Like many children born in the late 1980s, I grew up reading the comic strip Calvin and Hobbes, drawn by the brilliant Bill Watterson. The fantastic stories of the imaginative young troublemaker and his “ferocious” tiger never failed to entertain and inspire. When the strip’s run ended in December 1995, it felt like part of my childhood ended as well.
Once he finished with Calvin and Hobbes, the famously prickly and fiercely private cartoonist went into seclusion, spending nearly 20 years deflecting the attention of media and fans alike. It was therefore with no small amount of surprise that I learned Mr. Watterson had agreed to sit for an interview with me for the Daily Dangle.
Daily Dangle : Mr. Watterson, let me start by letting you know that you’re a personal hero of mine. I have always respected your vision and devotion to your work.
Bill Watterson : Well, that’s very kind of you to say.
DD : You’ve always been put off by the idea of fame. During the peak of Calvin and Hobbes’s success, you’d turn down requests to meet with such creative luminaries as Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, and Stephen King. Why?
BW : The whole idea of hobknobbing and schmoozing and the concept of an “elite” class of celebrities better than the common people has always made my stomach turn. Besides, those talentless hacks aren’t fit to sharpen my pencils.
DD : Uh… okay. So, why agree to an interview with a start-up comedy website?
BW : I want to keep it relatively quiet for now, but it’s time to announce that in early 2015, The New Adventures of Calvin and Hobbes will be running in newspapers worldwide.
DD : What?? I’m thrilled to hear it, but I have to say I’m quite shocked. You’ve said many times you’d never do a C&H project again.
BW : In 2011 I painted a 6″x 8″ picture of a character from an obscure comic for a Parkinson’s fundraiser. Took me literally 5 minutes. You know what it sold for at auction? $13,000. I figured if I could make that kind of scratch painting “Petey Otterloop”, imagine what I’d get for C&H.
DD : You’re saying the main motivator behind the new project is money?
BW : Hell yeah, baby. 25 year old scotch isn’t cheap.
DD : Right. How will The New Adventures of Calvin and Hobbes work? Is Calvin still a young boy? Does it take place in modern day?
BW : I don’t know.
DD : You don’t know?
BW : Nope. I just signed over ownership rights to the characters to a huge media company, and all the executives take care of the rest. They got a team over in Los Angeles or San Francisco or somewhere doing about 95% of the writing and drawing. I just sign the bottom of every strip, and cash my merchandising paycheck. They can even keep cranking out new strips after I’m dead. It’s fucking fantastic.
DD : I think I’m going to be sick. What about the artistry? The innocence and sincerity? The heart? I thought you had more integrity.
BW : You know who had integrity? Nikola Tesla. Invented alternating current electricity and radio transmission. Died alone and broke in a New York hotel in his 80s. Fuck that noise.
DD : But merchandising? You hate merchandising. You once said only thieves are making money from C&H merchandise.
BW : Let me tell you something. (Garfield cartoonist) Jim Davis is a boring, predictable, repetitive asshole, but he’s a RICH boring, predictable, repetitive asshole. Say what you will about the guy, but he knows how to sell worthless licenced bullshit.
DD : But… what about the pissing Calvin truck decals? Aren’t they infuriating?
BW : Long after the strip is forgotten, those decals are my ticket to immortality. I’ll let you in on a secret, pal. I personally drew every single one of those designs. Andy Kaufman and I came up with the idea one night in Vegas when we were bombed out of our minds on coke. We thought it was hilarious. I gotta call that guy. Haven’t talked to him in almost a year.
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