The Benefit of Calvin and Hobbes

August 28, 2012

When I was really young, there was one Christmas Eve where I found that I couldn’t fall asleep. I was too excited for the following day. I always solved such a problem by reading. If I read for long enough, I’d fall asleep. So, on this particular Christmas Eve, I started perusing the books in my room. I tossed aside novel after novel, I’d read them all and didn’t feel up to a re-reading. With my hunger for something to read spiking, I walked downstairs into my parents study. I scanned the wall-to-wall bookshelves to no avail. It all looked too…adult. Too non-fiction-y. Too real. I was just about to give up and go back up to bed when I saw one book that was sort of jutting out of the bottom shelf. There was some kind of cartoon character displayed on the cover. I crept over to the thick, tall book and pulled it out…

“The Authoritative Calvin and Hobbes” was written across the cover. The picture that I’d seen only part of was a small, blonde boy sledding down a snowy hill with a tiger. I flipped open the book. It was full of comic strips! Every page was filled with colorful depictions of the small boy and the tiger. It was perfect. Satisfied with my discovery of light reading, I went back upstairs to start prowling through the book.

It was the discovery of a lifetime. I stayed up late into the night, tearing through comic after comic. This book held the greatest laughs and the greatest lessons I’d ever read.

For those who don’t know, Calvin and Hobbes is a comic strip authored by Bill Watterson. It follows the story of Calvin, a misunderstood, adventurous young boy who’s intelligent beyond his age, and Hobbes, his sarcastic stuffed tiger who appears real to Calvin. The two are named after John Calvin and Thomas Hobbes, a theologian and philosopher. It makes sense that the two are so named after reading a few comic strips. They frequently discuss Life on an intellectual level far above that of a regular 6-year-old and his imaginary tiger.

The greatest parts of Calvin and Hobbes, I believe, are the parts in which we see the strength of Calvin’s free spirit. Despite his discouraging surroundings (his teacher, his parents, his neighbor Susie) Calvin never fails to be himself. He’s got wild imagination and a mean streak for creating trouble. But, readers never fail to love him because, in the end, he’s just a kid. He’s just a misunderstood kid trying to make his way in the world.

Another thing that I have to love about Calvin and Hobbes is the friendship between Calvin and his tiger. Hobbes is Calvin’s only friend because, at school, he’s rejected by his peers. Not that Calvin would even want any of his peers to be his friend. Hobbes is more of a friend than any of those kids could ever be. Calvin and Hobbes do just about everything together and even though most strips involve Calvin becoming enraged with some kind of trickery enacted by Hobbes, there are always the occasional strips where the two show their true colors. It’s like I said before in Pranking Pop-Tarts a true friend is one who’s leg you can pull.

To this day, I’m extremely glad that I couldn’t fall asleep on that Christmas Eve. I’m extremely glad that my mind was childish like Calvin’s. And that I couldn’t resist reading a comic book.

-Brian Wiegand (An Idiot, A Superman in training)

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