Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Calvin and Hobbes Best Comic Strip Ever

No question about it, Calvin and Hobbes is my favorite comic strip. So I was happy to get It’s a Magical World from my son for Christmas. The strip’s creator, Bill Watterson, is a genius. If you haven’t read Calvin and Hobbes, you should get a Calvin and Hobbes book and read it. I guarantee you will laugh out loud more than once as you read of the antics of 6-year-old Calvin and his stuffed tiger, Hobbes.

Calvin has a wild imagination. When school gets boring (and it always gets boring), Calvin imagines his teacher a wild alien, or when caught daydreaming, he claims his eyes were on screen saver mode. He imagines himself a triceratops, or he imagines that his dad’s neatly-raked pile of leaves is trying to devour him. Of course, he believes Hobbes is a live tiger who can talk and who often thinks like he does.

Calvin hates structure and revels in pointlessness and wasting time. Thus his loathing of school and his love of Saturdays and summer.

In one strip he wants to learn more about snakes, but when Hobbes suggests a book, he poo-poos the idea because it would be learning, which he doesn’t want to do if he can avoid it.

One of Watterson's subtle themes is the elevation of nature over technology. Nature is beautiful and real and full of adventure, while technology is artificial and stifling. At times Calvin loves being outside as when he and Hobbes find “a trickle of water running through some dirt.” With a huge smile on his face, Calvin says, “I’d say our afternoon just got booked solid.”

On the other hand, there’s no question Calvin likes the comforts of modern conveniences, but his love of these things is not always portrayed in a positive light.

Continually interesting is his relationship with the people in his life. His teacher Mrs. Wormwood represents the institutions that kill his soul. His rivalry with and antagonism of his classmate Susie Derkins is hilarious. His parents are painted in a positive light, though Calvin himself feels like they drain his life of fun and are part of the old guard of virtues and propriety. But Calvin doesn’t make life for his parents easy, either. The reader isn’t surprised that Calvin doesn’t have any siblings.

Calvin’s best friend is Hobbes, but Hobbes is not always a “yes” man (or … tiger). He often argues the opposing view and sometimes shows Calvin that he himself practices some of the things that he claims to despise. In some ways, I guess, Hobbes acts as a conscience, though at other times, he is clearly in cahoots with Calvin’s antics.

There's much more to Calvin and Hobbes than what I've related here.

My rating (out of 5): 5

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