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Watterson on Schultz
October 13, 2007 3:09 PM   Subscribe

Bill Watterson comments on Peanuts as part of a review for David Michaelis's new biography of Charles Schultz.

This isn't the first time Watterson has waxed poetic on the subject of Peanuts, which he often cited as an inspiration for his own Calvin and Hobbes.

via Fark .
posted by dismas (125 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite

 
Nice find! Thanks.
posted by JHarris at 3:23 PM on October 13, 2007


I feel like I know enough about Charles Schultz. I'd like to know much more about Bill Watterson.

Thanks for the link, dismas.
posted by pardonyou? at 3:26 PM on October 13, 2007


Sounds like an excellent book, and Watterson is obviously the perfect reviewer. But:

I was also surprised that Mr. Michaelis largely glossed over the later years of the strip

I'm not. The later years sucked, and by the time Schultz died I barely cared. It was only when the papers started reprinting the great early strips and my brother gave me a collection of them that I remembered how much I'd loved Peanuts as a kid and how much more I appreciated it as an adult. Too bad the guy was so miserable.
posted by languagehat at 3:28 PM on October 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


When I grew up, I would talk my parents into buying a Peanuts book when a new edition came out, sold at garage sales, or found at the thrift store. When they got packed away 15 years ago, I think I had about 200 of them. Even a few cookbooks and other non-strip formats. I think my devotion to Peanuts books shaped some of my sense of humor and sarcasm while reading them as a kid.

It's been a long time since I have picked up one of those books, it's something I probably should have kept around when I had the opportunity and bookshelf space. Maybe I'll dig those out of storage again, and possibly get the book that is reviewed in the article.
posted by Vicarious at 3:35 PM on October 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


I dunno. I enjoy Bill Watterson's expression of his thoughts be they in essay form or on a comic page. I share his adoration and appreciation for Charles Schulz - even the latter years where critics say he'd lost his touch or sold out or whatever.

I think Watterson could learn a few things from Schulz. He DID sell out. He let the Peanuts game show up everywhere. Schulz had some control, but I don't believe nearly as much as Watterson has demanded of his own creations.

I dunno. I like Watterson as an artist and a thought provoking force in the realm of comics, and yet at the same time, I'm glad I will never meet him. I don't know if after his death, I want to read a book by David Michaelis telling me why Watterson refused to continue making Calvin & Hobbes until the day he died.

Maybe that's too much of a fan to ask. I should be satisfied and feel blessed that we got to enjoy Calvin & Hobbes as much as we did. I dunno. I'm sure I'm missing something important. Please feel free to let me know what that is.

...

I dunno. Why am I supposed to care about Watterson's opinion of Schulz, if he doesn't care about our opinion of him?
posted by ZachsMind at 3:41 PM on October 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm not. The later years sucked,

Agreed. I think a lot of people who grew up in the '80s don't understand why people call Schultz a genius. His stuff was a lot more watered down at that point and continued to decline until his passing.

But the early stuff, that was good.

I've often wondered if Watterson stopped doing Calvin and Hobbs specifically because he didn't want to go down the path that he watched Schultz follow.
posted by quin at 3:42 PM on October 13, 2007 [4 favorites]


ZachsMind, I get the sense that you dunno. Am I on to something there?
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:44 PM on October 13, 2007 [3 favorites]


Um, by the way, everybody, in the interest of accuracy, it's Schulz, not Schultz.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:46 PM on October 13, 2007 [2 favorites]


Oh, fuck me. Sorry for misspelling that.
posted by dismas at 3:48 PM on October 13, 2007


thanks, flatpjax att midtnite.
posted by item at 3:50 PM on October 13, 2007 [2 favorites]


fuckity fuck fuck. I knew that. Thanks.
posted by quin at 3:52 PM on October 13, 2007


Peanuts was the greatest comic strip ever and then a book about its creator gets reviewed by the creator of the second greatest comic strip ever. How cool is that?
posted by caddis at 3:58 PM on October 13, 2007


I dunno. Why am I supposed to care about Watterson's opinion of Schulz, if he doesn't care about our opinion of him?

That seems really juvenile. Why do I care about your opinion of Watterson, if you don't care what I think about you? I really can't imagine you actually do care what I or any random person on the internet thinks of you, and yet, you continue to offer your opinion to us.

It's communication. He doesn't have to love you. He's not asking you to accept him as your personal saviour or anything, he's just talking about some comics. wtf.

Thanks for the post dismas. I liked it.
posted by blacklite at 4:00 PM on October 13, 2007 [2 favorites]


In terms of comic strips, Watterson is Virgil to Schulz' Homer.

(When's Dante gonna come along?)
posted by Kattullus at 4:14 PM on October 13, 2007


My local newspaper still runs Classic Peanuts, and doesn't run any version of Calvin and Hobbes. How long will it be until Watterson is forgotten?
posted by smackfu at 4:15 PM on October 13, 2007


why Watterson refused to continue making Calvin & Hobbes until the day he died.

so that it wouldn't suck like later years of Peanuts did.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:26 PM on October 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


BlackLite: "That seems really juvenile."

Yes.

I know.

Hence my repetition of the words "i dunno." Guess that was too subtle for you to pick up on BlackLite. Next time I'll walk into the room with a beanie on my head dragging a teddy bear on a leash. Maybe then you'll get it.

Why do people say the latter years sucked? Rerun was inspired! Granted, Schulz was never as good as he was after Snoopy On Ice, but even when he was bad he was still good.

The strips in the latter years have more of an almost melancholy wistfulness about them. Like he couldn't see them the same way he did when he began, but he still loved them. He tried to change a little to accomodate a younger audience, but he knew better than to change the roots of the strip.

Schulz didn't fail us. We failed in our expectations of him.

I wish we had the last decade or so of Watterson's Calvin & Hobbes strips with which to argue relentlessly over whether or not he's lost his edge and is as good as when he started and all the other useless permutations of such arguments. Even when Berke Breathed sucks, it's better to have his sucky work to argue over than to not have anything.
posted by ZachsMind at 4:29 PM on October 13, 2007 [3 favorites]


There's something uncanny about Peanuts. I remember as a child being fascinated by it, just gobbling it up even though it usually wasn't "funny" much of the time. Even when it was "funny" I understood that there was a second-something the strip really was about — something wise and sad and absurd. I take the strip as a perennial proof that adult authors (and teachers and parents) can communicate to children as humans on both ends, minus the condescension that clogs up so much talk to children.

In a way, I still don't understand Peanuts, the way I don't understand much of the greatest art.
posted by argybarg at 4:30 PM on October 13, 2007 [4 favorites]


after = before

strike that. reverse it.
posted by ZachsMind at 4:32 PM on October 13, 2007


He let the Peanuts game show up everywhere. Schulz had some control, but I don't believe nearly as much as Watterson has demanded of his own creations.

