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Calvin and Hobbes

From Academic Kids

Calvin and Hobbes is a comic strip written and illustrated by Bill Watterson, following the humorous antics of Calvin, an imaginative six-year-old boy, and Hobbes, his energetic and sardonic—albeit stuffedtiger. Syndicated from November 18, 1985 until December 31, 1995, at its height Calvin and Hobbes was carried by over 2,400 newspapers worldwide. To date, almost 23 million copies of 17 Calvin and Hobbes books have been printed.

The strip is set in the contemporary United States, in the outskirts of unspecified suburbia. Calvin and Hobbes themselves appear in most of the strips, though several have focused instead upon Calvin's family. The broad themes of the strip deal with Calvin's flights of fantasy, his friendship with Hobbes, his misadventures, his views on a diverse range of political and cultural issues and his relationships and interactions with his parents, classmates, educators, and other members of society. Unlike Garry Trudeau's Doonesbury, the series does not mention specific political figures, but it does examine broad issues like environmentalism and the flaws of opinion polls.

Due to Watterson's strong anti-merchandising sentiments and his reluctance to return to the spotlight, almost no legitimate Calvin and Hobbes material exists outside of the published collections of newspaper strips. However, the strip's immense popularity has led to the appearance of various "bootleg" items, including T-shirts, keychains, and bumper stickers, often including obscene language or references wholly uncharacteristic of the whimsical spirit of Watterson's work.

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Calvin and Hobbes took many wagon rides over the years — this one showed up on the cover of the first collection of comic strips.
Contents

History

Calvin and Hobbes was first conceived when Watterson, having worked in an advertising job he detested, began devoting his spare time to cartooning, his true love. He explored various strip ideas but all were rejected by the syndicates to which he sent them. However, he did receive a positive response on one strip, which featured a side character (the main character's little brother) who had a stuffed tiger. Told that these characters were the strongest, Watterson began a new strip centered around them. The syndicate (United Features Syndicate) which gave him this advice actually rejected the new strip, and Watterson endured a few more rejections before Universal Press Syndicate decided to take it.

The first strip was published on November 18, 1985 and the series quickly became a hit. Within a year of syndication, the strip was published in roughly 250 newspapers. By April 1, 1987, only sixteen months after the strip began, Watterson and his work were featured in an article by the Los Angeles Times, one of the nation's major newspapers. Calvin and Hobbes twice earned Watterson the Outstanding Cartoonist of the Year award from the National Cartoonists Society, in 1986 and 1988. Before long, the strip was in wide circulation outside the United States; for more information on publication in various countries and languages, see Calvin and Hobbes in translation.

Watterson took two extended breaks from writing new strips—from May 1991 to February 1992, and from April through December of 1994.

In 1995 Watterson sent a letter via his syndicate to all editors whose newspapers carried his strip. It contained the following:

I will be stopping Calvin and Hobbes at the end of the year. This was not a recent or an easy decision, and I leave with some sadness. My interests have shifted however, and I believe I've done what I can do within the constraints of daily deadlines and small panels. I am eager to work at a more thoughtful pace, with fewer artistic compromises. I have not yet decided on future projects, but my relationship with Universal Press Syndicate will continue.
That so many newspapers would carry Calvin and Hobbes is an honor I'll long be proud of, and I've greatly appreciated your support and indulgence over the last decade. Drawing this comic strip has been a privilege and a pleasure, and I thank you for giving me the opportunity.

The last strip ran on Sunday, December 31, 1995. It depicted Calvin and Hobbes outside in freshly-fallen snow, reveling in the wonder and excitement of the winter scene. "It's a magical world, Hobbes ol' buddy!" Calvin exclaims in the last panel. "Let's go exploring!"

Syndication and Watterson's artistic standards

From the outset, Watterson found himself at odds with the syndicate, which urged him to begin merchandising the characters and touring the country to promote the first collections of comic strips. Watterson refused. To him, the integrity of the strip and its artist would be undermined by commercialization, which he saw as the primary negative influence in the world of cartoon art.

Watterson also grew increasingly frustrated by the gradual shrinking of available space for comics in the newspapers. He lamented that without space for anything more than simple dialogue or spare artwork, comics as an art form were becoming dilute, bland, and unoriginal. Watterson strove for a full-page version of his strip (as opposed to the few cells allocated for most strips). He longed for the artistic freedom allotted classic strips such as Little Nemo and Krazy Kat, and he gave a sample of what could be accomplished with such liberty in the opening pages of the Sunday strip compilation, The Calvin and Hobbes Lazy Sunday Book.

During Watterson's first sabbatical from the strip, Universal Press Syndicate continued to charge newspapers full price to re-run old Calvin and Hobbes strips. Few editors approved of the move, but the strip was so popular that they had little choice but to continue to run it for fear that competing newspapers might pick it up and draw its fans away. Then, upon Watterson's return, Universal Press announced that Watterson had demanded that his Sunday strip be guaranteed half of a newspaper or tabloid page for its space allotment. Many editors and even a few cartoonists, such as Bil Keane (The Family Circus), criticized him for what they perceived as arrogance and an unwillingness to abide by the normal practices of the cartoon business—a charge that Watterson ignored. Watterson had negotiated the deal to allow himself more creative freedom in the Sunday comics. Previous to the switch, he had to have a certain number of panels with little freedom as to layout (due to the fact that in different newspapers the strip would appear at a different width); afterwards, he was free to go with whatever graphic layout he wanted, however unorthodox. His frustration with the standard space division requirements is evident in strips before the change; for example, a 1988 Sunday strip published before the deal is one large panel, but with all the action and dialogue in the bottom part of the panel so editors could crop the top part if they wanted to fit the strip into a smaller space. Watterson's explanation for the switch:

I took a sabbatical after resolving a long and emotionally draining fight to prevent Calvin and Hobbes from being merchandised. Looking for a way to rekindle my enthusiasm for the duration of a new contract term, I proposed a redesigned Sunday format that would permit more panel flexibility. To my surprise and delight, Universal responded with an offer to market the strip as an unbreakable half page (more space than I'd dared to ask for), despite the expected resistance of editors.
To this day, my syndicate assures me that some editors liked the new format, appreciated the difference, and were happy to run the larger strip, but I think it's fair to say that this was not the most common reaction. The syndicate had warned me to prepare for numerous cancellations of the Sunday feature, but after a few weeks of dealing with howling, purple-faced editors, the syndicate suggested that papers could reduce the strip to the size tabloid newspapers used for their smaller sheets of paper. … I focused on the bright side: I had complete freedom of design and there were virtually no cancellations.
For all the yelling and screaming by outraged editors, I remain convinced that the larger Sunday strip gave newspapers a better product and made the comics section more fun for readers. Comics are a visual medium. A strip with a lot of drawing can be exciting and add some variety. Proud as I am that I was able to draw a larger strip, I don't expect to see it happen again any time soon. In the newspaper business, space is money, and I suspect most editors would still say that the difference is not worth the cost. Sadly, the situation is a vicious circle: because there's no room for better artwork, the comics are simply drawn; because they're simply drawn, why should they have more room?
(from Calvin and Hobbes: Sunday Pages 1985-1995, 2001, Bill Watterson, p. 15)

Despite the change, Calvin and Hobbes remained extremely popular and thus Watterson was able to expand his style and technique for the more spacious Sunday strips without losing carriers.

