Friday, July 23, 2010

Remembering Calvin and Hobbes

One of the unwritten benefits of working at Fuller is that I have easy access to a post office just downstairs from my office.  When I was there the other day to mail a package, I found this set of stamps featuring "Sunday Funnies" (as the title at the top of the sheet says) available, and picked up a sheet immediately.

Although I haven't really been active in maintaining it for many years now, I still have my stamp collection from back when I was in fifth grade.  Besides that, I'm a fan of comics enough that I probably would have picked these up anyway.  But what really clinched the deal for me was that second stamp from the left.

For those who don't know, Calvin and Hobbes was a comic about a six-year old boy named Calvin, who (among other traits) had an overactive imagination.  The signature example of this imaginative streak was the fact that, to him, his stuffed tiger (named Hobbes) was a walking, talking, living being--and Calvin's best friend.  Calvin and Hobbes provided a window into the world of the child, and along the way provided some intelligent commentary and humor that made reading comic strips a "must-see" activity.  During some of my grade-school years, when I would wait in the school library for the hallways to open and the day to begin, I would pull out that morning's newspaper specifically so I could enjoy the daily adventures of the boy and his tiger.

I've enjoyed the other four comics featured on these stamps (Beetle Bailey, Archie, Garfield, and Dennis the Menace) to varying degrees and at various times throughout my life, but Calvin and Hobbes was special.  To get an idea of just how special this particular comic strip was, it should be noted that Calvin and Hobbes is the most recent out of the five comics being featured (having started in 1985.  Garfield started in 1978, while the other three are from 1951 or earlier), yet is the only one of this group that is no longer being created with new adventures.  Calvin and Hobbes ended at the end of 1995, having lasted for barely more than a decade.  Calvin and Hobbes did not end due to any lack of popularity.  Indeed, the comic was arguably more popular than ever.  Rather, creator Bill Watterson was a true artist, and the integrity of his artistic vision meant (and means, I assume) everything to him.  He had made as many concessions to the needs of marketing as he was willing to make, and decided that he would rather quit than have Calvin and Hobbes ever be diluted by interests that were unrelated to those of creating the comic strips that he wanted to create.

One could easily complain that such a luminescent comic ended so abruptly, denying fans any more access to these whimsical adventures.  I'm sure that I myself did complain quite a bit at the time the strip ended (now nearly 15 years ago!).  But if Watterson hadn't been so adamant about maintaining the artistic integrity of Calvin and Hobbes, those ten years worth of adventures we did get to see would hardly have been as memorable.  While some fans argue that other comic strips (including some of the other comics featured on these stamps) may have lasted too long, becoming stale and repetitive rather than fresh, I think I'm safe in saying that there are very few in the world who would ever say that about Calvin and Hobbes.  I'm so glad that the strip is still so well remembered as to get this honor of being featured on a postage stamp!

1 comment:

  1. oh, man I loved Calvin and hobbes growing up, the adventures that little kid had with his stuffed tiger!


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