miscellaneous commentary

The Words & Works of Watterson

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I’ve been a busy bee this week, more so than usual, but I wanted to post… something… before I make any noteworthy announcements. So here are a couple items regarding my all-time favorite comic strip, Calvin & Hobbes.

1. The fan-based documentary “Dear Mr. Watterson” comes out November 15. I’m not holding my breath it’ll be screened at any theater within hydrogen bomb-range of the Cedar Valley, but it will also be available via VOD the same day. Perhaps I will splurge and watch it early.

2. Mental_floss magazine somehow scored an exclusive interview with famously private Bill Watterson. The full interview will be featured in the December issue; here are a few choice sample Q&As:

Years ago, you hadn’t quite dismissed the notion of animating the strip. Are you a fan of Pixar? Does their competency ever make the idea of animating your creations more palatable?
The visual sophistication of Pixar blows me away, but I have zero interest in animating Calvin and Hobbes. If you’ve ever compared a film to a novel it’s based on, you know the novel gets bludgeoned. It’s inevitable, because different media have different strengths and needs, and when you make a movie, the movie’s needs get served. As a comic strip, Calvin and Hobbes works exactly the way I intended it to. There’s no upside for me in adapting it.

According to your collection introductions, you took up painting after the strip ended. Why don’t you exhibit the work?
My first problem is that I don’t paint ambitiously. It’s all catch and release—just tiny fish that aren’t really worth the trouble to clean and cook. But yes, my second problem is that Calvin and Hobbes created a level of attention and expectation that I don’t know how to process.

Owing to spite or just a foul mood, have you ever peeled one of those stupid Calvin stickers off of a pickup truck?
I figure that, long after the strip is forgotten, those decals are my ticket to immortality.


3. The archivist/perfectionist in me is glad I gave my entire C&H collection to my sister so her kids could enjoy them, rather than buy them the 20th anniversary tome that came out several years ago, as it now appears that edition might not be entirely complete:

To celebrate the strip’s 20th anniversary in 2005, publisher Andrews McMeel issued a hernia-inducing collection of Watterson’s entire body of work—sort of. [Universal Press Syndicate editor Lee] Salem recalls a minor blow-up from readers when Watterson published two strips in the 1980s that depicted Calvin mocking the idea he might be adopted. In one strip, Calvin’s complains that “I’ll bet my biological mother would’ve bought me a comic book…” It was later changed to, “I’ll bet a good mother would’ve bought me a comic book…”

Another strip, featuring Hobbes in a washing machine, is missing from the collection entirely. Some have speculated that putting the tiger in a spin cycle might be an unwelcome hint he’s not real. No one, including Watterson, ever wanted to have that question answered.

4. [from the extensive Derkins Library] In 1992, Bill’s brother Tom Watterson had a pop/rock band called The Rels. Bill did the artwork for the band’s releases, using the pseudonym Fang Wampir. The scan is from the cassettes.



Written by camcarlson

October 22, 2013 at 9:16 PM

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