Since ending the strip, Watterson has kept aloof from the public eye and has given no indication of resuming the strip or creating new works based on the characters. He refuses to sign autographs or license his characters, staying true to his stated principles. However, he has been known to sneak autographed copies of his books onto the shelves of a family-owned bookstore near his home.

Merchandising

Bill Watterson is notable for his insistence that cartoon strips should stand on their own as an art form, and he has resisted the use of Calvin and Hobbes in merchandising of any sort. This insistence stuck despite what was probably a cost of millions of dollars per year in additional personal income. This also explains why the strip has never been made into an animated series.

Except for the books (see below) and two extremely rare 18-month calendars (19881989 and 19891990), all Calvin and Hobbes merchandise, including T-shirts as well as the ubiquitous stickers for automobile rear windows which depict Calvin urinating on a company's or sports team's name or logo are unauthorized; after threat of a lawsuit alleging infringement of copyright and trademark, some of the sticker makers replaced Calvin with a different boy, while other makers ignored the issue.

As an item of trivia, comedian David Spade has a tattoo of Calvin on his left arm. The artist was actor Sean Penn, who would only be interviewed on Saturday Night Live if he could give Spade a tattoo.

Style and influences

Calvin and Hobbes strips are characterized by sparse but careful draftsmanship, intelligent humor, poignant observations, witty social and political commentary, and well-developed characters that are full of personality. Precedents to Calvin's fantasy world can be found in Charles M. Schulz's Peanuts, Percy Crosby's Skippy, Berke Breathed's Bloom County, and George Herriman's Krazy Kat, while Watterson's use of comics as sociopolitical commentary reaches back to Walt Kelly's Pogo. Schulz and Kelly in particular influenced Watterson's outlook on comics during his formative years.

Notable elements of Watterson's artistic style are his characters' diverse and often exaggerated expressions (particularly those of Calvin), elaborate and bizarre backgrounds for Calvin's flights of imagination, well-captured kinetics, and frequent visual jokes and metaphors. In the later years of the strip, with more space available for his use, Watterson experimented more freely with different panel layouts, stories without dialogue, and greater use of whitespace.

Watterson's technique started with minimal pencil sketches (though the larger Sunday strips often required more elaborate work); he then would use a small sable brush and India ink to complete most of the remaining drawing. He was careful in his use of color, often spending a great deal of time in choosing the right colors to employ for the weekly Sunday strip.

Setting

Most strips avoid giving specific clues to where Calvin's home may be located, both not to be bound by pointlessly particular local detail and keep the everyman appeal, and—as The Simpsons did later—to play with the readers' curiosity about such trivia. (In one strip, Calvin's teacher asks him to name the state in which he lives, but he replies "Denial".) However, Watterson gives rather more clues which aren't as self-contradictory as The Simpsons:

  • Hobbes once describes their home, when looking for it from space, as near the "E" in "States" (as in the United States) in an atlas.
  • During the winter months, snow is a common feature in the strip, so the setting is almost certainly northern. Watterson's hometown of Chagrin Falls, Ohio, near Cleveland, Ohio, is in the Lake Erie snowbelt and gets copious amounts of snow.
  • In one strip, Calvin references a stegosaurus in front of the local natural history museum. The Cleveland Museum of Natural History has a metal stegosaurus in front of it.
  • In a caption in one of his books, Watterson mentions that "in November strips, I always tried to capture that austere, gray, brambly look that Ohio gets," Ohio being where he grew up and began writing the strip.
  • Calvin's dad mentions that flying to California from their house would cause a three-hour loss, indicating that the setting is located somewhere observing Eastern Standard Time.
  • Many of Calvin's "Spaceman Spiff" fantasies (see below) take place on alien worlds whose topographies resemble the deserts of Arizona, New Mexico and southern Utah; believing that specific details are funnier than generalizations, Watterson drew these details from the localities with which he was most familiar. These references to the United States Southwest also allude to the Protean and ever-shifting Coconino County, Arizona, where Krazy Kat makes its home.
  • Several storylines show that Calvin's home is not too far removed from a "downtown" area, complete with skyscrapers. He usually visits the city in his imagination, by growing to garguantuan size or by appropriating a flying carpet.
  • When a helium balloon accidentally carries him to high altitude, he observes his town's local geography, indicating that even the suburb he inhabits has a sizeable population.
  • Although Watterson portrays large expanses of unspoiled forest, he also addresses the problem of urban sprawl, showing a grove of trees that had been demolished to make way for "Shady Acres Condominiums."
  • Hobbes observes that on a globe (drawn average size in the strip), their house is six inches from the Yukon.
  • The back cover of the Essential Calvin and Hobbes collection shows Calvin as a giant, rampaging through and destroying a suburban area (probably in homage to the Godzilla films). This area is identifiably downtown Chagrin Falls, Ohio. This is seen in the uncanny likeness of the street setup, the gazebo and clocktower, and finally, the building Calvin is holding, which is the exact image of the Popcorn Shop, a local landmark.

The main characters

Calvin

Named after 16th-century theologian John Calvin (founder of Calvinism and a strong believer in predestination), Calvin is an impulsive, imaginative, energetic, curious, intelligent, and often selfish six-year-old. Watterson has described Calvin thus:

  • "Calvin is pretty easy to do because he is outgoing and rambunctious and there's not much of a filter between his brain and his mouth."
  • "I guess he's a little too intelligent for his age. The thing that I really enjoy about him is that he has no sense of restraint, he doesn't have the experience yet to know the things that you shouldn't do."
  • "The socialization that we all go through to become adults teaches you not to say certain things because you later suffer the consequences. Calvin doesn't know that rule of thumb yet."

The strips do not disclose Calvin's last name.

Hobbes

Hobbes is Calvin's tiger who, from Calvin's perspective, is as alive and real as anyone else in the strip. He is named after 17th-century philosopher Thomas Hobbes, who had what Watterson described as "a dim view of human nature." He is famous for his claim that humans' natural state is a state of war, where "the life of man [is], solitary, poore, nasty, brutish, and short." Hobbes shares this mentality, and states many times throughout the strip his superiority to Calvin. While appearing real to Calvin, everyone else perceives him as a small, inanimate stuffed tiger. Hobbes is much more rational and aware of consequences than Calvin, but seldom interferes with Calvin's troublemaking beyond a few oblique warnings—after all, Calvin will be the one to get in trouble for it, not Hobbes.

