Calvin and Hobbes: A Childhood Friend

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Relating stories to audiences comes more fluently to some than others. While expression may be easier in thought, the idea that there must be a written part of oneself is daunting. Part of this was resembled in the preface of The Calvin and Hobbes Tenth Anniversary Book by Bill Watterson. He refers to the change of how comics are received, “..a strip today needs very broad appeal.” 

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Calvin and Hobbes was unique within the comic sphere and only ran through November 1985 to December 1995. Within that time the daily life of Calvin resonated with a vast number of readers and inspired many through the similarities shared. Having more of a relationship to an inanimate object rather than real people, or having to create a reality because the one he was stuck in could not keep up with that of what he needed out of his own world. As one author stated, “It left in its wake a generation of children who, though now grown, could move forward in life confident that their magical friend would be with them always” The series has left a lasting impression with which one can relate. This is not only true with the reader, but also those who marvel at the cartoonist himself.

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Recently, Stephan Pastis, the Cartoonist for the comic Pearls before Swine had the opportunity to work with Watterson covertly. He marveled, “…Just getting an email from Bill Watterson is one of the most mind-blowing, surreal experiences I have ever had.” Watterson is a man of few words, spoken loudly and with the power to resonate with millions of people worldwide. Unlike traditional “Collective Stories” Comics must also use vivid illustration to paint the words. Watterson is known for distributing prints without lines: Comics with few, if any words attached. He created scenes that explained more than words could say.

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Calvin and Hobbes taught the lesson that childhood is as resilient as it is fragile. To paraphrase a quote from a book read long ago, “Childhood is like a vase; some come out of it cracked while others completely shattered, then spend the rest of their lives trying to piece it back together.” This is relative to how it was growing up as the youngest child in a family of four other siblings. Like Calvin, he was usually found home alone but with disdained older siblings, the boy used his own imagination to escape.

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Tutors couldn’t control the blonde hyperactive boy that was always in his own world. Getting hooked on phonics is not as easy or fascinating as it was made out to be. However what originated as a gift in the mail from a far off aunt turned out to be an invitation to run away to the colorful pages of Bill Watterson’s and the relatable image of a boy who was so lonely in his world that it was a natural connection with Calvin and his friend Hobbes.

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3 thoughts on “Calvin and Hobbes: A Childhood Friend

  1. This post hit me right in the feels. It brings back so many memories of my childhood both growing up reading the comics and my daily life. I loved how many comics there were sprinkled through the piece. I also really enjoyed hearing about how other authors had been inspired by Calvin and Hobbs, and how they felt about the author. I was, however, slightly confused at the end about who the child being referred to was. The first time I read it I wasn’t sure if it was the blog author’s, or Watterson’s child hood.

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  2. First off I thought this was a great post. I never have really been into comics, but I have seen some Calvin and Hobbes comic strips before and I always thought that I could relate with most of them, because I the author did a very good job on trying to communicate with his audience.

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  3. I love how you incorporated comics into collective stories. I think comic strips like these are certainly ones that are handed down or even passed from child to child, or even adult to adult. The author of Calvin and Hobbes also is great at relating to his audience.

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