Recurring Motifs in Calvin & Hobbes – Calvin’s Bath Time

I have not yet come across a kid who loves taking a bath. Think of your own childhood; did you love it? I sure did not! A lot of people I’ve spoken to did not. So, we can safely say that children in general do not like to take a bath. However, I have not yet come across a kid who hates it as much as Calvin does, and the lengths to which he goes to avoid it, is hilarious.

Calvin’s strategy to avoid baths is unidimensional – hiding from his mother who’s got the water nice and hot in the tub. He manages to hide in places where he is very difficult to find, like say, the roof of his house or the window ledge. He once hid inside the tub itself figuring that Mom would never look for him there.

An Ordeal for Mom and Dad

If he does get found, he makes it an ordeal for his parents to take him to the bathroom, throwing all kinds of tantrums. If his parents do succeed in taking him inside the tub, his hyperimaginative brain goes into overdrive and he starts making shark attacks and killing water demons. For Mom, giving him a bath translates into her taking a bath as well, because Calvin’s antics get her all wet as well.

One of my favorite strips is where Calvin imagines himself to be Godzilla. He gets out of the tub drooling, much the same way as Godzilla emerged from the ocean; goes down the stairs to the kitchen and spews water on Mom. Only Calvin could have done that. What I find funny is that his mind does not evaluate the outcome of his actions. He is ‘Id’ personified in Freudian terms. He does what he wants to do. He does not even learn from the outcomes of his various misadventures. What makes it funnier is that he is no dumb kid. Calvin is a very smart child with a very sharp brain. So, when we see him not learning from his past mistakes, it is apparant that he just does not care. He does what gives him pleasure in the present moment. The future can take care of itself. We all can draw a leaf out of Calvin’s book here, can’t we? Continue reading

Recurring Motifs in Calvin & Hobbes – Calvin’s Alteregos

Who is your favorite Superhero? Superman? Batman? Spiderman? He-Man? Krrish (If you are an Indian kid)? If you ask me, I’d say Stupendous Man. All other Superheroes pale in comparison. Are you wondering who Stupendous Man is? Well, he is the ‘Defender of Freedom’ and ‘Advocate of Liberty’. He saves cookies from jars, saves children from doing their homework and going to school, tries to destroy his enemies including ‘Mom Lady’, ‘Crab Teacher’, ‘Annoying Girl’ and ‘The Babysitter Girl’.

Stupendous Man

Stuependous Man is one of Calvin’s alteregos, a creation of his hyperimaginative brain. He does have a superhero outfit though that he got Mom to buy for him. Whenever he has to go on an outrageous mission, ‘mild-mannered Calvin’ wears his mask and cape and transforms himself into Stupendous Man. And then, a “crimson streak blasts up through the atmosphere”. However, he is often beaten by his enemies. Calvin himself once acknowledges that Stupendouds Man has only won ‘moral victories’. Continue reading

Apologies to William Blake

Tiger, tiger burning bright
In the suburbia of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Did frame thy fuzzy, cuddly symmetry?

Oops! Sorry Mr. William Blake. I’ll be more careful in the next stanza.

In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine appetite,
Calvin thinks he can scare them all
Alas, eating fat children raises fears of cholestrol.

Oops, I did it again. Guess this is not the tiger that William Blake wrote about, is it?  Absolutely not. Before the more literary ones amongst you charge me with heresy and condemn me to burn on the stake, let me tell you that the tiger here is Bill Watterson’s Hobbes. I want to clarify upfront that the lines above have not been written by Bill Watterson. I take sole responsibility for this trash, which I have tried to pass off as poetic excellence. Although, I can take credit for writing lines which rhyme, can’t I?

I am sure Calvin would have loved Hobbes to be like William Blake’s tiger – with lusty sinews, fiery eyes, mandibles of death and razor sharp claws. Hobbes has always disappointed Calvin on this count. He refused to eat Moe, saying that fat children have cholestrol. He also refused to tear Susie apart and instead let her cuddle and kiss him, much to Calvin’s chagrin. Continue reading