I have yet to see Charlie Brown peeing on any Nascar logos.
posted by drjimmy11 at 4:33 PM on October 13, 2007


Um, by the way, everybody, in the interest of accuracy, it's Schulz, not Schultz.

You mean the guy who wrote Street of Crocodiles and Sanatorium Under the Sign of the Hourglass did Peanuts? I guess that explains how Snoopy came about.
posted by Smart Dalek at 4:33 PM on October 13, 2007


I feel like I know enough about Charles Schultz. I'd like to know much more about Bill Watterson.

Here's a pretty good write-up about Watterson done in 2003.
posted by chlorus at 4:35 PM on October 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


GOOD GRIEF! Hang on...

"He let the Peanuts game show up everywhere"

game = GANG

"Schulz was never as good as he was after Snoopy On Ice"

after = BEFORE

*SIGH*

I can't stand it. I just can't stand it.
posted by ZachsMind at 4:46 PM on October 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


When's Dante gonna come along?

He's Gary Larson, also retired, sadly.
posted by caddis at 4:47 PM on October 13, 2007 [8 favorites]


Watterson never licensed or approved the Peeing Calvin stickers, drjimmy11, or any other commercial use. Not one thin dime.
posted by BeerFilter at 4:59 PM on October 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


He let the Peanuts game show up everywhere. Schulz had some control, but I don't believe nearly as much as Watterson has demanded of his own creations.

I have yet to see Charlie Brown peeing on any Nascar logos.
posted by drjimmy11 at 4:33 PM on October 13 [+] [!]


Bill Watterson never licensed anything but, I believe, a calendar. Also, what's a "nascar logos?"
posted by basicchannel at 5:02 PM on October 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


BeeeeerFiiiiiiiiilteeeeeerrrr!!![/shakes fists at the sky]
posted by basicchannel at 5:03 PM on October 13, 2007


Gary Larson's more of a Callimachus, if you ask me. Genius, but interested only in shorter forms.
posted by Kattullus at 5:03 PM on October 13, 2007


I just tried to post about the peeing calvin stickers but got error msgs and lost what I typed. Several paragraphs that essentially said what BeerFilter just said.

We might have less of those if Watterson had allowed the Syndicate to market C&H - they would have had more motive to protect it. We woulda had more cool stuff to buy. It was a win win. Watterson's solution was a lose lose. Except for the blockheads who made the illegal calvin stickers.
posted by ZachsMind at 5:04 PM on October 13, 2007


Oh, fuck me. Sorry for misspelling that.

Me too. My only excuse is that I have a cold.
posted by languagehat at 5:12 PM on October 13, 2007


actually, it was time for Larson to go, imo.

I remember reading and sometimes loving Peanuts, but I think the sadness was a little much for me, particularly Charlie Brown. I mean, if you looked into his future, you knew he wasn't going to make it with that many strikes against him. I've never liked sad-sack characters as humor. CB was best when he had a little bit of rage* and wasn't so passive.

*well, perhaps not this much rage.
posted by emjaybee at 5:13 PM on October 13, 2007


Mr. Praline: 'Ello, Miss?
Owner: What do you mean "miss"?
Mr. Praline: I'm sorry, I have a cold.

posted by Kattullus at 5:14 PM on October 13, 2007


I saw a piece a while back by an author who was struck by the idea that they interview people with the Calvin peeing stickers on the back of their trucks as to why they put them there, and what they meant to them.

The almost universal response to her queries was "Get the fuck away from my car," whereupon, she gave up.

The Calvin praying before the cross pisses me off even worse than the peeing ones, though.
posted by Devils Rancher at 5:18 PM on October 13, 2007 [8 favorites]


We might have less of those if Watterson had allowed the Syndicate to market C&H - they would have had more motive to protect it. We woulda had more cool stuff to buy. It was a win win. Watterson's solution was a lose lose.

I think you're missing Watterson's point. It wasn't about having cool stuff to buy, it was about the strip and only the strip and we all got more than we could have dreamed off.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:19 PM on October 13, 2007 [6 favorites]


We woulda had more cool stuff to buy.

That isn't what Calvin and Hobbes is about at all. I don't think you understand it or Watterson as well as you think and project that you do. Every year of Calvin and Hobbes was amazing, and when Watterson reached the end of what he thought he had to say with it, he concluded the work.

A comic strip artist is still that—an artist. Watterson truly cared about his art and the things he wanted to say with it, not how much people wanted to see him "sell out" or keep making strips until he was the new Jim Davis. You can have Calvin and Hobbes or you can risk becoming Garfield, and Watterson made a thoughtful, if not difficult, decision when it came time to make it.

It sounds like you're trying to justify meaningless, bullshit merchandise and your own selfish desires for content, regardless of that content's quality.
posted by Mikey-San at 5:19 PM on October 13, 2007 [4 favorites]


The later years sucked, and by the time Schultz died I barely cared.

LH - my guess is that Watterson wanted to know about Schulz's later life and how it was reflected in the strips - irrespective of their artistic value. If the book uses the strips for biographical value as Watterson's review implies, I can see why he would be surprised that those years were omitted. If the author did not think that analysis would make sense for the later years, that's an argument the book should have presented.
posted by allen.spaulding at 5:23 PM on October 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


I have yet to see Charlie Brown peeing on any Nascar logos.

That seems more like a Lucy thing.
posted by jonmc at 5:26 PM on October 13, 2007 [3 favorites]


Peter Pan is not about marketing either, but after a kid sees Peter Pan, be it an animated feature, or a live-action stage play (yes I've seen I think it was Cathy Rigby lifted up into the rafters when I was like six years old and I thought it was awesome but then I was six and I thought everything was awesome), the kid's gonna wanna take a bit of the magic back home with them.

Watterson's answer to this conundrum was a defiant "NO. The magic stays in my box. You can't take it with you. I won't let you. Nyeah." Is it selfish of me to want Watterson to have been less selfish? Probably so. He had a right to his childish tantrums with the Syndicate. I have my right to my own tantrums at no one in particular.

Beyond that. I dunno.
posted by ZachsMind at 5:30 PM on October 13, 2007


I have yet to see Charlie Brown peeing on any Nascar logos.

That seems more like a Lucy thing.


Snoopy actually. Lucy woulda broke the logo in half and then framed Linus.
posted by ZachsMind at 5:31 PM on October 13, 2007 [2 favorites]


Mikey-San: "It sounds like you're trying to justify meaningless, bullshit merchandise and your own selfish desires for content, regardless of that content's quality."

Yes. Absolutely. Watterson should have sold out.
posted by ZachsMind at 5:34 PM on October 13, 2007


The books aren't enough?
posted by BeerFilter at 5:40 PM on October 13, 2007


BeerFilter: "The books aren't enough?"

