Daily Trivia : Calvin and Hobbes and Bill Watterson

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In the words of Bill Watterson,

“Calvin is named for a sixteenth-century theologian who believed in predestination. Most people assume that Calvin is based on a son of mine, or based on detailed memories of my own childhood.

In fact, I don’t have children, and I was a fairly quiet, obedient kid—almost Calvin’s opposite. One of the reasons that Calvin’s character is fun to write is that I often don’t agree with him.

Calvin is autobiographical in the sense that he thinks about the same issues that I do, but in this, Calvin reflects my adulthood more than my childhood. Many of Calvin’s struggles are metaphors for my own. I suspect that most of us get old without growing up, and that inside every adult (sometimes not very far inside) is a bratty kid who wants everything his own way.

I use Calvin as an outlet for my immaturity, as a way to keep myself curious about the natural world, as a way to ridicule my own obsessions, and as a way to comment on human nature. I wouldn’t want Calvin in my house, but on paper, he helps me sort through my life and understand it.”

and

“Named after a seventeenth-century philosopher with a dim view of human nature, Hobbes has the patient dignity and common sense of most animals I’ve met.

Hobbes was very much inspired by one of our cats, a gray tabby named Sprite. Sprite not only provided the long body and facial characteristics for Hobbes, she also was the model for his personality.

With most cartoon animals, the humor comes from their human-like behavior. Hobbes stands upright and talks of course, but I try to preserve his feline side, both in his physical demeanor and his attitude.

His reserve and tact seem very catlike to me, along with his barely contained pride in not being human. Like Calvin, I often prefer the company of animals to people, and Hobbes is my idea of an ideal friend.”

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Calvin and Hobbes is set in the contemporary United States in an unspecified suburban area. Calvin is six years old and he has some strong opinions. Hobbes is his best friend, someone that he shares everything with. Hobbes can often see the absurdity of Calvin’s opinions and his behavior, but he puts up with it anyway.

Hobbes’ dual nature is a defining motif for the strip: to Calvin, Hobbes is a live tiger; all the other characters see him as an inanimate stuffed toy.

Bill Watterson explains this as follows:

“The so-called “gimmick” of my strip—the two versions of Hobbes—is sometimes misunderstood. I don’t think of Hobbes as a doll that miraculously comes to life when Calvin’s around.

Neither do I think of Hobbes as the product of Calvin’s imagination. Calvin sees Hobbes one way, and everyone else sees Hobbes another way. I show two versions of reality, and each makes complete sense to the participant who sees it. I think that’s how life works. None of us sees the world exactly the same way, and I just draw that literally in the strip. Hobbes is more about the subjective nature of reality than about dolls coming to life.

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Calvin and Hobbes was conceived when Bill Watterson was working in advertising. It was a job that he detested and he wanted a way out. So he began devoting his spare time to cartooning, his true love. He explored various strip ideas but all of them were rejected by the syndicates.

United Media finally responded positively to one strip, which featured a side character (the main character’s little brother) who had a stuffed tiger. Told that these characters were the strongest, Watterson began a new strip centered on them.

Though United Feature rejected the new strip, Universal Press Syndicate eventually took it. Here is the first strip that was published on November 18, 1985.

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The series was an instant hit and within a year of syndication, it was being published in roughly 250 newspapers. At the height of its popularity, Calvin and Hobbes was featured in over 2,400 newspapers worldwide. Nearly 45 million copies of the Calvin and Hobbes books have been sold and reruns still appear in more than 50 countries.

Like many artists, Watterson incorporated elements of his life, interests, beliefs and values into his work—for example, his hobby as a cyclist, memories of his own father’s speeches about “building character”, and his views on merchandising and corporations.

From the outset, Watterson found himself at odds with the syndicate, which urged him to begin merchandising the characters and touring the country to promote the first collections of comic strips. Watterson refused. He believed that the integrity of the strip and its artist would be undermined by commercialisation which he saw as a major negative influence in the world of cartoon art.

He also grew increasingly frustrated by the gradual shrinking of available space for comics in the newspapers. He lamented that without space for anything more than simple dialogue or sparse artwork, comics as an art form were becoming dilute, bland, and unoriginal.  

Watterson announced the end of Calvin and Hobbes on November 9, 1995, saying that he had achieved what he could within the constraints of daily deadlines and small panels. He said that he was eager to work  at a more thoughtful pace, with fewer artistic compromises. Here is the last strip of Calvin and Hobbes that was published on December 31, 1995.

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Since then Watterson has taken up painting and he has kept away from the public eye. He has given no indication of resuming the strip, creating new works based on the characters, or embarking on other projects, though he has published several anthologies of Calvin and Hobbes.

Sources:

wikipedia
andrewsmcmeel.com

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Daily Trivia : Tintin and Hergé

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On May 24th this year, a drawing by Hergé was sold for 2.5 million euros, a new world record for a comic strip. The piece, dating from 1937 and signed by the creator is a double page ink drawing created by Hergé for the inside cover of the Tintin adventures published between 1937 and 1958. It went to an American collector after 15 minutes of furious bidding at the Artcurial auction in Paris.

