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"Calvin and Hobbes" Creator Bill Watterson Looks Back With No Regrets 327

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from the memories-of-better-comics dept.
With fifteen years separating us from the last appearance of "Calvin and Hobbes" on the comic pages, reclusive artist Bill Watterson gave a rare interview reminiscing about his legacy. "The only part I understand is what went into the creation of the strip. What readers take away from it is up to them. Once the strip is published, readers bring their own experiences to it, and the work takes on a life of its own. Everyone responds differently to different parts. I just tried to write honestly, and I tried to make this little world fun to look at, so people would take the time to read it. That was the full extent of my concern. You mix a bunch of ingredients, and once in a great while, chemistry happens. I can't explain why the strip caught on the way it did, and I don't think I could ever duplicate it. A lot of things have to go right all at once."
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"Calvin and Hobbes" Creator Bill Watterson Looks Back With No Regrets

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  • Best comics (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sopssa (1498795) * <sopssa@email.com> on Monday February 01, 2010 @06:02PM (#30987816) Journal

    If you think about it, it is actually quite hard to say what makes a good comic. Humor plays some role, but it isn't so straightforward either. Calvin and Hobbes was definitely my favorite comic as a kid. I did read Donald Duck too (obviously, as everyone did), but apart from that I can't remember any other as good comic. And I went to library solely to read Calvin and Hobbes. I didn't like the alien parts, but otherwise it was great fun.

    RSS programs today make it really nice to read comics too. I am reading Cyanide & Happiness, Pearls Before Swine, a few local comics and xkcd. I actually have some others in my rss program, but a lot of times I skip them because they're not that up to quality and not that funny.

    Now a days I like Pearls Before Swine [comics.com] for its good humor and references to other comics, culture and politics. The random appearances of Stephan Pastis himself and being self-satiric also make it great. I remember there being some reference to Calvin and Hobbes sometimes too.

    • Re:Best comics (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Em Emalb (452530) <.ememalb. .at. .gmail.com.> on Monday February 01, 2010 @06:06PM (#30987880) Homepage Journal

      The thing about C&H, to me, was that Watterson didn't dumb down his comic. It was just a story about a boy, his tiger, and the adventures they'd have growing up. It had wonderful imagination, wonderful commentary on life, and was more amusing than funny, IMO.

      Greatest comic of all time, IMO....ranked 1A with Farside being 1B.

      • Re:Best comics (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Ethanol-fueled (1125189) * on Monday February 01, 2010 @06:20PM (#30988064) Homepage Journal
        It's very unusual for a first-grader to use words like "arboreal" and "ichthyoid". He played by his own rules, often living in his own head, and shunned the status quo. The strip showcases the importance of imagination contributing to intelligence and richness of experience. Calvin and Hobbes was the single largest influence of my childhood and I am happy that Watterson never whored out his work, unlike the guy who wrote the preface of the first C&H book. [doonesbury.com][scroll down for the strip]

        Most of the parodies [youtube.com] of Calvin and Hobbes revolve around the fact that Calvin's rambunctiousness would be considered abnormal, [joeydevilla.com] today. Very sad.
        • Re:Best comics (Score:5, Insightful)

          by fahrbot-bot (874524) on Monday February 01, 2010 @06:39PM (#30988314)

          It's very unusual for a first-grader to use words like "arboreal" and "ichthyoid". ... Calvin's rambunctiousness would be considered abnormal...

          In reality, Calvin would probably classified as At-Risk/Underachieving Gifted.
          [My wife was a Gifted Education teacher.]

          • Re:Best comics (Score:5, Interesting)

            by Darkness404 (1287218) on Monday February 01, 2010 @07:28PM (#30989066)
            Depends. Basically, these labels can change the entire child. One teacher finds them special ed and they get put in with drooling idiots, the other teacher finds them gifted and they learn more and do cool things. One kid ends up on welfare floating between dead end jobs, the other kid ends up rather successful.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by GabriellaKat (748072)

            It's very unusual for a first-grader to use words like "arboreal" and "ichthyoid". ... Calvin's rambunctiousness would be considered abnormal...

            In reality, Calvin would probably classified as At-Risk/Underachieving Gifted. [My wife was a Gifted Education teacher.]

            Sadly, he would more then likely be called some form of ADD/Autism (living in his own world, shunning clothes at times, etc). ADD/ADHD & Autism are siblings after all. I'll never forget the strip where "the pills must be working" and Hobbes just becomes a stuffed toy.

            • Re:Best comics (Score:5, Informative)

              by lawpoop (604919) on Monday February 01, 2010 @10:05PM (#30990634) Homepage Journal
              This "The pills must be working" strip has got to be phony. First, in this example of it [dosenation.com], the copyright date is 1986. Back then, ADD was on nobody's radar screen, and certainly not pills for it, and anybody hearing about a child being on pills for any mental disease would have been horrified, and had no idea what this strip was about. Putting children on speed for ADD was a meme that blew up in the 90s.

