Calvin and Hobbes’ Creator SpeaksBy DAVE ITZKOFF
It’s not quite as impressive as scoring, say, the last known interview with J. D. Salinger, but The Cleveland Plain Dealer has landed what is believed to be the first interview in nearly 20 years with Bill Watterson, the reclusive creator of the comic strip “Calvin and Hobbes.” Mr. Watterson’s newspaper cartoons about a headstrong young boy named Calvin and his stuffed tiger, Hobbes, ran in syndication from 1985 to 1995, until the artist stepped away from the strip at the peak of its popularity, and he has rarely spoken about it since.
Asked 15 years later why “Calvin and Hobbes” was such a popular work, Mr. Watterson told The Plain Dealer:
The only part I understand is what went into the creation of the strip. What readers take away from it is up to them. Once the strip is published, readers bring their own experiences to it, and the work takes on a life of its own. Everyone responds differently to different parts.I just tried to write honestly, and I tried to make this little world fun to look at, so people would take the time to read it. That was the full extent of my concern. You mix a bunch of ingredients, and once in a great while, chemistry happens. I can’t explain why the strip caught on the way it did, and I don’t think I could ever duplicate it. A lot of things have to go right all at once.
Asked how he continues to remain averse to the attention of his devoted fans, Mr. Watterson said:
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.