For the most part, Calvin and Hobbes converse and play together, reveling in what is ultimately a deep friendship. They also frequently argue or even fight with each other, though their disagreements are generally short-lived. Often Hobbes ambushes Calvin with an energetic pounce-and-tackle attack, which leaves Calvin bruised and scraped up but not seriously harmed. Hobbes takes great pleasure in his demonstrations of feline prowess, while Calvin expresses keen frustration at his inability to stop the attacks or explain his injuries to his skeptical parents.

Watterson based some of Hobbes's characteristics, especially his playfulness and attack instinct, on his own pet cat, Sprite. Hobbes takes great pride in being a feline and frequently makes wry or even disparaging comments about human nature, declaring his good fortune to lead a tiger's life. In Calvin's philosphical ramblings, it is evident that Hobbes is usually Bill Waterson's voice on the subject, whereas Calvin usually seems to echo the sentiments (or lack thereof) of modern America.

In the first strip, Calvin meets Hobbes when he catches him with a rope noose baited with a tuna fish sandwich. Watterson later wrote that this initial explanation of Hobbes's origins becomes unnecessary and moot as the series progresses. At one point, Calvin describes him as, "On the quiet side. A bit peculiar. A good companion, in a weird sort of way."

Hobbes' reality

From the point of view of everyone but Calvin, Hobbes is a stuffed toy tiger. But when the panel's perspective is shifted to Calvin, in or out of the presence of other characters, Hobbes is seen as vividly alive. Watterson has stated:

When Hobbes is a stuffed toy in one panel and alive in the next, I'm juxtaposing the "grown-up" version of reality with Calvin's version, and inviting the reader to decide which is truer.

From Calvin's perspective, Hobbes' reality carries over even to recorded images. In one strip, Calvin has taken several photographs of Hobbes making funny faces: Calvin sees each photo as he took it, but his father sees an ordinary stuffed tiger in each picture.

Many readers assume that Hobbes is either a product of Calvin's imagination, or a doll that comes to life when Calvin is the only one around. However, both of these theories are incorrect. As Watterson explains in the Tenth Anniversary Book, "Hobbes is more about the subjective nature of reality than dolls coming to life": thus there is no concrete definition of Hobbes' reality. Watterson explained: "Calvin sees Hobbes one way, and everyone else sees Hobbes another way." This says that Hobbes reality is based on people's viewpoints on him.

Sometimes Hobbes breaks the fourth wall and speaks directly to the reader, such as when Calvin tries to parachute from his house's roof ("His mom's going to have a fit about those rose bushes"). On other occasions, it is difficult to imagine how the "stuffed toy" interpretation of Hobbes is consistent with what the characters see. For example, he "assists" Calvin's attempt to become a Houdini-style escape artist by tying Calvin to a chair. Calvin, however, cannot escape, and his irritated father must undo the knots, all the while asking Calvin how he could do this to himself. In a rare interview, Watterson explained his approach to this situation:

Calvin's dad finds him tied up and the question remains, really, how did he get that way? His dad assumes that Calvin tied himself up somehow, so well that he couldn't get out. Calvin explains that Hobbes did this to him and he tries to place the blame on Hobbes entirely, and it's never resolved in the strip. Again I don't think that's just a cheap way out of the story. I like the tension that that creates, where you've got two versions of reality that do not mix. Something odd has happened and neither makes complete sense, so you're left to make out of it what you want.

Similarly, Hobbes once cuts Calvin's hair, creating a "look" so remarkable that Watterson laughed aloud while drawing it. ("Would that I could write like this more often," he lamented.)

In addition, Hobbes can walk out and keep Calvin company as he waits for the bus. When another character such as Susie stands at the bus stop, Hobbes appears as the stuffed toy. What happens to Hobbes when the bus arrives is seldom shown, although a Sunday strip did portray Calvin's mother running out into the rain to retrieve him.

One strange strip, given Calvin's view of Hobbes being "real", is during a story where Calvin enters a poster in a school road safety contest. (His slogan: "Be careful, or be roadkill!") Presuming he's going to win, Calvin imagines the front-page headlines which newspapers will carry: "Town Hall demolished, statue of Calvin commissioned for site", and so forth. One of the pictures on the front page of one of the newspapers shows Calvin and Hobbes together, but Hobbes is shown in his "normal stuffed toy" way—even though the newspaper front pages are products of Calvin's imagination.

Many people feel that the blurred reality between the two of Hobbes' forms is both amusing and philosophical. Hobbes is occasionally the voice of reason, contrasting Calvin's manic impulsiveness, but is this rationality in Hobbes a distinct personality, or Calvin as a kind of conscience?

Supporting characters

Recurring characters

Calvin's dad

Calvin's dad is a middle-aged patent attorney who is portrayed as an upstanding middle class father as his son might see him. When Calvin asks him questions, he often makes up outlandish answers:

Calvin: "Why does [the sun] move from east to west?"
Calvin's Dad: "Solar wind."

An outdoor man, he enjoys bike rides and camping trips, and insists that they, like Calvin's chores, "build character." Calvin, in turn, regularly updates his father with "polls" showing his unpopularity among the six-year-old demographic of the household, and suggests ways that his father might improve his chances of reelection as Dad. Like Calvin's mom, he goes through the entire strip unnamed.

The character is closely based on Watterson's own father, who was also a patent attorney (and often told his family how so many unpleasant things "built character"), and the actual caricature is rumored to be a self-portrait of Watterson himself. Watterson has said that he identifies more with this character than with Calvin.

Many times, he either says ("See, if we had gotten a dog like I wanted, we could do this more often") or insinuates ("Thoreau says, 'Simplify, simplify'") that he would have rather gotten a dog than Calvin.

Calvin's mom

Stay-at-home mother who is frequently exasperated by Calvin's antics and frowns upon her husband's occasional tom-foolery when dealing with their son. She seems to enjoy quiet activities (gardening, reading) but the reader rarely sees her engaging in them without violent interruption from Calvin. Both she and her husband often seem frustrated and unable to deal with the dynamo that is their son, although it's hinted in one strip that she was as big a hellion as Calvin when she was his age. She is much more likely to agree with Calvin than his father, especially on issues like camping.

Sometimes when Calvin is disguised as Stupendous Man (see below), he sees her as arch-villain Mom-Lady. Calvin's mom created the hood and cape Calvin uses during his "Stupendous man" fantasies.

There have been instances in the strip where Watterson takes the time to flesh out the two parental characters. One example is a series of weekday strips following the time that the family returns from a wedding to find their house broken into. Over the next couple of strips, Calvin's mom and dad reflect on the impact of the event, and all other characters are absent from the strip. There is also another strip in which Calvin's mom, while seeing an injured raccoon dying, becomes sad and upset enough that she actually talks to Hobbes. These examples are rare, however.

