Comics very own JD Salinger*, Calvin & Hobbes artist Bill Watterson has been making very very tentative moves to emerge from his hobbit hole, helping out with some of the Richard Thompson benefits, and even, by one eyewitness account I heard, getting out of the house to see some comics exhibits. And now, the rarest sighting of all, an actual interview with Mental Floss magazine. The link is a teaser of the print interview, and this is but a teaser to the teaser, but it’s still a fascinating look into the man who continues to influence kids and cartoonists everywhere with his work. It’s somewhat encouraging to see that Watterson hasn’t hit the “I have no idea what is going on” plateau. In other words, he may be private but he isn’t entirely a recluse.
On adapting “Calvin and Hobbes” to the big screen:
I have zero interest in animating “Calvin and Hobbes.” If you’ve ever compared a film to a novel it’s based on, you know the novel gets bludgeoned. It’s inevitable, because different media have different strengths and needs, and when you make a movie, the movie’s needs get served. As a comic strip, “Calvin and Hobbes” works exactly the way I intended it to. There’s no upside for me in adapting it.
Where do you think the comic strip fits in today’s culture?
Personally, I like paper and ink better than glowing pixels, but to each his own. Obviously the role of comics is changing very fast. On the one hand, I don’t think comics have ever been more widely accepted or taken as seriously as they are now. On the other hand, the mass media is disintegrating, and audiences are atomizing. I suspect comics will have less widespread cultural impact and make a lot less money. I’m old enough to find all this unsettling, but the world moves on. All the new media will inevitably change the look, function, and maybe even the purpose of comics, but comics are vibrant and versatile, so I think they’ll continue to find relevance one way or another. But they definitely won’t be the same as what I grew up with.
• Since Salinger is dead, maybe Watterson will take on the mantle of #1 Recluse?
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.