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A Picture of the Future.
June 1, 2011 6:27 AM   Subscribe

Her name is Bacon, and Donald Trump gives her nightmares.

A nice thing, that I think might get yanked by the copyright cops, so please enjoy now.
posted by timsteil (116 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
Watterson would have never let something as crass and mundane as politics intrude on Calvin and Hobbes' world, he had bigger stuff to deal with.
posted by octothorpe at 6:42 AM on June 1, 2011 [13 favorites]


In before the Cease and Desist!
posted by odinsdream at 6:43 AM on June 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is old, and not very good to begin with.
posted by BobbyDigital at 6:43 AM on June 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


Robert Krulwich described these strips well on his blog.
posted by knile at 6:43 AM on June 1, 2011 [5 favorites]


Every time one of these homages/parodies/whatevers comes up, it serves by counterexample to justify every decision Watterson ever made w/r/t his strip.
posted by shakespeherian at 6:45 AM on June 1, 2011 [16 favorites]


I wanted to like this, but I was left feeling empty-hearted.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:49 AM on June 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


Why would Calvin name his daughter Bacon? Ugh. What awful internet monkeycheese nonsense.
posted by graventy at 6:52 AM on June 1, 2011 [4 favorites]


graventy: "Why would Calvin name his daughter Bacon? Ugh. What awful internet monkeycheese nonsense."

I didn't get it but the Kruwich link above points out that it's after Francis Bacon.
posted by octothorpe at 7:00 AM on June 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


Pretty sure this has already been posted.
posted by briank at 7:00 AM on June 1, 2011


Donald Trump being in her closet has to be a nod to Bloom County.
posted by Simon! at 7:00 AM on June 1, 2011 [4 favorites]


"Donald Trump is in my closet" is more Bloom County than Calvin and Hobbes, but I like these strips. To think that Calvin and Susie end up as a couple, and that they have a rambunctious blonde daughter with all her mother's intelligence and her father's wild imagination, and that she in turn develops a fast friendship with a certain stuffed tiger who, while perhaps outgrown, was never forgotten... sometimes you just have to be optimistic about the future, you know?
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:01 AM on June 1, 2011 [16 favorites]


I'm dumbfounded that this isn't a double, but I can't find the previous posting.
posted by hippybear at 7:01 AM on June 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


I find it kind of creepy, like when people write Star Trek stories and put themselves into it, having a sexual liaison with Spock. Or, you know, stuff like that.
posted by Grangousier at 7:01 AM on June 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


Simon! beat me to it.
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:01 AM on June 1, 2011


Robert Krulwuch hits the nail right on the head. I suppose there's no reason why somebody shouldn't create these homages, but all they do is, no matter how proficient they are, is show why they need not exist. But I do think it isn't just something that is limited to comic strips. Returns to well-loved fictional characters/universes -- be they Scarlett, the Star Wars prequels or Mary and Rhoda -- are nearly impossible to do if you weren't doing it the first time around.1 There is a season turn, turn, turn and when the time has past, the purpose under heaven for these things to exist usually has also. But I guess people need to keep having this point proven for them. So...

yay?


1 Young George Lucas isn't even the same as older George Lucas.

posted by MCMikeNamara at 7:03 AM on June 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Picky, picky, picky.

Watterson is not god, everything he did was not golden, this was a two-off gag by a couple of talented fans who, AFAIAC, got Hobbes down pretty darn well and produced a plausible child to vex Calvin as he'd vexed his own parents.

I suggest lightening up and getting over.
posted by lodurr at 7:07 AM on June 1, 2011 [29 favorites]


Saw it when it was new, three weeks ago, resisted the temptation to post it here (I've broached the subject before) even though I thought rather highly of the way it was executed.

Must note that there was a second "Hobbes and Bacon" and the cartoonists' follow-up..
posted by oneswellfoop at 7:08 AM on June 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


I liked it. Don't hate me.
posted by schmod at 7:10 AM on June 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'd like it a lot more if (philosopher or no) the girl wasn't named "Bacon".
posted by codacorolla at 7:11 AM on June 1, 2011


Not as good as the original, but better than most of what's out there now.

Fuck nostalgia. I like it.
posted by benito.strauss at 7:13 AM on June 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


I thought it was nicely true to the spirit of the strip. It's a nice homage. I approve.
posted by Scattercat at 7:17 AM on June 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


It is still peeing on things.
posted by 0xdeadc0de at 7:19 AM on June 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


"My parents are so weird."
posted by bwg at 7:23 AM on June 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


They're awful. Krulwich was right. Flagged as offensive (to the original intent of the comic).
posted by barnacles at 7:24 AM on June 1, 2011


These comics made me feel ... uncomfortable. First of all, they were too predictable (Calvin marries Suzie! Who would have thought!) and they were too cute, quaint and sentimental.

Bill Watterson was amazing at capturing childlike wonder and imagination while always avoiding any sort of trite cuteness in his strips. I think that was probably his greatest accomplishment, managing to write and draw the adventures of a young boy for as long as he did without ever straying into the cute or sentimental zone. But he managed, and that's why all these "grown up Calvin" strips seem so wrong.
posted by mcmile at 7:30 AM on June 1, 2011 [6 favorites]


I'd like it a lot more if (philosopher or no) the girl wasn't named "Bacon".

Her name is actually "Francis", but it's a nickname that stuck when she was about three years old. Little Francis has always had a knack for misappropriating pop-culture, which is why Trump lives in her closet. Is that better?

I like to think that Ms. Derkins (who struck me at the type to keep her surname) did something career with a capital C and Calvin ended up in urban planning or for maximum irony, is a math professor. I didn't see the pair of them end up together but now I want to know if Rosalyn (who was babysitting for her college fund) went somewhere with her degree, as she was one of my favourite characters.
posted by Phalene at 7:32 AM on June 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm not saying Waterson's God or that the posted comics aren't well done and even clever and/or in-universe appropriate.

