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  • There's a bit in the 10th Anniversary collection when Watterson's commentary states that you can call comic books "graphic novels," you can make your hero a sociopath, and you can draw ridiculous amounts of violence, but comic books are still stupid. It starts off as a Take That! against '90s Anti-Heroes, but turns into a shot at comic books, period. Considering that Watterson writes a comic strip, he's not too far removed from comics himself. I'm still not sure if he was joking. Was he?
    • I think it was meant to be more of a Take That! at Superhero comics not comics in general. He takes several less than light hearted jabs at the genre over the course of the series.
    • It does irritate this troper a little bit that there's the implicit assumption that comic books = super heroes. Watterson didn't invent that assumption by any means but it's bothersome to read it perpetuated.
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    • Besides, comic books pretty much DO mean superheroes these days, besides Archie. That and Watterson seemed to be writing in the height of the Dark Age, which probably soured his impression given that he probably doesn't follow them closely.
      • Say that to the millions of comic book readers outside of the US and UK...
      • Well, in the '80s and '90s, yes. Nowadays they can be Superheroes with a twist, Alice in Wonderland with a twist, Zombies with a twist, or just every day life with a twist. (The twist being it's dark.)
      • Bill Watterson lived in the US and wrote for an American audience, and was talking about the American Dark Age. The comics of, say, Europe were kind of irrelevant to his subject.
    • As a major comic book geek, this Troper was annoyed by such a mean-spirited Take That!, but some of the depictions of comics he has over the course of the strip are rather chillingly accurate.
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    • Maybe Watterson has a personal vendetta with Alan Moore? Because that definitely seems like a shot at Watchmen.
      • If Watchmen was the target, that it's a case of Bill Completely Missing the Point, since Watchmen was a deconstruction of the same genre Watterson is an outspoken critic of.
      • Is there any evidence that it was a direct jab at Alan Moore? Given the influx of Follow the Leader following Watchmen, it's not like there was a shortage of superhero comics with sociopathic heroes and ridiculous amounts of over-the-top violence dressed up with pretensions towards high-art and being "graphic novels" rather than just mere comic books during the days when Calvin and Hobbes was running.
    • This troper was just pointing this out in the "New Media Are Evil" section of the main page just then. IF it was, as another troper claimed, "meant to be more of a Take That! at Superhero comics not comics in general" then Watterson sure could have picked a better way to communicate it. He could have specified "Superhero comics" or he could have said "for the most part" but what he said was "comic books are still incredibly stupid." Since Calvin and Hobbes collections are technically comic books, he was, by extension, calling Calvin and Hobbes collections "incredibly stupid" whether he meant to or not.
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    • It's especially weird that, 30 pages into the future, he says, "...It's not the medium, but the quality of perception and expression, that determines the significance of art."
    • It bugs me a bit too... I love Calvin and Hobbes, but sitting next to the C&H books on my bookshelves are Flight, PS238, The Sandman, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Fullmetal Alchemist, Bleach, Hunter × Hunter, etc, collections that would like to argue the point. Not to mention the very large stack of Marvel Comics that are almost all dated right around the period of time that Calvin and Hobbes was being published, all of which display much more intricate and thoughtful storylines than what Watterson portrayed them as. I don't entirely agree with his views on marketing, but I respect them, because I can see where he's coming from. But I can't really respect his views on comics (or, for that matter, TV and some of the other things he raged about) because they seem to be rooted in total ignorance of the genre he's ridiculing. Sure, one could argue that comics have advanced a fair bit since he was writing C&H, but all the same... It bugs me.
    • I'm pretty sure he just misused the terminology of Graphic Novel and meant to do a Take That! with superhero comics. I've never seen his opinion on the subject, but it seems almost impossible that he'd think that Maus or any of Will Eisner's works were stupid. Given that, I'd disagree with his assessment that superhero comics in general are stupid, but I can understand where he's coming from, as it was the '90s after all The Dark Age of Comic Books was in full swing. In that time period, unless you were willing to spend quite a bit of time and/or know where/what to look for, you'd be hard pressed to find true quality in mainstream comics.
