I actually started to read the Calvin and Hobbes series as a child. My father and uncle were diehard fans of their author, Bill Watterson, and I quickly found myself reading next to them (even if I don’t think I got all the jokes at the time). Because even if Calvin and Hobbes depicts a child and his toy, it is not really a kids comic, but more like a comic for adults who wish they still could act like a child (which is pretty much all of us, at least at one point in our life). A lot of the strips bring funny stories and meaningful messages together, which make the Calvin and Hobbes comics really special I think. But why not see for yourself? Here are a few reasons why I love Calvin and Hobbes.
1. Because they are the most adorable friends in the world
As you must know already, Calvin and Hobbes’ comics tell the stories of a young boy, named Calvin, and his toy, a plush tiger named Hobbes. The trick of main of the stories is that Hobbes appears as a real tiger to Calvin when nobody is watching. They play, they fight then reconcile they go on incredible adventures together, they play pranks on Calvin’s parents/teachers/schoolmates and basically try to make your existence a living hell.
I really love the idea that Calvin interacts with Hobbes like he was any other friend he could have. His imagination doesn’t stop to the plaything; he really acts like Hobbes as its (his?) proper personality, feelings and thoughts. The comics don’t depict the relation between a child and his toy; they describe a real childhood friendship that anyone would be jealous of.
With his best friend being a plush toy, Calvin is probably one of the most imaginative heroes in comics’ history. He is always making up stories for everything and anything, like that one time he suddenly start singing while eating a plate of spaghetti…
… or these many (MANY) times he transformed himself into the most amazing space-hero of all time, Spaceman Spiff…
3. Because they are the best at driving adults crazy
One of the best regret I have about my childhood is that I used to live in the south of France, where snow is more a miracle than a real thing. That’s why, when I had the chance to visit my grandparents (who lived in the countryside of central France), I would become the greatest threat to their garden by trying to replicate EVERY snowmen I saw in the Calvin and Hobbes’ series. Sadly, my grandparents were not fans of the comics (at least not the part with horror-movie-like-snowmen) and they never truly appreciated my snowy homage to Bill Watterson’s art.
I must admit that bath time was never a really big deal for me as a child (Dory’s “Just keep swimming” was my motto), so I don’t really identify myself with the poor Calvin on that one. Nevertheless, the strips with Calvin in a bathtub might be some of the funniest one (and also the most difficult ones for poor Calvin’s mother).
4. Because they were the perfect way to tell you how life sucks sometimes
Some of the stories in the Calvin and Hobbes series could be really intense. I particularly remember a story about Calvin finding a little raccoon in the garden and trying to save him. When Calvin and Hobbes discovered that the raccoon passed away, I found their reactions to be very true to the way we sometimes feel when we are confronted to the reality of life (and yes, I might have shed a tear, don’t judge me).
5. Because Bill Watterson’s comics might be my first introduction to philosophy
I only discover who originally bore the names of Calvin and Hobbes in late high school. Even if I didn’t get the reference as a child, a lot of the jokes in the series were already a first approach to something close to philosophy. I think that the truly amazing part of Bill Watterson’s work is that you can actually get really pensive over the comics. Calvin and Hobbes are not just some funny characters you can laugh at. They are sometimes great thinkers who make you wonder about the deepest things in life, even if it is under the features of a young boy and his plush tiger.