Monday, September 01, 2008

Appreciate Bill Watterson

Bill Watterson is the cartoonist of 1985-1995 comic strip series Calvin and Hobbes.

This weekend, during some downtime after my cousin Jennifer's wedding, I picked up a few of my cousin James's Calvin and Hobbes anthologies. I have my own copies but haven't read mine in years. I was pleasantly surprised that Watterson's work is as endearing, broadly insightful, sophisticated, and accessible now as it was when I was younger. Almost thirteen years since its end, at least, Calvin and Hobbes has held up to the test of time in large part because Watterson's commentary was more philosophical and studied upon cultural, social-political, and human-condition themes rather than then-current events. I believe my appreciation is helped today because I'm roughly the same age now as Watterson was while he was in the middle of his run as the voice for Calvin and Hobbes.

Watterson protected the purity of his vision of his art despite ample commercial opportunities stemming from Calvin and Hobbes's popularity. He refused to sell out the fictional characters whose souls depended on him. By turning down the money, Watterson established a high standard of artistic integrity in a fundamentally commercial field.

Among the comic strips I've read, only Charles Schulze (Peanuts) and Berkeley Breathed (Bloom County) can be claimed to belong in Watterson's class.

Eric

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