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Bill Watterson has granted so few interviews in the 18 years since Calvin and Hobbes ended that when the rare one does surface, it certainly deserves attention. Such is the case with this new, if brief, Q&A released this morning by The Ohio State University’s Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum.
The chat centers on Exploring Calvin and Hobbes, an exhibit of original strips and specialty pieces opening Saturday, but broadens to include topics like Watterson’s process, the digital arena, and the decreasing likelihood another comic strip will resonate with so many people the way his did.
“I can’t really picture the average person going to the trouble of curating his own little comic section, much less reading a new and unfamiliar strip for months to build up a relationship with it,” he tells exhibition curator Jenny Robb. “There’s so much other content available — instantly and all for free — that there’s no reason to stick around if you’re not immediately enthralled. We consume everything like potato chips now. In this environment, I suspect the cartoonist’s connection with readers is likely to be superficial and fleeting, unless he taps into some fervent special interest niche. And that audience, almost by definition, will be tiny. It’s a very different world from the days when everyone in America knew who Popeye, Dick Tracy or Charlie Brown was.”
There’s also a conversation with Richard Thompson, creator of Cul de Sac, whose work is featured in the exhibition The Irresistible Force Meets the Immovable Object: A Richard Thompson, which runs alongside Watterson’s.