October 4, 2005


The Tiger Strikes Again (Neely Tucker, October 4, 2005, Washington Post)

"Calvin and Hobbes" was such an exuberant, strange and metaphysical realm you wonder how it ever got shoveled into a comic strip.

You remember this when you look at "The Complete Calvin and Hobbes," a 1,456-page art-book epic of every panel ever published: It was original by sheer force of personality. Calvin sounded like a 6-year-old psychotic on Ritalin one day and a Yale lit grad the next. He was id off the leash. He wondered what was worthwhile in life if death was inevitable. ("Seafood," answered Hobbes, his imaginary tiger friend. Wait -- was Hobbes real or not? Debatable.)

Calvin battled blobs of oatmeal and the bathtub suds monster. He and Hobbes hurtled downhill in their wagon and set out for the Yukon. He turned himself into a Tyrannosaurus rex , Calvin the Human Insect, Calvin the Bug, Captain Napalm, Stupendous Man and Spaceman Spiff.

In the middle of class, Calvin's teacher suddenly turns into a pig-snouted monster! The drooling blob demands attention and homework!

"Chew electric death, snarling cur!" Spiff howls, blasting her face off with his Atomic Napalm Neutralizer!

He was known to wear little rocket ship underpants. He feared nothing but the babysitter. Also the dark.

The strip ran from 1985 to 1995. Thirty million people have bought earlier collections of the strip, but as of today you can buy it all in one pop. It will set you back $150, but the three-volume, glossy-papered tome finally gives proper appreciation and display to creator Bill Watterson's efforts, the kind of size and color quality that he waged such epic battles for with newspapers and syndicates before retiring into silence at age 37, tired of the fray, wary of drifting into the bankrolls of mediocrity.

It's under $92 with free shipping at Amazon.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 4, 2005 9:22 AM

One of the best comics around. Glad to see my kids are into him now.

Posted by: AWW at October 4, 2005 9:58 AM

Calvin & Hobbes and The Far Side were my absolute favorite strips when I was a kid, with Herman running close behind. My preferences still haven't changed.

One of my all-time favorite lines (paraphrasing from memory):

Calvin: Some people are pragmatists, surveying the landscape for the best possible solution to a problem. Some people stand on principle, taking tough stands and refusing to compromise. And some people just act on whatever whim enters their heads.

Hobbes: (sarcastic) I wonder which one you are.

Calvin: I pragmatically turn my whims into principles!

Posted by: Matt Murphy at October 4, 2005 10:53 AM

The wisom of Calvin & Hobbs will be studied for generations!

My birthday is coming up soon, and it would be great to have this book for me & my girls...just in case anyone was wondering what to get me.

Posted by: Dave W. at October 4, 2005 11:12 AM

The "mutant killer monster snow goons" story arc, in which Calvin is stalked by a two-headed snowman he created, was the greatest week in the history of newspaper comics.

Posted by: Mike Morley at October 4, 2005 11:19 AM

Pretty soon, Orrin will review it and claim that Calvin and Hobbes were conservative.

Noel Erinjeri

Posted by: Noel Erinjeri at October 4, 2005 11:24 AM

Yes, Orrin is Calvin.

Posted by: joe shropshire at October 4, 2005 11:27 AM


You're kidding right? How could a strip called Calvin & Hobbes not be?


Posted by: oj at October 4, 2005 11:30 AM


No, Calvin exsts.

Posted by: oj at October 4, 2005 11:34 AM

When I was young, and mischevious, I emailed in a hoax to a movie rumor website that Watterson was hand animating a C&H movie. I still think it would be a great thing if done right.

Posted by: RC at October 4, 2005 12:09 PM


Watterson despised US-Soviet saber-rattling and particularly disliked Reagan, regularly complained that humans were ruining the planet, and felt that his artistic freedoms were being continually infringed by the money-grubbing corporation that ran his strip.

Of course, these minor complaints pale next to the strip's greatness, but he was no conservative.

I suppose you'll retort that his intentions didn't matter.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at October 4, 2005 12:36 PM

Of course, people of all political stripes loved the cartoon -- even the libertarians. Great link!

Posted by: Matt Murphy at October 4, 2005 12:41 PM


Their intentions just make it funnier--The Strangelove Effect

Posted by: oj at October 4, 2005 12:45 PM

The day after Watterson's last strip, the Cleveland P(l)ain Dealer had a really sweet editorial cartoon of Calvin and Hobbes sledding away down a hill.

Posted by: Mike Morley at October 4, 2005 1:06 PM

I will always remember with affection the first year law student who didn't like the strip because she thought it was awfully irresponsible of the parents to let Calvin have a pet tiger.

Posted by: David Cohen at October 4, 2005 7:15 PM

The Detroit Free Press just started (re)running Calvin & Hobbes strips a couple weeks ago.

As it happens, they placed it nearly adjacent to a strip called Frazz by Jeff Mallett, which I hadn't before paid any particular mind.

The artwork and lettering are uncannily like that of C & H, the content is not far off the mark, and the main character looks just like Calvin plus 15 years ...

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at October 5, 2005 7:55 AM