It's Just a Stuffed Tiger
June 7, 2010 2:10 PM   Subscribe

Calvin Minus Hobbes, via Comic Alliance.

Previoulsy, Garfiled Minus Garfield (with precognitive comments on Calvin Minus Hobbes) and Garfield Minus Garfield plus Garfield.
posted by jabberjaw (138 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
Calvin is losing his god-damned mind.
posted by Hiker at 2:12 PM on June 7, 2010


Must've peed on an exposed electrical wire instead of a Chevrolet.
posted by mr_crash_davis mark II: Jazz Odyssey at 2:15 PM on June 7, 2010 [4 favorites]


Oh god no. With Garfield it was hilarious. This is just going to make me want to hang myself.
posted by griphus at 2:16 PM on June 7, 2010 [30 favorites]


There are some mysteries sequential art fans will take to their graves. Who was really under V's mask? Was Batman originally intended to let KGBeast die? Perhaps the most unsolvable mystery, however, pertains to Bill Watterson's "Calvin & Hobbes" and whether its protagonists were living in a world of magical mystery or simply pure imagination.

Um, I think you maybe missed the point of the strip.
posted by shakespeherian at 2:16 PM on June 7, 2010 [32 favorites]


Calvin and Unmagical Stuffed Animal makes for a much less entertaining comic strip.
posted by spoobnooble at 2:19 PM on June 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


This doesn't work, because the premise of Calvin and Hobbes admits this, so there's no subversion going on. With Garfield minus Garfield you wind up reading a comic about a man going crazy with existential isolation, which is not what the original comic is about in any detectable sense. Calvin minus Hobbes, you're looking at a boy playing pretend, which is exactly what the original comic is about.
posted by furiousthought at 2:21 PM on June 7, 2010 [118 favorites]


Calvin minus Hobbes sucks.
posted by Floydd at 2:23 PM on June 7, 2010 [9 favorites]


*weep* oh god make it stop. reading these is more painful than that fake calvin&hobbes strip where calvin goes on the pills
posted by sarastro at 2:23 PM on June 7, 2010 [9 favorites]


Saddest Calvin & Hobbes, as mentioned previously.

(As sarastro mentioned)
posted by filthy light thief at 2:26 PM on June 7, 2010 [18 favorites]


I like it. It unromanticizes that crazy little bastard.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 2:26 PM on June 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


Wow, I had an immediate and visceral reaction of outrage and hate for this concept, along the lines of "How dare this guy mess with my beloved Calvin & Hobbes!" followed quickly by a moment of introspection: "I wonder if this is how Garfield fans felt about Garfield's word bubbles removed," which was followed equally quickly by hilarity: "What am I thinking, Garfield doesn't have fans."
posted by jamaro at 2:29 PM on June 7, 2010 [43 favorites]


I think this is a worthwhile, if rather obvious and boring, experiment. Had a different, smaller, selection of strips been chosen it might have had more impact.
posted by unmake at 2:31 PM on June 7, 2010


An amusing little sidenote: Garfield-minus-garfield is actually very popular with Jim Davis (the cartoonist) and he contributed a few of his own garfield remixes to the new book.

I really can't see Bill Watterson getting on board for any C&H remixes though. He'd probably shank you if you even asked him to.
posted by sarastro at 2:33 PM on June 7, 2010 [8 favorites]


Make me down as "against"
posted by never used baby shoes at 2:33 PM on June 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is terrible and mean.
posted by mondaygreens at 2:34 PM on June 7, 2010


He needs to pee on more logos of things.
posted by drjimmy11 at 2:37 PM on June 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


furiousthought: With Garfield minus Garfield you wind up reading a comic about a man going crazy with existential isolation, which is not what the original comic is about in any detectable sense

Though I agree with the point you were making, I'm not sure that Garfield (plus Garfield) isn't NOT about a man going crazy with existential isolation at least a little bit...the guy's only constant companion is a cat that fucking hates him more than he hates Mondays and mocks him for not being able to score with his vet.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 2:40 PM on June 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


MCMike - Garfield comes across to me as Jim Davis making fun of Jon. So GwG kinda rescues Jon from both.

GwG is a lot nicer, IMHO.
posted by mondaygreens at 2:45 PM on June 7, 2010


I wonder what the Garfield movie would be like without Garfield?
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:45 PM on June 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm not sure that Garfield (plus Garfield) isn't NOT about a man going crazy with existential isolation at least a little bit

That's fair - strike "detectable" and change to "any major sense" and I think that covers it.
posted by furiousthought at 2:47 PM on June 7, 2010


The entire premise of the strip is that Calvin has an active imagination and his best friend is a stuffed tiger. All this does is remind you of the premise. What's the point?
posted by shakespeherian at 2:48 PM on June 7, 2010


Calvin and Hobbes is based on character, clever writing, and gorgeous art. Take away one character and the strip still stands, though weaker than before.

Garfield is vapid on all levels. Take away one of the two characters and it only improves. Just think how good it would be if you took away Jon, the"artwork," and hell, even the paper it's printed on! A complete absence of Garfield would be the best possible thing you could do for the strip!
posted by lekvar at 2:49 PM on June 7, 2010


furiousthought nails it. Hobbes as not-a-stuffed-animal is the central conceit, and fun of the strip. Removing it is an art experiment that seems to prove and say nothing. Maybe: incomplete Calvin and Hobbes is incomplete?

I'm reminded me of a viral comic I saw not too long ago that had Calvin on Ritalin. Of course, that was mordantly, bleakly funny. This, just, joyless.

