Don't'cha just hate it when something fantastic plops on your desk just as you're about to finish up for the day (and in this particular case, that'd be 3 o'clock in the a.m. :cry:) and you just have to check it out.
I'm sure that I would be far from alone in saying that Calvin and Hobbes is the greatest cartoon strip written, evar (although Bloom County would be a very near second) and the guys over at Progressive Boink would seem to agree.
Calvin is an unbelievably intelligent six-year-old. Hobbes is his tiger friend who plays the role of Jiminy Cricket, casual observer, and savage beast. This strip introduces their dynamic rather well. Calvin's a grossly misbehaving child, and no matter how he tries, he can't betray his nature.
It's kind of refreshing to see a strip that doesn't feel the need to have an uplifting message, or feel like it needs to point out that it's mean to whack an innocent person upside the dome with a snowball.
And as someone who used to draw a fair bit in his younger day, I really appreciate the more technical side of the cartoon, over and above just the gags. Indeed, even Scott Adams (the author of Dilbert) talks about C&H when he explains how to write humor:
The core of humor is what I call the 2-of-6 rule. In order for something to be funny, you need at least two of the following elements:
- Cute (as in kids and animals)
- Recognizable (You’ve been there)
[ … ] Whenever it combined Calvin and Hobbes (both exceedingly cute), with some witty dialog (clever), a dangerous wagon ride (cruel), Calvin acting like a typical kid (recognizable), and thinking about adult philosophy (bizarre) it fired on 5-of-6 humor elements, which is virtually unheard of.
It wasn't just about the gags, either. Bill Watterson had more than a few choice words to say about a lot of things. Given my interest in education, this one really struck home for me:
And as the Progressive Boinking guys point out:
… this strip pretty much sums up what being a kid like Calvin is like. Constantly feeling out of sync with the rest of the world, and thus retreating to the world you create for yourself in your mind. If you think about it, Calvin was really quite an anomaly in popular entertainment -- not just in comics, but in anything, be it movies, TV, etc. He has no friends, and no extracurricular activities; the only people he ever sees are his parents, who he has a strained relationship with, and Moe, Susie, Rosalyn, and Miss Wormwood, all of whom he detests and all of whom detest him. The only person he ever has any real interaction with exists only in his head. He is, for all intents and purposes, completely alone. And he's fine with that. The kind of kid most people would entirely ignore all through school is not generally the kind you make the star of your show, and yet the strip became hugely successful.
Anyway, check it out. I hope you don't have anything important to do in the next half hour or so 🙂
This one is still my all-time favorite, though… 😎