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Calvin and Hobbes

Calvin and Hobbes is a popular comic strip written by Bill Watterson. The strip is based on Calvin, a 6 year old boy, and his tiger, Hobbes. The comic strip changed the way Americans viewed the proverbial face of comic strips. Through witty humor and truly hilarious observations, Watterson showed the world that comics can be intuitive and intellectual, yet still funny. First syndicated in 1985, Calvin and Hobbes was carried by over 2,400 newspapers. Almost 23 million Calvin and Hobbes books have been printed.

Table of contents
1 The premise
2 Legacy
3 The Books
4 External Links

The premise

From the point of view of everyone but Calvin, Hobbes is shown as an inert stuffed toy tiger, but when they are alone together, Hobbes comes vividly alive. Watterson stated that Calvin simply sees Hobbes one way, and everyone else sees him a different way — that Hobbes is more about the subjective nature of reality than about dolls miraculously coming to life.


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.

Calvin is named for a sixteenth-century theologian who believed in predestination (see John Calvin). Hobbes is named after a seventeenth-century philosopher with what Watterson called "a dim view of human nature" (see Thomas Hobbes). Watterson stated that the source of the two names is intended as a joke for people studying political science, and that not many other people would get the joke.

In the first strip, Calvin meets Hobbes when he catches him with a rope noose baited with a tuna fish sandwich. The last strip appeared on Sunday, December 31, 1995. In it Calvin and Hobbes are playing on a sled: "It's a magical world, Hobbes, ol' buddy...", Calvin says, "...Let's go exploring!"

Calvin has contributed to the science of astrophysics by coining a much more descriptive name for the big bang, the "Horrendous Space Kablooie" (often abbreviated in scholarly journals as "the HSK.")

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. Watterson strived for a full-page version of his strip (as opposed to the few cells allocated for most strips). He stated that he longed for the artistic freedom alloted for classic strips such as Little Nemo and a sample of what could be accomplished with such liberty is given in the opening pages of the Sunday strip compilation The Calvin and Hobbes Lazy Sunday Book. This also might explain why the strip has never been made into an animated series.

The occasional t-shirt with pictures of Calvin and (usually obnoxious) captions are unauthorized. The occasional stickers for automobile rear windows that depict Calvin urinating on a company's or sports team's name or logo are especially unauthorized; after threat of a lawsuit, the maker (Custom Vehicle Graphics) replaced Calvin with a different boy.


Calvin's Alter-Egos

Calvin's hyperactive imagination leads him to imagine himself as other characters with different powers and goals:

The Wisdom of Calvin and Hobbes

Short of reproducing a comic strip, no encyclopedia article can do this timeless classic justice.

The character Calvin would never read or write something like this! He would probably be off inserting subtle changes in legitimate articles that send hapless readers on wild goose chases.

So, in the spirit, each fan is invited to offer a short quotation that captures the essence of Calvin and Hobbes (within fair use limitations, of course):

"Trifle not with tired tigers." — There's Treasure Everywhere, (c) 1996 (p.106)


G.R.O.S.S. is an acronym of Get Rid Of Slimy girlS and is a club that Calvin started in order to get rid of girls. Usually the girl is Susie and she doesn't come out enough to be harassed, so Calvin and Hobbes are left by themselves to make up the club's silly rules, rewrite its constitution and argue about who is the Supreme Dictator-For-Life.

The Transmogrifier

The Transmogrifier is a device designed by Calvin that can transmogrify any object into another object. Simply place the object in the box, turn the dial to the desired target object and voila! A transmogrifier can turn you into a frog, a tiger, or even a dinosaur... and all you need to make it is a cardboard box and a big black marker. Calvin made subsequent improvements upon the transmogrifier technology, turning the box into a duplicator and a time machine. He also produced an improved, portable transmogrifier, which was incorporated into his water pistol.

Calvin's Snowmen

A recurring feature in winter strips is Calvin's snowmen, whose grotesque nature often gets him into trouble. In other circumstances, Watterson also used Calvin's snowmen as an excuse for satirically having Calvin spout ludicrous artistic theory, which Hobbes would then typically deflate.

Calvin's Wagon and Sled

Calvin and Hobbes take rides often in a wagon or a sled (depending on the season) and talk about philosophy or politics. The conversations usually run eerily parallel to the course they take on the vehicle, which almost always ends in a crash. Calvin's wagon has a lot of mileage on it, as it has made the trip to the planet Mars and back.


Calvin's favorite sport, which he loves to play with Hobbes. The only fixed rule is that you can't play it the same way twice. The beauty of the game is that you continue to make up new rules while you're playing.

The Books

Although Calvin and Hobbes is no longer delivered in newspapers daily, one can still read this classic comic strip, compiled in book form. Here is a list:

External Links