I’ve talked about a lot of great literature on this blog but it occurred to me I have neglected one of my favorites- Calvin and Hobbes. I can picture you my reader smiling at my mention of the name Calvin and Hobbes.
It is perhaps easy to discount comic strips as real art or literature but that is unfair to the thought and brilliance of the medium. I love Peanuts and Dilbert but also Calvin and Hobbes.
Calvin and Hobbes is a strip written by Bill Watterson from 1985-1995. They focused on the protagonist Calvin who is a rebellious but thoughtful kid who wants to explore and have adventures and hates school.
Calvin is at one point like Lisa Simpson in his thoughtfulness and grown up sensibilities but also like Bart Simpson in his mischievousness and rebelliousness from the rules.
He is accompanied by his best friend Hobbes who is sometimes a stuffed tiger and sometimes anthropomorphized. Hobbes is both the sidekick and the teacher for Calvin.
A few years ago I went to a reading symposium and a woman spoke that was a high school teacher. She mentioned 10 or 11 books in her lecture and the main qualification seemed to be they were ‘short’ and despite being somewhat dimwitted ‘at least the kids are reading’. That really made me mad then and it still does today (I will add that I am in the minority opinion on that lecture but I don’t care!). http://smilingldsgirl.com/2012/01/18/writing-and-reading-for-children-and-teens/
Calvin and Hobbes shows you can be entertaining to all age groups while being challenging and thought provoking. At least the kids are reading is a such a cop-out.
Calvin has a great imagination and the adventures he goes on are always full of laughs.
It’s good for kids to see that parents don’t always know what is the best way.
I love any art form that takes kids seriously. That doesn’t assume just because it is children it has to be stupid. Calvin and Hobbes shows great respect for a child’s intellect and does not shy away from long words or tough topics of religion, philosophy or the meaning of life.
I hate it when adults have a ‘good enough’ attitude about kids. This book is ‘good enough’. This movie is ‘good enough’. No way. We as adults have an obligation to encourage the best in our kids and to let them rise to a higher standard than their natural man might appeal too.
Calvin and Hobbes is proof that with a little effort we can find enlightening and enriching material that appeals to a childs demographic. I refuse to accept a ‘at least he’s reading’ attitude. We can do better than that. Calvin and Hobbes does better than that.
I sincerely wish all teachers when they have an unruly little boy would give said boy Calvin and Hobbes. Maybe it would help them know they are ok and that there is a purpose to their type of sensibilities. Maybe they would learn to channel that energy into art or nature or even philosophy.
This is one of my favorites. It’s funny and it really will make anyone, kid or not, think.
That is brilliant writing I tell you!
Calvin and Hobbes is also full of a sense of play and adventure. Even knowing the characters takes effort. There are no movies, saturday afternoon cartoons, plush toys or video games.
It’s like Watterson knew what was coming for kids entertainment and instead of embracing it he held off so that hopefully kids would have one thing in their lives they loved that wasn’t spoon fed for them. When you think of the amount of money he could have made merchandizing it is pretty remarkable; and yet the comics continue to be read by kids and adults alike despite little to no promotion. They are just that good.
These three are just brilliant.
This is the last comic strip Watterson did for Calvin and Hobbes. It’s a magical world…let’s go exploring!I have a file of my favorite comic strips on my computer and facebook and I turn to it quite frequently. Whether it’s Dilbert in his office, Charlie Brown questioning the world or Calvin and Hobbes on an adventure they always make me smile. (I need to do posts on Peanuts and Dilbert too)
Do you like Calvin and Hobbes? Why do you think they have remained so popular? What do you like about them? Any above that stand out for you?
5 thoughts on “Calvin and Hobbes”
Watterson is one of the best American authors ever. He can say more on one page, or even in one strip, more than most writers can say in an entire chapter. Can a cartoon be considered literature? If so, this is where it starts
I agree. I don’t see why they can’t be considered literature. There are words, story, images. Counts to me.
And I totally agree about Watterson. He is brilliant. My favorite thing is how he dares to throw very complex philosophies and ideas to kids and still makes it fun. Too often people feel things have to be dumbed down for kids and that drives me crazy.
Literature def- written works, especially those considered of superior or lasting artistic merit.
Calvin and hobbes meets all of that.
Calvin and Hobbes is one of the very greatest examples of art and literature in the history of mankind and is lowered in the minds of some only because they connect comics with children. But along with a better man than I, I say “suffer the little children”.