Calvin and Hobbes
When it comes to classic cartoons, who doesn't love Calvin and Hobbes?
For just over ten years (1985-1995), cartoonist Bill Watterson delighted audiences with the syndicated cartoon strip, Calvin and Hobbes, printed in newspapers worldwide. The popular cartoon strip stars a spiky-haired, six-year old boy, Calvin (based on the French theologian of the same name), and his toy tiger, Hobbes (named after the English 17th century philosopher). Calvin is wise beyond his years, and is also somewhat of a smart-aleck. Hobbes is akin to an imaginary friend to Calvin. He walks, talks and advises Calvin with respect to all of his mischief. However, to all other observers (Calvin's parents, friends, babysitters, etc.), Hobbes is but a mere stuffed animal, half the size he appears to Calvin.
Together, Calvin and Hobbes do all the things little boys dream of.... they build forts, exclude girls from clubs, go sledding, build time capsules, play superheros, and generally form the most unique bond ever seen between a child and his playmate. One speculates that Calvin's extreme imagination might stem from boredom. He has no brothers or sisters in the cartoon strip. To others, he is probably mere genuis.
How Bill Watterson Created Calvin and Hobbes
In a classic tale of success, Watterson broke out with Calvin and Hobbes while working at an advertising job that he hated! Within two years of its initial publication in November 1985, the strip was featured in an article in the Los Angeles Times, and was in wide circulation outside the United States. Over the life of the comic strip, Watterson won several awards, including the Humor Comic Strip Award in 1988, and the Reuben Award (Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year) in 1986 and 1988. Watterson took a couple of brief breaks during the 10-year run of his comic strip. Primarily, he was working to try to expand the constraints of the small panels for comics in newspapers. After frustrating efforts failed to result in advances, Watterson hung up his hat on December 31, 1995. We watched as Calvin and Hobbes sledded off into the unknown future.
As with the cartoonist Gary Larson (The Far Side), Bill Watterson left audiences wanting more. Both cartoons remain very popular, despite being out of regular circulation for more than a decade. Calvin and Hobbes are truly missed!
Calvin's Struggles with Math are Infamous
Who Can Forget Calvin's Snowmen?
Unique, Yet Familiar Themes in Calvin and Hobbes
Anyone familiar with Calvin and Hobbes will know that the comic strip is really all about the two of them. Sure, there are some other characters, like Calvin's mom and dad, his babysitter, a friend from school, and his teacher, but primarily the strip is about the life perspective of a 6-year old boy, and his stuffed tiger (real or not). What differentiates Calvin from.... say, Dennis the Menace or Charlie Brown, is his high intelligence and ironic sarcasm. Its scary. Whereas Snoopy may have been more intelligent and funny than his master, Calvin and Hobbes are double-trouble. And, more often than not, Calvin will try to lead Hobbes astray! Hobbes has a kind of "shrug, why not" attitude about many of the escapades into which they foray. Other times, he appears to be a voice of reason, calming down a manic Calvin.
The running commentary between Calvin and Hobbes is, of course, the foundational basis for the humor. More than just a smart-aleck, Calvin is tuned into issues related to the environment, religion, philosophy and politics. But he's certainly not in your face about hot topics. He'll make you chuckle and laugh, as you should when reading the comics. And you'll wonder how a 1st grader and his stuffed animal can have so much fun (and be so worldly at the same time)!
Math Atheism - Why Didn't I Think of This?
Is Hobbes of Calvin and Hobbes Real?
Commentators and enthusiasts of the Calvin and Hobbes comic strip have debated whether Hobbes is "real" or not, since its inception. Is he a figment of Calvin's imagination? If so, how does the boy end up with scrapes and scratches after Hobbes pounces on him?
More interestingly, he cannot tie himself up.... Bill Watterson has explained that it is not so much a question of whether or not the tiger is real, but the juxtaposition of Calvin's view of reality with others' views. Obviously, Calvin has a very unique perspective on the world!
Some of the scenes in which Hobbes is "transformed" from toy to friend, or back again, are priceless. One classic is when Calvin is instructed to put Hobbes into his locker at school. "Locker?! He'll suffocate!" Calvin protests.
