Sunday 20 March 2011

Calvin's Head Explodes

A panel from Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson, in colour

Art by Bill Watterson, Calvin and Hobbes. July 7, 1991

From Dan Dare to where?  Well, after Hampson's realism we turn to Bill Watterson'sCalvin and Hobbes.  The cartoon line is ably demonstrated here and the scene bursts with the energy and fun Watterson's talent was able to call upon. The image is a link to all that have gone before, capturing the chaos of Kirby, the similar "in thrall to the explosion" of Ditko, the actuality of the meaning that Shuster conveyed, and the endless directionality and perspective of Hampson.  And yet here, Watterson has used all those ideas in the service of a gag. It's a beautiful actualisation, Calvin's feet and hands show the surprise we imagine him to feel without any sense of sorrow.  Through his line we know Watterson is kidding; that Calvin will return safe and sound in the next comic strip panel. It's art at its most temporary and its most vital.


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