Archive for July 23rd, 2014

Looking For Calvin And Hobbes

In case you didn’t notice, today’s ‘toon was a nod to one of my all time favorite comic strips, Calvin And Hobbes. It was brilliantly written and drawn by Bill Watterson from 1985 to 1995. The strip was distributed by Universal Press Syndicate and appeared in over 2,400 newspapers worldwide. In my opinion, the artwork and writing are second to none. Watterson, Charles Schulz (Peanuts) and Bill Amend (Fox Trot) are the three cartoon strips that have influenced my cartooning style the most.

So last week, while on vacation by a lake in northern Minnesota I had the time and opportunity to finally read a book that has been collecting dust on my nightstand.

The book, “Looking For Calvin And Hobbes” is written by Nevin Martell and is about his quest to secure an interview with the man behind Calvin And Hobbes, Bill Watterson.

As it turns out, Watterson has basically been in hiding since his strip ended on December 31, 1995.

He has only granted a few interviews during his career, mostly in the 1980’s and is very reluctant to do so now.

To say he doesn’t seek the spotlight and fame is an understatement.

So Martell, having been a huge fan of Calvin, Hobbes & Watterson during his childhood, sets out to secure what he views as the interview of a lifetime! Along the way we hear from friends and colleagues about their experiences with Watterson.

Martell does a good job of chronicling Watterson’s life and career and his love of the strip is clearly evident throughout the book.

If you are a fan of the strip or cartoons in general, I would recommend reading the book!

Some of the things I learned…

He was a struggling editorial cartoonist before hitting it big with Calvin And Hobbes.

United Features Syndicate rejected the strip.

It was a challenging working relationship with Universal Press Syndicate.

Why haven’t we seen Calvin and Hobbes merchandise in stores during the years? Bill Watterson was absolutely against the merchandising of his characters. Turns out Watterson turned down millions of dollars in merchandising deals during his career. This didn’t make Universal Press very happy.

Along with refusing merchandise offers, he also gave a thumbs down to an animated movie too!

With the strong success of the strip, he had enough leverage to regain sole ownership of his strip and characters from Universal Press…this helped with being able to reject merchandise offers.

He would often tear up strips that he felt weren’t good enough.

He didn’t seek or enjoy the fame…He doesn’t grant interviews and he didn’t even show up to receive the many awards that he earned during his career.

He felt very strongly that a strip should end when a cartoonist retires or passes away. (This was viewed as a jab at long running strips that have had other cartoonists carry on well after the original cartoonist was gone.)