It’s been nearly 20 years since the last time a new adventure of Calvin and Hobbes graced the comic strip pages of your local newspaper, and for fans around the world that love hasn’t diminished in the slightest over the past two decades. The enduring love for the strip endures despite creator Bill Watterson‘s refusal to monetize the strip or its characters, and indeed many more people admire Watterson for taking an artist stance rather than deride him for their inability to own their own official Hobbes plush tiger. Now, in a new and rare interview with Watterson, it appears that the creator continues to stand firm on his instance that Calvin and Hobbes belong solely on the printed page.
The extremely rare interview with Watterson can be found in an upcoming issue of Mental Floss magazine, but a preview excerpt was posted today on MentalFloss.com. The interview seems to offer a number of interesting insights, not just into what Watterson thinks of his old struggles with merchandising, or his more recent struggles to teach himself how to paint, but they also talk a little about the future of the comic strip in general and the impact of new media on the art form.
But seriously, what we all want to know is why not give the nod to make a Calvin and Hobbes movie? Mental Floss even pointed out the tremendous work of Pixar as an example of a studio with the skill to potentially bring a Calvin and Hobbes movie to the big screen with all its nuance attached.
“The visual sophistication of Pixar blows me away, but I have zero interest in animating Calvin and Hobbes,” Watterson says. “If you’ve ever compared a film to a novel it’s based on, you know the novel gets bludgeoned. It’s inevitable, because different media have different strengths and needs, and when you make a movie, the movie’s needs get served. As a comic strip, Calvin and Hobbes works exactly the way I intended it to. There’s no upside for me in adapting it.”
Of course, Watterson’s own reluctance hasn’t stopped others from giving it a whirl on their own, and for his part Watterson has no problem with others taking his work and having fun with it. As long as you’re only having fun.
“Every artist learns through imitation, but I rather doubt the aim of these things is artistic development,” he explains. “I assume they’re either homages or satiric riffs, and are not intended to be taken too seriously as works in their own right. Otherwise I should be talking to a copyright lawyer.”
As for the most ubiquitous piece of homage to Calvin and Hobbes, all those decals of Calvin peeing, Watterson takes it in stride.
“I figure that, long after the strip is forgotten, those decals are my ticket to immortality,” he says.
Considering that we’re still talking about Calvin and Hobbes 18 years after it ended, I don’t think immortality’s going to be an issue.
Not had enough Bill Watterson or Calvin and Hobbes yet? The documentary Dear Mr Watterson by director Joel Schroeder will be out November 15 on VOD and in limited release in theaters, and the full interview with the artist will be in the December issue of Mental Floss.