Monday, December 27, 2010

Let's go exploring!

I've been a fan of Calvin and Hobbes for years, though I have only vague memories of reading them in the paper, I (or rather my brother) had all of the books while we were growing up and I fondly remember reading and re-reading and re-reading these collections.  So I was excited to see the book Looking for Calvin and Hobbes: The Unconventional Story of Bill Watterson and His Revolutionary Comic Strip by Nevin Martell sitting on the coffee table one day.  Boyfriend's friend had recently read it and lent it to him, knowing he was also a fan. So I put down the book I had been reading so I could make sure I finished this book before Friend started demanding it back.  The book reminded me why I love Calvin and Hobbes but reading the comic strip as self would have done as much.

Martell has a tall order he's trying to fill: get an interview with Watterson, the Salinger of the cartoonist world. Unfortunately though unsurprisingly, he never gets this interview and instead writes the book using "Plan B - otherwise known as the Morbidly Realistic Plan...[writing] the book as if Watterson were dead," (14).  He interviews colleagues and friends of Watterson but never really uncovers new material.  The majority of at least 3 chapters seemed to be him quoting The Calvin and Hobbes Tenth Anniversary book and an interview in Honk!!.  The anniversary book is my favorite C&H collection, precisely because it includes insights written by Watterson, so Martell didn't really provide any new information about the reclusive cartoonist, and as a result I spent a large portion of the book wishing I was reading that book because then I'd have the comics to read.

I think the book would have benefited from a different viewpoint.  Instead of being written as if Watterson was dead I would have much preferred to read his journey as he tried to get an interview.  The information was there but structured in such a way that it actually took away from Watterson's story.  The book almost makes me want to pick up The Complete Calvin and Hobbes which I've considered on a few occasions but I always put back down because it's so expensive and so large.  

If you've read all you can on C&H and still want to read more, you should check out this book.  I recommend borrowing it though.  If you like C&H and want to learn more about the series and Watterson, read The Tenth Anniversary book instead.

On a separate but related note, one of the gifts I got for Christmas was a framed copy of a Calvin and Hobbes strip.  I mentioned a panel out of the strip once before because the argument Calvin and Hobbes have is pretty much what every argument Boyfriend and I have devolves into.  And as I've mentioned, I'm absolutely Calvin in this relationship.  I wish I was Hobbes but it's just not the case.

The title quote isn't a direct line from the book, though I do vaguely remember it being mentioned.  It's the last lines of the comic strip that ran on December 31, 1995.  Boyfriend actually has this strip from his local paper hanging in his childhood bedroom

Martell, Nevin.  Looking for Calvin and Hobbes: The Unconventional Story of Bill Watterson and His Revolutionary Comic Strip.  Continuum, New York.  2009.