on society in general still apply to society today even though nearly 30 years have passed since the strip initially launched in 1985.
Calvin and Hobbes was engaging to me because Watterson would tell stories using his strip, something most other artists did not do. Stories would sometimes span days or even weeks. The stories would keep you captivated and leave you wanting to read more, just as any novel worth its salt would do.
The first story he featured in the strip was of Calvin finding a badly injured raccoon. Calvin left Hobbes there to guard the raccoon while he went to get his mom for help. He and his mom return and take the raccoon home. They put it in a box, keep the raccoon warm, and provide it with food. Unfortunately, the raccoon died overnight, succumbing to its injuries. Naturally, Calvin was devastated and struggled with the concept of life and death. This story is a prime example of why Calvin and Hobbes was so great. Life lessons with humor mixed in to lighten things up, wrapped in the existential wonderings of life.
Later in the strip’s run, Watterson would poke fun at psychology, artists, the state of society in general, and academics. He would disparage psychology for convincing people they were victims and shifting blame for their problems elsewhere. He mocked artists for selling out and commercializing their work. He opined on many aspects of society that are problematic, including society’s love of celebrities, being ruled by technology, and mass media in general.
I doubt there’s anyone who hasn’t heard of Calvin and Hobbes, but if you’ve never read the strip I would highly recommend it. This strip hilariously points out the overabundance of flaws in today’s society.
Have you ever read Calvin and Hobbes? If so, what did you think?