Homages are great for what they are -- experiments and tributes -- but for whatever reason -- maybe because they are destined to pale to the original but I'm expected not to judge them the same way because they are paying honor to said original -- they leave me cold.

But, like I said previously, there's no reason not to do them , and I wouldn't want my reaction to be read as 'thou shalt not' -- if one has the talent, time, and devotion, more power to you.

And if you'll excuse me, I need to get back to my secret livejournal account to write my secret UNIT/T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents cross-over fan fic.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 7:33 AM on June 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm dumbfounded that this isn't a double, but I can't find the previous posting.

It's definitely a double, and I think it got deleted last time, which is why you can't find it. Come back Deleted Thread Blog!

posted by Horace Rumpole at 7:36 AM on June 1, 2011


I believe it was not a double so much as something that got mentioned in the comments of a C&H-related deleted post. Carry on.
posted by cortex at 7:39 AM on June 1, 2011


similarly previous
posted by namewithoutwords at 7:39 AM on June 1, 2011


Francis is a boy's name. Frances is the girl version. You can remember because Francis[co] and Frances[ca].

Not to be all gender-normative, it's just a handy thing in case you get confused by it.
posted by Eideteker at 7:44 AM on June 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


You can remember because Francis Xavier is a male Catholic saint.

Or that's how I remember. Having had more than one friend with initials F.X. in my life.
posted by hippybear at 7:46 AM on June 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


Why would Calvin name his daughter Bacon? Ugh. What awful internet monkeycheese nonsense.

It's a continuation of Watterston's joke. Calvin and Hobbes and Bacon.
posted by Daddy-O at 8:02 AM on June 1, 2011 [5 favorites]


I learned it as FrancIS = hIS and FrancEs = her
posted by crush-onastick at 8:03 AM on June 1, 2011


HATERZ ARE GONNA HATE
*insert gif here*

i loved this. it's really an awesome homage --and calling the daughter Bacon absolutely *is* a little stroke of philosophy geek genius.

thanks for posting.
posted by liza at 8:09 AM on June 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's a continuation of Watterston's joke. Calvin and Hobbes and Bacon.

Descartes, Rousseau, or Berkeley might have been better. The last even more so as it gives a nod to the Bloom County influences.
posted by aught at 8:16 AM on June 1, 2011


One thing that the artist nailed, whether he intended to or not, was the attitudes of the parents.

It's purely anecdotal... but my parents' generation really did remind me of Calvin's parents. Where as the playfulness, nerdiness, and general immaturity of Calvin and Susie in this comic seem really prevalent in my generation. Whatever you want to make of that.

Were there only two comics? They're cute. Somebody should invite the creator to come chat about them.
posted by Stagger Lee at 8:16 AM on June 1, 2011 [5 favorites]


Saw it when it was new, three weeks ago

Geez, is it really only 3 weeks since I saw this originally? It seems like a lifetime of inconsequential crap. I fear the internet may be doing me like Dunbar in Catch-22, prolonging my perceived existence by immersing it in a never-ending swill of mildly entertaining trivia.

Anyway, for people defending a "childlike sense of wonder" some of you are awful damn self-important.
posted by nanojath at 8:18 AM on June 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


As a young 30s man who is looking at starting a family in the next year or two, and still occasionally anthropomorphizes stuffed animals, the update really resonated with me in a lot of ways. And Calvin and Susie getting together appeals to that neat and tidy happily ever after part of me.

So basically, if you enjoy it, great. If you don't, please don't rain on the parade of those of us who do?

And either way, it's a much classier homage than those damn "Calvin peeing on X" stickers.
posted by Tknophobia at 8:19 AM on June 1, 2011 [6 favorites]


Hai guys Bacon was a philosophiser
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:20 AM on June 1, 2011 [4 favorites]


Maybe a son named Bruno?
posted by nebulawindphone at 8:24 AM on June 1, 2011


I find it kind of creepy, like when people write Star Trek stories and put themselves into it, having a sexual liaison with Spock.

You are talking about a Mary Sue character, which I don't think really has anything to do with this kind of homage. The strips seem to clearly be about imagining the characters in the original as adults and applying the same sort of Calvin and Hobbes formula to that dynamic. Unless you are saying that any kind of fan works are creepy.

Homages are great for what they are -- experiments and tributes -- but for whatever reason -- maybe because they are destined to pale to the original but I'm expected not to judge them the same way because they are paying honor to said original -- they leave me cold.

Does this apply to cover songs as well? Music is probably the media in which creative recycling of previous works by unrelated artists is most prevalent and sophisticated. This sort of comic fan art is roughly equivalent to the acoustic guitar covers on YouTube, made by talented amateurs as an expression of fondness for the original, so it's not really fair to compare them directly against some of the best professional artists.
posted by burnmp3s at 8:26 AM on June 1, 2011


This Francis/Frances discussion is getting a little Wasp Factory.

As someone who doesn't have a huge connection to the original comic, this homage felt a little twee, like the end of the Harry Potter books—oh look, everything is perfect in life. A little smug, too.
posted by oxford blue at 8:26 AM on June 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


I thought they were very good, and I like that they only did two of them. Very Watterson-esque of them. Well done!
posted by Curious Artificer at 8:28 AM on June 1, 2011


I thought it was nice.
posted by clockzero at 8:28 AM on June 1, 2011


It was a cute, but I'm not a big fan of Calvin and Susie ending up together. I've seen other art of grown up Calvin and Hobbes, and this one is my favorite.
posted by nooneyouknow at 8:33 AM on June 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


In addition to what a few people said above, it has the problem that almost everything of this kind has.
posted by George_Spiggott at 8:36 AM on June 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Technically, it's an Author Insert (by TVTropes rules; not linking, you're welcome). Author inserts are often also Mary Sues (or Marty Stews; again, if you're into the whole gender-normative dichotomy thing).
posted by Eideteker at 8:36 AM on June 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


Saw it when it was new, three weeks ago, resisted the temptation to post it here

Oh, man, that is, like, so three weeks ago....
posted by y2karl at 8:46 AM on June 1, 2011


Her name is Rio, and she dances on the sand.