              Secondly, there are a few clues that this isn't a real strip. First, the four-panel daily comics were never in color, even to this day. So the loss of color in the last panel that seems integral to this comic's story is a tip-off. Second, when Waterson doesn't put dialogue in bubbles, there is a single line emanating from the character speaking, like this [wordpress.com]. Notice also that Hobbes never moves in the purported authentic strip. That's a no-no among serious comics -- they always move things around from panel to panel, to keep visual attention. Notice how Hobbes moves in the second, real comic. First he looks at Calvin, then us, then the paper. Motion in each panel.

              Also it seems to me that the lettering isn't as space-consuming as it is in authentic Waterson strips. Too much white space. I don't recall any white-space back-and-forth like in the first panel -- certainly not with that much white space. When two people are dialoguing in the same panel, he puts words in bubbles.

              Notice too that there are *no* word bubbles in this cartoon. In the examples I just found in a google image search, bubbles were the norm. This strip is the opposite. Finally, I've read all the Calvin and Hobbes anthologies several times and don't recall this strip ever. This is the first I've seen of it :)

              Oh, I was doing some more googling, and here's another obvious forgery [joeydevilla.com]. Notice how in this one also, Calvin and Hobbes never move in the strip. Of course, the fonts of the lettering give it away, but I think this one was intended to be an obvious phony. And here's another bad copy. [snarkmarket.com]

              Don't get me wrong; I like the message of the strip! It's just not Waterson :)
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by fahrbot-bot (874524)

              Sadly, he would more then likely be called some form of ADD/Autism

              One can be those and gifted. My wife had a gifted student with Asperger Syndrome [wikipedia.org] - in fact she was one of the few teachers to whom he would relate. As I've mentioned before, "gifted" is something that can be tested for and requires a minimal IQ and other factors. Our school system has well-defined standards and an independent process for testing students for the Gifted and Talented program.

              Gifted students can have all the same issues a

        • by mosb1000 (710161)

          That joeydevilla.com comic you posted is so depressing.

          I am depressed now.

        • Re:Best comics (Score:4, Insightful)

          by bonch (38532) on Monday February 01, 2010 @08:12PM (#30989616)

          While I agree with what Calvin's personality represented, I do think a lot of people overanalyze the comic today to try to convince everyone of its greatness. Calvin used words like "arboreal" not to shun the status quo and illustrate the richness of experience but because it's funny for a kid in a comic strip to use words like that. The Peanuts kids also spoke in a way that was above their age level for the same reason.

          Bill Watterson seems kind of mystified and amused at the enduring popularity of the strip and how people have latched onto it.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by thrawn_aj (1073100)

          It's very unusual for a first-grader to use words like "arboreal" and "ichthyoid". He played by his own rules, often living in his own head, and shunned the status quo. The strip showcases the importance of imagination contributing to intelligence and richness of experience. Calvin and Hobbes was the single largest influence of my childhood and I am happy that Watterson never whored out his work, unlike the guy who wrote the preface of the first C&H book. [doonesbury.com][scroll down for the strip] Most of the parodies [youtube.com] of Calvin and Hobbes revolve around the fact that Calvin's rambunctiousness would be considered abnormal, [joeydevilla.com] today. Very sad.

          Well now. The fact that I too admired Calvin's rambunctiousness does not in any way mean that his behavior was admirable in an objective sense. Fact is that Watterson himself wrote (in his Tenth Anniversary collection annotations) that he would hate to have a kid like Calvin and that he frequently disagreed with Calvin's POVs.

          On the other hand, there are aspects of his personality that I absolutely adore. I hate organized events, just like Calvin. That just means that I have a hard time having a social

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by TapeCutter (624760) *
            "Any rebellion was accidental, as it usually is in the case of very young children."

            One of the first words that comes out of most kids mouths is "No". Belive me, it's no accident.
      • Re:Best comics (Score:5, Insightful)

        by goldaryn (834427) on Monday February 01, 2010 @06:28PM (#30988162) Homepage
        *prepares to get modded down into the infernal depths of hell* Far Side wasn't in the same /league/ as Calvin and Hobbes. I know that they were one frame and no continuity, but they were also miles off in terms of writing, observation, illustration and funniness. It's like comparing a one-liner to a poem, perhaps it's even unfair to compare. But IMHO, if they were Slashdot posts and I had 4 mod points, Far Side would be Interesting but Overrated. C&H would be Insightful and Funny
        • Re:Best comics (Score:4, Insightful)

          by LandDolphin (1202876) on Monday February 01, 2010 @07:08PM (#30988780)
          You compare Far Side to a one liner and C&H to a poem based upon the 1 frame vs. 3 frames (And I assume continuity). It is worth noting that telling a story in 1 frame or line versus 3 frames or a whole poem is much more difficult.
        • Re:Best comics (Score:5, Insightful)

          by MightyMartian (840721) on Monday February 01, 2010 @07:12PM (#30988840) Journal

          I don't even like comparing them. It's like comparing Monty Python and Don Rickles. Both are extraordinarily funny, but the humor comes from places so different that saying one is better than the other doesn't even make sense.

