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Comic Bill Watterson is the artist and creator of in my humble opinion the greatest comic strip of all time, Calvin and Hobbes. I was a bit too young to appreciate it while it was originally published frombut I started devouring the book collections soon after. I think my brother had a few of the treasury collections and I must have read those dozens of times.
To me, Calvin and Hobbes is cartooning perfection — that rare strip that has both exquisite writing AND gorgeous artwork.
A strip that managed to convey the joy of childhood, absurdity of humanity and power of imagination all through the relationship between a boy and his stuffed tiger. And most importantly, a strip that was consistently laugh-out-loud funny.
Besides the fact that Calvin and Hobbes is the comic I cherish above all others, Bill Watterson is my biggest creative influence and someone I admire greatly as an artist. Broke, he was forced to move back in with his parents and worked an advertising layout job he hated while he drew comics in his spare time.
He stayed at this miserable job and submitted strips to comic syndicates for four years before Calvin and Hobbes was accepted. About this period Watterson wrote: He went through a long and traumatic fight with his syndicate over the licensing rights, and although he eventually prevailed, Watterson was so disillusioned with the industry he almost quit cartooning.
If I could not control what my own work was about and stood for, then cartooning meant very little to me. Eager to reinvigorate his creative mojo on his return, Watteron proposed a radical new layout for his colour Sunday strips.
Previously, the Sunday strip was comprised of three tiers of panels and looked like this.
The layout was restrictive and the top tier had to be completely disposable because a lot of newspapers would cut it and only run the bottom two tiers in order to save space so they could cram in as many comics or puzzles, or ads as they could.
They would have to publish his Sunday comics at a half-page size with no editing, or not publish it at all. By this time Calvin and Hobbes had been running for over five years and was extremely successful so Watterson had the clout needed to pull this move off.
Despite fearing many cancellations, he was pleasantly surprised that most newspapers supported the change. He was free to create strips like thisand this and this.
This was close as I could get to my vision of what a comic strip should be. He had given his heart and soul to one project for 10 years, had said all he wanted to say and wanted to go out on top.
I was ready to pursue different artistic challenges, work at a less frantic pace with fewer business conflicts, and … start restoring some balance to my life. Would you stop creating your art if millions of people admired your work and kept wanting more?
Reprints of Calvin and Hobbes are still published in over 50 countries and the strips are as fresh and funny as they were years ago. It has a timeless quality and will continue to entertain comic fans for generations to come.
Great art does that. Brain Pickings has a nice article about it. My ex-boss even asked me if I wanted to return to my old job.Explore Jostens personalized college and high school class rings and high school yearbooks for gifts this holiday season to celebrate big moments this year.
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