Let’s be real. Calvin and Hobbes is the very best comic strip of all time. It was perfect, it transcended its genre, and its creator, Bill Watterson, is a genius. Unfortunately for us, he is a reclusive genius who took his ball and went home nearly twenty years ago. Seriously, it has been 18-and-a-half years of near radio silence from Watterson. He opened the door a little bit about three months ago when he drew the poster for the documentary Stripped. And now he has kicked it open a little further by taking over Stephan Pastis’s comic strip Pearls Before Swine. For three days. Pastis explained how it all came about on his blog.
Pastis wrote a strip that was an homage to Watterson and sent it to him. And shock of shocks, Watterson responded with a pitch.
He said he knew that in my strip, I frequently make fun of my own art skills. And that he thought it would be funny to have me get hit on the head or something and suddenly be able to draw. Then he’d step in and draw my comic strip for a few days.
They went back and forth on the concept, finally settling on an idea Pastis had:
The idea I proposed was that instead of having me get hit on the head, I would pretend that Pearls was being drawn by a precocious second grader who thought my art was crap. I named her “Libby,” which I then shorted to “Lib.” (Hint, hint: It’s almost “Bill” backwards.)
Watterson agreed, and they got to work. Fans of Watterson will be glad to hear that he was “funny and flexible and easy to work with.” And now he has withdrawn back into his hiding place, the Salinger of comics. Hopefully he is still working, and hopefully one day he’ll release a treasure trove of new work that will make us laugh and cry and have all the feels the way Calvin did. We miss you, Bill.