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Sunday, September 23, 2012

Calvin and Hobbes and My Children

I grew up reading the comics in the papers.  When I happen to run across a paper today the comics page is still the first thing I look for. Papers are losing their audiences to the Internet, but I am happy to see that the comics have made the technological jump. Every day I have a ritual of going to the comics page at http://news.yahoo.com/comics/ and reading select comic strips. There are many fine strips found at this site (and of course there are other sites), but one comic strip that is not found there is Calvin and Hobbes.  Bill Watterson, the creator of Calvin and Hobbes, was a purist when it came to his art. Calvin and Hobbes was his art and he did not want it tainted by commercialism. In other words you won’t ever see a Calvin and Hobbes cartoon series on TV or Calvin and Hobbes t-shirts and coffee mugs. Calvin and Hobbes exist in Watterson’s comic strip and nowhere else unless you count the hearts and minds of millions of human beings.

I have the Tenth Anniversary Edition of Calvin and Hobbes. I bought it many years ago, read it, and then shelved it as my life went on. My three older boys discovered Calvin and Hobbes at some time in their lives and we enjoy quoting from the strip now and again. My other five children no nothing of Calvin and Hobbes. The strip had been out of circulation too long by the time they grew old enough to appreciate such art. But the other day I ran across my anniversary edition and decided it was time to introduce my younger family to this most amazing little boy and his ferocious stuffed tiger.

My two teenage girls aren’t of the disposition to have me sit and read the comic strip to them. Maybe if I leave the book out they will pick it up on their own and enjoy the wonderful experience that is Calvin and Hobbes. My too youngest children, on the other hand, still enjoy me reading to them and when I mention the word “comic” they are there.

Each night we lay across the bed and read a week’s worth of Calvin and Hobbes. I’ve learned that Calvin and Hobbes is an adult comic strip in spite of the age of the main character. My two youngest kids aren’t rolling over with laughter as we read. In fact, I find I often have to explain the humor of the various situations. Despite the work it takes to read this comic, both kids seem to appreciate it. We take time to look at the visual art; at the facial expressions of Calvin and other characters. They are starting to pick up on how the space monsters, dinosaurs, and private eyes are Calvin’s day dreaming view of the world and how those day dreams make his world so much more interesting. They are starting to pick up on how Calvin’s calling his clone a “total jerk” is actually a critique of himself even if he hasn’t realized his own jerkiness yet. They did giggle when Calvin’s parents spoke of simplifying their lives and then stared at Calvin as he happened to walk by and Calvin looked out at us and said, “I hate it when they stare at me like that.”  Like me they find it easy to like Space Man Spiff, monsters under the bed,  and food that attacks.

I know that these two kids are getting half the humor in the strip, but still, each night, they ask, “Are we reading Calvin tonight?” So something is happening and I know I am having a ball reading it with them. I’m pretty sure that as they grow up they will remember Calvin and Hobbes and their love for them will grow. I will be proud to have been the one to introduce them.

1 comment:

Tim said...

Calvin and Hobbes shaped much of my personality and outlook on life. I enjoyed reading about your recent experiences. Thanks for sharing!