Dear Mr. Watterson a film by Joel Allen Schroder, 2013, Fingerprint Films LLC,
90:02, available in regular or high definition.
Looking for Calvin and Hobbes – The Unconventional Story of Bill Watterson and his Revolutionary Comic Strip by Nevin Martell, Continuim 2009 hardcover
…………a film, a book………..
I love Calvin and Hobbes, and I honestly don’t know anyone who doesn’t at least like the strip, all these years after it’s creator, Bill Watterson stopped drawing it. Nothing new for well over a decade. Recently, I got wind of this film and immediately got it to take a look. That led me to the book which I got from the library. I have looked, I have read.
Watterson is a confirmed recluse, so there is no interview with him in either film or book. Instead, there are interviews with a host of other comic strip creators about the influence of Calvin and Hobbes on them, on the industry, on how the public perceives the comics page. It turns out much of the material in the film was already covered in the book, word for word. This makes for a lot of talking heads in a 90 minute film, and except for a short segment when the filmmaker visits Watterson’s then home town of Chagrin Falls, Ohio, where we can see the small town and countryside which are the setting for the strip, it’s a collection of interviews and a look at some of the original pages.
I learned a few things, but mostly the reading and watching just made me want to pull out my huge three volume set of the Complete Calvin and Hobbes (which you should have, and if you don’t have, you should go buy at once) and read, look, enjoy and laugh all over again at the wonderful imagination of Watterson, the art, inventiveness, charm and hilarity of the strip which not infrequently also touches your heartstrings.
While both film and book are worth a look, the real message is clear. You’d be better off with the complete collection – or any of the smaller ones – and just spending some time on Watterson’s subtle, sublime, raucous, hilarious, introspective, touching world of a boy and his tiger. And no, I didn’t use too many adjectives in this post because that’s impossible to do when discussing Calving and Hobbes.