A man who, if he happened to see this node, would probably be rather displeased. Despite the fact there is nothing bad to say about him here. There is in fact nothing bad to say, except perhaps that he may have taken a wrong road somewhere, in sticking to his principles
. There is in this society a definite economic supply and demand
psychology. He metaphorically looked at that psychology, and gave it the bird
He wrote Calvin and Hobbes
. People liked it. He okayed the creation of books
but refused to allow merchandising for anything else, like T-shirts
and coffee mugs
. Except for some books and calendars, every time you see a Calvin and Hobbes piece of art, be it on a webpage or Calvin pissing on the Ford
symbol on a Chevy
truck, you're looking at an illegal reprint of Watterson's work, from which he gets zero royalties
, which just goes to show how pointless and infantile the copyright
laws are on this planet.
Watterson was born July 5th, 1958
in Washington D.C.
His family moved to Ohio
when he was six years old. He received a Bachelor's degree in Political Science from Kenyon College in 1980
. During his young life he was often drawing. He had some political cartoons published in small publications during Jimmy Carter
's presidency. He made many attempts at other comic strips and had a financially hills-and-valleys sort of living, until Calvin and Hobbes. That strip's success took both Watterson and the Universal Press Syndicate
largely by surprise, and thus began a ten year run of frustration and pandemonium between Watterson and the Syndicate which distributed his work on Calvin and Hobbes. Watterson would want to do something or not want something, the Universal Press Syndicate would tell him he couldn't do what he wanted or had to do what he didn't want, he'd respond with a resounding why, then they wouldd respond with "well that's just how we do things.
" Watterson would rant and rave a bit and then come up with incredibly neat ideas like the Flexible Sunday Comic Panel Arrangement
which attempted to solve some of the problems that both Watterson and the Syndicate were having with each other. Over a rather frustrating period of time however, Watterson finally said the hell with it all. With Calvin and Hobbes at the peak of its success, he picked up his toys and went home.
Where's home? Good question. Some reports say that today Watterson can not be found in a small village somewhere in America. He refuses any public exposure whatsoever, and regrets the few times he did relent. The more people want him, the more he doesn't want to be wanted. In fact the latest accounts indicate the man just wants to be left alone, and certainly doesn't want people writing Writeup
s about him in web projects like Everything2
. Which is rather a shame because personally I think he's quite a fascinating man to write and read about.
Perhaps one reason which caused Watterson to become a recluse is in the following. The words are his: "Not only can comics be more than we're getting today. but the comics already have been more than we're getting today. The reader is being gypped and he doesn't even know it."
Maybe he just doesn't want to participate in a society made up of people this dim-witted.
And you know what? I don't blame him.
One more thing to add. I'd like to point out why he left. The real reason. I'm sure there were others but it's very important that this be remembered.
Comic strips exist through three different entities. The creator of the strip or cartoonist
, the syndicates which operate as a sort of middle-man
, and the newspapers themselves which actually publish the strips. Newspapers publish comic strips because for many of us, that's one of the few reasons to buy a newspaper nowadays. If you want news, you can watch CNN
or read about it on the 'Net. However, newspapers also want to cut costs so they have been making comic strips smaller. They also have many specifications for what they will publish, which place constaints on the cartoonists. Syndicates are looking for ways to own the cartoonist's characters and ideas so they can make more money on merchandising
and won't be restricted by the demands of the cartoonist, who they treat like hired labor anyway. Bill Watterson fought the established system for doing things, because this system is largely unfair not only to the cartoonist but the consumer. Consequently, he ticked off everybody, including fellow cartoonists who are perfectly happy with the way things are going and don't mind selling out for big bucks.
Ultimately he just got pissed off and tired. He's a living example of why principles don't work in today's society, and I think the fact he refused to sell out
is something that should both be remembered and commended, even if it means we can't sleep in Calvin and Hobbes sheets and pillowcases.