My history with comics.
As a kid, I always loved comics. Ever since I was little, we always had comics in some form or the other. My earliest memory of reading a comic was in the children’s magazine Magic Pot - my mother had a brief stint as a distributor for the magazine when I was in kindergarten. Even 15 years after never having opened a Magic Pot, I still remember the comic strips about the escapades of the mischievous devil, Lutappi and how he always failed in his devilry. It was so whimsical, and little me loved it.
As I grew older, I lost interest in these tiny little strips which got boring beyond a point. I started reading Tinkle , a magazine which every Indian kid had read at some point. The stories were longer, and had more interesting themes; adventure, mystery, comedy - they had it all. I also really got into a series called Captain Underpants - yes I know, and its exactly what it sounds like. I particularly remember this series because of how much it inspired me to create my own comics strip series (the plot of Captain Underpants follows a couple of kids who get popular writing and distributing comic strips about the titular super hero). Flimsy on originality, me and my brother made and distributed a series called “Slipyman and Stickyman” (yes, the typo was a regular feature of the series). It chronicled the adventures of the two titular heroes against the evil mastermind Don Bosco, and his band of goons. Just to clarify, I have nothing against the priest Don Bosco, 4th grade me just thought it was a funny name for a villain.
Around this time, I got a subscription to a local library, JustBooks, which I feel like is a rite of passage for a lot of kids in Bangalore. These JustBooks libraries were everywhere at one point, and I loved visiting them every weekend. This was the first time I was exposed to proper comics, from faraway lands. I devoured the whole of Tintin, Asterix and even dabbled in some Lucky Luke. The Europeans really did know their comics, the tales were funny, with memorable characters, and had this sense of adventure I loved. I did always see Calvin and Hobbes lying on the library shelf from the corner of my eyes, but I was so engrossed in these characters, that I never picked it up.
The first time I picked up Calvin and Hobbes was when I took home “Homicidal Psycho Jungle Cat”. And then I couldn’t stop. I read and read and reread all the books in the series, I loved Calvin - he was whimsical, curious and fun. Little did I know, he may have shaped a lot of my beliefs without me even realizing it.
The artwork was so beautiful, the flowing abstract pages with Calvin and Hobbes just dancing, the imaginative dream sequences, the idle backyards.
As a 6th grader, I was attracted to Calvin and Hobbes for the simple stories, and beautiful art work. Calvin was everything I wanted to be back then, and funnily enough, a decade later, I still want to be Calvin. I never appreciated the comic strip enough, its profundity was something I was equipped to handle back then. Only now do I appreciate the the simple, but powerful truths that were Calvin’s philosophy
Calvin and Hobbes taught me so many things, that today make me happy. That remind me what life is about. That make mindful, and re-align myself. Calvin and Hobbes has made me contemplate, and not be swept away by the mundane. He was a mirror to our hedonism.
Calvin was a stoic. Calvin was an existentialist. Calvin was happy.
Bill Waterson elevated the comic strip to a high art form, he never let anyone license or sell his work or property. He was an artist, philosopher and a genius.
Calvin and Hobbes will always remind me that Its A Magical World, and There’s a Treasure Everywhere.