And what about Calvin and Hobbes; Fight Club: Secret Connections? I suppose removing Brad Pitt from that movie would have the same effect as this online experiment.
posted by artlung at 2:50 PM on June 7, 2010


Garfield sucks, so Garfield Minus Garfield was really really funny to me. (Add Zalgo for bigger yucks.) Calvin Minus Hobbes, though... no. Just dull moronery.

Hobbes didn't always appear anyway, and even those strips were funny. Example. Example. Example. Example.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 2:53 PM on June 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


An amusing little sidenote: Garfield-minus-garfield is actually very popular with Jim Davis (the cartoonist)

It looks like he's co-opted the thing, as Garfield minus Garfield on Go Comics is by Paws, Inc, the copyrighter of Garfield products and color comics, and the book is credited to Jim Davis, though the book apparently is a "best of" compendium of works posted on Garfield minus Garfield.net (the .com is a cyberswquatter domain)
posted by filthy light thief at 2:55 PM on June 7, 2010


I'm still waiting for Calvin -> Jon. Get on it, cartooniators!
posted by Sys Rq at 3:01 PM on June 7, 2010


I attended ROFLcon a few weeks ago, and Dan Walsh, the creator of Garfield Minus Garfield was on a panel. A member of the audience specifically asked about Calvin Minus Hobbes, and Walsh replied that it would miss the point--In Garfield, Jim and Garfield never actually interact; Jim is already alone.

Calvin Minus Hobbes doesn't work, Walsh continued, because the central conceit is that the characters are always at play together (and bad influences on each other).

This is dreary.

Incidentally, Dan Walsh was a very nice fellow.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 3:03 PM on June 7, 2010 [14 favorites]


This is why I hate Mondays. (Lasagna).
posted by chavenet at 3:04 PM on June 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


More fabricated Calvin & Hobbes comics: A speculated final comic, written up before the actual final scene was printed and distributed. No picture, but a vivid description of what one journalist thought would (could?) be the final scene.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:05 PM on June 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is what happens when we grow up and leave childish things behind us.

But not all of us think that's such a great thing.
posted by tommasz at 3:07 PM on June 7, 2010


A speculated final comic, written up before the actual final scene was printed and distributed. No picture, but a vivid description of what one journalist thought would (could?) be the final scene.

The fact that the strip actually ended in the exact opposite of that link's suggestion is a precise example of why Bill Watterson is a genius and that journalist is not.
posted by Bookhouse at 3:13 PM on June 7, 2010 [23 favorites]


There are some mysteries sequential art fans will take to their graves. ... Was Batman originally intended to let KGBeast die?

This is not an "unsolvable mystery." The answer is yes. The original comic was not ambiguous.
posted by cribcage at 3:17 PM on June 7, 2010


Regarding the Garfield-bashing: Garfield at one time was a just-fine gag strip. It goes for easy consistent jokes and many people know it and read it for that reason. Not everything can be great. Garfield is harmless, but it's been merchandised, animated, and movied to death. I am impressed that Jim Davis Inc has managed to sell it as product for 30some years. Longevity, if not quality has a kind of value. I guess not all cartoonists can be Charles Schulz.

Contrast the longevity of Garfield with Calvin and Hobbes. It's been 15 years since it was new. I really wish Bill Watterson was making a comic now. I wish he'd been putting in work. If C&H was over as subject matter, make something else! He has a singular gift in comics history, I wish he'd share it! We are deprived of something interesting with him not producing a comic. I can intellectually respect his choice, but my heart hurts to think we won't see him working in comics.

Meanwhile, Garfield trudges along: Shop now and save 25%.
posted by artlung at 3:20 PM on June 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


The entire premise of the strip is that Calvin has an active imagination and his best friend is a stuffed tiger.

Not according to Watterson. From Wikipedia:

Many readers assume that Hobbes is either a product of Calvin's imagination, or a stuffed animal that comes to life when Calvin is the only one around, or when nobody else but him is looking. However, Watterson rejects both of these interpretations, saying, "Hobbes is more about the subjective nature of reality than dolls coming to life"; thus, there is no concrete definition of Hobbes' reality. Watterson explained: "Calvin sees Hobbes one way, and everyone else sees Hobbes another way." Hobbes' reality is in the eye of the beholder. The so-called 'gimmick' of Hobbes is the juxtaposition of Calvin and Hobbes' reality and everyone else's, with the two rarely agreeing.
posted by notmydesk at 3:23 PM on June 7, 2010 [20 favorites]


the guy's only constant companion is a cat that fucking hates him more than he hates Mondays and mocks him for not being able to score with his vet.

In that sense, every Garfield strip is kinda like that episode of Criminal Minds where Mitch Pileggi loses it and becomes a freeway sniper.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 3:24 PM on June 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


Obviously Hobbes is a trickster god who uses the doll as a vehicle and only manifests in his true form for Calvin, who everyone thinks is a spaz anyway, so no one suspects a thing. I mean, isn't that what everybody got out of the comic?
posted by kittens for breakfast at 3:26 PM on June 7, 2010 [6 favorites]


The so-called 'gimmick' of Hobbes is the juxtaposition of Calvin and Hobbes' reality and everyone else's, with the two rarely agreeing.

Ha!
posted by kittens for breakfast at 3:27 PM on June 7, 2010


Ziggy minus Ziggy still sucks.
posted by wcfields at 3:33 PM on June 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Actually these don't seem so bad, just kind of boring. Like furiousthought said, it's like a cartoon of a kid playing with a stuffed tiger, except half of the jokes are missing.
posted by delmoi at 3:35 PM on June 7, 2010


Calvin is named after Calvin. Hobbes is named after Hobbes.

Do with this theory as you wish.
posted by infinitywaltz at 4:02 PM on June 7, 2010


Worthless Mary Worth


It's the same.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:09 PM on June 7, 2010 [5 favorites]


Um, I think you maybe missed the point of the strip.

