November 18, 1985. It all started with this strip. Calvin sets a tiger trap using a tuna fish sandwich as bait, and the unsuspecting, but perpetually hungry Hobbes gets caught in the trap. With this one trap Calvin also caught millions of fans the world over. What followed was 10 years of pure, unadulterated pleasure.
I have been a huge fan of ‘Calvin & Hobbes’, and I won’t be exaggerating if I say they are a part of my daily life. Staring at me from my laptop’s wallpaper, dancing on the screen-saver on my phone, sitting in the bookshelves in my house and running around in my mind. In fact my wife says my vocabulary and choice of words smack of Calvin. Well, I take that as a compliment, considering Calvin’s precocious vocabulary. Sample this, “Dad, are you vicariously living through me in the hope that my accomplishments will validate your mediocre life and in some way compensate for all of the opportunities you botched?”
Calvin’s imagination, his alter egos (Spaceman Spiff, Stupendous Man, Captain Napalm, Tracer Bullet), his facial expressions, his unique views on politics, religion, education, morality etc., his philosophical questions and musings (usually on a sled that is hurtling down a hill at breakneck speed), his friendship with Hobbes, his relationships with his family, teachers, classmates and of course Rosalyn has been a source of pure joy.
The way he tortures his dad would make one resolve to never have a kid. In fact he himself states that he would hate to have a son like him.
His relationship with his Dad is one of my favorite tracks within the strip. He thinks that his Dad was elected to the position and keeps bringing him grim reports and analyses about his future in office.
Calvin’s Dad tries hard to instil old world values in him and build his character, something Calvin resents and even makes fun of.
It is difficult to imagine life without Calvin. I think it is his unrestrained spirit that draws us adults to him so much. He does not care about authority, follows his instincts, lives in his own world and does not want to be encumbered by relationships. Things that we cannot do, even if we wanted to. So we take refuge in Calvin’s world and draw ‘vicarious pleasure’ from his misadventures. I can go on and on, but I think I will save some of that for my future posts. For now, I’ll sign off with one of my favorite Calvin misadventures.