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Calvin & Hobbes Playroom Murals
October 28, 2010 7:47 PM   Subscribe

Staying in a homeless shelter is no fun, especially for little kids. But a bright and sunny playroom can make it a little more comfortable, especially with Calvin & Hobbes murals on the walls.

El Paso artist Sergio Rivas describes his freehand work on the donated murals for Reynolds Home, a shelter for homeless women and children:

"Working on this mural, staring at every minute detail of Watterson's work, I gained a greater appreciation for his beautiful creations. I tried to respect the original works as much as possible, giving my full attention to even the smallest detail and trying to get the colors just right. Attempting to recreate the look of watercolors using only latex paint proved to be quite difficult. I hope I did 'em justice."

The rest of his Flickr stream is worth a browse.
posted by Gator (67 comments total) 70 users marked this as a favorite

 
This.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:51 PM on October 28, 2010


Beautiful. I'm amazed at the watercolour effect he managed to achieve.
posted by Dragonness at 7:54 PM on October 28, 2010


That is really, really fucking wonderful.
posted by griphus at 7:54 PM on October 28, 2010 [11 favorites]


wow.
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:58 PM on October 28, 2010


Sometimes you don't have anything particularly productive to add, but you have to express your amazement and gratitude. This is one of those times.
posted by jragon at 7:58 PM on October 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


Lovely! Thanks for sharing.
posted by elmer benson at 7:59 PM on October 28, 2010


"It's a magical world, Hobbes ol' buddy..."
posted by ocherdraco at 8:02 PM on October 28, 2010


He really captured Watterson's style. I wonder what Watterson would think of this...
posted by emilyd22222 at 8:05 PM on October 28, 2010


Best of the world.
posted by muddgirl at 8:07 PM on October 28, 2010


Wow. I'd kinda forgotten Calvin and Hobbes ended fifteen fucking years ago.

It's maybe been done as well, but never better.
posted by Cyrano at 8:12 PM on October 28, 2010


Well, if you're going expropriate Watterson's work for something that it wasn't intended, better a homeless shelter's playroom than a sticker of Calvin peeing stuck on the back window of a pick-up truck, I guess. I hope he's cool with it-- he wasn't exactly thrilled with the C&H postage stamp as I recall.
posted by KingEdRa at 8:13 PM on October 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


Why don't you put McDonalds' logos on the wall?
posted by coolxcool=rad at 8:17 PM on October 28, 2010


Why don't you put McDonalds' logos on the wall?

Because their artistic merit is just about nil? Because painting a logo for a consumer good in a homeless shelter is ridiculously poor taste? Because the McDonald's logo exists to sell you something, whereas the Calvin & Hobbes artwork is itself the product (if you want to see it in those terms)?
posted by jedicus at 8:20 PM on October 28, 2010 [15 favorites]


So did Watterson give permission? Do kids today even know about Calvin and Hobbes?
posted by Ideefixe at 8:24 PM on October 28, 2010


Watterson would have questioned why Rivas didn't just create an original work. Me, I think he's being a hard-ass. This is a beautiful homage.

We miss you, Bill.
posted by Xezlec at 8:26 PM on October 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


In case it wasn't clear, I'm putting words into Bill Watterson's mouth for comic effect. He didn't actually say that, to my knowledge.
posted by Xezlec at 8:28 PM on October 28, 2010


I wish that was my room. Really.
posted by rachaelfaith at 8:36 PM on October 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


em>"It's a magical world, Hobbes ol' buddy..."
posted by ocherdraco

I'm a grown up now, so it's ridiculous that seeing this strip makes me feel like someone close to me has died, but it does, every time.
posted by doublehappy at 8:44 PM on October 28, 2010 [13 favorites]


Because painting a logo for a consumer good in a homeless shelter is ridiculously poor taste?