I'm sorry, I wasn't going to, but now I have that song stuck in my head.
posted by dirigibleman at 8:47 AM on June 1, 2011


I think these are sweet, and capture the gist of the original pretty damned well.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:53 AM on June 1, 2011


Yeah, very little thought went into this "homage". It goes for the most predictable premise and tells the an obvious joke.

I'm not a huge proponent of fan fiction, but couldn't they have tried something a little more interesting or closer to what the comic was actually about? The running theme in the strip was that the world Calvin is growing up in is at odds with his nature. The Sunday strips are these large, intricately formatted, creatively drawn daydreams that end with Calvin being sent back to earth in a single small panel by his mom/dad/teacher. He doesn't do well in school and doesn't make any friends, partially because he's too busy messing around in his own head but also because he's pretty obnoxious (the reading some people make that he's a lonely child is just self-projection, there's no evidence of him being lonely in any strip). Calvin's growing up into a world of disappointment, nothing is going to match his 6 year old imagination. Watterson may not have aged him because that disappointment isn't very engaging or unique (compared to the daydreams of a self-centered boy). However, if people are so interested in telling stories about Calvin's future, why not build off the strip's foundation? I wouldn't do it - a man realizing the world isn't as magical as it was when he was a boy isn't exactly ground breaking material - but it seems this may be a little more true to the comic than some twee cartoon that "captures the wonder of the strip" because his daughter is named Bacon.
posted by bittermensch at 9:13 AM on June 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think my reaction against this sort of thing is that, as Robert Krulwich implies above, Calvin being perpetually six in the strip is a feature, not a bug-- the world and ideas and images and questions that the strip is meant to explore are based around exactly the sort of child that Calvin is: as his mom says, 'How can kids know so much and still be so dumb?' This after Calvin explains to her how gravity works to bend space by way of mentioning that he dropped a pitcher of lemonade because he was wearing roller skates in the kitchen.

I'm not sure why I see so many 'This is what Calvin would be like as a grown-up!' homages and no 'This is what Charlie Brown would be like as a grown-up!' homages. They seem like similar circumstances: Charlie Brown is a child. A grown-up Charlie Brown is something entirely separate, and wouldn't illuminate much of anything. I think the same goes for Calvin.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:27 AM on June 1, 2011


no 'This is what Charlie Brown would be like as a grown-up!' homages

I dunno, Chris Ware did a pretty good one.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:28 AM on June 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


Calvin's growing up into a world of disappointment, nothing is going to match his 6 year old imagination. - posted by bittermensch

Eponysterical?
posted by Tknophobia at 9:32 AM on June 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


The premise has developed. The boy grew into a man, and convinced someone to see the world the same way he did, and is now trying to reconcile this inner vision with someone new in his life who has her own agenda. This is a premise that honors and builds on the original - a great homage that helps us appreciate the original and engages us with something new.

Haters need to go back to watching Ponies, and leave this to the pros, all I'm saying.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:41 AM on June 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm not hating. Enjoy this homage! Hooray! Have fun! May a thousand flowers bloom! I am explaining my reaction to it, which is negative, for reasons explained above.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:44 AM on June 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm not hating.

Cognitive dissonance is a hell of a drug...
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:47 AM on June 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think my reaction against this sort of thing is that, as Robert Krulwich implies above, Calvin being perpetually six in the strip is a feature, not a bug-- the world and ideas and images and questions that the strip is meant to explore are based around exactly the sort of child that Calvin is

I would counter that a fan strip about Calvin and Hobbes not being exactly the same as Calvin and Hobbes is a feature rather than a bug as well. If someone wanted to do a fan strip where everything is exactly the same as the original, that is fine, although somewhat pointless. In this case it explores the idea that Calvin as an adult is markedly different from the original character, but that his child is in some ways similar to the younger version, all while maintaining the overall style of the original. Obviously the original comic worked because of who the character was, but that doesn't mean that any future works that take the concept in a new direction are inherently flawed.
posted by burnmp3s at 9:52 AM on June 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


So right now, if someone wanted to take Watterson's ideas and develop them into a new direction for their own comic, they'd either need his permission, or wait 75 years after his death?
posted by garlic at 10:00 AM on June 1, 2011


Still better than pissing Calvins.
posted by symbioid at 10:02 AM on June 1, 2011




There are really two questions here:

1) Are derivative works a good thing.
2) Did I find this particular derivative enjoyable.

Hopefully objectors are arguing based on #1, not #2.


Personally, I'd argue that fan art and derivative is inevitably a good thing. It shows that people enjoyed the original piece enough to be inspired and imaginative with it. It's artistic play, and it's a training ground for future artists.
posted by Stagger Lee at 10:03 AM on June 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


Garlic: No offense but I hope there is a curse laid upon them such that if anyone ever tries to steal his characters and use them for their own gain they go blind and get equine herpes.

The problem with these (as many others have pointed out) is not that they aren't in the spirit of the original, but that they are trying to hard to capture that spirit but don't get it exactly right.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 10:06 AM on June 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


Cognitive dissonance is a hell of a drug...

"Hating" in it's contemporary pop culture jargon form is one of those wonderfully punchy, dismissive, and hopelessly subjective descriptors that gets fallen back upon much of the time for precisely the same reasons that it's lousy rhetoric: it implies/asserts a set of conditions and motivations about a negative reaction to something that often aren't there at all, with the effect of excusing the accuser of bothering to substantiate to any meaningful degree what it is about what the "hater" said that they find problematic.

