Don Harris Bill Waterson is the Tops

Bill Watterson is the greatest cartoonist who ever lived. He is the bloody tops; the zany, weird, wonderful steward of Calvin and Hobbes, a riot of a comic strip that truly does transcend the medium. And on top of that he raises his stark middle finger in protest to the fat cats, the cronies, the MAN.

Bill, you see, has had his troubles with those dastardly folk that distribute cartoons known as THE SYNDICATE. You must have seen the various stickers of Calvin pissing on different stuff and while you may have chuckled to yourself at Calvin pissing on the Republican Elephant, you sure as hell didn’t get Bill’s approval. Calvin pissing on stuff, while mildly humorous, is not licensed and Bill would likely say a perversion of his work. If the suits had their way there would be a hell of lot more shitty merch out there.

As Bill puts it, “When everything fun and magical is turned into something for sale, the strip’s world is diminished.” Dudes upstairs wanted Watterson to make C +H sneakers and lunchboxes and fucking panty liners but he said, “No dice”. He wasn’t biting on that. He would be no “advertising huckster.”

Actually, he tried to say “no dice” and was informed that he had already agreed to the TERMS AND CONDITIONS. Calvin and Hobbes was a huge (unexpected) success, rife with marketing opportunities and exploitable to the max. Bill was in a unique position because, as he puts it, “when cartoonists fight their syndicate, it’s usually to make more money, not less”. Ill Bill would not sell out though, would not shill C & H coffee cups, even as the dump trucks of money lurched up to his doorstep.

This is fucking integrity, man.

Watterson: “If I could not control what Calvin and Hobbes stood for, the strip was worthless to me. My contract was so one-sided that quitting would have allowed Universal to replace me with hired writers.”

So Bill said “fuck you” to UNIVERSAL and quit the strip in order to protect the integrity and innocent charm of our favourite philosopher friends. Thankfully he waited five years worth of strips until he did this otherwise I would have nothing to read on the toilet.

Calvin Hobbes has all the metaphysical angst of Peanuts, the keen irony of The Far Side and the whimsy of the love child of Ogden Nash and Judy Bloom if Dr. Seuss put a gun to their head and ordered them to fuck.

You know who is an artist? The guy who can merge picture and narrative together and emerge with something that can make you laugh and/or cry. Bill is not an artist in the way that Jackson Pollock is an artist, which is in a vague, shitty way. Bill is an artist in the illogical, achingly real world of the dreams of children. And he refused to sell out.

You could do worse than to confuse Calvin and Hobbes with art.

[All Waterson quotes taken from the Calvin and Hobbes 10th Anniversary Book.]

Comments

Wow...about a month ago I dug out my Calvin & Hobbes books and laughed my ass off re-reading my fovarite comic strip of all time. I love this drawing! Bill Watterson would be -I think : ) - proud. And yeah, my wife was gonna buy me that Humoungus Edition but we decided to by a car instead...

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