Calvin & Hobbes.
Just reading the name brings a smile to my face.
I came to this strip a little late, right around 1990, when I came across Something Under The Bed Is Drooling. I was gob-smacked, I had never come across a comic strip like this, one that reflected my own childhood, and my giving myself over to imagination the way 6-year-old Calvin did.
I didn’t have a stuffed tiger best friend like he did, but my imagination was certainly comparable to his.
And like most of the world, I was understandably upset when artist Bill Watterson penned his last Calvin & Hobbes, with that final cry, “Let’s go exploring!”
Watterson has shunned celebrity for himself, and declined any licensing for his beloved creations, letting the art speak for itself, and that’s what it truly is. Art.
Director Joel Schroeder decided to dig into the universe of Calvin and Hobbes, not with the intent of finding and talking to Watterson, but to rather, send him this kind of love letter not just from him, but from countless millions who have been touched and influenced by that young boy and his feline friend.
Traveling to Watterson’s hometown of Chagrin Falls, Ohio, which looks just like Calvin’s neighborhood, especially in the watercolors used for his Sunday strips, Schroeder visits the local library, and chats with locals. He also visits the Cartoon museum, and views some of Watterson’s original art.
The film talks about how he’s influenced the comic strip, the state of the strip in newspapers today, and those he influenced. Watterson, himself, never appears in the film, as mentioned he’s shunned celebrity of any nature, it is more like a bit of a nostalgic love letter to him.
It’s very lovingly shot, but it’s not as engaging as one would want, considering some of the talent who have been influenced, and professed their love for this strip. The footage shot in Chagrin Falls is the best stuff in the film, the rest of it almost feels sterile despite the love Schroeder obviously has for Watterson’s creations.
I didn’t learn anything new watching this documentary, it would make a nice introduction to these two enduring characters for anyone who hasn’t met them, but, I will say this, it has certainly fired up the need to re-read my Calvin and Hobbes collection immediately.
I do love those strips!
If you want to have a look, this doc is currently available on Netflix. Have a look, tell me what you think…