How are they missing the point of the strip? Watterson's explanation of why he didn't want C&H to be marketed was that he didn't want to solve the mystery of whether Hobbes is real. (I know this has been quoted on Metafilter before...)
posted by Jaltcoh at 4:18 PM on June 7, 2010


I still picture this one whenever I'm listening to jazz, or when I'm at the symphony, or (basically) whenever I'm pretending to be an adult...
posted by ohyouknow at 4:19 PM on June 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


Ziggy minus Ziggy still sucks.

Ziggy minus Ziggy plus Ziggy also sucks.
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:26 PM on June 7, 2010 [5 favorites]


Needs more Hobbes!
posted by mazola at 4:30 PM on June 7, 2010


If you're going to ravage my childhood at least do what Robot Chicken did and actually be funny about it. Mars, Hobbes. We're going to Mars.

That Ritalin strip is brutal. I think I need to lie down.
posted by edbles at 4:34 PM on June 7, 2010 [1 favorite]




The Ritalin strip is way better than the Robot Chicken episode. The Robot Chicken short is just violent and dumb with little joke other than "Oh, Calvin's schizophrenic." The impact of the Ritalin strip, however, is sudden, crushing existential despair (witness the number of reactions which are some variation on "I need to go lie down now"), which perfectly inverts the tone and heart of the original strip. The Robot Chicken short is good for maybe a cheap laugh, but the Ritalin strip is an act of war against the original, and for that reason it is far better.
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:47 PM on June 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


Antidote for the ritalin strip.
posted by stavrogin at 5:16 PM on June 7, 2010 [21 favorites]


Garfield Minus Garfield was, it seems to me, a refinement of that strip, in which quite often Garfield simply comments sarcastically on Jon's sadness, loneliness, and borderline psychosis. As it turns out, Jon comes across sadder, lonelier, and more psychotic without that commentary, which means the joke's extended to Garfield himself, whose cruel wise-cracks are revealed to've been superfluous all along. Calvin Minus Hobbes still "works," I think, judging by some of the reactions it's provoked here, but not as a refinement of the original. As a naturalistic revision, it doesn't have to be funnier or even funny -- just blunt. To take infinitywaltz up on the offer, if Calvin and Hobbes had been written by the author of Leviathan, it may've looked a bit like Calvin Minus Hobbes. The editor here has chosen to resolve the, erm, ontological ambivalence on the side of the adults, aligning the reader with them to the exclusion of Calvin's experience. Dreary, yes, but as with Leviathan, probably the point. It may not be funny, but it may at least be interesting to reread those strips from the POV of the parents. The editor could've also resolved reality the other way (as if written by the author of the Institutes?), so that the Hobbes no longer reverts into his stuffed animal form when the mom or dad or whoever is around. I guess this wouldn't've carried the same paene-critical punch, though.
posted by flechsig at 5:18 PM on June 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


How are they missing the point of the strip? Watterson's explanation of why he didn't want C&H to be marketed was that he didn't want to solve the mystery of whether Hobbes is real. (I know this has been quoted on Metafilter before...)

Watterson wrote in the Tenth Anniversary book, 'I don't want the issue of Hobbes's reality settled by a doll manufacturer.' This doesn't mean, as the link suggests, that Hobbes's reality is a mystery that haunts readers of the strip.
posted by shakespeherian at 5:22 PM on June 7, 2010


I like to think that Calvin grew up to become the xkcd guy, and Susie Derkins is the girl with the apartment she's turned into a ball pit (because now that they're grown up, they get to decide what being adult means).

And Hobbes went to live on a farm, right? Right?!
posted by misha at 5:23 PM on June 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


If you're going to read the ritalin strip, do yourself a favor and read the follow-up. It won't un-ruin your day, but it'll make you feel better.
posted by jabberjaw at 5:28 PM on June 7, 2010 [4 favorites]


I thought this was interesting. I didn't see it as mean or petty, or trying to say "Ha ha, Hobbes isn't real you dorks!"

Here's how I saw it: this is what Calvin looks like to grown-ups. It's established that Hobbes looks like a regular stuffed tiger to everyone who's not Calvin. That doesn't mean that Hobbes isn't real, and don't think these strips make Hobbes not-real, either. It just puts it in a different perspective. Instead of us being Calvin's co-conspirators, somehow able to share Calvin's reality even though nobody else does, we're, well...us. Grown-ups.

Which is not to say that these strips are funny, but that's fine. It's like playing Memento in chronological order, or watching The Sixth Sense or Fight Club knowing the secret ahead of time. Maybe it doesn't hold a candle to the original experience, but it's an interesting alternative perspective nonetheless.
posted by lore at 5:29 PM on June 7, 2010 [11 favorites]


Hobbes's reality is a mystery that haunts readers of the strip

And that's the way it should be.
posted by AdamCSnider at 5:30 PM on June 7, 2010


I... that isn't what I said.
posted by shakespeherian at 5:37 PM on June 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


Yeah,but what would Hobbes minus Calvin look like?
posted by bwg at 5:41 PM on June 7, 2010


Watterson explained: "Calvin sees Hobbes one way, and everyone else sees Hobbes another way." Hobbes' reality is in the eye of the beholder. The so-called 'gimmick' of Hobbes is the juxtaposition of Calvin and Hobbes' reality and everyone else's, with the two rarely agreeing.

Wilfred mines closely related territory and is also beautifully done.
posted by flabdablet at 5:42 PM on June 7, 2010


If you're going to ravage my childhood, at least…

Did someone order a childhood rape? NSFW. YMMV. I take no responsibility for clawed eyes or other self-harm.

