On November 18, 1985, the very first “Calvin and Hobbes” comic strip appeared. 25 years later, it’s still a funny and relevant strip whether you’ve been a long-time fan or if it’s your first time discovering Bill Watterson’s magic world of a six-year old and his tiger.
As a tribute, I’ve put together a list of 25 awesome facts and links from Calvin and Hobbes:
- Calvin is named after 16th century theologian John Calvin who believed in predestination, and Hobbes is named after 17th century British philosopher Thomas Hobbes, who had a dim view of human nature.
- In the very first strip, Calvin and Hobbes met when Calvin set a tiger trap using a tuna sandwich. Watterson later said he regretted it, saying it was unnecessary to show how they met.
- When the strip first ran, it appeared in only 35 newspapers – not even Watterson’s hometown paper. It would later appear daily in over 2,000 newspapers.
- Author Bill Watterson has never given licensing permission for “Calvin and Hobbes” to be turned into stuffed animals, cartoons, t-shirts, stickers or other merchandise.
- The only officially licensed “Calvin and Hobbes” items were two calendars (1988-1989 and 1989-1990) and, earlier this year, a U.S. postal stamp.
- It’s been theorized that the movie Fight Club is a grown-up version of “Calvin and Hobbes,” where Edward Norton’s character is an adult Calvin and Brad Pitt’s Tyler Durden is his pseudo-imaginary friend Hobbes. This site makes a pretty impressive case, including suggesting that G.R.O.S.S. (Get Rid Of Slimy girlS) is a precursor to the actual men-only fight club.
- Is Hobbes real? From Calvin’s perspective, the comic strip shows an anthropomorphic tiger that has his own thoughts and actively participates in Calvin’s shenanigans. Other characters simply see a stuffed tiger.
- “Calvinball” is the made-up game that Calvin and Hobbes play often. Watterson has explained the rules very simply: you make them up as you go, and you can’t play with the same rules twice.
- Hamster Huey and the Gooey Kablooie and the “Noodle Incident” are referred to in the strip, but never explained or elaborated. Use your imagination.
- Calvin has three alter-egos: intergalactic hero Spaceman Spiff and film noir detective Tracer Bullett are both daydream manifestations; the third, Stupendous Man, is Calvin in a mask and cape doing battle with schoolwork, parents or his babysitter Rosalyn.
- Watterson wrote many hidden jabs at high art and academia, illustrated through Calvin’s “suburban post-modernism” rants or his “avant garde” snow sculptures.
- Many of the Hobbes illustrations are based on Bill Watterson’s cat, Sprite. The famous “I think we dream so we don’t have to be apart so long. If we’re in each others dreams, we can play together all night!” strip was written to cope with Sprite’s death.
- Watterson fought with newspapers quite a bit, struggled with deadlines, and tried to get Sunday strips to break free of the box format to allow for more artistic creativity. Much of this is revealed in the Calvin and Hobbes Tenth Anniversary Book.
- There are 18 “Calvin and Hobbes” books which encompass every strip that ever appeared in a newspaper as well as some originals created solely for the collections. Altogether, 45 million copies have been sold.
- To Calvin, a cardboard box is multi-purpose: it can be used to sell things (like a “swift kick in the butt”), it can be a Transmogrifier (he turned himself into a little tiger) and it can be a Duplicator (where he tried to duplicate himself and make the double do his homework).
- Calvin has several enemies: Susie Derkins, Moe the bully, Miss Wormwood, Mr. Spittle the principal, baseball coach Mr. Lockjaw and the babysitter Rosalyn.
- Contrary to popular belief, Bill Watterson says he was nothing like Calvin as a kid.
- For a quick refresher of some of the great strips, ProgessiveBoink.com has posted what they consider the 25 greatest strips, including the Raccoon story and the Transmogrifier.
- Many newspapers still publish reruns of “Calvin and Hobbes” that can also be seen daily at GoComics.com.
- Before “Calvin and Hobbes,” Bill Watterson worked in advertising and occasionally drew political cartoons.
- An Asian kid recreated every image from the strip of Calvin’s hilarious school potratits – see the pictures.
- Mike Lee compiled a list of advice & wisdom quotes from “Calvin and Hobbes,” including classics like “Reality continues to ruin my life” and “You know, Hobbes, some days even my lucky rocketship underpants don’t help.”
- Actor David Spade has a tattoo of Calvin on his upper arm done by Sean Penn.
- Earlier this year, in his first interview since 1989, the reclusive Watterson told Cleveland’s The Plain Dealer, “I think some of the reason ‘Calvin and Hobbes’ still finds an audience today is because I chose not to run the wheels off it. I’ve never regretted stopping when I did.”
- The last strip ran December 31st, 1995 with Calvin and Hobbes on another snowy adventure and the last lines, “It’s a magical world, Hobbes, ol’ buddy… Let’s go exploring!”
What do you remember/love most about Calvin and Hobbes?