Goodness no. The books are far from sufficient and I'll tell you why.

Had Schulz done what Watterson did, we wouldn't have Charlie Brown Christmas. We wouldn't have Happiness Is A Warm Puppy. There are variants on Snoopy's battle with the Red Baron in multiple media formats which would never have seen fruition if Schulz thought like Watterson. It's possible that Vince Guaraldi would not have had the motivation to compose and perform Linus and Lucy and we surely would never have heard it. Yes, we're also stuck with Snoopy on Ice and Bon Voyage but you gotta take the bad with the good.

Brandon Blatcher: "I think you're missing Watterson's point. It wasn't about having cool stuff to buy, it was about the strip and only the strip and we all got more than we could have dreamed off."

We didn't get more than we could have dreamed of. I could dream of a lot more than we got.
posted by ZachsMind at 5:45 PM on October 13, 2007 [2 favorites]


Good Grief, what a thread.
posted by jonmc at 5:50 PM on October 13, 2007


Yes. Absolutely. Watterson should have sold out.

You hear that, guys? Shitty plastic knickknacks made in China are always better than doing what you want with your art.
posted by Mikey-San at 6:04 PM on October 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


He may have been a curmudgeon and all of that... but there's one thing he taught me early in life that I've never once disagreed with and still quote on a regular basis.

Happiness is DEFINITELY a warm puppy.
posted by miss lynnster at 6:04 PM on October 13, 2007


Happiness is a dog in sunglasses ordering a root beer.
posted by Astro Zombie at 6:05 PM on October 13, 2007 [2 favorites]


I could dream of a lot more than we got.

You can dream of more than you got, but that doesn't mean your dream is anywhere as good as what you got.
posted by Mikey-San at 6:06 PM on October 13, 2007


Happiness is DEFINITELY a warm puppy.

Let's not forget that he also taught us how to torment our babysitters like no one who came before.
posted by Mikey-San at 6:08 PM on October 13, 2007


BTW, just the other day I actually saw a recent Peanuts MetLife commercial though. While I'm not totally opposed to a cross marketing, I have to admit that campaign has always made me cringe to my bones. Aughggggh!
posted by miss lynnster at 6:08 PM on October 13, 2007


miss lynnster, your comment reminds me that the two artists who spoke clearest to me, and were most influential to me in my early childhood years both offered a clear definition of happiness. There was Schulz with the aforementioned warm puppy, and there was John Lennon with the warm gun.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:14 PM on October 13, 2007


I wonder what the ages of people here are. I was born in 1980 and Peanuts never interested me at all, I was a huge fan of Calvin and Hobbes though.

I think there is a lot to be said for going out on top. I actually think Seinfeld was a couple years past it's prime (but still great) when it ended. That seems a lot more common in Anime, even a popular show like Cowboy Bebop goes away after it's narrative arc is finished.

What I don't get is why Watterson never did anything with C&H. I mean, if you read his books, his problem was really with the newspaper format, and it seems like the Syndicate bent over backwards to accommodate him (They did own the rights to C&H, and could have gone so far as to hire a new artist to draw them) But they never did anything to piss him off. Watterson could have done C&H as a comic book, He'd have complete artistic control. *sigh*
posted by delmoi at 6:15 PM on October 13, 2007


I think you're missing Watterson's point. It wasn't about having cool stuff to buy, it was about the strip and only the strip and we all got more than we could have dreamed off.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:19 PM on October 13 [+] [!]


Agreed.


ZM, if you want more consumer crap for yourself, just make it for yourself. As long as you don't try to sell it you will be fine. I don't blame Watterson, all that crap just cheapens the art, and more importantly for him, it was almost impossible to control. The strip he could control.
posted by caddis at 6:18 PM on October 13, 2007


Yeah the MetLife thing is a little cringy, but like I said you gotta take the bad with the good.

Mikey-San: "...that doesn't mean your dream is anywhere as good as what you got."

We got nothing.

Watterson shut the doors on there being anything beyond the occasional black market thing. What in the blazes do you think you got?

We woulda never seen Five dance, if Schulz had felt the way Watterson did. That alone is reason enough to say Watterson is wrong.
posted by ZachsMind at 6:19 PM on October 13, 2007


What I don't get is why Watterson never did anything with C&H.

Whether anyone agrees with him or not, he felt that it would undermine his artistic integrity. His syndicate pressured him constantly to merchandise the strip left and right, just like they do with everything, and that bothered him. After the fifth year of the strip, on the verge of quitting entirely, he convinced his syndicate to return the rights to him.

Watterson wanted to be in control of his work, and the syndicate merchandising that work went against that. The syndicate didn't have to listen to him for those years before relinquishing control to Watterson, but they did for some unknown reason.
posted by Mikey-San at 6:22 PM on October 13, 2007


ZM, you may be making the weirdest single argument I've ever seen on MetaFilter (by a MeFite, I mean, not Time Cube Guy). I thought at first you might be trolling a little, but I can see now you really believe Watterson should have said "fuck the art, fuck quality, I'm gonna sell out!" So... congratulations, I guess. I have a soft spot for contrarian arguments, even when they're batshitinsane.
posted by languagehat at 6:23 PM on October 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


At the night market in Chiang Mai, Thailand, about nine years or so ago, there were scores and scores of Calvin and Hobbes tshirts. Bootleg, of course. Altho I can understand and even somewhat admire Watterson's stance, ultimately SOMEONE was profiting off merchandising. Wish it had been him, as I would have loved to have the shirt with all the dancing tigers on it.
posted by konolia at 6:27 PM on October 13, 2007


We got nothing.

Watterson shut the doors on there being anything beyond the occasional black market thing. What in the blazes do you think you got?


I didn't get tons of shitty plastic toys and retarded "HANG IN THERE" wall posters with Hobbes instead of a fuzzy cat.

I did, however, get one of the most brilliant and heartwarming comics of all time. How exactly is that "getting nothing", other than being pure hyperbole?
posted by Mikey-San at 6:27 PM on October 13, 2007 [3 favorites]


While I respect Watterson's decision to do with his work what he wants, I think that ZachsMind is on to something, perhaps. Peanuts' multiplicity and merchandising throughly soaked the characters into our culture in a way it seems could never happen with Calvin and Hobbes.

On the other hand, how many people out there like Snoopy merely as a logo or symbol, without knowing anything about the character? I was once acquainted with a young Korean miss who had Snoopy and Woodstock toys, but who probably knew nothing about the Red Baron, or the Whirlidog, or the camping strips, or Joe Cool, or the blanket-stealing wars, or anything like that.

