Archived Discussion

This is discussion archived from a time before the current discussion method was installed.

Twin Bird: Did this really provide the name of Most Common Super Power? I'm sure that phrase wasn't used in the conversation, although it kind of rings a bell with one of the annotated editions...(from which I also remember Watterson all but calling Watchmen "incredibly stupid").

Paul A: The origin of the title is lost in the mists of time, but it's the most plausible explanation currently available. You are correct that the strip in question doesn't use the exact phrase.

Nate The Great: Well, Hobbes asks if the superheroine's power is to get her figure into that costume, and Calvin says nah, they can all do that. "They can all"="Most common," not much of a stretch.

Rann: Oy. For the last time, people, Uncle Max was not Brother Chucked. He came to visit, and at the end of his visit, he was shown getting on a plane and leaving.

Dwayne Hicks: Yeah, he was. Watterson himself said so in the comments of the 10th anniversary collection.

Paul A: Whatever Watterson said in the 10th anniversary collection, it can't have been an explicit statement that Uncle Max was Brother Chucked in the sense we use here on Tropes Wiki, because Tropes Wiki didn't exist yet.

I don't know what he actually did say, but if it was that Uncle Max is like Chuck Cunningham, in that they're both family members who after a while stopped appearing, that's not actually what Brother Chuck means. The key defining feature of Brother Chuck is not "family member who disappears", it's "recurring character who disappears without explanation". If a character is shown getting on a plane and leaving, that counts as an explanation.

Wild Knight: Does the fact that Watterson explicitly avoided ever bringing up Uncle Max again count? IIRC, Watterson said he was thinking about making him a somewhat recurring character, but decided it was too awkward, he wasn't interesting enough, and "the parents weren't designed to have outside relationships anyway," or something like that, and so he wrote him Maybe he was Put on a Bus.

Rann: Agh, apparently we're going to have to bring this up again, since I just had to remove Brother Chuck from the page again. I don't know if people are just doing this from memory and forgetting the plane, or blatantly ignoring the actual meaning of the trope, or what, but Brother Chuck does not apply. Now, if someone wants to do Put on a Bus for Max, I wouldn't really argue. He did get on a plane and wasn't brought up again, but even that seems a stretch since he wasn't a main or recurring character. He was only meant to visit... I don't know that the fact Watterson chose not to have him visit again really counts.

Yet Another Troper: Why isn't there a Wild Mass Guessing page for this? I think there's more than enough material in the Grand Unifying Guesses page.

Paul A: There isn't? I guess this must be a hallucination, then! (And a surprisingly persistent one, at that, since I've been seeing it for months.)

Yet Another Troper: Fsck. I just discovered it. Nevermind... XD


* Fetish Fuel: Calvin is definitely into vore. Even though he's only 6.
** And a furry, by that logic. He even dressed up as a tiger because he was sick of associating with humanity.

Ow! My childhood!


Yah, I hope this is removed as as usual most furs aren't like that.

Rewichan: What's with all the accusations of hypocrisy leveled at Waterson for calling comic books stupid? He made fun of the art community for being pretentious blowhards. You don't have to be stuck up on some kind of "high class/low class" metric to adjudge the quality of something. I'm not saying I agree with Waterson on this point, I just don't think it's particularly hypocritical. I haven't removed any examples; I just think we might discuss doing so.

Rann: Most likely relating to him calling them stupid for being violent, melodramatic, with a lot of overdone narration and unrealistic body types, when Calvin & Hobbes basically is violent, melodramatic, with a lot of overdone narration and unrealistic body types, just in different ways. Really, Watterson calling comic books stupid isn't any different than Warren Ellis or Alan Moore sneering at superheroes. Oh, and in the specific example cited, because Watterson was mocking high-handed and artificial standards of what is and isn't art, and then later dismissing an entire genre as "stupid".

Freezair For A Limited Time: "Calvin & Hobbes basically is violent, melodramatic, with a lot of overdone narration and unrealistic body types, just in different ways." ...What? Where on earth are you pulling that from?