Criticism is not hatin' on. Making an attempt to break down the components of your negative reaction to something is not the work of a hater. There's lots of shit I don't like that I also don't hate on, even when I talk about why I don't like it. For the moment at least that even includes "hater/hating", for some reason, though over time my patience for it keeps pushing toward critical failure and so eventually I'll probably just skip the effort to actually discuss it and just start hating on it unapologetically.
posted by cortex at 10:06 AM on June 1, 2011 [10 favorites]


Cognitive dissonance is a hell of a drug...

This is a pretty stupid thing to fight about. I'm sorry if my stated opinion has made anyone feel like I'm disallowing them from enjoying something that they enjoy; that isn't my intention and I need to couch opinions in more opinion-y language. I don't hate this; I don't like it, and I think it misses the point of the original strip, but that's mostly based around my own reading of the strip. I do not think that derivative works are inherently bad, but I don't think they are inherently good; I think their merits are best judged as an intersection of what they do as a self-contained work and what they do with the unavoidable comparisons with the original work. The reason to do a derivative work, rather than a wholly original work, is because of this second metric-- you want to say something or explore something or even just attempt to recreate something that was implicitly or explicitly extant in the original. Comparisons are unavoidable, and I think necessary.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:07 AM on June 1, 2011 [5 favorites]


I don't understand the need for this. I mean, I don't think Calvin and Hobbes is a sacred endeavor, even if it did shape my childhood more than just about anything else. But at the same time, if you think the important thing about Calvin is that he thought of ways to gross out Susie Derkins, or even if you think the important thing is his talking tiger, you're missing out on what made Calvin and Hobbes special.

The magic of Calvin is that he's incapable of seeing the world without magic. For him a cardboard box is a duplicator and a transmogrifier and a time machine; a wagon and a forest is a vehicle for prolonged philosophical exploration. His is a world of spaceships and film noir and superheroes. The things he's too young to understand, like his 16-year-old babysitter, or his exhausted schoolteacher, or the cute cleancut girl next door, are similarly transformed into bogeymen and the subjects of elaborate revenge schemes.

But Calvin is 6, and his youth undercuts his intelligence in marvelous ways. Watterson makes it a point to show us that his parents are loving, and Suzie and Rosalyn and Miss Wormwood do have things going on beyond Calvin's imaginative fancies. Calvin might be fascinating and even brilliant, but he's also a bratty kid who never learns from his mistakes. And this is okay, because he is 6.

The other definitive thing about Calvin as a character is that he commits to his fantasies. His duplicator breaks down and Calvin's clones are all impossible, but Calvin commits to portraying them accurately. He'll get into fights with his imaginary tiger and show up at home all scuffled and bruised. He doesn't make these worlds as quick flights of fancy, he dreams them up and tries to turn them real, no matter how much trouble he gets into. And with the exception of maybe Rosalyn once or twice, nobody is ever willing to go into these worlds along with him; the reason we need a Hobbes is that without Hobbes, Calvin is alone.

But that's okay, because Hobbes is real. Maybe he's a stuffed tiger, but he's a character with a personality that clashes with Calvin's, and Calvin never stops and says, "No, I think I should win this argument, Hobbes, so you're not allowed to say anything." Hobbes usually does win. And so Calvin truly has a companion and co-conspirator, somebody for talking and scheming and fighting and laughing and loving.

They get into ridiculous amounts of trouble. They face some scary situations, like when Calvin runs away from home after crashing his mother's car. And they face some heartrendingly sad moments, like the dead bird, or the raccoon. Calvin never grows up, but even at his young age he is capable of some powerful moments of reflection. But because he is 6, he's able to move past it again and return to being his rascally mischievous self.

These re-imaginings of an older Calvin universally miss that. They show a Calvin tamed, domesticated. Look at this one in the FPP. Calvin still has his tiger? Calvin and Suzie make gross-out jokes like they did when they were 6? But otherwise the household seems so goddamn... ordinary. Calvin wouldn't grow up like that. Calvin never once seemed to want to fit in with other kids. When Calvin grows older he doesn't blend in, he sticks out even more. His imagination gets larger and even more mature and sophisticated.

Show me a grown-up Calvin whose dreams make his stuffed tiger seem bland and dull by comparison, okay? I want to see what a 30-year-old Calvin has dreamt up. It's probably something so incredible that I can't even imagine it off the top of my head. Maybe if I spent a lot of time working on this I could come up with something. But the whole point of Calvin is that he is much, much more sophisticated than the people around him even realize. If I'm able to quickly one-off a scene with him giving a kid a tiger, I'm not doing Calvin justice. Especially not if that scene portrays Hobbes in — excuse my language — the most fucking mawkish, sentimental way possible. If Bacon gets Hobbes, she should expect to be goddamn mauled by him. Hobbes loves making meals out of little kids.

And I think the reason that people get so emotional and defensive about this is that... hell, I was Calvin. I am Calvin. Fourteen years after I discovered Calvin, I'm still having those big dreams and coming up with bigger and newer fantasies. I'm still arguing with the imaginary people in my head. Now that I'm older I have real people whose imaginations I can grapple with, but that's in no way a taming-down. Now we sneak into railroad tunnels and throw parties in playgrounds at midnight. So I don't like seeing some comic artist who's got a good eye and a lame heart reduce my old best friend down to a gross-out and a stuffed tiger. Especially not if that fucking tiger isn't fucking real. The point of Calvin and Hobbes is that he will never stop seeing Hobbes.

It frustrates me that so many people see Calvin in this semi-condescending light. "Oh, isn't it cute that he acts like this; I bet when he grows up he tries not to spoil it for his daughter." Fucking no! I don't love Calvin because he imagines a tiger friend. I love Calvin because he knew the tiger was never imaginary. When you do a grown-up Calvin and you don't realize that, you're doing it wrong. You're turning one of the great kid-friendly depictions of the world as a source of delight, watering it down, and using it to sell a drearily "heart"-"warming" lifestyle with no risk, no thrill, and no Hobbes.