          The Far Side was as Pythonesque as a comic ever got. It was absurdest and surreal, meant to tickle with bizarre juxtapositions. I still remember the first Far Side comic I saw, of the truck smashed into a single palm tree in the middle of a desert. It was so bizarre, so absurd that I laughed out loud.

          C&H was utterly different, a more human comic script that found its humor in this wonderful world that Waterson created. While I don't think any childhood was quite like it, I don't think I've ever experienced anything that invoked childhood with the kind of purity of that comic book.

      • Re:Best comics (Score:4, Interesting)

        by MoxCamel (20484) * on Monday February 01, 2010 @06:48PM (#30988442)
        I too have ranked The Far Side right up there with C&H for years, and then for Christmas somebody bought me a gigantic collection of Far Side strips (don't remember which one), and I've gotta say TFS really hasn't held up all that well. Yes, there are some classic gems that are damn funny still, but on the whole it's pretty meh. Unlike C&H, which is going to be fresh for many decades--perhaps centuries--to come.
      • Re:Best comics (Score:5, Interesting)

        by IorDMUX (870522) <mark DOT zimmerman3 AT gmail DOT com> on Monday February 01, 2010 @06:52PM (#30988510) Homepage
        Calvin and Hobbes was my number one inspiration to explore, growing up. Seeing Calvin philosophize while riding a red wagon led directly to me pondering the world while climbing a river gorge... Reading Spaceman Spiff turned Nelson's Ledges [wikipedia.org] into a hasty retreat through a hostile alien environment.

        Part of the comic strip's allure to me in particular, though I didn't recognize it until years later, was that Bill Watterson wrote the strip in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, about ten miles from where I grew up. Cleveland weather patters are fairly unique, so no other comic strip--or really any fiction I read--I read captured the effect of the rain, snow, and winds of the Cleveland area on an inquisitive kid the way that Calvin and Hobbes did... because Bill Watterson (and Calvin) looked out the window and saw the same little portion of sky that I did.

        Not long ago, as I paged through my old Calvin and Hobbes collection, I noticed a fairly familiar sight on the back cover of "The Essential Calvin and Hobbes". There, in fully Bill Watterson cartoony glory, was an image of a Godzilla-sized Calvin trampling my favorite high school date spot: the Chagrin Falls Triangle.

        How do you want people to remember that 6-year-old and his tiger?

        I vote for "Calvin and Hobbes, Eighth Wonder of the World."

        Indeed.

    • Re:Best comics (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Useful Wheat (1488675) on Monday February 01, 2010 @06:06PM (#30987892)

      To me, Calvin and Hobbes looked like the poster child of a comic that yearned to be on the web. If you read any of his books, he often had long and bitter fights with the publisher about the format of his comics. How much space he could use, if he had to have the “Throwaway frame” and so forth. I wish a comic like this had come along maybe 10 years later so it could take full advantage of the web, instead of being smothered by the oppressive newspaper guideline . Then again, I may just have wanted it delayed so we’d still have new ones, but hey. I can dream.

      • Re:Best comics (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Scrameustache (459504) on Monday February 01, 2010 @06:19PM (#30988044) Homepage Journal

        To me, Calvin and Hobbes looked like the poster child of a comic that yearned to be on the web. If you read any of his books, he often had long and bitter fights with the publisher about the format of his comics. How much space he could use, if he had to have the “Throwaway frame” and so forth. I wish a comic like this had come along maybe 10 years later so it could take full advantage of the web, instead of being smothered by the oppressive newspaper guideline .

        Look at what Lucas made when he had to contend with other people's input, and look at what he made once he got absolute, unsupervised creative control.

        It helps to have an editor to keep you grounded.

        • It's not about having an editor or not having an editor. A good editor is a member of a team focused on producing a great creative work.

          Instead, these types of fights were about the restrictions of the entrenched format -- how many panels, how formatted, how big, how often. And that's not even considering the lowest common denominator factor of a VERY bandwidth restricted medium -- two-ish pages for weekday comics, with a bit more room for the Sunday funnies. The decision to drop a comic or add a comic w

        • Re:Best comics (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 01, 2010 @06:55PM (#30988556)
          That's a very different comparison, actually.
          It wasn't the content that he fought. Watterson actually ended up fairly free to do what he wanted in the end and it showed for it. It was the constraints of the medium, the publishers have this set of boxes, and the artist was supposed to fill just those boxes. And to top it off, the comic has to be designed in such a way that certain boxes can be removed (the throwaway boxes).
          The example with George Lucas (who I presume you're talking about) would be more accurate if George Lucas had decided to say "screw the 4:3, 'made to fit to tv' crap. I want my film shown in 16:9 in its original high resolution, no cropping the sides off and no letterboxing." Watterson risked losing some market to hold to his artist vision.
        • You're Grounded! (Score:4, Interesting)

          by fm6 (162816) on Monday February 01, 2010 @08:05PM (#30989536) Homepage Journal

          I'm not sure "being grounded" is the right term. Frankly, I've never thought the guy was that good on his own. Making a movie is usually a big collective process, and that often allows the director to claim credit for things that really came out of the heads of other people. Film critics have complicated theories [wikipedia.org] that justify this BS, but I've never bought it.

