Calvin and Hobbes ran daily for fourteen years. It was syndicated in more than 2,400 newspapers. It sold more than 30 million anthology books. And now that it and The Far Side are gone, the comics just aren’t the same.
Calvin was a little firecracker, and Hobbes was his stuffed animal/pet tiger who usually provided the voice of reason. Sometimes we saw Calvin as “Stupendous Man” or “Spaceman Spiff.” His favorite cereal was Chocolate Frosted Sugar Bombs. And his snowmen creations were the stuff of true genius.
The strip was created by Bill Watterson, a man I frankly don’t understand. He tried repeatedly to get a comic strip idea accepted by a syndicate, clearly a commercial objective. Then when C&H became a smash hit, he was suddenly above commercialization. Here’s the high-minded crapola he put out when he quit the strip: “My interests have shifted however, and I believe I’ve done what I can do within the constraints of daily deadlines and small panels. I am eager to work at a more thoughtful pace, with fewer artistic compromises.” Poor little rich kid, can’t handle deadlines and small panels, despite desperately wanting them and being wildly rewarded for them.
Anyway, Watterson’s self-idolization doesn’t detract from his genius. Calvin and Hobbes is one of the cultural highlights of the 20th century, and you can count the comic strips that deserve that honor on one hand.