Happy Anniversary to Calvin and Hobbes! It was November 18, 1985 (I know, I’m a day late), that the precocious little boy and his sage stuffed tiger/real tiger first hit comic pages across America. So, I thought I’d hit you guys with a little C&H trivia… I know, it’s not nearly enough to fill the void Bill Watterson has left us, but it’s a little something.
Ever since he retired from Calvin and Hobbes, Watterson has been painting and “studying music”. He’s notoriously private and apparently hasn’t changed his lifestyle much. Up until fairly recently, he still lived in his hometown of Chagrin Falls, Ohio. Now he lives in Cleveland, not too far away. He doesn’t do pictures or autographs, not for anyone, although he used to sign copies of his books and slip them into a little family-owned bookstore in Chagrin Falls. He found out that people were eBaying them instead of tucking them away in their own private collections, though, and stopped that practice.
Calvin’s Older Brother?
Originally, Calvin and Hobbes were supposed to be minor characters in the strip Watterson was trying to syndicate. They were both the same as they are now – a little kid and his tiger – but were supposed to be only occasional characters. When he sent that strip to United Features, they suggested that he rework the whole thing to center around Calvin and Hobbes. So Watterson did. And United Features rejected the strip anyway. It was eventually snatched up by Universal Press Syndicate instead.
You know those decals you see on trucks sometimes that have Calvin taking a whiz on the Chevy logo (or the Ford logo, or the BMW logo, or whatever)? So not legal. Actually, almost anything you see with Calvin and Hobbes on it is copyright infringement. Here is the complete list of things Bill Watterson has approved for mass production:
Watterson issued a cease-and-desist. Some of the makers complied and substituted a different (but similar) boy for Calvin, some replaced him with a female Calvin, and some just ignored him altogther. “I clearly miscalculated how popular it would be to show Calvin urinating on a Ford logo,” Watterson once said. Go here for a rather comprehensive site of all of the fake Calvin logos. It’s pretty impressive.
You can probably figure out where Calvin and Hobbes come from (I’ll go over that in a second) but lots of the other characters are inspired by real-life people too – or not-so-real-life people.
Calvin, of course, is named after John Calvin, the 16th century theologian who was a huge proponent of predestination. We don’t know Calvin’s last name. Watterson has said that people often assume that Calvin is based on his own childhood, but he disputes this fact and says that he was actually a very quiet, obedient kid.
Hobbes is named after Thomas Hobbes, who said that the natural state of humans was to be at war. Watterson has said that he feels Thomas Hobbes had a “dim view” of people. Hobbes’ feline characteristics were based on Watterson’s cat, Sprite.
Miss Wormwood got her name courtesy of C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters. In the C.S. Lewis tale, Wormwood is the nephew of an experienced demon and is being advised by his uncle on how to damn men to Hell.
Susie Derkins received her distinctive last name because “Derkins” was the nickname of Watterson’s wife’s family’s beagle.