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'Calvin and Hobbes' rides again

By MIKE WILSON, Times Staff Writer
Published September 4, 2005

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Cartoonist Bill Watterson named his characters Calvin and Hobbes after a theologian and a philosopher, but he might as well have called them Id and Superego.

Calvin, perpetually 6 years old, lived purely by impulse, whether he was taking aim at Susie Derkins, building snow monsters or daydreaming about dinosaurs in school. He showed flashes of real heart (remember when the raccoon died?), but mostly he represented the kid in all of us, always straining against the constraints of a humdrum grown-up world.

Hobbes was uncommonly mature for a stuffed animal. Unlike Calvin, he understood and accepted that he shared the planet with others. While he was capable of great mischief (Calvin entered his own home under threat of tiger attack), his true purpose in the comic strip Calvin and Hobbes was to urge us to become better, more thoughtful versions of ourselves. No mere human being could have possessed such wisdom.

Watterson's duo debuted on Nov. 18, 1985, and graced newspaper comics pages for a decade (with two breaks for Watterson along the way). But writing and drawing such a thoughtful, intricate strip became too much for the artist. On the last day of 1995 his characters made their exit, riding together on a toboggan as Calvin shouted, "It's a magical world, ol' buddy . . . let's go exploring!"

Good news: They're back. Beginning today, the St. Petersburg Times will publish Calvin and Hobbes inside Floridian every day except Wednesday, when it will be inside Taste. Today you'll find it on Page 5E. It will appear on the TV/Comics page Mondays through Saturdays; on Sundays, it will appear elsewhere in the section.

We announce their return with, shall we say, bridled joy. For starters, this is not permanent; Universal Press Syndicate is offering the feature only through Dec. 31. And the strips have been published before. The famously reclusive Watterson is simply offering a selection of strips as a way of promoting his new book collection, The Complete Calvin and Hobbes. (He isn't saying a word.)

But if Calvin and Hobbes taught us anything, it's that little in life is perfect, and that one may find joy in small things. We believe a little Calvin is better than no Calvin, that classic Hobbes is better than no Hobbes.

Feast your id. Feed your superego. You'll be a nicer kid, and better tiger, for having done so.

- MIKE WILSON, assistant managing editor/Newsfeatures

[Last modified September 2, 2005, 10:31:04]


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