Sunday, January 4, 2009

He's just a Bill

This Christmas, probably my best surprise (besides Wall-E from you, Eve. :) was this 23-lb bulk of beauty.
Oh, sorry. Can you see that one?
How 'bout this:

or this

or THIS!

Not only does it feature full, gorgeous, colored illustrations, it also has an introduction from Bill Watterson and little dates at the bottom of each comic to show when each one was published! The introduction is probably my favorite part so far. I've already read every strip but I don't think I've ever read anything Bill Watterson has written about himself so getting his history was fascinating.

He had a really difficult period in the few years between school and writing C&H. He was designing gorcery store advertisements for a while and trying to develop something on the side that could break him in to the industry. A lot of rejections. Finally, he was offered a job (on a fancy shmancy all-expenses-paid trip to New York) to write a comic about a character that the company wanted to sell as a toy. To his credit, he rejected the job - insulted that they he would write around someone else's character as form of merchandising.
Later, he rejected all merchandising offers for Calvin and Hobbes too. He didn't think it supported the spirit of the strip and didn't want to hand over control of Calvin's and Hobbes' characters to someone who wasn't as personally invested in them as himself. It would have been unimaginably lucrative - even without giving away any rights, people still rip him off by making their own bumper stickers, shirts and what-not. But none of it is legal!!
After ten years of writing the strip, he decided that he'd done everything he wanted to do. He ended it then before its ratings could down and it pittered into rehashed jokes and half-baked strips. He could have milked it for many more years. People would have kept reading. But he didn't.
That's integrity.
Because of that, Calvin and Hobbes are still had strong and poignant characters today. And they're still saying exactly what Watterson wanted them to say.

So, as cool as it would be to have a C&H animated series, I'm glad Watterson protected Calvin and Hobbes like he did. The appeal of money has eroded a lot of great things. But this isn't one of them.


Ginna said...

oh I'm so jealous. what an awesome present. And thanks for the little blurb on Bill Watterston, I really don't know anything about him at all!

The Rabidmilkman said...

Amen, sista! I am such a fan of C&H (and am insanely jealous of what Santa brought you).
Oh, and if you want more Watterson, Jason Kim's blog has a post of a speech Bill gave at some graduation somewhere. It's a really interesting (and inspiring) talk!

Morgan said...

i totally echo what you've noted about Bill Watterson. He's so awesome.
I am a proud owner of the bound set, too. its a priceless reference! love it! go get it if you dont have it yet!

kwistin said...

*gasp* It''s...BEAUTIFUL!!!

Oh my goodness, may I touch one of those books? That's amazing! And I really appreciated the history on Watterson. No wonder his characters and comic are so vibrant and alive. Witty, yet intuitive. Love it.

John Kelly said...

I got this for Christmas 2 years ago-greatest books ever! As sad as I am that he isn't drawing the strip I am glad he quit while he felt he was ahead. better than slowly fading away.. (have you seen Garfield lately? crap!)

Ty Carter said...

Bill he related to water?

- eric said...

less words >:( more art.

hi! what have you been working on lately? i see you are co-producing a film. go team. i know that you've got all sorts of cool drawings you aren't posting.

CoyoteLion said...

I love this collection, despite how heavy it is and how it sometimes crushes me with awesomeness. :) Calvin and Hobbes will forever rock.