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Shout Out / Calvin and Hobbes

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  • The names Calvin and Hobbes are taken from a 16th-century theologian (John Calvin) and a 17th-century philosopher (Thomas Hobbes).
  • In the tenth anniversary book, Watterson notes that Miss Wormwood is named after the apprentice devil in The Screwtape Letters. He also comments on naming his leads after theologian John Calvin and philosopher Thomas Hobbes.
  • Calvin wears the exact same red striped shirt and black pants as Linus. Not surprisingly, Bill Watterson is a big Peanuts fan.
  • In an early Sunday strip when Calvin and his parents went to an art museum, in one panel, his parents are admiring a Krazy Kat landscape. If they're not in museums, they should be.
  • Hobbes once does Calvin's hair for school picture day. Calvin keeps asking him how it looks and Hobbes finally tells him that he looks like Astro Boy. Upon hearing that, Calvin exclaims that he can't wait to get his picture taken.
  • One Spaceman Spiff strip has him finding a planet with a city and civilization that are the size of ants, likely an ode to the episode "The Little People" from The Twilight Zone (1959).
  • In an arc in which Calvin gets turned into an owl with his transmogrifier gun, when he realizes that owls don't have to go to school, he starts singing the "Zip-a-dee-doo-dah" song from Song of the South.
  • Another Disney tribute: "When you wish upon a star, your dreams come true... I WISH I HAD A COOL MILLION DOLLARS, RIGHT NOW!... If Jiminy Cricket was here, I'd skoosh him." In one of the babysitting arcs, Hobbes sarcastically calls Calvin Pinocchio after he unconvincingly tries to lie his way out of another incident with Rosalyn to his mom.
  • One comic had Calvin wearing a cape and shouting "Up, up, and away!" in an attempt to fly. After he crashes he shouts "Ack! Kryptonite!" And of course, Stupendous Man is heavily based on Superman, with a bit of Batman thrown in as well.
  • There was also a Sunday strip where Stupendous Man reversed time by spinning the earth backwards.
  • When Calvin and Hobbes imagine superheroes going after mundane supervillains, they imagine one attending council meetings and sending letters to the editor. Hobbes then exclaims "Quick! To the Bat-Fax!". In another strip, Calvin manipulates his parents into buying him overpriced museum souvenirs by claiming it's "educational", and then wondering if he could con them into buying him Batman merchandise the same way. When Calvin had to do a research assignment on bats, his "scientific illustration" was just a tracing of the Bat-Symbol with fangs added. In another strip, Calvin refers to a flip-book animation he made where a T. rex drives the Batmobile and explodes.
  • A few strips make reference to a comic book superhero Calvin likes called Captain Napalm, "protector of the American way", which seems to be a reference to Captain America, but mixed with Superman.
  • In one strip Calvin claimed he was attacked by space aliens that looked like "baked potatoes with ray guns", which could be a reference to the Sontarans from Doctor Who.
  • After one of Calvin's antics, Rosalyn tells him ''BEDTIME FOR BONZO!"
  • When asked by Miss Wormwood the location of the Byzantine empire, Calvin replies "I'll take Outer Planets for $100."
  • Watterson is apparently a big fan of "Nude Descending a Staircase", since Calvin tries to replicate it twice in two different mediums (snow sculpture and live-action.)
  • On one occasion, Calvin calls Rosalyn "The Babysitter from the Black Lagoon."
  • Elmer Fudd and Bugs Bunny have been featured among the TV shows Calvin watches, judging by the dialogue coming from the TV.
  • Another story arc has Calvin making a shoebox diorama for school of a desert scene with a roadrunner, which was apparently so fast it ran out of the scene, leaving behind only a cloud of dust (cotton balls, because Calvin didn't have any paper mache to make the roadrunner). As though the reference weren't obvious enough, Calvin refers to himself as a genius in the same manner as Wile E. Coyote.
  • One comic has Calvin jokingly refer to Hobbes as a "big stwipey putty". Hobbes is none too amused and savagely mauls Calvin.