          So back when George Lucas was just another newbie director, he was forced to accept all kinds of creative input. And he was also able to get away with stealing scenes [youtube.com] from famous movies [youtube.com]. But when he became the Great Creative Genius, he couldn't do that, and had to fall back on his own creativity. Which, it turns out, he never had.

    • Re:Best comics (Score:4, Informative)

      by alvinrod (889928) on Monday February 01, 2010 @06:22PM (#30988098)
      The only other comic that I enjoyed as much as Calvin and Hobbes was The Far Side. Both were wildly imaginative and highly creative. They transformed what would have otherwise been a boring comic section into something fascinating. I have the complete works of both on my bookshelf and would highly recommend them to anyone. If you want to inspire a sense of wonder, curiosity, and beauty in a child, I can't think of anything better than those two comics.
    • Re:Best comics (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Red Flayer (890720) on Monday February 01, 2010 @06:29PM (#30988170) Journal

      If you think about it, it is actually quite hard to say what makes a good comic. Humor plays some role, but it isn't so straightforward either.

      It's very easy to say what makes a good comic. Basically, it's all of the positive slashdot moderation categories, except for underrated.

      Funny? Check. Insightful? Check. Informative? Check (though to a lesser extent).

      Plus characters that people can identify with. My dad loved Calvin & Hobbes because he identified with the Dad (and now that I have kids, I do too). I identified with Calvin. My sister identified with Suzie. My mom never read comics, but I'd bet that she'd identify with Calvin's mom... I swear there were times when she said stuff that I recall reading in a speech bubble above Calvin's Mom's head.

      But, since this is turning into a tribute thread... Let me just say that Calvin's dad's explanations of science are a wonderful model for how to stimulate original thought in kids. I too, have told my kid that the sun rises in the morning because hot things rise, and sets in the evening as it cools.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by tool462 (677306)

        Exactly. It's all the same things that made The Simpsons great. It's a caricature of humanity at its best (the caricature, not the humanity ;) ).

        Except Watterson did something that Groening didn't--leave at the peak. Financially, Groening made the better move. Artistically, Watterson did.

      • by Obfuscant (592200) on Monday February 01, 2010 @07:37PM (#30989184)
        I too, have told my kid that the sun rises in the morning because hot things rise, and sets in the evening as it cools.

        And what civil engineer hasn't told his kid that they determine weight limits for a bridge by driving continually heavier trucks across until it collapses and then rebuild it?

        Or that there was color photography in the late 1800's/early 1900's, but all the stuff they took pictures of was black and white?

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by tubegeek (958995)
          That color/b&W strip was my all-time favorite - especially when Dad reminds Calvin that many artists are insane. A classic.
  • Good for him (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Foggiano (722250)
    I'm glad he was able to create something that he is pleased with and has brought happiness and pleasure to those around him. May we all be so fortunate.
  • regrets? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Bodero (136806)

    No regrets? That's like asking Bill Gates if he regrets dropping out of Harvard and becoming a billionaire. Yeah, I'm sure he regrets it daily.

    • Re:regrets? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by eldavojohn (898314) * <[moc.liamg] [ta] [nhojovadle]> on Monday February 01, 2010 @06:14PM (#30987996) Journal

      No regrets? That's like asking Bill Gates if he regrets dropping out of Harvard and becoming a billionaire. Yeah, I'm sure he regrets it daily.

      The regret in question would be the one where you regretted quitting early. Because Watterson quit early. It's a very short 'interview' but to all artists and people in general out there who start something very good, take note:

      Readers became friends with your characters, so understandably, they grieved -- and are still grieving -- when the strip ended. What would you like to tell them?

      This isn't as hard to understand as people try to make it. By the end of 10 years, I'd said pretty much everything I had come there to say.

      It's always better to leave the party early. If I had rolled along with the strip's popularity and repeated myself for another five, 10 or 20 years, the people now "grieving" for "Calvin and Hobbes" would be wishing me dead and cursing newspapers for running tedious, ancient strips like mine instead of acquiring fresher, livelier talent. And I'd be agreeing with them.

      I think some of the reason "Calvin and Hobbes" still finds an audience today is because I chose not to run the wheels off it.

      I've never regretted stopping when I did.

      As someone suffering to find anything even remotely watchable on American TV, I wish more people would adopt this kind of attitude.

      • Re:regrets? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by fm6 (162816) on Monday February 01, 2010 @06:22PM (#30988096) Homepage Journal

        That bit about leaving the party early resonates with me. A very long time ago, I couldn't look at a Peanuts strip without laughing. Then after a decade or so, I couldn't look at it without grimacing.

        Still, I do miss that young sociopath and his tiger.

