Thursday, March 17, 2011

Calvin and Hobbes "The Raccoon Story"

I have often found it interesting how often in scientific literature the comic Calvin and Hobbes is referenced. I've encountered it two times just today, once on a science blog and another in a book on the cognitive science of language. I mentioned this to a friend who I was surprised was not familiar with Bill Watterson's masterpiece of a comic. What makes Calvin and Hobbes so great, and so quotable, is the combination of humor, brilliant social, artistic and philosophical commentary, emotion and having a staying power beyond any other serial. Unlike most, Watterson never had a target audience. A child can pick it up and find so much to relate to, especially those children who found themselves to be just as 'alone' as Calvin was. While at the same time an adult can read it and find intelligent humor and philosophical depth that no other serial could match. And for both the child and the adult, there were many moments that drew on emotion so well it was hard to keep it all in.

My favorite example of this emotional depth has to be "The Raccoon Story". I remember reading this as a child and knowing exactly how Calvin felt. I would often do everything I could to save animals of all forms, I have felt a connection with them that has stayed with me throughout my life. It is one of the reasons I have such a passion for biology and science in general. Something that I also shared with the character Calvin. Even as I read this comic just a few minutes ago and I found it difficult not to shed some tears. Both for Calvin's sadness and his turning it into a reason to love life. Where some artists may turn to a deity in such a situation, Watterson instead relied on Calvin's intelligence, logic and deep friendship with his trusty tiger to see him through.

© Universal Press Syndicate

Thank you Bill Watterson, you have touched more lives than you can know.

For more Calvin and Hobbes greats see Progressive Boinks and the serial archive at  Or you could always just buy them all.
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Anonymous said...

That's a great story. Thanks for posting it. I love the fact that the characters are named for a theologian and a philosopher; another subtlety of Watterson's creation.

Cyc said...

I'm glad you enjoyed it. You know, I feel a bit foolish as I had never picked up on the references in their names. Thanks for pointing it out.