    Calvin: Tigers don't like to be called "putties".
  • Calvin describes his onion costume as Jabba the Hutt meets Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Also, in one of the Spaceman Spiff comics, he crash lands on a desert planet scorched by twin suns, like Tatooine. Another strip also has Calvin looking out for landing UFOs so that he can sell his parents into slavery in exchange for a star cruiser.
  • Calvin's dad spends one strip criticizing a Merchandise-Driven cartoon, calling it "boring" and "preachy" and saying the animation was very lazy; in the final panel, Calvin rolls his eyes and says: "Meet my dad, the Gene Siskel of Saturday morning cartoons."
  • When Hobbes gives Calvin a bad haircut, Calvin frantically wonders how he can hide it from his mother. Hobbes wraps a towel around his head, calling it the "Lawrence of Arabia look."
  • William Shakespeare is referenced with two comics. In one, Calvin fantasizes his food coming to life and giving Hamlet's "To be or not to be" speech in its entirety. Another has him imagine him and his mom speaking Shakespearean English to each other while he watches a TV version of a play on TV.
  • Calvin tells his mom he wants to grow a long beard "like the guys in ZZ Top".
  • A few strips have Calvin pretending to be a giant monster, his love of monster movies, or even explicitly mentioning Godzilla, such as one Sunday strip where he imagines his mom is "his ancient arch-rival Megalon".
  • In an early fall Sunday strip where Calvin jumps into a pile of fallen leaves. Hobbes suggest that there might be some gross slugs hidden in the pile, which grosses Calvin out enough have him decide to go back inside to watch tv instead. Hobbes suggests that they can watch The Blob.
  • In another early Sunday strip, Hobbes is cleaning himself up to go out with Calvin an his parents. He asks Calvin if he should shave, and Calvin says he should leave it and go for a "Don Johnson fuzzy look" (Johnson was the star of the cop show Miami Vice, which had just started airing at the time). After Hobbes puts on a suit, Calvin says he looks right out of GQ.
  • After believing themselves lost in the wilderness forever, Calvin tells Hobbes they can be "modern Robinson Crusoes". They were actually within view of their house though.
  • In the beginning of one story arc, Calvin correctly deduces from seeing his mom taking a shower early that it means she and dad are going out and he'll be stuck at home with Rosalyn. His mom sarcastically congratulates his critical thinking by replying "Brilliant, Holmes".
  • After Calvin loses a game of checkers to Hobbes, he furiously accuses Hobbes of cheating by using a psychic mind-meld to make him lose. In the story arc with the flying carpet, Calvin tells the carpet to go the "warp factor five".
  • In the baseball arc, Moe insults Calvin not signing up for baseball by mockingly asking if he was busy playing with Barbie dolls with the girls instead.
  • In an attempt to act "cool" with Calvin, Hobbes dresses up in Mickey Mouse pants. Calvin facepalms and angrily says he doesn't look cool, he looks like an idiot.
  • In one Sunday strip, Hobbes says if you don't get a goodnight kiss, you get Kafka dreams. Fittingly, this is the same strip where a giant bug appears in Calvin's bed. Another strip also has a similar set up to The Metamorphosis, where Calvin imagines himself waking up in bed having turned into a giant slug.
  • After Calvin complains to his dad that they don't have cable television or a VCR, he gives Calvin a copy of Oliver Twist, saying that Calvin might identify with it.
  • In one camping trip arc, Calvin's mom mockingly calls his dad Conan the Barbarian for repeatedly forcing them out into nature for a vacation.
  • Two different strips had Calvin reading Dick and Jane for his homework.
  • Once, Calvin practiced making cute faces in a mirror to try and convince his mom to buy him a flamethrower. Hobbes isn't convinced his "Bambi eyes" will work. In a different Imagine Spot comic where a group of anthropomorphic deer are shown hunting humans, one deer calls another "Bamb".