The strip sometimes (although rarely) hints that she may see Hobbes similar to the way Calvin does, such as calling his name while looking for him in the woods (Calvin left him there due to an argument they had on their way to Yukon; assuming he'd walk back himself when he gets over it), or talking to him when she sees the raccoon dying (see above).

Susie Derkins

Calvin's classmate who lives in his neighborhood. She is Calvin's principal rival, and their relationship is a constant source of tension. In contrast to Calvin, she is polite and diligent in her studies, and her personal reality (or imagination) is usually mild-mannered and civilized. She is also one of the few characters besides Calvin to consistently treat Hobbes as a living being, although strips drawn from her point of view still show him in stuffed-animal form. An early strip shows her discovering the "toy" Hobbes in a field, after he had been stolen by a dog, and later giving a tea party for him and her own stuffed animal, a rabbit named "Mr. Bun." Unlike Hobbes, Mr. Bun seldom appears in a life-like form, probably because these strips are seen from Calvin's perspective, and he chooses not to include a live rabbit in his reality. The one instance in which Calvin sees Mr. Bun as a live rabbit occurs when Susie and Calvin play "house" (a full-color Sunday strip drawn in "soap opera" style). Interestingly, Susie indicates that in her reality, (in that strip) Mr. Bun is a human infant.

Susie is one of only a few characters to hold their own in a strip in which Calvin does not personally appear. (Calvin's parents, as well as Hobbes, have had a few strips to themselves.)

Despite her good nature, she can be just as plotting and mischievous as Calvin if sufficiently provoked, which generally happens when Calvin invokes his and Hobbes' secret club, G.R.O.S.S. (Get Rid of Slimy GirlS). Hobbes, who does not share Calvin's six-year-old mentality towards the opposite sex, participates in the club's activities rather skeptically, and between his frequent "defections to the enemy" and Susie's innate craftiness, Calvin frequently finds himself defeated and disgraced—though, of course, only temporarily.

Susie may have originated the "and a pony" meme, in a strip collected in Something Under the Bed Is Drooling (1988-04). Wondering why Calvin calls her "names for no reason? It's just mean," Susie wishes she had a hundred friends. "Then my hundred friends and I would go do something fun, and leave Calvin all alone! Ha! …and as long as I'm dreaming, I'd like a pony."

As Stupendous Man, Calvin calls her Annoying-girl.

Watterson admits that Calvin and Susie might have a bit of a nascent crush on each other, and that Susie is inspired by the type of women he finds attractive. Her relationship with Calvin, though, is frequently conflicted and never really sorted out. The closest it gets is an early Valentine's Day strip in which Susie seems to appreciate the (rather juvenile and insulting) gifts Calvin gives her, and he rejoices in her noticing them.

In the Tenth Anniversary Book, Watterson noted that the sequence in which Calvin and Susie are assigned to work on a school project about the planet Mercury was the turning point in their dynamic. Prior to this he had overplayed the love-hate relationship between them, but when industrious Susie and lackadaisical Calvin had to work together, he was able to simply let the characters bounce off each other.

It also appears Hobbes has a crush on Susie, although this may just be Calvin's way of avoiding discussing his own crush on Susie (pretending it's Hobbes with the crush instead).

Miss Wormwood

Calvin's teacher (named after the apprentice devil in C.S. Lewis's The Screwtape Letters). Never sympathetic to Calvin's difficulties in remaining in the classroom for even one class period at a time (whether physically or mentally), she is quick to send him to the principal's office at the first sign of trouble. In the Spaceman Spiff strips, she usually appears as an alien holding Calvin hostage.

As Stupendous Man, Calvin calls her The Crab Teacher.

Rosalyn

Rosalyn is a high school senior who occasionally finds herself babysitting Calvin. Rosalyn is the only babysitter capable of tolerating Calvin's antics more than once, and Calvin's parents most often end up paying her extra in order to ensure that she will continue accepting the job subsequently. She has a boyfriend, Charlie, who is never shown in the comic but to whom Rosalyn (and sometimes Calvin) speaks over the phone.

Rosalyn's idea of babysitting Calvin is to put him to bed at 6:30. Calvin is highly phobic of her, and these babysitting sessions tend to degenerate into war zones as Calvin short-sightedly attempts to cause trouble for her. Watterson said he thinks she is the only person Calvin truly fears, and, like Susie, she is certainly Calvin's equal in deviousness, frequently able to turn his plots against him—assuming brute force doesn't do the job.

Near the end of the strip's run relations showed signs of improving as Rosalyn became the only person other than Calvin and Hobbes to play 'Calvinball' (and, more importantly, figure out how to play Calvinball) in a trouble-free evening—leniently assuming that a game of Calvinball doesn't count as trouble.

Moe

The six-year-old class bully who shaves, Moe is the only character to speak in crude, lower-case letters. Watterson described him as "every jerk I've ever known." Moe seems to be the only character capable of frustrating Calvin to the point of resignation.

Rosalyn threatens Calvin with early bedtimes, Hobbes often engages in rough-and-tumble play, and Susie retaliates after being hit by slushballs—but Moe is the only character to hurt Calvin physically out of a love for cruelty.

Infrequent or background characters

  • Aliens: Calvin encounters many extra-terrestrial life forms, usually through the adventures of Spaceman Spiff. Most aliens are non-humanoid, in contrast to the species portrayed in Star Trek. Initially, aliens spoke in garbled, somewhat onomatopoeic language: "Ugga muk bug Spiff," and so on. Later, aliens' speech balloons contained geometric symbols whose phonetic values are unclear. Two aliens, Galaxoid and Nebular, were recurring characters in the strip's final year. Posing as the "supreme Earth potentate," Calvin traded Earth in exchange for fifty alien tree leaves so that he could complete a leaf collection for a school project (he got a bad grade because no one believed when he said they were alien leaves). Later in the year, the twosome returned to Earth and complained to Calvin about the "cold white glop" that plagued the planet during winter. Calvin, of course, couldn't do anything about the snow, and couldn't refund the leaves because he threw them out. Fortunately for interstellar relations, a solution was found (Calvin and Hobbes' stockings), and the aliens were content.
  • Doctor: Calvin occasionally visits his pediatrician, who appears to be a mild-mannered physician with a friendly demeanor. Calvin, however, frequently sees him as a vicious, sadistic interrogator, sometimes visualizing him as an alien. When he goes to the doctor, he asks what the purposes of all the medical equipment are. On some occasions Calvin accuses the doctor of being a quack and has also asked if the doctor paid his malpractice insurance, and if he passed his medical exams. Calvin's misbehavior at the doctor's office so exasperates the doctor that on one occasion he vents: "Kid, don't make me recant the Hippocratic Oath, OK?"
  • Principal Spittle: Calvin's school principal, Mr. Spittle, usually makes his appearance when Calvin has gone too far in testing Miss Wormwood's limits. He is portrayed as the same stale academic type as Miss Wormwood. Mr. Spittle rarely speaks in the strip; typically, he is seen in the last frame looking over his desk at Calvin as he tries to explain his latest mishap.
  • Schoolmates: The reader sees various classmates of Calvin, but other than Susie and Moe they are almost entirely anonymous. Calvin seems only vaguely aware of them, but when he does pay attention to them they are always antagonists as they see Calvin as the misbehaving minority who makes things difficult for the conforming majority.
  • Uncle Max: Calvin has an uncle, his father's brother, who resembles his father with a bushy mustache. Max visits on one occasion. Watterson found it difficult to write Max's dialogue without his referring to Calvin's parents by name, and also felt that Max just didn't fit in the universe of Calvin and Hobbes, so his existence was limited to a few strips. A webcomic called Melonpool played off this fact, using it to describe what caused the character's disappearance and where he is now (according to Melonpool, he is actually Lyman from Garfield). Of course, this allusion is not part of Watterson's continuity.
  • Mr. Lockjaw: The school baseball team is coached by a squat, burly man named Mr. Lockjaw. When Calvin leaves the team, Lockjaw calls him a "quitter"; this emotional trauma leads to the reader's first encounter with Calvinball (described below).

