Off Topic Messages

cartoon strip Calvin & Hobbes to make a comeback?

Fri Apr 15, 2016 10:14 pm

Hope so, I actually like this comic strip:

http://nypost.com/2016/04/14/a-mysterio ... ld-return/

A mysterious hint that Calvin & Hobbes could return

By Michael Taube

April 14, 2016 | 11:43pm

Photo: PRNewsFoto/Andrews McMeel Publishing

It’s been two weeks, and we still don’t know whether Calvin and Hobbes reappeared before our eyes as an April Fool’s Day joke — or for real. Let’s hope it was for real.

On April 1, Berkley Breathed, creator of the comic strip Bloom County, decided to have some fun. He wrote on his Facebook page that Bill Watterson, the brilliant mastermind behind Calvin and Hobbes, had agreed on March 11 to sign “the franchise over to my ‘administration.’ ”

A faux Calvin and Hobbes comic strip magically appeared later that day. The two main characters felt great to be “out of retirement finally” and “back from the dead.”

They immediately assumed they must be zombies — they rose from the dead, after all — who “like to slurp up and eat” penguin brains. This caused one of Breathed’s popular Bloom County characters, Opus the Penguin, to remark in the final panel, “This isn’t really very funny or particularly legal.”

Some people described the Calvin and Hobbes franchise “sale” as one of this year’s better April Fool’s Day pranks. Indeed, it seemed to be all in good fun.

But hold on.

While the transaction was obviously a gag, two things stood out. First, what appeared to be Watterson’s signature was included with the comic strip. Second, the artwork associated with the Calvin and Hobbes characters looked distinctively like Watterson’s own pen-and-ink style.

Did the talented Breathed draw the entire strip as a stunt? Did Watterson play a role in this little caper? So far, no one’s talking.

In fairness, Watterson is a private person who has mostly kept out of the public spotlight since he stopped drawing Calvin and Hobbes. His big comeback was when he unexpectedly guest illustrated three comic strips of Stephan Pastis’ Pearls Before Swine from June 4-6, 2014. His involvement wasn’t acknowledged until the last strip was printed. Pastis wrote on his blog that it was “the hardest secret I’ve ever had to keep. I knew I had seen something rare. A glimpse of Bigfoot.”

Alas, other Bigfoot sightings have been rare. The (very) short list includes: interviews with the Cleveland Plain Dealer and Mental Floss, a book review of David Michaelis’ “Schulz and Peanuts” for The Wall Street Journal in 2007, an Introduction to Richard Thompson’s “Cul de Sac” in 2008 and two posters drawn between 2014 and 2015.

That’s unfortunate. The world needs more Calvin and Hobbes, and it’s high time that it returned to the funny pages.

Watterson’s modern masterpiece about a wildly imaginative 6-year-old boy, Calvin, and his faithful companion Hobbes, an anthropomorphic stuffed tiger, ran from 1985-1995. In an interview with Jenny Robb for the 2015 book “Exploring Calvin and Hobbes: An Exhibition Catalogue,” the cartoonist noted their friendship “was not so much constructed as revealed . . . It means the relationship is organic and alive. At some level, it’s unknowable; it’s just there.”

He also mentioned that “you’re listening to them. They talk on their own, and you just follow along behind. The characters write their own material.”

The strip was intelligent, creative, provocative and, as you may have guessed, rather philosophical. There was a memorable supporting cast, including Calvin’s parents, his teacher Miss Wormwood and classmate Susie Derkins. It was loved by adults and children alike and had various academic admirers, like political scientist James Q. Wilson.

Yet, it’s the strip’s recurring storylines that remain most deeply etched in our memories.

There were rousing games of Calvinball, an unorganized sport with no consistent rule structure. Calvin’s alter-ego, Spaceman Spiff, fought off dastardly aliens and kept his imaginary universe safe. The two friends often climbed aboard the Transmogrifier, a cardboard box that could turn into just about anything. And it would be impossible to forget all the maniacal snow sculptures Calvin created each winter!

There’s nothing comparable to Calvin and Hobbes in today’s slew of comic strips. Few have ever matched its artistic brilliance, enthralling storylines and ingenious character development. In these trying times, several more incredible adventures with a young boy and his tiger may be just what the doctor ordered.

Please bring back Calvin and Hobbes, Mr. Watterson. And that’s no joke.

Michael Taube, a columnist and political commentator, was a speechwriter for former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.