  • In the arc where Calvin attempts to freeze his face into a permanent grimace, he puts a cloth over his head in one panel and calls himself "Elephant Man" (granted, he was also a real person, but considering the film had only been out for a few years at the time and won widespread acclaim the reference to the movie specifically is likely).
  • In one strip where Hobbes tricks Calvin into thinking Susie gave him a steamy Valentine's Day card, he starts singing "matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a match..." when the jig is up.
  • An early comic has Calvin swinging on a rope pretending to be Tarzan (complete with his signature yell), while another has him pretending to be Tarzan in his underwear at Susie. Another Sunday comic makes an indirect reference to Tarzan with Calvin pretending to be "Wonga-Taa, King of Jungle" (a title often given to Tarzan), who swings away on a vine.
  • Hobbes is mentioned a few times to be a National Geographic fan, reading both the magazine and watching their nature documentaries on the National Geographic Channel, and one time hoping to have his face on the cover.
  • During the Snow Goon story arc, Hobbes asks Calvin how they killed Frosty at the end of Frosty the Snowman when thinking of ways to get rid of the Snow Goon.
  • One strip start with Calvin asking his mom if he can watch "Killer Prom Queen" on TV. Sound familiar?
  • In a very early strip, Calvin leaves the house in the middle of the night and calls his dad from a payphone to say "It is now three in the morning, do you know where I am?", which was a reference a very well-known Public Service Announcement of the time, "It's 10 pm, do you know where your children are?".
  • Another early strip had Calvin reading and pondering the quote "religion is the opiate of the masses", which is used by Watterson for yet another Take That! at television.
    Television set: (thinking) ...It means Karl Marx hadn't seen anything yet...
  • One Spaceman Spiff strip have him drive past an alien fast food billboard for a restaurant chain called McZargald's, which advertises over 75 million Earthlingburgers served, which causes Spiff to speed away as fast as possible. It's an obvious parody of McDonald's, from its giant "M" logo and copying McDonald's slogan of "billions and billions served", if the name alone wasn't obvious enough. Another Sunday strip has Calvin get fed up waiting for the barbecue grill to heat up and asks if they can order McDonald's instead. Another strip has Calvin ask his dad to sign up for cable, because how else will they conform to bland national conformity anymore? His dad retorts that they still have McDonald's and Walmart.
  • Calvin's bedtime stories include Derailed Fairy Tale versions where The Bad Guy Wins of Little Red Riding Hood (the wolf becomes a tiger and eats the hunter), Goldilocks (the bears become three tigers and eat Goldilocks), The Three Little Pigs (eaten by the three bears from Goldilocks), and Hansel and Gretel (eaten by the witch and then the witch is eaten by The Big Bad Wolf).
  • One early Sunday strip had Calvin's mom referring to stuffed peppers as "stewed monkey heads" in order to trick Calvin into eating them; perhaps based on the Foreign Queasine dinner party scene from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, which had only come out two years prior, although the joke is inverted (Calvin prefers it to be something disgusting rather than mundane).
  • A one-off Imagine Spot has Calvin gain the head and body parts of a housefly after a scientific experiment gone wrong, and a Sunday strip only a week after this has Calvin pretending to be a human fly, until he's caught in a spider web. Perhaps coincidentally, both strips came out only a few weeks before the release of The Fly (1986).
  • An early strip has Calvin and Hobbes listening to the 1812 Overture; Calvin actually likes it, but likes it even more after Hobbes tells him the percussion section is literal cannon fire.
  • Another strip has Calvin reference the Miller Lite beer commercials of the 1970s, via their old slogan "it's Miller time". Calvin's dad isn't too pleased to hear Calvin referencing a beer commercial however.
  • A few strips have Calvin and Hobbes playing Monopoly, but inevitably getting in arguments due to their own House Rules, like "interest-free loans", robbing the bank, or their own custom chance cards, making the game basically unwinnable.
  • Scrabble also comes up occasionally, once where the pair were playing nonsense "words" with ridiculously high scores, or where Calvin had absurdly bad luck due to perpetually lacking vowels to make words with.
  • Two strips had Calvin reading Dick and Jane as a school assignment (this is also a case of Anachronism Stew, as Dick and Jane books were already being phased out of school curricula in the 1970s); similar to many former children that had to read Dick and Jane for school, Calvin finds it dreadfully dull.
  • When Calvin asks his dad where babies come from, his dad says that most parents buy a baby-making kit from Sears, although Calvin himself was a much cheaper "blue-light special" from Kmart that's almost as good (the joke does date itself considerably; Sears and Kmart were Household Names at the time, but have both since declared bankruptcy, twice). Calvin isn't too happy to hear that.
  • One story arc has Calvin have Hobbes tie him to a chair so he can practice being the next Harry Houdini. It turns out that a six-year old with no escape artist training or any preparation can't actually get loose when bound to a chair however.
  • Several strips had Calvin playing with Tinkertoys, such as one memorable Sunday strip where he imagines himself as an almighty God of Evil (to the obliviousness of his parents), another where he unsuccessfully attempts to construct a robot using them, and one where he constructs a Bucket Booby-Trap to drench his dad.
  • A Christmas strip had Calvin listening to Santa Claus is Comin' to Town on the radio, although he's more than a little disturbed by the Big Brother Is Watching undertones of the song.
    Calvin: Santa Claus: kindly old elf, or CIA spook?
  • Calvin makes reference to the once-popular newspaper advice column Dear Abby, in regards to how old people often write to her complaining that their kids never write, call, or visit ("those letters really crack me up").
  • One Imagine Spot has Calvin being portrayed as Frankenstein's Monster being brought to life as a visual metaphor showing how he's not a morning person (on weekdays at least).
  • One Sunday strip had Calvin complain about being forced to go on a walk with his parents by comparing it to being in Doctor Zhivago (quite an obscure reference, especially for a six-year old).
  • In one strip, Calvin spontaneously spouts a quote from the 19th century French artist Paul Gauguin to his mom, specifically the title of one of his most well-known paintings, "Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?". Calvin takes the quote very literally and then admits he doesn't even know who Paul Gauguin is.
  • Another similar strip has Calvin quoting the opening verses for English artist William Blake's poem The Tyger. Again, he's very Literal-Minded and assumes the poem is about a tiger on fire.
  • In one Christmas Sunday strip where Calvin has a dream that Santa is reversing his naughty and nice lists, two "good little kids" are shown crying in the Imagine Spot after not getting presents, and the two kids strongly resemble Buster Brown and his girlfriend Mary Jane.
  • In one of the Horrible Camping Trip story arcs, Calvin's dad says he's going put an ax through the television the next time one of those "swarmy Kodak commercials" plays after his family adamants refuses to have their pictures taken (his wife because she's filthy and covered in bug bites after several days of being in the wilderness, and Calvin because he never wants to remember this awful trip).
  • Intentionally defied with Jurassic Park; the film came out near the tail end of the comic's original run, and after its release Watterson put a half-year hiatus on dinosaur-centred strips because he felt his illustrations just couldn't compete with the cutting-edge special effects of a massive Hollywood blockbuster and was afraid readers would see his portrayals as inadequate by contrast.
    Watterson: A few little drawings can't create the visceral response of large-screen computer special effects, and I didn't want Calvin's imagination to look less vivid for the comparison.
  • One strip from early 1992 has Calvin startle his dad by building a large-scale rendition of Kilroy was here out of snow, resulting in what appears to be a giant peeking over the horizon.
  • Two strips make mention of the Milk Duds candy; in both cases it's used as an example of something sickeningly sugary (one being a post-Halloween strip, and another comparing Chocolate-Frosted Sugar Bombs to them).
  • On one history test, Calvin wrote down that the first president of the United States was Chef Boy-Ar-Dee, among other "preposterous" answers that made his teacher furious.
  • Calvin makes a joke about crossing a cantaloupe with Lassie to get a "melon-collie baby," a pun on the 1912 standard "My Melancholy Baby" by Ernie Burnett and George A. Norton.