        Another brave thing Watterson did: no licenses for animated cartoons, coffee cups, etc. He said he couldn't stand the idea of some voice actor doing Hobbes. Neither could I, but I'm not sure I could have walked away from the millions of dollars those licenses would have paid.

      • Re:regrets? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by nigelo (30096) on Monday February 01, 2010 @06:30PM (#30988180)

        I've heard the same from John Cleese about Fawlty Towers and Ricky Gervais about The Office - limit the episodes (2 short series each) to tell the story, and then declare victory (Also, my grandfather about public speaking - stand up, speak up, shut up...)

        Or, you can be run by the corporations, and continue to turn out rehashes of stories and character traits as long as you can sell the advertising.
        How many episodes does the US The Office have now? It's in its sixth series... It doesn't have the same punch for me that the first episodes did.

      • Re:regrets? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by mctk (840035) on Monday February 01, 2010 @07:08PM (#30988778) Homepage
        So incredibly true. Compare the two versions of "The Office." In the UK, they told their story, had some laughs, but when it ran its course, they stopped. I wanted more. I still want more. I'll just have to wait a few years then watch the episodes again. In the US, however, the program is floundering to find weekly topics. And it shows. Once Jim and Pam hooked up, the main tension, the binding thread was gone. Look at "Heroes". Intriguing first season, great climactic moment. But it just...keeps...going. Look at "Lost". I followed the first season closely, but after a while, you start to think that the writers are sitting around going, "Now what can we do this week, without really changing much. After all, we still have 10 more hours of programming to fill." Does anybody even watch The Simpson's anymore?
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by MightyMartian (840721)

          North American media tends to drive things into the ground (not that others don't to, the last season of Monty Python's Flying Circus, sans Cleese, apart from a few moments, was clearly beyond its prime).

          I remember the same thing happened to MASH. I look back at the original few seasons when McLean Stevenson and Wayne Rogers were still there, and they constitute some incredibly funny moments in TV history. Once they were gone and Alda exerted more control as the "Star", the tendency to be overly maudlin a

    • by T Murphy (1054674)
      Ask Gates if he regrets stepping down and you're getting a closer comparison.
  • Wise words (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 01, 2010 @06:10PM (#30987934)

    It's always better to leave the party early. If I had rolled along with the strip's popularity and repeated myself for another five, 10 or 20 years, the people now "grieving" for "Calvin and Hobbes" would be wishing me dead and cursing newspapers for running tedious, ancient strips like mine instead of acquiring fresher, livelier talent. And I'd be agreeing with them.

    I wish someone had mentioned that to Matt Groening.

    • Re:Wise words (Score:4, Insightful)

      by elrous0 (869638) * on Monday February 01, 2010 @06:20PM (#30988066)
      Groening was always overrated. If you listen to the Simpsons commentary tracks, you figure out pretty quickly that he had little to do with the success of the show, or its quality. All he talks about is the quality of the animation. It's quite clear he has little appreciation for the writing (which is what truly made The Simpsons so great). Someone will be talking on a track about how clever a bit of satire there was in this scene, and Groening will interrupt with "Hey look at how cool that flower looks!" Going back and looking at "Life in Hell" and his other early works, it's clear he was never a fraction as creative as the Simpsons writers (probably why he only wrote one episode--one of the more mediocre ones at that). Either he or one of the other co-creators was smart enough to hire Harvard Lampoon grads and other smart writers in the early days of the show, but after that he basically contributed nothing. It was always a paycheck for him (and maybe an ego boost, since many people assume he's the actual show-runner and creative force--which he never was). So you can't really fault him for milking it. He doesn't realize how mundane the show has become because he never really appreciated what made it great in the first place.
      • Re:Wise words (Score:4, Insightful)

        by sopssa (1498795) * <sopssa@email.com> on Monday February 01, 2010 @06:32PM (#30988224) Journal

        I actually started liking Simpsons again after season 20 began, it felt like it went back to roots and the humor was back there. I earlier stopped watching around season 14. Now I do not know Groening comes in to play with this, but Simpsons has definitely picked up again.

        But I wouldn't say Groening didn't contribute much to the show. Even if the other writers did have a lot to do in it, he must have played some role. Remember that Futurama is great too and he was vocal against Fox when it got cancelled.

    • by Locke2005 (849178)
      Matt Groening?!? I wish somebody had mentioned that to Charles Schultz! Peanuts is still being published 10 years after the creator's death! Sure, The Simpsons isn't nearly as good as it once was, but it's not totally bad yet either.
      • by wandazulu (265281)

        Peanuts is in eternal reruns; Schulz was very specific he didn't want it to continue after he stopped (he even mentions it in the last strip ever).

      • Re:Wise words (Score:5, Interesting)

        by nmb3000 (741169) <nmb3000@that-google-mail-site.com> on Monday February 01, 2010 @07:46PM (#30989314) Homepage Journal

        Peanuts is still being published 10 years after the creator's death!

