Calvin and Hobbes was a way of life in my family as a child. Our cats were named Calvin and Hobbes. I was constantly drawing Calvin and his adventures. I have even made a Calvin costume.
That strip was the first thing I would look for in the Sunday paper each week.
We would also buy the bound collections whenever they were released. Calvin and Hobbes had many wonderful and funny adventures, but when I think back to what made them so memorable, what immediately comes to mind is something besides its humor.
Once upon a time, Calvin and Hobbes found an injured raccoon in the woods. This was on a Monday, and the key to the strip was Calvin’s trust in his mother. When his mom arrived to help on Tuesday, you could see her love and care for her son. On Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, we anxiously await what will happen as Calvin learns what it means to feel true compassion for another creature. Finally on Saturday, we join Calvin as he learns about death with his father. Even as a child who liked to laugh at comics, I knew that I was experiencing something special with Calvin and his pet tiger.
Calvin once said to his buddy,
“That’s the whole problem with science. You’ve got a bunch of empiricists trying to describe things of unimaginable wonder.”
Bill Waterson, the artist behind Calvin and Hobbes, showed his readers truth, beauty, and goodness through the eyes of a child and his friend. They found beauty in creation as they wandered the woods. They discussed truths both big and small with a vocabulary far beyond many adults. They experienced goodness as they joyfully careened over hills on sleds or wagons. This is the “unimaginable wonder” that Bill Waterson wanted to show the world through his art. As the rest of the newspaper showed the reality of the world, with Calvin and Hobbes we experienced realities beyond this world.
The final edition of Calvin and Hobbes ran on December 31, 1995.
We all knew it was coming, and I remember waiting for weeks to see it. Even the first time I saw it as a thirteen-year-old, it stirred up a whole slew of emotions. Those same emotions came up even now as I flipped to the final page of my complete collection of Calvin and Hobbes in preparation for writing this. (It is obligatory that you stop reading now and Google “Calvin and Hobbes final strip” before continuing.) While the news around us often shows the valley of darkness, Calvin enjoyed green pastures and still waters with his best friend at his side. I believe that, even when I didn’t realize it, Calvin and Hobbes has been helping me to know that I had faithful friend always beside me, a friend that some cannot see, as I encountered those very same kinds of unimaginable wonder.
“It’s a magical world, Hobbes, ol’ buddy…let’s go exploring!”