“Read a Damn Book – 141: Weirdos from Another Planet!”

in books •  7 months ago 

In times of stress, I look to a few different sources for comfort, and one of the sources that makes me most happy is Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes comics. (I have already reviewed two of Watterson’s collections: Scientific Progress Goes “Boink” and Something Under the Bed is Drooling.) This time, for your entertainment, I’m presenting Weirdos from Another Planet, which I believe was the first C & H collection I ever bought!

weirdos - (peg).jpg
[This is a photograph that I took of the actual book that I read. The image is included for review purposes only!]

Bill Watterson – Weirdos from Another Planet (1990)

For those who don’t know Calvin and Hobbes, it was a daily newspaper strip written and drawn by Watterson (who is notoriously reclusive), which featured the antics of a hyperactive kid, Calvin, and his stuffed tiger-slash-imaginary friend, Hobbes. Calvin’s name invokes the “fire and brimstone” religious theologian, John Clavin, who believed in predestination; while Hobbes’s name invokes Thomas Hobbes, the British philosopher who argued that humans are essentially self-oriented, selfish, and cruel. (Perhaps the names are coincidental?) Calvin, the kid, is the perfect embodiment of imagination unchained. He is contrary, easily bored, cruel at times (especially to his female rival, Susie), a holy terror to his poor parents, and lives a majority of his life in a fantasy world or monsters, aliens, and distorted physics. Hobbes (who is, perhaps, Calvin’s slightly more civilized side) is Calvin’s most frequent playmate---and the “person” who Calvin usually blames whenever he gets caught doing something horrible.

This particular collection has a number of recurring motifs in it that I find amusing: Calvin as monster (as he stomps around the house, destroying toys, and even biting his mom on the leg); or Calvin and Hobbes inventing complex games and then cheating at them as much as possible while playing; or the incredibly clever episodes in which Calvin harangs his father with talk of “popularity polls” and suggests that he might not get “re-elected” as Dad in the next election cycle---IF he doesn’t do something drastic (like cancelling mandatory school attendance…) Another hilarious series of strips in this book (remember, these were presented as dailies, originally, so the stories unfolded over the course of a week in your local paper) is the arc in which Calvin decides he’s going to fix the leaky upstairs faucet---and it all goes, predictably and remarkably, wrong! The best sequence in this story shows Calvin’s parents sitting on a couch, their faces growing more and more worried, as Calvin, all casual, rummages in the kitchen (“off camera”) saying things like, “La da dee dee da / I think I’ll get a bucket / Dum de doo… / … / No cause for alarm… No need to panic… I just want a few buckets. La la.” And his parents face each other and both yell, “YOUR turn” (p. 80). It’s a perfect example of what parenting can be like!

I read these comics, originally, when I was a teenager, and I loved them then. Now, as a forty-something-year old with kids of my own, I can see the stories from a different perspective, but I still love them! Watterson has created a nearly perfect character in Calvin---who ISN’T evil, necessarily, but whose world view is so distorted and self-directed that his actions can APPEAR to be evil, if we look just at what he gets up to. There is another fantastic strip in this collection, which perfectly demonstrates what I’m driving at, where Susie is drawing on a sidewalk with chalk, and Calvin comes up and seems genuinely interested in what she’s doing. Susie says he can draw too, if he wants, and Calvin says, “Gosh. I’ve never been a vandal before!” And Susie says, “This isn’t vandalism. It washes right off!” and the next panel shows Calvin dropping the chalk and walking away (p. 86). He’s not evil---he’s just interested in testing the limits of what society finds acceptable. He’s an explorer who loves excitement and has very little time for the mundane and commonplace!

And, probably the most important thing about this book, his antics are hilarious. Watterson’s expression of a kid’s reality is dead on (from what I remember and, sort of, still experience: see my art and writing…) Calvin’s loneliness is assuaged by his tiger buddy, his boredom is decreased through his flights of fancy, and his curiosity is piqued whenever something feels dangerous or disgusting. We can laugh at his schemes (seeing them for the futile efforts that they are) and not feel bad as we cheer him on in whatever anti-social activity he’s engaged in at the moment, because we know he’ll be okay in the end. (It’s comforting...) (If you're old enough, you can also empathize with the parents---and feel glad YOUR kids were never quite that rambunctious!)

