Thirty years ago
today yesterday, the first edition of Calvin and Hobbes was published. Libby Hill wrote one of the best articles I’ve yet read about the strip back in June for the A.V. Club:
Loneliness and sadness aren’t new fare for comic strips. If anything, Watterson’s characters are merely carrying on in the grand tradition of Charles Schultz’s Peanuts, where preternaturally clever children are nevertheless stymied by the world they live in. Like Peanuts, Calvin And Hobbes is timeless for the exact same reason: It appealed to adults just as much as it appealed to children. It spoke of things not always acknowledged in polite company, how people are mean, how we wish we had more friends, how being grown up seems weird and being a child even weirder, how the world doesn’t make sense, and how it’s hard to believe in things even though we desperately want to believe in them.
Calvin and Hobbes will, forever, be my favourite comic strip, and I think it’s because of the loneliness that Hill describes. It’s something we can all relate to, to one degree or another. It provided a sort of micro-escapism that combined rich, layered storytelling with some of the best art ever committed to newsprint.