        While I don't care for Peanuts very much, I'd rather have reruns of a classic comic than the absolute drivel that Garfield has been for the last 10 years. I can only fathom that A) newspapers can't find anything else to fill that space, or B) nobody dares get rid of such a "classic" strip like Garfield. Jim Davis doesn't even try to be funny anymore.

        Of course no criticism of Garfield is complete without referencing both Garfield Minus Garfield [garfieldmi...rfield.net] and Garkov [joshmillard.com]. The saddest part is that G-G is significantly funnier than the "legitimate" strips published every day and most of the time the Markov-generated strips in Garkov are indistinguishable from what Jim Davis writes.

        I suppose this means that Jim Davis fails the Turing Test.

  • It's just a darn shame that the end couldn't have been thirty or forty years further out.

  • You insensitive clod (Score:5, Interesting)

    by goldaryn (834427) on Monday February 01, 2010 @06:12PM (#30987970) Homepage
    Calvin and Hobbes is amazing. Bill Watterson is a creative guy, a talented artist, and perhaps more than anything else, fought for his artistic integrity (see merchandising debacles) to the end. And he gave us the "insensitive clod" meme. What a guy.
  • by uglyduckling (103926) on Monday February 01, 2010 @06:17PM (#30988028) Homepage
    I don't think I've ever seen a photo of Bill Watterson, but having just seen the article, I have to say... Bill Watterson looks like Calvin's Dad! Or, rather, Calvin's Dad looks like Bill Watterson. Maybe this is old news, but it's news to me :D.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by goldaryn (834427)

      but having just seen the article, I have to say

      As long as you only looked at the pictures. This is /., we have standards!

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Hatta (162192)

      Calvin's dad looks like Watterson's dad, which would explain the resemblance. Watterson himself looks much more like Uncle Max [neatorama.com].

    • I think Watterson looks like Calvin's uncle Max.

    • by Sique (173459)

      Calvin's dad looks like Bill Watterson's dad actually.

  • by gurps_npc (621217) on Monday February 01, 2010 @06:18PM (#30988036) Homepage
    ... definitely goes Boink.

    As an amatuer author, I understand some of where he is coming from. Stories have a beginning, middle and end. The end generally signifies the part where writing about it any more would be boring. Which little girl truly wants to hear about how Snow White had to change dirty diapers for her children? Or who really wants to hear about how Wendy and the lost buys grows old while Peter Pan is all alone with tinkerbell?

    Yes, sequels are instant money makers, because we all want to read/see MORE from a good writer, but the truth is if you have said all you had to say, then there is no more.

    It's kind of like going to the Grand Canyon and tring to dig it deeper with a shovel. Yeah, it's 'more', but it's not the same thing, and quite frankly, the quality of workmanship goes down.

    • by ChrisMaple (607946) on Monday February 01, 2010 @06:48PM (#30988444)

      Actually, Peter Pan did go on past Wendy & Co. going home. Wendy did return for some spring cleanings, but Peter, just being a boy, eventually forgot and Wendy grew old, too old to fly. She had a daughter and when Peter eventually remembered to come again to the Darlings, he confused the girl for Wendy. Wendy graciously allowed the daughter to visit Peter for spring cleaning...

      Presumably there is no global lack of lost boys to populate Neverland...

      Jeez, this is sad. It hurts to type this.

  • Missed opportunity (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) on Monday February 01, 2010 @06:19PM (#30988042)

    I wish they had asked him what he thought of the Adult Swim version of his strip. I wonder if he would have balked at the initial silliness of it, or pondered it for a bit and said "you know... that's exactly how Calvin would be treated these days".

  • by WarlockD (623872) on Monday February 01, 2010 @06:19PM (#30988050)

    Meh. Seriously, no questions on "What are you doing now?" "Have any new projects?" "Are thee any comics you are looking at now a days?"

    All these questions are just rehashed from previous side remarks he has stated. He has always been a recluse so why is he doing an interview now?

    These things drive me up the wall. Fine, its a puff piece because you don't want to scare the guy off, but I am truly interested in what he has done in all that time.

    • by sopssa (1498795) *

      Maybe he wants to keep some of that mystery alive. If he made a "comeback" now, even with a different comic, I doubt it would be nearly as successful and would most likely just fail, big part in that being because people would expect him to deliver moon from the sky.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Culture20 (968837)

      but I am truly interested in what he has done in all that time.

      Just guessing, but: Fishing, watching his (grand)children grow up, changing the oil in his truck. My bet is he's reclusive because he doesn't want to bore us with the details. If C&H is any indication, he's a guy that enjoys *life*, not attention.

  • by Hatta (162192) on Monday February 01, 2010 @06:19PM (#30988056) Journal

    Those last couple questions were really wasted. Why not ask him what he's been doing for the past 15 years? Does he ever think about doing another strip, or any sort of art again?

    You know, he could do one strip a week, any subject he wanted, any format he wanted, post it on the web (editors? who needs them?) and it would be huge. He'd have complete creative control. Would that sound appealing to Watterson? Or would that cut too much into his golf time? We'll never know because this journalist squandered this opportunity.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Wyatt Earp (1029)

      Did the journalist squander the opportunity or did Watterson only answer what he wanted to answer?