I don't know. I fundamentally dislike the idea that something must be merchandised to protect it, and it's obvious that in most cases merchandising can destroy a work. (For I never felt the same way about the Incredible Hulk after I saw the completely-Marvel-endorsed cutesy kid version in the L'il Spider-Man toys.) But Calvin and Hobbes seems doomed to long-term obscurity. I'm not really happy with either alternative.
posted by JHarris at 6:29 PM on October 13, 2007


The book review in the New York Times this Sunday is pretty good.
“Peanuts” grew slowly at first; caught on hugely in the ’60s, when almost by accident it seemed to speak to everyone who was experiencing the generation gap; and then almost drowned in a licensing binge and flood of tchotchkes. Schulz said yes to everything, no matter how kitschy — toys, cards, books, sweatshirts — until even his fans began to complain he was selling out.

What saved “Peanuts,” Michaelis suggests, was the elevation of Snoopy into a main character in the late ’60s, and the way his boundless, almost surreal fantasy life frequently took over the strip, which at the same time was being pared down to a visual minimum: a scarf, a helmet, a doghouse indicated by just a few horizontal lines.
posted by stbalbach at 6:34 PM on October 13, 2007


Peanuts' multiplicity and merchandising throughly soaked the characters into our culture in a way it seems could never happen with Calvin and Hobbes.

There's a false dilemma at the core of your post, which assumes that heavy merchandising is the only way to make something soak into the culture. That's not really provable, now is it?
posted by Mikey-San at 6:37 PM on October 13, 2007


Caddis: "ZM, if you want more consumer crap for yourself, just make it for yourself."

Then it wouldn't be whiz bang consumer crap. It'd be lame homemade crap.

There was a Calvin & Hobbes parody on Robot Chicken awhile back which was awesome. Not only was it a wonderfully morbid and sinister take on the absurd surreal inner physics that made Watterson's fictional world, but visually it actually worked. It brought the 2D characters into a 3D medium without losing the visual nuances that set C&H apart from the rest.

Imagine a project, with a mildly lobotomized uhm.. intoxicated Watterson at executive producer consultant status, that took C&H more seriously but used that or a similar medium. Maybe it would suck. Maybe it would rock. We dunno. Watterson feared the worst, and so he shut down the possibilty of the best.
posted by ZachsMind at 6:38 PM on October 13, 2007 [2 favorites]


As an interesting roundabout, Charles Schulz wrote the foreward to the first C&H collection, the eponymous "Calvin & Hobbes".

I admit growing up, Peanuts always struck me as benign. Reading some of the earlier stuff ("There Goes The Shutout!" In particular), I was struck by how raw and edgy it was, which made the modern batch of Peanuts comics seem even more like a tepid xerox.

At one point I really wanted to be a cartoonist, and I did a bit of research on the man. I found his upbringing and the roots of the comic to be fascinating, and the work he did virtually opened the doors for near every modern comic strip artist since. But at the same time, based on his work, it felt like he made himself into a household name and then just... stopped caring. It was almost as if he knew that no newspaper would ever drop Peanuts (and I couldn't name one that has, long after his death), so he knew he could pull a Jim Davis and just go through the motions, and live off merchandising. I disliked him for a long time for this.

Watterson brings up some interesting points in this review however, and maybe I'll give this book a read, and give Sparky a second look.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 6:42 PM on October 13, 2007


There was a Calvin & Hobbes parody on Robot Chicken awhile back which was awesome. Not only was it a wonderfully morbid and sinister take on the absurd surreal inner physics that made Watterson's fictional world, but visually it actually worked. It brought the 2D characters into a 3D medium without losing the visual nuances that set C&H apart from the rest.

Imagine a project, with a mildly lobotomized uhm.. intoxicated Watterson at executive producer consultant status, that took C&H more seriously but used that or a similar medium.


What in the fuck are you talking about? You don't seem to understand Watterson's work at all. Are we even talking about the same strip?
posted by Mikey-San at 6:49 PM on October 13, 2007


We don't need to speculate about it; Watterson plainly addresses his decision not to license Calvin and Hobbes out for merchandise in the first chapter of his wonderful Calvin and Hobbes Tenth Anniversary Book.

Thanks for this post: Watterson's insight is keen and welcomed regarding Schulz's place in comic history. Lately I've been searching high and low for a rentable copy of "What Have We Learned, Charlie Brown?" which I only just learned about from the also-excellent Peanuts: A Golden Celebration.
posted by churl at 6:55 PM on October 13, 2007


Bill Watterson never licensed anything but, I believe, a calendar.

And yet I had Cavlin and Hobbes t-shirts back in the early 90's. Still have one, actually, ratty and sleeves cut off for 'round the house lounging as it may be. Anyone know the story behind those?
posted by Cyrano at 6:55 PM on October 13, 2007


Cyrano, they're unauthorized. Illegally produced, essentially.
posted by Mikey-San at 7:01 PM on October 13, 2007


Calm down Mikey-San. Take a chill pill. Yes we're talking about the same strip. I'm simply looking at it from a more open-minded perspective than you.

I have a copy of Calvin and Hobbes Tenth Anniversary Book. I've read it and enjoyed it multiple times. I do understand Watterson's position.

I simply disagree with it. Much of my opinion on this topic stems from his extensive excuses for his battles with the Syndicate on merchandising his work.

Cyrano: "...Anyone know the story behind those?"

Bootleg illegal homemade crap someone sold you? Would perhaps have been made of slightly higher quality stuff, or at the very least would be easier for you to replace, had Watterson done as I propose.

End of story I think.
posted by ZachsMind at 7:12 PM on October 13, 2007


The Calvin praying before the cross pisses me off even worse than the peeing ones, though.

Me too, Devils Rancher, so I always think of them as Calvin worshiping the cross. At least that way he's breaking one of the Ten goddamn Commandments.

Thanks for this link. I used to read old Peanutses when I was a kid in the 1980s; later on I'd sort of assumed I was just acquiescing to the strip's fame, given how crappy it was in the 1990s, but I guess there really was something to it. I'll look into the strip before I look into the bio, but this article was worth reading all on its own.

And I'm sympathetic to ZachsMind's argument-- wouldn't the world be a better place if Calvin were famouser than Garfield or Lil Kim?
posted by ibmcginty at 7:16 PM on October 13, 2007


delmoi: Watterson could have done C&H as a comic book

Sometimes I daydream that Bill Watterson is secretly working on a big honkin' 500 page Calvin and Hobbes graphic novel.
posted by Kattullus at 7:23 PM on October 13, 2007 [3 favorites]


wouldn't the world be a better place if Calvin were famouser than Garfield or Lil Kim?

Sad to say, but I don't believe that we live in a world that's populated in such a way where that's possible.
posted by Devils Rancher at 7:30 PM on October 13, 2007


My God, how petulant we've become...

