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Micturation and Merchandising
July 4, 2014 9:33 AM   Subscribe

The tasteless history of the peeing Calvin decal
posted by figurant (50 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
*waits to see calvin decal pissing on stick people*
posted by pyramid termite at 9:38 AM on July 4 [2 favorites]


never mind
posted by pyramid termite at 9:41 AM on July 4 [3 favorites]


From the first time I saw a peeing Calvin sticker, I thought I recognized the stance from a panel. I remembered it was something like a water balloon, when Calvin was plotting something. One night in 1996 I stayed up nearly all night going through Calvin books trying to find the panel (this is pre-Everything-Scanned-to-the-Internet), but never could track it down. Happy to know I was right, but surprised I couldn't track it down way back when.

The peeing Calvins pissed me off since they went against Watterson's wishes and were crude and ugly and everywhere in the late 1990s. Seeing the "praying Calvins" a few years later was even worse, I suspect these will never quite go away.
posted by mathowie at 9:41 AM on July 4 [21 favorites]


I've always hated these. They make me want to pee on the cars sporting them.
posted by Daddy-O at 9:41 AM on July 4


*waits to see calvin decal pissing on stick people*

And, here you go....
posted by HuronBob at 9:43 AM on July 4


From MeFi's own Defective Yeti.
posted by whir at 9:46 AM on July 4 [3 favorites]


I always wanted a Calvin peeing on a praying Calvin, but I live in the Bible Belt and like not being killed.
posted by Lemmy Caution at 9:48 AM on July 4 [18 favorites]


Never understood the appeal. Is it, 'Aha, we're mischievous lovable oafs with the pure heart of Calvin, pissing on X." I mean, isn't a bumper sticker with a short slogan probably involving puns and hate more effective in communicating one's point?
posted by angrycat at 9:49 AM on July 4


I mean, isn't a bumper sticker with a short slogan probably involving puns and hate more effective in communicating one's point?

I've noticed a lot of drivers hedging their bets by having both the peeing Calvin and the slogan bumper stickers, sort of a belt and suspenders approach to displaying one's ignorance.
posted by MoonOrb at 9:56 AM on July 4 [3 favorites]


I had bootleg Calvin merchandise when I was younger. Not peeing Calvin, but a dancing Calvin & Hobbes t-shirt (probably the second most popular Calvin bootleg image). As I got older and understood Watterson's stance on the issue I regretted owning it. But at the time I was 8 years old and it had my favorite comic on it and where else was I going to get that?
posted by downtohisturtles at 9:58 AM on July 4 [2 favorites]


Meta.
posted by logicpunk at 10:00 AM on July 4 [13 favorites]


Wow I might have owned the Ur-Peeing Calvin. I think it would have been around 1993 or 1994 - every spring my university had a crafts fair and one year I bought a t- shirt with this on it. I think the guy had about a dozen knockoff shirts for various comics so he was an equal opportunity scumbag (entrepreneur?).
posted by fiercekitten at 10:13 AM on July 4


I mean, isn't a bumper sticker with a short slogan probably involving puns and hate more effective in communicating one's point?

Makes we want to see a meta-bumper-sticker that just says "puns and hate."
posted by univac at 10:15 AM on July 4 [3 favorites]


I mean, isn't a bumper sticker with a short slogan probably involving puns and hate more effective in communicating one's point?
Only if you assume those who share your sentiments are predominantly literate.
posted by Nerd of the North at 10:17 AM on July 4


logicpunk, while I appreciate your input, when folks here say "Meta," they mean MetaTalk.
posted by SPrintF at 10:22 AM on July 4 [3 favorites]


I've always preferred the "Life's short ________ naked" merchandise.
posted by zinon at 10:24 AM on July 4


logicpunk, while I appreciate your input, when folks here say "Meta," they mean MetaTalk.

Meta.
posted by entropicamericana at 10:32 AM on July 4 [30 favorites]


I once saw Calvin peeing on a Darwin fish with legs (supposedly one-upping the Darwin fish making fun of the Jesus Fish). Somehow, I'm not sure that this would be a Jesus-approved cultural engagement practice. He was certainly edgy at times, but it was generally about issues of justice, not snarky self-preservation.
posted by SpacemanStix at 10:35 AM on July 4 [3 favorites]


I work in a big research library so I knew what "micturation" meant.
posted by lagomorphius at 10:37 AM on July 4 [6 favorites]


I work in a big research library so I knew what "micturation" meant.

I've seen The Big Lebowski, so I knew what it meant, too.
posted by MoonOrb at 10:40 AM on July 4 [12 favorites]


I always wanted a Calvin peeing on a praying Calvin, but I live in the Bible Belt and like not being killed.