Calvin and Hobbes just doesn't collapse the multiple realities; tiger Hobbes, plush Hobbes, Noir, Spaceman Spiff… When Hobbes is lost in the woods, Calvin's mom calls him before she catches herself. When Mrs Wormwood interrogates Calvin, both the alien world and the classroom still make sense.
posted by Tobu at 5:45 PM on June 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, Garfield minus Garfield minus Jon is an improvement.
posted by dirty lies at 5:50 PM on June 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


Garfield minus Garfield is like Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead: it takes the central character out of the plot and that creates a new space in that world. R+C never contradicts Hamlet, which means it helps you think about how the plot machinations would look to someone in that world other than Hamlet, which G-G also does (but with jokes, not plot.) This, however, is like Macbeth without Lady Macbeth - you have to wonder "what the fuck is going on?" because all of the reasons why things are happening are now deleted. Most of these cartoons seem to involve half a conversation and don't make any sense as a result.

This isn't a recontextualization or an excercise in surrealism; it's just taking a hammer to something that was really fine-tuned to start with and then banging away.
posted by Kiablokirk at 5:53 PM on June 7, 2010 [11 favorites]


So, as mediocre as I thought it was, 'Calvin Without Hobbes' actually got me thinking. Like, I thought the remix was pretty much garbage, but garbage in a very specific way.

Okay, so, what's going on in Calvin and Hobbes, if you really want to take away everything that makes the comic special and relatable and reduce to its bare core, is the story of a boy with a very active imagination --- to the point where he finds his fantasies more 'real' than reality. On its face, this is not a terrible idea for a comic, but still, not very good. I mean, "this is a comic about the magical power of imagination." BARF. There are probably (definitely) worse things you could write about, but really, nobody wants to read that comic.

What elevates Calvin & Hobbes out of that ghetto of whimsy, however, is also the same thing that confuses people into thinking that maybe Hobbes is a magical transforming being: namely, the strip's utter commitment to Calvin's view of the world. It is so committed to showing us his inner life and bringing us into his world that it treats even the most outlandish of his imaginations as absolute fact.

Whenever Calvin is alone with Hobbes, there is never any ironic winking at the reader about Hobbes' nature, or any comment on the improbability of the fantasies that Calvin has worked up; all of this is presented to the reader as straight up fact, and people buy into this as straight up fact because that's how narrative conventions work --- the author goes, "this is the world we're dealing with," and everyone is like, "yup, okay!" At no point is the reader asked or even allowed to consider that any of this might be 'fake'; when Calvin and Hobbes are alone together, it is absolutely just a boy and a tiger, flying through space in a cardboard box, and nothing else.

The only time Hobbes' plush-toy nature is ever acknowledged is when some other character who Calvin interacts with makes some comment about it --- Suzie talking about how adorable the stuffed tiger is, or Calvin's mom rolling her eyes, or whatever. This is the only time the reader is pulled out of Calvin's world and presented with the world at large, and even then, it's only for a second, because usually Calvin just barrels through everybody's logic with whatever madness he's got going on at the moment. These rare moments when we get to see Calvin from the outside really reinforce what kind of kid he is and how strong his imagination is; whenever anybody says anything about Hobbes not being a real tiger, Calvin seems truly, genuinely bewildered, like, honestly non-comprehending (that is, if he even bothers to acknowledge the other character's point). So you get these kind of 'worlds colliding' moments scattered throughout the strip, but Watterson is a very smart man who knows what he's doing, so he uses these moments sparingly and never makes too big a deal out of them, tempering them all with humour and wit and insight, so that you barely notice what's happening.

True to form, very, very, very rarely, there will be two characters --- neither of whom is Calvin --- talking about him when he's not around, and this is the only time where Hobbes is treated as completely 'fake.' Off the top of my head, the only example i can think of this is the storyline where Hobbes gets lost in the woods and Calvin's father has to go out at night looking for Hobbes (there are others, I'm sure,) and it's these very, very rare moments when we are pulled all the way out of Calvin's imagination that causes the problem for some people. This is what I always assumed Watterson meant when he talked about a manufactured Hobbes doll 'solving the mystery': that Hobbes existing as a plush toy would put him firmly in this camp, reducing the vitality of Calvin's imagination --- that the strip went to such lengths to affirm --- to the mere delusions of a child, forever removing the tension inherent in the strip's central paradox.

And that's just it: because the comic has this cool thing going on, where the reader is aware that, yeah, Calvin isn't really talking to an anthropomorphic tiger while travelling through time or whatever, but at the same time, the strip (and by extension, the reader) is so committed to Calvin's viewpoint and imagination that a talking, anthropomorphic tiger is treated as part of de facto reality. So the reader spends 90% of the time in Calvin-land (which is treated as the strip's reality), but then every now and then Calvin interacts with someone who refers to Calvin's hijinx and Hobbes' 'fakeness' (which is also treated as the strip's reality)...

...so it's really no surprise that some people skip over this delicious tension (BARF, again) and go, "Well, Calvin is obviously talking to Hobbes in this one scene, but then in the next, Suzie says that Hobbes is a stuffed animal...soooooo, Hobbes MUST be MAGIC!" I'm not going off on these people, because I absolutely see how somebody could see the strip that way, but I think you miss a bit of the strip's power and richness if you can't embrace the central tension between Calvin's world and the rest of the world; you miss out if you can't accept the paradox to the strip and life, that Calvin (and our) inner life is to Calvin (and us) more nuanced and vital than the supposed "real world" outside, that ultimately, the two are both different and indistinguishable (BAAAAAAARRRFFFF)

So, I guess what I'm saying is, Calvin Without Hobbes makes this same mistake..or, not 'mistake' really, but just generally completely and utterly bypasses the point --- it's not 'wrong', exactly, but it cuts out all the magic, wit, and subtlety from the original strip. So why would you even make this? It's like if some guy made a fan tribute to 'the Matrix' where Neo decides to take the blue pill...and then the rest of the movie is like, him waking up in the morning, going to work, buying lunch, going about his day. Who would want to watch that? That's pretty much a worthless, garbage movie. And so 'Calvin Without Hobbes' is similarly, like, the lifeless husk of a much better comic; it really only exists because it occurred to someone to make it, and really only serves to throw into stark relief how good the original actually was.