Artist: I've given you my all - my art. Enjoy the fruits of my soul, for you shall have them to remember forever.
World: Waaah! Me want more! Gimme gimme gimme!

posted by Pinback at 7:36 PM on October 13, 2007 [12 favorites]


ZachsMind,
Watterson wanted to do a comic strip. That's it, that's all. He wanted to spend his time drawing the damn thing as opposed to endless meetings and business BS and having his creation defined by MET life. There is only one version of C&H and it's exactly as Watterson wanted it to be and it ain't ever gonna get watered down by some shitty Christmas special or cheap stuffed animal.

Watterson created magic and I'd say he shines brighter than Schulz because Watterson did what so few cartoonists do these days: he could draw his ass off, had excellent composition skills (those oversized Sunday strips are to kill for) and he was an excellent writer. He took words and pictures and baked something that was richer than either alone and we had ten good years of icing on that cake and that's nothing to complain about.

Not everything needs to be translated to other mediums and needs to go forever. All good stories come to end.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:41 PM on October 13, 2007 [8 favorites]


Also, as an aside, can anyone point me to some online Peanut's strips that are actually good? I have vague memories of reading some of the collected books in the 70s and thinking they were were good, but all I remember is the horrible strips from the'80s and '90s.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:43 PM on October 13, 2007


Yeah, put me in the camp of "raised in the 80s, don't get Peanuts." I think for a lot of people under the age of, I dunno, 35, the Christmas special is the only thing about Peanuts with any kind of value. I've tried to read some older strips, but I think it's too late for me.
posted by Bookhouse at 8:01 PM on October 13, 2007


Ironically, there is more crappy knock-off Calvin and Hobbes stuff because there is no official licensee with a profit motive to shut them down.
posted by smackfu at 8:06 PM on October 13, 2007


Artist: I've given you my all - my art. Enjoy the fruits of my soul, for you shall have them to remember forever.
World: Waaah! Me want more! knicknacks, videogames and breakfast cereals! Gimme gimme gimme!


Fixed that for you.

Yeah, when Bach composes the Brandenburg Concerto No. 2, you don't get angry at him for not making a techno remix, or taking out the trumpet and replacing it with an accordion. You just enjoy the music as it is, and like it. Or maybe you don't like it. Your loss.

At the end of the day, it's Bach's music, not ours -- he's just sharing it with us -- and the same goes for Watterson. Part of enjoying an artist or composer is trusting them to do what is best for the art. Sadly, we live in a world were greedy and indulgent artists are all too willing to break that trust. Bravo to Watterson for breaking the mold.
posted by Avenger at 8:07 PM on October 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


Avenger, guess you've never heard of Hooked on Classics huh?
posted by ZachsMind at 8:15 PM on October 13, 2007


Brandon Blatcher:
I can't seem to find any good stuff online right now, but this book has a lot of really good Sunday strips. I was also raised in the 80s, and I was never all that excited about the new stuff in the paper, but I always loved the books of older stuff like this one. (Also, the cartoon series from the 80s has a lot of adaptations of good older stories.)
posted by equalpants at 8:18 PM on October 13, 2007


Brandon Blatcher: Here come the bulldozers!

Currently, these are from 1960. Unfortunately the official site only posts one month's worth at a time.
posted by ZachsMind at 8:19 PM on October 13, 2007


Great thread; I agree with both positions.

Schulz was right to do it the way he did, but Watterson was also right to do it the way he did.

How do I know this? Because I am glad they each did things the way they did.
posted by yhbc at 8:19 PM on October 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


I've never felt bitter about Watterson stopping his strip, or the quality of Peanuts in the later years. They are the two greatest comic strips of all time. One of the greatest strips of all time licensed out the wazoo and ran new strips literally until the day the artist died. The other greatest strip of all time stopped only a few short years after it began, and never licensed at all. Neither of these things change how great the strips themselves are.

I was born in 1981 and I love them both. So much. But I have my own complicated relationships with both, outside of the common arguments. It's easy to pick on a strip's later years, or wish I had a C&H calendar as nice as my Peanuts one. But beyond that...

Watterson: OK, yeah, I'm wildly curious what he's up to now. I can totally see why he can't or doesn't want to put out a new strip, or do anything out in the open. But he's an artist--he must be doing something. Is he publishing or showing artwork pseudonymously? Is he shoving poems into the backs of drawers like Emily Dickenson, for us to discover after he dies? Designing advertisements for the Far East? What? And will we ever know?

But really, the thing that bugs me about Watterson when I go back and read old C&Hs is a bit of snobbishness about pop culture. Not licensing his characters is all his choice, and probably the right one. They still have their rightful place in pop culture. But he really seemed to despise television, getting a bit preachy about it in some of his strips. And it always really bugs me when anyone, especially an artist, dismisses any one medium as though it's beneath them. I can understand not caring for a particular program or type of program or even not really liking any programs. But he of everyone should respect that great art can come in any form. If art is not good, the form is not the problem.

In fact, the Peanuts holiday specials are a great example of something really, really good that was made especially to be shown on TV.

Then, with Sparky...well, it's a bit personal. As much as I relate to his art, I am pretty sure that he probably wouldn't have liked me if we'd ever met. It's funny...there are a lot of my favorite artists that I know I probably wouldn't like personally. Some I know I don't like personally, because I've met them. But Schulz is the only one I specifically think wouldn't like me. Watterson says he was kind to Lucy in his Lucy/Schroeder strips, but I've read about how Sparky didn't like Lucy. And Lucy Van Pelt is the single fictional character I relate to the most. And I know I'm not the only one. I don't know how to feel about the fact that her own creator didn't like her. In general I take it as a compliment. He said of her, "Beneath the surface there's something tender. But perhaps if you scratched deeper you'd find she's even worse than she seems." I like that. But it wasn't meant as a good thing. Is this a slight to (someone like) me by him, or a slight to him by me? Or maybe it's just a testament to his ability to drill down to some truths about life. All of his characters wore their flaws on their sleeves, but were each lovable in their own way, whether he liked them or not. They were human. Like I said, it's complicated. It's just something I wonder about now and then.
posted by lampoil at 8:25 PM on October 13, 2007 [4 favorites]


I know this is supposed to be a Schulz thread, but...

Sigh. I wish Watterson would just create another strip (or anythin else, really) under a nom de plume. I love Calvin & Hobbes, but I'd also love to see what else he could cook up.

Let's not forget that he also taught us how to torment our babysitters like no one who came before.

I'll always treasure that and Calvin's creative snowpeople dioramas.

