Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Who Ees Thees Cahl-vin?

"The problem with people is that they're only human."
- Hobbes (a very wise tiger)

Somewhere around grade 8 or 9, I was introduced to something which has remained important to me ever since; the cartoon strip Calvin and Hobbes *. I devoured the few collections already published, and was lucky enough to have new releases bought for me. I still count myself lucky for that, although I doubt I recognized it at the time. At that age, something about the 6 year old reminded me of myself a few years earlier; rather imaginative and often in trouble because of it. Even at that age, I could recognize the simple wisdom in Bill Watterson's brilliant strip. And, like so many others, I was crushed when the strip was retired in '95.

When I stumbled across those old soft cover collections after I moved away from home, I would still thumb through them and giggle myself silly, once again easily pulled into the simple but enchanting world of Calvin and his best friend/tiger Hobbes, the spunky but rather lonely seeming Susie Derkins, Stupendous Man, Spaceman Spiff, various ferocious and ravenous aliens and dinosaurs and not to mention the poor, poor parents. It turns out that it's not such a big deal that the strip ended when it did. I am able to read them over and over and over again and they make me grin, laugh out loud, smile wistfully, and even tear up a little, just as with the first reading. Now I am very thankful that the author ended the strip when he did, so its real lovers (not like that, sheesh!) did not have to go through the horribly lengthy and torturous descent of so many other strips like Garfield, Charlie Brown and Archie.

A few years back, a hardcover and stunning new box set collection of the entire Calvin and Hobbes history was released. I noticed it in a mom-and-pop book store downtown and nearly dropped the $150 for it right then. Thankfully I decided not to, as I got the joyful surprise of receiving it as a Christmas present from my brother later that year. Evidently my love of the strip had not gone unnoticed. It remains one of the favorite gifts I have ever received.

Inspiring this post is the fact that I picked up the second volume of this collection recently, and am once again ensconced in wonder. I absolutely love how how much laughter and simple wisdom is contained on those pages. I really believe that they may have been a big part of developing my current consciousness, of becoming who and what I am.

I sincerely hope that parents are still sharing this strip with their children, and enjoying it themselves.

And thank you so very much, Mr. Watterson. I wish I could give you something as important in return.

*Having read through most of the wikipedia contents now, I would suggest that even those who are already fans of C and H go have a look at the link provided. I liked it anyway.


Aimee said...

me too! me too!

MoonRaven said...

Thank you for reminding me about C&H. It was a wonderful strip.

linda said...

Brought back memories!!!!!Thanks!

Conny said...

Me "four"! I loved C&H! Co-workers in adjacent cubicles (1990-95) used to post random Calvin & Hobbes comics from the newspaper. And yes, they are still FUNNY.

Walter Jeffries said...

Jerry, C&H has been a major inspiration in our family too. I think we have all the collected works and our son Ben learned to do comic drawing by copying C&H and then started doing his own, first of C&H and then his own strips. Ben also did his annual big research paper last year for homeschooling on the real philosophers, Thomas Hobbes and John Calvin, comparing & contrasting them with the comic strip characters in Calvin & Hobbes. Loads of deep insight in those two and they are so funny!