Early last year, I had the enjoyable task of spending several hours in the company of Scarlett Johansson. I held it together. I didn't request a photo together, or an autograph...or even a funny soundbite to use as my voicemail greeting. That being said, if I ever found myself in a room with Bill Watterson, I would probably start shrieking or sob uncontrollably or wrap the man—scared and bewildered—up in a hug so tight that security would forcibly remove me from the premises. I have every last Calvin & Hobbes book. Some date back nearly two decades and were purchased from elementary-school book fairs. I don't read them very often, but I will never dump them in the thrift-store pile. They're precious to me. When someone brings this much laughter into your life, this much delight, you show deference. So I will always keep my books close. Here are five of the things I love about Mr. Watterson's famous strip.
1. The Expressions
I'm not just talking about Calvin's disgusted "blech!" face when he gets served something healthy and unidentifiable at the dinner table. I'm talking about Hobbes's mile-wide grin when he gets a kiss from Susie Derkins. I'm talking about the the sour grimace on the babysitter's face after enduring a night of Calvin's hijinx. Watterson barely needed to provide dialogue.
There's nothing better than a six-year-old kid who ruminates on life using pentasyllabic words. Here's to holding the funnies in one hand and a thesaurus in the other. Guess that's what you get when you have a comic strip named after a theologian and a British philosopher.
3. Calvin's Imagination
Sure, there's the make-believe tiger friend. But what about the strip with the T-Rex flying the fighter jet? Or when Spaceman Spiff landed on some new alien planet that ended up being the mashed potatoes on Calvin's dinner plate? Or when a ratty cardboard box turned into a time machine or a cloning chamber or, best of all, a transmogrifying machine? (Trans-mog-ri-fy-ing. Five syllables. What'd I tell you?)
Whatever the prepubescent version of sexual tension is, you could cut
it with a knife when Susie Derkins came strolling by on her way to a
tea party with favorite doll Binky Betsy. Calvin "Supreme Dictator For
Life" and Hobbes up in the treehouse had me rolling on the floor
laughing when they convened the Get Rid Of Slimy girlS club. That incorrigible Ladies' Tiger, Hobbes, always forgetting the credo.
5. Bill Watterson