October 25, 2005

Where's 'Calvin and Hobbes' creator?

As a child, Watterson knew he would be an astronaut or a cartoonist. "I kept my options open until seventh grade, but when I stopped understanding math and science, my choice was made," he wrote in the introduction to "The Complete Calvin and Hobbes."

He loved "Peanuts" as a child and started drawing comics. He majored in political science at Kenyon. Thinking he could blend the two subjects, he became a political cartoonist but was fired from his first job at the Cincinnati Post after a few months. So he took a job designing car and grocery ads, but continued cartooning, even though several strip ideas were rejected.

But Universal liked "Calvin and Hobbes" and launched its run November 18, 1985, in 35 newspapers. Calvin caught Hobbes in a tiger trap with a tuna sandwich in the first strip. He spent the next 10 years driving his parents crazy, annoying his crush, Susie Derkins, and playing make-believe as his alter egos Spaceman Spiff and Stupendous Man.

Many of the best moments, though, were time spent alone with his pal, Hobbes.

"The end of summer is always hard on me, trying to cram in all the goofing off I've been meaning to do," Calvin tells Hobbes in an August 24, 1987, strip, the two sitting beneath a tree.

Watterson ended the strip on December 31, 1995, with a statement: "I believe I've done what I can do within the constraints of daily deadlines and small panels. I am eager to work at a more thoughtful pace, with fewer artistic compromises."

The last strip shows Calvin and Hobbes sledding off after a new fallen snow. "It's a magical world, Hobbes, ol' buddy ... let's go exploring!" Calvin says in the final two panels.

Fans cried out in letters for Watterson to change his mind. Some, like Watterson's parents, say the funny pages haven't been the same since.


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