September 21, 2009

First There Was Nothing...Then There Was Calvin


#1 Calvin and Hobbes

See Introduction | #9|#8| #7|#6|#5|#4|#3|#2

Not fair, you cry. It's not a webcomic. It was a newspaper comic strip, and its creator retired well before the rise of the Internet.

Perhaps, but thanks to UCLICK and Google Reader, I can still read it every day. And whether or not it truly belongs on a list of webcomics, its tremendous influence on the medium cannot be denied. An entire generation of Americans has been shaped by reading Calvin and Hobbes every morning.

As the folks at Progressive Boink expressed it:
I can confidently state that Calvin and Hobbes outclasses the rest of the comic strip world more than anything else has ever outclassed the rest of its medium. Sans this strip, the industry is characterized by guys sitting on rocks making stupid puns, a Family Circus kid misunderstanding the meaning of a word, or an overweight father playing golf while telling jokes such as I LIKE GOLF and GOLF IS HARD. It's a medium that doesn't really deserve something as good as Calvin and Hobbes, but it got it anyway, and the newspaper-reading world was made a better place by it.
Hyperbole, yes. But not by much. Calvin and Hobbes was much more than just entertaining. It made us think. Even as children, we recognized ourselves in the two protagonists, whether in their stringent refusal to yield to authority, their inability to escape their own nature, or the way in which they are so misunderstood by the adults around them. They are miniature philosophers, and we will forever owe Bill Watterson a debt for their creation.

Since his retirement, Watterson has become our generation's Salinger. The longer he resists any kind of compromise or comeback, the more the legend of Calvin and Hobbes grows. He is the Beatles, minus the solo careers, Abraham Lincoln, absent a bullet in the head.

It is incredible to realize that Calvin and Hobbes only ran for a single decade. It is as much a part of my mornings as the New York Times, breakfast cereal, or oxygen.
Be thankful we lived to see it, and feel sad for those who passed their lives in the interminable dark ages that proceeded its advent.

Milan Kundera writes:
Once upon a time I too thought that the future was the only competent judge of our works and actions. Later on I understood that chasing after the future is the worst conformism of all, a craven flattery of the mighty. For the future is always mightier than the present. It will pass judgement on us, of course. And without any competence.
Who can say how the future will judge Calvin and Hobbes. In two hundred years, will our sons and daughters will be reading it alongside Faulkner, Beckett, and Fitzgerald? I can only assert that they should be.

Lyric Of The Day:

He's a miniature philosopher
He takes notes on all he reads
But that doesn't satisfy his needs
He's a desk clerk at the bank and trust
There's so many contracts and paperwork to do
He gets so busy at the bank and trust
There is no time for Nietzsche or Camus


He's a miniature philosopher
He writes essays on Voltaire
But if he died no one would care


He doesn't know why his life turned out this way
No one ever reads his dissertations or allegoric plays
So he comforts himself while searching a rhyme
That the public rarely recognize a genius in their time
(poor little guy)
He's a miniature philosopher
Though he hasn't got a friend
He's sure he'll be famous in the end

"The Miniature Philosopher"
-Of Montreal

1 comment:

kimberly kyan said...

O. good post. and song selection. wow. *tigerhug*