On December 31st, 1995, twenty-five years ago today, an era ended: after a decade-long run, the final strip of Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson was printed in newspapers.
The series followed Calvin, a narcissistic six-year-old with an overactive imagination, and his sidekick Hobbes, a stuffed tiger with a cynical perception of humanity. Sharing a skepticism of authority and a penchant to battle one another at the drop of a hat, they waxed philosophical on American society, made up the rules to Calvinball, tormented Roz the babysitter, and constructed some of the most impressive snow sculptures to ever terrorize suburbia.
Early on in lockdown, I selected The Complete Calvin and Hobbes for my weekend reading pick, and revisiting the classic comic – which helped spark my childhood interest in the medium – was a perfect escape in those first days of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. And while there have been several editions of Calvin and Hobbes printed, you can read the entire series online for free thanks to Go Comics.
During Calvin and Hobbes’s run, Watterson often butted heads with top brass at the comic syndicate, who envisioned a line of licensed merchandise to rival the vast Monday-hating Empire that developed out of Jim Davis‘s Garfield comic.
It’s easy enough to imagine a world where car windows adorned with suction-cupped Hobbes dolls were just as ubiquitous as their Garfield counterparts, but a quarter century after the strip concluded, it’s hard not to see how Watterson’s stubborn refusal to market his creations paid off.
Calvin and Hobbes retains a sort of untouchable aura, a purity that would be compromised by a series of licensed products or a big-screen adaptation, and returning to the comic feels like visiting old friends. What could be a better way to conclude 2020?