Book review: Looking for Calvin & Hobbes

 I read a lot of comics growing up. One part of that comes from my Dad being a comic book collector, another one comes from going to the mobile library bus that came around to our neighborhood every week.

One of the comics that I devoured was Calvin and Hobbes. There was something about the humour in the series, and seeing what Calvin was up to next that drew me in.

Nevin Martell also read the series growing up, and ended up writing Looking for Calvin and Hobbes: The Unconventional Story of Bill Watterson and His Revolutionary Comic Strip

When I found this book in a bookshop in Vienna last autumn, it seemed like a good way to learn more about the background of the creator. Or rather, one author’s quest for an interview with Bill Watterson… and everything he learned while researching for the interview that he never got.

The reviews I’ve seen of this differ greatly. Some love it, while others are disappointed in the lack of pictures and drawings in the book and feel that it is more about the author and his relationship with the drawings than Bill Watterson.

I’m inclined to lean more towards the first camp – but then I had it in my hands and could see it in the shop what it contained. The lack of pictures and drawings, especially with the author describing a lot of the works that Bill Watterson produced prior to Calvin & Hobbes, is significant and rather disappointing.

However, this did not completely ruin my experience of the book (as it appears to have done for others). The way the book is built up is that it goes from Watterson’s childhood and upbringing, to his career in drawing and to his retirement. The majority of the book comes from already published material – nothing from Watterson apart from already published interviews or introductions to the collection of comics. (He did get an interview with Bill Watterson’s mother, though that is fairly superficial in content).

There are other people interviewed who bring things to the table with regards to their interaction with Watterson during his quest for his own strip, that ended with Calvin & Hobbes.

But for me, who haven’t been doing major research into the background of Calvin & Hobbes, the book pulls together fairly well regardless of the lack of pictures or first hand interviews. (How many unauthorized biographies carry interviews with the subject anyway?)

What I am left with is actually the desire to read me some comic strips.

Anyone else read much comics?

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