    • I never found the sentiment particularly off-putting. Keep in mind that he wrote that statement at the height of Rob Liefeld's popularity (shudder,) when most comic books were indeed, mindlessly violent and very stupid. He says later in the same book that it's not the medium, but the quality of expression that matters. He was not alone in hating what was going on in comic books at the time. While we can point to The Sandman or Watchmen or any of the other counterexamples we always point to, the fact remains that in the early to mid '90s, a huge fraction of mainstream books had very few redeeming features. Calvin would love Liefeld's stuff.
    • Alternatively: Watterson is saying that adding cursing, sex and blood won't make comics less stupid, not that comics can't possibly be intelligent.
    • The sociopath descriptor was probably more an allusion to the likes of The Punisher than Moore's more honestly examined (and eventually imprisoned, even if temporarily) Rorschach. During the time Watterson wrote the words, it was only comparatively recently that a large number of comics had begun having compilations of individual issues be presented as "graphic novels," as opposed to the actual graphic novels that stories like Watchmen (and V for Vendetta) were. Thus, for all the validity of the rare exceptions, Watterson firmly felt that the vast majority were and are written to appeal to the lowest common denominator, so as to in turn seek the broadest possible commercial appeal; and rather than calling out superhero comics in contrast to comic strips, Watterson famously blasted his own strip's publishing company, Universal Press Syndicate, for just such behavior, nevermind both fictional and non-fictional television and movies. As such, Watterson's words are really more tantamount to the famous "lipstick on a pig" line being applied to a materialistic culture that he neigh-unquestionably hates.
    • Watterson's point may have been that at the end of the day, most superhero comics are still about characters in silly costumes running around bizarre settings doing ridiculous and implausible things, and that no amount of graphic violence, self-important narration, or pseudo philosophical musings can make them less inherently ludicrous and nonsensical. However unfair it may be to apply such a description to all superhero comics everywhere, Watterson just plain doesn't seem to be a fan of the genre. It's just his opinion.
      • This hits the closest to the mark, I think, with a bit of a caveat. Stupid is not necessarily BAD. Superhero comics (and let's be real, a lot of other ones as well, but superhero comics tend to be what comes to mind to mots Americans when they hear "comic books") are fairly stupid, but at the height of the Golden Age and Silver Age they were stupid yet fun (not without some...issues, but that's also a product of the times). The transition to dark and gritty didn't make superhero comics less stupid, it just made them less fun. Watterson likely grew up with the Silver Age comic books, which had some of the dumbest plots imaginable but lived off of the Rule of Fun, and likely cared very little for the graphic violence, dark characterization, and attempts to look "sophisticated" that he saw in the Dark Age comics. There was probably some nostalgia coloring in there, but for the most part it seems likely that it was a commentary on how comics had changed for the worse.
  • Bill Watterson frequently criticized other cartoonists (Jim Davis in particular) for excessively marketing and merchandising their characters. But he also said that Charles M Schulz was one of his biggest idols — and Schulz's characters may have been the most merchandised of all!
    • I was just about to write the same thing! Peanuts not only has tons of merchandise of the characters, but those characters have also been doing commercials for other companies for decades. And let's not even think about how kids today might only know Snoopy as the mascot for MetLife (probably only if they have really dumb parents, but anyway...)
      • I don't think the parents have to be dumb, considering newspapers in the United States are now struggling to keep readership, and Peanuts doesn't have much visibility elsewhere outside of merchandising. (This may change with the CGI movie though.) Fred Flintstone has already become more associated with Pebbles cereal than his own show now that The Flintstones has become scarce on TV. If you don't subscribe to a newspaper, and I think most people nowadays don't, you have to go looking for the Peanuts comic strip to find it as the books aren't really being advertised, nor are the websites that officially host the comic strip, and the TV specials are now only rarely aired. Well, between MetLife and Knott's Berry Farm.