Actually, I never even thought about this stuff until I read the remix and tried to put my finger on what was so wrong about it. So, it has a point? I guess? Also, THESE BEANS SURE ARE GONNA TASTE GOOD ONCE I'M DONE THINKING ABOUT THEM.
posted by Tiresias at 6:28 PM on June 7, 2010 [231 favorites]


And now, Calvin minus Hobbes plus Garfield:

"Help me figure out this homework problem, Hobbes, What's 3+8?"
"I hate Mondays."
"Gosh, I must have done all the others wrong."
"I like Lasagna."
posted by qvantamon at 7:39 PM on June 7, 2010 [19 favorites]


My point being: Garfield is what happened to middle-aged Hobbes when he let himself go.
posted by qvantamon at 7:42 PM on June 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


There are a few times when the actions of the strip wouldn't seem to make much sense without Calvin's imagination being real-- I don't think it's possible to read it as entirely one way or the other.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:43 PM on June 7, 2010




Just think about how creepy Calvin and Hobbes Minus Calvin would be — two parents, holding conversations with the empty air, moving around their dead son's stuffed tiger, their delusion aided by a town who, in their collective denial of their role in Calvin's tragic death, will not even acknowledge that he has passed. Now even the children play "Let's Talk to Calvin," who has reached the status of town imaginary friend.

The citizenry have refused to sign so much as a death certificate, and so the little boy's spirit, unable to move on, occasionally moves objects around and can even briefly animate a stuffed tiger, imagining conversations with the little boy he might have been.

The deluded and the dead, circling one another in a desolate suburban cul-de-sac as the whole hamlet slowly goes mad as the living playact the dead and the dead play at being alive.
posted by adipocere at 8:10 PM on June 7, 2010 [56 favorites]


I don't know why all of you insist that Hobbes really is a stuffed tiger. It's clear that everyone besides Calvin in the strip are the ones that got it backwards.
posted by oddman at 8:10 PM on June 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


Just searched out the last C&H strip...made me cry.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 9:06 PM on June 7, 2010 [3 favorites]




I'm not sure I like the transformation between the gently humorous adventures of a boy and his tiger, and Calvin's psychotic breakdown. It's ok with Garfield because Garfield's a cunt.
posted by Not Supplied at 9:22 PM on June 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


I don't know why all of you insist that Hobbes really is a stuffed tiger. It's clear that everyone besides Calvin in the strip are the ones that got it backwards.

As a child reading this strip I had it figured this way: Hobbes is a real, large, talking tiger who somehow wandered into this kid's life and hangs around because they are two of a kind. In order to fit in, he magically turns himself into an inanimate stuffed toy whenever anyone else is around.
posted by longsleeves at 9:23 PM on June 7, 2010 [6 favorites]


I always figured he was sort of Schrodinger's Tiger.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 9:32 PM on June 7, 2010 [21 favorites]


This doesn't work, because the premise of Calvin and Hobbes admits this, so there's no subversion going on.

Ah, but does the premise of Calvin of Hobbes really exclude it from examination and inevitable exposure of the delusional world it celebrates? Or is it not possible to subvert the unsubvertible.

I'm with CHT. Get some real friends, kiddo.

This, just, joyless.

And yet some of those strips made me laugh. Notably 6 and 7. Sure, not as funny as some of the originals, but then again, neither is Garfield without Garfield, to be honest.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:39 PM on June 7, 2010


It's clear that everyone besides Calvin in the strip are the ones that got it backwards

This applies to Wilfred too; possibly more so.
posted by flabdablet at 9:40 PM on June 7, 2010


It's like if some guy made a fan tribute to 'the Matrix' where Neo decides to take the blue pill...and then the rest of the movie is like, him waking up in the morning, going to work, buying lunch, going about his day. Who would want to watch that?

I'd watch it, if it was good. I don't think Keanu could conjure up the right level of wistfulness, though.
posted by mrgrimm at 9:43 PM on June 7, 2010 [4 favorites]


I have to be honest. I'm often a fan of clever deconstructions, but C&H is so wise, so generous and so special to me that I just can't countenance this sort of stunt. Fie, fie upon you, internet dude.
posted by clockzero at 10:10 PM on June 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


Now do Family Circus without the children.
posted by zippy at 10:30 PM on June 7, 2010 [4 favorites]


Man, altering C&H in any way is really tipping sacred cows around here. I thought these provided a neat little change in perspective. They don't detract from the originals in any way. It might also be interesting to do a series in which all the stuffed versions of Hobbes are placed with the live version. (Particularly the one where Calvin's dad finds him chewed by a dog.)

For those of you who claim that Garfield has no fans, here you go. This blog made me like Garfield. I never would have thought it could happen.

And then there are the Lasagnacat tributes, but those are tongue-in-cheek.
posted by painquale at 11:34 PM on June 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


The Ritalin strip has been linked a few times, but here's another edit for those of you that feel a bit too happy today.
posted by ymgve at 1:17 AM on June 8, 2010 [4 favorites]


sarastro: "*weep* oh god make it stop. reading these is more painful than that fake calvin&hobbes strip where calvin goes on the pills"

A much better fan-made finale.