It's a magical world, ol' buddy.

Let's go exploring.
posted by Rory Marinich at 10:15 AM on June 1, 2011 [40 favorites]


They show a Calvin tamed, domesticated. Look at this one in the FPP. Calvin still has his tiger? Calvin and Suzie make gross-out jokes like they did when they were 6? But otherwise the household seems so goddamn... ordinary.

I think this says more about your attitude towards parenthood than it does about the strip.
posted by mightygodking at 10:21 AM on June 1, 2011 [6 favorites]


And if you'll excuse me, I need to get back to my secret livejournal account to write my secret UNIT/T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents cross-over fan fic.

We're waiting................
posted by lodurr at 10:22 AM on June 1, 2011


I submit that editorializing one way or another about whether one ought to do this sort of thing is the very essence of taking it too seriously.
posted by lodurr at 10:24 AM on June 1, 2011


....and could someone please pull Bill Watterson out from behind that plant, already?
posted by lodurr at 10:25 AM on June 1, 2011


Actually, maybe the best way to explain the difference between Calvin and Hobbes and Bloom County is that Calvin and Hobbes is about Calvin, whereas Bloom County was written and illustrated by Calvin. Seriously, Berke Breathed recounting stories of his childhood/college years basically sounds like Calvin's future autobiography.

I think this says more about your attitude towards parenthood than it does about the strip.

I love parenthood. But if you're showing Calvin as a father, is the most indicative moment to illustrate really one where he gives his daughter a tiger that clearly meant more to him than just "this tiger was a good friend"?

In my mind, parent Calvin should be depicted doing things like this to his kid.
posted by Rory Marinich at 10:25 AM on June 1, 2011


I don't love Calvin because he imagines a tiger friend. I love Calvin because he knew the tiger was never imaginary.

I... I think I love you.
posted by shakespeherian at 10:26 AM on June 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


I've always wanted to write a grown-up Beavis and Butthead/Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? mashup where the two characters are middle-aged, divorced, sharing a condo in a featureless suburban landscape, and constantly sniping at each other.
posted by mcmile at 10:28 AM on June 1, 2011 [4 favorites]


I think they'd have to meet George & Martha rather than be them (they're not smart enough, and it's too quick and too esoteric of a gag).

Think of Beavis & Butthead as the dinner guests.
posted by lodurr at 10:48 AM on June 1, 2011


Fun fact: The wiki "Mary Sue" entry linked above includes a reference to the author Camille Bacon-Smith.
posted by hermitosis at 10:53 AM on June 1, 2011


I think they'd have to meet George & Martha rather than be them

Yeah! Maybe that would be better. For example, after hearing Martha deliver some horribly sharp, verbose rapid-fire putdown of her husband, Beavis would reply with "Yeah...It's like Butthead is always...like...doing stuff that sucks."

Ok. Sorry. I'm done with the thread derailing.
posted by mcmile at 10:59 AM on June 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's funny to realize that things that are sacred to others aren't to you. I always really enjoyed Calvin and Hobbes, but I never saw Calvin's imagination as something particularly magical--maybe because I was a really imaginative kid, too; maybe because it's such a common kid's book trope, the toy made real. I mean, I grew up reading The Velveteen Rabbit (much more sacred and magical to me), watching The Christmas Toy, and this movie (warning: bad; but I loved it at 6, especially since my own Wrinkles doll was my favorite toy). In a way, Calvin's wackiness was both familiar and felt inaccessible to me--because he was such a boy, because Susie was never really in on it, not fully. One of the things I like best about this comic, and the other Calvin-grown-up-with-a-kid stuff I've seen, is that usually he has a little girl. I love the idea of a girl having a similar, but fundamentally different, relationship with the Tiger--I love the idea of Calvin's world being forced open by adulthood to include the magic of girlhood, too.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:14 AM on June 1, 2011 [5 favorites]


This reminds me of the theory that Frazz is actually grown-up Calvin. I can't find a good link at the moment, but as I recall the evidence is thus:

1. We never learn Calvin's last name, though there was some suspicion that it was "Frasier."
2. Frazz is never referred to by his first name.
3. Visual similarities between Calvin and Frazz.
4. Miss Jane Plainwell looks like a grown up Susie, with the justification being that "Susan" must be her middle name.
5. Frazz encourages the kids to be kids in a Calvin-like way.
6. The fact that Calvin ended up as a janitor is unsurprising.

Wikipedia has a little on the controversy, but not much.
posted by frecklefaerie at 11:28 AM on June 1, 2011


We never learn Calvin's last name, though there was some suspicion that it was "Frasier."

Really? Why?
posted by shakespeherian at 11:32 AM on June 1, 2011


I don't know! I wish I could find the link where I saw that. Furiously looking now.
posted by frecklefaerie at 11:34 AM on June 1, 2011


Does it have anything to do with this Calvin Frazier? I've never heard that last name suspicion either, though I've heard the Calvin-as-Frazz theory before.
posted by Rory Marinich at 11:43 AM on June 1, 2011


Well, Bacon is not Calvin in a skirt. She's beset by worry - check her expressions in both comics. Hobbes is likewise different - he acts similarly, but in the scope of a little girl who needs assurance rather than a little boy who needs room for his imagination to blossom. The sameness - co-consipirator in parental aggrivation, his irreverent interest in romance - is a tribute to the original character. That he's the perfect companion - "We eat tuna, mostly" and reminding Bacon that her parents are normal adults - that amplifies on the tribute, and brings something new to the table in the way a proper homage should.

It's in the spirit of the original, and yet something new.