Recurring themes

Calvin's alter-egos

Calvin's hyperactive imagination leads him to imagine himself as other characters with different powers and goals. It is important to note that Hobbes is not seen taking part in the fantasies involving Calvin's alter-egos, other than criticizing his choice of alter-egos.

  • Stupendous Man - a superhero Calvin often turns into with the help of a mask and cape his mom created for him. This character defends against such terrifying prospects as Rosalyn or, once, Miss Wormwood and the school principal. Calvin only posesses the maroon cape and cowl; his imagination supplies the rest of the spandex outfit.
  • Tracer Bullet - a private eye constructed from stereotypes of the film noir genre. Tracer Bullet strips used a striking heavy-contrast art style. Because they were so time-consuming, Watterson didn't draw very many of them.
  • Spaceman Spiff - a space traveller who fights alien monsters on far-away planets, based upon Watterson's earlier attempts at syndicated comics and a parody of Flash Gordon.
  • Adult Calvin - occasionally Calvin will appear as an adult, usually when playing 'House' with Susie. These strips are drawn in the style of the soap opera-style comic strips, such as Rex Morgan, M.D. and Mary Worth.
  • Dinosaurs - Calvin loves dinosaurs; they are almost the only subject he studies of his own free will. This, of course, means that Calvin imagines himself as a dinosaur in many of the strips. Whenever Calvin is pretending to be a dinosaur, he is always a predator (such as a Tyrannosaurus rex, a deinonychus or an allosaurus) and he is always hunting a plant-eater, which is usually Susie Derkins. In one Sunday strip, Calvin is seen as a ferocious tyrannosaurus, and it turns out that he is making a bunch of snorting sounds in the middle of class. "Heh heh, sorry, a little sinus congestion," he says to avoid embarrasment.
  • Animals - Calvin sees himself in a variety of animal bodies as well, from large mammals to insects. Sometimes this is a result of being transmogrified.
  • Captain Napalm - a superhero who protects "truth, justice and the American Way.” Only seen on one or two occasions and is a satirical Captain America of sorts. Calvin draws this character from a comic book hero, leader of the "Thermonuclear League of Liberty," whose exploits he diligently reads, though he is rarely seen with a new issue of it.
  • God - Calvin sometimes sees himself as God, perhaps as the logical extension of imagining himself a superhero or force of nature. He does this in several ways, in one strip with the aid of Tinkertoys. While his parents fondly speculate that he will grow up to be an architect, Calvin sees himself as an underworld deity in the manner of Norse mythology: "The puny inhabitants of Earth displease him, and the doomed writhe in agony!"

G.R.O.S.S.

G.R.O.S.S. is the acronym for a club that stands for Get Rid Of Slimy girlS (which Calvin admits is a bit redundant). Based in a treehouse, the main objective of G.R.O.S.S. is to exclude girls, mostly Calvin's neighbour Susie. Calvin and Hobbes spend most of their time in the club reworking its constitution and arguing about their excessively bureaucratic roles. As Calvin is too short to climb up to the treehouse when the rope ladder is pulled up, Hobbes often takes advantage of the situation and requires Calvin to sing a long ode on the greatness of tigers for the password. (This aspect was dropped in later years.)

Officers of the club wear newspaper hats. Calvin and Hobbes are its only members and all of its officers; their missions frequently involve the invention of new positions, such as cartographer and cryptographer. Its bylaws are supposed to be fixed in the club charter, but they are actually quite arbitrary. Hobbes often uses them to outwit Calvin, much as he invents new rules in Calvinball.

Mealtimes

Lunchtime and dinnertime find Calvin eager to share his thoughts about the food he or others are eating. Those eating with him—Mom and Dad at dinnertime, Susie at lunch in the school cafeteria—are generally repulsed by his colorful descriptions of the meal, which usually make reference to vomit, nasal secretions, eyeballs, bugs, worms, rodents, or anything else guaranteed to make anyone other than a six-year-old boy lose their appetite. Calvin's mother occasionally coaxes him to eat his dinner by informing him that they are serving some outlandish or stomach-turning dish, which he then eats with relish. This has the unfortunate side effect of putting Calvin's Dad off of his food. (One notable occasion involved Calvin complaining that his soup contained rice, and Calvin's mother explaining that the rice grains were actually maggots.)

Calvin's meals at home are generally depicted as a pile of unidentifiable green goop, which will occasionally come to life and sing, recite Shakespeare, attempt to escape, or attack Calvin. At other times, Calvin tries to find a way to surreptitiously deposit the food on the carpet or on someone else's plate so he doesn't have to eat it. His favorite meal is probably the Chocolate Frosted Sugar Bombs cereal, which turns the milk brown and exceeds the FDA recommended daily sugar intake as well as containing 100% of the RDA of caffeine.

When his parents aren't supervising him, Calvin occasionally tries his hand at cooking. With Hobbes, he makes pancakes (in lieu of making individual pancakes, he pours all of the batter into the pan: "Let's make one big pancake and cut it in half"). When his mother was ill, he prepared breakfast for her (he burns the eggs, but suggests that she could chip them out with a chisel). Another egg misadventure involved Calvin cracking eggs high above a frying pan with one eye closed (to eliminate his depth perception, making the exercise more of a challenge). Calvin's active fantasy life enters into the simplest of meals: while fancying himself a zombie, Calvin observes that the living dead feast upon the living, but "in a pinch, PB&J will do, if you eat it messily enough", and proceeds to do so. Hobbes occasionally disrupts a peaceful meal: the tiger's passion for tuna is such that whenever Calvin opens a can, he runs in and tackles him, even if the can contained something else. (When Calvin protests that he was opening a can of pineapple, Hobbes observes that "all cans sound the same.")

