-Bon Iver, Skinny Love… my favorite song of the last year
One of the major influences in my life was without a doubt the Calvin and Hobbes comic. When I was little, there was nothing better than getting up on sunday morning to read the color funnies. And the best strip was always Calvin and Hobbes. Its really hard to imagine what life must be like for kids these days. Im sure this happens to every generation… “when i was a kid, we wrote in charcoal on the back of shovels for entertainment”… but I cant imagine what it must be like to be young in the 21st century. Looking through some old C&H comics i had on my computer today made me think of all the good times of childhood. Summers spent at my grandmas lake house, where we didnt have any tv but it didnt matter. we spent all day in the woods playing teenage mutant ninja turtles or on the beach. fishing every morning with my dad. camp fires at night, telling stupid ghost stories, roasting marshmallows, singing to keep the bears away. playing catch in the front yard with my brother in the spring, always throwing too far to the left or the right so that we would have to lay out to make the catch, just like we watched cal ripken jr do it. wiffle ball and water fights. playing made-up variations of capture the flag and tag when it got dark. ice cream at the red caboose. then when the snow came we would build forts in the 20 foot pileups of snow the plows left across the street. massive snowball fights, bloody noses after building recklessly big ramps for sledding down the hill at chango. giant lego battles in our family room – i dont know how mom put up with us. i remember taking a bath at the end of one day and i couldnt see the bottom of the tub; it was covered in dirt and grass clippings.
maybe childhood is the same no matter when or where you grew up, just with different twists. but tv and video games were a pleasure that i never really enjoyed unless it was too cold or too rainy and i wish i could still be doing those fun kid things now. i would absolutely trade tv and video games for that.
anyways, C&H are pretty much my childhood to a T. This first comic especially.
*Click on the pictures to open a full size picture in a new window*
Maybe the best thing aboutC&H is the range of topics bill watterson covers. this next comic reminds me of my misadventures with pets as a little guy. i always wanted a frog and for my birthday in 2nd grade my parents got me two and a fish tank to keep them in (pete and petey). they died within a week, and it broke my heart. so then i got another frog (frogface) and he lived well into my high school years. one time at my aunt and uncles house we went to visit the pond across the street, where we caught some salamanders. we kept them as pets and named them after my aunt and uncle (jim and bonnie). unfortunatly jim was a meek one and passed away. reluctant to kill off more amphibians, my parents decided to let bonnie go, lest the memories of jim should lead to her death by a broken heart. in some photoalbum at my parents house, there is a picture of me, bonnie perched timidly on my arm, with tears burning down my cheeks. death still doesnt make sense even now that im all grown up.
I would say i had a rather vivid imagination even for a child. i drew velociraptors and space ships and alien battles all through my elementary school years. maybe thats nerdy but whatever. some of my favorite calvin and hobbes strips were when he dreamed of fantastic galaxies and alien worlds (as spaceman spiff) or imagined being a tyrannasaur. i always liked how the imaginary worlds are more detailed and creative than the actual world in the comics. and for a kid who imagines a stuffed tiger is real (although he may actually have been), how can calvin be so mature in his thoughts? i love it
finally, i love the inconventional artwork and structure that bill watterson uses. i can imagine its almost as fun to draw as it is to read his work.
as a 2nd or 3rd grader, my mom bought our family like 6-7 calvin and hobbes collections and i used to read parts of them every night before i fell asleep. when i finished one, i would start the next, over and over throughout elementary school. one of the first “significant” books i read was in 5th grade – i read To Kill A Mockingbird because my mom said it was like calvin and hobbes. sure enough, TKAM has plenty of childhood nostalgia. when i read it that first time, i didnt understand the underlying racial commentary, the charming wisedom of Atticus Finch, the implied message about courage as strength in character, and most importantly i didnt understand what the book said about growing up to be a man. i would reread it a few years later, and again a few years after that and it still remains in my top 3 of all time (with Catch-22 and The Great Gatsby). its funny that although now i understand the thematic portions of the book, my favorite parts are still the memories of childhood. Ironically, as a kid I never understood the part where innocence died, but now as an adult i dont understand being a kid.
"i wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. its when you know your licked before you begin, but you begin anyways and you see it through no matter what. you rarely win, but sometimes you do."