That said, I kind of hope it stops here, or becomes a very infrequent excursion for this artist. The artist has clearly got talent, and he seems to spend too much of it playing with other people's toys.
posted by Slap*Happy at 11:58 AM on June 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


These re-imaginings ... show a Calvin tamed, domesticated. ... When Calvin grows older he doesn't blend in, he sticks out even more. His imagination gets larger and even more mature and sophisticated.

I don't find it a stretch at all. Picasso and Joyce and Einstein had domestic lives. They ate porridge for breakfast evey now and then, I'm sure. They joked with their wives/lovers and cared for their kids. That doesn't preclude an active life of the mind.

Indeed, I'd go so far as to say that it's essential.
posted by bonehead at 12:05 PM on June 1, 2011 [8 favorites]


Indeed, I'd go so far as to say that it's essential.

Again, yeah. But this guy's picking a single moment to illustrate in Calvin's future life, he's not doing a whole series, and I think that showing him at his most ordinary and fatherly is doing the young Calvin a huge disservice.
posted by Rory Marinich at 12:17 PM on June 1, 2011


I've always viewed Calving and Hobbes as an expression of why childhood is special, not why Calvin in particular was special. I like this view of Calvin as a complete person, being a good and level-headed father adds to the character. He still has that defining spark, but much more to offer than that. I got exactly what nostalgia offers, a reminder of why I loved it in the first place, plus a happy ending for a beloved character.
posted by karmiolz at 12:23 PM on June 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


If anything, Calvin should be a lot more like his dad-- kind of a crank, fucks with his kid a lot, complains a lot about things that he thinks are stupid or self-indulgent while being very self-indulgent.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:24 PM on June 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think that showing him at his most ordinary and fatherly is doing the young Calvin a huge disservice.

What, because he's not a drama queen with his kid, but a loving parent like his mom and dad were? Who better than Cal to understand what a daughter like Bacon might need?

It's hard to make a guy scribbling at his desk funny.
posted by bonehead at 12:26 PM on June 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


To wit: This and this are much more the kind of father Calvin would be.
posted by shakespeherian at 12:28 PM on June 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


Right. A Calvin who we see fucking with his daughter is much more in line with who I expect the character to be (and I wouldn't see him messing with his kid's head and assume there weren't heartwarming moments we're just not seeing).

It's interesting how you can see Calvin as a product of his father. His dad seems more straightlaced at times but when he messes with his kid's head he goes all the way.
posted by Rory Marinich at 12:40 PM on June 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


I thought this was totally pointless. Derivative works themselves are okay if they offer something new or interesting. This does nothing; it plays on peoples' fondness for Calvin and Hobbes and their nostalgia for the characters and gets a bunch of people going, "oh, isn't this sweet."

Making a series of "new" Calvin and Hobbes strips where Hobbes ends up eating tuna and Calvin plays with his food is like making Calvin and Hobbes into Garfield.
posted by neuromodulator at 3:50 PM on June 1, 2011


Wow that is really mean.
posted by shakespeherian at 3:55 PM on June 1, 2011


shakespeherian: This and this are much more the kind of father Calvin would be.

I think Calvin's father is doing what he does in those strips in part because Calvin is such trouble at times. And because Bacon isn't such trouble, adult Calvin doesn't have the same parent:child dynamic.

Maybe I'm a sentimental sap, or the fact that in mere months I'll be a parent, or I see myself at a point between Calvin's father and Calvin in my own life, but I can see the extension of the original comics into this homage. In my mind, when you have to make money and become self-sufficient, the world can become a little less magical, and a bit more functional. Having Calvin grow up as an amplified version of his 6 year old self with the real-world shots for contrast make me think of The Office. Some characters live in this fantastic world of their own, and you see that, but you see it from the point of reality, and that makes me cringe. But maybe he'd be more of a Flint Lockwood than a Dwight Schrute, and I'd be OK with that.
posted by filthy light thief at 4:54 PM on June 1, 2011


It's a magical world, ol' buddy.

Let's go exploring.


Keep being my favorite person, Rory.

The magic of Calvin is that he's incapable of seeing the world without magic. For him a cardboard box is a duplicator and a transmogrifier and a time machine; a wagon and a forest is a vehicle for prolonged philosophical exploration. His is a world of spaceships and film noir and superheroes. The things he's too young to understand, like his 16-year-old babysitter, or his exhausted schoolteacher, or the cute cleancut girl next door, are similarly transformed into bogeymen and the subjects of elaborate revenge schemes.

I was a bit like this as a kid. Try to still be that way sometimes.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 6:27 PM on June 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


"I Am Jack’s Lost Youth"
posted by homunculus at 7:23 PM on June 1, 2011


"Hating" in it's contemporary pop culture jargon form is one of those wonderfully punchy, dismissive, and hopelessly subjective descriptors that gets fallen back upon much of the time for precisely the same reasons that it's lousy rhetoric:
No, I hated it. As in, I had an unpleasant visceral reaction to it. I think part of it was the fact that it was so cheesy and sentimental, so poorly done compared to the original that it just bugged me.

And I think part of it was a sort of uncanny valley type reaction, just a bit 'off'. I've seen C&H 'homages' (or whatever you call them) that seemed cool, but they didn't try to be overly sentimental. Like, if you did a comic about spaceman spiff, that would be cool. The Han : Chewie :: Calvin : Hobbs things are cool too. But this just isn't.