This is a fun book, a funny book, with excellent and expressive artwork, and perfect facial expressions---and the whole thing has a very realistic feel to it, despite the fantasy elements. It seems to be an ACTUAL look inside a kid’s brain, which can be a very interesting place to peer! If you’ve never read a C & H story before, I highly recommend them (ALL OF THEM), and (as I’ve probably said before) if you HAVE read Watterson’s works, isn't it time to read them again??? (WARNING: Not for boring, rule abiding, stick-in-the-mud types! Everyone else will think these books are a HOOT!)

---Richard F. Yates
(Primitive Thoughtician and Holy Fool)

SUPPORT INDEPENDENT FOLKS WHO ARE JUST MAKING STUFF BECAUSE THEY LOVE IT!!!

https://steemit.com/@richardfyates
https://primitiveentertainment.wordpress.com/read-a-damn-book-list/
https://makersplace.com/store/richardyates/

Authors get paid when people like you upvote their post.
If you enjoyed what you read here, create your account today and start earning FREE STEEM!
Sort Order:  

This post was shared in the Curation Collective Discord community for curators, and upvoted and resteemed by the @c-squared community account after manual review.
@c-squared runs a community witness. Please consider using one of your witness votes on us here

I absolutely love this book as well as the rest of them amazing comic series

Posted using Partiko Android

I learned to read before kindergarten because I wanted to know what the yellow-haired kid and his tiger were doing in the Sunday funnies. I still enjoy Watterson's comics. Did you see his guest panels in Pearls Before Swine a couple years ago?

No! I missed the Pearls Before Swine materials!!! I was terribly upset when Watterson retired (same for Gary Larson), and I had no idea he'd done anything new. I just keep reading the old books over and over again... (Something to look for!)

Posted using Partiko Android

At the time, the guest panel artist was kept secret. When I saw them, I recognized the style but couldn't place the artist. I thought at first it might have been Berkeley Breathed, because it also had a bit of an "Outland" feel.

Thank you for bringing these great characters back to my mind.
Calvin reminds me of Mafalda a beloved Latin American character created by argentinian humorist and artist Quino (a.k.a Joaquín Salvador Lavado Tejón).
She is her own Hobbes sometimes or turns any of the other "normal" kids into him.
I did not remember how clever Calvin is and how much he references pop and high culture. It is a real treat to read all his adventures. Comic strips have the merit and great difficulty of having to paint so much in such a limitted canvas.
Like Mafalda, Calvin becomes the voice of a troubled society subjected to all kinds of arbitrary pressure and looking for an identity outside societal norms without necessarily being evil or hariming others in the process.

Hi richardfyates,

This post has been upvoted by the Curie community curation project and associated vote trail as exceptional content (human curated and reviewed). Have a great day :)

Visit curiesteem.com or join the Curie Discord community to learn more.

Sup Dork! Enjoy the upvote!!!

Wooaw...... Such an amazing book review you have in there. It's good for everyone to at least spend 30mins to read a book in a day.

Books have great knowledge and wisdom in them. And the more one reads the knowledgeable he/she becomes.

I really enjoyed reading every word in your blog and every second I spent on your blog was worthwhile. Great work and keep the review spirit up

Posted using Partiko Android

Thanks! And I agree, completely. Reading is very important and undervalued. I'm glad you liked the review!

Posted using Partiko Android

Lol.. You are humbly welcome

Posted using Partiko Android

Thank you for sharing something from your childhood. Sometimes even heading towards 50's we still feel as children and fell into melancholy when we see the books or movies from our childhood. May be because they have a special place in our memory that was saved many years ago when we were just happy and loved all world around us. Like my husband recently one of the old cartoon he knew from being a child been filmed and of course he immediately bought Blue ray version of it and enjoyed it so much. For our son who is now of course a teen it was nothing special.

Enjoyed very much your post and description of the book. Lovely memories and thank you for sharing :)

Wooaw...... Such an amazing book review you have in there. It's good for everyone to at least spend 30mins to read a book in a day.

Books have great knowledge and wisdom in them. And the more one reads the knowledgeable he/she becomes.

I really enjoyed reading every word in your blog and every second I spent on your blog was worthwhile. Great work and keep the review spirit up

Posted using Partiko Android