I know that as nerds we obsess over the fine details of everything. We like quantify and categorize and structuring our little realms and apply real world dynamics and logistics to them. How much would is cost to be Batman? How much would it cost to be Iron Man? How much would all the property damage committed by the Chitauri in The Avengers cost? But really, what are the odds that any of that stuff could happen? Having a little boy though that is as destructive as an F1 tornado? Now that’s something believable we can get our calculators out for! A recent journal article aimed to quantify one of the key nerd queries of our time: Just how much damage did Calvin from Calvin & Hobbes cause during his 10 years of carnage on the comics page?
In the Proceedings of the Natural Institute of Science, editor Matt J. Michel undertook a study to determine an estimate for the amount of damage Calvin caused to home, property and objects during the 1985 to 1995 run of Bill Watterson‘s strip. So how does one go about this methodologically speaking? Well, Michel looked at every strip from beginning to end and kept careful notes. Objects, like a jar or a sweater, were assigned market value on websites like Amazon. Property damage, or damage that required repair to the home – like the five instances of water damage Calvin caused – were priced though the websites homewyse.com and fixr.com to determine how much it would cost to get such repairs in Chagrin Falls, OH, Watterson’s hometown and the presumptive setting of the strip.
So what’s the damage, literally and figurative speaking? $15,955.50. Or to put it another way if you’re more a visual learner:
There’s more! Michel broke down the charges per month, and you’ll note in the below graph that the winter, the month of August, and Thanksgiving are all particularly rough times in Calvin’s parents’ house.
Over the 10 year span of the comic strip that basically means that Calvin racked up $1,850.55 per year in damages. Of course, those 10 years reading Calvin was more like one year in the life of Calvin since he never aged, so the question is, was Calvin still causing $2,000 to $15K a year in damages to his parents’ home when he was 8, 9, 10, 12, 15, and 17? Would he eventually calm down or would he get more reckless with age? I guess we’ll never know.
For the record, PNIS is a humorous scholastic journal, so no actual scientific insights were bumped from the journal for the exhaustive analysis of a comic character’s destruction on his personal home.