<h1>“It’s a magical world, Hobbes, ol’ buddy…lets go exploring”</h1>
What followed this touching epigraph of Calvin and Hobbes will perhaps never reach the same heights of the comic’s unique amalgamation of fantasy and socio-political commentary. As Charles Solomon so succinctly describes the terminal strip, “Calvin and Hobbes put aside their conflicts and rode their sled into a snowy forest. They left behind a hole in the comics page that no strip has been able to fill.”
Calvin and Hobbes, an extremely successful comic strip ran for ten years during the late 80’s to the early 90’s. Featuring an unnaturally inquisitive boy and his pet tiger in suburban America, the strip exponentially grew in popularity and was syndicated in 250 newspapers (2400 newspapers as of 2010).
Calvin, whose name was derived from 16th century theologian, is a six-year old with an extremely vivid imagination whose constant mischief and tomfoolery earns him a negative perception by almost everyone. Weak in academics but blessed with acute sense of irony and a wide vocabulary, Calvin unsurprisingly imagines his class as a prison or a setting for a space battle; with his teachers and his classmates as the antagonists. A minor misanthrope, he limits his interactions to his parents and Susie Derkins, he says, “I wish I had more friends, but people are such jerks.” Most of his interactions take place with Hobbes, his anthromorphic pet tiger.
Like Calvin, Hobbes’ name is also derived from Thomas Hobbes, a philosopher. He is Calvin’s stuffed tiger and best friend. While Calvin considers him as a live, anthromorphic tiger that has the ability to converse; to others, he little more than a stuffed toy animal. This raises pertinent questions about Calvin’s reality. Hobbes’ sage remarks serve as a perfect foil to Calvin’s impulsive attitude. On a similar vein, he serves as the author Bill Watterson’s view on the topic; while Calvin echoes the sentiments of modern America. Conversely, he is depicted to have weak mathematical ability as he cannot perform simple arithmetic operations.
The comic strip essentially entails the Calvin and Hobbes reaction to various day-to-day occurrences. Both the title characters subtly criticize and comment on most of society’s inclinations. While some strips depict his conversations with his parents, others show his colorful imagination at work. On occasion, a dose of physical humor is added to the strip. The cardboard box is a major element in the strip, it serves as a location for meetings of G.R.O.S.S. ( Get Rid of Slimy Girls), a club which consists of only Calvin and Hobbes; it also acts as a desk when Calvin attempts to sell one of his peculiar services. He also builds spastic snowmen that which subsequently tails off to a commentary on art and its perceived lack of originality. He also invents a new game which is appropriately named ‘Calvinball’, a play which rates wit and creativity higher than athletic skill or stamina.
With such unprecedented characters, cartoonist Bill Watterson was able to conjure up an immensely entertaining and thought-provoking set of comic strips that has captivated people across all ages.