To be fair, painting a character famous for laziness and rebellion is something something as well.
(Yes, I know.)
posted by doublehappy at 8:47 PM on October 28, 2010


This is the mural we painted in my office, and I must say it still makes me smile going in 6 years later.
posted by lucidprose at 8:48 PM on October 28, 2010 [19 favorites]


I got goosebumps, and then cried.

Every now and then someone posts something here that restores my faith in humanity, rather than eroding it. And this is a spectacular example of the former.

Now I desperately want to make heaps of stuffed tigers and send them to the kids at the shelter.
posted by malibustacey9999 at 8:49 PM on October 28, 2010 [6 favorites]


I'm pretty certain that Watterson would be touched by this, appreciate the purpose that his works are being used for, and happy with how faithfully and beautifully the artist has rendered them.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:57 PM on October 28, 2010


(additionally, since Calvin & Hobbes is maybe the most formative artwork of my youth, Watterson always strikes me a little like Harper Lee, in that I can't understand how someone can create something that singularly amazing and then say "whelp! I'm done!")
posted by Navelgazer at 8:58 PM on October 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


This C&H homage is just too good not to share.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 9:00 PM on October 28, 2010 [11 favorites]


Thanks for posting this.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:12 PM on October 28, 2010


This makes me want to have children, so that I can have an excuse to have walls like this. Then again, do I really need kids as an excuse?
posted by jabberjaw at 9:24 PM on October 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


One of the more endearing things about MetaFilter is the complete and total love for any and all things Calvin and Hobbes; not too many people that I know were/are as over the moon about it as I but it seems everyone here is, which rocks.
posted by dancestoblue at 9:25 PM on October 28, 2010 [5 favorites]


Is there a political party where I can just help homeless people and rescue baby birds? Cause I'm in.
posted by notion at 9:29 PM on October 28, 2010 [3 favorites]


My most prized possession is my C&H boxed anthology. Once my daughter is old enough to read comics on her own, they will be unboxed, and left on a bookshelf where she can easily reach them. Even if she has crayons.

This brings up a topic that confuses and saddens me... why not move onto the next thing? Shultz, Breathed, Trudeau, Watterson, Larson - why not try your talented hands at something profoundly new and awesome in the medium that you have a proven mastery in? Launch it forward even further with something new and strange - you'd think at least one cartoonist would go from strength to strength, and Trudeau sort of does this by learning to draw, but he refuses to leave his Doonseburyverse behind for something more immediate and relevant.

For Schultz, it's sadly too late. For Breathed, it's not. Let the penguin rest - be involved with the world as it is, and create something new with that remarkable vision! Watterson, leave the anachronistic fine-art painting, and return to four squares daily and ten on the weekend, and let us into the wonderful worlds your brain builds. Larson, leave the kids books, and try again something with a daily deadline... maybe with a panel-to-panel narrative? You can do it, and it would be epic.

It just seems very sad to me that these creators had a small window into which all of their genius was thrust. Agatha Christie and Terry Pratchett both had Alzheimers, and kept on creating with ruthless, doggedly determined passion all their working lives...
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:44 PM on October 28, 2010


Terry Pratchett HAS Alzheimers. HAS. And may he have many more years of life and creation.
posted by maudlin at 9:50 PM on October 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


One of the more endearing things about MetaFilter is the complete and total love for any and all things Calvin and Hobbes; not too many people that I know were/are as over the moon about it as I but it seems everyone here is, which rocks.

Calvin and Hobbes and The Far Side were integral parts of my childhood, and I find myself thinking about them surprisingly often, and the way I think about the world is strangely influenced by them. It's always weird to me that some kids were just deprived of what I consider to be two of the most influentional "texts" in my life. Metafilter's love for Calvin and Hobbes and this artist's painting them on the walls of a homeless shelter really does restore some of my faith in humanity.
posted by pecknpah at 9:55 PM on October 28, 2010


When I saw the pictures, I was truly moved. When I saw it was painted by someone other than Watterson, without permission, it made me uncomfortable.