    • Heroes can have flaws. Watterson probably respected Schulz's attitude towards creating the comic itself, while quietly disagreeing with all the merchandising. Same as how I respect Watterson's attitude towards his comic but disagree with his attitude towards merchandising.
    • Two things — One, Jim Davis' merchandising with Garfield is in a whole different league than Schulz's marketing with Peanuts. Davis invented Garfield for the sole purpose of having a sellable icon to make money off of, Schulz's Peanuts comics just got sold off by the company he worked for. Two, I don't know how much profit Schulz made from all the items that bore the face of his characters, or how much approval he had. I know for a fact he didn't think very fondly of all the animated specials Peanuts had, he complained his drawing style translated horribly to animation and further declared all animated works to not be in "real" continuity with his comic strips. He just didn't fight against it all the way Watterson did.
    • One of Watterson's closest friends in the cartooning business was Berke Breathed, and we all know he never met a merchandising deal he didn't like. Bill may not have liked merchandising in general, but he saved his venom in that regard for bad comics with lots of merchandising. (Or bad in his opinion, anyway — hard to believe someone with such a love for art and style would have so much hate for U.S. Acres, the closest thing to a Tex Avery cartoon on the funnies page.)
    • Jim Davis is in a class by himself in many ways. He's barely picked up a pencil in decades; the mountains of Garfield stuff is turned out by legions of cartoon drudges. JD is an executive cartoonist... And respect should be saved for those who pick up the pen every day to turn out their work.
      • Precisely. The big difference between Davis and Schulz is that all that merchandising never interfered with the actual creation of Peanuts. Schulz still found time to sit down and draw every line of every strip for 50 years, even after his hands got kind of shaky.
      • Manga artists and most American comic book artists use a team of assistants to make their comics as well. That means they don't get any respect either, right?
      • Well, no, but that's a different situation. With those types of comics, the workload is usually much greater than 6 daily newspaper strips and 1 Sunday per week. You have more detailed art, backgrounds, higher pages-per-week expectations, etc. Assistants are generally used to help with the sheer amount of drawing that needs to be done, rather than to allow the main artist to simply sign their name to someone else's stuff after a relaxing day of whatever the hell Jim Davis does. Working with assistants doesn't mean the artist isn't "picking up the pen every day" and drawing his butt off. As for Watterson, he worked hard to fill those little boxes with more visual zing than most newspaper strips ever, and still did it all himself.
      • One could argue that a guy that built an empire out of an orange cartoon cat also deserves respect. At least in a business sense.
      • I think that's exactly Watterson's point: Davis is a businessman. Watterson is an artist.
      • To build off this point, Watterson worked very hard to elevate the art form, fighting tooth and nail for panel space, different panel formats, only recycled panels ironically, drew lush and imaginative backgrounds by hand, and quit when he felt like the comic had reached its crescendo. Conversely, Davis almost never deviated from format, frequently recycled panels within the same comic, relied on the same handful of jokes extensively, is artistically minimalist with backgrounds, and will likely be outlived by his comic. Watterson probably criticized Davis not just because Davis was the polar opposite of him, artistically, but because the laziness of cartoonists like Davis poisoned the status quo and made it harder for cartoonists like Watterson to bring their full talents to bear.
    • Back to the original point; Schulz donated a lot of the money he made from licensing out his characters to various charities.
    • Jim Davis made his comic to make money. Charles Schulz made his comic, and made some money in the progress.
    • I always interpreted those statements to mean that Watterson admired Schulz for merchandising Peanuts like there's no tomorrow without ever changing the spirit of the source material.
    • Pearls Before Swine creator Stephan Pastis (a cartoonist who is not only fairly enthusiastic about his own merchandising, but also collaborated with Watterson himself in his own comic) points out in the documentary Dear Mr. Watterson that making a comic strip (even one that uses modern digital assistance) is a fairly labor intensive job, and every hour that he's overseeing the prototype of a Hobbes plush toy, or working on an animated version is time not being spent on the comic, and the comic is all he ever wanted to do in the first place, so why bother?