The cardboard box and Calvin's inventions

Calvin has a corrugated cardboard box which he adapts for many fantastic uses, usually by simply turning it on its side or upside-down and relabeling it.

The Transmogrifier (the box's upside-down form) is a device designed by Calvin that can transmogrify any object into another object, controlled by a dial drawn on the side. He even transmogrifies himself into various animal forms, including a tiger (like Hobbes) and an elephant. He later develops an improved, portable transmogrifier, incorporated into his water pistol.

Calvin makes improvements upon the transmogrifier "technology," turning the box into a duplicator (the box's on-its-side form). The duplicator was involved in a comic with several strips, even on the cover of the book Scientific Progress Goes 'Boink', whose title is a quote from Hobbes in that same strip as he presses a button on the duplicator. Calvin uses his duplicator to copy himself to spread the stockpile of chores awaiting him. Naturally, his duplicates are as ill-natured as he is, and the plot backfires on him. Later he adds an "ethicator" to produce an all-good duplicate of himself, who promptly launches an embarrassing, unrequited love affair with Susie Derkins. The "good" duplicate vanishes when he has an evil thought after Calvin provokes him into a fight.

Calvin's box also serves as a flying time machine (the box's right-side-up form). He usually uses it to travel backwards in time and interact with dinosaurs, although in a few strips he is also seen travelling a few hours forward and meeting himself. Whether the box moves forward or backward in time is controlled by which direction Calvin is facing in it.

In a few strips Calvin combines his box with a colander and creates the "Atomic Cerebral Enhance-o-tron". Calvin uses this to make his brain more powerful so that he can finish a school project on time. Despite the fact that Calvin amplifies his intelligence, his project still manages to fail Mrs. Wormwood's standards.

Occasionally Calvin uses a cardboard box as a disguise, with the necessary features artfully depicted on the side with felt tip pen. These endeavours, however, do not seem to capture Calvin's imagination in the same way as his scientific inventions and don't last more than a couple of strips. He makes a convincing robot, except that the red shoes peeking from under the flaps give him away. He also uses it to make himself appear to be a Jovian probe (sent to the kitchen to prospect for chocolate) and "the world's most powerful computer".

It is important to notice that, with the exception of times when Calvin is physically hiding in the box (such as the "World's most powerful computer" strip), that most of the other characters do not see his inventions as "real". This is a similar dilemma to that of Hobbes' existence (see above). For example, when Calvin transmogrifies himself into an owl or a tiger, his parents do not observe the transformation; only he and Hobbes see the change. Additionally, when he and Hobbes travel to the Mesozoic and photograph dinosaurs, his father perceives the pictures as depicting plastic toys.

However, it is equally important to note that Calvin's inventions do sometimes affect characters other than Calvin and Hobbes. For example, in the aforementioned time when Calvin adds an ethicator to his duplicator to produce a physical manifestation of his good side, the duplicate interacts with Calvin's parents, with Miss Wormwood, with Susie, and all of the other persons that normally are in Calvin's life. Similarly, when Calvin duplicates himself six times, the duplicates interact and his parents perceive them as existing—they perceive each duplicate simply as Calvin.

The whole question of the existence of Calvin's technological advancements can be explained much like that of Hobbes's dual nature. Bill Watterson has intentionally avoided resolving the situation so that the reader might take one position or the other; the fullest enjoyment comes from appreciating all the characters' viewpoints.

Snowmen

A recurring feature in winter strips is Calvin's snowmen, whose grotesque nature often gets him into trouble --- for instance, when Calvin disgusts his mother with a "Snowman House of Horror", featuring snowmen decapitated, run over with sleds, and so forth. Another tableau features a pair of snowmen, one enjoying an ice-cream cone, and the other prone, with an ice-cream scoop in its back ("It's a sordid story," Calvin explains to Hobbes). On other occasions, Calvin uses the snowmen to ridicule his parents: Calvin's father finds snowman parts splattered over the hood of his car (as if it had struck a snowman); on another occasion, two columns of militaristic snowman salute him as he walks down the path in front of the house ("He knows I hate this," mutters the father). Some of Calvin's snow art is much grander in scope: he builds an enormous mound snaking around his house in the shape of a dinosaur's head, with the house trapped between the jaws. Calvin's ambition often outstrips his means, however: when he schemes to build a giant snowman with Hobbes, the latter gives up after rolling the ball for one of his toes (itself several times Calvin's height).

The theme of hideous snowmen is taken to its natural conclusion in the Snow Goons volume, in which Calvin calls upon the "snow demons" to animate a snowman he has built. True to the Frankenstein tradition, the snowman turns against its creator, building an army of snow goons against which Calvin must fight for his life. (His parents, of course believe none of it.) The story is notable for its depiction of exponential growth, as the snow goon builds copies of itself, which in turn also build new snow goons, and so on.

Watterson also uses Calvin's snowmen as a vehicle for Calvin's artistic theories, and to ridicule less-than-rigorous ideas about art.

Art and academia

In the Snow Goons collection, Calvin proclaims himself "on the cutting edge of the avant-garde", a manifestly obvious assertion, since Miss Wormwood cannot "understand" the drawings Calvin makes during class (dinosaurs in rocket ships, in fact). Over the years, Calvin's creative instincts diversify into sidewalk drawings ("suburban postmodernism") and, most frequently, snow art. He begins exploring the medium of snow when a warm day melts his snowman. His next sculpture "speaks to the horror of our own mortality", inviting the viewer to contemplate the fleeting nature of life, much in the vein of Ecclesiastes. The passers-by, however, do not receive the message Calvin intended to send.

The spirit of Calvin's artistic efforts can be summarized in the words of Idlewild: "It's a better way to feel / don't be real, be postmodern." He writes a "revisionist autobiography", giving himself a flame thrower; he carefully crafts an "artist's statement", knowing that such essays convey more messages than artworks themselves ever do. ("You misspelled Weltanschauung," Hobbes notes.) He indulges in what Watterson calls "pop psychobabble" to justify his destructive rampages and shift blame to his parents, citing "toxic codependency". Once, he pens a book report entitled, "The dynamics of interbeing and monological imperatives in Dick and Jane: a study in psychic transrelational gender modes". Displaying his creation to Hobbes, he remarks, "Academia, here I come!" Watterson explains that he adapted this jargon (and similar examples from several other strips) from an actual book of art criticism (Tenth Anniversary Book, p. 184).

