An extraordinary study of the most beloved comic strip duo of all time, this beautiful companion book to the extensive Exploring Calvin and Hobbes exhibition at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library features Bill Watterson’s personal exploration of how the wonder of Calvin and Hobbes came to be.
The book includes original art with Watterson’s original commentary, and features a fascinating, in-depth interview in which he describes his journey as an artist, revealing details of his early influences and work, syndication submission package, tools of the trade, perspective on the state of cartooning as an art form, and much, much more.
As with all AE format material (Artist’s Editions, Artifact Editions, Gallery Editions, Art Editions, Studio Editions, etc), this is a collection of classic comic material and I’ll be reviewing the book and not the story. For a complete list of all current and announced editions, with review links, please visit our Index. Also, see What is an Artist’s Edition and our Artist Index.
The second exhibition of Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes at the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum. The book opens with an introduction by Jenny E. Robb, then a lengthy interview by Robb with Watterson. The bulk of the book is original art collected into themes such as seasons, devices, storytelling, etc.
Most pages are two dailies or a Sunday, with some dailies getting squeezed to three on a page. The art has been shot from the originals and presented at a reduced size.
Scan quality is excellent, with no softness or blur. The artwork is quite clean with some correction fluid use and the occasional pencil and pentimento. Blacks show gradients. Even a Sunday with faded inks but strong margins and lettering. Coloured art presents well but the black and white work shines.
The design is engaging. A single colour used for chapter dividers with cropped images or reduced strips. Each strip has its publication date below it. Pages are numbered, with the book title on the left bottom margin and the chapter on the right.
Production is good. A heavy glossy paper in a glued softcover binding. This volume would greatly benefit as a hardcover with sewn binding but cost is a factor.
Rarely have I encountered a quote so apt for this site and its contents.
When you see an original…it’s an entirely different experience than seeing a newspaper or book reproduction. The scale of the drawing affects how we relate to it, and the images have a different impact when you see them as they were actually drawn.
A cartoon original is not intended to be the finished product, so the artist can leave a fair amount of slop that never reproduces. You see the white-out and pencil lines and the places where the artist fixed up a spot or changed his mind about something. It’s a little window into the artist’s process and if you love this art, it’s quite inspiring. You get to see those moments of grace where the lines are confident, distilled, and flowing, as well as those moments when the cartoonist is struggling and bumbling like everyone else.
A real person made these things, and when you see the actual drawings, you can participate in that.Bill Watterson, Exploring Calvin and Hobbes: An Exhibition Catalogue
I continue to have issues photographing glossy paper books. This time I photographed with no overhead lights and indirect LED photography lights. Still not the results I want.