Of American newspaper comic strips, few great ones have been so short-lived, and yet so enduring in the public, than "Calvin and Hobbes" by Bill Watterson. This film explores the strip, its special artistic qualities and its extraordinary lasting appeal decades after its conclusion. Furthermore, the film explores the impact of Bill Watterson, a cartoonist with high artistic ideals and firm principles who defied the business conventions of a declining medium. Although he forwent a merchandising fortune for his strip, various associates and colleagues speak about how Watterson created a legacy that would be an inspiration for years to come.Written by
Kenneth Chisholm (email@example.com)
Calvin and Hobbes is probably my favorite comic strip. Created by Bill Watterson, C&H was about a boy and his stuffed tiger who "came to life" whenever they were alone. His best friend, his rival, his voice of reason, etc. Hobbes always was there for Calvin. As well, Calvin has a vivid imagination with his alter egos Spaceman Spiff and Stupendous Man getting him out of the frying pan and into the fryer at school. His abuse of Susie Derkins and his parents was always fun, as well as his battles against Rosalyn the babysitter. It, like Peanuts, was a comic that anybody could enjoy.
Bill Watterson is a man I admire because his only reason for cartooning was for his love of the art. He refused to prostitute his creation for huge money and lamented the smaller spaces a newspaper would provide for his creations. After several breaks, he ended his comic strip on January 1, 1996 and retreated to private life. In a day when Justin Bieber claims he will "retire" but won't because his huge ego and opportunities will be too great, Watterson has stayed true to his word.
Dear Mr. Watterson is a Kickstarter type documentary directed by Joel Allen Schroeder, a big fan of Calvin and Hobbes who visits Chagrin Falls, Ohio to learn more about the man's early life and his work before hitting it big. He visits a library to see his early work and find what his influences are. He talks to some of his friends in L.A. who are big fans of the comic to this day.
It's the segments with other cartoonists that are of interest. Many of them are fans of Watterson but one, Berkeley Breathed, seems to be a tiny bit bitter about being seen as a sell-out as Charles Schulz, Jim Davis and Scott Adams are for marketing their creations to the max.
Some of the documentary is rather pointless babble about the true meaning of Calvin and Hobbes but there is some good insight on what made the man tick and how he operated. I felt it could have been 15 minutes shorter, though. Respectfully, Schroeder does not go looking for Mr. Watterson and honors his want of privacy.
All in all, not bad. I really can't see the subject being done better and not intruding on Bill Watterson's privacy. I'm grateful he was able to give the masses a delightful comic that never gets old or tiresome and didn't overstay its welcome, unlike Justin Bieber and any other auto-tuned "singing sensation".
5 of 14 people found this review helpful.
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