It’s been 24 years since Calvin and Hobbes rode off on a snowy hill, set to go exploring. You might expect due to the massive and enduring popularity of their long-running comic strip we’d have seen our beloved heroes again since. But, due to creator Bill Watterson’s notorious aversion to marketing his characters, they only live on in the collections of his original strips. No cartoons. No merch. No movies. If you want to see Calvin and Hobbes, the classic strips were all you got—outside of a recent April Fools’ Day tradition.
Yesterday comic fans saw one of the few official appearances of Calvin in pop culture since Bill Clinton was in the White House, and once again we have Bloom County creator Berkeley Breathed to thank for it. In yesterday’s edition of Bloom County Watterson and Breathed teamed up for another mash-up of their characters. While we don’t get to see Hobbes this time around, we do get another adventure from Spaceman Spiff.
Breathed and Watterson have been supposedly cooperating on these so-called “Calvin County” strips for the last few April Fools’ Day. The strips are all signed by both Breathed and Watterson, but Watterson has never confirmed his involvement, and Breathed is definitely the type of guy who’d try to pull off a prank like this. Still, any child of the ‘80s must be thrilled to see Calvin and Opus together, or Bill the Cat hobnobbing with Hobbes. Hopefully the two comic strip legends keep this tradition going well into the future—or, if it is just Breathed, the one comic strip legend.
You can enjoy their latest April Fools’ Day strip below.
This tradition of Calvin and Hobbes characters in Bloom County started three years ago. Bloom County’s 2016 April Fools strip joked that Breathed has bought the rights to the characters from Watterson and would soon be making new strips and merch, like a Calvin and Hobbes colander. Every year since then Calvin has appeared in Bloom County on April Fools’ Day, including as Spaceman Spiff in 2017.
While this is one of the few times a Watterson character has reappeared in the comic pages, the artist himself has had work in newspapers since his retirement. In 2015 Watterson did four unannounced guest strips on Stephan Pastis’s comic Pearls Before Swine. Much like today’s surprise Bloom County strip, Watterson’s work on Pearls Before Swine wasn’t promoted until after all the comics were released.
Calvin and Hobbes remains one of the finest series in the history of the funny pages, and while it’s easy to miss the characters, you have to respect Watterson’s stance on not cashing in with merch and movies. For far too long that meant no more Calvin and Hobbes. If this is the last time down memory lane, we’re grateful. But we’d be lying if we said this didn’t give us hope that maybe someday we’ll get to see Hobbes have one last curtain call too.