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Tag Archives: Calvin And Hobbes

Bill, When Are You Coming Back?

book_calvinIn Looking for Calvin and Hobbes: The Unconventional Story of Bill Watterson and His Revolutionary Comic Strip, Nevin Martell sets himself up with the impossible task of tracking down someone notorious for being more fame-averse than Greta Garbo and J.D. Salinger combined. I won’t spoil the ending, but I will tell you that I had a fun time reading this book. It’s equal parts memoir, history, and trying to understand an enigma. The tales about Bill Watterson and the genesis of his legendary Calvin and Hobbes comic strip, trying to get his career off the ground after years of frustration, and his love/hate relationship with success are fascinating. Watterson’s well known resistance to any and all merchandising of his characters is also fully explored here, and it adds another dimension to this complex man. It’s a frustrating tact to take, but I can understand it. It called to mind how much I cherished the Peanuts characters as a child, when what I really loved was the ancillary stuff (dolls, TV specials). Indeed, I didn’t fully appreciate Schulz’s comic itself until the Fantagraphics Complete Peanuts volumes came out. The result of Watterson’s stance is letting the comic strip speak for itself, revealing it to be one of the most brilliant explorations of childhood imagination ever committed to ink and paper. Martell shares a similarly glowing view of the strip throughout this book, ruminating in an appealing, leisurely style that oftentimes comes across not so flatteringly like magazine writing. Overall, it’s not a very substantial book (at times I wish Martell didn’t inject so much of himself in the content), but the journey he takes is an enjoyable one to tag along with.