I need to get out of Florida some winter. I've never even seen snow in person.
posted by Fiberoptic Zebroid and The Hypnagogic Jerks at 8:27 PM on October 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


Only 63 days until Beethoven's birthday.
posted by ZachsMind at 8:30 PM on October 13, 2007 [2 favorites]


Thanks for the link ZachsMind. As much as I love Peanuts I'd forgotten how stunning the strip can be. This one blew me away.

lampoil: Is he publishing or showing artwork pseudonymously? Is he shoving poems into the backs of drawers like Emily Dickenson, for us to discover after he dies? Designing advertisements for the Far East? What? And will we ever know?

According to reports he's doing landscape painting. He burns every piece that he makes.
posted by Kattullus at 8:33 PM on October 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


Watterson retired Calvin and Hobbes so that you people could argue about both it and why.
posted by psmith at 8:37 PM on October 13, 2007


They are the two greatest comic strips of all time.

Many think that they're second and third to this one.
posted by Mikey-San at 8:39 PM on October 13, 2007 [3 favorites]


Houston, we have a negative on that orbit trajectory.
posted by psmith at 8:46 PM on October 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


Of course, we're talking about choices made by Watterson and Schulz but I hope we can all agree, their choices could have been a whole lot worse.
posted by ZachsMind at 8:48 PM on October 13, 2007


I like Snoopy's gentle cynicism in this one.
posted by ibmcginty at 8:59 PM on October 13, 2007


Kattullus: "...He burns every piece that he makes."

How deliciously dada!

Well not quite.

The destruction of the art is part of the presentation in dada art. If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it does it make a sound? The answer to that is yes and no. The contact between the tree and the ground with the force of gravity does affect the air molecules immediately around it. This causes waves of energy to travel through the atmosphere a relatively short distance. Sound needs three things to be sound: catalyst, medium, and receiver. If nothing's around to hear it, technically those waves of energy do not constitute sound. If nothing recieves the catalyst's waves as they travel through the medium, it signifies nothing.

If Watterson paints a landscape, and then destroys it before anyone aside from himself sees it, that's not art. That's called practice.
posted by ZachsMind at 8:59 PM on October 13, 2007


Merched to death, perhaps, but still not on DVD. *grouse*
posted by mykescipark at 9:13 PM on October 13, 2007


I have to side with ZachsMind a little bit on the argument about selling out. I loved Calvin and Hobbs and miss the daily interaction and excitement of looking forward to each new strip. The books are great, but now they are a choice to go read. Some merchandising, such as calendars or t-shirts, would keep some of those great C&H moments visible on a regular basis. I understand his fear of losing control of his creation, but some marketing would have kept C&H in the public eye without demeaning his art. A calendar or a cup with some of the iconic images on it would brighten my day.

Oh, and I did have the calendar that he published. I'll have to look for it in one of the old boxes upstairs.
posted by rsclark at 9:17 PM on October 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


I didn't forget about Krazy Kat. Krazy Kat paved the way for the two greatest comic strips of all time.
posted by lampoil at 9:19 PM on October 13, 2007


Calm down Mikey-San. Take a chill pill. Yes we're talking about the same strip. I'm simply looking at it from a more open-minded perspective than you.

Heh. Patronizing turd. That Robot Chicken spoof was absolutely atrocious and, as humor, was just about the antithesis of everything that Watterson and C&H represented.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:25 PM on October 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


The Calvin praying before the cross pisses me off even worse than the peeing ones, though.

Ironically, those who own such a sticker will be going to hell for breaking the Eleventh Commandment -- Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's copyright.
posted by rajbot at 9:36 PM on October 13, 2007


Bootleg illegal homemade crap someone sold you? Would perhaps have been made of slightly higher quality stuff, or at the very least would be easier for you to replace, had Watterson done as I propose.

I bought them at a Suncoast video store. Not exactly a flea market. I've seen you get worked up over this before but you're coming across as an ass (which you know. And don't care. We get it.)
posted by Cyrano at 9:42 PM on October 13, 2007


The whole "paint something and immediately destroy it" thing reminds me of a short story by Orson Scott Card called Prior Restraint. Written back when he could still create something with a little punch, and in his strongest format (short story), so it's pretty good.

This guy (narrator) goes to a writing class. He strikes up a friendship with another student, a shadowy guy who submits exactly 3 pages for every assignment and never shows them to anyone else in the class, only to the instructor. Even after the narrator gets to know him, the guy will never show him any of his work. They talk about life, etc. Turns out the guy makes a living as a card shark, counting cards. Obviously intelligent.

Finally through some convolutions, the shadowy guy breaks down and shows Narrator one of his 3-pagers. Naturally the text doesn't appear in the story, but it blows Narrator's mind; it's the best thing he's ever read in his life, it's better than the collected works of Shakespeare & Proust combined. So he confronts Shadowy Guy. What are you doing, man?! Publish!

Well, when Shadowy Guy first started writing, he became involved with a movie studio; he had a script. Nothing huge, negotiations, whatever. One guy, two goons in the Black Suits show up at his door and threaten him about it. He blows it off. Continues contact with the studio.

The next day, his car doesn't quite want to start... after a few minutes of finagling, it turns over. He drives to work, and plasters a kid, guts him on the hood ornament. Dead. Shadowy Guy is fine, but the kid is pulverized. Clear accident, no violations, no trial, but he is completely crushed by it.

The goons show up again, and state pretty clearly that they made this happen. Shadowy Guy is incredulous, of course. How could they have orchestrated something like that? Well!

Goons are time-travelers, and have the infinite patience only someone with infinite time has, and the omnipotence only someone who can observe endlessly does. Their task is to influence the "present" by dicking with minutiae in the past. And finally, the point emerges. Shadowy Guy might be the most brilliant motherfucker in history, but his writing is so depressing. So depressing that it causes a gigantic movement of depressing art, which causes some sort of war or catastrophe (can't remember). The goons are practically in tears about having to force him out of writing. They love his stuff! Everyone does! But it has been determined that he's the source of the world's misery. So it's got to be excised from history. And they can turn him into hamburger like they did to the kid, or they can let him live without writing.

So he strikes a deal. He can write, but he burns everything but the first 3 pages of everything. Thus, the goons can preserve the works in some sort of time-independent library, but no one else gets them. The End.

Obviously, Bill Watterson is being visited by comic strip connoisseurs from the future, bent on protecting us from his terrible, dark gift.
posted by synaesthetichaze at 10:01 PM on October 13, 2007 [9 favorites]


I bought them at a Suncoast video store. Not exactly a flea market.

There were shirts, stickers, and what-nots sold at normally reputable stores, but those products were still unlicensed, believe it or not. :)
posted by Mikey-San at 10:42 PM on October 13, 2007


The first Peanuts strips I read were the old ones, fortunately- my mom had a collection of old books from the 60s and 70s. I actually learned to read largely through them. Even as a kid, I somewhat preferred the ones from that period, and in retrospect, the difference in quality between those and what came later is staggering.