If they touch each other, will they explode?
posted by Rhaomi at 1:25 AM on June 8, 2010 [23 favorites]


I didn't realize how much I horribly, horribly detested the Calvin on ritalin comic until I saw the refutation in this thread where Hobbes comes back to life... and I burst into tears.

Calvin Minus Hobbes is just boring.

However, I had no idea how funny some of the Garfield minus Garfield strips are - like this, or this or this.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 1:28 AM on June 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Just think about how creepy Calvin and Hobbes Minus Calvin would be — two parents, holding conversations with the empty air, moving around their dead son's stuffed tiger, their delusion aided by a town who, in their collective denial of their role in Calvin's tragic death, will not even acknowledge that he has passed. Now even the children play "Let's Talk to Calvin," who has reached the status of town imaginary friend.

That gives me an idea.

Batman Minus Batman.
posted by furiousthought at 1:37 AM on June 8, 2010 [4 favorites]


It's like if some guy made a fan tribute to 'the Matrix' where Neo decides to take the blue pill...and then the rest of the movie is like, him waking up in the morning, going to work, buying lunch, going about his day. Who would want to watch that? That's pretty much a worthless, garbage movie.

This is actually the exact premise that the writers started with for "The Lake House," "Point Break," "River's Edge," "Parenthood," "Dracula," and "Much Ado About Nothing," but it always ended up on the cutting room floor. The director's cut of Much Ado About Nothing (laserdisc) actually starts off here, then Rufus shows up with a phone booth and eventually Neo's like, "...I cannot hide what I am: I must be sad when I have cause and smile at no man's jests, eat when I have stomach and wait for no man's leisure, sleep when I am drowsy and tend on no man's business, laugh when I am merry and claw no man in his humour."
posted by one_bean at 1:41 AM on June 8, 2010 [1 favorite]



I'm not sure I like the transformation between the gently humorous adventures of a boy and his tiger, and Calvin's psychotic breakdown. It's ok with Garfield because Garfield's a cunt.


That's okay -- the last twenty-one years have been the fevered hallucinations of the cat slowly starving to death in an abandoned house.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 3:09 AM on June 8, 2010 [5 favorites]


I have to say that it is totally accurate as to the conversations of 6 year olds with their "imaginary" friends.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 6:06 AM on June 8, 2010


The citizenry have refused to sign so much as a death certificate, and so the little boy's spirit, unable to move on, occasionally moves objects around...

I'm further intrigued by the idea that one isn't dead, in the literal actual sense of still being able to move things around, until your town signs a death certificate.
posted by DU at 6:06 AM on June 8, 2010 [2 favorites]




I think "Garfield minus" works. This not so much. "Garfield minus" is mordantly humorous (like the latest strip in which Jon screams into thin air "I did not sleep a wink last night!"). The Calvin strips are just depressing. The whole point of the Bill Watterson strip is the magic of Hobbes, not the inventiveness of Calvin.

It speaks volumes that you can subtract from Jim Davis's strip and gain everything and subtract from Watterson's strip and lose everything.
posted by blucevalo at 7:38 AM on June 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


I... that isn't what I said.

Whoops. Apologies for the misquote.
posted by AdamCSnider at 7:41 AM on June 8, 2010


I still love you. I'll throw mushy crabapples at you.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:39 AM on June 8, 2010


bluecevalo: The whole point of the Bill Watterson strip is the magic of Hobbes, not the inventiveness of Calvin.

No, no.... Hobbes is magic because of Calvin's inventiveness. Either without the other would be incomplete.
posted by Malor at 8:41 AM on June 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


I hate the pills/Calvin grows up strips. They're so smarmy and trite, sentimentalism masquerading as real sentiment. Calvin-Hobbes doesn't work for reasons listed above, dull and unimaginative.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:57 AM on June 8, 2010


The whole point of the Bill Watterson strip is the magic of Hobbes, not the inventiveness of Calvin.

I think there's a confusion between the term 'premise' and the term 'point' expressed in this sentiment. This could be chalked up to the word 'about,' which can serve as a substitute for either term. But the point of C&H isn't that Hobbes is magic or that Calvin is inventive; the point is probably more along the lines of 'Children learn more from exploring the world on their own terms than adults do under sociological norms,' or 'Knowledge and wisdom and intelligence are often very different things,' or 'Friendship is more powerful than materialism,' or any number of things. It varies from strip to strip and from storyline to storyline. I don't think a ten-year-long strip that addressed everything from mortality to time travel, from the nature of inherent evil to the banality of television, from the idiotic distinction between 'high' and 'low' art to the subversion of undesired romantic feelings can ever be boiled down to having a point.
posted by shakespeherian at 8:58 AM on June 8, 2010 [4 favorites]


This is not okay.
posted by zizzle at 9:01 AM on June 8, 2010


So, I guess what I'm saying is, Calvin Without Hobbes makes this same mistake..or, not 'mistake' really, but just generally completely and utterly bypasses the point --- it's not 'wrong', exactly, but it cuts out all the magic, wit, and subtlety from the original strip. So why would you even make this? It's like if some guy made a fan tribute to 'the Matrix' where Neo decides to take the blue pill...and then the rest of the movie is like, him waking up in the morning, going to work, buying lunch, going about his day. Who would want to watch that?

Well, that's the whole point. If there is one. A movie about Neo taking the blue pill would be interesting if you'd seen the original movie (Probably more interesting then Revolutions, bleh) . So there's a contradiction between saying "The strip made me think" and also saying "There's no point."
posted by delmoi at 9:44 AM on June 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


You know what else faithfully portrays the reality of the character in focus at any given moment?

