Hobbes and Bacon

Wow. Wow. WOW.

26 years later, Calvin passes the tiger to his daughter, Bacon.

And some things never change

UPDATE: well, crud:

Sorry if it disappoints you guys, but there’s not gonna be any more Hobbes & Bacon… not for a while, anyway – our comic is more of a skit show, we do a gag, sometimes two, and then we move on, just like Family Guy or Robot Chicken, if we kept going, then it would be a strip about Calvin & Hobbes, and that’s just not what we do.

We tried to stay true to what Calvin & Hobbes meant to us, and what the style and atmosphere was, and I hope that we were able to capture what people loved about the strip – which is impossible, we’re not Watterson, we’re the Heyermans – there’s no way we can totally capture his style, no matter how much we tried.

But the most important thing, what we really wanted people to do was to go back and read Calvin & Hobbes, or support Watterson by getting the books if you don’t have them.

We don’t make any money on the strip, so hopefully you take all your desire to read more Calvin & Hobbes and support one of the most amazing artists of our time.

Some of us were lucky enough to be around when it was happening, to read Calvin & Hobbes in the paper, and if you’re like us, it guided and shaped who you are, and drove you to be different and be creative.

It’s no exaggeration to say that Pants are Overrated would be a completely different thing if Bill Watterson hadn’t created his masterpieces every day when we were kids.

What makes Superman super? the “man”

Once again, via Mark – possibly the best essay on Superman I’ve ever read.

Superman isn’t a Jesus analogue because, unlike Jesus, his moral vision is not imposed. The word of Jesus is the word of God and therefore what he says goes, dictation straight from the Almighty. Superman is the exact opposite: a man whose moral vision comes not from a source exterior to humanity but from humanity itself, via Ma and Pa Kent, who are themselves immensely decent people. He ultimately isn’t a received savior, regardless of the origin of his powers; he’s Superman, the apotheosis of what human virtue can be. He’s an aspirational figure first and foremost.

(…) Superman isn’t Superman because of some tragedy which informed his growth. Pa Kent does not die because of a failure on Clark’s part – indeed in most versions of the story, Pa dies when Clark is already Superman. Clark’s knowledge of Krypton doesn’t make him a superhero either; again, this is something he finds out later, too late to traumatize him. Clark is Superman because he decides to be Superman without being prompted. That’s more complex and nuanced a story than “somebody did something to me.” Superman’s story, which informs his entire character, is one of someone who chooses to be good of his own free will and agency, with no influence other than moral upbringing.

This complements my own observation that the best Superman is where Clark Kent is the person and Superman the persona, rather than the way around. I love the moral paragon argument above, but I take a more cynical view that the most interesting Superman stories are ones in which, just like the rest of us, he lapses. Fundamentally, Superman is not Jesus, he’s the opposite as MGK points out. That should also extend to the question of his infallibility. Free will and reason itself are subjective processes, and Superman is Superrational. Which for mankind, isn’t super at all.

An interesting corollary is the question of whether Superman’s goodness is the yin that drives the yang of Luthor’s badness. Read MGK’s essay on Luthor – great analysis of the character, and I fully agree that there’s no villain his equal, because other villains are just… villains.

I’ve enjoyed Batman as a character but he just doesn’t have the same depth of fascination for me – and I’ve long understood that no one could ever “become” Batman.

Superman vs Batman

Steven links to a “rock solid” argument that Batman would beat Superman in a fight, with caveats about “winning”. I find it highly circular, however (aren’t all tautologies “rock solid” by definition?).

The premises – that Supes is dumber, that Batman is more canny, that Supes is more moral – create a very restricted scenario. I can provide a much more compelling argument about the outcome of any hypothetical match, without any axioms whatsoever. All we need to do are make the following observations:

* Superman can fly, has super strength, and heat and xray vision
* Batman has access to Kryptonite, money, and technology

So, the scenario:

1. Batman prepares complex, expensive scheme involving technology and kryptonite
2. Superman arrives on scene, and from aerial position uses xray vision to locate threat, and thus maintain sufficient distance to avoid effect of Kryptonite
3. Superman melts Batman’s technology using heat vision

There’s no scenario in which Batman can deliver the kryptonite to a threatening distance to disable Superman. The fact that Lex Luthor routinely achieved this in the comics, however, is more a failure of imagination on the part of Superman’s writers than Superman’s abilities.

In fact, I will postulate that Superman’s powers effectively render him invincible even to kryptonite since there is no scenario in which kryptonite’s radius of influence can exceed Superman’s area of influence via heat vision and xray vision, or ability to escape via flight and super strength.

This is the problem with Superman, in a nutshell: he’s super. Essentially, he is a god, something barely ever hinted at in the TV and movies and rarely addressed in the comics. There’s really only one ending to the story of Superman, no matter what universe or storyline or timeline you are in: Superman decides to rule the Earth. The tyranny will come, it must come, inexorably. The logic of this is quite simple:

– Superman routinely uses his powers to intervene in human affairs
– Superman routinely makes choices, therefore, about what human affairs to intervene in
– People close to Superman benefit disproportionately from Superman’s intervention

Therefore, Superman is already making decisions about life and death on behalf of the human race. And doing so with no more omniscient wisdom than the most erratic Greek gods – namely, none. He’s ruled by human impulses and acts on them with godlike power. That means that for all his alien-ness, he is still susceptible to the basic law of human civilization: absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Interview with Bill Watterson

This is really rare – C&H creator Bill Watterson has given an interview for the first time in over 20 years. In it, he firmly puts Calvin and Hobbes in his past – and intriguingly doesn’t see any role for himself in how the strip has affected people.

What are your thoughts about the legacy of your strip?

Well, it’s not a subject that keeps me up at night. Readers will always decide if the work is meaningful and relevant to them, and I can live with whatever conclusion they come to. Again, my part in all this largely ended as the ink dried.

Because your work touched so many people, fans feel a connection to you, like they know you. They want more of your work, more Calvin, another strip, anything. It really is a sort of rock star/fan relationship. Because of your aversion to attention, how do you deal with that even today? And how do you deal with knowing that it’s going to follow you for the rest of your days?

Ah, the life of a newspaper cartoonist — how I miss the groupies, drugs and trashed hotel rooms!

But since my “rock star” days, the public attention has faded a lot. In Pop Culture Time, the 1990s were eons ago. There are occasional flare-ups of weirdness, but mostly I just go about my quiet life and do my best to ignore the rest. I’m proud of the strip, enormously grateful for its success, and truly flattered that people still read it, but I wrote “Calvin and Hobbes” in my 30s, and I’m many miles from there.

An artwork can stay frozen in time, but I stumble through the years like everyone else. I think the deeper fans understand that, and are willing to give me some room to go on with my life.

There’s a bit more worth reading – I find it interesting that he essentially saw C&H as an outlet for him to express himself, and then retired it when there was no more left to say. He didn’t see it as a comic strip, in essence, but a novel. It’s a same that he never really regarded his characters as anything but characters; there’s a lot of narative left in them that others could pick up where he left off.

UPDATE – Shamus gives props to the man. Agreed, especially about how much he looks like Uncle Max.

Brian calls the interview a missed opportunity, providing examples of much better questions the interviewer could have asked. He also links the archive I mentioned earlier of Watterson’s old political cartooning work and an inscrutable fan-driven Q&A he did a long time ago. Does anyone know what Watterson is doing now? He seems to be JD Salingeresque.