Imagine if your wife died and your new girlfriend tried to cheer you up by getting a haircut like she had and dressing up in her old clothes. Would that make you feel sentimental, or creeped out?
posted by delmoi at 1:09 AM on June 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


…or oddly aroused.
posted by oxford blue at 1:12 AM on June 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


It would make me feel like Jimmy Stewart.
posted by shakespeherian at 5:23 AM on June 2, 2011 [5 favorites]


I still have my stuffed tiger (who predates Hobbes).
posted by Eideteker at 7:03 AM on June 2, 2011


When will this whole newfangled trend where "people own the characters and stories they invent and everyone else needs to keep their hands off" finally end?
posted by idiopath at 11:19 AM on June 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


idiopath; when copyright law is reformed?
posted by odinsdream at 11:35 AM on June 2, 2011


Well that and trademark law I guess. I just think it's helpful to put the situation in perspective, that we have thousands of years of human storytelling, and until relatively recently everyone was telling the same stories about the same characters, and the modern web / mashup / meme culture is not a novelty but a return to something with a much longer precedent than authorial ownership ever had.
posted by idiopath at 12:38 PM on June 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't think that's a great comparison, though, because a thousand years ago the only way for you to experience "Calvin and Hobbes" was someone who had been told about "Calvin and Hobbes" to tell you a "Calvin and Hobbes" story.

This doesn't, in my opinion, have any of the value of a mashup. Girl Talk, in his selection and re-contextualization, is creating something new. This is more like somebody trying to do a cover song while trying to do an impersonation of the original or popular performer. It's an Elvis impersonation act.

I think C&H was a great thing, and I also think it's great when the creator of something successful decides to close it before it stops being great (when milking it for further money must always be a temptation). I just feel like part of acknowledging what was great about C&H is respecting the decision to put an end to it. C&H is a neat little complete thing. Even if the end were somehow flawed, I think respecting that flaw is part of appreciating that thing. I think the idea of taking a painting I like, and reproducing it, but changing a certain bit because I feel some aspect of it could be "better" somehow, is weird. I think taking a painting I like and using it as an inspiration for my own paintings is good. I think taking a painting I like and juxtaposing Robocop into it is funny. I think taking that painting and really chopping it up and rearranging it is maybe interesting. I feel like this is closest to the first example, not because there's evidence that this person thinks they're improving it, or anything, but because it seems to appropriate the form of something without doing anything interesting with that form.

It's cashing in on our sentimental attachments to Watterson's work. This is good because we're all fond of these characters and they're gone and we miss them, and for no other reason. (Obviously I mean "cashing in" in a figurative sense).

The creator of this comic is obviously talented. The artwork is a deft imitation. The pacing is decent. I would x1000 rather see them do something original, or something interesting with it (Garfield without Garfield, etc.). This, to me, exists in a valueless space that (if it were an ongoing thing that everybody who likes it read regularly) would just be like this bland dilution of what C&H was.

Which is pretty much how I feel about Elvis impersonators except that I don't like Elvis. I mean, really, if that's your thing, power to you, I guess? But it feels like a misunderstanding of what was good in C&H.

I think I've spent too much thinking about it.
posted by neuromodulator at 1:09 PM on June 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Actually, two further thoughts:

1/ I think I am thinking of it as an ongoing thing, and basing my objections on that. Since there's no evidence that it ever will be, I think it doesn't deserve the approach I'm giving it.

More importantly:

2/ I think arguing with strangers why they shouldn't like something is not a Good Thing. So I'm done, and my apologies if this is seen as any form of threadshitting. I wanted to discuss it, but I realize it comes across as much less constructive.
posted by neuromodulator at 1:20 PM on June 2, 2011


I really think the "impersonation" element is also a standard part of storytelling, as old as storytelling itself. Anyone who tells stories or jokes will probably also end up evoking or even explicitly referencing other tellers. I guess the big difference is not having a written record of the first guy to add a certain standard element to the story?

My idea here is that very idea that Watterson owned not only his telling but the platonic ideal we imagine it coming from is very new, and in many ways falling back out of fashion, and if it turned out some day that storytellers owned neither in an exclusive way, it would be a return to a much older tradition (the word tradition used here pointedly).
posted by idiopath at 1:36 PM on June 2, 2011


One of the worst things about copyright, or the idea of copyright, is the conception that an instant of expression is an eternal thing, unchangable.

Stories are made to be told and retold, songs resung. Reinterpretations, reframing, elaborations are the way we express our selves into old stories. From that point, I don't see anything inherently wrong with using another author's work as your starting point. These two comics say more about these artists (using C&H as proxies) than it does about Watterson's work.

Is this any good? Eh.

However, I don't think there's a great moral or aesthetic rule being broken here.
posted by bonehead at 1:43 PM on June 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


(Okay, I feel I can respond to that without continuing to crap on the comic in question).

Right, idiopath, I get your idea. And my point is that this tradition came from technological limitations, and those limitations have changed, and the fact that the tradition was older or well-established doesn't mean it's de facto better.

I had this exact conversation, pretty much, about the Burton Alice in Wonderland. My friend was on the side of "this is the tradition of storytelling". And I get that. But I feel like if someone wants to retell Alice in Wonderland, it should like clearly be a different thing. Like, okay, Ralph Steadman does his illustrated version. Great, that's something new even though it's the same story because it's obviously his illustrations that are the new element. But what about a strictly narrative version? A prose retelling? Or just an element, like soldiers as a deck of cards? I think those things should be borrowed again, because I think they're great ideas. And I'm not going to snort and be huffy because "that's Lewis Carroll's work". But I think it should just aspire to be something else. I think it should not call itself "Alice in Wonderland" and I think it should only borrow what it needs to. And so what really kind of annoyed me was they called the Burton movie "Alice in Wonderland" instead of, you know, "Alice's Return to Wonderland" or anything like that. It bothered me that, "Alice in Wonderland", this great and beautiful thing, was now going to be confused with the Burton movie. That there will be people who think of the Burton movie first (it is, FYI, the top google hit), or only think of the Burton movie.