Family Guy.

For reals, though - whenever Chris is the focus, the evil monkey is real. And when Stewie is the focus he can talk and walk around. But if Lois is the focus then Stewie is just a baby with a baby's wants and needs.
posted by Space Coyote at 9:49 AM on June 8, 2010 [4 favorites]


I don't like it. It unromanticizes that crazy little bastard.
posted by mazola at 9:51 AM on June 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


But if Lois is the focus then Stewie is just a baby with a baby's wants and needs.

Uh no. If they were showing us the scene from Lois' perspective we wouldn't be able to hear Stewie talk, like how Hobbes goes stuffed when an adult or Susie enters the panel. We just see Lois interact with Stewie as if he is just a baby. This is not the same thing as the scene being shown from Lois' perspective. Unless there's something I'm missing?
posted by edbles at 9:59 AM on June 8, 2010


This is like when I heard Tori Amos's cover of Raining Blood. Yeah, you're making a point about contrasts and "masculinity". But you know, you made it sucky and unenjoyable and shit on the original art in order to make your point. I like it better when there's some intrinsic value in the derivative work in addition to the stunt.
posted by ignignokt at 10:08 AM on June 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


Whoa, Tori Amos covered Raining Blood? Huh!
posted by Greg Nog at 10:19 AM on June 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


The idea is a lot better than the reality.
posted by Nabubrush at 10:26 AM on June 8, 2010


This sucks. Straight up joyless copycat without the least bit of understanding about what makes GmG funny.

Lame.
posted by Aquaman at 10:31 AM on June 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


Ya'll will be singing a different tune when my new strip Cathy Minus Ack debuts next week.
posted by haveanicesummer at 10:38 AM on June 8, 2010 [8 favorites]


It's like if some guy made a fan tribute to 'the Matrix' where Neo decides to take the blue pill...and then the rest of the movie is like, him waking up in the morning, going to work, buying lunch, going about his day. Who would want to watch that?

I'd watch it, if it was good. I don't think Keanu could conjure up the right level of wistfulness, though.


"I know... Powerpoint."
posted by inigo2 at 10:44 AM on June 8, 2010 [10 favorites]


According to Seth McFarlane, the rest of the family can hear Stewie talk, they just don't take anything he says seriously because he's an infant.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:51 AM on June 8, 2010


shakespeherian: I don't think a ten-year-long strip that addressed everything from mortality to time travel, from the nature of inherent evil to the banality of television, from the idiotic distinction between 'high' and 'low' art to the subversion of undesired romantic feelings can ever be boiled down to having a point.

I'll gladly defer to your description of the point (or one of the points) of the strip.
posted by blucevalo at 11:30 AM on June 8, 2010


I thought Calvin minus Hobbes was Sinfest.
posted by howling fantods at 12:46 PM on June 8, 2010 [5 favorites]


The Ritalin strip always struck me as a bit of a reverse 'Hur hur they must all have been on drugs when they did that' - you know, the standard boring quip that talking heads come up with whenever anything whimsical is being discussed. The they-must-have-been-on-drugs line is based on the assumption that people aren't capable of being creative when they're sober; the Ritalin strip seems to imply that Calvin's creativity can't survive medication - or at least, chooses to strip the creativity out of the story by invoking chemical means. They both seem to react to imagination by reaching for the pills, one way or another.
posted by Kit W at 1:42 PM on June 8, 2010


I think it's more of a comment on Ritalin and how it's misprescribed for kids who are just being kids and not necessarily ADHD.
posted by stavrogin at 1:50 PM on June 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


I think it's more of a comment on Ritalin and how it's misprescribed for kids who are just being kids and not necessarily ADHD.


Yes, I know, but that's not quite the point I was making. The point was that it responds to creativity by talking about brain chemistry.

Now, someone may jump in and argue that it is, but that's not the subjective experience of creativity, which is what Calvin and Hobbes was always about. I'm sort of agreeing with Pope Guilty's point that it's an attack on the whole spirit of the strip, but basically what I'm saying is that, as with they-must-have-been-on-drugs, it's a response that views imagination resolutely from the outside, rather than entering into it.
posted by Kit W at 2:11 PM on June 8, 2010


I think you miss a bit of the strip's power and richness if you can't embrace the central tension between Calvin's world and the rest of the world; you miss out if you can't accept the paradox to the strip and life, that Calvin (and our) inner life is to Calvin (and us) more nuanced and vital than the supposed "real world" outside, that ultimately, the two are both different and indistinguishable

It kinda makes the cubist strip almost sincere.
posted by Reasonably Everything Happens at 2:27 PM on June 8, 2010




I always thought the Ritalin strip was a distillation of the last chapter of The House at Pooh Corner, which is one of the most moving passages in English literature.

(And the "Leviathan guy" is Peter Blegvad.)
posted by Grangousier at 2:47 PM on June 8, 2010



posted by not_on_display at 2:49 PM on June 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'd rather see the Calvin peeing sticker deconstructed by having an infinitely recursive spiral of Calvin peeing on himself.
posted by codacorolla at 3:21 PM on June 8, 2010


WCityMike - I remember that one! - plus: additional C&H reference in Sinfest.
posted by artlung at 3:53 PM on June 8, 2010


Pope Guilty: "According to Seth McFarlane, the rest of the family can hear Stewie talk, they just don't take anything he says seriously because he's an infant."

The weird mixing of realism and cartoonishness is one of the things I think is (at least occasionally) brilliant in Family Guy. Like when Lois is trying to convince Brian to go back to college to get his degree, and he doesn't want to, so she decides to scare him with the vacuum cleaner until he relents.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 6:31 PM on June 8, 2010 [4 favorites]


Yeah, Family Guy has some real moments of brilliance, which makes most of the episode disappointing.