On Calvin and Hobbes- I'm with the majority here in being glad that Watterson didn't sell out, but I think it's almost a moot question, as I don't think it ever could have been an option for him. C&H was not an apolitical strip, particularly towards the end- often Watterson's beliefs and worldview come through loud and clear, and when you have a clear picture of them it becomes impossible to imagine him selling off his characters. Lampoil notes his disdain for pop culture, and indeed he seems to have particularly disliked the media (something I'm sure was influenced by his proximity to it). Overall, he comes off as strongly environmentalist (and more out of love and respect for nature itself rather than because humans depend on it), disdainful of mass media (that in particular), somewhat suspicious of technology, scornful of academic postmodernism and "pop psychobabble" as he put it in the 10th Anniversary book, slightly misanthropic, and generally not terribly enamored with capitalism- not likely to be very happy about the idea of having his creation become a mass-market product at all, in short. (This combination of beliefs is interesting in that it can be found in both certain parts of the left and certain parts of the right, and I can't tell which Watterson is, if either.)

The later strips actually suffer because of it- most of his more political strips are still funny and make their point cleverly, but often towards the end there seems to be less and less of a joke, and there are a few from that period that are basically just humorless preaching. I suspect these are a reflection of the stresses that led him to quit, and I have a feeling that if C&H had kept going, the inevitable decline would have taken the form of a gradual transformation into an unsubtle political strip unconcerned with being funny (though probably not political in the usual way), as opposed to the decline into stale, tame jokes that most other comic strips (Peanuts included) have.

If all that sounded like a criticism, it wasn't, except when it comes to those few late strips I mention. I think all of this was extremely important to making the strip what it was- if his beliefs had been such that he felt it was okay to get into the merchandising game, I can't imagine that his strip would have remotely resembled the C&H we know. The price we pay for the unique quality of C&H is that we don't get TV specials, official t-shirts, and stuffed Hobbes toys. Even if I might have liked to have seen some of those things, I feel that this price was more than worth paying.

(I admit, I really wish he would do a graphic novel- he wouldn't have to deal with the syndicate or any of the limitations of newspapers, and I would love to see what he could do with those restrictions lifted. But I don't think one is forthcoming, even though things like this article give me a glimmer of hope- it implies he's still interested in comics and willing to talk about them, at least.)
posted by a louis wain cat at 10:50 PM on October 13, 2007 [1 favorite]


Heh heh. I likes me the funny papers!
posted by mazola at 11:14 PM on October 13, 2007


He seems to assume that Schultz *consciously* embodied the events of his own life in the characters of Schroeder and Lucy. It occurs to me that it is more likely to be a totally unconscious process.
posted by Henry C. Mabuse at 11:34 PM on October 13, 2007


I don't mean to brag, but Calvin destroyed my hometown. For a while, Bill Watterson lived in Hudson Ohio, we've both since moved away. He drew a couple comics that featured a giant Calvin crushing Hudson. I'd like to think he drew those because he hated Hudson as much as I did growing up there.

Anyway, I loved Calvin and Hobbes. I wish that Bill Watterson would have continued to put out more comics. But, I think that if he felt that he couldn't have continued on without compromising the quality, then I'm just going to have to be happy with what I got.
posted by sleavestherabbit at 2:42 AM on October 14, 2007


What I don't get is why Watterson never did anything with C&H.

Yeah, sugar would have been a great marketing tie-in.
posted by klausness at 5:35 AM on October 14, 2007


The later strips actually suffer because of it- most of his more political strips are still funny and make their point cleverly, but often towards the end there seems to be less and less of a joke, and there are a few from that period that are basically just humorless preaching.

Even the preachy ones were still amazing to read - no other cartoonist had anything approaching Watterson's sense of timing and body language.
posted by stammer at 6:56 AM on October 14, 2007


I admit, I really wish he would do a graphic novel- he wouldn't have to deal with the syndicate or any of the limitations of newspapers, and I would love to see what he could do with those restrictions lifted.

Also, I figure Calvin & Hobbes made it pretty clear that Watterson hates everything about "graphic novels", including the phrase itself.
posted by stammer at 7:02 AM on October 14, 2007


Thanks, chlorus, for that 2003 Watterson piece; it was really good. Re: Peanuts, a lot of folks who know the middle and later period strips forget that the early years were somewhat different. If you glance through the first book of Fantagraphics' The Complete Peanuts, you'll see a different Charlie Brown - one who's more proactive and mischievous, regularly teasing Patty, e.g. I like that wittier Charlie Brown better; after he became a complete schmo he was less interesting.
posted by mediareport at 7:48 AM on October 14, 2007


I got that first Fantagraphics book yesterday (they've only just been published in the UK) and it is really wonderful. I'd never seen any of those strips at all, and some of them are just beautful
posted by ZippityBuddha at 9:31 AM on October 14, 2007


What a great book review--Watterson clearly has a keen understanding of Schulz' work, and articulates that beautifully while still discussing the book at hand.

It makes me wish he'd write about other art he loves. One thing about great artists I've found, is that they have a fundamental understanding of not only their specific art forms, but of the art-making impulse in general. Occasionally, they write about it, and I love those insights. So if Watterson won't give us more art, maybe more writing?

Also, lampoil: And it always really bugs me when anyone, especially an artist, dismisses any one medium as though it's beneath them.

I never got the sense that Watterson was after television as a medium per se, but rather that people watch too damn much of it, and how that can destroy people's--especially children's--imaginations, innate curiosity about the world, and all around efforts to get off the couch and live an actual real life. About which I think he's right, though I do love some television.
posted by LooseFilter at 10:52 AM on October 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


Peanuts' multiplicity and merchandising throughly soaked the characters into our culture in a way it seems could never happen with Calvin and Hobbes.

But in a way that is mundane and superficial... I never understood as a child or teenager (I was born in 73) how anyone could claim that Peanuts was a "great" cartoon - I was a fan of Berke Breathed, Gary Trudeau, Matt Groening, Bill Watterson and Gary Larson, and I grew up thinking Charlie Brown was trite and idiotic. I had absolutely no interest or respect for it, and was sure people who said it was one of the greatest comic strips of history were talking about a different cartoon, or that the current cartoons running in the paper were no longer drawn by the original author (as people did say "it used to be better").

It was only years later, looking back at the early years and thinking about them outside of the packaged and merchandised versions, that I could see the depth of the original work. I really think those dumb commercialized versions hid the soul of it, and it ended up being buried pretty far in there, under many layers of rotting, sedimented garbage.
posted by mdn at 12:55 PM on October 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


Regarding Krazy Kat, Watterson has written at length in the past about how much he adores George Herriman's work, is inspired by it, and even incorporated snippets of Krazy Kat into the backgrounds of a couple C&H strips. There's a sunday strip where Calvin's family is at a museum, and his parents are admiring a framed Krazy Kat panel.

