Calvin and Hobbes is hands down (and lazily) the best comic strip written by a human. Simultaneously intellectual and hilarious, American cartoonist Bill Watterson named the protagonists after the French Theologian, John Calvin and English Philosopher, Thomas Hobbes. The underlying theme is the nature of Hobbes: to Calvin he is a real, anthropomorphized tiger, and to everyone else, he is an inanimate stuffed toy.
In this piece, the illustrator, Himraj Soin, has merely copied isolated original strips by Watterson. They try, and, by virtue of human error, fail at being exact copies. Relating himself to Calvin in many ways, the illustrator uses this as an excuse for his lazy artistic talent. He puts minimal effort in providing thoughtful subtitles as well—the only existent originality of his work.
This piece depicts Calvin carrying a sled up an incline, during the winter. This underlying message could be “nothing ventured, nothing gained”, or “no gain without pain”. It simply shows Calvin tired from “working hard” and carrying the sled back up the hill. However, he is a lazy boy who will only put in effort if the end result is having fun. The simple illustrator has simply titled this, “what goes down must come up”.
This piece shows Calvin talking about “decisive action” and how once one becomes informed, “knowledge becomes paralyzing”. Since he is “a man of action” who can’t “afford to take that risk”, he throws his book away. The profound message this conveys linked with Calvin’s laziness is a perfect example of Watterson’s fantastic style. It is also what the lazy Indian illustrator believes in firmly. Going against the mainstream style of subtitling, the rebel artist has titled this piece “that book is about to fall”.
The third piece shows Calvin at his desk, with a somber expression on his face. He is at school, in class—his least favorite place in the world. Calvin hates school, and slips into his fantasy world of illusions during this time of the day. Following the simplicity of the earlier strip, the lethargic illustrator has titled this, “there are no books here”.Example: The phenomenological experience of, or interaction with the work gives it a whole new meaning. It’s all about phenomenology.
The fourth piece shows Calvin and Hobbes, standing, with dumb facial expressions. Either they have been mischievous or they have done nothing at all. The thief of an illustrator has stolen a line from Beckett's 'Waiting for Godot', titling the piece, "Nothing to be done".
This last piece shows Calvin shouting at Hobbes, who has inquired about Calvin’s New Years Resolution. Calvin thinks Hobbes is implying that “he needs to change”. Calvin goes against the norm of creating resolutions and not sticking to them, as a large number of people do; instead, he is honest and decides to change nothing. This subtitle has been directly lifted from Calvin’s rant and is simply titled—“I’m perfect the way I am”. The illustrator has no desire to change the title either.
Himraj Soin is a writer and illustrator living in Delhi and climbing upwards.