His teacher relents and allows Hobbes to be placed under the desk. In the next frame, Calvin is taking a math test and whispers to the much larger tiger under the table... "what is 3 + 7?" Hobbes replies, "37."
Hobbes - the Perfect Foil for Calvin
From the Playground to the Boardroom!
Calvin and Hobbes are Not Animated
You may be surprised to learn that Watterson never desired to merchandise Calvin and Hobbes in any way (other than to sell books), and has not wanted to animate the cartoon characters, either.
With respect to the latter, one drawback has been considerations of voice (can you imagine what Calvin would sound like?!)
Of course, many of us have seen the unauthorized window decals of Calvin urinating on various brands. Despite threats of lawsuits for copyright infringement, obviously some sticker makers have not responded by stopping their distribution of illegal merchandise.
There are a number of great Calvin and Hobbes books and collections for enthusiasts! Perhaps one day, Mr. Watterson will be convinced to create more Calvin and Hobbes strips, or license some merchandise. Until then, we'll just have to enjoy the 10 years of comics already produced, and the epic collections of the classic friendship of the boy and his tiger.
I'm a Lawyer: How Could I Resist?
Calvin and Hobbes Books and More!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2008 Stephanie Marshall
Danny B on August 23, 2017:
I read Calvin everyday in the paper and bought all the books. When my son turned 5, I started reading the books to him as good night stories. He loved them and still does. Now he is ten and He comes and takes the books from my shelf and I find them in his room, the kids bathroom and occasionally I see him reading them while eating his chocolate frosted sugar bombs!
Jennifer from Lost...In Video Games and Stories on October 16, 2012:
Calvin and Hobbes are my favorite comic strip characters. They have been since I was a kid. I have all of them...except I have to find them, now! Ha!
Awesome hub! I loved Calvin's snowmen.
Chris Neal from Fishers, IN on September 10, 2012:
I have always loved Calvin's snowmen. But his dad is right!
I loved this strip from the first time I saw it in book form in 1986. I think Watterson's right not to market the stuffing out of this strip. It's ironic that he cites Charles Schulz as an inspiration, as Schulz marketed Peanuts to within an inch of its life. He could get away with it.
fromMarkHall on May 31, 2012:
Calvin and Christopher Robin...hate or like each other???
ITMerrill@aol.com on May 09, 2012:
HOW CAN I GET A COPY OF THE STRIP WHERE CALVIN SAYS, "WE HAVE MET THE ENEMY, AND IT IS US!"?
travelgurrl from San Francisco, CA on April 02, 2012:
Aww this was a great read! I grew up reading Calvin and Hobbes and trading the paperback collections with my friends. They always made me laugh, thanks so much for sharing this hub!
Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on December 16, 2011:
Thanks Burning Stars!
Burning Stars on December 16, 2011:
I love Calvin and Hobbes! This was a wonderful article! I like your comic strip choices.
carriethomson from United Kingdom on November 11, 2011:
Hi that's a great hub!! cavin and hobbes are my favourite characters!! loved it and voted up
simpsonslova.com on October 14, 2011:
calvin and hobbes is so funny do you know if a new book is coming out soon
Chris Neal from Fishers, IN on October 07, 2011:
I discovered C&H at the tender age of 20 (my youth was permanently warped!) I have always loved the strip. You forgot my favorite, though (Hobbes: "I see your oevre is monochromatic." Calvin: "What do you want? It's only snow.")
Watterson has written extensively about the resistance and resentment from editors when he managed to get the sunday sheets a certain way. And he's commented about how Calvin is not supposed to be a real six-year-old (although I've known six-year-olds like him, it's scary.)
Thanks for the hub!
GNRfree from Buenos Aires, Argentina on August 22, 2011:
Nice hub. I love Calvin & Hobbes. I knew about them in the newspaper La Nacion of Argentina. After that, I bought several books in trips to USA.
Lee Elder from Copperas Cove, Texas on July 16, 2011:
No cartoon I'm fine with, but the merchandising would have been nice. I know I'm not the only one who would have wanted official versions of Hobbes in both forms (the basic stuffed toy everyone else sees, and the highly detailed version Calvin perceives).
