How did you get into comics? There’s a good chance it started with the idiosyncratic world of Bill Watterson and his devilish duo of CALVIN AND HOBBES, which ran from 1985 to ’95. While the idea of a roguish boy and his imaginary friend has been lovingly brought to life in Sky’s MOONE BOY, it just doesn’t fill the CALVIN AND HOBBES-shaped hole.
Fans can rejoice then that Watterson has released new work, albeit in cameo form. Stephan Pastis, who pens PEARLS BEFORE SWINE, attempted to get hold of the reclusive Watterson via e-mail. He received no response. Pastis, seemingly unphased, went ahead and put a CALVIN AND HOBBES reference in his then-latest strip.
But Watterson did get in touch with Pastis. Writing on his blog, Pastis put, "Just getting an email from Bill Watterson is one of the most mind-blowing, surreal experiences I have ever had. Bill Watterson really exists? And he sends email? And he's communicating with me?" Perhaps more surprising than his initial contact was Watterson’s desire to collaborate. It was decided that the CALVIN AND HOBBES mastermind would contribute panels to PEARLS BEFORE SWINE.
The strips were released this week, under the pretence that a girl named ‘Libby’ or ‘Lib’ was standing in for Pastis. Pastis wrote of the fictitious Libby that she’s "a precocious second grader who thought my art was crap."
The first strip has ‘Lib’ drawing Pastis being eaten by two crocodiles. The second, more in a traditional CALVIN AND HOBBES vein, featured a ‘Martian robot attack’, while the third ends with Pastis asking ‘Lib’ if she’ll keep drawing his strip permanently. ‘Lib’ replies: "Nah. The art form's dying."
Pastis has described having Watterson contribute to his strip as the highlight of his career. The internet wasn’t convinced by ‘Lib’ - it is Bill spelt backwards, after all. For many this signalled the return of the much missed CALVIN AND HOBBES. Here’s hoping.
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