CATEGORY: COL Columns (Journal)
T0O BAD CALVIN AND HOBBES CAN’T GO ON FOREVER
It’s all finished and this year it may take a little longer to get over than in years past.
I’m not talking about the holidays or even the college football season. I’m talking about the demise of yet another favorite comic strip.
Calvin and Hobbes bit the dust along with 1995 and I, like countless others, will miss it. Where else are we going to turn for our daily dose of Calvinism where philosophy’s destiny was to be interwoven with a snowball or a water balloon upside the head?
Six-year-old Calvin, supposedly named for theological reformer John Calvin, and his tiger companion Hobbes, supposedly named for English philosopher Thomas Hobbes, and their creator, Bill Watterson, supposedly named by his parents, will be missed, although Watterson has said he will be back with another project at some point.
Watterson claimed he was giving up Calvin and Hobbes because, after 10 years, it was getting harder and harder to keep it fresh and creative and he didn’t want to compromise the quality.
I’ve often felt that way about this column. In fact, after the second or third one I thought to myself, “That’s it. That’s all I have to say. The old well is dry. The fat lady has sung. It don’t get any better than this. Life is good. Head for the mountains.”
But then I realized I’d not only been watching too many beer commercials but I had bills to pay so, 10 years later, I’m still writing columns.
Watterson, fortunately for him, can afford to exit with some dignity, although we fans would have liked a chance to argue that, even on his bad days, he was still better than the majority of comic strips you see.
Because we’re not allowed to play with sharp objects here at the Journal, I can’t tack anything up on the walls of my cubicle in the newsroom. Instead, I have a pile of clipped comic strips on my desk in front of my computer monitor and more at home affixed to the refrigerator with magnets from the Alamo, Denmark and the pizza place down the street. Most of the saved strips are Calvin and Hobbes and most reflect their unique ability to put things into perspective.
Take these two examples culled from my desk pile:
Calvin, after lamenting the number of species being driven to extinction by the destruction of habitat, says, “Sometimes I think the surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us.”
And, on a similar theme, Calvin and Hobbes are standing outside looking up at the night sky when Calvin says, “Look at all the stars! The universe just goes out forever and forever.”
To which Hobbes replies: “It kind of makes you wonder why man considers himself such a big screaming deal.”
It ends with Calvin and Hobbes inside the house with the TV screaming, the phone ringing and the stereo blasting.
“That’s why we stay inside with our appliances,” Calvin says.
Watterson will be missed along with Gary Larson of the Far Side and Berkeley Breathed of Bloom County and Outland fame, who both quit their strips in previous years citing the same concerns about quality of work.
I can understand their concerns, but we’ll still miss them. After all, you’ll never see Charlie Brown or Beetle Bailey hauled up before Tipper Gore’s parents’ musical review board as Steve Dallas and Bill the Cat were in one of my all-time favorite Bloom County strips.
A matronly woman seated on the review panel begins to read out loud the lyrics to one of the songs Dallas wrote for Bill the Cat’s heavy metal rock band Deathtongue.
“Lemme graze into your veldt/Lemme stomple your albino/Lemme nibble on your buds/ I’m your … uh … love rhino.”
Marty Russell is senior reporter for the Daily Journal