So Calvin sacrificing Hobbes to Cthulhu is probably also a non-starter?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:42 AM on July 4


I believe "micturition" is the noun and "micturate" is the verb.
. . . I'll see myself out.

posted by cyclopticgaze at 11:02 AM on July 4 [4 favorites]


If you have a peeing Calvin sticker or trailer hitch testicles you are a horrible person and we can't be friends.
posted by The Hamms Bear at 11:03 AM on July 4 [7 favorites]


I believe "micturition" is the noun and "micturate" is the verb.

Handy mnemonic: "If you're pished and you're pishin', then it's micturition."
posted by yoink at 11:16 AM on July 4 [7 favorites]


I once had a contentious forum exchange (about something else) with a guy who claimed to be a cartoon artist, and whose avatar in the forum was a Calvin ripoff (not a peeing one). When I questioned his thinking in using another artist's work without credit or permission, his response was essentially, "Huh?"


Humans.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 11:50 AM on July 4


If you have a peeing Calvin sticker or trailer hitch testicles you are a horrible person and we can't be friends.

<3 <--- I see ascii hearts as trailer hitch testicles. Other people's internet emotions often confuse me.
posted by srboisvert at 11:57 AM on July 4 [8 favorites]


Bill Watterson: I just want to understand this, sir. Every time a car is micturated upon in this fair city, I have to compensate the owner?
posted by Relay at 12:13 PM on July 4 [2 favorites]


entropicamericana, while I appreciate your input, when folks here say "Meta," they mean MetaTalk.
posted by mazola at 12:15 PM on July 4 [3 favorites]


Florida. Why did it have to be Florida?
posted by Splunge at 12:16 PM on July 4


That article was sorta interesting, but almost unbelievably poorly written.
posted by Dr. Wu at 12:23 PM on July 4


I'm almost positive the decal actually comes from a totally different strip (a more recent one, where Calvin is hiding something for a dramatic reveal in the next panel) but I don't have the complete collection to check for myself. When I left this comment on the article, they replied to me and then deleted the thread before I could read what they'd wanted to say.
posted by EmGeeJay at 12:59 PM on July 4 [1 favorite]


Reminds me of Black Bart Simpson.
posted by cropshy at 1:38 PM on July 4 [1 favorite]


I contribute to the Square Root of Minus Garfield open participation deconstruction comic, and considered this mashup inevitable.
posted by oneswellfoop at 1:46 PM on July 4


As a sign company owner I was asked to make these fairly regularly back in the day. I'm proud to say we never made one, even when offered dozens of dollars.
posted by bowline at 2:50 PM on July 4 [4 favorites]


While I do believe creators should have copyright for their creations, I mostly believe parody and quotations are fair use. I also think copyright (in the US) should be for a much shorter term than it is now (70 years after death of the creator).

The peeing Calvin seems to be a humorous, critical (if cynical) use of Watterson's character that doesn't quite fit the terms "parody" or "satire" but to my eyes should be protected.

In any case, I wonder if the sentiment of respecting Watterson's wishes should be the same when, say, one considers copyright violations involving Mickey Mouse and Steamboat Wilie.

I think culture would be well-served if all intellectual property were subject to compulsory licensing, similar to the way in which Lawrence Lessig advocates source code might be subjected to compulsory licensing in Code: and Other Laws of Cyberspace.

Regarding the "obscene" nature of the peeing Calvin, according to Mikhail Bakhtin, grotesque body humor is a revolutionary force employed by the proletariat to critique and undermine the repressive manners of the bourgeoisie and, in this sense, I'm very pleased some sensibilities are offended by the depiction of Calvin urinating on the symbol du jour.
posted by mistersquid at 2:50 PM on July 4 [4 favorites]


I've seen The Big Lebowski, so I knew what it meant, too.

I read The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy obsessively as a child, so I know what it means, too. Still working on "freddled gruntbuggly".
posted by hattifattener at 3:42 PM on July 4 [5 favorites]


Just wanted to say that I agree with EmGeeJay that this is not the image. The article claims that it's the panel on the far left of the strip. Look at the feet and the hair in that panel and in the peeing Calvin pic. They are quite different and there is no logical reason to alter them. The person who ripped off Watterson is too lazy to have changed anything unless it served his purpose.
posted by marsha56 at 3:50 PM on July 4


Regarding the "obscene" nature of the peeing Calvin, according to Mikhail Bakhtin, grotesque body humor is a revolutionary force employed by the proletariat to critique and undermine the repressive manners of the bourgeoisie and, in this sense, I'm very pleased some sensibilities are offended by the depiction of Calvin urinating on the symbol du jour.