Overall, Watterson's satirical essays at the academic and artistic worlds serve to attack both sides, criticising both the commercial mainstream and the artists who are supposed to be "outside" it. Walking contemplatively through the woods, not long after he began drawing his "Dinosaurs in Rocket Ships Series", Calvin tells Hobbes,

The hard part for us avant-garde post-modern artists is deciding whether or not to embrace commercialism. Do we allow our work to be hyped and exploited by a market that's simply hungry for the next new thing? Do we participate in a system that turns high art into low art so it's better suited for mass consumption?
Of course, when an artist goes commercial, he makes a mockery of his status as an outsider and free thinker. He buys into the crass and shallow values art should transcend. He trades the integrity of his art for riches and fame.
Oh, what the heck. I'll do it.

Such sentiments echo Watterson's own struggles with his Syndicate over merchandising issues. In a sense, they are the comic-strip equivalent of such Frank Zappa songs as "Absolutely Free" (We're Only In It For The Money, 1968) and "Tinsel Town Rebellion" (1981).

Wagon and sled

Calvin and Hobbes often take rides in a wagon or a sled or toboggan (depending on the season) and talk about philosophy or politics as they hurtle downhill. The course of the vehicle and the obstacles that the characters negotiate as they travel frequently parallel and serve as metaphors of the subject of conversation, and the rides almost always end in a spectacular crash. Calvin's wagon has a lot of mileage on it, as it has made the trip to the planet Mars and back. The wagon has also been used as a time-travel vehicle, with less success than the cardboard box (although Calvin correctly describes the phenomenon of time dilation: "The faster we go, the slower time goes").

Calvinball

Calvinball is a game played almost exclusively by Calvin and Hobbes as a rebellion against organized team sports (like baseball), although the babysitter Rosalyn plays on one occasion. Participants of Calvinball must wear raccoon-like masks. When asked why, Calvin replies that "no one is allowed to question the masks". The rules of the game, besides the soccer ball and wickets almost always used, are made up as they go along, but the one consistent rule is that the rules can never be the same twice. Either player may change any rule at any time, so the only way to break the rules is by using one rule twice. Scoring is also entirely arbitrary: Hobbes has reported scores of "Q to 12" and "oogy to boogy".

The reader first encounters the game after Calvin's horrible experience with school baseball. He registers to play baseball in order to avoid being teased by the other boys. While daydreaming in the outfield, he misses the switch and ends up making an out against his own team. His classmates mock him and, when he decides to walk away, his coach calls him a "quitter". That Saturday, Calvin and Hobbes play Calvinball, a game far removed from any organized sport.

Watterson has stated that the greatest number of questions he receives concern Calvinball and how to play it. "Just make up the rules as you go."

Snowball and water balloon fights

Calvin often engages in elaborate and malicious snowball or water balloon fights, depending on the season. Hostilities typically take place with Hobbes or Susie, or both. Calvin hatches intricate plots to trick Susie into an ideal ambush, but these usually fail and Hobbes often betrays him and switches sides. Calvin and Hobbes can often be found planning the construction of a huge snow fort from which they can invulnerably terrorise the neighborhood, but these rarely make it past the architectural stage. Calvin often imagines himself as a dinosaur when he is about to smack someone with a snowball, as seen in one Sunday strip where he is a tyrannosaurus attempting to attack a duck-billed dinosaur (Susie Derkins). As soon as he throws the snowball, Susie chases after him, which Calvin sees as the herbivore chasing the carnivore.

Lemonade stand

Calvin finds yet another use for his cardboard box; this one admittedly more mundane. He often operates something like a lemonade stand, but in addition to lemonade he attempts to market a variety of other things as well. He once sold a "suicide drink"--consisting chiefly of what would appear to be mud--for a quarter; another time he offered "insurance" (actually a protection racket) for the same price. He has also tried selling "ideas" through this venue. His main idea, however, seems to be simply "buy some more!"

In one strip, he offered "a swift kick in the butt" for 5 dollars; to his genuine surprise, he had no takers. Exactly why, he could never understand; from his perspective, "Everyone I know needs what I'm selling!" In another strip, Calvin is selling "Happiness" for 50 cents. After he explains to Hobbes that when they pay him the 50 cents, he pegs them with a water balloon, Hobbes questions, "Whose happiness are we talking about?" Calvin replies, "Who went through all this trouble?"

One strip pessimistically described the Logic of Capital as being one based upon a substandard final product being sold at an exorbitantly high price in order to support the bureaucracy surrounding its production. Charging fifteen dollars for what Susie recognizes as a lemon thrown into drainage-ditch water, Calvin patiently explains that in order to stay competitive, corners have to be cut in order to support his own position as CEO, sole shareholder, sole employee, and so forth.

Camping trips

Calvin's dad sometimes takes the family on long camping trips in the summer, excursions which both Calvin and his mom revile. The trips highlight deep personality differences between Calvin and his dad, particularly their differing attitudes toward "building character" and toward modern conveniences—television, air conditioning and so forth. Watterson has said that his own father often used a character-building excuse to explain why the family was so miserable on camping trips.

School and homework

Calvin hates school and its attendant early-morning risings, irate teachers, homework, and fellow students. Often his mother has to force the unwilling Calvin to go up to the school bus. Occasionally he manages to avoid the bus and his mother has to chase him down to force him on, or drive him to school. He often waits for the bus with Hobbes and explains why an intelligent boy like himself does not need school. While at school, he visualizes the building as a hostile planet and his teacher and principal as vicious aliens. He is known to have run away from school enacting one of his fantasies. He is a loner at school and only communicates with two other students --- Susie, whom he teases and pesters for answers to test or homework problems, and Moe, who bullies him (see Recurring characters). Also he lacks the company of Hobbes at school. Sometimes Hobbes does his homework and reading while Calvin watches TV or reads comic books. On one occasion, Hobbes went with Calvin to school and managed to make Moe leave Calvin alone (though it was because of Moe's fear of getting in trouble with the teachers, rather than what Hobbes could have said or done to him). Among other means that Calvin devises to handle his homework or avoid going to school are using Stupendous Man to reverse the rotation of the earth so he gets an extra day, reducing his school to ashes using a telescope lens, and attempting to create a robot or a Calvin duplicate who will do all his homework.

Calvin's dislike of authority and deadlines has led to some of the strip's most amusing and interesting sequences. When he and Susie were assigned to do a school project about the planet Mercury, Susie wept for her college future while Calvin drew aliens during their research time. "An Exhaustively Researched Report by Calvin", scribbled on the morning the assignment was due, did little to impress either Susie or Miss Wormwood. When Calvin was assigned to do a solo report on bats, he called Susie and asked if she was going to the library, and "While you're there, can you look up about bats, too, and make copies of all the information you find, and maybe underline the important parts, and sort of outline it, so I won't have to read it all?...I really loathe girls." When an attempt to use the time travel machine to get out of writing an original story resulted in three (equally lazy) Calvins and two Hobbeses, the tigers wrote a story about the incident from their own point of view (which got the angry Calvin an A+). Other last-minute attempts at completing long-range projects have had Calvin frantically searching for bugs at the bus stop, asking his mother, "Do we have any papier-mache?" or putting cooked spaghetti into a bag and calling it "brains".