      Reading about the guy, its obvious he wants his life to be private, so the interview is just those questions and answers Watterson wants to give.

      Not the journalist's fault.

      • by MBCook (132727)
        • Have any web comics caught your attention? What comics do you like?
        • Are there any comics that you think are relatively groundbreaking today, doing something really innovative?
        • Do you follow comics much?
        • Ever think of doing a graphic novel about something? A normal novel?
        • What subjects interest you today? (Iraq war, plight of the mango tree, ancient Chinese cookware, whatever)

        There are some questions you could ask, this was basically a fluff piece. There is no substance in it. The only useful thing is that Watt

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 01, 2010 @06:19PM (#30988060)

    "It's always better to leave the party early. If I had rolled along with the strip's popularity and repeated myself for another five, 10 or 20 years, the people now "grieving" for "Calvin and Hobbes" would be wishing me dead and cursing newspapers for running tedious, ancient strips like mine instead of acquiring fresher, livelier talent. And I'd be agreeing with them."

    Hear that, Crapfield and Family Crapcircus?!?

  • A true Calvin Story (Score:5, Interesting)

    by notaspy (457709) <imnotaspy@[ ]oo.com ['yah' in gap]> on Monday February 01, 2010 @06:21PM (#30988086)

    I used to read the strip, and being a newly minted patent attorney, appreciated all the great b.s. that his dad in the strip would just make up. "What a great kid!" I would think while reading Calvin's adventures and inventions, "I'd love to have a kid like that!" So my second son is named "Calvin." And by cracky, he was JUST like the comic kid, in looks and temperment! How lucky could I have gotten? Then, in something like 1990, every comic strip in the paper on December 3 (my birthday) had a birthday theme! WFT? It was uncanny; obviously somebody involved in comics had a birthday conspiracy. Well, every strip except one. Calvin and Hobbes did not relate at all to birthdays, but it contained the biggest present, as it was the strip which made it clear that Calvin's dad was, in fact, a patent attorney! In the strip, his dad is reading some sort of pleading or opinion regarding patent infringement.

    As it turns out, I understand Watterson's dad was and still is (?) a patent attorney, and many of the stories in the strip were based on his own childhood.

    My Calvin is now 21 years, so as much as I love the comic, I at least have the certainty of knowing how Calvin turned out. He's OK!

  • A True Artist (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Foobar of Borg (690622) on Monday February 01, 2010 @06:27PM (#30988150)
    He left Calvin & Hobbes while it was still good and he had something meaningful to say. He didn't do what a lot of people do and drag it out so he could suck out every last possible penny. He left a meaningful corpus of work that we can all appreciate.
  • by skyriser2 (179031) on Monday February 01, 2010 @06:30PM (#30988182)

    "I say, if your knees aren't green by the end of the day, you ought to seriously re-examine your life."
    - Calvin, Calvin and Hobbes

    More Calvin and Hobbes quotes on QuoteAddict:
    http://www.quoteaddict.com/quotes?search=calvin [quoteaddict.com]

  • by filesiteguy (695431) <kai@perfectreign.com> on Monday February 01, 2010 @06:35PM (#30988250) Homepage
    I am in my home office writign this and can look up at my bookshelf towards the five "Calvin and Hobbes" anthologies I have. Great comic. However, I think of it every time I read the sunday funnies with my kids. Watterson, along with Gary Larson (The Far Side) left when the time was right. I see comics like "Drabble" and "For Better or Worse" lingering on. They aren't even funny or relevant. C&H will always be relevant.

    In fact, my nine-year-old recently took out one of the books and remarked that I looked a lot like the "dad" character.

    I mentioned to him how I'd once convinced him for a few weeks that the reason grandma's pictures were all in black and white was because the whole world was in black and white.
  • Timeless stuff! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Phizzle (1109923)
    I loved it growing up and my kids love it now! Thank you!
  • by grapeape (137008) <mpope7@kc.rrBOYSEN.com minus berry> on Monday February 01, 2010 @06:40PM (#30988340) Homepage

    Watterson's reclusiveness can easily be compared to Salinger's and its arguable that his creation was just as impactful. For my generation there were 3 strips that defined the era, Far Side, Bloom County and Calvin & Hobbes. I guess its better to go out with fans wanting more than to keep going until the strip becomes a parody of itself (Garfield, Ziggy and Family Circus...im looking at you), but their absense did create a void that was hard to fill. Pearls Before Swine and Get Fuzzy have become my more recent favorites but I would still give just about anything for one more visit with Steve Dallas or Spaceman Spiff.

