Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes

Tree, 11"x9", pen and ink on medium-weight white paper

Tree, 11"x9", pen and ink on medium-weight white paper

I drew this tree with one inspiration in mind: Bill Watterson. To anyone who reads the comic strip Calvin and Hobbes, he/she will know what I’m talking about. And of course I’m referring to trees. Bill Watterson’s drawings of trees, for me, are the most simply drawn, yet, the most charming and most beautiful trees I’ve ever seen on a comic strip! And for a certain period in my life, I was drawing nothing but trees, trying to emulate the kind of artistic mastery Watterson had on trees with just a few strokes of ink! Needless to say, I couldn’t hack it! And only years later would I realize that the answer lies in the entire illustration, not just in any individual tree. Watterson’s composition, mastery of facial expression and gestures, use of negative space, choice of colors (in the case of his Sunday strips), and command of the ink medium all worked together to give each drawn figure the charm and beauty it possessed.
Bill Watterson’s strip lasted only ten years (from 1985 to 1995). But in those ten years, the world was mighty fortunate to laugh at the humor on his strips and marvel at the beauty of his art! And the reason why we don’t see any Calvin and Hobbes mugs, t-shirts, TV series, etc., is because Watterson refused to merchandise them, believing commercializing them would cheapen the value of his comic strip characters.
To date, I consider Calvin and Hobbes the funniest English-language comic strip ever published on newspapers (I said “English-language” because there is another comic strip in my mind that I think is also consistently, genuinely funny; and that is the Filipino comic strip Pugad Baboy by Pol Medina, Jr.)!
Calvin and Hobbes has the kind of unadulterated wit you can only get from a kid. Boy, I couldn’t even approximate the number of times I didn’t laugh at his strips– how about…”never”! Yes, it is that unbelievably funny! Reading his strips will not fail to strike a chord in either the parent in you or the child in you, making the comic’s appeal universal in scope. I’m not even sure if another comic strip can surpass, or even equal, the genuine humor of Calvin and Hobbes. To me, Bill Watterson’s combination of ideas and images is beyond brilliance! It is genius!

update: (Here’s a February, 2010 article about Bill Watterson not regretting stopping his strip at the height of its popularity.)

Below are a couple of my attempts at copying Bill Watterson’s drawings of trees.

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2 Responses

  1. I think Bill Watterson and you have something in common…if you think he’s a genius ..I believe you are too,Master Artist…I can’t stop myself marveling at your God-given talents in expressing your visual arts with words that can launch my imagination to heights as I journey to a place I call ‘Artlandia’… I always end up loving your work of art! If it is not too much to ask, I think I would love to have this one hanging on my wall..have a bright blessed day Master Artist.

  2. Hi, 5378!
    You know, it’s not only Bill Watterson’s natural artistic facility that I admire about him, but his points of view about art as well. He is one of a kind– a true genius!
    I’m absolutely flat-out flattered with your compliments, 5378! And I am very grateful!
    As per your request, your wish is my command!
    Thanks so much for the kind words and for visiting my blog!
    Take care and GOD Bless you always!!!

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