Because if he had given permission, I would have said, "Bill, turn them into Blik stickers and then give all the $ to homeless shelters for kids!"

But he's been pretty clear about his stance on his copyright and, truly, it's his, even in the face of a good cause.
posted by Gucky at 10:04 PM on October 28, 2010 [2 favorites]


But he's been pretty clear about his stance on his copyright and, truly, it's his, even in the face of a good cause.

Fuck him. It's a mural. Not a t-shirt that you are selling for $20. I'd hope he made enough changes (20% or whatever is the minimum) to count as "fair use," but even if not, it's a goddamn mural. In a homeless shelter. That's not an issue for copyright -- that's just artwork and pretty pictures and making kids happy.
posted by Forktine at 10:18 PM on October 28, 2010 [17 favorites]


Everyone needs a hug.



Really, they do.
posted by louche mustachio at 10:36 PM on October 28, 2010


This is wonderful!
posted by arnicae at 10:53 PM on October 28, 2010


That's not an issue for copyright

Unfortunately, lots of copyright lawyers, and I'm sure RIAA and MPAA as well, will claim otherwise, and will find law and courts in their favor. Point out to them that this is a homeless shelter, and they will claim they have to defend all cases, or they might lose their rights.

Heartless bastards, the lot of them.
posted by DreamerFi at 10:54 PM on October 28, 2010


I'm sitting here reflecting on Calvin and Hobbes and am thinking that the choice to adorn a homeless children's playroom with these two characters is an interesting one. The typical homeless child's experience is so far removed from Calvin's universe, I'm not quite sure many kids would even recognize it. Calvin's a trouble maker sure, but he has an unquestionably stable home, one where he is the center of love and attention, open spaces in which to play, healthy food to complain about, and a stable routine that forms the stifling back drop for his fantasies. Among the many things that homeless kids contend with, uncertainty, crisis, following the rules, and learning to generally fear the consequences of the world are pervasive themes. Being a kid is less important than surviving. I often wonder what the impact of not having enough real play time has on the development of the kids I work with. Probably the best thing that could be done for a homeless child, beyond ensuring basic safety and nutrition, is to put more Calvin in their lives.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 11:01 PM on October 28, 2010 [10 favorites]


I love this. On a basic level and a deeper one. Also, I totally want one for my living room now.
posted by TooFewShoes at 11:09 PM on October 28, 2010


Now I desperately want to make heaps of stuffed tigers and send them to the kids at the shelter.

Like this?
posted by azpenguin at 11:36 PM on October 28, 2010 [4 favorites]


These are gorgeous! I wish my room could've been like that growing up.. he really got the orange colors right.

Can someone explain the totally aggravating internet habit of writing "This."? Where does it come from? It's almost as bad as writing a dot when someone dies.
posted by ReeMonster at 12:05 AM on October 29, 2010


Reemonster: "This" is analogous to the Like button on Facebook, only with greater emphasis and more specificity. The use of "." in threads about a person's death are a way of acknowledging his/her passing. Think of it as a moment of silence. I actually think its very appropriate for online forums, where people tend to spout off. And on that note, I'm stepping off this derail.
posted by KingEdRa at 1:17 AM on October 29, 2010 [3 favorites]


these are really beautifully painted. I've painted a lot of murals at my parents' daycare centres (family business) and all I ever got to do was sesame street and disney characters, I wish I'd thought of this! (though I'll admit, painting cookie monster was pretty fun)

anyway, this guy's technique is awesome
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 1:52 AM on October 29, 2010


When I was about 9 or 10 I was so in love with the Calvin & Hobbes books. We moved into a new house and my room's closet had white sliding doors. Over the course of a boring summer week I drew about 20 Calvin & Hobbes stills, meticulously copied from my books with a permanent black marker.

My mom wasn't too pleased, but you know what 20 years later they're still there! My husband thinks it's hilarious.