    • Another thing to keep in mind is the generational divide between the cartoonists. Schulz (born 1922) grew up during The Great Depression, so he probably felt that turning down money was unwise. Davis (born 1945) grew up in the postwar era where a premium was placed on entrepeneurship and financial success. Watterson (born 1958) came of age in the The '60s and The '70s, when self-expression was a key value and the establishment was viewed with suspicion.
    • You can respect someone and their art without needing to agree 100% with their every single action and viewpoint. Watterson respects Schultz as a person and an artist, but is willing to agree to disagree in this case when it comes to their views in merchandising. The only explanation needed.
  • In the Tenth Anniversary Book, Watterson claims that he could have gotten more artistic freedom and more money by ditching newspapers altogether and publishing elsewhere, like in book form. He also sarcastically (?) remarks that sometimes he resents being in newspapers. If that's the case, why didn't he actually go through with it and abandon newspapers for books or other media? He could have gotten all the freedom he wanted, but instead he simply whines about how newspapers devalue the comics and the artistic restrictions he suffered. What gives?
    • This is exactly why that the more I re-read C&H, the less and less I enjoy it. As a kid, I simply saw the comic itself. As a (sort of) adult, I see the thinly-veiled attacks on the syndicate and the very forces that brought C&H to people around the globe in the first place. This is a pure Fan Wank, but I think that Watterson knew that if he got out of newspapers, 90% of his audience wouldn't follow him.
      • Without establishing a fandom in the first place, due to the time necessarily through the newspapers, Calvin and Hobbes wouldn't have 90% of its audience in the first place, and he'd likewise not likely found the Protection from Editors he did when he eventually moved to books. Working with the newspapers is, for most short print comic authors, an evil, but a necessary one nevertheless. By the time authors are aware, truly aware that they could really move to another form of media and that the other form of media would be more accepting of their vision, they are often limited and restrained by far too many contracts to easily escape. I disagree with his overly anti-merchandise viewpoints, but they're not illogical or hypocritical to hold.
      • Sure it's hypocritical. It's not like he just gives the books away. And there are tons of books containing different strip collections, some doubling up strips from other collections. And then there's the "complete" collection, which is gigantic and monstrously expensive. And it's not like Watterson lives in a teepee in the midst of nature, using only what he needs to survive. He slams merchandising and consumerism mercilessly, and bolsters it by taking the easy stands where he got to argue with someone and feel righteous for doing so, but he still engages in both, with his dozens of books for sale and his sprawling woodland estate. If it was purely about the artistic freedom, if it was purely about showing others his work, he'd be offering C&H and whatever other comics he wanted to do online for free, or offering print-on-demand services to give people print versions for the printing costs and shipping. Working with the syndicates and publishers might have been a necessary "evil" back in the day, but he's had other alternatives for at least a decade, and taken advantage of none of them. Face it, he might have had a talent for imagination and art, but whenever it came to expressing a personal opinion, he was both a hack and a hypocrite.
      • There's a difference between wanting to get paid for your work and releasing a bunch of cheap merchandized crap. Just because you never pay for anything doesn't mean its hypocritical for someone to want you to pay for it. You're obviously convinced that the internet represents a glorious future of no copyright and artistic integrity, but just like everyone else who talks about this, you never think about the creator themselves, just the consumer (yourself) and how much of an injustice it is that they should ever have to pay for something. Just because someone isn't poor doesn't mean that they don't need or deserve money.
      • You're missing the above Troper's point. He/she isn't arguing that Watterson should work for free, just that he seems to only care about the evils of merchandising when it gives him a chance to feel self-righteous about doing so. Cut him/her some slack.
      • The real irony for me (and this wouldn't surprise me in the least for many other fans) is that I never actually read the strip in the newspaper to begin with. When I was a kid, the newspaper my family subscribed to didn't carry the strip, and I was only introduced to the series when I got the first collected book in 1990 as a birthday present and the strip was already half over. I've only ever read the comics one after another in the book collections — the idea of reading them in a newspaper is actually kind of hard for me to imagine. Hence why the notion of Watterson ditching newspapers and publishing elsewhere is so easy for me to conceive in the first place.
