Welcome to the second installment of Thumbs Up Tuesdays. Last week, I shared Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton, a classic masterpiece. I’m switching gears a bit this week with another favorite.
It’s the Calvin and Hobbes series by Bill Watterson. And it doesn’t matter which book you pick up, either – The Essential Calvin and Hobbes; Homicidal Psycho Jungle Cat; Revenge of the Baby-Sat, and my favorite, Something Under the Bed is Drooling.
They’re all great – every single one.
We first met Calvin and Hobbes in November, 1985; they were the brainchild of cartoonist Bill Watterson, who kept us entertained, informed (via Calvin’s way of thinking) and absolutely drawn into Calvin’s world, inhabited by those around him, but only understood – mostly – by Hobbes.
Calvin’s musings are witty, insightful, snarky, and downright amusing. Watterson created supporting characters – his parents, Susie Derkins, Mr. Spittle, Miss Wormwood – who really don’t understand Calvin. They try, to varying degrees, to delve into the weirdness of his six-year-old world, but no one is entirely successful.
Not even Hobbes, Calvin’s stuffed tiger, who appears animated and very real to him, but stuffed to everyone else.
Their repartee carries the comic strip, propelling it forward through Calvin’s experiences navigating the necessary evil of school with his weary teacher; encounters with Moe, his schoolmate; as Dictator for Life of G.R.O.S.S (Get Rid of Slimy Girls) the club he founded with Hobbes, and his intergalactic travels as Spaceman Spiff.
Calvin’s father is one of the few characters who weasels around Calvin’s weirdness, sending him off with messages of character building and often, confusion.
My all-time favorite strip is the haircut Hobbes gives Calvin. Of course, the results are disastrous:
Watterson refused offers to merchandise the characters and undertake tours, as he felt this compromised the integrity of the strip. The final strip ran on December 31, 1995.
I have many of the books in the series and find relevance in the subject matter and humor in every one of them. Watterson writes with terrific insight and every drawing complements the story line – we’re given a fresh way to look at the world through the eyes of a small boy and his forever companion, Hobbes.