Wednesday, June 11, 2014

"Calvin and Hobbes" Creator Returns, Briefly

Many of us who enjoy newspaper comic strips remember "Calvin and Hobbes."  After 3,150 panels, its creator, Bill Watterson retired at the top of his game on December 31, 1995.  This was his final strip.

The characters were Calvin, a small boy, and Hobbes, his toy stuffed tiger, who loomed large -- and larger than life -- in Calvin's fantasies.

Speaking of Calvin's fantasies, here's a fun one shared by Rick Detorie, another syndicated comic strip artist/writer.

Watterson, Calvin's creator, bowed out to devote himself to more purely artistic pursuits.  But recently he contributed three center panels to "Pearls Before Swine," a syndicated strip by Stephan Pastis.

Former C&H fans went wild. Pastis was a devoted Watterson fan, so much so that he made this panel:

Pastis got in touch by email with Watterson, who agreed to contribute three center panels to "Pearls Before Swine."  Pastis set up the contribution by creating a character, a seven-year-old girl, who disparages Pastis and drops in to make her own contributions.   Here are the first two Libby panels:

That's the setup.  You can find Watterson's three center panels, ostensibly drawn by Libby, on  Look for the "Pearls Before Swine," June 4 to 6, and you will find them.

As I mentioned, my friend Rick Detorie also has a syndicated comic strip.  I asked him why "Calvin and Hobbes" was such a big deal.  Here is what he said:

"When 'Calvin & Hobbes' burst on the scene in the early '80s, for the most part, newspaper comic strips had devolved graphically into static images of talking heads. Think 'Doonesbury,' 'Funky Winkerbean,' 'Sally Forth,' 'B.C.,' 'For Better or For Worse,' etc. Even 'Peanuts' had very few action sequences unless Snoopy was snatching Linus' blanket or Lucy was yanking Charlie Brown's football.

"Watterson's drawing style was spare, bold and kinetic. It had an animated quality to it. Calvin's fantasies were funny and relatable: escaping from the mundane day-to-day drudgery into the world of dinosaurs, private eyes, outer space and even snow goons."

Tomorrow, more from Rick about creating a newspaper comic strip and his own long-lived, much loved creation, "One Big Happy."

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