Items left to the reader's imagination

A few times, Watterson decided to refer to an event only glancingly, leaving it up to the reader to imagine fully. For example, Calvin embroils himself in "the Noodle Incident", an episode which occurs somewhere beyond the reader's view (probably, but not certainly, in Mrs. Wormwood's classroom). Likewise, Calvin's favourite bedtime reading is Mabel Syrup's Hamster Huey and the Gooey Kablooie, which he eventually demands that his father read every night. Watterson reveals very little the actual plot, characters or setting of Syrup's book, or of its sequel, Commander Coriander Salamander and 'Er Singlehander Bellylander (a one-strip gag). Apparently, Calvin's mother finds his father "cute" when he performs the "happy hamster hop", and the story does not include the townsfolk trying to find Hamster Huey's head.

Watterson explained that in these cases, readers were sure to imagine something more outrageous than he could write.

Calvin and Hobbes books

Books with a "Yes" in the "Collection?" column comprise all of the regular strips that appeared in newspapers. The column shows which books are needed to form a complete collection of the newspaper strips, for those not interested in waiting for the forthcoming complete collection in hardcover, due September 1 2005.

Title Cover Date ISBN Original content Collection?
Calvin and Hobbes Missing image
Calvin_and_Hobbes_Original.png
"Calvin and Hobbes."

April 1987 ISBN 0836220889 Foreword by Garry Trudeau No
Something Under the Bed is Drooling Missing image
Something_Under_the_Bed_is_Drooling_Calvin_and_Hobbes.gif
"Something Under the Bed is Drooling."

April 1988 ISBN 0836218256 Foreword by Pat Oliphant No
The Essential Calvin and Hobbes: A Calvin and Hobbes Treasury Missing image
The_Essential_Calvin_and_Hobbes.png
"The Essential Calvin and Hobbes: A Calvin and Hobbes Treasury."

September 1988 ISBN 0836218051 Foreword by Charles M. Schulz and original illustrated poem, "A Nauseous Nocturne" Yes
Yukon Ho! Missing image
Yukon_Ho_Calvin_and_Hobbes_Book.jpg
"Yukon Ho!"

March 1989 ISBN 0836218353 The "Yukon Song" No
The Calvin and Hobbes Lazy Sunday Book: A Collection of Sunday Calvin and Hobbes Cartoons Missing image
The_Calvin_and_Hobbes_Lazy_Sunday_Book.gif
"The Calvin and Hobbes Lazy Sunday Book:A Collection of Sunday Calvin and Hobbes Cartoons."

September 1989 ISBN 0836218523 Ten-page story "Spaceman Spiff: Interplanetary Explorer Extraordinaire!" No
Weirdos From Another Planet! Missing image
Weirdos_From_Another_Planet_Calvin_and_Hobbes_Book.jpg
"Weirdos From Another Planet."

March 1990 ISBN 0836218620   No
The Authoritative Calvin and Hobbes: A Calvin and Hobbes Treasury Missing image
Authoritative_Calvin_and_Hobbes.png
"The Authoritative Calvin and Hobbes."

October 1990 ISBN 0836218221 Seven-page story in which Calvin becomes an elephant Yes
The Revenge of the Baby-Sat Missing image
Revenge_of_the_Baby-Sat_Calvin_and_Hobbes_Book.jpg
"The Revenge of the Baby-Sat."

April 1991 ISBN 0836218663   No
Scientific Progress Goes "Boink" Missing image
Scientific_Progress_Goes_Boink_Calvin_and_Hobbes_Book.jpg
Scientific Progress Goes "Boink."

October 1991 ISBN 0836218787   No
Attack of the Deranged Mutant Killer Monster Snow Goons Missing image
Attack_of_the_Deranged_Mutant_Killer_Monster_Snow_Goons_Calvin_and_Hobbes.jpg
"Attack of the Deranged Mutant Killer Monster Snow Goons."

April 1992 ISBN 0836218833   Yes
The Indispensable Calvin and Hobbes Missing image
The_Indispensable_Calvin_and_Hobbes.jpg
"The Indispensable Calvin and Hobbes."

October 1992 ISBN 0836218981 Several illustrated poems Yes
The Days are Just Packed Missing image
The_Days_are_Just_Packed_Calvin_and_Hobbes.png
"The Days are Just Packed."

October 1993 ISBN 0836217357   Yes
Homicidal Psycho Jungle Cat Missing image
Homicidal_Psyco_Jungle_Cat_Calvin_and_Hobbes.jpg
"Homicidal Psyco Jungle Cat."

October 1994 ISBN 0836217691   Yes
The Calvin and Hobbes Tenth Anniversary Book Missing image
Calvin_and_Hobbes_10th_Anniversary_Book.jpg
"The Calvin and Hobbes Tenth Anniversary Book."

October 1995 ISBN 0836204387 Commentary by Watterson and annotations on individual strips No
There's Treasure Everywhere Missing image
Theres_Treasure_Everywhere_Calvin_and_Hobbes.gif
"There's Treasure Everywhere."

March 1996 ISBN 0836213122   Yes
It's A Magical World Missing image
Its_A_Magical_World_Clavin_and_Hobbes_Book.png
"It's A Magical World."

October 1996 ISBN 0836221362   Yes
Calvin and Hobbes: Sunday Pages 1985-1995 Missing image
Calvin_and_Hobbes_Sunday_Pages_1985_to_1995.jpg
"Calvin and Hobbes Sunday Pages 1985-1995."

September 2001 ISBN 0740721356 Original sketches and commentary No

A complete collection, in three hardcover volumes of a total 1440 pages, is planned for release on September 1 2005 by Andrews McMeel Publishing. The collection is already available for pre-order on many online bookstores (ISBN 0740748475).

Early books were printed in smaller format in black and white that were later reproduced in twos in color in the "Treasuries" ("Essential", "Authoritative", and "Indispensable"), except for the contents of Attack of the Deranged Mutant Killer Monster Snow Goons whose Sunday strips have never been reprinted in color [1] (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/guides/guide-display/-/3EZL4Q94QCDYY). Every book since then has been printed in a larger format with Sundays in color and weekday and Saturday strips larger than appeared in most newspapers. Remaining books do contain some additional content; for instance, The Calvin and Hobbes Lazy Sunday Book contains a long watercolor Spaceman Spiff epic not seen elsewhere and The Calvin and Hobbes Tenth Anniversary Book contains much original commentary from Watterson. Calvin and Hobbes: Sunday Pages 1985-1995 released in 2001 contains 36 Sunday strips in color alongside Watterson's original sketches, prepared for an exhibition at The Ohio State University Cartoon Research Library.

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