A few weeks ago I blogged about Jen getting me a copy of The Complete Far Side. I just mentioned in passing to her that I was hankering to read some of my old comic book collections that I had when I was a kid and bam, she orders them the next day. She’s pretty great like that.
Not longer after The Complete Far Side, this bad boy turned up in the mail:
The Complete Calvin & Hobbes Collection!
I think after having a few weeks to read through these, I can safely say that this remains my all-time favourite newspaper comic strip. Everything about Calvin & Hobbes, from the artwork to the characters and the story arcs…its perfect. I feel like these strips haven’t aged a day. They do such an amazing job of encapsulating the best parts of childhood. I personally related (and still do) very easily to Calvin’s perspective and his ability to lose himself in his imagination. I loved the continuity that the strip employs with recurring characters like Rosalyn the Babysitter and Ms Wormwood the school teacher. Through Calvin’s active imagination, the strip could do stories about noir detectives, outer space, dinosaurs, clones…you name it. It was such a versatile series and yet it also remained consistent throughout with the tone and humour.
One of the unique and most entertaining aspects of the writing is the absurdist language that Bill Watterson gives Calvin where he has the vocabulary of an adult but retains the behavioural immaturity of a young boy.
With the hindsight and added perspective of fifteen years since Watterson’s retirement, its easy to see how special and one-of-a-kind this strip is. For a medium that is predominantly filled with bland, repetitive and mindless strips, Calvin & Hobbes stands head and shoulders above its peers. Watterson’s ambition and success in delivering on his creative vision is astounding. The strips are consistently packed with detailed visuals, creative storytelling and intelligent dialogue. It’s a wonder that Watterson was able to sustain this output and retain the strip’s quality for ten years. I’m glad he ended it on his own terms when he felt he had done everything he wanted to accomplish creatively and didn’t keep pumping them out to collect a paycheque (*cough* Garfield). Reading his notes in the 10th Anniversary Guide, it was interesting to read about how fiercely he fought to retain the strips integrity and how he resisted constant demands to branch the series into tv shows and merchandising.
I highly recommend the Complete Collection to anyone who is remotely a fan. You can get it pretty cheap nowadays off the Amazon UK website which offers free shipping overseas. The quality of the print and binding is excellent and its absolutely awesome to have the whole series compiled in three volumes. Reading through the comics for a night, its enjoyable to discover how cohesive the Calvin & Hobbes‘s environment is. As you turn through the pages, the seasons gradually change and with it, so do Calvin’s activities. In winter, he’ll go toboganning or build snowmen. During summer, he’ll play Calvinball and go camping on his vacation.
Anyway, I’ve been spending the better part of this evening reading some Calvin & Hobbes and I feel like sharing some of my favourite strips with you, the TFW reader. Enjoy!