The Complete Calvin & Hobbes

The Complete Calvin & Hobbes – Bill Watterson

After nearly ten years of daily comics, Bill Watterson hung up his pencil in 1995 and capped off his critically acclaimed strip, Calvin & Hobbes.  Ten years later, Watterson worked with Andrews McNeel Publishing to put out a complete box set (three volumes in hardback / four in paperback).  The result is a gorgeous collection worthy of one of the best, most consistent strips around.

Calvin & Hobbes began when I was just two years old and ended just before I turned twelve, so given that I wasn’t grabbing the newspaper every day as a kid, I completely missed out on Watterson’s legendary run.  With Watterson’s hard stance against licensing any of his work, there was no other way for Calvin’s world to enter my own outside of the source material.  No cartoon show, no movies, no merchandise – nothing.  After hearing for years that I should seek out and do a deep dive into Calvin & Hobbes, I took advantage of a sale and picked up the set earlier this year.

This is about as perfect a series as I can imagine.  Watterson strikes the perfect tone between childhood wonder and adult perspective.  The relationship between Calvin and his stuffed tiger, Hobbes is the template for a perfect friendship; they have each other’s back, fight and make up and genuinely bring out the best in one another.  I know that’s a little strange when you’re talking about a boy and his imagination, but Calvin and Hobbes’ partnership is one I could continue to read for years had Watterson not stopped in the mid-90s.

The publisher did a wonderful job with the presentation having the daily strips retain their traditional black and white coloring as they’re laid over a slightly yellowed background.  It allows his work to pop off the page.  The full-page Sunday strips are bright and colorful and brilliantly restored.  This is especially excellent in the autumn comics where the reds, yellows and browns help to bring my favorite season to life.  I almost wish Watterson had at least allowed some licensing if only so I could get a big print to hang on the wall of my living room.

While the box set will set you back over one hundred dollars, it’s well worth the money.  This isn’t something released to cash in on nostalgia, but a lovingly crafted tribute to one of the best comic strips you could possibly read.

2 thoughts on “The Complete Calvin & Hobbes

  1. Being a tad bit older than you are, I was reading the newspaper during C&H’s marvelous run. It is far & away my favourite comic strip and I think I may have cried real tears when Watterson announced his retirement. I am very, very tempted to spring for this set.
    Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

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