This is way cooler than my stuff though. :\
posted by like_neon at 2:21 AM on October 29, 2010


This brings up a topic that confuses and saddens me... why not move onto the next thing?

They may have gone through their whole bag of tricks and don't want to do the same old song and dance again in slightly different outfits. They might not even have created the first project, that thing you remember them for, if they hadn't needed the money all those years ago. Watterson paints now that he can afford to paint.

And if someone like Watterson did have another go at a comic strip, the critics most likely to examine it in detail and find it wanting and declare it not good enough would be the old fans of C&H who now cannot possibly revert to the youthful state in which they were so receptive to C&H. The you of that decade -- 1985 to 1995 -- is also long gone.
posted by pracowity at 3:13 AM on October 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


I would have really loved those wedding cake toppers shown on the flickr stream.
posted by spec80 at 3:35 AM on October 29, 2010


Do kids today even know about Calvin and Hobbes?

I didn't grow up with Calvin and Hobbes, and if I were a kid, I'd just think it was a very cute tiger. Same with any hospital I stayed in as a kid that had old-school characters on the walls (my brother was hired to paint some Disney characters when I was in for a burst appendix...wonder if they're still there?)
posted by mippy at 3:40 AM on October 29, 2010


Watterson was primarily against the licensing of C&H into salable products, transmogrifying the art into a medium other than its most pure form. He deviated only slightly for a school spelling book (and two calendars early on), if I recall, but most of his argument was against whoring out C&H to become a veritable goldmine like his syndicate wanted. I doubt you'll see him sending a C&D to these people. Andrews-McMeel Universal on the other hand...
posted by disillusioned at 3:51 AM on October 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


transmogrifying the art into a medium other than its most pure form

I see what you did there.
posted by shakespeherian at 4:56 AM on October 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Further discussion of the "This." response.

You may now return to discussing Calvin and Hobbes.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 5:03 AM on October 29, 2010


transmogrifying

You may be surprised, as I was when I found out, that transmogrify is a real word. It always sounded totally made up.
posted by kcds at 5:07 AM on October 29, 2010


One of the least endearing things about MetaFilter is the way any single mention of Calvin and Hobbes turns into a symposium on copyright law. Show me a C&H strip and I can recall vividly what being six was like. Show it to many mefites and they will become crack IP lawyers, demanding to see the notarized permission from Watterson to mention his strip in conversation.

I respect the guy's wishes not to have his strip turn into a Garfieldesque industrial shlock machine, and figure the people who make the decals and mudflaps and whatever of Calvin defacing a rival's logo are nyekulturny louts who should themselves be pissed on from a considerable height, but do we have to go through this every goddamn time?
posted by ricochet biscuit at 5:48 AM on October 29, 2010 [9 favorites]


Do kids today even know about Calvin and Hobbes?

Actually, yes. I work at a store that carries all the books, and we sell the heck out of them to kids, most of whom come in looking for them specifically. They don't stop being magical just because they're not in newspapers anymore. I guess they find out about Calvin through libraries, teachers, and parents who know just how awesome those books are and get hooked, just the way we did when we were kids.
posted by leesh at 5:52 AM on October 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think I just got a whole lot of dust in my eye.
posted by pxe2000 at 6:16 AM on October 29, 2010


I'd hope he made enough changes (20% or whatever is the minimum) to count as "fair use,"

There aren't any hard and fast rules for fair use. However, at least 3 of the 4 primary fair use factors weigh in the daycare's favor here. The purpose and character of the work is more than nonprofit, it's downright charitable. The amount and substantiality of the copyrighted work used is minimal compared to the body of C&H. It will have no negative effect on the market for the works and probably a positive one. I think the daycare is on decent legal legs here.

Unfortunately, lots of copyright lawyers, and I'm sure RIAA and MPAA as well, will claim otherwise, and will find law and courts in their favor. Point out to them that this is a homeless shelter, and they will claim they have to defend all cases, or they might lose their rights.

