Scientific Progress Goes 'Boink'

It's been 12 years since Bill Watterson retired his whimsical strip Calvin & Hobbes and there is still a hole in the comics page to this day. There are some fun comics (Get Fuzzy, Sherman's Lagoon and Canadian talents Fisher and Pooch Café) but nothing has been able to replace the precocious, imaginative Calvin and his stuffed, but very much alive tiger, Hobbes.

For 10 years Watterson's strip was the highlight of the comics page and he helped shake up what had become a stale art form. The pages were filled with stale offerings that had run their course but still plodded along - I'm looking at you Beetle Bailey, Blondie, Hägar the Horrible and Shoe, to name just a few.

Calvin came on the scene along with contemporaries Bloom County, Bizarro and The Far Side that were nothing like what else was in the newspaper. Calvin was often lost in his own universe that allowed Watterson to draw worlds filled with dinosaurs, aliens and anthropomorphic snowmen. He could be a hellion but also a sweet kid who just needed a hug from his mom. In short, he was a little boy.

Watterson also wrapped up the strip when he felt he couldn't keep up the quality any longer. The same was done by Gary Larson and Berkeley Breathed (though he kind of slid on that). I respect that artistic decision and it is a lesson many a strip could emulate (see the list of strips above), although I missed their absences.

I still miss Calvin's cardboard box transmogrifier, Spaceman Spiff and, of course, Calvinball, my most favourite of sports. But that's what the book collections are for. Or read 25 Great Calvin and Hobbes Strips for a quick refresher.

This comic nostalgia all came about when I happened across space coyote's (Nina Matsumoto) version of a classic Calvin & Hobbes scene, with philosophical namesakes instead of the characters. (Check out her manga version of The Simpsons)

From space coyote: "Few historians know of the heartwarming friendship between French Reformation theologian John Calvin and English political philosopher Thomas Hobbes, the latter of whom may or may not have been real, considering he was not even born yet."


  1. I miss Calvin and Hobbes. It was certainly one of the best strips around. Of course, I think I miss Bloom County even more. That was my favourite comic strip of all time. Nothing has really come along to take their place since they ended.

  2. I feel the same way about Bloom County. My high school yearbook, under likely destination, listed Bloom County.

  3. Jeremy, remember the old Horovitz take on what Calvin would have turned out like if he were allowed to grow old like character in "For Better or Worse?"


  4. I read that someone is trying to make a documentary about finding Bill Watterson.

  5. I'd tried to erase that image from my mind, Aidan. Just too disturbing.

    I had heard something about a film, so I looked it up. It's a documentary about Calvin & Hobbes, Bill Watterson and his impact on readers. Though I tend to think if Watterson is so deliberately reclusive, why not let him be?

    Anyway, you can read more at:

  6. Thats for the great read, Jeremy. I must say that I never really "got" the appeal of Calvin & Hobbes until around 2 years ago when my boyfriend, a massive C&H fan, insisted I read all his treasuries. What a fantastic, rewarding read!

    Anyway, you're absolutely right - nothing has stepped up in the daily comics to replace the series' unique brand of humour and how it so successfully mixed with deeper insights about childhood and contemporary life.

    And speaking of the mysterious Bill Watterson, he's an interesting man if you read up on him on Wikipedia: