Confession: Though I like to think of myself as a born with ink in my veins newspaper nerd, and actually delivered our local newspaper for about two years, I never read much of the paper until well into high school. We had two that came to our house — the showy Asbury Park Press and the much smaller and more modest (and less newsy) Ocean County Observer — but I’d usually just give the front page a once over (to “see if any wars broke out overnight,” as I’d tell myself. Oh how innocent and peaceful you seem, mid-90s!) and then dive right to the comics. I looooved comics hard, in that proto-obsessive way that I’d later apply to The Simpsons, the later Arrested Development, then Scott Pilgrim, Doctor Who and eventually a relentless pursuit of tattooed girls who weren’t interested in me in Brooklyn dive bars. This was (we’d later learn) at the end of the last golden age of newspaper comics, so I’d first devour Garfield, then the subtle absurdity of The Far Side, plus Curtis, and, of course, the subversive and endlessly imaginative Calvin and Hobbes.
At the time I treated Calvin and Hobbes like any other strip, save for the particularly elaborate Sunday panels. It was only later in high school and into college I began to see Calvin as an ADD-addled Holden Caulfield of sorts, a kind of bulwark trying to stand against the oncoming waves of nonsensical adulthood.
In connection with the release of the new documentary Dear Mr. Watterson, I wrote a story for the Post about the cult of Calvin and Hobbes and why its influence has remained so potent — particularly, I will say, among our generation, the late 20- and 30-somethings whose pliable young minds were ripe to be molded by the suspiciously smart Calvin, even as creator Bill Watterson faded into seclusion and never released another drop of Calvin art, or gave more than a hint of what caused him to remove himself from the spotlight. In that story, two things got cut from the final copy, so I want to talk about them here: Continue reading