Now There's a Calvin and Hobbes App. Could The Far Side Be Next?

The Citizen's Guide to the Future
April 22 2013 2:09 PM

Now There's a Calvin and Hobbes App. Could The Far Side Be Next?

Calvin & Hobbes mobile app
Mobile apps are bringing classic 20th-century comic strips into the 21st.

Screenshot / GoComics iOS app

Calvin once complained that he was “a 21st-century kid trapped in a 19th-century family.” At least no one can say the same about the comic strip itself these days.

Will Oremus Will Oremus

Will Oremus is Slate's senior technology writer.

Given creator Bill Watterson’s well-publicized objections to the commercialization and commodification of his work, it once seemed plausible that the Calvin and Hobbes archives might remain confined to the printed page long after other comics had made the leap to the digital realm. Indeed, its migration onto the Internet has been slow and fitful. But last year, digital rightsholder Universal Uclick gave its blessing to a marvelous homemade Calvin and Hobbes search engine after I and a few others wrote about it enthusiastically. And now Engadget reports that Universal Uclick (the digital arm of publisher Andrews McMeel) has released its first GoComics mobile app for Android, iOS, and Windows operating systems.

Advertisement

Calvin and Hobbes is the app’s headliner, because as far as I know it’s the first time the strip has appeared legally on mobile phones. But there are also several others of note, including Dilbert, Doonesbury, Garfield, and the underrated Pearls Before Swine.

Whether bringing the snarky 6-year-old to smartphones is Watterson’s decision is unclear. (I’ve emailed Universal Uclick to ask and will update if they respond.) But I’d like to think he sees the value in making his work available on a platform that will allow it to reach a new generation of kids. My colleague John Dickerson recently ruminated on the value of allowing one’s offspring to discover the strip’s joys on their own. Making it available on tablets and smartphones, where kids do a growing portion of their reading, would seem to significantly up the chances of a serendipitous encounter.

By contrast, Gary Larson’s The Far Side appears to still be a digital holdout. A Google search for the strip turns up what appears to be a genuine plea from its creator to “please refrain from putting The Far Side out on the Internet.” Larson explains:

These cartoons are my "children," of sorts, and like a parent, I'm concerned about where they go at night without telling me. And, seeing them at someone's web site is like getting the call at 2:00 a.m. that goes, "Uh, Dad, you're not going to like this much, but guess where I am."

Larson’s protective instincts are understandable. But good parents know that they can’t shelter their kids forever. Let them out, Gary. They have a lot to offer the world today.

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Meet the New Bosses

How the Republicans would run the Senate.

The Government Is Giving Millions of Dollars in Electric-Car Subsidies to the Wrong Drivers

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Cheez-Its. Ritz. Triscuits.

Why all cracker names sound alike.

Friends Was the Last Purely Pleasurable Sitcom

The Eye

This Whimsical Driverless Car Imagines Transportation in 2059

Medical Examiner

Did America Get Fat by Drinking Diet Soda?  

A high-profile study points the finger at artificial sweeteners.

The Afghan Town With a Legitimately Good Tourism Pitch

A Futurama Writer on How the Vietnam War Shaped the Series

  News & Politics
Photography
Sept. 21 2014 11:34 PM People’s Climate March in Photos Hundreds of thousands of marchers took to the streets of NYC in the largest climate rally in history.
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
  Life
Quora
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Sept. 21 2014 1:15 PM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 5  A spoiler-filled discussion of "Time Heist."
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 21 2014 2:00 PM Colin Farrell Will Star in True Detective’s Second Season
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 21 2014 8:00 AM An Astronaut’s Guided Video Tour of Earth
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.