      • Regarding the above statement, I should chime in saying that I started reading it in a local newspaper but removed it late into its run.
      • The problem is that you're fighting with a strawman and not Watterson's actual views on merchandising comic strips. He thinks they're bad because they devalue the characters, not because all merchandising is doubleplusungood. Watterson considered offers for an animated C&H until he realized that he'd have to cast voices for the characters which would — in his opinion — rob the reader from the ability to find their own version. So he publishes the books because they can contain his complete conceptions of the characters and not just caricatures of them (re: the peeing Calvin, the Garfield doll with the suction cups, etc.) He probably does like the Peanuts cartoon because it portrayed the characters so beautifully and faithfully. You're right about not putting them online though, I can only guess the reason he hasn't done so is because he's an old man and doesn't realize the potential (or dismisses it as hype.)
      • In the recent interview he was actually asked about webcomics. He said he didn't know much about them, but was scarily spot-on in his guess. (it's difficult to find an audience, and rise above the sea of crap.)
      • Problem with that statement is that it's even worse to get an audience in the Funny Pages. Watterson himself admitted that.
      • Watterson's views on merchandising can be summed up by his conviction, stated in the Tenth Anniversary Book, that the moment that "trainloads of money [are] at stake," vested interests start trying to censor what you can say, print, draw, etc.; and willingly going along with such is what he describes as selling out. It was never about money as such; it was about money changing people, and art being intentionally changed, and suffering, for profit's sake. If you still think that's hypocritical, then simply know that if he (still) chose to do so, he really could make tens of times more money than he gets off of book royalties.
  • Sort of building on the IJBM a few entries up: Calvin and Hobbes is a great strip, there's no denying that. It bothers me, though, how far its fans are willing to go to put it (and by extension, Bill Watterson) on a pedestal when he's done very little to deserve it. For instance, Watterson, for all his talent as a cartoonist, is an idiot when it comes to business acumen. Think about it: He fought tooth and nail to keep his characters from being licensed for merchandising purposes. That's all well and good, and very idealistic and all that, but it's also ridiculously naïve; rather than preventing C&H merchandise from existing, all he did was prevent himself from having any artistic control over it. I'm not convinced that those stupid "Calvin pissing on logos" decals would exist at all had Watterson just agreed to let the syndicate market his characters, but insisted on maintaining final veto on whatever they came up with to sell, much like George Lucas did with Star Wars. (I'm aware that the situations were slightly different, but the precedent was there nonetheless.) Frankly, if he didn't want to deal with the issue of licensing his characters, he got into the wrong business. But what really bugs me is that, time and again, Watterson has shown next to no respect for his fans; in addition to the aforementioned refusal to market his characters — which is, incidentally, what his fans wanted in the first place — he's refused most interviews even to this day. This Troper once sent him a fan letter as a kid, and the response was something along the lines of "I can't answer you because I'm busy with all these awesome projects that you're absolutely gonna love." That was something like twenty years ago, and This Troper is still wondering what happened to those "projects." Bill Watterson may be talented, but he's not as great as everyone seems to think he is.
    • "How far its fans are willing to go to put it (and by extension, Bill Watterson) on a pedestal when he's done very little to deserve it." No one ever said he was a great business man. People love him for his drawing talent and his way with words and wit. And he only drew one of the most beloved comic strips for ten years. Yeah, totally did very little to deserve it.
    • Bill Watterson liked doing everything himself, and to him, that was control, illegal T-shirts be damned. The fans weren't really important to him. Maybe he was an idealist in that he wanted a world where everyone would be satisfied with a single newspaper strip each day, but as the artist, it's his choice what to do with his work. Maybe it's not what our consumerist society wants, but if you read Calvin and Hobbes, you'll know his opinions on consumerism all too well.
      • I do read it, and I still think he's an idiot. Again, he didn't prevent anyone from having their merchandise; all he did was prevent himself from being able to control any of it. And that corrupted his vision WAY worse than any legal merchandising ever could.
      • To be fair, even if he did approve merchandising, there would still be a healthy market in bootleg/blackmarket Calvin goods that he would have no control over. You don't have to agree with his reasons, but you do have to accept that it's his right to limit the media his creations appear in.
      • Yes, but by failing to make any official merchandise, it makes it much, much harder to successfully bring legal action to anyone making un-official merchandise, since one of the four main tenants used to figure out if something is free-speech, or copyright infringement is how it affects the revenue of the accuser, so if, like Watterson, you don't have any official merchandise that is being passed up in favor of the unofficial stuff, it's a lot harder to prove your being harmed by it.
      • I don't doubt it. It's his creation to do with as he pleases. That doesn't change the fact that he was incredibly naïve in the way he handled it, though. Also, consider: When's the last time you saw bootleg Garfield merchandise? I'm sure it must exist, but for the most part people don't bother because they can get perfectly legal stuff for the same price, and it's higher quality.
      • And yet we all know that every last one of them is fake, which actually means he has total control over what he cares about to this day.
      • Wow. It's the principle of the matter, guys. How hypocritical would it look if Watterson allowed *some* merchandising but not *all* of it because he disagrees with it on principle, but just a bit is okay because then he can sue the bejesus out of anyone who dares make bootleg stuff? Sure, now there's a lot of bootleg crap out there because he can't claim copyright. But the point is Watterson stuck to his guns despite huge amounts of pressure from both syndicates and fans, resisted the temptation to license a bunch of cheap crap that would make him a ton of money, in short refused to do something that was against his principles. When every artist and their mother are whoring out their creations to make the slightest bit more money, or are creating things solely to make cheap merchandise (XKCD) I think it's admirable that Watterson decided to make money solely on things like the collections of comics that he worked extremely hard on. I think some of you are confusing his stance against money whoring and materialism and out of control consumerism with a stance against making any money at all.
      • Some of us regard "business acumen" as idiocy and worse. I consider it the sign of a hack who is only in it for the money. Compare to Beethoven and Rousseau, who refused lucrative patronage so that they could create what they wanted, not what some prince (or corporation) wanted.
      • In other words, it sounds like you have a black-and-white issue on this — that is, either someone is not in it for the money at all or is completely in it for the money and equates the skill of making money as stupidity. As mentioned above, Charles Schulz merchandised Peanuts left and right and maintained his integrity completely.
      • Look at it this way: Likely Calvin and Hobbes, the comic strip, is all that Calvin and Hobbes will ever be. What if maybe that's all it needs to be?
      • It's my understanding that you need to exercise your merchandising rights every so often in order to maintain them, which means in order to cut down on bootleg items Watterson would have to infrequently make Calvin and Hobbes merchandise. That would be self-defeating, as the entire reason Watterson would want to cut down on bootleg merchandise is to ensure that Calvin and Hobbes retains its pure integrity as an artform. Watterson clearly neither needed nor wanted the money, so at the end of the day he came out of the ordeal having made the best choice for himself, his principles, and his vision for his art.
    • And concerning the other criticism, that Watterson gives out so few interviews (or interacts with the public world in general,) well the point is that it's well within his rights to do so, even though it's tremendously frustrating for the fans (such as myself, I'd love to know more about the man and his opinions!); however, Watterson is notorious shy and has never actively sought out to be famous, quite the opposite, he's actively worked to keep himself out the spotlight, mainly because he seems to intensely dislike it. Again, this can be frustrating and may even seem like an insult to the fans, but if you really do like his work, you'd try to understand his motives for this (not every person wants to be personally famous!) and respect them, even if you disagree with them.
    • Loss of creative control. It's easy to see how, if it made loads of money, what it would if allowed, a lot of creatively dead executives would attach themselves like parasites to the strip and Watterson would slowly, but surely lose control of his own work and C&H would be still published today as a zombie franchise with drawings outsourced to some third world country.