My dad actually introduced me to Calvin and Hobbes. He regretted it several times since: "How many other kids took Calvin and Hobbes as a How to Guide?"
# 18 on May 15, 2011:
Love C&H it is such a great comic.
Calvin's Struggles with Math are Infamous is my favorite fake numbers LOL. :)
LRCBlogger on April 09, 2011:
Ahh, such wonderful memories. I love Calvin & Hobbes.
Nichol marie from The Country-Side on April 04, 2011:
great post love that cartoon
I have some hubs on family/parenting if you would like to
give me your opinion thanks
Lessthansteve from Ireland on March 27, 2011:
I love calvin and hobbes! That was awesome
HighGuy420 on March 19, 2011:
i love calvin and hobbes great hub
waseem on February 28, 2011:
i like calvin and hobbes.............its my favourite cartoon story.......... """"""""calvin and hobbes""""" movie will be created .............
David Alderson on January 17, 2011:
I just became a fan of Calvin and Hobbes. My people never leave the Sunday paper laying around so I am cartoon deprived. Great Hub.............
heatblast92 from Malaysia on November 16, 2010:
Love reading Calvin and Hobbes in the papers. Both are as witty as they are sarcastic. Great hub!
Alexander Silvius from Portland, Oregon on October 12, 2010:
Great article! I didn't know the details of Calvin and Hobbes's beginnings and ending.
Watterson is a talented artist, somewhere I saw drawing / painting he made of a dinosaur. It was detailed and looked very real and was quite a departure from the style in his strip. I thought he wanted to venture into other aspects of his art form when he quit the strip, did he?
Thanks for the hub, I'm going to do some research of my own now, you've made me hungry for more.
random person on September 17, 2010:
i love calvin and hobbes they crack me up so much i almost have all the books:) :( :):):):):):):)
Squirrelchaser from Leesburg, FL on August 08, 2010:
Loved this article. Extremely well written.
AdamGee on February 22, 2010:
Thanks for a good article :) I love Calvin and Hobbes. when I was in junior high school I was president (and creator) of The Calvin & Hobbes Memorial Society ("memorial" because the strip had ended.) I love the characters soooo much.. and have read each book, I am not lying, at least 11 times if not more. Glad to see I'm not the only one who still looks back fondly on this great comic.
Moesky on January 30, 2010:
Reading C&H books where instrumental in my son's mastery of the English language (his third language...). Watterson doesn't write for children and his texts are intelligent, intellectual and inspiring. The humor is masterful. and this is what holds the attention for a young child wanting to understand what he's reading. I personally thing C&H should be standard literature in schools. As an interesting side-point: the Belgian translation is far better than the Dutch translation, even though they both use the same language (Flemish). The German translation is also good.
leslie joy villegas-batanes on December 20, 2009:
i am a certified c&h fan. in fact i wanted one more baby to be called calvin hobbes. that would be nice isn't it.?
cramras from Portland, Oregon on September 30, 2009:
I new to the world of Hub creation, but not cartoons. I loved Calvin and Hobbes and have all their books. I dream of creating a cartoon strip that is simply a fraction as entertaining. From one Oregonian to another, consider checking out my Hub, "Paper, Pencil and Josh" to see what you think.
sweetflowersmell on September 24, 2009:
i just love Calvin and Hobbes...including the strips!
sweetflowersmell on September 24, 2009:
i just love Calvin and Hobbes...including the strips!
bspider on September 01, 2009:
Calvin and Hobbes are so funny. They bring back those memories of childhood dreams... :)
jbounds on August 17, 2009:
I love Calvin and Hobbes and have been reading the comics since I was young. Great Hub. I loved reading about where it all began.
mobbby dudet on June 03, 2009:
mobby dude on June 03, 2009:
calvin and hobbes rock and i think they should get more comics
moby dude on June 03, 2009:
i love calvin and hobbes and thank you for those comics
mobby on June 03, 2009:
need more math comics
wileycoyote on May 19, 2009:
I love calvin 7 hobbes and miss them terribly.
Thanks for the wonderful memories.
im not a retard on April 27, 2009:
this is gay
Anonymous on March 15, 2009:
I liked your hub. I am a big fan of Calvin and Hobbes, but I'm ashamed to say that I don't have all of their books. I do have many, and all of them crack me up!! What would be good to add is the way Calvin's Dad wants Calvin to "build character"!! And we all know how Calvin HATES hearing about "building character"!!!!=D
bgpappa from Sacramento, California on March 05, 2009:
Another great hub. Calvin is one of my favorites.
Michael A Muehleisen from Miami,FL on February 21, 2009:
What a blast from the past. I loved Calvin and Hobbes, and I owned all of their books (which I no longer can find). I was heart broken when Bill W. stopped the strip. Great hub, and nicely done with with all the past strips! Mike
Maria K from Sedona, AZ on January 14, 2009:
Looks like we have another connection!
Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on November 30, 2008:
thanks - apparently, I am as math-challenged as Calvin. :)
Delin on November 30, 2008:
I have a correction. Calvin asks Hobbes "What's 7+3?" Hobbes replies "73."
Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on June 15, 2008:
SweetiePie, thank you! Calvin and Hobbes were my absolute favorite in high school and college. My kids enjoy them now through the collection books. I appreciate the submission to Mixx! :-)
SweetiePie from Southern California, USA on June 14, 2008:
I have always loved Calvin and Hobbs and this hub brought back the memories. I submitted it to mixx for you because I was looking for something someone had not already submitted. Yo are a popular lady :).
christinekv on May 12, 2008:
Thanks for another great hub Steph.....this was a real eye opener for me. My boys (9 and 12) love C&H and I never really took much of an interest in their reading it since I've never really been big on comics. I felt glad they took an interest in reading something other than what's required for school of course but assumed it probably didn't have enough substance. Guess I have a new appreciation thanks to you and with your composition here, I now can totally see why my 9 year old is so crazy about it - he's really, really smart and can be a bit of a smart alek at times too, and when he is, most of the time he cracks me up cuz he can just be hilarous (and not even know it!).
Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on April 07, 2008:
LOL Kat - I had them all over my bulletin board. And I used to draw Hobbes, too. Glad you enjoyed this. Steph
Kat07 from Tampa on April 06, 2008:
OMG, thank you so much!!! C&H is my favorite comic of all time, I have all of their books! We used to clip the best ones from the paper and put them on the fridge growing up!
Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on April 06, 2008:
Glad you enjoyed it Zsuszy! My 10-year old has many of the books. He was literally standing over my shoulder telling me what to include, etc. while I was writing this Hub. Too funny (and just a tad annoying!) LOL
Zsuzsy Bee from Ontario/Canada on April 05, 2008:
Steph! My whole gang and I are big Calvin and Hobbes fans.
fun hub regards Zsuzsy
Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on April 05, 2008:
Hey John, I love that Shaw quote! I really enjoyed puttiing together this Hub, not only because I'm a huge fan of the cartoon and the humor within, but also because I found many gems in those cartoon strips! Looking forward to a Calvin Ball hub by you! :)
John Chancellor from Tennessee on April 05, 2008:
Steph, Thanks for bringing back a flood of wonderful memories. I really loved Calvin and Hobbes. My favorite one was Calvin Ball. I will probably try to do a HUB around that one. It had such a wonderful lesson in life.
I think the cartoon was so successful because on one level it was extremely funny. On a deeper level it looked at everyday life and some of the problems and strange behavior we engage in. Any time I encounter something funny, I am reminded of George Bernard Shaw's quote, "When a thing is funny, search it for a hidden truth." I think there were a treasure of hidden truths in Calvin and Hobbes.
Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on April 05, 2008:
Thanks you guys! I really love C&H! I could have included sooo many more comics, but had to stop myself. LOL :-)
amy jane from Connecticut on April 05, 2008:
Love it! The math atheist is my favorite :)
Susan Keeping from Kitchener, Ontario on April 05, 2008:
Great hub. I love Calvin and Hobbes, I read it every day :)