And I don't really see the reason for that. They could have acknowledged in the name that it was something else. And yeah, I get storytelling traditions, borrowing and mutating, blahblahblah, (and agree that those are good and necessary), but that doesn't have to mean we tread this close to the source material, I think. Go to the source, or borrow from the source what inspires you to make something new, but this in-between thing where we do neither is just kind of bleah (for me).
posted by neuromodulator at 2:03 PM on June 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


songs resung

This is an oversimplification, though, I think. Some songs are made to be resung, for sure. But let's take "Freddie Freeloader" off of Miles Davis' Kind of Blue. It's a jazz standard. I'm not saying that because Miles Davis did this extraordinary version of it that this sealed "Freddie Freeloader" from further interpretations. But I do think that if someone were try to do a note for note recreation of his version of it, that would be kind of weird and lame. It would look and smell like something great, but the essence of jazz has been excised; it's a hollow thing even if it were so good that an expert couldn't tell them apart.

I feel some imitation things end up like that.

I feel like this is an awkward example in that it actually becomes an interesting statement on value, etc. but I hope you can see my point by turning a blind eye to where it becomes interesting again. I feel it still stands.
posted by neuromodulator at 2:21 PM on June 2, 2011


the Burton Alice in Wonderland. My friend was on the side of "this is the tradition of storytelling". And I get that. But I feel like if someone wants to retell Alice in Wonderland, it should like clearly be a different thing.

It should at least not be a giant festering pile of mole feces.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:21 PM on June 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Also I think a note-for-note repeat performance could be neat if it were acknowledged to be like a "Hey there's this guy deliberately trying to recreate this specific moment" so I guess it could be interesting but the way in which it's interesting has changed from the way Miles' thing was interesting. So there's that, too. And, fair enough, maybe some of you feel that way about this comic. It doesn't read that way to me.
posted by neuromodulator at 2:24 PM on June 2, 2011


Kind of Blue is an interesting example to pick for this. IMO, though it's a great record, in a certain way it's the exact opposite of Davis' style, a crystalization of a particular expresion, nevery again to be repeated. Davis never, ever played something the same way twice. There is no (exact) Davis version, really*.

Like I say, I don't think it's immoral or wrong to work in another artist's world. It doesn't destroy the brilliance of the original at all. The reward for pointless or overly-derivative "empty" work is simply to be forgotten.

*And this larger debate is why either Classical Jazz or Branford Marsallis should be cast in industrial grade epoxy, depending on which side of the argument you find yourself, but that's for another day.
posted by bonehead at 2:35 PM on June 2, 2011


I'm not super familiar with KoB, to be honest. I've only heard it a few times and lacked the ear/context to appreciate it. I picked it because of the popularity/"essential" aspect of it.
posted by neuromodulator at 2:39 PM on June 2, 2011


When will this whole newfangled trend where "people own the characters and stories they invent and everyone else needs to keep their hands off" finally end?
I'm not opposed to people re-appropriating cultural artifacts. Like I said, I've seen some C&H (I guess you would call it fan art) that I liked. But this was just bad It was because it tried to tug at your heart strings, but it just felt wrong.

I mean there's this fan-strip/remix/whatever which was actually poignant and sad.
posted by delmoi at 5:00 PM on June 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Ooh, that strip Delmoi links to really got me the first time I saw it. What's interesting is that it's not well-executed technically — the artwork, font, and writing style is totally not Wattersonian — but the idea of the strip is such a juxtaposition to the original that it really gets something out of me. Especially that last panel.

I'm not opposed to people working within Watterson's universe. If I had any real aptitude with cartooning I'd be messing around in it all the time. It's the mawkishness of the linked panel that gets me. I mean, making an overt reference to "Mr. Bun", who was one of Susie's old animals? Making an instantly dated Donald Trump joke? It's just so... eh.

Not that I think the guy who made this should feel bad for making it or anything. The Internet's awesome because people can do whatever they want. But I'm critical of his final piece, and I don't think it's overtly mean to say that I think he missed a big part of what I valued in Watterson's original.

(It's like that time when Taylor Swift covered "So What" live, remember that? Cute that she wanted to play it, and something nice in hearing the old notes played again, but geez did she miss the point of playing Miles Davis.)
posted by Rory Marinich at 5:10 PM on June 2, 2011


Right, I also liked delmoi's linked strip. Because it was saying something of its own. And talking about the cost of medicating kids to be good students in terms of possible cost to their creative/inner lives is brilliantly exemplified by a) the kid with the massively expansive, rich imagination and b) a perfect little symbol of his move from one realm to the other. So using Calvin makes sense.
posted by neuromodulator at 5:50 PM on June 2, 2011


Delmoi is certainly welcome to his opinion. I don't share it. I didn't feel anything 'false' about the sentimentality of those strips.

And they're trying to do a totally different thing from the strip he linked, which is using C&H as a vehicle for (very effective) commentary. These are just homage. They're not trying to be profound, they're just trying to speak to these artists' experience of C&H. I don't see any reason to suppose this was anything but honest on their part. And for my own part, the character logic seems consistent and solid, and it makes sense to me.

The cover analogies are really apt. I've heard covers of songs that I love that I absolutely hate. The Fine Young Cannibals version of "Ever Fallen in Love?", for example, makes me want to turn off the radio as fast as I can. ("As fast as I can?" "As fast as you can!") But I know people who love it, who don't connect at all with the grungy old Buzzcocks version. I don't personally care much for homage-jazz and cover-band music, but I appreciate the skill that goes into making it well, and when it becomes a musical conversation it can get interesting. (Local "french jazz" trio has a rockabilly guy who sometimes sits in on guitar -- he can totally play Django-style stuff, but Link Wray keep creepin' in.)
posted by lodurr at 6:49 AM on June 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm really struggling with people thinking this is both mawkishly sentimental (why? because he has a daughter and seems to love her? D'ya guys not see the slight smile on his face as he reaches for Hobbes? Does anything with a kernel of affection need to be dismissed as sentimental?) and a valueless appropriation. It's not even doing what Tim Burton did. The strip is called Hobbes and Bacon. Not Calvin and Hobbes. It's clearly doing a different thing.

Also, I hate that ritalin strip. I find it mean spirited and obvious.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:34 AM on June 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


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