Come back with me to a time almost forgotten.
When I was a young man in school, the teacher would sit us all down for what she called, “30 Minutes of Quiet Time Reading.” This meant that each student was to pick a book and read it quietly to themselves. For years I thought that this was because she wanted us to learn to read. I now realize that it was actually because elementary school children are terrors and she needed a break.
At this age, I wasn’t really a fan of reading anything, let alone a book. So as not to disappoint her, I walked over to the library and picked up a book called, “Something Under The Bed Is Drooling” by Bill Watterson. My life was forever changed.
A boy named Calvin and his imaginary tiger named Hobbes starred in the book. These two had me breaking out in laughter during each of the 30-minute sessions. Looking back it is easy to see why young readers gravitated towards Calvin and his adventures. Like most kids of his age, Calvin had a wild, rebellious imagination that would play out in every story arc. Like most comics, he and his stories became an outlet for the readers.
Calvin became increasingly relatable as I continued to read Watterson’s books. He went through some of the most noteworthy topics on this site, most specifically, bullying. He recognized that the main protagonist of his life was a bully named Moe and on more than one occasion found himself standing up to Moe. This usually resulted in an unfavorable outcome.
If you have had the privilege of reading a Calvin and Hobbes book, you know that he is not the sharpest tool in the shed. It was because of this that his teacher, Miss Wormwood, often found herself “picking” on him. She would continuously call him to the front or make him answer the questions she had asked. This didn’t stop Calvin from being Calvin. This encouraged him to utilize his sense of humor and overall laziness to answer the questions resulting in him always “just getting by”.
In thinking about it, Calvin is a lot like the younger version of me.
Without a doubt, my favorite stories always included his babysitter, Rosalyn. What child actually liked the idea of their parents going out for the night and being left at home with the dreaded babysitter?
Each time she came over, Calvin was put to bed at 6:30. This, of course, didn’t stop him from causing mischief. He bounced off walls, pretended to be a dinosaur, and got into trouble with his friend, Hobbes. At the precise moment that his parents arrived home, he would outright lie to them and tell them that he was a perfect angel. Yes, Calvin was a typical boy.
In hindsight, Rosalyn was the perfect babysitter. She was kind, patient, and always willing to be there if his parents needed her. Thinking about it, perhaps his parents knew what was actually happening, and as a continual punishment for his bad behavior, they hired Rosalyn.
If Garfield has Odie, Calvin needed a sidekick. That sidekick is Hobbes.
Hobbes is a stuffed tiger that magically came to life via Calvin’s imagination. He was the only person who could see Hobbes for what he was…a real, living, breathing, tiger. The two of them found themselves in more trouble than any comic strip characters I can name.
They did it all:
- Calvin ball
- Name calling
- Snowball fighting
- Superhero team
- Everything that you can think of and more.
Hobbes is to Calvin as cheese is to wine…inseparable.
Calvin and Hobbes staying power
It is undeniable the impact that Calvin and Hobbes have had over the years. From the Saturday morning funnies to books, and documentaries, Calvin and Hobbes helped transcend the comic strip genre. They have influenced my life for 20+ years and will continue to do so until I am long gone.
I believe that they are more than just a comic strip. They have become what each of us grew up wanting to be.
- Uncaring of what others think
It is my hope that Calvin and Hobbes continue to teach the next generation the merits of everything mentioned above.