      • United Press Syndicate could have done that already, but didn't. They were very patient and accommodating with Watterson and respected his viewpoints. Whether Calvin and Hobbes merchandised or not would be unrelated to the quality of the comic strip. He would be able to continue doing his own thing while the merchandise people interpret the strip in their own way. If the base franchise was substantially affected by the merchandise, Tony Tony Chopper would have already taken over One Piece entirely, and Princess Celestia would have been pink in the show. Merchandise people work within the boundaries of the artists, not the other way around. In addition, you'll see examples of Running the Asylum in franchises with very little merchandising. It happens because the franchise is popular; that they often have lots of merchandise is because they're popular and not cause-and-effect between merchandising and Running the Asylum.
    • I think the original point of this line of discussion was that if Watterson attempted to merchandise Calvin and Hobbes even a little bit, he could have legal power over the currently rampant pirated Calvin and Hobbes merchandise. In other words, as he's not going to exert control over merchandising because of his blanket refusal, someone else will (and has.) The statement about him having bad "business acumen" is because he is so naïve that the pirates are mercilessly taking advantage of him. Instead of learning how not to get bullied, he instead becomes a hermit, essentially running away from the issue and is, to the pirates and bootleggers, a sign of surrender. His lack of understanding of how merchandising laws work, and his refusal to understand, has pretty much put in the driver's seat the very people he dislikes the most.
      • I think it's the work 'naïve' which sums up the essential divide between camps here. You and the OP seem to believe that Watterson's refusal to merchandise was some kind of weakness or failure to understand how the world works, which in turn allowed unscrupulous types to exploit and 'bully' him by pirating his concepts. This overlooks the equally valid possibility that maybe Watterson — who, in that he wrote Calvin and Hobbes, was probably not a complete idiot — knew full well that this was a possibility, but simply didn't care about it. Whatever else, the man obviously values his concept of artistic integrity over money. What's important to him is the comic strips, and no amount of tacky knock-offs can change the fact that they are essentially untouchable; no knock-off merchandise will change a single panel of one of his strips, and no one will ever love a tacky bumper-sticker of Calvin peeing on something as much as people love the cartoon strip that inspired it. People will still be reading Calvin and Hobbes long after the pirates making a cheap buck out of his work have long been thrown into the dustbin of history. As far as Watterson's concerned, he has full control over what he considers the important part of his work; the rest is just irrelevant noise to him. For better or worse for him personally, Watterson sticks to his values, and frankly there's something admirable about that. While I'm not quite as far into that camp as the tropers decrying 'whorish' practices above (like it or not, an artist has every right to earn a living off their creative work, and it doesn't necessarily cheapen the work to do so,) 'business acumen' shouldn't be the sole determining factor of an artist's talent or an artwork's artistic value.
  • At one point Watterson wrote that he thinks a comic strip about Susie Derkins, written by a woman, would be a pretty good idea. Given that he doesn't care about becoming rich, surely licensing the idea to a female cartoonist would be a simple matter. Why hasn't anyone taken him up on this idea? It would mean more Calvin and Hobbes, as they'd be background characters to Susie's adventures with Mr. Bun.
    • Actually he said a strip about a little girl drawn by a woman would be great, not Susie specifically.
  • Okay, so I know about Bill Watterson's stubborn policy not to sell any merchandise of the strip. Ever. That's alright and all, but then I looked in an old photo album of my family and in one photo, when my dad was young, he wore a Calvin T-shirt. What gives? Unless maybe T-shirts don't count, but why would that be?
    • It was either fake merchandise made by bootleggers or the very small amount of official merch made before Watterson called an end to it. In the 10th Anniversary book, he mentions t-shirts made by thieves with the images ripped from this strip.
    • Given that the only official C&H shirt ever made was one made for an art museum in 2006, it was almost certainly a fake.
    • There were a total of three widely produced C&H items: two 16-month calendars and a creative writing textbook about using humor. Aside from some one-offs designed to sell the comic to newspapers, that is.


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