That's more an issue for trademark, not copyright, though the characters here may be trademarked as well. But it's questionable whether this is an area where the putative C&H trademark applies, since murals and other standalone works of C&H art are not something that was ever really sold.

Anyway, it would be a PR disaster if they were asked to take it down, with very little to gain since a) it's not like the shelter has deep pockets b) it's not like it's hurting the market for C&H books (quite the opposite, I imagine) and c) it definitely doesn't hurt the market for licensed C&H murals, since there isn't one.

It's true that Disney threatened legal action in a similar case involving day care centers, but that's different. First, those weren't pure charities. Second, Disney sells all kinds of crap, including crap you can put on your walls. Third, it proved the PR disaster point by making Disney look like goons and Universal Studios and Hanna-Barbera look like saints when they offered characters from their properties for free.

So, having engaged in one of the least endearing things about MetaFilter, I'll say that the murals are very well done and a great idea for bringing some joy and hope to those who could use some.
posted by jedicus at 6:30 AM on October 29, 2010 [2 favorites]


these aren't really for the kids. whatever kids that cycle through this place are going to take one look at them and say huh. then the crushing weight of what brought them to this place will come back down upon them and their thoughts will wander about what went wrong. it might help the occasional kid though, who might stare at the blond boy and tiger in a tree, having no cares. and they will wonder what that might be like.

it's not really for the parents, either. the parent will first smile when they see them, feeling the touch reaching out from their own childhood. then the crushing force will come back down upon them, emotionally throwing them into the corner, hard as the fists of a lover. the parent might explain who the kid and the tiger are to their kids, giving them a moment in which they can be a parent. in might help the occasional parent though, who might stare at the blond boy and tiger in a tree, having no cares. and they will wonder what that might be like.

it's not really for the staff, who will freely admit that. when they show it to new people they'll have to smile because they know the blond boy well and smiling because of him will help them not feel the crushing power that brought those people to the shelter. the forced mirth bolster their element of hope they guard as they try to help people in such a place. they might stare at the blond boy and tiger in a tree, having no cares. and they will wonder what that might be like.
posted by lester's sock puppet at 6:32 AM on October 29, 2010


These murals are fantastic and a lot of this man's art is really striking. This one worries me, though. What's up with that?
posted by chavenet at 6:32 AM on October 29, 2010


Point out to them that this is a homeless shelter, and they will claim they have to defend all cases, or they might lose their rights.

That applies to trademarks, not copyright.

On the other hand, people are irrational about IP. I got a chuckle out of "The owner has disabled downloading of their photos" on Flickr. Wait, is he afraid somebody's going to copy his stuff?
posted by roystgnr at 6:34 AM on October 29, 2010


One of the more endearing things about MetaFilter is the complete and total love for any and all things Calvin and Hobbes

I love that it transcends politics and personalities; even MeFites who can't stand each other will still climb into the same treehouse for the love of Calvin & Hobbes.

So am I the only one who got a particular nostalgic twinge at the sight of the little red wagon?
posted by Gator at 6:59 AM on October 29, 2010


Ya know what's not so life affirming? The fact that this agency's website isn't in Spanish. At all. Anywhere. And this is in El Paso, a city that is 80% Hispanic.

Also non-life-affirming: How "family shelters" so often refuse to house men, even when the homeless family in question is single-parent, single dad. Yes, it's very common. Mom gets housing with kids; Dad gets kids put in foster care.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 7:45 AM on October 29, 2010


Do kids today even know about Calvin and Hobbes?

My own kid enjoyed reading them even before she could really "get" most of the jokes. Surprise, she now loves making comics!

The books are also featured in a semi-regular book flyer most kids get where they order popular books via the school en masse for a lower purchase price.
posted by mikepop at 7:53 AM on October 29, 2010


Can someone explain the totally aggravating internet habit of writing "This."?

