Just received a galley of this.

The fascinating life, work, and legacy of the reclusive creator behind the beloved Calvin and Hobbes comic strip

For ten years, between 1985 and 1995, Calvin and Hobbes was one of the world’s most beloved comic strips. And then, on the last day of 1995, the strip ended. Its mercurial and reclusive creator, Bill Watterson, not only finished the strip but withdrew entirely from public life. There is no merchandising associated with Calvin and Hobbes: no movie franchise; no plush toys; no coffee mugs; no t-shirts (except a handful of illegal ones). There is only the strip itself, and the books in which it has been compiled – including The Complete Calvin and Hobbes: the heaviest book ever to hit the New York Times bestseller list.

In Looking for Calvin and Hobbes: The Unconventional Story of Bill Watterson and His Revolutionary Comic Strip, writer Nevin Martell traces the life and career of the extraordinary, influential, and intensely private man behind Calvin and Hobbes. With input from a wide range of artists and writers (including Dave Barry, Harvey Pekar, Jonathan Lethem, and Brad Bird) as well as some of Watterson’s closest friends and professional colleagues, this is as close as we’re ever likely to get to one of America’s most ingenious and intriguing figures – and a fascinating detective story, at the same time.

Only 3,160 Calvin & Hobbes strips were ever produced, but Watterson has left behind an impressive legacy. Calvin & Hobbes references litter the pop culture landscape and his fans are as varied as they are numerable. Looking for Calvin and Hobbes is an affectionate and revealing book about uncovering the story behind this most uncommon trio – a man, a boy, and his tiger.

Should be interesting.


  1. “Calvin & Hobbes references litter the pop culture landscape…”

    Unfortunately, the most prominent one is the “urinating Calvin” sprite adorning countless pickup trucks across our nation. I wonder how many of the owners know anything about who the character is….or care….or could actually read an entire Calvin and Hobbes strip?

  2. Chris, in the past, Watterson publically denounced comic books.
    Not sure if he changed his mind on this, but I don’t think so.

  3. @michael – that is so disheartening to hear. Did he denounce the medium or just lot of the drivel that was and still being published? Because I can empathsize with the later feeling.

  4. Wouldn’t it be great if Bill Watterson and fellow hermit Steve Ditko got together a couple of times a year to shoot pop cans, ride 4-wheelers, fish, playfully kid each other on who’s the most principaled and/or myterious.

  5. http://www.continuumbooks.com/books/detail.aspx?BookId=132270&SearchType=Basic

    Looking for Calvin and Hobbes: The Story of Bill Watterson and his Revolutionary Comic Strip
    978-0-8264-2984-1 $24.95 272p. October 2009

    There was some official C and H merchandise… two wall calendars, one textbook, and a museum t-shirt. Die-hard fans can comb through the Cincinnati Post looking for his editorial cartoons (or visit: http://ignatz.brinkster.net/cbillart.html).

    (Pssst…. it’s “Calvin and Hobbes”. No ampersand.)

  6. I don’t recall Watterson specifically dissing comic books, though I can certainly understand if he was repulsed by the garbage that dominates the shops. I suspect Watterson would have a more open mind than that since Walt Kelly, his hero and primary inpiration, often expressed a preference for the freedoms inherent in the comic book format.
    Wouldn’t it be great if Watterson surfaced after 15 years with a C&H graphic novel or a batch of C&H short stories, all rendered in his beautiful watercolor?

  7. Nah… wouldn’t it be great if Watterson surfaced with a graphic novel done in oil (which he is learning to paint) of an ENTIRELY new creation? Something that all the C and H fans would buy, read, and say, Hey? What the…? This isn’t… Whoa, that’s pretty cool!

  8. Oddly, when I was at the Schulz Museum recently (article coming any day now), the original that got me the most jazzed was the Calvin and Hobbes, and not the Hal Foster or Barney Google or Herriman or any of the Peanuts stuff.

  9. I appreciate the sentiments expressed above, and liked C&H as much as anyone. But my take is that Watterson’s made it clear he wants to be left the hell alone, and it just seems to me that someone who really respects him and his work ought to respect that wish as well. He gave us the strip; that’s all he owed us and as much of his life as we’re entitled to.

  10. Nah… wouldn’t it be great if Watterson surfaced with a graphic novel done in oil (which he is learning to paint) of an ENTIRELY new creation?


    Well, that could be cool… or it could be a disappointment. Watterson was done, and unlike many folk in may fields, left when he knew it. We have plenty to still enjoy.

  11. “You can make your superhero a psychopath, you can draw gut-splattering violence, and you can call it a ‘graphic novel,’ but comic books are still incredibly stupid.”

    -Bill Watterson, The Calvin and Hobbes Tenth Anniversary Book pg. 171

    Methinks Watterson needed to read Bone, or Blankets, or Maus, or something along those lines.

  12. My dream is to someday see an original graphic novel by Bill Watterson published by First Second books! Till then, I’m certainly willing to respect his desire to remove himself from the world.

  13. Ah, Bill Watterson, I’ve heard it said he made a deal with the Devil and has paid it back with his soul. But then, comics about kids have always been immensely popular. I suppose because every one was (is) one?

  14. Watterson’s strip was a huge deal for me as a kid, and still is, and as much as I love reading biographies and discourse on artists whom I like, I won’t be picking this up. He’s made it very clear that he doesn’t want his personal life in the public eye, and people trying to force him (rather than his work) into the limelight is poor gratitude for such excellent, heartfelt output.

    I expect we’ll never see more work from the man – sad, but probably, I think – but with books delving into him as an artist rather than the strip itself will only guarantee that probability.

    Also, I’m only going by the tiny image, but that shadow under Calvin’s foot doesn’t look indicative of Watterson brush work – did the designer pick a panel that just happens to be unlike Watterson’s usual shadow work (look at how clean and spaced the hatchwork is, as opposed to the usual slapped ink that give an indication of ground texture), or did somebody else (I expect more likely, for legal reasons) do the drawing?

  15. I own two dress ties of Calvin & Hobbes (paid $20 a piece for them). If any one remembers, I wore one at the Eisner Awards one year. Even The Beat complemented me when she saw me wearing one.

    So there was merchandising at one point.