There are certain gems in this world that sparkle with a beauty so rare you simply know they will outlive you, certain expressions that reflect the wonder of life in a manner so unique and yet so familiar that you simply know they’re something special the first time you experience them.
Bill Watterson’s Comic Strip Calvin & Hobbes was just such an item. In its short 10-year run beginning in 1985, the cartoon captured the hearts of millions of fans and re-defined the genre with its insightful, poignant, and hilarious exposés on life, childhood, and the state of humanity itself. As all long-time lovers of the strip know, it managed, somehow, to communicate with its readers on a number of different levels, stitching a spell of magic into the hearts and minds of child and adult alike, so strong that the patterns it wove are still tangible nearly 20 years after the strip’s retirement.
Watterson’s staunch refusal to allow any commodification of his characters as well — no stuffed animals, animated shows or specials, coffee cups or bobble-heads — has only served to strengthen the place of Calvin & Hobbes in the pantheon of artistic achievement. To date, its compilations have sold nearly 45 million worldwide and re-runs of the strip continue to be printed in over 50 countries. In honour of all of the joy the series brought — and continues to bring — to its fans, I’ve wrangled together a curation of 10 particulars that taught us invaluable, inane, beautiful and just plain “Calvinesque” lessons about life over the years.
1. Mess with people. Especially your parents.
2. You’re wearing the Emperor’s clothes.
3. Simplicity trumps complexity.
4. Life is an adventure. Exploring it is FUN.
5. Your imagination can kick your butt. Bad.
6. Something’s up with our cultural narratives. Seriously.
7. The man-made world is not the world.
8. The word “transmogrification”.
9. Never Miss a Good Chance to Shut up.