Calvin and Hobbes creator, Bill Watterson famously refused to license the brand. A true testament to the core of what he was trying to convey with the characters. Hobbes is Calvin’s stuffed tiger who came to life in which he goes on daily adventures with, through the power of his imagination.
"Is Hobbes real? Is he a toy?" …
If Watterson gave in and accepted the heaps of money he would’ve made with merchandising, show and film adaptations, and whatever corporate people do to exploit recognizable brands for revenue, it would lose the significance of it all.
The comic was all about where the limits of imagination could take you, how your reality is only a reflection of what you want it to be - all under the innocent perspective of a 6 year old boy. It was never meant to be printed in T-shirts, lunchboxes, have an overly bloated-longer-than-usual animated TV show with slapstick humour, it was meant to tell the children that it is okay to dream and dream big.
Thinking out of the box (and beyond)
Calvin wasn’t just a typical child character who was clueless or clumsy. He was someone who had a unique sense of curiosity that seems to directly come from Watterson himself.
“It's not denial. I'm just selective about the reality I accept.” ― Bill Watterson
The author was someone who always thought that there is something beyond what the world gives. He knew that one of the biggest mistakes one can make is to not think outside of the box.
Calvin and Hobbes appealed to children because it validated their ability to imagine. Going on adventures anywhere in the world and even in space within the four walls of a house was one of the primary essences of being a kid. The fun and quirky back and forth between the two characters made for an easily digestible comic for everyone to enjoy.
Going through the same illustrations as grown ups, we can appreciate the subtle messages Watterson tried to convey. It wasn’t blatant propaganda but there are a few entries which touched on social commentary while most would tackle philosophical concepts on life itself. Either way you look at it, Calvin and Hobbes catered to all ages while having the ability to stay relevant decades after its release.
‘“... Let’s go exploring!”
Calvin and Hobbes had a ten year run that ended in 1995. Watterson thought it best that he left the two beloved characters exploring on their own away from his creative input and the world’s expectations. A beautiful parallel that circles back to the point of it all.
The final entry had them both on top of a snowy mountain about to go sledding with Calvin telling Hobbes that there’s a magical world out there worth exploring, and that’s exactly what they did. I wasn’t even born when it all went down and yet, here I am, looking back fondly at the experiences they had and I take comfort in knowing they’re still out there, taking on one adventure after another.