A heaping scoop of Pastis sauce
Saturday June 07th 2014, 10:26 pm
Filed under: Family,Life

I almost… I was tempted…

I thought about giving my son some Calvin and Hobbes books for his birthday, maybe even the entire boxed anthology (of which Bill Watterson once said was like looking at a coffin of his career.)

And I remember that same then-little boy wanting me to read those books to him and when I diverted him to something else, not quite wanting to give him any ideas, him studying those pictures on every page and really not needing to know what the words were.

I decided not to do that to my daughter-in-law re Parker.

I was never quite sure whether Calvin was implicated when my two oldest climbed a tree with the garden hoses, one of them tearing a brand new pair of pants in the process, and loop-de-looping, at least two per seat, they made swings out of them. Did a good job, too, with the hose ends well secured by totally mummifying that tree and they had so much fun that we left them up there for I think the whole summer.

One particular strip showed Hobbes asking Calvin if he’d asked his mom first if he could try to fly from his second-story window using his blanket as a parachute, and what Calvin shot back became a line for the ages in our family: “Questions you know the answer to, you don’t need to ask, right?” (Aside always added to the kids: YES YOU DO.)

Followed by Hobbes looking down and tsking, “His mother’s going to have a fit about those rose bushes.”

When Watterson was just getting started as a cartoonist, to be accepted into syndication he was told he had to sign on to allowing the syndicate to make extra money off his creation should his strip become popular. A lot of it. Hobbes dolls, bumper stickers, whatever they might think of.

Then when Calvinball really did take off, the syndicate started pressuring Watterson hard.

He didn’t want to see a million badly-sewn tiger dolls mocking what he’d worked so hard to create in the vivid imaginations of his readers; it would be a betrayal. Hobbes was always shown as real only around Calvin and a simple stuffed animal when his parents or arch nemesis Suzi were present.

And so he did what Sandra Boynton did when her publisher insisted on stocking her delightful greeting cards alongside their new line of porn ones: he stopped. If they couldn’t treat his artistry with respect he was done creating for them.

Richard Thompson eventually began his Cul De Sac strip that shows life through the eyes of small children, and like Calvin and Hobbes, it was masterfully done. There is such a need for being able to understand how the very young human beings around us think–we need more of this.

But those are reruns now–Thompson was stopped by young-onset Parkinson’s. The brilliant insight is there but the hands, not so much. There is fundraising happening in his name towards research into the disease.

Turns out Bill Watterson is his fan. And so in a less-than-six-degrees-of-Pearls-Before-Bacon moment, with an eye towards funding that charity, wonderfulness happened. The Washington Post scooped the story but reading Stephan Pastis himself tell the tale of how he got Watterson to draw again after 19 years–at least a little so far–along with Pastis’s being so thrilled to get to co-create with his hero is a great read.  Here you go.

5 Comments so far
Leave a comment

I read that last night. I was quite sniffly at the end.

Comment by Afton 06.08.14 @ 3:35 am

Totally fun.

Comment by RobinM 06.08.14 @ 7:14 am

What an uplifting story. Thanks for sharing it!

Comment by Channon 06.08.14 @ 10:30 am

Thank you for sharing this. We are big Calvin & Hobbes fans. The complete set was a gift to the kid years ago, but he allowed that it would stay in the livingroom, as a family gift. To the delight of many a visitor. What a great story!

Comment by DebbieR 06.08.14 @ 9:45 pm

My granddaughter-in-law has asked for a Calvin & Hobbs theme for the special blanket I’m making for her soon-to-be-born son. I’ve saved several frames from the Internet, but haven’t decided yet which one I will try to chart and work in duplicate stitch on the center panel of the blanket. The borders have the baby’s name in shadow/illusion knitting.
It’s nice to have this information about the creator of the strip.

Comment by Adele 06.09.14 @ 12:37 pm

Leave a comment
Line and paragraph breaks automatic, e-mail address never displayed, HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>