Bill Watterson

Bill Watterson

We miss you.

Bill Watterson. Another influential mind behind the pen, Bill Watterson was one of my biggest influences in the comic medium.

1985 brought about the adventures of an over imaginative young boy named Calvin and his imaginary friend Hobbes in the form of a stuffed tiger. His adventures were a hit and brought the names “Calvin and Hobbes” into the homes of Americans everywhere.

Bill Watterson had enjoyed cartooning since the age of eight and started his publishing career with the high school newspaper and the yearbook. When he attended Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio he became interested in political cartoons through a friend and mentor. He majored in Political Science so cartooning and his major went hand in hand. He also began to develop the character “Spaceman Spiff” during those years.

After college, he got a job at the Cincinnati Post drawing political cartoons. That job lasted about three months and they fired him. Watterson never really found out why, he stated, “the editor insisted that most of my work be about local, as opposed to national, issues. Cincinnati has a weird, three-party, city manager-government, and by the time I figured it out, I was standing in the unemployment lines.”

For five years he submitted non-political strips to the major syndicates, submitting material he thought they would enjoy. Eventually, he came up with his first Calvin and Hobbes strip which actually involved Calvins older brother, with Calvin and his imaginary side-kick as minor characters. United Features syndicate suggested having Calvin and Hobbes as the major characters, he reluctantly agreed.

The new strip wasn’t accepted by United Features ironically, but Universal Syndicate did. The two characters clicked so well with Watterson that it became like second nature for him to create each strip.

Unofficially, the two characters where named after Protestant reformer John Calvin and social philosopher Thomas Hobbes.

After months of battling the syndicate with comic strip size, defending his stance on not marketing Calvin and Hobbes to a line of toys, T-shirts, bumper stickers or other endorsements, Bill Watterson drew his last Calvin and Hobbes strip in 1995. His explanation was that he had taken his two characters as far as he could. He didn’t want to drag out the strip past its prime like other strips which was probably a wise choice since most of us are still craving more.

Bill Watterson lives a bit reclusive now with his wife in Ohio. He has stood by his stance on not commercializing Calvin and Hobbes. The C and H products you do see out there on T-shirts and bumper stickers are knock-offs and not official products. Watterson doesn’t even sell or give away his artwork, although he has donated a painting he had done to charity.