Rann: Violence - Hobbes and Calvin fighting, Susie and Calvin having snowball fights, Moe beating up Calvin. Melodramatic - Pretty much any strip meant to be touching can be seen as such, most especially the "Ohnoes tigers are endangered!" bit when Calvin was being a tiger. Overdone narration - The various "talking while going down the hill" strips or the ones where Calvin just yammers on about some point. Like I said, different ways, it's not like I was saying there's the exact same stuff, but they're still variations. I may love the strip, but there's little doubt that Watterson could be fairly hypocrtical about some things, especially for someone who wasn't above using Calvin laying on the ground bleeding for a punchline.

Freezair For A Limited Time: I would say there's a big difference between cartoon violence and "realistic" violence. And considering that many people do find the strip to be genuinely touching (especially the "baby raccoon" arc), that seems like a pretty big Your Mileage May Vary to me. And the only time I recall Calvin actually bleeding was the time his dad accidentally clocked him upside the head with a baseball.

Rann: Calm down, there. I didn't say they weren't touching. Tone down the Creator Worship a little and realize that just because I have criticisms of both the comic and its creator, doesn't mean I want to see every copy pissed on before burning so that it will create enough smoke to send giant signals of "Watterson suxxorz" into the sky. Like I said, I like the comic. I like it a lot. That does not blind me to either its faults or Watterson's ('cause, y'know, he does have them, still being one of us mere mortals).

Rewichan: I'm not one of those guys who worships Bill Waterson or anything. I understand that he, like any person, can be a hypocrite. I just don't think this particular instance is hypocritical. His comic strip, and sunday comic strips in general, are significantly different than the graphic novels that Waterson derides as stupid. I don't want to escalate this into some kind of flame war, since you seem a little sensitive on the subject, but equivocating a couple of kids having a snowball fight with the level of violence in the works of Alan Moore is either a desperate evasion or the ramblings of a madman; I think if you really consider it for a moment you'll understand why.

Waterson wasn't deriding "unrealistic body types" in the sense of people not looking like real people; he was deriding the voyeuristic tendency of graphic novels to depict every man as a chiseled olympian god and every woman as an amazon with a back-breaking set of breasts. He was deriding the way that all superheroes wear clothing that boils down to a coat of latex paint and high heels. When he talked about violence he wasn't talking about all violence, ever, but violence for the sake of violence, as well as the depiction of brutality for no purpose outside of titillation. Waterson depicts childhood scuffles in a very cartoonish and underplayed fashion, often in a big cloud of dust. The graphic novels he derides are full of violence for the sake of violence, and they unflinchingly show far more than is necessary in order to excite their readers and generate cheap thrills.

I know I sound like I'm author-worshipping here, so let me state that Bill Waterson wasn't completely right (and, in fact, I find his environmentalist stories nails-on-a-chalkboard grating, and I think he takes his medium entirely too seriously.) There are some excellent graphic novels, some of which are extremely violent (Sin City comes to mind). I think most graphic novels operate on a visual level several standard deviations above your average sunday comic strip, and beautiful as some of those comic strips are they can't hold a candle to the visual polish applied to your average graphic novel. Due to the medium they operate in, they can have absolutely excellent stories.

The fact is, however, most don't. I can like some rap songs and still despise the genre. I can like a few television shows and still state that the medium in general is shallow and petty. And you can acknowledge that comics can be used as an art form while still deriding most graphic novels for their violence, their sexual exploitation and their generally convoluted and constantly-shifting plots. I don't think that makes Bill Waterson a hypocrite. I don't think it makes me a hypocrite. I don't think it makes anyone a hypocrite. The crux of the matter isn't if we *like* Bill Waterson or if we *like* graphic novels. The crux of the matter is this: when Bill Waterson said (paraphrasing) "Comics can be a great art form, but most graphic novels are not great art" was he being a hypocrite? I submit that he did not.

Squall: It should be noted in the opening quotes that the strip made abundantly clear how much of Calvin's loneliness, vs. society, was due to the people around him demanding that he conform to its idiotic mores...which sooner or later tended to show hatred for imagination, unorthodoxy and basically any kind of real difference from other people...and emotionally (if not physically, in the case of Moe) punishing him if he didn't walk in lockstep to such. An entire generation, in fact, learned to wear their geekdom as a badge of honor because of him. As such..."It's sad how some people can't handle a little variety."