    One thing I never understood was the marketing, while I respect and understand the desire to keep his creations from being diluted and tarnished by garbage, the other two I mentioned managed to have at least something for fans to hold on to (T-Shirts, Mugs, Stuffed toys) without cheapening their legacy. In fact it could be argued that the lack of "stuff" has cheapened it through the proliferaton of bootleg things like those insepid peeing, praying or bird flipping calvin stickers, cheap t-shirts and low quality Hobbes clones they give away at carnivals. He could have chosen to simply keep a tight reign on it and maintained control while giving fans something they obviously clamor for. Ahh well at least im getting a stamp.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      He must made have enough money off the strip and the books to not care? And also to retire early. We have seen no output from him since, so either he is living off the book royalties or he is secretly the real author of Frazz, heh.

      It's nice to be successful enough to have options.

  • a testament to C&H (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) on Monday February 01, 2010 @06:55PM (#30988550)

    Every few months I have this dream that I go to a book store and find a new Calvin and Hobbes book that has been 15 years in the making. Each comic is rendered in full color using water-colors. The layout for each comic is tuned, not for the newspaper it would have been printed in, but to the story that he's trying to tell. Each comic was written based on inspirations he found over the last 15 years, ensuring that the final comic would be the best of the best of the best and not just some skimpy idea rendered to make a deadline. Each time I go to the store and find this, I open it up and it starts with a series of Calvin's snowmen and a poem. I then put the book into it's bag and drive home. As soon as I get home and get the bag out.. *bam* I wake up.

    I'll never forgive Bill for this torturous dream.

  • by Leo Sasquatch (977162) on Monday February 01, 2010 @07:06PM (#30988746)
    There have been a handful of geniuses, who've happened to work in the comic strip field. George Herriman, Walt Kelly, Berkeley Breathed, Garry Trudeau, Maurice Dodd and Dennis Collins, and Bill Watterson. Why such a small number? Because true genius is rare and special, whatever field the artist is working in.

    I don't count Gary Larson in the same field - he was quirky and brilliant, but there's no continuity in his works - there's 5,000 individual gags, but no heart, nobody there we care about. I also don't count Charles Schulz - Peanuts is simply the nastiest strip ever written. It's cold, and bleak, without an ounce of love or sweetness about it. Nothing good ever happens to anybody - it's existentialist horror.

    Calvin's world wasn't perfect - Moe was a bully, school was appalling, and things sometimes went wrong. There was fear and loss from time to time, and nobody else ever saw the world quite the way he saw it. But there's magic there, and adventure, and love in a variety of flavours. They are books I could sit and read with my child when he was Calvin's age and younger, because they are good art, excellent stories and a total blast for the imagination. The Sunday strip poems often featured wonderfully whimsical language and the wordplay in the strip itself was second only to The Perishers.

    I'm delighted that Bill Watterson stopped when he thought he was done. Delighted he chose not to let MegaCorp plc rape his creations, and slap them on underpants, lunchboxes and disposable cups from the burger joint. Delighted that Calvin and Hobbes didn't get shoe-horned into some Moral of the Week shitty TV show, with a cute catchphrase, and cheap-as-chips animation. What he created is art, and it's a minor miracle that he managed to resist the dollar signs, and what must have been startling numbers of zeroes after them, in order to keep the tale of a boy and his tiger real and magical.

    If he ever comes up with another story he really wants to tell, I have no doubt he will.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ColdWetDog (752185)

      I don't count Gary Larson in the same field - he was quirky and brilliant, but there's no continuity in his works - there's 5,000 individual gags, but no heart, nobody there we care about

      I take it that you are not of the biological sciences persuasion. The Far Side's protagonist was nature her/it self. That was the underlying thread between his many dis separate jokes and themes. I'd put him right up there with the others you mention.

      YMMV, of course.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by khallow (566160)

      I don't count Gary Larson in the same field - he was quirky and brilliant, but there's no continuity in his works - there's 5,000 individual gags, but no heart, nobody there we care about.

      Continuity? Why should we want continuity? No heart? We disagree. If you wanted a comic strip with no heart, then just take a gander at Doonesbury. I have no idea why Garry Trudeau bothered with continuity. It's just a political cartoon (like Oliphant) in comic strip format with some extraneous soap opera about people I simply can't care about (technically, so was Bloom County, but that worked). Peanuts provided a better experience (especially, the early years when the strip was actually being creative).

  • May I please have a Pixar animated film adaptation of Calvin and Hobbes?
  • We could then follow Calvin's exploits as an unemployed, overweight 30-something living in his parent's basement and posting to Slashdot while Hobbes hooks up with Susie Derkins after an ugly divorce from Calvin.

  • The "Fab Four"..... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by IHC Navistar (967161) on Monday February 01, 2010 @09:15PM (#30990214)

    The "Four Great Cartoonists":

    1) Bill Watterson

    2) Berke Breathed

    2) Gary Larson

    3) Jim Davis

    (in no particular order)

    I'm sure some of the older folks will have favorite cartoonists that some of us are still way to young to remember, but in terms of being able to relate to a strip, both personally and in everyday life (as a sort of 'social commentary'), I think that these four magnificent cartoonists have managed to hit the nail on the head.

    I've got to admit, though, that Bill does have a great attitude towards fighting Universal whenever they try to license and merchandise the hell out of his creation.

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