FWIW, I view the usage of 'This.' as saying 'I agree' or 'This other thing someone else said is all I have to say on the subject' or similar. Thus my usage above was intended as something of a joke, since the C&H murals aren't a persuasive argument or polemic or opinion of any sort.
posted by shakespeherian at 7:55 AM on October 29, 2010


"They don't stop being magical just because they're not in newspapers anymore."

What's a newspaper?
posted by unigolyn at 8:23 AM on October 29, 2010


Fantastic murals - these are so well done. As for homeless kids not getting C&H, I suspect most children (and adults) possess the ability to appreciate this artwork for what it is, even if they've never seen a C&H strip previously.

As for copyright infringement, I dare some set of attorneys to traipse all the way out to El Paso, Texas to prosecute a non-profit homeless shelter. But just in case, I made an online donation. Hopefully Reynolds Home can put the money toward their 'current needs' list and won't have to add it to some last-minute defense fund.
posted by PuppyCat at 8:40 AM on October 29, 2010


"Ya know what's not so life affirming? The fact that this agency's website isn't in Spanish. At all. Anywhere. And this is in El Paso, a city that is 80% Hispanic."

I suspect that the majority of the people they serve didn't look them up on the internet. Just a hunch, though.
posted by PuppyCat at 8:44 AM on October 29, 2010


I adore Bill Watterson for three reasons very near and dear to me:

1 - His work. In my lifetime, there's been so little work that's so perfect and enduring, and so filled with life and energy and surreal realism. It's just...unassailable, really. You can bitch about C&H the way you bitch about the Beatles, and with as much effect. A thousand years from now, C&H will still be relevant and fresh, even if we're all robots and protoplasmic globby things, splurching around the trash piles.

2 - His stand. Other cartoonists called him arrogant, and complained that he was ruining the game but C&H wasn't a game--it was art in that rarest and most sincere form. Leave the wretched marketing scams to the whores, to Jim Davis and Simpsonscorp. The world doesn't need plastic Calvin alarm clocks, plush talking Hobbes dolls, and Spaceman Spiff ray guns. It's just the work as drawn, not some awful CGI cartoon rendition, voiced by Tim Allen and Justin Bieber.

3 - The ending. There's just something perfect about the way it ended, without slack or endless repetition. We're slaves to eternal franchises these days, going on and on and on long after they've stopped being fresh, natural, and wonderful. Maybe it's sad for us to acknowledge that art can have a lifetime, just like us, but it should be affirming that that's so, just like it's affirming to have a birth and a death. If the life lived is wonderful, its brevity is just a detail. Because Watterson wasn't a topical artist, delving into politics and the fads of a time, we're not missing out on his latest and greatest, because we already have that.

Maybe it's just me, loving that brief, glorious moment, and that closed arc. I'm a fan of Firefly, which may have gone on to get better or worse, but it stands as something distinct and worthy now because the story, as it stands, is what's already written. Sometimes it's not time to wrap things up just yet, like what happened after Harold Budd decided he was finished after Avalon Sutra, and his subsequent lush collaborative soundtrack to Mysterious Skin made his recanting worth the mea culpas.

It's possible Watterson will have more for us one day, and we can hope that's true, but with what he's given us, we're owed nothing, so the end can stand and that will be okay, as well.
posted by sonascope at 8:45 AM on October 29, 2010 [7 favorites]


lester's sock puppet, this is really poetic, and i get what you're saying about the limits of a mural. i really do. but people on the margins in whatever way are also capable of joy, for its therapeutic, its protective, and its pleasurable qualities. to assume we know that they can't or won't experience it is not particularly generous or any more useful than assuming a mural can save the world.
posted by liketitanic at 9:45 AM on October 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


Those murals look amazing. Thanks for the post, Gator.

Ya know what's not so life affirming? The fact that this agency's website isn't in Spanish. At all. Anywhere. And this is in El Paso, a city that is 80% Hispanic.

I'm sure they'd love some translation help. Here you go.
posted by ODiV at 10:27 AM on October 29, 2010 [1 favorite]


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