Cyrano you sure got me pegged. Congratulations. Only, you forgot juvenile and patronizing. And vain! As Thoreau once said, "How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live." I'm quite happily vain indeed.

KokuRyu, what you find atrocious I found amazing. I agree the humor behind the Robot Chicken piece was anti-Watterson. What you see as a finished product I see as a rough of what could be. If Robot Chicken can do that good with what little time and resources they have coupled with their disinterest in being sincere to the source material (they're parodists after all) imagine a team of people who believe in Watterson's vision, and sincerely worked together to put Calvin's world into a new medium.

I'm thankful to Mr. Schulz for his talent and his creativity and his humor. I'm thankful that he said yes one too many times to merchandisers. I'm thankful that when fans were outraged he was having the Van Pelt's move away from Charlie Brown's neighborhood, he actually listened to his fans and had them move back. I'm thankful that even after his death, Mr. Schulz allowed for his gang of lil folks to continue, and in a way give him a sense of immortality, as a small but living part of human culture.

How kind of Mr. Watterson to have allowed us a brief visit with Calvin & Hobbes before taking them away. I'm thankful for the time he shared with us before he realized we weren't worth his time.
posted by ZachsMind at 1:49 PM on October 14, 2007


I'm completely flabbergasted by ZachsMind's attitude. Usually I just scroll past his invariably-five-paragraph posts, but something made me read them in this thread. Unfuckingbelievable.
posted by Roach at 3:08 PM on October 14, 2007


So Roach, you'd prefer a world without Charlie Brown Christmas? Unbelievable.
posted by ZachsMind at 3:28 PM on October 14, 2007


I love Robot Chicken, but I hated that sketch, mostly because it gave Calvin a voice. I can't exactly articulate why, but it kinda broke something for me.
posted by mbd1mbd1 at 3:41 PM on October 14, 2007


And the award for Not Reading the Thread goes to:

So Roach, you'd prefer a world without Charlie Brown Christmas? Unbelievable.

While we're at it, let's present the award for Most Arrogant, Ungrateful Prick as well:

How kind of Mr. Watterson to have allowed us a brief visit with Calvin & Hobbes before taking them away. I'm thankful for the time he shared with us before he realized we weren't worth his time.
posted by Mikey-San at 3:57 PM on October 14, 2007


stammer: Even the preachy ones were still amazing to read - no other cartoonist had anything approaching Watterson's sense of timing and body language.

That's true, definitely- there's one in particular that I was thinking of that doesn't have much of a joke, (it's basically just Calvin's dad complaining about TV news programs invading people's privacy) but the body language and timing in that strip are indeed note-perfect. Even that hypothetical preachy political strip it might have devolved into would still have been light-years ahead of most anything else in the newspapers, I'm sure.

Also, I figure Calvin & Hobbes made it pretty clear that Watterson hates everything about "graphic novels", including the phrase itself.

I was sort of going along with the whole tendency to define anything that's in comic format but isn't a newspaper strip or a standard comic book as a "graphic novel", but, yeah, you're right- that really isn't the right term at all for what I imagine he would do, and it's definitely not the term he would use...
posted by a louis wain cat at 4:08 PM on October 14, 2007


you'd prefer a world without Charlie Brown Christmas? Unbelievable.

I'd prefer a world without false dichotomies.

And that shirt lasted fifteen fucking years and is still going. I don't want to replace it. I had another one up until last year that was in even better shape until I threw up into it one drunken night and decided the next morning it couldn't be saved.

Damn near anything that's good will end before you want it to. It's as simple as that. Whether it's Calvin and Hobbes or thirty more seconds of really good fucking, it's always over too soon.
posted by Cyrano at 5:09 PM on October 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


Regarding the political dimension to Watterson's work, he started out as a political cartoonist.
posted by Kattullus at 5:12 PM on October 14, 2007


he started out as a political cartoonist

Links?
Please!
posted by caddis at 6:13 PM on October 14, 2007


I always thought Watterson's objective to "graphic novels" was the fact that they were, in fact, comic books and comic books are stupid (in his mind), not just the concept of comics in a non-daily format.

I could be wrong.
posted by dismas at 6:18 PM on October 14, 2007


Dunno if there's linkage, Caddis, but in college he studied political humor. Watterson got his bachelor's degree from Kenyon College in political science, which he no doubt found to be high - larious. That was back in the early 80s I think. Pre-Calvin.

Ooh. Here's something. Target was the name of a quarterly periodical. Bill drew for that before he started on C&H.
posted by ZachsMind at 6:39 PM on October 14, 2007


Wow Mikey-San! I've been a little opinionated in this thread I'd have to admit, but for you to infer that Bill Watterson is an "arrogant and ungrateful prick"? Even I wouldn't go THAT far. Thank you for saying that for me. I don't have the courage you do. Kudos!
posted by ZachsMind at 6:46 PM on October 14, 2007


What are you talking about? The more you post, the less sense you make. One giant psyduck after another.

The best I can come up with is that you're attempting to infer that what I quoted you as saying was said by Watterson originally. I can't find a reference supporting that, but I'd love to know if he did, and the context surrounding it. (Which I bet is somewhat different than this thread.) Regardless of if he said it originally, it sounded ridiculous when you said it. So I'm calling you ungrateful, because every time you post, you show that you are.

If he said it, and you were quoting, why not just say that? I mean, we're all pretty sure we understand your stance at this point, anyway.
posted by Mikey-San at 7:43 PM on October 14, 2007


I'm really late to this thread, but I wanted to re-emphasize what a few other people have said; if you're not sure what Peanuts was all about, get the Fantagraphics books. The earlier the better. Growing up I was lucky enough to inherit from various relatives a huge number of the paperback collections stretching from the '50's to the '80's, and the older they were the more I enjoyed them. These days I feel like the strip peaked in the '50's, rather than the '60's, before Snoopy took over and things started getting a little glib. I think the art was a lot more expressive in the really early days, too. But Sparky could surprise you from time to time, right up to the end. RIP.
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:24 PM on October 14, 2007


I can't understand the hostility towards the Charlie Brown Christmas special under the terms of argument offered in this thread. It's not cutesy-marketable - it's completely fucking bleak.

[/just popping in to defend the honor-and-title of one of the most depressing media ever created. Carry on.]
posted by Minus215Cee at 8:27 PM on October 14, 2007


I can't understand the hostility towards the Charlie Brown Christmas special under the terms of argument offered in this thread. It's not cutesy-marketable - it's completely fucking bleak.

Check out that WWI/WWII memorial special mentioned above. Bleak, bleak, fucking bleak, you could play Bolt Thrower's "Cenotaph" in the background and not make it any more bleak bleak.
posted by vorfeed at 2:13 PM on October 15, 2007


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