The Biggest Superhero Films That Didn't Happen, Part 2
Comic Books, Film
A purported original Calvin and Hobbes strip signed by Bill Watterson sold over the weekend on eBay for $14,100. There’s just one problem — well, two if you count the seller had no sales history: It’s the fabled “pills” strip, which pops up from time to time, only to be quickly discredited.
The strip in question is the well-traveled one — it’s sometimes described as the unpublished “final” installment — in which a now-medicated Calvin is more interested in completing his school report than playing with Hobbes, who, in the final heartbreaking panel, reverts to stuffed-animal form. It’s appeared in a variety of formats, both in color and in black and white.
As if Star Wars: The Force Awakens doesn’t have us feeling nostalgic enough, Groot artist Brian Kesinger has channeled Bill Watterson in a series of illustrations that merges the galaxy far, far away with the world of Calvin and Hobbes.
Thirty years ago today, we learned that tigers can be captured using tuna fish sandwiches.
That’s how cartoonist Bill Watterson introduced the world to precocious 6-year-old Calvin and his cynical stuffed tiger (and best friend) Hobbes. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Auctions | Sotheby’s auction of comics and comics art over the weekend in Paris brought in about $4.1 million for 189 works, including Hergé’s cover art for the 10th-anniversary issue of Le Petit Vingtième (the magazine where Tintin first ran), several Tintin pages, and pieces by Hugo Pratt, Charles Burns and Osamu Tezuka. An acrylic and crayon illustration by Dave Stevens created in 1988 for the first issue of The Rocketeer Adventure Magazine (at right) fetched $66,017, a record for the late artist’s work. [Paul Gravett, Artnet]
Creators | “Hobbes was as much my alter-ego as Calvin was”: In an excerpt from the new book Exploring Calvin and Hobbes, Bill Watterson talks about how he came to comics, how he developed the style and characters of Calvin and Hobbes, and the continuing popularity of the strip years after it stopped running in newspapers. [Comic Riffs]
Publishing | Early analysis of 2014 manga sales shows that the category has appeared to turn around, with sales increasing last year, driven by the Attack on Titan juggernaut. [ICv2]
Publishing | Black Mask Studios, which started as the publisher of Occupy Comics and now publishes a number of series in different styles and genres, launched a YouTube channel this week as an outlet for its animation and motion-comics projects. [The New York Times]
Comic strips | Prompted by the insult-filled message left by an 8-year-old for the newspaper editor who dropped his favorite comics, Michael Cavna asks Big Nate creator Lincoln Peirce whether kids are still even reading comic strips in high numbers. His answer, at least in part: “I’m a firm believer that kids will ALWAYS want their comics…but they’ll want them in whatever formats are the newest and shiniest. So: Yes, kids are still reading plenty of comics. They’re just not reading them in their daily newspapers.” It kicks off an interesting, if brief, discussion with a cartoonist who’s found a great deal of success reaching young readers. Related: Christopher Caldwell looks back on Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes. [The Washington Post]
In an interview with the French site 20 Minutes, Calvin and Hobbes creator Bill Watterson debuts the poster he designed for the 2015 Angoulême International Comics Festival, but he says he won’t be attending the event.
Watterson was awarded the Grand Prix d’Angoulême last year, an honor that usually includes serving as president of the following year’s festival. But in the interview, the reclusive cartoonist says he won’t participate beyond designing the poster and sending some of his original art for an exhibit.
When you curl up with a collection of Bill Watterson’s beloved comic strip, you likely give no thought to the actual costs of the path of destruction cut by Calvin and Hobbes during their nearly decade-long free-for-all. But a certain Matt J. Michel has.
The editor of Proceedings of the Natural Institute of Science (ahem, PNIS), “a part-serious, part-satirical journal publishing science-related articles,” Michel addressed the issue with all the seriousness — or at least part-seriousness — he could muster. Sitting down with the four-volume Complete Calvin and Hobbes, he scoured each of the 3,150 strips, attaching a price to each piece of damaged property explicitly depicted or attributed to the eternal 6-year-old.
Undoubtedly the breakout stars of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, Rocket Raccoon and Groot have emerged as one of the most loveable pairings in recent memory, a relationship immortalized not only on film but in pen and ink, in statues and even in life-sized LEGO. You might even say they’re on a course to become this generation’s Calvin and Hobbes.
Even if you’re not prepared to make that leap, veteran comics artist Mike S. Miller is, creating adorable mashups of Rocket and Groot and Bill Watterson’s beloved creations. He’ll have prints for sale at conventions, but you can order all three online for $50.
Bill Watterson’s original artwork from his surprise guest stint in June on Pearls Before Swine sold at auction Friday for a combined $74,040, with the proceeds going to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.
According to The Associated Press, Heritage Auctions sold the three comic strips to three collectors, who wished to remain anonymous. The Dallas auction house had expected the pieces to bring in more than $30,000 combined (the June 5 strip alone went for $35,840).
The three original comic strips from Bill Watterson’s surprise guest stint last month on Pearls Before Swine will be displayed this week at Comic-Con International before they’re sold at auction Aug. 8, with proceeds benefiting The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.
The collaboration, which came at the suggestion of the Calvin and Hobbes creator, marked Watterson’s return to the comics page after a 19-year absence. Pastis teased readers that the week’s storyline would “contain a mind-blowing surprise,” but didn’t reveal what it was. Nevertheless, some fans quickly uncovered clues that some of the strips were ghost-drawn by Watterson.
Creators | Shaenon Garrity chronicles Calvin and Hobbes creator Bill Watterson’s recent return to the public eye. While Watterson stopped drawing the strip in 1995, he recently provided a painting for the Team Cul De Sac charity, did an interview and created a poster for the documentary Stripped, and contributed as a guest artist to Stephan Pastis’ Pearls Before Swine comic strip. [Paste Magazine]
Comics | Some bonus Calvin and Hobbes content: Adam Weinstein looks at the history of those “peeing Calvin” decals, with a short road trip into the “praying Calvin” variant. [Gawker]
Creators | Marc Sobel interviews Ganges creator Kevin Huizenga. [The Comics Journal]
On Monday, cartoonist Stephan Pastis kicked off a new Pearls Before Swine arc by teasing that this week’s strips “will contain a mind-blowing surprise.” That tantalizing tweet, coupled with artwork in a decidedly different style and a couple of potential dialogues, led some readers to speculate that parts of the storyline are drawn by none other than Calvin and Hobbes creator Bill Watterson.
At The Daily Cartoonist, Alan Gardner lays out some of the evidence, both for and against, and rounds up some of the Twitter chatter on the subject. He acknowledges, “I’m not fully convinced that it is Bill.”
Another rare original Calvin and Hobbes comic strip by Bill Watterson has been put on the block by Heritage Auctions. Just how rare is it? Only four have been sold through Heritage during its 13 years auctioning comic art — and two of those were in the past couple of years: An original Sunday installment fetched $203,150 in November 2012, and a daily strip went for $65,725 in February 2013.
The current offering, a daily strip dated May 9, 1987, in which Calvin refuses a vegetarian meal and declares himself a “dessertarian,” has faded lettering and panel frames, but is described as otherwise in “Excellent condition.” The current online bid is $16,000, but will likely climb considerably higher before the May 15-17 auction.
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.