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Although he would go on to be one of the world’s most iconic cartoonists, Hergé (Georges Remi) was not a particularly standout student as a young boy. Instead, he preferred to indulge in his love for adventure and games with his friends on the streets of Brussels.

In secondary school, he joined the Boy Scouts. His drawing skills quickly caught the attention of the Scout leaders, and soon he was illustrating a Scout magazine and creating his first characters. Long before Tintin appeared in 1929, Georges Remi’s active imagination was conjuring up stories of international intrigue.

During the years of the First World War, Georges used the margins of his schoolbooks to scribble stories about a little character who played dirty tricks on German soldiers. He began drawing a comic strip featuring Totor, an adventurous Boy Scout who would become the basis for Tintin.

After leaving school and beginning work at the Belgian newspaper Le Vingtième Siècle, Hergé oversaw a weekly supplement for children entitled Le Petit Vingtième. This got him thinking about a new character: “The little brother of Totor, a Totor-turned-journalist, yet with the spirit of a Boy Scout.”

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Hergé’s job provided him access to all the latest news, including the real-life exploits of French reporter and investigator Albert Londres. Londres’s career, as well as stories from Belgian and foreign papers, became fodder for Tintin’s adventures.

Tintin himself was modelled after Totor, with a round head, a button for a nose and two dots for eyes — but with the iconic quiff that makes him instantly recognizable. Tintin was the reporter that Hergé himself would have liked to be.

Tintin is myself. He reflects the best and brightest in me; he is my successful double. I am not a hero. But like all 15-year-old boys, I dreamt of being one…and I have never stopped dreaming. Tintin has accomplished many things on my behalf.” -Hergé –

The first Tintin adventure, Tintin in the Land of the Soviets, was an instant hit with children and adults alike. As the adventures progressed, Hergé added all kinds of characters, some of whom he based on famous people (such as Bianca Castafiore, whose character was inspired by the opera singer Maria Callas). He also based some characters on friends and family (such as Thomson & Thompson, who were inspired by his father and his father’s twin brother).

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Although he started out as an investigative reporter, Tintin developed into a detective. He had a sharp eye for detail and considerable powers of deduction. A bit like James Bond, there was no car, motorcycle, locomotive, submarine, airplane, helicopter, horse or camel that Tintin could not drive, ride, steer or fly. No matter what situation Tintin found himself in, he was never at a loss for what to do.

Tintin was also an explorer, a fact that led to his most memorable achievement — taking the first steps on the moon, some 16 years before the American astronaut Neil Armstrong.

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For any child growing up amid the political and cultural changes of the twentieth century, Tintin was a role model who both inspired and delighted. Hergé drew upon the political events of the time and dedicated his life to creating adventures that transported readers to places around the world — from Japanese-occupied China in The Blue Lotus to the Arctic Ocean in The Shooting Star.

Throughout his career, Hergé strove to bring as much of the real world as he could into the world of Tintin. Although Tintin travelled around the world, Hergé stayed in Belgium for most of his life. In his later years, the artist and author managed to make trips to several countries and see first-hand the places that had inspired Tintin’s adventures.

Hergé’s career as a cartoonist was successful from the start, but it had one major hurdle. It came after the Second World War, after the end of German occupation when he was accused of being a collaborator because of the Nazi control of the paper (Le Soir),that he had been writing for. He claimed that he was simply doing a job under the occupation, like a plumber or carpenter, without any political sympathies.

But he admitted later that: “I recognize that I myself believed that the future of the West could depend on the New Order…In light of everything which has happened, it is of course a huge error…” Tintin, however was never depicted as being pro-German but the comic had hints of anti-Semitic themes that angered quite a few people.

Le Soir was shut down by the allied authorities and Tintin’s adventures were interrupted toward the end of The Seven Crystal Balls. During the chaotic post-occupation period, Hergé was arrested four times and he was publicly accused of Nasi and Rexist sympathies. Like other former employees of the Nazi-controlled press, Hergé found himself barred from newspaper work in post-war Belgium. He spent the next two years adapting many of the early Tintin adventures into colour.

Tintin’s exile ended on 26 September 1946. The publisher and wartime resistance fighter Raymond Leblanc provided the financial support and anti-Nazi credentials to launch Tintin the magazine with Hergé. It was a weekly publication that featured two pages of Tintin’s adventures, beginning with the remainder of The Seven Crystal Balls as well as other comic strips and assorted articles. It became highly successful, and weekly circulation surpassed 100,000 at one time.

Since then Tintin’s adventures continued uninterrupted until Hergé’s death in 1983. Tintin has been translated into over a hundred languages. In German he is called Tim, in Turkish he is called Tenten and in Latin he is known as Titinus. To celebrate Hergé’s seventy-fifth birthday, the Société Belge d’Astronomie gave his name to a newly discovered asteroid. The asteroid Hergé is located between Mars and Jupiter.

Sources:

tintin.com

wikipedia