The Elusive Creator of Calvin and Hobbes Made a Surprise Return to Comics This Week

Slate's Culture Blog
June 7 2014 1:41 PM

The Elusive Creator of Calvin and Hobbes Made a Surprise Return to Comics This Week

watterson2
If that middle panel looks familiar, it's because it was drawn by one of the most famous comic artists of all time.

courtesy of STEPHAN PASTIS / distributed by Universal Uclick

Bill Watterson is often called the J.D. Salinger of comics. The man was reclusive when drawing his legendary Calvin and Hobbes strip, but since retiring in 1995 he's basically disappeared: He's made few public appearances, given even fewer interviews, and produced only one or two drawings. So it's something of a revelation that Watterson, in three strips from the past week, served as a guest artist on Stephan Pastis' Pearls Before Swine.

The work represents Watterson's first published strips in almost 20 years. Pastis, who said the collaboration was "like getting a call from Bigfoot,” instantly agreed when Watterson suggested guest-drawing Pearls and donating the originals to raise money for Parkinson's research. The idea is rooted in Pastis' signature self-deprecation—he often pokes fun at his own drawing ability in Pearls—and Watterson's guest art is set up with an amusing conceit: Libby, a precocious second-grader introduced in two recent strips, boasts that she can easily best Pastis' stick-figure style. In the three subsequent strips, she draws imaginative scenes replete with Martian robots and rich detail—features that, in retrospect, are clear indicators of Watterson's work.

watterson1
watterson2
watterson3
Pastis ceded Pearls' middle panel to Watterson in these three strips from the past week. (From top to bottom: June 4, 5, and 6.)

Courtesy of Stephan Pastis / distr. by Universal Uclick

Advertisement

The writing on the strips also employs a smart meta-humor, and today's Pearls strip, done entirely by Pastis, is a fitting conclusion to the project: it's a homage to Calvin and Hobbes' famed last strip, which has the boy and his tiger sledding into the white expanse of their own imaginations.

pastishomage
Today's Pearls strip is a touching nod to Calvin and Hobbes' conclusion.

Courtesy of Stephan Pastis / distr. by Universal Uclick

For more details, check out Pastis' account of the collaboration on his website.

Sharan Shetty is a writer for Brow Beat. You can follow him on Twitter

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Talking White

Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.

Hong Kong’s Protesters Are Ridiculously Polite. That’s What Scares Beijing So Much.

The One Fact About Ebola That Should Calm You: It Spreads Slowly

Natasha Lyonne Is Coming to the Live Culture Gabfest. Are You?

A Jaw-Dropping Political Ad Aimed at Young Women, Apparently

The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 4:05 PM Today in GOP Outreach to Women: You Broads Like Wedding Dresses, Right?
Crime

Operation Backbone

How White Boy Rick, a legendary Detroit cocaine dealer, helped the FBI uncover brazen police corruption.

Music

How Even an Old Hipster Can Age Gracefully

On their new albums, Leonard Cohen, Robert Plant, and Loudon Wainwright III show three ways.

Tattoo Parlors Have Become a Great Investment

This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century

Moneybox
Oct. 1 2014 8:34 AM This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century To undertake a massively ambitious energy project, you don’t need the government anymore.
  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 2 2014 11:01 AM It Wasn’t a Secret A 2013 inspector general report detailed all of the Secret Service’s problems. Nobody cared.
  Business
Business Insider
Oct. 2 2014 11:16 AM Some McDonald's Monopoly Properties Matter More
  Life
The Vault
Oct. 2 2014 11:07 AM Mapping 1890 Manhattan's Crazy-Quilt of Immigrant Neighborhoods
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 5:11 PM Celebrity Feminist Identification Has Reached Peak Meaninglessness
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 3:24 PM Revelry (and Business) at Mohonk Photos and highlights from Slate’s annual retreat.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 2 2014 10:36 AM How Bad Will Adam Sandler’s Netflix Movies Be?
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 2 2014 11:01 AM Surge Pricing Is Not Price Gouging
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Oct. 2 2014 9:49 AM In Medicine We Trust Should we worry that so many of the doctors treating Ebola in Africa are missionaries?
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 1 2014 5:19 PM Bunt-a-Palooza! How bad was the Kansas City Royals’ bunt-all-the-time strategy in the American League wild-card game?