This was a short one and one that I didn’t really know what to expect from. I mean, Calvin & Hobbes are actually quite probably my favorite characters ever. Desert Island Books? The Complete Calvin & Hobbes is on that list.
This book was an attempt to biographize (yep, made up that word) Bill Watterson, a man who left comics at the end of 1995 and has rarely surfaced anywhere since. He is, as the author puts it, something of a comics’ J.D. Salinger. Does the author find Watterson, get an interview with him? No. Not really surprising. He does interview his mother, which brings some fascinating insight into Watterson’s inspirations from childhood… and he talks to some of the most important names in comics today as well as some other general notable important people (Jonathan Lethem, Dave Barry) about their experiences with the strip.
More than a biography of Watterson – which it certainly manages to be – this book is about how we love Calvin & Hobbes. Where it came from and what it was like to be there for it. It inspired me to go crash through my entire collection, which inspired me to laugh SO hard in ways I’d forgotten about. I’d drifted from the boy and his tiger and this book reminded me that they’re always there, representing not only everything that was great about childhood but everything that IS great about life.
Would I recommend this book, even to a die-hard Calvin & Hobbes fan like myself? Maybe, maybe not – its quick and certainly has some important insights but it isn’t very important in the scheme of things. What I would recommend is that you go, right now, and read one of the collections. Take an hour and do it, for yourself. You’ll be a happier person, I guarantee it.