It’s probably safe to say that Calvin and Hobbes, Bill Watterson’s daily comic about the adventures of a precocious young boy and his wise stuffed tiger, is one of the most beloved and influential comic strips of all time. A new video essay, courtesy of Kristian Williams, aka YouTube’s KaptainKristian, examines the comic’s resonance and the reasons for its enduring legacy.
“Calvin & Hobbes: Art Before Commerce” argues that Watterson’s urge to explore big ideas, rather than mint a marketable brand, was the essential quality by which the comic transcended the trappings of its medium. With such a sincere, imaginative approach in place, anything was possible: The duo’s cartoonishly-rendered visual reality became an opportune point of contrast to Calvin’s richly detailed internal life; the industry-standard 2-by-2-inch flat boxes became an excuse to show characters defying the boundaries of publishers and life alike. As Williams makes clear, it’s no wonder that Calvin and Hobbes continues to inspire new audiences more than two decades after Watterson put down his pen.
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