The final edition of one of my favorite comic strips closed out 1995, and a small piece of childhood went away, too.
I loved Calvin and Hobbes growing up. Bill Watterson’s take on childhood and imagination was a staple of the funny pages for 10 years, giving us more than 3,000 different strips. Some days, Calvin would feature a philosophical take on schools or the environment or consumerism. Other times, Calvin use his imagination to go on a great adventure with his ever-present stuffed tiger, Hobbes. Sometimes, the pair just played Calvinball.
Regardless of what they were doing, though, their antics were some of the smartest and most well-received strips in any given newspaper. To this day, anyone who regularly read them has a favorite and looks back on them fondly.
And on Dec. 31, 1995 – 23 years ago today – the final strip ran.
The lasting love for Calvin and Hobbes is helped by Watterson’s refusal to license the characters commercially. No cartoons, no stuffed figures – nothing exists that was approved by the cartoonist himself. He wanted Calvin to live in the world he created and not allow him to be mishandled by someone else. In the process, he probably cost himself millions, but you have to respect that kind of stringent artistic integrity. He’s like a less crazy Alan Moore.
Calvin may be gone, but his adventures live on in our imaginations. I think he’d be happy about that.