mental floss watterson

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?


  1. It’s always weird to hear of him as a recluse because he’s not. He’s a member of the Cleveland Heights community and he’s not a stranger to people there. I’m not part of that community, so I’ve never met him, but I know people who have and they have very nice things to say about the man.

  2. I don’t give interviews, have a huge online footprint, or rub elbows with the elite..I guess I’m a recluse too.

  3. I wouldn’t exactly call Watterson a recluse. It’s always been obvious that he was always far more interested in his strip than he was pimping it out for every fast buck he could get (hello, Jim Davis). To this day, Calvin and Hobbes stands on its own as a true comic strip classic, one of the two greatest of all time (Peanuts being the other) in my humble opinion.

    Mr. Watterson, I thank you for providing me with a true classic strip, and years of enjoyment.

  4. Someone asked Jim Davis once if he was afraid of overexposure. His response, “Yes, I am concerned about overexposure. Of course, you can’t get overexposed without going through filthy rich first.”

  5. Why are guys like you always so bent out of shape about Jim Davis and Scott Adams getting rich from their creations?

    I thought we were supposed to be happy when creators got the money they deserved when their creations are successful.

  6. I don’t understand either side of the issue. I think people should “sell-out” if they want to or they should stay private and guard their property if they want to. Neither action affects me in any way.

    Ditko’s awesome, though. I buy all his new comics. I don’t quite understand them, but I love how he’s still plugging away at it.

  7. Ditko is still making comics? Wow. I just finished reading his entire run of Amazing Spider-man. His new stuff looks…interesting.

  8. There’s a very short list of mainstream artists/creators with integrity and dignity; Bill Watterson is on it.

  9. Why are guys like you always so bent out of shape about Jim Davis and Scott Adams getting rich from their creations?

    No problem with it, if that’s what they want. The problem is that both Davis and Adams forgot what brought them to the dance—quality, which over the last several years has taken a nosedive in both men’s strips.

    But, to end on a positive note, at least both Adams and Davis are both still doing their strips, as opposed to the “good ole days” where far more strips were ghosted than not.

  10. Kind of unfair to run that quote as the interview’s context, when this is really one of the more even-handed, somewhat optimistic Bill Waterson interviews I’ve read. If anything, it brightens me to hear that even Bill thinks comics will ultimately stand the test of time.

  11. rob e – Davis may still WRITE Garfield but I know he doesn’t draw it anymore, and hasn’t for awhile. He does, in fact, have a ghost artist – and a whole studio of artists doing work for licensed products.

    Which is fine by me, as a freelance cartoonist. Jim Davis designed Garfield to have the broadest appeal possible for the purpose of making money off of it, and to that end he has succeeded and I can’t fault him for that. Nor can I fault Bill Watterson for not wanting to merchandise or license his strip, since I think Calvin and Hobbes is the greatest strip ever (superior to the overrated Peanuts).

  12. Jim Davis hasn’t drawn Garfield since sometime in the 20th century. Of course Charles Schulz hasn’t drawn Peanuts lately either, but that wasn’t as voluntary a choice on his part.

  13. Ditko is still making comics? Wow. I just finished reading his entire run of Amazing Spider-man.
    @Brian Spence:
    Ditko wrote/drew and lettered his own version of ASM #39 – 100, which (for obvious (c) and TM reasons) are titled ARACHNO #39-100. Mr. Ditko has only recently begun to preview this massive, transcendental work to a select few around NY. A long-time close confident of Ditko, who described to me the contents of the first few ARACHNO issues, said the Green Goblin is revealed to be not Norman Osborne but Stan Lee. There are plans to have all 61 issues published immediately after the artist’s death.

  14. @Horatio Weisfeld:
    Wow, is this true? It sounds like it could be an elaborate ruse or the biggest comics story of the year if it finally comes to light. Assuming it exists, I do hope Ditko decides to publish it within his lifetime (although I can understand why he might not want to).

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