Sunday, June 20, 2010

Calvin and Hobbes

When Bill Watterson retired it was like a death in the family. A connection to my past was severed and I knew it would never be made whole again. There was talk he would come back, that he would draw again, but I didn’t think so. No one quits something like this unless they are ready to quit, and it is time to quit, and there is no looking back. But the year was 1995, and already my past was long gone. Everything had changed already, and the days of daily Calvin and Hobbes were slipping away forever.
In 1985 I lived in the 108 Force Street apartment, Number Three, and it was during the time newspapers still reigned. The 108 apartment was enormous, huge, and very old. There was a lot of wall space so when my roomie, JT, and I, ran out of space on the refrigerator to post Calvin and Hobbes comics we built one hell of a large collage. There were newspaper clipping, a photo of a half naked redhead, and various weirdness, but there were a lot of comic strips. The refrigerator was reserved for really good C& H and I can remember a lot of them. Hell, I own most of the books, and when I flip through them I can remember the day I taped them to the door.
There was one where Calvin is asking Hobbes if he believes in the devil, and Hobbes replies he never thought human beings needed the help.

There was one where Calvin puts on his galoshes and as he walks the noise they make is galosh!galosh! galosh! Calvin turns and looks at the reader with the oddest expression on his face.

The artwork in the strip was incredible. The facial expression of the characters was priceless. Hobbes was forever rolling his eyes and saying something like, ‘Words escape me!”

Susie Dirkins was the girl next door and Calvin tormented her. He once saved up a bunch of snowballs and flung them all at her and missed with each one. Down to his last snowball, we wonder the outcome!  The last panel shows Calvin walking into his house and he tells his mother he’s sold his soul to the devil that afternoon and his mother says, “That recently?”

The best snowball was when Calvin ambushed Susie and it hit her square in the back of the head. She gets up and starts complaining her eyeball fell out, and of course Calvin comes over to help look for it, and Susie kicks him in the butt for his trouble. Hobbes appears and asks Calvin why he’s lying in the snow. “My eyeball fell out, help me look for it.” Priceless.

I kept the strips when I moved out but there was no real way to keep them the way I had. They became tattered and torn. I threw them all away, one by one, as they became covered with taped up spots. Moving out of the apartment meant I didn’t have anyone to share them with on a daily basis and it really wasn’t the same. I got a real job, and the people there were not too interested in comic strips.

Moe was Calvin’s nemesis and he was forever pounding Calvin on the school yard. One strip showed Moe telling Calvin he was going to kill him after school and Calvin says something like only Moe could make school go by quicker and make it worse at the same time.

Calvin’s parents never had real names, but both of them were long suffering mates. Calvin’s mom was a stay at home mom and caught the brunt of Calvin’s imagination. Dad comes home one day only to see his wife in a towel chasing Calvin and screaming, “I’ll kill you for putting dead bugs in my shampoo!” whereby Dad says, “And people wonder why I work late so much”

Dad is trying to teach Calvin to play baseball and the ball grows a mouth replete with teeth and Calvin flee from it. “This won’t bother me so much if he was better in school” Dad says.

School is a prison for Calvin and it is personified by the evil and old Mrs. Wormwood and the Principle. Calvin daydreams his way through class as Stupendous Man, Spaceman Spiff, and a variety of dinosaurs.  He never hands in an assignment on time, totally ruins Susie’s reputation, and his imagination runs free as he sees the school blown up in various ways.

Calvin is as violent as any kid, with toy busses hitting gas tankers while jets crash into them. In one strip Calvin sees himself as an all powerful god about to destroy the universe as his mother says, “I bet Calvin turns into an engineer or something like that, it looks like he’s created an entire world in there!”

Snow is a big deal to Calvin and snowmen are always turning into things no one else imagined. Mom and Dad walks out of the house to discover a snowman crushed in front of their car as if it had been hit while other snow people look on in horror. I don’t have time to get into the two headed snow goons. That was classic!

Calvin and Hobbes wax philosophic while plummeting towards earth on a snow sled more than a few times. In one strip Calvin makes the case for predestination while Hobbes hides his eyes during most of the ride.

It all ended in 1995, but I’ve found an online source of the strip. I remember all of them, of course, and there are a few I know I once taped to the refrigerator door, and laughed at with JT, many years ago. The Sunday strips were always the best, and I miss seeing them on newsprint. The artwork was, and still is, masterful. I miss the surprise of the endings of some of the stories, and I wonder if there was ever a time Watterson ever thought about bringing it all back.


Take Care,

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