That's because they aren't your boots.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:54 PM on July 4 [1 favorite]


When I was a kid, I was a Boy Scout, and one of the fathers was very active in the troop. He had a few things that he said very often, including 'God, guns and guts made America free,' and 'Early is on time. On time is late. Late is unacceptable.' And, the only one that called for a response, 'What do we do with lazy people?' When he said that one, his sons would say 'We piss on lazy people!'

Upon reflection, this has nothing to do with Calvin, and I don't really have a point, I guess, other than that, as far as poorly-screened Boy Scout leaders go, things could've been much, much worse.
posted by box at 4:16 PM on July 4 [9 favorites]


The person who ripped off Watterson is too lazy to have changed anything unless it served his purpose.

But if it was, in fact, a straight copy from an actual Calvin and Hobbes strip, surely myriads of people would have identified the actual panel by now and the most cursory Googling would turn it up, no? It seems more likely, to me, that whoever did this did have sufficient skill to produce a plausible Calvin rather than simply tracing or xeroxing a specific original.
posted by yoink at 5:00 PM on July 4


The peeing Calvin logo was everywhere at the booze fuelled debauchery known as schoolies week following my final year at high school. I think to my shame I may even have bought the tshirt.

So November 1992, Gold Coast, Australia. Seems to predate the decals in this article by 3 years. Anyone see it earlier?
posted by arha at 5:03 PM on July 4


Regarding the "obscene" nature of the peeing Calvin, according to Mikhail Bakhtin, grotesque body humor is a revolutionary force employed by the proletariat to critique and undermine the repressive manners of the bourgeoisie and, in this sense, I'm very pleased some sensibilities are offended by the depiction of Calvin urinating on the symbol du jour.

I was going to say something about how I doubt he meant football factory school rivalries or which brand of consumer auto one prefers, but rereading your statement about repressive manners, that's probably exactly what he meant. My aversion to this particular example is either related to the fact that I'm some kind of bourgeois buffoon or some sacred cows are too sacred to skewer.
posted by Existential Dread at 5:48 PM on July 4


The exposed buttocks of the cartoon Calvin might make this an illegal image in some jurisdictions.

See also Mom facing lifetime ban after Facebook deems photo of daughter 'pornographic', where the "pornographic" image is similar to the old Coppertone ad (which has, of course, been updated to remove any hint of sexuality).

I'd be happy if I never had to see this Watterson ripoff again, and if all it takes is circulating a rumor about secret NAMBLA memberships of people displaying the decal, count me in.
posted by fredludd at 6:08 PM on July 4


Reminds me of Black Bart Simpson.

yeah, but my impression of those times was that the "we bebe kids" t-shirts were more popular
posted by pyramid termite at 6:19 PM on July 4


Hate the peeing Calvin,and the praying Calvin is even more infuriating (because it's so out of character) -- wish Watterson (and/or his publisher) cared enough about this copyright violation to litigate them out of existence.
posted by Rash at 7:10 PM on July 4


I work in a big research library so I knew what "micturation" meant.
I've seen The Big Lebowski, so I knew what it meant, too.
I read The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy obsessively as a child, so I know what it means, too.


I’ve read Richard Hooker’s original MASH novel, so I knew what it meant, too. ("Religiously you would leave your sack, walk three steps to the door and take the seven prescribed paces before initiating micturition.")
posted by bryon at 10:10 PM on July 4


I actually did get a "Calvin pissing on Calvin pissing" decal printed at a mall kiosk as a gift for a friend in Ford vs. GM land. The kiosk owner was very confused.
posted by benzenedream at 11:59 PM on July 4 [2 favorites]


Via MeFi Projects
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:39 PM on July 10


But if it was, in fact, a straight copy from an actual Calvin and Hobbes strip, surely myriads of people would have identified the actual panel by now and the most cursory Googling would turn it up, no?

A great deal is less sure than one might suppose.
posted by JHarris at 9:36 PM on July 16


wish Watterson (and/or his publisher) cared enough about this copyright violation to litigate them out of existence.

As the article notes, it's not that they don't care. People have gone to jail for making peeing Calvin stickers. The problem is, you sue one, three more crop up to take its place.

I also wouldn't doubt it being a case that, since Watterson refuses to merchandise the strip itself, the syndicate isn't making as much money as they could off of the strip, and this may play a role in their corporate will to do something about it.
posted by JHarris at 9:40 PM on July 16


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