Today is the anniversary of Bill Watterson’s Calvin & Hobbes comic strip.
Calvin is special to me, as I have a friend who is developmentally challenged. He’s a sweet kid, but he LOVES Calvin & Hobbes. He can talk to you for days on end, without ever running out of Calvin & Hobbes-ish things to say.
I don’t get to see him anymore since I moved, but every time I see Calvin & Hobbes, I think of him.
So when I heard there was going to be a YA novel themed by Calvin & Hobbes, I HAD to get a copy. Well, I ended up with a copy! I actually ended up with two. I kept one for myself, and gave the other one to the Andrews McMeel folks!
In turn, they gave me The Complete Calvin & Hobbes Collection to give away. This collection has four volumes, in color, on quality art paper. It includes every C&H comic strip published in its syndication. It also includes an introduction by Bill Watterson and all of the specially illustrated stories and poems that appeared in previous editions of C&H books. It’s worth over $100 dollars, and it is GORGEOUS. I’m totally jealous of whoever is going to end up with it. This collection is still wrapped in its plastic, and it has tempted me for a few months in my apartment and now I CAN’T WAIT to send it out.
“In this latest novel from National Book Award finalist Martine Leavitt, a schizophrenic teen believes that Bill Watterson can save him from his illness if he creates one more Calvin & Hobbes comic strip.
Seventeen-year-old Calvin has always known his fate is linked to the comic book character from Calvin & Hobbes. He was born on the day the last strip was published; his grandpa left a stuffed tiger named Hobbes in his crib; and he even has a best friend named Susie. As a child Calvin played with the toy Hobbes, controlling his every word and action, until Hobbes was washed to death. But now Calvin is a teenager who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia, Hobbes is back—as a delusion—and Calvin can’t control him. Calvin decides that if he can convince Bill Watterson to draw one final comic strip, showing a normal teenaged Calvin, he will be cured. Calvin and Susie (and Hobbes) set out on a dangerous trek across frozen Lake Erie to track him down.”
“It was Thursday night and that meant the next day was Friday, the day my English and biology projects were due. The English project was worth 50 percent of my final grade, and the science project was worth 40 percent.
I’d done a little research for biology.
I hadn’t even started the English project.
Some people destroy their lives with addictive substances. I had just destroyed mine by procrastination. It was the end of January and the end of the first semester of my senior year. My parents were so proud of me because my grades were decent enough that they were sure I was headed to a good university to study neuroscience. Instead I was about to flunk English and biology, which would be black marks on my transcript forever, keeping me out of college and following me around like a virtual dunce cap for the rest of my life.
I was lying in bed thinking about this when the room started swelling and shrinking. I could feel it swelling and shrinking, and I was huge and small right along with my room, like I was Alice in Wonderland, like my body was a balloon and somebody was blowing me up and deflating me over and over again.
I was like, what the heck.
And then I heard a voice.
Hobbes: It’s me.
I knew it was Hobbes. I knew right away it was him even though I couldn’t see him.
Hobbes: It’s me, Hobbes.
So, Bill, you know how when Calvin comes home from school every day and Hobbes knocks him off his feet at the door and his shoes go flying and stars and dust fly and moons and planets circle his head? That’s how I felt when Hobbes started talking to me. In a voice I could hear. Knocked off my feet, shoes flying, little ringed planets over my head.
It had never been like that when I was a kid. When I was a kid, I decided what my Hobbes doll said. Sometimes I surprised myself by what I made him say, so it turned out almost like a real conversation between Calvin-me and Hobbes-me. Sometimes I forgot they were both me.
But this was different. This was a full-on voice that didn’t seem to have anything to do with me.
I didn’t answer him at first. I wasn’t crazy: I knew he wasn’t there. But he was. I could feel him, hear him breathing somewhere in my room.
Hobbes: I’m here. You just can’t see me. Yet.
And, Bill, you know how when Calvin was mad or scared and his face would turn into this big black hole with a pink tongue in the middle? That’s how I felt when Hobbes kept talking to me. So I just lay there in bed with my black-hole head and my pink tongue in the middle of it for a long time.
Then it went like this:
Me (whispering): I’m too old for an imaginary friend.
Hobbes: I’m not imaginary.
Me: Yes, you are.
Hobbes: I’m real.
Hobbes: Okay. I’m true.
Hobbes: Okay. If I’m your imagination, make me say something.
Me: Say, tigers are doofuses.
I concentrated, trying to make him say it, but he didn’t.
Hobbes: Nice try. You know my loyalty to cat-kind.
Me: Say it! This is my mind, and you are a product of my imagination, and if I tell you to say tigers are doofuses then you have to say it.
Me: Say it!
Hobbes: Humans are doofuses.
Me: I’m telling Mom.
Hobbes: What are you going to tell her? That at age seventeen you have a man-eating tiger for an imaginary friend?
Me: Yes! Mo-om!
Hobbes: And you know what she’s going to do? Take you to the doctor.
Me: Yeah. As she should.
Hobbes: And you know what the doctors are going to do to you?
Hobbes: Yes. Exactly.
Me: You were never real. I invented you, I can un-invent you.
Hobbes: Bill invented me.
Me: Okay, but I’m the one hearing you. I can stop hearing you.
Hobbes: Can you?
Me: Yeah. I can.
Hobbes: Are you trying?
Hobbes: I’m still here. You can ignore me all you want, it won’t make me go away.
Me: You’re just—you were just a toy—
Hobbes: That was then. You still trying?
Me: I’ll keep on trying until you go away.
Hobbes: If you have to try to make something in your imagination go away, that means you are acknowledging it exists even as you are trying to pretend it doesn’t. As soon as you wonder if you’ve made me go away, you’re thinking about me again, and there I am. Whenever you think of me to wonder if I’m gone, I’m there, I’m here.
Just then Mom opened the door.
Mom: Calvin, did you call me?
Me: Yes—no—I must have been dreaming … Sorry.
Mom: Okay. Good night, son.
Me: Do you see Hobbes in here, Mom?
Mom: You are dreaming. We lost Hobbes a long time ago.
Hobbes: Lost is a euphemism. She washed me to death.
Mom: You okay, honey?
Mom: Anything you want to talk about?
Me: No. Thanks, Mom. I’m going back to sleep now.
She shut the door.
Hobbes: You always were a smart kid.”
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