I grew up reading Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson. It was one of my favorite comic strips as a kid. When I was about 7 and my brother was 8, he found a book, The Indispesible Calvin and Hobbes, on my father’s bookshelf. We were immediately addicted. As our collection grew, so did our love of the two goofy main characters. I remember spending hours with the cynical little kid and his stuffed tiger. I loved the gap between Calvin’s reality, where Hobbes is alive and sentient, and his parents, where Hobbes is just a comfort object for their weird little six-year-old. I wondered as a child if Calvin was a little crazy, or if maybe Hobbes was really able to walk and talk, and if so, were any of my stuffed animals similarly gifted? So naturally, when it was my turn to make a blog post, my mind immediately flew to C & H.
Curious to see if a connection existed between our current text and my favorite comic, I researched a little. Interestingly, Watchmen and Calvin and Hobbes were contemporaries of each other (W came out in 1986, C & H ran 1985-1995). It seems, however, that the similarities stop there. In theme, style, and plot, the comics seem very different. In particular, Watchmen is drawn in a realistic style, with a dark and limited color palette. Calvin and Hobbes is drawn with exaggerated expressions and proportions, minimalist pencil/pen sketches, and selective coloring that seems almost water-colorish. Watchmen focuses on current and historical events, both imaginary and real, while Calvin and Hobbes avoids most of the specific current events during its years of running. Instead, Watterson focuses his energy on the whimsical adventures of his characters, touching periodically on topics such as the environment, parenting, philosophy, and children’s imaginations. However, I discovered a few delightful gems that merged the worlds of these two comics, created by faithful fans. Two of these are included below, the first with a brief analysis.
In this rendition, Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias is portrayed in the style of Calvin, while his pet genetically-engineered lynx is drawn in the style of Hobbes. The two characters are sitting on the beach, playing with a sandcastle and a little octopus. This portrayal adds a filter of infantile imaginary play that neutralizes some of the fear and discomfort I felt while reading about Veidt’s “master plan” to prevent war. It also illuminates what I found to be one of the most disturbing aspects of that character: he plays with the human race, manipulating them shamelessly to save Earth – like a child playing god, he loses sight of the responsibility that accompanies his power. This image highlights that tension by paralleling how casually Adrian plans the demise of millions with the careless play of a child.
I found this image to be less meaningful than the first, but all those cute little Doctor Manhattans deserved to be included.
That’s all, folks!
If you love Calvin and Hobbes too, and enjoyed this post, see other Calvin and Hobbes “mash-ups” here. It includes cuties like these:
(Also, if you didn’t make the connection, Attack of the Deranged Mutant Killer Monster Snow Goons is a Calvin and Hobbes book title, and its relevant because I think an argument can be made that Ozymandias, in his snowy habitat, with his killer plan, is a little deranged.)