I always think of that two-part South Park where Cartman serves as the voice of the creators in vitriolically explaining why he's offended to be compared to Family Guy. "See, Kyle? You're experiencing emotions in response to the plot. That's called character development, Kyle, and it's something that you won't see on fucking Family Guy!"
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:38 PM on June 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


Some people don't want their cartoon characters to develop. Fred Flintstone was the same from beginning to end. That's what makes it fun. Tom and Jerry are only fun when they aren't talking. Why? Because someone decided they ought to develop the characters a little more, and shit the entire pool.

It's Seinfeld versus Raymond.
posted by gjc at 7:21 PM on June 8, 2010


I always think of that two-part South Park where Cartman serves as the voice of the creators in vitriolically explaining why he's offended to be compared to Family Guy.

I stopped watching South Park after that episode, because I knew they'd never be that good again. (This wasn't actually a decision. It just happened and I'm inventing a decision now to make me look deep). But for me it was Bart being all "I cut the head off a statue." and Cartman being all, "I murdered a kids parents and then feed them to him in chilli," that got me. It was just so beautiful.
posted by edbles at 7:23 PM on June 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


I just came to recommend The Theology of Calvin and Hobbes (Previously.)
posted by puddleglum at 7:58 PM on June 8, 2010


As a child reading this strip I had it figured this way: Hobbes is a real, large, talking tiger who somehow wandered into this kid's life and hangs around because they are two of a kind. In order to fit in, he magically turns himself into an inanimate stuffed toy whenever anyone else is around.
posted by longsleeves


Yes. This.
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:22 PM on June 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


not_on_display - I wish I could favorite your... comment... a million times for the several levels of brilliance and epoystercalism it brings to this discussion.
posted by tzikeh at 1:02 AM on June 9, 2010


On its face, this is not a terrible idea for a comic, but still, not very good. I mean, "this is a comic about the magical power of imagination." BARF.

You lost me right there. It's a completely brilliant idea for a comic and the failure to recognize that is odd, IMO.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:04 AM on June 9, 2010


Brandon Blatcher: If you haven't already seen it I think you'd like Kukuburi.
posted by edbles at 7:47 AM on June 9, 2010


I still prefer Screaming Cathy to every other comic remix. (More.)
posted by NoraReed at 10:44 AM on June 9, 2010


posted by NoraReed:
"I still prefer Screaming Cathy to every other comic remix. (More.)"

WOOF WOOF WOOF WOOF
posted by not_on_display at 2:11 PM on June 9, 2010


Forbidden

You don't have permission to access /jon/images/screamingcathy/4.JPG on this server.

Additionally, a 404 Not Found error was encountered while trying to use an ErrorDocument to handle the request.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:21 PM on June 9, 2010


That totally worked when I posted it, I swear. Um. Try this.

I don't think they ever archived them anywhere because they made them like, 8,000 years ago in internet time.
posted by NoraReed at 3:28 PM on June 9, 2010


Forbidden

You don't have permission to access /jon/images/screamingcathy/1.JPG on this server.

Additionally, a 404 Not Found error was encountered while trying to use an ErrorDocument to handle the request.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:07 PM on June 9, 2010


It doesn't work by link-clicking, but if you copy and repaste it back into your address bar, it comes up.
posted by WCityMike at 4:28 PM on June 9, 2010


It doesn't work by link-clicking, but if you copy and repaste it back into your address bar, it comes up.

Let me see your baseball bat for a minute.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 5:01 AM on June 10, 2010


I'm totally not getting that error. So here is my impression of that comic:

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHH
AAAAAAAAAAAAH
AAAAAH
AAH

Also dogs.
posted by edbles at 5:19 AM on June 10, 2010


I always think of that two-part South Park where Cartman serves as the voice of the creators in vitriolically explaining why he's offended to be compared to Family Guy. "See, Kyle? You're experiencing emotions in response to the plot. That's called character development, Kyle, and it's something that you won't see on fucking Family Guy!"

South Park is dead wrong about Family Guy. Family Guy is all about character development--within the premise of a single show. There is minimal character development from season to season (mostly Brian), but within every episode the characters certainly respond and react to the plot.

Peter crashes the car into the city satellite dish and knocks out cable TV. Without cable TV, Peter goes crazy.

Lois becomes mayor of Quahog and gets corrupted by graft.

Lois sleeps with Bill Clinton, and Peter tries to get even by sleeping with her mom, then chickens out and has sex with Bill Clinton.

Stewie gets sunburned and Brian convinces him he's going to die of skin cancer, so Stewie starts living as it his days are numbered.

How are those characters not "experiencing emotions in response to the plot?" Bah.
posted by mrgrimm at 1:11 PM on June 10, 2010 [1 favorite]


mrgrimm: "tewie gets sunburned and Brian convinces him he's going to die of skin cancer, so Stewie starts living as it his days are numbered."

This has the brilliant dialogue:

Brian: What's that spot? You know, I think it could be... the C-word.
Stewie: The C-word? What's that got to do with... ooooh, I see.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 9:45 PM on June 10, 2010


This has the brilliant dialogue

Oh hi, Mr. Furley

...

Olive juice you, too ...
posted by mrgrimm at 10:26 AM on June 11, 2010


Brandon Blatcher: "Forbidden"

This is what happens when sites check the HTTP Referrer. When you get one of these messages, go to the address bar, select the URL and hit enter again. This clears the HTTP referrer (same as if you typed in the URL by hand), so the images will show up.
posted by beerbajay at 10:55 AM on June 11, 2010 [1 favorite]


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