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ART: The Cleveland Scene has a great article on the whereabouts of Bill Watterson, creator of Calvin & Hobbes. It's a wide ranging article; covering Watterson's dislike of merchandising, the end of Calvin & Hobbes, what Watterson is doing now, and the author's (halfhearted) attempt to find the man himself.

I was just a dumb kid when the Golden Age of comic strips was happening (as referred to in this article anyway) so I never got into Doonesbury or Outland in any real way. I remember laughing at Bill The Cat but that's about it. What I do remember though, is Far Side and Calvin & Hobbes. Those two strips were really my first experience in having an emotional connection to a work of art. Even though as a kid I didn't understand every Far Side, I could easily laugh at the gag strips ("Luposlipophobia" is still one of my favorites). I always laughed and felt a deep connection to Calvin though. I don't know if a huge Complete Far Side style collection is feasible with Calvin & Hobbes but I would pay huge sums to get that sort of definitive set.

One of the discussions I'm always interested in with Calvin & Hobbes is about Bill Watterson's refusal to merchandise his characters. People really don't understand why someone would refuse to sell their creations. Everyone points to Jim Davis for an example of someone who gets 18-wheelers of cash delivered to his house monthly because he's sold Garfield to everyone who wanted to put the fat cat on a piece of merchandise. The problem with that is Garfield, even if the strip somehow came up with something original to say, couldn't say it for fear of "the franchise." If Jim Davis wanted to stop putting out Garfield today (and since he doesn't even draw the strip that would be a dumb decision in anything but artistic terms) he would probably be buried in lawsuits by Monday. He's making a lot of money off that character but a lot of other people are also making money off of it so in a lot of ways he's a slave to them. Bill Watterson had as much control over his strip and his characters as anyone in comics and never ceded any of it to make a buck. He got to make the strip he wanted to make. I would love to have a Hobbes plush toy for my daughter but at the same time I have the utmost respect for someone who decided to say no to our consumerist culture and decided not to sell his creations. At a time when brands are worshipped as if they mean something and idiots worldwide are naming their kids Adidas, Porsche, and Courvoisier, passing up what would have been an enormous fortune for principals is something to be very much admired. I probably won't ever get the chance to meet Bill Watterson, and as a private person I understand his wish to remain hidden, but I would like to just for the chance to shake his hand and thank him very much.

Link courtesy of Bookslut.