Posts Tagged ‘Calvin and Hobbes’
Childhood distorts your memories in strange ways — everything seems bigger, more extensive, more dramatic. Take the seminal comic strip, Calvin and Hobbes, for example. Much of its 1985 – 1995 run lined up with my own childhood; I eagerly waited for the newspaper (yes, comics in the newspaper!) every day from about 1989 on. When I started reading, I was only a year or two older than Calvin himself, thus making the strip eminently relatable in a way that few other pieces of art have ever been for me. (And make no mistake, Calvin and Hobbes is art.)
Of course, it was an exaggerated version of being a kid — in particular the amount of destruction that Calvin heaped on his poor, unwitting parents. My memories tell me that nary a week went by without some incredible amount of damage caused to Calvin’s home. An article and chart published to the ridiculously-named PNIS (Proceedings of the Natural Institute of Science, which claims to be a “part-serious, part-satirical journal publishing science-related articles”) backs up those assumptions, and even puts a dollar figure on it. According to these calculations, Calvin’s destructive tendencies cost his parents approximately $15,955.50 over the course of the strip’s 10 years…
Read more at Nathan Ingraham‘s “Calvin and Hobbes were even more destructive than you think.” (and read the full scientific paper here.)
* Walt Disney
As we find humor in the hyperbole, we might recall that it was on this date in 1916 that Margaret Sanger, her sister, Ethel Byrne, both nurses, and an associate, Fania Mindell opened the Brownsville Clinic in Brooklyn– the first family planning and birth control clinic in the United States. (The first such clinic in the world opened in Amsterdam in 1885.) The police quickly closed the facility; Sanger served 30 days in jail. But she and her colleagues gamely re-opened; and in 1917, Sanger helped organize the National Birth Control League, which would later become the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
As we chuckle contemplatively, we might recall that it was on this date in 1960 that Cuban President Fidel Castro gave his debut speech at the U.N.– at four and a half hours, the longest ever in the General Assembly. Castro had taken a friendlier tone on his first U.S. visit, a year earlier; but by 1960, he had moved firmly into the Soviet Camp, He used his maiden U.N. address to blast U.S. imperialism and to insult John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon, the presidential candidates at the time.
Were Kennedy not a millionaire, illiterate, and ignorant, then he would obviously understand that you cannot revolt against the peasants.
Readers will recall that before the exquisite Calvin and Hobbes, Bill Watterson drew political cartoons…
Before that, he drew for his college newspaper, The Kenyon Collegian…
These and more, from every stage of Watterson’s wonderful career, at Rare Bill Watterson Art.
As we remember that this was why we used to subscribe to newspapers, we might send birthday smiles to another Ohioan, humorist and cartoonist James Thurber; he was born (in Columbus) on this date in 1894.
Q. No one has been able to tell us what kind of dog we have. I am enclosing a sketch of one of his two postures. He only has two. The other one is the same as this except he faces in the opposite direction. – Mrs EUGENIA BLACK
A. I think that what you have is a cast-iron lawn dog. The expressionless eye and the rigid pose are characteristic of metal lawn animals. And that certainly is a cast-iron ear. You could, however, remove all doubt by means of a simple test with a hammer and a cold chisel, or an acetylene torch. If the animal chips, or melts, my diagnosis is correct.
– The Thurber Carnival (1945)
Looking for an antidote? Well there is Fora.tv (with Long Now seminars, TED Talks, and other delectables)… and now, nearly 1000 non-fiction films (and growing) in dozens of categories, available for one’s pleasure and edification at Documentary Heaven.
source: UC Library
(On the other hand, if one wants to find any sequence from any film, one might amble over to AnyClip– thousands of films indexed so far; thousands more to come. Tres cool….)
As we search for the verite in cinema, we might recall that it was on this date in 37 CE that Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus– aka Caligula– became the Roman Emperor, following the death of his great-uncle Tiberius. Caligula reigned until his assassination three-and-a-half years later by members of his own Praetorian Guard; the first two years of his tenure were marked by moderation– but accounts of his reign thereafter paint a portrait of cruel, extravagant, and perverse tyranny… leading many historians to suspect that Caligula succumbed in his last months to neurosyphilis.
“If there is a Huckleberry Finn of comic strips, this is it”
– Lee Salem, President of Universal Press Syndicate (as quoted here)
It’s been 15 years since Bill Watterson decided to retire “the terrible tyke” and his tiger. Now thanks to Cleveland.com, the first interview with Calvin’s creator since 1989.
There’s even a peek at some of Watterson’s pre-strip work as an editorial cartoonist. For instance:
As we await the commemorative stamp that’s due out this summer, we might recall that it was on this date in 1957 that the first nuclear-powered submarine, the USS Nautilus (SSN-571), logged its 60,000th nautical mile– thus matching the endurance of the fictional Nautilus described by Jules Verne in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.
Through good times and bad, comic strips have played a Greek chorus-like role in American life. Inspired exceptions (Krazy Kat, Calvin and Hobbes) aside, the comics pages have given voice (or voice bubbles, anyway) to the dreams– and nightmares– that Americans share.
So lest one be carried away by the recent updraft on Wall Street, one might consult Cathy…
As we swallow our selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, we might recall that it was on this date that the first “cartoon superstar,” Felix the Cat, premiered in a daily strip (1923, in the Daily Sketch in England, though the panels were quickly picked up across North America). Created by Otto Messmer (for producer Pat Sullivan), Felix had been a film star since 1919, and was in an estimated 60% of U.S. cinemas when he debuted in the funnies… Appropriately perhaps, Felix was the first image ever broadcast on television by NBC, as RCA chose a papier-mâché Felix doll for its 1930 experiment via W2XBS New York in Van Cortlandt Park. Shot on a rotating phonograph turntable, the image was chosen less for its celebrity than for its tonal contrast and its ability to withstand the intensely-hot lighting necessary…